Monday, May 21, 2007

Culpeper Teacher Severely Punished!


Hat tip: Intercepts and EIA Communiqué

More importantly, the teachers' union (a National Education Association affiliate) stands behind teacher Joyce Tyree, who brandished a knife at students who threatened her with hugs. Here's the money quote about Tyree (coincidentally, the Culpeper County Education Association president) from Dena Rosenkrantz, Virginia Education Association attorney:

“Being suspended,” she said, “is a very serious thing. Being suspended with pay is not a vacation. To be kept from her classroom and not to finish out with her students and have that word ‘suspension’ (on her record), I’m willing to bet she doesn’t consider that light punishment. And we don’t either.”

There's a bad joke about petri dishes and microscopes in there somewhere!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Store Security

We had an interesting conversation the other day with a person involved in department store security in a local mall. It seems that quite a number of the foreign nationals in our area get caught for shoplifting offenses. You wonder what happens with these wonderful people?

The poor, indigent defendants some how get representation much better than that the local public defender can provide. The larceny charges get dropped down to something that won’t threaten immigration status. Many local judges, both in the adult and juvenile court, go along with dismissing cases or convictions on these reduced charges.

Where does the fault lie? It seems to be the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office that is not very aggressive about these cases. In addition, we have some judges who are quite soft on crime. Someone is paying money for some good legal help for these defendants. Is that all worth investigation?

The store security person felt quite intimidated by the system, and didn’t want to rock the boat. Since this is a big election year, it might be a good opportunity to bring this sort of thing to some of our candidates. Chris discussed the candidacy of Patrick McDade for Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney, a guy I also met and think has good ideas. For those of you who live outside of Virginia, you might want to look into the process involving things like shoplifting arrests and prosecutions to see what the heck is really going on.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Carbon Credit Killers!

Hat tip: IMAO

This. Is. Too. Funny
Carbon Credit Killers.

Friday, May 11, 2007

New Factors to Affect Film Ratings

Ever since the Motion Picture Association of America decided to add smoking as a factor in rating movies, pressure groups are demanding even more value-oriented items be used as rating criteria. A coalition of gay rights, labor unions, environmental, and abortion groups has presented a new list to MPAA. According to this list, movies should be rated “R” if they depict any of the following:

  • Coal mining
  • Religious schools (in which no abuses are taking place)
  • Heterosexual couples with their own children
  • Parents adopting children
  • Nuclear power plants
  • Legal immigrants who fill out their paperwork properly
  • Ethical businessmen at a Fortune 500 company
  • Positive depiction of a Republican
  • Economic growth due to tax cuts
  • Failure of socialized medicine
  • Exposure of left-wing lies
  • Debunking of environmentalist hysteria by real scientists
  • Muslim terrorists
  • Heroic actions by the American or Israeli military
  • Political opposition to Fidel Castro
  • Country music stars other than the Dixie Chicks

Feel free to add to this list.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Obama Refines Kansas Remarks

Admits to Gaffe in Richmond

Hat tip: Chris

Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), responding to criticism that he stated 10,000 people died in the Greensburg, Kansas tornado, said today that he meant “10,000 corn stalks were killed.” The Democratic Presidential hopeful also said that he was “trying to appeal to Democratic base supporters who are not very familiar with the people or agriculture of flyover country.” Obama stated his support for ethanol mandates, and mourned “the tragic loss to America’s energy supplies.” He also stated his support for the National Guard and hoped he “could reunite those deployed to Iraq with their comrades back home by September.”

The White House scoffed at Obama’s explanations. “Senator Obama doesn’t know the National Guard from a kernel” said spokeman Tony Snow.

Obama admitted that his political inexperience was a challenge he still needed to overcome. He asked for suggestions on how to avoid his corny mistakes, saying that “I’m all ears.”

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Sen. Cuccinelli Goes to . . . Synagogue?

State Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37) spoke to a Men’s Club meeting at Congregation Adat Reyim in Springfield on April 22, 2007. The congregation’s Men’s Club had been looking for ideas for speakers, so I asked if they would like an elected official. Since the congregation hasn’t had many stop by, the Men’s Club officers approved the idea of having Senator Cuccinelli speak.

After the introduction (during which one member of the audience made a wry comparison with Tevye the Dairyman upon hearing that Cuccinelli had five daughters), Sen. Cuccinelli spoke about his observations on how Northern Virginia voters devote their political attentions. Much of the focus is towards Washington (given that many residents work for the Federal government or contractors). However, not as many people pay attention to the goings on in Richmond, where much of the responsibility for transportation funding lies.

