Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Resolutions ... Redux

So, last year I set out my resolutions for 2006 and it's time now to see how well I did ....

1) "To get the hundreds of business cards sitting in a box in my office scanned into my contact manager."

Not one is done. The box is fuller. Guess I can leave this one on the list for this year, too.

2) "To synchronize my passions and my pocketbook."

Working on this one. Am spending my time doing what I am passionate about; just need to find a way to improve the $$ rewards of doing so.

3) "To teach my 5 nieces about the time value of money."

I've made a little progress here. More work to do. They are all smart young women and definitely can "finish rich" if they start now.

4) "To live the reality that time, like money, must be budgeted."

Some improvement here, but still need to jettison some time wasters and focus more on the truly important things.

5) "To blog daily."

One of the casualties of making progress on #4. Blogging is more of a "want to" than a "must do." It's unlikely to change in this year's "time budget" either.

6) "To truly live each day as if it were my last."

An ongoing objective; some days I can say I've met the objective ... others ... not so much.

So, I guess that I'll keep numbers 1-4 and 6 as goals for this year, too. All except "blogging daily." The rest still feel "right" ... from the tedious (managing my contacts) to the lofty (living each day fully), and I clearly haven't achieved them yet.

As to blogging, it'll still be something I do when the spirit moves or a topic incites, but daily isn't an objective for this year (or likely beyond). In part, that's because, like others, I've been demotivated by the increasingly bilious tenor of the VA political blogosphere (who wants to be identified as a member of this peevish and, too often, juvenile club?). But, more importantly, I see my blog as a tool to serve my need for self-expression rather than as an independent imperative to which I am bound regardless of its usefulness or my need because some suggest that regularity (i.e., quantity) is a measure of the quality of a blog.

Thus, freed from the artifice of external imperative, I will continue to write when I have something I think worth saying, and will resist mightily the siren call to echo others when I actually have nothing meaningful to add.

With best wishes to all for a prosperous and happy 2007,

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Enough Goode

I've known Virgil since we were both in law school (he was third year my first year) and I can say from experience that I liked him better back in the 70's when we were both campaigning for the Equal Rights Amendment or in the 80's when we both supported Doug Wilder for Lt. Governor and Governor. He has certainly "morphed" politically over the time that I have known him ... not for the better in my view.

Virgil says in his now infamous letter to some of his constituents (thanks, I'm Not Emeril, for the link to the full text), that we must "adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration" or there will be more Muslims elected to office and that we need to adopt "strict immigration policies" ... no more "diversity visas" to preserve "the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America."

Since when has discrimination based on race or religion been restored to status as a "traditional" "value" we must protect in America?

The gentleman elected to Congress who is a Muslim isn't an immigrant ... is Virgil really saying that a native born American citizen shouldn't be able to run for office because he is a Muslim? Is the implication here that, because Virgil sees the US as a "Christian nation," we must preclude nonChristians from seeking public office, even if they meet all other Constitutional requirements? Will he extend the election prohibition to Jews, Buddhists, atheists, Hindus, Quakers, Greek Orthodox ... Catholics, because, really, aren't we a Protestant Christian nation?

And, just what is the "Virgil Goode position on immigration" he demands we adopt? It is clear from his letter that it extends beyond reasoned opposition to illegal immigration and includes some largely unelucidated limits on legal immigration, but expressly includes elimination of the diversity visa program that Goode says is "allowing many persons from the Middle East" to come to this country.

The diversity visa program allows 55,000 (yup, thousand) people to emigrate to the US each year from countries with low rates of immigration. Each person must meet strict eligibility requirements (education and experience) and no person can come from a country that has sent more than 50,000 people to the US over the last 5 years. No more than 7% of the visas can go to people from one country in any one year. And, the 55,000 are divided among 6 global regions (Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceana, South America/Central America/Carribean). Note that some of the countries in Virgil's "Middle East" are categorized in Africa and some Asia.

Mexico, India, Pakistan, Canada, Great Britain, China, Poland, Russia are currently not on the list of countries from which diversity visa applicants can come. That means all of these countries have sent more than 50,000 emigrees to the US over the last 5 years ... note that countries typically thought of as being in the Middle East are on the list of countries with low rates of immigration.

So, what is Goode really saying when he says he wants to eliminate "diversity" visas and keep Middle Eastern people out and Muslims from gaining political office?

Despite protestations from his defenders, I think that it is very hard to see his letter as other than an exhortation informed by bias against people of certain races, ethnicity or religion.

And that makes me sad.

It is not the Congressman from Minnesota who wants to place his hand on the Quran when he has his ceremonial (not official) private (not public) swearing in with whom we should be concerned.

It is the people who are the terrorists and extremists among us and across the world on whom we should be focused, be they Muslim or KKK, Protestant or Catholic, home grown militia members or members of foreign terrorist organizations.

To today's Virgil, who appears to view all Muslims as born or religiously-made terrorists (regardless of citizenship or religious antecedents) I say, taking a rhetorial turn from his beloved gun rights organizations, the Muslim faith doesn't kill people, people do.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Visible Invisibility: Women of Color in Law Firms

That's the name of a new study just released by the American Bar Association regarding the experience of women of color in law firms with 25 or more lawyers.

What did the study find? One of the study co-chairs, Paulette Brown said: "I thought the numbers would not be good. I didn't know they'd be so startling."

More from a report on Law.Com by Susan Hansen of The Minority Law Journal:
Of women attorneys of color, 44 percent reported being passed over for desirable assignments, compared with 39 percent of white women, 25 percent of men of color and only 2 percent of white men. (The study covered law firms of 25 lawyers or more; more than 1,000 lawyers responded to the online questionnaire.)

Nearly two thirds of those women -- 62 percent -- said that they had been excluded from formal and informal networking opportunities, compared with 4 percent of white men.

Almost half of women of color -- 49 percent -- reported being subjected to demeaning comments or other types of harassment at their firms.

The examples of such harassment that respondents described in written comments and follow-up focus groups would make even the most vocal critic of political correctness cringe.

One Native American lawyer, for instance, recalled being asked where her tomahawk was and whether she would mind being called Pocahontas. A Korean associate recounted that her firm's managing partner introduced her to a Korean client with the words, "She eats kimchi just like you." Soon after, the managing partner left a message on her voicemail in which he tried to sound like an Asian speaker. Another Asian-American woman reported hearing herself described as "a dragon lady" at her firm, while an African-American associate said that she was labeled "an angry black woman."

To [study co-chair Arin] Reeves, the sheer number of minority women reporting those kinds of comments was a major surprise.

"We've sort of been in this mode where [law firms] think they've left this kind of harassment in the past," says Reeves. Unfortunately, she adds, the study shows that firms still have a lot of basic work to do to make women of color feel welcome -- such as making sure they're in compliance with anti-harassment laws.

Reeves may have been surprised but I'm not.

There is open hostility and rising fear out there regarding the rate of change in America .. change that has pushed women into the majority among undergraduates in college ... change that is moving America consistently in the direction of greater population diversity and a reversal of the definition of "majority" and "minority" in some states (California, Texas) and many urban areas (Washington, DC) ... change that is moving America toward greater tolerance, and, ultimately, acceptance of sexual minorities.

This fear and hostility often reveals itself in the treatment of those perceived as less powerful ... women of color, gays and lesbians, immigrants, geeks in schools controlled by jocks, etc.

These folks are like the canaries in the coal mine. Evidence of continued intolerance toward the less powerful (the least of us), especially where such intolerance is accepted or rationalized (whether by faith, homeland security or otherwise), is a powerful suggestion that all is not well in our democracy.

We who fail to see the signs, those who refuse to speak out against intolerance/injustice where ever it appears, may yet reap a bitter harvest, as those who have power act to keep it and we who remained silent end up like the women in The Hand Maid's Tale consigned to certain roles by the will and force of "the majority."

