the House! Free the House Now!
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
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 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
- 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
- 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
Later that day, Bolling told The Washington Post it was "the
most disgusting and disappointing day I have ever spent as a member of
Warner said the legislators were "an embarrassment to the
On Tuesday, he recanted that message, but this time by saying he didn't
want to call those "vacationing" legislators back for a
"They expect you as legislators to accomplish that task,"
In The Virginian Pilot, Del. Harvey B. Morgan, R-Gloucester,
responded to Warner's comment as "beneath the dignity of that
"This press release is an outrage," said Del. Chris Saxman,
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
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
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
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
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?)
Yes, it's time for a little comic relief after all that social
- 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
- 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
Well, shucks, of course not!
After all, Hanger told the media that he's been working on tax reform
(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
Frank, err ... you might be one french fry short with that tax-happy
- 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
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
There is no doubt in my mind.