Category Archives: Abortion

Virginia’s Philosophical Crossroads

Judge-Arenda-Wright-Allen-Virginia

Judge Arenda Wright Allen

Standing before a trim, white, clapboard house off Lafayette Boulevard in Norfolk last week, friends and supporters of gay rights cheered loudly as two same sex couples approached a front-yard podium to celebrate their legal victory in having Virginia’s gay marriage ban overturned.

The night before, U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen, citing Abraham Lincoln and the unfairness of the state’s previous ban on interracial marriage, had declared Virginia’s ban unconstitutional.

It had been supported by the state’s conservatives and also by 57 percent of voters who approved a constitutional amendment in 2006 declaring marriage as only for men and women. Popular opinion, however, appears to have shifted

It was an historic moment on a par with federal courts overturning racial segregation and other blunt violations of human rights. Seventeen states now allow gay marriage and a host of lawsuits tend to push overturning bans. Virginia is the first Southern state to do so.

Immediately, hard-right politicians such as Prince William County’s Bob Marshall called for the judge’s impeachment just as some demanded the ouster of the new state Attorney General, Mark Herring, for, correctly, refusing to defend the marriage ban.

The situation represents a huge shift in philosophy for the state. For years, Virginia has been dominated by conservative thinking that is enormously contradictory.

As Richmond Times Dispatch columnist Jeff Schapiro points out this morning, the tension is between promoting limited government and individual freedom in some areas (little regulation of business and politicians) and badly suppressing individual rights in cases such as marriage and abortion.

Just as history was being made in Norfolk federal court, the General Assembly was putting the finishing touches on useless new rules that do next to nothing to police Virginia’s incredibly lax governance of gift giving and political donations.

This comes after the state’s reputation was badly stained by the first-ever indictment of a former governor (Robert F. McDonnell) on federal corruption charges. So much for “the Virginia way” that touts Thomas Jefferson and the entire cadre for freedom.

I have always been frustrated by the state’s bi-polar attitudes about individual rights. Not a Virginian by birth, I was glad to leave the state in 1983 after reporting from it for about eight years. I was sick and tired of its genuflecting before big business on environment and labor issues. Little-regulated Big Business, after all, had given Virginians such presents the Kepone ecological disaster.

Years later, I was passing through Virginia from New York driving from New York to visit my parents in North Carolina. We stopped at a Denny’s and were told by a waitress that we could not order our cheeseburgers medium rare because that’s what the legislature had ruled. More recently, I ended up shelling out a few hundred bucks because my daughter needed new contact lenses and state rules require unneeded yearly optical exams. Apparently that’s due to lobbying by the state eye-care industry.

The philosophical contradictions are finally catching up. Even though proponents of gay rights at the Norfolk press conference made a big deal about Virginia being the first “southern” state to confront ending the gay marriage ban, I am not so sure the state is really “Southern” any more. Continue reading

Tar Heel Grief Just Down the Road

By Peter Galuszka

It’s sad to see mccrorytwo states to which I have personal ties – North Carolina and West Virginia — in such bad ways.

The latest raw news comes from the Tar Heel state where we are seeing the handiwork of hard-right- Gov. Pat McCrory who has been on a tear for a year now bashing civil rights here, pulling back from regulation there.

The big news is Duke Energy’s spill of coal ash and contaminated water near Eden into the Dan River, which supplies Danville and potentially Virginia Beach with drinking water. Reports are creeping out that the McCrory regime has been pressuring the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to pull back from regulation.

According to Rachel Maddow, DENR officials had stepped in with environmentalists as plaintiffs on two occasions in lawsuits to get Duke Energy to clean up coal ash. But when a third suit was filed, McCrory, a former Charlotte Mayor and career Duke Energy employee, influenced a third lawsuit settlement against Duke to be delayed.

Also, not long before the Eden spill, the City of Burlington released sewage into the Haw River which flows into Lake Jordan serving drinking water to Cary, Apex and Pittsboro. DENR allegedly did not release news of the spill to the public.

Late last year, Amy Adams, a senior DENR official, resigned to protest the massive cuts McCrory and Republican legislators were forcing at her department, notably in its water quality section.

