Friday, October 29, 2010

Sen. Burris Misnames Sen. Feingold as "Ralph Feinberg"

This was my favorite political story of the week from, in a crazy, busy week leading up to Election Day on Tuesday:

Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) misidentified the name of one of his Senate colleagues with whom Burris has been working for the better part of 22 months.

Burris misnamed Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), according to a report in the Chicago Tribune, calling the senator from his neighboring state "Ralph Feinberg" instead.

"We've had a great relationship," Burris told the Tribune, in a profile piece detailing Burris's closing days in office.

The Illnois Democrat was appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), who had allegedly sought money or favors in exchange for the appointment. The winner of the general election between Rep. Mark Kirk (R) and Democrat Alexi Giannoulias in Illinois will take Burris's seat shortly after Nov. 2.

Burris said he had no regrets about the controversial circumstances under which he was named senator.

"Not a question, not a question about it," Burris said when asked if he had any doubts. "The right thing to do was get representation for the people of Illinois. He had the authority. He was the governor. And that was it."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rove in WSJ: Signs of the Democratic Apocalypse

From this morning's Wall St. Journal:

Signs of the Democratic Apocalypse
By Karl Rove

Next Tuesday Democrats will receive a crushing rebuke. More to the point, voters will be delivering a verdict on the first two years of the Obama administration.

Midterm elections are almost always unpleasant experiences for the White House, especially when the economy is weak. But key races that should have been safe for the party in power demonstrate the extent to which President Obama and his policies have nationalized the election.

In Nevada, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a huge war chest in a state Mr. Obama won in 2008 by 12 points. Mr. Reid trails Sharron Angle by four points in the latest Rasmussen poll.

In West Virginia, Joe Manchin, a popular Democratic governor, is running for the Senate, yet he lags behind John Raese by two points in the Oct. 23 Fox News Poll, largely because of Mr. Obama's 30% approval rating in the state. Mr. Manchin is running away from the president, telling Fox News that Mr. Obama is "dead wrong on cap and trade," and that he would not have supported ObamaCare had he known everything that was in the bill.

Or take the Illinois Senate seat held by Mr. Obama before he was elected president. It should be safely Democratic. Instead, Republican Congressman Mark Kirk has led Illinois Treasurer and Obama basketball buddy Alexi Giannoulias in eight of the 10 polls taken this month. It will be a terrible embarrassment if the president's former Senate seat flips.

Elsewhere, some powerful Senate Democrats were either forced out by popular Republican challengers (North Dakota and Indiana) or they trail badly because their races became nationalized over the Obama agenda (Arkansas, Missouri and Wisconsin).

One of the more interesting Senate races is in Ohio, where Rob Portman, a former trade negotiator and budget director for George W. Bush, leads Democratic Lt. Governor Lee Fisher by an average of 19 points in a state Mr. Obama carried by four points.

Ohio is no longer friendly Obama territory. An August survey by Public Policy Polling reported that Ohioans would prefer George W. Bush in the White House today rather than Mr. Obama by 50% to 42%. Mr. Portman campaigns relentlessly on jobs, presenting a principled, optimistic case that conservative policies mean economic growth. It's a winning strategy.

Then there are senior House Democrats who normally don't draw more than token opposition. This year, some are terminal and others in jeopardy.

Nine-term Congressman Earl Pomeroy (North Dakota) and 13-termer Paul Kanjorski (Pennsylvania) will both go down. Three House committee chairmen—John Spratt (South Carolina), Ike Skelton (Missouri) and Jim Oberstar (Minnesota)—are trying to hold off late-charging challengers. Even the dean of the House, Michigan's 27-term Congressman John Dingell, is having to fend off a spirited challenge by cardiologist Rob Steele.

Then there's House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, squaring off against Republican Sean Bielat, a Marine and businessman, in Massachusetts. In 2008, Mr. Obama carried his district by 29 points, but Mr. Frank is now stuck at 46% support in a recent poll commissioned by the Boston Globe. Anything less than 50% is a dangerous place for an entrenched incumbent. Mr. Bielat has campaigned so effectively he's forced the acerbic, high-strung Mr. Frank to confess he'd been wrong to oppose reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the years before their spectacular collapse.

While Mr. Frank and several other senior Democrats may hang on, the fact that they even face tough races shows how much trouble the Democrats are in.

