Category Archives: Politics

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.

Case in point, Senate minority leader and ultimate inside player Richard Saslaw of Fairfax, who only survived because the 51 percent of voters who rejected him had two liberal choices and split their votes. Case in point, former and once-disgraced delegate Joe Morrissey, who defeated long-time incumbent Senator Rosalyn Dance for the seat stretching between Richmond and Petersburg. Dance is no conservative but has proven willing to work across the aisle.  Continue reading

Elephant in the Corner? What Elephant?

The news media has settled into a new narrative about Ralph Northam’s blackface scandal: After keeping a low profile for four months following the revelation of a racist photo appearing in his 1984 medical school yearbook, the governor is back in the public eye and reasserting his gubernatorial prerogatives. Without explicitly saying that he has left the scandal behind, the media is saying… he has left the scandal behind.

Republicans continue to criticize Northam, but to little effect, and senior Democrats have all but forgiven him. Writes the Washington Post this morning: “Last week, several high-profile Democrats who questioned Northam’s leadership in February praised him for … calling the special session on guns, including U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark R. Warner (Va.), as well as Northam’s scandal-scarred attorney general, Mark R. Herring.

Further, the Post quotes Christopher Newport University pundit Quentin Kidd as observing that most African-Americans want Northam to stay in office. “I would imagine all those Democrats who had called for his resignation would just forget about it,” says Kidd. “They would just act like nobody sees that elephant in the corner.”

Bacon’s bottom line: I can understand Republicans’ frustration at their inability to kneecap Northam politically. But I think they have mishandled the messaging. Continue reading

Arlington’s Dark Money Candidate

Parisa Dehgani-Tafti

by Liam Bissainthe

Virginia has primary elections coming up tomorrow. Some matter a lot, and you should vote in them if you have the chance — like the prosecutor’s race in Arlington County and Falls Church. That race pits left-wing radical Parisa Dehghani-Tafti against the moderately liberal incumbent prosecutor Theo Stamos in a race for Commonwealth’s Attorney in Arlington and Falls Church. In Virginia, you can vote in whichever primary you want — Democratic or Republican — without registering, regardless of which party you’ve voted for in the past.

The left-wing radical Dehghani-Tafti received a staggering sum of money — $583,237 — from a “dark money” group bankrolled by George Soros. So reports the mainstream liberal newspaper the Falls Church News-Press, which has endorsed Stamos. A week ago, the Washington Post reported that Soros’s group had already pumped over $1 million into just two races in Northern Virginia, seeking to replace incumbent Democrats with leftist challengers.

The leftist Dehghani-Tafti wants to lead an office of prosecutors despite never having prosecuted a single case in her life. She does not seem to understand the basic role of a prosecutor in deterring crime. Indeed, she complains about Stamos’s success as a prosecutor. Stamos has never had a single conviction overturned on appeal in her decades as a prosecutor. Stamos’ office prosecutes felonies, rather than ignoring them. That deters violent crime and theft. Continue reading

Primary Reading: Themes on the Partisan Blogs

Hanger

How different will Virginia’s politics and political future be at close of business tomorrow? This time the big shift may come in tomorrow’s primaries rather than with the November general election that actually chooses 140 General Assembly members.

A lead weekend story on a major conservative political blog, The Bull Elephant, was an attack on incumbent State Senator Emmett Hanger (here). It was only a temporary interruption in its otherwise microscopic coverage of the circular Republican firing squad still underway in the 97th House District, where incumbent Chris Peace (always wrong on Bull Elephant) claims victory in a firehouse primary and challenger Scott Wyatt (always right on Bull Elephant) does the same based on a convention.   Continue reading

Sanctimonious Money in Politics

Grrrrr

The older I get, the more irritable I get. Perhaps, upon passing the threshold to Medicare eligibility, I became a cranky old man. In my defense, however, I do find myself continually provoked. The latest vexation comes from a Community Idea Stations article describing how an increasing number of Democratic Party candidates for General Assembly are self-righteously turning down campaign donations from corporations — not just Dominion Energy, mind you, but any corporation. One example:

Zachary Brown, a law student at the University of Richmond who is running against Eileen Bedell and Ghazala Hashmi in the 10th Senate District, only raised around $2,000 in April and May. But the 23-year-old law student says he came by it honestly.

