Sunday, November 17, 2019

Gerald Baliles and the Virginia film industry

Former Virginia Governor Gerald Baliles was laid to rest yesterday after a funeral service at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville.  After serving in the House of Delegates and as Attorney General, Baliles was elected governor in 1985 and served a four-year term ending in 1989.  He succeeded Governor Chuck Robb and was, in turn, succeeded by Governor Doug Wilder.

Gerald Baliles Virginia Film Festival 2013
Gerald Baliles (c) Rick Sincere 2013
During his term as governor, Baliles became a co-founder (with Patricia Kluge and others) of the Virginia Festival of American Film, which eventually became the Virginia Film Festival.  The most recent film festival, the 32nd annual, took place across various venues in Charlottesville last month.

At the 26th annual Virginia Film Festival in 2013, I spoke to Governor Baliles -- who was then director of the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia -- and asked him about the beginnings of the film festival and his role in enhancing the footprint of the film industry in Virginia.

Baliles had just moderated a panel discussion following a screening of the CNN documentary film, Our Nixon, with the film's producer, Brian L. Frye, and Miller Center historian Ken Hughes (see below).

I began by asking whether the Virginia Film Festival, as it had developed over the years, had met or exceeded his expectations back in the 1980s.

"When one launches a new venture," he said, "one has a vision. One has hopes, expectations. I thought it was entirely conceivable that the first couple of years, if they went well, would provide the setting for a much larger public acceptance and interest in support of what has come to be known as the Virginia Film Festival."

He conceded that "it is impossible to predict the details but it is also possible to envision the possibilities and that's what we had 26 years ago."

I also asked about his desire to expand the activities of the film industry in Virginia. He explained how he used a legislative maneuver to authorize what became the Virginia Film Office.

Virginia Film Festival logo
Virginia Film Festival logo
Baliles explained that every state in the United States and foreign countries "are competing for production of films in their own localities."

He noted that, "when I was a young legislator, I was struck by a film that was made in Hampton Roads, and I read that the producers had left 40 percent of their budget in Hampton Roads and I thought, 'Why don't we do this sort of thing?'"

After he learned about that, he said, "I put a bill in to create a Virginia film office as a way of enticing producers to come to the state. We would provide advice and counsel and scouting locations and that sort of thing."

The bill failed, however, but then-Delegate Baliles "happened to serve on the Appropriations Committee and the budget always contains a lot of fine print in the back. So, when my bill was killed, I just inserted the same language in the back of the budget. The budget was approved, of course, and so was the film office. The film office then started, I think, to create the possibilities of attracting film producers to the state. The Virginia Film Festival was created 10 to 15 years later, when I was in office as governor."

His aim in seeing more movies in Virginia was not incidental, he continued.

"My interest in film has been one of long standing. I read a lot but I also recognize we are a visual society, and pictures speak louder than words."

The entire interview with former Governor Gerald Baliles is available for listening as part of the November 9 podcast episode of The Score from Bearing Drift, "The Score: Virginia Elections, Candidates Speak, Assessing Politics, Business Ethics, Gerald Baliles."


Here is the video of Governor Baliles moderating the panel discussion on Our Nixon in 2013:

And here is Governor Baliles introducing a screening of All the President's Men at the Virginia Film Festival in 2012:

He also moderated a post-screening panel discussion about the movie with journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward:

Unrelated to the Virginia Film Festival, here is former Governor Baliles speaking at the ceremony marking the opening of the visitors' center at Monticello in 2009:

Friday, August 02, 2019

From the Archives - Nipping ahead of regulators: Nick Gillespie discusses, free speech, and restraint (2010)

Nipping ahead of regulators: Nick Gillespie discusses, free speech, and restraint
August 2, 2010 3:27 AM MST

Nick Gillespie Reason magazine libertarian thought Rick Sincere was started in October 2007 as a video journalism site designed to complement the work of the Reason Foundation, the print edition of Reason magazine, and the magazine’s web site,

Since then, according to’s editor-in-chief, Nick Gillespie, the site has grown every month, not only “in terms of web traffic but more importantly in terms of a kind of recognition among free-market-oriented, libertarian think tanks [for which] we are setting the standard for video.”