"The years forget our errors, and forgive our sins, but they punish our inaction with living death." Robert Grudin, Time and the Art of Living

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Amendment Bit Allen Coming and Going

Looking at the CNN exit polls, it seems quite clear that the Marshall/Newman amendment hit Allen coming and going.

Early polling indicated that African American voters were not significantly more likely to vote yes on the marriage amendment than white voters. And this was born out by CNN's exit polls which showed white voters at 58-42 and black voters at 56-44.

On the other hand, CNN exit polls also indicate that black voters made up 16% of the electorate in this election. If that holds true, it means black voters made up a higher percentage of the electorate than in any other statewide election except Wilder's gubernatorial victory(17%).

Since black voters are more reliably Democratic in partisan contests (of which the amendment was not one), the push by va4marriage to turn out more pro-amendment voters, including those from African American constituencies, certainly did backfire on Allen.

The effort caused more black voters to turn out than otherwise would have been the case, and when they did turn out to vote yes on the amendment, they voted for Webb.

That this was an important aspect in Webb's victory seems clear where, as here, turnout in many high Democratic performance precincts was, on the whole, lower than in high Republican performance precincts.

Put this together with the fact that The Commonwealth Coalition's GOTV campaign was focused on turning out anti-amendment voters in swing districts (35 to 65% Dem performance) and anti-amendment voters were, on the whole, two to three times more likely to vote for Webb than Allen regardless of party.

Thus, it is fair to say that the ballot question turned out voters both for and against the amendment who were less likely to vote for Allen than for Webb.

Ironic, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Just Asking ....

In George Allen's TV commercials he talks about his "more than 10 years" of public service to Virginia.

And, John Warner says Allen "has stood with me side-by-side for 22 years and no one ever challenged our record."

Is there some part of Allen's record that he isn't proud of?

Does Allen think we can't count?
8 years in the General Assembly
2 years in Congress
4 years as Governor
6 years as Senator

Maybe he's afraid that folks will think of him as a "career politician"? [After all, he's never had a "real job."]

Just asking ....

Monday, November 06, 2006

It's been almost a month since I posted here. Been busy over at Blogging the Amendment ... no time for flights of fancy or frivolity. Not even time for serious reflection.

But, tonight the well-documented reports of active voter suppression throughout Virginia has me wondering ... where is the blistering law and order commentary that I've come to expect from Commonwealth Conservative and the rest of the folks in the Old Dominion Blog Alliance?

Do you all not care about the rule of law? Is it okay in your eyes for cynical purveyors in the political consulting world to instigate, invent or implement the kinds of activities reported today (telephone calls telling someone they are registered in NY and it will be criminal for them to vote in VA; fliers telling folks to skip the election)? Where is the outrage and gnashing of teeth about election fraud that usually accompanies the justification for voter ID requirements? Where is the concern for the integrity of the process that one hears routinely when anyone suggests same day registration or even no-excuse absentee voting?

Would you all in the Old Dominion Blog Alliance rather win an election by dirty tricks and outright criminal behavior than lose honorably and honestly?

I sure hope not.

Time to speak up and speak out against this kind of behavior.

If you don't, we'll have to assume that you think that it's okay to do this kind of thing as long as you win.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Representation without Taxation? Different Rules for Different Voters

We're fixing to create two classes of temporary residents in the Commonwealth when it comes to voting. Students and the military.

Now don't get me wrong ... my dad was in the Army for 39 years and retired as a 4 star general. I support the folks in the military and am grateful for their service ... including the "service" of the families who often don't get adequate recognition for the sacrifices they make!

But, I can't for the life of me figure out why we should we want folks to vote in Virginia when they choose to maintain their domicile in another state just to avoid paying taxes in Virginia.

Representation without taxation?
As a taxpaying Virginian, I don't think it's right to say that folks who refuse to invest here should help decide who represents me. But that's exactly what Bob McDonnell seems to be okaying in an official opinion that he wrote to the Secretary of the State Board of Elections that was released this week.

To be registered to vote, one must both reside in Virginia and be domiciled in Virginia. Domicile requires a present intention to remain indefinitely. The attorney general says that a military person who tells Virginia he isn't subject to taxation because he resides elsewhere for tax purposes cannot automatically be denied the right to register to vote in Virginia. To that I say, why the heck not?

It's one thing to change the law as we did this year to grant active duty military and their dependents the automatic right to in-state tuition as a gift from the taxpayers of Virginia in recognition of their service. But, it's quite another to say that these same folks who choose not to pay taxes here should have a role in deciding who represents those of us who do (especially locally).

The Attorney General's opinion is just another in an increasingly long line of opinions written to advantage his political supporters (e.g., the opinion saying the governor can't set personnel policy, the opinion on the budget, the opinion on the bill opening up the chance to qualify for in-state tuition to undocumented children, the opinion requiring proof of legal presence for business licenses, and the opinion on the so-called marriage amendment).

Who benefits here?

Thelma Drake is in a tough political fight in the 2nd Congressional district. Her district has a number of active duty military families living in it who have their tax homes elsewhere. Those same folks also populate Paula Miller's Norfolk house of delegates district, sure to be hotly contested in 2007, and others like them are heavily represented in NOVA legislative districts also likely to be fiercely contested in 2007. The AG's opinion is clearly intended to offer a perceived political advantage for Republican candidates in these districts.

Now, let's contrast this with what's going on with voter registration for college students.

The Daily Press ran a story this week headlined:


The president's comments refer to uniform voter registration guidelines proposed by the State Board of Elections that he says will lead to some students being treated differently than others when they register to vote.

According to the article:

Nichol, a law professor, has called Virginia's voter registration process unconstitutional because students at some colleges can register to vote in their college towns while others can't. Williamsburg's voter registrar doesn't consider students with dorm addresses permanent residents of the city.

"Constitutional standards demand uniformity," Nichol wrote. The General Assembly could follow Iowa's lead by passing legislation giving permission to students to choose where they want to vote, he wrote.

"Accordingly, a student who grew up in Richmond and whose parents still reside there, but who is now attending college in another Virginia community, could choose to vote either in her new locale or where she grew up," he wrote. "That rule could then be applied uniformly across the Commonwealth."

Nichol's comments make sense ... particularly if we're going to define domicile differently for the Commonwealth's other large class of temporary residents ... the military and their families.

And, students who live and work here while in college are taxpayers ... they don't have the Soldiers and Sailors Relief Act to protect them from Virginia law that says if you live here for 12 months, you have to pay taxes here:

""Resident'' for purposes of taxation, except as to Chapter 3 (§ 58.1-300 et seq.) of this title or as otherwise specifically provided, includes every person domiciled in the Commonwealth on the first day of any tax year, and every other person who has had his place of abode in the Commonwealth for the longer portion of the twelve months next preceding January 1 in each year, unless on or before that day he has changed his place of abode to a place outside the Commonwealth with the bona fide intention of continuing actually to abide permanently outside the Commonwealth.

The fact that a person who has so changed his place of abode, within six months from so doing, again abides within the Commonwealth shall be prima facie evidence that he did not intend permanently to have his actual place of abode outside the Commonwealth. Such person so changing his actual place of abode and not intending permanently to continue it outside the Commonwealth and not having listed his property for taxation as a resident of the Commonwealth for the purpose of having his personal property listed for taxation in the Commonwealth, shall be deemed to have resided on the day when such property should have been listed, at his last place of abode in the Commonwealth. The fact that a person whose place of abode during the greater portion of such twelve months has been in the Commonwealth does not claim or exercise the right to vote at public elections in the Commonwealth shall not, of itself, constitute him a nonresident of the Commonwealth within the meaning of this term.

So ...

why then are we treating students, who most often are paying taxes on income here, differently from the military, who often choose not to pay income taxes here, when it comes to voter registration?

I think the answer is clear.

