Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Deeds Continues To Close

The latest PPP poll, released today, shows Deeds continuing to close on McDonnell, but the gap remains significant.

McDonnell leads by 48%-43%, which is considerably narrower than his 51%-37% lead two months ago, and tighter than his seven point lead a month ago. The question is whether Deeds can close the gap in the time remaining.

We talked briefly with Deeds by phone today. He's been riding Metro in NoVa the past couple of days, which is a good way for a slice of NoVa voters to see him. We get the sense that Deeds--a notoriously slow starter, but strong finisher--is starting to hit his stride in what remains an uphill battle for him.

The best news in the PPP poll was that a large majority of the undecided voters are Democrats. That gives Deeds an excellent opportunity to pick up additional ground, if he can connect.

Deeds has a fundamentally sound record as a legislator from the standpoint of most Democrats, and we urge him to help voters get to know him better.

Recently, Deeds penned an op-ed in the Washington Post specifically aimed at Northern Virginia voters. While it may not be what some wanted to hear, we applaud him for not pandering to NoVa voters. He is also uncharacteristically realistic--let's face it, the Governor in Virginia is a weak position, with power residing in the decidedly divided legislature. To get anything done, Deeds will have to persuade at least some GOP members of the House of Delegates to go along.

We hope those Democrats still sitting on the fence will give Deeds a good look, ultimately opting to come out and vote for him. If the undecideds break his way, he has a good chance of winning--a win that would give Obama a boost as well.

A Good Month For Low Carbon Emissions

Too bad not every month in Washington can be September! With near perfect weather, we've run the air conditioning for just a half day (it got up to about 88 degrees and upstairs was pretty toasty) and haven't yet turned on the heat (that could change tonight).

Good for the bottom line, too (unless you're a utility company!).

Read It For Yourself

McDonnell's real blueprint for Virginia:


Brainwashed By Fox

Recently, one of the Curmudgeon's aunts asked for an intervention with her son, who she says has been brainwashed by Fox News.

We don't watch Fox ourselves because it's obviously anything but fair and balanced. Indeed, if Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels were still around, he'd love Fox News. On Fox, everyone marches in right-footed sync.

Just to get an idea of what's going on, however, we did watch a bit of Fox News. Yep, if that were your only source of information, you'd be as brainwashed as if you got all your news from your church (churches, synagogues, temples and mosques being poor sources of balanced news).

Unfortunately, we have to rely on a fake comedy news show, the Daily Show, to do the most effective job debunking Fox, a frequent target of Jon Stewart's barbs. One story we'd seen on Fox was about an elementary school in New Jersey that was supposedly spreading socialist propaganda of President Obama by having a class of students sing a song about him.

Fox had gotten hold of a youtube video of the students singing and was milking it for all it was worth--indeed, the propaganda network was likening it to Hitler's Germany or "pure Khmer Rouge stuff." Well, it does take one to know one.

So here's what we got from the Daily Show later on: the video was made shortly after Obama's inauguration, Obama had nothing to do with it, it was during black history month, the parents were notified in advance of the lyrics to the song, no one complained beforehand, or afterwards (until, many months later, Fox rounded a local white lady who decided she was, after all, upset about it). And really, the song was pretty innocuous.

But what we liked best was the clip Jon Stewart's people found of an elementary school group near New Orleans singing a song about President Bush, FEMA and the hurricane recovery efforts. In this particular video, First Lady Laura Bush was right in the middle of the students, singing along. Well, so much for hypocrisy.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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As for our cousin, we're hoping we can give him a half hour dose, per day, of the Daily Show, just to give him a bit of perspective.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Obama Opposition Not Racist

How soon we forget.

Some on the left are now saying that opposition to President Obama's policy proposals is fueled by racism. We don't doubt for a second that there are still plenty of out and out racists in the land whose hatred is inflamed by having an African-American President.

