A painting by Andre Castaigne depicting the phalanx attacking the centre during the Battle of the Hydaspes. (from here)
A painting by Andre Castaigne depicting the phalanx attacking the centre during the Battle of the Hydaspes. The Indians had 200 war elephants. (from here)

UPDATE:  This is a related post => The Word became flesh.

When I was a boy, history fascinated me. So I read biographies about “great” people.  One man I still remember reading about is Alexander the Great. Why was he great? As a conqueror, he had no equal.

Read about Alexander, and you will discover a man who had no fear of unequal contests. With far fewer soldiers (see here and here), for example, Alexander defeated the Achaemenid Empire (Persia), led by Darius III.

Unfortunately, Alexander accomplished little good. When it comes right down to it, Alexander the Great was just a great busybody.

What finally stopped Alexander’s string of bloody conquests? Alexander’s soldiers grew tired marching farther from home, fighting farther from home, and dying farther from home. Alexander’s soldiers grew tired being pawns in Alexander’s grand scheme to conquer the whole world (see Revolt of the army).

Today we still have “great” busybodies with grand schemes that promise great things. Here are a few random examples and reasons why we must revolt against the schemes of busybodies.

Our National Infrastructure

In his opinion piece, The national infrastructure dilemma, John Sitilides observes why Donald Trump’s $1 trillion national infrastructure program may fail.

Here’s the bottom line: Even if President Trump successfully persuades Congress to immediately pass a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, he will be frustrated by the reality that the first project wouldn’t begin, and the first job wouldn’t be created, until 2021. The real first step to a national infrastructure and job-creation solution is requiring all environmental impact statements be completed in a 12-month “one-stop” permitting process. Only then will the Trump infrastructure plan have a chance to succeed in making America great again.

To put it short and sweet, government busybodies, unconcerned about wasting other people’s money, require too much red tape, but even Sitilides fix won’t fix the basic problem.  What happens when we give our money to politicians? Do they ever figure out exactly what we need and provide it to us? Doesn’t that work about as well as stopping at the entrance of a Walmart, giving the greeter 50 dollars, and asking greeter to go inside and bring you what you need?

Why wouldn’t giving our money to the greeter work better? At least you could give that greeter a list, but what is Donald Trump going to do with 300 million lists? How much can we trust that greeter? How much can we trust Donald Trump? How much can we trust Congress?

The Public School System

In Shakin’ Up the Little Red Schoolhouse, Suzanne Fields observes that our public schools keep getting worst.  To underscore the degree of neglect she cites an old report.

The concern is not new. A loud alarm was sounded in 1983 with a report entitled “A Nation at Risk,” and Ronald Reagan held it up at a press conference, decrying the substandard performances of school children across America. The report concluded: “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves.”

Think about Fields’ reference to the little red schoolhouse. American education began as a local enterprise. Neighbors who knew each other pooled their resources so they could hire a teacher to instruct their children. Now? Now we have four levels of government (school board, local government, state government, and Federal) sticking their noses into the education of our children. Politicians take our money and hire a grand bureaucracy, thereby rewarding teachers unions for their campaign donations.  Then, to add insult to injury they indoctrinate our children with politically correct courses and tout expensive school buildings (or classrooms in “temporary” buildings) as an improvement over the little red schoolhouse.

Is there a better alternative? What do the rich do? Don’t they send their children to private schools? Don’t we “invest” enough money in the public school system to do the same for everyone’s children? When the alternative is politicians who will reward special interests, what is wrong with parents deciding who educates children?

Political Favoritism At Our Nation’s Museum

In Clarence Thomas snubbed by Smithsonian’s new African American history museum, Washington Times reporter Bradford Richardson tells us about the blatant bias at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History.

Of the 112 justices appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court since its inception, only two have been black — and the second one apparently isn’t worth consideration, as far as the new National Museum of African American History and Culture is concerned.

The Smithsonian museum still has “no plans” to include in its exhibitions a reference to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the high court’s conservative stalwarts who celebrates his 25th anniversary on the bench this year. (continued here)

I hardly think I am the only American who finds the whole idea of an African American Museum hypocritical. Don’t we all know how people would react to a White American Museum, even one funded by a private group? Yet here we have a Federally funded museum that overtly discriminates based upon race, and that’s not the story, not even in the Conservative Washington Times. Nope! The problem is that the museum is discriminating against a Conservative African American.