Because the perception is that the military are more likely to vote Republican.

Now, go back and read my post on why voters should care who our Attorney General is...

And, the one titled "McDonnell as Activist Judge"

While the Attorney General is certainly an elected official, and the office is obviously "political," I don't think any Virginia Attorney General has ever used his or her opinion writing power so blatantly to service his political base as General McDonnell has ... and we're still in the first year of his 4 year term.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

States I've Visited

Couldn't resist playing the game that other Virginia political bloggers are playing.... and, yeah, if they're going to include DC, they should include Puerto Rico, Guam and the territories of the USA ... that way I'd be able to say I've been to Puerto Rico, Guam, the US Virgin Islands... and I could shoot for American Samoa and the Marianas.....don't think I'll work toward Johnson Atoll, though....

Of course, when I included the map here ... it screwed up my formatting ... so I've taken it out... showed that I haven't visited Mississippi, Arkansas, Alaska, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire. Other than that ... I've been there.

create your own visited states map

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Blogging the Amendment and Other Distractions

Saw Ben Tribbet (Not Larry Sabato), Vivian Paige, Waldo Jaquith, Kenton Ngo, and Jim Bacon at Warner's Pig Roast today.

Ben was basking in media attention from some guys filming a documentary on bloggers. I'm sure I should know who those guys were doing the filming and why they were doing it... but I was too busy working the crowd on the so-called marriage amendment to find out.

Ben did take time to give me a hard time about not posting regularly enough here, and he's right. I haven't lived up to my New Year's resolution about blogging daily, although if you count all the places that I blog or comment regularly in addition to here, some weeks I come close. Best laid plans and all.

Fact is right now I'm responsible for Blogging the Amendment and trying to keep things current there is about all I can say grace over given my other campaign responsibilities.

So, Ben, I'll continue to try to post here when I'm really moved by something (like the Andrew Young matter) or tickled by something (dead penguins), but look for me primarily on Blogging the Amendment between now and NOvember 7th. Defeating Ballot Question #1 is my priority and passion right now.

Come join me in that fight ...

Check out the ad that Not Larry Sabato calls the best of this cycle and then make a contribution over at so we can get the ad the airtime it deserves!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Brad Pitt .... I knew I liked this guy

News reports quote Brad Pitt as saying in October's Esquire that he won't get married until everyone who wants to can.

Folks shouldn't be allowed to be that good looking and that willing to stand up for the other guy.

Of course, there will be the usually bloggery about what this all means ... but for me I'm just enough of a Pollyanna to believe that he's just a socially conscious nice guy who is committed to using his celebrity to advance causes about which he cares deeply.

Oh, yeah, I've been disappointed before, but I've never regretted believing in someone's good nature/social consciousness even when I turned out to be wrong.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

On Andrew Young

This week a man for whom I have long had great respect disappointed me.

I am not referring to George Allen.

I am, of course, referring to Andrew Young.

Young was hired by Working Families for Wal-Mart to help the company defend itself against criticism of its business/economic model and its allegedly discriminatory employment practices (a role for which he'd previously been criticizedhimself).

In his role as chair of Working Families and Wal-Mart spokesman, Young was asked, according to news reports,"whether he was concerned Wal-Mart causes smaller, mom-and-pop stores to close."

His answer:

"Well, I think they should; they ran the `mom and pop' stores out of my neighborhood," the paper quoted Young as saying. "But you see, those are the people who have been overcharging us, selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables. And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they've ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs; very few black people own these stores."

This response drew "forceful condemnation" from several fronts, including from among leaders in the Jewish, Arab and Asian communities, and Wal-Mart executives, which led Young to resign from Working Families, which issued a statement calling the remarks "insensitive".

But, if Allen's apology for his recent public expression of personal prejudice was "feeble," Young's response was positively "incapacitated", even though preceded by "it's against everything I thought in my life":

Young, who has apologized for the remarks, said he decided to end his involvement with Working Families for Wal-Mart after he started getting calls about the story.

"Things that are matter-of-fact in Atlanta, in the New York and Los Angeles environment tend to be a lot more volatile," he said.

He also said working with the group "was also taking more of my time than I thought."

Mel Gibson came off as more sincere than that.

"Matter-of-fact"? Does he really mean that it would have been okay to say what he said in Atlanta, and that he only got in trouble for saying it because he said it in LA?

Young's comments haven't provoked the almost worldwide negative commentary and reaction that Gibson's and Allen's did.

Why not?

Partly, I suspect, because there is no video for YouTube, proving, once again, the power of the visual over text.

But, there is clearly a double standard here.

And, we shouldn't tolerate it!

To folks like Howling Latina who today tried to dismiss the Young comments as not worthy of press attention, much less opprobrium, I say (and said on her comment page, some of which is repeated below), I could not disagree more.


In reaching for some way to defend WalMart against growing criticism of their economic model and allegations of corporate discrimination against minority employees, Young fell into behavior he's criticized in others ... repetition of irrelevant religious, ethnic and racial stereotypes.

His language (and Allen's) reflect the growing divisions in this country, along ethnic and racial lines, where suddenly the term "immigrant" means folks (mostly people of color) who've come here in the last decade rather than all Americans who came here from somewhere else during the entire history of our great nation.

It is the willingness to use this kind of intemperate and inflammatory language about which I expressed concern in recent posts on this blog and Bacon's Rebellion.

Howling Latina and others demean themselves by trying to distinguish Young's words from Allen's words. Their offenses are equivalent, except that Allen's behavior clearly was, in part, that of school yard bully which gave his offense extra weight, particularly when judging his fitness for higher office.

Allen's and Young's (and Mel Gibson's)language is cut from the same cloth ... a cloth of intolerance and fear of other.

The ethnic and religious background of people who exploited the poor was irrelevant to Young's principle point ... that there have always been people ready to rip off the poor by providing poor quality goods and services at higher than average prices (see, e.g., pay day lenders) and that the Walmart effect (driving small businesses, including these alleged exploiters, out of the marketplace) isn't a bad thing given that history.

Young's unnecessary reference to the race, ethnicity and religion of some of these people, however, reflected a personal predjudice -- nothing more, nothing less.

Using ethnic or religious stereotypes isn't properly classified as "racist" but it certainly is intolerant, and can, as in this case, reflect deep-seated prejudice.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Penguins May Have Died but The Chicks Live

I'm now an official Blogging Chick! Find other chicks who blog; learn more about the technical side of blogging; read the blogger chick carnivals over on BloggingChicks.

Nothing too serious now.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Penguins Die in Crash; Octopus Uninjured

On a night when political junkies are surfing the net looking for the most recent results from the Connecticut and Georgia polls, how can you not get sucked in by a news link on Penguins Die in Crash; Octopus Uninjured.

Now the story is that a truck overturned carrying some unusual livestock.

"Four penguins and some exotic fish were killed in the accident, including three penguins that were hit by passing motorists, said Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Richard Buchanan.

"The rest of the penguins kind of stayed together in the ditch," he said.

And the octopus was uninjured.

But, it coulda been worse:

The trooper said it was the oddest traffic accident he had ever handled.

"We've worked several wrecks involving cows, horses, pigs, even fish, but this is the first where the live animals were penguins."

Buchanan said he was glad the accident was not worse.

"There was another truck full of snakes and alligators that was an hour ahead of them, so luckily we didn't have to deal with the alligators," Buchanan said.

I know that there is a metaphor in here somewhere for Democrats watching tonight's election returns. I just haven't figured it out yet.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Keeping it Civil; "Hate" is Not a Political Slogan or a Civic Value

Update: Style Weekly published a slightly edited version of this post on its Back Page on August 30, 2006.

This morning I listened to a civil debate between surrogates for Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont.