Adding to Democratic problems, the record GOP turnout in this year's primaries points to higher turnout next week. Four years ago, 82 million people voted in the midterms. This year I estimate 89 million to 91 million Americans may cast a ballot, based on voting-eligible population statistics calculated by George Mason University's Michael McDonald. Could there be a late surge in Democratic enthusiasm? The latest Pew poll, from Oct. 21, reports that 64% of Republicans say they have given a lot of thought to the election, while only 49% of Democrats have. This intensity edge is staggering, larger even than the GOP's 12-point lead in 1994.

In recent days, Mr. Obama screamed defiantly to Democratic rallies that Republicans have to "sit in the back," and he told a Latino radio audience that it's time to "punish our enemies and . . . reward our friends." That may be the president's idea of how to appeal to Americans' better instincts. Next Tuesday night we'll see how badly wrong he is.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Virginian-Pilot: Meet Ken Cuccinelli - Virginia's Rising Star of the Right

Nice piece on Va. AG Ken Cuccinelli in Sunday's Virginian-Pilot newspaper out of Hampton Roads...

By Julian Walker
The Virginian-Pilot
October 24, 2010

Conservative Wall Street Journal columnist Stephen Moore was delivering a luncheon address to a group of like-minded New Jersey voters in August when something unexpected happened.  Moore asked audience members to name their preferred presidential candidate in 2012. Several offered Ken Cuccinelli's name.

"I was surprised, not because I don't think a lot of Ken," he said. "I was surprised people knew Ken."

The fact that Garden State voters know Cuccinelli well enough to mention him in presidential speculation illustrates the rapid ascent of Virginia's hard-charging attorney general.

In less than a decade, he's gone from an insurgent Republican candidate for state Senate to winning statewide office in a landslide.

And in a bit of fortuitous timing, Cuccinelli, 42, now finds his limited-government, anti-tax message resonating with swaths of an electorate anxious about the fate of the nation and their own livelihoods amid an unstable economy.

It helps that his rhetoric manifests itself in activism - he's sued to challenge the federal health care overhaul and to investigate a climate-change scientist, and he's issued legal opinions targeting immigration, abortion and gay rights.

He promised during last year's campaign to "fight with Washington," and he's delivering. To Hampton Roads Tea Party founder Karen Miner Hurd, Cuccinelli is refreshing precisely because he isn't a typical politician and his brand of no-nonsense pragmatism doesn't neatly "fit into the paradigm of conservatives."

Hurd first met Cuccinelli at a political event when he was running for attorney general and was impressed by his "genuine" demeanor and his fondness for the tea party movement.

Apparently, the feeling is mutual.

Cuccinelli was the darling of the recent statewide tea party convention, drawing a sustained standing ovation.

It's that likability, coupled with his policy ideas, that makes opponents on the left so leery of Cuccinelli.

Although foes have derisively questioned Cuccinelli's sanity, dubbing him "Kookinelli," Democratic blogger Vivian Paige is convinced that dismissing him is folly.

"The man is smart, no doubt about it," she said, praising his razor-sharp recall of a meeting between the two, and his disarming public comportment.

"That's what makes him so dangerous," Paige added. "People think he's crazy, but he's not."

A New Jersey native raised Roman Catholic, Cuccinelli has called Northern Virginia home since he was a child.

He still lives there with his wife, Teiro, and seven children. After the 2009 election, the family moved from Fairfax County to Prince William County rather than Richmond, where his job is based, so their eldest daughter wouldn't have to leave her Catholic school. His younger children are home-schooled.

An engineering graduate and lawyer specializing in business and intellectual property, he launched his political career in Fairfax in 2002 with a state Senate primary challenge against Mike Thompson.

His conservative principles helped sway former state Del. Dick Black to support him.

"He seemed to be a person whose life was in order," Black said, recalling one of his first meetings with Cuccinelli. Black added that he also was moved by Cuccinelli's "very strong" moral and ethical values, including his opposition to abortion and to a tax referendum on the ballot at the time.

With the aid of Black's political operation and others in the pro-life, pro-gun, home school movement, Cuccinelli won.

Coalition-building has long been a Cuccinelli strength, according to his former legislative aide, Eve Marie Barner Gleason, because he will "never overlook a voting bloc."

An example of that came last year when Cuccinelli attended a forum hosted by the NAACP in Richmond and spoke to an audience not filled with GOP sympathizers. He won points with the crowd when the moderator told them he was the first candidate to accept an invitation to the forum, an event his Democratic opponent didn't attend.

"What Ken has always done that's been very effective in all his races is, when he can't put together 50 percent of the vote for him, he's very good about putting together a coalition of 50 percent against his opponents," observed blogger Ben Tribbett, a frequent critic of Cuccinelli.

That strategy has kept him in office and helped him survive a tight 2007 re-election campaign for state Senate that he won by about 100 votes. And it's what has his supporters believing Cuccinelli is destined for higher office.

