While the federal government continues to drown in a sea of debt, several states are reporting surpluses, thanks to policies Washington would do well to emulate.
Nowhere has the economic turnaround been more immediate than in Virginia. When Governor Bob McDonnell took office in January 2010, he was faced with a $2.2 billion shortfall bequeathed to him by outgoing Democratic governor (and now Senate candidate) Tim Kaine. In less than two years, McDonnell has delivered two budget surpluses without raising taxes or causing harm to the "most vulnerable." Instead, he has judiciously cut spending.
Here's a story I don't expect the media to trumpet, partly because it cuts against the MSM's preferred narrative on gun laws.
"Virginia's bars and restaurants did not turn into shooting galleries as some had feared during the first year of a new state law that allows patrons with permits to carry concealed guns into alcohol-serving businesses," Mark Bowes of the Richmond Times-Dispatch noted in an August 14 story:
Cragg Hines, a longtime Washington bureau chief and columnist for the Houston Chronicle (who retired in 2007), announced his very strong backing of a liberal gay Democrat for the Virginia State Senate. In the gay magazine Metro Weekly, Hines wrote "it would be worth electing him just to see the look on the faces of right-wing Republican legislators and their sometimes vicious, off-the-wall supporters" when he was sworn in.
Hines has also put his money where his mouth is, donating $250 to Delegate Adam Ebbin's Senate campaign.
The Associated Press is just like any other "prestige media" outlet in utterly failing the accuracy test when it comes to "transgender" stories. A man is a woman as long as he says he's a she. Take this stark prison story from AP's Dena Potter on Tuesday:
DILLWYN, VA. -- Crouched in her cell, Ophelia De'lonta hoped three green disposable razors from the prison commissary would give her what the Virginia Department of Corrections will not — a sex change. It had been several years since she had felt the urges, but she had been fighting them for weeks. But like numerous other times, she failed to get rid of what she calls "that thing" between her legs, the last evidence she was born a male.
A new Washington Post poll of Virginians finds that Old Dominion voters are optimistic about the direction of the state, approve of the job of their conservative governor, and are divided on the question of same-sex marriage.
The Roanoke Times has discovered that opening Virginia's highway rest stops to sponsors might not mean just more advertising for fast food. It could lead to requests from opponents of the mainstream ideas of food and leisure activities:
Gov. Bob McDonnell announced an initiative last week that would allow for sponsorships at Virginia's highway rest areas to help offset the cost of operating the facilities.
And now the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants in on the action. PETA has sent a letter to the Virginia Department of Transportation expressing its interest in sponsoring the Interstate 81 rest stop at mile marker 158 near Troutville and renaming it the "Fishing Hurts" rest area. It also would like to get a reduced sponsorship rate as a nonprofit.
Democratic Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia caused a bit of a stir last week when he said on CSPAN's Washington Journal program that, as paraphrased by Daniel Strauss at The Hill, "lawmakers are getting around the new ban on earmarks by convincing Obama administration officials to fund their pet projects."
Those who have followed Moran's less than illustrious career recall something he said in 2006 that makes his determination to make earmarks happen by any means necessary not at all unexpected.
In June of that year, Scott McAffrey at Northern Virginia's Sun Gazette reported on Moran's intentions if the Demcrats were to win a Congressional majority the following November (one example of R-rated language follows):
Providing Washington Post Metro section readers a review of the just-closed legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly, staff writers Rosalind Helderman and Fredrick Kunkle today deployed some colorfully loaded language that portrayed conservative Republicans in an unfavorable light.
For example [emphasis mine], the "divided legislature reached a compromise on budget amendments that mollified Republicans bent on paring government to its core services and Democrats eager to restore spending on schools, health care and other priorities as the economy improves."
