Monday, October 26, 2020
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The Porcupine


“Slick” Wittman Refuses Debate

Slick Wittman has done it again! Why do I call Delegate Rob Wittman "Slick"? I concede that Rob Wittman's staff performs marvelous constituency service, he shows up at all the photo opps, and his smile would charm the stink off of a skunk, but . . . .
He'll tell you about how hard he's worked to find a solution to the problem you're concerned about, all the meetings he's held, and he'll earnestly assert "something must be done!"; then, you'll walk away thinking he's on your side. However, when the matter comes up for a vote in the House of Representatives, he'll vote the way Eric Cantor tells him to (94 percent of the time), whether it's in your interest or not. And unless you follow his voting record closely, you'll never know it. He's slick.
So, what has "Slick" Wittman done this time? He backed out of the debate scheduled for this coming Thursday in Stafford County. His challenger for Virginia's 1st District seat in Congress, Adam Cook, has agreed to debates sponsored by organizations in Newport News, Prince William, Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Williamsburg. Wittman accepted only the invitation to debate in Stafford. But "Slick" couldn't stand even that much heat; he backed out.
In fact, since his first run for Congress in the special election of 2007, "Slick" Wittman has evaded any debate that might demonstrate his mediocrity, and he gets away with it. He's earned his nickname.

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris wrote the poorly edited but important book "Smart on Crime" that reports on the success of DA office programs designed to divert first-time nonviolent offenders away from the criminal justice system and onto a more productive path of life. Smart on Crime programs are the only systemic efforts to reduce the crime rate and size of prison population that actually work. Richmond DA office recently began a program based on "Smart on Crime."

McCrystal, the Martyr

I'm no fan of conspiracy theories, but I find it hard to believe that a commander as smart and ambitious as General Stanley McCrystal just let it happen-the Rolling Stone interview.

It is obvious to many of us, and certainly him, that the war in Afghanistan is a loser. America simply cannot afford, economically and politically, to send the 200-300,000 military and civilian personnel necessary to win. By this time next year, as the date President Obama set for the start of troop withdrawals nears, the majority sentiment will be to speed up the get out, and get out completely.

McCrystal wants to get fired. Now, before he gets tainted by the failure.

However, by the time the campaigns for the 2016 presidential election begin to rev up, a large chunk of the electorate will claim "we coulda won that war." Who better a standard-bearer for that faction than General Stan, the heroic martyr of the Afghanistan War?

Anyone here remember the last years of the Vietnam War, 1972-75? As public sentiment swung against the war, and Congress gradually choked off funding support for the corrupt inept South Vietnam government. Ever since then the proportion of Americans who believe "we coulda won that war" has grown. Things happen faster nowadays. Gen. Stan might even run in 2012.

Tea Pary Strength in 1st CD

Just how powerful is the Tea Party, really? Can they actually influence the political process, or are they just a bunch of sign waving demonstrators spouting a lot of hot air?

Tea party activists have taken over a few rural Republican county committees (e.g. Mathews) and they gathered enough delegates to replace incumbent moderate Senator Bob Bennett at the May 8 Utah Republican nominating convention. But these are rather easy and inexpensive political maneuvers. Real political strength is measured in campaign contributions and votes.

In just a few weeks the Tea Party of Virginia's First Congressional District will get a chance to demonstrate its strength in the primary election to choose the Republican nominee for Congress. The incumbent, Rob Wittman, is being challenged by Catherine Crabill, who nearly beat Delegate Albert Pollard running last year for reelection to the VA House of Delegates.

So far, Virginia's 1st CD tea partiers have failed to measure up. Contributions to Crabill's campaign have been extremely weak. If her vote total in the June 8 Republican primary is less than 40 percent we no longer need to take the Tea Party seriously in the First District.

McDonnell’s Call to Study History

In his proclamation recognizing April 2010 as Confederate History Month Governor McDonnell said this "defining chapter in Virginia's history should be studied [and] understood." This is a laudable exhortation on the Governor's part. No doubt many Virginians will set about reading or rereading accounts of the Civil War itself, although the results of its battles are already widely known about and the details of which pretty well understood by now.

What was it about Virginia's history that influenced Virginia's decision to join the Confederacy? At the time of the Revolution against the British Empire, Virginia was one of the wealthiest and most influential of the original thirteen colonies. No other state produced as many of the newly declared nation's Founding Fathers or as much of its early revenue as did Virginia.
But even while Virginia was providing 4 out of the first 5 presidents of the new republic, the Old Dominion was steadily declining. By the 1830s, Virginia had come to rank at or near the bottom in nearly every measure of wealth, health, influence, and quality of life, including literacy. There it remained until Fort Sumter.

The history of Virginia's deterioration following the Revolutionary War is well described and documented in Dominion of Memories, by Williams College historian Susan Dunn. Briefly, the Tidewater landholding elite fostered conservative policies that restricted suffrage, ignored research in proper soil management, discouraged state financial support for education and transportation infrastructure, and promoted states' rights.

Because of cultural abhorrence of industrial development and the decline in soil-grown agricultural products, slaves became one of the dominant "crops" produced by Virginia's plantations for interstate commercial trade. By the time of the call to join the Confederacy, slavery was too economically important to give up, no matter what reasons the Virginia ruling elite put on the face of their decision to secede.

The tale of Virginia's mid-Nineteenth Century decline as told in Dominion of Memories is morbidly fascinating, like reading a biologist's detailed account of an animal's death by slow disease, and subsequent decomposition and corruption. But then the horrifying realization dawns on the reader that the attitudes and prescriptions of present day Virginia conservatives are remarkably similar to those that determined the Old Dominion's descent to secession.

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