June 28, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Staunton Republicans meet!

Or at least some of them did, anyway. I hate to disappoint all my "well-wishers" from the Other Party,* but the meeting call I sent out last week was ruled invalid this afternoon. (I can't go into details, obviously, and we await a fuller explanation of this.) At any rate, half of the active committee members showed up at City Hall this evening to voice their opinions on what should be done to repair the party's image in the aftermath of the bloody Hanger-Sayre primary race. [We made it clear to everyone present that the meeting was strictly informal.] (Suspiciously, the outside doors were locked even though we had reserved a room, but the janitor let us in.) Several people spoke about their own experiences with intimidation by certain party officers outside of Staunton, complained about the smears and distortions contained in the other SWAC-area blogs, and offered suggestions about what to do in the immediate future. In the end, we agreed to send a letter to our Chairperson, Anne Taetszch, outlining the steps that must be taken to restore mutual trust and respect so that we can function as an effective party organization once again. The atmosphere was upbeat in spite of the negative ruling, and the members present are all determined to press on with efforts to restore the good name of the Republican Party in Staunton.

* NOTE: The first part of that sentence was meant in the same ironic tone that the referenced blog post was, and likewise will probably go right over the heads of those folks from Rio Linda. Well, I was warned I might become the "John McCain" of the Virginia blogosphere...

Two reporters were present: Bob Stuart from the (Waynesboro) News-Virginian, and Christina Mitchell of the (Staunton) News Leader [link updated].

What is so sad about this situation is that it was totally unnecessary. On various occasions, we have alerted various party higher-ups about what has gone wrong, but nothing was done to fix it. "A stitch in time saves nine." I have spoken to several elder party members who say that nothing like this has ever happened in the local Republican Party for as long as they have been involved -- i.e., as far back as 1947, in one case.

Brown replaces Blair

Britain flag In the United Kingdom yesterday, Gordon Brown replaced Tony Blair as prime minister of Her Majesty's government. This has been one of the longest, most deliberate transitions of leadership in British history. For over a year now, almost everyone has known that Tony Blair would step down before much longer, and everyone has known that Brown was almost certain to become the successor. So what does this mean for U.S.-British relations? According to the BBC,

After all it has hardly helped Tony Blair back home - he has had to live with the tag of "Bush's poodle".

But, as Republican Congressman Mark Steven Kirk points out, with Mr Brown's "microscopic" profile he will not have much influence.

Many Republicans are putting their faith in the new French President Nicolas Sarkozy to fill the void left by Mr Blair.

The reality is that Mr Brown's links to the Democratic party are in far better shape than his ties to the Republican administration.

Much will depend on who wins the presidential election next year. Brown has long been a rival of Tony Blair within the Labour Party, and there was a sharp rift when he served as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Regarding Iraq, Brown made it clear he has no intention of withdrawing additional troops [below] the current 5,000 man level.

Saxman on tax pledge

In the Sunday News Leader, Delegate Chris Saxman tried to justify having signed the Americans for Tax Reform's pledge to not raise taxes. (This was a major issue during the recent Hanger-Sayre primary contest.) Saxman defended himself against charges that he is an "extremist." I was confused by this sentence: "This increase in revenues is directly related to the strong performance of the economy, not the tax increases of 2004." (Can't it be related to both?) Then he changes the subject to spending restraints, blurring the critical distinction between the two sides of the fiscal ledger. He aspires to be a "responsible steward... of government revenue," but in the end it seems to me like he is arguing favor of choking the state treasury, forcing someone else to worry about which government programs to cut back on funding.