Good bye 2011, Welcome 2012! May it be a good one!

I always like to drag this Kenny G classic out every New Years Eve. It reminds me of where I come from, the generation I come from, and the people I come from. Its always good to remember those things.


The Edward Kennedy speech probably gets to me more than any of the segments. I think it was part of Bobby’s eulogy. The Challenger would have to come in next. Again, I can’t tell you why. Princess Di would have to be part of the top 5.

Is there a moment in the 20th century history that just reaches out and grabs you?

How about 2011? What stands out the most? What was the year’s defining moment?

Happy New Year, everyone.

Bad decisions of 2011

Verizon came out yesterday or the day before with a plan that was just bound  to piss off the masses.  Mid-January, those paying their bill by credit or debit card would be assessed a $2.00 fee for the convenience.  Customers could save 2 dollars by using an electronic check, money order or mailing in a payment where real people who get salaries and benefits would have to be hired to process the payments.  Apparently the Verizon masses rejected the plan quite vociferously and as of today, Verizon announced it had listened to input from customers and would not implement the plan. 

I guess Verizon Wireless (who has you locked in with their contracts) remembered none too fondly what happened to the darling of the stock market, Netflix.  It restructured its pricing plan and divided into 2 branches–one streaming and one for hard copy dvd movies and blue ray.  In some cases, the cost of belonging to Netflix went up by 60%.  People left like rats off a sinking ship. CEO Reed Hastings took the heat but it didn’t help.   In 2 month’s time Netflix lost over 800,000 customers.  The stock has plunged 75%.   According to Huffington Post:

Hastings has repeatedly taken the blame for mismanaging the announcement of the price increase in July and then making things worse two months later by trying to spin off Netflix’s DVD-by-mail rental service into a separate website called Qwikster. Since scrapping that idea in October, Hastings has been trying to repair some of the damage.

That will probably take a while. Netflix’s stock price has plunged 75 percent since mid-July to wipe out $12 billion in shareholder wealth. The backlash surprised and humbled Hastings, who revealed at an investor conference this month that he once thought Netflix’s stock would hit $1,000. Netflix’s stock gained $2.87 Thursday to close at $73.84, down from its July high of just under $305.

That maneuver just tells us how volatile some of the stock is to customer satisfaction.  I had planned on purchasing more Verizon this week and decided to h0ld off, thinking of Netflix.  Meanwhile, HBOgo, Amazon streaming which just happens to be free if you buy the Amazon Prime free shipping plan, and Best Buy all are vying for Netflix defectors.  it all reminds me of that tragic error made by Coca Cola.  New coke was just miserable.  That CEO lost his job. 

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Republicans to require loyalty oath

From the Richmond Times Dispatch:

The state Republican Party will require voters to sign a loyalty oath in order to participate in the March 6 presidential primary.

Anyone who wants to vote must sign a form at the polling place pledging to support the eventual Republican nominee for president. Anyone who refuses to sign will be barred from voting in the primary.

During a brief meeting Wednesday at the state Capitol, the State Board of Elections voted 3-0 to approve three forms developed by the election board’s staff to implement the loyalty pledge requested by the state GOP.

Is that even legal?  I thought that Virginia primaries were open to any registered voter, regardless of party.   If Republicans want to keep their votes ‘pure’ it seems to me that they should have a convention primary.  That’s a little easier to keep the ‘riff raff’ out of. 

I expect there will be legal challenges.  If I were a Republican, I would not like being held to the standard of voting for anyone who happens to win the nomination.  In fact, that was one reason I left the Democrats.  I didn’t like having to pledge a vote. 

If Republicans want to keep their primary pure, then they need to change the state laws so that one must register as either a Democrat or Republican to be able to vote in a primary (or some other combination for third party Independents).  Until that happens, I would say that any registered voter should get to vote in an election.

From  the State Board of Elections website:

Can I vote for candidates from different parties?
   Virginia is an open primary state which means that any qualified voter can vote in either party’s primary election. Virginia does not have party registration in its voter registration process. In other words, citizens do not designate a political party affiliation when registering to vote in Virginia. The only restriction is when more than one party primary is held on the same day, also known as a dual primary. While Virginia election law stipulates that any qualified voter may voter in either political party’s primary, no voter may vote in more than one political party’s primary on the same election day.

 If I vote in a particular party’s primary, will my voter registration records become affiliated with that party?
   No.  Voting in any party’s primary election in Virginia does not affiliate the voter with either of the political parties.  The fact that you voted in the party’s primary becomes part of your voting history but, does not affiliate you with either political party.  Voting in a party’s primary does not hinder the voter’s choices in future elections (primary or general).  (Emphasis mine)

Extremism takes over some GOP Iowa caucus hopefuls

Rick Perry has decided that he was been wrong about abortion.  After watching Mike Huckabee’s video on abortion, he has decided that the government does have a right to force a woman to bear a child that was conceived from rapeand/ or incest.  He was unclear about whether life of the mother should be discarded in favor of the fetus.

