Remove Eric Cantor Now

Readers of the Central Virginian were treated to two conservative letters on 1/23/14 supporting their respective candidates. The only redeeming quality  of either was their complete lack of substance. Such deceptions will continue to be a feature of conservative letters to the editor in the CV, reflecting their parties poorly thought out and hypocritical policies.

Bob Arment, Chair of Louisa Republican committee tells local conservatives that the proper thing to do is to embrace Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment and speak no ill of fellow Republicans claiming that “It’s unfortunate that some Republicans spend their time attacking our own instead of focusing on the real fight’, which in his world view consists of exclusively of repealing Obamacare and somehow creating jobs.

This is nothing more than simplistic magical thinking believing this will happen when conservatives take control of Senate and re-elect Eric Cantor, stating that Republicans, “…must stand together if we are going to be successful.” Exactly how they will stand together, what they will stand for, or how they will even define success remains unclear.

In another letter, Tea Party leader Fred Gruber points out how after Eric Cantor’s office learned he had a Republican party challenger, their first reaction was to attempt to smear and discredit him, flinging wild accusations, hoping something would stick, not unlike angry monkeys flinging their poo at the zoo.

Accusing Mr. Brat of being a Liberal on his website “pretending to be a conservative” and that “he once served as Governor Tim Kaine’s hand-picked economic adviser”. Claiming he is no friend of conservatives because “We don’t need a protégé of Senator Tim Kaine representing us in Washington, “when in fact, he was a member of a council of 20 some economic advisers.

Mr. Gruber returns the Cantor camps tar and feathering, claiming that Mr. Brat is a strict adherent of the Republican Party of Virginian’s Republican Creed, and  how“…fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints must be exercised at all levels of government”.

In his reality, Eric Cantor somehow “violates” that creed. Exactly how someone with a 100 % conservative rating http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/08/the_case_for_cantor.html   manages such a feat is unclear. Perhaps he will be using one of Commonwealth’s 10” ultrasound wands to violate their creed?

While Mr. Brat’s experience in academia gives the illusion that he is more qualified to speak on economic issues than Eric, the truth is  their shared ideology makes it highly unlikely that either will or is capable of exercising sound fiscal judgment.

Eric Cantor’s twelve year record as a legislator is clear, while at this stage of the game, Dave Brat has yet to move beyond campaign smoke and mirrors. The fact that Republican’s policies seldom accomplish anything is something that few of their constituents notice, and is seldom reported by a compliant media.

What’s important is that Republicans can continue to claim to be the party of responsibility, honesty and integrity. This is the bedrock upon which their entire ideology rests.

Meanwhile the media and the voters continue to overlook Republicans’ and Eric Cantor’s lengthy history of knee jerk legislative proposals, allowing them to further obscure the fact that their actions are actively sabotaging the ability of the government to function.

This recent article in the New York Times http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/30/what-republicans-say-versus-what-republicans-mean/?ref=opinion  about a letter Eric and other Congressional leaders sent to the President shortly after his State of the Union speech regarding areas that they would be willing to work with him points out their hypocrisy.

No matter what your political preferences are, or how you stretch your imagination, it’s obvious that Republicans, especially Eric Cantor have absolutely no intention of negotiating with anyone in good faith. The GOP’s and Eric’s dis-ingenuousness have become the guiding & unifying principle behind their ongoing legislative obstructionism.

Their strategy is simple: if Obama (or any other Democrat) wants it, they are against it. What is more revealing are their unscripted comments which lack the premeditated guile of this NYT’s letter. Whether it’s Huckabee’s remarks about women or the fact-free rants about Executive Orders and presidential overreach (which FYI are the fewest of ANY president in modern American history) or “birtherism” etc., these are the actions of party with no rudder and only an anchor.

When those extreme comments fail to gain any traction, Eric and his party can be counted on to say whatever disingenuous and outrageous comment they can get away with, knowing their sole purpose is to stir up his base over the latest outrage of the day, today its abortion – tomorrow its Benghazi. While avoiding any legislative or personal responsibility.

Congressional Republicans will be attending another retreat over this Super Bowl weekend http://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/house-gop-to-gather-for-retreat-102652.html presumably to get their stories straight and to polish up their lies.

