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Editor’s NotebookEditor’s Notebook: Definitely not going to fly these days

Editor’s Notebook: Definitely not going to fly these days

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The world was different back in the day. (“Back in the day” more or less meaning any time before 2020.)

But let’s go back a little further – to this coming week in 1936, to be exact. Here’s one item that was making news in the pages of the Northern Virginia Sun.

It appears that Virginia’s judges were engaged in a discussion about bringing back a classic of early-American jurisprudence: whipping posts.


Not for everybody, mind you. Just to deal with incorrigible offenders.

Now, even I – not known for holding “woke” sensibilities – think that such a move might not have been wise, even back in the 1930s. Seems a little more like 1730s-style justice.

But it provides an insight that those in the law-enforcement world (and remember when “those in the law-enforcement world” used to be all on the same side?) were concerned about repeat offenders and the havoc they were wreaking on the populace.

Maybe today’s Virginia judges, just for fun, could suggest they’re considering bringing back that old-fashioned tool. Just to see the heads of commonwealth’s attorneys explode across Northern Virginia.

(On second though, forget that idea. If prosecutors’ heads exploded simultaneously in Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties, that’d be far too many special elections to have to cover at one time.)

A ZINGER DELAYED BUT NOT A ZINGER DENIED: It took him nearly a week to deliver it, but I’m going to give Major Mike Webb the accolade of “best comeback” in the Arlington NAACP School Board debate of last week.

During that forum, Democratic endorsee Mary Kadera said that while the Arlington school leadership’s efforts at supporting minority students stunk (she graded the performance as a “D”), at least Arlington was better than some local school districts.

She singled out Loudoun County as one that was worse.

A couple of days later, Webb – who at the debate had graded the Arlington school system as flunking on meeting the needs of minority youth, sent out an e-mail.

(Lordy, he has a propensity for sending out e-mails.)

In it, he shot back at Kadera’s assault on the big locality two jurisdictions to the west, noting that last year, “Loudoun had nine students make it to round two in the National Merit Scholarship competition, and three winners, including kids of color.”

Arlington, by contrast, “had zero.” Which is true.

Great comeback line. Would have been rhetorically devastating had he come up with it on the fly during the debate, but since there were no other zingers thrown effectively between and among the two candidates, this delayed one will have to count as the best of the forum, albeit a tardy one.

YOUNGKIN WAS RIGHT: I don’t spent a lot of time with PBS’s “The NewsHour” even though it’s broadcast right down the street in Shirlington. (Nothing personal, WETA and PBS, but I’m not just busy but usually “biz-zay” at that time of the early evening.)

However, I did check out an interview last week between Judy Woodruff and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who’s got a book out and likely is on his way out the door next year if the Democratic activists get their way and harangue him into retirement so President Biden can get a nominee through before (or if) Republicans take back the Senate.

What struck me during that discussion was how brazenly and one-sidedly political Woodruff was. Just a non-stop assault on the conservative wing of the court. (She also fancies herself a constitutional scholar, apparently, divining that the Texas abortion law that is making the headlines is unconstitutional even though it’s not been through that process yet.)

Is she always this way, or was she carried away with the moment? Either way, smart move by the Glenn Youngkin gubernatorial campaign saying the Republican wouldn’t compete in a debate where she was moderator.

– Scott McCaffrey

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