McCrory’s been on a Ken Cuccinelli-style rip in other ways such as cutting back on unemployment benefits in a top manufacturing state badly hit by the recession and globalization. He’s shut down abortion clinics by suddenly raising the sanitation rules to hospital levels, much like former Gov. Robert F. McDonnell did in Virginia.

A reaction to McCrory is building, however. Recently, I chatted with Jason Thigpen who served in the Army and was wounded in Iraq in 2009. When Thigpen returned to his home in southeastern North Carolina, he was upset that the state was sticking it to vets by making them pay out-of-state college tuition in cases where some had been state residents before deploying. So, he started an activist group to protect them.

Next, Thigpen decided to run for Congress. His views fit more neatly with the Republican Party but he simply could not take what McCrory was doing in Raleigh so he became a Democrat and is a contender in a primary this spring.

Why the switch? “I just couldn’t see what the GOP was doing with my state in Raleigh,” He told me. “Also, I didn’t like what they were doing with women. I had served with women in war and they come back to North Carolina and they are treated like second class citizens,” he said.

West Virginia, meanwhile, is still struggling with its drinking water issues from a spill near Charleston. Although drinking water for 300,000 is said to be potable, children are reporting rashes.

Somehow, this conjures up another story involving a Republican governor – Arch Moore.

Back in 1972, Moore was governor when Pittston, a Virginia-based energy firm, had badly sited and built some damns to hold coal waste. After torrential rains, the dams burst and a sea of filthy water raced down the hollows, inundating small villages and killing 125 people. The state wanted a $100 million settlement from Pittston for the Buffalo Creek disaster, but Moore interceded and they settled for a measly $1 million.

Moore was later convicted of five felonies after he was caught extorting $573,000 from a coal company that wanted to reduce its payments to a state fund that compensated miners who got black lung disease.

Does anyone see a pattern yet?

Meanwhile, we in Virginia should breathe a sigh of relief considering just close it was dodging the bullet last election.

Pope Francis Slams “Trickle Down”

Pope Francis Holds His Weekly General AudienceBy Peter Galuszka

In a sharp rebuke to traditional conservative economic thought, the leader of the world’s Roman Catholics says he wants the church to rethink its strategies towards addressing income inequality and poverty and shun “the idolatry of money” and “trickle down” philosophies that give the rich far too much influence.

Pope Francis outlined his thinking in a 50,000 word treatise titled “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”). The new Pope appears to be a dramatic change in Vatican leadership which has been dominated by theological conservatives since the mid-1960s.

He wrote in his piece: “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by the free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.

“This opinion, which has never been confirmed by facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

There’s no question the view, written by a man who spend much of his life working with the urban poor of Brazil, is a slap in the face of such contemporary conservative influences, notably Ronald Reagan, who posited in the 1980s that if governments cut taxes and regulation and left  the rich alone, the benefits would trickle down to the middle and lower classes.

Since then, the idea has become a mantra for conservatives around the world from Margaret Thatcher to Paul Ryan. It was cited as being part of the “End of History” when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. It is also hummed like a Hindu chant on this blog.

In Virginia, the benefits of “trickle down” are assumed to be God’s word among Republicans and Democrats alike. The theory is that business can only flourish in a low tax, low regulation and anti-labor union state. Somehow everyone benefits although as Pope Francis points out these ideas “have never been confirmed by facts.”

Globally, the fast spread of current capitalist thinking by high-speed information technology has created ever wider disparities between rich and poor.

The United States is still struggling to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression. According to the New York Times, one result of the so-called “recovery” has been similar to the trend in the rest of the world –a small slice of the richer get richer to the detriment of others. The Times writes:

“The top 10 percent of earners took more than half of the country’s total income in 2012, the highest level recorded since the government began collecting the relevant data a century ago, according to an updated study by the prominent economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty.

“The top 1 percent took more than one-fifth of the income earned by Americans, one of the highest levels on record since 1913, when the government instituted an income tax.

“The figures underscore that even after the recession the country remains in a new Gilded Age, with income as concentrated as it was in the years that preceded the Depression of the 1930s, if not more so.”

It seems to be the case in Richmond, which is often painted on this blog as a wonderland of bike lanes, “New Urbanism styles,” “the creative class,” and lots of Millennials flocking in to enjoy its exquisite cultural amenities.

