Volume 2, Number 2, May 2011
The Reemergence of Federalism Guest Article by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli
U.S. Budget in Focus
Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War
Time to Reform Virginia's Relationship with Local Government
In this Issue Bearing Drift
From the Publisher's Desk
Yeas and Nays
The Reemergence of Federalism Special Guest Article by Ken Cuccinelli Attorney General of Virginia
Virginia’s Conservative Voice J.R. Hoeft, Publisher firstname.lastname@example.org Michael Fletcher, Editor-in-Chief email@example.com Melissa Kenney, Advertising firstname.lastname@example.org Jane Dudley, Photographer Contributors this issue: Wade Brumett Eve Marie Barner Gleason Shaun Kenney D.J. McGuire Guest Contributor Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli
14 Time to Reform Virginia's Relationship with Local Government Shaun V. Kenney 18 U.S. Budget in Focus Eve Marie Barner Gleason 22 The Lost Effects of the Lost Cause D.J. McGuire 26 Bearing Drift Interview: Network of enlightened Women 28 Bony Fish and Oily Politics Michael R. Fletcher
© Copyright 2011 31 The Final Ward
Cover Photo: Jane Dudley BearingDrift.com/Page 3
From the Publisherâ€™s Desk Since the election of 2008, there has been a resurgence of interest in the role of the federal government with respect to the states. Legislation and proposed policies such as cap-and-trade, the nationalization of student loans, companies that were "too big to fail", and, of course, ObamaCare, have provided ample opportunity for Americans to pay more attention to the activities of their federal government and its ever increasing power and unrestrained liberties. As we put the finishing touches on this magazine issue, we're struck that we're doing it in the midst of tax season and the 150th anniversary of Virginia's secession. When every American - even those just being born - now owe more than $41k just to pay-off our national debt and the average American works until May just to pay their tax burden, we clearly have a serious federal problem.
cause of our civil war - slavery the question behind it: what authority does the federal government have over the states - remains a key one for scrutiny and further discussion. In this issue, we are pleased that one of our national leaders in the federalism discussion - and spearhead of the state challenge to ObamaCare - Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, writes our feature article on the nature of federalism in modern America. We also explore this auspicious 150th anniversary of the War between the States. How has what happened there impacted us today? Would the autonomy of states been different had that war not taken place? What are the ramifications to Virginia for that fateful decision of secession?
Speaking of antebellum, have we lost our way when it comes to manners and respect? We interview our newsmaker, Karin Agness, founder of the Network of enlightened Women to get her Our nation began with a debate on take on gender roles in modern the role of the federal government, America. was torn asunder over that debate in the 19th century, and is now Also this April, we once again call experiencing that discussion yet the General Assembly to order to again. discuss the governor's amendments and vetoes of Clearly America is nowhere near a legislation. How does this impact repeat of what happened over a localities? How does it impact our century ago, where brother next election here in 2011 where took-up arms against brother, but every legislator must regain the minus the deplorable underlying voter's trust? Volume 2, Number 2 / May 2011
Of course, it wouldn't be April without a "Shad Planking" - so what's this annual Virginia ritual all about anyway? While there are many questions over federalism, one point is clear: if we haven't figured it out after more than 215 years, it's not likely this magazine issue is going to solve any debates - but it is still a conversation worth having. We're glad you have chosen to have that conversation with us.
J.R. Hoeft Publisher
Yeas & Nays YEAS The open and visceral hatred for the Senate Democrats gerrymandered seats to protect their paper-thin majority should push their leadership into something a bit more sensible. Otherwise, the tidal wave of opposition to what’s going on in Washington followed by the perception of rank corruption could very easily ensure four years of a conservative General Assembly backed by Tea Party values. Not sure the Senate Democrats really want to be invited to that dance… If Virginia remains in the canary in the national coal mine, then Virginia’s Tea Party isn’t showing signs of the national movement disappearing anytime soon. Though there are visible fissures between the more libertarian wing trying to co-opt the movement and the “leave me alone” DNA of the movement that includes conservatives from all stripes, the ability of the independent movement to challenge both Democrats and Republicans alike as a “third force” in the conservative movement is encouraging to say the least… provided the hijackers remain benched and/or mocked appropriately.
over at the WaPo desperately tries to turn this into a Republican problem… with Hispanics. Issues regarding illegal immigration aside, one can’t help but think that the strategists on the left are watching their minds explode as race-based politics is failing to work among minorities anymore.
Sponsorships for Virginia’s rest stops? Long overdue.
Which softball will the eventual 2012 U.S. Senate nominee get to knock out of the park? Will it be failed DNC Chairman and former Governor Tim Kaine who announced with a rosier-than-reality video of his Administration? Or the untested and untried Rep. Bobby Scott from the gerrymandered VA-03? Let’s all hope for a bloody and expensive Democratic primary!
Bearing Drift’s very own Brian Schoeneman announced his candidacy for House of Delegates against David Bulova in the 37th District, a Democrat that is certainly deserving of tremendous, catastrophic defeat at the hands of a commonsense conservative. Consider this an early, full throated endorsement for Schoeneman’s candidacy.
Ken Cuccinelli, darling of Virginia conservatives and once-rumored U.S. Senate candidate, has bluntly stated that he has no interest in running in 2012. More surprisingly, Cuccinelli is equally refusing to endorse in the nomination contest either, stinging at least one announced candidate and offering knowing glances across Virginia.
National Review Online’s Jim Gerghaty blasts the “Tea Party in Name Only” misnomer, redirecting it at the host of slacktivists that have plagued the Libertarian Party and the movement for decades. Another name for such individuals? AWOL -- Absent Without Leadership. Tea Party activists and leaders are keen to the attempts to hijack the movement, though, and You can’t blame the Democrats for trying. After slowly are not tolerating the effort well -- mostly wishing to hemorrhaging the Catholic vote for years, Chris Cillizza Continued on Page 6 Majority Leader Eric Cantor stands tall against any further continuing resolutions (CRs) from the U.S. House. Well done, Eric. The American people frankly understand the $1.6 trillion problem and are itching for a solution. Leviathan has grown quite enough, thank you.
Yeas & Nays
needed and overwhelmingly welcomed. Continued from Page 5
National unemployment figures continue to descend as America gets back to work. Unemployment now stands at 8.9% and underemployment around 17%. The pace may not be encouraging for most Americans though. Should this pace continue, we are on track to State revenues for the month of February posted a recover the 8 million jobs lost during the Great 16.7% increase. Amazing what a free market Recession by August 2015. Still, progress -- even if governor, a Republican House of Delegates, and a delayed by the policies of Washington and only handcuffed Democratic Senate will get you in Virginia. recently urged along by a new Congress -- is good news nonetheless. Governor McDonnell sure isn’t afraid to use his veto pen. Nor is he afraid to get rid of useless commissions VCU Basketball made us all Rams for the month of in Virginia, of which there are literally hundreds. Just March. Well played, gentlemen. one more step in the streamlining of government. remain a “third force” to pin down the major political parties unfettered and free. Good on them, and long may that vision of the Tea Party endure.
