Essays

A School Board President Who Homeschools? How Dare You!
FAA internal website and PJ Media, April 6, 2016
Bonnie Henthorn and her husband spent their formative years in Tyler County public schools. Between them, their two children spent at least 15 years in that system. The family has supported the schools with taxes for decades. That makes Henthorn an ideal choice for president of the Tyler County school board. But none of that matters now because in January she committed the unpardonable sin of public education: She started homeschooling.

There’s a Cougar in Them Thar Hills
FAA internal website and Medium, Jan. 3, 2016
There are no cougars in Wayne County, W.Va. By official accounts, there are no cougars anywhere in wild, wonderful West Virginia. In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded in 2011 that the eastern cougar is no longer endangered because it is extinct. But for a few days last month, a Prichard, W.Va., man named J.R. Hundley deceived a whole bunch of gullible people on Facebook into thinking he had seen one near his house.

Where Babies Come From
FAA internal website and Medium, Nov. 30, 2015
For five long years we dreamed of adoption. Then one evening, in the back of a car in Guatemala City, our dream came true. That’s where Kimberly and I met our son, Anthony. Two years later we went back to “The Land of the Eternal Spring” to add our first daughter, Elli, to the family mix. And in 2005 we made one more trip to bring home the baby of the family, Catie. This is our adoption story.

Danny’s Nightmare Aboard Betty’s Dream
FAA internal website and Medium, May 27, 2015
If one slogan could capture my thoughts at lunchtime on May 7, this would be it: “I flew in the belly of a B-25 bomber, and all I got was this lousy motion sickness bag.” That’s how I felt as I exited the floor hatch of Betty’s Dream, stepped onto the tarmac at Culpeper Regional Airport and inhaled a much-needed breath of fresh air after a rough flight.

Beltway Blogroll
While serving as the editor/managing editor of Technology Daily, I wrote a biweekly column about the impact of bloggers on public policy, politics and the media. I posted smaller but more frequent items on the companion blog of the same name.

The Impeached Former Judge
NationalJournal.com, Nov. 27, 2006
To voters in Florida’s 23rd District, Democrat Alcee Hastings is simply their representative in the House. But to those outside Florida’s 23rd who’ve heard of him, and especially to bloggers, Hastings is “the only member of Congress ever to have been impeached and removed from office as a federal judge,” to quote from the “Almanac of American Politics.”

Interior Conspiracies
NationalJournal.com, Oct. 16, 2006
There is conspiratorial talk about a blog ban at the federal level, and bloggers on the right are crying foul. The rumors surfaced thanks to a self-described Interior Department employee who clearly has too much spare time at work. Upon realizing that employee access to certain Web sites had been restricted, the employee compiled a list of inaccessible blogs. Before long, the online legend of the Interior Department blog ban had taken firm root.

The Online Curse Of Incumbency
NationalJournal.com, Aug. 14, 2006
Bloggers of all political persuasions hate “the establishment.” If that wasn’t clear before last Tuesday’s primaries, it certainly is now. Voters in Connecticut, Georgia and Michigan handed electoral pink slips to three members of Congress, and blogs were a factor in all three upsets.

Trying To Trump The Competition
NationalJournal.com, July 31, 2006
Two years ago this fall, Raj Bhakta made a splash on the reality TV show “The Apprentice,” but Donald Trump fired him in the ninth episode. Bhakta is in another competition this fall. He is trying to parlay his “Apprentice” fame and entrepreneurial experience into a lower-paying ($165,200) but higher-profile job as a congressman.

The Master Of Eminent Domain
NationalJournal.com, July 17, 2006
On June 22, the Pacific Legal Foundation entered the blogosphere. The launch of the group’s blog, PLF on Eminent Domain, was the perfect end to a year marked by keen public interest in a legal doctrine that guarantees governments the right to “take” private property for public use.

Welcome To The Mainstream, Bloggers
NationalJournal.com, June 19, 2006
When the history of the online media revolution is written, 2006 should merit special mention as a turning point for the blogosphere. This is the year, for better or for worse, when bloggers earned their first official media stripes.

The Quest For Online Integrity
NationalJournal.com, June 5, 2006
Old Mr. Webster defines integrity as “the quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity.” That seems simple enough. But in the bitterly partisan, shoot-from-the-hip realm that is the blogosphere, defining integrity is anything but simple.