"Ken Cuccinelli... is on the front lines, and people know if this guy is in the White House, he'd be undoing the Obama agenda so fast, people's head would spin," gushed Rick Shaftan, a political consultant who has worked on past Cuccinelli races.

A conundrum with Cuccinelli is how to evaluate a man who seems so comfortable bucking the establishment. Is he pursuing his culture war clashes out of principle or in quest of personal gain? And what effect is he having on Virginia?

At a minimum, he brings increased attention to the state, though opinions differ on whether it's positive.

Though a spokesman, Cuccinelli declined to be interviewed, but he did respond to e-mailed questions.

He noted that he'd been upfront with voters about his intention to oppose certain federal initiatives such as health care.

"Unfortunately," he wrote, "we have a federal government that is giving us more opportunities than I would appreciate having."

His response to questions about his actions has been consistent: He cites a duty "to defend the law and the U.S. and Virginia constitutions."

That philosophy is never more evident than when he discusses the health care lawsuit.

It is "the most important thing I will do as attorney general," he said, characterizing it as a fight for personal liberty against an overreaching government trying to force people to buy health insurance.

That case has helped endear Cuccinelli to people attracted to the tea party message of scaling back government.

In him they see a champion unafraid to articulate their views from a bully pulpit and rail against a Democratic president and Congress they believe have spent recklessly on bailouts and stimulus packages without fixing the economy.

Less charmed is Steve Shannon, the attorney and former state delegate Cuccinelli trounced in last year's election. He views Cuccinelli as a calculating politician who invokes the law to obscure his unorthodox views.

As proof, he points to Cuccinelli's decision not to support a lawsuit brought by the father of a Marine killed in Iraq against an anti-gay pastor who organizes pickets of military funerals.

Shannon argues that the attorney general was backing up a "raging homophobe," not protecting free-speech rights as he claimed, and points to Cuccinelli's statement last year that homosexual acts are "intrinsically wrong."

Staying out of the lawsuit placed Cuccinelli in the minority among state attorneys general - 48 others backed it. (The other who didn't support the suit was Maine Democrat Janet Mills.) And it drew outrage from some conservatives who wanted Cuccinelli to defend fallen military members.

Through a spokesman, Cuccinelli called the protests "absolutely vile and despicable." But he said Virginia already has a law that balances free speech rights while stopping the disruption of funerals.

That's vintage Cuccinelli. He holds firm to his belief in a strict reading of the law - in that case, the First Amendment - regardless of scorn or dissent.

Another issue that's drawn strong reaction is a fraud investigation targeting the research of a climate change scientist formerly at the University of Virginia.

Though Cuccinelli, who is a skeptic on global warming, may have enhanced his stature with conservatives in the process, one critic worries his actions could hurt the state.

Going after the university for research records hurts Virginia's ability to recruit great scientists, said Terry McAuliffe, a onetime and perhaps future Democratic candidate for governor.

"People in the scientific community are aware of what's going on here," he added. "You just don't go out and sue scientists.... That doesn't do anything to create jobs."

Cuccinelli rejects the "maverick" label, but it's clear his agenda isn't always in lockstep with Gov. Bob McDonnell or the governor's heir apparent, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, both fellow Republicans.

That was evident weeks after taking office, when Cuccinelli gave legal advice to colleges and universities that they lack the authority to include sexual orientation in non-discrimination policies.

Cuccinelli defends that guidance as a reminder to those schools "that their powers are limited" by the state constitution and code and "no matter how well-intentioned their efforts, they may not exceed those limits."

His position didn't differ dramatically from McDonnell's stance on the issue when he was Virginia's attorney general. But the controversy over Cuccinelli's advice mushroomed enough that the governor produced an executive directive - an edict lacking the force of law - protecting sexual orientation, to quell the controversy.

There, too, lies some of Cuccinelli's appeal: Through a combination of circumstance and choice, he has emerged as a formidable outsider, even among Republicans, in a moment of anti-establishment fervor.

McDonnell, for his part, says the two work together well and Cuccinelli's office provides good legal service to the state.

As far as the cases Cuccinelli has taken on, McDonnell said, "He's got now a Congress and an administration that has clearly governed to the left of center, and has passed new laws and enacted new policies that many of us here in Virginia have great concerns about whether they're, one, good policies, and number two, whether they are proper for the federal government to be involved in. I didn't really have that as much when I was attorney general with a Republican administration.... I think he's just doing his job to represent the interests of the state."

Already there are hints Cuccinelli has set his sights on an office beyond the one he occupies.