 My question is, when is it going to end?   If the new Perry position isn’t extreme enough, perhaps one of the big Ron Paul supporters is.  IN fact, the Ron Paul campaign is doing nothing to distance itself from this YoYo, reported  by :

Four years ago, the Ron Paul campaign generated controversy by not repudiating the endorsement of the neo-Nazi group Stormfront, but at least back then they didn’t actually promote the fact that they had received the endorsement. This time, though, they seem pretty proud about getting the support of a Nebraska Pastor who has made some pretty vile comments:

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Yes, Virginia, there are rules

For some, there has been much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth over 2 of the presidential candidates not being able to get on the primary ballot in Virginia, scheduled for March 6.  The issue appears to be an internal Republican issue rather than an over-all election issue in Virginia.  Still, rules are rules.

According to Politico:

Ballot access, a longtime bugaboo for third party activists, has suddenly gone mainstream: Newt Gingrich and other serious Republican candidates didn’t get their acts together to meet the onerous requirements for the Virginia ballot, something that could in theory deny them crucial delegates in a long primary.

Maggie Haberman explains:

A Gingrich campaign official prior to the move by the Republican Party of Virginia said the problem is how the rules are set up, arguing that the party is, for apparently the first time, cross-checking the addresses that signature-givers gave against the electronic voter database file for accuracies. A name without a proper address match was tossed, the official said.

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Newt, the Virginia Candidate

Totally disgusted and grossed out here….Newt is calling himself the Virginia Candidate.  Newt is not a Virginian.  I don’t know what he is but he isn’t a Virginian.  My people would have probably called him a scalawag. 

Unfortunately, legally Newt is a Virginian.  He lives in McLean and is registered to vote there.  Those with a discerning eye are watching Gingrich very closely to see if he changes his voter registration.  If he does, that is an indicator that if selected to be the Republican candidate, he would chose Governor  Bob McDonnell as his running mate.   The 12th amendment prohibits electoral college members from casting a vote for 2 candidates from the same state.  Since McDonnell is the current governor of Virginia, it isn’t likely that he would change his voter registration.  Newt would have to be the one.  Bush and Cheney ran into the same problem.

Meanwhile, former Virginia Democratic Committee chair Paul Goldman is the attorney assisting Gingrich in his fight to get on the Virginia ballot for the March 6 primary.   Maybe Gingrich is so mad at Virginia he will just move.  Ya think?



Prince William County’s Discretionary “Slush” Fund, An Abberation in Northern Virginia

Tom Jackman from the Washington Post wrote an outstanding article on the uniqueness of our Discretionary funds in PWC compared to all other Northern Virginia Counties.

In Prince William County, the Board of Supervisors has access to a fund that no other Northern Virginia jurisdiction offers its governing body: a “discretionary fund,” which is really just the money left over after the expenses of running the district office are spent.

I believe my favorite quote was from  Jacqueline Byers, research director for the National Association of Counties.

Jacqueline Byers, research director for the National Association of Counties, said the number of counties with discretionary funds has dwindled greatly in recent years, because of “abuse. We did see occasionally a little too much discretion,” and that county officials sometimes traded approval of each other’s pet projects.

“The counties that decided to keep them, decided to put guidelines in that they could use,” Byers said. Jim Campbell, the executive director of the Virginia Association of Counties, said discretionary funds were “not a common practice” in Virginia.

Gee, ya think there is the likelihood for abuse?  That is what Wally seems incapable of admitting, that gving 100 grand of taxpayer money to your wife’s charity wreaks of impropriety.   My belief is that being in elected office should be a disadvantage not an advantage.  Haven’t we all heard of those “contests” where employees friends and family are ineligible for the winnings.  Why is government any different.  Family and friends should be ineligible for direct government donations to avoid even a hint of preferential treatment.

Even Corey admits this concern in the statement he gave the reporter.

Stewart, the current board chairman, said, “I personally don’t do it. I don’t know if I ever felt comfortable, even when I was a district supervisor, giving to charitable organizations from a government account. Even though it’s well-intentioned, it’s been controversial. For me, it’s not worth the controversy.”

Almost 1 million dollars has been collected from Supervisors in the past several years.  Does anyone else have a problem with this cause I sure do.  I hope citizens will continue to put pressure on the Board to change this practice.  Apparently Corey’s dismissive remark about citizen participation demonstrates his flippant attitude towards our concerns regarding fiscal responsibility.

