Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Quote of the Day: Key Official on Women's Health

Kathleen Sebelius
"A proposal being considered in the Senate this week would allow employers that have no religious affiliation to exclude coverage of any health service, no matter how important, in the health plan they offer to their workers. This proposal isn't limited to contraception nor is it limited to any preventive service. Any employer could restrict access to any service they say they object to. This is dangerous and wrong.

"The Obama administration believes that decisions about medical care should be made by a woman and her doctor, not a woman and her boss. We encourage the Senate to reject this cynical attempt to roll back decades of progress in women’s health.

--Kathleen Sebelius, Dept of Health and Human Services in a letter to Huffington Post addressing the Replublicans' efforts to legislate women's health.

One More Freedom Taking a Dive

Naked protest is the best kind.
This from

Today "the [U.S. House of Representatives] passed a bill ... that makes it illegal to protest at buildings or events where Secret Service are protecting someone. Rick Santorum was granted Secret Service protection today."

Let's call this the George W. Bush Memorial Keep Socialist/Commie Protesters Out of Sight and Quiet Bill. As you might recall, members of the Bush Administration, especially Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, regularly had protesters put behind wire fences and out of sight of the venues where they spoke. Cheney still insists that no protesters be visible when he speaks.

I think you know as well as I do that protesters--even subhuman species like the preacher who carries "God Hates Fags" signs at events like military funerals--have the Constitutional right of assembly and peaceful protest. It is a way of informing leaders that not all of us agree with them.

Somebody needs to remind those bozos in the House that this is a Republic and that protest is not only tolerated, but encouraged. Only those unsure of what they believe and afraid that the other side is correct would fear protests.

Quote of the Day: So Many Guns, So Little Time To Kill People

"In our conversation with him on Saturday, he didn't offer a single rational explanation for getting rid of it. When gun dealers can sell more guns without limits, they get the cold, hard cash and we get more dead bodies."

--Lori Haas on her talks with Gov. Bob McDonnell, requesting he veto a bill killing the one gun a month limit law in Virginia. She is the mother of Emily Haas, who was injured in the April 16, 2007, massacre, when student Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 students and teachers. McDonnell approved the legislation, worshiping at the alter of the gun lobby and ignoring citizens' pleas to protect their children from gun violence.

(Photo: Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Loss of the Heart and Now the Soul

Olympia Snowe: A voice of reason in an unreasonable place.
If the sanity had not totally escaped the Republican Party before today, it's gone now with the announcement by Olympia Snowe that she will not run again. We all lose with this, though it is easy to understand. She and her Maine colleague Susan Collins were the remaining small pieces of humanity in a party that never had much of a heart, but now has none.

Here's how she ended it: "I am well prepared for the electoral battle, so that is not the issue. However, what I have had to consider is how productive an additional term would be ... Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term."

More Bad Legislation Put off in Virginia Until Next Year

What a difference some ridicule and a couple of shifting votes make in Virginia. It looked like we were headed on a hell-train to the middle of the 19th Century just a week ago, but that seems to have turned around in the Virginia General Assembly in that short a time, at least for this session.

A combination of being a national laughingstock, an ambitious governor who saw right-wing overreach killing his chances to run as vice president, a couple of vote changes in the Senate and some serious reflection on what the hell was happening has saved some of the day for this session.

I can't emphasize "for this session" enough, though. These nasty social issues, which have dominated the discussion of the General Assembly in 2012, will be back next year. You can put that in the bank, especially if the Republi-cult members retain their seats and their majorities. Right now, everything is about the November elections and the Repubs saw that slipping away quickly with their extremism.

So, now we have bills either pulled back sent back to committee involving vaginal probes (though exterior ultrasound legislation on pregnant women has passed and awaits the governor's signature), "personhood" and a ban on Medicaid funding for abortions of "severely deformed" fetuses. Yesterday the Senate defeated a move to repeal the mandatory vaccination of female schoolchildren for protection against the human papillomavirus. The vaccination deters the spread of the disease and protects women from cervical cancer and is popular among moderates and liberals. Two Republicans (obviously not among the cultists) joined yesterday's vote. Del. Kathy Byron of Lynchburg has sponsored two of the Republi-cult raids on the freedom of women.

