Tag Archives: DJ Rippert

Conservative vs. Progressive: Global Climate Change

climate_changeKiller Bs. In an unprecedented move, two prominent Virginia blogs, Bacon’s Rebellion and BlueVirginia, have agreed to cooperate in a structured debate over a series of possible programs designed to combat global climate change. The programs were selected based on two major criteria – they had to be applicable to Virginia and they had to encompass actions that could conceivably start in 2014.  The blogmasters from both blogs have agreed to post the articles verbatim on their blogs. This introductory article is designed to explain the “rules of the road”.

Picking sides.  A few regular contributors from both blogs have been divided up into “conservative” and “progressive” teams.  The division into teams was based on political outlook not “home blog”.  Here are the teams:

Conservative – Jim Bacon (BaconsRebellion) and Don Rippert (Bacon’s Rebellion)

Progressive – Lowell Feld (Blue Virginia), kindler (Blue Virginia) and Peter Galuszka (Bacon’s Rebellion)

No hitting below the belt. In order to foster a constructive debate all participants have stipulated certain things.  They are:

  • The Earth is warming.  All participants accept the consensus of leading scientists that the Earth is warming.
  • Humans cause a substantial amount of the warming. While there may be disagreement on the relative role of humanity in causing global warming there is agreement that humans are a cause of global warming.
  • The speed with which the Earth will warm is not known with precision.
  • The impact of the warming Earth on human civilization is not known with precision.

Marquess of Queensberry.  The rules are simple.  A series of policies that may, or may not, be effective in combating global climate change have been selected.  Each potential policy is applicable to Virginia. Each policy could conceivably be part of a law enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia in the upcoming 2014 session.  A blog article will be written for each possible policy.  The blog article will have the following three sections:

  • Factual description.  A neutral party has written a description of the potential policy with relevant facts.  Both the conservative team and the progressive team have reviewed and accepted the factual description of the possible policy.
  • Conservative viewpoint(s).  A conservative perspective on the policy written by one or more authors from the conservative team.
  • Progressive viewpoint(s).  A progressive perspective on the policy written by one or more of the authors from the progressive team.

Just some facts, ma’am.  All authors have been encouraged to document their assumed costs and benefits of the potential policy in as quantitative terms as possible.  However, it must be recognized that a strict quantitative cost or benefit may not be possible in all circumstances.

Let the games begin.  The first potential policy initiative is … Virginia should adopt a strong (mandatory) Renewal Portfolio Standards as opposed to the weak (voluntary) Renewal Portfolio Standards currently in place.

See you at the next blog posting for the first policy debate!

-D.J. Rippert
Bacon’s Rebellion      

Christmas at Bacon’s Rebellion!

sexy_girl_santa_411Christmas time is here and with a few lapses all of you bloggers and commenters have been very good little boys and girls this year.

So, here is what you can expect to find under the tree or in the stocking:

Jim Bacon: His very own MOOC course titled, “A conservative’s take on everything in the world and beyond.” Jim dives into human settlement patterns, entitlements, lazy public school teachers, feral high school students, ObamaCare, climate change denial, The Charlottesville Bypass,  the need to privatize everything, and why Jesus and Santa are really, truly White Men. Naturally, Jim’s MOOC course will be available to millions of interested and diligent students around the world and perhaps in outer space and on other planets. The course, of course, will be free, and that means Jim will NOT get paid, either (sorry Jim).

Don the Ripper: His very own Richmond Clown Show Action Figure set! Imagine playing with lifelike recreations of Bill Howell, Ken Cuccinelli, Tommy Norment and others on Christmas morning! Batteries not included.

LarryG:  An original, autographed copy of the Dillon Rule. This extremely rare find was actually signed by Iowa judge John Forrest Dillon in his 1872 “Municipal Corporations” study that established the “Dillon Rule” and later wreaked havoc on Virginia municipalities for decades.

