Jack Trammell Speaks @ Hanover Fundraiser 6/24/14

Expecting a crowd of perhaps 50, more than 100 came to the home of Clark and Kelly Mercer in Ashland, Virginia for a fundraiser for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District Democratic candidate Jack Trammell, where he had this to say in the following video.  http://www.bluevirginia.us/diary/11775/jack-trammell-is-a-candidate-of-substance

“I’m going to be a candidate of “yes.” I’m going to be about the positive. I want to be able to reach across the aisle; I want to work with people. My career in academia … I have friends here in the crowd who work at Randolph-Macon … in academia we learn that research and social science functions within a peer review process where you work together collaboratively to solve problems.”

Trammell’s open and engaging personality are matched by his genuine sincerity and optimism. Qualities reflected in his supporters who are motivated by what is right about America rather than by bitterness and anger.

“I like to say “yes” rather than “no.” I say yes to change; I say yes to diversity; I say yes to ownership of your own body and mind; I say yes to possibilities; I say yes to equity; I say yes to opportunity; I say yes to responsibility to our collective good, we’re too wealthy and too successful to stand by to watch that just happen without us; I say yes to a clean environment; I say yes to rules for fair play; I say yes to care before punishment; I say yes to access to healthcare; I say yes to love who you want to love; I say yes to access to education; I say yes to a fair wage.”

In the days to come, it will become clear that Jack Trammell is a serious force to be reckoned with.

Jon Taylor

Petition the FCC about Net Neutrality

When the US Court of Appeals ruled that the Federal Communications Commission was overstepping its regulatory bounds in enforcing the principles of net neutrality they were wrong.  It should be the FCC’s primary mission to ensure that the Internet remains open and equally accessible for all users.

A message that apparently hasn’t reached the ears of the FCC’s chair Tom Wheeler, who is vehemently against reclassifying Internet Service Providers as common carriers. Where they would be defined like our phone system, as conduits and pathways for getting online.

Given that Mr. Wheeler used to be the President of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) before being appointed chairman of the FCC it’s hardly surprising to see them proposing that corporate telecommunication behemoths and ISP’s like Verizon, AT&T and Comcast become the gatekeepers of the internet.

Meaning they can create fast lanes and slow lanes for traffic over their lines, effectively deciding what content reaches their users and what gets buried in the slow lane. This is no trivial matter, according to the Pew Research Center, half of all Americans use the Internet as their primary news source, and for the younger generations it’s over 70 percent.

Microsoft’s scientists have shown people will visit a website less if it’s slower by more than 250 milliseconds, the blink of an eye. The Internet is clearly shaping how we distribute and consume information, and its evolution is inextricably linked with the future of news reporting.

Allowing the large ISP’s to create fast lanes for some automatically limits those who cannot afford the fast lanes. It is a zero-sum game, speeding up one site’s traffic means slowing down someone else’s, and is antithetical to the very concept of Net Neutrality.

As we celebrate another 4th of July, we should remember that our country was founded on the basic principle that speech should be delivered without discrimination, a concept that goes beyond freedom of the press. It’s also the ability to disseminate speech through the common carrier network of that era — the postal service. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/06/24-8

Just as the postal service was important in our founders’ ability to self-govern, an open Internet is to ours. Today, the largest ISP’s want to be more like a newspaper than a common carrier like the phone system — they want defacto editorial control of your content, and your freedom of speech.

While these ISP’s may claim these actions will increase “competition”, what they are really doing is maximizing their profits  on the backs of the Internets users, while limiting their freedoms of choice and speech. What they want from the FCC is an unrestricted ability not just to control how information is transmitted over the Internet, but the ability to profit from it at every conceivable level.

Internet Future 2

Closing the Internet in this fashion, is a step backwards for our freedom of speech, and diversity of thought. A regression to where beliefs of the corporate majority are valued over those of minorities. We should not have to live with this fear.

One of the best explanations of what Net Neutrality is all about comes from John Oliver’s HBO show “Last Week Tonight,” 

Should you wish to petition the FCC to voice your opinion in this matter, go to: http://www.fcc.gov/comments  and click on proceeding # 14-28, Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet – which is at the top of the Send Us Your Comments page.