Then, I read this quote from Buck O'Neil, a self-described "proud ... Negro League ballplayer," on the occasion of the induction this week of 17 Negro leaguers and Negro leagues executives into the National Baseball Hall of Fame:

And I tell you what: They always said to me, "Buck, I know you hate people for what they did to you or what they did to your folks." I said, "No, man, I never learned to hate."

I hate cancer. Cancer killed my mother. My wife died 10 years ago of cancer. I hate AIDS. A good friend of mine died of AIDS three months ago. I hate AIDS. But I can't hate a human being, because my God never made anything so ugly. Now, you can be ugly if you want to, but God didn't make you that way.

It got me thinking again about one of the points that Mary Sue Terry made in the great speech she gave at the recent Virginia Women in Politics Conference. After speaking thoughtfully about the need to use long-term thinking in solving current issues and avoiding lost opportunities, Terry urged careful consideration of the language of politics. She expressed concern about language that makes politics a war or battle rather than a conversation or discussion. She talked about the need to change the nature of political discourse. She urged women not to participate in the use of "war" and "battle" language in politics. She reminded the audience that the language used can become a predictor of behavior.

This is a theme I have visited before. In spring 2000, I asked noted linguist Deborah Tannen, who had just published her book, The Argument Culture: Stopping the War of Words, to address the language of conflict in politics at the annual Southern Women in Politics Conference held that year in Northern Virginia. She has spoken and written about this here, here and here.

Her message:
... there's something deeper that I'm trying to talk about-the power of words to frame how you think about things, how you feel about things, how you perceive the world. The tendency in our culture to use war metaphors so pervasively, and to frame everything as a metaphorical battle, influences how we approach each other in our everyday lives. We end up thinking problems are insoluble, because we have allowed the polarized extremes to frame the debate.

In March 2005, I wrote a piece titled: "Let's Change the Language of Politics -- It's Time to Stop the Hate." Writing about the use of the term "hate," particularly by Kerry supporters, in the 2004 presidential campaign, I said:

I have trouble understanding why many of my politically passionate friends (regardless of party affiliation) without hesitation describe their disagreement with particular politicians on policy as reasons to "hate" that person. ...

I believe "hate" is a term that should be reserved for persons whose actions are so antithetical to common decency and civility, such an affront to our common humanity, that they should provoke a visceral, unreasoned antipathy among all people of good heart and right reason.

Should we not "hate" our captors if we were Iraqi prisoners subjected to abuse and torture or the relatives of kidnapped civilians beheaded on video for worldwide consumption? Should we not "hate" terrorists who purposely kill civilians to make a political point? Should we not "hate" bigots who maim and kill solely because someone is of another race, religion or sexual orientation? ...

What troubles me about the almost routine use of the term "hate" to describe people with whom we disagree in our daily discourse on matters of public concern is that it desensitizes us to the real meaning of the term and the emotion and passion that it normally evokes.

Can leaders and parents teach tolerance or expect tolerance from our children when we are so ready to describe objects of mere political disagreements as people we "hate"? ...

Before we continue to speak about our political opponents as people we "hate", we should think about the message we are sending to our children about when it is okay to "hate." We should not be teaching our children that it is okay to "hate" anyone just because they have different beliefs, unless those beliefs are so abhorrent that they shock the conscience.

We should consider the words of President George Washington, and ask ourselves before we speak if our words will live up to his expectation of the "demeanor" of "good citizens":

"Happily the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction and to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demeanor themselves as good citizens."

We should give bigotry no sanction and persecution no assistance by sending the wrong messages to those we lead or nurture. As Max DePree says in his book Leadership Jazz, "[w]e are dealing with God's mix, people made in God's image, a compelling mystery." "We are all authentic in our own right; no person awards us authenticity; we are born with it."

No one is worthy of hate, when that assessment is made only because they bring to that mix a different point of view, a different tradition of faith or a different political position.

This is an important lesson to learn for those of us participating in the debates of this campaign season about candidates and issues, including the Marshall/Newman amendment.

We do ourselves and our causes no good if we stoop to name-calling and demonizing our opponents. We teach our children the wrong lessons if we teach them through the language we use that it is okay to hate someone for their beliefs or their being or that politics is a "battle" or "boxing match" properly "fought" from opposite "extremes" or opposing "corners."

Anyone who doubts the power of words to incite behavior need look no further than the recent incident of hate violence against a gay couple living peaceably in Loudoun County. Can anyone doubt that words of hate fueled the attack there?

I haven't quite gotten out of the habit of participating in the use of "fighting" references in my political lexicon, as Mary Sue recommended. But, I'm working on it. Bad habits are hard to break and good habits are hard to keep.

What I do know is this.

Hearts and minds are not changed by force of battle. They are led to change by love and the gentle persuasion of conversation and thoughtful consideration.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Spinning around the Poll; Allen Set Up for Election Day Surprise?

Not Larry Sabato has an early look at the most recent Mason/Dixon poll that shows Allen over Webb by 48% to 32%.

Bloggers for Allen are doing their level best, here, here and here to spin this and other recent polling as positively as they can for their candidate.

But, the reality is that Allen's consistent showing at or below 50% is a sure sign of trouble for him and any incumbent.

Check out this analysis over at by Nick Panagakis , for example, that reports:

An incumbent leading with less than 50% (against one challenger) is frequently in trouble; how much depends on how much less than 50%. A common pattern has been for incumbents ahead with 50% or less to end up losing.

The key is the behavior of undecided voters. Again, according to Panagakis:

our analysis of 155 polls reveals that, in races that include an incumbent, the traditional answers are wrong. Over 80% of the time, most or all of the undecideds voted for the challenger.

And, as to the "spread":

The overwhelming evidence is that an incumbent won’t share the undecideds equally with the challenger. To suggest otherwise by emphasizing point spread or to say that an incumbent is ahead when his or her percentage is well under 50% leads to election day surprises.
But, according to Zogby, the 16 point spread shown in Mason/Dixon may indicate some break in the clouds looming over the Allen campaign:
... traditionally, the undecideds break for the challenger against the incumbent on the basis of the fact, simply, that the voters already know the incumbent, and it's a referendum on the incumbent. And if the incumbent is polling, generally, under 50 percent and leading by less than 10, historically, incumbents have lost 7 out of 10 times.
At a minimum, the weak Allen showing indicates that Virginia voters may be willing to consider a change. Check out this analysis of the Daschle/Thune race on election eve. Or this report re: Lieberman's travails.

It's up to Webb to prove that he's a viable challenger and preferable alternative to Allen. If he can do that, victory may be his on November 7th.

Friday, July 28, 2006

"Activist" Judges Defined; Test is Eye of the Beholder

Found this interesting definition of "activist judge" in the Christian Coalition of Georgia's 2006 questionnaire for judges, who unlike judges in Virginia, campaign to get elected:

"Judicial activism occurs when a judge interjects his or her own personal beliefs and policy views to achieve a desired outcome by failing to adhere closely and strictly to the text of a statute or constitutional provision."

The questionnaire asks candidates to declare that this would never be appropriate in any case.

It also goes on to ask judges (often in biased language and slanted wording) for their personal, moral or policy views on a variety of topics including:

Roe v. Wade
Denial of adoption based on sexual orientation
Domestic partner benefits
Same sex marriage
Prayer in schools
Flag burning and
Tort Reform

These are just some of the policy, personal and moral issues covered in the 37 question form candidates for Georgia judgeships are asked to sign.

Forget judicial independence. Forget that the common law tradition we brought from England is a tradition of judge-made law that still controls much of tort and contract law.

Just ask yourself, if personal views are to be set aside, why do we need to know what a judge's views are?

Now it's clear. The Christian Coalition is simply looking for judges who will be activists on their side of the issues.

Kind of like when Jerry Falwell went shopping for a federal judge (supported by the ACLU) when he wanted the Virginia constitutional provision banning the incorporation of churches declared unconstitutional under the federal constitution.

