Yes, D.C. Progressives Lost The Capitals and Wizards to Virginia
Soft on crime policies are the number one policy reason this move is happening
Governor Glenn Youngkin was all smiles in Potomac Yards today introducing Ted Leonsis, owner of the Wizards and Capitals, to announce a massive new deal where the franchises will move four miles from their current home in Chinatown across the river into Virginia. The deal still needs approval from a number of entities, but the decision at the highest levels has been made, and it’s hard to see it falling through. It makes too much sense.
As much as Leonsis has griped for years about his bad lease deal with the Capital One Arena — he owns the building but D.C. owns the land, and the opportunity for expansion was dramatically restricted — that still wasn’t enough to move before the pandemic. Now, with occupancy dramatically reduced, Chinatown backsliding into an unsafe area, and an open air drug market right by the stadium, Leonsis knows the safer, business friendly environment in Virginia is too good to pass up. And D.C. residents don’t have too look far to know who to blame: Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. council progressives whose soft on crime policies has led to a historic crimewave.
The announcement this morning by owner Ted Leonsis that Washington, DC is losing the Washington Capitals and Wizards franchises to Virginia is the ultimate indictment of incompetent Mayor Muriel Bowser and corrupt Democrats on the city council who let crime take over the nation’s capital.
To say DC has a rampant crime problem is an understatement. You may already have heard about the incredible rise in carjacking, which more than doubled year over year – with juvenile offenders accounting for the vast majority of arrests. All crime is up by almost a third, violent crime is up almost 40 percent and total homicides passed 200 in September, earlier in the year than it has since 1997.
The imagery of an Uber Eats driver’s violent death in a crash as a thirteen-year-old girl tries to steal his car in broad daylight while wielding a stun gun is not the sort of image any city wants for itself. But the response from Bowser has consistently amounted to leaning into “woke” racial politics, more interested in defending her Black Lives Matter Plaza than solving the problems that saw DC hemorrhage residents over the past several years.
Bowser has done a U-turn in recent months after multiple botched reform efforts that were killed by Congress and even opposed by fellow Democrats, but even her “drug-free zone” proposals are receiving pushback from progressives on the council. And those policy changes won’t solve the disastrous state of DC policing, which has seen a net loss of 500 officers since 2020. In the past, the city offered nearly thirty officers to Capital One Arena during events to keep order — now, they only offer three.
The underlying problems driving this crime wave are obvious. Unemployment, which is particularly high among black residents, is a major problem. But so is chronic absenteeism in DC schools, which has never returned to pre-pandemic levels: it’s 43 percent for students in general, and 60 percent among high-schoolers.
It turns out that offering free tracking devices for when you’re carjacked isn’t enough to satisfy the demands of workers, citizens and visitors who want to be safe when having dinner a stone’s throw from the White House and Capitol Hill — or if they want to spend the high prices necessary to go out to a game at night with their family in the increasingly unsafe Chinatown area.
There are fundamental problems that the city faces beyond crime as it relates to the arena, which was built in the mid-1990s. The trend in the NBA in recent years has been that owners want to own not just an arena, but the surrounding area as well — the retail, restaurants, hotel and residences in an area that will offer far more income than games alone.
In his remarks at the announcement ceremony, the owner spoke of the positioning of the Alexandria site, located between Ronald Reagan Airport and right by a new Metro site, as “romantic,” with the appeal of starting on “seventy acres, and the ability to start with a clean slate.” No amount of money the city could offer could compete with that.
The new location still has to overcome several major local hurdles — the opening is planned for 2028. But the ownership decision is made, the Glenn Youngkin administration is welcoming it with open arms and the decay of the nation’s capital is key to all of it. It is this shame that DC’s leadership owns.
On False Claims U.S. Sabotaged Ukraine Talks
Among critics of U.S. policy toward the Ukraine War, it has become widely accepted that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, carrying out the wishes of the United States, sabotaged an April 2022 peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin made the same point in a summer meeting with African heads of state. He waved in the air a draft for a peace agreement signed by both parties at their final meeting in Istanbul. The West, Putin alleged, brought the arrangement crashing down.
Similar interpretations have recently been offered by Oleksiy Arestovych, a former aide to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and now a sharp critic of the regime, and by Davyd Arakhamia, the leader in Parliament of Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People party. Both men participated in the spring 2022 negotiations with Russia. Arakhamia said in a recent interview that the Russians “were prepared to end the war if we agreed to—as Finland once did —neutrality and committed that we would not join NATO.” Ukraine’s acceptance of neutrality, Arakhamia insisted, was Russia’s “key point” and “the biggest thing for them.”
In Arakhamia’s recollection, there were several obstacles to an agreement, including the manifest lack of trust between the parties and the difficulty of amending Ukraine’s constitution to renounce its bid for NATO membership. Then Johnson showed up in Kyiv on April 9 carrying the West’s message that it “would not sign anything with [the Russians] at all, and let’s just fight.” The peace negotiations collapsed.