TMT: A Caribbean cruise with the Editorial Board of The Washington Post.  Sunny skies and warm sea breezes mix like a smooth daiquiri as Post editors Fred, Lee and the gang explain that they are really not liberals but neocons in disguise. They would never, ever ask a reporter to twist his facts to match their views. Added extra: A private lecture by Charles Krauthammer at a beachfront Tiki hut.

Andrea Epps: Anatabringiton Cream. This new crème developed by Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the soon-to-departed CEO of Star Scientific (soon to be called Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals) will make all public officials everywhere accountable for what they say and do. This miracle cream was beta tested by Maureen McDonnell, so you know it’s good!

Peter Galuszka: A huggable Paul Krugman doll. When the wind whips the cold rain on dreary nights and one feels insecure and alone in his or her progressive thoughts, there’s always the Paul Doll to hug and make everything all right.

Merry Christmas! Peter G.

An open letter to Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling

Dear Lieutenant Governor Bolling:

I read your Op-Ed piece in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch with great interest.  In that article you outlined five points:

  1. 2013 was a disaster for the RPV.  Moreover, it was only the latest disaster for a party that has been in decline for decades.
  2. The population center of Virginia has shifted and the RPV’s rural-centric philosophy will no longer win elections.
  3. The demographics of Virginia are changing and the RPV is not.
  4. Closed conventions suck.
  5. No single philosophy or ideology can dominate Republican thinking to the exclusion of other Republican ideologies.

It is well written, insightful, cooly logical and …. doomed to fall on deaf ears.

Sir, the Republican Party of Virginia is broken beyond repair.  Or, at least, it is broken beyond any hope of repair during what’s left of your political life.  The Tea Party exerts sufficient control to keep the closed convention lunacy in place for years to come.  That closed convention philosophy, in turn, will guarantee extremist candidates from the Republican Party of Virginia.

There is another way. America in general and Virginia in particular are ready for a viable third party. Previous attempts at third party politics in the Commonwealth have been well intentioned but ill conceived.  Here’s the plan:

  • Pick our fights.  There are House of Delegates and State Senate seats that are ready for a viable third party candidate. We only run in those districts. Robert Sarvis tried to go from “zero to governor.”  That will not work. We need to start by focusing on specific House and Senate seats. We can do this
  • Conserve our cash. It costs about $200,000 to run a successful House of Delegates campaign. It costs about $1,200,000 to run a successful State Senate campaign. Roughly speaking, we raise enough money to attack 10 House districts and 2 Senate districts.  That’s $4.4M. With some funding for the party infrastructure we need about $5M. We can do this.
  • Lead with leaders. Nominating unknown people with no political experience will fail. We need to draw from the large body of moderate Republicans disaffected by the Tea Party and the equally large body of moderate Democrats disaffected by the Obama regime. Obviously, you would be a perfect leader for this new party. We can do this.
  • No bizarre policies. The Libertarians have made inroads against the tyranny of the two parties. Yet they have failed. In some ways their failure has been due to extreme policies. We will not seek to “end the Fed.” We do not want to legalize heroin. We will build a fiscally conservative, socially moderate platform with reasonable boundaries. We can do this.

This will not be easy. This will not happen quickly. This will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. But it will work. From a foothold in the House and Senate we will work in future election cycles to raise more money and elect more politicians. We will get to a point where no legislation will pass without concurrence of at least two of the three parties in Virginia. We will be the moderating influence on both the left and right. Eventually we will be in a position to campaign credibly for state-wide offices, including offices in the federal government.

Someday in the distant future our descendants will peer into whatever electronic devices they use to learn American history. There will be a chapter devoted to the death of the two party tyranny in America. Let it be your picture that accompanies that lesson.

Very truly yours,

– DJ Rippert

More bad news for Virginia’s economy

uncle samThe Sage of Short Pump?  Jim Bacon (and others) have been questioning whether Virginia’s economy will continue to perform well for quite some time.  Beyond his epic tome Boomergeddon Bacon recently penned an article on this blog entitled “Sub Par Economic Growth for Virginia in 2012.”  Bacon’s missive came just over a month after my own foray into Virginia’s new economic reality – “Is Virginia’s Economy Tanking?”  These articles generated some lively discussion both here at Bacon’s Rebellion and over at The Tysons Corner with this well considered rebuttal from Frank Muraca.  Unfortunately, it now seems that Governor McDonnell and Governor-elect McAuliffe have checked in as pessimists on this debate.