Senator Cuccinelli spoke at length about his efforts to divest the Commonwealth’s employee retirement fund from Sudan, since the Darfur issue is of great interest to many congregants. He spoke of his work through many Senate committees, and his efforts to get real action rather than a statement. His efforts paid off as his bill passed the Senate on a 40-0 vote. However, the House of Delegates passed a very different bill, and the bill finally died in conference committee.

Also of interest to the Jewish community was the kosher/halal bill that passed in the previous session. Previous bills had been ruled unconstitutional by Federal courts, so crafting a new bill took a lot of careful wording as well as legal wrangling. Senator Cuccinelli praised the efforts of the Jewish Community Center lobbyists, and gave credit to Sen. Janet Howell (D-32) and Del. Kenneth Alexander (D-89) for a halal bill. The bill takes regulation out of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and requires that the certification authority information be made available to the consumer. Penalties for consumer fraud start with civil, but can become criminal as well.

Many in the audience were interested in education funding. Senator Cuccinelli told the audience how he has made efforts to change funding formulas only to see them die in the Senate Finance Committee. He noted that Fairfax County has 14% of Virginia’s school children, pays 16% of sales taxes, and 25% of income taxes. However, Fairfax County receives only 7% of K-12 education money back from Richmond. The audience gasped at those numbers. Senator Cuccinelli told the audience of how he tried to amend the educational funding formulas on the floor of the Senate in 2006, but was opposed by Fairfax Senators. He didn’t mention any names, but someone in the audience asked if Senator Richard Saslaw (D-35) was one of them, and Cuccinelli confirmed that he was the leader of the opposition to the budget amendment.

One member of the audience also brought up how new schools opening in Fairfax County look quite grand, like they have overly expensive flourishes well beyond what is needed for functionality. (Liberty Middle School was given as an example.) However, they also become overcrowded quickly. Sen. Cuccinelli pointed out how the Fairfax County School Board knew that schools were going to be overcrowded when they first opened based on known population projections, but did not spend the extra 15% to add another floor to a school (i.e., Westfields High School) to alleviate the problem in advance. He also did not mention that his opponent is on the School Board and would be responsible for these kinds of poor decisions.

Another question included imposition of business, professional and occupational license taxes (“BPOL” tax). Sen. Cuccinelli corrected the misconception that the tax was imposed by the Commonwealth. It is authorized by the Commonwealth, but local jurisdictions decide whether or not to impose it. Senator Cuccinelli noted that the tax was originally imposed to pay for the War of 1812. Apparently, that was a tougher war than we had previously realized, since we still seem to be paying for it…

An audience member asked about health care. Sen. Cuccinelli talked about how Massachusetts has mandated that everyone chooses a health insurance policy, whether through an employer or not. However, Virginia has no health care mandate. He described how Virginia is looking at ideas for cross-state health plan pooling to lower insurance costs to make insurance more widely available.

The topic of health care brought up concerns about temporary detainment of mentally ill people. Sen. Cuccinelli has been personally involved in representing people in these hearings. He pointed out the need for improvement in judicial handling of these cases as well as more money for facility improvements and to increase the number of available beds. This is a long term challenge for the Commonwealth that he hopes will improve in the near future. Senator Cuccinelli noted that he is not a "big spender," but that this is one area that he believes should be a priority within the existing budget.

Although time was starting to run short, Sen. Cuccinelli did discuss the recent transportation compromise. He described how is got a bare majority of votes (21) in the Senate. He said it wasn’t ordinarily the kind of bill he would vote for, but he also understands the need for road improvements, particularly in Northern Virginia. He said that the Northern Virginia delegation does not have a majority in either House of the General Assembly, so compromises and alliances (particularly with the Tidewater delegation) are often necessary. He credited the Governor for signing construction contracts while labor rates have become lower to take advantage of lower costs for taxpayers.

There was a little bit of discussion of Second Amendment rights (given the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech), and Sen. Cuccinelli affirmed his support of those rights. He did point out that some revisions were forthcoming concerning access for those individuals who have received temporary detention orders.

Sen. Cuccinelli had time for one more question from a high school student in attendance who asked about what the Commonwealth was doing about global warming (perfect for Earth Day). Sen. Cuccinelli said that the Government could do more to improve its own energy efficiency. He is also looking at concepts such as congestion pricing for roads that would help traffic flow and thus save drivers on fuel and reduce air pollution, based on the experience of other States.

Based on my own previous observations, it is a safe bet that most Jewish crowds (particularly the non-Orthodox ones) are 70-80% Democratic leaning and very socially liberal. At the end of his discussions with the Men’s Club, Sen. Cuccinelli received a warm applause. Several attendees offered him their thanks for speaking with the group. I would say that his command of the facts as well as his fiscal views made a strong positive impression on the audience.