Archives October 2018

Pay Now or Pay Later – But Vote Smart

This week on Shoutin’ Along The James, Norm & I talk about the responsibility of voting, the need to take entitlement reform seriously, putting capitalism into practice (and how professional sports places serious limits on the free market), and a warning from Norm.

Topics discussed:

You Get the Government You Deserve (Hoeft)

From recent congressional debates in the 5th and 6th Districts, they all agreed the national debt and deficit were exploding, and the federal government needed to get a grip on it..but none of the candidates supported making cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid as sources of where to trim spending.

Norm says that to rail against deficits, blame tax cuts, foreign aid, the costs of being a global superpower…it’s all fine points of argument. But then don’t turn around and say no changes in entitlements. Which brings us to this: Cuts are necessary. They will be painful. No one will be happy. The alternative? A debt crisis that would enforce even more pain, on even more people, much faster:

National Debt Solutions Will Be Painful (National Review)

Our final topic has me concerned that the Roanoke Times has forgotten what made America an economic powerhouse – mobility and the stark realization that failure is an option:

Editorial: Economic Lessons from the World Series (Roanoke Times)

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

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You Get the Government You Deserve

Every election is the most important election ever. It’s not. But it is the most important election in our near future, which makes it pretty important!

That said, it’s very easy to get caught up in the hype – or lockstep in our tribes – as we approach the ballot booth.

Instead of looking at the candidates through some sort of tribal perspective, try to take a step back and think about who best reflects your values. Which could very well be tribal, but at least you thought about it.

For your consideration, here are the things that I think about every election.

Power and Corruption

Government is a very easy concept to understand once you strip it down to its basics: It is the notion where someone among us is placed in a leadership role and is provided resources, from us, for our collective use. The government doesn’t earn anything. Every dollar it has to use is provided from us.

We are blessed, for now, that we actually get to choose the leadership and that it is not imposed on us by force (of course, once it is chosen, we do have to follow it by force, so it’s best to choose it wisely).

So what are the candidate’s proclivities? Are they genuine people looking to do the public good or do they tend to tilt toward using the instruments of government power to support their agenda?

That’s not always easy to answer. However, at least in the case of this election cycle, we do have some examples.

The last time Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was Speaker of the House, she led the charge for the approval of a massive government spending project. Now that the bill has been passed and is being implemented, we are still trying to figure out what was in it. This begs the question: which candidates running for House of Representative would give Nancy Pelosi that type of power again? Which candidates who are running for the US Senate believe that passing massive government bills giving the government ever more power is the best approach for the government?

More locally, the city of Virginia Beach was called out recently by Gov. Ralph Northam.

“We need to get rid of the cronyism in Virginia Beach,” he said at a recent fundraiser.

His perception comes from his relationship with NFL Hall of Famer Bruce Smith, who claims Virginia Beach discriminates in how it awards development projects.

If you think Smith and the governor have a point, then you would want to choose candidates who have publicly committed themselves to further government transparency in the bid awards process.

You, Me and Them Have One Job

Fundamentally, the only reason any of us need a government is to keep us safe. That, however, is “Pandora’s Box,” “a genie in a bottle,” or the “whole can of worms.” Pick your metaphor.

Safe is such a subjective term. And it has many different elements.

– Who or what are we trying to keep safe? Ourselves? The unborn? Investments? Beaches?

– Who or what are we trying to stay safe from? A great nation-state? Industrial negligence? Gangs? Neighbors?

– Where are we trying to stay safe? Our planet? Nation? Roadways? Personal space? In a hospital?

– When are we looking to stay safe? In perpetuity? Today? Five years from now?

This answer will be different for each of us because we all have fundamentally different concerns. One person’s overwhelming concern for the safety of an endangered species will compete with another’s chosen livelihood to sell an in-demand product, such as natural gas or affordable housing. One person’s concern for extremely limited government and to be “left alone” will compete with another’s concern for our national security and a demand for a robust military presence.

The question for each of us is which candidates take this seriously. Are they duly considering the incredible complexities and nuances that come with each decision or are they closed-minded, intransigent, and unrepresentative of the community interest?

They have one job: to represent. And voters have one job: to consider who that thoughtful person is before they cast their ballot – and to be thoughtful about it themselves.

Government is our responsibility. The more we abdicate it because of laziness, being misled, or absence of thought, the less likely it is that we will have a government that truly represents or has our best interests in mind. My hope, every election, is for each individual to take their right to vote seriously – and do all in their power to make good decisions.

