Friday, December 28, 2007
Bankers are funny critters. I suppose I'll never fully understand how Annual Percentage Rate is calculated. No, that's not quite right. I do understand how Annual Percentage Rate is calculated; I just don't understand why it is always used to describe a short-term loan that, by law, must be re-paid in 30 days or less. But apparently they teach you to think only in annual terms at that big banker school in Carolina.
Now, if Charlie came to me next Friday and explained that his cash flow was still weak and that he would have to pay me the 15% interest and hold off for a while on the rest, that would be getting closer to my banker friend's 390% interest rate, but it's not there yet. Charlie would have to repeat that performance every two weeks for a year before he hit that magical APR number. (While I may enjoy that $7.50 a week in extra income, at some point I'm going get sentimental about that original Franklin portrait and want to see it again.)
As I said, that can't happen legally. What Charlie can do, and some folks resort to I suppose, is pay me the full $115 and immediately ask for another loan at the same terms. Charlie and I both know this is a dumb move, but Charlie is desperate, and I'm a sucker for a quick and easy $15 bucks, so we strike a deal. I can't say that rollovers of that sort do not occur frequently across the Commonwealth, but the folks I've spoken to in this area who work at payday lenders tell me that none of the lenders in Henry County will continue to approve such loans. Further, most of the payday lenders in Henry County use a private statewide (or maybe it's national, I didn't ask) database that will inform them if a potential customer has outstanding payday loans at other lenders, this helps prevent Charlie from getting a loan from Joe to repay me.
I suppose that Annual Percentage Rate is used so as to always be comparing apples to apples when discussing the merits and disadvantages of various lending practices. So be it. It may also be used merely as a way of making payday loans look much worse than they really are. Either way, let's compare apples to apples.
What were Charlie's options last week when his electric service was about to be cut off? He could have written a bad check to APCO, hoping that either it would not clear until his next payday, or more likely, it would be after his next payday before APCO made him aware of the bounced check. By then though, he would have the cash to go to APCO and pick up the check, even though it would cost him at least a $25 returned check fee, plus the fee from his bank, at least another $25. So now Charlie is paying $50 in "interest" on this "backdoor loan", at an Annual Percentage Rate of 1,304%. But wait, Charlie's APCO bill was already late, that's why he got the disconnect notice, remember? So APCO put a $35 "late fee" onto his $100 bill, an APR of 426% (since the APCO bill is payable monthly I calculated the $35 at a 30 day term, resulting in a proportionally lower APR).
Charlie's other option was to simply live in the dark for a week. That would leave him with the original $100 bill, plus the $35 late fee, plus a $25 reconnect fee, at an APR of 730%. That doesn't include the cost of replacing all of the food in his freezer, or the cost of many dinners and flowers to get his wife to speak to him again.
That $15 bucks Charlie paid me is beginning to look like a real bargain, no?
People have always gotten into trouble with debt. People will continue to get into trouble with debt, even if the payday lenders are closed. The fact is, for the vast majority of their customers, payday lenders provide a valuable service. As long as they are used in the manner they were intended, they are a valuable resource to a community. Used as a long term solution to poor financial planning, they are a catastrophe, but still better than most of the alternatives.
The final question is, is it the proper role of government to protect us from our own stupidity? Or even worse, the stupidity of others? I don't think so.
NOTE: In fairness to my banker friend, he and I essentially agree on this subject.
Next: Why short-term, low dollar loans are not available at your friendly local bank anymore.
Some people, specifically Roscoe Reynolds for the sake of this article, would call me a predator for helping my pal Charlie keep his family out of the dark. If I was so bold as to open a storefront and make a business of transactions of this sort, Senator Reynolds would have me shut the doors, never to help anyone again.
Today I spent some time in the offices of a couple of those "nasty Payday lenders". There I met three delightful ladies, each of them eager to teach me how their industry works. I learned that they fulfill a real need in our community, a need realised by people from all cross sections of our society. Whether you are a local factory worker or an executive in one of those factories, a teacher in our local school system or a student away at college, a retiree living on a pension or a worker now living on disability, chances are you could benefit from the services offered at your local "payday lender". These three ladies related stories from each scenario. Stories of real local people they have helped get across a personal hump in their daily life.
I also learned there are currently over 20 of these businesses in Martinsville and Henry County. Businesses that employ from 1 to 5 people per office. At least 60 local families depend, at least in part, on this industry for their household income. That's 60 more local individuals that Senator Reynolds wishes to put out of work. That's also 20 more empty, unleased buildings in Henry County. Yes, Senator Reynolds wants to close these local offices. His Senate Bill No.25 would outlaw the services provided by the three ladies I spoke with today, and any other similar service throughout the Commonwealth. Ironically, I don't think it would outlaw the personal contract I spoke of earlier between me and Charlie.
I'll have more on this subject later, check back often.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Before I go though, I want to direct you to the Carnival of Christmas at my dear friend's blog, Cathouse Chat. She's done a wonderful job of putting together a bunch of Christmas themed articles from around the world, go by and check it out.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
That was fun, but there is much more to the story of Christmas, very much more. As told in the Gospel of Luke;
1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
It seems some have their undies in a wad over Mike Huckabee's Christmas ad.