How stupid do we have to be to put up with this nonsense? What kind of moron thinks we can trust politicians to run a museum and not engage in political propaganda or worse? The museum is racist. Given that, what is the point in demanding that Clarence Thomas be included in the museum’s exhibition? That racist farce needs to be shut down.


From time to time I refer to an old post, BUSYBODYISM. When I wrote that post, I labelled the Democratic Party as the party of Busybodyism.  That’s not to say that members of the Republican Party are never busybodies. The point is that for Democrats being busybodies is ideological. Just as Alexander offered rape, pillage, and the glories of conquest to induce his soldiers to march to India, our modern political busybodies dream up schemes for spending “other people’s money”.

The government of the United States exists to preserve our freedom, not to run our lives for us. When we can do something ourselves, there is no reason to tax our neighbors and make them pay for it.  If something can be done by the local government, there is no reason for the state government to do it. If something can be done by the state government, then the Federal Government, particularly when the Constitution does not give it the authority, has no reason to get involved.

Still, there is more to Busybodyism than people sticking their noses where they don’t belong. Government busybodies don’t just stick their noses where they don’t belong; they wrest control from us. They take our money and spend it for us. They make our choices for us.  If we want to get what we want, roads where we need them, schools that work, or museums that respect the truth, then we have to make our own choices and pay for the services we use. That means tolls and user fees to pay for a decent transportation infrastructure. That means we pay for the education of our own children or at least insist upon education vouchers. That means private museums funded by the people who visit them. That means a limited government where we give busybodies the boot.


taxes.pngSpending other people’s money can be such a thrill, particularly when there is lots of it to spend. On the other hand, when somebody else is spending your money, it is not so much fun. So it is good to place restrictions on those folks we delegate to spend our money for us. The problem? How do we keep the “thrill” seekers from evading those restriction, even the ones they supposedly placed upon themselves?

Victoria Cobb is the President of The Family Foundation. Here is an email she sent out last week.

Kill Switch

Victoria Cobb, President
Tuesday, November 11, 2014

If you’ve ever worked in an office where there are lots of closed door meetings, you know what can happen over time.  Trust diminishes, divisions arise, and eventually, productivity declines.

What happened yesterday in Richmond was a classic example of that, only it was on a much bigger stage, with issues that affect all of us being decided behind closed doors, with little or no transparency.  And because this is how the General Assembly has operated in dealing with budgets and judges, few citizens trust the outcomes.

Regardless of whether or not the cause was intentional or an honest mistake in budget drafting, lawmakers yesterday had to once again fix the state budget in order to ensure that our taxes will go up, and money from those higher taxes will go where they “promised” it would go – to transportation.   The details of the mishap are long and confusing, but in a nutshell, when the General Assembly increased taxes in 2013 to pay for transportation projects, they did so by assuring anyone who would listen that the money would always go to transportation.  Some legislators even stood on the floor of the House of Delegates and said that they would vote against any budget that redirected the new tax money.  When The Family Foundation questioned that guarantee in 2013, we were harshly chastised by Republican leaders at the time.

But then, for whatever reason, less than two years later, the new budget had money from that tax hike redirected to cover other areas of the budget due to revenue shortfalls.  Such a redirect should have triggered a “kill switch,” ending the tax hike.  How it happened is still a bit of a mystery and what you believe depends on who you trust.  Whatever the case, yesterday, lawmakers had to quickly “fix” the problem and move the money back to transportation or face losing the tax hike they fought so hard to pass.

The problem with all of this is that many of the budget negotiations and decisions that are made take place behind closed doors, outside the scrutiny of the press and public.  And, much of the detail is left to unelected and unaccountable House Appropriations and Senate Finance staff.  In this year’s case, because the new budget was updated at a special session in September, lawmakers and the public had no time to actually read the document – everyone had to “trust” that it did what they were told.  Only it didn’t.