Still sitting out there today are bills that will loosen further some of the loosest gun laws in the United States. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling cast a vote yesterday breaking a tie along party lines that would require Virginians to present specific kinds of identification at the polling place or have their votes held as provisional. Repubs have almost annually attempted to reduce voting rolls in Virginia with legislation making it difficult for minorities to vote, but in the past, they have run into a Democratically-controlled Senate that said, "Hell, no!" No more.

Remember: All we have to do to change the face of the General Assembly is remove Ralph Smith, who has the seat from Botetourt County. That would give the Dems a 21-19 majority.


Veteran Reporter Rob Johnson Heading to Florida

Rob Johnson at work
Rob Johnson, the veteran reporter who has written for the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and for us at Valley Business FRONT, is heading to Florida for a job as a military reporter on a large gulf coast newspaper, the Pensacola News Journal. He starts March 26.

Rob has been an excellent addition for us and has written for a number of other newspapers and magazines during the past couple of years since leaving Roanoke's local daily, where he served as head of the business news department for some time.

I, for one among many, wish Rob godspeed. He's a good guy and an excellent journalist.

Here's part of his note to me:

Hi Dan,
Watch for the unemployment rate to drop soon! Through a happy set of circumstances, I have accepted a full-time newspaper job once again.Yep, I never learn.
This time I'm heading to ... become the new military beat/general assignment feature writer for Gannett's Pensacola News Journal, effective March 26. I wasn't really looking to come out of semi-retirement but this job, with its timely local and global implications covering the huge Navy and Air Force presence on the Florida Panhandle, is just too juicy to resist. I'm as excited as I was at my first police beat assignment in ancient times.
With my lovely wife and 93 1/2-year-old mom in tow, I have rented a house on a peninsula across from mainland Pensacola in Gulf Breeze where we'll hold our breath and see how long the embattled newspaper industry and the overall economy--not to mention my abilities and energies--allow this career-extending job to last. Meantime we'll just mothball our great house in SW Roanoke County in case we have to beat a hasty retreat, not a bad fallback at all.
And Dan, I wanted to thank you for being one of the editors who kept me journalistically and intellectually engaged since the cold winter of 2009, when I rather abruptly exited the local newspaper in Roanoke. You're a pro and a pleasure to work for.

Roanoke College Poll Finds Tea Party Sinking

Some interesting findings in the new Roanoke College poll of state and national politics, notably:
  • The Tea Party's popularity has topped out and is dropping like a rock;  
  • Social issues barely register with Virginia residents in national political races; 
  • President Obama beats all Republican candidates head to head (except Romney, with whom he is tied); 
  • Romney has a narrow lead among Republicultists; 
  • George Allen has a slight lead over Tim Kaine for Virginia's vacant senatorial seat.

Here's Roanoke College's edited press release: 

Republican George Allen has opened an eight-point lead (45 percent-37 percent) on Democrat Tim Kaine in a likely November matchup for the U.S. Senate seat from Virginia according to The Roanoke College Poll. In potential Presidential election scenarios, President Obama leads all Republican candidates except Mitt Romney, with whom he is statistically tied.

The Roanoke College Poll interviewed 607 residents of Virginia between February 13 and February 26. The Poll has a margin of error of +/-4 percent.

Allen holds an 8-point lead over Kaine, up from a three-point margin in September . That current margin is unchanged when looking only at registered voters. Allen leads among political Independents (43-38), but he trails Kaine among ideological moderates (50-33). Allen benefits from the much greater percentage of self-identified conservatives. There is also a gender gap with the potential candidates tied among women (40-40), but Allen leads among men (49-33).

Virginians are somewhat more optimistic about the direction of the country compared to September (25 percent think the United States is on the right track compared to 15 percent in September), but two-thirds (67 percent) still think the country is headed in the wrong direction.

In one of the more surprising findings,  those disagreeing with the Tea Party movement now outnumber supporters 48 percent-38 percent, a margin greater than last September’s (37-29).  

All of the remaining Republican Presidential candidates fared poorly in terms of the public’s impression of them. Rick Santorum was the best with 35 percent favorable and 47 percent unfavorable, followed by Mitt Romney (28 and 47), Ron Paul (26 and 54), and Newt Gingrich (21 and 64). President Obama’s ratings were 44 and 4%, while Governor McDonnell’s were 57 and 26.