Since it’s your freedom of speech that’s being threatened by the FCC and these corporate giants, now would be the time to follow John Oliver’s advice and “fly my pretties.

Jon Taylor

Republican Takeover is Unravelling

The Richmond Times Dispatch has recently released documents showing that there is more to Senator Puckett’s recent resignation which flipped control of the Senate over to the Republican’s than was previously known. On Thursday, May 29th, Interim Tobacco Commission Executive Director Tim Pfohl wrote to commission staffer Ned Stephenson, “If you’re in tomorrow Terry would like us to call Puckett to discuss what kind of role he might like with w/ Commission,”

Then, on Friday, May 30, he sent Puckett this “Phillip: Chairman Kilgore has asked Ned and I to reach out to you to discuss potential roles(s) for you as an employee of the Commission…..Terry has asked us to speak to you when you’re available.

On June 5, Pfohl emailed Stephenson and other commission staffers: Terry asked that this morning we send Phillip our thoughts on the issue we discussed,” Later that night Pfohl sent this email to Puckett with the subject line: “Today’s directive from Terry K.” In that letter, he discussed “….what’s being planned on our end to give this the most defensible appearance of a due process,” apparently he was becoming concerned with how Puckett’s acceptance of a job with the commission would be perceived in light of his decision to resign.

He also he felt the need to contact Virginia Secretary of Commerce Maurice Jones to let him know what was happening. He also asked Puckett if he had informed Gov. Terry McAuliffe about his plans. http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/latest-news/emails-outline-tobacco-commission-job-for-puckett-in-works-before/article_6f575714-fd9a-11e3-bc4d-001a4bcf6878.html

As this influence peddling scheme continues to unfold, it should become apparent that the web of connections between the Tobacco Commission, Senator Puckett, and House “fixer” Terry Kilogore extends further than the usual list of suspects in Virginia’s General assembly. It includes connections to the American Legislative Exchange Council, high powered Richmond law firms, and campaign contributions.

Should we apply a “3 degrees” connection standard to this affair, similar to what the NSA uses in their searches for links between terrorists, what we would find is there is indeed a connection between these events and what is happening elsewhere in Virginia and around the country. The scope of these actions is if not in fact, but certainly in intent – is the very definition of RICO like activities.

Everything associated with the states manufactured budget crisis has been about Republicans denying the ACA nationally and Medicaid expansion in Virginia by any means possible. It’s been common knowledge for several weeks that the Governor is looking for ways to bring Medicaid expansion to Virginia, including working out a direct grant with the President. Which is probably why House Speaker John Boehner felt the need to get out ahead of this when he recently announced he’s going to “sue” the President for unspecified “executive actions” and when asked by a reporter which ones, he snidely replied, “When I make that decision, I’ll let you know

Then there’s Speaker Howell’s behind the scenes and direct hands on involvement in the American Legislative Exchange Council, a so called no-profit organization which is clandestinely back by business interests, including the Koch Brothers. Speaker Howells involvement in ALEC includes; killing Medicaid expansion in Virginia, and heading up their national “Prodigal Son” project. A project designed to further enhance Republican monolithic control of the countries political process, enhancing their complete control of 27 state legislatures, and partial control of another 4 state legislative bodies. https://www.statescape.com/resources/partysplits/partysplits.aspx

This project intends to use the same process they used to take control of State legislatures to seize control of local County boards and town councils here in Virginia and in other states around the country, giving them nearly complete control of the levers of political power. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/06/conservative-group-alec-city-local-government?CMP=twt_gu

Followed by his directing the House Clerk’s Office to hire Paul D. Clement, a former solicitor general under the previous Bush administration as a “special legal consultant” to search for ways to contest the Governor’s constitutional ability to implement Medicaid expansion, cloaking it as necessary to resolve an unspecified “constitutional” issue, all on the on the taxpayer’s dime. http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/state-regional/howell-hires-former-bush-solicitor-general-in-medicaid-fight/article_96a2d880-fc8b-11e3-a099-001a4bcf6878.html

