Articles from June 2009



Eric Cantor votes to give a company (which he owns stock in) a government-enforced majority control of their market until the end of time.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that my idiot brother (shameless plug: check out his two hate-blogs, On The Right and Orange, VA Independence Day Tea Party) brought Cantor’s vote to my attention.

I speak of the recently passed bill that will give the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory authority over tobacco products. Ironically, the bill was supported by the biggest cigarette maker out there: Philip Morris. Why? Well, check out what National Review Online had to say:

Last week, overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, authorizing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate cigarettes and other tobacco products. The New York Times proclaimed the bill an “enormous victory for public health.” President Obama, himself a sometime smoker who reportedly struggles with nicotine addiction, declared that the legislation “will protect our kids and improve our public health” and is expected to sign it later this week. The bill grants the FDA expansive new regulatory authority, but more regulation does not guarantee greater protection of public health — or the public good.

Anti-smoking groups, such as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, have long sought FDA regulation of tobacco products and called passage of the bill a “historic victory.” Sen. Edward Kennedy and Rep. Henry Waxman, the bill’s primary sponsors, have sought greater tobacco controls for years. Sen. Dick Durbin proclaimed that the legislation will “protect children and protect America” from the scourge of cigarettes and nicotine addiction. Interestingly enough, the bill also had support of the nation’s largest cigarette manufacturer, Philip Morris, and its parent company, Altria. That alone should clear away some of the euphoric haze surrounding its passage.

[…]

Manufacturers will be required to place expanded warning labels on their products and to provide the government with more detailed information about cigarette contents and smoking by-products. The law also bars flavored cigarettes — save for menthol. As the Wall Street Journal reported, “Menthol cigarettes are initially exempt from the ban because of demands from the Congressional Black Caucus. About 75 percent of African-American smokers buy menthol brands.” The leading maker of menthols is Philip Morris.

[…]

Limiting tobacco advertising and stalling the development of new tobacco products won’t help public health, but it will certainly benefit the nation’s largest cigarette manufacturer. Government regulation is the most tried-and-true way for incumbent firms to squelch smaller competitors, which helps explain why Philip Morris supports the bill and smaller tobacco companies oppose it. Harder to fathom is why public-health advocates who should know better celebrate the law as a major advance.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act is revealed as yet another Beltway deal for Big Government and Big Business. Those who proclaim it a victory for public health and the public good are blowing smoke.

And here’s what Forbes had to say about the bill:

Their [Philip Morris’] reasons for cheering aren’t all so high minded. The bill, already passed by the House of Representatives, will change the face of the tobacco industry by giving the FDA the authority to restrict tobacco product ingredients, impose nicotine caps and limit advertising campaigns. It solidifies the position of the producer with the greatest market share–Altria–which makes 50% of all cigarettes in the U.S.

Because the domestic cigarette market is shrinking every year, manufacturers are competing fiercely for customers. Companies like R.J. Reynolds and Lorillard Tobacco argue that under FDA regulation, they’ll have trouble convincing people to switch to their brands because of stringent advertising restrictions. That means no more sponsorship of sports and entertainment events, color or photo ads in publications with significant teen readership, or free gifts with tobacco products.

“Bringing new products to market will be extremely difficult,” says Maura Payne, a spokeswoman for Reynolds America, which owns R.J. Reynolds, maker of Camel, Winston, Doral and other cigarette brands.

Anyway, to get to the the point of my post, check out these two pages of Eric Cantor’s most recent personal finance disclosure form available via OpenSecrets.org (PDF):

cantor_page04

cantor_page12

Yeah folks, he owns between $15,001 and $50,000 in stock of Philip Morris and between $1,000 and $15,000 of stock in their parent company Altria Group. So, Eric Cantor voted to give a government enforced majority market share to a company that he has a financial interest in. Isn’t that a violation of the House’s ethics rule? If it isn’t, it sure as heck should be.

And here’s a bigger issue. A couple weeks ago Cantor was at the Republican Party of Virginia convention talking about how he wanted smaller and less intrusive government and blah blah blah, but when it comes down to an vote that will increase the size and scope of government and benefit a company that he has a financial desire to do well, that goes out the door.