Rep. Randy Forbes is nothing short of awesome. Not only did he stand by wargame simulation and modeling, he also stood by the American motto “In God We Trust” and asked for public buildings to have the latitude to display our national motto. In a society where secularization is beginning to border on laicization (that’s a big word for hostility to religion), voices such as Rep. Randy Forbes are desperately
Volume 2, Number 2 / May 2011
NAYS Democrats carved up Virginia Beach like a Thanksgiving turkey that did something really, really wrong… $33 billion in cuts? Ridiculous, and wholly inadequate. As of print, the President is threatening to veto and
Senator Harry Reid says the Senate won’t even discuss the plan announced by the House GOP in Washington with a series of cuts totaling $4 trillion over 10 years, but this $400 billion average is well below the gaping $1.6 trillion hole the Congress needs to fill this year. Virginia’s DIS used Microsoft Silverlight during the stampede to discover the newly drawn House and Senate districts. Bearing Drift was up with the first screen captures, as DIS struggled to keep up with the bandwidth. Other press outlets quickly matched the data with Google Earth, and a combination of independent and traditional media outlets came up with more data and better maps while Virginia struggled. Bloggers and MSM 1, Virginia DIS 0. Not to turn back to Libya for too long, but what about Iran? Syria? Sierra Leone? Liberia? Bahrain? Saudi Arabia? The details of the Obama Doctrine seem to indicate that America should only intervene in oddnumbered crises. Perhaps that’s the secret to Obama’s college hoops bracket success?
incident regarding his adoptive son in Buckingham County. Donald Trump doesn’t think Obama was born in the United States. Frankly, we here at Bearing Drift don’t believe Donald Trump truly exists. If he did truly exist, he would mail a $100,000 check to Bearing Drift, P.O. Box 16828, Chesapeake, Virginia 23328. We’re waiting. For the record, all this 2012 presidential and Senate nomination stuff is really sucking the air out of Virginia’s 2011 races and candidates. Conservatives in Virginia should be 110% aware that every dollar donated to one of these national level candidates now is one dollar that could have been spent taking back the Virginia Senate and hold the Virginia House. The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus asks for two minority congressional districts during redistricting. Bearing Drift casually recommends a minority district in Northern Virginia around Gerry Connolly’s district. Democrats quietly withdraw their request. Imagine that.
Speaking of earning the right to debate, the panoply of challengers to former Governor George Allen is certainly trying. Allen’s political machine has raked in such luminaries as Michael Thomas, Richard Crouse, and Katie Wright to run the campaign machine, and they have been very consistent about marketing their candidate, getting him to events, and letting the world know what’s on his mind. To date, self-appointed Tea Party candidate Jamie Radtke has come off her high-water mark in late December 2010. Radtke has been struggling to get the attention of Allen, who seems more focused on either former DNC Chairman Tim Kaine or current Rep. Bobby Scott. A recent Public Policy Polling survey showed Allen with a comfortable 67% lead over all other challengers, with Prince William Delegate Bob Marshall polling at a distant 7%. All other names -- Radtke included -polled within the 4 point margin of error… not a good sign for wannabe Davids against the Allen Goliath. Talking about another way to get attention, political newcomer David McCormick called out Jamie Radtke’s negative campaign tactics, highlighting her divisive and negative efforts thus far to call attention to her campaign. This certainly won’t catapult McCormick into top-challenger status, nor will the shooting BearingDrift.com/Page 7
The Reemergence of Federalism
Special Guest Article by Ken Cuccinelli Attorney General of Virginia Volume 2, Number 2 / May 2011
exists to plan and control virtually every aspect of our lives and our ore than 200 years ago, our economy – from health care, to Founding Fathers fought for the energy, to automobile manuright to form their own government facturing, to banking and insurance. to secure and protect in perpetuity their natural rights – the rights of I am grateful though, that in the life, liberty, and property. last two years, people have finally woken up ...and they are pushing Those who inspired and crafted our back. They are demanding federal constitution – Mason, accountability, and that Madison, Jefferson, Henry, and accountability is measured by the Randolph – also drafted the yardstick of the Constitution. Constitution of Virginia. And in the Constitution of Virginia they With this pushback, we are seeing included a critical statement that federalism reemerge, where said, “no free government, nor the people want to return to a federal blessings of liberty, can be government of limited, enumerated preserved . . . but by frequent powers. Yes, we are seeing recurrence to fundamental federalism reemerge, where states principles.” are serving as a check when the federal government oversteps its Our founders told us that our constitutional bounds. That is a liberty could not be preserved role in which I am especially proud without frequently referring back to play a part. to fundamental principles ...what we now call “first principles.” In fact, I have never been aware of While the founders pledged their a time in history when this many lives, their fortunes, and their states have sued the federal sacred honor to defend our first government to rein in its power, as principles, we have often taken is the case with the federal health those principles for granted, as we care act. Today, more than half of have become complacent that the states are parties to lawsuits government will take care of every against the federal government’s problem. individual health insurance Mandate. We have asked government to do more for us, and all the governVirginia’s lawsuit against the ment asks for in return is a little bit federal health care act is a realmore of our liberty. Over the world example of federalism in decades, we kept asking. And action. We were the first state in because the courts and the the nation to argue in federal court politicians were all too happy to that the act is unconstitutional. oblige regardless of what the Constitution said, we now no longer When we brought this suit back in have a federal government of March 2010, most media outlets limited powers. We have a central and many legal experts said that government – a government that we did not have a chance. One law Photo by Jane Dudley
I have never been aware of a time in history when this many states have sued the federal government to rein in its power, as is the case with the federal health care act. professor said our argument about constitutionality was, if not frivolous, close to it. Another legal expert said our case relied on a “controversial reading of the Constitution.” Apparently, it is controversial to apply the Constitution as it was written. Others said that we were just practicing political posturing and that our effort was in vain. But back in August, when the federal judge in our case ruled against the federal government’s motion to dismiss our suit, the tone started to change. Now with the decision by that same judge that the mandate is unconstitutional, the assertions that we did not stand a constitutional chance are fading fast. Our lawsuit rests on two basic arguments. The first one is that the government’s attempt to use the Constitution’s Commerce Clause to mandate people to buy a private product – in this case, private health insurance – goes beyond Congress’s enumerated powers. The reason there has never been a mandate like this in all of American history is because, up until now, everyone knew Congress lacked the power to do it. Continued on Page 10 BearingDrift.com/Page 9
