Archives August 2018

Tone & Tenor, Background Investigations, and Drawing Lines

Norm and I discuss this week my column on John McCain and his column on Abigail Spanberger’s personnel file.

Regarding the Spanberger file, I have some advice for Dave Brat, especially in the context of him being a champion for limited government and a crusader against “the swamp.”

We also discuss federal wage freezes, redrawing the state house lines, and uranium mining, among others.

The Latest on Stitcher:

Other news we discuss:

Trump cancels pay raise due to federal workers in January (AP)
Rep. Comstock Statement On The Possible Elimination Of The Federal Employee Pay Raise (Rep. Comstock Press Release)
Democrats’ Plan Would Redraw 29 of 100 House Districts (VPAP)
AG Herring: Virginia uranium mining ban should stand (WSET)
Chinese Navy Now Larger than the USN (Fox News):

Follow Norm on Twitter and read his columns at The Washington Post.

Subscribe to the show!

If you liked this podcast, please support it by subscribing either on Apple Podcast, Google Play or Google Podcasts, TuneIn, or Stitcher – and please leave a review. It helps!

Subscribe on Android or Google Podcasts

Listening to a Podcast:

1) Click the player and listen to it via your device
2) Go to Apple Podcast, Google Play or Google Podcasts, TuneIn or Stitcher.
– Subscribe to the podcast to automatically download new shows to your device when they are uploaded. (How to from Apple Podcast, Google Play, TuneIn and from Stitcher)
3) Added tip: Connect your device via Bluetooth, USB, or even 3.5mm to your car radio, select the aux or media input on your radio for your device, and press play on your device for the show either on the post or through Apple Podcast/Google Play/TuneIn/Stitcher.

On the Server (please allow a few moments for buffering):

Our Lesson from John McCain

John McCain’s passing has offered an opportunity for everyone who is paying attention or participating in politics to take a step back and perhaps reassess the tone and tenor of our conversations.

The man, who once called Virginia Beach and Oceana Naval Air Station “home”, advises us in his farewell letter:

“We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times.”

McCain’s advice is accurate. And it certainly comes as no surprise given that it’s enshrined in our founding documents:

“We the People of the United States” in the US Constitution and “We hold these truths to be self-evident” in our Declaration of Independence.

It has been and always will be about “us.”

So why the dynamic tension?

“The right wing serves as an advocate for hierarchy and the left wing serves as a critic of hierarchy,” states Jordan B. Peterson, author of the best-seller “Twelve Rules for Life”, in his most recent podcast.

He goes on to say that the right sees the hierarchy as necessary, mainly because they are hierarchies of competence, to organize people and society; for order and getting things done. The left sees hierarchies as having the potential for dispossessing people and that we should all be paying attention to the “widows and the orphans”.

“The political discussion, then, is about how to ensure that hierarchies are maintained and are functional but also have sufficient mercy within them to take care of the people who for one reason or another are struggling to find a place, even in the hierarchy of competence.”

In other words, we are all in this together, trying to solve problems in a fair, reasonable manner.

This, however, is why the problem solving cannot be boiled down into a 15-second sound bite or a 280-character tweet.

“Yes we can!” and “Make America Great Again!” might inspire us, but it certainly isn’t public policy, because public policy is hard.

“Health care for all Americans” turns into a bill that we have to pass in order to find out what’s in it and “Build the Wall” becomes a metaphor for Xenophobia.

More to the point, it’s one thing to whine about higher taxes, losing jobs overseas, too many abortions, illegal immigrants, etc. It’s quite another to come up with rational, reasoned solutions.

For example, you can be for free trade, but if it is enacted too quickly, what will happen to the country’s industrial base (just ask Pittsburgh, Akron, or Detroit)? Or, it’s one thing to say your pro-choice, but what about caring for a mother’s lifetime of “what if’s” and regrets?

When we talk about policy, we seem to quickly divide into our corners – our tribes – and forget that the “sausage making” is hard. We want easy, understandable solutions – quickly. Otherwise, regardless of who was yesterday’s fresh voice, they have become today’s establishment hacks.