“We can’t have our constituents second-guessing out votes because we take contributions from large corporations,” Brown said.

Such sentiments are consistent with Democrats’ conviction that the injection of corporate cash is a uniquely corrupting practice. Labor union money, extracted from union dues for causes members may or may not agree with… perfectly OK. Money laundered through Democratic Party PACs… just fine. Contributions from out-of-state billionaires like Tom Steyer… not a problem. But money collected from individual employees in a corporation and bundled through a corporate PACs… horrors! Continue reading

Northam Blackface Update: Head and Shoulders Analysis

As part of its examination into the Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) yearbook scandal, in which an unidentified figure appeared in blackface on Ralph Northam’s profile page, investigators with the McGuire Woods law firm considered a piece of evidence submitted by Northam’s personal law firm, Alston & Bird: a facial recognition report. “This report, conducted by a reputable vendor,” summarized the McGuire Woods report, “found the image of the Photograph was not of sufficient quality to conduct a comparison with other photographs.”

While the photograph is of such poor quality that facial-recognition analysis may be impossible, there is much else than can be gleaned from the photo. I have made the argument in previous posts that the figure in blackface was dressed in Michael Jackson costume.

Now a clever reader, who asks to remain anonymous, suggests another thrust of analysis: measuring the slope of the person’s shoulders and the angle at which he holds his head.

States the reader: “I noticed that the figure in the yearbook photo stood in a somewhat awkward way, with his body leaning left but his head tilted to the right (from the vantage of the viewer).” He pulled photos of Northam off the Web for purposes of comparison. “This is not unbiased evidence because I selected photos that worked, rather than doing a random sampling of photos. But it does show that the way Northam stands at times does appear to be similar to the yearbook photo.  A chiropractor might be able to untangle this!” Continue reading

Northam in Blackface: Talk to the Hand

Several days ago I advanced the argument that the identity of the blackfaced individual in Ralph Northam’s infamous 1984 medical school yearbook was none other than Northam himself, garbed in the likeness of Michael Jackson. That theory landed with a resounding thud. No one in the media (or anywhere else, for I can tell) took note of the interpretation. But, then, no one offered any evidence to the contrary. Undeterred by the public’s extraordinary indifference to a fascinating question — c’mon, people, doesn’t anyone like a good whodunnit anymore? — I press on.

I have two more angles to explore. One angle demolishes one of Northam’s  explanations of why he believes the man in blackface was not him. But the other raises new questions, which, if answered, potentially could lead to information exonerating the governor — or convicting him.

Today, I focus on the hand of the man in blackface — the hand holding a can of beer.

But first, a refresher. Here are the specific reasons, cited in the McGuire Woods inquiry into the origins of the blackface photo, that Northam cited why he could not have been the man in blackface (hereinafter referred to as Blackface Dude). Continue reading

True Conservatism In Eight Simple Questions

Answer eight simple questions correctly and you, too, could be a true Virginia conservative, joining the ideological movement which continues to challenge chances for Republican success in the Commonwealth.  Several high-profile candidates in next month’s contested GOP primaries have done so, earning good marks from a group calling itself Virginia Constitutional Conservatives.

Two out of eight involve enmity toward President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and its expansion of Medicaid eligibility.  One Obamacare question revisits the question which started the American Civil War and Virginia’s Massive Resistance – the concept of State Nullification.  The group is also offended by the idea you need a license to conceal your handgun of choice.  Continue reading

More Blackface Backlash

Governor Ralph Northam seems to be weathering the blackface scandal, but that doesn’t mean he won’t continue to suffer fallout from the P.R. debacle. The Virginia Southern Christian Leadership Conference is launching a statewide tour to address issues arising from revelations of a photograph of a person dressed in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan garb on Northam’s profile page in the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) yearbook.

Rev. William Keen, the organization’s president, said the SCLC believes more needs to be done to investigate the controversial picture appearing on Northam’s medical yearbook page, reports WSLS television. The article provided no details on what Keen found lacking in Northam’s denials that he was the figure in blackface.

(A good place to start would be to request answers from the governor arising from new evidence that the yearbook photo shows him attired in a Michael Jackson costume.)