He publicly maintains his plan is to seek re-election in 2013, but he hasn't ruled out running for another post. There is a governor's race that same year, and U.S. Senate races loom for Democrats Jim Webb in 2012 and Mark Warner in 2014.

Political tongues wagged when Cuccinelli agreed to stump for a GOP candidate in Iowa - home to the first nominating contest in presidential election cycles.

And his use of the health care lawsuit in a fundraising appeal to supporters, as well as the recent announcement that he's assembled a network of campaign volunteers across the state, only fueled the speculation.

He is a tireless campaigner who puts in face time at GOP events, and communicates with the faithful through dispatches of his long-running Cuccinelli Compass, an e-mail newsletter he pens personally, sometimes in the wee hours.

"I'm a target, so I've got to act like one," Cuccinelli told The Washington Post. "Which just means work hard. Don't wait for the election."

"He's going places. He's either going to be president or on the Supreme Court in 10 years. One or the other," predicted Shaftan, the political consultant. "I think the left is very afraid of him, as they should be."

Julian Walker, (804) 697-1564,

Monday, October 25, 2010

Walker Gets Journal-Sentinel Endorsement In Race for Wisconsin Governor

Wow!  The same paper that has attacked Scott Walker for the past half a decade has given him its endorsement in the race for governor in Wisconsin.  This has to be the final nail in the coffin for Tom Barrett...

Walker offers toughness, experience

Scott Walker has said repeatedly during his campaign for governor that he will develop strategies to create 250,000 new jobs during his first term.

It's a big promise - one that has been derided by his critics. But for the sake of Wisconsin, Walker had better be right.

We have watched Walker and his opponent, Tom Barrett, for years. Both are decent, honest, principled public servants. If a ledger existed, it would no doubt show that we've agreed with Barrett more often than with Walker.

But in a time of economic peril and at a time when government must be reformed, it's time to throw away the playbook.

We recommend Scott Walker to be Wisconsin's next governor.

This election comes as Wisconsin reels from a recession that the experts tell us is over but that still feels very painful.

Systemic deficiencies exist in how the state is run and in how state services are funded.

Deep fissures exist in the foundation upon which businesses create jobs and pay taxes.

Average residents worry whether there is a viable future for them in Wisconsin. Property taxes unduly burden them, public education fails too many of their children and higher education is in danger of becoming unaffordable.

Both candidates for governor acknowledge this landscape, but one is better equipped to move Wisconsin forward because he has been tested in the kind of crucible that mimics the governor's job in this environment. That is Walker.

Relevant experience is the argument we made when we recommended Walker over Mark Neumann in the Republican primary in September. It holds in his general election race against the Democratic candidate, Barrett.

And there is this: Democrats have held the governorship and two legislative houses and have failed to demonstrate they could collaborate even among themselves to address problems that don't even rise to the level of systemic and structural.

Walker was elected Milwaukee's County executive in 2002 amid a pension scandal that drove his predecessor and others from office, and he manages an institution with financial travails and other dynamics that mirror the state's:

Structural deficits promising future implosion.

A constant tension between what is necessary and what is affordable.

The need to exact concessions from public employee unions.

An intransigent legislative body, in many ways in thrall to these interests.

This is the Milwaukee County that Walker inherited. But it is also an apt description of the state he seeks to lead.

There can be no more kicking the can down the Wisconsin road. If there is one thing Walker has shown in his tenure as county executive, it is an abiding intolerance for the failures of business as usual.

Walker's habit of upending the status quo has been a disquieting reality for a County Board with a majority that obstructs progress as much as it acts as a check on the county executive. Walker's approach has put public employee unions on notice that, though no one diminishes the value of the members' work, they cannot be exempt from the economic distress that plagues the taxpayers who pay their salaries.

The persisting dysfunction in Milwaukee County is not of Walker's making and arguably - with tight-fisted stewardship - is better than it was before he took office.

Still, Walker's record as county executive is not unblemished.

The county's Mental Health Complex has been so badly managed under his watch that vulnerable people have been needlessly victimized. His budgets have failed to meet the need, even as overtime salaries for some complex employees boggle the imagination. The Milwaukee County Transit System has suffered route cuts and fare hikes, a victim to diminished county revenues and lack of vision. The state took over what state officials said were badly managed public assistance programs - though county officials said those programs simply were underfunded by the state.

We differ with Walker on some of the stances he's taken during this election. Stopping the fast train between Milwaukee and Madison reflects the kind of fiscal conservatism for which he is known, but it still is shortsighted.