But what really struck me was the part a few paragraphs later where Helderman and Kunkle described the successful effort Republicans waged to pass a bill opposed by pro-choice activists and politicians [emphasis mine]:
The Washington Post celebrated the first gay bar in populous Fairfax County with a splashy front-page article headlined "Rainbow flag aloft, nightclub is Fairfax County's first gay bar." Next to the headline was a color picture of the drag queen "La Countess Farrington." Reporter J. Freedom du Lac may want to celebrate, but it's a poor choice of metaphors to compare the hot homosexual night spots to the crucifixion of Jesus. The inept religious metaphor came in comparing Virginia to DC:
Historically, of course, the center of gay nightlife in the region has been the District, where bars such as Apex, Town and Ziegfeld's are like stations of the social cross.
The metaphor “The War on Christmas” can be mocked – as if Santa and his reindeer are dodging anti-aircraft fire. But many of our public schools have church-and-state sensitivity police with an alarming degree of Santaphobia. Anyone who's attended a school's “winter concert” in December with no traditional Christmas music – not even “Frosty the Snowman” – knows the drill. The vast Christian majority (that funds the public schools) is told that school is no place to celebrate one's religion, even in its most watered-down and secularized forms.
There are real-life stories of Scrooge-like school administrators, like the one at the appropriately named Battlefield High School in Haymarket, Virginia. A group of ten boys calling themselves the Christmas Sweater Club were given detention and at least two hours of cleaning for tossing free two-inch candy canes at students as they entered before classes started. They were “creating a disturbance.” One of their mothers, Kathleen Flannery, told WUSA-TV that an administrator called her and explained "not everyone wants Christmas cheer. That suicide rates are up over Christmas, and that they should keep their cheer to themselves, perhaps."
Of course, that level of sensitivity is not applied when it comes to slamming Christianity during the Christmas season. On December 16, The Washington Post paid tribute to another suburban school in northern Virginia, Langley High School, for warming hearts during the season with “The Laramie Project.” This play is a political assault, using transcripts of real-life interviews by gay activists out to blame America's religious people for the beating death of homosexual college student Matthew Shepard in 1998.
On Thursday’s Fox and Friends, FNC hosts Gretchen Carlson and Steve Doocy gave attention to a University of Virginia study which found that, since Prince William County in Virginia became more strict in dealing with illegal immigrants in 2007, the jurisdiction has enjoyed a substantial drop in crime - including a 32 percent drop in violent crime - while neighboring Fairfax County has seen crime levels remain steady.
Introducing an interview with Prince William County board of supervisors chairman Corey Stewart, co-host Doocy began: "Back in 2007, Prince William County in Virginia became the first large jurisdiction in the country to adopt a strict immigration enforcement policy. That move was widely criticized."
A letter to the editor of The Washington Times really underscored how little attention the D.C. media are paying to Congressman Jim Moran, who represents the easternmost part of northern Virginia (including MRC headquarters in Alexandria). A letter writer complained:
Yet for its coverage of the 10 year anniversary memorial service in today's paper, the Washington Post elected to go with an 11-paragraph article by Newport News [Va.] Daily Press's Hugh Lessig rather than assign a Post staffer to the story.
In today's print edition of the Washington Post, the top editorial, "Virginia is for gun lovers,"* attacked the Old Dominion as "one of the nation's leading gun-buying bazaars for out-of-state criminals."
"[T]he commonwealth's gun shows -- where criminals can purchase weapons without a background check -- and its gun shops are a regular source of easy-to-get firearms," the Post complained.
Any person who sells firearms at a licensed dealership or gun show must submit to a national and state criminal history records check by the Department of State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Firearm sellers must complete form SP-69A and submit a completed fingerprint card to the Firearms Transaction Center.
What's more, many gun shows employ stringent security measures and strongly encourage background checks. For example, Southeastern Guns & Knives Ltd., which runs gun shows throughout Virginia, notes that:
The Washington Post's undisguised loathing for conservative Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is on display again Tuesday. Post reporter Anita Kumar put him on the "far right" and questioned the propriety (and even the constitutionality) of his working relationship with other Republicans in Richmond.
Kumar began by noting a list of Cuccinell's "controversial" legal opinions, that "police could check the immigration status of those stopped by law-enforcement officers, that the state could impose stricter oversight of clinics that perform abortions and that local governments could allow religious holiday displays on public property. In each instance, the request for the opinion came from the same person: Del. Robert G. Marshall (Prince William), a like-minded Republican who shares Cuccinelli's far-right views."