The Reemergence of Federalism Continued from Page 9 Just look back to 1774. The First Continental Congress sent a joint declaration to King George III and Parliament to put them on notice that they would boycott British goods until the Stamp Act and the Intolerable Acts were repealed. Then Senator Cuccinelli converses with Senator Creigh Deeds on the Senate Floor. Much to the king’s dismay, his own Photo by Jane Dudley lawyer told Parliament that the boycott was legal under British law vegetables, or a gym membership. not as a tax (a tax is intended to and that the colonists could not be If Virginia loses this suit and the raise revenue; if the penalty works forced to buy specific goods. federal government is allowed to as planned, many would buy cross this line, Congress will be insurance, few would pay the Yet in 2010, we had a president and granted a virtually unlimited power penalty, and little revenue would a Congress that believed they could to order you to buy or do anything. be raised). One is constitutional, compel Americans to buy a private the other is not. The administration product even when the King of The second argument in this suit is: cannot simply change the meaning England and Parliament knew that Because Congress does not have of words after the fact, now that it they did not have that authority the power to mandate you to buy a realizes its Commerce Clause back in the 18th century when we private product and penalize you if argument is on shaky ground. were mere subjects! you do not, the government cannot Congress would have to go back all of a sudden start calling the and pass the law as a tax – The federal government has argued penalty a tax instead to try to make something which is politically in court that it can use the it legal. This is the Obama untenable for them. Commerce Clause to order you into Administration’s fallback position if commerce to buy governmentit loses its Commerce Clause We will soon see with which approved health insurance. It argument. A tax to pay for a health arguments the next federal court claims that not buying health care scheme would be agrees, as we will be arguing the insurance is as much of an constitutional under Congress’s case in the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court economic activity as buying it is, authority to tax. of Appeals on May 10. and therefore it can regulate your decision. Non-activity is the same But when Congress and President Whatever the ruling, this case will as activity? Someone in Obama debated the health care end up in front of the U.S. Supreme Washington needs a dictionary. law, they repeatedly said the fine Court. That is why we are also for not buying governmentasking the Supreme Court to hear The same reasoning used to force approved health insurance was a the case on an expedited basis; in you to buy health insurance could penalty, not a tax. Under the law other words, to skip over the Fourth be used to order you to buy a car, they passed, it works as a penalty, Circuit and take the case directly. Volume 2, Number 2 / May 2011
We have asked the court to expedite the case because delay in knowing whether this law will be around two years from now or not imposes crippling uncertainty upon the states, individuals, and businesses. We need this resolved as quickly as possible – for the good of our people and our economy. As bad a blow to federalism as the federal health care act is, the consequences of what the EPA has in store for us are just as offensive to our freedom and our economy. The EPA is another front in Virginia’s federalism fight.
This ruling gave the EPA the immense power to regulate CO2 emissions. For its ruling, the EPA relied primarily on data from a United Nations global warming report. But emails leaked in 2009 in the Climategate scandal showed that some of the world’s prominent climatologists manipulated data to overstate the effects of carbon dioxide on the environment. Much of the U.N. report relied on that questionable data, and the EPA relied on that U.N. Report.
Even long-time proponent of global warming theory, climate researcher Judith Curry of Georgia Tech, came out recently and said that there is no question that data in the U.N. report is misleading and that “it is obvious that there has been deletion of adverse data” that would work against the theory of rapid global warming in the last century. Continued on Page 12
Last year, the EPA declared that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases were pollutants dangerous to public health because they allegedly caused global warming. But let us remember that this dangerous pollutant, carbon dioxide, is what we exhale from our bodies every second of every day.
Photo by Jane Dudley
The Reemergence of Federalism Continued from Page 11 Since the revelations from the leaked emails became public, some scientists involved in the report have had to readdress their research. For example,
Ÿ when pressed to let other scientists see his data, Jones said that he could not reproduce the all-important temperature data he and his colleagues used to convince the world of impending climate catastrophe. Somehow, it just got lost. In February 2010, my office petitioned the EPA to voluntarily reopen its hearings, so that this new evidence could be reviewed. Instead, the EPA chose to ignore our request, and, in fact, ignore the law. So, we filed a federal lawsuit to force the hearings reopened, and we are still awaiting our day court.
Ÿ they now admit that there is no scientific evidence that the Himalayan glaciers will melt by 2035 because of carbon dioxide-induced global warming, or that the seas are If the EPA is allowed to move rising due to warming, or that forward with its regulation of African agriculture will collapse carbon dioxide, costs to households by 2020; are projected to increase by thousands of dollars annually Ÿ Professor Phil Jones, one of the because of increased energy costs chief climatologists behind to heat homes and power global warming theory, admits appliances. Add to that the that there has been no real increased costs for food and any warming for the last 15 years, other goods that require energy all the while his colleagues’ to manufacture or transport. computer models predicted Talk about taxing the poor. disastrous warming during that time; Ÿ Jones has also admitted that the earth went through a warming period during the Middle Ages – long before there were factories and cars and airplanes emitting CO2 into the atmosphere;
Volume 2, Number 2 / May 2011
The regulations will also cost businesses hundreds of millions of dollars in increased energy costs, and could price manufacturing, agriculture, energy, and other industries out of business or force them overseas, resulting in even more Virginia job losses. Then there is the cost to personal liberty. In Great Britain, the government has discussed rationing personal carbon allowances where everyone would be assigned a limited amount of carbon dioxide they would be allowed to emit while driving their cars, heating their homes, or keeping their lights on. These are serious consequences of decisions made by unelected bureaucrats. All we are asking the EPA to do is to look at all the data, not just the data that supports the world view of the people in charge. This lawsuit has proven to me that even asking the government to follow its own rules is considered radical. I have been accused of being a flat earther and an enemy
of science. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am not only an attorney, I was also an engineer. As a former engineer, I have a certain trust in science: the math, the scientific method, the certainties of the laws of physics, and the quest for new answers. However, when science gets tainted by politics and money and facts get ignored in the name of advancing a political agenda, it is no longer science. If it is, then we should call it what it really is: political science. With the EPA’s attempt to regulate our lives by regulating the manufacture and transport of practically everything we buy, and with the government’s attempt to take over our healthcare system, we face some of the most significant and unprecedented erosions of liberty in our lifetimes.
Photo by Jane Dudley
Our health care lawsuit is not about health care, it is about freedom. Our EPA lawsuit is not about global warming, it is about freedom. Our fight with the federal government over the boundaries of the Constitution is not about grabbing headlines, ...it is about freedom. For years, we have asked the federal government to do more for us, and all the government asked for in return was a little bit more of our liberty. Today, citizens and state governments across the country are finally waking up and saying “no more.” We took a stand. Our Founding Fathers would be proud. Future generations will be eternally grateful.
Photo by Greg Letiecq
Advertise with Bearing Drift and reach a whole new generation. email@example.com BearingDrift.com/Page 13
Time to Reform Virginia’s Relationship with Local Government by Shaun V. Kenney
o at the very last minute, Richmond gave her localities a $75 million reprieve when it came to public education. Yet the cuts to the Virginia Retirement Service, CSA funding, deputies, and virtually every other layer of government all came crashing down and around Virginia’s localities.
relationship with her local government is confined within the boundaries of outmoded and outdated expectations, including the oft-cherished Dillon Rule, that while it provides one set of rules for all localities in Virginia, woefully under prepares them to operate in a 21st century environment.