For several years The Family Foundation has supported more transparency when it comes to the budget process.  One helpful change would be to give lawmakers 48 hours to review the budget after it comes out of conference (where just 6 legislators from each chamber craft a budget, generally in secret).   This simple bill would go a long way in helping the public to regain some “trust” in the budget and our elected officials.  Would it mean that legislators might have to stay in town an extra couple of days?  Maybe.  But that seems a small price to pay to rebuild trust in our government.

Another bill we’ve supported would require budget negotiators (conferees) to detail for other members the exact changes to the budget they’ve made meeting behind closed doors, specifically the differences between their negotiated budget and the budgets the House and Senate adopted prior to the conference committee meetings.

In 2015, we plan to make budget transparency a top priority.  Here’s hoping that legislators have learned a lesson from this year’s budget debacle.  The more open the doors the better.

Yesterday, Delegate Bob Marshall sent this email.

No Recorded VOTES on Transportation Fund Diversion and Gas Tax Increase!

Dear Friends,

TRANSPORTATION FUNDS RESTORED:  The good news is that $50 million in new transportation taxes raised under HB 2313 for transportation, which had been diverted to non-transportation uses, were restored in the recent budget session.

GAS TAX HIKE STARTS JANUARY 1, 2015:   The bad news is our Republican Speaker ruled the amendment offered by myself and Delegate Berg, to stop the 5 cents per gallon gas tax hike set to start this January 1, not germane.

The Speaker also blocked a direct up or down vote to restore the “kill switch.” The “kill switch”was a promise to the public implemented as part of his tax increase bill (HB 2313) guaranteeing that should transportation taxes ever be diverted, the taxes would be “killed.”

Speaker Howell’s HB 2313 tax increase, which passed in 2013, increased the sales tax and several other taxes in Northern Virginia and Tidewater.  The bill at first reduced the gas tax from 17.5 cents per gallon to 3.5% of the wholesale price as of 2/20/13, when gas prices were at their highest.

It also increased Virginia’s gas tax if Congress did not pass the “Market Place Fairness Act” which authorized Virginia to collect taxes (3.5% to 5.1%) from non-Virginia retailers selling in Virginia.

We now pay a 3.5% gas tax.  In January that will increase to 5.1% .  Based on gas prices of $3.17 per gallon, the gas tax will be 16.17 cents per gallon, just under the 17.5 cents prior to enactment of HB 2313.  However, HB 2313 also increased the sales and several other taxes in 2013 to generate more revenue.  Bottom line: we will be paying more come January!

My 11/10/14 amendment to Virginia’s Budget (HB 5010), would have prevented the automatic gas tax increase for the next two fiscal years unless approved by the Assembly on a separate vote in 2015 or after.

OBJECTION to AMENDMENT:  Appropriations Committee Chair, Del. Chris Jones, objected to my amendment on grounds of “germaneness.”  For an amendment to be germane, it must relate to the matter at hand.  Surely Chairman Jones knew that his own budget bill, HB 5010, contained $351.9 million in new revenues from the gas tax.

The Speaker said, “Since the floor amendment addresses a subject matter beyond the scope of HB 5010, I’m going to rule that the floor amendment is not germane.”  Again, $352 million in revenues contained in HB 5010 were generated by the Speaker’s own 2013 law and clearly referenced in the Budget bill, so germaneness was not the real problem.  They simply did not want to go directly on record and vote on it.

I appealed the ruling to the House of Delegates, as is provided for in the Rules. My appeal failed 88-2.  Only Delegate Mark Berg and I voted to overrule the Speaker’s decision.

The 88 delegates who sustained the Speaker’s improper ruling excused themselves from having to go on record on increasing our gas taxes about five cents a gallon starting January 1.

“KILL SWITCH’ DISABLED:   The second amendment which myself and Delegate Berg offered to HB 5010, would have reinstated the “kill switch” to ensure that transportation taxes would cease if diverted by the state or localities in Northern Virginia and Tidewater.

Earlier versions of the current budget held back $30 million in new transportation revenues to be spent on other uses.  That amount held back was increased to $50 million.  These diversions did not flip the “kill switch” because the “kill switch” had already be neutered in an earlier version of the budget!

