novatownhall blog

Where you are held accountable for your convictions and record



Now that we can finally say it is all over but the shouting, don’t you DOUBT FOR A SECOND JUST HOW MUCH SHOUTING REMAINS, DAMN YOU.

In particular, who will be the respective choices for Vice President?

Obama: We can now expect to see at least a full day of former Clinton true believers falling over themselves to praise Barack Obama, and the Obama campaign playing coy to the point of painfulness.

Surveying the political landscape, it is going to be extremely hard for Obama to choose anyone other than Hillary Clinton for Vice President. The Hillary Clinton campaign may have been ineffective, inefficient and incompetent on a scale to make the Robert Mugabe administration shake its collective head in disbelief, but it also comprised a huge population of supporters in a year when the Democrats, frankly, can’t take any chances. They should have won in 2000. They sure as hell should have won in 2004 (ask George Soros and Air America’s majordomos about that one). In 2008, they cannot give anything up. Shutting out Hillary would almost be a demonstration of hubris. Obama’s got nothing in his pocket yet for the general election.

When the Washington Post is opining Don’t look now, but the U.S.-backed government and army may be winning the war, the Obama camp has to realize it has nothing in the bag. If a drop in demand causes U.S. gas prices to fall at the end of the summer, Obama could have zero “killer” arguments. His campaign is going to need every boot on the ground it can get.

Personally, I’d like to see the Obama campaign look very carefully at Michael Dukakis, Al Sharpton or Jimmy Carter, but they likely won’t take my advice.

McCain: John McCain is a pretty uncompelling fellow these days when it comes to public speaking. I suspect overcoaching and, hey, if it worked for George W. Bush, I guess the thinking is they should keep a good thing going. He launched his new “Change you can believe in” message tonight, and it appears the McCain campaign strategy is to emphasize the candidate’s weaknesses. He is a great speaker off the cuff, and absolutely terrible reading from a script. Tonight, he smiled and chuckled unnaturally during the pauses as though he was just then getting the jokes his scriptwriters had provided. Or just chuckling for no reason whatsoever.

The media, recognizing Obama’s weaknesses in terms of policy positions and the Democratic candidate’s demonstrated thin skin, is going to attempt to redirect public attention away from issues, and make the central controversy over Obama’s strong points, which are race and speaking style:

The charismatic black guy who everyone likes, and therefore represents a fresh change, but denounces every policy disagreement as a “distraction,” against the uncharismatic white guy who gives typical, stiff, “politician” speeches.

If the recent trend in his public appearances is any indication, John McCain is going to be easy for the Democrats to pigeonhole as a typical, old-style politician. If the debate is framed by the media as a contrast in styles, McCain could be in for rough sledding.

Therefore, I think McCain needs a fantastic orator as his running mate, someone who can speak off the cuff so well that the media will give at least a tinch of coverage.

I hate to say it, because it is a ticket that would make me almost literally ill, but the most likely seems to be Mike Huckabee. He is a solid enough public speaker to keep the press engaged and following the campaign (possibly anticipating the next major gaffe). He would get a sizeable army of ground troops involved from the “evangelical” wing of the GOP, and if he can avoid making too many asinine statements, it just might work.

I know, I know many of you are objecting: “Huckabee’s a frickin’ moron!” But that is not the political reality. The voting public is about 50 steps behind the actual reality in America. If voters understood what was really happening in this country, we’d be talking about Tom Tancredo as the logical pick for VP.

A McCain-Huckabee ticket would be a huge boost for Bob Barr, but I think the McCain campaign has already decided to write off a bunch of traditionally Republican voters.

McCain needs a running mate who could win on American Idol.

I’ll be interested in hearing other thoughts on the Vice President sweepstakes.

Mike McHugh of VGOC and the Warren County Republican Party just left the following excellent commentary and analysis of this weekend’s Republican Party of Virginia Convention. It’s extremely valuable insight both because of his parliamentary expertise and the fact he was there throughout Friday’s apparent fiasco – thanks, Mike!

You can ask the unit chairs for the vote totals but don’t waste the time. Mark Tate did it for the 10th to make sure that the Berry votes did not affect the outcome. The Barry votes if properly counted, because they were primarily (though not totally) from Roanoake and Salem where Gilmore won would have helped Gilmore.