Local governments across the Commonwealth are now dealing with the ramifications of both federal and state reductions in tax revenue, as well as a sour economy back home. To make matters worse, some localities have their own added headaches whether from a reliance on a booming housing market, to bonds for infrastructure projects unfathomable at any other time but sold as sound thinking in a boom market.
The catch then becomes this: Richmond’s elected officials, desperate to avoid a tax increase while dealing with macro-economic pressures, will shift many of their responsibilities back onto localities in order to balance the books.
Thus are localities in Virginia trying to meet responsibilities to public education, public safety, and social services -- as well as a host of unfunded or partially funded mandates from either Washington or Richmond. Conservatives are now stuck with a dilemma of sorts. Those who have beaten the Reaganesque mantra of government being close to home are now discovering their constituencies have little thrift for paying more in taxes for the same level of services. Likewise, many conservatives are railing against the increased property taxes required to maintain level funding for county services. What the heck is going on here? For Virginians, it’s important to understand precisely how your government works and doesn’t work. Too often people preach constitutional restraint without having flipped to page one of their Virginia Constitution. Therein lies the problem -- Virginia’s Volume 2, Number 2 / May 2011
140 legislators slap backs and shake hands on a job well done, being able to promise the same services while the responsibility of paying for them is left to countless elected officials in 134 different localities across the Commonwealth. After all, what’s the political careers of a few county supervisors, right? One concrete example is public education. In Virginia, public education isn’t a mere privilege as it might be under the U.S. Constitution. Thanks to the heritage of Thomas Jefferson, a free and quality public education is, indeed, a basic right: ARTICLE VIII, Section 1. Public schools of high quality to be maintained. The General Assembly shall provide for a system of free public elementary and secondary schools for all children of school age throughout the Commonwealth, and shall seek to ensure that an educational program of high quality is established and continually maintained. Let’s re-emphasize the words “an educational program of high quality” right there.
What does this mean for John Q. Taxpayer? It means that, no matter how the money is spent, no matter what the money is wasted on, if Virginia’s school boards say it costs X to maintain “an educational system of high quality” then you’d bloody damn well pay for it. QED. For most localities in Virginia, public education costs can run as high as 70% or 80% of the locality’s total budget. And like every locality in Virginia, there are only handful of ways to pay for it, the foremost of which is the real estate property tax.
impact fees and public right of way fees, bank franchise taxes, communications taxes, short term daily rental taxes, and even a tax on legal records. Some localities are even taxing mopeds ($15 per moped in Bedford County) and bowling ($0.05 a game in Falls Church). Continued on Page 16
Property taxes have to be the most ridiculous, crude, barbaric, and regressive form of taxation known to mankind. They make you a permanent lessee of your property and a permanent serf of your home, irrespective of your income or ability to pay. This means that families with two incomes and no kids pay just as much as the mother with four children struggling to make ends meet. And every increase in the property tax is one more step away for working families to achieve the American dream. Of course, this is not the only tool in the 18th century medical kit that localities may use to carve up the taxpayer. Real estate property taxes, personal property taxes, machinery and tool taxes, and Business and Professional Occupancy License (BPOL) taxes are just a variety of frightening concoctions we can devise. But wait -- there’s more! Sales taxes are automatically imposed by Virginia, for which a locality derives 1%. But there are other considerations such as meals taxes (as high as 8% or more in some localities), hotel taxes, land use taxes for farmers, merchants capital taxes, utility license taxes, cable TV taxes, motor vehicle license taxes, minerals taxes, refuse and recycling taxes, BearingDrift.com/Page 15
Time to Reform Virginia’s Relationship with Local Government Continued from Page 15 The problem with all of these varieties of taxation is that none of them keep up with the true economic power of the locality where they were levied. Sure this worked in the 19th century when property and agriculture were the true powers of wealth. In today’s Virginia, all of these modes of taxation are woefully regressive and grossly punitive. Worse, for local City Councils or Boards of Supervisors, the entire weight of responsibility for the tax rates -- whether hiked or decreased -- is entirely on their shoulders, while the mismanagement of these resources is largely within the hands of many school boards across Virginia. These school boards are responsible for one charge alone -- providing a quality system of education. They are not responsible for fiscal mismanagement… and so even in the best run locality, the schools spend… the council or board sets the rate. How do we fix this problem? The problem in my mind remains three fold: (1) Richmond is slouching on her constitutionally mandated responsibilities to local governments, particularly with regard to education, (2) school boards need to be made accountable for their spending behaviors, and (3) the system of taxation with regard to localities needs to be massively overhauled.
and which ones are not. If the demarcation line is that the state picks up the total cost of education according to either the LCI (or a more equitable formula) and allow localities to pick up the rest, so be it. But the current guessing game only helps those lobbyists who squabble for the largest slice of the pie from Richmond -- and certainly not our students or constitutional officers who must bear their ultimate cost. Second, either Virginia’s school boards require the taxing authority independent of their local governments in order to bring direct accountability for their spending habits, or they need to be completely abolished and consolidated with the local executive. That way, should local Boards of Supervisors or City Councils have the dual authority, they will also have the direct accountability needed to reform and streamline Virginia’s schools to the benefit of both teachers and students alike.
Third, localities desperately need the latitude to abolish their current methods of taxation and replace them with a fair, even, and balanced method of taxation -- starting perhaps with a flat tax consisting of either sales or income along with an abolishment of the system of property taxation. Virginia can still maintain her Dillon Rule, but legislators in Richmond should be absolutely clear that property taxes et al. The answer? Virginia is a state wedded to tradition, will disappear in favor of a fair, equitable tax system and very cool to radical change. Yet is is abundantly in which every taxpayer and small business in the clear that the current alchemy is unwieldy, unfair, and locality will be gainfully invested. generating massive amounts of waste and duplication in effort. Surely there is leadership in Richmond Next, Virginia’s government needs to take on the willing to contest with the Leviathan? mandate of Governor Bob McDonnell and aggressively abolish the practice of unfunded mandates to If so, may I offer a few generalized points of solution? localities. Such as system is decried at the federal level when it is done to states; it is the height of First, Richmond needs to clearly demarcate her hypocrisy for Virginia to then turn around and do the responsibilities and meet them accordingly, and same to 134 counties and cities under her stewardship. clearly draw lines where the localities should be expected to meet their requirements. Localities in turn need to understand clearly which areas of local government need to be funded strictly by the locality Volume 2, Number 2 / May 2011
Finally, Virginia’s political activists need to understand quickly that this system of federal taxation compiled with state taxations trickles down to the local level where the treads of government ultimately touch the pavement. Take your total county or city budget and divide it by the population. In Fluvanna, that commitment translates into $5,800 per person. Are you seeing a similar impact from your local government? If not, why not? Further, take the time to read your state constitution. Understand why those laws exist. Understand your local budget, and why the entire system is wrapped up in public education. Many folks rail against the U.S. Department of Education without realizing that in Virginia, we are totally committed as a constitutional right for a free and quality system of public education. There are many who would argue that we no longer have that guarantee of quality, though the price tag for education has skyrocketed over the 15 years. As a homeschooling father of six, even if Virginia met Jefferson’s standard, I would more than likely continue to educate my children at home where I can be promised a Catholic classically-based education. Regardless, we exist in a community, and such an education system that promotes the common good offers both my children and my neighbors the best opportunity of living in a free and prosperous society.
and respectful terms possible. When local government ceases to function properly, that’s when the winds of change blow… for ill or good. It remains for Richmond to have the courage to reform the relationship, or step aside for responsible leadership to govern. I have every reason to be confident that we’ll see progress in Richmond on these matters, and in the near future. Taxpayers will run out of supervisors, city councilmen, and school boards to blame. The fiscal vise we have placed our taxpayers in by way of local government cannot feasibly survive under its current framework much longer.