Pre-budget prenuptials.  Gov. Bob McDonnell recently convened his annual meeting of the Virginia Governor’s Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates.  In the interests of bi-partisanship Governor McDonnell invited Governor-elect McAuliffe to this year’s meeting.  One suspects that neither man was very happy with what was said.  The Roanoke Times is reporting that McDonnell came out of the meeting saying that the Virginia forecast “reflects a slightly more pessimistic scenario” than for the rest of the country.  Uh oh. There are a number of articles in the mainstream media like this one questioning the strength of the national economy in 2014.  And Virginia will be worse? Governor-elect McAuliffe may want to see if his old job at GreenTech is still available, if that’s the case.

Sequestration aberration.  The Roanoke Times article places a lot of the blame for the predicted sub-par performance on Washington, D.C., saying:

“The deal requires $19 billion in defense cuts that are set to drop, meat-cleaver style, in mid-January. The Pentagon warns this will devastate important military functions. It surely will hurt Virginia’s defense-heavy economy.”

Live by the sword …  Personally, I am far less willing to simply blame the federal government for not spending enough money in Virginia. Not only has federal spending been increasing for decades, federal spending as a percentage of the GDP has been going up, up up.  Is it really fair to claim that Virginia’s economic growth concerns are due to a lack of sufficient federal largesse?  I think not.  The Imperial Clown Show in Richmond has made no effective progress in reducing Virginia’s addiction to the federal teat.  In fact, we are more addicted than ever.

Looking back.  A succession of Virginia governors and General Assemblies have tried one half-baked economic development idea after another.  From Mark Warner’s unrequited love affair with wireless carriers and dot com commandos to Tim Kaine’s dusting of tobacco money over the countryside like sprinkles on a summer cone, the Democrats have come up short.  McDonnell’s Energy Capital of the East Coast fared no better.  One can only hope that super-salesman Terry McAuliffe has the right stuff to start separating Virginia’s lips from Uncle Sam’s butt.

– D.J. Rippert

Creigh Deeds in critical condition after being stabbed

The Richmond Times-Dispatch is reporting that Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Hot Springs, has been stabbed at home and is in critical condition. He has been transported to the University of Virginia Medical Center for treatment. Deeds’ son Gus is apparently dead of a gunshot wound.

See the article here.

I know I speak for everybody at Bacon’s Rebellion in saying that the hopes and prayers of everybody here go out to Creigh Deeds and the Deeds family at the time of this horror.

-D.J. Rippert

Do you oppose Obamacare now, Senator Warner?

Let me make one thing perfectly clear.  “Let me make clear, I’m not going to support a health care reform plan that’s going to take away health care that you’ve got right now or a health plan that you like.”

What now, Marky Mark?  Sen. Warner clearly stated that he would not support a health care plan that that takes away what you’ve got right now. Obamacare clearly takes away what people have right now in millions of cases. Will Sen. Warner now oppose Obamacare or were his prior statements just so much hogwash?

– D.J. Rippert

This election may be far from over

Terry McAuliffe, Ken CuccinelliFor whom the poll tolls.  The conventional wisdom among Virginia political pundits has coalesced around the idea that Ken Cuccinelli and E.W. Jackson are going to lose to Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam.  The conventional wisdom goes on to declare that the attorney general’s race is a statistical dead heat.  Focusing on the top of the ticket, poll after poll showed Terry McAuliffe opening en ever widening lead over Ken Cuccinelli.  The high water mark of this punditry came in the form of a Washington Post poll showing McAuliffe +14 over Cuccinelli.  Even the hyper-conservative Bearing Drift blog revised their internal predictions to show the race all but over.  This had progressive enclaves throughout the Old Dominion popping champagne corks over the impending McAuliffe win.  Until yesterday.  Yesterday, a poll from the respected pollsters at Quinnipiac University had McAuliffe leading by only 4 points.  This prior Quinnipiac University poll from Oct 23 had McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli by 8 points.  Uh oh!