In potential November matchups, President Obama is statistically tied with Mitt Romney (42-43), but leads Rick Santorum (45-39), Ron Paul (45-35), and Newt Gingrich (48-37). In September 2011, Romney led Obama by 8 percent.

While social issues have become more prominent in the Republican primaries and caucuses, Virginians are still focused on the economy. When asked the most important problem facing the country today, the top three issues were the economy in general (43 percent), unemployment (24), and the budget deficit (9). All other issues combined comprised only 24 percent of responses, with none exceeding 4 percent.

Virginians are still most likely to blame former President George W. Bush for current economic conditions (23 percent), while 22 percent blame financial institutions and 19 percent blame President Obama.

President Obama’s approval rating is up slightly, though statistically unchanged (41 in February vs. 39 in September), while Governor Bob McDonnell’s approval is down (60 vs. 67) as is approval of Senator Mark Warner (62 vs. 67). Approval of Congress remains both unchanged at 11 percent.

President Obama’s numbers have improved along with views of the national economy, although both remain weak,” said Harry Wilson, director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research. “The continuous bashing of Republican candidates by other Republican candidates appears to have resulted in low approval ratings of all them. They continue to emphasize social issues on the campaign trail, while Virginians remain focused on the economy.”

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Night of Old Time Clogging in Blacksburg

Eye of the Monkey String Band plays as dancers pass in front.
Band members go at it hard.
Alicia Lindeberg clogs ...
... and Alicia and Phil Louer turn.
It was Sunday night square dancing just outside Blacksburg at Bill Richardson's new place--one he designed--and the mood was strictly Yaaaaa-hoo! A crowd of about 25 jamed into the new dance room Bill just added to the house and the clogging and prancing commenced to the sweet tunes of Eye of the Monkey String Band.

I was visiting as an observer, developing an an honest feel for this type of dance for the novel I've finished (CLOG!) and am putting on the market in a week or two. Phil Louer of the Hoorah Cloggers, a more than 30-year-old clogging troupe from Blacksburg, invited me  to the dance and it was a nice stroke by him. We had chatted last week about dancing and he gave me some good ideas for the book (which I included before closing it out).

Before the evening was done, Phil and a pretty young novice from Ohio named Alicia Lindeberg were hot-footin' and and I was truly impressed with Alicia because she picked up the dance and especially the clogging so quickly. She's a natural and I suggested to Phil that the Hoorahs might be able to use her, especially with my buddy Amanda Wareing moving toward motherhood in the near future.

This was about square dancing mostly, but the guitar player in the band handed me his late 1960s era Nikon F3 with the 1.4 50mm lens in order to take a few shots of the band for him. I'd forgotten how good one of those old cameras feels (although I have several in my collection). It was a nostalgic moment there, getting in close, knowing this was going to film and that no high technology was touching the photos the guitar player will likely have processed this week. Nice moment for me.

Ultrasound Nails Virginia Governor Nationally

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has "been hurt by it. I'm of the theory that most things don't matter, but every now and then, something happens that changes people's perceptions for a lengthy period. We just had it."

--University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato on the vaginal ultrasound probe controversy in the General Assembly last week. Story in Richmond Times-Dispatch.

(Drawing: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)

And We Understand Why Santorum's an Idiot

The perfect homeschooled Santorums (after 2008 defeat).
Republicult presidential candidate Rick "Santorum, whose name aptly comes from the same Latin root as sanctimonious, went on Glenn Beck’s Web-based show with his family and offered this lunacy: 'I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college,' because colleges are 'indoctrination mills' that 'harm' the country. He evidently wants home university schooling, which will cut down on keggers."

--Maureen Dowd, NYTimes columnist this morning

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Republican Trainwreck and a National TV Audience

Republican primary field home to roost.
"... it was while watching the debates last night that it finally hit me: This is justice. What we have here are chickens coming home to roost. It's as if all of the American public's bad habits and perverse obsessions are all coming back to haunt Republican voters in this race: The lack of attention span, the constant demand for instant gratification, the abject hunger for negativity, the utter lack of backbone or constancy (we change our loyalties at the drop of a hat, all it takes is a clever TV ad): these things are all major factors in the spiraling Republican disaster."