What’s A Conservative To Do?
NationalJournal.com, May 22, 2006
Some of the top bloggers on the right are debating what a true conservative is supposed to do when the “compassionate conservative” in the White House and the Republican revolutionaries in Congress lose their way on the path of rightward-ness.

Anything But Neutral On ‘Net Neutrality’
NationalJournal.com, May 8, 2006
The surest way to incite the collective hostility of bloggers is to seek limits on how they use their medium of choice: the Internet. They currently have major communications companies and their congressional allies in their sights over an obscure concept called “network neutrality.”

Milbloggers With Attitude
NationalJournal.com, April 24, 2006
Bloggers can be a critical bunch. When they don’t like what they see or hear in the world around them, they let everyone within click range of their piece of the Web know it. And when they get together at a blog conference, then the rhetoric can really get harsh. That’s what happened Saturday at the first annual Milblog Conference in Washington.

Bloggers Beat The FEC, So Now What?
NationalJournal.com, April 10, 2006
Bloggers won. That was the consensus two weeks ago, after a yearlong, off-and-on blog swarm that clearly shaped the thinking of the Federal Election Commission about campaign finance rules [PDF] for the Internet. What does it mean for the blogosphere in 2006, 2008 and beyond?

The Broken Band Of Brothers
NationalJournal.com, Feb. 27, 2006
Every campaign has its engaging story lines, and the Band of Brothers — military veterans who are Democrats — is the first prominent one of 2006. But weeks before the nation’s first primary, the band already has been broken: Three of these “fighting Dems” have laid down their arms. The only question now is how much staying power their comrades will have.

Somebody’s Got Your Number
NationalJournal.com, Feb. 13, 2006
Sometimes it takes an unrelenting blog swarm to push an issue onto the public stage; other times, it just takes a blogger with a penchant for publicity stunts. The latter approach worked brilliantly for John Aravosis of AMERICAblog in his quest to ignite a debate about cellular telephone privacy.

Bridging The Beltway Divide
NationalJournal.com, Jan. 30, 2006
The directors of RedState last week sent a simple, straightforward message about their support for Arizona Republican John Shadegg as House majority leader: “This matters.” Unfortunately for RedState’s leaders (and Shadegg), few House Republicans seem to be listening — and they are the only ones with votes in Thursday’s three-way election.

The Courtship of the Blogosphere
NationalJournal.com, Jan. 16, 2006
Conservative bloggers welcomed lavish treatment and exclusive access bestowed upon them by the Republican establishment in exchange for covering the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito from Washington. They dropped names, heaped praise on their news subjects and celebrated their chance to imbibe in the trappings of power.

A Tale Of Two Killers
NationalJournal.com, Dec. 19, 2005
Cory Maye of Mississippi and Stanley “Tookie” Williams of California had two very different pasts before they landed on death row — Williams in 1981 and Maye in 2004. But now the two have one more thing besides their criminal sentences in common: Each has become a focal point of renewed debate about capital punishment — a debate being driven in large part by bloggers.

A Blogospheric Eruption Over Hawaii’s Future
NationalJournal.com, Dec. 5, 2005
The latest fight for Hawaiian sovereignty is over “the Akaka bill” in Congress, and blogs have become a weapon in the ongoing warfare over that legislation. From Hawaii to Washington, blogs both large and small have demonstrated the power of their technology to explore a niche topic in great detail and to try to rally opposition to a relatively obscure proposal.

Blogging The Midnight Oil
NationalJournal.com, Nov. 21, 2005
As Congress finished its pre-Thanksgiving legislative dash, citizen journalists followed the action as dutifully as any credentialed reporters. Bloggers vented about budget decisions, reported on a last-minute congressional pay raise, covered the latest campaign finance news, called attention to new legislation, and even highlighted obscure provisions in large bills.

The U.N. As A Threat To Online Speech
NationalJournal.com, Nov. 7, 2005
Bloggers of all political persuasions rallied online last week to defend their right to speak freely about American political candidates. But on the global question of who should oversee the Internet, an issue with potentially far broader ramifications on free speech, they have been noticeably less vocal.

A Back Seat For Bloggers
NationalJournal.com, Oct. 23, 2005
This year, bloggers are the figurative freshmen of larger Washington. They have won enough respect in certain pockets of America to claim occasional seats at the policymaking table — but they are definitely back seats. Even as conservative bloggers have been showered with attention from the Republican powers-that-be yet have nothing substantive to show for it.