When it comes to good public policy, egos need to be checked at the door. Lessons have to be learned, by the right and left. And that takes time.

McCain knew this. And he put country first.

Stagnation – like a swamp – is ultimately a breeding ground for revolutionary change. But it is those revolutionary, quick changes that must be avoided due to the damage it will cause.

The pursuit of “a more perfect union” is a noble calling. And change should happen. But the possibility of actually getting there will be ever challenged by our negative human nature.

If, however, there is a critical mass of the community recognizing the seemingly conflicting ideas of order and independence while embracing compassion and restraints on authority, we will truly accomplish great things – together. And America will remain, as it always has been, great.

We have devised a government that is intentionally meant to confound us all. Let’s accept that and actually work to solve the problems, together. If anything, that is what McCain is trying to tell us and the best way to honor his legacy.


This column appears in The Princess Anne Independent News

Chuck Smith

Chuck Smith says “not so fast” on the selection of Jack Wilson as next chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. While Smith acknowledges that Wilson has secured 52 public endorsements from the GOP’s state central committee members, he thinks he can convince many of them that he is the best man for the job before they gather to vote Sept. 8.

Smith feels his leadership and life experiences make him far more qualified for the job – and he is unequivocal in his view that Republican elected officials must be held accountable for not following the Republican Creed.

Smith makes his case that the party has a chance to make a positive change that will lead to wins and not continuing electoral failure.

The party is electing a chairman to serve until the next regular election of party chairman in 2020.

Listen On Stitcher:

In this podcast, we discuss:

– His background
– Service in the USMC and as a Navy Judge Advocate (JAG)
– What drew him to politics and becoming a conservative
– How he became involved in the GOP
– What were the highlights from his time serving as chairman of the Virginia Beach Republican Party
– What he’s learned from his experiences within the party that will help him lead the party
– His lessons learned from running for Congress against Rep. Bobby Scott
– What is the role of the party chairman?
– Does the party have a role in censuring or censoring its candidates?
– How does the party reach out to women, the scientific community, LGBT, educators, union workers, minorities when the general perception is that it is hostile to those groups?
– What does a big tent look like?
– How he is far from a “token” black leader within the GOP and how he should be elected to this post based on his merit and qualifications
– Fundraising and Organization
– What gives him hope

Links of note:

Chuck Smith on Facebook
Draft Chuck Smith for RPV Chairman
Loudoun GOP censures Republican Sen. Vogel
Republican Party of Virginia – Committee (VPAP)
Democratic Party of Virginia – Committee (VPAP)

Subscribe to the show!

If you liked this podcast, please support it by subscribing either on Apple Podcast, Google Play or Google Podcasts, TuneIn, or Stitcher – and please leave a review. It helps!

Subscribe on Android or Google Podcasts

Listening to a Podcast:

1) Click the player and listen to it via your device
2) Go to Apple Podcast, Google Play or Google Podcasts, TuneIn or Stitcher.
– Subscribe to the podcast to automatically download new shows to your device when they are uploaded. (How to from Apple Podcast, Google Play, TuneIn and from Stitcher)
3) Added tip: Connect your device via Bluetooth, USB, or even 3.5mm to your car radio, select the aux or media input on your radio for your device, and press play on your device for the show either on the post or through Apple Podcast/Google Play/TuneIn/Stitcher.

Listen to his opponent, Jack Wilson:

On the Server (please allow a few moments for buffering):

Will the Manafort and Cohen Convictions Hurt Virginia Congressional Republicans?

This week brought the news of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen both being found guilty of federal crimes and the word “impeachment” more frequently being used surrounding President Donald Trump. On this week’s show, Norm and I look at some of the polling data and wonder if this bombshell news might impact any of the Virginia races.

