Frontier Former Editor

November 4, 2008

Virginia’s 2008 Election Widget

Filed under: 2008 election, politics — Tags: , , — Frontier Former Editor @ 11:23 pm
Nothing like seeing Republicans take a kick in the teeth, I always say . . .
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October 4, 2008

On voting . . .

I’ll save you some of my normal ranting; Max’s monograph on the topic was so much better and less bitter than I could muster.

I was reading the Virginia official elections and voting site this evening – probably the first time I’d done so since I was in the newspaper biz – and found some interesting tidbits in preparation for my trip to the optical scanner in November.

Our longtime Democratic congressional incumbent is unopposed for the first time since 1982. That’s 13 election cycles and 26 years, and I covered 7 of those elections in some form or another. I can also say that, in all but two of those elections, he was effectively unopposed because of the quality of candidate.

Virginia actually has six slates of presidential/vice presidential candidates. Besides the Republican and Democrat doom and gloom, the slate is damn near a political Baskin Robbins with Green, Independent Green, Libertarian, and whatever the hell Ralph Nader is calling himself this year.

Oh, Nader’s an Independent. How cute.

Maybe I won’t have to write in Eisenhower and Nixon this year after all.

For our city council (and I use the word ‘city’ loosely, since this place has less than 4,000 residents, shares its court and clerk system with the surrounding county, and somehow manages to keep a city charter it bogarted from the Virginia General Assembly in 1954 – a city it ain’t.) I see two people with whom I went to high school and college, respectively. They’re both reasonable folk, so I’ll probably choose them over the asshole scion of the now-dead owner of the local Pepsi bottling franchise and the guy of whom I know little other than the fact that he ran for council once before and left the same impact of a 5.56 mm bullet against titanium plate armor.

Our last asshole former Republican governor Jim Gilmore (as opposed to the prior asshole former Republican governor George Allen – Google ‘macaca’ for more) is running for U.S. Senate against the next to last Democrat former governor who did a pretty good job of cleaning up Gilmore’s immediate toxic political spillage. When two senior Republican legislators and a rather honorable former Republican governor (and father-in-law of the current Democratic governor) appear in ads and campaign appearances to endorse the Democrat, one would think that Gilmore would have gotten the message.

This, of course, merely proves that Gilmore is, in fact, an asshole and a not-very-smart one.

And then there’s the ‘city’ school board race. I used to cover that school board. I think I’ll write i, “Consolidate with the county, finally!”

With all the heartburn from reading the site, all I can say is that I can still cuss, spit, gripe and – in the end – go down and vote about it without the fear of being spied upon, trailed by state security, picked up, interrogated or executed.

Unless, of course, I vote in Florida.

If any of you reading this live in Virginia, you have until close of business Monday, Oct. 6, to go register to vote in this November’s general elections.

Do it.

August 16, 2008

Moonlight sonata . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Frontier Former Editor @ 10:36 pm

or another reason why I’m getting a Nikon D50 before the end of the year . . .

Moon over Norton, Va., taken with an old-as-the-hills Nikon Coolpix 950 with damn near no aperature control

Moon over Norton, Va., taken with an old-as-the-hills Nikon Coolpix 950 with damn near no aperature control

July 30, 2008

Addenda, or how to get murdered by ax

My last assignment at Roy Rogers was as a senior assistant mgr/troubleshooter at the franchise Roy’s in Warrenton, Virginia. Besides having the pleasure of that holiest of rarities in Northern Virginia – going to work on I-66 when everyone was leaving and thus having an relatively empty highway out of Fairfax County – I got to see just how well a franchisee adhered to Marriott/Roy Rogers quality standards.

Of course, during my first week, I tried to sample the milkshake/soft serve machine and was told by one of the hired hands that it didn’t work .

“And why doesn’t it work?” I asked gently, sensing that the question might be construed as an attempt to elicit sensitive information.

“Well, the health inspector told us it was broken,” said hand replied cautiously.

“I see,” I said, already knowing the worst. “Did he happen to leave a note as to why it was broken?”

The lucky employee led me back to the store office, where I discovered the inspection and safety file book for the establishment. Sure enough, the last inspection report included words such as ‘bacteria count,’ ‘odor,’ and ‘final warning.’

I told the employee that it was his lucky day, and gave him some petty cash and a shopping list including stiff-bristle toothbrushes (a running theme with my days at the Double R Bar . . .), a gallon of bleach and three surgical masks.

Upon his return, he, I and another employee unlucky enough to answer ‘not much’ when I asked what he was doing pulled the machine to the back of the kitchen. Amazingly enough, the tool kit for the machine’s maintenance was as it had never been used – well maybe it made perfect sense. I removed the side panels and immediately was forced into a Hobson’s choice: vomit or laugh and vomit.

There was enough curd to supply several varieties of repulsive European cheeses to the next 20 wine tasting parties in Warrenton’s fox-hunting community. I’d only expected cheese for 10 parties.