Richmond needs the courage to fix where our government has the closest contact to its citizens. Most importantly, get involved in local politics. There Should the powers-that-be in Richmond choose otherwise, neglecting this defective relationship will are many who would like to treat your local only made things much, much worse for taxpayers government as a philanthropic society. It is most certainly not. Government, no matter what its form, and local services alike. is force -- brutal and unfeeling. Our friends on the left do not understand this concept, and while there are voices on the right who would love nothing more than to reduce government to bare bones, a properly Get your Bearing Drift Gear formed conservative conscience recognizes that sort of libertinism for what it is -- reckless and survivalist. Education, public safety, constitutional officers, and all of these things are the vigilance we pay to create the sphere where public liberty can thrive where it matters most -- at the local level. Virginia’s relationship to her localities should be built around this principle, and when it is not, voters should challenge their state leadership in the most direct
http://www.cafepress.com/redstoreva BearingDrift.com/Page 17
US Budget in Focus by Eve Marie Barner Gleason
Numbers from the Top National Debt: > $14,000,000,000,000 2010 Deficit: $1,600,000,000,000 National Debt Day: July 27th - after this day, all remaining spending in the 2011 calendar year is borrowed. Foreign Obligations: $8,400,000,000,000 - 47% of our debt is owed to foreign countries. Interest paid in 2010: $196,194,000 Interest estimated for 2016: $562,186,000 Volume 2, Number 2 / May 2011
he US budget is massive. The Congressional budgeting process is unwieldy. While the outline of the US Budget and how it is enacted are easily understood, only a small minority of our Representatives truly understand the details of what is contained in the federal budget and why it is there. Cutting spending - any spending - in Washington is no simple matter. Every program has a constituency. Every constituency has an agenda. Members of Congress know that crossing too many powerful constituencies can have electoral consequences.
So, Washington politicians play a game of “kick the can down the road.” Every so often, you will hear them opine, as Senator Mark Warner did on camera with the Federal Times in March, about requiring government to become more efficient:“We can do this one of two ways, we can come in with a meat cleaver and just arbitrarily cut programs willy nilly or kind of have across the board cuts that are not necessarily smart or we can engage with our federal workforce and ask the people who actually run the programs, ‘how do we become more efficient, consolidate’ and ask our federal workers to be partners in this effort.” Yet even the President’s own bi-partisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility suggested far more drastic measures. As anyone who has studied the federal balance sheets knows, nearly forty cents of every dollar Congress spends is borrowed. Tinkering with the efficiency of current federal departments and programs is not a long term solution to our debt crisis. The last Congress punted its responsibility to pass a budget. Instead, it passed a series of continuing resolutions, the last one funding the government through March 6, 2011. During the 2010 campaign season, House Republicans released their Pledge to America and promised to cut $100 billion from 2011 spending.
As anyone who has studied the federal balance sheets knows, nearly forty cents of every dollar Congress spends is borrowed. If House Republicans can gain the support of enough Senate Democrats and the White House to push a substantial portion of their 2011 spending reductions through, then they may well be able to guide the national conversation on entitlement reform and debt reduction. So far, it looks like an uphill battle. In the most open process members and Congressional aides can remember, the House debated a continuing resolution (CR) to fund government operations through the end of the 2011 fiscal year. Democrats and conservative Republicans introduced numerous amendments. Continued on Page 20
As a result, the House Republican majority faces two large budget and spending tasks, one on top of the other. First, the House is trying to avert a government shut down while keeping the spirit of their Pledge to America. Second, they are poised to release a 2012 budget that contrasts sharply with the President’s budget, and begins the process of meaningfully restructuring entitlement programs.
US Budget in Focus Continued from Page 19 For the most part, Democrat amendments were designed to expose Republican legislators to tough votes, such as Gerry Connolly’s (D-11) amendment to Unfortunately, the President restore $150 million in Metro safety funding that was again failed to put action behind absent from the majority’s CR. Conservatives from his words by neglecting to even the Republican Study Committee introduced acknowledge these tough issues amendments to cut spending by an additional $22 that everyone knows drive up our billion. Both types of amendments failed and House debt and must be reformed if they leadership passed a CR that reduced 2011 spending are to meet their obligations for by $61 billion compared to 2010 levels and $100 younger Americans.” billion compared to the President’s request. The House Majority Leader Eric Cantor Photo by Jane Dudley measure was dead on arrival in the Senate, forcing the House leadership to back successive short-term CRs which have kept the government functioning while not the only problem budget-conscious House leaving funding for the rest of the year unresolved. Republicans face, however. Within their caucus, several factions are threatening defection. Some The next big step for legislators is the 2012 budget. members are impatient, believing that the new The President presented his budget proposal to the budget should eliminate the deficit immediately; House on February 14th. Virginia’s own Eric Cantor others are intransigent, refusing to even consider (R-7) immediately issued a statement accusing the cuts to one or more favored spending areas, President of refusing to do tough budgetary work: especially defense. “President Obama has used tough rhetoric about the need to get our fiscal house in order, even assembling Independent analysis and tables from the White a bipartisan commission to address entitlement House Office of Management and Budget as well as spending which accounts for more than half of our the Congressional Budget Office confirm that the long federal budget including Social Security, Medicare term budget outlook is severe. Stanford Economist and Medicaid. Unfortunately, the President again John Taylor says that merely reaching a balanced failed to put action behind his words by neglecting to budget by 2019 would require an immediate 60 even acknowledge these tough issues that everyone percent tax increase on all individuals and businesses. knows drive up our debt and must be reformed if From a business perspective, the situation is simple: they are to meet their obligations for younger we are spending more than we have and charging the Americans.” rest. As the deficits get bigger, they add to the debt and the magic of compounded interest does the rest. Cantor promised that Republicans would present their The amount of interest the U.S. is expected to pay own budget - and that it would meaningfully address on our debt is expected to nearly triple from 2010 to entitlement reform. In fact, Congressman Paul Ryan, 2016. who has been one of the few leaders in his own party to actually put forward serious entitlement reform ideas, now has the top spot on the Budget Committee. But with the Senate controlled by the Democratic Party, it is unlikely Ryan’s budget will ever get to the President’s desk. Democratic opposition is Volume 2, Number 2 / May 2011
For over a year, a team of financial experts assembled and led by Mary Meeker analyzed US government balance sheets to see if a turnaround was possible. In February of this year, Bloomberg Business Week published their findings. They found that “Medicare and Medicaid are the crushers for USA Inc. Excluding them and one-time charges, the "core business" shows a median net profit margin of 4 percent over the past 15 years.” In short, we are 14 years away from a meltdown - when entitlement spending and interest payments alone will consume every penny of federal revenues unless taxes are raised or entitlements are restructured drastically. That would leave no monies remaining for national defense, federal courts and prisons, the FBI, embassies, cabinet departments or any other federal government function. Meeker concludes that “USA, Inc” faces serious financial challenges but they can be fixed, if “citizen-shareholders... embrace the need for bold action, [then] their political leaders should find the courage to do what's right.”