Gillespie spoke with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner after a panel discussion hosted at Reason’s Washington office on July 12. (Another article based on this interview with Gillespie, focusing on the potential for privatizing Virginia’s liquor trade, appeared on on July 19.)

Measures of Success
In addition to its own web site, has a YouTube channel with 410 uploaded videos that have been viewed at least 5,840,679 times; it also has 16,363 subscribers and 7,398 “friends” on YouTube.

From among those 400-plus videos, Gillespie points to two of them as his favorites.

“One of them,” he says, “is Reason Saves Cleveland with Drew Carey, a fifty minute, six-part series about how Cleveland might turn around a 60-year decline in population and economic fortunes. It’s a really interesting piece where we leverage all of the expertise we have in the public policy division of Reason Foundation, the journalism angle, etc.”

The other one he likes is called “UPS vs. FedEx, which was a two-minute long piece that looked at the way in which UPS is trying to get FedEx’s labor classification reclassified. We used a technologically advanced understanding of green screens and white screens and we had a lot of fun with it. It got a very complex message out in a very short period of time.”

Finding Government Nannies
A regular feature on is the “Nanny of the Month,” which looks at examples of paternalistic government action. Gillespie explained how he and his team find these “Nannies.”

Nick Gillespie Reason magazine libertarian Rick Sincere
Nick Gillespie
“We find the Nanny of the Month through two ways,” he said, first through original reporting by the staff of Reason, and second, through submissions by readers. “We get a hell of a lot – 50 to 100 – submissions a month.”

Gillespie noted that “that’s actually one of the things that’s interesting about the Web in general, that it’s a distributed intelligence network, so we’re getting a lot of information from people” who are strangers to the organization but who nonetheless “send us stuff.”

As the interview drew to a close, Gillespie mused that, “if there’s a message from, it’s that the 21st century, far from delivering on the utopian dreams of the 20th century, is a weird world where technology has continued to barely nip ahead of [the] government regulators at their heels across a wide variety of levels.”

Still, he remains optimistic, expressing the hope that “we’ll be able to outpace” government controls. The problem he sees is that the past two administrations – George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s – each have tried to restrict liberty in their own ways.

‘Worst continuity possible’
“This is something that I think people should understand,” he said, “which is that we tend to think in dichotomous terms about conservatives/liberals [or] Republicans/Democrats,” but these artificial divisions are “wrong.”

Gillespie pointed out that “George Bush signed the most restrictive campaign finance regulation act known to history, the McCain-Feingold law, which was then basically routed around by new technology. Barack Obama wants to control your political speech, he wants to control what is available on cable and satellite TV, and he wants to control what you can buy and sell on the Internet, just like George Bush.”

He concluded:

“Anybody who considers himself a liberal or a conservative should be concerned because what we are seeing is the worst continuity possible between a conservative Republican and a liberal Democrat.”

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on August 2, 2011. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

From the Archives: Attorney General Cuccinelli calls Charlottesville ABC sting operation 'overkill'

Attorney General Cuccinelli calls Charlottesville ABC sting operation 'overkill'
July 3, 2013 4:17 PM MST

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli characterized as “overkill” an ABC sting operation in Charlottesville that resulted in a University of Virginia coed spending a night in jail and being charged with three felonies.

Ken Cuccinelli ABC sting Elizabeth Daly Charlottesville
Cuccinelli, who is also the 2013 Republican nominee for governor, made his remarks during a July 3 interview with afternoon radio host Coy Barefoot on WCHV-FM.

The April 11th incident has received national attention since the charges against Elizabeth Daly were dropped by Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman on June 27. is currently circulating a petition demanding that the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control apologize to Daly and her two companions and to discipline the officers involved.

Late in the evening of April 11, Daly and two friends purchased cookie dough, ice cream, and canned sparkling water at the Harris Teeter store in Barracks Road Shopping Center. A group of six ABC agents, mistaking the water for beer, approached them.

The women did not recognize the agents as law enforcement personnel, called 911 to report their fears, panicked, and drove away. Daly was subsequently charged with striking two of the agents with her car and evading arrest, charges that brought with them the threat of up to 15 years in prison.