--Don Emmert, writing in the Rolling Stone, here

Quote of the Day: Is Ron Paul Sneaking in the Back Door?

Ron Paul: The Libertarian's best friend.
Ron Paul's campaign organization "will be able to perform well enough that in some states where they came in third or fourth in the straw poll, they will come in first or second in terms of the delegate totals. I am fairly confident in making that bet."

--Professor Josh Putnam, a political scientist at Davidson College who tracks the delegate fight for Republicultists. Paul, according to the Manchester Guardian (here), is "quietly amassing an army of delegates while GOP frontrunners spar."

Is the Military Intentionally Mis-Diagnosing Sick Soldiers?

“We believe that many of the people who received personality disorder discharges were wrongly diagnosed and that in fact they were suffering from PTSD or traumatic brain injury.”

--Thomas Berger, executive director of Vietnam Veterans of America’s health council on U.S. soldiers being intentionally mis-diagnosed in order to get rid of them and to deny them earned benefits. Story in this morning's NYTimes here.

Friday, February 24, 2012

George Allen-Tim Kaine Take Sides on 'Personhood'

Allen and Kaine pretending to like each other.
Here's your chance to vote on the Personhood Amendment. Take a look at this video of a debate between senatorial candidates Tim Kaine (Democrat) and George Allen (Republicult) whose views are at opposite ends of the scale.

You'll note that Allen says he has a "100 percent pro life voting record in the Senate," which is just wrong. He has voted to support war, tobacco, guns, the death penalty and any number of other issues that are anything but "pro life." These anti-abortion people seem to think they are "pro life" just because they oppose abortion and that is counter to any kind of rational thinking.

Abortions are not conveniences. They are most often performed because bringing the child into the world would cause extreme hardship for the family, the community, the culture and the child. It is not a casual decision and not one taken lightly. But "pro life" does not describe opposition to this procedure.

Griffith's Law Partner's Wife Cuts Him Off

David Albo: Women and immigrants, NO
The guy in this video, Rep. David Albo, a Republicultist from Alexandria/Fairfax, is telling a funny story about how his wife denied him sex over one of those nutty right-wing bills that has to do with women's bodies.

I'm telling you, there's a tactic there that works. Consider it, ladies. (Shades of "Lysistrata," the wonderful old Greek play wherein the ladies cut off the gentlemen in the ruling body.)

By the way, this Albo character has been U.S. Congressman Morgan Griffith's (R-Salem Proper and some places in Southwest Virginia that aren't important enough to live in)  business partner in the law firm of Albo and Oblon in Alexandria.

They defend rich drunk drivers. Griffith handles this end of the state.

They all deserve to be cut off for a variety of reasons beginning with legislating against women. (Albo also sponsors xenophobic legislation against immigrants.)

This Just In: Poor Bobby McD Just Didn't Know

Bob McDonnell at press conference.
This from the Huffington Post:

Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said on Friday that he changed the terms his support for a controversial GOP-sponsored mandatory ultrasound bill at the last minute this week because he didn't realize until that point that the law would require an invasive, transvaginal procedure. Instead, he and a few Republican delegates rewrote the bill to mandate regular abdominal ultrasounds before an abortion, even though they are ineffective during the earliest weeks of pregnancy.

During the amendment process, McDonnell told a Politico panel, "We realized there was [sic] different kinds of ultrasounds, so what I recommended to the General Assembly, and they adopted the other day is, let's make the requirement for an abdominal ultrasound. We found out through the medical community that in most cases if it's not sufficient, on their own they already do other kinds of ultrasounds. So I said let's make those amendments. I also got legal advice from various people that these kinds of mandatory, invasive requirements might run afoul of Fourth Amendment law."

Isn't it terrible how those damn Democrats treat our noble Republicult Governor? He didn't know. How could he know? He's a Repub and they don't know anything.

NPR's New News Head Comes from Digital End

National Public Radio began digitizing about six years ago. Now, its new head of news and programming is moving in from its digital media division, signalling, perhaps, a sea change in the way business is done at one of our premier networks and signalling ... I don't know what, but something.

Most of us in print media know of the inevitability of going online only because it makes so much sense--cutting costs substantially and making us all as immediate as the "Enter" key on your keyboard. The only thing holding us back is that advertisers aren't ready for it. It really doesn't have to do with readers being ready. If the advertisers come along, we're there and the change will be quick, easy and painless for anybody who is computer literate.

