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 $8.5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline has won a significant legal victory but the war is far from over.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, has ruled in favor of project operated by Dominion Energy and Duke Energy saying that its 42-inch pipeline can cross under the Appalachian Trail in the George Washington National Forest.
The Court ruled that the pipeline can pass 600 feet underneath the trail and that the U.S. Forest Service has the right to allow a right of way. The Richmond-based 4th Circuit Court of Appeals had previously ruled that the Forest Service had no such authority.
Dissenting, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan wrote that the U.S. Minerals Leasing Act does give the federal government the right to regulate federal land, including trails. Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the majority ruling, said that plans to bury the pipeline under the Appalachian Trail represent an easement which is not the same as “land.”
The project still faces eight other permitting issues involving the Forest Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Continue reading
Posted in Agriculture & forestry, Business and Economy, Economic development, Energy, Environment, Federal, Infrastructure, Labor & workforce, Land use & development, News, Planning, Politics, Property rights, Regulation
Tagged Peter Galuszka
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
Posted in Business and Economy, Courts and law, Culture wars, Elections, Electoral process, Immigration, Individual rights, LGBQT rights, Media, Money in politics, News, Politics
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
Posted in Bacon and pigs, Business and Economy, Commentary, Correction, Courts and law, Crime and corrections, Culture wars, Demographics, Disaster planning, Economic development, Electoral process, Federal, Government Oversight, Gun rights, Immigration, Individual rights, Labor & workforce, LGBQT rights, Libertarians, Media, Money in politics, News, Politics, Poverty & income gap, Public corruption, Race and race relations, Transparency
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
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
Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is now fully authorized under a new state regulation, and the deadline to appeal that regulation has now passed with no appeal filed. The text of the regulation is here.
Language inserted by General Assembly Republicans into the current state budget merely puts RGGI membership and its related carbon tax on hold. It did not overturn the regulation, which went into effect June 26. The outcome of the November election will likely determine whether that roadblock remains in place beyond next summer, when the current budget provisions expire. Continue reading
Success and quality demand recognition, so congratulations to the folks at Virginia Mercury for one year of e-publication. It represents the future of journalism, which is nothing short of tragic.
Not that a deep progressive bent (or conservative for that matter) has been unknown in journalism. Most of the great early publications had political backers, and truly independent reporting has been largely mythical. Everything old is new again.
I remember years ago learning that the page layout mock-ups marked certain advertising blocks so, for example, no story would be placed about lung cancer on the page selling Marlboros, or the plane crash wouldn’t be reported next to the Piedmont Airlines ad. But with those ads for all to see, we knew who was paying the bills for the daily output of The Roanoke Times. We have no idea who is paying the bills and potentially pulling the strings at the new internet periodicals and dailies. Continue reading
Source: Purdue University
Two years of trade-dispute induced tariffs have decimated Virginia’s tobacco farmers, the president of Virginia’s Board for Agriculture and Consumer Services told his fellow board members Thursday. As he spoke Governor Ralph Northam was upstairs in the same building preparing to sign legislation the industry hopes provides a path forward for those same farmers.
Hemp. Industrial Hemp. Not for smoking but for squeezing out the oil.
Robert J. Mills of Pittsylvania County is already in the business of growing hemp, some of which he says is being grown to meet organic standards for the state of California. The production schedule for hemp is like tobacco’s, he said, it works well in the same soils, and tobacco curing barns can be used to dry the product. Continue reading