Rep. Abigail Spanberger
By Peter Galuszka
U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th District, continues to draw international attention as a “New Look” Democrat from Virginia who is savvy about the intelligence community and global affairs.
The former CIA case officer was featured on CNN criticizing the administration of Donald Trump for ignoring reports that Russian military intelligence had paid bounties to the Taliban in Afghanistan to kill U.S. troops and members of the pro-U.S. coalition there.
Her comments were picked up by the British newspaper, the Guardian. This may be the first time that a woman Member of Congress has gotten so much exposure beyond borders of the Old Dominion.
Neither Dave Brat nor Eric Cantor, her Republican predecessors in the 7th district that includes parts of the once reliably Red Richmond suburbs of Chesterfield and Henrico, has gotten such exposure. The only other woman who has come close is U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria, a Democrat and former Navy officer who represents the 2nd District that includes Virginia Beach, another area that was once reliably Red. Continue reading
By Peter Galuszka
Richmond’s grand Monument Avenue, a double lane, tree lined thoroughfare, has been the epicenter of the Black Lives Matter campaign that has focused on the statues of several Confederate figures one the road, including Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Jefferson Davis.
All are up for removal, but the same foot-dragging that has for years protected the statues that some consider racist is at work today. Protestors have torn down Davis and have defaced the rest. On Sunday night, they nearly ripped down the Stuart statue as two city council members urged that it be removed on an emergency basis.
Lee’s statue has been ordered down by Gov. Ralph Northam, but the effort has been tied up in lawsuits by several property owners. One claims either that the original deed that gave the state the site for Lee included language that it could not be removed. Other plaintiffs, most anonymous, claim that removing the statues would hurt their property values and their special tax status.
If anything smacks of white privilege and entitlement, this is it. But for more perspective, this article in The Atlantic neatly sums up the history behind the statues and the Avenue, noting that the issue has everything to do with rewriting Richmond’s history and making a marketing play to sell expensive and exclusive real estate decades after the Confederacy was suppressed. Continue reading
Posted in Blogs and blog administration, Commentary, Consumer protection, Courts and law, Crime and corrections, Culture wars, Demographics, Electoral process, Federal, Housing, Labor & workforce, Money in politics, News, Politics, Poverty & income gap, Property rights, Public safety & health, Race and race relations, Transportation
By Peter Galuszka
The Virginia Republican Party had a big shock Saturday.
Far-right candidate Bob Good snatched the party’s nomination in the fifth congressional district from incumbent Denver Riggleman, who was backed by President Donald Trump and Jerry Falwell Jr., the head of Liberty University.
The remarkable twist could presage an arch-conservative backlash against Trump’s populism in the run up to elections this November.
University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato tweeted early Sunday morning that “the Virginia GOP has gone so far to the right that a congressman backed by (Trump and Falwell) isn’t conservative enough to renominate.”
The 5th District includes the cities of Lynchburg and Charlottesville and covers broad swaths of highly socially conservative rural areas. Riggleman’s problem was that he had Libertarian tendencies and had officiated at a gay wedding. Continue reading
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The Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, Russia
By Peter Galuszka
Around midnight Monday, reporters in downtown Washington D.C., stood by ready to cover the next round of protests about the slaying of African Americans by police.
They started getting tweets marked #dcblackout suggesting that internet service was being interrupted because of a secret program presumably run by the government that would cut them off.
The curious thing, NBC News reported, is that the reporters’ cell phones worked just fine. Later Twitter was contacted and began to investigate. It was curious that the questionable tweet seemed to be coming from the left-wing ANTIFA group that is said to have helped organize protests around the country.
A tweet labeled as been sourced with ANTIFA proclaimed “Tonight’s the night, comrades. Tonight we say F&*^The city and we move into the residential areas, the white hoods and we take what’s ours.”
Twitter quickly uncovered the problem. The tweets were fakes put out by a far-right white nationalist group called Identity Evropa. Twitter took down the sites because they violated the company’s policy against using social media to incite violence, NBC reported. Continue reading
Posted in Blogs and blog administration, Business and Economy, Commentary, Correction, Courts and law, Crime and corrections, Culture wars, Defense, Elections, Electoral process, Federal, Government Oversight, Individual rights, Infrastructure, Media, Money in politics, News, Public safety & health, Race and race relations, Telecommunications, Transparency
By Peter Galuszka
Get ready. The names of all kinds of leftist organizations are going to be kicked around as the masterminds behind violent, cop-beating looters, especially the so-called ANTIFA movement in Virginia and across the country..
But what is reality? I don’t have clear answers but I have some ideas to share since I have been dealing with activist groups since I was in high school in the late 1960s. I hope they help this blog’s discussion.
First, there’s plenty of research available about ANTIFA and there are already plenty of reports about it. It is not a single group but a very loose collection of autonomous activist groups, most of which do not advocate violence. For reference, see yesterday’s Daily Beast piece with the blunt headline, “Trump’s ‘ANTIFA Threat Is Total Bullshit – And Totally Dangerous.”
That article and plenty of others note that ANTIFA, or whatever it is, has no clear chain of command and uses ultra-fast social media to alert other activists about rallies and protests but has no control over them. If you are thinking about the tightly-controlled and secretive Communist cells of the past century, you are not getting it. Continue reading
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By Peter Galuszka
As you know, people like me have been described by a B.R. commenter as those who submit “scorch and burn, mock and smear writings encased in scornful, supercilious, opinionated, and shallow rhetoric.”
I freely admit this and am damned proud of it.
