Robert Caro-LBJ #4 Arrives May 1, 2012-Who Will be the Cornerstones?

As I stand among the Sturm and Drang of the 2011 General Assembly races, I received truly exciting news…

Robert Caro will release volume 4 of his biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson on May 1, 2012.  “The Passage of Power” will take up where “Master of the Senate” concluded, and cover the years 1958 to 1964.

It has been a wonderous path Caro himself has trod, as this article describes.

One additional news bit is that what was originally announced as a four book series has been extended to five. Mr. Caro will cover LBJ’s presidential attempt in 1960 through election in his own right in 1964 in Volume 4, then the Great Society and Vietnam through to LBJ’s death in volume 5.

The books are wonderous excursions into not just the life of a president but the life of a region, then a country, and how those places lived and grew. The Caro books are wonderous as much for their side stories as for the biography of the selected individual. His description of the importance of bringing electricity to the Texas Hill country, and how it changed lives, is a marvelous passage almost worthy of a book itself.

In addition these side excursions which so wonderfully frame the main story, I look forward to what I call the “Cornerstone Biographies” that will likely seen in Volume 4.

In all the LBJ books plus “The Power Broker” ( a biography of Robert Moses) Caro has selected one or two people who were critical to helping or hindering the book subject and written mini biographies of them to show how they fit into Moses/LBJ’s life.  In fact, his 15000 words on Sam Rayburn in “Path to Power” was considered to be the best biographical effort about Sam Rayburn until D.B. Hardemann wrote the definitive Rayburn bio in 1989.

The past cornerstones are:

The Power Broker: Al Smith, Nelson Rockefeller
Path to Power: Sam Rayburn
Means of Ascent: Coke Stevenson
Master of the Senate: Richard Russell, Hubert Humphrey
The Passage of Power-???

The question is simply delicious to me…who will it be, and how many will it be?  One or Two Cornerstones?  The possibilities are just incredible…JFK, RFK, MLK, Adlai Stevenson, and my personal favorite-Everett Dirksen, the GOP leader in the Senate in the 1960’s who played such a key role in bringing in GOP votes in favor of Civil Rights legislation.

We shall see…as of now, May 1 is circled in red ink on my calendar!


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Too Cute, Too Clever, and Too Desperate

Near as I can tell it is the time of the year to go for “Too”.  No, not the two point conversion after a touchdown…but the “Too’s” that refer to excessive something-and we’ve got plenty of it going around.

No, this is not a reference to the blog Too Conservative.

First there is the “Too Cute”.  Someone gets an idea, often an idea that is not that important, and blow it up and through unbridled creativity and bad judgement turn it into a problem.  This award goes to the LCRC for their ghoulish depiction of President Obama as a zombie with a bullet hole in his forehead. I can just picture the conversation:

Wayne: We need a new graphic for the website for Halloween
Garth: How about a zombie?
Wayne: Woah…how about a zombie with a bullet hole in his head?
Garth: Yeah-but only if really scares folks…you know, someone folks know..
Wayne: And a bunch of other pictures-maybe with a girl zombie
Garth: Girl zombie…someone everyone knows? How about…
Wayne: OBAMA and…
Garth: PELOSI!

Yeah…party on. In fact, their too cuteness was so awesome that it garnered television coverage, newspaper coverage, blog coverage…and a raft of terrible publicity for the LCRC less than ten days from an election.

Meanwhile, back in Fairfax is the Too Clever bunch at Put Braddock First (PBF)-better known to Virginia politics as Petersen, Bulova, Oleszek, and Tribbett.   Recently I mentioned the unusual financial reports submitted by PBF. Ben Tribbett, the group treasurer, sent me an email assuring me it was legal.  Apparently is is all a matter of timing, as PACS and the like are on a different reporting calendar than candidates. Based on the information in front of me, I buy that explanation.

But his answer does not explain why do it this way?  With the same three candidates being both the only contributors and the only recipients of benefit, and with a paper trail that easily shows that these are candidate financed mailings, why do it? It seems like a lot of effort for little result. Bottom line-“Too Clever”.

Last but not least is Shawn Mitchell.  Before the LCRC lost its common sense and went all Zombie on us Mitchell had provided the big shocker in Loudoun County (and parts of Prince William).  Apparently running behind Dick Black, Mitchell-as have Democrats before him-began to demonize Black over being Pro-Life and supportive of Second Amendment rights…or, in Liberal speak-Abortions and Guns.  However, it was not enough for Mr. Mitchell to take issue with Mr. Black’s record.  He felt the need to send out this image.

