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.

You can see the right-wing public relations campaign here on Bacon’s Rebellion. Today, Chris Braunlich, head of the conservative-leaning Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, urges delaying reforms.

In the past two days, James C. Sherlock raised the specter of anti-Americanism if the changes take effect. His incredible missive went so far as to claim that left-leaning Virginians were trying to turn the government into a socialist, totalitarian state.

One of his complaints was that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to caboose a rule in the $2.2 trillion aid package calling for more women and minorities on corporate boards. Whether such riders should be attached in such a way is a fair question. What is disturbing is that expanding diversity on corporate boards has been a worthy goal for decades now. It has nothing to do with Vladimir Lenin or Mao Tse-tung.

If you take all of these efforts as a whole, you see the obvious pattern. They seem to be part of an organized, multi-pronged campaign to turn back the progress Democrats in the last, history-making session of the General Assembly.

With the Republican Party in disarray and ordinary people growing ever more revolted by the incompetent bombast of Donald Trump, the right wing failed to check progressive moves this winter. Now they are trying to use the pandemic to achieve their goals.

To be sure, businesses and governments are being hard-pressed by the social-distancing orders, especially in sectors such as hospitality, restaurants, retail and some manufacturing. As the reforms come into being, some adjustments might be made. But with the lack of a coherent national pandemic policy, we don’t know when the numbers of those infected or dead will plateau and when the economy will start coming back.

The fear is that if there are delays, the right wing will go a step farther and kill them all. Jeff Schapiro, the Richmond Times Dispatch political columnist, noted that in 1931, when the Great Depression was gaining strength, a tobacco grower named Billy Reed wrote to Harry Byrd Sr., the state’s autocratic political boss.

He said: “We must keep Virginia like she is without any changes.”

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44 responses to “Right Wing Uses Virus To Stifle Needed Reforms”

  1. Philip Shucet Avatar
    Philip Shucet

    Peter, thank you for writing with an abundance of good sense. The balance here is sorely needed.

  2. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    A comment masquerading as a post….and as he did to me a couple of days before, capturing the top spot…”…a pronounced gay-basher…” Really, Peter, we’ve been over this business of ad hominem attacks.

    In Virginia “the right wing” can’t kill any of these things without persuading the Governor to introduce some amendments or take some vetoes, and then getting some of the Democrats to go along. Some of the measures passed by very narrow votes (51 House ayes on the Clean Energy “We Don’t Need” Omnibus.) Revisiting these battles at the Veto Session is clearly within the rules and the traditions of the General Assembly.

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    Good GAWD Peter, are you going to be the liberal analog for the “right” tomes here in BR?

    That’s not going to go well… I can predict… they’re going to get riled up!

    All this “stuff” about spending in Virginia and not one whiny post about
    the Feds helicoptering trillions of dollars – to Virginia…

    geezy peezy… oh wait… it’s okay if the Feds do it because they don’t have to “balance” the budget like Virginia does .. but wait… the Feds are going to “help” Virginia also… so heckfire, what’s the “problem”?

    hmmm… tax & spend “socialism”, that’s it… those sneaky Libs.. they’re gonna turn Virginia into … oh my gawd… New Jersey or California.

    My GAWD , Peter… How DARE you stir things up here in BR. shame…shame!


  4. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Larry and Phil, thanks f-o rthe support.
    Haner, as we have discussed for weeks, you do not set the rules at Bacons Rebellion. And, a blog post is meant to be a commentary.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      but Peter – the rules here are SUPPOSED to be different for the Conservative writers.. you are clearly out of bounds! heresy! I can hear the “tut tuts” warming up in the bullpen!

  5. djrippert Avatar

    Life is life. A pandemic that throws the country from record high employment to record high unemployment has economic costs in addition to the health costs. Higher taxes (along with the dubious claims of societal improvement which attend them) become unaffordable. At a time when we should be laser focused on getting businesses back in the business of employment we don’t need higher electric costs, higher sales taxes or a tax on plastic bags. We need to keep government’s skim of the economy as low as possible so that the cost of everything is lower. Lower costs generate higher demand. Higher demand generates more employment.

    The excesses of the past General Assembly session were never a good idea. However they were an experiment in nanny-stateism which we could afford when they were passed. The world changed and changed quickly. We can no longer afford those additional costs of government. The time will come when the economic recovery from COVID-19 occurs. At that time a regime of higher taxes for presumed societal benefit can once again be considered. Until that time, any continuation of the tax and spend decisions made by the last General Assembly session would be negligent. Unfortunately, we have all seen the grossly incompetent efforts around COVID-19 testing in Virginia from the Democrats who control our state government. It is certainly within the realm of possibility that those same Democrats will double down on testing incompetence with fiscal negligence.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Is the trillions of dollars the Feds are raining down on us – nanny-stateism ?