In truth, according to Style Weekly, about 50,000 of the city’s population of 208,000 live in poverty.  Although the minimum wage is $7.25, workers need to make $10.35 an hour to make ends meet, according to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study. One pilot workforce training project that served 550 Richmonders over the last three years found that their wages averaged $8.50 an hour. Jamison Manion, who administrates the program, likened the situation to “nothing, absolutely nothing. It’s like draining the ocean through a straw — when it’s raining.”

Pope Francis appears to pose a big change in contemporary Catholic thinking after decades of the status quo. He’s likely to further shake things up by making the ossified Church’s bureaucracy more decentralized, de-emphasizing the overplay on abortion and gay issues and giving women a stronger voice.

A big question is whether the Church is finally ahead of the curve instead of being constantly behind it. In the process, he’s making “Trickle Down”  sound “oh-so-1980s.”

Ken Has His 47% Moment

Some have put forth the sentiment that the Virginia GOP is really not a theocratic organization. An article in the Huffington Post cites the discovery of a speech by the “Cooch” given last year to the Christian Life Summit stating that the Republican candidate for governor was surprised that God had not imposed punishments on the USA for making abortion legal. This comment evokes memories made in the wake of 9/11 when Jerry Falwell blamed the attack on America’s gay population. Haven’t we had enough of the type of  religious bigotry put forth as mainstream politics??

– Les Schreiber

The Cooch and the Pope

popeBy Peter Galuszka

“It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” says Pope Francis, leader of the globe’s Roman Catholics, regarding abortion, gays and contraception.

One wonders if Ken Cuccinelli gets the message. Or maybe even Bob McDonnell. The attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate and the sitting governor have worn their stridently conservative Catholic views on their sleeves for years.

Abusing his office, Cuccinelli has taken strong positions to punish homosexuals and make legal abortion much less available. McDonnell likewise has been shutting down women’s health clinics and became a national laughingstock in 2012 for the trans-vaginal fiasco.

Now you have the Church’s new pope signalling a major shift away from these wedge issues that have alienated millions of Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Conservative Catholics have long embraced sexually related issues as a way to hold what they consider an eroding ethical line. But in doing so, they are ignoring equally important issues such as social justice and keeping the church’s thinking medieval.

Francis is a breath of fresh air after his reactionary predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, a strict doctrinaire who forced a policy of exclusivity in the Church that was very harmful. Ditto the rock star Polish Pope.

It is ironic that Francis has ascended not long after Bishop Walter Sullivan, the former head of the Diocese of Richmond, died. From the 1970s until 2002, Sullivan, a Washington native, pushed his liberal views regardless of who was offended in this highly right wing state. He was as against abortion as any Catholic clergyman but he extended the thinking on the sanctity of life to include prisoners on death row, according to recent biography, “The Good Bishop” by veteran author and essayist Phyliss Theroux who lives in Ashland.

I recently reviewed her book for Style Weekly.

Sullivan, who died Dec. 11 at age 84, was incensed that former Gov. Mills E. Godwin Jr. took to executions with relish after the Supreme Court reinstituted the death penalty in 1976. Since then, Virginia has put to death 110 convicts, giving it a rank of No. 2 in the country after Texas. Sullivan drew attention to the issue by attending every execution he could.

In the early 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was running up the defense budget to best “The Evil Empire,” Sullivan actually told a well-to-do parish heavy with military contractors in Virginia Beach that it was wrong to be associated with the making of nuclear weapons. It sparked outrage and also landed Sullivan on the cover of Rolling Stone.

The current Bishop of Richmond who replaced Sullivan is a traditionalist who has rolled back many of Sullivan’s outreach initiatives to gays, women, convicts and the poor. One wonders how he will respond to the Pope’s vision. The New York Times says the Old Guard will likely pretend Pope Francis did not say what he did.

There may also be an impact on Virginia politics since the key top players tend to be Catholic. Besides Cuccinelli and McDonnell, Terry McAuliffe and Tim Kaine are, although they espouse a much more inclusive version of the faith.

The most strident is Cuccinelli who attended Gonzaga High School, a Jesuit school in D.C. (Full disclosure, I graduated from another Jesuit high school in the D.C. area and hardly share Cuccinelli’s views.)

