Category Archives: Politics

Catholic Bashing No Disqualification for Northam?

Gail Gordon Donegan and Unidentified Friend

by Steve Haner

Try this thought experiment. Imagine a headline in the state capitol newspaper reading: “Appointee’s posts disparage Republicans and others on the web.” Or swap Democrats for Republicans.  Would anybody bat an eye?

Instead, of course, the story in the Richmond Times Dispatch is about Governor Ralph Northam’s recent appointment of a vicious Catholic-hating Democratic activist from Alexandria to the Virginia Council on Women. If her appointment is not withdrawn and her rhetoric not repudiated by first Mass on Sunday morning, shame on Governor Northam.

Whoever vetted the appointment should go with her. If reporter Patrick Wilson found all his examples, or they were fed to him within a short time, there no excuse for the Secretary of the Commonwealth missing them. One must assume the office did not. This should blow up into as large a blot on Northam’s record as the yearbook photo and his dithering responses, some of which must have been lies. Continue reading

Does the Left Have an Understandable Position on Immigration and How Much Does It Matter?

by Don Rippert

Debate: The debate on immigration in America continues to rage. People who hold right-of-center political beliefs seem to think that the U.S. immigration laws should be vigorously enforced. There may be some “wiggle room” on the right. For example, some conservatives believe there should be exceptions to deportation for those illegally in the United States so long as they have been here a fairly long time, paid taxes, stayed out of legal trouble, etc. Without commenting on the reasonableness of the conservative position, it is understandable.

The position held by Americans with left-of-center political beliefs is hard to fathom. While few liberals will openly say they are in favor of “open borders” the sum total of their beliefs seems to indicate that “open borders” is exactly what they seek.

This issue is important for Virginia because some areas of Virginia have very low numbers of foreign born residents, while other areas have very high numbers of foreign-born residents. For example, the 2010 Census found that 12.9% of people living in America were foreign born. Virginia had 11.4% of its residents recorded as being foreign born. However, Arlington County (Virginia’s 6th most populous county) had a foreign born percentage of 28% in 2000. Social services are affected by immigration. The cost of teaching English as a second language in public schools is directly impacted by the percentage of residents born in foreign (non English speaking) countries.

Author’s apology in advance – this is a long post. By far the longest I have ever published. However, this is a complex topic with both liberals and conservatives more than willing to misrepresent the data. I saw no way to properly handle the topic with brevity.

Continue reading

Gun Issues Return to Capitol Monday, Tuesday

by Steve Haner

Proposed firearms regulations will pack a General Assembly meeting room Monday and Tuesday, and for that portion of the population not already locked into an ideological position either way, it could be useful to pay attention.

The Republican majorities have taken some political bashing for failing to act on the flood of proposals, many previously seen and rejected, that showed up when Governor Ralph Northam sought to railroad them through a hasty special session after the Virginia Beach shooting.  But the ideas are going to get a better hearing at the Crime Commission next week than they would have when introduced.  Continue reading

Medicare for All? Medicare for Us Is Different

Power (And Free Stuff) For the People!

Blame this one on four wasted evenings watching the Democratic presidential debates.  As Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and the rest were describing their promise of “Medicare for All,” my wife and I were deep in the process of learning about and registering for “Medicare for Us,” which kicked in this month.

The big discrepancies between the two inspired my column (here) in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The debate over health care policy and payment systems is a perfectly valid one for national politics.  Everyone sees the problems.  Like it or not the country is about half-way, perhaps more than half-way, to a fully federalized health care system.  Medicare, Medicaid and the military-related programs covered about 33 percent of Virginians in 2018, and federal regulations including but not limited to the Affordable Care Act dictate many policies for the rest of that sector.   Both political parties have added to the structure.  Continue reading

Bacon Bits: The Rules, California is Crazy, Rider E

The message is clear, the messenger not on this flyer attacking Emmett Hanger during the primary. There was a logo on the other side, but no disclaimer. Click for larger view.

