Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Biofuel in Leesburg

An interesting tidbit came across from Supervisor Burk's newsletter on the Leesburg District. One of Leesburg's Trolleys, which run from the Outlets to downtown and points in between, will soon be running on vegetable oil.
Virginia Regional Transit has been working with Jim John Larson, also known as “The Greaseman” (Many apologies for the error! -P13), to convert one of the Leesburg Trolleys to run on vegetable oil as well as diesel fuel. Mr. Larson, owner of New Life Energy, persuaded VRT to the advantages of converting to vegetable oil. This conversion will result in a cleaner environment and will save money on fuel costs! The Trolley’s route covers the Town of Leesburg. - Leesburg District News
Considering the number of restaurants in Leesburg, and the fact that Leesburg leaders are trying to attract that business to the Town, this is a great move, as it recycles restaurant waste oil locally for a free transit service. Just another example of smart, pragmatic solutions. Kudos to the people who put this together.

Democrats Challenge Joe May and Tom Rust

We're nearing the end of January, 2009, which means that races for the House of Delegates are shaping up. Unlike some previous years, the Democratic Party will be fielding candidates to take on all the elected Republican Delegates in Loudoun. And the candidates we have lined up are strong and proven leaders for our county and our commonwealth.

First, in the 33rd District, which Del. Joe May has been representing since 1994, Col. Mike Turner of Waterford has stood up to carry the Democratic banner. Mike has been a prescient observer of facts and trends in foreign affairs, with early and cogent critiques of the war in Iraq. Locally, Col. Turner was instrumental in planning and executing Democratic victories in Loudoun County in 2006 and 2007, and ran for the Democratic nomination in the 10th District against Judy Feder last year. During that race, he came out strongly for many important progressive positions, including the Responsible Plan for Ending the War in Iraq and single-payer healthcare.

(Full Disclosure: I was a strong supporter of Judy Feder last year because I believed her experience with previous attempts at Health Care reform was critical to have in Congress. But I know and have worked with Mike, and believe he is a superior candidate and the right man for the 33rd District. Leesburg Tomorrow enthusiastically supports Mike Turner in the 33rd.)

Mike Turner has earned the respect of the citizens of Loudoun and the 33rd District with his service to his country and his community. He has clearly and forthrightly stated his informed opinions on matters of national and local importance, and invited people to weigh them on their merits. His experience and perspective will be a strong asset for our community in Richmond.

The 86th District, currently represented by Del. Tom Rust, will see a race thanks to Supervisor Stevens Miller. Supervisor Miller was elected to the Board in 2007, and has ably represented the Dulles district through some very difficult votes and decisions. Meanwhile, Del. Rust has been a cog in the Republican machine in Richmond, opposing important progress that is critically necessary for his constituents in the 86th. Del. Rust's constituents voted strongly for the Democratic ticket in 2008, and the time has come to change the face of the District in the Assembly.

Stevens Miller is another Democrat who has fought long and hard to establish clean, rational governance in Loudoun. He has a reputation for putting his constituents first, even when that means going against what might be seen as the "Democratic" position on matters. This pragmatism and focus on the voters stands in sharp contrast to Del. Rust, and will serve Stevens well in his campaign.

Loudoun and Virginia are lucky to have such able candidates with demonstrated dedication to their communities taking up the heavy load of public service, and putting themselves on the line for the 33rd and 86th. We will all do well to give them our support and strength for what promises to be a long, hard race in 2009. The Democrats are only 6 seats away from control in the House of Delegates, with Mike Turner and Stevens Miller running, the Democratic Party has a strong chance to win two of them.

A Perspective on Scale

This video was sent to me by a friend with whom I have political disagreements but pleasant arguments. It illuminates the fantastic rate of change in our society and the scale of information our kids will be living with.

It's well worth the five minutes.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Hydrogen Car Is Here

For those skeptics who say that hydrogen vehicles are unworkable with current technology, here comes the story of some folks in California driving to work every day on hydrogen.
Honda said that the Clarity has a cruising range of up to 280 miles, but Ms. Thorp said her real-world experience is closer to 200 miles. “I think I’m getting something like 45 to 55 miles per kilogram of hydrogen, and a kilo is approximately the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline,” she said. “The car is hard to drive in a fuel-efficient manner because it has such great pickup and cornering. I feel like a Jetson and everybody else is a Flintstone.”