Nov. 6 might not be the most important election ever – but it is the one that matters today. Make it count.


This column appears in The Princess Anne Independent News

Disavowing the GOP, David Ramadan still supports Barbara Comstock

David Ramadan is a businessman, professor of government at George Mason University, a proud American immigrant, and widely popular influencer in Northern Virginia. He is probably one of the best advocates for Congresswoman Barbara Comstock as we head down the homestretch for her reelection.

Ramadan, a strong conservative voice, knows full well the challenges of that area but right now considers himself to be a man without a tribe – his words. From the president making derogatory comments on Twitter directed at Stormy Daniels to RPV banning Ramadan on social media, he finds the GOP brand to be adrift. But he is fiercely loyal to Comstock and knows she’s the best to represent her district, despite Democrats labeling him as an Uncle Tom.

Perhaps more than any other race, this one reflects the atmosphere of DC and Comstock, fairly or unfairly, has the challenge of running her campaign on her own merits and not that of other actors.

On the show, Ramadan explains why Comstock should return to Capitol Hill, how the national political conversation impacts Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, and what we’re learning from the existing polling in the race. He also laments the current tone at the national and state level and is disappointed that some Republicans (President Donald Trump, Republican Party of Virginia) seem to not know how to just “take the win.”

Specifically, on this show we discuss:

– His decision to not seek re-election to the House of Delegates
– His views on Medicaid Expansion in Virginia
– Stormy Daniels v. Donald Trump Twitter War
– The Republican Party of Virginia blocking him on social media
Comstock’s congressional record:
* Preventing a Federal employee pay freeze or government shutdown and advocating for a pay-raise
* Combatting Opioid and Drug Addiction
* Women’s Rights (not just rhetoric)
* Immigration
– Elizabeth Warren’s claim to be Native American. Does it diminish the importance of diversity?

From the Facebook J.R. Hoeft Conversation Group Page, a question from Adam Perry: How much is the national political climate impacting the election? Does Democrat behavior regarding Kavanaugh hearings turn off enough voters to Wexton?

Links:
Delegate Ramadan
@DavidIRamadan (Twitter)
Wason Center Notes on 10th District Race
VA-10 Polling via Real Clear Politics
Neck-and-Neck Race in Virginia’s 10th District, Comstock Poll Shows (Roll Call)

I also want to take this time to give a quick shoutout to Christopher Maligisi, host of the Conservative Book Club Podcast and Abby Alger, Director of Digital Training at The Leadership Institute. I just completed a two-day seminar by LI on podcasting and couldn’t be more satisfied with the training. If you ever get a chance to either do a seminar in person or online with LI, do it. It’s worth it.

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Redistricting always is a political process — on each and every side

Every decade the subject of redistricting becomes a hot topic, and since the 1960s, with the passage of the Voting and Civil Rights acts, it has become a living for partisan advocates and lawyers.

Precious little about the process of drawing district lines is given – likely intentionally – in the U.S. Constitution. Article I, Section 2, merely directs that every 10 years the number of representatives per state be determined by population. Section 4 says that the “times, places and manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature therof.” Nowhere does the Constitution direct the drawing of “districts,” but that has become the custom in the U.S.

Virginia has a long history of partisanship in redistricting. In an extremely informative episode of The Diane Rehm Show in 2011 (you can still find the transcript online), Sean O’Brien, then the executive director of the Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier, relayed this bit of Virginia history:

“Patrick Henry was governor of Virginia, he was an anti-Federalist, James Madison was a Federalist. Patrick Henry arranged for James Madison not to get elected to the Senate because at that time the Senate was chosen by the members of the state legislature. So, James Madison was going to have to run for Congress if he wanted to be able to introduce the Bill of Rights.”

O’Brien continued his story about Madison being encouraged to return to Virginia from the Continental Congress in order to campaign against anti-Federalist James Monroe because the district had been drawn with “1,000 eccentric angles.”

Partisanship with district lines is as old as our nation. While the above refers to federal districts, how the state determines its legislators for the Virginia General Assembly is similar. And, according to a judicial ruling this past June, eleven House of Delegates districts were found unconstitutional. The court ruled that lawmakers have until Tuesday, Oct. 30, to come up with a plan that passes muster.

Why is this of concern? Because the current makeup in the House is 51 Republicans to 49 Democrats. The next election of all of them is in 2019, and whoever has the majority in that legislative body in 2020 – based on that 2019 election – will draw new districts.

The House Democrats’ proposed do-over this summer was dead on arrival.