The data is not encouraging for big spenders. It is not enough to trim waste, fraud, abuse and duplication from the budget with a fiscal scalpel. Although inefficiencies need to be addressed, far more drastic action is required if our country is to remain a good investment for the citizen-shareholders of the future. In short, repairing the United States’ budget crisis requires an informed and motivated public – willing to endure the challenges of restructuring entitlement programs. Only when the public is clamoring for these changes will our politicians have the courage to implement them.
Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War
by D.J. McGuire
ne hundred and fifty years ago this month, the United States began a war with itself for its very survival – as did Virginia. The nation survived intact; the Commonwealth did not – losing a third of its territory to the new state of West Virginia. The attempt by several southern states, of which Virginia was supposedly one, to leave the Union has since been dubbed the Lost Cause. This is, in part, to reflect what now seems to be the inevitable advantages the Union had, and to add some romanticism to the Confederate effort. An examination of the events from 1861-65, however, give us another reason: for the sake of the nation, the Commonwealth, and the limited government philosophy on which both were founded, the Confederacy is cause that best not be “found.” At first, the damage done to Virginia seems easy to determine. A third of the state was lost in the West Virginia formation of 1863; what remained was devastated by the war itself. No other state suffered the damage Virginia did. At the same time, however, many would say that the Confederates deserve, at most, half of the blame for that result – the “North” did decide to fight, after all. As logical as that may sound, even logic must give way to history. The action that led the secessionists in Virginia to take the plunge into the Confederacy was Lincoln’s call for troops to repress the force in South Carolina that had seized Fort Sumter. To hear the defenders of Henry Wise (ex-Governor and leading secessionist) and John
Letcher (current Governor in 1861) tell it, the alternatives were stark and clear – join the president’s attempt to suppress the rebellion or defend fellow southerners. That interpretation suffers greatly once one looks just next door to Kentucky, formerly a part of Virginia and facing its own political and regional divisions over the conflict. Kentuckians didn’t like fighting their fellow southerners either, but rather than throw in with the rebellion, they chose “neutrality” – and the Lincoln Administration accepted this. Rather than force Kentucky’s badly divided state government to fill its troop quota, Lincoln relied on local unionists to do the job while the politics in Frankfurt sorted itself out. In time, Unionism in Kentucky carried the day. North Carolina was given a similarly wide berth by Washington until it narrowly chose to secede – in part due to the hell-bent speed of Wise and Letcher to the north.
Virginia lost something else due to the war, something that has been forgotten over the generations: its voice.
Confederate sympathizers may prefer to focus on federal heavyhandedness in Maryland (which also came after the Virginia secession, and thus was colored by it), but Lincoln’s light touch in Kentucky is a far better example of his Upper South policy. Clearly, Virginia could have bided her time for much of 1861. The Commonwealth’s secessionists had other ideas, and their determination to run roughshod of the rule of law – by even the standards of the Confederacy – So a third alternative was open, drove the western Unionists to even after Fort Sumter. The break away from Virginia and secessionists refused to consider it, turned the rest of the state into an instead pushing the convention for amalgamated killing field. a vote to leave the Union (with an unauthorized seizure of Harper’s Ferry by a Wise-backed militia presented to the conventioneers before the vote as the coup de grace) to be “ratified” by a popular referendum conducted as Confederate troops were already stationed in the Commonwealth. Adding insult to injuries, several Unionist counties in northwest Virginia were never included in the vote totals. That those counties became the launching pad of efforts to form West Virginia should surprise no one.
However, Virginia lost something else due to the war, something that has been forgotten over the generations: its voice. Prior to 1861, Virginia was one of the most important states in the Union, and not just because of its history. Its unique mix of northern and southern, farming and mining, eastern and western, etc., gave it a national voice unmatched by any other state. Admittedly, the secessionists wanted no part of the Union anyway, but their decision – along with the subsequent loss of the resource-rich northwest – deprived Virginia of that national voice forever. Continued on Page 24
Continued from Page 23 Occasionally, Virginia’s unique balance still shone through: the Readjuster period of the 1880s and Governor Linwood Holton’s dramatic reaction to court-ordered desegregation in 1970 (while he disapproved of the court’s decision, he personally walked his daughter to John F. Kennedy High School, even though his family was exempted from the order). However, they were no longer perceived as actions typical of a national leader, but rather outliers of a capital-s Southern state. The war turned Virginia from a nation leader to a sectional outlier. Virginia wasn’t the only thing “regionalized” by the war. More ominously, the Jeffersonian philosophy of limited central government was dramatically reduced from a national concept to a regional, “southern” one. Contrary to popular belief, “states’ rights” was not always a southern mantra. Northern and southern states jealously guarded their powers against Washington’s encroachment in the antebellum era. In fact, some of the most powerful attempts to block the expansion of federal power came in the 1850s as northern states pushed back against the Fugitive Slave Law (much to southerners’ chagrin). Northern concern over federal encroachment went as far back as New England’s ire at the 1807 Embargo (ironically proposed and Volume 2, Number 2 / May 2011
viciously enforced by Jefferson himself). While much of the historiography of states’ rights is dominated by the 1832 South Carolina tariff nullification, Pennsylvania arguably threw a more dramatic gauntlet at Washington in 1826 when it effectively declared following the 1793 Fugitive Slave Act to be a state felony. Even the Supreme Court only partially overturned the Pennsylvania statute in Prigg v. Pennsylvania in 1842 (the decision still allowed northern states to ban government officials from helping to recover escaped slaves; and several northern states did so).
Southern reaction to this exercise of states’ rights was almost uniformly negative. Politicians who in the 1860s were citing South Carolina’s 1832 tariff nullification with glowing approval spent the 1850s railing against northern states challenging the Fugitive Slave Law as dangerous anarchists. In short, a strong federal government was just fine with southern voters and officials – as long as those sympathetic to southerners were running Washington. Only when they lost control of the executive branch (in 1860) did southern states choose to secede. The Confederate states didn’t exemplify the states’ rights cause; they hijacked it.