Regardless of ones political affiliation, removing the reprehensible Eric Cantor from office this November should be the priority of every resident of Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.

Jon Taylor

Using Surveys and Messaging to Lie

Recently, many of us received a survey in the mail from our 56th District Delegate, Peter Farrell asking for our thoughts on several legislative issues. Taking this survey is your opportunity to let him know what you think.

The online version : http://survey.house.virginia.gov/Survey.aspx?s=e58f2f57b42244898cc9fadb8e2ebfd2#top

Presumably, this survey was intended to get his constituents viewpoints, and wasn’t deliberately designed to reinforce certain attitudes. Beyond the questions being misleading and biased, their biggest failing was not providing enough information to form an opinion.

It was a perfect survey; if you  happen to already agree with his no worries,m small government, low taxes philosophy and didn’t mind his overly pious claims to “care” about your children’s education and your future.

Lately, the appearance of caring has been infecting Republicans around the country. Congressmen in DC are determined to show us just how empathetic they are http://www.commondreams.org/further/2014/01/08-0, and State Party Chair Pat Mullins has been busy promoting this “winning” strategy with other delegates.

Perhaps it’s time to face facts and reality. Without a significant and sustained increase in the number and quality of jobs the Commonwealth’s economy has little chance of turning around. It should be quite clear that Delegate Farrell does not understand the magnitude of lack of economic opportunity which exists within the 56th district.

Which brings us to this simple truth; Republicans don’t particularly care if their ideas work, only that they can sell them.

How long will his rhetoric about job creators and tax cuts work before it fades into echoes of irrelevancy?  The question I have for Delegate Farrell: Are you going to vote for jobs and improving the Commonwealth’s economy, or will you follow your parties lead in their quest to kill “Obamacare” and Medicaid expansion?

Doing so would be bad economics and bad public policy, costing the Commonwealth tens of thousands of jobs. Billions in federal monies will leave never to return and it will severely affect the states two largest medical teaching universities.

We’ll forgo new jobs and revenues and remain burdened by increasingly costly emergency room costs. We’ll continue to ignore basic health care for low-income hard working Virginians, resulting in hundreds of preventable deaths each year. This is not an unintended consequence.

Delegate Farrell knows what will happen if he votes to kill Medicaid expansion. Will he compound that mistake by supporting the reddest legislation coming out of the General Assembly?

The politest thing one can say about the Virginia House and the Senate actions these past few weeks is that their ideology is not influenced by reality. That their proposals won’t accomplish anything is unimportant. What’s important is they can continue to claim to be the party of responsibility, family values, honesty and integrity.

Their ongoing propaganda campaign is designed to influence our opinions, and while they may occasionally dress it up as “informational” content, their efforts rarely clarify issues, rather they cloud them.

Muddying the waters with such hypocrisy is the name of their game ; disinformation intended to reinforce their messages to the base, and casting doubt and fear on the opposition’s messages wherever possible.

Such deception is a permanent feature of Republicans policies and remains the biggest unspoken issue of 2014. It is in fact the proverbial 500 pound gorilla in the middle of the room.

Look no further than the House of Delegates, where they recently passed a bill 65-32 along party lines giving members of the General Assembly legal authority to represent the Commonwealth should the Governor and Attorney General choose not to defend a law.  http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?141+vot+HV0394+HB0706

This is the Republicans response to this administrations position that, “I don’t think the Attorney General should be defending laws that are patently unconstitutional or where the process by which they were adopted violated the law”,  It is a modern version of an outdated and unconstitutional concept – legislative nullification, something which was practiced by many Southern states in the decades prior to the civil war, and like a zombie refuses to die.

Not to be outdone, some Republicans are also drafting a resolution to impeach Attorney General Herring   http://bearingdrift.com/2014/01/26/breaking-draft-resolution-of-impeachment/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

Perhaps if the Commonwealth’s Republicans put as much energy into solving the states problems as they are into resurrecting the legislative dead we might have a productive legislative session.  Keep in mind that these knee jerk reactions are intended to obscure their true aim, to sabotage the ability of government to function, while stirring up their base over the latest outrage, today its abortion – tomorrow its freeloaders.