This is the simple stuff, people.  Delegate Nick Freitas doesn’t seem to be the only person in the Republican camp complaining that the rules are a problem, at least when enforced.  A conservative activist group that went after state Senator Emmett Hanger in the June primary is now screaming “bloody murder” because Hanger filed a complaint with the Board of Elections over some handouts that lacked the state’s required disclaimer statements.  It is a simple rule we’ve all worked with for decades, and the penalty is a civil fine that might get up to $2,500, but probably won’t go near that high.  Yet here is the heated rhetoric being spouted, with a heavy push for funds: “This is nothing less than an elected official attempting to squash free speech and shut down our grassroots PAC. We will fight this effort for it endangers all voters of Virginia for the benefit of the political class.”  No, it’s just the rules. You already have a formal PAC, so you know about the rules.  By filing a complaint Hanger gave you the spotlight again for ten seconds, but that was his choice. 

Organic Carbon Capture Device

If you thought $20 for an LED bulb is nuts…Sarah Vogelsong over at Virginia Mercury (we shared a row at an SCC hearing Wednesday) has this story about how forest conservation groups in Virginia are being paid for the CO2 being absorbed by their trees.  Pay a carbon credit to a Virginia conservation group and your plant can pump out more carbon in the LA basin!  Without doubt 1) Californians can be talked into anything, simply anything, with the right green pitch, 2) this is truly a religion with Virginia reaping the indulgence payments for forgiveness of sins and 3) these people are not really serious about removing CO2 from the atmosphere if they think this does any good.  Continue reading

Jeff Thomas: “The Virginia Way” Prevails

A little less than three years ago, Richmond author and analyst Jeff Thomas shook up the state political elite with a densely research account of how “The Virginia Way” actually works and how major players schemed to benefit from it.

Thomas’s book was brilliantly timed, arriving after the state’s first major corruption trial involving from Gov. Robert McDonnell and his wife Maureen spectacularly portrayed before a global audience just how widespread and tawdry Virginia’s systems of political gift giving were.

The irony, of course, is that “The Virginia Way” paints a myth that public officials are so upright and high-minded that the usual ethics rules that other states might require regarded gifts and favors are not needed. After all, we have the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), which duly collects and reveals millions worth of perfectly legal donations and gifts that major politicians and corporations, notably Dominion and cigarette maker Altria proudly bestow.

Now, Thomas has written a sequel — “The Virginia Way. Democracy and Power After 2016” (The History Press) – which updates us after some of the most remarkable years in the state’s political history.

Here are a few points: Continue reading

A Ray of Hope Ends a Troubled Week

State Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax

Just when hope has largely departed, a ray of sunshine.  Senator Chap Petersen of the 34th District in Fairfax showed up in my inbox with a nice message on why he was pleased to attend this week’s festivities in Jamestown.

Why did he feel the need to explain, I wondered?  I didn’t have to wonder long, as this screed appeared on the Arbiter of Leftist Political Correctness, Blue Virginia, casting Petersen into Democratic purgatory.  Blue Virginia, of course, is a perfect showcase for that strain of potty-mouth Democrats who taught Donald Trump his political manners. Resistance?  No, just rude and crude and nasty.  Ibraheem Samirah is their hero of the week, Petersen the goat.  Continue reading

Trump Came, He Saw, He Did Not Tweet

Photo credit: Philip Shucet

President Trump conducted himself with the dignity one normally expects from a president earlier today at the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the first legislative assembly in the New World and the arrival of the first African slaves. For a day at least, he set aside sharp words and divisive tweets. Following his controversial criticism over the weekend of Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, and what he described as the rodent-infested condition of Cummings’ Baltimore district, Trump took the opportunity to praise the first people in North America to form a representative government, to condemn slavery, and to honor African-Americans’ contributions to U.S. history.