But opposition to Obama's policy proposals, particularly on healthcare, while sometimes vehement, can't be ascribed to race.

Indeed, the GOP's reaction to Obama--so far--has been far more respectful than to Bill Clinton when he was President. Yes, we forget easily. During the Clinton years, the right wing hate machine was in full gear, churning out despiccable lies and falsehoods about both Clintons. With Republicans in control of Congress, they launched "investigation" after "investigation," going after the Clintons and their allies on the weakest of claims, fanning the flames whenever possible.

Fortunately, Republicans don't control Congress now. Furthermore, whenever the right wing's attacks on Obama go over the line, the public reacts negatively. Many voters who disagree with Obama on certain policies still like and respect him, and won't stand for personal attacks.

(This is, in part, a reflection on the contrasting personalities of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. You always got the feeling that Clinton was a bit of a rascal, whereas Obama comes across as serious and somber, with stronger family values and a stronger family than most GOP'ers, who've been rocked by adulterous scandals.)

Today, we recall Franklin D. Roosevelt fondly, as one of our most popular Presidents. And he was popular. But that didn't mean everyone liked him. To be sure, there was a hard core group of right wingers who despised him, and their attacks on him were as hard-hitting as many of those on Obama.

Obama is right to reject the racism card. He's pushing for change--it's what he campaigned on. Problem is, a lot of people are scared by change. That doesn't mean you don't keep pushing!

Yes Virginia, We Have A Race!

The polls are in and they clearly show a much tighter race for the Commonwealth's next governor. Voters, especially women in Northern Virginia, are bothered by the social conservatism of Bob McDonnell reflected in his master's thesis; at the same time, they're wary of Creigh Deeds, who is still much an unknown quantity.

On the polling front, we have three recent ones. McDonnell leads in all three, but his lead is much smaller than a month ago, with a lot of voters undecided.

Rasmussen has it the closest, with McDonnell leading by a statistically insignificant 48%-46% margin. Daily Kos gives McDonnell the biggest margin, at 50%-43%. In between, we have the Washington Post, where Deeds had the most movement from the prior poll, closing the gap from 54%-39% to 51%-47%.

So where are we? McDonnell's master's thesis, in which he laid out a conservative "family values" political agenda intended to undercut working women, has clearly hit home with working women in populous Northern Virginia.

McDonnell says the thesis is old news and his views have "changed," but he has not been specific. He says "judge me on my record," but his record is in many ways consistent with his master's thesis, so we urge voters to do just that.

On the other hand, Deeds is having trouble convincing voters to vote FOR him. He is a weaker candidate than Tim Kaine and much weaker than Mark Warner when he ran for governor. He still hasn't taken on transportation, and has largely failed to connect with NoVa voters. (We feared this back during the Democratic primary.)

To win this race, Deeds is going to have to come on strong. We're waiting and watching!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Is Deeds On The Move?

There are some signs of life in the Creigh Deeds campaign.

A poll released this week has Deeds just five points behind his opponent, Bob "Women Should Stay In The Home" McDonnell, Deeds best showing since shortly after he won the Democratic primary in June. Deeds also outraised McDonnell in funds in the most recent reporting period, by a pretty good margin. And, with less than two months to go to the election, voters are starting to get a little interested in the race, with the Deeds campaign showing some uncharacteristic energy.

That's the good news. The bad news is that the new poll, from Clarus Research, comes from an organization that we haven't seen poll in the Commonwealth before, so we're still a bit skeptical. We're waiting to see numbers from Public Policy Polling and Survey USA, both of whom have been surveying the state every few weeks, to see if there are any real trends. We would expect Deeds to improve his standing after the Washington Post pulled back the mask on Bob McDonnell and revealed the scaly lizard skin underneath.

Likewise, on the money front, while Deeds is raising some big bucks, McDonnell still have about a million dollars more in the bank. That's a big delta with less than two months to go.

And while the Deeds campaign appears to have come alive, McDonnell's campaign continues to operate as a well-oiled machine.