Also of concern was his answer to whether he would support state legislation to require the shadow groups pouring in millions of dollars into surrogate ads to reveal their donors. We fear he would veto such efforts.

We worry about his views on embryonic stem cell research, which holds great promise for treatment of a variety of ailments. Wisconsin is a world leader in this important work. In the past, Walker has gone so far as to say he would sign a bill banning such research. More recently, he has been less strident, saying, "I'm going to put the money (state funding) behind adult stem cells - not embryonic." That would be a colossal mistake.

But Walker's trademarks are austerity and out-of-the-box thinking, up to and including his proposal to do away with Milwaukee County government altogether. We've not agreed with his no-new-taxes pledge as county executive, but we recognize that it has forced frugality on the County Board that taxpayers might not have gotten otherwise.

His pitch to sell Mitchell International Airport and moves to outsource some county jobs were innovative.

Barrett, meanwhile, has run a spirited, though at times too negative, campaign. His jobs and deficit proposals are far more detailed than Walker's and should be considered even if he's not elected.

But Walker's strokes on these topics are promising, too. He is open to the economic ideas contained in the "Be Bold Wisconsin" report, which suggests, among other things, revamping the state Department of Commerce.

We would hope the Legislature would right-size Walker's proposal for broad tax cuts that would threaten to deepen the state's budget deficit. On this point, Barrett's targeted tax cuts are the better approach.

But in this election, we're looking for a kind of fiscal tenacity that this state has, perhaps, never seen. Talk that Barrett isn't "tough enough" is a bum rap. But, on fiscal matters, there is tough and then there is the right kind of experience.

Walker has both, and that makes him the better choice.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NPR Fires Juan Williams Over Muslim Comments

Veteran journalist Juan Williams was fired from his job earlier today as a senior news analyst for National Public Radio (NPR) late Wednesday because of comments he made about Muslims and terrorism on "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News Channel.  Watch the video yourself!  Juan Williams said nothing wrong or racist and I'm glad that he is now no longer associated with NPR.  Okay to bash the Catholics and the Jews, but God forbid a Muslim gets offended.  Another case of liberal hypocracy!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Factoids Worth Knowing...

  • The largest animal that ever lived is also currently living -- the blue whale.
  • The world consumes 2 quarts (approx. 2 liters) of oil per person per day.
  • If Earth was the size of a basketball, the moon would be the size of a tennis ball and they'd be 25 feet apart.
  • For every 100 girls born in China, 119 boys are born.
  • Of all the people in history that have reached 65 years of age, half of them are living right now.
  • If Earth's life was compressed into one year, then humans would have been around for only 2 seconds.
  • The Middle East's population almost tripled over the last 30 years. 

Scott Walker / Tom Barrett Debate Recap

Great recap by WISN-TV of the townhall debate last Friday night between Scott Walker and Tom Barrett for governor of Wisconsin.  The RC Blog strongly endorsed and supported Walker from Day One of his campaign -- a true Reagan Conservative and future star of the Conservative party.  He continues to maintain a healthly lead over Barrett.

Pope Names Two U.S. Bishops to College of Cardinals

Great news from the Vatican! Pope Benedict announced that he would be making 24 new cardinals.

That means 24 men need new clerical garb, as they now have the right to be decked out in red. And a red hat in this town means membership in the College of Cardinals, whose most important duty is to elect the new pope.

Only those under the age of 80 are eligible to vote, and four of the new cardinals are over 80 – named mostly as an honorary recognition of their service.

Of the 20 others who will get the red hat, a whopping eight are Italians. That’s a clear sign of just how powerful the Italian presence still is at the top of the Catholic Church, even though the global Catholic population is increasingly less and less European.

Two Americans are on today’s list, and neither a surprise, considering the positions they hold: Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and Raymond Burke, the former Archbishop of St. Louis.

Burke is the head of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, roughly the equivalent of the Vatican’s Supreme Court. He infuriated liberal Catholics during the 2004 election season when he said that John Kerry would not be welcome to receive communion in St. Louis because of his position on abortion.

He has also said that Catholic politicians who have supported abortion rights and confused the faithful by doing so should repent and do public penance.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Virginia's The Influence Releases Album, Prepares for National Tour

Virginia is known for producing outstanding musical talent. The latest to join the list is the Commonwealth's rising star band, The Influence.  The RC Blog has been working with this band for the past several years to help them get the level of attention and fandom they deserve.  The future is now here....

This five-member band out of Virginia Beach is about to embark on a national tour in early 2011 and its newly released album (Falling Objects) is getting national exposure.  The lead single from their new album is "Slippin'" (to check out video, click here). 

