Free the House! Free the House Now!
More tales of the Blue Dog

By Steve Sisson
Augusta Free Press

In Richmond this week, the political gridlock can only be described as the immobility of government to deal with reality.

After one week and counting ...

It's time to get our act together in Virginia.

The Democratic Party has been on the offensive this week - claiming the Republicans don't understand leadership, and that they have been very critical of the House and Senate budget plans.

Democratic Party of Virginia chairman Kerry Donley said in a memo this week: "Fiscal responsibility died a sad death this week."

Donley added: "They (the GOP) have betrayed the trust of the people of Virginia and dragged that mantle of leadership through the dirt."

Point of view: Trust? Leadership? Dirt?

(That's the Democratic point of view.)

First, let's break down the statement, starting with trust issue.

Hmm ... Democratic Gov. Mark Warner and moderate GOP Senate members promised not to raise taxes during their campaigns.

That sounds like both parties have a trust challenge.

Second ... how about leadership?

Well, the governor is the leader of the state, and Sen. John Chichester, R-Stafford, is the leadership in the Senate.

OK? We know who the leaders are. Who might be the followers?

As for that little dirty question ...

Well, the Blue Dog says there has been enough mudslinging on both sides lately to share this title between political parties.

That's a tie ballgame - three for three.

So let's stop pointing fingers, please.

Message in a bottle

While the House was still in session last week, Warner decided to call a special session claiming the House chose "to leave Richmond with your business unfinished."

The timing of the message was an obvious political ploy to make the 6 o'clock news that evening.

The Blue Dog thought the governor's official press release contained incomplete sentences because of the rush to the news glory.

Oh, I meant to say ... rush to the news story.

Well, the Blue Dog decided to help the Gov out and make the corrections.

(Corrections to Warner's statement are in parentheses.)

- Virginia faces continued budget shortfalls through the end of the decade (because we are spending and wasting much of your tax dollars.)

- Current revenues do not adequately fund public education and other core services (and neither do my tax increases, but who's counting.)

- Our bond rating is at risk (and I have beachfront property in Montana to sell you.)

- Our tax code continues to require working families to pay more than their fair share (but we want you to pay more with our sales- and income-tax increases.)

- Perhaps worst of all, it will signal to potential employers that Virginia is not a stable business environment (and the Democrats could lose the support of Virginia Free, the chamber of commerce and other special interests.)

- The failure to resolve this dispute has serious consequences (to my legacy as governor of Virginia.)

Hope that works, Gov!

The Blue Dog believes there's a fine line between special interests and self-interest in the governor's mansion these days.

But that's only if you read between the lines.

In the book Profiles of Courage, John F. Kennedy recalled a senator who had "voted with the special interest on every issue, hoping that by election time, all of them added together would constitute nearly a majority that would remember him favorably, while the other members of the public would never know about - much less remember - his vote against their welfare."

Looks like some things might never change.

When is the next Virginia U.S. Senate election?

Your mother wears combat boots

Last Monday, Sen. Bill Bolling, R-Hanover, said in a speech: "This impasse will never be broken as long as we stand on the floor of the Senate and make fun of them, as long as we call them names, as long as they call us lemmings or we call them a mob or we call them a chicken."

Later that day, Bolling told The Washington Post it was "the most disgusting and disappointing day I have ever spent as a member of this body."

Warner said the legislators were "an embarrassment to the people."

On Tuesday, he recanted that message, but this time by saying he didn't want to call those "vacationing" legislators back for a special session.

"They expect you as legislators to accomplish that task," Warner said.

In The Virginian Pilot, Del. Harvey B. Morgan, R-Gloucester, responded to Warner's comment as "beneath the dignity of that office."

"This press release is an outrage," said Del. Chris Saxman, R-Staunton.

And Del. Leo C. Wardrup Jr., R-Virginia Beach, said, "This entire administration has been a miscalculation."

Dignity? Outrage? Miscalculation?

Although the Blue Dog agrees with the House of Delegates' call for fiscal responsibility and no tax increases.

I simply loved Warner's analogy of "vacationing" legislators.

The Blue Dog has always believed most of these House of Delegates members are on vacation all year long, which includes the regular session.

Considering a good portion of the House's legislation was dedicated to the construction of conservative social morals.

Well, I have to say, you guys and gals are simply the best at do-nothing government.

Let's see ... outlawing gay and lesbian marriages, furthering sodomy and abortion restrictions and determining whether public meetings are open to us, the public.

Yes, once again. The GOP has proven that it can enter the privacy of our bedrooms while they hide behind politically closed doors concerning public policy.

The House agenda is definitely a contradiction in political terms.

This special session might teach the House of Delegates that the public is tired of demagoguery, dogma and divisiveness.

Instead of playing politics, let's do the people's business this time.

In The Washington Post, House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, said, "I'm not going anywhere until the last dog dies."

Now, that's the spirit!

But I'm not sure about the metaphor; I sure hope he's not talking about a dead Blue Dog columnist?

Just in case, I better change into those combat boots.

(Hmm ... where exactly did Mom put them?)

Comic relief

Yes, it's time for a little comic relief after all that social commentary.

- Del. Glenn Weatherholtz, R-Harrisonburg, told The Daily News-Record that the special session would be inconvenient for him because his socks returned to Harrisonburg with his wife. He said, "You ever try to find size 15 to 17 socks?"

Poor ol' thang!

The Blue Dog wants to start a special relief fund to help remove Weatherholtz's big foot from his mouth - but are we talking size 15 or 17?

- Concerning the General Assembly's inability to reach a deadline and subsequent call for a special session, Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Mount Solon, told the DNR, "I certainly don't view it as an embarrassment."

Well, shucks, of course not!

After all, Hanger told the media that he's been working on tax reform since 1983.

(Hey, like, what's the big deal with a little ol' special session?)

- When speaking to the House's anti-tax sentiments, Democratic Del. Frank Hall told the Republican majority, "I'm reminded of Ronald Reagan's famous favorite line: 'There you go again.' "

Oh Frank, Frank, Frank ... can I be very frank with you?

During the second presidential debate in 1984, President Reagan replied to candidate Walter Mondale: "You know, I wasnít going to say this at all, but I canít help it: There you go again. I donít have a plan to tax or increase taxes. Iím not going to increase taxes. I can understand why you are, Mr. Mondale, because as a senator you voted 16 times to increase taxes. Now, I believe that our problem has not been that anybody in our country is undertaxed. Itís that government is overfed."

Frank, err ... you might be one french fry short with that tax-happy meal.

- In closing, The News-Leader stated in an editorial last week: "We do feel that the House budget plan is dishonest, as it is a tax increase in all but name. Taking away tax credits from business hurts business, and that hurts Virginia."

And furthermore, "That's why Gov. Warner's proposal gained the endorsement of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce."

Oh please, you're killing me this time!

That's so funny.

The Blue Dog is rolling on the floor laughing.

The $500 million House tax plan is bad for business!

While the Chichester-Warner $3.9 billion tax increase is good for business?


And everybody knows that the Virginia Chamber of Commerce endorsed that Warner tax plan before the House ever introduced its tax plan.


It's no wonder why Augusta County residents call the newspaper The News Misleader.

There is no doubt in my mind.