Well-placed concern

“I think your concern for overkill is well-placed,” Cuccinelli told Barefoot. “Mind you, I have not spoken to the agency about this,” he explained, so his knowledge of the situation has been based upon press reports.

However, Cuccinelli added, “these folks have a job to do, but do you really need a half dozen of them? Let's say this was hard liquor” that Daly allegedly bought. “So what?”

Based on the descriptions he had seen, the Attorney General said, “it seems to me that frankly – even if she bought beer or something – she got more than enough punishment in jail.”

Cuccinelli said, putting himself in the shoes of the women that night, “if I see a bunch of men surrounding me, that's going to instill a lot of fear in me.”

'Extreme measures'

Noting that, as an undergraduate at UVA, he had helped start a sexual assault prevention group on campus, Cuccinelli explained that he is “glad it didn't turn out worse than it did. It would have turned out worse for the agents. If I'm defending myself and I'm in my car, and I'm a young woman worried about sexual assault, I'm going to use extreme measures to keep myself safe.”

Why, he asked, “do we have six ABC agents staking out one store? It doesn't seem particularly wise. You end up with confrontations like this that could turn out a lot worse.”

Asked by Barefoot if he would teach his daughters to behave with the same sort of caution that Daly and her companions displayed that night, Cuccinelli exclaimed: “Absoflippinlutely!

“I would never suggest to my daughters that they just trust what they've been told,” by people who might or might not be law enforcement officers. Those women, he said, “did exactly the right thing” by calling 911 and attempting to drive to the nearest police station.

“The important thing for us on the law enforcement side is we need to learn from this,” Cuccinelli said. “We need to be more concerned about the perspective of the person on the street.”

He pointed out that “the average person buying alcohol, even if they're buying it illegally, does not have the idea of escalating [the act] violently to complete the crime.”

Cuccinelli expressed confidence that higher-level officials at the ABC had already “had some serious conversations with [the agents] about their tactics.”

Looking forward, the gubernatorial candidate concluded, “what the rest of us need to do is [to ensure] the likelihood of this ever happening again gets as close to zero as we can make it.”

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on July 3, 2013. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

From the Archives: Charlottesville civil liberties lawyer assesses 2012-13 Supreme Court term

Charlottesville civil liberties lawyer assesses 2012-13 Supreme Court term
June 29, 2013 11:10 PM MST

After 40 years of practicing law, Rutherford Institute founder John Whitehead says he is “creeped out” by the decline in respect for civil liberties in the United States.

Whitehead, author of the new book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State (released June 25 by SelectBooks), spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner at the Barracks Road Barnes & Noble just before delivering a talk about his fears of increasing authoritarianism in the United States.

John Whitehead Rutherford Institute Supreme Court
A longtime civil-liberties attorney who once represented Paula Jones in her lawsuit against President Bill Clinton, Whitehead offered his assessment of the U.S. Supreme Court term that ended on June 26 with a pair of rulings about gay marriage.

“One of the worst” terms ever, he said sharply.

This year, he said, the Supreme Court “basically upheld policemen taking you into custody and not giving you your Miranda warnings.” The Court also, he explained, eroded the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination because “now by being silent it's evidence of guilt.”

The Court, he added “approved the strip searching of anybody. If you're arrested now you can be strip searched by police for minor offenses like running a stop sign.”

'Statist Supreme Court'

“What I'm seeing is a very statist Supreme Court,” Whitehead explained.

“Some people say it's a right-wing Supreme Court. Well, I'm not sure it's right-wing. I put it more in the statist camp.”

He said the voting rights decision (in Shelby County v. Holder) was made “as if racism's no longer in America. Well, what I'm seeing in America is, there is a lot of racism.”

He gave the example of how “90 percent of the people who are arrested for marijuana offenses in New York City are either African-American or Hispanic but all evidence shows that whites smoke marijuana at a much higher rate than people with brown skin.”

Justices of the Supreme Court, Whitehead cautioned, are “living in an ivory tower.”

Supreme Court members are “chauffeured about in limousines and they don't know what we have to go through out here, especially if we're people of color.”