In spirit, if not fact they are part  of a concerted effort by the Koch-backed wing of the GOP and their allies that targets 13 states, including Virginia during the 2014 election to regain control of the Senate, and solidify their hold on the House and State legislatures .  http://www.salon.com/2014/15/how_to_buy_an_election_the_koch_brothers_2014_battle_plans_exposed_partner/

While this project supposedly revolves around the enhanced use of social media, particularly with younger voters, many other arms of the Koch-to-pus media campaign are spreading their lies. Here in Virginia, as the Speaker of the House of Delegates Bill Howell has the power to control what legislature comes to the floor, and over the past few years he has made it clear that he’s a company man.

You may be unfamiliar with his involvement with ALEC – the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization founded by the Koch brother, and funded by exclusively by big business, dedicated to promoting “model legislation” aka … pro business legislation at the state  and federal levels.

He is  the leader of  a project involving Republican  state legislators  working on ALEC’s  “Prodigal Son Projecthttp://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/03/alec-funding-crisis-big-donors-trayvon-martin,  a concerted effort to win back the many “lapsed corporate members” who have ditched ALEC since 2012. When their support for ALEC was first exposed and they found themselves under the  scrutiny of the public and the media, slinking into the shadows away from such negative publicity.

Over the past 2 years, ALEC has lost almost 400 state legislators from its membership roles, and more than 60 corporations which form the bulk of its funding, loosing more than a third of its annual budget. So naturally they are anxious to see the cash flowing again.

This document from an ALEC’s board of directors meeting lays out the responsibilities of the group’s state chairs, who are selected from loyal Republican legislators. The agreement contains the following pledge for all state chairs, including their leader Speaker Howell: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/841593-alec-docs.html#document/p20/a134822

I will act with care and loyalty and put the interests of the organization first.

According to this document elected officials like Speaker Howell are to put the interests of ALEC first, not their obligations to the voters who put them in office. http://www.bluevirginia.us/diary/10684/alec-in-crisis-virginia-speaker-bill-howell-tasked-with-helping-save-it When it comes to conflicts of interest, registered ALEC member Bill Howell seems to have cornered the market.

Considering how closely that Delegate Farrell is following the American Legislative Exchange Council’s … I mean Speaker Howells legislative agenda, he might want to consider practicing in front of a mirror if he doesn’t want his lies and misrepresentations to become too obvious.

Jon Taylor

CV & local officials misleading you

Regular readers of our local Louisa County paper, The Central Virginian may have noticed some changes in the papers content over the past year, amongst them; ultra conservative commentaries and op-ed’s, a decidedly stenographic approach to reporting local news and events, particularly when covering public officials.

In a September 2013 letter, R. T. Williams III ridiculed the idea that the CV is actively promoting such viewpoints, citing the recent publication of several progressive letters in recent issues as “proof”, while managing to overlook nearly a years worth of propaganda from organizations on the farthest right like The Family Research Council, and The National Review.

With so much of the remaining editorial page taken up with political cartoons, statistically challenged Facebook surveys results, and multiple public notices of how well this local paper was informing the community; re-printing these rehashed pieces comes at the direct expense of any local opinions and commentary.

Maybe it’s just me, but when I read a local paper, I expect to be reading unique time sensitive comments and opinions from my neighbors, not rehashed second hand content.

It’s been said that one of the best ways to hold readers attention is to offer them high quality content. Or you could take the FOX News route and go with the lowest common denominator of fake controversy.

In that regard, the CV has clearly opted for quantity over quality. It’s no secret their low cost content like their political cartoon and syndicated Op-Eds come directly from King Feature’s Syndicate, allowing them to re-post this content almost verbatim.  When they reprinted Glenn Mollette’s “Jobs Crisis” (9/26), they set a new low in cut-rate journalism.

For those of you who don’t know about him; Dr.  Mollette is a Sirius radio host and slick preacher of conserva-nomics, who follows the Rush Limbaugh business model, giving his content away. Take a look at the letterhead from one of his online publications. — (This opinion/article is offered for free, if you need to edit to fit your publication you are welcome.)

These are the word of a self serving charlatan who has satisfied their appetite for low cost cut and paste content demonstrating how easily local papers like The Central Virginian  can be used … or is colludes in a fair and balanced manner by promoting these extreme viewpoints?

