Archives December 2018

Want Peace On Earth? Stop Tailgaiting!

I am not writing a cliché retrospective on the year that was 2018.

I am not going to remind you how Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox lost control of the GOP caucus and gave us the biggest government expansion in state history with Medicaid.

Nor am I going to call attention to how the Virginia State Senate, led by Majority Leader Tommy Norment, passed commonsense health care reforms, only to be vetoed by Gov. Ralph Northam.

No, I’m not going into a conversation how Del. Nick Freitas, R-30th District, dodged a political bullet by not being nominated for the U.S. Senate and how Prince William Supervisor Corey Stewart ended up getting exactly what he wanted – bringing finality to his political career and, honestly, taking one for the team in a non-winnable year for Republicans.

There’s no sense reflecting on how conservatives were able to celebrate new federal tax reforms and the appointment of a new conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice while the national debt screams past $21 trillion, the judiciary draws new state house lines, and high lies and fabrications seem to be ready to be prosecuted by the next Congress against the Trump administration.

And I’ve already written about the heroism of John McCain, the example set by George H.W. Bush, and how Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer is a living example of “The Reagan Way.”

I will leave the act of looking back for lessons learned to keener and more learned observers.

No, I have a different motivation for this column.

This might seem a bit non-sequitur – literary hairpin corner coming – but I really think a lot of problems can be solved with our commutes.

I think if you ask most people, they absolutely dread the prospect of turning the ignition key and proceeding down the pavement towards their place in the labor market.

Some people really just want to get from point a to point b. They understand that velocity = time x distance. They also understand that time = velocity divided by distance.

That last variation of the equation is extremely important because time really does not change by a significant amount when a person chooses to go five, 10 or more miles per hour above the speed limit for the brief second they desire to ride two feet or less from your rear bumper. (Most of the time, I’d invite said drivers into the rear passenger seats, where they’d probably be more comfortable and less stressed.)

It’s this aggressiveness in our society that we really need to address.

So often during this time of year we say “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men” and then eagerly step on the gas to let the person in front of us know that we’re there and we’d like to advance past them. How does this really help? Does it help? In a word: No.

The only thing that tailgating does is to prove that the driver in question is an ass. It will not get them anywhere faster, save for a couple of seconds. If anything, it is going to cause an accident that is going to grind Hampton Roads to a standstill on the main thoroughfare and spill over to all alternates.

All these great conversations about light rail, new tunnels, increased law enforcement, education spending (yes, I can make this argument), EZ Pass, and many more can all be solved if we just relax.

I know very well that I am whistling in the wind, but I know how aggravated people in this area get when it takes forever to go a relatively short distance. And, honestly, if people were a little less aggravated, how much more awesome would life be?

I know that the great readers of this column always drive with a cool, calm and conservative approach, so I know you don’t need this advice, but, if you do know someone with a bit of a hot head and a lead foot, tell them a few things from me: “Merry Christmas,” “Happy New Year” and “Slow down & Chill Out – Physics always wins!”

Let’s make 2019 better than 2018. Let’s relax and enjoy our commutes. We’ll get where we are going just about as fast – and I bet our public policy and politics improve because people we’ll be safer and less stressed!

OK…I can at least dream, right?

This column appears in The Princess Anne Independent News

Craig DiSesa – Looking Back at 2018 in Virginia Politics and Previewing 2019

Craig DiSesa, president and co-founder of The Middle Resolution, joins J.R. on his last podcast of 2018. On the show, we talk about how Craig became involved with Middle Resolution, what were their key takeaways from this last year in politics, and what is their upcoming agenda for 2019.

Issues addressed in this show include:

– The federal budget and national debt (see who we owe debt to – it’s mainly ourselves, but not only)
– Medicaid expansion and health care
– Education choice, health care reform at the state level
– State Senate races, in particular, incumbents Glenn Sturtevant, Frank Wagner, and Dick Black
– Redistricting

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Bush 41 Marked the End of a GOP Era

George Herbert Walker Bush was the beginning of the end of the Republican Party as it was once known.

Some might point to Ronald Reagan, whom Bush lost to in a bruising primary in 1980, as the beginning of the end. Perhaps you can go as far back as Barry Goldwater in 1964, where fierce libertarianism manifested itself in the conservative wing of our two-party system. But, really, how can you not say it was under Bush where the GOP finally succumbed to a populist wave that has been fully realized now by President Donald Trump?

Bush, who we rightfully remembered with a National Day of Mourning on Wednesday, Dec. 5, is a man so steeped in public service that his picture ought to be the example for the definition. As will be well documented and often repeated, he was a World War II Naval Aviator at the age of 18, mere months after Pearl Harbor. He was shot down and rescued in the Pacific and flew 58 combat missions altogether (he returned to his unit after his rescue at sea). His resume includes a stint in Congress, U.N. Ambassador, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, vice president of the United States under Reagan and as our 41st president.

Bush was also wealthy and from a family of privilege. Son of a U.S. senator. Attended Yale. Made a mint in oil. And was excoriated in the 1992 campaign for having difficulty knowing the price of a gallon of milk.

Bush was a blue blood, but he still tried his hand at being patrician with a “kinder and gentler” brand of politics. His son, our 43rd president, took it to the next level with “compassionate conservatism,” but it was that 1992 campaign, where the war hero and commander-in-chief who presided over an unprecedented coalition military victory in Kuwait (it took all but four days to evict the Iraqis) and the collapse of the Soviet Union, along with the fall of the Berlin Wall, seemed to lose touch with the American people.

How could this be? How could a man who put service-above-self become characterized as a “wimp,” distant, and aloof?

I would like to think it’s because he didn’t eat his broccoli, but if you live to 94, that’s clearly not the reason. No, it was a narrative.

Consider this nugget from The New York Times written as campaign post mortem in 1992: “By now, some analyses of the coverage of 1992’s election are already flying off the copying machines. While these analyses differ both in their methodologies and in their purposes, at least two studies that span the political divide seem to agree on one central point: that Mr. Bush did get more negative coverage than his rivals.”

Reflecting on the phenomenon was former Bush strategist, Mary Matalin, recently in The Washington Examiner, “1992 was replete with more egregious examples relative to Bush bashing – and fabricating – but the big difference was the double standard for Bill Clinton. I don’t mean in the slobbering adoration devotion they paid to Obama. Obviously, there was ample attention to Jennifer Flowers, pot smoking, etc. It was more the inattention to his policy prescriptions, record in Arkansas, and persistent lying about our campaign.”

The media shared a self-assessment of their coverage for The Los Angeles Times: “A majority of U.S. journalists who followed the 1992 presidential campaign believe President Bush’s candidacy was damaged by press coverage of his record and of the economy, according to a survey released Saturday.”

They went on to say they believe they covered the campaign fairly, but that Bush was done in by their accurate reporting on his performance in office and the nation’s economy. Of course, making a promise, such as “no new taxes” and failing to deliver could have had something to do with it, too.

That said, when the press also doesn’t cover the policy failings of your opponent, as Matalin points out, the narrative is bound to be unbalanced.

Thus, the Republican counter-narrative of bias in the media was born, further inflamed over the years by the boom of conservative talk radio.

By then bringing in the disaffected groups born from the Perot movement of 1992 that morphed into the Reform Party and then the Tea Party, the ground had more than adequately been tilled for the era of Tweets and Fake News.

As I reflect on a true public servant’s passing, I will undoubtedly think a thousand “what ifs” to go along with his thousand points of light.

This column appears in The Princess Anne Independent News