Live for Life

The political argument and what is reported in the news regarding abortion is, in a word, heartbreaking.

This topic tends to polarize instead of looking for long-term solutions. People go to their respective corners – quickly – and shout at each other.

Worse yet, they shut each other out.

Why? Because this really isn’t a debate about changing an opinion or attitude. This goes much deeper into challenging a person’s beliefs and changing our culture.

For those who truly believe in life, what really is at stake in this conversation requires much more than words. As I type these words on a keyboard, I realize the irony: that pro-life advocates simply can’t defend the innocent by typing on a keyboard.

No, recent arguments on the left have moved beyond “safe, legal, and rare” into the realm of a governor saying: “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired.”

A spokesperson for Gov. Ralph Northam later tried to clarify that the remark wasn’t about infanticide, but some pro-choice advocates have pretty much jumped the shark into openly supporting infanticide.

The time for words is really over. The pro-life movement must act.

Proponents need to truly support life through volunteering and fundraising for organizations like the Crisis Pregnancy Center of Tidewater or Virginia’s Kids Belong.

And there are plenty of opportunities that present themselves for action now.

Crisis Pregnancy Center is a non-profit that exists to support women who are unprepared for pregnancy, including offering counseling – on all options, including abortion recovery, parenting classes, call centers, ultrasounds and more. In 2017, the organization reported it was able to save more than 686 babies from being aborted.

The center has a 33-year record of success in Hampton Roads, existing because there was an obvious need to offer women an alternative to and information about abortion. They have proven time and again that if women are provided support, love and encouragement, a life will be saved.

Over the next few weeks, it is holding its annual Walk for Life at City Park in Chesapeake, on the Boardwalk in Virginia Beach and at the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk. This is an opportunity to visibly show your support for life and help them with their mission. You can find out more about the walk by visiting cpcfriends.org/walk.

In this regard, I will be walking the walk vice just talking the talk. I have walked for CPC on the Boardwalk in the past. This year, I am walking at the Virginia Zoo.

Another option is to foster a child. Despite recent news, foster care is an outstanding way to help a child who has been neglected, is among our most vulnerable, and simply a victim of circumstance.

Recent legislation passed in the General Assembly to reform the foster care system should make fostering a child focused on where it should be – care and compassion.

According to Virginia’s Kids Belong (vakidsbelong.org), a non-profit that advocates for fostering and adoption, there are thousands of kids in the foster care system in Virginia. Hundreds are never adopted and “age out.” Of these kids, the financial costs per child alone exceed $300,000 in social welfare and 60 percent of social workers leave foster care within the first year due to burnout, according to the group.

My friend Eve Marie Gleason and her husband, Ryan, of Loudoun have fostered four kids.

“I choose to foster kids because kids matter,” she told me. “It’s that simple. Being a foster parent isn’t easy. It changes your life, changes you. It’s hard and inconvenient. It means choosing loss and heartache, dealing with difficult adults, and parenting kids who have been through things nobody should have to face ever.

“It also means being the voice of hope in their life, the stable constant who teaches them how to make healthy choices and provides the unconditional love they need to have a chance to flourish. We don’t always feel like it, but foster parents make a tremendous difference.”

One thing Gleason also mentioned is that, even if a person or couple is not able to foster or adopt, they still can immeasurably support the foster parents through gift cards or just being available to help out with babysitting, moral support or preparing a meal. At virginiakidsbelong.org, there are opportunities listed to “lean in” where everyone can get involved from supporting foster families, birth families, teens, workers and more.

“Not everyone can foster or adopt, but everyone can care and be part of the solution to Virginia’s foster care crisis,” Janet Kelly, president of Virginia Kids Belong and an adoptive mom, wrote in an email. “This crisis is solvable if servant leaders from communities across the commonwealth step up to help vulnerable children and families.”

While conservatives can’t keep the left from outrageous statements and inconceivable policy positions, we can continue to promote a culture of life.

It’s as simple as making a commitment and taking constructive action. By making a commitment, the culture will change. In time, words and legislation may, too.