Really? Doesn’t he realize that a recitation of Mr. Black’s record without this image would be adequate to fire up the faithful? Now he has managed to fire up the faithful, fire up those opposed to him, and likely disgust undecided voters with bad judgement in using such a picture. I can only imagine he is “Too Desperate”…a candidate who thought he was in better condition with the voters would not have chanced using this image.

Yep-we are in the middle of “Too” season…and I fear there are a few more “too”‘s yet to be seen:

Alas, it is todays version of democracy at work, and all this conduct is “too telling”, the conduct is all “too sad for words”, and this election is “too far from over” for my taste…

Chap Petersen’s Dangerous Game

The Mason Conservative is picking around the odd finances of the “Put Braddock First” (PBF) group, which is carrying a $12,500+ debt, apparently based in debt to Mission Control LLC, a mail company that labels itself “One of the Premier Democratic Mail Firms in the Country”.

VPAP shows PBF taking in $450 in in-kind contributions against $900 in-kind expenses. At the same time VPAPA shows PBF has contributed $8684.00 total to The Hoot, Sharon Bulova, and Chap Petersen. The Virginia SBE report reflects the debt to Mission Control.

This bizarre situation is almost perfectly summed up by TMC, who says:

The money out is going only to Oleszek and Bulova, but there is no breakdown of where the money comes from. We are two weeks out from the election, shouldn’t that have been disclosed yet? How can Janet Oleszek accept over $4,000 and Sharon Bulova over $2,000 [B-Note: and almost $2k to Chap!] and it not be disclosed to the public two weeks before an election?

I don’t understand this situation, either.  As of the last campaign report Chap! had $295k on hand, while Bulova between two committees has $200k on hand.  Why are they mucking around with small potatoes like this?  I can only assume this is some way they can underwrite mailings for The Hoot, and I guess in theory and legality it all comes out in the wash.

This last second charge the job and pay later reminds me of the silliness that Judy Feder tried in 2006/2008 in Va-10…but I digress.

If Chap and Sharon B want to pay for a mailing, why launder the money?  I don’t understand the need for this circuitous path, as all it does is raise questions.

What follows is all my speculation and based in nothing more than the erratic wanderings of my grey cells…

I think Chap is playing a dangerous game.  Why engage in this practice when it is so clearly odd and so clearly liable to be misconstrued?  More practically, why do it when the dollar amounts are so small?

By all accounts Chap! wants to run statewide in 2013.  Why create a situation that can only work against him?  This appears to be an arrangement that at the least is contrary to the spirit of the recording laws if not the letter.

I suspect this all gets back to the Braddock primary contest.  Chap! backed The Hoot over the Bulova endorsed candidate.  I think he did that to get in good with the Fairfax Liberal Democrats in preparation for the 2013 Democratic nomination fight.  Having won that fight, he needs some way to paper over any differences with Sharon B, so he goes in on an arrangement that also gets some funds to The Hoot to allow her to more fully demonize her opponent without offering up a single original or positive thought of her own.

(note to self-I wonder how Chap! and Sharon B feel about The Hoot demonizing those who are elected to part-time positions and hold down full time jobs…you know, positions like Virginia state Senator or County Board Chairman).

This manuever just seems too clever by half, and something that will rebound against Chap! down the road.

Runing for statewide office is difficult enough…why do things that can make the road more difficult?  As I said, I have to wonder what game Chap! is playing…whatever it is, it does not look smart.

Scattershot General Assembly Election Ruminations

As I zip around the blogosphere and the MSM, a few distinct impressions hit me…so lets take things one topic at a time today…

I feel bad for Chuck Colgan: He may win, he may lose.  All I have heard is that BVBL suggests the Obama drag is impacting several Senate races by diminishing base enthusiasm, and one of them is Colgan’s campaign. I do know two things: First, I drove to Manassas on Wednesday night for a funeral viewing, and on the way down Va-28 there were precious few Colgan signs. Four years ago, in his second “well, OK, I won’t retire since you begged me” race that strip of highway had a consistent Colgan presence. Second, and the reason I feel bad for him, is it is a real pity when a 9-term state senate faces has such doubts about his health that he has to repeat an advertisement of him running up stairs to try to put them to rest. Better for him if he could point to a recent accomplishment-but he cannot.