And if cigarettes are so dangerous and so bad that they need to regulated by the government, why is he making money off their production and sales? Isn’t that like accepting blood money?

Up Next: Let’s correlate campaign contributions and how politicians vote…

And the railroading of Ben Boyd begins…

I previous posted about the idiocy of hiring Ben Boyd — who had previous pled guilty to possession of steroids — to be the next football coach for Caroline County High School. Even worst, there have been allegations that he had failed to disclosure his convictions on his application when he applied for the job (I use the word “allegations” because there has been a dispute regarding whether that’s true or not).

As bad as that decision was, and as bad as the School Board’s decision to reaffirm his hiring, the reaction to his hiring has reached the point of absurdity:

Several days before the School Board meeting, Caroline Sheriff Tony Lippa filed a formal complaint with the Virginia Department of Education about the process that led to Boyd’s hiring.

Search committee members said Boyd’s conviction wasn’t listed on his application, and Lippa cited a Virginia code that states anyone who makes false statements regarding a crime of moral turpitude on a teaching application is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. That person’s teaching license will be revoked upon conviction.

School Board member Sims said Boyd is a licensed teacher who will instruct a brand-new strength and conditioning class at Caroline.

“The misbranding of a prescription drug shows moral turpitude,” Lippa said. “It’s fraud.”[1]

First, let’s review the definition of “fraud”. Fraud, according to Black’s Law Dictionary, is “[a] knowing misrepresentation of the truth or concealment of a material fact to induce another to act to his or her detriment”.[2]

Second, let’s review the charges that Ben Boyd pled guilty to. The charges were possession of steroids (a federal misdemeanor) and misbranding of a prescription drug (also a federal misdemeanor). What exactly was misbranded? According to a story from The Roanoke Times handily available via LexisNexis:

Boyd was charged with misbranding various types of steroids because the labels did not include the warning “Caution: Federal law prohibits dispensing without prescription.”[3]

You folks might be wondering how the heck is that fraud, right? Well, it ain’t. If the guy had, for example, been putting aspirin in a bottle with a label that said hydrocodone (a drug similar to OxyContin) and selling it as hydrocodone, yeah, that would be fraud. But as the facts of the case stand according to The Roanoke Times, the guy never committed fraud.

Now, you may be asking yourself, even if the crimes weren’t fraudulent in nature, were they still crimes of “moral turpitude”? Here’s what the Attorney General of Virginia stated in an opinion to Delegates Danny Marshall regarding a similar statute requiring certification to school boards by contractors regarding their employees [original footnotes omitted]:

Question Four

You next inquire what specific crimes would be considered crimes of moral turpitude.

I find no statute or case that contains an exhaustive list of crimes of moral turpitude. Determining whether a particular crime involves moral turpitude begins with an examination of the nature of the crime. The Supreme Court of Virginia has defined a crime involving moral turpitude as “‘an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellow man, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man.'”

The Virginia Supreme Court has held that crimes involving dishonesty, including petty larceny and making a false statement to obtain unemployment benefits, are crimes of moral turpitude that may be used to impeach witnesses. The Virginia Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals of Virginia also have determined that drunkenness and illegal possession of liquor, assault and battery, gambling, transportation of untaxed liquor, and indecent exposure are not crimes constituting moral turpitude [that may be used to impeach witnesses].

Therefore, it is my opinion that whether a certain crime involves moral turpitude depends on the facts and the nature of the crime. However, crimes involving dishonesty do involve moral turpitude.[4]

Do misdemeanor convictions of steroid possession consist of “crimes involving dishonesty”? No. Do they consist of a crime that is “an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellow man, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man”? Not in my interpretation.

If they do, that means anyone that failed to report a misdemeanor conviction for possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia could be charged and have their teaching license revoked. That’s probably a lot of people nowadays and I don’t think that would fit into the desire of the legislature when they wrote the law.

And as someone pointed out to me, if a statute and its application towards a particular defendant is ambiguous, the ruling should be made in favor of the defendant.