Kumar obviously asked it this "symbiotic relationship" was unconstitutional legal activism that goes around the legislature:
Those familiar with the Washington Post know that the paper is a staunch defender of a very liberal vision of the separation of church and state. For example, the paper's editorial board was heavily critical of the Supreme Court's Mojave cross ruling.
But when it comes to the supposed dearth of Muslim chaplains at Virginia prisons, Sunday's Metro section went into full hand-wringing mode. "Inadequate Funds for Chaplains," complained a subheader for the page B1 story by staffer Kevin Sieff.
Of course, it wasn't until paragraph 27 that Sieff noted that "[n]either Catholic nor Jewish chaplains have sought funding from corrections officials." As Sieff explained early in his article, "a 200-year-old interpretation of the state constitution... bars Virginia from doing any faith-based hiring" and "is the only state where prison chaplains are contractors, not state employees." Sure, "Muslim chaplains could visit correctional facilities to minister to Virginia's 32,000 inmates," Sieff explained, "but they received no funds from the state" until a $25,000 grant was given to Muslim Chaplain Services of Virginia last July.
On Friday's Rick's List, CNN's Rick Sanchez revisited a story he did on Tuesday where he forwarded Islamic group CAIR's publicity stunt about a Virginia license plate that apparently contained racist messages. The Washington Post, as well, updated their story on Friday, pointing to the driver's apparent Facebook page, which contained white supremacist messages, but CNN was unable to confirm their report.
Schulte followed through with an article on Thursday, after the owner of the truck, Douglas Story, contacted The Washington Post to claim that the numbers actually represented his favorite NASCAR drivers, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who race under those respective numbers. Story was forced to get a new license plate after the Virginia DMV recalled his plate.
"The Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy in Chantilly proudly and purposefully limited what it would stock on its shelves. But it turns out that no birth control pills, no condoms, no porn, no tobacco and even no makeup added up to one thing: No customers," Dvorak wrote.
"John T. Bruchalski, president of Divine Mercy Care and the doctor who opened the pharmacy, then had to close it, said he wanted a place where pharmacists ‘could bring their conscience into the store, rather than hang it up at the door when they entered,'" she continued.
"Shoppers in Northern Virginia apparently weren't clamoring for a place to pick up cough medicine that also didn't sell porn, cigs and mascara. Selections of these wicked products (especially mascara - have you seen the array recently? Glittery! Lengthening! Stiletto lashes! Such naughtiness!) are available in just about every supermarket and big-box store across the country."
Here's how Post staffers Rosalind Helderman and Fredrick Kunkle launched into their lament of the pending budget cutbacks:
RICHMOND -- Virginia will do less for its residents, and expect local governments and private charities to do more, under a new state budget likely to have an impact for years to come.
With Virginia facing what lawmakers say is the grimmest financial picture in memory, the House of Delegates and Senate adopted budgets last week that would shrink general spending to about $15 billion, or no more than was spent four years ago. In other words, Virginia would spend about the same amount on services as it did when there were 100,000 fewer residents and many fewer were in economic distress.
What followed was a typical laundry list of scenarios the writers insisted "could" happen, including "[c]riminal defendants who cannot afford an attorney appear[ing] in court without one." Of course, seeing as the Constitution requires that indigent defendants be provided a public defender, it's quite odd for the Post to conclude any judge "could" let a trial proceed with a defendant unrepresented for lack of counsel. At any rate, National Review's Kevin Williamson has an excellent takedown of the article and its numerous liberal assumptions, which I've excerpted below (emphases mine):
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) has caused students across the Old Dominion to "rise up for gay rights,"* reporters Daniel de Vise and Rosalind Helderman insisted on the March 9 Metro section front page of the Washington Post.
Helderman and de Vise failed to consider the liberal leanings of the protesters, tagging the demonstrators in the lead paragraph as mere "campus activists" who are steamed over the state AG's "letter advising public universities to retreat from their policies against discrimination on the basis of sexual orienation." A few paragraphs later, Helderman and de Vise suggested that an "erosion in gay rights at state universities" would have detrimental effects on attracting and retaining students and faculty.