On Fourth Amendment rights, Whitehead noted that “Justice [Antonin] Scalia, whom I've been critical of in the past, and the women on the Supreme Court have been great in their dissents.”

Four instance, he said, those four justices objected “to the forced taking of DNA from people now. If you're arrested for anything, they can go into your body and take your DNA.”

The DNA decision is part of what Whitehead calls “the new movement toward bodily probing.”

He explained that, “in large cities across the country, police are stopping men on the street and doing rectum searches, sometimes causing bleeding. This is without a warrant, without arresting them.”

He gave the example of how recently in Texas, “two women were pulled over for throwing a cigarette out of a car. The policeman accused them of smoking marijuana” but when he found no cannabis in the car, “he called for back up, [who] did vaginal and rectum searches on the women without changing their gloves.”

Those Texas police officers, he said, have “been sued for a million and a half – and they should have been sued.”

'462 words'

Offering advice to citizens, Whitehead warned, “I just say, be alert. Let's read the Bill of Rights again. Most people don't even know what's in the Bill of Rights. It's 462 words but most people have never read it. Can you believe that? 462 words, you can read it in less than five minutes.”

Because “we're not teaching [the Constitution] in school anymore, people don't know” what it says.

“If you're stopped on the street and they want to do a really weird search on you,” Whitehead advised, “assert your Fourth Amendment rights.” The police “have to have probable cause.” Before they begin a search, he said, citizens should ask, “Am I doing something illegal, officer?

Next: John Whitehead talks about the growing American police state.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on June 29, 2013. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Friday, June 28, 2019

From the Archives: Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says Obamacare decision is 'a win for liberty'

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says Obamacare decision is 'a win for liberty'
June 28, 2012 11:30 AM MST

In a press conference today, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said that the Supreme Court’s health-care decision was a “victory for individual liberty” and that his initial reaction to the ruling was more negative than it ought to have been.

Ken Cuccinelli Obamacare SCOTUS health care commerce clause
Speaking to reporters in Richmond and via telephone conference call, Cuccinelli called the ruling “a win for liberty” and explained that for the first time in 85 years, the Supreme Court had set “an outer limit” on the expansion of federal authority through the Commerce Clause.

He said that by its 5-4 ruling on the limits of the Commerce Clause, the Court had put in place a “critically important containment of federal power” and that in the parts of the ruling dealing with Medicaid, the justices had for the first time since the New Deal said that Congress has limited power to compel states to act through its spending authority.

Politics and legislation

Moreover, Cuccinelli argued, by defining the individual mandate as a “tax,” as Chief Justice Roberts did in his majority opinion, the Court opened up political challenges to the law because Congress’s taxing authority is the most accountable and sensitive of its powers to popular will.

By calling it a tax, he said, the Court (specifically the Chief Justice) removes the political cover for those legislators who claimed not to have voted for a tax increase. They can no longer go back to their home districts and say they did not vote for a tax, he said, and thus they will be subject to the judgment of voters on Election Day.

Given that, Cuccinelli predicted that, with the impending elections this November, the ruling will show the critical role that voters play in “ensuring that their liberties are preserved.”

‘Bipartisan failure’
As a policy matter, Cuccinelli said, health-care legislation has been “a bipartisan failure” and that the Affordable Care Act is such a “bad policy” that even the people who supported it are backing away from it, as a constitutional matter, “individual liberty has been substantially preserved in this case.”

He also noted that, apart from the aspects of the law addressed in the decisions delivered by the Court today, there are still matters about the ACA that continue to be litigated. He gave as an example the lawsuit filed by the Catholic bishops with regard to contraceptives.

Federalism preserved
Cuccinelli said that the justices came to their decision in an “unlikely way,” but that “if there had been five votes to compel us into commerce, federalism would have been dead,” pointing out that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her dissent on the Commerce Clause part of the ruling, claimed that the “Commerce Clause power is plenary,” that is, unlimited.

Wrapping up, the Virginia Attorney General said that upon reflection, his analysis of the Supreme Court’s health-care ruling is more muted than his initial reaction was, and that “by and large” the decision preserved individual liberty.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on June 28, 2012. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.