In Warren since I did the counting it was 22-3 for Marshall

If Marshall had put together a whip floor organization to fight the rules on Friday at 2:00 when I moved to strike rule h under voting and replace it with each campaign having an appointed teller there would have be no question of cheating at this point.

Because of the public pressure from the floor fight Friday, if there was going to be any purposeful cheating, I do not believe it happened. Yes there could have been mistakes in the counting but Marshall was not prepared to fight for the ability to oversee that. Hopefully he will next time.

Gilmore won fair and square.

The thugocracy of the early Friday 2:00 pm meeting, that very few people understand the importance of, did help Frederick because even the Gilmore people were disgusted with the trashing and ignoring of the rules.

Below is part of an analysis I sent to a friend that points out what constitutionally minded Republicans should learn.

continue reading…

A very interesting tale from NVTH commenter “The Last Reagan” from the RPV Convention:

I am glad to hear that members of the Republican Party were exercising their Second Amendment Right at the State Convention.

According to Virginia law, unless signs are posted prohibiting firearms, one is free to carry open or concealed (with permit) wherever and whenever they so choose. It is incumbent upon the facility to openly post their prohibition.

However, I am aware that several law-abiding citizens were harassed by convention staff when they inquired about the rules and regulations of the facility, attempting to go above and beyond the requirements of the law. – Their mistake.

From what I understand, they were stopped more than once after their inquiry by both convention staff and later even law enforcement. Their whereabouts, location of firearms, and IDs were forcefully demanded. They were further targeted and harassed throughout the Convention by the Assistant General Manager of the Conference Center, Patrick Skaggs. They will be filing multiple complaints.

After a detailed inquiry by myself, according to Mr. Skaggs, the Assistant General Manager, “This is the way that the Republican Party wanted it. They wished for the incident to be handled as it was.”

I think that this is entirely contrary to our Republican values of supporting Second Amendment Rights and am furious to hear that the Republican Party had involvement in this Civil Rights violation incident.

I have already addressed the issue with Jeff Frederick, Morton Blackwell, the VCDL, the NRA, and every other Second Amendment supporter that I know, all of which I am hopeful will be investigating the matter. I hope that the Republican Party will file a complaint with the facility and remove whomever in the Party may have been involved.

Likewise, as a gun owner and an attendee of the convention, I am filing a complaint with the Republican Party, the Convention Center, my elected officials, and all others who appear relevant to the situation.

This is not how any citizen is to be treated. Period. It is a violation of everything that we believe in; free speech, the Right to keep and bear arms, and the Right to move about freely without being questioned.

Here’s some more photos so you can get the sense of what it was like to be at the Republican Party of Virginia Convention this weekend, minus the pleasant jaunt up and down I-95.

Literature at RPV Convention
There is a point at which literature piled onto attendee seats becomes ineffective. I would suggest that point is reached at approximately the 1 inch mark.

Bob McDonnell at RPV Convention
Attorney General Bob McDonnell has really ticked me off this year because of his office’s hands-off approach to immigration enforcement while states like Arizona, Georgia and Oklahoma have been getting the job done … but good gosh almighty does that man take a fine photograph! I guess that’s what American political leadership, in the final analysis, is all about.

Bob Marshall’s Sons At RPV Convention
While Jim Gilmore had 52 dog catchers come to the stage to endorse him, Bob Marshall had his two sons come to the podium – and I have to say, the son who did the speaking has a political career if he wants it. Great stuff. I have the audio, but it’s still on my recorder. Go over to Bearing Drift because those guys have audio of almost the entire Convention and they may have Bob’s son’s nomination speech. (Scroll down). If they don’t, I will in a day or two.

Bob Marshall at RPV Convention
This is just a cool photo, to show the Digital Camel guys that I can still bring the art.

Observing vote counting at RPV Convention
The electronic portion of the voting was pretty regular; here Mark Sell (l) and Glen Caroline of the LCRC watch the tallying.

10th District Tally at RPV Convention
Slightly less regular, as described in the preceding post, was the post-tallying, when the “weighted” votes were calculated. Here is the 10th District operation. Water under the bridge, I know.