Listen on Stitcher:

News of note we discuss:

Trump and Sessions spar as Trump rages (AP)
Dems use ‘co-conspirator’ Trump line to attack Kavanaugh (Politico)
House Update: 12 Ratings Changes – For Republicans, Cohen and Manafort news exacts an opportunity cost (Sabato’s Crystal Ball)
RC Poll: Kaine maintains strong lead over Stewart (Roanoke College)
Sen. Bill Stanley proposes modernizing schools without raising taxes (Roanoke Times)

Norm’s Columns:
Dave Brat’s out of tune
Bill Stanley’s school plan shuffles the partisan deck

J.R.’s Column:
Taylor’s Unforced Error

Follow Norm on Twitter and read his columns at The Washington Post.

Subscribe to the show!

If you liked this podcast, please support it by subscribing either on Apple Podcast, Google Play or Google Podcasts, TuneIn, or Stitcher – and please leave a review. It helps!

Subscribe on Android or Google Podcasts

Listening to a Podcast:

1) Click the player and listen to it via your device
2) Go to Apple Podcast, Google Play or Google Podcasts, TuneIn or Stitcher.
– Subscribe to the podcast to automatically download new shows to your device when they are uploaded. (How to from Apple Podcast, Google Play, TuneIn and from Stitcher)
3) Added tip: Connect your device via Bluetooth, USB, or even 3.5mm to your car radio, select the aux or media input on your radio for your device, and press play on your device for the show either on the post or through Apple Podcast/Google Play/TuneIn/Stitcher.

On the Server (please allow a few moments for buffering):

Jack Wilson

Jack Wilson is set to become the next chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia when leadership of its governing committee meets Sept. 8. With more than 50 secured public endorsements, Wilson has more than enough of a majority of the 70-plus member voting group to secure the position.

Wilson joins us to give us a better idea as to who he is, why he wants to be chairman, and why he thinks it’s still a great time to be a conservative and Republican. We also talk about the role of chairman and when it’s ok to be a cheerleader and when members of the party need to be kept in check.

Wilson is set to take the helm just as Virginia Republicans are reeling from a stunning defeat in 2017 to the Democrats and has Virginia Republicans in the General Assembly handed Governor Northam, a Democrat, a huge policy win by expanding Medicaid.

On Stitcher:

In this podcast, we discuss:

– His background
– Time in the Army during the Cold War
– What drew him to politics and becoming a conservative
– How he became involved in the GOP, the College Republicans, and campaigns
– What have been highlights of being 4CD chair? Why was that an important post?
– What he’s learned from his experiences within the party that will help him lead the party
– What is the role of the party chairman?
– Does the party have a role in censuring or censoring its candidates?
– How does the party reach out to women, the scientific community, LGBT, educators, union workers, minorities when the general perception is that it is hostile to those groups?
– What does a big tent look like?
– Democratic fundraising – fundraising in general
– What gives him hope

Links of note:
Jack Wilson to be Chairman of Republican Party of Virginia (The Bull Elephant)
Chesterfield lawyer Jack Wilson appears in line to become next chairman of Virginia GOP (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Republican Party of Virginia – Committee (VPAP)
Democratic Party of Virginia – Committee (VPAP)

Subscribe to the show!

If you liked this podcast, please support it by subscribing either on Apple Podcast, Google Play or Google Podcasts, TuneIn, or Stitcher – and please leave a review. It helps!

Subscribe on Android or Google Podcasts

Listening to a Podcast:

1) Click the player and listen to it via your device
2) Go to Apple Podcast, Google Play or Google Podcasts, TuneIn or Stitcher.
– Subscribe to the podcast to automatically download new shows to your device when they are uploaded. (How to from Apple Podcast, Google Play, TuneIn and from Stitcher)
3) Added tip: Connect your device via Bluetooth, USB, or even 3.5mm to your car radio, select the aux or media input on your radio for your device, and press play on your device for the show either on the post or through Apple Podcast/Google Play/TuneIn/Stitcher.

Hear his challenger, Chuck Smith:

On the Server (please allow a few moments for buffering):

Taylor’s Unforced Error

Over the past few weeks, Virginia’s Second Congressional District has not been part of the national discussion.