Again, the Republican leadership avoided a direct up or down vote on my amendment by using a parliamentary motion to “pass by” my amendment on a “voice vote” so no one’s vote would be recorded!  The result:  Virginia and its localities can divert future transportation funds to non-transportation purposes without killing the taxes although the “kill switch” promise was then part of Speaker Howell’s 2013 law.

ACTION ITEM:  We were all outraged at Jonathan Gruber, the MIT professor and major architect of Obamacare, who proudly  manipulated and deceived the public, with a smug “I know better than you” attitude while he referred to citizens as “stupid.” Such attitudes have no place in government, including in Richmond.

Although there were required recorded votes in the House of Delegates and Senate on increasing a collection of taxes when HB 2313 passed, there has not been a direct vote to increase our fuel taxes, or a direct vote to suspend the “kill switch.”  I believe “we the people” deserve better.

Check out the video of the debate on HB 5010.

Please ask your delegate why he or she voted to sustain a clearly erroneous non-germane ruling from the Speaker to prevent a vote on my amendment to cut the gas tax increase.   Also ask why he or she did not demand a record vote to reinstate the “kill switch” to prevent the diversion of future transportation money to other uses.

Thank you so much for your help!  Please share with your friends.


Delegate Bob Marshall


Delegate Bob Marshall sent this email out yesterday.

Reject Governor’s Amendments at April 3 Session

Dear Friends,

First of all, Happy Easter to you and your family! No matter how many difficulties we may experience in life or in the political arena, we can always rejoice in the knowledge that Our Lord has triumphed over death.  That is true victory and true hope!

Returning to the mundane:


The General Assembly “Veto Session” is this Wednesday, April 3.  As you may recall, the AG responded to my inquiry that the original Transportation Bill regional taxes (in HB 2313) and the Budget Bill language on Medicaid Expansion (in HB 1500) were unconstitutional.


Instead of offering separate amendments, Governor McDonnell has offered a “substitute” HB 2313 bill to address the constitutional problems with HB 2313 since the AG ruled that “special” taxes which apply to certain regions are not constitutional.  The Governor’s new bill mandates that all regions (not just Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads) will be subject to the extra taxes once the planning districts of which they are a part meet certain criteria: population of 1.5 million, not less than 1.2 million motor vehicles registered, and transit ridership of not less than 15 million per year.  The revenues will be deposited into separate “Funds” for the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority and the Hampton Roads Transportation Authority.

This ensures future automatic tax increases for the other Planning Districts without a separate vote of the General Assembly. I think such a policy, while perhaps legal, is not prudent.  Who can predict the needs of localities in ten or possibly 100 years?  Can Planning District boundary lines be reconfigured to collect taxes sooner?   Does this conflict with our constitutional   requirement that laws must take effect on July 1 of the year in which the   bill becomes law, yet these taxes might not start for some areas for twenty   or more years?

The NVTA and HRTA are to act as independent bodies of the state government and VDOT:  15.2-4839 2. The Authority is independent of any state or local entity, including the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB), but the Authority, VDOT and CTB shall consult with one another to avoid duplication of efforts and, at the option of the Authority, may combine efforts to complete specific projects.

The NVTA and HRTA will receive millions of our tax dollars, decide how they will be spent and can even invest in security instruments. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has been criticized by the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) for cost-overruns and no-bid contracts.  Increasing the number of Authorities over which citizens have little ability to influence policy is a dangerous delegation of power in my opinion.

Here is a link to the Governor’s substitute transportation bill: http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+ful+HB2313H5


The AG replied to my inquiry, affirming his earlier opinion to Delegate Ben Cline, that the General Assembly cannot delegate its power to expand Medicaid to a Commission which includes a few members of the General Assembly.  Governor McDonnell nevertheless declined to change the language affecting the delegation to a subgroup of the Assembly, so the same legal-constitutional problems the Attorney General pointed out are still present in the amended version.

The Governor has offered four new amendments to HB 1500 on Medicaid. Please urge your delegate and senator to reject them:

Amendment 22:  Adds up to five additional employees from other agency personnel for the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) to fully comply with new provisions of health care reform.