This column appears in The Princess Anne Independent News

Monopoly – A Life Lesson

So, my daughter is away at college. This means my wife and I were home alone this past Friday night. It was as if we were transported to a time that we could barely remember. When we were teenagers full of enthusiasm and assertive ideas.

This time to ourselves provided newfound freedom. We decided to take full advantage of it. To change up our routine.

Risky, I know. We played Monopoly.

The last time I broke out that board game must have been as a junior in high school. That was over 30 years ago.

In need of a refresher of the rules, we read the instructions from beginning to end. The rules are challenging. But you should read them and put them into practice in life. You will likely achieve a level of success you never anticipated.

First, and most important, even before the game officially begins, you have money. $1,500 to be precise.

What a lesson learned. Do we do that with our kids? “Hey, junior, here’s one-point-five-grand.”

Sort of.

Many of us invest thousands of our hard-earned dollars into this vacuous entity called “college.”

But does college actually give our kids the kick-start they need? Some – rightfully so – argue that higher education has become too expensive and too commercial, where the concerns are less upon providing value to future employers and economic progress and more to the bottom line of the institution.

No, that might not be the right investment. Especially if you, the parent, are making that choice for your progeny. Maybe just give them the $1,500 at 18 and say, “You’re now an adult. I love you. Make it happen.”

I’m not saying don’t save for your child’s future. I am saying invest wisely. Maybe the lesson learned from the Monopoly rules is to take care of your kids and give them, as best you can, something to start from.

Ownership. What a phenomenal and underutilized notion. Every time you buy a property in Monopoly, you get financial benefits when someone lands on it in the form of a rent payment. Property is the ultimate form of passive income. It will either increase in equity or you can charge people to occupy it for you.

Far too many of us choose to be owned v. own. Renting serves its purpose, but it is ownership that provides long term wealth.

Some Monopoly rules, frankly, suck. “Go to Jail,” “Pass Go” and “Pay Luxury Tax.” Only a socialist could have come up with these rules for the game.
Roll the dice and land somewhere you shouldn’t be? You’re sidelined into a penitentiary. Roll the dice and actually make it around the board? “Congratulations, and here’s free money.” Roll the dice and land on another punitive square? You’re paying the government $75 for the privilege.

Why on earth should a roll of the dice determine our outcome?

Monopoly, sometimes, is a conundrum wrapped up in an enigma.

Sure, the roll of the dice determines where you land. But the flip side is whether you have the moxie to invest and own. Do you have the resources to succeed? Do you have the guts to buy and build?

America was built on doing things with risk and passion, not on passivity and regression.

Monopoly is a game well worth revisiting if you haven’t played in awhile.

At least you’re spending some time away from the screens with your love on a Friday night. But maybe try not to overthink it.


This column also appears in The Princess Anne Independent News

Virginia is for Lovers of Free Speech, not Lawbreakers

As a proud former Michigander who loves his heritage from Scandinavia, Germany, and Poland, I am no stranger to immigration.

Mobility, when within the confines of the law, is fantastic. It brings new ideas, innovations, and perspective; enthusiasm, energy, and drive.

But am I writing about immigration in this post?

Absolutely not.

I became a Virginian in the mid-90’s and haven’t looked back, save for the fact that I still love my Detroit sports.

No – I am writing about people coming to Virginia and acting like asses.

Did you happen to notice that what makes headlines for our political unrest and vandalism in the past few years have all been started by out-of-staters?

The white nationalist rally in Charlottesville? James Fields, the idiot behind the wheel, was from Ohio.

“Mr Fields, from Ohio, had driven his car into the crowd”

Protesting Gov. Northam’s administration with a can of red dye in a historic fountain? A Californian.

Patrick E. Talmantes, 23, of Sacramento, Calif., was charged with misdemeanor vandalism and misdemeanor littering “after being observed pulling a container of red dye from a lime green shopping bag he was carrying and tossing it into the fountain at the southeast corner of Capitol Square,” according to police.