To some extent, Cuccinelli has toned down the anti-gay rhetoric, but one only has to review his record as attorney general and in the state Senate to see where he stands.

Who knows, maybe he could form a new Catholic church just as some arch-conservative Episcopalians did. In any event, it looks like the Church is at the start of some badly needed changes.

IG of the Day: Teen Birth Rate

Source: Atlantic Cities Blog

Source: Atlantic Cities Blog

This map, posted by Richard Florida to the Atlantic Cities blog, shows state-by-state variations in the teen birth rate. Florida makes an unconvincing case that ties higher teen birth rates to the practice of religion, posture on birth control and red state governance, confusing correlation with causality. “Despite all the hectoring and moralizing,” he writes, “teen births are higher in red states and more religious states.”

Toward the end of his post, he does observe that, yes, there might also be a connection between teen birth rates and socio-economic status, and there might be a connection between teen birth rates and pockets of concentrated poverty. The culture of class is a key variable, as sociologist Charles Murray has demonstrated vividly. Florida is a brilliant guy in many ways, but it disheartens me to see him conduct such superficial analysis that tries to score cheap partisan points. Frankly, it casts a shadow over his good and valuable work.

On the other hand…. It’s good to see that Virginia has one of the lower teen birth rates in the country, a standing that I would attribute largely to the fact that it also has one of the lowest poverty rates in the country.

– JAB

The Republicans Pick their Team

Over the weekend the Republican Party picked its slate for the fall campaign to replace the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General. The outcome is a group of candidates that defies conventional political wisdom.

Following Mitt Romney’s defeat in November, most believed that his campaign had been weakened by a primary process that had driven the party so far to the right that the Republican brand had become unacceptable to a large section of a demographically changing America. To become competitive, the Republicans must appear more tolerant of ethnic, sexual, and religious diversity. The delegates to the recent Virginia convention never got the memo.

Ken Cuccilooney is clearly not a middle of the road candidate. He is a climate change denier, a practitioner of Joe McCarthy-style politics, a supporter of legislation to depress African-American political participation and a firm cheerleader of invasive trans-vaginal examinations in order to deny women access to a guaranteed right to an abortion. He claims to be against special give- aways to the wealthy but was significantly silent as the cash-strapped state of Virginia and city of Richmond showered millions on billionaire Dan Snyder and his for-profit football team.

Cooch’s running mates were virtual political unknowns until Saturday night. Their nominations brought forth a flood of information on various sites. Many such as Huffington Post and Salon might be considered progressive but their background research is solid.

It seems that the AG nominee, like so many Republicans, never met a female reproductive function he doesn’t think the state should monitor. In 2009 , this “believer in individual freedom” introduced legislation requiring women who have suffered a miscarriage to report the event to the police. This is one of the most bizarre and disgusting legislative efforts on record. What’s next, a tax on tampons for transportation? But Mr. Obenshain is not the most offensive hen in this house. Mr. E W. “Bishop”  Jackson is far and away the most offensive pol nominated in a long time.

The Huffington Post reports that Jackson asserts that Planned Parenthood has done more harm to African-Americans than the KKK.  His other sited reported against gays term them “sick” and “perverted”.  This classification of American society is horrifyingly reminiscent of propaganda used against the Jews in Germany.

A visit to Bishop Jackson’s website, Staying True to America’s Destiny or, Stand is instructive.  Democrats are not only wrong on policy to Jackson they are affiliated with the anti-Christ.  According to Jackson,  the Democratic Party “holds Christians in bondage to everything they hold dear.” E.W. states that black Democrats should abandon their party because of its “increasingly secular stands.”

By nominating E.W. Jackson, the G.O.P. has fulfilled the dreams of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson: It supports a theocracy.  It has become a dangerous engine seeking to undermine basic Constitutional rights of all Americans, no matter their religions, gender, or sexual orientations.  For a party that claims to have Jeffersonian roots, Republicans have become antithetical to the ideals of separation of church and state that Jefferson so eloquently stated in his famous “letters to the Danbury Baptists.”

– Leslie Schreiber

The Cooch’s Freak Show Dream Team

cooch dream teamBy Peter Galuszka

Ken Cuccinelli just can’t keep away from the bizarre, but perhaps that’s what makes him what he is.