Now that a federal judge has held Virginia's constitutional limitation unconstitutional, the voters will be asked in the fall to vote to repeal it as "obsolete".

Seems kind of ironic doesn't it? Asking the voters to approve the unappealed finding of a single "activist judge" who held a provision of Virginia law must yield to the higher power of rights guaranteed in the federal constitution.

Where in the US constitution does it say that a church has a right to be incorporated? Does a church have freedom of religion? Isn't it a judicial extension of the First Amendment to say that its protection of individual religious free exercise extends to the corporate form of organizational entities?

Just asking.....

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

President Bush Commits Assault

Jaded JD has a LOL post up including this video clip of the President of the United States committing a simple assault (an unconsented touching) on the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

It's too generous to call what the President did sexual harassment, although it is clear that the President did something to the prime minister that he, clearly, would not have done to a male member of the G8.

This is one where a picture is worth a thousand words.

Now, I know that there are some who will defend this as a "nice" gesture, designed to ease the Chancellor's tension. That dog won't hunt.

My guess is that Merkel had annoyed the President or was perceived by him to be too assertive or to have too much power in the room. This move is one that asserts his role as the alpha male and is designed to diminish the stature of the person over whom he shows physical dominance.

I'd like to think that Bush is smart enough to have done this in a calculated way. Unfortunately, my guess is that it was simply an instinctive (and immature) reaction to a situation that was unconscious.

And, that speaks volumes about Bush, his stature on the world stage and his basic attitudes toward woman.

Scary isn't it?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Blogger badge

If I were smart I could get one of these on my sidebar without messing up my template format ...but having tried for longer than I care to admit... I have to admit I'm just not that smart.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Sisyphus: Commonwealth Coalition fundraising concert July 8th

Sisyphus has this post about a concert this weekend to benefit The Commonwealth Coalition, an organization of individuals and organizations committed to voting NO on the Marshall/Newman amendment.

Sisyphus: Commonwealth Coalition fundraising concert July 8th

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Blogs United in Martinsville

Alton has posted up some more detail about the agenda for the Blogs United conference over at ImNotEmeril.

Topics on the program include libel, FOIA, Net Neutrality .... lots of time for schmoozing with fellow bloggers.

Attorney General McDonnell will speak again ... wonder if there's any chance for an elected Democrat to have a shot at the podium?

And, it would be nice if Vivian or Kat or one of the other talented women bloggers or women who could contribute to the topics on the agenda were added to the list of speakers/panelists.

Looking good, Alton... keep on keeping on.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Alton/ImNotEmeril ... I apologize... Send me more info, please

You asked for an apology. Here it is.

I am sorry. I did not mean to hurt your feelings, impugn your integrity or cause any other personal affront or offense.

Please send me permalinks (other web addresses) (or post them in comments below) with the following information so that I can better help promote your efforts:
1) date, time, place of the bloggers conference you are planning;
2) names of persons participating in planning or scheduled to present;
3) program for the event;
4) information on registration;
5) posts or other communications inviting comments/participation from fellow bloggers;
6) any other information that would be valuable in marketing the conference to other bloggers.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

2006 VA Political Bloggers Conference

Some random thoughts on this weekend's bloggers conference in Charlottesville (unfortunately, I was only able to be there on Saturday):

Decrying the Divide
I am disappointed that the Virginia political blogosphere has allowed egos, partisan bickering and polarization to divide bloggers into those who attended the "liberal" Sorenson conference (strange denomination given keynotes by McDonnell and Bolling, but it is true that conservative bloggers were outnumbered) and those who will attend a "conservative" bloggers conference in Collinsville in August.

Last year's blogger's conference was distinguished by the collaboration of Chad and Waldo bringing the blogging world together as a "community" to engage in reasoned discourse across philosophical and political lines. Perhaps we should all go to Collinsville to seek to rebuild communications across the silly battle lines drawn this summer, that is, if those of us who participated in this weekend's meeting are "allowed" to attend the other.

C'mon guys... Do we need to model our behavior on the traditional organizations that we all so often criticize? Wouldn't it be refreshing if we could come together despite egos and politics to engage each other as peers? We should try to do better.

Blue Dog
Being obstreperous and contentious is my friend Steve's brand. He didn't disappoint.

Campaign Finance
Chris Piper did his usual effective job helping folks understand the state campaign finance rules to the extent that they are understandable. Audience member, former governor's counsel, and campaign law expert, Lee Goodman, added great substantive comments to the discussion.

For the most part, using common sense works. If you get paid to blog, campaigns would have to report your fees just as they'd have to report any other payments for services. If you get paid to blog by others and you give your services to the campaign, the market value of the services should be reported as an in-kind contribution. If someone pays you for an ad, they'd have to report it; if you give a campaign free ad space for which you charge others, it's an in-kind contribution. But there are a lot of gray areas.

That's why it's time to seek greater clarity regarding the rules regarding "internet communications" in Virginia. The new federal rules (published March 27th) provide a helpful starting place. Under those rules, paid ads on blogs and payments for blogging services must be reported by campaigns. Otherwise blogging is pretty much exempt. There are other rules for mass emails, etc, that also deserve some thought.

Read the rules here, the FEC's FAQs here and some analysis here,and here.

Ethics and Standards of Conduct
Jim Bacon would be so pleased. Even the "wild westers" from last year seem to see some value in a voluntary code of ethics.

I agree with Mike Shear (WaPo reporter who was Saturday's lunch speaker) that, if a blogger wants to be seen as a journalist, a blogger has to act like a journalist -- not a repeater of idle gossip, innuendo and items of suspect truth.

I also believe that those of us in the blogospere who play varying roles, campaign worker, lobbyist, etc, owe it to our readers to make clear what role we are playing on our blogs or posts. Our profiles should contain sufficient information to allow readers to evaluate our biases. Specific posts should also include a disclaimer/other info where appropriate.

Pseudonymous blogging is not journalism. It is, like the Federalist Papers and other anonymous tracts, a platform for conveying a point of view without having to take responsibility for it or to hide from readers the bias/posture/profession/job of the author. That said, like the Federalist Papers, it is not inherently bad nor without redeeming social value.

Anonymous posting is the tool of the paid blogger or the troll or the irresponsible person or the person who wouldn't have the nerve to say or want to be judged for saying what he/she posts and who doesn't want to be tied to his/her doggerel even by a regularly used pseudonym.

EJournalism or Community
Bloggers need to decide 1) whether they are journalists (like Jim Bacon) who create an environment in which they publish information and opinion and where comments will, like letters to the editor, be less frequent and more substantive ;
2) whether they are writers/commentators trying to create an interactive community where they write and other folks come to share their views and opinions (hopefully, respectfully and with some measure of maturity).

I think that it is difficult to try to be both, although some seem to think it possible or a goal to be sought.

In either case, as Waldo says, you set the standard and you get back what you send out. If you are mature, you get mature. If you are juvenile, you get juvenile.

My blog is, unfortunately, in that wasteland in between jounalism and community.

Not regular enough nor informed enough to be journalism, and not "friendly" enough to generate community.

I need to think about that.

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Talking about a real woman

Okay. I admit it. I've got a "girl crush" on Dolly Parton.

I was at the Southern Women in Public Service conference in Nashville this week where Dolly was presented with the Lindy Boggs award for public service. She entered the ballroom to accept the award singing "9 to 5" ... gave a great speech ... got off some great one liners in an interview with 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Cissy Daughtry (think frumpy 60 something interviews not so frumpy ageless woman) ... and sang "her favorite song" "Coat of Many Colors" strumming her guitar expertly with improbably long fingernails.

Among the things she said I remember....

Asked to comment on her song for the movie Transamerica ... she began by saying that everyone should be free (as she says she is) to be exactly who they are. Then she reminded folks that she'd been nominated for "9 to 5" and lost in a year when Cissy Spacek did the Loretta Lynn movie and that this year she'd been nominated this year and lost when Reese Witherspoon was doing June Carter Cash in Walk the Line. She quipped that next time she hoped that she wouldn't be nominated in a year with a country music movie.