Dressing up as Virtus to protest the ERA in near-nudity? A New Yorker.

“A New York activist supporting Virginia’s ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment exposed her breast to lawmakers outside the Capitol on Monday while she and another activist mimicked the great seal of the commonwealth in a performance art bit.”

Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but the Commonwealth made protesting the government way in vogue centuries ago. Patrick Henry showed us the way.

“Give me Liberty or give me death,” he said.

Not to mention we have the father of our country, George Washington, the author of our Declaration, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, who drafted our Constitution, as favorite sons.

I think Virginia understands civil discourse and how to do it right.

So, if you’re going to come here and take part in our internal arguments, fine. But please don’t break our laws. We don’t.

Virginia’s Democratic Leadership – Nothing But a Jenga Tower

For the past few weeks, beginning with Gov. Ralph Northam’s controversial comments about proposed legislation that would keep a newly born baby comfortable as its fate is decided by doctor and mother, Virginia has been the center of attention. And it hasn’t been good.

Shortly after those remarks, a picture on Northam’s medical school yearbook page was revealed to show someone in blackface standing next to someone dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan. One or the other might be Northam. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has been accused – twice – of sexual assault. And Attorney General Mark Herring disclosed that he also appeared in blackface in college.

The immediate reaction – from Democrats – was entirely appropriate.

Almost every Democrat in one way or another – including presidential aspirants – condemned the action. Many loudly proclaimed that there should be resignations. And, if not resignations, then impeachment procedures should begin.

Even Herring called on Northam to resign. Until Herring decided to reveal he had done the same thing, that is. But some wielding pitchforks of purity have since acquiesced to the whimpers of three deeply flawed, exposed politicians and a desperate political party trying to save itself before a big election.

Appearing this weekend on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” both U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va. 8th District, and U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va. 10th District, again called for Northam and Fairfax to step down. However, both stopped short of calling for Herring to go.

“The attorney general came forward proactively, is very regretful and contrite,” Wexton said. “He reached out to all the African-American leaders and other leaders, very heartfelt anguish about what he had done.”

Beyer added a rare moment of truth we find so refreshing from our elected leaders, but it is regrettably odious at the same time: “We would move from a progressive, very strong attorney general to someone who’s not just a Republican but someone who’s on the arch-conservative end of it.”

Therein lies the rub. Should all three Democrats resign, the line of succession falls to the state Speaker of the House, Del. Kirk Cox, R-66th District. Democrats could care less about principle. This is about political power. Who can say we’re surprised with the course of action by state Del. Patrick Hope, D-47th District, who had been so eager to bring articles of impeachment on Fairfax. That squealing you hear is Hope slamming on the breaks.

“Yesterday, I sent draft language to my colleagues on the first step of an impeachment action regarding the Lt. Governor,” he tweeted Monday, Feb. 11. “There has been an enormous amount of sincere and thoughtful feedback which has led to additional conversations that need to take place before anything is filed.” He reconsidered impeachment after a “conference call” with House Democrats.

Instead of pursuing the truth with testimony, we will continue to get ridiculously contrived maneuvers. Instead of focusing on the complex legacy of race – lynching, Jim Crow, Confederate statues, white nationalist rallies – or the ramifications to equality of enabling a man accused of rape and sexual assault to remain in office, Democrats have chosen political crassness by enabling what Greg Corombos of Radio America called the “Jenga Tower” of state leadership to teeter on.

Remove one, the whole tower comes crashing down – and Democrats know it.

Amid a historic embarrassment for Virginia, Democrats seem hellbent on maintaining power now, even if that means propping up three men who have lost their standing to serve.


This column appears in The Princess Anne Independent News

Justin Fairfax faces another accusation

In what has been a whirlwind week for Virginia politics, yet another accuser of sexual assault has emerged against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.

Meredith Watson, who was a student with Fairfax at Duke University, claims through her attorney that Fairfax raped her in 2000 while they were students.