Here is a good background piece on the band from the latest issue of Magazine 33 out of Richmond (written by Elaine Main):

Virginia Beach - A five-piece rock band from Virginia Beach blending elements of 90s alternative and college rock while adding their own style of modern day indie, the Influence creates an integrated sound that’s been turning peoples heads and ears for the past five years. Originally formed as an acoustic trio, the music has evolved into a band of talented musicians who each bring their own diverse approach into their sound.

It all began in 2004, when lead singer Matthew Archer Stephenson made his way back to Virginia Beach after living in El Salvador. Upon his return, Matt met up with long time friends Will Clarke and John Zontini. The three of them shared similar musical backgrounds as well as the intense drive to make music. Soon they formed an acoustic trio originally known as Plan B. The trio played their first gig together at Abbey Road in Virginia Beach. After playing a few gigs together, the guys realized there was something they went in search of their missing piece(s).

They found drummer, Collin Cogan, by posting fliers at the Old Dominion University campus in Norfolk, seeking a “young motivated drummer.” When Collin responded to the post, no one knew just how much of the gap would be filled. Bringing not only the refined rhythm to their sound, Collin added his vocals to create a powerful harmony.

It was through serendipity (and a mutual friend) that Chris Tully first met the guys of Plan B. He came to an open mic night at the Hilltop Brewery and listened intently to what would soon become the first step in a new direction. Little did they all know that magic was in the air that night and they had found their ultimate missing piece and new bassist. Tully (as well all know and love him by) completed the sound of the Influence with his smooth bass riffs and deep vocals.

Once the band was complete, they wrote and recorded their first album The Influence of Music. At that time, guitarists John and Will were playing strictly acoustic, which gave the album a softer sound. Each member of the band contributed to vocals in a few tracks. It was clear from the beginning that these five guys possessed talent that would take them far.

By the time they recorded their second album Pig Radio, the band had become more advanced and had introduced the electric guitar to their sound as well as stronger vocals and harmonies. Pig Radio proved that the band was well on their way to evolving into something greater than anticipated. Since the release of their second album, the band has toured extensively, working hard to make a lasting impression on all of their listeners. The Influence put their eclectic touch into their live shows, making each one memorable and unique. Along with their unforgettable tour bus powered by veggie oil and their signature mascot, Ken Horse (may he rest in peace), the band gained a fan base that was strong and diverse, spanning up and down the east coast and stretching across the nation. As a direct result from extensive touring, it was inevitable that the sound would again change, and this time it would evolve into the current-sound of the Influence. Which brings us to the long anticipated third album…

Falling Objects, released September 24, 2010, brings change and new sound. Feeling confident with their enhanced and matured sound, the band was dedicated to taking on the next step in their career. In pursuit of creating a ”record label-ready” album, the group teamed up with producer Ted Comerford, and in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ted came together with the band at Low Watt Studio where Ted came to help shape the new album. Ted wanted to record the new album using what he considered the best songs from the two previous albums as well as four new songs the band had written. Together they restructured a few select tracks and matched them to the sound into which they had evolved. After a long and “very meticulous production,” Falling Objects was finally complete and ready to be released into the world.

When asked how the new album compares to the first, Collin stated, “It's COMPLETELY different! It’s a rock album. I wouldn’t call our first album a rock album. It’s a very polished record. Falling Objects is completely electric versus the first album which was completely acoustic.” Along with their progression into a more refined rock sound, there are various instruments that can be heard in the tracks such as a banjo, keyboards and an organ. Not only is there a new sound with the rock edge and assorted instruments added, the album itself was recorded on vintage gear. Singer Matt stated, “I’m not a gear head, but it really does make a difference in sound when you record with vintage equipment used in like the 60s. It gives the album a 'worn' sound."

Another major change the band experienced was the loss of a member. Very shortly after the album was completed, guitarist John Zontini decided to break away and leave the band. It was difficult for everyone dealing with the sudden change, but the band knew they couldn’t fall behind on the progression they had already achieved. Turning to their long time friend, Chris Kendrick was invited to step in and join them on their journey. Chris had been a member of another local band, Counterfeit Molly, and had played as a guest musician with the Influence for around two years on keyboards and even filling in on drums one evening. Chris was excited to join the band and said, “It’s a little overwhelming, but I feel like I walked into a really good situation.” States Tully, “He’s always been a really good friend and a part of the operation for years."

Matt continues, “We didn’t replace a member, a member left and we chose Chris to step in.” Chris Kendrick is also featured on the brand new track "Old Bones". I asked Chris how he felt about touring/playing with the Influence. “I really enjoy it…I mean, the van smells sometimes but, ya know, it’s fun.”