Stewart said the issue of whether the supervisors should have discretionary funds “comes up like clockwork every three to four years. And then it goes away.”


Corey, I imagine you are hopeful that this will “go away”.    My hope instead is that he will  take a leadership role and address this backwards way of “doing business” in PWC.



Tom Jackman: Should PWC supervisors have discretionary funds?

Tom Jackman of the Washington Post has written an excellent piece on the use of discretionary funds here in Prince William County, entitled:  Should Prince William Board have ‘discretionary funds?’.  If you haven’t yet read it you really should.

Jackman hit all the highlights and also stated that Prince William County is the only jurisdiction in the area to allow supervisors such unfettered use of taxpayer money.  Residents have been grousing and grumbling about this practice for years. However, that grousing and grumbling became a primal scream when folks discovered that Brentsville Supervisor Wally Covington wanted to ‘give’  his wife’s favorite charity, Rainbow Therapeutic Riding, $100,000 in discretionary funds.

Oddly enough, this item appeared on the agenda, with no fanfare of course, right before the Thanksgiving holiday.  How convenient.  Perhaps he thought no one would be looking.  To his dismay, lots of “William Watchers” were watching.  This blog posted the account late Thanksgiving night.  Our better side said not to do this story on Thanksgiving Day.   After that, the blogosphere lit up  Northern Virginia lights.  That is a huge amount of money, going to a charity that only has 60 or so recipients.  Rainbow Riding is not in his district and it already gets $33,000 from the general fund.

Now citizens are clamoring for the use of discretionary funds to come to a screeching halt. The Committee of 100 will examine the practice at its February meeting.   The use absolutely should be discontinued.  Now is the time to take a closer look at how other jurisdictions handle money left over from general office expenses.  There is simply too much discrepancy in business as usual in Prince William County.

Corey may wish it would go away, but this time I think the residents will have the final say.  Stay tuned.  Elena will be doing a follow up.

PS Corey….remember those invitations to the October 16, 2007  Citizens’ Time?  What fund did those come out of?  Could it have been your ….discretionary funds? [best Church Lady voice]


Gingrich compares Virginia setback to Pearl Harbor

From Capitol Hill Blue:

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich‘s campaign director is comparing the candidate’s failure to get his name on Virginia’s Republican primary ballot for 2012 to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

That’s right. Gingrich’s inability to take the necessary steps to qualify for a ballot is, in his campaign’s view, similar to an surprise attack that killed thousands of Americans and triggered the nation’s entry into World War II.

Gingrich campaign director Michael Krull posted on Facebook:

Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941. We have experienced an unexpected setback, but we will regroup and refocus with interested determination, commitment and positive action. In the end, we will stand victorious.

The Virginia Republican Party was less dramatic in its reasoning for why Gingrich failed to make the ballot. The campaign simply did not collect the required number of verifiable signatures: 10,000 overall including at least 400 from each Congressional district.

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Merry Christmas–Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men (and Women)

Dash away all….

Merry Christmas to all the Moonhowler Contributors.  Many this be the best Christmas of all.

Stop by and let us know what is good cooking at your house.  Did you get a favorite gift, did you spend time with your family?  Do you have out of town guests?

Who admits to watching A Christmas Story at least once this season?  I will hit it a couple of times tomorrow.  TBS has not let me down.

I have discovered Poldark.  I am mesmerized.  When something is set in the late 1700’s, it doesn’t matter that it is over 30 years old.

How many of the men helped with wrapping?  [crickets]

Who has that Christmas nap all planned out?


Too bad, Perry fans

Update:  Newt Gingrich also failed to qualify for the Virginia primary in March.

Rick Perry failed to submit enough signatures to get his name placed on the Virginia primary ballot.  This situation was not intentional.  According to the Washington Post:

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry failed to submit enough valid signatures to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot, state GOP officials said Friday evening.

Perry’s campaign told state election officials it had submitted 11,911 signatures, but a Republican source familiar with the situation said that the Texas governor did not submit the required 10,000.

Earlier Friday, the Republican Party of Virginia certified former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) to appear on the March ballot.

Four candidates — Romney, Perry, Paul and former House speaker Newt Gingrich — turned in thousands of signatures by the deadline Thursday.

State party officials are spending Friday certifying the signatures. They have not examined Gingrich’s signatures yet, but expected to do so by late Friday night. His campaign said it submitted 11,050 signatures .

Update, 6:30 p.m.: Jerry Kilgore, former attorney general and chairman of Perry’s campaign in Virginia, said in an interview Friday night he did not know how many signatures were submitted. He said he was disappointed, but that qualifying for the Virginia ballot is a “daunting task.”