Earlier this week, Fairfax was accused by Dr. Vanessa Tyson of an assault at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston where she was forced to perform oral sex in a hotel room. Fairfax denies the allegation and says the encounter was consensual.

The National Organization for Women has already called upon Fairfax to resign.

Fairfax should have listened to them.

Each incident involving Gov. Ralph Northam, Fairfax, and Atty. Gen. Herring must be viewed separately – and with consistency. We have called upon others to resign for less.

In the case of Fairfax, he is facing increasing evidence that he is not fit for office.

“We serve as counsel for Meredith Watson, who was raped by Justin Fairfax in 2000, while they were both students at Duke University. Mr. Fairfax’s attach was premeditated and aggressive. The two were friends but never dated or had any romantic relationship.

“Ms. Watson shared her account of the rape with friends in a series of emails and Facebook messages that are now in our possession. Additionally, we have statements from former classmates corroborating that Ms. Watson immediately told friends that Mr. Fairfax had raped her.

“Ms. Watson was upset to learn that Mr. Fairfax raped at least one other woman after he attacked her. The details of Ms. Watson’s attack are similar to those described by Dr. Vanessa Tyson.

“At this time, Ms. Watson is reluctantly coming forward out of a strong sense of civic duty and her believe that those seeking or serving public office should be of the highest character. She has no interest in becoming a media personality or reliving the trauma that has great affected her life. Similarly, she is not seeking any financial damages.

“On behalf of our client, we have notified Justin Fairfax through his attorneys that Ms. Watson hopes he will resign from public office.

Nancy Erika Smith, Attorney for Meredith Watson

Update (6:40 pm):

Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City), Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Ryan T. McDougle (R-Hanover), Senate Republican Caucus Co-Chairman Mark D. Obenshain (R-Rockingham), and Senate Majority Whip William M. Stanley, Jr. (R-Franklin) tonight issued the following statement concerning Lieutenant Governor Justin E. Fairfax (D)

“For the second time this week, Lieutenant Governor Fairfax has been accused of actions that, if true, constitute major felonies in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We are shocked and dismayed by these credible and serious allegations. These accusations necessitate comprehensive, thorough, and immediate investigations by law enforcement authorities in Massachusetts and North Carolina.”

For choice in education

Education is an important and necessary priority.

Some people think it’s such a priority that they have decided not to leave the practice in the hands of trained professionals but attempt to go it alone with homeschooling.

This is a choice.

I applaud the homeschooling movement provided basic standards are met. But, with education, most are left without a choice.

A family will live in a community, largely dictated on affordability and job proximity. And, many families, provided they have the means, will choose a location with the above two in mind that also has, “good schools.”

So, what makes a good school?

That’s subjective, but I would presume the children are safe – including from each other – and they are actually learning things that will help them in life, such as writing, reading, math, science and civics. Also, their performance will eventually result in people who are productive members of the community.

While the General Assembly debates teacher salaries and infrastructure improvements, and it’s important that we do reward an incredibly important government service, we must couple such taxpayer benevolence with a little nod to personal freedom and competition.

A very important concession should be requested by our legislators – school choice –while we’re talking about increasing teacher pay and rehabilitating broken schools.

The “deal” that should be made should include:

► A makeover of SOLs. This has hamstrung educators and innovators. We need to unshackle our brightest teachers and allow them to do things that are unconventional.
► Increased pay for teachers, along with a revised spending calculus for schools funded by public dollars. Perhaps 10 percent on administration, 20 percent on infrastructure, and 70 percent on classroom spending – which includes career counseling and skills development? We can debate the numbers, but shouldn’t a majority of our tax dollars be dedicated to actually improving the learning of our kids and getting them jobs here in the commonwealth?
► School choice and charter schools. Open it up. If there is a corporate entity willing to spend their money to train their future employees, let it happen. Why are we fighting this? This is private investment in our community to make communities better. This should be encouraged, with, of course, oversight.
► Homeschooling integration. Provided there are reasonable baselines met, if not exceeded, I think any freedom-loving capitalist should applaud a family that is willing to invest and bet on themselves. If those baselines are not met, the child must go into public education, which should be the best available anywhere.