      Isn’t Virginia just following the Feds idea of spending to boost jobs?

  6. djrippert Avatar

    As an aside, wasn’t Harry F Byrd a Democrat who became an Independent? Oh well, don’t let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

  7. In Peter World, conservatives don’t get alarmed, they get “apoplectic.”
    Conservatives have “extreme” advocates. Conservative legislator Dave LaRock is a “gay basher.” Conservatives raise “specters of Anti-Americanism.” Conservatives oppose change.

    Oddly, when I read Chris Braunlich’s piece, I didn’t see any comparable sweepingly derogatory characterizations of Democrats. He actually advanced arguments that did not entail insulting and stereotyping those with whom he disagrees. For a conservative knuckle-dragging extremist, he seemed downright restrained in his rhetoric.

    I wonder what your post would look like if you had stuck to the issues rather than portraying others in such a negative light.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      Chris B, to his credit, not his style. Not so much for some others who write here…

      You want “balance” ? let’s go back to some old posts here..

      I give YOU credit. You are allowing all voices – so far… but you’re
      gonna find that there are other views other than stock conservative.

      And before you say it.. I can give you MANY examples of positions that
      I have taken that are actually Conservative – not “liberal” so let’s keep the “leftist”, “virtue signaling”, “social justice warrior” stuff and other name calling to a low drone if possible.

  8. Now is not the time to force issues like this, utilizing an economic crisis that is going to send us into a depression to put vote buying goals in, speaks poorly of Speaker Pelosi. Its not the only one.

    One of his complaints was that U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to caboose a rule in the $2.2 trillion aid package calling for more women and minorities on corporate boards. Whether such riders should be attached in such a way is a fair question. What is disturbing is that expanding diversity on corporate boards has been a worthy goal for decades now. It has nothing to do with Vladimir Lenin or Mao Tse-tung.

  9. Top-GUN Avatar

    Really…. government knows the proper make up of a corporate board….
    How about we let businesses make their own decisions about their board make up… Stock holders and customers will let them know if they like their decision…

    1. WayneS Avatar

      “Really…. government knows the proper make up of a corporate board….”

      Of course it does! The pandemic has endowed all levels of government with special knowledge of all things as well as a level of moral superiority the likes of you and I can never hope to reach.

      That is why the ‘riders’ Rep. Pelosi and the democrats attached to the pandemic relief bill were perfectly justified and should not be questioned. She knows better than we what we should be spending our money on. Now, stop fighting the government and submit yourself to its authority!

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        he who bails you out gets to tell you how to operate, no?

      2. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
        Jane Twitmyer

        Pelosi doesn’t think she knows “better than we what we should be spending our money on. Now, stop fighting the government and submit yourself to its authority!” Good Gravy … Read the news!

        Phila. Inquirer …
        WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the creation of a new select committee Thursday with subpoena powers to scrutinize the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, and its management of the new $2 trillion economic rescue law.

        “Where there’s money, there’s also frequently mischief,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said as she announced creation of the special bipartisan panel she said would be focused on rooting out waste, fraud and abuse.

        Pelosi’s announcement comes amid growing clashes between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration about oversight of the new rescue legislation and a $500 billion fund controlled by the Treasury Department.”

        She evidently think that Congress should have oversight and that the distribution of the funds should not be left to just Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury.

  10. TooManyTaxes Avatar

    Give me a break. Delegate LaRock has objected to the push to force people to perform personal services with respect to gay marriages when they have religious beliefs that do not allow them to recognize gay marriage. This is not going into a bakery and buying a cake, going to the mall and renting two tuxes or buying two wedding dresses. This isn’t going into the county clerk’s office and getting a marriage license.

    This is about forcing people who believe gay marriage is impossible from a religious standpoint being to participate in a wedding celebration by working hand in hand to design and create a custom wedding cake or, pretty soon, officiate at a wedding. This is about forcing adoption agencies affiliated with a religious body to do adoptions with a gay couple. And it’s selective too. The target are conservative Protestants and Catholics. I’ve never seen any attempt to go after any Muslim congregation or believer.

    Yet, at the very same time, we see judges ruling that people can, for religious reasons, violate federal immigration laws.

    From a policy perspective, I don’t have any problem with gay marriage or with gay people adopting children. When I entered private practice, one of my first cases was to assist a gay business in California with a communications issue.

    I do have a big problem with government officials purposely rubbing people’s faces in the ground because the government officials don’t like their religious beliefs. And that’s what’s happening.

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      And that’s relevant to his suggestions about the pending bills on economic topics how? Again, ad hominem….he must be wrong here because I hate some other position he has taken….

