novatownhall blog

Where you are held accountable for your convictions and record

Browsing Posts tagged Loudoun Insider

I just had one of those amazing morning flashes of brilliance which are unique to me alone. I realized that the entire “anti-Loudoun Insider” population can be classified according to one of the following three categories:

1) Misled
2) Corrupt
3) Insane

I will try to make a point of informing, whenever possible, regarding which category any given comment should be filed under. Hope this helps.

Joe

First, Happy Easter to everyone! From the bottom of my heart I am personally grateful for the continuing participation of nearly every one of you. Thanks for stopping back by, Lovettsville Lady.

Thanks for more late night words of wisdom, Wolverine. To answer the dilemma you pose, I would note that one reason for the wild west atmosphere is the lack of available time by the blog administrator. It takes exponentially more time to referee comment exchanges, to be able to sift those which are merely spirited from those which go over the line. As you know, many of the comment threads go beyond 50 and some have gone well into the 200s. If I had to read them all in order to maintain some standard of civility, there would have been serious stretches of time over the past five years when I would have simply woken up in the morning, deleted every single comment from the night before by clicking on the whole batch, and gone to work. By today, this community would be deserted.

On the other hand, if I had set this up to accept some kind of advertising at the beginning so the blog was not an outflow of both time and money, I might have taken a different tack and been willing to put in more time handling comments with more finesse so as to elevate the overall tone of debate. As it stands, since Sept 2005 I have dropped around two grand on NVTH in direct expenses along with some periods when I had to put in 40 hours or more over a couple weeks’ time when we have migrated to different platforms. (In addition to all the posting and other regular upkeep). Call it something like a lifestyle choice, but my approach has been to try and find that autopilot fine line between too much nastiness and zero commenting activity and try and get the blog to run itself. Because of the day job I had for most of the time, it was extremely critical that I keep the administrative overhead low. But I can tell you, Wolve, if the opportunity arises to spend more time managing this blog, or initiating a more newsy blog that pays me, I would be on the same page with you. This community is underserved as far as news outlets go.

Second, as an Easter gift to myself, I am going to implement a more thorough and arbitrary version of Rule #4 from this list and start deleting comments and banning people simply because they get on my nerves. I don’t care if they do or do not get on anyone else’s nerves, or if anyone takes exception to my decisions. And in case anyone gets the idea we are suddenly stifling “debate,” let it be known that thus far the only comments that have fallen under this category have been by my fellow “conservatives” – so the freewheeling discussion between competing ideologies should be allowed to continue here as it has since the blog’s inception.

UPDATE: The thought just occurred to me of adding a new rule here, which I am going to call the Loudoun Insider Blanket Exemption. The very idea may irritate some of you at first, so please bear with me for an explanation of what the new rule means.

The Loudoun Insider Blanket Exemption, or “LI Rule,” as it shall henceforth be known, states simply that the blog administrator(s) have substantial leeway to regulate comments that are in any way related to the blogger known as Loudoun Insider, whether those comments be favorable or unfavorable, and without regard to how any other comments on this blog are evaluated.

Our reason for implementing the LI Rule is that the blogger known as Loudoun Insider has aroused near-universal disdain among Loudoun County Republicans for reasons that seem to border on mass hysteria, and mass hysteria amuses us, so having this Rule will be a source of mirth – a feeling which has been in precious short supply of late.

I do not expect this new Rule to affect the commenting of most of you, because it will NOT mean blanket protection for LI’s ego. He will continue to take his lumps just like I and everyone else get subject to. However, I now discern it is basically everyone in the world against LI, so I will stand up to say that not only do I NOT consider the man a devil, but I will go so far as to offer sanctuary when needed. If strange things happen to comments or commenters relative to LI, no further explanation will be necessary going forward because there is now a Rule for that.

When all is said and done and we each have to face our final judgment in the Hereafter, and I am called to account for how I managed this project known as NOVA TownHall Blog; and I report that NVTH did not bring souls to Christ, nor did it feed the hungry, nor did it make money, I want to at least be able to say it was a source of amusement for me on occasion.

UPDATE II: As we get the first indication of where the comments are headed after the “Update” from a couple hours ago, it may be useful to bear in mind that the cause of the seeming insanity in Salem, Massachusetts back in the 17th century has likely been traced to ergot poisoning from bad wheat. A little warmth and rain at the wrong times and whammo: instant LSD. It is that time of year, so we want to encourage everyone to check the wheat in their silos for a purplish-to-black mold. Certainly, personal vendettas can run deep in these parts, but we need to rule out St. Anthony’s Fire, first.

As usual, Wolverine asks a question which neatly distills what many have been going on about with regard to our blog-friend, the notorious Loudoun Insider.

(We also acknowledge the righteousness of the lighthearted boy-genius Lloyd the Idiot over at TC, and while we would not relegate Lloyd to the role of jester, we frankly are not sure what to do with him, so we will just say this blog post is about LI and leave it at that.)