Throughout the duration of the recording process, the band had experienced several changes and really felt that there was something more for them. Realizing their potential and wanting more control over their career, the band decided to take yet another turn and take on a new challenge - creating their own record label. “We went with a studio where we worked our asses off to make a record that we’re really proud of, and in the process we also learned that we don’t really want to be on a major label. That’s why we formed Flying Eye Records out of it…strange we went in with the exact opposite idea of what we’re doing now. We own our own record label now, we don’t have to have day jobs anymore, and we can go out and play for how long we want. We’re completely in control of it…”

In the past, much of the Influence’s album artwork, t-shirt designs, poster layouts and other art forms have been the design of its members. When asked about the album cover for Falling Objects, Matt replied, “I was looking for a reference for the idea of falling objects and typed in "falling objects” on Flickr, and a picture of hay bales in a field popped up, and I thought, huh, that’s weird. So I took the image of the hay bales and floated them.” (A typical representation of how Matt’s mind works.) Matt contacted the artist named Black Rose who lives in Finland, and by using Babelfish on the internet, communicated with her to get the rights to use the photograph.

Their CD release party was September 24th at the Jewish Mother. When asked how they felt about their favorite venue closing (date set to be the beginning of October), Matt responded, “It really just makes me happy that we can draw on the walls again. They brought the crayons back! That’s been going on since August, so by the time we play our last show there the walls will be covered, so it’ll be like the first time we ever played there.”

Beginning in October, Matt and Will are doing a radio promotion tour along the east coast and spanning to the Midwest. A few dates have been planned for the band to start touring in late October. They’ll be playing from east to west coast and hope to take their tour to Europe by next year.

With the as much dedication and persistence as the band has shown, they’re continually working on their artistry. The band has already written five new songs that they plan to record on the following album. “We’re writing considerably heavier songs right now,” says Matt. Will continues, “We’re starting to write music that’s closer to music that we actually listen to. I really love our first album, but I don’t really listen to music that sounds like that. And I do listen to music that sounds like this.”

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Column: Pence is Poised as Vable 2012 Prospect

An opinion piece from Iowa's Des Moines Register earlier this week:

Indiana Congressman Mike Pence joked during a weekend speech in Des Moines that he didn’t come to Iowa by accident.

Pence, speaking to about 550 people at an Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition dinner, acknowledged he was here on purpose – with a sole aim of helping elect Republicans in November 2010. Few missed the unspoken message that the trip, coming just two weeks after he won the Values Voters presidential straw poll in Washington, D.C., also served to keep his name in play for 2012.

“Oh, he’s running,” Gopal Krishna, vice president of the Iowa Christian Alliance, said after Pence’s speech Saturday at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

Running for what is the question. Pence is also considered a potential 2012 candidate for governor of Indiana when term limits force out Republican Mitch Daniels. Daniels is also a possible 2012 presidential contender.
Pence, head of the House GOP Conference, stands to increase his leadership status should his party win the majority.

He has been traveling the country, campaigning and raising money for congressional candidates. He stopped by Brad Zaun’s congressional campaign office on Saturday and also endorsed attorney general candidate Brenna Findley.

As for the presidential path, Pence’s supporters are billing him as the antidote to a GOP field in which the best-known potential candidates all have Achilles heels. Mitt has Romneycare. Thrice-married Newt Gingrich has a cross to bear with the Christian right. Sarah Palin is a polarizing mama bear.
Pence emphasized that GOP leaders can’t set aside religious social values even while pocketbook concerns loom large.

It was notable, however, that Pence didn’t weigh in on the debate about judicial retention here in Iowa. “Vote No” signs advocating removal of three Supreme Court justices were flying out the door during Saturday’s event.

When a reporter asked after the speech about judicial elections, Pence took a pass. “I don’t want to comment on a specific local issue. Let me just say, I believe that marriage matters. I believe in defending traditional marriage against the efforts of activist judges who seek to redefine it.”

Critics of the organized effort to defeat judges warn that it opens the courtroom door to special-interest money and political pressure.

Pence, a former radio commentator, likes to use high-flown rhetoric. “A nation conceived in liberty has come of age in bondage to big government,” he said Saturday. Most of the Faith & Freedom crowd was eating it up faster than the fried chicken and Jell-O fluff. Iowa Congressman Steve King praised Pence as the best communicator in the House Republican caucus.

Should Pence run for president, however, he’ll find that lofty eloquence can be a drawback with some voters.