Big guns show.  McAuliffe is bringing out the “big guns” as the campaign goes into the final week.  He’s been campaigning with former President Bill Clinton  and will also bring current President Barack Obama out to campaign over the weekend.  That’s a lot of firepower for a guy who is supposedly running away with the election.  The national Democratic Party has recently proven that it can’t build a web site to save its life (or your life if you’re one of the unfortunates who must use it).  However, that doesn’t mean that the Democrats lack a super sophisticated capability for reading voter sentiment.  They do possess such a capability and it seems to be telling them to “hit the gas” in Virginia.

Three’s a crowd.  One big wild card is the candidacy of Libertarian Party nominee Robert Sarvis.  He has held relatively steady across the last four Quinnipiac University polls with 9%, 10%, 8% and 7% of the vote (from most recent to least recent).  Historically, third party candidates poll better ahead of the election than they perform at the ballot box.  Most of Sarvis’ polling strength comes from Republicans.  Next Tuesday, Sarvis’ loss could be Cuccinelli’s gain.

But why?  Several things have happened to help Cuccinelli of late.  The governor’s chef pleaded no contest and took that embarrassment out of the limelight.  Bob McDonnell’s fate with federal prosecutors will not be decided before the election eliminating the possibility of an October surprise. Meanwhile, McAuliffe has chalked up another questionable business deal involving his investment in a life insurance scheme designed to make money from terminally ill people.  But the biggest news is Obamacare.

Was Ted Cruz right?  Cuccinelli took a drubbing for the closure of the federal government.  His bromance with Ted Cruz as well as other Tea Partiers made him the target of much anti-shutdown ire.  After all, what was wrong with these Republicans who would shut down the federal government just to delay Obamacare?  How bad could Obamacare possibly be?  Then, Obamacare launched.  The web site was a catastrophe.  It obviously had not been tested in any competent way.  Then, millions of individual insurance plans were canceled in direct contradiction to what President Obama and his followers said would happen.  Finally, it appears that the Obama administration knew full well that the individual plans would be canceled but continued to lie about those plans in order to curry public support.  Today, the federal shutdown is fading from memory while the failures of Obamacare are front and center.  In politics, timing is everything. 

Buckle your seat belts boys and girls – this election might be a lot more exciting than most people would have thought just a couple of weeks ago.

– D.J. Rippert

Fixing Virginia: Honesty + Efficiency = Prosperity, Part 1

prosperityIf you can’t say something nice … Don’t say anything at all.  That’s the advice my mom used to hand out to us kids.  My corollary in politics is – If you don’t like the positions of any of the candidates then put forth your own positions.  OK, let’s roll.

Staying on message.  My message for the reformation of Virginia can be summed up with a simple equation: Honesty (of state government) + Efficiency (of Virginia’s economy) = Prosperity (for Virginia).  In this article I will focus on the honesty issue plaguing our state government.  Subsequent articles will complete the explanation of the Honesty + Efficiency = Prosperity equation.

Honesty is the best policy.  Virginia has a stunning lack of honesty in its state government.  This dishonesty manifests itself in everything from a lack of effective checks and balances to the absurd pretense that gifts don’t come with strings attached to the State Corporation Commission’s exemption from the Freedom of Information Act to woefully uncompetitive elections.  What to do?

Checks and balances.

  1. Governor allowed to seek one second term which may be consecutive
  2. Term limits for State Senate (3 terms) and House of Delegates (6 terms)
  3. Nonpartisan nomination of judges (merit system), appointed by governor

Outside money.

  1. No gifts to elected officials beyond $100 per year except for immediate family
  2. No campaign contributions allowed from companies or industries that enjoy legislated competitive advantage (e.g. Dominion Virginia)
  3. All donations to individual politicians to be used by that politician or returned to donor
  4. Implement absolute limits on campaign contributions from individuals and corporations
  5. Elected or appointed officials may not lobby the state government for a period of two years after leaving office

Transparency.