Let's get this straight, right from the beginning. I'm a Christian, Conservative Republican. I don't like it very much when politicians "overuse" their faith or religious beliefs in a public setting. But my goodness, (to quote a local TV host), Huckabee is offering a political version of a Christmas card to the viewers. What would they have him say, "Happy fill-in-the-blank"?
He and his family celebrate Christmas, as do most of us. To those who celebrate it, Christmas IS the celebration of Christ's birth. Simply saying "merry Christmas" and explaining just what it is he's celebrating is not a slur upon those who do not believe that Jesus was (and is) the Messiah, any more than the softly uttered "praise be unto him" after the mention of Mohammed's name is a slur upon Christians and Jews*.
Get over it people. Huckabee may or may not be my choice when I close the curtain in November, but this is hardly a reason to slam the man.
OK, so the bookcase is shaped like a cross. So are many things we encounter every day. I suppose Catholic League president Bill Donahue should refrain from looking at telephone poles or coat trees and just be happy there is no "T" in his name.
*Even if we are the spawn of rats and pigs and deserve to die horrible gruesome deaths.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
The old logo;
Has now been changed to reflect the new direction Hillary has forced upon K'rack Obama;
Friday, December 14, 2007
- Blogroll. My blogroll has not been updated in a very long time. I'll be working on that today. If you have a relatively new Virginia blog, and are not currently represented on my blogroll, please let me know. I'll consider all submissions.
- Some time back I posted an open question, "Unleash Your Progessive Thoughts", which was never adequately answered. It now appears on my sidebar, never to scroll away. Come on liberals, let's hear your ideas on how to end gun violence. The comment and trackback sections are open.
- An article will be coming today about Governor Timmy! and his completely unworkable plan to raise teacher salaries to the national average. Begin working now on a response that will explain to me and my readers just how you could make it work without taking even more (if not ALL) local control away from your school board.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
So now comes to the literature of Virginia politics a self-published good look back, Wading in the Muddy Pool: A Virginia Political Memoir, 1972-1982 ($15.00, Old Favorites Bookshop, PO Box 8347, Richmond, 23226) by Richmond book dealer Gary S. O’Neal.
O’Neal, who began a 10-year sojourn through Virginia’s political corridors in 1972, when he signed on as an aide to Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates John Warren Cooke, has served up a rare inside look that reads like an oral history, despite wording here and there that seems…well…a touch quaint.
I’ll translate one for you: “recently passed from the earthly scene” means somebody died.
Still, this is a good, snappy read, as much for its candid observations as anything. (The two-page memory of the House Clerk’s Office is worth the purchase price.)
Virginia politics now is a bland vanilla team sport. It used to be a game of individuals. Many of the personalities here have “passed from the earthly scene,” and won’t be recognized by anyone, even inside players, under the age of 60, or so.
A few will stir the dust of memory:
“Robert B. Ball, Sr., a Democrat from Henrico County, was a self educated man and one time butcher who became a success in the hotel-motel business and real estate. He amassed a fortune in the 1950’s by putting pay TV sets in his motels and used to brag that he took a wheel barrow of quarters a week to the bank.”
“William Dudley, Democrat, “Bullet Bill,” a former NFL great and football star at UVA. Nice man, but fairly dense, more adept at attending local sports banquets than debating the issues of the day.”
“George Mason Green, Republican, one of the last Arlington County Republicans before the Democrats became the dominant party in that area. One of the new breed of right wing ideologues.”
“Frank Mann, Democrat, Alexndria politician and former mayor of that city. Went back on his word to Delegate Lane (Ed Lane, of Richmond) on a committee vote at the 1973 session, a disagreeable man with little character.”
“Thomas W. Moss, Democrat, Norfolk politician, liked the ladies and the bottle.”
“Stanley Owens, Democrat, Prince William County, at that point growing somewhat senile, later known throughout the Assembly for crashing into a water fountain with his car at an Interstate 95 rest stop and then trying to bill the House of Delegates for the damage to his auto.”
“As Speaker, Philpot (Albert Lee, of Henry County) was more politically assertive than Cooke. He saw the role of the Speaker as that of an active participant in the political process, rather than a nonpartisan referee like Speaker Cooke. I don’t mean that Cooke had no party loyalty, but he exercised it gently while A. L. used a whip.”
“Dorothy McDiarmid, Democrat from Fairfax, whose husband Hugh constantly trailed her around the Capitol.”
O’Neal has given Virginia’s political junkies a tasty appetizer (91 pages). I wish it had been an entrée.
You could do worse than buying this book.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
In an electrical circuit, the speed of electrons is about 4 x 105 meters per second. In a word, fast.
Yes, electrons are speedy little buggers. But an electrical circuit can be no faster than the response time of it's slowest component. In most circuits that would be a mechanical relay.
In nature this concept is carried over into herding animals. An example would be a herd of antelope, which can move no faster than it's slowest members. In nature this works to the advantage of the herd, as the slower and weaker members are regularly culled by predators or hunters.
The human brain is both electrical and organic, thus it operates on this same principle. It can be no faster than it's slowest brain cells. Brain cells, however, have no natural predators. But we do have alcohol. Excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells, but in obeyance of natural selection laws, only the slowest and weakest are the first to go. Consequently, the regular consumption of alcohol eliminates the weaker cells, thus continually making the brain a swifter and more efficient organism.