Suffice it to say we got the machine clean, sanitary and sparkling in about an hour. I surprised myself in my ability to motivate two teenagers to get off their “lazy, filthy asses and don’t ever let something like this happen on my watch again or I’ll run you through the goddamn roast beef slicer on ‘shaved’ setting – you got that?!!!!” Well, it was calmer and not quite as blue, but the sense of murderous intent got across.

One day later, we were serving milkshakes, sundaes and strawberry shortcakes (Stiletto and Sled will remember those . . .).

After that, things went amazingly well given that I demonstrated that I could scrub cream cheese from machinery with the best of them.

Then there was the day of the flaming chicken fryer (another theme in my career at the Double R Bar).

It was after the dinner rush (maybe Neil Young could get another album title out of that), and I’d asked the first employee mentioned earlier in this post to drain, clean and refill the chicken fryer with shortening. The process is relatively simple: you turn off the fryer, screw in a drain spout at the bottom of the fryer, open the spout valve and drain the oil into a filter/pump, spray filtered oil back into the fryer until the solids were drained, turn off the pump, scrub out the fryer, close the valve, disconnect the drain and filter, pack solid shortening back into the fryer, turn on the power until shortening is melted, add shortening to bring it to full, turn off the power and close the lid.

They did pretty well except for one step – the first one about turning off the fryer. Within seconds of draining the fryer, the heating elements managed to ignite the film of oil left after draining. Naturally, smoke drifted throughout the store and the fire alarm went off while I was sweeping the dining room. I ran back and saw employee 1 and his buddy standing and wondering what to do.

I said “DO THIS!” and cut the power and closed the lid. Just then I heard a banging at the back door. I opened the door and was greeted with a firefighter poised to chop a hole in the door with a fire ax. The ax, of course, was aimed pretty much at my sternum.

I turned, looked at number one employee and said, “It’s for you.”

July 4, 2008

And a Fourth of July finale from Norton, Va.

Filed under: My God, it's full of stars, Virginia — Tags: , , , — Frontier Former Editor @ 10:28 pm

June 9, 2008

Something more freakish than living-dead dog heads

 

namely, the man who would think he has even a snowball’s chance in the jet blast of an F-15 in afterburner of becoming Virginia’s junior U.S. senator. I give you . . . . . James Gilmore.

Yes, James Gilmore, whose administration gave me more than enough to do during my career as a reporter.

James Gilmore, whose political bright idea was to phase out Virginia’s local personal property tax on personal automobiles. It sounds good, until one realized that:

A) Gilmore’s bright idea included having Virginia replace the phased-out revenue with state tax revenues, so we could all pay for our lower car tax with our own state tax monies.

B) Gilmore slightly underestimated the cost to state coffers – he said $40 million in state revenue annually to pay for the phase-out. The actual cost? Try more than $100 million annually.

C) Gilmore’s vision of lowering the local tax burden on Virginia citizens would have qualified as legal blindness, since localities found themselves raising real estate tazes and other fees to meet the shortfall. Ergo, more local taxes on the hard-working Virginia taxpayer.

D) Less available state tax revenue meant less funding for things like education, transportation, public health, and teacher and state employee raises. (The last item always gives me a big chuckle, since one of my relatives goes on about how Gilmore’s Democrat successors as governor screwed deputies and corrections staff out of their raises. News flash: Gilmore spent damn near all the money on your raises on his goofy pyramid scheme to lower your car taxes).

And, to round out a fun-filled four years of Big Jim the Car Tax King, he managed to make enough of his own party mad enough at him so that two major Republican legislators came out today to support the Democratic candidate for Virginia’s U.S. Senate candidate, Mark Warner.

Yep, it’s in the Washington Post and the Roanoke Times

Warner, incidentally, succeeded Gilmore as Virginia governor and managed to work with most state Republican legislators to rescue basic services and the state’s bond ratings. The two Republicans – Delegate Vince Callahan and state Senator John Chichester – were the top overseers of the state budget legislative process and enjoyed the distinction of having Gilmore veto the budget plan they crafted in an attempt to clean up the mess he helped bring about.

I had the interesting experience of interviewing Gilmore and of observing his arithmetic skills. When asked to explain why he didn’t apply more of his own discretionary economic development fund to seducing businesses to southwest Virginia. Gilmore promptly countered with the fact that he had spent several tens of millions in that fund west of Marion – even after I gave him the out of asking if he meant Marion.

After a little fact checking with the state’s economic development arm, it turns out that he spent more like less than $10 million west of Roanoke. Roanoke, incidentally, is about 100 miles east of Marion.

This – among several other chapters in Gilmore’s four-year success story – leads me to believe that Gilmore’s map of Virginia west of Roanoke consists of a blank area captioned with “Thar be sea monsters beyond!”

It’s not that Gilmore is a Republican and his opponent is a Democrat. It’s that Jim Gilmore has to be one of the dumbest, out-of-touch people ever to be governor of Virginia. I could name three Republican governors of this state who, in their worst ever days each could show without effort the decency, grace and intelligence that would turn James Gilmore into a pillar of salt.

Please, Jim, take the advice of Biff from “Back to the Future” and just make like a tree and GET OUTTA HERE!

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