G. Stone and Jim Rich at RPV Convention
Our good friend G. Stone (l) confronted 10th District Chairman Jim Rich about Rich’s successful push to get newly elected State Central Committee representative Jo-Ann Chase removed from the list of potential delegates to the GOP national Convention. Jim Rich, as you can see, does not appear to take kindly to second-guessing.

G. Stone and Jim Gilmore’s Immigration Enforcement Resolution
Senate candidate Jim Gilmore, apparently foreseeing some problems, saw fit to post a manifesto declaring his commitment to an “enforcement first” approach to illegal migration. G. Stone suggests a modest addition to the Gilmore manifesto.

This is a quick and dirty report from today’s Republican Party of Virginia (RPV)Convention. I’ve got lots of video and photos but am likely to fall asleep in the middle of this post so a barrage of partially coherent text is the most I can deliver tonight.

[Bearing Drift has a semi-complete report of vote totals].

Jeff Frederick RPV Chair
New Chair of the Republican Party of Virginia, Jeff Frederick!

The good news: Jeff Frederick trounced John Hager in the battle for RPV Chairman. Hager trotted out a long list of endorsements and short list of accomplishments and asked, basically, to be allowed to keep that ol’ sparkling positive momentum moving forward.

Frederick told the hard truth, that the Virginia GOP is on a serious losing streak, the public tide has long since turned against the party, and that a harsh reckoning was coming. We can make the change now, he said, or wait until we lose more elections and become a true minority party out in the wilderness, and then make the change. But the party is going to change one way or the other. He also said the very screwy events of yesterday, on which more later, would never occur again with him leading the RPV.

It was a pretty convincing speech, because no matter how many arrived intending to vote for Frederick, it was impossible to listen to his argument and not see immediately that there really was no other choice.

Because of the huge margin of defeat Hager apparently did not want the vote numbers released, and opted instead to nominate Frederick by acclamation. A friend of mine who stayed throughout the counting and saw many of the results said it appeared Frederick won at least 2/3 of the total votes. (Check the comments to this Virtucon post for final tallies for all the Districts in the Chairman race. Jeff Frederick indeed won convincingly.)

In the not-so-good-news department, I think a lot of people walked out of that Convention center thinking Bob Marshall had been robbed, the vote tally for nomination for the Senate seat was falsified, and that Jeff Frederick has just inherited a thugocracy. It was a very fishy chain of events.

Bob Marshall at RPV Convention
Bob Marshall had a huge crowd of supporters and about double Jim Gilmore’s decibel level of cheering. His rousing speech reminded why we want a candidate who has formed his own positions and can articulate them masterfully.

First, as Blog Fu alludes to, the seating arrangements bespake the singular concept that “the Republican Party of Virginia is run by assholes.” The stage was at one end, with the districts seated in numerical order from the front of the room to the back. 1st District next to the stage, 11th District in the back of the room. Except that Gilmore’s and Hager’s home district, the 7th, was also right next to the stage. So the order of seating was 1st, 2nd, 7th, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th. Those of us in the 10th District were almost 50 yards from the stage. Ok, fine, so the Convention is slightly “weighted” toward two of the four candidates.

Then, here is how the vote tally process was conducted. All the ballots were issued and collected separately by each District chair, turned over to RPV staff who ran them through scanners under everyone’s watchful eyes, and then the straight numerical results were given back to the District chairs, who then had someone calculate by hand the “weighted” totals (different counties’ votes are worth different amounts). Here is the operation conducted by the 10th District guy doing the tallying:

10th District Vote Tallying
This Gilmore – Hager supporter tallied the 10th District votes. This guy may have the wisdom of Solomon and ethics of Gandhi for all I know, but leaving him and all the other District talliers on an island to do all the calculations with no oversight or review seemed like a strange and overly loose protocal for choosing a U.S. Senate nominee.

I was going to make an abacus joke about this and rag on the low-tech nature of the process, but it’s not so much an abacus joke as a “ten thousand typing monkeys” joke. In this case the tallier, an obvious Gilmore supporter, was doing calculations in pen, running them through a calculator, scratching out results, starting over and redoing the operations. It took close to half an hour for him to come up with final numbers, and in the meantime many people stopped to look, incredulously. There was no oversight whatsoever, no opportunity for the other campaign to check the numbers, no independent authority verifying the numbers. This guy literally could have been pulling numbers out of thin air and no one would have been able to call him on it. The talliers CERTAINTLY could have made mistakes – which actually seems quite likely given the number of different calculation required. Someone asked 10th District Chairman Jim Rich about this extremely loose procedure and Rich replied that the fellow was Rich’s assistant who has done this many times, and that Rich trusts him. When the time came each District chair reported the numbers as unassailable gospel truth, and that was that.