This was nothing compared to the northern reaction to the Compromise of 1850. In the tumult Contrary to popular of that year, the central governbelief, “states’ rights” ment refused statehood to a qualifying U.S. territory for the first was not always and only time in history (New a southern mantra. Mexico, which then comprised of New Mexico and Arizona, and had By the time the war that secession asked for admission as a free state). would start had ended, the notion of “states rights” was so damaged Yet even that was nothing that it has taken over a century to compared to northern states’ anger recover (and in many parts of the to the new Fugitive Slave Law. nation, it still hasn’t). The northern Vermont ordered its judges to states’ anger at the Fugitive Slave openly defy the law and assist Law was forgotten; southerners escaped slaves. Several other New desperate to change the subject England states (plus Michigan and from slavery clung to “states’ Wisconsin) passed similar personal rights” – smearing it with every liberty laws designed specifically to full-throated defense. block enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law. Wisconsin’s Supreme Had Virginia’s leaders exercise Court went so far as to declare the more caution (as Kentucky’s did), law unconstitutional. the Commonwealth would have
been well positioned to preserve the prerogative of the states in reaction to federal encroachment after the war, to say nothing of being spread the loss of the northwest and the destruction to rest of the state due to the war. Instead, Virginia was practically ripped in half geographically, flattened economically, and pigeonholed politically, all for the Lost Cause. The overwhelming majority of Virginians who fought for blue or gray (and yes, thousands of 1861 Virginians fought for the Union, including the Rock of Chickamauga, General George Thomas) did so for what they thought was right. However, with what is now a century and a half of hindsight, we can examine the events of that time and recognize that those who rose up against the Union made a mistake – and the mistake was far more than just the assumption that a person can own another or the notion that African descendants are inferior to Caucasian ones. In reality, those who tried to lead Virginia out of the Union did incalculable and ongoing damage to the very things they sought to defend and extol: the rights of states to resist federal encroachment and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Bearing Drift invites you to our history blog. We’re jumping into the really way-back-machine and offering you a blog of events as they happened in 1861-65 from a Virginia Republican’s perspective. Join us for this five year project. http://www.bearingdrift.com/damnthetorpedoes/
Governor Bob McDonnell recognized the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War by proclaiming April 2011 as Civil War History in Virginia Month. From the proclamation: WHEREAS, from 2011-2015 a diverse and growing Commonwealth will host innumerable public events, lectures, re-enactments, seminars, and remembrances covering every aspect of the war, and no state is more closely connected to this pivotal period of American history, and therefore no state is better suited to host visitors seeking to learn about the Civil War, the Confederacy, slavery, emancipation and the full history of our United States, and for that reason Virginia encourages visitors from across the country and the world to visit the Commonwealth during this period, NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert F. McDonnell, Governor of Virginia, do hereby recognize April 2011 as CIVIL WAR HISTORY IN VIRGINIA MONTH, and urge all Virginians to participate in commemorations of the war’s 150th anniversary and reflect upon the lives of the courageous men and women of those difficult times by attending seminars and conferences, and by visiting battlefields, cemeteries, exhibitions, historical markers, libraries, museums and historical sites throughout the Commonwealth, and by taking part in a diversity of events and activities that highlight our shared history and heritage, as we strive to enact the vision laid out in the preamble to the United States Constitution of “a more perfect union.”
Bearing Drift Interview: Network of enlightened Women
egun in 2004 as a book club on the campus of the University of Virginia, Network of enlightened Women has expanded into a national organization where members meet to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing women today, as well as political issues. Bearing Drift was able to sit down with Karin Agness, Founder and President of the Network of enlightened Women to discuss the group’s beginnings and vision.
Bearing Drift: Your organization has grown to over 20 campuses nationwide - to what do you attribute its success? What have you done to grow the organization? Has it been word of mouth or have you targeted specific campuses? Karin Agness is Founder and
Agness: There is a demand on President of the Network of campus for a group for Bearing Drift: NeW was established in 2004 at UVA - why enlightened Women. conservative women. NeW has did you sense that there was a need to do this? filled this niche. NeW’s structure as a book club makes it easy for Agness: In the summer of 2004, I had the opportunity to women at other colleges to start chapters. You really intern for the Office of Senator Richard Lugar. I enjoyed just need a group of conservative women and books to being surrounded by other women with right-of-center start a chapter. To start a chapter, a college woman needs views in Washington, DC. Rather than throwing out Republican and Democrat one-liners, my female colleagues to fill out a Prospective NeW Chapter form, available at http://enlightenedwomen.org/new-chapters/ were eager to talk about nuanced arguments behind legislative proposals and how the issues of the day affected and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. That will get the conversation going about starting a chapter. NeW has women. It was exhilarating to hear speakers and staffers spread to campuses across the country through word of explain how a 500-page bill would affect me as a young mouth, press coverage of NeW and our NeW blog. Also, woman, and it was also refreshing to see how these we host a national conference in Washington, DC each women were able to balance their extraordinary summer, and that event has led to a number of chapters achievements with a full family life. being started. We are eager to expand to more campuses, I returned to the University of Virginia for my third year of so if any of your readers are interested, they should email me at email@example.com. college that fall, and set about to find some semblance of the environment I’d just come from. Unfortunately, all of Bearing Drift: Since you were started as a book club, what the women’s groups at UVA were dedicated to promoting types of books do you read? How does the book club work? a liberal agenda. On my way home from class one day, I walked by a building called “The Women’s Center.” I Agness: We have a book list available on our website, figured it would be open to all women. I took a tour and at which our chapters use as a resource when selecting a book. the end of it I asked, “Would the women’s center be Last semester, a few of our chapters particularly enjoyed interested in cosponsoring a group for conservative young What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us: Why Happiness Eludes women?” The women’s center faculty member looked at the Modern Woman by Danielle Crittenden, Who Stole me like I was crazy, chuckled and said “not here.” Feminism? by Christina Hoff Sommers and The Politically Disappointed by the lack of resources available for culturally conservative women, I was determined to change things. I decided to start a club. I founded the Network of enlightened Women, called NeW, as a book club for conservative women at UVA.
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Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex, and Feminism by Carrie Lukas. The book club has provided a good structure for our chapters. The chapters generally read one book a semester, so the amount of reading for each meeting is not overwhelming. Reading a chapter or two of a book before each meeting provides enough material for discussion.
Bearing Drift: Why just college-aged women? Is this an organization that someday you feel might transcend the ivy walls and into the mainstream Consciousness? Agness: We have focused on college-aged women because that is where we saw a need for NeW. Radical feminists have maintained a particularly strong presence on many campuses through women’s studies departments, women’s centers and chapters of women’s groups. We have received support from women outside of college and inquiries about how they can get involved. At this point, the best way for someone not in college to get involved is to start reading our blog and join the discussion on our Online Book Club.
determine who makes it to the next round. Also, NeW at Arizona State University has created some videos available on our website asking students questions such as, “Are men an endangered species on campus?” and “Are gentlemen extinct?” as part of their Gentlemen’s Showcase effort. The Gentlemen’s Showcase seeks to restore dignity and respect between the sexes by recognizing and honoring gentlemen. The demise of chivalry doesn’t promote equality between the sexes. Instead, it breeds mutual disrespect. We hope to encourage gentlemanly behavior through this event. The Gentlemen’s Showcase has been covered by The Daily Caller and Politico.