Not to be outdone they reprinted another one of his pieces, Keep Free Speech in America this January about the exaggerated A & E and Duck Dynasty freedom of speech controversy.  Overblown because he completely misses the point that as a public media figure Phil Robertson’s comments and opinions are in fact held to higher degree of scrutiny than some random person.

That being said, I find myself in agreement with the comic, Jon Stewart’s take on the matter, “Being a dick in public shouldn’t necessarily exclude one from that medium.”

On the other hand, in his op-ed, Dr. Mollette repeats the common claim of conservatives, particularly religious one’s that any knowledge or opinions that we might have about someone’s personal opinions are beyond  judgment or reproach.

Because such expression of ones “faith” automatically excuses you from any criticism or even being  a dick in public. Because no one has the right to question your faith, or by implication Gods will.

The CV’s promotion of this unquestioning and incurious approach to  journalism comes with a steep price. Their no cost, no discussion style of reporting leads to grossly uniformed readers — who in many ways are not unlike frogs in slowly boiling water a bit slow to come around to timely conclusions because they have been insulated from the necessary relevant information and facts.

Even worse is their promotion of demonstrably misleading comments by local official, slanted local coverage which makes their reporting seem stranger than any fiction. Stories like; Crime Rate Down (9/5/13) and Working their Way Back In (9/26/13) where they gave readers the skimpiest of details about the counties two latest public policy initiatives.

For starters, the Louisa Commonwealth Attorneys Office plans to implement indicted Governor “SpongeBob” McDonnell’s initiative requiring ex-convicts returning into society to work 20 hrs a week for local business, (assuming they haven’t found other work within one month) giving a new definition to the term “community service.”

When even Wall Street won’t tackle the subject of unpaid interns, one has to ask what’s behind this sudden move to 19th century peonage — I mean forced labor?

Perhaps Supervisor Willie Gentry would care to explain to the people of Louisa County exactly what these two programs cost, and who economically benefits from them before proclaiming this arrangement to be a “win-win” for the county.

This is nothing more than an effort to rehabilitate former Governor McDonnell’s tarnished image while saddling local jurisdictions around the Commonwealth with additional obligations and unfunded liabilities on the backs of local community and parolees.

The leaders of this effort are the county attorney’s throughout the Commonwealth.  Here in Louisa, McDonnell’s trusty acolyte Rusty McGuire has been hard at work, carefully disguising this radical plan of involuntary servitude behind a litany of smooth platitudes, calling them a benefit to the public.

It’s no secret that he worked for Ultrasound Bob when he was the Commonwealth Attorney (not Ken Cuccinelli as previously misprinted by the CV), or that he shares his values.  Speaking of which; the Central Virginian also reported that this program is tied to the Louisa County Reentry Program, a two step Christian based mentoring program.

Considering the “training” of these mentors was to come directly from the Governor’s office, by one of his more ideologically reliable holdovers, I would strongly question most if not all of their assumptions about what kind of training a mentor should receive or what constitutes an effective mentor.

No disrespect to the local Christians in our community who are  giving their time to run this program, but how does having a strong devout background qualify them to run a social program, and are those indeed the only set of desirable qualifications?  It seems to me when it comes to mentoring ex-offenders that someone more experienced with the rules of “the game” such as older parolees might be equally effective.

Rusty and other local supporters of these programs are trying to shove them down our collective throats as quickly with as little discussion as possible because they know it can’t stand being examined in the light of day. Their cloaking these programs in a mantle of Christian belief shows depths of their bad faith and betrayal of our community.

It is bad faith because it is coded shorthand for the supremacy of faith over science and sound public policy; a misguided premise that belief, religion, and theology should rein supreme over empiricism and rationality. Particularly when it comes to what direction our society is headed.