Here in the home of the largest concentration of military power on the Atlantic Coast, instead of discussing the passage of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act – which includes preserving our bases from another round of base realignment and closure, a 2.6 percent pay raise for service members, increased training for surface warfare officers, and a fourth Ford-class carrier – we are treated to “petition gate.” The act, while signed by the president, still has to be funded, and the Congressional role in passing such a spending bill often goes unnoticed.

Therein lies the true tragedy of this immature, cute, and ill-advised “trickster” maneuver by some members of the Congressman Scott Taylor re-election campaign to work for righting a purported wrong for their last political opponent, Shaun Brown. Instead of discussing what truly matters – and the actual role of government, as it doesn’t get more Article I than Congress funding defense – we have been treated to juvenile tactics that result in wasted tax dollars and a special prosecutor.

Taylor is said to have known that the last-minute petition drive was happening.

“Taylor has said his staff did nothing wrong and only wanted to assure Brown a place on the ballot with him and Democrat Elaine Luria,” reports Dave Ress of The Daily Press. “Four paid Taylor staffers gathered signatures in a two-day blitz shortly before the deadline for turning in ballot petitions. It also was two months after Brown, of Hampton, dropped her bid for the Democratic nomination in the wake of her indictment on federal corruption charges.”

Any reasonable person who has been involved in politics knows that signing a petition for a candidate to appear on a ballot – even your opponent – is a form a political etiquette. It helps with democracy.

However, it’s one thing to merely sign one’s name on a petition and quite another to actively solicit for your opponent and turn in petitions that, if allegations and some media reporting are accurate, may have forged signatures.

We are now treated to an investigation by a special prosecutor (taxpayer dollars) and a lawsuit against the state by the Democrats to remove Brown’s name from the ballot (more taxpayer dollars).

If that is not frustrating enough for a conservative to stomach, it is the completely unnecessary element of the whole fiasco.

What is unfortunate is Taylor, as an elected official, has actually been doing a good job.

The NDAA has been signed, tax cuts have passed, he’s fighting for the VA – all things conservatives and independents hope for and expect from a representative of this district.

Instead, we see Elaine Luria, a pro-choice liberal who now regularly includes her military title of “Commander” before her name in press releases (a not unnoticed reminder to her former enlisted opponent Taylor of her place and his), questioning Taylor’s “dirty” and “deceptive” behavior.

The irony is that there was one debate scheduled between these two with WHRO on Oct. 23. Because WHRV, a WHRO affiliate, first broke this story, Taylor has now dropped from the debate claiming the station has been unfair in its coverage. So now there is a debate over debates.

The Luria campaign, of course, has no problem with this dragging on. Her campaign likely perceives that voters will view her as taking the high ground.

So, as usual, it’s the voters who will suffer.

They will suffer in the short term due to a lack of germane and quality information relevant to a Congressional election. And they could suffer in the long-term, should Luria, with her not widely known and dangerous policies, actually get elected. Not to mention if this fiasco inextricably changes Virginia’s ballot laws.

All this, because of Taylor and his team’s unforced and unnecessary errors.


This column appears in The Princess Anne Independent News

Denver Riggleman

Denver Riggleman is a surprise candidate running to represent the people of Virginia’s Fifth District. The owner of Silverback Distillery and Nelson County Republican is hoping to succeed Congressman Tom Garrett and is facing Democrat and journalist Leslie Cockburn this General Election in November.

In this podcast, we discuss:

– Getting involved in politics
– Lessons learned from running for governor; an entrepreneur; a veteran
– Why he decided to run for this seat
– Cockburn’s view of the district v. his idea of the 5th CD voter
– The difference between his entry into the race and Cockburn’s
– Bigfoot
– Cockburn “crossing the [political] Rubicon”
– Charlottesville and one year after the incidents related to racism and white nationalism
– What he is hoping to accomplish in Congress
– What issue does he think he would be a “reliable vote”
– What motivates him and what does he think should motivate others to succeed

Links of note:

Denver Riggleman for Congress
“Thank You, Mr. Trump”: How the President Drove Me To Run For Congress (Cockburn, Vanity Fair)
Bigfoot erotica? Fur flies in Virginia congressional race (AP)

Subscribe to the show!