And the Republican plan, which actually was garnering some bipartisan support, was recently torpedoed by Gov. Ralph Northam.

“I must unequivocally state that I will veto House Bill 7003 should it reach my desk,” he wrote in a press release.

Northam believes that the GOP bill does not protect minority representation. So, his current position, should no other legislative proposal come to fruition, is to allow the courts to draw the lines. And the governor says in the same release that he has been championing nonpartisan redistricting since his first campaign in 2007, but he also said as recently as Sept. 26 that redistricting was a “legislative process.”

And, lest you think the governor is being high-minded, he conveniently has had a “scheduling conflict” for a fundraiser that he had previously agreed to with Del. Stephen Heretick, D-Portsmouth. Heretick had the gall to break ranks on redistricting.

To this end, Speaker Kirk Cox has called the governor’s bluff and is willing to let the issue be resolved by the court. He has decided that it’s no use to waste taxpayer money on a session when the governor has already, evidently, made up his mind.

The key takeaway from this episode really should be clear: Northam is as much a politician as everyone else, and partisanship is the sole reason he desires the courts become involved.

When the governor says he wants “fair and constitutional lines,” what he’s hoping for is that the prospect of a Democratic majority in 2019 dramatically improves.

Should that majority be gained?

See how quickly Northam’s and his Democratic loyalists calls for nonpartisan redistricting dissipate.

Probably as fast as any other political party’s that has gained the majority every ten years.


This column appears in The Princess Anne Independent News

James Young

Joining the podcast this week is attorney James Young to provide some perspective on the recent nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Young, who has argued in front of the Supreme Court and is a member of The Federalist Society (which has had a key role in suggesting court nominees for the Trump administration) provides some terrific insight on:

– Nominee selection
– What we learned from the confirmation hearings
– The court and partisanship and
– What kinds of decisions we can expect to see from this court (and what might happen in the country if a decision like Roe v. Wade is reversed)

The left is absolutely apoplectic about this confirmation, with misguided calls for impeachment of the justice before he was even seated. Little do they remember Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor, George H.W. Bush appointed David Souter, and George W. Bush appointed John Roberts. All have found a way to frustrate conservatives over the years.

Young, who has been practicing law for nearly three decades, offers these insights in his personal capacity. These are his opinions alone and should not be mistaken for the views of the National Right to Work Foundation, his employer. However, we do discuss the landmark Janus v. AFSCME decision handed down this past June.

About James Young:

Associate, Borland & Borland, Wilkes-Barre, PA, 1989; Intern, Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Atlanta, GA, U.S. Justice Department, 1988-89; Martindale-Hubbell® AV® Peer Review Rated. Bar Admissions: Pennsyl­vania, 1989; District of Columbia, 1991; U.S. Supreme Court, 1992 (admitted only in PA & DC). Law School: Emory University, J.D., 1989. College: Hampden-Sydney College, B.A., with Honors in Political Science and History, magna cum laude, 1986. Member: Federalist Society. Publications: “Casting an Overdue Skeptical Eye: Knox v. SEIU,” CATO SUPREME COURT REVIEW, September 2012, at 333; “Making Windows into Litigants’ Souls: The Pernicious Potential of Gilpin v. AFSCME,” ENGAGE, Apr. 2004, at 90; Co-author, “Big Labor’s Tyranny of the Minority: Forced Union Dues in Politics,” FEDERALIST SOCIETY FREE SPEECH & ELECTION LAW NEWSLETTER, Fall 1996. Reported Decisions (partial listing): Knox v. SEIU Local 1000, 132 S.Ct. 2277 (2012); Locke v. Karass, 555 U.S. 207 (2009); Cummings v. Connell, 402 F. 3d 935 (9th Cir. 2005); Prescott v. County of El Dorado, 177 F.3d 1102 (9th Cir. 1999), vacated, 528 U.S. 1111, reinstated in part, 204 F.3d 984 (9th Cir. 2000); Knight v. Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, 131 F.3d 807 (9th Cir. 1997); Johnson v. Lafayette Firefight­ers Ass’n, 51 F.3d 726 (7th Cir. 1995); Weaver v. University of Cincin­nati, 942 F.2d 1039 (1991), further proceedings, 970 F.2d 1523 (6th Cir. 1992); Dixon v. City of Chicago, 948 F.2d 355 (7th Cir. 1991); Orr v. National Football League Players Ass’n, 147 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2845 (Va. Cir. Ct. 1994), aff?d, 150 L.R.R.M. (BNA) 2191 (Va. 1995).

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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
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– 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.

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