Tag Archives: Shaun Kenney

Richmond’s Skinny Budget: Low Stakes Poker, High Stakes Rhetoric

by Shaun Kenney

Virginia’s General Assembly managed to pass the Richmond equivalent of a continuing resolution to fund the government until Senate Democrats and House Republicans can hammer out a compromise on corporate tax breaks.

One will have to pardon me for not getting terribly wound up about tax breaks for corporations while small businesses and working families are struggling with back-to-back  years of 9 percent inflation from Washington.

Meanwhile, much of the damage done by the Northam administration with regard to Critical Race Theory, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) requirements, gender ideology, and the long litany of progressive efforts to remake Virginia were left both untouched and unchallenged.

Even school choice — the marquee legislation championed by Lt. Governor Winsome Sears — was left to die in committee.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are promising a “brick wall” against House Republicans until they get what they want — in other words, reneging on the pledge from conferees to honor a $950 million tax cut. The stopgap fixes the $200 million shortfall snafu created by the Virginia Department of Education’s spreadsheet, puts another $25 million into the Virginia Retirement System, and another $100 million towards cost overruns for existing building infrastructure. What mystifies most is that the Senate Democrats haven’t been precisely clear on what they want beyond platitudes for higher salaries for bureaucrats, public education, higher education, etc. Continue reading

Miyares Reminds Republicans the Difference a Year Makes

by Shaun Kenney

If Virginia Republicans needed a sizzle reel, this was it.

With news that leftist Commonwealth Attorneys are openly refusing to enforce the law in some cases, the threat to the rule of law and the problem of selective enforcement is greater now than ever before.

Which is why a long list of actual accomplishments is enough to lift the spirits of anyone kicking the dirt about what Virginia Republicans might be in future:
Short list?

• Miyares actually reminds us of his constitutional oath (something his predecessor set aside rather quickly);
• Launching Operation Ceasefire;
• Keeping repeat offenders off Virginia’s streets;
• Listening to and working with local law enforcement across Virginia;
• Protecting consumers from bad corporate actors;
• $1 billion in settlements while tackling the opioid crisis, specifically targeting the cheap availability of fentanyl — which is more of a problem than most people realize;
• Protecting Virginia energy ratepayers;
• Touring Virginia public schools regarding school safety;
• Perhaps the marquee issue: investigating Loudoun County Public Schools for their horrific and heavy-handed treatment of concerned parents.

There are also these: (1) Virginia Republicans are moving forward with a focus on process rather than agenda; (2) Miyares knows Virginia like the back of his hand; and (3) Miyares intends to move in coalition. Continue reading

New VCCS Chancellor Focuses on Linking Industry and Education

by Shaun Kenney

One of Virginia’s hidden jewels is our community college system. For both bang for the buck and ease of access, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) is perhaps one of our most underutilized resources, not simply because of the architecture or infrastructure, but because of the sheer quality of both the professors and — quite frankly — the students who move through the system.

Governor Glenn Youngkin came into office with specific intentions about how the VCCS should meet the 21st century, ideas which rubbed the existing VCCS board in the wrong way at first. Chalk it up to politics, image management, or that great enemy of all communication (miscommunication).

With the selection of David Doré as the new chancellor of VCCS, whatever sour first impressions there might have been have ended in compromise. In fact, it is hard to see where anyone could have gone wrong with the selection at all. Continue reading

Anti-Religious Satanic Group Demands Equal Treatment in Chesapeake

by Shaun Kenney

There are certain political groups that we rightly exclude from the political commons. Not because in doing so they are antithetical to our ideas of liberalism (lowercase-L) or democracy (lowercase-D), but because they are antithetical to the moral tradition from which both liberalism and democracy spring.

Of course, our Founders were wise enough to give classical liberalism and the democratic spirit the guidelines required to thrive. Through constitutional limitations on the power of federal overreach, the various factions as defined by Madison are balanced by the traditions and processes which guarantee our liberties and basic rights.

So, there’s a reason why Nazis are not welcome to participate in public life, even if they are tolerated in the public square as something to be mocked. There’s a reason why the Ku Klux Klan doesn’t receive a forum, even though they are mocked ruthlessly in the film and entertainment industry.

And there’s a reason why the ASS (After School Satan) Club doesn’t get to be in our public schools. From WAVY 13:

A flyer advertising the club started circulating on social media promoting the club, which is set to launch at B.M. Williams Primary School on Dec. 15.