Asked what advice she had for a man thinking about becoming a woman she said, "I'd tell him the installation will be expensive, but it's the maintenance that will kill you."

Asked about the difference between Republicans and Democrats, she said that Republicans care about "the bottom line" and Democrats are more "top heavy." (Okay, think about it... Dolly Parton).

Asked what she thinks about dumb blonde jokes she said she didn't really mind them because she knows that she's not dumb and, more importantly, that she's not blond.

She poked fun at herself and had not a single remotely unkind word to say about anyone else.

She was "real" in every way you can imagine that matters, while acknowledging that almost none of what you see is "natural."

Dolly received her award in significant part because of her work in founding The Imagination Library.
Because of her efforts, children all over the country have books at home to inspire them to read and to help them prepare for school.

Let's see ... rich, smart, good looking, nice as can be, great sense of humor, focused on children as our future, great voice, wonderful songwriter ... etc, etc.

Now you can see why I'm smitten.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Watch out Men ... The Women are Coming

Two interesting articles recently highlight the enhanced role that women will play in the future of the American economy and in Washington politics ...

Cited on the Post's blog, On Balance,is an article that appeared in The Economist on April 12th (available online only to subscribers). In The Economist article titled Women and the World Economy, the lead was ...
WHY can't a woman be more like a man? mused Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady. Future generations might ask why a man can't be more like a woman.…

Commenting on the article, the Post blogger points out that women have made phenomenal progress in the last 50 years ... so much so that their success (and economic power) is beginning to threaten men. However, the reality of the marketplace is that women continue to make less than men on average.

One question that the article provokes for me is that posed by Margaret Atwood in The Handmaid's Tale ... if men are threatened by women's economic strength, what steps might they take to stay in power and control rather than let "nature" and demography take its course?

And, if that weren't enough, today's K Street Confidential column in the business section of the Post is headlined "Women, Minorities Make Up New Generation of Lobbyists" Why the change? High powered women exiting government through the revolving door looking for work is one reason. Flexibility of the work is another. Here's a reason offered by a partner in a woman-owned lobbying firm:

"This town has shifted business models from the Old Boys Network to a focus on substance, competence and credibility," said Stephanie E. Silverman, a principal of Venn Strategies LLC, a woman-owned lobbying firm. "In the old model it was difficult if you were a woman. In the new model you can be a man or a woman and it doesn't matter."

Wow ... expertise over relationships or golf scores. What's this world coming to?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Ten Tips for Becoming an Effective Advocate

#1 Google rated blogger for women entrepreneurs,Kirsten Osolind, has a great feature on her re:invention blog. Every Saturday she posts 10 Tips for 10 Million Women -- featuring advice for women entrepreneurs by women entrepreneurs.

Last Saturday, she featured my Ten Tips for Becoming a Grass Roots Advocate (a revised and updated version of an article that I wrote for NAWBOTime). It's a handy reference for women business owners who want to succeed in the "business" of advocacy at the local, state or federal level.

Let Kirsten know if you've got 10 Tips that you'd like her to feature. You'll find the link to submit your wisdom on the blog.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Path To Electing More Women May Lead Through Redistricting

GOP Hokie has been writing about the redistricting. Here's one thing he probably hasn't thought about:

American University Professor Barbara Palmer is the co-author of an interesting new book about women candidates for political office that got great coverage in David Broder's column in the Washington Post this week.

Among the most interesting of Palmer's findings reported by Broder is this:

Demographic changes now underway will increase the number of districts where women can compete. But the radical suggestion from Palmer and Simon is for states to use this knowledge of what makes a district "woman-friendly" in the next round of redistricting, after the 2010 Census, to increase substantially the number of women in Congress. As women in state legislatures position themselves for the coming redistricting battles, that's something they can keep in mind.

There's lots more of interest in the book, "Breaking the Political Glass Ceiling: Women and Congressional Elections," which looks at all of the women candidates who ran for Congress between 1956 and 2004 and identifies the characteristics of the districts in which they won and lost.

Sounds like a good read for anyone who wants to run for Congress or who would like to help identify women candidates for districts well-suited to electing them or who would like to know how to draw districts that would elect women!

Delegate Kilgore --- One Man --- Three Masters?

In a little noticed development upstate, Delegate Terry Kilgore has been named Dean of Institutional Advancement at the University of Appalachia, a new private university in Grundy. In the school's press release, Kilgore is quoted as saying he intends to continue representing clients in "serious injury" cases, and there's no indication that he intends to give up his seat in the legislature:

Delegate Kilgore noted that he is in the process of phasing out of his general practice of law and will maintain his legislative district office in Gate City where he and his wife, Debbie, also an educator, and their two children, Kayla and Kyle, continue to reside. “I will continue on a part time basis to represent a limited number of serious injury clients as part of my agreement with the University of Appalachia. It is important that I stay actively involved in the legal profession and it was not an easy decision to make this transition. But with all the expanding opportunities for further educating our high school graduates happening right here in Southwest Virginia I cannot resist doing what I can to make that happen on a larger and more aggressive scale.”

The head of the University said of Kilgore's selection:

"Terry will be instrumental in expanding program development, promoting scholarships and fundraising, and increasing the awareness of educational and health care needs of Southwest Virginia. He has shown great enthusiasm in taking this office and has begun making contacts and setting up site visits well before his start date. Terry strengthens our leadership team and will help make our mission become a reality.”

So, Terry will be an agressive advocate for the constituents who elected him, the University, and his continuing legal clients -- all at the same time. Wonder how we'll know when he's doing which job.

There is always the potential for conflict with a citizen legislature, but this may be a situation where it will be difficult to parse expected loyalties.

Can one man serve three demanding masters well and without conflict (especially when two of the jobs require significant fundraising)? Guess we'll find out.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Ohio Appeals Courts Split on Application of Ohio Marriage Amendment in Domestic Violence Cases

This week one of the 12 Ohio appellate courts ruled that the Ohio marriage amendment bars prosecution of domestic violence cases involving unmarried partners. News reports here, here, and here.

This is the fifth of the 12 appeals courts in Ohio to rule on this issue. The first four appellate decisions went the other way. See this decision, for example. It will take a decision of the Ohio Supreme Court to resolve the conflict and determine the issue once and for all.

The following is excerpted from the decision of Ohio's 2nd District Court of Appeals, located in Dayton, in the case of State of Ohio v. Karen Ward:

This appeal concerns the issue of whether the provision in the domestic violence statute extending the protections of that criminal statute to "a person living as a spouse" offends the Defense of Marriage amendment to the Ohio Constitution adopted by the voters in 2004 because it recognizes "a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the effect of marriage."

We conclude that it does.

Let us suppose that the (Defense of Marriage) amendment were given the more restrictive interpretation. The evident purpose behind the second sentence of the amendment — to prohibit the indirect recognition of non-traditional marriages — could die the death of a thousand cuts. Imagine the adoption of a testimonial privilege for quasi-spouses, the addition of quasi-spouses alongside spouses and children as beneficiaries in wrongful death actions, the addition of quasi-spouses to the class of family members who can recover for loss of consortium, or the addition of a quasi-spouse to the list of persons who must be notified of a woman's intention to have an abortion.

The list is endless.

At what point would the second sentence of the amendment be deemed to have been violated? Would only the last in the series of legislative enactments, common law rulings, and administrative or judicial rule-making be voided for unconstitutionality?

Suppose that, after a long series of legal struggles to enhance the rights of non-traditional, quasi-spouses, the only remaining point of difference in Ohio between a spouse and a quasi-spouse were that the spouse, but not the quasi-spouse, could claim an additional $25 credit on the Ohio income tax? Would that avoid implicating the second sentence of the amendment because actual spouses and quasi-spouses are not treated identically for all legal purposes in Ohio?