Perhaps I am being naïve in my ideas, but we have decided to go to opposite corners on education when we should really be looking at it in the terms of what’s best for a free market, capitalistic society.

My hope is that our General Assembly doesn’t just capitulate and acquiesce in transferring millions of dollars extracted from Virginia taxpayers to the ubiquitous “education system” with “newfound” revenue because Virginia’s tax laws no longer match federal laws and a lot more is being collected by the state.

My equal hope is that the General Assembly realizes that there is a strong argument for improving teacher pay and school infrastructure. The 5 percent pay raise suggested by House Republicans is a great start, but should not be without a concession from the Democrats to advance educational freedom.

Ultimately, what am I requesting?

Govern.


This column appears in The Princess Anne Indpendent News

A Tale of Two Amendments

The Virginia General Assembly has reconvened in Richmond, and the longest continuously serving democratically elected legislature presses on.

In its 400th year, the legislature has an opportunity to do something extraordinary: ratify an amendment to the United States Constitution and set in motion a state amendment that transforms politics as we know it.

Pretty heady stuff.

Equal Rights Amendment
In 1923, Alice Paul, the drafter of the ERA, proclaimed, “We shall not be safe until the principle of equal rights is written into the framework of our government.”

Her vision was that women would have the same rights as men and that this specifically would be codified in our Constitution.

The amendment has gone through several revisions and still doesn’t have consensus on its wording.

In 1943, when the amendment finally made it to a vote in Congress, it read:

Section 1: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2: The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3: This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

In 2014, Congress reintroduced the amendment as follows:

Section 1: Women shall have equal rights in the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Section 2: Congress and the several States shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3: This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

The difference in the two is the clear identification of women.

Five states voted to rescind their ratification, but the Constitution doesn’t say if states have that power. Additionally, new concerns over what genetic makeup constitutes a “woman” has been clearly conveyed in the recent transgender discussions.

Finally – and in my view, most importantly – states that have enacted similar laws have faced challenges from pro-choice advocates demanding state funding for abortion as protected under this law. And their appeals have been upheld.

“We the people of the United States …” plus amendments 14, 15, 19, and 26 have more than abundantly clarified the question. The language of the ERA will bring about a new era of judicial process, should the U.S. Supreme Court rule that states must fund abortion as part of its healthcare plans.

This new era of litigation will largely focus on an individual’s right to exercise their faith by not funding abortion – and take direct aim at our First Amendment.

State Gerrymandering
Politics is involved in everything. And the preservation of power is certainly at its root.

It really doesn’t matter if Patrick Henry was trying to oust James Madison from Congress, or if Democrats drew uncompetitive lines for George Allen and Randy Forbes, or whether Republicans attempted to hold the state House of Delegates by making a deal with state Senate Democrats.

It is a simply flawed process.

Our U.S. Constitution leaves the process of how to determine the drawing of legislative boundaries to the states. And, in this case, the drafter of Virginia’s state constitution, A.E. Dick Howard – along with former Attorney General Ken Cuccinell, former Democratic Leader Ward Armstrong, and many others – have all come to the conclusion that the best check and balance on legislative tyranny and judicial activism is a very detailed process that has its own checks and balances.

That is an independent redistricting commission.

Now is the time to act. Because of Virginia’s constitutional amendment process, this proposal must pass this General Assembly, be voted on by the public in an intervening election, and then pass the Assembly again.

It’s imperative now because of the 2020 Census. Only if this amendment is passed now and winds its way through the previously described wickets will it be in place to have any meaning for the next decade.

Stop fooling yourself. If you think your vote is a secret, yet you vote consistently in any partisan political primary, you’ve identified yourself. And that data will be isolated with today’s technology to ensure the majority has the partisan makeup it needs to retain its power.

That was never the intent of our Founding Fathers, nor our state constitution’s crafters.