“We are non-theistic,” said Rose Bastet, a volunteer organizing the new club. “I understand the apprehension behind the satanic name, but he is just an imaginary figure that we look to because he is the eternal rebel that fought for justice and humanity.”

Continue reading

Winners and Losers: 2022 Mid-Terms Edition

by Shaun Kenney

The first wall to fall was pushed over in 1980 in the Polish shipyards. Later, other symbolic walls came down, and the Germans, of course, tore down the literal wall in Berlin. The fall of the Berlin Wall makes for nice pictures. But it all started in the Gdansk shipyards.

— Lech Walesa on the Fall of the Berlin Wall (2009)

First and foremost, today is the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I remember watching this on live television as reporters were at first incredulous that it was even happening followed up with reports that Berliners — East and West — were swarming the wall and using hammers to pry it apart.

The impossible now seemed possible. Just two years later, the Soviet Union was mere weeks from moving from memory to history — and on Christmas Day in 1991 of all days.

So much for predictions of a red wave, eh?

The RCP projections for a R+2.5 generic ballot did not produce the three point “shy Tory” bounce many were expecting. Instead, the generic ballot may have been a few points shy of the RCP projections themselves (the pollsters working for Politico had the numbers as high as D+5 — which would have been not just historic but unparalleled). Continue reading

Wokewashing Comes for the Executive Mansion

by Shaun Kenney

Ned Oliver over at Axios Richmond takes two separate and distinct wires and touches them together for maximum dramatic effect, namely how the tour for the Virginia Executive Mansion — recently reopened after the COVID pandemic — whose narrative has satisfied historians for a good two decades or more, is today somehow tied into Youngkin’s opposition to Critical Race Theory.

From the objective-because-it-is-short method at Axios Richmond:

Why it matters: One of Youngkin’s first acts as governor was to ban public schools from teaching what he called “inherently divisive concepts,” prompting fears his administration was attempting to whitewash history books.

  • His administration’s handling of tours at the Executive Mansion offers up-close insight into how he thinks complex histories should be taught.

Does anyone in their right mind think this is objective reporting? Continue reading

John Reid Says What Everyone Is Thinking

John Reid

The WRVA talk show host calls out the men without chests. Good on him for doing so.

by Shaun Kenney

Outrage Is No Substitute for Thought

UVa students push back against learning about other viewpoints.

by Shaun Kenney

WARNING! This is a long one . . . so pour your favorite scotch or cup of coffee and be prepared to consider alternate viewpoints that may offend. As the libertarian philosopher Robert Nozick remarks, “My thoughts do not aim for your assent, just place them alongside your own for awhile.”

One of the things I deeply appreciated about my time at the University of Virginia was its treatment of the humanities writ large. In short, everyone — no matter what their intelligence or depth — should expose themselves to something more than just their profession. “What good is it to earn your first million at the age of 30,” opined one professor, “only to find out you can’t have a conversation because you are a boring person!

I had the privilege of encountering not just one but two generations of Virginia students. The first was among my peers during the late 1990s; the second when I darkened the towers to pursue my own academic career, which remains an ongoing project to be sure.

Of course, I was instantly identified by more than one professor as having a Jesuit background. For those unfamiliar with the accolade, a Jesuit education is considered to have a certain approach to the world. Continue reading

Liberal Democracy, Illiberal Institutions

Maybe no one wants to work for a public education system that hates our values.

by Shaun Kenney

Carl Schmitt isn’t precisely a household name. The German political theorist was a deep reader of Thucydides and Thomas Hobbes, whose evolution of thought occurred during the fratricidal tumult of Weimar Germany in the 1920s.

One of Schmitt’s particular insights was the totalitarian nature of political parties, namely that the adjudication of power is both an authoritarian act and a totalitarian demand on the consciences of those who participate in it.

Consider for a moment those who waver on any particular piece of Republican orthodoxy — tax cuts, the right to life, the Second Amendment, immigration, supporting our police, or a robust national defense posture. Or on the left with the presence of a social welfare state, abortion on demand, gun control, open immigration policies, defunding the police, or a liberal internationalist order.

One could be an avowed communist, but if that person also happened to be pro-life? The Democrats would savage that individual. Conversely, consider a Republican who was rock solid on every issue except life. Would most Republicans vote for that person? Probably not.

Continue reading

Youngkin Breaks VCCS Stonewalling Over New Chancellor — Ivan Drago Style

by Shaun Kenney

After a months-long standoff between the Governor’s Office and the Virginia Community Colleges Board over the appointment of a new chancellor, Glenn Youngkin had to break the impasse in a tersely worded letter.