Toward Higher Wages And Bankruptcy Reform
NationalJournal.com, Oct. 10, 2005
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the mini-blogging empire of liberal Joshua Micah Marshall has focused its energy on reversing two GOP-engineered policies that could impact the storm’s victims most directly: construction wages and bankruptcy reform.

After Katrina: A Budgetary Blog Swarm
NationalJournal.com, Sept. 26, 2005
The push by President Bush for the federal government to spend $200 billion to recover from Hurricane Katrina has sparked a firestorm of criticism from bloggers on the left and right. Liberals see the plan as an opportunity to blast Republicans as budgetary hypocrites and complain about Bush’s policies, while fiscal conservatives see the plan as further evidence that Bush is not one of their own.

Post-Katrina: Pointing Fingers And Proposing Policy
NationalJournal.com, Sept. 11, 2005
Two weeks after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, the policy tornadoes that she spawned continue to churn. In the background, bloggers are working hard to see that those twisters hit the right targets and that the demolished houses of government are rebuilt the way they envision.

The Netroots Versus The Establishment
NationalJournal.com, Aug. 15, 2005
The unexpectedly strong showing of Democrat Paul Hackett in Ohio’s Aug. 2 special House election has Democratic bloggers pumped about their party’s political prospects. But an increasingly bitter battle between the Democratic “netroots” and the Washington establishment over the party’s political strategy and policy priorities could undermine such efforts.

‘Blawgmaker’ Hatches Bid For Senate Seat
NationalJournal.com, Aug. 1, 2005
Clear majorities of Utahans have sent GOP songwriter Orrin Hatch to the Senate for three decades. But another prominent Republican hopes voters will sing a new political tune in 2006 — and he is using his blog to help serenade them. The blogging lawmaker, or “blawgmaker,” is state House Majority Whip Steve Urquhart.

Advocacy Ads’ Newest Outlet
NationalJournal.com, July 18, 2005
Advocacy is a staple of the blogosphere, and advocacy advertising on blogs is quickly becoming a popular tool for groups hoping to mobilize the online masses. That is exactly why readers of some popular blogs saw two ads on the Supreme Court vacancy almost as soon as Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announced her pending departure.

The Power Of The Blog
NationalJournal.com, June 20, 2005
The blog days of Campaign 2004 are over now, but this year the technology that transformed the political scene is taking root in the wonky world of Washington. Web logs are quickly becoming a more visible and influential policy weapon. All of which explains why I am starting this column, “Beltway Blogroll.” Blogs are big newsmakers. They are transforming the political and policy worlds, and I will follow that transformation.

Congress Back Then
As the associate editor of IntellectualCapital.com, I wrote a weekly essay called “Congress Back Then” that discussed current congressional events in the context of history. I also penned regular essays on cultural, political and policy topics.

Strom Thurmond’s Write-in Senate Campaign
IntellectualCapital.com, Nov. 12, 1998
As political gadflies go, 95-year-old Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., falls somewhere between a Jesse Ventura and a George Nethercutt. He has found his place in the establishment in four-plus decades of Senate service, but he has earned his place in history in part for his milestone 1954 electoral victory — the only senator elected via a write-in candidacy.

One ‘Species’ Not On The Endangered List
IntellectualCapital.com, Oct. 15, 1998
Upon enactment of the Endangered Species Act in 1973, the government protected only 437 threatened or endangered species. That is in sharp contrast to the 1,143 U.S. species protected by the government as of Aug. 31, 1998.

The Mother Of All Presidential Scandals
IntellectualCapital.com, Sept. 10, 1998
With all the current chatter about the impeachment, resignation or censure of Bill Clinton, the nation’s 42nd president, this is a good time to revisit the most famous of modern-day political scandals: Watergate.

Wishing For Watergate?
IntellectualCapital.com, Aug. 13, 1998
It will take nothing short of a scandal as sordid and as undeniable as Watergate to topple a campaign-finance system that itself has existed since the Watergate era. Only 48 lawmakers dared to vote against the legislation on the very day that Richard M. Nixon announced his intention to resign the presidency.

Evolution Of The Income Tax
IntellectualCapital.com, July 16, 1998
With all the vitriol directed at the income tax today, it might be hard to imagine anyone ever having liked the idea. But history shows that a convincing majority once saw the income tax as a potential cure for the ills of a blossoming nation. Congress put the decision of whether to tax income in the hands of voters, and the masses responded by ratifying the 16th Amendment to the Constitution.