The problem is, Cuccinelli's legal opinion does not mandate a "retreat" from discrimination, he just noted that under Virginia law, any change in non-discrimination policy wording must be authorized by legislation.
On Monday, I noted how the Washington Post editorialized against repeal of Virginia's 1993 one-handgun-per-month law. The Post reasoned in its top March 1 editorial that without the law "straw purchasers" could "serve as front men for criminals who come to the state to buy guns in large quantities."
But today, in a Metro section front page story, Post reporter Fredrick Kunkle noted that experts in law enforcement and academia doubt there's a solid case ground in empirical data for that notion (emphasis mine):
The Washington Post was curiously silent about the ideological and/or partisan bent of blogs that prompted its coverage of a controversial statement made last Thursday by Virginia Delegate Robert Marshall (R), who suggested, the Post reports, "that women who have abortions risk having later children with birth defects as a punishment from God."
Kunkle noted that Marshall couched his controversial comments in reference to a study by Virginia Commonwealth University that "was published in 2008 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health and suggested that there is a higher risk of premature birth and low birth weight in children born to women who have had an abortion."
"Few seized on the remarks at the time Marshall made them," the Post's Fredrick Kunkle noted in his page B2 February 23 story, "[b]ut outrage built on social networking sites and political blogs after some Virginia newspapers picked up the story from Capital News Service, a program at VCU's School of Mass Communications."
But which blogs, exactly? It's not a stretch to imagine it was mostly left-wing or Democratic blogs seeking to hype a controversy to make Virginia Republicans -- who control the House of Delegates -- look bad, particularly in an election year in which the Democratic majority in the state senate is in jeopardy.
Yet Kunkle failed to inform readers which blogs tipped him off to the story and what political axes they have to grind.
Some in the liberal media continue to insist that James O'Keefe and his three cohorts were trying to "bug" or "tap" Sen. Mary Landrieu's phone lines when law enforcement officials have clearly said that they were not. Since the left doesn't like O'Keefe, the liberal media seems to think standard practices of journalistic integrity don't apply here.
According to MSNBC, one law enforcement official, who was not named, said "the four men arrested for attempting to tamper with the phones in the New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) were not trying to intercept or wiretap the calls." This statement comports with the affidavit filed in court after O'Keefe and company were arrested, which did not mention wiretapping or bugging, and only referred to the "tampering" of phone lines (h/t Patterico).
But the Boston Globe parroted this false accusation this morning in a gossip blog post about one of the alleged perpetrators, Joe Basel. The Globe--the same Globe that complained about ACORN's "trial-by-video"--called him a "political dirty trickster who was busted in a Watergate-style bugging operation earlier this week," and said again a couple paragraphs later that Basel was "bagged by the feds allegedly trying to bug the phones" in Landrieu's office. At least the Globe writers said "allegedly" the second time.
If Ellie Light is indeed a Democratic operative, she is only the proverbial tip of the party's astroturfing iceberg. Patterico's investigative work, which was also at the forefront of the blogosphere's efforts to expose Light, have revealed an even greater effort at manufacturing the appearance of public support for Democratic policies.
Organizing for America and the Democratic Party each have forms on their websites for supporters to write letters to the editors of their local papers. Both have suggested "talking points" next to the submission form. Both advise supporters to use their own words, but talking points from both of the sites have appeared in letters to the editor in a multitude of newspapers nationwide.
While it has every right to do so, and we at NewsBusters do not take issue with a newspaper's right to issue liberal pronouncements on clearly-marked editorial pages, it is worth noting from time to time the persistence with which liberal newspapers lead the charge for liberal agenda items, particularly when the issue at hand is tax increases.
Of course, this lobbying for tax increases is hardly new. The paper endorsed tax increases during the 2009 campaign and continued its pro-tax hike drumbeat without skipping a beat the day after the election. As my colleague Scott Whitlock noted on November 5:
It failed to make his master's thesis at the university Pat Robertson founded a campaign killer, but the Washington Post is still intent on finding ways to damage governor-elect Bob McDonnell even before he takes office.