And here’s a even bigger question: Why is the sheriff interjecting himself into the hiring practices of a School Board? It isn’t his job to approve or disapprove of School Board hires and how accurately and completely they submit their applications. Does the School Board comes to his office and tell him who he should hire or not and determine whether his job applicants have submitted all their necessary paperwork and accurately filled out their forms? I sure as heck hope not.

I also have to wonder the following: Was Sheriff Lippa too busy focusing on this matter and sending a formal complaint to the Virginia Department of Education to use the Caroline Alert System to quickly and inexpensively send pictures out of two missing teenagers to over 2,000 people (which he didn’t do)?

  1. Taft Coghill. “Caroline coach’s hiring reaffirmed.” The Free Lance–Star. 10 Jun. 2009: <http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2009/062009/06102009/472181>. []
  2. “Fraud.” Black’s Law Dictionary. 3rd pocket ed. 2006. []
  3. Ray Cox. “CRIMINAL RECORDS DOESN’T COST BOYD.” The Roanoke Times. 11 Oct 2006: LexisNexis. []
  4. Office of the Attorney General of Virginia. Opinion to The Honorable Danny W. Marshall, III. 5 Jan. 2007: <http://www.oag.state.va.us/OPINIONS/2007opns/06-084-Marshall.pdf>. []

Is “Common Sense Virginia” omnipotent or just plain lying?

Here’s a new ad that “Common Sense Virginia” is running (at least on YouTube, haven’t seen it on television yet):

So, they claim that Bob McDonnell took no questions during his stop in Fredericksburg (technically Stafford), eh? My question is how the heck would they know? Sure, there was guy from the group tracking McDonnell but he left as soon as McDonnell finish speaking. Watch the video below and note the heavy set guy with his Sony HD camcorder on a tripod and a fluffy microphone that’s leaving the event as soon as possible:

I contacted Cheylen Davis of The Free Lance–Star who was covering the event and asked her if she was able to ask any questions to McDonnell following the event and she stated the following: “No, but I didn’t try to ask him anything.”[1]

So, did Bob McDonnell take any questions or not? And regardless of whether he did or didn’t, how can “Common Sense Virginia” know for a fact whether he did or didn’t? Makes you wonder what else they may be lying about…

As for the stuff regarding the “Faith & Family Alliance”, I’ve got two different posts I need to write about that whole situation…

  1. Cheylen Davis. “RE: Question regarding the Republican kickoff event at Stafford Regional Airport.” E-mail to the author. 9 Jun. 2009. []

How long are we going to have to wait to see any results from Creigh Deeds’ “economic recovery plan”?

After Virginia Virtucon pointed that Creigh Deeds doesn’t even have a section for jobs or the economy on the “Issues” section of his website I remembered this ad he had been running:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BC63eh0-Gv0

So, his “economic recovery plan starts with education”? What exactly that does that mean? What education does he plan to improve to help the economy?

K-12? Well, that would only take 12 years to have an effect.

Community colleges? Two years for an effect.

Universities and regular colleges? At least four years.

And then there’s no evidence that someone having a bachelor’s degree is actually going to result in more jobs. It takes more businesses and entrepreneurs out there if you want more jobs.

And while Bob McDonnell has proposed cleaning and clearing up the regulatory system and making it easier for businesses to start or relocate to Virginia, Deeds has been mum on the subject. What is his position on regulatory reform in Virginia? Heck, when an amendment to the Constitution that would have allowed the General Assembly to override regulations imposed by the various state agencies (and there’s too many of them to count) came before his committee, Deeds voted against it (H/t: Virginia Virtucon).

But what else should we expect from someone running for Governor that doesn’t even consider the economy or jobs “issues” for his campaign?

The Free Lance–Star gets caught plagiarizing the The Roanoke Times.

Part of an info box that was part of a story on the hiring of Ben Boyd as Caroline County’s new high school football coach back on May 22nd:

The newspaper reported police found 300 tablets of Oxandrolone Spa, three boxes labeled Primobolan Depot, one vial labeled Testosterone Cypionate, three vials labeled Nandrolone Deconoate, 210 hypodermic needles, $860 in cash and a handwritten note.