In our view, the jurisprudence contemplated by the hypotheticals recited above would be unworkable. The general principle evident in the second sentence to the Defense of Marriage amendment is that a legal status of a de facto marital relationship shall neither be created nor recognized in Ohio as having the same effect as the legal status of a de jure marital relationship. It is tempting to speculate which of potential exceptions to this general principle would have found favor with a majority of the Ohioans who voted for the Defense of Marriage amendment, but this would be mere speculation.

In our view, the second sentence was intended to avoid the prospect of the Ohio General Assembly, or the Ohio courts, establishing exceptions to its reach.

Note to Victoria Cobb ... time to update your website FAQs.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

My Blog Roll -- Women Bloggers Worth Reading

So, I've been following all the chatter about blog rolls, see here and here for example, and I thought, "maybe I should have a blog roll?"

Not wanting to get into the fight about who's influential and who's not ... lots of self-congratulating and back scratching going on there ... I decided that I'd post a blog roll of women bloggers who I think are worth reading. Some I've listed are political, some not. Some are in Virginia, some not.

If you've read a woman blogger who makes you laugh or think, send the link along.

I'm always looking for something new that's worth reading.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Lilly Tomlin -- Worrying About Same Sex Marriage

I heard Lilly Tomlin tonight speak to a conference of women business owners. During her performance she said:

"I worry about same sex marriage. If all of us gay people keep imitating straight people, what's next? Monster truck rallies?"


Thursday, March 09, 2006

52% of the Population Deserves Better When It Comes to Judicial Appointments

There's been much hand wringing and teeth gnashing this session about the likely failure of the General Assembly to replace retiring chief judge of the Court of Appeals, The Honorable Johanna Fitzpatrick, with another Northern Virginian. As Not Larry Sabato reports, some members of the Fairfax Bar Association have gone so far as to call the leading non-Northern Virginia candidates "unqualified" -- an assessment attacked as politically inspired.

Unnoticed and unremarked, however, is that none of the five people interviewed to replace Judge Fitzpatrick (and another retiring Judge) was a woman. Meaning that the number of women on the Appeals Court will drop from 3 of 11 to 2 of 11 (a number clearly heading the wrong direction).

Nor was any of the three candidates interviewed for three circuit court judgeships open this year a woman. Nor was any of the candidates interviewed for four district court vacancies a woman. And, only two of 10 candidates interviewed for six juvenile and domestic relations court vacancies were women (and two of the judges being replaced were women meaning that the best we can hope for is not to lose ground).

Here's the list of those interviewed this year:
Appeals Court
Randolph A. Beales
Judge Victor V. Ludwig
Judge R. Terrence Ney
William G. Petty
Judge John E. Wetsel, Jr.

Circuit Court
James C. Hawks
Josiah Thomas Showalter, Jr.
Judge Alfred M. Tripp

General District or Juvenile Court
R. Glennwood Lookabill
S. Clark Daugherty
Ashley K. Tunner
Robert S. Brewbaker, Jr.
J. Frank Buttery, Jr.
Ronald L. Napier
Steven T. Buck
Margaret W. Deglau
Richard S. Wallerstein, Jr.
Edward S. Whitlock, III
Jimmy Don Bolt
Croxton Gordon
Thomas B. Dix, Jr.

As of 2003, women comprised about 30% of the legal profession and 49% of the law school graduates. At large firms, 16% of the partners were women in 2003. That last number makes our declining percentage of appellate judges look acceptable at 18%, but certainly our goal ought to be higher, and we should certainly be trying not to lose ground.

It is simply not okay for the legislature not even to seek to interview a more diverse pool of candidates, particularly when they are replacing some of the few women already serving on the bench.

The House and Senate Courts Committees who interview the candidates to assure that they are qualified (before the Republican House and Senate Caucuses decide whom to elect) need to do a better job of identifying qualified women and minority candidates for Virgina's judgeships.

The majority of residents of Virginia who are women deserve to have a judiciary that better reflects our presence among potential litigants.

After all, shouldn't majority rule?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Bloggers to be Left on the "Digital Dirt Road"?

The national blogs are all a buzz about legislation that would end "net neutrality" and allow major internet providers to provide better and speedier net access to paying customers.

Here's a post from the Guerilla News Network that explains the proposals now pending in Congress:

In the federal government in Washington, the main legislation concerning the media in the United States – the Telecommunications Act – is being rewritten, and the fate of net neutrality (and perhaps the future of the internet) rests in the balance. Unfortunately, Net neutrality clauses have been struck out of the most recent draft of the Telecom Act.

GNN describes the proposals as ones that will relegate bloggers and other nonpaying net consumers to the "digital dirt road."

Doesn't sound good to me.

Friday, February 24, 2006

McDonnell as "Activist Judge"

Back in October, I wrote a post titled Choosing Your Lawyer: What You Should Ask the Candidates for Attorney General.

In the post, I suggested that you ask "How will the candidates interpret the law in official opinions they write as Attorney General? Will the candidates be "activists" or "strict constructionists?" I said "Just as it is important to know how a judge will apply the law and what regard he or she will have for past decisions, it is important to know how a candidate for the office of Attorney General will approach this quasi-judicial opinion writing function."

Well, today we learned for sure how McDonnell sees his role -- he's definitely an "activist" who will seek to use the opinion writing process for political ends.

Today, McDonnell issued opinion no. 05-094, in which he holds that the Governor does not have the legal authority to issue an executive order that includes sexual orientation in the state personnel policy against discrimination in public employment.

In January, Delegate Bob Marshall asked the AG for the opinion on the question whether, as the Commonwealth’s Chief Personnel Officer, the Governor can, by Executive Order, protect state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation. The result today was an opinion clearly informed more by political considerations than sound legal research or reasoning.

Here's what EV's Board Chair and Executive Director had to say in a press release issued today:
“Governor Kaine is the Chief Personnel Officer of the Commonwealth and is granted broad constitutional and statutory rights to set policy for the employees he manages,” said Jay Squires, EV Board Chair and Richmond attorney. “McDonnell’s opinion finds that the Governor, like a locality under the Dillon Rule, only has the authority expressly conferred on him by the legislature. This interpretation is in conflict with generally accepted principles regarding the separation of powers of the legislative and executive branches of government, and flies in the face of years of precedent.”

“In one of his first official acts as Attorney General, McDonnell has shown that, in issuing official opinions from his office, he will be an ‘activist judge’ who will strain to reach legal conclusions that will please the most narrow-minded of the constituents to whom he must feel he owes last fall’s slim margin of victory,” said Dyana Mason, Equality Virginia Executive Director. “It is sad that in a state where 87% of voters support the right of gay men and lesbians to be free from discrimination based on sexual orientation, Attorney General McDonnell felt that he had to placate a small minority with this obviously result-oriented, political opinion.”

It is even sadder that the release of the opinion today was clearly timed so that it was after the Senate and House considered proposals to cut nondiscrimination language from the budget. Both houses argued that the budget language was “unnecessary” because it duplicated language in existing state and federal law, including the ExOrder.

And, in an even crueler twist, the opinion cites the close vote on SB 700 earlier in the session as evidence that the legislature has rejected protections for sexual orientation discrimination despite the fact that a major argument against the bill in the Senate committee was that the Executive Order and the budget already offered such protection.

Attorney General McDonnell set a bad precedent for his term as Attorney General today. He made clear that politics will dictate his legal analysis and opinions during his four years in office.

