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The GOP nomination for President is still an open contest

It’s been said that the field for the GOP nomination for President has been set.  The last candidates who are going to enter the contest are in the ring.  And that’s probably true.  To some in the media that means it’s all over.  To them, it’s now a choice between Texas Governor Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.   The press and pundits love to decide these match-ups early.  But, they should remember, that in the past they have had a terrible problem getting it right.

2008 is a perfect example.  At this point in 2007 the pundits, the media, and the political regulars, had it all figured out.   For the GOP this meant that the “hands on” favorite was Mitt Romney.  John McCain, in the eyes of the media, was a spent force.  Some wondered why he didn’t drop out.  As we all know the story turned out differently.  McCain managed a come from behind win in New Hampshire, started on roll that led to his not only beating Romney, but also dousing the campaigns of Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson.  He managed to take this momentum all the way to the convention in Minneapolis.  Romney, understandably, since he was the guy who was supposed to win, was still looking for the license tag of that truck that ran over his campaign.

The media treated the Democrats no differently.  After Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses it was just “assumed” that he would beat Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.  Obama even started acting like the presumptive nominee.   However, what happened was that Hillary just campaigned hard, won that primary and what followed was one of the feistiest primary campaigns in American history.

That’s why we need to be a bit more careful with the 2012 GOP field.  A candidate’s position as leader of the pack can dissolve in a matter of days.  The Democrats, of course, have their nominee.  But the Republican cast of candidates, while having two leading contenders, is still a crowded field.  What’s more the two leading candidates have their weaknesses.  The Party is by no means sold on them.  Perry’s performance in the debates has been poor.  He has trouble forgetting he is running for President and not Governor of Texas.  Also, his strong play to evangelicals, while pleasing to the party base, has at the same time been disconcerting to Main Street Republicans and Independents.  As for Romney, while highly competent and likable to many in the party, he changes positions far too often.

As far as the media is concerned it’s a choice between these two.  But, hold on, the GOP field has a few prospects, and some outliers, that though long shots to get the nomination, are still fighting on.  One candidate, who following Sarah Palin’s official departure from the field (thank goodness) is sure to pick up delegates in the caucus states is Michele Bachman.   Dismissed as too far to the right, even ditzy (talk about a sexist term) she is still a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and to those who doubt her abilities, they should remember that not only is she a lawyer, but she also has a master’s degree in tax law.  I ask you, when was the last time we

Read more: The GOP nomination for President is still an open contest

After 10 years together, saying farewell to my squirrels

I sometimes get in trouble with my neighbors when it comes to my fondness for the local squirrel population. You see, it all began with a bet with my wife, many years ago, that with a better diet I could make our local squirrels, known to most of us as the Eastern gray squirrels (their Latin name is Sciurus carolinensis), look as nice and fluffy as the squirrels we had just seen during a visit to Williamsburg. Everything, of course, looks pristine in Williamsburg and that includes the squirrels. They have lush coats and fluffy tails. Why, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that they get their fur set and combed each day.

And so the bet was on. That was more than 10 years ago and I have fed the squirrels every morning since. The local squirrel population and I have gotten to be

Read more: After 10 years together, saying farewell to my squirrels

Unemployment: It’s probably worse than you think

There are a lot of indicators used to assess the health of the nation’s economy. There is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is the sum of all we buy, sell, and produce. There is also industrial output, orders for durable goods, various leading economic indicators, and surveys of consumer sentiment. However, for most people, the ultimate measure of economic distress or well being is unemployment. While the other economic statistics are just that, statistics, unemployment is personal.

As Harry Truman said, “a recession is when your neighbor loses his job and a depression is

Read more: Unemployment: It’s probably worse than you think

Poverty rate increases, working poor are more squeezed

I don’t write about this topic all that often. Some readers will see it as just another bleeding heart liberal talking about what’s wrong with America. Sometimes, when this topic comes up, one that seems so intractable and seemingly so unsolvable, I can understand their point of view. Don’t we have enough problems already?

Awhile back I wrote about the group I call the “squeezed.” These are the working poor. Many of them, contrary to popular belief, work harder than most of us can imagine. They work and work hard. Welfare programs aren’t a part of their life. For some, the wolf is at

Read more: Poverty rate increases, working poor are more squeezed

Living our lives in honor of those who died on 911

Editor’s Note: Our Virginia Viewpoints columnist David Kerr was asked to make t he 911 presentation at the memorial in Aquia Harbour in Stafford. We are honored to be able to bring them to our readers this week.

I can’t deny that as I was preparing for this last night I was wondering to myself if I might have a little trouble getting through it all.  Ten years seems like a lot of time.  But it doesn’t feel that way.

Any High School history student will tell you that the bane of their existence is remembering dates.
You name it – The battle of Saratoga, the fall of Vicksburg, or the signing of the Versailles Treaty –

Read more: Living our lives in honor of those who died on 911

Governor McDonnell’s very good year

Governor Bob McDonnell has been having an exceptionally good year. While most states are still grappling with budget shortfalls, layoffs, and having to cut back on services, McDonnell was able to report that Virginia had one of its largest surpluses in years. Thanks to Virginia’s typically tight-fisted approach to government the budget year ended with $545 million still in the bank. It’s a remarkable feat.

 But that’s not all.

While unemployment, nationally, just can’t seem to get below 9%, and last month, actually went up a little, Virginia’s unemployment, which was 7.5 percent 18 months ago, is now 6.1%. That is a substantial improvement over just a year ago.  In fact, there are few states that can match that kind of improvement.  Oh, and add to that, a recent CNBC poll which showed Virginia as the most business friendly in the nation, and it leaves the Governor with a little room for a well-earned

Read more: Governor McDonnell’s very good year

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