Todd Mittleman, a Honda spokesman, said that the Clarity’s range is dependent on “the outside temperature and individual driving style.” He said an auxiliary lithium-ion battery helps to extend range. Ms. Thorp fills up at a hydrogen station on the campus of the University of California at Irvine. She swipes an access fob, enters a PIN number and attaches the hydrogen nozzle. After the dispenser conducts a hose leak test, it fills the car in about five minutes. - The New York Times
Sure, a few California commuters do not a new economy make, but how many people are driving actual Chevy Volts today? It's a testament to Honda that they've got people driving real hydrogen cars in real driving situations today, if only for the lessons learned to apply to cars of tomorrow.

As President Obama says, it's about what works, folks. Honda has hydrogen cars working on the roads of California today. Yep, this is now Obama's America.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Legislative Sunlight and President Obama

Change has come to Washington today, and among the first tangible changes was at whitehouse.gov. At noon, the site switched over to a new format.

It is interesting to dig down in "the Agenda" as reported on the new site. In doing so, one discovers this:
Sunlight Before Signing: Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. President Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days. - WhiteHouse.gov
This is a very interesting, and potentially dangerous, pledge by our new President. Five days of public scrutiny for all bills, on the President's website. A lot can happen in five days (just ask Larry Craig). But it is a testament to President Obama's conviction in the role of the people's input that he makes this commitment on his first day, on his online presence. After all, it is bloggers of all stripes who will - no doubt - be making the most use of such a feature.

Waldo will be proud.

P.S.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Terry McAuliffe in Leesburg

If I weren't going to be out of town at a wedding, I would definitely go meet Terry McAuliffe tomorrow. He's running for Governor, and his history in Democratic politics is unrivaled.

Terry McAuliffe is running for Virginia Governor!

Join Terry McAuliffe in Leesburg this Sat Jan 10th at 11:45 a.m. where he will be hosting a Meet & Greet at Vintage 50.

This is an opportunity for you, your family and friends to hear from Terry about why he has decided to run for Virginia Governor.

This Saturday, JANUARY 10TH at 11:45 a.m

Vintage 50 Restaurant

Monday, January 5, 2009

Senate Sworn In Tomorrow

The 111th Congress gets underway this week, with the House and Senate getting sworn in and down to business tomorrow, even as we wait for Barack Obama's inauguration on the 20th. In fact, among the first orders of business is Congressional counting of the Electoral College's vote in the Presidential Election.

Of course, two Senate seats are still at issue, one in Minnesota and the other in Illinois. Over at Congress Matters, Kagro X waxes fantastical on a potential procedural move in the Senate that would certainly make resolution of those seats interesting.
Traditionally, the presiding officer -- for swearing in day, that's usually the Vice President -- recognizes the majority and minority leaders in turn for a few welcoming remarks before beginning with the process of administering the oath.

What if at that point, Harry Reid moved to seat either Al Franken or Roland Burris or both, without prejudice to the claims against their seats, as has usually been the case in contested elections? Yes, the Republicans would surely oppose the motion, and would just as surely filibuster it as promised. But if the motion was made before anyone was sworn in, you'd technically be looking at a situation in which there were only 64 Senators "duly chosen and sworn," as the phrasing of Rule XXII (the cloture rule) goes. The partisan breakdown at that point would be 38 Democrats and 26 Republicans, with 21 Democrats (if you include Burris and Franken) waiting in the wings, along with 15 Republicans (which would include ringleaders McConnell and Cornyn).

With just 64 Senators duly chosen and sworn, the "constitutional three-fifths" required to invoke cloture would be 39. Of course, we'll have just 38 at that point, so a party-line vote -- and it almost assuredly would be a party-line vote on something this contentious -- on cloture on the motion to seat Burris and/or Franken would come up one vote short.

But Rule II appears to say that, "all questions and motions arising or made upon the presentation of such credentials shall be proceeded with until disposed of."

If that means what it sounds like (and there's always every chance that it doesn't, when you're talking about the Senate), and the motion is made before the swearing in process gets underway, then nobody gets sworn in until the deadlock on Burris and/or Franken is settled. The Senate sits at 38-26, and the minority leadership is temporarily decapitated, though they'll still have floor privileges as Senators-elect. - Kagro X, Congress Matters
Imagine if the Republicans filibustered the seating of the Senate itself. Talk about obvious obstructionism.

Now, that's probably not going to happen, as it requires affirmative action by Majority Leader Read Reid at the commencement of the very first gavelling of the Senate, but it's a lovely scenario to imagine, isn't it?