The campaign begins. With much-needed media coverage:
Monday, July 07, 2008
Getting thereThe boys at the Times will tell you that an increase in gasoline taxes - which they support - and an increase in cigarette taxes - which they support - though regressive, only amount to pennies. Well, folks over in West Virginia have done the math. Over there, each 1% reduction in food taxes alone amounts to 2,500,000,000 pennies. Not a number to sneeze at.
Taxes are called "progressive" if the affluent pay a larger share, and "regressive" if they fall heavily on low-income families. Gasoline tax, food tax and sales tax on clothing are examples of the latter, because the "working poor" must drive cars, eat meals and wear clothes about as much as the wealthy. To tax everyone the same puts a heavier burden on those who have little.
This month, West Virginia's sales tax on food finally was cut in half, after a long struggle. Progress is coming, 1 percent at a time. However, this state's food tax is still a geographic anomaly. Virginia is the only neighboring state still taxing food, at just 2.5 percent.
Each 1 percent cut leaves $25 million a year in people's pockets, according to Craig Griffith, deputy state tax commissioner. And it drains that much from the state treasury. (link)
So the kids at the Gazette oppose taxing the hell out of the poor. Who'da guessed.
Now if we could just convince them that the reason their state capital is becoming an empty wasteland is directly related to their state government overtaxing the hell out of everyone and everything else as well, we'd be making serious progress.
No. You change your admissions policy. We can't be having a bunch of (high achieving) Asians dominating enrollment rosters.
Thus we bear witness to the one minority that is discriminated against routinely, and enthusiastically, and openly, and to the fact that nobody gives a damn.
And the school board will continue to "review" its policy until the right number of
At Magnet School, An Asian Plurality
By Michael Alison Chandler, Washington Post Staff Writer
Asian American students will outnumber white classmates for the first time in the freshman class at the region's most prestigious public magnet school this fall, a milestone reached as the number of African Americans and Hispanics has remained low and the Fairfax County School Board prepares to review the school's admission policy.
At Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in the Alexandria area this year, more than 2,500 applicants vied for 485 seats. Asian American students got 219, or 45 percent of the total, while white students got 205, or 42 percent. About 38 percent of the school's students were Asian American in the past school year.
In 2004, the board adopted an admissions policy that takes racial and ethnic diversity into account as a "plus factor" but not a determining factor. Unlike the approach used by Stuyvesant High and the other specialized schools in New York, which relies primarily on standardized exam results, the T.J. admissions process weighs grade-point averages on a sliding scale with test scores in an initial screening. In the second round, the selection committee considers additional factors, including teacher recommendations and extracurricular activities that demonstrate interest in science and technology, as well as students' cultural background, economic status, sex or race.
Despite those changes and a weekend enrichment program meant to help prepare promising candidates from under-represented groups, admissions of Hispanic and black students have increased only slightly. The incoming class will have 10 Hispanic and nine African American students. The School Board is scheduled to review the admissions policy this month. (link) (my emphasis)
For the love of God.
Five distilleries across the state. Shoot, truth be known, we have that many here in Bland County. But the thing is, you'll never find 'em. They don't "drip out" "Spirits of the Blue Ridge" and put it in a fancy tankard, to be sipped from a specially-designed goblet. They squeeze corn likker and pour it in a mason jar. Or a plastic milk jug. And they don't get write-ups in the paper until the revenuers bust 'em and send 'em off to the pokey.
State's small distilleries burgeoning
By Lorraine Eaton, The Virginian-Pilot
Virginia Beach - On a recent evening, in a small but immaculate Virginia Beach warehouse, Chris Richeson stood in front of an erector-set-looking thing attached to an enormous, stainless-steel vat.
As the vat's motor emitted a rhythmic drone, Mr. Richeson fixed his eyes on a glass beaker filled with clear liquid he had siphoned. Two glass instruments submerged in the liquid would tell him whether the vat's contents are legal in Virginia.
Mr. Richeson is the owner of Chesapeake Bay Distillery, a small enterprise in the Lynnhaven area, where he crafts and hand bottles a corn-based vodka called Spirits of the Blue Ridge. The vodka has been sold at state liquor stores since September.
His distillery is one of a growing number of small “craft” liquor-making operations bubbling up in Virginia.