Historically, the governor's mansion in Virginia goes to the party out of power in the White House. That alone makes Deeds an underdog. It's still McDonnell's race to lose. We hope Deeds has the momentum to pull off the upset.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What Tune Will Your Car Sing?

One of the great things about our Prius is just how quiet it is when in electric mode.

Cars of the future, especially the all electric ones, will be stealthy, especially at speeds under 20 mph, where road friction and aerodynamic drag don't really come into play.

Quiet cars is a good thing, right? (Boats, too--electric boats are coming!) Well, yes, unless you're blind, or you're the type of pedestrian (child, elderly) whose attention to his/her surroundings is less than it should be.

One solution, being batted around in industry circles and safety regulatory agencies these days, is to require electric cars to emit some kind of sound, at least at low speeds. Of course, that sound needn't necessarily be that of engine noise.

Indeed, cars of the future may emit unique "drive tones" (the term is already copyrighted) like your cell phone's ring tone. An interesting proposition. Will our little Prius's successor be rolling down the highway emitting the guttural guitar sounds of Jimi Hendrix, or bouncing to the rap tunes the kids favor?

And how will that sound when it's all mixed together?

The next generation of autos will be interesting. Along with drive tones, expect all kinds of light variations as manufacturers begin to embed colorful LED lights both inside and out. Car shapes may change radically as well, as an electric engine is a lot smaller than today's gas powered models, eliminating the need for a lot of the gear under the hood. Eventually, these cars will drive themselves, as well.

What will we do, while the car's driving itself? Why, we'll blog, download new drivetunes, Facebook, etc. The same things we do at home now!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

Although it's been 8 years, the memory of 9/11 still burns raw in our heart and soul. Sadly, we're still at war in Afghanistan, and the murderer behind 9/11 is still at large.

September 11, 2001 was a much different type of day than today: it started as a classic beautiful fall day, with crystal clear blue sky and warm sunshine, unlike today's rainy, overcast and chilly weather.

It didn't take long for it turn into one of the ugliest days in history. The Curmudgeon, arriving at work early, was in his office overlooking the White House, working on a legal brief that needed to be filed later in the week.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Curmudgeon was taking our youngest, Aidan, to his first day of Montessori pre-school at Key Elementary School. Decked out in his new clothes and a nearly empty backpack, Aidan smiled proudly for the camera as his photo was taken with mom kneeling by his side on this momentous new day. The time was 9:02 a.m.

Not too long before that, one of the associates working with the Curmudgeon had come by with news that a plane--presumably a smaller one--had struck one of the World Trade Center towers, which was now in flames. We watched briefly on a little television in the next office over. It seemed like a bizarre accident--how could a plane hit a skyscraper on such a clear day?

After getting back to work, more urgent word came through: a second plane, clearly a large passenger jet, had just struck the other tower. Clearly, this was some horrific act of terrorism. After watching the replay a few times, we couldn't bear any more. Back to work, struggling to concentrate. It seemed to be a major problem for people in NY--nothing we could do.

But then the quiet in the Curmudgeon's office was disturbed by the slightest of sounds--a little whiff on the window, like a small gust of wind had struck it. But there was no wind that day; the sound was out of place. With his concentration shot anyway, the Curmudgeon got out of his chair and walked over to the large window, with its expansive view to the west, from Rosslyn all the way down to Crystal City.

Something was clearly wrong. A huge column of thick black smoke was expanding into the air over the Pentagon. The Curmudgeon raced into the adjacent office, where 3-4 other attorneys were glued to the television. "Forget the television, look out the window," the Curmudgeon screamed. The others in the room looked at him like he was crazy, then turned their heads to the window, letting out a collective "oh shit."

Just then, Mrs. Curmudgeon was crossing the Roosevelt Bridge on her way to work. She still had her camera and snapped some shots out the window of the dark cloud of smoke billowing ominously above the Pentagon.