The sad truth is that Colgan achieved very little in Richmond prior to Harry Parrish coming to the House of Delegates, and has achieved very little since Harry’s death. Even this advertisement offers very little of in the way of achievement, only that he “fought” to accomplish things. In fact, these are the same things he was fighting for when he ran his “Rocky” ad in 2003 and 2007. One would think by now these things he is “fighting” for would have been accomplished. Pretty thin reed to hang your hopes for reelection on after more than three decades in the Virginia Senate.

Succession Ridiculosity: Isn’t it a sad commentary that this is the third time in eight years the Virginia Democrats have had to beg Chuck Colgan to run again because they have no one else who could win that Senate seat in Prince William County?  Wouldn’t you think after all this time they might have had time to groom a successor?

Dave Marsden Irony Alert: Dave Marsden jumped parties to run for public office, and elbowed aside long time Democratic activist Cathy Belter to get the slot. He has never been beloved by the Democratic rank and file, and yet he has to count on them to turn out for him if he is to win election to a four year term in a district he actually lives in. Yep, he needs the folks who don’t really like him to come out in force. Where is Alanis Morrisette when you need her?

Inspiration still needed?: I hear reports that Democrats in Virginia are running political advertisements focusing on gun rights and reproductive issues. If this is true, then they are in deep kimche. If they felt the President’s approval ratings were higher than published, they would be pushing him and his agenda to elect Democrats. If they had a compelling issue to take to the public, they would be pushing that issue. But if barely two weeks prior to an election they are focusing on Democratic base voters hot button issues, then they are in trouble and are trying to make sure the base comes out.

Depressed Partisans: There are many Democrat bloggers and writers who urge democratic voters to vote this year to prevent the potential trouble to be caused by GOP control of both houses of the General Assembly plus a GOP governor. Does it reveal the the weakness of the cause that their cause and candidates that the motivation here is not to support a Democratic agenda, but to vote against things the GOP have not yet done ?

Exuberant Partisans:   On the other side of the coin, I think every GOP blogger who is predicting a big GOP day on election day needs to go outside, turn around three times, and spit…or cuss…or even both…

…because it is foolish to risk the wrath from high atop the thing due to simple electoral hubris…ask President Dewey.

Shameful Images: Shame on the Democratic state senators who are putting images on their web sites that could cause one to infer they support Governor McDonnell, and on those who regularly put up photographs from 20 years ago and claim that is how they look now.

Hoot Kudos: One must give credit to Janet Oleszek, who apparently alone of all candidates on both sides of the aisle puts her party affiliation on her signs.   She did it in 2007, also.

Who’s Zooming Who?: I am regularly astonished by the number of Democrats who want and who get fired up when former Republican office holders who have turned their back on the GOP endorse Democratic candidates. Is there real value in an endorsement by Lynwood Holton, Russ Potts, or John Chichester?’

Who’s Zooming Who? part 2: Is there anyone out there who is really excited about a George Allen-Tim Kaine match up in 2012?  If so, there is professional counseling available to help you.

Va. 22-Democratic Firewall?: The open seat race in Virginia Senate 22 is between a Democrat from the most populous portion of the district against a Republican from the least populous portion.  There is also a sizeable African-American population.  I wonder if this ends up being the firewall race for the Democrats?

Everyone-have a great weekend!  Rush out now for bread and toilet paper before the Saturday snowfall reaches us!



Democratic Disappointment, Part 2: Feet of Clay Leaders Do Not Rally Rank and File

While the Virginia Democrats reel from the planned non-leadership of the Warner-Kaine years, they have to carry a bit of the burden themselves, because these are the leaders they chose to follow.

In fact, almost every leader thought to have wings on his heels since the Democrats have followed since Mark Warner took back the Governors Mansion and initiated a Decade of Hope has proven to have feet of clay.

Mark Warner is at the top of the list. He may be the most popular politician in the Commonwealth, but it seems like Karma for the Warner Deception keeps rolling back to him. As noted previously, Warner told GOP legislators that the state needed a tax increase in 2005 to maintain its AAA rating…and when all the revenue receipts were in it was shown that the state would have run a surplus even without the tax increase.

He is in the US Senate, but he has proven to be ineffectual and unable to create a role for himself either inside the Democratic or GOP tents. I wonder if the stories about his conniving as governor have followed him to Washington and left him somehow tainted and limited as to how far he can be trusted.

Then there is Tim Kaine. Tim Kaine, the luckiest politician in Virginia history. This is the guy who led the effort to not offer up a Democratic plan and just let GOP infighting hand power to the Democrats.

