More than a presidential election

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By John Barnhart

    While the presidential election tends to get the most attention, it’s important to remember that we are electing a senator and members of the House of Representatives. These are important elections.
    The senate race features two former governors. Both George Allen and Tim Kaine have stopped in Bedford, although only Allen held a public meeting. Kaine’s only visit was a “Democratic” Party fundraiser that the press was barred from.
    I plan to vote for Allen. I really like his “all of the above” energy policy. It doesn’t overlook unconventional energy sources — renewable and “green energy,” but it also calls for using coal and drilling wherever oil and gas may be found in the U. S. and U. S. territorial waters. Kaine, if elected, will just simply become part of the problem, rather than a solution. The Senate, under Harry Reid, has played a partisan obstructionist role, letting 38 bills from the House languish without a vote. Kaine will simply be one more “Democrat” brick in the wall.
    In the 6th Congressional District, veteran incumbent Bob Goodlatte is being challenged by Dr. Andy Schmookler, a “Democrat.” Goodlatte has a handle on the threat that excessive regulation by the EPA poses to the area. The EPA’s regulations are a threat both to rural and urban populations. Its model for Total Daily Maximum Load (TMDL), which refers to the maximum amount of certain pollutants that can flow into streams, has been criticized as flawed by the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association and Farm Bureau. Small farmers could be faced with regulations that could harm them economically, and even put some out of business. The EPA is also forcing Lynchburg to filter its rainwater runoff at great expense. Other cities are probably in that regulatory agency’s crosshairs. Goodlatte has also sponsored job fairs from time to time which brought together employers currently looking to hire with job seekers.
    Dr. Schmookler seems to have nothing to offer, other than criticizing the fact that Goodlatte has voted with his political party most of the time.
    The race in the 5th District pits Robert Hurt, the incumbent, against General John Douglass, a “Democrat.” Unlike Dr. Schmookler, Gen. Douglass does have some ideas that have merit. His idea of public-private partnerships to create jobs sounds good. The idea works with a private business with the government having the role of making sure that the business has a trained workforce tailored to its needs once the facility it’s building is ready to go. I also agree with him that we need to have better border security and do a better job of inspecting the contents of containers coming into the country. However, Gen. Douglass’ idea of gutting the armed forces to pay for this is a really bad idea.
    I have mixed feelings about his idea of year-around school with school hours that match the average work day. The longer school day has merit in that it would not be releasing kids before parents get home from work. I’m skeptical about the value of year-around school. Polls show that most Americans don’t want this. Polls also show a majority of parents don’t want it either.
    I found it very interesting that Gen. Douglass doesn’t know anything about TMDL. In fact, when I asked him what he thought about it, last month, I was surprised that I had to explain TMDL to him. He had never heard of it. He didn’t express any interest in supporting any legislation to rein in the EPA’s excesses, either. Hurt, on the other hand knows what TMDL is. Furthermore, he has worked  to stop the EPA’s excesses. Among other things, he’s supported a bill to stop the EPA from regulating farm dust and another to stop its efforts to make farmers get an Army Corps of Engineers permit to build a farm pond.
    Oh, there is also an Independent Virginia Green, named Ken Hildebrandt, in the race who thinks it will revolutionize the U. S. economy if we make it legal to grow hemp. He cites a 1937 Popular Science article on hemp as a miracle fiber as evidence to support his claim.