If you liked this podcast, please support it by subscribing either on Apple Podcast, Google Play or Google Podcasts, TuneIn, or Stitcher – and please leave a review. It helps!

Subscribe on Android or Google Podcasts

Listening to a Podcast:

1) Click the player and listen to it via your device
2) Go to Apple Podcast, Google Play or Google Podcasts, TuneIn or Stitcher.
– Subscribe to the podcast to automatically download new shows to your device when they are uploaded. (How to from Apple Podcast, Google Play, TuneIn and from Stitcher)
3) Added tip: Connect your device via Bluetooth, USB, or even 3.5mm to your car radio, select the aux or media input on your radio for your device, and press play on your device for the show either on the post or through Apple Podcast/Google Play/TuneIn/Stitcher.

Listen on Stitcher:

Listen to the Podcast Off the Server (please allow a few moments for buffering):

Ep. 3 – Brown Petitions, Space Force (and logos), Charlottesville State of Emergency

Norm Leahy and I talk this week in Virginia Politics, including:

Kaine leads Stewart by 23 points in Wilder Center – VCU poll
A state of emergency declared in Charlottesville; what does it mean?
Corey Stewart’s “white nationalist” problem (The New York Times)
Another round of primaries in the US; “Trump Republicans”; Uniting the GOP (ex. Michigan with Schuette for Governor and James for U.S. Senate)
Scott Taylor’s Petition Problem (reporting by Dave Ress of The Daily Press)
Taylor’s staff worked to get opponent on the ballot
Dead man’s signature among those gathered by Scott Taylor’s staff for Shaun Brown petition
Special prosecutor to investigate names gathered by Scott Taylor’s staff for Shaun Brown petition

Governor Northam announces an offshore wind turbine demonstration and funding for an electric vehicle charging station network (why not Tesla?)
Reps Rogers and Cooper on Space Force Report
Logos being pitched by President Trump’s re-election campaign:

Help us determine what to call this show! Let J.R. know by joining our Facebook conversation group!

Follow Norm on Twitter and read his columns at The Washington Post.

Subscribe to the show!

If you liked this podcast, please support it by subscribing either on Apple Podcast, Google Play or Google Podcasts, TuneIn, or Stitcher – and please leave a review. It helps!

Subscribe on Android or Google Podcasts

Listening to a Podcast:

1) Click the player and listen to it via your device
2) Go to Apple Podcast, Google Play or Google Podcasts, TuneIn or Stitcher.
– Subscribe to the podcast to automatically download new shows to your device when they are uploaded. (How to from Apple Podcast, Google Play, TuneIn and from Stitcher)
3) Added tip: Connect your device via Bluetooth, USB, or even 3.5mm to your car radio, select the aux or media input on your radio for your device, and press play on your device for the show either on the post or through Apple Podcast/Google Play/TuneIn/Stitcher.

Gavin Clarkson

Dr. Gavin Clarkson is an educator, small business owner, farmer, and has been called by The Financial Timesthe country’s leading scholar on tribal finance.” Clarkson, a candidate for New Mexico’s Secretary of State, has made it his mission to assist tribes away from government dependence and toward economic independence.

Clarkson came on the podcast for the purpose of discussing lawsuits filed in Virginia that claim that tribal law is being misapplied with respect to short-term lending.

Two specific cases, Solomon et al v. American Web Loan, Inc. et al and Williams et al v. Big Picture Loans, LLC et al allege that the lenders are protecting themselves from federal and state regulation using a scheme condescendingly labeled as “rent-a-tribe.”