Police investigated after a postal clerk noticed Boyd was sending packages with incorrect return addresses, the newspaper reported.

Boyd, who wasn’t working in public education at the time, was indicted on federal felony charges of illegal possession of steroids. The felony charges were dismissed based on a “strategical decision,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Arenda Allen told The Roanoke Times in 1991.

Boyd, a competitive bodybuilder and hair stylist at the time, was sentenced to 18 months probation and a $250 fine. He said the steroids were for personal use.

Boyd was originally charged with intending to distribute anabolic steroids, but there wasn’t sufficient evidence presented in court that he sold them.

He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of misbranding and illegally dispensing anabolic steroids.

–Taft Coghill[1]

Here’s the story from The Roanoke Times (via LexisNexis) from back in 1996 (I’ve bolded the content that was taken word for word):

Salem police arrested Boyd at his hair salon in August 1990 after obtaining search warrants on a package and the salon. Police found 300 tablets of Oxandrolone Spa, three boxes labeled Primobolan Depot, one vial labeled Testosterone Cypionate, three vials labeled Nandrolone Deconoate, two vials labeled Testosterone Cypionate, 210 hypodermic needles, $860 cash and a handwritten note.

The police had become involved after a postal clerk noticed that Boyd was sending express-mail packages with incorrect return addresses. The clerk contacted the U.S. postal inspector.

Boyd was indicted on federal felony charges of illegal possession of steroids. But the felony charges were dismissed based on a “strategical decision,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Arenda Allen told The Roanoke Times in 1991.

[…]

When convicted, Boyd was sentenced to 18 months probation and fined $250. He also had to undergo drug tests. Glen Conrad, the U.S. Magistrate who presided over the case, told Boyd at the time that had there been any evidence to support allegations that he had sold steroids to others, including juveniles, then he would have been jailed for a substantial period of time.[2]

Damn, that’s some similarity. If I were to try that while in college, my butt would be given a ‘F’ and probably be kicked out of school. Oh well, among “journalists” it’s how you get paid.

  1. Taft Coghill. “Caroline coach’s past not disclosed.” The Free Lance–Star. 22 Mar. 2009: <http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2009/052009/05222009/467594>. []
  2. Ray Cox. “CRIMINAL RECORDS DOESN’T COST BOYD.” The Roanoke Times. 11 Oct. 2006: LexisNexis. []

The many positions of Creigh Deeds on gay marriage all in two minutes.

Shot in Fredericksburg:

Okay, his positions are the following:

1.) The voters should have a say on the legality of gay marriage so he voted twice to put the gay marriage ban amendment on the ballot.

2.) Yet he campaigned against the amendment and claims to have voted against it.

3.) He believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

4.) He believes that everyone should have equal rights.

5.) He won’t give a firm answer on whether gay marriage is a civil right.

How many contradictions are in that list? If he believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, why did he campaign and vote against the ban? If he believes that everyone should have equal rights, why doesn’t that apply to gay marriage?

And for the record, this is not intended as a hit piece. I’m just trying to get the person that wants to be our next Governor to give a firm answer on a issue and not try to play both sides of the fence.

And as for the answer regarding the right-to-work amendment to constitution: Five other states already have constitutional amendments guaranteeing an employee’s right-to-work: Arizona,[1] Arkansas,[2] Florida,[3] Mississippi,[4] and Oklahoma.[5]

  1. “Arizona News & Legislation.” National Right to Work Committee. <http://www.nrtwc.org/states/az.htm>. []
  2. “Arkansas News & Legislation.” National Right to Work Committee. <http://www.nrtwc.org/states/ar.htm>. []
  3. “Florida News & Legislation.” National Right to Work Committee. <http://www.nrtwc.org/states/fl.htm>. []
  4. “Mississippi News & Legislation.” National Right to Work Committee. <http://www.nrtwc.org/states/ms.htm>. []
  5. “Oklahoma News & Legislation.” National Right to Work Committee. <http://www.nrtwc.org/states/ok.htm>. []

A complete list of concerns and problems regarding the proposed open air burning ordinance in Caroline County.