When the Oscars are awarded each year, the vote tally is conducted by a third party and delivered to the awards ceremony under lock and key in the care of a company like Ernst and Young. If the RPV procedures were used, it would be the equivalent of the vote tally conducted and results delivered by Pixar Animation Studios.

So bear that in mind while considering how the vote reporting went. The Secretary came to the podium to call on each District chair to read their respective results, starting with the 1st District. They did so, until it came to the 7th District’s turn, and the chair announced “The 7th District will pass.” This elicited some vocal reactions from the audience, but the Secretary continued through the rest of the Districts, and then, at the very end, the 7th District chair read his results. The final tally gave Jim Gilmore a victory by 65.8 votes. The total was announced, Bill Bolling immediately called Bob Marshall to the podium to speak, and it was over.

A number of people, myself included, were dumbfounded that such a tiny margin of victory (65 out of 10,300 weighted votes) could be accepted so readily when the tallying process was so manifestly open to inaccuracies or, worse, manipulation. The 7th District talliers, a cynic might suggest, could have been keeping a running total, waited strategically until the very end, and then simply made up a vote total to ensure Gilmore of victory. There was no opportunity to challenge. I personally think it was a blunder on Bob Marshall’s part to not have asked for a roll call vote or other review of the ballots in the 7th District. I know that Bob Marshall is a stand up guy who would do the “honorable” thing for the greater good, and I am sure the Marshall campaign will never breathe a word about anything possibly untoward about the vote counting, but he left a lot of supporters from Loudoun County wondering “why was the RPV allowed to get away with that?” If Bob Marshall’s choice is to let it go, that’s fine. I’m a hothead; he clearly is not. But I hope he will at least give us another shot at getting him into the U.S. Senate.

I have video of much of the above and will post it in the next few days. I think it will demonstrate – especially when you see how the 7th District announced their vote totals – that this was a questionable series of events.

There were numerous reports that during yesterday’s Convention activities some more very questionable parliamentary moves (or, more accurately, “non-parliamentary moves”) took place, including Jim Rich getting Jo-Ann Chase bounced from the list of at large candidates to the Republican National Convention. These are just hearsay reports at this time and I hope to get more details, but today the rumors were swirling that RPV leadership was demonstrating that “a fix is in.” The final result in the Senate contest confirmed the rumors for many attendees. All in all, it seemed like a dirty affair.

Then, to top it off, the moment Bob Marshall left the stage after not quite conceding but announcing brightly that the task ahead is to “beat Mark Warner,” a very, very LOUD video promotion for Jim Gilmore was played, telling his life story and stretching over 10 minutes. This was annoying because everyone knew that the vote for RPV Chair still had to occur, so time was really starting to drag. But its annoyingness was nothing compared to Jim Gilmore following the video with a 20+ minute speech in which he did what Jim Gilmore does best, which is to deliver a litany of “conservative principle” cliches and tired phrases. Cherry on the sundae was a Ronald Reagan anectdote, reminding everyone that the types of folks who put the “lame” in “lame ass Republicans” were solidly in control of the Virginia GOP. I think Jim Gilmore and his “Let’s Pretend It’s 1999″ -themed campaign is going to get clobbered this fall. He definitely will not have a lot of the people at today’s Convention out working for him.

Endorsements For Jim Gilmore
Jim Gilmore had something like 20 people give endorsements, “seconding” his nomination, which took forever, wasted our time, said nothing about his personal value but broadcasted loud and clear that business as usual is alive and well in the Virginia GOP. Every dog catcher in VA supports Jim! Yee Hah!

On a positive note, the asshats who WERE in charge of the RPV are no longer in charge. The second ballot of the day, in which Jeff Frederick triumphed overwhelmingly in the race for RPV Chair, may well turn out to be the more significant one. Someone observed that it seems quite incongruous that Frederick clobbered Hager and Marshall lost – when so many people had come with the express purpose of voting for both Frederick and Marshall. The insinuation was, they cheated on the Marshall ballots but could not cheat on both.