Without taking a firm stand on whether LI is good or evil – I suspect that, like most of the human species, he contains a bit of both – I don’t find his actions strange at all, in that they seem simply to be those of someone with an opinion who likes to speak out. His posts much of the time happen to focus on Republicans, and are often critical, although his posts about Democrats over the past couple years have almost always been critical.

If a person leaves the Loudoun County Republican Committee, does that person forfeit the right to express an opinion about Republicans publicly? Obviously, no.

To me what is interesting and further evidenced in Jacob’s post here is LI’s persistent gravitational pull after he has reminded us numerous times he is no longer a member of the LCRC and has not been for a long time. For someone not on the committee, not running for office, and not a campaign worker, he pops up as the topic of an awful lot of the local political conversation both online and out in the world. And not benign conversation either, as a rule. An outside observer might well ask: What the hell is that all about?

The answer which I think is obvious is he is a popular commentator at one of the few information outlets in any medium focused on Loudoun County politics and government. Viewing him in that light rather than as some sort of looming death star, I believe the animosity he generates is disproportionate – although because of the scarcity of entertaining news coverage here in Loudoun it makes perfect sense that he remains such a key influencer.

This is one of the rare cases I would endeavor to correct the Wolve-meister, but I think the question reveals an affliction by the same skewed perspective affecting so many local Republicans.

Regardless of what one thinks of his opinions, it is objective fact that LI is one of the only writers who deals with local political and governmental issues with a consistently interesting voice, and he is by far the most prolific.

The world of blogs – much more than any other journalistic or quasi-journalistic medium – is the purest of meritocracies. No one pays for one blog over the other. None has an advantage in accessibility such as the days when certain newspapers landed in the driveway. They are all, the 70 million of them, equally available to every single user at every single moment, limited only by the purely voluntary effort that user decides to expend with her fingers on a control while staring at a screen. If your concept and writing style do not draw her in, she skips right past, certainly does not stop to comment, and may rarely come back. The very few blogs with any first-to-market advantage also get to become communities, but in most cases the life span is only as long as the front page material merits reading. The blogger whose writings people give a fig about is the one who gets the traffic.

If you scan the landscape for people who can write an occasional interesting blog post – and by that I mean of interest to the aforementioned free Web surfer seeking entertainment, edification or diversion – there are plenty of us. If you survey for bloggers who can regurgitate other people’s work, content from the mass media, or the conventional wisdom, they are like the sands of the sea.

But of those who are consistently interesting – which does mean original – and productive enough that the Web surfer feels it necessary to visit that blog regularly, perhaps more than once daily, there are very few. Here in Loudoun, I would estimate there is approximately: one.

Regarding the overall blog experience, don’t get me wrong: I think the community here at NVTH is second to none, and throughout Northern Virginia there is a great network of blog writers and commenters who make a number of blogs required visits for many of us, and deservedly so. If it weren’t for the creative outlet blogs provide we’d all have to focus our energy in other directions and who knows what might come of it – robotic Sasquatch with laser eyes, or perhaps world peace.

For repeat visits and sheer traffic, however, nothing is more important than front page content, and in this county Loudoun Insider is pretty much the only one providing what he provides: frequent, informative, entertaining writing.

He turns people off and makes them vow to stay away. He has them regularly clucking about the indignities he’s brought upon them. Within almost any circle of LCRC people, to say something positive about LI is to garner countless invisible ice picks in one’s ears. But all of this simply proves my point, which is much more a market observation than a value judgement and certainly not a political statement: Until more people step up and begin providing interesting stuff to read about Loudoun County in a consistent manner, LI will remain a great big blip on everyone’s radar.

You may look to other bloggers for salvation, but so far every single one of them lacks the wit and will to supplant the throne. You may surf over to those in the local press who actually get paid to write, but they will leave you tragically unfulfilled. You may cringe at the sound of his name and wonder in the deepest recesses of consciousness why he haunts you so, but you will find no relief because reality, in the end, is a firm, fixed object.

Resistance is futile.

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has voted 5-4 to accept a revised redistricting plan which apparently is the one which will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Loudoun Insider has a good overview and discussion here. (Earlier discussion here).

The redistricting plan-which-shall-not-be-named is a revision of one of the options detailed early in the process by Supervisor Stevens Miller, who comments here on the new version.

Further discussion, and comment by Liz Miller, here.

LI has an interesting comment on the current controversy in the Republican race for the Loudoun County Sheriff nomination, in particular how the battle lines have been drawn relative to Mike Chapman’s campaign. Worth reading.

Thus far, Too Conservative has been the best source for analysis of the campaign for Loudoun County Sheriff. I plan to keep reporting the news but will remain officially neutral at this stage of the contest for the Republican nomination, first because I think all four candidates seem like decent people, any of whom I could support as the GOP candidate in the general election, and second because I have not figured out which of them has the better skill set to do the job.