Finding Democratic Victory In A Big Labor Defeat
IntellectualCapital.com, June 18, 1998
Not until the middle of this century did Big Labor shift its loyalties to one party, and labor unions’ unyielding preference for Democrats did not begin to solidify until June 1947 — when the GOP-dominated Congress enacted the Taft-Hartley Act over the veto of Democratic President Harry S. Truman.

The ‘Yellow Peril’
IntellectualCapital.com, May 21, 1998
The latent bigotry endemic in America’s “melting pot” sometimes rears its ugly head. That is what happened in May 1924, when Congress cleared a bill banning most Japanese immigration into the United States.

Stepping Gently On Monopolistic Toes
IntellectualCapital.com, April 16, 1998
When it comes to the regulation of monopolistic industries, Congress is unpredictable at best and schizophrenic at worst. But that’s because antitrust law has existed in ambiguity since enactment of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 precisely because a nebulous statute is what lawmakers have desired.

‘Mr. Smith’ Not Welcome In Washington
IntellectualCapital.com, March 19, 1998
In 1939, legendary director Frank Capra followed one of his more famous characters, Jefferson Smith of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” to the nation’s capital for a high-profile welcome and glitzy premiere. The same politicians and pundits who had praised him before seeing the film vilified his artistic effort afterward and derided “Mr. Smith” as an affront to democracy and fair play.

Andrew Johnson’s Impeachment Ordeal
IntellectualCapital.com, Feb. 19, 1998
Partisan animosity reached a fever pitch in February 1868. The majority Republicans in Congress had tolerated what they believed to be an abundance of questionable behavior on the part of the Democrat in the White House. They availed themselves of their most potent constitutional prerogative: They voted to impeach Andrew Johnson.

When Congress Muted The Marlboro Man
IntellectualCapital.com, Feb. 19, 1998
The ongoing war against tobacco advertising, the latest salvo being a proposed settlement between government and the industry, has its roots in a battle that began in the mid-1960s and achieved its greatest regulatory milestone 27 years ago this month: the enactment of a law that banned the advertising of cigarettes on television and radio.

Other Essays (in IntellectualCapital.com and Policy.com)

Faith, Government And Charity
Policy.com, Aug. 4, 2000
George W. Bush and Al Gore agree on one point: When it comes to addressing problems like poverty and homelessness, government and religious charities should join forces.

Orion’s Legacy
IntellectualCapital.com, Nov. 26, 1998
Plenty of evidence suggests that hunting, represented in the sky by Orion and other constellations, has lost its luster. The hunter-gatherer of old, typified by Esau of biblical times, is but a distant memory, and although subsistence hunting continues among some native tribes, it is the exception to the rule.

Quebec’s Never-ending Separatist Story
IntellectualCapital.com, Nov. 19, 1998
Canada is in the news again — the U.S. news, that is — and for a familiar reason: rumblings of independence for Quebec. So is this truly the last hope for Quebeckers to make a clean break from Canada? Or is it just another chapter in a never-ending story?

The New Media Battleground
IntellectualCapital.com, Aug. 6, 1998
If perception is reality, then two realities exist on the media landscape of today. The first, one of concern to many practitioners within the traditional worlds of print and broadcast, is that of conglomeration. The second reality, one heralded by Internet junkies, media critics and some leading politicians, is that of the Information Age.

The Year 2000: Ready Or Not, Here It Comes
IntellectualCapital.com, June 25, 1998
For the software engineers and high-tech gurus whose lives revolve around a computer glitch known as the “millennium bug” or “Y2K problem,” the chime of the clock at midnight on Jan. 1, 2000, may bring disaster. If they have not exterminated the bug by then, many of them say its impact could change the world as we know it.

The Retirement Sales Pitch
IntellectualCapital.com, June 4, 1998
The federal numbers paint a disturbing picture for future retirees. The good news is that the average American has added 13 years to his or her lifespan, which now stands at 75.7 years, since 1940. The bad news: The national savings rate has declined by more than 5 percent since 1981. People who live longer may not be able to afford their free time for long because their proverbial nest eggs will be depleted.

The ABCs Of Student Testing
IntellectualCapital.com, May 28, 1998
The movement toward minimum-competency tests that began in the 1970s has evolved into a strident demand for results, and education leaders and elected officials have turned to high-stakes assessments that offer both rewards and penalties to gauge progress.