The result of my thesis is verified by the link between frat parties and engineering student performance. It also could be used to explain why, after leaving school, getting married, and "settling down" most engineers can not keep up with the latest graduates. Only those of us that maintain a strict regimen of a short glass (or two) per day are able to maintain the intellectual level of our more recently graduated peers.
Anyway, that's my theory, and I'm sticking to it.
Let's lift a short glass to my "weedin' out the weak ones" theorem.
A little background first. Some time back a Times editorial staffer, Christian Trejbal, decided it would be great fun to publish the entire concealed carry permit holder database, just because he could, and because it would really piss off those "gun nuts" out there in Timesland.
Well, not only "gun nuts" thought Mister Trejbal was being way too irresponsible, so did Attorney General Bob McDonnell, who advised the state police to shut off public access to its database. At about that same time, House Majority Leader Morgan Griffith said, "I think the real concern here was that there were a lot of people on that list who were victims of crime, who had been stalked or who had been in abusive situations." The last thing anyone being protected by a restraining order wants is to have their current home address published in a local newspaper.
Another thing that Mister Trejbal and the Times did not consider was the criminal mind. Most concealed carry permit holders do not own just one weapon, instead being much more likely to have many left at home not being carried. Publishing those names and addresses was simply advertising to burglars and other assorted creeps where they could go, in the daytime hours, and likely find all the weapons they may want. In that single action the Times and Trejbal did more to undermine background checks than all the "gunshow loopholes" they constantly whine about.
Now, back to what I've been thinking about. There is draft legislation set to come up in this GA session that will make the Attorney General's recommendation law. And the Move-on Times does not like it. After their initial blunder causing the entire episode, and after agreeing that publishing the database was a mistake, they now want to weaken the proposed law in order to make it easier to get this data.
People need access -- not to satisfy idle curiosity about who of their acquaintances might be carrying, though public records can be used that way. Rather, public access acts as an important check on government.[link]My question is, unless I am (choose one);
- a liberal writer looking to sensationalize an editorial, or
- a burglar looking for likely addresses, or
- an abusive ex, looking for a current address, or
- just plain nosy
Did Tim Craig not attend journalism school? Does he not have a ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITY to site [sic] the published sources???? What a bunch of crap.Now, just what is it that has Ben's panties in a bunch?
It seems Ben's hero, Lowell Feld posted a story about someone who has the temerity to run against a Democrat, (you know, like what's his name did in Connecticut a while back), exposing a prior legal problem. There was one glaring inconsistency, though. The names did not match, even though all other details seemed to fit.
Lowell is a blogger. A Democrat blogger. And as such is under no obligation, (in the minds of Ben and Lowell, anyway) to follow up and substantiate his story. Lowell was more interested in smacking down this idiot who dared to challenge Warner (like what's his name did earlier in Connecticut) than he was in verifying the story, so he ran with it.
At about the same time, Tim Craig of the Washington Post finds the same story. Only Tim Craig is an ethical journalist. The renegade Democrat running against Mark Warner now has a different name than the one he was using at the time of his legal problems. That required some verification by Craig in order to ensure that the two names did, in fact, belong to the same person. In Tim Craig's words;
I did not get it from Raising Kaine. I got a clip of the Roanoke Times article emailed to me this afternoon from a Democratic source. I then had our Washington Post researchers independently verify the article through a search of court records After that, I called the gentleman in question to speak to him. I did scan Raising Kaine at one point this afternoon and never saw a headline about this matter.The ironic part of all of this is that if Lowell or Ben had followed standard journalistic ethics and followed up with a simple phone call before launching their attacks this, yet another Ben Tribbett scandal, would never have occurred.
As for you assertion, it is laughable for you to lecture me or any member of the Richmond press corps on journalistic ethics.
Posted by: Timcraig | December 04, 2007 at 04:38 PM
First complaining about the consequences that his own actions posed to a candidate he supported. Now lecturing a respected writer for the Washington Post on the subject of ethics.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Today I got a report from a reliable source that Ben Tribbett has exhibited that same quality. Ben (get your own links to his site) complained this weekend, at a Republican event, about the Poindexter campaign's use of the ODBA/NAMBLA scandal in mail pieces.
Ben, who is in this scandal just as deeply as his friend Joey Stanley, actually complained to a noted Republican about a mailer that tied Eric Ferguson to Joey Stanley, the co-perpetrator of the NAMBLA scandal, about their use of the issue. I say that Joey is a co-perpetrator because the scandal would never have occurred if Ben had not sent another Virginia blogger a link to a website he knew to have been fraudulently created by Stanley which linked the Old Dominion Blog Alliance to NAMBLA, a group that openly endorses the sexual exploitation of underage boys.
To add even more comedy to this scenario, Ben then asked this Republican to get him into the annual premier Republican meeting, the Advance. He even asked if he could just shadow along behind as a part of this Republican's "entourage", as if my rural Republican friend has ever had an "entourage."
Ben and Joey, face it. You two screwed up badly on this one. Franklin County people who know nothing of blogs were talking about this issue. Talking a lot. I'm convinced it had a lot to do with Ferguson's defeat, especially when it was juxtaposed alongside Ferguson's record of dirty, negative campaigning against Allen Dudley two years ago.
Ben, when we first met last year I took a liking to you. I admire your ability to analyze political campaigns, I was amazed when I discovered that you do it all in a notebook without the help of a spreadsheet application. This issue, however, has caused me to completely re-examine my opinion of you. Collaborating with Joey Stanley in perpetrating this travesty was bad enough, but then complaining when it turned around on your chosen candidate and then attempting to use the one who called Joey on it to gain access to an event you had no right to attend is the ultimate in chutzpah.