That’s a shame.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


So, I got tagged by the Blue Dog who got tagged by South of the James ... so not wanting to break the chain in this blogger's chain letter here's my 4x4:

Four jobs I've had
Sheepskin seller
College president

Four movies I can watch over and over
Gentleman's Agreement
Ocean's 11
Star Wars
Thelma and Louise

Four places I've lived
London, England
Key West, Florida
Schofield Barracks, HI
Annandale, Virginia

Four TV shows I love
Law and Order

Four places I've vacationed
Sail boat in the Grenadines
Vieques, PR
Vancouver, Canada
Green Valley, Utah

Four of my favorite dishes
Buz and Ned's ribs
Dim sum

Four sites I visit daily

Legislative Information
Bacon's Rebellion
Commonwealth Conservative
Washington Post

Four places that I'd rather be right now
Moon Beach on Vieques
Slopes or Red Fox Restaurant at Snowshoe
Hiking in the WindRiver Range near Jackson, Wyoming
Mango's in Key West, FLA talking with my friend TK at the bar

Four bloggers I'm tagging
Rita Ricks
Kenton Ngo
Ben Kyber
J Sarge

Finding the Positive

Today at the legislature something good happened. A group of students from Hampton University (down at the General Assembly to lobby for TAG grants and funding for some new fangled technology) sat in on the Senate General Laws committee where SB 700 was being debated.

SB 700 is the bill that would (finally) make explicit and codify the Commonwealth's policy against discrimination in the public workplace, prohibiting, among other things, discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The bill was superbly presented by its patrons, Senators Lucas and Locke and there was positive testimony on the bill by the Virginia Governmental Employees Association, the Virginia Education Association, People of Faith for Equality in Virginia, Equality Virginia and an individual state employee on the board of the VGEA. But, the fun didn't get started until the advocate for the Independent Baptists (arguing against the bill) got into a theological debate with Senator Yvonne Miller. (I could sell tickets to the replay). He was followed by an advocate for Concerned Women of America who described herself as having been "in homosexuality" in the past. From my perspective at least, it seemed that the longer that the opponents talked the closer our side got to getting the bill reported out of committee. Unfortunately, that was not to be, the bill failed to report by a vote of 6-8-1.

The good part was this .... after listening carefully to the presentation of the bill and the ensuing debate the students from Hampton adjourned to the lobby where I observed them engaged in an extended and very lively debate among themselves about the policy questions and arguments for and against the bill.

It was good to see the students excited about what was happening and engaged by the debate regardless of which side they were on.

As Larry Sabato often says, "politics is a good thing!" I think that the students from Hampton present today would agree.

Monday, February 06, 2006

If Only

Loved this headline in today's WAPO ...

"Handful of Races May Tip Control of Congress"

Perhaps if we took this literally and to heart, it would end all the immigrant bashing in DC and Richmond.

Just one of the promised "random thoughts."

Friday, February 03, 2006


There's a new voice in the blogosphere. Join me in welcoming Rita Ricks and her SpeaktoYourSpirit blog.Speak to Your Spirit: SISTERS, WE MUST FIND OUR VOICE!

Rita is a powerful force of nature. Her blog is worth a look.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Couldn't Have Said It Better

Marc Fisher on his Raw Fisher blog, concluding a riff on the ability of Virginia legislators to drift from libertarian to dictatorial citing the marriage amendment as an example: "Sadly, the legislators in Richmond act not according to any set of logical principles, but according to their own drifting and kneejerk conglomerations of bias, whim and momentary passions."

And, for some, I would add to bias, whim and passion their mistaken (?check Craddock, Black, Marrs, now Staton) belief that certain votes are "required" to get reelected even if they don't personally believe in what they are voting for.

Stephen Carter in his book "Integrity" describes unintegrity as doing something that you know to be wrong and argues that lack of consistency can be a hallmark of lack of integrity.

Shannon Valentine won a special election in Falwell's home town although she was attacked for making clear that she opposes the current proposed marriage amendment because it goes too far. She was clear and consistent and voters confirmed that they liked her authenticity.

Something to think about.

Fisher is not the only blogger to express doubts about the marriage amendment... see

I'm Not Emeril

Raising Kaine

Virginia Centrist

Madisonian at Sic Semper Tyrannis

South of the James

I'm sure there are more....

Perhaps we could have a whole blog carnival limited to posts on the marriage amendment ....

Bacon's Rebellion: "Blogging on the Hustings"

Here's Jim Bacon's take on the Marc Fisher piece on Virginia bloggers...

Bacon's Rebellion: "Blogging on the Hustings"

Bloggers Examined; Found Interesting

Washington Post Columnist, Marc Fisher examines the Virginia political blogosphere in the February/March American Journalism Review. In "Blogging on the Hustings," Fisher describes Virginia's political bloggers as "cacophonous" and "significant." He's right on both accounts.

We're a noisy bunch, mostly civil, but not always. And, many among us have contributed significantly to the art and war of politics.

For my part, I'm flattered to be quoted ... okay about being the only woman quoted but not so sure how I feel about being the designated "old" voice in the crowd, though.

Waldo has a good commentary on the commentary up on his blog. His conclusion: we have reason to be proud of being in the Virginia political blogosphere.

I think he's right.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Standing Up Against Discrimination in Public Employment

Here is the text of Senator Louise Lucas' floor speech about SB 700 (on which she and Senator Mamie Locke are co-chief patrons), the bill to end discrimination against state and local employees (including teachers) based on race, gender, national origin, religion, disability, veteran status, etc and sexual orientation:

In 1970, Governor Linwood Holton established a tradition that our chief executives have followed since; his first official act as Governor was the issuance of an executive order promising state employees equal opportunity and protection from discrimination in the workplace.

35 years later, Governor Warner concluded his term by signing an executive order extending this protection to discrimination based on sexual orientation -- a promise of opportunity continued in Governor Kaine’s first executive order on Equal Opportunity issued the day he was sworn in as Virginia’s 70th Governor – a promise also extended by Governor Kaine’s order to Virginia’s veterans.

Despite this long history of executive action, this legislature has never acted to incorporate in the Code of Virginia an explicit and comprehensive ban on discrimination in public employment. Private companies seeking to contract with the Commonwealth are required by law not to discriminate in employment. Constitutional officers are prohibited by law from discriminating in employment. Localities have permission to adopt anti-discrimination ordinances applicable to private employers but are not required by state law to guarantee their employees a workplace free of discrimination. School divisions and localities are required to afford employees the right to grieve discrimination, but are not affirmatively prohibited from discriminating.

It is time for legislative action. We can start by adopting the language in Governor Warner’s budget that will protect state employees from discrimination. But we need to go beyond that.

It is time for this legislature to make the Commonwealth’s equal opportunity policy clear and applicable equally to all public employees.

No state, local or public school employee should have reason to doubt our commitment to equal opportunity in employment for all regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions, age, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

That is why Senator Locke and I will introduce today a bill that compliments and builds on Warner’s and Kaine’s executive actions and makes equal opportunity a matter of legislative enactment as well as executive action.

And, yes, this bill would include sexual orientation in our statement of the Commonwealth’s nondiscrimination policy. Protecting Virginia’s gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender public employees from discrimination is not a radical idea.

 We are far behind private sector employers in adopting such a nondiscrimination policy.

 Jerry Falwell has said that protection from employment and housing discrimination is not a special right but a basic human right.

 A poll by a bi-partisan polling team recently found that, even among Virginia voters who would vote for a marriage amendment, 86% said gays and lesbians should have the right to work for the government and 63% said that they should have the right to teach in public schools.

 And, 24 of the 40 Senators in this body and 60 of the members of the body at the other end of the hall have said that they don’t discriminate hiring in their offices.

We invite you to join us in making equal opportunity in employment the law for all Virginia public employees.

So far, 9 Senators (including Locke and Lucas) have signed on.

If your Senator is not on the list, call the Senator and tell him or her you'd like to see his or her name on the list of co-patrons for SB 700.

If we can't convince them to be sensible when it comes to the so-called marriage amendment, perhaps we can convince them to do what's right when it comes to employment discrimination.

As Senator Lucas says, there's nothing "radical" about it.