The State Of Term Limits
IntellectualCapital.com, May 27, 1998
Term-limits backers love to talk about Tom Bordonaro these days. He is the Republican who lost a special election two months ago to now-Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., and supporters of congressional term limits credit his narrow defeat to his refusal to sign a pledge limiting himself to three terms in the House. Capps signed the pledge.

‘Universal Coverage’ To ‘Incremental Reform’
IntellectualCapital.com, April 23, 1998
The weaknesses in the healthcare system have thrust the issue to the forefront of national debate, and Congress now must decide how, or whether, to act. The key question lawmakers must answer seems to be this: How broad should federal control of health care be?

The Tobacco Road Less Traveled
IntellectualCapital.com, April 2, 1998
On the surface, the 100-year war to regulate one of America’s most profitable crops appears to be nearing its completion. Just beneath the surface, the animosity between smokers and nonsmokers that has festered for decades still boils. The war may never end.

Anonymity: A Journalistic Divide
IntellectualCapital.com, March 26, 1998
In Washington, where the identity of Watergate’s “Deep Throat” remains a mystery, anonymous sources are a media mainstay. But in the rest of America, editors at newspapers large and small reject the loose standards of anonymity prevalent among publications in what they call “the Washington culture.”

Goodbye Deficit, Hello Surplus
IntellectualCapital.com, March 5, 1998
The Congressional Budget Office has predicted a surplus of $8 billion in fiscal 1998 and a budget bonus of up to $138 billion by fiscal 2008. President Clinton, meanwhile, has projected a fiscal 1999 surplus of $9.5 billion and surpluses totaling some $1 trillion over the next decade. How will the country use the windfall?

Government By The Numbers
IntellectualCapital.com, Feb. 5, 1998
Government officials can tell us how many people were born in 1980, how many were divorced in 1990 and how many died last year (and why they died). They can tell us where the jobs are, where we can buy the cheapest housing and where the crime rate is the lowest. They can even tell us how our personal incomes, expenses and debts compare with those of the nation as a whole.

A Nation Of Debtors And Tightwads
IntellectualCapital.com, Jan. 8, 1998
Americans love to spend money — and many consumers have no qualms about spending more than they earn. But The country also has witnessed the emergence of a new fad in recent years. Frugality has become fashionable, with more people paying for advice in the time-honored tradition of penny-pinching.

Newspapers In The Information Age
IntellectualCapital.com, Dec. 4, 1997
One-time loyal readers are abandoning their newspapers in droves, and young, would-be readers are flocking to the Web, the more familiar and high-tech information source of the ’90s. But doomsayers have predicted the demise of newspapers since the emergence of television as a mass medium, and their prophecies have not been fulfilled.

Inside The Box
I hate the business buzz phrase “outside the box” so much that for a few months in 1998, I wrote a column called “Inside the Box” for our local newspaper, the Prince William Journal. Most of those columns are included on the commentary page of this blog, but the few below are personal essays rather than op-eds.

Dear Dad: Let Me Walk For You
Prince William Journal, April 8, 1998
My father first experienced a mysterious form of fatigue while in high school and later during Navy boot camp, but he wasn’t diagnosed with multiple sclerosis for another 25 years. He battled it valiantly for the next 13 years but eventually had to retire at age 58 because of the symptoms. He is the reason I will walk in the annual fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Who Ya Gonna Call? Floodbusters!
Prince William Journal, March 25, 1998
When our basement flooded, I ran up the street in my water-soaked sweats and clodhoppers to fetch the firemen from Station 11 of the Stonewall Jackson Volunteer Fire Department, and they added our house to the growing list of homes to visit. A half-hour later, eight fantastic public servants arrived to save the day. They bailed water by hand; they rigged an old pool filter into a powerful sump pump; and they vacuumed gallons of water into a backpack-type contraption and hauled it from our basement. And they did it all with a smile — and without payment.

Other Essays
A few years after college, I wrote this essay about a boy who had a big influence on my life even though he was only part of it for an all-too-brief time.

Here’s Good News About Teens: Sean Teagarden’s Legacy
The Dominion Post, June 4, 1994
I learned from Sean Teagarden, who died of a rare form of cancer at age 16, the true meanings of strength, of love, of dignity, of hope. And I learned anew something I had known when I was Sean’s age — that in spite of what some may think, teenagers are not inherently bad. They are by nature wholesome, caring people.

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