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Open Thread……………………………………Wednesday, December 17

December 17th, 2014 18 comments

best treeThat was the view off my deck a few evenings ago.  It doesn’t get much prettier than that, in my opinion.  I will take a winter sunset to a summer sunset any day of the week.

It’s the middle of December and so far Old Man Winter has been fairly kind to us.  Any time it gets above 45 degrees with some sunshine, I take that as good weather.  Winter is only a state of mind.

The usual yard animals have been able to pick and choose where they eat.  The birds seem to be dining elsewhere.  I guess they aren’t desperate enough to eat oil sunflower seeds.  I won’t put that other stuff out.  It makes weeds in the yard come spring.  I like the volunteer sunflowers that come up.

I did set out some peanuts for the bushy tailed rats that visit us.  Those got gobbled up.  Does anyone have chipmunks?  I don’t think I have ever seen one in my yard.

Categories: General Tags:

US to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba

December 17th, 2014 27 comments

New York Times (email)

In a deal negotiated during 18 months of secret talks hosted largely by Canada and encouraged by Pope Francis, who hosted a final culminating meeting at the Vatican, President Obama and President Raul Castro of Cuba agreed in a telephone call to put aside decades of hostility to find a new relationship between the island nation just 90 minutes off the American coast.

The contractor, Alan Gross, boarded an American government plane bound for the United States on Wednesday morning and the United States sent back three Cuban spies who have been in an American prison since 1981. American officials said the Cuban spies were swapped for a United States intelligence agent who has been in a Cuban prison for nearly 20 years and said Mr. Gross was not technically part of the swap but released separately on “humanitarian grounds.”

In addition, the United States will ease restrictions on remittances, travel and banking relations and Cuba will release 53 Cuban prisoners identified as political prisoners by the United States government. Although the decades-old American embargo on Cuba will remain in place for now, the administration signaled that it would welcome a move by Congress to ease or lift it should lawmakers choose to.

“Today, the United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people,” the White House said in a written statement.

This is probably a very good idea.  We have restored diplomatic relations with almost every other “enemy” in the world, including Vietnam, which for me was a hard pill to swallow.  Hopefully, soon new trade will exist as well as flourishing tourism.  Its much easier to stay made at people than to get along.

Restoring diplomatic relations also should be welcomed by millions of Cuban Americans who probably miss the mother country.  Cuba has been an enemy of the state ever since I was a child.

Categories: General Tags:

Joy Woodhouse blasts pundit sons on CSPAN for fighting

December 17th, 2014 No comments

“Oh God, it’s Mom,” gasped  CSPAN’s Dallas Woodhouse.  He and his brother were both arguing on the air when they took a call from Joy.  Apparently the boys had caused some unpleasantness over Thanksgiving.

I guess she told them!  I laughed when she said she had hoped they wouldn’t be there.  How many people have these kinds of discussions when they go home for holidays?  My mother wouldn’t allow politics or religion to be discussed at the table.  That ruined everyone’s fun. She also used to threaten to knock our heads together when we fought.

Have no fear though.  Someone always managed to be dysfunctional.  Sometimes it was me or at least I got the blame for it.

What’s the worst you have done or seen done at a holiday gathering of friends and relatives?

Washingtonpost.com

Categories: Seasonal Tags: ,

When good people won’t run….

December 16th, 2014 15 comments

This morning when I check  in to Facebook.com, I saw some very sad news from Prince William County School Board Chairman Milt Johns.  Let me first off say that Mr. Johns is a Republican.  He and I have very different political views.  In fact, on some of them, we would probably stand toe to toe and scream at each other.  Mr. Johns, however, was the school board chair.  Those issues that we vehemently disagree on would have rarely come up.  I also don’t know Mr. Johns personally.  We have met professionally, before I retired.   Milt Johns’ press release:

 

For Immediate Release

After months of prayer, reflection, and discussions with my family, I have decided that I will not seek re-election as Chairman at Large of the Prince William County School Board in 2015. When my term ends at midnight on December 31, 2015, I will have spent nearly a quarter of my life serving on the Prince William County School Board. It is time for me to focus on other matters, including my family and my law practice. I do expect to continue to have a role supporting Prince William County Schools and in local political activities.

 

McAuliffe attempts to beef up gun restrictions

December 16th, 2014 43 comments

9mm

Dailypress.com:

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced a package of proposed gun control measures Monday, saying Virginia should reinstate its one-handgun-a-month rule and tighten restrictions on who can carry a gun to target domestic abusers.

He also called for new background check requirements on private gun sales at gun shows.

