Fri10242014

Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

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Virginia needs tougher ethics laws

Several years ago, while working for the FAA, I had purchased a small amount of General Electric stock. There was nothing too remarkable about this, but the FAA, in reviewing my annual statement of financial interests, a requirement for many in the federal government, said I had to sell it. I didn’t handle anything remotely connected with General Electric, but corporately the agency did, and so I had to sell the stock. That’s how tight many of the conflict of interest rules are at the federal level. Also, I was strictly prohibited from accepting any gifts, and this included trinkets or other giveaways (usually found at trade shows) worth more than a small amount. And meals, save perhaps for coffee, and that was sometimes a matter of concern, were out of the question. 

Read more: Virginia needs tougher ethics laws

2014 won’t be a cakewalk for Warner

A few months ago, it looked like Mark Warner might, at worst, have only token opposition. His position as Virginia’s senior Senator and as a popular former governor seemed unassailable. It probably still is, but instead of a second or third tier opponent, the Republicans have recruited a serious challenger. Election 2014 in Virginia is going to be lively. Ed Gillespie, the likely GOP nominee, is a former Chairman of the Republican Party, adviser to former President Bush, and considered by many an astute and energetic political strategist. He’s a good speaker, can raise money on a national level, and knows how to motivate the GOP conservative base. He will be a formidable opponent.

Read more: 2014 won’t be a cakewalk for Warner

Too many tests

Everyone who has gone to school has had to take tests. There are the infamous pop quizzes, tests on chapters, midterms, and finals. As for the questions, they come in all types. There are multiple choice, fill in the blank, true or false, essays, and math and science questions that include that infamous phrase, “show your work.”

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It’s time to pass the Dream Act

It’s called the Dream Act. At 700 pages it’s arguably too wordy and too complicated, but it’s the first major bill to address the issue of nearly 11 million individuals who are here in the United States without proper documentation. And, before anybody says it, yes, I know, that means they’re illegal. The Senate passed the bill in 2013, with strong bi-partisan support, but it faces heavy going in the House. It may never come to the floor.  The Tea Party faction in the House, which is strongly anti-immigrant, is adamantly opposed to it, but even if the bill doesn’t pass it’s a problem can’t be ignored forever.

Read more: It’s time to pass the Dream Act

Obamacare’s conservative roots

It was about fifteen years ago, when working for a Republican member of Congress that I was asked to participate in a group that was looking at alternatives aimed at expanding healthcare coverage. This wasn’t a GOP issue, but in those days, many in the Republican Party in Congress (yes, really) were worried about the number of Americans that didn’t have healthcare. The single payer (government footing the bill) approach that had been proposed by President Clinton had been defeated, but many Republicans in Congress were still interested in private sector alternatives. This had a lot of promise and the approach that garnered the most interest was the concept of a government sponsored insurance marketplace. Each state would have its own marketplace and Americans who needed health care could sign up. Expanding Medicaid was also discussed. But key to every part of this proposal was the private sector.

Read more: Obamacare’s conservative roots

It’s been a busy year

My great aunt, whose life covered a century, used to tell me that as she got older the years, “just flew by.”  When I was ten or so and first heard this I couldn’t imagine what she was talking about. A day sometimes seemed like forever and a year was an eternity. But, now, many years later I understand what she meant. When I was ten, a year was a staggering tenth of my life. At least to that point. Now, a year, is a much smaller fraction and I completely understand what my great aunt was talking about. The years do fly by. However, that doesn’t make the accomplishments, disappointments and promises of a year that’s past any less important. And they deserve a little recognition.

Read more: It’s been a busy year

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