What I will editorialize about is how this battle for the nomination has created some interesting sets of bedfellows and enemies, and thereby illuminates a truth about political campaigns which grassroots activists ought to bear in mind.

In this context, “grassroots” can be defined as “those whose labor is deemed as valuable as grass in the field” – in other words: Nice to observe, but not worth paying a single cent. In short, free.

[If there are any "grassroots activists" - or unpaid workers - reading this who are trying to reduce the level of cynicism in their lives, I recommend you stop reading now.]

When clusters of fans form in the context of a political campaign, it is important to remember that in each cluster will be people who are being paid to be there as well as people seeking direct personal gain from the campaign, either in the form of an elected office or some other type of career advancement. These two groups constitute the heart of the cheering section. Then, quite separate but glommed on with these, you have the grassroots activists.

The motivating force behind grassroots activism is a cause, which could be either an issue or candidate seen as representing a means to making the world a better place. Activism arises from the realm of ideas. It plays out, however, in the real-world realm of interest groups or cheering sections.

Often, political contests present starkly different alternatives such that anyone who wishes to influence the outcome – whether for pay or as a free worker – can easily decide which side to support and can do so without caring whether anyone is being compensated to join the fray. In many cases, the contrasting choices are so salient that those who work for free are happy to shell out cash to those who are working at the highest levels to move the ball forward.

In contests where the differences between the candidates are more nebulous, such as in the earlier stages of a campaign, the battle lines are drawn less between the obvious forces of good and evil and more between arbitrarily defined interest groups. Grassroots activists who lose sight of this basic fact risk impaling themselves on a sword for nothing more noble than some other person’s paycheck.

It is our nature, however, to conflate the free work we do in one venue with that of another simply because both take place in our off hours, or include the same casts of fellow travelers, or entail marching under similar banners.

But when the grassroots activist walks into a room with various clusters of fans cheering heartily for and against various primary candidates, he or she ought to remember that each cluster often is less akin to a faction of 18th century patriots inveighing against the Crown than to a group of bettors at the race track all holding tickets for the same horse. The grassroots activist who joins in the yelling is like a non-ticket holder jumping in the air for Horse Number 11 and shouting curses at Horse Number 4 and Number 4′s supporters. For reasons of sanity and appropriate use of energy, those without skin in the game should participate for fun or charity or diversion, but should leave the bloodsport to those who have placed the bets.

LI has some observations worth reading.

I have not weighed in on the redistricting issue partially because of time limitations but also because when I last checked we had a Democrat-controlled Board of Supervisors who are solely in control of the decision and no one has explained to me why any of them would give a rat’s patootie what any Republican anywhere thinks about this matter. I suppose if a conservative were to craft an argument to win the hearts and minds of the Loudoun populace that would be one thing, but I for one am not up to that task.

I agree strongly with BlackOut’s comment in the thread linked above that it seems silly our BOS is allowed to set as one of their priorities for designing the new districts that BOS incumbents will be protected. That just strikes me as bad government all the way around; but I guess the fact it is stated baldly in the redistricting “guidelines” is supposed to make it ok with everyone. Like if someone were to craft a “10-point Plan For Starting A Business In Loudoun County” for the Economic Development portion of loudoun.gov, and Number 4 was “Steal a truck,” everyone would be all right with it since it was posted on the county Web site.

It is amusing to consider LI’s suggestion that Supervisor Andrea McGimsey may need a district as far away as possible from her current constituents in order to have a chance of being re-elected. If I were running against her, in whatever far-flung part of Loudoun County she finagles as her new district of residence, I could imagine putting up “Missing” posters all over the neighborhood streets, just for the fun of it.

UPDATE: Supervisor Stevens Miller gives a reasonable explanation of why the Board agreed to make protecting incumbents one of the guidelines. In essence, this policy protects against hyper-partisan gerrymandering by the majority. Point taken. However, my personal bias against “protecting incumbents” is not because of fear of a nefarious majority but because of desire that magisterial districts reflect actual communities contained therein – a belief that the ideal boundaries should leave communities as whole as possible rather than broken apart to keep a supervisor in office. Admittedly, that is an ideal. As a longtime supporter of reality, I will take Supervisor Miller at his word that the guidelines are intended to guarantee fairness.

UPDATE II: It has just been brought to my attention that there is a very good reason for the LCRC to put forth a redistricting plan. All plans submitted to the Board of Supervisors will be submitted to the U.S. Justice Department as well, so that when DOJ considers the proposal from Loudoun County they will also have the alternatives for reference. It would be irresponsible for the LCRC to not put forward its own suggestion.

This is to augment the fine contest LI is running.

My vote is for Andrea McGimsey, as noted here.