  1. All government agencies subject to broad Freedom of Information Act requests
  2. All road construction projects of more than $50M to have detailed Return on Investment (ROI) analysis in the public domain for at least 180 days before any work begins
  3. Establish an independent ethics commission with subpoena power

More competitive elections.

  1. Move state elections to be concurrent with national elections including governor elected same year as president
  2. Dramatically reduce requirements for third parties to get on the ballot
  3. Re-districting to be performed by independent commission guided by mathematical district shaping models

Coming soon.  The next article in this series will lay out ideas on how the state government can make Virginia’s economy more efficient.  The final article will summarize why increased honesty in state government along with an increased efficiency in Virginia’s economy will bring enhanced prosperity to Virginians.

– D.J. Rippert

Cuccinelli unveils transportation plan

cooch road planBetter late than never.  Last June Ken Cuccinelli claimed that he would present his transportation plan “in the coming weeks”.  Four months later he delivered on that promise.  You can read his transportation plan here.

Fun with numbers.  On the surface, Cuccinelli’s plan seems to be substantial.  He wants to create a database of congestion metrics to throw some light on road building decisions.  He wants to devolve secondary roads to localities.  He wants to eliminate redundant transportation authorities.  It all sounds so good until you read the fine print.  He only wants to devolve roads to counties with 100,000 or more people.  There are nine such counties in Virginia – Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun, Chesterfield, Henrico, Arlington, Stafford, Spotsylvania and Hanover.  Of these nine counties two already maintain their own secondary roads (Arlington and Henrico).  So, Cuccinelli’s revolutionary transportation plan only applies to seven counties.  Or, maybe not.  Cuccinelli’s plan says, “Counties at the top of the list would be Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun, and Chesterfield.”.  It’s unclear why Stafford, Spotsylvania and Hanover counties weren’t included on Ken’s short list.  It’s equally unclear why low population cities in Virginia can maintain their own roads but counties with fewer than 100,000 people cannot.

Republicans shouldn’t do the moonwalk.  Cuccinelli might appear to be going forward with this plan but is he really moving in reverse?  His plan states, “The Commonwealth will send counties funds equal to those currently used for secondary roads through block grants and allow those counties to raise additional funds if needed on their own.”  Is that the amount of money under the McDonnell transportation plan or under the old Imperial Clown Show in Richmond’s “frozen gas tax plan”?  One assumes the latter.  Yet, Cuccinelli isn’t done with his trickery.  “My administration will replace the current city-county formula with a new formula based on the results of the matrix system identified above that would take into account road usage and economic development.”  The “matrix system” is Cuccinelli’s congestion database.  Or is it a congestion database?  When he first described the database in his plan it was all about congestion.  Now, several paragraphs later, it also includes the fuzzy math of economic development.  So, the seven (or is it four?) counties to which this plan applies might (or might not) get the same amount they have been getting.  We’ll all have to wait until Cuccinelli is elected and the new city-county funding formula is determined to find out.

The good, the bad and the ugly.  It’s mostly bad and ugly.  First, the good. A public database of congestion would be a useful transparency tool.  Reducing the bewildering number of transportation authorities would also be helpful. Now, the bad and ugly.  Cuccinelli’s plan seems to roll back the McDonnell transportation funding plan.  Yet it was the frozen gas tax (in cents per gallon) that caused the funding problem in the first place.  Cooch’s plan also still funnels the tax money for secondary roads through Richmond.  Given what we’ve seen of Star Scientific, CONSOL Energy, the tobacco indemnification fund and Orion Air – that’s not a good idea.  If the counties are to manage the secondary roads then the taxes should go straight to the counties.  What’s raised in the county for transportation stays in the county for transportation.  Why should the proven crooks in Richmond handle the money?  Why are the vast majority of Virginia counties exempt from this plan?  The plan should apply to all counties or no counties.  If certain counties don’t want to raise money for secondary roads they should stop building secondary roads.

