Tribute through the tears

From time to time I catch up with Jeff Goldstein's Protein Wisdom. We are both Towson alums from Baltimore.
This fall, his mother passed away but a battle for control continues with his brother.
Through the struggle, words from his mother's friends offered comfort.
While listening to the eulogy delivered by the rabbi, I learned from posts left on her memorial page and from which he quoted, that my mother was a pioneer in the food service sales industry, one of the women who broke the glass ceiling and who paved the way for others to follow. People I’d never heard of from her professional life treated her as she was a sort of icon now lost, to be mourned every bit as deeply as her family was mourning her loss.
He lost many childhood photos and slides from his brother's mis-management, but got some help.
I did, however, find my parents’ wedding album and some older pictures, and in fact some of my mother’s friends brought over lots of old photos from the fifties of themselves at the shore, or visiting New York, etc. And looking at those made me realize that my parents were likely just like me at one point in time — something I suppose I always knew cerebrally but never really understood emotionally.
This inspires my quest to preserve my family's photographic past - to inspire the future and remember those who carried us to our place in the world.

Who’s winning the Cuba debate? This guy.

It has been nearly a week since the president announced he would establish an embassy in Cuba, allow investment there, attempt to convince Congress to lift the trade embargo, and being the process of removing terrorist-sponsor label from the Communist dictatorship. Since his announcement, much of the focus on the reaction has centered on the argument between two Republican Senators: Marco Rubio (opponent of the moves) and Rand Paul (supporter of them), in no small part because the argument between the two has become personal, with the term “isolationist” being thrown around by both sides with reckless abandon even though it really applies to neither (Washington Post, although ABC News also covered the back-and-forth).

Through it all, however, one Republican has managed to criticize the president while largely avoiding criticism: Ted Cruz. In fact, Cruz’s reaction has shown a nuance on foreign policy that his colleagues (and would-be presidential rivals) seem to lack, at least on this matter.

Unlike Rubio and Paul, Cruz avoids the false-choice dichotomy of the status quo ante versus the president’s actions. As he notes in Time:

But simply criticizing the Obama administration approach is not enough. As (Cuban dissidents) Sanchez and Farinas pointed out, no one can deny that the Castros have successfully exploited their enmity with the United States to enhance their reputation as revolutionary freedom fighters. And as the critics of the embargo argue, we are 50 years into the project and the Castros are still in power. Of course we should look for new ways to relieve the misery of the Cuban people—but there are better options than what the Obama administration has proposed.

Cruz also highlights voices that should be heard, but haven’t been (much) so far – the Cuban people themselves:

Rather than vague promises of exploring political liberalization, the United States should demand that the political opposition to the Castros be included in any and all negotiations with Cuba, so their concerns will be fully heard and their priorities addressed. Otherwise there will be no incentive for the Castro regime to engage in necessary political reforms.

It may surprise many to learn, but this has been in line with Cruz’s forays into foreign policy for his entire Senate career (brief as it has been). While Paul in particular has repeatedly challenged Republican orthodoxy on foreign policy issues, Cruz has tried to bridge the gap between Paul and his critics – while refusing to personally criticize either.

As a result, should Cruz take the plunge in 2016, he can present himself as the candidate largely acceptable to both sides of the debate on foreign policy while having the support of the “base” due to his actions on domestic issues. Of course, that is the most optimistic interpretation from Cruz’s point of view, as there is no guarantee that “establishment” Republicans will decide that Cruz’s nuance on foreign affairs trumps his domestic “extremism” – or that the “base” would prefer him over Paul anyway.

In the meantime, though, Paul and Rubio are alienating each other’s supporters on this matter, which could allow Cruz to pick up whichever one leaves the race first. This debate is also establishing (by default, for now) Cruz as the voice of the Cuban dispossessed as this issue moves to Congress next year.

@deejaymcguire | facebook.com/people/Dj-McGuire | DJ’s posts

7 things conservatives learned this year in Virginia politics

1. Never take a gift. Ever.

mcdonnell rolex

The McDonnell case proved that the bar for convicting elected officials of abusing their public office for accepting gifts is rather low. While former Gov. Bob McDonnell did accept gifts (which he probably shouldn’t have – a question of ethics) the government never proved that McDonnell returned any favors to Jonnie Williams and Star Scientific. In other words, there was plenty of quid, but no quo. The best we have is a failed, brief meeting with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and a party at the governor’s mansion. No legislation. No fast-tracking the drug to market. No use of the governor’s opportunity fund.

What does this mean for conservatives? Well, we’re already accused of being Scrooge anyway; so, why not embrace ethics reform? So, “Bah, humbug” to all of you!

2. Never piss off a judge who you might someday have to stand in front of.

The laundry list of requests the defense made for McDonnell only to be rebuffed by Judge James Spencer is long: a separate trial from McDonnell’s wife, Maureen; throwing out the case before trial; having former Attorney General Mark Earley testify as a character witness, and others – all denied by the judge. Not to mention a juror being thrown out and the instructions to the jury to convict being quite low.

