Speaker Tom Moss (1928-2015)

A major figure in Virginia politics, Tom Moss (D-Norfolk), died on Wednesday. He was a long-time former Delegate for Norfolk and the City's Treasurer after he retired from the House.

Delegate Moss was first elected in the Sixties when Norfolk, led by Senator Henry Howell, was a center of liberal reform within the conservative Democratic Party. Delegate Moss's initial slogan was "Let Virginia Out of the Byrd Cage." He arrived in Richmond, like so many others, as an outsider.

Ten Favorite Songs from College Years (1986-1990)

My generation has gotten some heat for not being sufficiently focused on social justice in our day. But how could we when there was so much cool music? In no certain order, here is the Top Ten of our college years:

1. "Mayor of Simpleton" (XTC). Just a brilliant set of lyrics and a love song for my whole life. "Well I may be the Mayor of Simpleton but I know one thing ... and that's I love you."

2. "Paradise City" (Guns and Roses). The greatest rock song ever (sorry Bruce). When it comes on the radio, everything stops.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus (Budget version)

Since 2007, the annual Senate budget briefings have featured news ranging from mediocre to outright bad.

This week in Portsmouth the Senate Finance staff laid out the economic projects for FY 2016-2017, which will be the subject of the Governor's proposed budget. Surprisingly, the news is pretty good.

The last biennial budget enacted in 2014 had a projected "sequestration" deficit of $438 million, which caused across-the-board cuts. However, FY 2015 was better than expected. FY 2016, which started on July 1, 2015, looks better yet.

Senate Enjoys its Stay in P-town

Just yards away from where the British Navy burned the American fleet in 1779, the Senate met at the Renaissance Hotel this week to review state finances for the 2016 session.

Nestled on the Elizabeth River, across from Norfolk, the city of Portsmouth is a charming Southern town with a long maritime history. Everything there is related to the water, except maybe the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame -- only a couple blocks away from the Renaissance Hotel. (Check out the exhibit on the old Virginia Squires with George Gervin and Julius Erving).

Vive La France!

Got down to Richmond last night to run the half-marathon and learned about the diabolical attacks in Paris.

The symbolism is important. Much as New York is the hub of American economic life, Paris is the cultural center of western Europe. It's been that way for at least two thousand years. The Franks were the war-like tribe that truly established Western Christendom. A millenium later, the French Revolution fundamentally changed its nature.

Jim Riddel, 1935-2015

Jim Riddel of Vienna, VA was a man's man and a great friend. He died last week. This weekend they will put him to rest.

Jim grew up in Calhoun, West Virginia. He served in the United State Marine Corps for many years, then switched to police work when his enlistment ended. That's where he made his mark.

Why Are College Students So Angry?

Living in a college town (George Mason) and spending the session in Richmond (VCU), I get to see a lot of the modern college life. There's a couple things I notice immediately:

1. The surroundings are opulent. New gyms, libraries, coffee bars. It is like living in a Faberge egg.

2. The students are relentlessly serious. They want to change the world, and that's a good thing.

November 11 is Veteran's Day

Tomorrow is November 11. It was originally titled "Armistice Day," as the guns of the Western Front fell silent that day in 1918 at 11:11 a.m. No particular reason for the timing, just another arbitrary decision by the WWI military brass.

In the modern era, November 11 has been converted to "Veteran's Day," a day to remember our living veterans as opposed to those who were KIA or MIA. In my hometown, we have a celebration of the veterans from VFW Post 8469.

Why Was the Election Such a Disappointment?

It's been a week since the Election of 2015. Having been re-elected to the Senate, it should feel good right now. But it feels like failure.

Not because the Democrats are still in the Senate minority -- that was always a 50/50 proposition. Rather my frustration was th withe utter predictability of the results. There were no upsets: not in the House, not in the Senate. Indeed, all 122 incumbents were re-elected.

There are dictatorships that have better turnover rates.

Some Post-Election Drama

In my first legislative election in 2001, I was helped into office by a number of Woodson High School seniors. In return, they asked me to play a cameo in the WTW play that year: "School House Rocks."

On Friday night, three days after the election that year, I strolled onto the stage as the U.S. President in the song "I'm Just a Bill on Capitol Hill." I actually sat down and signed "the bill" as the audience cheered.

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