Randy Crawford of Coralville said after the speech that Pence and Mike Huckabee are on his short list for 2012 so far. But Crawford said he prefers to hear Pence when he speaks off the cuff rather than from prepared text. “I just think he sort of thought too hard,” Crawford said. “He’s an excellent speaker, but I’d say he shines more brightly when he speaks from the top of his head.”

Pence said he doesn’t have any immediate plans to return to Iowa, but I expect we’ll see him before long. He’s in a good position to market himself as a better-rounded alternative to the A-list candidates and as a more viable prospect than others on the B or C lists. He may not be a dream candidate, but he’s also not living in fantasyland. As a rising congressional leader with a fundraising base, he could position himself as a slightly paler shade of dark horse.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Latest Poll Numbers for RC Blog Endorsed Candidates

Here are the latest poll numbers of those candidates running for office this November, which are endorsed by the blog.  Looking good!

Scott Walker leads Tom Barrett in the gubernatorial race in Wisconsin by 9 points.

Mike Pence (lock!).

Paul Ryan (lock!).

Sharon Angle in a dead heat with Harry Reid in the Senate race in Nevada.

Pat Toomey leads Joe Sestak in the Senate race in Pennsylvania by 6 points.

Marco Rubio leads Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meek in the Senate race in Florida by 11 points.

Keith Fimian in a dead heat with Gerry Connolly in the 11th House District in Virginia.

Current RC Blog projections:  Governor +7, House +48, Senate +9.

Only 30 days until Election Day!! Listed as One of the Top 100 Conservative Blogs

The blog was recently recognized as one of the top 100 Conservative blogs on the Internet.  Check it out!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Virginia AG Cuccinelli Keeps Up the Heat on Global Warming Fraud

Today, Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli continued his assault against Dr. Michael Mann and the Global Warming establishment. AG Cuccinelli filed a new, more specific demand for documents related to a Mann grant project when he was at the University of Virginia.

If Dr. Mann and his disciples have nothing to hide, why are they so outraged by today's announcement? If it was me and I had nothing to hide, I would take the pro-active approach and provide all the documentation requested by the subpoena to the press in an event aimed at embarrassing my opponent.

Here is today's article from the Associated Press:

RICHMOND — Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has submitted a new, scaled-down demand for documents related to a former University of Virginia climate-change researcher's work.

Cuccinelli, a global-warning skeptic, is investigating whether Michael Mann defrauded state taxpayers by using manipulated data to obtain government grants. A judge ruled in late August that the attorney general was not specific enough about the nature of Mann's alleged wrongdoing, and that he lacks authority to investigate federal grants.

The attorney general is appealing that ruling to the Virginia Supreme Court.

The new civil subpoena pertains to just one state grant and does not include four federal grants that were part of Cuccinelli's original demand. Cuccinelli also included more specific language in the new subpoena.

Cuccinelli sent the revised demand to the university's attorney last week with an Oct. 29 deadline for responding. University officials, who went to court to fight Cuccinelli's original investigative demands, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

U.Va. has argued that Cuccinelli's actions could impair academic freedom and discourage scientific research. University officials and others also have said the investigation was an attempt to take aim at Mann's conclusions rather than to uncover fraud. More than 800 college faculty members in Virginia signed a letter protesting the investigation.

"I find it extremely disturbing that Mr. Cuccinelli seeks to continue to abuse his power as the attorney general of Virginia in this way, pursuing an ongoing smear campaign against the University of Virginia, me and other climate scientists,'' Mann, who now works at Pennsylvania State University, wrote in an e-mail Monday. He called the probe "a partisan witch hunt.'"

Cuccinelli has denied that he is targeting Mann's conclusions. His office had no immediate comment Monday on the new subpoena.

Mann is one of several climate-change scientists whose work drew international attention earlier this year after hundreds of e-mails from a British climate research center were leaked. Climate-change skeptics seized on the e-mails and suggested climate scientists were systematically exaggerating the threat of climate change.

Cuccinelli is seeking e-mails exchanged between Mann and more than three dozen other scientists. His news subpoena also cites research papers written by Mann that the attorney general claims "contained false information, unsubstantiated claims and/or were otherwise misleading.''

Mann said the papers attacked by Cuccinelli were not cited in the proposal for the $214,700 state grant, which he said pertained to "natural land-vegetation-atmosphere interaction in the African savanna'' and had nothing to do with climate change. is an independent site and is not affiliated with any official web sites, associations, or organizations associated with President Reagan. Any views expressed or content included on this site do not necessarily reflect the views, positions, or opinions of any of the organizations or individuals named, linked, or advertised.

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