Bearing Drift: Describe the Gentlemen's Showcase. In some Bearing Drift: The Gentlemen’s Showcase is focused on respects, it appears your organization wants to promote men, so what types of women’s issues do you discuss? good manners. Agness: Throughout the month of March, NeW hosts the Annual NeW Gentlemen’s Showcase. The Gentlemen’s Showcase is an online contest run through Facebook where college men compete to become the NeW Gentleman of the Year. We hold this event to recognize and honor gentlemen on campus. Students nominate college men for gentlemanly acts by uploading a video, photo or note to NeW’s Facebook Fan page, available at, http://www.facebook.com/EnlightenedWomen.
Agness: One of main issues that many NeW chapters discuss is the hook-up culture on campus. Some of the books our chapters read discuss how harmful the hook-up culture is particularly to women. Unfortunately, many women’s groups are unwilling to speak out against the hook-up culture.
Some individual NeW chapters host their own campus-wide Gentlemen’s Showcase event. The University of Virginia NeW chapter ran a Gentlemen’s Showcase Bracket during March Madness. Men are not just competing on the basketball court at UVA. Each week, the nominated gentlemen answer questions, and students vote to
Bearing Drift: If readers want to learn more, what is the best way to do so?
Bearing Drift: What is the mission of NeW?
Agness: The mission of NeW is to foster the education and leadership of conservative university women. We also Then, people vote by “liking” a nomination. The college gentleman with the most votes wins a steak dinner for two. seek to expand intellectual diversity on college campuses. We are trying to create a community of conservative The goal of the event is to encourage mutual respect women on campus. between the sexes.
Agness: They can visit our website at www.enlightenedwomen.org or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are looking to expand to more campuses and to find more supporters.
NeW leaders at the 2010 NeW National Conference. BearingDrift.com/Page 27
Bony Fish and Oily Politics Virginia’s Annual Shad Planking is the traditional kickoff to the election season. by Michael R. Fletcher
Tyearakeanda drive down Virginia Route 460 this time of you see the usual abundant signs of spring: dogwood blossoms, colorful azaleas, golden daffodils, and hundreds and hundreds of campaign signs. Seemingly disproportionate to the number of registered voters in the small towns that dot this rural highway, these campaign signs herald not the coming of spring – but the annual Shad Planking. The Shad Planking, hosted by the Wakefield Ruritan Club, is the unofficial kickoff for the spring political season. Scheduled to be held Wednesday, April 20, this bipartisan event will include Governor Bob McDonnell as the featured speaker. When it began near Smithfield in the 1930’s, the planking celebrated the running of the shad in the James River. At the event, the oily, bony fish are smoked on wood planks over an open flame – hence the Shad Planking. The Shad Planking became a political gathering when the Ruritans took it over in 1949. It was exclusively a Democrat function for many years – noted as much for the good ole’ boy politics as the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Of course, during the years of the Byrd Organization, Virginia was almost entirely a Democrat state. The Shad Planking was traditionally where the Democrats “selected” the next Governor of Photos by Jane Dudley the Commonwealth. These days, both major parties are represented at the Shad Planking, along with a sprinkling of Libertarians and Tea Party supporters. Up until the 1970s, the event was also exclusively male. Stories abound that there was no need for porta-johns because, after all, there were trees. And with the free-flowing beer … well, I’m not going to draw a picture.
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True to another blemish on Virginia’s political history, the event was also only for whites for too many years. Then State Senator L. Douglas Wilder is believed to be the first African American to go to the event in 1977. That same year, Washington Post reporter Megan Rosenfeld was the first woman to attend the planking. The headline speaker is traditionally a high ranking official. Former Governor Mills Godwin, Jr. has the distinction of being the only featured speaker who has headlined the event as both a Democrat and as a Republican, coinciding with his terms as governor. Former Attorney General Mary Sue Terry, the first woman elected to statewide office in Virginia, While the bony fish used to run in abundance in remains the only woman to have been the featured Virginia, overfishing, pollution and dam-building have speaker at the event. had a detrimental effect on the fish population. Commercial shad fishing was banned in Maryland in Shad has a long history in the Commonwealth and 1980 and Virginia instituted a ban in 1994. Today only was a major source of food for early Virginians. Thomas Jefferson was born on a farm on the Rivanna Native Americans may catch and keep shad and River called Shadwell and is said to have eaten his fish hatcheries on the Pamunkey and Mattaponi Indian reservations are attempting to replenish the “laid open, broiled, and addressed with salt, and population. Fish ladders have been installed on butter.” But few attendees at the Shad Planking are several dams in hopes that the fish can find their way there for the cuisine, although the bony fish can be upstream for spawning. Fish for the Wakefield event enjoyable accompanied by the traditional sides of are reportedly shipped in from North Carolina and Virginia Diner coleslaw, corn muffins and sweet tea. Delaware. The unique method of planking the fish to cook them is said to be traced back to a Mr. Paul Cox of Surry County. Mr. Cox, and friends Dr. E.C. Nettles and Mr. Richard Savedge, invited friends to historic Wrenn’s Mill in Isle of Wight County. After they had caught their fish in the James River, Mr. Cox introduced the fish-cooking process to his friends. Continued on Page 30
Bony Fish and Oily Politics Continued from Page 29
After World War II, Dr. Nettles suggested that the Wakefield Ruritan Club adopt the event as an annual fund raising event. Since that time the Shad Planking has been held on the third Wednesday in April. From the original attendance of 300, now over 2000 attend. Thereâ€™s no written rule that a Virginia politician has to attend the Shad Planking, or that the area has to be plastered with the campaign signs. But perhaps there is significance in the fact that in 2009, Democratic Senator and gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds did not attend.
Seen here as a candidate at the 2009 Shad Planking, Governor Bob McDonnelli was asked to be the featured speaker at the 2011 event.
A â€œTraditionalâ€? Shad Recipe 1. Clean and scale the shad and split it open from head to tail. 2. Preheat an oak plank in front of hickory coals and grease with butter. 3. Place the shad on the hot board with the skin side down and fasten it securely with thumb tacks. 4. Stand the plank on end at a 60-degree angle in front of the coals. 5. Baste frequently with melted butter and shake salt and pepper over it. 6. When done, remove the tacks, throw the shad away, and eat the plank.
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The Final Ward Snarkery and Cartoons from Ward Smythe & Friends.
No Snarkery here... Bearing Drift Congratulates VCU Rams Menâ€™s Basketball Team On a Great Season
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