It’s been reported that Judge Spencer might have had a grievance against McDonnell for his past actions as a legislator towards Spencer’s wife, Judge Margaret Spencer. Shaun Kenney reviews the merits of such speculation and there is a little smoke.

Lesson learned? Yep. See point 1.

3. Spending time in your district on constituent service and public appearances is still pretty important.

brat_sworn_in

Who would have thought that former Majority Leader Eric Cantor – someone who not only routinely aggravated President Obama and attempted to embrace the Tea Party in 2009 – could lose in such dramatic fashion this past June?

Well, the reality is that this was privately discussed among several of us, but we didn’t really believe it to be possible.

Everyone has a theory. And there are plenty of people who want to take credit for Brat’s win (I prefer to actually credit Congressman Brat). But whether you think what doomed Cantor was immigration, banking, “slating”, etc. – it still all comes down to turning your people out at the polls. Cantor didn’t. And that means he lost his support in the district.

4. If you can’t win a vote at a mass meeting to defeat parliamentary maneuvers – or you were caught off-guard – it should probably tell you something.

Everyone can claim that slating is bad or a nuclear option. Which it is. But it is still very much preventable. Simply put, get your people to the mass meeting.

For everyone who claims these meetings don’t matter or are perfunctory – they are until they’re not. So, show up. Unless…

5. A convention in Roanoke? Seriously?

RPVConvention

~sigh~. With all due respect, conventions need to be in the population centers. If Republicans really are interested in growing and getting people to participate, conventions cannot be held where a good chunk of your grassroots will not be able to attend. It’s one thing to constrain party growth by having a convention in the first place (and there is a time and a place for them), it’s quite another to almost suffocate it entirely by choosing a location that stifles participation.

6. It’s better to be in the majority – at least when trying to pass a state budget. But be careful about what you wish for.

Phillip P. Puckett :: Criminal At Large

After months of self-imposed constipation by our friends on the left regarding the commonwealth’s budget (you know, pay for teachers, first responders, and even legislative staffers), it took the resignation of State Sen. Phil Puckett to get things moving again, breaking the 20-20 tie and giving Republicans the majority.

The howls and laments from Democrats could be heard all across the commonwealth. There was a phone call to Puckett to intimidate encourage him not to resign by the governor’s office. Even a “brainstorming” session with Mark Warner. They even managed to get the justice department involved.

In the end, it was just a budget that conservatives are complaining about…again. RINOs.

7. If you haven’t won a statewide election since 2009, that should probably tell you something too.

Warner+McAuliffe+Kaine

Not to mention losing in 2006 and 2008 as well. While conservatives all across the country are celebrating a conservative surge win, we maintained congressional status quo (with the notable exception of losing the majority leader in a primary and two senior congressmen due to retirement).

I would humbly suggest my post-election analysis as a step forward:

Virginia is now a modern state. The economy is attractive. The port is bustling. And even Warner and Kaine (begrudgingly), recognize the need to tap into our energy resources.

God, gays and guns just isn’t going to cut it in modern Virginia – and I’m not saying that Gillespie ran that sort of campaign (his loss by only 15K votes is testimony to it) – but all Republicans are still running into serious headwinds in the urban environment where the liberals have done a good job of convincing the population that the GOP has nothing to offer.

There is only one way to change that – time and a concerted effort at addressing the difficult urban issues; offering practical, proven, conservative solutions that improve lives.

Republicans do best when we demonstrate a concern for social justice and a fanatical commitment to freedom for all – where a person can make the most of the opportunity afforded to them.

We do this, and these margins will fall in the cities. And if we stay united as a party (which is possible when we are committed to our principles), as we generally did this cycle, we will win elections.

If Barbara Comstock, David Ramadan, Tim Hugo, etc. can win in Northern Virginia, they have a pretty good model for others to win there too. The same goes in Hampton Roads with Randy Forbes, Scott Rigell, Jeff McWaters, John Cosgrove and, yes, Frank Wagner. Instead of antagonizing these folks at every turn, it might not be a bad idea to figure out what they’re doing that’s working?

Nah! It’s much easier to throw stones from Facebook! RINOS!!!

Addendum: NBC US Senate Exit Poll and VPAP Election Map

2014_Senate_Map_vpap

J.R. Hoeft is the founder of BearingDrift.com.

Twitter: @jrhoeft | Facebook: http://facebook.com/jrhoeft | Past Posts

Governor McAuliffe’s voting machine proposal needs rethinking

Election-2011Sunday’s Richmond Times-Dispatch carried an op-ed piece of mine in which I take issue with Governor Terry McAuliffe’s recent proposal to provide $28 million in funding to Virginia counties and cities to buy new, up-to-date voting equipment — on the condition that all the localities buy the same hardware and software.