He stages a convention instead of a primary to neuter Bill Bolling. And since a convention is smaller, it draws more GOP hard-righters than  June bugs on a humid night and they succeed in getting Bishop E.W. Jackson and Mark Obenshain selected. They underline the social conservatism that turns millions off and makes Virginia the butt of jokes on late night talk shows.

The Bishop is an even bigger gay basher than Cuccinelli and says that Planned Parenthood is responsible for more fatalities among African-Americans than the Ku Klux Klan. This may be new to a Harvard Law graduate, but women of any color have a legal right to an abortion within limits. The U.S. Supreme Court said so. Look under Roe vs. Wade.

Then there is the attorney general candidate Mark Obenshain of the legacy Republican family. He proposed and withdrew legislation to require any woman in Virginia who miscarries a pregnancy to report it to the police. The idea is so repulsive it is beyond words. A woman may have miscarried to her great sorrow due to medical reasons and then would have to go through the added horror of having to report to the police? Yes, this comes from a cabal that otherwise wants to keep the government out of your lives. Even Josef Stalin wouldn’t think of this.

What does the dream team have to say on the many policy issues facing a troubled state? We have a bunch of lame and poorly thought out tax cuts and Cooch playing hardware store populist. Cuccinelli was against McDonnnell’s mammoth road building tax plan and has since backed away from his opposition.

Is this good news for Terry McAuliffe, who has plenty of issues of his own? Yes, I would think. Cuccinelli doesn’t need the fringe hard right voters. He’s already got them in his pocket. He needs the center and Mark and the Bishop aren’t going to be much help there.

It boggles the mind how Virginia is so schizo. It is attracting hundreds of thousands of newcomers who are running the state’s economy and are dragging it into the 21st century world. Yet the Republicans put up people like this who aren’t dragging us to Virginia’s recent dark past but to medieval times.

Global investors might think twice or three times before investing in this freak show.

McAuliffe Engages in First-Hand Research

McAuliffe

Please click on the photo to get the full benefit of McAuliffe’s expression.

On the road again.  Terry McAuliffe is a busy man.  There are cars to be built in Mississippi and wood to be pelletized in Franklin, VA.  Beyond that, there is an annoying requirement to actually win an election before becoming governor. None of this phases Mr. McAuliffe. Between the cars and the pellets T-Mac may have fallen a bit behind on the issues facing Virginia but he is catching up quickly.  He recently found out about the ultrasound controversy that roiled the last General Assembly session.  Mr. McAuliffe decided to investigate the matter by getting one of these supposedly invasive ultrasounds himself.

Ain’t gonna plank no shad.  McAuliffe was invited to the annual Shad Planking Day.  However, McAuliffe didn’t know what “shad” or “planking” meant so he declined.  Instead of wasting an entire day avoiding both shad and plankings, he decided instead to get one of those ultrasounds that have created all the hubbub.  He dutifully went to a medical facility in Hampton, VA and demanded a pre-abortion ultrasound.

“Maybe watch this video first.”  After demanding a pre-abortion ultrasound from the doctor Mr. McAuliffe was advised that such a procedure is generally used only for women.  McAuliffe insisted that he was no sexist and wanted that procedure done on him, pronto.  The doctor convinced T-Mac to watch a video of the procedure first and the attached photo was taken as McAuliffe saw what the conservatives in the General Assembly have in mind.  Thus continues the education of Candidate McAuliffe.

OK, it didn’t really happen that way…  The photo was actually from a visit T-Mac made on Shad Planking Day to a dental clinic at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, VA.  In the “truth is stranger than fiction” category, McAuliffe published this photo himself via Twitter with the caption, “Thanks to the fine folks @TNCCfeed Thomas Nelson Community College for showing me around their Dental Clinic today.” Hey, Terry, as Anthony Weiner and Brett Favre discovered, it’s a good safety tip to actually look at the photograph you are about to publish before hitting “send.”

- D.J. Rippert

GiftGate: “If I Were a Rich Man . . .!”

By Peter Galuszka

Richmond’s “Giftgate” scandal just gets worse.

On Friday, Atty. Gen. and presumed GOP gubernatorial candidate Kenneth Cuccinelli announced that he was amending his required disclosures of gifts to show that he took more goodies from Star Scientific plus previously undisclosed gifts of a $7,750 trip in 2010 to Southwest Virginia from coal giant Alpha Natural Resources of Abingdon and $795 to speak at a coal industry rally in 2012.