  11. Chris Braunlich Avatar
    Chris Braunlich

    Re: the original post …

    Ah, the old “vast right wing conspiracy” deflection again, although it is surely the first time the Virginia Municipal League has been lumped in with that (did I miss the revolution when “we” took over the cities, towns and counties?). The common denominator between VML and the 24 small business-dominant trade associations (Coalition for a Strong Virginia Economy) that wrote those letters is:

    These are the people who have to pay for it. These are the people who have to bring the economy back. Their words, more than mine or Peter’s, ought to have value and deserve respect.

    I look forward to an explanation from our Friends of the Left of how we pay for all this “reform”, at this point in time, as the economy implodes and people are without jobs for extended periods of time, I’ll certainly be willing to listen.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      re: ” I look forward to an explanation from our Friends of the Left of how we pay for all this “reform”, at this point in time, as the economy implodes and people are without jobs for extended periods of time, I’ll certainly be willing to listen.”

      Chris – are you counting on the Federal govt to “rescue” us?

      Have you got a view on that?

      1. Chris Braunlich Avatar
        Chris Braunlich


        No. There’s no amount of federal spending that will “rescue” us. Unlike the 2008 crisis, which involved bad actors in financial services, a lot more people are being hurt in this one and this is a crisis not resulting from bad business decisions. So there is justification for federal assistance at times of stress.

        But there is a difference between lending a hand and expecting the government to do all the work. The only way out of this when the pandemic has passed is to create an environment in which cash is flowing, businesses can be rebuilt, customer bases restored and employees rehired.

        To paraphrase my colleague Steve, these companies – mostly small – are the lifeboats. They cannot “rescue” us if they are weighed down with bricks.

        1. TooManyTaxes Avatar

          The spring on our garage door broke Sunday, which, in turn, caused the cables to snap. This leaves the door impossible to move, even when disconnected from the opener. On Monday I called the guy who had installed a new garage door opener a couple years ago. He was happy and arrived in an hour. I set up the inside of the garage so that he could work and not come close to anyone. Fixed it. He said business was only so-so and needs work not red tape from the government.

        2. LarrytheG Avatar

          Thanks for responding Chris. So can you, would you, talk a little more about how we should go forward?

          I assume that you disagree with the scope and scale of the Federal response?

  12. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Ad hominen, schomedem. If I correctly characterize a politician, it’s wrong. When you do it, it is right. Just like when I posted criticism of Ralph Northam. I was told to “shut up.” Yet, everyone else has weighed in with critiques.

  13. sherlockj Avatar

    “In the past two days, James C. Sherlock raised the specter of anti-Americanism if the changes take effect. His incredible missive went so far as to claim that left-leaning Virginians were trying to turn the government into a socialist, totalitarian state.”
    Do me a favor, Peter. Point me to the section of any of my writings in which I “raised the specter of anti-americanism”. I must have missed it. My father was a socialist, a WWII veteran and a career employee of the Department of Defense. I did not ever consider him anti-American.
    My reference to totalitarianism was the government of China. I assume you agree.
    As for as left-leaning Americans wishing to turn the government socialist, you must have missed it. It’s been in all the papers. One of the two remaining candidates for the Democratic nomination for President is a proud socialist. My dad would have voted for him.
    It is your right to your views. You have no right to misrepresent mine.

  14. LarrytheG Avatar

    It’s only an Ad Hominem if it is directed at the person who you are talking to.

    It’s personal.

    Name calling… yep… and if that is gonna be the rule here in BR – let’s
    be consistent about it.

    I have to say – “name calling” has been a “tradition” in BR – just go back through the posts – … stuff like “leftist” and “liberals” used pejoratively has been rampant and continues.

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      No Name calling? Well, if I cannot use perjoratives, what word can I use in place of “Republican “?

  15. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    I heard on Fox that this pandemic could have been nipped in the bud with transvaginal ultrasounds.

  16. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    LarrytheG, my personal BR favorites are “social justice warriors” snd “euroweenies.” I have some friends in europe and am sure they would appreciate it.

    1. LarrytheG Avatar

      I need to go gather up all the pejoratives that have “enriched” BR over time.

      Of course, my personal favorite recently is “trump derangement syndrome” applied to those who speak ill of you-know-who … obviously only “leftists” would do such a thing…

  17. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Here is what I meant from your blog post yesterday:

    “Progressives in the media, the street Left, the cocktail party Left, the faculty lounges and the political class, unschooled in or uncaring about the foundational necessity for and successes of the Constitution, a market economy or personal freedom, want to transform all three in favor of ideas they consider improvements. The progressive philosophy is people can do whatever they wish as long as it is mandatory, and mandated by “experts” from those same faculty lounges.”

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      What’d ya ‘spec from the LMD commander when he mans the twin Parker 51s?