Tim Kaine, who not only did not attempt to lead the Dems to power but who’s sudden an and inexplicable endorsement of Gerry Connolly in the 2008 10th Congressional district Democratic primary led the founders of the blog “Raising Kaine” to change the name to “RK”. Kaine stays in the game through the good graces of his benefactor President Obama, but he has long shown that what he accomplishes in politics is the result of good luck, good timing, and good backers…but seldom based on accomplishment.

While it will be something to watch the progressives who orphaned him due to his Connolly endorsement come running back to the fold to support his likely candidacy against George Allen next year.

Next on the line is Senator Jim Webb. Webb’s situation is both the most predictable but also for the Democrats the most painful. After all, he agreed to run for the US Senate in 2006 against a man he endorsed in 2000 and swore to be running as a “populist/progressive/definitely not conservative” type. As a variety of comments at BlueVa show, his recent stands in the Senate confound those who fought so hard to get him into the Senate…but now accord him plaudits like:

“The fact that he’s not running again is par for the course for him. He’s bounced around from position to position for decades, he’s more of a dabbler than a guy who’s going to focus on one thing and do that one thing well. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s bailing on the Senate after one term, and it’s not surprising at all that he hasn’t been more progressive in his nearly 5 years in the Senate.” (NotJohnsMosby, BlueVa 10.12.2011)

That’s the peak of the mountain of leadership discontent the Democrats wrestle with, but it does not end there. The General Assembly is a graveyard of leadership potential for the Democrats. One has to go back to 1989-1992 and Doug Wilder/Leslie Byrne/Robert Moss to find Democrats from the General Assembly elected to statewide or Congressional office. Meanwhile, the current leadership of Ward Armstrong and Dick Saslaw-the leadership that gave the Democrats the “let power fall into our hands”-certainly gives pause

Without a record to run on, it is any surprise that Democratic activists are reduced to pleading for votes not in support of anything, but against the GOP…not against specific GOP legislation, but against some amorphous threat? With leadership discontent like this, is it any wonder the Democrats are having trouble firing up the rank and file?

Of course, some Democratic office holders are more indicative of what the pursuit of pure power has done to the Democrats…but that’s for another time.

Oleszek+Firefighters=Electoral Hypocrisy

I try to stay awake on my drive to work, I really do. Not only does it make for a safer drive, but some days I notice things of interest-like today, and on a campaign sign.

You may recall a few weeks back the small campaign contretemps in Braddock District where The Hoot was endorsed by the firefighters (IAFF). The IAFF takes issue with John Cook over the need for a fourth firefighter on ladder trucks.  The Hoot campaign made much of the fact they endorsed against an incumbent.  This ignores the historic IAFF almost exclusive endorsement of Democrats.  Ben Tribbett

Not mentioned in all this is that this need was first put forth in 2001, and since then the Democrat majority board has opted not to fund the position. The Mason Conservative noted that this meant The Hoot was effectively attacking Gerry Connolly and Sharon Bulova as the above denail of funding happened while they were serving as Board chair. With a solid majority on the board, it would have been no problem for the Democrats to make this happen-but they did not, not even when the county coffers were flush with greenbacks.

When I read this, I was surprised to see The Hoot cast as a rebel, but hey…you do whats you got to do to win an election.

Imagine my surprise this AM when I noticed that Bulova reelection signs with IAFF endorsement stickers on them.  If you double check the Sharon Bulova website you see the IAFF under her list of endorsements.

So they endorse The Hoot because she will stand up to John Cook and fight a policy long endorsed by Sharon Bulova and the Majority Democratic board. But if that is the case, how can they endorse Sharon Bulova? Is it because she’s a…Democrat?

If you want to endorse her because she’s a Democrat, just do it. Don’t do this Three Bumper Endorsement Dirty Boogie to try to rationalize the endorsement and make it seem like its motivated by anything more than sheer partisan politics.

Hoot has already revealed her limited grasp of county government, her Bonnie Brae debate “talk show” performance indicates how scared she is to take public questions from her constituents. But regardless of that you always thought there was a certain nutty resolution and core ethics to her.

Given this endorsement farce and her participation in it, I think we can be sure that Janet (with the help of the IAFF) has shown that she lacks knowledge of local government, lacks a willingness to answer questions from constituents unless she has control of the circumstances, and apparently lacking in scruples in this last desperate attempt to regain elected office.