Perhaps Dictionary dot com should amend their definition.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Agricultural land increase, Africa devastated, African aid threatened, Africa hit hardest, air pressure changes, Alaska reshaped, allergies increase, Alps melting, Amazon a desert, American dream end, amphibians breeding earlier (or not), ancient forests dramatically changed, animals head for the hills, Antarctic grass flourishes, anxiety, algal blooms, archaeological sites threatened, Arctic bogs melt, Arctic in bloom, Arctic lakes disappear, asthma, Atlantic less salty, Atlantic more salty, atmospheric defiance, atmospheric circulation modified, attack of the killer jellyfish, avalanches reduced, avalanches increased, bananas destroyed, bananas grow, beetle infestation, bet for $10,000, better beer, big melt faster, billion dollar research projects, billions of deaths, bird distributions change, bird visitors drop, birds return early, blackbirds stop singing, blizzards, blue mussels return, bluetongue, boredom, bridge collapse (Minneapolis), Britain Siberian, British gardens change, brothels struggle, bubonic plague, budget increases, Buddhist temple threatened, building collapse, building season extension, bushfires, business opportunities, business risks, butterflies move north, cancer deaths in England, cardiac arrest, caterpillar biomass shift, challenges and opportunities, childhood insomnia, Cholera, circumcision in decline, cirrus disappearance, civil unrest, cloud increase, cloud stripping, cockroach migration, cod go south, cold climate creatures survive, cold spells (Australia), computer models, conferences, coral bleaching, coral reefs dying, coral reefs grow, coral reefs shrink , cold spells, cost of trillions, cougar attacks, cremation to end, crime increase, crocodile sex, crumbling roads, buildings and sewage systems, cyclones (Australia), damages equivalent to $200 billion, Darfur, Dartford Warbler plague, death rate increase (US), Dengue hemorrhagic fever, dermatitis, desert advance, desert life threatened, desert retreat, destruction of the environment, diarrhoea, disappearance of coastal cities, diseases move north, Dolomites collapse, drought, drowning people, ducks and geese decline, dust bowl in the corn belt, early marriages, early spring, earlier pollen season, Earth biodiversity crisis, Earth dying, Earth even hotter, Earth light dimming, Earth lopsided, Earth melting, Earth morbid fever, Earth on fast track, Earth past point of no return, Earth slowing down, Earth spinning out of control, Earth spins faster, Earth to explode, earth upside down, Earth wobbling, earthquakes, El Niño intensification, erosion, emerging infections, encephalitis, equality threatened, Europe simultaneously baking and freezing, evolution accelerating, expansion of university climate groups, extinctions (human, civilisation, logic, Inuit, smallest butterfly, cod, ladybirds, bats, pandas, pikas, polar bears, pigmy possums, gorillas, koalas, walrus, whales, frogs, toads, turtles, orang-utan, elephants, tigers, plants, salmon, trout, wild flowers, woodlice, penguins, a million species, half of all animal and plant species, not polar bears, barrier reef, leaches), experts muzzled, extreme changes to California, fading fall foliage, famine, farmers go under, fashion disaster, fever,figurehead sacked, fir cone bonanza, fish catches drop, fish catches rise, fish stocks at risk, fish stocks decline, five million illnesses, flesh eating disease, flood patterns change, floods, floods of beaches and cities, Florida economic decline, food poisoning, food prices rise, food security threat (SA), footpath erosion, forest decline, forest expansion, frostbite, frosts, fungi fruitful, fungi invasion, games change, Garden of Eden wilts, genetic diversity decline, gene pools slashed, gingerbread houses collapse, glacial earthquakes, glacial retreat, glacial growth, glacier wrapped, global cooling, global dimming, glowing clouds, god melts, golf Masters wrecked, Gore omnipresence, grandstanding, grasslands wetter, Great Barrier Reef 95% dead, Great Lakes drop, greening of the North, Grey whales lose weight, Gulf Stream failure, habitat loss, Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, harvest increase, harvest shrinkage, hay fever epidemic, hazardous waste sites breached, health of children harmed, heart disease, heart attacks and strokes (Australia), heat waves, hibernation ends too soon, hibernation ends too late, homeless 50 million, hornets, high court debates, human development faces unprecedented reversal, human fertility reduced, human health improvement, human health risk, hurricanes, hurricane reduction, hydropower problems, hyperthermia deaths, ice sheet growth, ice sheet shrinkage, illness and death, inclement weather, infrastructure failure (Canada), Inuit displacement, Inuit poisoned, Inuit suing, industry threatened, infectious diseases, inflation in China, insurance premium rises, invasion of cats, invasion of herons, invasion of midges, island disappears, islands sinking, itchier poison ivy, jellyfish explosion, Kew Gardens taxed, kitten boom, krill decline, lake and stream productivity decline, lake shrinking and growing, landslides, landslides of ice at 140 mph, lawsuits increase, lawsuit successful, lawyers' income increased (surprise surprise!), lightning related insurance claims, little response in the atmosphere, lush growth in rain forests, Lyme disease, Malaria, malnutrition, mammoth dung melt, Maple syrup shortage, marine diseases, marine food chain decimated, marine dead zone, Meaching (end of the world), megacryometeors, Melanoma, methane emissions from plants, methane burps, melting permafrost, Middle Kingdom convulses, migration, migration difficult (birds), microbes to decompose soil carbon more rapidly, monkeys on the move, Mont Blanc grows, monuments imperiled, more bad air days, more research needed, mountain (Everest) shrinking, mountains break up, mountains taller, mortality