I honestly don’t know. But I do hope that having a good guy like Jeff Frederick leading the RPV will inspire some of the disaffected and newly cynical from the results of today’s Senate contest to get involved with the Virginia Republican Party and push the thugocracy aside. Jeff needs to do some housecleaning, and publicize it. With Jeff at the helm, there is real reason for hope, and maybe we can convince Bob Marshall to take another shot.

Ken Cuccinelli Endorsement Speech For Bob Marshall
State Senator Ken Cuccinelli gave one of the best speeches I’ve ever seen Ken give in endorsing Bob Marshall for U.S. Senate. I hope to get the full audio and video posted soon. It can serve as a lasting reminder of why we need Bob Marshall in higher office.

UPDATE: Blog Fu weighs in on Bob Marshall’s future:

A year ago, Bob Marshall was a curious oddity in Virginia politics, a conservative leader who would rather have everyone hate him than compromise his principles. He is no longer an oddity. He is the voice of Virginia’s Republican future. When that realization sinks in within the compromise-on-anything Republican leadership of Virginia, this could cause a seismic shift in Republican politics, and completely transform the political landscape in Virginia.

It’s about time.


I remember the first time I heard the Sex Pistols was on the old WHFS radio station, 102.3 FM “Home Grown Radio” in the 1970s. (Probably one of the best radio stations of all time, and not just in the DC area). My uncle bought me Never Mind The Bollocks for Christmas in 1977 – a well-worn LP I still own. Publicly, I hated the Pistols. I even won a National Council of Teachers of English writing award for an essay I wrote condemning the Sex Pistols as the dirty underside of the punk movement of which I held the Talking Heads up as the “intellectual” and respectable representatives. But like most everything I said as a teenager, that was total BS, because I played the record over and over, through high school and college. The sound was so tinny and unfiltered and unique, it was compelling.

In the 1980s Pistols lead singer Johnny “Rotten” Lydon formed Public Image Limited, a band with a completely different, suave, jazzy sound, and in my book one of the 10 or 15 best rock groups ever formed. The Sex Pistols were an angry teenagers’ band; PIL was a musicians’ band. By that time of course I had graduated to cassettes and PIL was on every party tape I made.

Well, I haven’t really done music per se for a decade or so, so I could not tell you what has been going on in the interim since my party-tape days ended. But I must say this interview with Lydon is one of the more intriguing historical pieces I’ve read in recent years.

Lydon and his wife, he tells me, were due to fly to New York on Pan Am flight 103 on 21 December, 1988. They missed the flight by minutes because Nora had packed late. Hours after take-off the plane exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing all those on board. ‘It was just chance. Sheer chance that we weren’t on board. Sheer chance that we weren’t both blown to bits. That, I can tell you, was one very sobering experience. I mean, that has an effect on you.

Read it all. If you are an old, wistful, new wave codger like me, you will definitely appreciate it. He has quite a story to tell.

New Toy


In keeping with our tradition here at NVTH of staying at least two years behind any given technological curve, I can hereby announce I am marching boldly into 2006 by incorporating Twitter into this Web site. What this means is, I can now send messages from my cell phone to the Twitter Web site, and theoretically they will be forwarded here to the “Twitter Updates” script at the very bottom of the righthand column.

I had to put it at the bottom so in case Twitter is down, as seems to be the case right now, the rest of the blog will still load in your browser.

Anyway, the point of Twitter is to be able to constantly broadcast the answer to the question “What are you doing?” I’m not totally clear on the appeal of that concept, because I can’t imagine anyone caring a whit what I happen to be doing at any particular time, and I know I sure as hell don’t care what any of you are doing at any particular time, but there it is.

One possible use I do see is being able to flash updates on things that people might happen to care about, like “I just saw a boatload of Chinese soldiers disembarking under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge” or possibly results from tomorrow’s RPV Convention.

Unfortunately, none of it will be too easy because I literally do have to use a cell phone – don’t have a Blackberry so the fastest I can create messages is by plodding through the telephone keypad.

So if Twitter is working, and I have anything of value to share, you might find some information of interest at the bottom of the right column of this blog, so please check back periodically.

UPDATE: Here is a video about Twitter.