This is a copy of an e-mail (with some minor modifications) that I sent to Mike Finchum after he offered to try to address some of my concerns regarding the proposed open air burning ordinance:

1.) More of a question: In § 72-6(C), § 72-6(C)(1), and § 72-6(D)(5) the ordinance refers to a Director position. In § 72-7, the ordinance states the Director position is the Director of Fire and Rescue: Does that definition also apply to the presiding sections? I just wanted to be sure who was responsible for those provisions.

2.) Definition of “built-up area” in § 72-3: What exactly does “substantial” development mean? It would make it difficult for an ordinary citizen to be aware of that definition off-hand. What that be something that the Zoning Administrator would be responsible for defining (subject to appeal to the Board of Zoning Appeals)? Or would it be the responsibility of the Director of Fire and Rescue, Sheriff’s Office, or the courts to define the term?

3.) In § 72-6(B), it states that “[o]pen burning is permitted on-site for the destruction of household waste by homeowners or tenants” if conditions are met. The definition of “household waste” in § 72-3 specifically includes “garbage” as defined in § 72-3, however § 72-6(B)(3) specifically prohibits the burning of garbage. So, would the burning of garbage be permitted or prohibited under that subsection?

4.) § 72-5(B) Exemptions: No exemption for the commercial preparation of food. Someone that is paid to do a barbecue for a party or event would be required to get a permit from the way I read this. The party organizer may not be required, but the person being paid would since he’s the one doing it for commercial purposes. Or even a bank or business that was holding a barbecue as part of an open house to attract customers would also be subject to that provision. Or a business like that barbecue place in Port Royal that has since closed. And I don’t see how a commercial barbecue preparer of food would not fall under the definition of “open burning” since he has no way to control the air intake nor the ability to control the emissions coming out of the grill (see § 72-3) just like a noncommercial grill (hence the exemption that is granted to noncommercial preparation).

5.) § 72-5(C): Land clearing needed for property maintenance is prohibited and the definition of “debris waste” is so broad that it would include say a tree that was cut down as well as its stump, and there’s no distinction between commercial and noncommercial land clearing (agricultural land clearing would presumably be exempt). Note that stumps and full-size trees and brush are not included in the definition of “trimmings” that have more lax restrictions in § 72-5(A). Also, does the Department of Fire and Rescue (assuming that the Director position mentioned is that of the Director of Fire and Rescue [see question 1]) have the time and personnel to come out and tell me how big of a debris pile I can create given they only have an Interim Director and the Captain position is vacant currently? And then there’s the requirement that citizens figure out which way the air fields are going and making sure winds are going towards any “built-up area”.

6.) § 72-6: Permitting process: How will it be done? Will the Director be giving out open-ended permits that he can cancel on a whim (“a specific period of time deemed appropriate by the Director”)? Without a clear permitting process it makes it difficult, not just for regular citizens, but businesses as well which may be relying on those permits to burn stuff as part of the course of business activities. And then you have concerns regarding how many manpower hours it will take for the Director to come to the conclusion regarding whether to issue the permit and, again, this is especially bad given the shortage of people at the Department of Fire and Rescue. Also, if I feel that I was unfairly denied a permit, is there any appeals process that I can pursue before the Emergency Services Commission, Planning Commission, or the Board of Supervisors?

7.) § 72-8: The class 1 misdemeanor (a year in jail and/or up to a $2,500 fine) I feel is excessive when the penalty for violations of the state’s spring and fall burn bans are only a class 3 misdemeanor (no jail time, up to a $500 fine). While the Sheriff’s Office has stated that they will engage in selective enforcement of the ordinance that’s not much of a guarantee when there could, hypothetically, be a change in leadership at the Sheriff’s Office in a couple years. It also does not prevent a private citizen from going to the magistrate and having a warrant sworn out against his neighborhood just to antagonize the neighbor. From what I can find online, there are no restrictions on the issuance of citizen warrants for ordinances that are punished as misdemeanors. In fact, according to an opinion from the Office of the Attorney General dated February 18, 1997, they are specifically permitted.