On the show, we discuss:

– His being an enrolled member of the Choctaw nation.
– That Indian poverty is not a life sentence and that it is the fault of a paternalistic government
– Values he received from his parents growing up
– How he came into having such a breadth of experience and knowledge in agriculture, business, law, education, and technology
– Why tribal sovereignty is an economic resource
– What is the current Federal authority over tribes
– The economic devastation on tribes caused by federal and state governments and workarounds
– His role in the Trump administration with the Department of Interior
– What does the federal recognition of Virginia tribes entail and why was it important
– Short-term lending, tribes, and lawsuits – why current litigation is unfairly targeting tribes
– What is racism?
– His view on U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and the CFPB (Washington Examiner Op-Ed)
– Should tribal leaders do a “better job” of overseeing short-term lending?
– The nuances of internet commerce and internet lending and how tribal sovereignty relates
– The importance of economic opportunity for tribes and tribal ability to participate in financial commerce and lending
– His thoughts on Ruth Bader Ginsburg
– Why he’s running for Secretary of State in New Mexico
– What motivates and inspires him

Links of note:

Gavin Clarkson for New Mexico
Clarkson’s Facebook Page
Indian Civil Rights Act
CFPB estimates a $32 per person payout on class action lawsuits
Warner and Kaine on passage of recognizing Virginia tribes

Subscribe to the show!

If you liked this podcast, please support it by subscribing either on Apple Podcast, Google Play or Google Podcasts, TuneIn, or Stitcher – and please leave a review. It helps!

Subscribe on Android or Google Podcasts

Listening to a Podcast:

1) Click the player and listen to it via your device
2) Go to Apple Podcast, Google Play or Google Podcasts, TuneIn or Stitcher.
– Subscribe to the podcast to automatically download new shows to your device when they are uploaded. (How to from Apple Podcast, Google Play, TuneIn and from Stitcher)
3) Added tip: Connect your device via Bluetooth, USB, or even 3.5mm to your car radio, select the aux or media input on your radio for your device, and press play on your device for the show either on the post or through Apple Podcast/Google Play/TuneIn/Stitcher.

Ep. 2 – TBD – A Healthy Addiction to Social Media, Pipelines and Wind Farms, and Virginia Republicans

Norm Leahy and I discuss this week’s current events that are impacting Virginia Politics:

– Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality gets validation from a federal appeals court on its water quality impact study for the Mountain Valley Pipeline (Roanoke Times)
– Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy outsources to BVG Associates to develop wind farms offshore (Governor’s News Release)
– Governor Northam is talking opioid crisis to medical schools throughout Virginia in what he calls the “Grand Rounds” (Governor’s News Release)
– Congressman Scott Taylor is in a controversy over helping his 2016 Democratic opponent, Shaun Brown – now on trial for fraud – make the November ballot as an independent (The Daily Press)
– Jack Wilson, a Chesterfield lawyer, is poised to be the next chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia; Chuck Smith isn’t really even being considered (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
– Norm discusses his latest column for The Washington Post: Fiddling While the Virginia GOP Burns

Mail Bag

Join the Discussion Group and leave your comment to be read on our next show! Or email J.R.

From David –

“Liberties Lighthouse” with a picture of the lighthouse. That would blend with your military heritage. And a beacon of hope which we so desperately need right now and for the Republican Party of Virginia!

From Jordan –

I think blacks and others that deal with police should look at it like they’re going to their doctor’s office under their own consent. They must listen to what the authority tells them to do or there will be side effects to your treatment. As people we agree to be under the care of the police and submit to the treatment of police.
More people die from medical errors than police shootings. We should trust our police more.

Follow Norm on Twitter

If you liked this podcast, please support it by subscribing either on Apple Podcast, Google Play or Google Podcasts, TuneIn, or Stitcher – and please leave a review. It helps!

Subscribe on Android or Google Podcasts

Listening to a Podcast:

1) Click the player and listen to it via your device
2) Go to Apple Podcast, Google Play, TuneIn or Stitcher. Subscribe to the podcast to automatically download new shows to your device when they are uploaded. (How to from Apple Podcast, Google Play, TuneIn and from Stitcher)
3) Added tip: Connect your device via Bluetooth, USB, or even 3.5mm to your car radio, select the aux or media input on your radio for your device, and press play on your device for the show either on the post or through Apple Podcast/Google Play/TuneIn/Stitcher.