Across the state, five small distilleries drip out ... (link)
Interesting how such things can be spun by the media. We have a "burgeoning" liquor industry in Virginia. I'm completely overwhelmed by the news. Someone pass me the Blue Moon.
Well, it should be noted that John McCain speaking before an audience makes John Kerry look like William Jennings Bryan.
Don't think for a minute that this isn't important. Barack Obama hasn't gotten to where he is by uttering a coherent policy platform that followers could rally around. Or even articulate. He has presence. He delivers passion. He invokes and inveighs. The fact that he says nothing of substance is of less concern to his minions. Odd but factual.
McCain Battles a Nemesis, the Teleprompter
By Mark Leibovich, The New York Times
A politician who has thrived in the give-and-take settings of campaign buses, late-night TV couches and town meetings, he now is trying to meet the more formal speaking demands of a general election campaign.
By his own admission, Mr. McCain is not a great orator. He is ill-suited to lecterns, which often dwarf his small stature, and he tends to sound as if he is reading his lines, not speaking them. His shortcomings have been accentuated in a two-man race, particularly because the other man — Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee — can often dazzle on stage.
Mr. McCain is working closely with aides like Brett O’Donnell, a former debate consultant for Mr. Bush, to improve his speech and performance. He is working to limit his verbal tangents and nonverbal tics. He is speaking less out of the sides of his mouth, which can produce a wiseguy twang reminiscent of the Penguin from the Batman stories, and he is relying less on his favorite semantic crutch — the phrase “my friends” — which he used repeatedly in his campaign appearances. He also appears to be trying to exercise restraint, advisers and campaign observers say, when speaking off the cuff, wisecracking in town meetings and criticizing his opponent. (link)
So McCain (unlike Kerry) recognizes his weakness and is doing something about it. It'll be interesting to see if, at his age, he can transform himself. Let's watch.
The one aspect of the Barack Obama campaign that neither he nor his supporters care to touch upon is the man's woeful lack of qualifications to be president. The New York Times sent a reporter out to give the man's résumé a boost, and came away empty:
Obama’s Organizing Years, Guiding Others and Finding Himself
By Serge Kovaleski
Mr. Obama’s three-year stretch as a grass-roots organizer has figured prominently, if not profoundly, in his own narrative of his life. Campaigning in Iowa, Mr. Obama called it “the best education I ever had, better than anything I got at Harvard Law School,” an education that he said was “seared into my brain.” He devoted about one-third of the 442 pages in his memoir, “Dreams From My Father,” to chronicling that Chicago organizing period.
In recent days, Mr. Obama has imbued those years with even greater significance, invoking them last week as inspiration for his plan to deliver social services through religious organizations. He told a conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church on Saturday that as a community organizer he “let Jesus Christ into my life” and “I dedicated myself to discovering his truth and carrying out his works."
It is clear that the benefit of those years to Mr. Obama dwarfs what he accomplished. Mr. Kellman said that Mr. Obama had built the organization’s following among needy residents and black ministers, but “on issues, we made very little progress, nothing that would change poverty on the South Side of Chicago.” (link) (my emphasis)
Translation: Barack Obama was a low-level community organizer who, in three years of effort, accomplished zilch. But it made for a good opportunity for him to run for public office.
Not the kind of thing that instills confidence.
And that I think is why Obama cannot make a clean break, announce he’s smarter than the average politician, and come right out and say the surge is now the bipartisan strategy of both parties. He simply isn’t willing, at least not yet, to face his base and admit his campaign was premised on the wrong policy."Sunday Talkers Not Kind," Commentary magazine, July 6, 2008
But I think something else is at work here as well: his own belief that the war is still not winnable. As to the latter, in all the to and fro, we have yet to hear from Obama that he thinks the war can have a successful conclusion. The one constant in all the muddled and contradictory comments is his stated belief that we have to get out of Iraq to go fight elsewhere. Maybe that has changed too and we don’t yet know it. But until he embraces the notion that this is a winnable and worthwhile fight to complete I doubt we will hear a full-throated commitment to the surge. After all, the point of the surge is to avoid a horrid defeat for America, prevent ethnic genocide and regional chaos, and execute a successful transition to a self-sufficient Iraq which can build on the political and military progress resulting from the surge. Does Obama think that is possible? He has yet to say he does.