For Republicans, Principles Matter Situationally

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    Are Virginia Republicans masters of obfuscation? Private sector ownership is always the best choice, except for ports. The budget must be balanced and transportation funded unless it means the ABC stores remain public. But the mastery comes not by design but by simple intellectual sloth; principles applied in isolation.

    What seems brazenly obvious is that when the outcome will benefit a Republican interest, principles apply; if a Democrat is involved, principles apply selectively. Big donors want the ABC system privatized; McDonnell is blocking a plan to keep take the Port of Richmond private. These are actually related issues for they both affect transportation and on both the Republicans select the position detrimental to transportation and, more generally, the future of Virginia.

    “In a statement, McDonnell spokeswoman Stacey Johnson did not address whether there is an inconsistency in the governor’s position on privatization of liquor sales and the port authority’s takeover bid.” – Richmond Times Dispatch

    note: the correction of the word “keep” to “take” which draws a better parallel, and thanks to J Tyler Ballance for pointing it out.

    When principle fails, Republicans do not hesitate to trot out a show pony like George Allen to deflect the discussion from principle, redirect toward personality and pull another card from the bottom of the deck. The principle that privatization will always provide a better solution fails in the ABC argument when the standard is funding for transportation (and it was McDonnell that set this standard), so call in Allen to casually dismiss the shortfall. Never mind that this violates the principle that budgets must be balanced by making that achievable only by stealing from education or other essential services.

    Oh, that’s right, education, though admittedly essential for a strong economy (see McDonnell’s “plans”), should not be the purview of government. Think of the money we will save when we eliminate “government schools.” Privatizing the schools will fully fund transportation. We can sell licenses…heck the state can loan the new institutions’ patrons the money they will pay the state, resulting in a near term zero cash flow, but we can float the accounts and rake off the 0.35% the money earns for the two days the transfers take to clear.

    Contrast the babble from George Allen, released late one day last week, to today’s analysis in the Washington Post. Allen simply dismisses the criticism of the McDonnell plan by pulling the favorite “free market” card to trump the fact that McDonnell is either an incompetent business analyst or a liar. To hell with the reality that we would give up a reliable stream of income with no promise that it will be replaced for the reward of feeling good about fulfilling a not so certain principle that the “free market” always delivers the best solution. To hell with transportation, let’s just fulfill a fantasy.

    And with no justification at all, the McDonnell administration has chided an effort to keep take the Port of Richmond private and a cash cow for the city of Richmond. Where’d that principle go? Even Delegate Robert Marshall (R-Prince William) recognizes the potential in a deal Midlothian-based developer B. David Peck has proposed. And quite frankly, if properly promoted, the port offers the potential to mitigate the requirement for a highway 460 construction initiative. Actually, though not necessarily a part of the port plan, this could bring the United States East Coast into line with port and transshipment concepts in the rest of the world to the benefit of the Hampton Roads ports. The potential is enormous, but the administration is an amazingly insular cult.

    ” The port authority, operated by a board of commissioners appointed by the governor, runs marine terminals in Newport News, Portsmouth and Norfolk, as well as an inland operation in Front Royal. Goldman said he questions whether the Virginia Port Authority would have any incentive to promote business to Richmond when its primary interests are in Hampton Roads. “It’s an inherent conflict of interest,” he said.” – Richmond Times Dispatch

    For Republicans, these developments should have constituted “stop the presses” events and led to immediate consultations. Instead, they have clumsily reacted defensively each and every time to criticisms of their half-baked concepts providing no substantial plans and trying to deflect the discussion from their own conceptual deficiencies to some other neat principle that would justify their positions. No, they are not masters of obfuscation; they are too easily caught out. And they are either lousy business analysts or corrupt.