In a Metro-section front-pager today, Post staffer Rosalind Helderman insisted that some recent remarks by Robertson about the nature of Islam following the Fort Hood shooting have "put McDonnell in a bind" and are forcing the Republican governor-elect "to confront how he plans to handle his friendship with" the "long-time ally" and "highly controversial figure."
Just four paragraphs into her story, Helderman cast McDonnell as one who "tried during the race to convince Virginians that he was a social conservative who could speak more broadly to issues that cross party lines."
Of course, McDonnell did just that, winning the Virginia governor's race by an 18-point margin (59-41 over Democrat Creigh Deeds) in a race where the economy, taxes and transportation were the key issues, so it's specious for Helderman to paint the governor-elect as though he were someone of whom moderate voters were skeptical.
The New York Times’s November 5 “Political Points” podcast recited a full 30-second excerpt from Gail Collins’s Wednesday column blaming not Obama, but bad Democratic candidates, for the party’s huge losses in governors’ races in Virginia and New Jersey.
The paper’s chief political reporter Adam Nagourney agreed that New Jersey and Virginia weren’t necessarily predictive. Four minutes in, Adam Nagourney emulated Collins by also throwing the two losing Democrats under the bus, while repeatedly warning people not to overstate the results:
Remember that we’re talking about here are two states, not a lot of voters, one congressional district in upstate New York. Micro-wise, one thing we do want to pay attention to here is, and again, don’t overstate this -- independent voters who backed President Obama in Virginia and New Jersey last time went to the Republican gubernatorial candidates this time. Now, does that mean that they didn’t, that they’ll vote for, you know, whoever votes against Obama in 2012, or for Democrats, or Republicans congressional, for Republicans next year? No. I don’t think so.
The G.O.P. had two big victories yesterday in off-year elections, winning the race for governor in New Jersey and Virginia for the first time since 1997. The New York Times's coverage was dominated by three themes used to explain away the success of Republicans:
The Republicans won by appearing moderate.
The congressional race in upstate New York revealed deep divisions within the G.O.P.
These off-year elections don't mean much anyway (except when Democrats win).
1) Republicans Won by Moderating:
Even after wins by two conservative Republicans, the Times spin was that moderation had prevailed, arguing that both New Jersey Governor-elect Chris Christie and Virginia Governor-elect Bob McDonnell won by trimming their social conservative stands.
In a Tuesday web post before returns were in, the paper's chief political reporter Adam Nagourney said that even a win by Virginia conservative McDonnell would be a victory for moderation:
On the home page of the Washington Post website this morning, the headline for liberal columnist Ruth Marcus is "Ignore the hype." Inside the newspaper, it's "As Virginia goes, not so much." Marcus advises that this GOP landslide is all some meaningless fairy tale:
Advice to readers about the coming orgy of analysis about the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial elections: Ignore it. Disquisitions on The Meaning of It All for President Obama or the 2009 results as a harbinger for Congress in 2010 have scant basis in reality.
Over-interpreting election results is an occupational hazard for political reporters. This problem is particularly acute in the year after a presidential contest, when we are suffering from a bad case of electoral withdrawal.
Marcus marshals some numbers to argue that governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey are not always great predictors of midterm and presidential elections to come. Let's stipulate that for a second, but ask: doesn't it also argue that reporters may have over-interpreted the mandate and charisma of Barack Hussein Obama?
The Washington Post on Thursday continued its quest to defeat Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate, bizarrely citing a "non-partisan" group that, in reality, has endorsed Bob McDonnell’s Democratic opponent. The article by Anita Kumar contained this loaded headline: "McDonnell critics question ideology: Some saw agenda in legal opinions."
Kumar quoted Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, a lobbyist for "Equality Virginia, a nonpartisan gay rights group." Yet, the front page of Equality Virginia’s website features a press release entitled, "Equality Virginia PAC Endorses Deeds for Governor." The organization’s website makes a distinction between its political action committee (EVPAC) and its "non-partisan" activities. However, Kumar made no such clarification. How can a group be non-partisan and endorse the Democratic nominee?