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Del. Cole wants to make it even harder to vote in VA

During the past two legislative sessions the General Assembly, with the Governor’s support, enacted legislation requiring voters to present picture ID’s before voting. After more than four centuries of citizen voting in Virginia, from the first House of Burgesses elections in the early 1600s to Election 2012 just a few months ago, it seems we voters can no longer be trusted.

Read more: Del. Cole wants to make it even harder to vote in VA

McDonnell’s transportation plan has merit

Several years ago the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) warned that the time wasn’t far off when the cost of maintaining the Commonwealth’s existing road network would completely crowd out new construction. It sounded like a dire prediction and many called it alarmist. Unfortunately, it has turned out to be all too true and once again Virginia is facing a crisis in its transportation funding.

Read more: McDonnell’s transportation plan has merit

Washington: Standoffs, intransigence, gridlock

After months of negotiations, most of it done through surrogates, press releases, and press conferences, the 112th Congress passed a bill to temporarily forestall the fiscal cliff. It was their last official act before they adjourned. The compromise, if you can call it that, deferred sequestration cuts by two months and raised

Read more: Washington: Standoffs, intransigence, gridlock

Wow! What a year this has been!

For the past several weeks I have been warily eyeing a new Sport and Health fitness center that’s under construction not too far from where I live.  The question, of course, is will I join for the New Year, and do what I promised myself last summer, and actually get in shape, or will I keep driving by and just feel guilty?
 Right now, I can’t tell you what the answer will be.  I can put up with a lot of guilt.  But, I think before long, I am going to sign up.  Besides, if President-elect Obama, with his grueling schedule can find enough time for a daily workout then probably I can too.  
2008 has been an eventful year.  We began the year with both the Democratic and Republican parties engaging in something slightly more organized than a drunken brawl to determine their respective nominees.  It’s a delightful convoluted process.  
John McCain staged an amazing comeback in New Hampshire and went on to capture his party’s nomination.  All of the other prospects, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson fell by the wayside.  As for the Democrats, it quickly turned into a two person contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  It was expensive, protracted, and brutal, but at the end of the day, in spite of an amazing performance on Hillary’s part, Obama captured the nomination.
The fall would turn out to be just as intense.
 In one of the liveliest campaigns in modern history Obama and McCain barnstormed America.  The ads seemed non-stop.  Obama, the first African American to be the candidate of a major party waged a thoughtful, enthusiastic and energetic campaign. He harnessed the web like no candidate has before.  
McCain, for his part, desperately tried to find his stride, but never did.  Weighed down by an unpopular Republican President in Washington and a choice for his running mate that backfired, he lost the election.  Sadly for the old warrior his best speech of the campaign was the one he made at his concession.  If somehow he could have captured that tone, sometime during the campaign, he might have had a chance.
There was also some political history made in Virginia this year.  We were, for the first time in my memory, a battleground state.  
What can I say?  It’s a lot of fun to be fought over.  In February more people voted in the Democratic Primary than any other primary in our state’s history.  Later in the year, as the general election heated up, Barack Obama waged an amazing grass roots campaign in the Commonwealth and turned Virginia blue.  
Our 13 electoral votes went to the Democrat.  I was in the second grade the last time Virginia supported a Democrat for President.  And, oh by the way, we were still in segregated schools back then.
Putting aside politics for a moment, this was also an Olympic year and the Chinese made most of the world forget they are a repressive state and put on quite a show.  Perhaps most noteworthy, Michael Phelps, half man, half dolphin, won a record 8 Gold medals.  This brings his career total up to 14 and he plans to compete in London in 2012.
There were also some noteworthy departures.  One of my favorite authors, Arthur C. Clarke, he wrote 2001 A Space Odyssey, passed away after a long and fascinating life.  Steve Fossett, pilot, adventurer, and holder of the distinction of having flown an aircraft around the world without refueling was presumed to have crashed and been killed in the Nevada desert.  
Actor Charlton Heston, or as I think of him, Ben Hurr, and oh yes, Moses, passed on after a long and protracted battle with Alzheimer’s disease.  Finally, one of the most likable people in American media, Tim Russert, host of “Meet the Press” died well before his time.  I can’t help but think that Election 2008 would have been the richer and more fun had he been around.  
The New Year dawns with our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in harm’s way all over the world.  It’s still not safe out there.  Not even close.  
Our economy is in bad shape and a lot of people are having a tough time.  Things may get worse before they get better.  But it’s still a New Year, and with that, there is a renewed chance for new beginnings and new opportunities.  Besides, who knows, by this time next year, I may be writing an article about how many reps I am up to at the gym and just how much I benched pressed the night before.  That will be proof that anything is possible.
You may reach David Kerr at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Enough

The numbers are grim.  For instance, during the past 30 years there have been over 60 mass murders committed with guns.  The recent history is bad enough.  Their names spark instant recognition.  There is Columbine, Virginia Tech, and now Sandy Hook.  Then there was the attack on Congresswoman Gabby Giffords that resulted in six people being killed, and the Colorado movie theater slayings, which cost the lives of twelve people while wounding a staggering 71 others.  Add to that,

Read more: Enough

Our Christmas traditions have some ancient beginnings

Did you ever wonder who wrote the first Christmas Carol? Or perhaps when the first nativity scene, so common in our churches here in Stafford, became popular? Or, maybe the tradition of Christmas trees and lights? None of these instantly popped into being as Christianity began to spread in the second and third centuries. For that matter, in those early years there wasn’t even agreement on when, or for that matter, if, the birth of Jesus should be celebrated. But, by the middle of the first millennium, Christmas celebrations slowly began to emerge. For example, the tradition of Christmas Carols began with rhyming stanzas composed by Roman churchmen in fourth century Milan. The familiar Christmas Hymn, “Adeste Fidelis,” or in translation, “Oh Come all Ye Faithful” probably began with verses written by monks in the 13th century. The modern

Read more: Our Christmas traditions have some ancient beginnings

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