It’s time for an independent redistricting commission.

Pretty amazing things are happening this General Assembly session. It’s nice to be part of living history.


This column appears in The Princess Anne Independent News.

Top Political Stories to Follow in 2019

A s 2019 begins, there are several storylines we know will have significant impact upon us as Virginians and Americans. Here are a few that we should think about and pay attention to this year.

Beginning right away, will be the emergence of the presidential aspirants. Already, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has announced her presidential exploratory committee. While the November 2020 presidential election might seem an eternity away, things like the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll happen this summer, and then the presidential primaries and caucuses start in just a year.

It will be interesting to watch how many candidates enter the contest, who begins to catch a wave, how often one candidate becomes a media darling only to fall out of favor, and how the narrative is driven. Will the Democratic Party move further left? Will President Trump face a challenge from within the GOP?

With the beginning of the 116th Congress and funding not secured to run portions of our federal government, the question becomes how far will Trump go to hold out for “the wall” at the U.S.-Mexico border? He was unable to get a lame duck Congress to agree on a funding plan – and that was with Republican majorities in both the House and Senate. With Democrats prepared to lead the majority in the House, one wonders what of Trump’s agenda he will be able to accomplish. Especially with ongoing investigations and impeachment of the President a potential distraction from governance.

The Virginia General Assembly, as championed by Gov. Ralph Northam, expanded Medicaid this past year in an effort to ensure more Virginians had healthcare coverage. Northam is proud to state that, as of Tuesday, Jan. 1, an additional 200,000 Virginians have the coverage. However, base Medicaid expenditures were previously underestimated and now the state has to augment an additional $202 million this fiscal year and another $260.3 million in the next fiscal year, which begins in July.

Healthcare remains a hot-button topic, especially since a Texas federal judge declared the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, though it will remain in effect while the ruling is appealed. There is a great deal of uncertainty associated with these programs, so budgeting, particularly updating the state’s mandated balanced budget, becomes a challenge.

The Virginia State Senate once again will be offering its own set of manageable healthcare fixes. Locally, Sen. Frank Wagner serves as the vice chairperson of the Health Insurance Reform Commission and seems optimistic that bipartisan consensus can be achieved, in spite of 2019 being an election year for the entire General Assembly – all 100 House and 40 Senate members.

“There are simple, practical changes we can approve now that would make affordable healthcare coverage available to more Virginians,” Wagner wrote in a statement. “We have a duty to do so.”

Wagner’s optimism will be put to the test as memories of the 2017 election that nearly brought the Democrats a majority in the Virginia House of Delegates remains fresh.

Republicans only hold a 51-49 lead in the House of Delegates. They also only have a 21-19 advantage in the Senate. This is the narrowest of margins, and Democrats will go all out to win back majorities in this critical election year. This election determines the legislature that will be in place when decennial redistricting begins in 2020 with the U.S. Census.

Northam has proposed for a mid-cycle biennial budget adjustment with more than $1.6 billion in new spending. It’s clear some of that spending is laudable and worthy of consideration, particularly with respect to education. How it’s afforded is another matter that will be fiercely debated.

“Unfortunately, it appears much of the proposed spending is predicated on allowing over 600,000 middle-class taxpayers to pay higher taxes,” Del. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, chairperson of the House of Delegates Appropriations Committee Chairman, said in a statement this past month.

“Before we can contemplate new spending, the General Assembly will have to resolve the governor’s willingness to allow by inaction a tax increase and the elimination of key deductions on mortgage interest and property taxes.”

Speaking of redistricting, we still don’t know the outcome of the proposed redrawing of Virginia House of Delegates lines by the federal judiciary. An analysis of the proposal by the Virginia Public Access Project comparing changes to how the districts voted in the 2012 election decidedly favors the Democrats. If accepted, these new districts will put the GOP squarely behind the eight ball going into this campaign season.

That is just a small sample size of the big stories that will be part of 2019.

Get ready for the ride.


This column appears in The Princess Anne Independent News

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

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