by Shaun Kenney
Word in Richmond is that the Virginia Senate — the more congenial of the two halves of the General Assembly — is looking to include the Virginia Republican idea that all law enforcement professionals should be extended a one-time $5,000 bonus.
House Democrats in the more rambunctious chamber are digging their heels in deep with a firm and potentially election hinging NO.
The House GOP substitute contains $5,000 bonuses for every sworn law enforcement officer in Virginia.
The @VAHouseDems budget leaves some police officers with nothing.
— VA House GOP (@vahousegop) August 3, 2021
From Denise Lavoie and Sarah Rankin with the Associated Press:
“I am anticipating and certainly expect that the Senate conferees will vigorously support the Senate version of the budget … but it is a negotiation, so who knows if we’ll get them all or not?” Democratic Sen. Janet Howell said of the chamber’s amendments.
Among the key differences: The House plan includes one-time bonuses of $5,000 for state police, and $1,000 bonuses for sheriffs deputies and jail officers, while the Senate version proposes giving the $5,000 bonus to all.
Guess who that is designed to target and impact?
You guessed it — rural law enforcement.
More to the point? Sources with the General Assembly are indicating that Governor Northam wants every single dime to law enforcement stripped out of the budget bill — and is contemplating a veto if he doesn’t get his way.
Northam Wants To Mandate Masks; Doesn’t Have The Intestinal Fortitude To Do It Himself
Allow me to opine just a bit on Governor Ralph Northam’s lack of intestinal fortitude when it comes to optional-yet-mandatory masks in public schools.
This comes down to one of two things.
Either masks work as a mitigation tool against COVID-19 and Northam should have the guts to impose the mandate.
Or — and Northam knows this — we recognize this is a politically charged football and we quit forcing local school boards to tackle an artificially contrived dispute because Northam and McAuliffe are seeking to avoid a political catastrophe in November.
So why are we pretending otherwise?
Let’s be honest.
Nothing about masks or our COVID response should be political. Yet the bungling of state governors has turned what is indeed a novel coronavirus and our response to a once-in-100-year pandemic into a media nightmare.
If there is one thing I wish public relations types would have done differently — and wish they would do differently moving forward — is to treat their fellow citizens not as pawns on a chessboard but as capable and forward-thinking adults.
- Get immunized.
- Wear masks.
- Practice social distancing.
- Be adults — and treat the person next to you as an adult.
- Above all else — be aware of risks in your environment and take the necessary precautions that are safe for you and your family.
If you don’t want to wear masks or get immunized? That’s fine — you do you. If you want to get immunized and wear masks, maintain social distancing and work from home until the storm passes? That’s also fine.
But extending a tiny bit of grace and charity towards your fellow human being shouldn’t be a political act. The person next to you in the supermarket who isn’t wearing a mask? Might actually have a medical condition. Those who do wear masks and get immunized aren’t morally superior for doing so — just making choices that are right for them and theirs.
The good news is that there are publicly available deterrents from getting COVID that should prevent any second shutdown of the economy.
The bad news is that — despite media attempts to cage the anti-COVID vaccination effort as coming from a handful of rural rubes — there is overwhelming demographic evidence that the problem isn’t necessarily rural whites, but urban and suburban minorities.
Of course, this is a legacy that so-called progressives aren’t going to want to tackle, precisely because their track record with mandatory vaccinations and We Are From The Government And We Are Here To Help (TM) isn’t exactly the best among minority communities.
One more racist legacy for the progressives to swallow back as so much bile.
Couple Quick Talking Points re: COVID
Right now there is a great deal of misinformation surrounding COVID and the immunizations. Fear is a potent weapon; it shouldn’t be used to push people into positions they might not otherwise adopt in the quiet of their living room
Let’s tackle a few very quickly:
- Immunizations work and are working. This is simply not an item for dispute, as vaccines are nearly 100% effective in preventing death and hospitalization.
- The risk of long-term COVID is more dangerous than any side effects from the vaccine. The idea that “we don’t know what the long-term effects are of the COVID vaccine” can be put to bed at this rate. 160 million Americans have been immunized so far; any short-term effects are well documented. As for long-term effects, the methods are synonymous with any other immunization for any other contagious disease. As for the mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) the narrowness of the mRNA editing is the same as actually contracting COVID — and have the additional benefit of being more moral than the traditional vaccines due to not using HEK-293 in their development and/or testing.
- There is no risk of a full blown epidemic. Here’s the chart that you need to stick into the faces of every panic-stricken media consumer:
This is a graph of Virginia’s COVID death rate. Even with the Delta variant, even with the increase in COVID victims, even with all the heavy panting about masks and forcing schools and businesses to close… our efforts are working.
- There are still serious moral concerns about the development of vaccines in the United States. Some people refuse any vaccines that use HEK-293 (human embryonic kidney cells) in the development and/or production of vaccines, precisely because their development relies upon the destruction of two human lives in order to produce these lines (think Henrietta Lacks and the HeLa cell lines — another good reason why minority communities do not trust self-defined “progressives”).Some people may legitimately and honestly hold these positions and it doesn’t make them bad people for doing so. They could very well be waiting for moral solutions to modern problems — food for thought.
- Neither masks nor immunizations nor social distancing are binary solutions. None of them are 100% foolproof. None of them give you a 100% chance of not catching COVID. As in most things, mitigation is the key. Masks are somewhat effective; immunizations are effective; social distancing is somewhat effective. All three of these hurdles really do help flatten the curve (as you see here).
The crisis here is not that the Delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox. That is certainly cause for concern, but it should not be cause for alarm.
What should be cause for alarm is if — in a generally unvaccinated population — COVID mutates into an Epsilon variant that has all the lethality of the COVID-19 (Alpha) strain with the virulence of the Delta strain.
At present, COVID doesn’t seem to want to be the flu where we have to roll the dice every six months and guess what the new strains will be this season. But that is the wider public safety concern.
There are also unfortunate political considerations as well.
Mask mandates are going to be politically unpopular in an election season. Dialing back the rhetoric is going to be politically unpopular during an election season. Leveling with people is going to be politically unpopular during an election season…
Which is a long way of saying that we should be as wise as serpents and humble as doves — not political animals — when it comes to misinformation and disinformation in the public square. Not all of it is honest; some of it is designed to push people into a camp.
Just be careful out there.
We are all adults after all; best to treat one another likewise.
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Shaun Kenney is the editor of The Republican Standard, former chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Fluvanna County, and a former executive director of the Republican Party of Virginia.
Photo “Capitol of the Commonwealth of Virginia” by Ron Cogswell CC BY 2.0.