Barack Hussein Cuccinelli.  Cuccinelli’s transportation plan smells like another wealth redistribution scheme.  You know, the kind of scheme that Obama likes so much.  I suspect that Cuccinelli wants to short change a few large counties in order to subsidize a lot of small counties.  Why?  Because the people in the small rural counties will vote for Cuccinelli while the people in the large urban counties won’t.  And buying votes with other people’s money is how The Cooch and Obama roll.  The difference, of course, is that Obama is basically honest about his goals while Cuccinelli pretends to be a small government conservative.

Making it work.  If Cuccinelli wants to devolve management of secondary roads to the counties, fine.  The state should cut its budget by 5 – 10% and all state taxes should be reduced by 5 – 10%.  Each county should determine how it’s going to pay for its secondary roads.  Then, each county ought to impose whatever tax approach they find appropriate to fund those secondary roads. Richmond should butt out of the matter altogether.  Of course, gift-taking career politicians like Ken Cuccinelli hate to butt out of anything.  After all, misdirecting the state’s finances is a great way to say “thank you” to all those gift giving businessmen.

Correction: The Cuccinelli plan describes a two-tiered system whereby counties with over 250,000 people would be the first to be converted followed by counties with 100,000 – 250,000 people.  The article has been updated to reflect this.

– D.J. Rippert

Was Cuccinelli Wrong in “Correcting” McAuliffe?

lawsSling that mud. Last night Virginia’s Republican and Democratic candidates for governor engaged in a mud slinging contest thinly disguised as a debate. As each flung shovels of mud into the air hoping that some of it would stick, a few semi-salient points accidentally got loose.  One of those points was Terry McAuliffe’s readiness to be governor of Virginia.  Given that McAuliffe has never held elected office, his readiness is a fair point. Of course, neither Mark Warner nor Ronald Reagan held elected office before being elected governor but let’s let bygones be bygones. McAuliffe’s inexperience is a fair point.

How a bill becomes a law. During the debate McAuliffe said something to the effect that he would sign legislation “legalizing” gay marriage if that legislation passed his desk. Cuccinelli pounced. Cuccinelli explained that Virginia’s gay marriage amendment could only be repealed by another constitutional amendment to repeal it (remember prohibition?).  That requires two sessions of the General Assembly and couldn’t happen in McAuliffe’s term. A state or federal supreme court ruling in favor of gay marriage would be a judicial matter, not something a governor signs.

Jerry, Jerry, Jerry! The conservative live bloggers went into full Jerry Springer mode at Cuccinelli’s comments. He was schooling McAuliffe. The carpetbagger McAuliffe should spend some time learning Virginia law. This PROVES that McAuliffe is not ready to govern!

Uh, oh. I am wondering whether our vaunted Attorney General may have, once again, let his emotions get the better of him.  The laws of Virginia are not simply the state constitution. Instead, there are thousands of pages of statutes which supposedly, hopefully, implement the constitutions of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States of America. If Virginia’s amendment prohibiting gay marriage were to be overturned, what would happen to the enabling legislation in Virginia? Wouldn’t it have to be changed? If not, couldn’t the General Assembly change it if it decided to do so?

Civility in unions if not debates. Virginia’s state law contains Section 20-45.3, “Civil unions between persons of same sex.”  It reads:

A civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage is prohibited. Any such civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement entered into by persons of the same sex in another state or jurisdiction shall be void in all respects in Virginia and any contractual rights created thereby shall be void and unenforceable.

If Virginia’s anti-gay marriage amendment were overturned this legislation would have to be re-legislated, no? Or, at least, a new law could be passed, no?And the new law would have to be passed by the General Assembly and signed by …. wait for it …. the governor!

If you need a lawyer, don’t call me. I am not a lawyer. So, if I am wrong on this – just let me know. I’ll publish a retraction and an apology to Mr. Cuccinelli. Any Republican lawyers out there ready to “school me”? But remember, Cuccinelli’s essential claim was that it would be impossible for McAuliffe to get the chance to sign legislation approving gay marriage during his term as governor. Is that right or not?

– DJ Rippert