Sunday, September 12, 2010


By Michael R. Shannon
Conservatives occasionally wonder if anyone would notice should the government just go away one morning. This is not an attractive prospect for elected officials and Virginia Lt. Governor Bill Bolling had a personally scary experience in relation to just that topic when he was stranded in Italy last spring due to a volcano eruption.
The Lite Governor desperately consulted the airlines, the Virginia Department of Aviation and even the National Guard, but he was unable to return and preside over a special session of the General Assembly.
Yet the Commonwealth survived.
Many conservatives were pleased by this impromptu test and proposed to expand the experiment by stranding the rest of our elected officials in Europe. Sadly the same volcano that kept Bolling in Florence also prevented the General Assembly from joining him, so the test never took place.
This week the state enjoyed another spur of the moment no government test.
As I write we are in Day 7 of VIRGINIA HELD HOSTAGE: The Great Computer Outage. Thousands of Virginia drivers are unable to renew their licenses, under-taxed Democrats are unable to file their returns and ACORN is unable to register the deceased to vote.
On the other hand, it's been a great week for drivers who don't mind cruising with a suspended license; drivers who have an otherwise sterling driving record marred by a couple of DUIs; and our uninvited friends from South of the Border who drive sin licencia.
With the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) database offline, police can't check driving records during traffic stops. Motorists who might have had their car towed to the impound lot and their body transported to jail - because they were driving on a suspended license - are instead issued a ticket and sent on their way with a cheerful "Vaya con Dios."
This latest disaster has allowed DMV to extend the "no smile zone" from in front of the mugshot camera clear out into the parking lot (similes in license photos are illegal because it interferes with facial recognition software). There disgruntled citizens - who normally are only confused by which direction the HOV lanes are running and when - now have to puzzle out when the DMV office will be open again.
This is the price we pay when the contract for the Commonwealth's information technology (IT) work was sole sourced, negotiated by the Mark Warner administration and awarded to Monty Python Computing. Whoops, I mean Northrop Grumman.
The really fun element of this computer catastrophe - assuming you aren't up for a license renewal - is the tech support drones at Northrop are giving Virginia officials the exact same excuses tech support centers give hapless consumers when they call: "Hmmm. This is the first time anyone has ever called with this problem. Are you sure the cause isn't with your configuration and not our product?"
The only difference being Virginia is getting the excuse in English, whereas I'm routed to a call center in Bombay where "Bob" gives me his Hindi-flavored song-and-dance.
Pressed for a more complete explanation, a spokesman for Northrop, said the outage started when a "framowitz" shorted out a "pantaloomer" causing two circuit boards to fail, followed by the government.
At my humble office I can't afford Northrop and it's vast computing expertise, so my answer to massive computer meltdown is called a "backup." If one of the hard drives at Mandate World Headquarters fails and corrupts my data, I have two others where the information is duplicated.
This does not appear to be the situation in Richmond.
We were told on Monday that 24 of the 27 affected agencies' computers are back in service. The thought the Grief Counselor's registry is once again online is small comfort to the 39,000 DMV customers who have been unable to complete their transactions.
And this is just the latest snafu in connection with the $2 billion Northrop Grumman contract. Last year an audit found that Northrop had a reverse Midas touch and that almost every state agency that employs computers had been adversely affected under the Northrop contract.
Yet the agreement was recently revised, the amount payable increased and extended for three more years. But keep in mind at this particular point in the contract it was more like negotiating with kidnappers, than a typical supplier. Northrop had our data and the only alternative was a move to the Dewey Decimal system.
Gov. Bob McDonnell wants an "independent third party" - preferably one that does not use Northrop for IT services - to investigate the disaster and find a credible scapegoat.
Meanwhile, according to Northrop spokesmen, government will soon be functioning again. And if the quality of Northrop's work during the repair is anything like it's been in the past, when the DMV database is restored there is a good chance that seven of the 9/11 hijackers will once again be fully licensed Virginia drivers.


