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Columns

  • Billy Graham: a steadfast voice for Christianity

    During a time when the shifting winds of morality reoriented the nation, the Rev. Billy Graham stood his ground.

    When the culture seemed to marginalize those preaching the message of God’s love, Graham’s voice continued to ring out.

    And when people of all backgrounds — from paupers to presidents — looked for spiritual guidance, they found Graham’s open arms.

  • ‘Thoughts and prayers.” Then a failure to act.

    The video is short, only a few seconds long.

    It is shot from below desk level, where a girl in a dress and a boy in shorts are huddled.

    The students’ talking is interrupted by the explosion of gunfire — 15, maybe 16 shots in all, as the kids scream. The shooter isn’t in their classroom, but is close, and the children’s terror is nauseatingly apparent.

  • Legislators' chance for transparancy

    The Virginia General Assembly has in this session a tremendous opportunity to dramatically improve the commonwealth’s approach to transparency in government.

    Numerous bills now pending before the legislature would make documents more accessible, strengthen the Virginia Freedom of Information Act and bolster accountability for public officials. They would afford residents a clearer view of how government works, which is essential in a democratic republic.

    Crucial to this effort will be a freshman class of legislators for whom openness is a priority.

  • State legislators must get to work

    American democracy can be a curious enterprise.

    It often unfolds in predictable fashion, carried out by ordinary citizens in stuffy church assembly halls and drafty school gymnasiums and overseen by a phalanx of volunteers and public officials committed to due process and accurate results.

    But sometimes, on the rarest of occasions and in the oddest of circumstances, popular democracy means control of the House of Delegates is effectively determined by which film canister is drawn from a blue ceramic bowl in a Richmond meeting room.

  • 2017 Editorial Awards: A Series of Unfortunate Events

    Dear reader,

    Before you delve too deeply into the year that just passed, I urge you to reconsider.

    A New Year has just dawned, with all the hope and promise that we assign to every arbitrary turn of the calendar page, and I wouldn’t want you to look back at 2017 and realize you felt just as much misplaced optimism at the beginning of that year as you might as we enter this one.

  • Trust wildlife experts on coyote issue

    Last month’s exit of Eddie Rosenbaum from the Grayson Board of Supervisors came with a rehashing of the county’s abandoned coyote bounty program, which was shot down for a second year at the close of 2015.

    The vote to cull the bounty program — which was only opposed by Rosenbaum even after the program cost the county twice as much money and resulted in a lawsuit when one bounty hunter attempted to pass off a coyote from another locality — brought an end to a controversial debate from citizens and experts alike.

  • A Christmas card from the Father

    The Prince of Peace came to earth again this Christmas. This time He came in the form of a live Christmas card.

  • McAuliffe's final push for Medicaid expansion

    Virginia seems to pride itself on an idiosyncratic approach to governance, and that is apparent in the arrangement that every four years sees a term-limited governor propose a budget to guide state spending for the next biennium.

    In 2013, it was Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, the legal buzzards circling above him, doing the honors.

  • Mental health funding still an issue in Virginia

    The legislative subcommittee examining Virginia’s mental health system registered a significant victory earlier this year when the General Assembly approved a bill expanding the mandated services provided by community services boards.

    It also has done well to address the systematic shortcomings illuminated by the 2015 death of a mentally ill inmate. As a result, jailhouse deaths will now be investigated by the Board of Corrections.

  • The best resource to combat ‘fake news’

    You hardly know who to believe these days, when actual events can be very strange and comedians can imitate politicians so well you have to ask, “It that him, or someone pretending to be him?”

    There always seem to be experts who disagree on a given topic, and often, there’s no telling just how authentic an “expert” is.