Strange, I always thought that as modern society evolved that rationality was supposed to serve as a brake if not a guide to the unbridled passions of faith. This link should serve as a cautionary tale.  http://www.alternet.org/belief/humanity-becoming-increasingly-less-violent-one-exception-religious-violence?paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

Furthermore, these programs are bad policy because they deliberately overlook the poor track record that other faith based approaches around the country have had with social problems particularly with education.  http://www.alternet.org/education/truth-about-charter-schools-padded-cells-corruption-lousy-instruction-and-worse-results?paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

The abject failure of abstinence only sex education in state after state along with the misinformation propagated by the http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/08/07/1229615/-Inside-Virginia-s-fake-crisis-pregnancy-centers-the-state-pays-people-to-lie-nbsp-to-nbsp-you  Commonwealth’s pregnancy crisis centers speak for themselves.

The moment the local community accepts and defers to this blind faith ideology, the betrayal begins. In their arrogance, Rusty and his followers think no one sees thorough their “wrapped in the flag, and carrying the cross” smokescreen. Making their ongoing betrayal of the community even more insidious, while they continue to operate in the shadows, using any means necessary, and remaining above any accountability.

In an era of ideologically lead government shutdowns, sequesters and harsh budget cuts, who could have imagined that the most dangerous extremists are not just in DC, but that some are here right under our very noses.

Jon Taylor

Return of the Austerians

Now that the 2013 election recount and all is behind us, Virginia’s disproportionately Republican House of Delegates is determined to emulate their counterparts in DC, a body of NO dedicated to hamstringing anything Democrats or the Governor proposes.

When even this elections biggest loser, Mark Obenshain stressed the need for “bi-partisanship” in his concession speech, one has to ask; why are they being so inflexible? Perhaps it’s because they’re not interested in being legislators representing your interests; their actions are consistent with a single minded devotion to securing power.

Such focus comes with a high price for the Commonwealth; ideologically based legislation which benefits few. Their no worries problem free philosophy quickly ensures that the only real “power” remaining to them is legislative obstruction.

In many ways, their tactics are reminiscent of a line from the movie “The Wild One” where Marlon Brando was asked “What’re you rebelling against, Johnny?” to which he replies “Whaddya got? “

While some may find this brand of NO the closest thing to carrying the cross while wrapped in the flag, that doesn’t make it any less reprehensible. So long as such folklore continues to trump reality, there remains a strong headwind against change.  For many, those beliefs are being challenged like never before.

For some, their trials come when their unemployment expires because the House refused to put it in the budget. These cuts will take hundreds of millions a week from the national economy and ~ $ 3 million a week from the Commonwealth. Others will be tested as they loose assistance for food and shelter as the sequester quietly unfolds.

For the poor, disabled and seniors it will happen when the General Assembly rejects Medicaid expansion, costing the Commonwealth thousands of jobs and billions of dollars.  All these actions are based on two false premises; first, the only way to keep the poor from becoming an unmanageable drain on society is to completely cut then off from any assistance.

You may recall, the English nobility tried this during the great Irish potato famine, and histories judgments on how well that worked out is clear. Their second related bogus claim is that we can cut our way to prosperity.

These Austerians have hitched their social Darwinism survival of the fittest approach to snake oil economics. Ignoring the fact that starving an economy out of a recession has never worked, turning economist John Keynes observation about the “paradox of thrift” completely upside down.

While it’s prudent for heavily indebted families and individuals to cut down on spending, it’s extremely dangerous for entire economies. Economic growth is based on consumption and spending, with one person’s spending becoming another person’s income. If everyone cuts spending at once, our economy slows down leading to; fewer jobs, lower tax revenues, and increased debt.

The only alternative is to stimulate or spend our way out. The debt is not a problem. Inflation is not a problem. Austerity is the problem. For local businesses, nothing else matters when there aren’t enough customers coming in. The usual prescription of lowering their taxes doesn’t help when their customers don’t have any money to spend.

Most people don’t care whose fault it is because it’s irrelevant to their lives, because they are far too busy making ends meet to notice any disconnect between their being able to reap the benefits of Social Security and Medicaid, and consistently voting against their economic interests.

Such public complicity allows conservative myths like ones moral character and hard work are how the ultra rich got there http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/01/23/1271896/-Republicans-believe-rich-people-just-work-harder-So-how-do-they-explain-these-statistics  along with the presumption that “Republicans seem to do more for people” to circulate unchallenged.

When enough Americans and people in Louisa start questioning these assumptions, things will get very interesting.

Jon Taylor