Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Remarkable Memorial Day Story

A remarkable story appeared in today's Washington Post, considering that it is Memorial Day weekend:  T. Rees Shapiro reported on the obituary page the death of 100-year-old John W. Finn, the last surviving recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor from the Battle of Pearl Harbor.

The story notes that of the 15 men who eventually received the Medal of Honor for Pearl Harbor, 14 of them were cited for rescue attempts.  Finn was the only one who was cited for combat action.  The New York Times mentions that ten of them died in that battle while four survived the war.

His actions read like something from a Hollywood screenplay:

He was in bed with his wife, Alice, that Sunday when, just before 8 a.m., he heard the rumble of low-flying aircraft and sporadic machine gun fire coming from the hangar a mile away.

Amid the confusion, he threw on a pair of dungarees and his chief hat, and started driving as calmly as possible to the nearby hangar, maintaining the base's 20-mph speed limit.

"I got around, and I heard a plane come roaring in from astern of me. As I glanced up, the guy made a wing-over and I saw that big old red meatball, the rising sun insignia, on the underside of the wing," he said in an interview with Larry Smith for the 2003 book "Beyond Glory," an oral history of Medal of Honor recipients. "Well, I threw it into second, and it was a wonder I didn't run over every sailor in the air station."

When Chief Petty Officer Finn arrived at the Kaneohe Bay station, he commandeered a heavy-caliber machine gun and set it up on a makeshift tripod of spare pipes -- out in the open, where he had a clear view to give the Japanese what he called a "warm welcome."

He fired at wave after wave of strafing Japanese Zeroes for more than 2 1/2 hours, because, as he later said, "I didn't have enough sense to come in out of the rain."
In an obituary that contains much of the same information as that in the Post, Richard Goldstein adds this tidbit in the New York Times:
On Sept. 15, 1942, Chief Finn received the Medal of Honor from Adm. Chester W. Nimitz, commander in chief of the Pacific Fleet, in a ceremony aboard the carrier Enterprise at Pearl Harbor. Admiral Nimitz cited Chief Finn for his “magnificent courage in the face of almost certain death.”
Final tributes to Lieutenant Finn will be next week. The Los Angeles Times notes:
A funeral service for Medal of Honor recipient John Finn, who died Thursday in Chula Vista at age 100, is set for 10 a.m. Thursday at El Cajon-Lakeside-Santee Mortuary and Cremation Service, 684 S. Mollison Ave. in El Cajon. A viewing is scheduled for 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the same location. Burial will be in the Campo Indian Reservation cemetery.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Talking Virginia 5th District Politics on the Radio

This past Tuesday, I was invited by Coy Barefoot to be a guest on his WINA-AM radio program, "Charlottesville Right Now."  He had seen a comment I left on an article about Fifth Congressional District GOP candidate Feda Morton on The Hook's web site and had also noticed that I had conducted face-to-face interviews with Feda and her six rivals for the Republican nomination in the primary scheduled for June 8.  He asked if I would be willing to talk about the race on his show.

Despite the short notice, I accepted the invitation. 

The video (below) shows the result of our discussion, which included thoughts about Feda Morton as a "family values" candidate who has been twice divorced and who was denied custody of her children because of her anger and bitterness, about how formidable an opponent Tom Perriello will be (regardless of who the Republican nominee is) because he has learned the right lessons about constituent services and keeping his name in the news, and how Perriello will still be a weaker candidate this year because he does not have Barack Obama at the top of his ticket.  (In fact, Perriello will be the top of the ticket, as there are no other offices up for election this year.)

Here is Part I, where Coy introduces me as a "Republican blogger of note" and sets the stage for the discussion, starting with the Feda Morton article:
(Note that this interview took place before the Daily Progress reported that Morton had apparently plagiarized parts of an op-ed piece by Joseph Sobran and published his words as her own.)

Coy also threw me a softball question that allowed me to plug the excellent documentary film from the Moving Picture Institute, Do As I Say, which exposes leftwingers Michael Moore and Al Gore as hypocrites, and to to also talk about that day's resignation announcement by "family values" Congressman Mark Souder (R-Indiana), who had an extramarital affair with a staffer -- after making a video with her touting the benefits of sexual abstinence education!

In Part II, Coy returns to the "bombshell of a story" (his words) about Feda Morton and asks what impact the story might have on the outcome of the race on June 8.  I reply by noting the lack of independent polling in the race and the way that straw polls can be misleading.  I also note that Republican voters in the "low turnout primary ... are going to be voting strategically," trying to nominate the candidate "who can best beat Tom Perriello" and that "intelligent Republican voters, even if they like Feda," may vote against her because they are "hungry to take this seat back."

Here's the video:
In Part III, Coy leads off with a question about who I think can beat Tom Perriello in November. I note that statistically, with seven candidates in the race, there can be a winner with 15 percent of the vote, though I predict the ultimate victor will have 27 or 28 percent.

I also note the conventional wisdom favors state Senator Robert Hurt, who has been attacked by Morton and other candidates for various votes he has made in the General Assembly. "The slings and arrows that are being aimed at these candidates," I say, "are a bit odd and sometimes off-base."

Then I go over the list of other candidates -- Michael McPadden, Ron Ferrin, Ken Boyd, Laurence Verga -- and weigh their pluses and minuses. (Apologies to Jim McKelvey, whose name did not come up in the discussion.)

Here's the final segment of the video:
Coy also asks about the Second District, where former GOP activist Kenny Golden has entered the race as an independent against incumbent Democrat Glenn Nye.

Surprisingly, we were able to get through the whole hour without talking about either Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga.