Amendment 23:  Provides $870,000 from the general fund to cover the rest of a $1.67 Million contract to George Mason U which will mostly contract with the Center for Health Innovation. (Future budgets will surely add more funding.)

Amendment 24:  Strikes certain lines on pages 295-297 of the Budget intended to add specificity to Medicaid reforms, (not definitive in my opinion).

Amendment 25:  Creates a $3 Million Medicaid customer call center by allowing DMAS to contract with a vendor so individuals can apply for Medicaid by telephone, as required by the federal government by October 1, 2013.  $1.5 million comes from   Virginia.  Costs could increase depending upon the final contract and center workload.  More funding could be provided next year.

These amendments grease the skids for Medicaid expansion!  Here is a link to all of the Governor’s amendments to the Budget bill (HB 1500): http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?131+amd+HB1500AG

The Heritage Foundation estimates Medicaid expansion will cost Virginia an additional $902 Million through 2022, requiring massive tax increases or cutting (unlikely) other Virginia programs.

Harvard’s Malcolm Sparrow in 2009 testified before Congress that Medicaid bills continue to be paid to physicians after they die, to treat patients after death, to treat immigrants who have been deported.  He noted that the Credit Card Industry has a threshold of one-tenth of one percent for acceptable business fraud risk.  Medicaid losses from fraud range from 3-14%, not including billing errors!

It is folly to think that ten part-time members of the General Assembly meeting once a month for a few months can ensure Virginia will be able to exercise adequate oversight over expanding 400,000 new recipients to the current 1,000,000.

And, while some Assembly members believe Virginia can expand Medicaid, accept the three year 100% federal subsidy, and then opt out later, The U.S. Supreme Court did not rule states could leave Medicaid once enrolled nor is there an opt-out provision in the Affordable Care Act.

Please view this video of U.S. Senator Orin Hatch in which he states that Obamacare was designed to fail to usher in single-payer government-run healthcare.  See: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/hatch-obamacare-was-designed-become-single-payer-system

Republicans used to complain when Democrats proposed tax increases and expanded government programs.  Now Republicans are putting them to shame, leading the charge to saddle present and future taxpayers with greater financial burdens.


Thank you,

Delegate Bob Marshall

Why are our leaders so relentless and dishonest in their determination to spend our money for us? Well, here is a thought for you. Are you confused  about what it means to love one’s neighbor? Are you silly enough to think our government can love your neighbors for you?

STOP! THINK! When we speak of the power of love, what are we talking about? When two or more people love each other, don’t each of these people think of their loved ones as they think of themselves? Therefore, they trust and support each other. In their cooperation, they form a body of people that is greater than the sum of its members.

What does it means to be a Christian? Don’t we follow the example of Jesus? What Jesus demonstrated with His life and His death was how to love. He did not sacrifice His principles. Neither did He force anyone else to sacrifice their life or property. He sacrificed Himself for us. For the sake our souls, He willingly suffered death in our place.

Jesus gave of Himself; that is what love about. If we are to love our neighbors — each other — we cannot use government power to steal the property of some “rich” neighbor and give it in phony “charity” to some “poor” neighbor. That is just thievery. To help the people we love, we must give of ourselves.

If our politicians want to “help” people, then we must insist they reach into their own pockets, not “other people’s” pockets. And we should set an example. If we want to help other people, then we should spend some of our own hard-earned money on honest charity. Otherwise, we will bankrupt our nation with all this so-called charity.


Here are a couple of notes from our guys in the Virginia General Assembly.

First from Delegate Scott Lingamfelter. He sent this out on Friday.

Two   Victories, Two to Go

Help   Pass Voter Fraud Legislation

Dear Friend,

Good news! Yesterday, Governor McDonnell has signed two bills that I supported this session that were sponsored by Delegate Rob Bell and were designed to prevent voter fraud:

  • House Bill 1765 will help prevent felons from voting in Virginia by requiring the State Board of Elections to make additional checks for felony convictions on the Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE).
  • House Bill 1764 will help prevent people from voting simultaneously in more than one state by requiring the State Board of Elections to compare voter rolls with other cooperating states to prevent duplicate registration.

We are still waiting for the Governor to sign House Bill 2331, which would allow the Attorney General to directly investigate voter fraud .