In the Curmudgeon's office, we finally realized all of America was under attack. We looked anxiously out at the White House, a block away, and the Treasury Building, just across the street. Would they be targets? Were we safe?

Rumors were rife. The phone was ringing. The Capitol had been struck; no, a colleague could see the Capitol from his office. Another caller said she heard the State Dept. had been truck bombed; no, we could see Foggy Bottom, no smoke coming from there. Other cities had been hit--the Sears Tower in Chicago was in flames; no, a partner in our Chicago office said no such thing had occurred.

Then there was a rumble from a secondary explosion at the Pentagon. Time to get out. The street was a madhouse. Secret service agents were expanding a cordon around the White House; cars jammed the street while others tried to get out of parking garages; a mass of people was moving in both directions.

As we headed for home, believing we would have to walk back to Arlington, we noticed people going into a Metro station. Surprised to find it running, we endured a short, but intensely quiet, trip home. As we walked the final four blocks home, we could see the black smoke from the other side of Arlington, and hear the emergency vehicles racing up and down Lee Highway. Suddenly, a military fighter jet roared overhead, causing many to instinctively drop to the sidewalk. No--it's ours. Too little, too late.

The rest of the day, of course, was spent in front of the television reliving the horrible spectacle as the two towers came crashing down and the shock sank in. We had to retrieve our two boys, then ages 6 and 3, early from school. So much for Aidan's big first day! We wanted to shield them from the horror, but it was impossible. Still, they didn't really fully grasp what was going on. Thankfully, they eventually went off and lost themselves in play, as only children can do.

It's sad that the Bush administration used 9/11 as an excuse to go after Iraq, rather than focusing on the real target, Bin Laden in Afghanistan. We could've gotten him back then, and we could've avoided a trillion dollar mistake.

Are we safer today? We doubt it. We can never forget 9/11.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

SC Rep. Wilson's "You Lie"--Mild By Historical Standards

It's no wonder South Carolina is Jon Stewart's favorite state--it's politicians continue to give unlimited fodder for comedic relief.

All we can say is that Joe Wilson's "you lie" outburst is mild by SC standards. At least he didn't get up and nearly cane someone to death like SC Rep. Preston Brooks did to Massachusetts' Charles Sumner on the House floor before the Civil War.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Obama's Education Speech: Don't You Republicans Feel Silly Now!

In a brilliant stroke, President Barack Obama today gave a speech to students at Arlington's Wakefield High School (where the Curmudgeon's son is a freshman) in which he stealthily laid out his socialist political agenda.

For example, the President repeatedly focused on the value of a good education. Well, every right (wing-nut) thinking American knows that most education in our country is provided by the guv'mint, therefore that's socialism, plain and simple.

And Obama pounded home the theme of hard work. Why, that's just code for letting the government take care of you.

He urged students to stay in school so they could be successful in life. Again, staying in school simply gives the guv'mint more time to brainwash you into a limp wristed, socialism-loving liberal.

Thank gawd all those Republican haters kept their kids at home to avoid the President's propaganda campaign. We hope they were all watching some enriching, family-oriented Fox television.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Obama To Wakefield

Just learned tonight, at our soon-to-be high school freshman's orientation, that Wakefield High School will be hosting none other than President Barack Obama on the first day of school next week.

How cool is that!

Will Va. Gubernatorial Race Tighten After McDonnell Thesis Sinks In?

Now we have a more interesting gubernatorial race after Bob McDonnell's masters thesis denigrating working women surfaced over the weekend.

Will it make things tighter and turn this into a winnable contest for Creigh Deeds?

We'll see. The two most recent polls, completed before the thesis made its impact, are from Rasmussen and Public Policy Polling, with McDonnell up by 9 points and 7 points respectively.

These two organizations are expected to release additional polls later in September. If Deeds hasn't closed to within statistical insignificance by then, he's in trouble.