There are those--including me--who will mourn the loss of paper, but we'll just have to adjust.

Here's the NPR announcement from Robert Preston's blog (which he somewhat old school calls a "weblog"):

NPR said Friday that its executive in charge of digital media, Kinsey Wilson, would start to oversee news and programming as well, effectively stitching together the organization’s core radio divisions and its newer online and mobile division.

Mr. Wilson will be the chief content officer for the organization. The announcement represented the first major leadership move by Gary Knell, who became the chief executive of NPR last December, nine months after the prior chief resigned under pressure.

Mr. Knell also said that Margaret Low Smith, the acting senior vice president of NPR News for the last 13 months, and Eric Nuzum, the acting vice president of programming for the last 13 months, would remain in those positions on an official basis.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lou Dobbs Sees Bogeyman in 'The Lorax'

Lou Dobbs
Leave it to good old predictable Fox News (or Faux Nooze if you prefer) to uncover evil liberal plots in the most inane appearing of our endeavors. The latest is Hollywood's effort to create "Occu-toddlers," according to some of Fox's wise talking heads.

Huffington Post reports that Fox Business News is going after "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax," a new animated movie, because it "is once again trying to indoctrinate our children." Lou dobbs says "the Lorax" and movies like it are ""demonizing the 1% and espousing green energy policies."

This follows a Fox assault on those liberal "Muppets" for going after oil barons and oil companies. Dobbs is worried that "The Lorax" is about "a woodland creature that speaks for trees and fights rampant industrialism" (it is). He complains that President Obama insists "everyone should pay their fair share." (He does.)

This all sounds so much like The Onion's brand of satire that it's difficult to believe an adult human being would really say out loud and on TV. These guys have been hanging too close to Glenn Beck too long and his rolling eyeballs and waggling tongue have infected them.

Occu-toddlers, indeed.

Absurd Personhood Bill Dies: Is Sanity Breaking Out in Senate?

The sanity that broke out in Virginia's Senate is not complete, but it suggests that maybe somebody is listening and is intimidated--especially in an election year. The Senate pushed consideration of the ridiculous "personhood" bill, the one that gives us a fetus the same rights as a fully-developed human being, was voted off the island today by an impressive margin.

What that likely means is that Republicans are tired of being embarrassed by all this social issue stuff and that Democrats believe they can win a majority in the coming election and stop this absurdity before it even starts.

Here's some of the story in the Huffington Post. The whole thing is here. 

In an unexpected move, the Virginia Senate killed the state's personhood bill, a key victory for women's groups seeking to battle the current proposals on reproductive rights.

By a 24-14 vote, the Senate agreed to a motion by Senate Republican Leader Tommy Norment (R-James City County) to push consideration of the bill to next year's legislative session. A coalition of Democrats and Republicans in the tied Senate voted for the motion; six Republican and 18 Democratic senators voted to push consideration of the bill back. Two Democratic senators abstained.

The bill was expected to pass the Senate with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) providing a tie-breaking vote. Norment said he believed the bill needed more study.

The bill passed a Senate committee, with Republican support, earlier in the day, and it passed the Republican-dominated House of Delegates last week. Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) had indicated that he would sign the bill. 


Showtimers' 'Nunsense' Selling a Lot of Tickets

Just discovered the play "Nunsense" at Showtimers in Roanoke is playing to wall-bursting crowds. Tomorrow's performance is sold out and others are close.

This is great news for theater in Roanoke where crowds have generally been quite good of late. Tickles me to death.

We have five or six theater groups and they all seem to be thriving.

That tells me the Republicans have not yet won.

'We Are a Laughingstock of the World'

Protesters gather in Richmond.
Virginia's Republicans continue their rush toward international ridicule with legislation setting the commonwealth firmly in the 19th Century. Led by Kathy Byron of Lynchburg and Robert Marshall of Prince William, the Republican Cult is forging ahead with legislation that is especially egregious toward women.

Kathy Byron of Lynchburg
Hundreds of women protested outside the Senate this morning and it got ugly at several points.