By Michael R. Shannon
My local delegate to the Virginia state house, Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) is not particularly popular in Richmond because he's conservative even when it's inconvenient.
This is why he's urging Gov. Bob McDonnell to refuse to accept a penny of Obama's latest $26 billion government "stimulus" bill. Marshall knows it's easy to oppose government spending when you aren't getting any of the money. It's more difficult to be frugal when Virginia is confronted with 249 million reasons to swallow conservative principles and take the cash.
The judgment of the GOP establishment is that old Bob is just saddling up to tilt at yet another of his many windmills. But before you join their jump to conclusions, consider Marshall's reasoning in the context of the larger issue of Democrat-induced runaway government spending.
Marshall's justification for bouncing the check back to Obama is simple: pocketing this money is a slap in the face to a Virginia Republican Congressional delegation that unanimously opposed this payoff to public employee unions that supported Obama. Accepting the check undermines their work and implies they failed to vote in the best interest of their state.
While in comparison, Congressmen Gerry Connolly (D-Deficits) and Tom Perriello (D-Bigger Deficits), who supported this and innumerable other handouts, become exemplars of public service.
Which is a sobering thought.
Naturally, a McDonnell spokesman dismissed the pesky Marshall, explaining the Obama money is targeted to local government (as if that makes a check drawn on insufficient funds the gold standard of appropriations) and besides the governor closed a $4.2 billion dollar hole in the Commonwealth's budget without raising taxes and "Washington should follow that example."
So why is the governor being an enabler? You can't claim to be the bane of budget busters in Virginia and at the same time cash deficit-expanding federal checks that your own constituents are ultimately on the hook to cover. National deficits are just as dangerous as state deficits.
Unfortunately, there's something about Uncle Sam flashing the cash that brings out the inner prostitute in elected officials. The usual justification is some eyewash to the effect that it's "free money;" the other 49 states are taking it; and if we don't spend it, somebody else will.
An excuse that gains no traction with even the most "modern" parent ("gee, mom, all the other kids are doing it") is considered a serious exploration of national budgetary issues when it comes from a politician.
Instead of viewing Marshall's proposal as another Tea Party-inspired annoyance, the governor should be thanking him for this great opportunity. Virginia could be the first state to take a principled stand and refuse the money.
McDonnell could then invite the other 22 Republican state governors to join him and do likewise. Should enough follow suit, the entire political calculation changes.
If the only states taking the deficit-fueled money are states "governed" by Democrats, then it becomes obvious this entire "stimulus" exercise is another example of the party of big government paying off the public employee unions that supply the votes for bigger government.
And where exactly is the downside in taking Marshall's advice? The teacher's union won't support McDonnell in the next election? Teacher unions view Republicans the same way the Taliban views missionaries.
What if no other state turns down the money? Sometimes having principles is lonely. As long as he doesn't take up with a South American hootchie mamma, McDonnell will be fine.
I'm afraid the governor has reflexively thrown away a chance to become a substantive national leader and break out of the pack of bland potential presidential candidates.
Chances like this don't come along every day. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal booted his when he didn't tell the Corps of Engineers to pound sand and build his own anti-oil berms in defiance of the feds.
Instead of acting, Jindal complained about red tape and bureaucrats, which makes him look whiny and puts him on equal footing with the operators of hotdog stands in DC.
McDonnell has been able to travel the country and raise money for other GOP candidates simply on the strength of his own victory in the governor's race. Think of what it would have done to his profile if he had used this issue to win a victory for taxpayers everywhere.
Democrat deficits are an economic black hole that threaten to pull the country's future into oblivion. The Tea Party has organized citizens at the local level to demonstrate to politicians that we are not all socialists now.
It's time elected officials with the ability to turn protest into power accept the baton and actually do something to prove conservatives are not content to tolerate business as usual in Washington.
Stamping this "stimulus" check NSF and bouncing it back to DC is an excellent place to start. The question is: do we have a volunteer?


