Veto Session Today

It’s a beautiful spring day in Richmond.  Session began at noon, with a series of morning hour announcements.

We are taking a recess while the indefatigable Bill Hazel walks us through the status of Medicaid reforms, “dual eligibles,” cost containment, and the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission.

Suffice to say that Secretary Hazel knows his stuff — and he knows that the Medicaid program has been scrutinized, analyzed and reformed at a relentless pace over the past few years.  That’s not to say it’s perfect; no program is.  But it is as scrutinized as any government program that we deliver (compare it to the Dept of Homeland Security).

Okay, back in session in a moment …

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Easter Day

It’s an overcast and unseasonably cold morning in Fairfax.  The day of Easter, the culmination of the Church’s liturgical calendar.   No work today.

The colors are appearing.  There are campaign signs all over our neighborhood, the cheerful sign of spring elections in Virginia’s cities and towns.  (Fairfax City and Town of Vienna both vote on May 6).

The grass is finally starting to grow, with hints of blue bonnets peeping out.  Yesterday, I fired up the tractor and mowed the yard.  Nothing like the roar of a small engine to say:  spring is here.  We are alive.

The long season of Lent has finally come to a close.  The Day of Resurrection is here.


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It’s the Shad Planking today …

Down in southeastern Virginia, a few miles from Rte. 460 (aka “the Peanut Highway”), they are laying shad on the wooden planks and rolling out the kegs of beer today.

Today is the Shad Planking, the annual celebration of the Southampton Ruritans and formerly the biggest day in Virginia politics.  Indeed, back in the day, the Byrd Organization selected their candidates at the gathering, which drew the attendance of every elected Democrat in the state.

Even as recently as 2005, the various statewide candidates would pack the piney woods with supporters, while posting thousands of yard signs on the road side between Petersburg and Disputanta.  (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, find a map).  My last trip down there was with Jim Webb, in fact.

The candidates themselves would go head-to-head on the stage, trading barbs, while beer-drinking onlookers roared their approval. I wrote my first post on this blog after attending the 2006 Planking.  Now, it’s all about wine and cheese receptions in Arlington or Charlottesville. Welcome to the Zinfandel Dominion.

God I miss those days.

Unfortunately, the Planking has been hexed over the past few years.  Most critically (and tragically), the event is held the same day as the anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007, which is a date commemorated in Virginia.  Secondly, it’s often the same day as our veto session which pulls away at least 140 of the more dedicated politicos in the state.

(Note to the Ruritans:  the Virginia Tech Remembrance date will never change so you may need to plan around it.)

Finally, the Commonwealth has just changed.  The eastern population centers hold the key to electoral victory.  There is not a lot of incentive to attend a rural political gathering — especially when the participants are largely, perhaps exclusively, Republican.

But that’s political strategy, which is boring.  The Shad Planking is fun.

At some future date, it would be nice to see a statewide Democratic candidate who attends the Shad Planking in force, not to win votes or change minds but simply to enjoy the fresh air, the baked shad — and a cold beer.

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