"We're racing to the dark ages," for ideological reasons, lamented Sen. Janet D. Howell, D-Fairfax, noting several bills (and not including gun legislation Republican Cultists have been trying to ram through for years, but finally have the votes to do.

Here is this morning's story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the best source for General Assembly coverage in Virginia. 

Sen. Mamie E. Locke, D-Hampton is quoted as saying, "We are a laughingstock of the world because of things like this ... The individual rights of women are being challenged continuously."

Katherine Greenier, director of the Women’s Rights Project with the ACLU of Virginia was quoted as saying, “This bill would lay the legal foundation to ban abortion and contraception in the event of a Supreme Court reversal [of Roe v. Wade]. ... The amendment is nonsensical. We’re now mandating that a doctor perform a test on a woman, whether she consents or not, that is medically unnecessary. I can’t think of a bigger intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship.

Democrat Richard Saslaw of Fairfax said, bluntly, “Republicans are really screwing this place up.”

The Republicans are supported strongly in the Roanoke area by millionaire Sen. Ralph Smith and House member Greg Habeeb.

(Photo: Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Economic Forecast: Tooth Fairy Gifts Down

Some years ago, when I was editing the Blue Ridge Business Journal, we instituted a new gauge for measuring the economy. We called it the Potty Poll and each spring, we called around to portable toilet companies to see how many units they had rented for the spring/summer building season.

It was a good gauge of the construction industry (you have to have a certain number of potties to accommodate specific numbers of workers), which was a good way to measure the economy as a whole. It was generally accurate.

Now, we have a new one, thanks to my buddy Sarah Huddle, who's doing some marketing work for Delta Dental. It's called the Tooth Fairy Poll and, from what I can tell, it's as good as any economic forecast (which aren't all that hot in general). Here's what Sarah says:

The average gift from the Tooth Fairy dropped to $2.10 last year, but she’s still visiting nearly 90 percent of homes throughout the United States, according to The Original Tooth Fairy Poll sponsored by Delta Dental. That average gift is down 42 cents from $2.52 in 2010. The 17 percent drop in value is one of the larger declines since Delta Dental began conducting the Original Tooth Fairy Poll in 1998.

“Like many Americans, the Tooth Fairy needed to tighten her belt in 2011, but she’s hopeful for a recovery this year,” says Chris Pyle of the Delta Dental Plans Association. The poll, which surveyed 1,355 parents across the country, found that the most common amount left under the pillow by the Tooth Fairy is $1. (Note: A little stingy, don't you think, given inflation?)

Virginia's Governor: 'Pro Life' or 'Pro Political Ambition'?

“I am pro life. I believe deeply in the sanctity of innocent human life and believe governments have a duty to protect human life. The more our society embraces a culture of life for all people, the better country we will have.”

--Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (in today's NYTimes), who helps define "pro life" as being pro gun, pro tobacco, pro war, pro death penalty, anti Social Security and Medicare, anti poor children's food and medical services, anti feminists and working women (they're "detrimental" to family values), anti gay ("cohabitators, homosexuals and fornicators" should have no rights).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Governor Backs Down; Your Voice Is Being Heard!

'Chicken Bob' McDonnell backs down.
The Huffington Post is reporting that Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia will not sign the ultrasound legislation that has brought the Commonwealth such wide-spread ridicule nationally and wants another bill to take its place, one that is less intrusive.

Looks like your voices have been heard by an ambitious politician (redundancy) who wants very much to be vice president (fat chance). Here's some of the HuffPost's report:

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) revoked his support for a GOP-sponsored bill that would require women to undergo a physically invasive transvaginal ultrasound procedure before having an abortion on Wednesday, just minutes before the House of Delegates is expected to debate and vote on the bill.

"Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state," McDonnell said in a statement. "No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure.

"For this reason ... I am requesting that the General Assembly amend this bill to explicitly state that no woman in Virginia will have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily. I am asking the General Assembly to state in this legislation that only a transabdominal, or external, ultrasound will be required to satisfy the requirements to determine gestational age. Should a doctor determine that another form of ultrasound may be necessary to provide the necessary images and information that will be an issue for the doctor and the patient. The government will have no role in that medical decision," he said.

Members of the state legislature speculated Wednesday morning that Republicans were looking for a way to rewrite the bill to avoid having to fully back down from it, and Del. Jennifer McClellan (D) tweeted from the House floor around 2:30 pm that "a substitute to the ultrasound bill is being circulated."