Finally, the Governor has not yet signed the bill that would require photo ID for voting, Senate Bill 1256 patroned by Senator Mark Obenshain.

Please contact the Governor’s Office and encourage him to sign both of these important bills! Join me and let the Governor know that voter fraud will not be   tolerated in Virginia.

We must protect the right to vote through   responsible legislation like these bills.


Delegate   Scott Lingamfelter, R- HD 31, Republican Candidate for Lt. Governor

At the time I wrote this post, The Legislative Information System did not indicate that the governor had approved House Bill 2331 and Senate Bill 1256, but perhaps that system does not get updated on weekends.

Delegate Bob Marshall sent this email out Saturday.

Governor’s Medicaid Expansion & Transportation Taxes  Ruled Unconstitutional

Dear Friends,

We’ve had a great victory for taxpayers!  I have two press releases below. Please spread the word to your fellow citizens, friends and co-workers.


Press Releases #1


Contact: Delegate Bob Marshall, 703-853-4213

Attorney General Rules Use of “Medicaid Innovation & Reform Commission” to Expand Medicaid Unconstitutional!

Manassas, VA – Delegate Robert G. “Bob” Marshall (R-13) received the attached opinion in response to his request for an opinion with regard to the constitutionality of the General Assembly’s designation of a “Medicaid Innovation & Reform Commission” to allow for the expansion of Medicaid when the Commission determined that a number of proposed Medicaid reforms had been satisfactorily fulfilled.  Delegate Marshall questioned whether the General Assembly could delegate this authority to a smaller group of mainly legislators.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli determined in his opinion today that the General Assembly does not have the authority to delegate its legislative authority to a smaller committee.

“I am pleased with this opinion and hope that the Governor will act appropriately to remove this unconstitutional piece of maneuvering from the budget before it comes back to the General Assembly,” said Marshall.  “Medicaid needs serious reform before we can even begin to consider expansion and the decision about when those reforms are sufficient can and should only be determined by the General Assembly as a whole.”

“I congratulate the Attorney General for his correct reading of the Virginia Constitution and appropriate case law at a time when many were urging him to dodge this question or issue a politically expedient opinion so as to avoid controversy in his gubernatorial campaign.  I congratulate him for standing up for the Constitution and the people of Virginia.”

Read the Official Opinion Here.


Press Release # 2


Contact: Delegate Bob Marshall 703-853-4213

Attorney General Rules Higher Regional Transportation Taxes Unconstitutional!

Manassas, VA – Delegate Robert G. “Bob” Marshall (R-13) received an opinion from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in response to his request for an opinion with regard to the constitutionality of the additional and higher taxes imposed on Northern Virginia and Tidewater as part of HB 2313 which is awaiting Governor Bob McDonnell’s signature.  Delegate Marshall questioned whether the “special” taxes were in violation of the uniformity laws in Title X of the Constitution, whether they violated the prohibition to enact local law in Title IV and if not would the requirements of Title VII apply that require local legislation to receive a 2/3 vote of the General Assembly.

It is the Attorney General’s opinion that Title X does not apply because none of the taxes are directly taxes on property but that Title IV DOES apply because the laws single out portions of the Commonwealth without regard to similarities and differences between these areas and others around the state but base the implementation of these additional taxes purely on geography.  This means that the portions of HB 2313 adding additional and higher taxes are unconstitutional.

“I am thrilled with the Attorney General’s opinion with regard to the unconstitutional taxes in HB 2313,” said Marshall.  “Isolating Northern Virginia and Tidewater residents to place an additional tax burden on those citizens who already pay more to Richmond in taxes than they get back is unconscionable.  Without the higher and additional regional taxes HB 2313 cannot be a functional solution to Virginia’s transportation problems.  I hope that the Governor will seriously consider vetoing this legislation or finding a way to start from scratch to find an equitable way to pay for transportation without raising taxes.”

“I congratulate the Attorney General for his correct reading of the Virginia Constitution and appropriate case law at a time when many were urging him to dodge this question or issue a politically expedient opinion so as to avoid controversy in his gubernatorial campaign.  I congratulate him for standing up for the Constitution and the people of Virginia.”