The bulk of McAuliffe’s proposals are sure to bring criticism from gun advocates, and a spokesman for Speaker of the House William Howell criticized the governor’s proposals shortly after their announcement.

Read more…

Gov. McAuliffe urges Del. Morrissey to step down

December 14th, 2014 12 comments

 

 

Morrissey-Joe-200x308

Washingtonpost.com:

Republicans and Democrats are calling on Del. Joseph D. Morrissey (D-Henrico) to resign from the Virginia House of Delegates after his conviction Friday on a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Morrissey was given a 12-month jail sentence with six months suspended in a case stemming from his connection with a 17-year-old female receptionist.

The terms of his sentence allow Morrissey to continue to serve in the General Assembly while incarcerated. But Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and the leader of the House Democratic Caucus are urging him not to come back in light of his conviction on what a spokesman for the governor called “disturbing charges.”

Morrissey entered an Alford plea to one misdemeanor count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Alford pleas allow the accused to maintain innocence but acknowledge that there is enough evidence for a conviction.

This is a no-brainer. Morrissey needs to go. He is unwise at best, a criminal at worst. Regardless of the conditions of his sentencing, he needs to resign.

Morrissey is 57 years old and is  too old to be messing around with teenagers.  The charges are disturbing.  Morressy sounds like a perv.

Categories: General Tags:

Moe Davis discusses the CIA Report on torture

December 13th, 2014 2 comments

Moe clarifies his opinion on the timing, on torture, and on the possible dangers of releasing such a report.

Moe resigned his commission over the use of torture to obtain information while he was the chief prosecutor at Gitmo.

Further explanation from Moe about where he stood and why he resigned his commission.

Categories: General Tags:

McDonnell faces possible 10 year sentence

December 13th, 2014 No comments

washingtonpost.com:

The federal agency that will play a pivotal role in guiding the sentence of former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell has recommended that the onetime Republican rising star spend at least 10 years and a month in prison, according to several people familiar with the matter.

The guidelines recommended by the U.S. probation office are preliminary, and even if finalized, U.S. District Judge James R. Spencer is not required to follow them. But experts said that Spencer typically heeds the probation office’s advice, and judges in his district have imposed sentences within the recommendations more than 70 percent of the time in recent years.

“It’s of critical importance,” said Scott Fredericksen, a white-collar criminal defense lawyer. “The fact is, the vast majority of times, courts follow those recommendations closely.”

The matter is far from settled. The probation office recommended a punishment from 10 years and a month to 12 years and 7 months. Calculating an appropriate range of sentences in the federal system is a complicated, mathematical process that takes into account a variety of factors, including the type of crime, the defendant’s role and the amount of loss. The judge has yet to see the arguments from each side.

This sentencing threat is overkill.   The stark reminder is that McDonnell broke no Virginia laws.  I will be outraged if he receives a 10 year sentence.

Read more…

Categories: Criminal Activity, Virginia Tags:

Gender college grad rates: How does it feel?

December 12th, 2014 13 comments

college

Washingtonpost.com:

If you are a fan of the patriarchy, you should tremble at this fact: Over the past half-century, women have consistently dominated men at school.

Starting with people born in the 1950s, American women have been more likely to graduate from high school; starting with people born in the 1960s, women have also graduated at higher rates than men.

Read more…

Categories: Colleges/Universities, General Tags:

Chairman Stewart prioritizes quality of life issues and education

December 12th, 2014 7 comments

corey

Insidenova.com:

Saying Prince William County residents are more concerned about overcrowded classrooms than their annual real-estate taxes, Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart proposed a change in local tax policy Tuesday that would focus more on raising needed revenue for schools and county services and less on capping tax hikes.

Stewart, R-At Large, floated the idea during a joint meeting of the county Board of Supervisors and School Board held at the Edward L. Kelly Leadership Center.

Pointing to the recent two-year county survey, as well as a separate survey his office conducted for political purposes, Stewart said increasing traffic congestion and school overcrowding are more immediate concerns for many residents than taxes.

“Regardless of your political stripes, people are more concerned about their quality of life at home than they are about keeping tax bills so low, I mean 30 percent lower than in Fairfax and Loudoun counties,” Stewart said. “There’s a price we are paying for that.”

Thanks goodness Corey Stewart sees that going on the cheap just isn’t a winning ticket for Prince William County.  He is correct.  Quality of life issues and education are important to the people of Prince William County.  People want more parks and open space, smaller classrooms, better roads, and  responsive public safety.

Read more…

Categories: Corey Stewart, PWC, PWC Politics Tags: