Archives June 2019

Why did Northam and Herring vote for plan they now oppose?

Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring were pretty happy partisans this past week.

The Supreme Court decided by a 5-4 vote in Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill that the House of Delegates lacks standing to appeal a lower court’s ruling that mandated eleven House districts be redrawn by a special master.

Of course, it wasn’t just eleven districts that were redrawn. In total, 26 districts were affected and the Virginia Public Access Project calculated that six of the new districts now favor the Democrats. In a House where Republicans hold the majority by the narrowest of margins, a six-seat swing does not bode well for their prospects of holding onto that majority following the election this coming Nov. 5.

“This is a big win for democracy in Virginia,” said Herring in a press release. “I’m really proud of the work my team and I did to protect the new, constitutional districts, and to protect the voting rights of all Virginians.”

Work? Reality: Herring’s work was to do nothing. He failed to defend the state – again.

The irony, which has been very little reported in the whole fiasco, is that then-state Sen. Mark Herring voted in favor of these lines in 2011.

And so did then-state Sen. Ralph Northam.

His take now?

“I am pleased that this fall, every Virginian, no matter who they are or where they live, will cast their ballots in fair and constitutional districts.”

Does this mean that Northam and Herring for that matter are acknowledging their role in voting for unfair and unconstitutional districts, if that’s what they really believe?

The basis for the lines in the first place is that Virginia still must comply with the Equal Protection Clause and the Voting Rights Act.

Because of the VRA, special consideration must be made to have a percentage of African-Americans be the majority in some districts. The percentage the House used at the time for the districts chosen was 55 percent. The lower court thought this number was too high, but it is hardly “cramming,” a racially-charged term, if ever. This is how reporter Marie Albiges writing in both The Virginian-Pilot and The Daily Press characterized it in her report.

The media, under the influence of the two men accused of wearing blackface in their misguided youth — the attorney general even admitting so — have completely drunk the Kool-Aid being offered by those men that the district drawing effort was racially-motivated.

If that premise is accepted, then the media should equally hold Northam and Herring culpable. I repeat, they voted in favor of the lines. But why did they?

Because on the Senate side of the equation, where Democrats held a majority in 2011, they packed as many Republicans as they could find in specific districts.

Let me illustrate it to you plainly. Corey Stewart lost a lopsided U.S. Senate race to Sen. Tim Kaine, 57 percent to 41 percent. In 14 state Senate districts currently held by Republicans, Stewart won in all those districts!

The term in the political business is “partisan ghetto.” And it’s odious.

This explains why the Virginia Senate did not join the House in their fight over the lines. They were arguing over two different issues. It was also the Democrats who drew those state Senate lines, while the GOP has the majority now. The argument before the court only affected the Virginia House of Delegates.

This makes Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s argument that “One House of its bicameral legislature cannot alone continue the litigation against the will of its partners in the legislative process” entirely laughable and devoid of common sense.

In the coming weeks, it is likely that the court will hear other cases related to redistricting — and they are based on partisanship. It will be interesting to see if the seemingly odd coalition of Justices Thomas, Gorsuch, Sotomayor, Kagan, and Ginsburg hold up or if this is a feint to keep redistricting where it belongs: in the statehouse.

The bottom-line: Don’t believe the false narrative coming from Northam, Herring, and a malleable media. They are masking the truth. Then again, they’re used to masks.

This column appears in The Princess Anne Independent News and Roanoke Times

In the wake of the mass shooting in Virginia Beach, seeking answers to evil

Tragic. Senseless. Inexplicable.

Terror. Hatred. Violent.

Shocking.

All words to describe what happened at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, Building 2, the afternoon of Friday, May 31.

“Life doesn’t have to be this way, and it shouldn’t be this way,” said Attorney General Mark Herring in a statement following the murder of 12 public servants at our Municipal Center by one of their peers.

So, that leads us to the inevitable word we are all thinking: “Preventable?”

In a word, no.

I wish I could say that background checks, metal detectors, constant guards, confiscation of all weapons, limiting magazine cartridges, banning silencers, limiting gun licenses, improving mental health, providing counseling or midterm evaluations with employees, more health care, whatever your cause de jour that could explain what happened would prevent what actually happened.

I can’t, and I won’t.

There is only one word for this: evil.

Sometimes we need to really just call things what they are.

This act was not committed by someone affronted. 

These murders were not done by someone who didn’t have an opportunity to succeed in life. 

This was not an act of some freedom fighter seeking their people’s liberation.

This was done by someone with malice. With boiling hatred. With premeditated destruction solely in mind. 

With the calm, cool, and calculating demeanor to resign their post mere hours before committing violence upon the innocent.

Did I mention evil?

This was a self-centered, narcissistic, 35-minute horror show perpetrated with the absence of love. 

At this point, I could speculate and begin to wonder what could motivate a person to commit such heinous acts on public servants who are merely trying to keep the water moving and bridges standing, but that would be giving this person way too much credit.

Ultimately, there is nothing government, the gunman’s colleagues, his network, the police, building security and others could have done to keep this man from his diabolical work.

So, if not preventable, why?

In prior columns, I have written about loyalty, love, and personal responsibility. 

We cannot see into the hearts of people, but we do know that all people are capable of incredible acts of heroism, compassion, and sacrifice, such as Ryan Keith Cox, the 50-year-old pastor’s son and steady voice of calm who shepherded his colleagues to safety in the face of unspeakable danger that cost him his life.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” — John 15:13.

Cox has rightfully been described as having a servant’s heart. He proved it. So did the first responders who navigated the maze of Building 2 and confronted evil head on.

Unfortunately, just as Cox was in the light, some completely succumb to darkness. We don’t have to look far for examples. 

Gov. Ralph Northam noted in a speech calling for a special session of the General Assembly that we lost 1,028 Virginians due to gun violence in 2017. Hatred and anger are at the root of much of this loss.

I don’t fault people for looking for controls to protect themselves and seek safety. The reality is that evil will always try to find a way, and it is always checked by love.

While we lost 12 of our family, friends, and community servants, if not for love and bravery, it would have been more. 

And it is love that ultimately triumphs.


This column appears in The Princess Anne Independent News