Meanwhile, the Richmond Free-Press, an independent newspaper geared to Richmond’s African-American community, quotes representatives of several African-American organizations as demanding the Northam atone for the racial sins he committed 35 years ago. Continue reading

Update: Northam in Michael Jackson Costume

I have expanded the photographic evidence and commentary in my previous post, in which I argued that the figure in the infamous Eastern Virginia Medical Society yearbook photo was Ralph Northam costumed as Michael Jackson. I wrote the original post as a lark, but after digging deeper, I am 95% certain that my theory is correct. The post is definitely worth re-reading. I would welcome feedback on the plausibility of my interpretation.

Update: I have made even more extensive revisions to the previous post. In addition to buttressing the case that Northam posed as Michael Jackson in the blackface photo, I have added the following sections:

  • Cherchez la femme!
  • Fat legs, skinny legs
  • Bad teeth, worse photo
  • A Bud in the hand is worth two in the bush
  • Questions of chronology
  • An alternative narrative

The Blackface Photo: Northam as Michael Jackson

Governor Ralph Northam astonished the world at a press conference earlier this year when he denied appearing in blackface in a notorious 1984 medical school-yearbook photo — and then volunteered that he had darkened his skin that same year as part of a Michael Jackson costume for a dance contest.

The governor was widely mocked at the time for this admission and his seeming willingness to demonstrate the superstar’s signature moonwalk move in front of the cameras. However, a recently issued report by the McGuire Woods law firm was unable to find conclusive evidence that the governor appeared in the photograph, and, politically, the controversy seemed destined to fade away.

I beg to differ. My reading of the report finds that the law firm left many avenues of inquiry unexplored. Most significantly, the report failed to consider what be the most plausible interpretation of the photo: The figure in blackface was Northam dressed up as Michael Jackson!

Consider some points of similarity with the photo of Jackson below, taken in 1984:

Michael Jackson is wearing sunglasses. The figure in the photo is wearing sunglasses.

Michael Jackson is wearing a broad-rimmed hat. The figure in the photo is wearing a broad-rimmed hat.

In the photo to the left, Jackson’s hat is black, not white like that worn by the figure in blackface. But Jackson donned a wide variety of head wear, including a white fedora with a dark band that closely matches the hat worn by the figure in blackface.

A photo of that fedora, with Jackson’s signature, can be seen in a Pinterest photo, posted by the MJJC Legacy Team Project dedicated to “honouring, preserving & defending the legacy of Michael Jackson.”

Another point of similarity: the bow tie. Continue reading

Blackface Scandal: The Case for and Against Northam


There is plenty of evidence in the McGuire Woods report on the Northam/Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) blackface scandal to confirm whatever prejudices and preconceptions you had beforehand. If you believe that Governor Ralph Northam was not one of the figures in the infamous EVMS school yearbook photo, there are plausible though inconclusive arguments to support your view. If you believe he was, there are equally plausible-but-inconclusive arguments to back you up.

This morning I read the portions of the report (which you can access here), that pertain to Northam. (I skipped the lengthy sections probing EVMS’s commitment to “diversity and inclusion” since the 1980s.) My two main conclusions:

  1. The investigation, though extensive, was far from exhaustive. The investigators neglected to pursue lines of inquiry that would have added important context.
  2. Regardless of whether Northam was one of the two figures in the notorious photo, the odds are strong that he submitted the photo to the yearbook.

Herewith, I present what I believe are the most salient facts and arguments on both sides. Continue reading

Northam Finds Salvation in Victimhood-and-Grievance Agenda

Funny how things worked out. Democratic Party cries for Ralph Northam’s resignation during the blackface scandal have diminished to a barely audible murmur. Now the establishment media is taking notice of the fact, stating out loud what everyone knows: The scandal has passed. Northam is off the hook. Virginia’s governor has purchased absolution by advancing the racial agenda of the party’s progressive wing.

As the Wall Street Journal notes today in its national news coverage, Northam recently vetoed two mandatory-minimum sentencing bills he claimed would disproportionately affect African-Americans, created a director-of-diversity position, and launched a review of how public schools address black history. And that’s just the headline news. Of greater import, his appointees are injecting progressive priorities into the public school system.

I don’t doubt that the outrage of Democrats, liberals and progressives over Northam’s blackface offense was genuine at the time. But at the end of the day, power trumps outrage. By threatening Northam with the end of his political life, the Left pushed the politically moderate governor into advancing a progressive victimhood-and-grievance agenda. Continue reading