lower, mudslides, National security implications, new islands, next ice age, Nile delta damaged, no effect in India, Northwest Passage opened, nuclear plants bloom, oaks move north, ocean acidification, ocean waves speed up, opera house to be destroyed, outdoor hockey threatened, oyster diseases, ozone loss, ozone repair slowed, ozone rise, Pacific dead zone, personal carbon rationing, pest outbreaks, pests increase, phenology shifts, plankton blooms, plankton destabilised, plankton loss, plant viruses, plants march north, polar bears aggressive, polar bears cannibalistic, polar bears drowning, polar bears starve, polar tours scrapped, porpoise astray, profits collapse, psychosocial disturbances, puffin decline, railroad tracks deformed, rainfall increase, rainfall reduction, rape wave, refugees, reindeer larger, release of ancient frozen viruses, resorts disappear, rice threatened, rice yields crash, riches, rift on Capitol Hill, rioting and nuclear war, rivers dry up, river flow impacted, rivers raised, roads wear out, rockfalls, rocky peaks crack apart, roof of the world a desert, Ross river disease, ruins ruined, salinity reduction, salinity increase, Salmonella, salmon stronger, satellites accelerate, school closures, sea level rise, sea level rise faster, seals mating more, sewer bills rise, sex change, sharks booming, sharks moving north, sheep shrink, shop closures, shrinking ponds, shrinking shrine, ski resorts threatened, slow death, smaller brains, smog, snowfall increase, snowfall heavy, snowfall reduction, societal collapse, songbirds change eating habits, sour grapes, space problem, spiders invade Scotland, squid population explosion, squirrels reproduce earlier, spectacular orchids, stormwater drains stressed, street crime to increase, suicide, taxes, tectonic plate movement, teenage drinking, terrorism, threat to peace, ticks move northward (Sweden), tides rise, tourism increase, trade barriers, trade winds weakened, tree beetle attacks, tree foliage increase (UK), tree growth slowed, trees could return to Antarctic, trees in trouble, trees less colourful, trees more colourful, trees lush, tropics expansion, tropopause raised, tsunamis, turtles crash, turtles lay earlier, UK Katrina, Vampire moths, Venice flooded, volcanic eruptions, walrus displaced, walrus pups orphaned, war, wars over water, wars threaten billions, water bills double, water supply unreliability, water scarcity (20% of increase), water stress, weather out of its mind, weather patterns awry, weeds, Western aid cancelled out, West Nile fever, whales move north, wheat yields crushed in Australia, white Christmas dream ends, wildfires, wind shift, wind reduced, wine - harm to Australian industry, wine industry damage (California), wine industry disaster (US), wine - more English, wine -German boon, wine - no more French , winters in Britain colder, wolves eat more moose, wolves eat less, workers laid off, World bankruptcy, World in crisis, World in flames, Yellow fever.
have in common?
have in common?
According to British Engineering Professor Dr. John Brignell, they are all links to news stories blaming each catastrophe on global warming. His site, number watch, is dedicated to debunking the often misleading statistics offed by Global Warming and other extreme religionists.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
One project I've been working on is re-writing and tidying up my three part Jenny Wiley story and I hope to re-publish it here soon. I've also been reading my favorite blogs, of course, and discovering a few new ones as well.
One new blog that certainly deserves your attention is "The Legend Billy Jack", a conservative blog by a Democratic Party member. Or he used to be. Maybe he will be again if his party ever returns to what it once stood for. In his latest post Billy tells what inspired the naming of his blog, and how it roughly parallels his own experiences in a political party. His background is full of stories from the other side of the aisle that many would not believe, but I know to be the truth. Enjoy Billy Jack. My favorite so far is his offer to the 37th Senate District for a trade in the lineup, a great idea I think.
Another new blog was actually created way back in the summer, but due to the campaign its contributors had little time for blogging. Yes, I said contributors, as in plural. Morning in Virginia promises to provide insightful commentary, political analysis, and possibly even a bit of gossip from a Southside and SWVA perspective.
Now the 5th District has two more conservative blogs to offset all of that leftist rhetoric blowing out of Charlottesville.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Little did I know that Mike would soon thereafter become "Ghost of A.L. Philpott", a sometimes caustic commenter on various left leaning blogs.
Today I welcome Mike back to the blog community that he never really left. In collaboration with 2 or 3 others Mike has started "The Crooked Road Commentary", designed "...to carve out a niche for Southside Virginia in the political blogosphere." (Judging by the PhotoShop appearing in one of the blog's first posts, I'll go out on a limb and guess that one of Mike's collaborators is Joey Stanley, but I have been wrong before.)
While "The Crooked Road”, Virginia’s official Heritage Music Trail is “a driving route through the Appalachian Mountains from the western slopes of the Blue Ridge to the Coalfields region of the state”, it comes no closer to Southside than Patrick County. That's merely a result of shortsightedness on the part of Henry County politicians and should not be considered nit-picking by me on Mike's choice of a name for his new blog. (Well, maybe it is nit-picking, but I'll deny it forever. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)
Nit-picking or not, go over and check it out and let's all keep an eye on Mike and his cohorts, you never know, like the Roanoke Times they may just occasionally get something right.