While the tardy disclosure is questionable, the gifts are not illegal but they would be in other states.

This, moreover, raises another tricky question. How wealthy should politicians be so they can’t be bought?

Could it be that officials  of more modest personal means such as Cuccinelli might be somehow be more vulnerable to gift-giving by individuals or corporations with a definite agenda, such as Star Scientific and Alpha Natural Resources.

Cuccinelli disclosed income of $134,000 in 2009 and $264,296 in 2005. He makes about $150,000 as the state’s top legal officer and got a $30,000 advance from Crown Publishing for a book. His disclosure was a political ploy to embarrass McAuliffe but in the wake of the gifts, it has backfired.

McDonnell’s net worth is about $1.8 million.

Compare that to two Democrats. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, no stranger to big money fundraising, earned $8.2 million in 2011 from his various business interests. U.S. Sen. Mark Warner was once said to be worth about $200 million, much of it from investments he made in the cell phone industry and high-tech financing a couple of decades ago.

It’s tough to say that politics should be only for rich men. But the curious thing about these two Republicans, supposedly the silk stocking, country club party, is that McDonnell and Cuccinelli “are actually very much middle class guys,” Richmond political analyst Bob Holsworth recently told me.

Nothing wrong with that, of course, but the fact is that both Cuccinelli and McDonnell have spent most of their careers in low-paying public service jobs. McAuliffe and Warner, both accused of being anti-capitalist regulators by the GOP, actually made millions in the free market system that they supposedly disdain.

Painting them as such might be a plus to rank and file voters, but in a strange way, it can put them at risk. Why, for instance, did Cuccinelli feel compelled to accept $13,000 in gifts from Jonnie Williams, the head of troubled Star Scientific, which is the object of shareholder lawyers and a federal probe? These included the use of vacation homes and expensive foreign cars. One vacation cost $3,000 and was a gift. Even an underpaid journalist like myself has paid $2,000 for a week at a beach house with my family. Why couldn’t he have rented his own place?

Williams is involved with a disputed state tax assessment of $860,000 and Cucccinelli has had to recuse himself as he has from another court case involving the fired executive chef who is seeking information that McDonnell’s family used publicly-funded goods like energy drinks, state-owned beach cottages and liquor for themselves.

The Alpha and coal business is rather obvious. Alpha took over Richmond-based Massey Energy in 2011 after the firm’s noxious corporate culture is said to have led to the deaths of 29 miners in West Virginia making it the worst deep mine disaster in the U.S. in 40 years. Massey’s CEO Don Blankenship was famous for bankrolling West Virginia judicial officials and other candidates. He went so far as  to vacation with the State Supreme Court Judge on the French Riviera.

Alpha has a better safety record than Massey but is taking its lumps, having lost $2 billion in one quarter last year. Coal in general has been in the tank thanks to cheap natural gas and some new federal environmental rules plus a slow-down in Asia’s demand for coal to make steel.

Naturally, the beleaguered coal industry wants to beat back what it considers onerous regulations.  It was a major bankroller of Mitt Romney’s campaign last year and Alpha was a big participant. Cuccinelli is perfect because he denies that carbon dioxide is responsible for climate change – a pet issue for King Coal. So, he was instrumental in the right wing’s counter attacks on the “War On Coal” last election.

What bothers me is not that Cuccinelli would flack for them but why did it cost $7,750 for him and his parents, paid for by Alpha, to visit Southwest Virginia. Last year I published a book on Massey and had made many trips to Southwest Virginia, including Alpha’s headquarters and a mine. I paid for it myself and I think it cost me maybe $200 in gas and a night or two at a two star motel at maybe $110 a night. I ate at Hardees where a steak biscuit is about $1.50 although I did splurge at a fancy Abingdon restaurant that had knock-out martinis with blue cheese filled olives.

But it didn’t cost me $7,750 or even one third of that.

Would McAuliffe or Warner have accepted a such largesse? I am sure they have moved and grooved with the rich and famous for years but both men are in a position to say “no thanks.”

And that is what Cuccinelli and McDonnell should have said, even if Virginia has hardly any rules on gifts.