But instead of dishing out the usual sarcastic bile, I have another idea today. I don’t know about you, but with me self-quaranting as much as possible, I am running out of things to read or watch. I still have for-pay work but who knows how much that might last? So, why don’t we exchange ideas of new stuff to occupy our minds with. Here’s a list of recommended movies, TV series and books:
- On Netflix, I am a huge fan of the German TV series “Bablyon Berlin,” which imagines a very dark, brooding German capital after the Great War and before Hitler. The chief characters are Georeon Rath, a shattered war veteran and police detective who gets into the seamy side of life. His heart throb is Charlotte Ritter, an office worker and part-time prostitute. The series has everything, shady characters, mysterious train shipments from the Soviet Union, fascists, communists, early porn studios. The acting, story line and photography are excellent. It’s like a grown up version of “Cabaret.”
Posted in Blogs and blog administration, Commentary, Culture wars, Defense, Energy, Environment, Immigration, Media, Mental illness, Money in politics, News, Politics, Public safety & health
James C. Sherlock
Tommy East sits as the Nursing Home Industry representative on the Virginia Board of Health. He is the President & CEO of Heritage Hall Healthcare and Rehabilitation Centers, an operator of nursing homes headquartered in Roanoke.
In 2014, he was appointed by Governor McAuliffe to serve on the Commonwealth of Virginia Board of Health. In 2018, he was reappointed by Governor Northam.
East has served on the Board of Directors and the Executive Board for the Virginia Health Care Association (Nursing Homes). The Virginia Healthcare Association over the years has contributed more than $2.5 million to candidates and PACs in Virginia.
Medicare Nursing Home Compare data and the state records maintained by Virginia Health Information were last updated on March 30, 2020, from facility payroll reports. In those data, 42 of Virginia’s 286 Medicare and Medicaid long-term care facilities reported one-star (much below average) staffing levels. More than half of the 286 were rated much below average or below average. Continue reading
By Peter Galuszka
On Wednesday, I was standing next to the Capitol grounds in Richmond watching brightly decorated cars and pickups drive on 9th Street, their horns blaring.
I was attending the drive by protest rally on assignment for Style Weekly and happened to speak to Jason Roberge, a Spotsylvania County resident who is one of several Republicans hoping to oust U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a former covert CIA officer who represents the 7th Congressional district.
Roberge was there to protest what he says is Gov. Ralph Northam’s “terrible job” in temporarily shutting down businesses to prevent the spread of the COVID 19 virus. The rally was part of a series of protests across the country that are being set up on cue from right-wing activists.
Roberge told me: ”I hear he’s (Northam’s) down on North Carolina beach while this is going on.” As he spoke the House of Delegates was holding a special session under an outdoor tent nearby while the Senate presided at the Science Museum of Virginia.
Northam at the beach? It turns out that the conservative echo chamber has been peddling a story, firmly denied by Northam’s office, that he was at his house in Manteo, N.C. not far from the beaches at Nags Head during the special General Assembly session. Continue reading
Posted in Business and Economy, Consumer protection, Courts and law, Culture wars, Economic development, General Assembly, Governance, Government Oversight, Money in politics, News, Politics, Property rights, Scandals
Tagged COVID-19, Peter Galuszka
Statue of Gov. Harry F. Byrd on the state capitol grounds.
By Peter Galuszka
Right-wingers in Virginia have been apoplectic for months that Democrats finally captured the General Assembly after years of Republican control.
They also were enraged that the legislature this winter passed a number of reforms that would draw Virginia into the 21st Century such raising the minimum wage, boosting collective bargaining, tightening rules on carbon pollution and raising taxes for cigarettes, a deadly product.
Now such conservatives are using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to throttle or delay such needed reforms. They have banded into groups such as the Coalition fort a Strong Virginia Economy. They have used the Virginia Municipal League’s complaints against the reforms, claiming they cost too much, as a way to derail new measures.
According to the left-leaning blog site Blue Virginia, one of the more extreme advocates for scrambling changes is Dave LaRock, a far-right Republican delegate from Loudoun County. A pronounced gay-basher, LaRock wants to squelch all of the reforms made by the more progressive General Assembly. Continue reading
Posted in Blogs and blog administration, Budgets, Business and Economy, Commentary, Consumer protection, Culture wars, Demographics, Economic development, Energy, Entitlements, Environment, Federal, Finance (government), General Assembly, Governance, Government Oversight, Gun rights, Health Care, Individual rights, Infrastructure, Labor & workforce, Media, Money in politics, News, Taxes, Transparency
Tagged Peter Galuszka
by James C. Sherlock
I am a strong believer in the generosity of most Americans. I offer in this essay a way for Virginia elected officials to donate campaign money left over from their last elections to charities that provide healthcare services to Virginia’s poor. It is a simple concept that can do a lot of good.
The pot of money. Virginia’s next state election campaigns are 15 months away. The victors of the 2019 and 2017 general elections were sitting on nearly $8 million in cash in their campaign coffers as of Dec. 31, 2019. The totals:
- $2,943,000 in the Senate,
- $4,119,000 in the House and
- $853,000 among the Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General.
by James C. Sherlock
Having watched the flood of money into the 2017 and 2019 Virginia elections and the utter chaos in the 2020 General Assembly, I offer what I hope are two reform suggestions that meet with bipartisan approval.
Limit the money in state politics
I wrote an entire column on the abuses of unlimited campaign donations and their effects on healthcare policy in Virginia. Bacon’s Rebellion has been reporting on the system for years.
Campaign donations in unprecedented amounts in 2016-17 and 2018-19 directly affected our state elections first for constitutional officers and then for the General Assembly. An ocean of out-of-state money now threatens to tilt Virginians’ votes on a constitutional amendment for redistricting reform that was agreed upon by bipartisan majorities in the 2019 and 2020 General Assemblies under Republican and then Democratic leadership. Continue reading