Pictures: Delegate Albert Pollard and Senator Creigh Deeds in Fredericksburg.

What’s the point of sending out a text alert for two missing teenagers if you don’t include a link to their pictures?

First alert on March 28th at 5:34 pm:

This Caroline Alert is being sent authority of Sheriff A A Lippa to all users reference two missing female juveniles being investigated by Caroline County Sheriff’s Office. Please be on the lookout for Breanna Kay-Elizabeth Cleveland, Race/W Sex/F Hgt/507 Wgt/150 Hair/Brown Eyes/Brown DOB/19930323. She was last seen wearing a black shirt and unknown color pants. Unknown direction of travel or where she may be. She is believed to be in the company of Mareena Alane Davis, Race/W Sex/F Hgt/508 Wgt/195 Hair/Brown Eyes/Blue DOB/19931223. Unknown clothing description for this subject. Both were last seen on May 27,2009. If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of these subjects, please contact the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office at 804-633-5400.

Alert on March 28th at 6:20 pm:

CAROLINE CO SHERIFFS OFFICE IS LOOKING FOR 2 RUNAWAY JUVS WHO ARE TOGETHER. NAMES ARE MAREENA DAVIS 15 YOA WHITE FEMALE AND BREANNA CLEVELAND 15 YOA WHITE FEMALE. ONLY CALL 804-633-5400 IF YOU KNOW THEIR LOCATION.

Alert on March 30th at 8:20 pm:

Missing juvenile Breanna Cleveland has been located today by Stafford County. The second juvenile Mareena Davis is still missing.

Alert on March 31th at 12:02 am:

The other missing juvenile, Mareena Davis has been located by Stafford County. As stated in previous alert, Breanna Cleveland has also been found.

Sheriff Tony Lippa also sent out an e-mail to the 50 people on his mailing list stating that the teenagers were reporting missing on March 28th at 3:52 pm, after failing to return home from school on the same date. Also included in that e-mail were PDFs of fliers that had been prepared by the Sheriff’s Office which included the missing teenagers’ pictures. While it was good that the first alert was sent within two hours, that e-mail wasn’t sent out until the 29th at 10:34 am, over 18 hours after they had been reported missing.

Right now, according to Interim Director of the Department of Fire & Rescue Mark Garnett, there are 2,072 registered users of the Caroline Alert System. The system cost the county $25,000 back in July 2007 to implement and there’s a yearly expense of $7,500 for continuing usage of the system but there isn’t a fee per alert apparently.

Regardless of whether the sheriff’s office thought there were runaways or not, common sense would dictate that if you have the ability to distribute pictures of two missing teenagers to 2,072 people at no cost, you would use the system for that purpose. To post those PDFs of the fliers or just their pictures, it would take about 30 seconds to upload the fliers and another 30 seconds to send out the alert with links to the viewers or pictures. People with mobile web on their phones would be able to view the picture as would those that access to a computer and their e-mail account. How much time and money would it take to distribute those same fliers to over 2,000 people?

Representative Rob Wittman (R-1st) blocks yours truly from following him on Twitter.

I just noticed today that I was no longer a “follower” of Representative Rob Wittman and when I tried to “follow” him I got the following message:

fireshot-capture-47-rep_-rob-wittman-robwittman-on-twitter-twitter_com_robwittman

I’m going to have to guess it has something to do with this exchange:

Rob Wittman at 9:51 AM May 29th: “Taxpayers owe an additional $55,000 a household for the Gov’s spending in the last year, which is a 12% increase. #TCOT”

I replied at 10:06 AM May 29th with: “@RobWittman Didn’t you vote for that $290,000,000,000 farm bill in 2008? How much did that cost per household?”

My Lord, that man is a baby. I make one sarcastic, yet truthful, comment and he runs and hides. Folks, this is the man that we have fighting for your interests in Washington, D.C; a man that runs from an “insignificant” “leftist” “hate-blogger”.

Not to mention that it doesn’t prevent me reading what he posts on Twitter, after all I have a RSS subscription to his feed already.


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