Now, that might solve a problem or two, but it does nothing to resolve the larger issue.
All across the state many, but not all, local committees are weak on active membership, and have a hard time recruiting committed volunteers for candidates. Campaigns have had to adjust for that, often forming teams comprised of volunteers from several campaigns to work on behalf of each other. See Chris' excellent article about how the Cuccinelli campaign did just that. [Link]
In a similar effort the Evans, Marshall, Merricks, and Poindexter campaigns combined forces in this area. Here in Henry County we are fortunate to have a solid core of committed members, but it's not enough. Many of those will only work to put up signs, for example, some others refuse to make phone calls, and even more say, "wait until it's closer to the election and I'll do something." I'm not complaining about those members, nor do I think that the local chair is responsible for any lack of workers. I certainly appreciate them all, I just wish there were more of them.
Which brings me back to "Disgruntled Republican" and his demands for accountability. DR, you are a big part of the problem. Get out to your next committee meeting, become a voting member, work to find more people just as disgruntled and disappointed as you are and get them to work organizing the local party.
One of the hardest workers the Evans campaign had was (still is?) a member of the Democratic Party. He is now asking me about joining the local Republican committee. I welcome him on board. It's young, energetic, committed people like him that this party desperately needs. DR, your mission is to go out and find more like him, bring them and yourself to the committee meeting, and begin becoming less disgruntled and more committed. Stop looking for someone else to blame and accept the responsibility that is yours.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Newspapers failed the voters miserably this election. Not just the Martinsville Bulletin, which no one really expects to publish anything remotely informative about candidates, but also the Roanoke Times which should have performed much better. Both focused much more on the horse race aspect of campaigning than on substance and platform.
I mentioned earlier that the Evans campaign had a compelling argument against Senator Reynolds' claim that he alone fought the APCO rate increase. That information was in the hands of every media outlet in the district, but it was completely ignored. During a phone call a very telling exchange occurred between Martinsville Bulletin Editor Ginny Wray and myself. After detailing the facts of an item, and having to painstakingly walk her through how to find those facts for herself, I asked if she ever put Senator Reynolds through the same process during an interview. Her response floored me, "Of course not," she said, "He's a Senator." The Martinsville Bulletin is not a hotbed of investigative journalism.
There were few, if any, words printed in either paper that informed their readers about the candidates and their positions on subjects that matter. At the end of each financial reporting cycle both could be counted on to print an article touting which candidate out raised the other. That applied to almost all races, even local constitutional offices. The Martinsville Bulletin did do a fair job reporting on some differences between the Henry County Sheriff candidates, but spent way too much time and ink on a letter from Mike McPeek that assured all Sheriff's Office employees that there would be no mass firings should he be elected.
Henry County's radio outlets did not do much better, but local TV did at least attempt to highlight the candidates. Especially WYAT TV40 here in Martinsville. Owner Bill Wyatt offered each candidate a soap box in the form of his "Talk of the Town" show aired each evening around 7:00. He was flexible enough to offer two formats, 30 minutes without phone calls, or one hour with phone calls. Jeff took advantage of that as often as possible. As far as I can recall, every candidate took Mr. Wyatt up on that offer at least once except for a couple of BoS candidates, one an incumbent who has her own daily show on a different station, the other a challenger that did little or no campaigning at all.
Politics can be expensive, largely because so much money is simply wasted. Most of that waste is thrown away in the form of high-priced political consultants who, for the most part, do not live in Virginia, and have no idea of the personality of the area they are campaigning in. In one month the Senate Leadership Trust saddled us with an idiot from Georgia who did no more than alienate volunteers and supporters with inane stories about "how we do it in Georgia." For that the Senate Trust spent over $3500. In one month. For practically no observable production. That $3500 would have provided 2 weeks of radio spots, one per hour, on local radio.
Speaking of radio spots, at a late date in the campaign I decided to produce radio ads "in-house" instead of through consultants. I did have the good fortune to have a friend of the campaign who works in radio to provide a voice, but two of our spots were done using the voice and writing talents of ODBA members. The savings were enormous, and the results just as professional, with the added bonus of a very quick turn-around time. For the same $15000 spent by the Senate Trust for two weeks of radio we could have produced six weeks. Unlike those consultants we would never have wasted dollars placing a radio spot on a Danville AM station that does not even reach into eastern Henry County, or a Roanoke Station that barely covers a portion of the 20th District with enormous ad rates based upon a listnership from VA Tech and Roanoke.
In one case a mail piece from the opposition arrived on Tuesday afternoon, the next day at noon our radio response was playing in every market. I still believe that at least a portion of our financial disparity could have been overcome by responding quickly to mailings with radio if we had begun doing that much earlier in the campaign.
We did not do enough mailing, though I'm still not convinced it's as valuable a tool as the experts say it is. Universally, people say they despise them. But consultants who are paid those big bucks swear they are effective. I don't know. I do know they are a huge drain financially, with most of the dollars going to friends of those same consultants. Like radio, I believe mailings can be produced much more efficiently in-house if a campaign has someone on board with the necessary writing and graphic design skills. In the future candidates and workers should remember that all of these radio, writing, and graphic design skills can be found right here within the ODBA.
During the past year I've spoken with many candidates, most running for the first time and trusting their party to provide them with consultants. Very few that accepted their party's offering was satisfied with the person sent to them. One candidate hired his own, a very impressive lady who worked hard and efficiently, but she was an exception. Most seemed to use the position to funnel media work to friends from outside the area, often leading to waste like I mentioned earlier.
Learning all of this does not make me an expert, it just means I've learned a few things and confirmed a few things I always thought I knew.
Monday, November 12, 2007
When Jeff and I first discussed his run for the Senate, naturally strategy and tactics were a part of the conversation. We decided, sitting there at Honduras Coffee in Stuart, that he needed to get his name recognition up, we needed to point out the shortcomings of the opposition, and we needed to get him "out front and personal" with the people of the 20th District. We did all of that.
The most important item we discussed and completely agreed upon was campaign ethics. We agreed the campaign was to be run against the current 20th District Senator, not a person named Roscoe Reynolds. By that I mean that Senator Reynolds' record would be used in the campaign, not Mr. Reynolds' personal life. Every mail piece, every radio spot, every debate topic was based upon the facts as presented by the General Assembly website. Not once did we quote newspaper articles which necessarily reflect some reporter's opinion, however slightly. None of Martinsville's idle gossip was used. No, we would stick strictly to facts.
For example, If Mr. Reynolds had decided at some point in his personal life to start a faith-based ministry for out-of-work and destitute people in Martinsville and Henry County, you would have never heard about such a "dangerous homeless shelter" from this campaign, for activities of that sort by Mr. Reynolds have nothing to do with Senator Reynolds.
The main point is that Mr. Reynolds is different from Senator Reynolds in that Mr. Reynolds deserves his privacy and respect. Senator Reynolds holds an office that deserves respect, but as the holder of that office he is open to criticism, of course. Unfortunately, Senator Reynolds does not agree with that concept as it applies to Board of Supervisors member Jeff Evans and private citizen and pastor Jeff Evans.
We were accused of running a "negative, nasty campaign." No matter. As many people in the 20th District know, we held ourselves to a higher standard.
A man I respect and appreciate as a friend once said "...you beat someone to the minimum necessary, not the maximum. Don't bludgeon them to death--you might need them down the road." Thanks Barnie. That's very good advice, and it's the path this campaign chose to follow.
Enough of that though, let's move on to what I've learned and what I can draw from this election.
Since October of 2006, Jeff made an attempt to visit every Ruritan club function, attend every local festival and go to as many events as possible, right up until the election. Jeff got an apartment here in Henry County in an effort to make that goal more feasible, yet he still managed to put over 60,000 miles on his car during this campaign. Jeff met thousands of people, handed out over 45,000 cards and shook even more hands, yet he apparently did not meet enough VOTERS. There is a difference folks, club members, festival goers, and event attendees are not necessarily voters. Even those who are very enthusiastic about a candidate they meet at such functions do not always translate their enthusiasm into votes that can be counted on election day.
Someone once said "All politics is local...". That is very true, and more true in a Virginia Senate race than I realized. The more people we met, the more apparent it became that people seemed to want to talk about State issues, so we focused on Statewide issues. Apparently though, when people go into the voting booth, they are focused on their local Board of Supervisors race, the local Commonwealth Attorney race, the local Sheriff race and finally, the local Senate race. All issues have been narrowed down to a local focus in their mind. Unless they are voting a straight party ticket, the candidates who have most successfully targeted some local issue will get their vote. Not just any issue will qualify as a "local" issue either. Illegal immigration may impact an area very heavily, like it does here, but it may not rise to the level of some other issue like a recent utility rate increase. Despite our best efforts, and some very compelling proof that the local media chose to ignore, Senator Reynolds simply did a better job of presenting his case. Dump truck loads of cash helped too, of course.
I could include a link to a very elaborate spreadsheet that I put together in order to help me forecast this race. But why? Despite its elaborateness and, in my opinion, faultless logic, it turned out to be grossly misleading when applied to real voters and these two candidates.
I once rode a bull in an amateur rodeo in Oklahoma. Well, I tell everyone I rode that bull. Actually, you have to stay on board the beast for 8 seconds in order to have "ridden the bull". I managed 4.3 seconds. The longest 4.3 seconds of my life. But given the chance, I'll ride that bull again someday. Or one just as mean and ornery.
In politics, this was my first rodeo. It won't be my last. I'll get right back up on that bull as soon as possible. The next time my spurs will be shinier, I'll have a better instinct for the unpredictable turns and twists and shakes that bull will make, and I'll certainly aim once again for the full ride.
No clown will be there to pull my ass out of harms way, either.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
This has been a hellava ride, it's been fun but it's just about to come to the end. My statistical research shows Jeff with a considerable lead, but we'll just have to wait until the end of the day to see how it all shakes out.
I've missed writing during this campaign, but I will be back tomorrow with a very long post about the experience. Look for it.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Surely Roscoe did not truly think that I would believe him when he says that Supreme Court decisions do not apply to Virginia. If he is this disingenuous in a letter to a constituent, how can we believe anything he says to our local media?