Photo credit: Philip Shucet

Wherever Trump goes, controversy is sure to follow, even when he is not instigating it. Not only did the General Assembly’s black caucus refuse to attend ceremonies in which he appeared, Del. Ibraheem S. Samirah, D-Herndon, caused a brief disruption during the president’s speech when he raised a sign, saying, “Go back to your corrupted home. Deport hate. Reunite my family and all those shattered by systemic discrimination.” Continue reading

Virginia Mercury At One: Kicking GOP Butt

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

Firearms Theater: Boring, Tiresome, Repetitive

It is easy to dismiss next week’s special session of the General Assembly on proposed gun control as meaningless political theater, because that it what it will likely amount to.  It is also boring, tiresome and repetitive.

Following the 2007 tragedy at Virginia Tech, a group of well-intended and well-informed experts formed a non-partisan task force looking for insight, information and common ground.  There were state-level (here) and national (here) reports produced.  Continue reading

Happy 4th! Enjoy Liberty and Prosperity While It Lasts

I love this country. I choke up when I sing the Star Spangled Banner and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I honor those who gave their lives to preserve and protect our freedoms. I revere this country as the greatest engine of wealth creation and prosperity in history. While other, smaller countries may have a higher GDP per capita or rank higher in surveys of happiness, they never fought a war to extinguish slavery, a war to liberate Spanish colonies, a war to end European monarchies, a war to demolish fascism, or a cold war to contain and defeat communism. For all our our flaws, America has been the greatest force for good the world has ever seen.

But I wonder if we are governable anymore. Can any society as big, sprawling, populous and diverse as the U.S., reflecting such widely divergent values, long stand as a single nation? Continue reading

The (GOP) Chaos and Dysfunction Must End

GOP Nominee Scott Wyatt

For years my daily routine during the General Assembly included time in Delegate Riley Ingram’s office, in fact pretty much as long as the Hopewell Republican was there. I’d worked on several of his campaigns. Trust me, he left the best stories out of his hilarious farewell floor speech.

In 2018 I was present when a local party unit chairman came in to give Riley hell for his expected vote in favor of expanding Medicaid. It was a very ugly conversation. At the end I concluded, yep, this really is Riley’s last term.  The Republican activists who saw that as “Obamacare” were going to be unforgiving.  Continue reading

Blackface Mystery Solved: Ralph Northam as Michael Jackson

Published in the Roanoke Times today, a concise synthesize of my blog posts about Ralph Northam costumed as Michael Jackson:

Ralph Northam’s racism controversy has tumbled down the memory hole. The governor has struck with the story that the photograph appearing in the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook of a man in blackface was not of him, and a McGuire Woods inquiry failed to find any evidence to prove otherwise. Critics who once called for his resignation have fallen silent as the governor pivoted left on social justice issues. And the media, which normally loves a good scandal, apparently has concluded that there is little left to be discovered.

But politicians and reporters are overlooking the obvious identity of the man in the yearbook photo — it is of Ralph Northam dressed in Michael Jackson costume. Continue reading

Give Fairfax a Chance to Clear His Name

Lawyers for Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax have formally requested prosecutors in Suffolk County, Mass., and Durham County, N.C. to open criminal investigations into the sexual assault allegations made against Fairfax in February, reports WJLA.

The allegation of Meredith Watson, who accused Fairfax of raping her in 2000 when they were students at Duke University, should be fully investigated, argued Barry J. Pollack, Fairfax’s attorney, in the letter to the Durham County district attorney. Wrote Pollack:

If an investigation were to determine that the allegation is true, it should be criminally prosecuted. Conversely, if an investigation were to determine that the allegation is false, which Lt. Governor Fairfax is confident would be the conclusion of any unbiased and professional investigation, the matter could be closed and the public informed.

Continue reading

No Great Leap, But a Continuing Tide

The following was written for the Thomas Jefferson Institute’s Jefferson Policy Journal and distributed earlier today.  Some themes repeat an earlier post

Fighting Joe Morrissey

It’s hard to dissect a battle while the smoke is still clearing, but the June 11 Virginia primaries demonstrated again the state’s continued and steady move away from its conservative past. It was not a Great Leap Forward for the progressive elements of the Democratic party, but where they didn’t win, they applied some serious heat.  Continue reading