"A lot of rumors are floating around this building that the Republicans are trying desperately to find some way out of this Pandora's box," said a top legislative staffer who works with Virginia's Democrats. "I think the sponsors didn't realize when this law passed in North Dakota that this was an intrusive ultrasound. But it would look terrible with their base if they backed down now and didn't pass it."

From the Hoorahs, Some Good Advice for CLOG!

Hoorahs' Lynn Logan
Had a meeting at lunch today with Amanda Wareing and Phil Lour of the Hoorah Cloggers in Blacksburg, an attempt by me to find out where the passion for square dancing comes from and how it manifests. My nearly-finished novel CLOG! is needing a little something that only square dancers of long standing can provide and I think Amanda and Phil are godsends.

(That's Amanda's sister Lynn Logan to the right, in a pose that is getting some consideration for the cover of the book.)

One of the more important revelations, coming from both of them, is that I'm on the right track with the authenticity of the square dance sequences in the book and that my feel for it is right. They had some excellent suggestions about technical aspects of some of what I was discussing during dance scenes and preparations for competitions and they'll be in the finished product.

Phil showed me a YouTube video of one of their performances and it stopped me cold because it was so close to the climactic scene in the book. Really spooky. Phil is front right in the video. I don't think Amanda's dancing. Here it is 

The Hoorah Cloggers have been around for probably 40 years and their approach to square dancing is different from the smooth dancing that my book follows, but their flashy, affecting clogging approach has helped me create some definitions and alter a couple of scenes to better represent what might really have happened.

I love this kind of research and Amanda and Phil invited me to a dance Sunday night in Blacksburg, which I fully expect to attend. They're making the book better and I like that.

Quote of the Day: Avoiding the Blame in Virginia

Mark Sickles
Republicans "are freaked out by the (ultrasound) bill and the reaction it's gotten across the country. I think they're probably trying to figure out a media strategy to figure out a way to get off the front pages."

--Del. Mark D. Sickles, (D-Fairfax)

Note: This is the bill that women are calling "state-sponsored rape" and they have a very good point. It is a thinly-disguised effort to make abortion even more difficult to get in Virginia, where it is almost impossible to access already.

Anti-Gay Vote in Va.: What Do We Do with the Children Now?

Lord, aren't they lovely in their fury?
Meanwhile, as the Republican Cultists in the Virginia Senate agreed with their House of Representatives counterparts yesterday that, yes, the state should support religious organizations that administer adoptions, but no, gay people can't play.

Let me mention that two Democrats, Sens. Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William) and Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell), joined the nut fringe, avoiding a 20-20 tie and keeping the Lt. Governor from having to break that tie with an all-Repub vote. They need to lose their seats.

The Richmond Times Dispatch points out this morning that "Virginia ranks 49th in the nation in the ability to adopt the foster children in its care, of which there are more than 5,300." We're already next to last and these anti-abortion types take away yet another option to caring for those children, claiming religious freedom.

The real religious issue here is whether the government should be supporting religious organizations, a situation that was brought to full fruition during the Bush II administration and one that has resulted in nothing good.

Look like today lines up as a big one for the anti-woman, pro-gun agenda of our fearless leaders in Richmond. The Rape by the State bill looks like a sure thing as do any number of gun bills that promote the 17th century values of these lovely people.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Viginia Republican Travesties Put on Hold for the Moment

How 'bout a bill to abort this?
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the Republican Cultists in Virginia's House of Representatives have delayed passage of some of their most controversial and demeaning bills for reasons that were not explained.

In a story this afternoon, the T-D says the Republicans' state-sponsored rape bill (the one they're calling an ultrasound bill that is "good for" the woman being raped by a probe) is one of several bills being held over. A NYTimes story this morning says Gov. Bob McDonnell is having some reservations about signing the bill because it is being roundly ridiculed nationally and he apparently has some vice presidential ambitions (giving you an idea just how bare the Republican cabinet is).