By Michael R. Shannon

(Note to Democrat press secretaries: even the mainstream media will ask embarrassing questions regarding immigration after a drunk illegal runs over a nun.)
Virginia's Sen. Mark Warner (D-Waffle) successfully dodged commenting on the death of Sister Denise Mosier for almost a week. But last Friday's "news" conference to take credit for an agreement to improve record keeping at Arlington National Cemetery was hijacked by an undocumented question when he was asked to share senatorial thoughts on the eminently preventable death. Warner observed, "It's a tragedy."
Thanks, senator, we needed that.
Democrat Jim Webb, the senior senator from VA and a man who knows something about avoiding incoming fire, found no time to speak on the issue; while local Cong. Gerry Connelly (D-What Else?) lost no time in ducking the question entirely.
Since Democrats don't take responsibility for their destructive policies, they avoid the media when illegal immigration is the topic of the day.
The Benedictine Sisters of Virginia, Sister Mosier's order, are not elected officials, but they've attempted to use their moral authority to downplay the illegal alien and instead focus on drunken driving. This is only natural when you recall that Bishop Paul S. Loverde has been playing footsie with the open borders crowd for years. Illegal immigration fills the pews in many parishes and after the Democrats pass an amnesty bill, formerly illegal votes can fill Democrat pews in Congress.
A nifty plan until it runs head-on into reality on Bristow Road at 8:30 Sunday morning. The USA simply has enough drunks of its own without importing new ones from Bolivia.
Whoops. Now I'm a racist. I've mentioned a country where Spanish is spoken in connection with illegal immigration. It's Huey Newton's Third Law of Political Motion: every reaction in response to an equal and opposite minority group illegal action is automatically racist.
Attempting to address the illegal problem without involving Hispanics is like trying to participate in a Baptism without getting wet. In the fairy tale the guilty boy cries "Wolf." In America guilty Democrats cry "racism."
If you look at immigration enforcement as a type of marketing problem, then the target demographic with the greatest potential ranges from Latino to Hispanic.
Assimilated America's disadvantage is it simply does not have the tribal focus the opposition enjoys. Look at the interest group names. It's not Eins Volk or Gypsies Without Borders. Instead you have La Raza (The Race) and Mexicans Without Borders.
In practice it appears to be okay with elite opinion if you market check-cashing services, offer wire transfer assistance or leave a few bottles of water in the desert for a Spanish-speaking demographic.
But God help you if you focus on this group for emigration enforcement.
Since the last final one-time, no more, no way, amnesty in the Reagan Administration (wait, wasn't he a Republican?) the country has endured a slow motion invasion.
Washington racial frijole counters and the demographic group that composes the vast majority of the illegal crossers immediately claim discrimination when attempts are made to enforce the law. But if the Hispanic community is harboring the lawbreakers, why shouldn't it bear the brunt of law enforcement? Instead, many feel no sense of obligation to the US. Their philosophy is: leave us alone while we enable the rest of our "family" to sneak across the border.
Frankly, I've never understood why the NAACP doesn't support a crackdown on illegal aliens. Currently the Black population in the US is 13.5 percent and the Hispanic 15 percent. If US law enforcement agencies really are engines of bigotry, harassment and racial profiling - as the NAACP contends - then adding Hispanics to the potential discrimination pool more than doubles the number of potential victims and decreases harassment pressure on the black population.
Law enforcement will really have to scramble to maintain current oppression levels with this increase in the target pool.
Plus the crackdown will also serve to reduce under-priced Hispanic competition for entry-level jobs that Blacks formerly held. It looks like a win - win to me.
But somehow it's always up to Republicans and rednecks when it comes to worries about the border.
And while were discussing skin color, immigration enforcement - assuming it ever arrives - isn't going to focus on sight, it's going to focus on sound. You can be as brown as a betel nut when the cop pulls you over, but if you speak colloquial English the officer will only ask you to press hard as you sign the citation and send you on your way.