“Virginia has the opportunity to lead the nation, and we need a Chancellor that will take us there. As we start a new fiscal year on July 1st, I earnestly ask you to fully commit to this challenge and opportunity,” Youngkin wrote. “Transformation is hard work-this takes time, energy, focus, and commitment. If for any reason you feel like you cannot commit to this mission, I will accept your resignation by June 30 with gratitude for your service.”

Rather than resign, the VCCS chose to allow the Governor’s Office to appoint a non-voting member to the board.  From WRIC in Richmond: Continue reading

Virginia Budget Deal Stalled as Democrats Demand $3B in Increased Spending

by Shaun Kenney

Just to illustrate how fanatically out of touch Senate Democrats are as they frantically try to spend $3 billion on more government, check out State Senator Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) on Twitter as he blasts Governor Glenn Youngkin’s proposal for gasoline tax relief:

Remember — we are sitting on a $3bn surplus fueled by COVID relief dollars and not by any metric of economic success. Yet Senate Democrats continue to lean into the hammock of so-called budget cuts as they continue to shove money into the maw of state government for the sake of producing mediocre results. Continue reading

Virginia Dems Sense Blood In The Water

Virginia Republicans are bumping into a new reality of unelected institutions fighting them every inch of the way.

by Shaun Kenney

Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn is much less of a household name if he ever was one to begin with — author of the oft-quoted and barely read “Gulag Archipelago.”

Upon his arrival to the United States after fleeing the Soviet Union, his first remarks upon coming to the West were not ones of relief but utter horror.

Instead of a repressive police state, Solzhenitsyn discovered a tabloid media on the verge of becoming the 24/7/365 monstrosity we see today. Solzhenitsyn’s efforts to avoid the public eye were fruitless, and within a matter of days he was quick to observe:

“You are worse than the KGB!”

By 1978, Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard commencement speech was more indictment than anti-communism, because he saw the same disease in the capitalist-driven West that he observed at work in the communist-driven East: Continue reading

End the Subminimum Wage for Disabled Virginians

Virginia is top ranked as a business-friendly state. How we treat employees with disabilities in the workplace matters.

by Shaun Kenney

What are the hallmarks of a business-friendly environment? Competitive wages, opportunities to build wealth, support for entrepreneurial endeavors, freedom to create and innovate, dignity of work, and economic independence and sustainability – to name a few.

There’s a law on the books in Virginia that legislators and advocates on both sides of the aisle argue stands in direct contrast to many of these principles. It goes back to 1938.

According to Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers with a 14(c) certificate from the Wage & Hour Division of the Department of Labor are legally permitted to pay wages below the minimum wage to employees with physical, developmental, cognitive, mental or age-related disabilities. Continue reading

Restoring Process Over Politics

by Shaun Kenney

Over the last eight years, Virginia Democrats have been swift to impose their will in violation of political process — a fact that continues to frustrate Virginia Republicans on fronts as wide as economic shutdowns, mask mandates, the tearing down of history and war memorials, the imposition of Critical Race Theory in government schools, and the enforcement of gender ideology in state government.

The list is long and needs to be truncated quickly.

Republicans acted in November, and with the election of Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin there was the hope that incoming Republicans would act with the swiftness and speed demonstrated by the Democrats.

Yet Youngkin has walked into a few checkpoints. Rather than run over top of them, Youngkin has chosen not to de-escalate but adjust on at least two fronts — namely Northam’s cap-and-trade schematic under RGGI and on repealing the mask mandates.

But notice the play here. Continue reading

Meritocracy Against the Wokes

Progressive Democrats are awfully riled up about the term “meritocracy” in Youngkin’s EO 1 — and they ought to be.

by Shaun Kenney

Poor Democrats — they haven’t been this ruffled about Republicans taking over Richmond since 1865.

Truly, it’s hard to feel much sympathy for the Virginia Democrats, whose lust for power and the damage they did in just two years was something to behold. What they deemed progress consisted mostly of bulldozing history, embedding outright racism into our classrooms and bureaucracy, and institutionalizing mental illness to the degree where if such things are questioned you are swiftly beaten out of the public square — or worse, the Twitter mob is followed up by a media no one reads and you are marched off to your own private gulag.

Yet I digress.

This morning’s brass ring for the left is Youngkin Executive Order 1, which repeals by fiat much of the Critical Race Theory embedded into state government by the Northam administration, and does so in such a way that any challenges will be in the face of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The offending passages? Continue reading