It's really quite simple. We can't believe him. This letter is proof that Roscoe will tell the "locals" whatever he thinks they will fall for. Or, perhaps even worse, Reynolds truly does not know that Supreme Court decisions have far reaching implications. Either way, it calls for the end of Reynolds' service as our Senator.
You will notice that Mr. Reynolds references a document by Frank Munyan in his letter. I'm not an attorney, but Mr. Munyan is. A simple reading of Mr. Munyan's legal opinion shows that the Supreme Court decision does, indeed, apply to Virginia. The document is titled "Economic Development as a Public Use: Kelo v. City of New London", and can be downloaded here [link]. (Link is a PDF file.)
Well Roscoe, I for one, ain't falling for it anymore. From now on, whether you are talking about electrical regulation, eminent domain, transportation compromises, or even chicken fighting, I'll do my own research and find the truth for myself. And I'll shout from the rooftops my suggestion that others in the 20th District do so as well. Thank you.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
In August of 2006 at BlogsUnited, Joey was one of the many diverse attendees. I found him to be somewhat shy, but engaging and personable. He even seemed to take my good natured ribbing in stride. (Anyone who knows me will attest that I am an incurable kidder; I find that to be the easiest means I have of opening up to those I wish to get to know).
I know Joey is a fierce partisan, but that has never held me back from cultivating friendships before. At least not before I became a blogger and met some fellow bloggers from that other party. It still does not deter me from attempting to strike up congenial conversation, and I have many Democratic friends, but party affiliation sure seems to influence many of my Demokratick brethren in the blog community. Anonymity almost certainly is a factor in this phenomenon, even with those like myself who use a real name. After all, on the internet, no one knows you're a dog.
Competition and testosterone combine in strange ways in some people, especially, it seems, in Demokratik bloggers. They all seem to divert those compelling combative drives in different ways. Joey's shtick is somewhat unique, he likes to purloin folk's names, buy the rights to that name from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and direct the resulting URL to someone else's website. Almost always under the cover of contrived anonymity, and always toward what he conceives to be a political advantage. Great fun, hilarity enjoyed by all.
Joey is also adept at PhotoShop. And he is certainly familiar with YouTube; Even to the point of using that tool in becoming one of many factors that led to the defeat of Senator George Allen last year. Joey has recently been stung by one of his own tools, and has retaliated with his favorite tool. He has now, it seems, become a bitter, angry, even hostile young man.
Several members of a conservative group of bloggers have recently featured a quite amusing and highly educational series of YouTube videos that star one of Joey's customers. This apparently stirred the competitive and combative juices in Joey's soul and raised his testosterone to levels unknown to him since puberty. His retaliation was bizarre, even for Joey.
That conservative group of bloggers, of which I'm a member, has a name. And a logo. And a reputation among other conservative bloggers for honesty, integrity, and ethical blog behavior. Sure, some of us fail those high standards on occasion, as do all bloggers, (it's an inherent fault in blogging, and by nature must happen on occasion with all blogs regardless of affiliation or party), but overall that group still maintains a stellar reputation.
That reputation leads us to Joey's ultimate retaliation. Remember, no one in that group ever mentioned Joey when they featured his customer's starring role in the series of videos. His customer's reputation was never impugned either. Joey's customer was simply shown in a true light, as the arrogant imbecile he his. Joey's retaliation consisted of, (as I said earlier), his favorite shtick, a purloined name linked to an alternative website. If that website had been one of a conflicting political viewpoint all would have had a good laugh and moved on.
But no, Joey linked the good name of many Virginians to the most repugnant group the world has ever known, a group that advocates the sexual exploitation of underage boys by depraved adult men. A group that he has stated he believes is no worse in his eyes than the aforementioned group of conservative Virginians.
Virginians who's only distinction is that they hold a different political view than he does. His political views are righteous, theirs, and by extension mine, are on a par with those that would rape little boys.
Now we come full circle. As I said I met Joey again last evening. In spite of his recent blog adventure, I still attempted to initiate a friendly conversation. Joey ostentatiously ignored me. Those who know me know that I'm not thin-skinned, it did not hurt my feelings when I was treated badly by someone I had previously had friendly conversations with. (Did I mention that I personally called Joey and invited him to the BlogsUnited conference this year? No? I did. We had a very cordial conversation by phone that evening, but Joey said his commitment to his niece meant that he would not be likely to attend. I said I understood, but was genuinely disappointed.)
Still, I wanted Joey to tell me just why I had suddenly become worthy of such treatment. I was finally able to speak to Joey in the privacy of the Floyd County Courthouse front steps, whereupon I was told that the reason I was being shunned was because I was a ********(beep), who attacked a 7 year old girl.
I ask you all, at least all of you who are at least moderately adept at internet and blog searches, to find any instance where I have ever attacked anyone, especially a 7 year old girl. It ain't to be found. It never happened, and it never will. In spite of what Joey did to me and my fellow Virginians, I've never seen any need to retaliate. Not against Joey, and certainly not against his niece, Mary. Joey, for all his imagined imminence is simply not that important to me.
This last paragraph is intended for the one person most likely to have read this far.
Last evening you put a video camera into my face and recorded part of our conversation. You are widely known in Virginia, as I said earlier, for your internet video and PhotoShop skills. Do what you will with that footage, but also know that I had a digital recorder, turned on and recording, in my shirt pocket the entire evening. That mp3 file is ready to be posted if and when the need arises. Let us both hope that need never occurs.
Alton B. Foley