Perry will just have to run in other primaries since Virginia is now unattainable.  Did he have that many Virginia supporters?  Where is Bachmann?  Santorum?  Are they still in the race?

Meanwhile, expect everyone to turn out for the primary.  What does one have to do vote in the primary?  They have to be a registered voter. Yes, Democrats and Independents can help Republican decide who to wins the primary.  Last presidential primary, no one would be tempted to play games because in doing so you gave up your voting rights to do nefarious things like trying to throw an election with bogus votes.   However, this time the Republicans are at a disadvantage. Everyone can vote.  I probably won’t bother.  I know what the punishment is.  50 million robo Republican robo calls for the general election in the fall.

Can John Boehner Survive?

John Boehner blinked.  I feel sorry for the guy.  The Republican tea party caucus threw him under the bus.  Boehner had to come out and take a position that some have described as handing Barack Obama the keys to the White House in 2012.  Why?  He didn’t have the votes because of the recalcitrant uber conservative members of Congress. 

Moderate and mainstream Republicans quickly saw the handwriting on the wall and turned on him.  Poor Boehner is getting ridden like someone’s old rented mule by all the Democrats and many Republicans.  No one from the Uber-Cons could explain why they couldn’t just give  a temporary pass to this piece of legislation.  

The bottom line is, the Democrats drove the tea party Uber-Cons into a canyon, boxed them in, and not even John McCain or Mitch O’Connell would come to the rescue.  Regular Republicans don’t want to be seen as raising taxes…not today..not any day.

The sad thing is, I am not sure poor John Boehner deserves the blame.  I know people are calling for his  head on a platter.  I don’t see that the Uber-Cons gave him any choice.  No one wants to be John Boehner today. Just think….he took the job away from Pelosi who is bound to be having a chuckle right now.

So…what could Boehner have done to have avoided such a trap?  What were his options?  Did he cave with grace?

Speaking of traps…  What is that substance Ron Paul has stepped in?  Could it be reindeer doo?  It looks like it is sticking to him like glue.  He is being accused of saying some pretty stupid things in his newsletter, in print.  Of course, he didn’t read them. 

Is that reindeer doo?

The Evil, Dog-Themed White House Christmas Card

The Foxie News Team and Sarah Palin are enjoying their mock indignation over the White  House Christmas card this year.  When will Sarah Palin’s opinion stop tickling our funny bone?  Sit back and share the hypocrisy….

Nothing says hypocrisy like the Foxies….

Fox News has been droning on for weeks about the secular war on Christmas.  It seems that they are part of the war.

From the Washingon Examiner:

And strangely enough, for a network known for reporting on the “War on Christmas,” all the Biblical references have been stripped out of the song “Joy to the World,” and instead replaced with Fox-friendly lyrics. Here’s a taste of the song: “Joy to the world for Fox News Channel, consistently number one, we are the network that viewers choose, fair and balanced news, see our ratings we don’t lose, beating the rest in TV news,” reads the first stanza. Later ones give kudos to Fox News personalities Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Shepard Smith, Megyn Kelly, Neil Cavuto, Bret Baier and the folks on “The Five.”

So, is  this a lot of reindeer crap or what?  How does Fox News get ahead with their mock war on Christmas.  Their card is funny.  I have no problem with it.  Good healthy competition is always fun.  But…why act like the President and his family are held to a higher standard regarding Christianity, of all things?
Shame of the Fox News Channel for this one.


Winter Solstice–December 21-22

Winter Solstice is just of the holidays observed during December.  It marks the beginning of Yule in the ancient world.  Stonehenge and Newgrange  in Ireland are both key spots for observing the solstice. There are many others although these two spots are king. 

 How the ancients knew the math and science to move huge stone into place remains a mystery to the scientific and anthropological communities. The British Isles are replete with pagan sites that marked various astrological events.

The ancients were afraid of the world around them.  Winter was especially horrifying.  Starvation, exposure, and illness were commonplace.  Many of the religious customs were guards against the impending doom of winter and were put in place for protection until the harshness of winter subsided, the  lambs were born and the greenery came back.  

Holiday traditions like mistletoe, holly, evergreen garland, trees and yule logs came from the ancients.  It’s easier to incorporate old traditions with new so they have carried on down through the ages.  Today marks the beginning of a new year.  Each day will get a little longer as the earth’s axis tilts back towards the sun little by little.

Some of our friends who drop by practice ancient earth centered religions.  Happy Solstice to all those who observe this seasonal special day.

Special Winter Solstice Link  shows the source of Stonehenge boulders as well as a brief film.

Newgrange, Ireland link and video

Feel Free to use this thread as an open thread.  There really isn’t much to say about it.