But if you can't understand English, lack a licencia de conducir and have no proof or residency (the dreaded "papers" so feared by Democrats) then you may enjoy a somewhat longer investigative process.
And what's wrong with that?


By Michael R. Shannon

There was a RINO sighting in the capitol over the weekend. Meghan McCain (Republican In Name Only) was making the rounds selling her new book.
Meghan personifies what former University of Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer said of the birthright privileged: "Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple."
She's oblivious to the fact America is full of rich, immature brats and her father is the only reason reporters pay any attention to her.
Little Meghan could have written a book about how inspiring it was to be part of a national presidential campaign and how touched she was to have encountered dedicated conservatives from all walks of life joining together and working to put her father in the White House.
Come to think of it - since this was the McCain campaign - that last part might have been hard, but you get my point. Instead, she writes a book that recycles Democrat attacks on the GOP.
As a result mini-McCain gets publicity because the leftist media loves to use the views of nominal Republicans as a weapon to advance its attacks on the beliefs of genuine Republicans. (And since it appears Republicans are going to recapture the House and possibly the Senate, we are going to see more of these efforts as November approaches.)
And what a role model for conservative youth! Meghan made real sacrifices during her five minutes in the national spotlight. She swore off "hook-ups" (slang for casual sex with random males) during the campaign, only to prove - I'm guessing much to her dismay - that abstinence works, because so far she's not pregnant.
She also took her mammary glands out of the display case and attempted to cut down on the use of the F-word in public. At the rate Meghan was going the next stop was Sunday school teacher, but fortunately dad lost and she could resume normal programming.
Her "book" is soon to be found dominating remainder piles across America, because the reporters who use the book to bash the GOP get their copies for free and no Republican in his right mind is going to buy it. The tragedy is that even farm-grown trees, destined to be pulped and printed, had to be sacrificed for this petty, immature tripe.
It's almost enough to make you want to become an environmentalist so you can grab a starter's pistol and run to the nearest Discovery Channel to fight this kind of waste.
Here's Meghan's wisdom regarding the selection of Sarah Palin: "I was waiting for her to explode. There was a fine line between genius and insanity, they say, and choosing her as the running mate was starting to seem like a definition of that line."
She's young. She's sexy. She's incoherent.
Sarah Palin's nomination was the straw that broke the diva's back, because Palin is the antithesis of Meghan. Her father is not rich, she started at the bottom, her success came through her efforts alone and Palin is actually a conservative Republican.
McCain's role during her father's campaign was designated blogger and youth-outreach. A make-work, leaf-raking job you give otherwise unqualified relatives to keep them away from the rooms where decisions are made. She was fired after her behavior became increasingly erratic in the wake of the Palin selection.
To Meghan's credit she is pro-life - an authentic Republican Party position - but once that's out of the way it's back to the Meghan Zone, which in its way is as dangerous to logical thought as the Ozone: "They go on and on about how evil and wrong abortion is, but don't like to talk about how easy it is to not get pregnant."
What could that possibly mean? Is she trying to tell us the Pope is a Republican? I didn't even know he was registered to vote.
Conservative Republicans do oppose carpet-bombing public schools with condoms and dispensing the pill without parent's permission. But to my knowledge the "rhythm method" is not one of the planks in the party platform.
The Post review of her book calls it "a scathing critique of the Republican Party." I might give her opinions some credence concerning a party that involved music, booze and trashy women; but she has zero credibility regarding any party involved in governing.
Even better, this is not a conclusion that puts me at variance with the majority of conservatives. Republicans are poised on the threshold of a resounding victory in November because, in spite of Meghan's advice, they are not becoming more like Democrats. The GOP is now offering a stark contrast when compared to Democrats.
In fact, I can say with complete confidence that Republicans will start taking Meghan McCain's political counsel the same week Democrats embrace the political philosophy of Obama's Kenyan half-brother.