For those interested, all of my interviews with the congressional candidates, including some from districts other than the Fifth, can be seen at my Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner page on

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Monday, May 17, 2010

2010 Congressional Interviews (Pre-Primary)

Over at, I have been conducting, transcribing, and posting a series of interviews with candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia.

My original aim was to interview each of the seven candidates seeking the Republican nomination in the Fifth Congressional District.  I was able to accomplish that over two days, April 10 (the Charlottesville GOP mass meeting) and May 1 (the Fifth District GOP convention at Hampden-Sydney College).  It took some time, however, to transcribe the interviews and put them into news article form.  (Believe it or not, some candidates require substantial editing to make their oral disquisitions readable as printed text.)

In addition, I was able to catch up with candidates from the First, Third, Seventh, and Eighth districts -- including one Democrat and one independent.

After each interview, I was able to snap a photograph of the candidates.  I think that the poses they made for the camera are sometimes as revealing as the answers they gave to my questions.

With each of the Republican candidates, I asked a version of three basic questions:
(1) Assuming you win the primary, what will be the top three issues that you'll emphasize during the general election campaign?

(2) Since you face x opponents in the primary, how will you unify the party after the primary to move forward to November?

(3) A related question:  the Republican party and conservative movement are made up of several elements, such as social conservatives, libertarians, fiscal conservatives, and Club for Growth types.  How do you bring all those elements together to work on a common project or walk along a common path?

Many of the answers I received were similar.  Some were different, distinctive, and unexpected.  None of my questions elicited a "gotcha" reply.  (No macacas here, if you're looking for them.)  I do think, however, that each candidate was able to present his or her personality and unique characteristics in just a few hundred words.

While I hope to have an opportunity to conduct a similar interview with Tom Perriello during the general election campaign (he is unopposed for his party's nomination), here, for the moment, are the interviews with the seven Republican candidates in Virginia's Fifth Congressional District:

Ken Boyd

Jim McKelvey

Laurence Verga

Mike McPadden

Robert Hurt

Ron Ferrin

Feda Morton
The candidates from other districts are these:
James Quigley (Libertarian, Third)

Matthew Berry (Republican, Eighth)

Krystal Ball
(Democrat, First)

Catherine Crabill
(Republican, First)

Floyd Bayne (Independent, Seventh)
All of these articles, plus others related to the 2010 election season, can be found under the general heading of "Charlottesville Elections 2010" on Articles on other topics can be found on my page as "Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner."

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Graduation Day at PVCC

Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC) held its 37th annual commencement exercises on Friday, May 14.  Nearly 500 students became alumni at a hilltop ceremony that ended just in time for a harsh thunderstorm to blow across the Charlottesville area; the first raindrops fell within minutes of the end of the recessional and the beginning of the punch-and-pinwheel reception under tents near the college's main academic building.

Virginia's new secretary of education, Gerard Robinson, was the featured graduation speaker.  Robinson is himself an alumnus of a community college (El Camino Community College in California) and he also has a bachelor's degree from Howard University and a master's degree in education from Harvard.  Before taking on his responsibilities as a member of Governor Bob McDonnell's cabinet, Robinson was president of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), a national organization advocating family choice in education.

The student speaker at the ceremony was Joshua Robert Mlcoch of Lovingston in Nelson County, who earned two degrees from PVCC -- one in liberal arts, the other in computer science.  Acknowledging the threatening weather, Mlcoch began his remarks by saying, "I come with thunder and lightning."

The commencement ceremony began with the national anthem, sung by PVCC student James A. Tubbs:
Secretary Robinson was introduced by J. Walter Levering, chair o the Piedmont Virginia Community College Board. Robinson was an ideal graduation speaker, as his remarks lasted only about 8 minutes.
Joshua Mlcoch was introduced by Dr. John R. Donnelly, PVCC's vice president for instruction and student services. Donnelly noted how impressed he was by Mlcoch's ubiquity on the PVCC campus and remarked upon similarities between himself and the student speaker. Mlcoch also kept his speech short, a model for such addresses, regardless of whether the weather is threatening or not:
NBC29 has a short report on the PVCC commencement here. Saturday's Daily Progress report is here, and the Newsplex report, including video, is here.

UPDATE, June 2:  My interview with Virginia Secretary of Education Gerard Robinson is now available for reading on

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Gary Johnson on WINA's 'The Schilling Show'

As announced here on April 21, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson spoke in Charlottesville yesterday, at an event co-hosted by the Albemarle County Republican Committee, the Charlottesville Republican Committee, and the Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia.  (Governor Johnson also addressed an RLC gathering in Arlington on Saturday.)

Governor Johnson had a full day, starting at 7:08 a.m. when he spoke by telephone on WCHV radio with morning host Joe Thomas.  I missed that interview but it must have been good:  several people showed up at the governor's speech last night because they heard about it on WCHV.

During the late afternoon, we took Governor Johnson and his son, Erik,on a tour of downtown Charlottesville, where the governor was able to write a message about "freedom" and "liberty" on the chalkboard of the First Amendment Monument near City Hall.  Shortly thereafter, Gary and Erik Johnson took a tour of Monticello.  It was their first visit to Mr. Jefferson's home and both were impressed.

In between, Governor Johnson was an in-studio guest of Rob Schilling on "The Schilling Show" on WINA-AM.  Several listeners took the time to call in with substantive questions, and the host took the opportunity to promote the speech at the Northside Library and the web site of Governor Johnson's 501(c)(4) policy advocacy group, OUR America Initiative (that's

Here is the video I took inside the WINA studios of Rob Schilling's interview with Gary Johnson.  There are three segments:

Part I:

Part II
Part III (Conclusion):
I have more photos and videos from Governor Johnson's visit to Charlottesville, which I will post as they are ready.
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