I argue that election security and protection against fraud is better served when each locality can purchase its own equipment, based on its own assessment of the needs of its voters and the capabilities of its election officials. A variety of voting systems is a deterrent against those who seek to alter the results of elections by hacking into the machines.

Although election fraud of this nature is practically and historically unknown (John Fund, who is highly critical of election security procedures, noted in his 2004 book, Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy, that “in the twenty-plus years that these machines have been used, in many counties all across the country, there has never been a verified case of tampering”), if a single, uniform system were used across the Commonwealth, it would be that much easier for a determined hacker to attack the system and make mischief in statewide or multijurisdictional (e.g., U.S. House of Representatives) elections.

My concerns are echoed by my Bearing Drift colleague Brian Schoeneman, whom I quote in the article:

As Brian Schoeneman, secretary of the Fairfax County Electoral Board, told me, “One of the benefits to having different types of voting machines in each jurisdiction is security. While unlikely, if there is a security flaw that could impact the outcome of an election, the impact is limited by the fact that each jurisdiction uses different machines. A security flaw in one area couldn’t be replicated all over the commonwealth, only in the places with the same machines. Thus, allowing each locality to choose for itself helps to increase security overall.”

In Virginia’s counties and cities, election procedures are administered locally, in accord with comprehensive state laws, broad guidance from the State Board of Elections, and a few federal laws aimed to guarantee free, fair and honest elections.

Schoeneman explained that it is “important to note that each jurisdiction is different, with different voter expectations, size and available resources. By mandating a one-size-fits-all statewide system, you’ll inevitably be playing to the median jurisdiction — leaving both the smallest and largest jurisdictions with problems that are probably going to be unforeseen. Allowing for local control and local decision-making helps to resolve these difficulties, and is one of the reasons why we have local electoral boards and general registrars, not a top-down system from Richmond.”

Most of the voting equipment that was purchased in Virginia following the 2000 “hanging chad” election in Florida is nearing the end of its useful life. Governor McAuliffe’s acknowledgment of this and his proposal that the state should help pay for replacement equipment is welcome, although some might wonder where, precisely, the money is going to come from. Where I part ways with the Governor is with his suggestion that purchasing uniform voting equipment is the right thing to do.

Read the whole thing here, and feel free to comment whether you agree or disagree.

@rick_sincere | facebook.com/ricksincere | Rick Sincere’s posts

Memories of Christmas past

The Guardian looks at Charles Dickens' impact on Christmas traditions in Victorian England.
Dickens was the most successful of numerous cultured Victorians keen to revive the season, both out of nostalgia for the (more fondly than accurately) remembered country Christmases of yore and a sense of social conscience.
Many of our ideas about what makes a merry Christmas (including the phrase itself) were his first. Dickens placed charity at the heart of the season and made us hope for snow. In his imagination Christmas was always white, which his biographer Peter Ackroyd puts down to the eight unusually cold, happy winters of his boyhood, before his father, John, ended up in debtor’s prison.

Open Mic at Dogtown

Open Mic Sunday night at Downtown Roadhouse.

Saw Swede McBroom and Mike Mitchell performing some of Swede’s selections, experienced Jim Lord, long in experience and recently relocated to Floyd County.

Jeff Liverman, executive director at Jacksonville Center, hosted the evening and added his touch to blues and a reworking of “Jingle Bells”.  BigMama Joy added a Christmas song and others offered songs from the stage.

I filmed enough for more than the short clip above. Will do some more in the coming days.

Mazel tov or Molotov

Twitchy likes Mel Brooks' tweet about a special message on a bomb during World War II.

Bad week for Russia

The Telegraph tells the bad tale of Russia's economy.
And it's not just because of the slide in oil prices.
Russia was sliding into decline before the storm hit this year. Its trend growth rate had collapsed. It was near recession when crude was trading at $110 a barrel, a remarkable indictment of Putin’s 15-year reign. The country has become reliant on the commodity supercycle. Oil, gas, and metals together make up 73pc of exports and half the budget.

Hard lessons for liberals

Via Instapundit, a list of the troubles liberals face getting their policies enacted.
Shell-shocked liberals are beginning to grasp some inconvenient truths. No gun massacre is horrible enough to change Americans’ ideas about gun control. No UN Climate Report will get a climate treaty through the U.S. Senate. No combination of anecdotal and statistical evidence will persuade Americans to end their longtime practice of giving police officers extremely wide discretion in the use of force. No “name and shame” report, however graphic, from the Senate Intelligence Committee staff will change the minds of the consistent majority of Americans who tell pollsters that they believe that torture is justifiable under at least some circumstances. No feminist campaign will convince enough voters that the presumption of innocence should not apply to those accused of rape.

Brooklyn: the flip side of Ferguson?

Washingtonpost.com: A gunman shot and killed two New York City police officers before taking his own life in a brazen ambush that played out on a quiet Brooklyn street corner Saturday afternoon, New York police said. Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot at point-blank range while sitting beside one another in a police […]

Virginia Spotlight