Among the other bills that have been set aside for the moment, according to the TD:

  • A bill that would repeal the state's one-gun-a-month bill (meaning you could buy all you want and go shoot up a church).
  • "Conscience clause" legislation (from people with no conscience) that "would protect the right of private adoption agencies to refuse child placement to prospective parents based on their beliefs." This is, pure and simple, an anti-gay law.
  • A "castle doctrine" bill that would "allow home occupants to use any degree of force, even lethal, against intruders who attack them." So, if a 10-year-old breaks into your house, you can blow his friggin' head off with one of those 1,000 guns you own and Virginia will say you're sane and legal, neither of which is necessarily true.
  • A "number of other gun-related bills," all of which give rights to unstable people wanting all this firepower.

Do you think they're crazy yet?


Monday, February 20, 2012

This Just In: Virginia Women (and Smart Men) Are Pissed

Enthusiastic women in Richmond show more class than their antagonists.
The Richmond Times Dispatch reports that more than 1,000 people showed up today to protest the war on women that is being waged by a group of knuckle-dragging Cro-Magnon Republicans in the General Assembly. They are attempting to take away a woman's right to control her own bodily functions and to even stop birth control.

What we're seeing all around the state--and the nation with similar legislation pending elsewhere--is women and everybody else with some sense of propriety--reaching a boiling point. My guess is that we're just this close to violence breaking out (oh, please, please). These pond scum feces hiding behind wild-eyed Biblical mis-representation (remind you of some bat-shit-crazy Moslems, do they?),  trying to suppress and repress our citizens are coming to the end of their windbags. If you think a burqa is out of the question in their world, think again.

In any case, it is encouraging to see evidence nearly everywhere of an awakening giant who is going to make a greasy spot out of these crazies (and don't forget that some of them are our own representatives: think Sen. Ralph Smith and his cronies).

(Photo: Richmond Times-Dispatch)

VTC Research Institute on 'Today' Thursday

Mike Friedlander
NBC's "Today Show" was in town recently to put together a segment on the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, which will run Thursday between 8 and 8:30 a.m., I'm told by a board member.

The same board member said that CBS "This Morning," its equivalent of "Today" had inquired about doing a piece on VTCRI, but Executive Director Mike Friedlander "blew them off because 'Today' is so much higher rated."

 Nice position to be in.

Photo(s) of the Day II: Maddie and Pampa Have a Wreck

Maddie and Pampa get ready for a run down Memorial Hill.
And they're off ...

Pampa bounces off the sled and Maddie chases after it.
Maddie checks Pampa's pulse. He's not quite dead. yet.

 OK, so I'm convinced: God made little kids and grandpas so they could go sledding together. Give me another reason that makes that much sense. She needs an adult to go and I needed a kid to make it possible. Made for each other. This morning--about 8 o'clock (grandpa/kid time)--we took the first run down Memorial Avenue Hill over in Wasena/Raleigh Court and that amounted to the sled getting away from Maddie, who had to chase it down the hill without riding. But things settled after that and we had some good runs, including this one, which was a killer for the old man and a hoot for the kid.

Photo(s) of the Day: The Freshness of New Snow

First light on the weeping cherry tree in the front yard at La Casa Edinburgh (my house).
The old green rocker looking fancy.
The large oak at the edge of my back yard gets first light.
My buddy the frog having fun.
Back fence in black and white.
Edinburgh Drive view, complements of ApCo.
How deep is it? This deep.
How pretty is it? This pretty.
We're sitting on probably six inches of snow this morning in Northwest Roanoke and I don't remember a snow being prettier with the bright freshness and the azure sunlit sky. I'm taking Grandbuddy Madeline sledding in a bit--before reading proof of the magazine the rest of the work day (isn't it great to own your own business for days like this?).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Season's First Snow: They're Out and Having Fun

Photographing the snow creators.
Finding snow for the snowwoman.
Mother-daughter snowwoman.
Sleds and sledders on Memorial Avenue sledding hill.
Dad watches little one sled down Memorial Ave. hill.
Father-son snowball fight ...
... and it looks like the son is winning.
Sisters put together a snowman near Patterson Ave.
On the way to a movie ("The Artist"; worth seeing) at the Grandin Theatre a while ago, I ran into people all over the place frolicking in the first snow of this winter. Spirits were high, but I didn't want to be too intrusive, so I didn't get names to go with the photos. Frankly, I don't think it makes much difference who the people were. They were among a lot who were enjoying themselves.