Does this sequence of events show that the West nixed a promising agreement? Not quite. With the support of the United States, Johnson may have sought to sabotage a deal, but there was not much of a deal to sabotage. Russia and Ukraine were not on the brink of a peaceful settlement in early April 2022. There remained huge differences between the parties.
When Putin waved the Istanbul treaty before the African delegation, he showed only the first page of a hefty document composed of eighteen sections. The full text, incredibly, has yet to be published or leaked by either party or any of the mediators. (Putin’s copy was dated April 13, 2022, the same day he declared the talks at a dead end.) Arakhamia emphasized the provision on neutrality but dismissed the rest of the text as “simply rhetoric and political ‘seasoning’ about denazification, the Russian speaking population and blah-blah-blah,” suggesting that many of its provisions were inexactly defined and thus subject to contrary interpretations by the parties. At the time (March 28, 2022, in an interview with the FT), Arakhamia said, “in every single item there are unresolved points.”
Some observers have written that the agreement entailed a Russian withdrawal to the February 23 lines in exchange for Ukrainian neutrality, in effect requiring Russia to end its battle for Mariupol and to abandon the land bridge to Crimea. Others say that Russia offered to return, in effect, to the 2015 Minsk II agreement, accepting for the Donbas a decentralized status within the Ukrainian nation-state, like the autonomous province of South Tyrol in northern Italy. Still, others say the borders were to be determined later in a meeting of the two presidents, such that the territorial provisions remained in flux. The latter interpretation is probably correct.
In his meeting with African leaders, Putin also waved another document in the air, purportedly showing an agreement on Ukrainian military limitations. However, this only inadvertently demonstrated the vast gulf that remained between Kyiv and Moscow. That addendum dealt with the size and equipment of Ukraine’s army during peacetime. Russia wanted to cap Ukraine’s military personnel at 85,000, with its National Guard at 15,000, whereas Ukraine wanted a 250,000-man force. Russia said that Ukraine should only be allowed 342 tanks; Ukraine wanted 800. Russia restricted Ukraine’s multiple rocket launchers to 96; Ukraine wanted 600. And so on down the line. Ukrainian negotiators said at the time that “Russia was shifting its position almost day by day” in the talks over “demilitarization.” Still, this document is surely illustrative of the basic positions taken.
These were not minor differences. They show the parties to have been far apart on the critical question: the distribution of military power between them. Zelensky said of the negotiations on March 28, 2022, “We’re not going to sit at the table if they’re talking about any kind of ‘demilitarization,’ any ‘denazification.’ Those things are absolutely incomprehensible to me.” But demilitarization is what the Russian position in the military annex called for. The Ukrainians were far from accepting this view.
Hunter Biden Says He’s The REAL Victim Here
"I’m here today to acknowledge that I’ve made mistakes in my life," he said, flanked by his lawyer and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), "but I’m also here today to correct how the MAGA Right has portrayed me for their political purposes.”
“For six years, I’ve been the target of the unrelenting Trump attack machine shouting, where’s Hunter?" he added. "Here’s my answer, I’m right here.”
“Let me state as clearly as I can: my father was not financially involved in my business, not as a practicing lawyer, not as a board member of Burisma, not in my partnership with a Chinese private businessman, not in my investments at home nor abroad, and certainly not as an artist.”
President Biden’s son had received a subpoena to be interviewed by the Oversight Committee behind closed doors at 9:30 a.m. Instead, he began his surprise 5-minute speech about 10 minutes later.
“I’m here to testify at a public hearing today to answer any of the committee’s legitimate questions,” Hunter claimed, saying Republicans had “impugned my character” and “invaded my privacy.” The first son, who took no questions from the press, repeatedly insisted that his father was not “financially involved” in his dealings — rather than claiming he had no role at all.
Movement on Immigration/Border?
CBS News reported Tuesday that the White House backs new authority to expel migrants without asylum hearings, in addition to the “dramatic expansion of detention and deportation” of undocumented migrants. A senior administration official confirmed the outline of the report.
But the whiplash doesn’t change the timetable for reaching an agreement that could ultimately pass both chambers and be signed into law by President Joe Biden. It remains exceedingly unlikely that anything will get done before Congress leaves town for the holiday recess, according to sources involved in the talks. Lawmakers could always be called back if needed for a vote.
Yet the even bigger issue here is whether Biden and congressional leaders can find a sweet spot on both Ukraine and immigration that can pass muster with Speaker Mike Johnson and the very conservative House Republican Conference.
Senate Republicans are keeping Johnson and his staff in the loop on the nascent talks. But the White House’s Senate-centric strategy here is out of a 2021-22 playbook, when bipartisan deal-making was en vogue under a Democratic-controlled House and Senate.
Items of Interest
“We would rather be feared than respected.”
— Al Davis