  18. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    The Real Fly in the Real Ointment:
    Money Changers in the Temple.

    The Old Dominion no longer has a government. In lieu of what use to be its government, Virginia is run behind the doors of a vast money exchange. Therein its state politicians sell political favors (called laws), and public rights in Virginia to private interests, all in return for vast cash contributions and votes the Virginia politicians use to enrich themselves and aggregate ever more power for themselves and their crony allies. As a result, Virginia’s Money Exchange can’t hit a fast ball that is now defined as a law serving the public interests. Virginia’s rulers and their regime, all engorged now, have sold their souls to the Devil.

    Remember ideology is only the disguise and sweetener used by the masters to keep the attention of otherwise scatterbrained but otherwise useful idiots whose masters are focused sharply on the money / vote exchange game, nothing more and nothing less.

    The masters care not a tinkers damn about anything else save money and power.

  19. johnrandolphofroanoke Avatar

    Peter your team has a concentration of power at the moment. My team is out of power, we have lousey cards right now, and we are not happy about how your team is using that concentration of power. So the best we can do at the moment is delay, obstruct, resist, whine, moan, belly ache, regroup, and wait like a snake in the grass. Your team did the same thing not too long ago. This is political combat. It has been going on like this since the very days of Nathaniel Bacon’s rebellion.

    Winston Churchill was right!

    “In war you can only be killed once, in politics you can be killed many times.”

    1. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
      Jane Twitmyer

      ” the best we can do at the moment is delay, obstruct, resist, whine, moan, belly ache, regroup, and wait like a snake in the grass.” WOW!

      Well, thanks now at least now someone has answered the question I posed when I quoted the ‘stuff’ about the ‘liberal idea’ of PFAS regulation … Please tell me why regulations should not be. ….
      “Why they are sooo hard to enact into law?”

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        re: dealt “lousy” cards.

        no, those “cards” are called reality – it’s the reality that we have to deal with instead of argue about.

        it’s no longer an argument about what one believes ideologically.

        it’s what we actually have to deal with in a real world and the “conservative” ideology that big govt is bad and the free market is “good” is not exactly the way things are right now… not with the Feds talking about trillions of dollars to “rescue” the “free market”…

        This is actually an opportunity – to find some middle ground about how to go forward… let’s see who is willing to do that.

        1. WayneS Avatar

          He did not say they were dealt lousy cards, he said they have lousy cards. They drew most of them themselves.

        2. johnrandolphofroanoke Avatar

          Maybe Mr. Larry. We shall see. You and I are just along for the ride. I don’t see any middle ground though. The middle ground is the graveyard for politicians in this era. Just ask James Buchanan and Frank Pierce.

  20. WayneS Avatar

    If the republicans are in such disarray how could they possibly hope to achieve the things they are alleged in this post to be trying to achieve?

    It appears those on the left are even more confident than those on the right that the republican party of Virginia is populated and [sort of] led by a bunch of inept buffoons. What, then, are they so worried about?

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      Yes, this was false premise from the start. The GOP lacks the votes in the state House or Senate to change anything, so the effort is underway to persuade the Governor and moderate Dems to take another look. This is what has Peter, Larry and Nancy’s panties in a wad.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        panties in a wad? Good googly moogly !

        My bet is the “leftists” in the Va GA will proceed in a reasonable way, not entirely to the liking of those to their right but we’ll see.

        And yes, those on the right are going bat crap crazy of late.. doing even more name-calling that before until it has been called out… so now we get the “panties” foolishness.

        But I’m actually pretty agog that the GOP has just totally rolled over on the money thing… and what makes Chris Braunlich “plea” to not hurt small business by increasing the minimum wage and PLA agreements – at the very same time the National GOP can’t find enough money to give to the employees of small businesses to keep them employed, as well as “free stuff”, like food and health insurance, stopping evictions and no electricity cut-offs.

        In other words, the very same folks that are often called entitlement takers are now looked upon as a core part of the economy.

        So why not have them earn higher wages and have more/better work conditions?

        It’s as if there is a total disconnect between National GOP and Virginia GOP on these things…

        and panties in a wad? Haner – are you listening to some folks commenting here who want to string up Northam and ignore the social distancing rules? Now, THAT’s panties in a wad!

  21. Jane Twitmyer Avatar
    Jane Twitmyer

    Have you listened lately to the man who got elected President?

  22. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    “Panties in a wad?” What is this, Jolly Olde England?

  23. LarrytheG Avatar

    might be one of those good ole boy terms…. It’s hard now with the moratorium on name-calling… so we gotta do “something”… to
    express our grumpiness….. who woulda thought the partisan divide could
    get much worse! … Ouch ouch ouch!

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