No to mention that his dumping of the states budget in the foyer of Governors office was nothing more than a mean spirited and clandestine attempt to speed up the clock. Knowing full well that the Governors office was closed over that Father’s day weekend, it was nothing more than a ham fisted attempt to pressure the Governor into conceding Medicaid expansion to the Republicans.  http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/state-regional/what-occurred-here-sunday-is-unacceptable/article_bf0d759e-fbde-11e3-932b-001a4bcf6878.html

Given Speakers Howell’s influence over everything that happens in Virginia’s legislature, it defies the imagination to think that any Republican efforts to seize control of the State Senate, thus blocking Medicaid expansion couldn’t have happened without his knowledge.

Wait until the public becomes better informed about the findings of the Grand Jury session, and possibly some of these as of yet undisclosed connections. We might see some of the more ardent practitioners of the “Virginia Way” get their just deserts.

Jon Taylor

Jack Trammell in the Central Virginian

A Mineral man will challenge Republican candidate Dave Brat and Libertarian James Carr, also of Louisa County, in the 7th District Congressional race this November.

John K. “Jack” Trammell was nominated on June 8 by the Virginia Democratic Party to oppose the winner of the June 10 Republican Primary election.

Jack_Louisa Parade

In that election, Brat ousted the incumbent, Eric I. Cantor, the Republican House Majority Leader.

Trammell, who like his opponent is a professor at Randolph Macon College in Ashland, said he is angry and frustrated with what he views as gridlock in Washington, D.C. and wants to do something about it.

I felt frustrated that we have a two-party system which really limits what can be done when extremism takes control of the process. In a two-party system you need a kind of consensus building, you need a dialogue and conversation that’s going on,” Trammell said. “Unfortunately, politics doesn’t always allow that process to take place unfettered, and being a person in a small rural county like Louisa, you’re inclined to feel like you’re disconnected from a large federal government to begin with in some ways.”

Trammell has toyed with the idea of running for political office for many years, even as far back as in the late 1990s when Del. V. Earl Dickinson represented the 56th District in the Virginia House of Delegates, and had begun to seriously consider retiring from his long-held seat.

Since winning the Democratic nomination, Trammell has traveled across the district participating in grassroots movements, talking with citizens and getting to know what concerns they have.

If elected, Trammell said he will remain connected to his constituents, which is something that some political pundits have attributed as part of the reason that Cantor may have lost his reelection bid to a Tea Party favorite.

For me, the message was don’t get too far away from the people that you live with and that you represent,” Trammel said.

What happened after the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Louisa County in August of 2011 is part of the reason why Trammell decided to seek election to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Trammell’s seven children, three of his own and four stepchildren, attended Thomas Jefferson Elementary School and are all graduates of Louisa County High School, the two schools that were demolished because of the quake. As a result, he understands the impact the quake had on residents and his own family.

But there are other issues that Trammell also wants to address if elected to the U.S. House of Representatives including measures for student loan reform, transportation reform, mental health-related issues and more transparency in public/private partnerships.

“I work at a college where I see students really hedge themselves to try to get that education, and I’m a firm believer in that education,” Trammell said. “I believe that college is the gateway to the good life in many cases and being better connected to the world, but I also see how they hedge themselves to get that.”

And while President Barack Obama has been working on student loan reform, Trammell contends that “we’re only scratching the surface” and that it needs to be something that connects to people who have kids in college right now.

People in the district are hearing the message that Americans in general are hearing, which is, your child needs to go to college to be a success,” Trammell said. “It’s really a conundrum for our young people.”

When it comes to the government, Trammell said he is a proponent for “smart” government. He acknowledged that citizens are concerned about waste and efficiency in government.

Trammell is the director of disability support services and associate professor of sociology at Randolph Macon College. He and his wife, Audrie, own a small farm in Louisa County.

The candidate is also a freelance writer with an interest in American history. He has recently written a book on the American slave trade that has garnered quite a bit of interest. He has authored more than 20 books and his articles have appeared in major newspapers.

The Virginia State Board of Elections deadline for other candidates to qualify to be listed on the ballot in the November General Election is Friday, June 27.

By Deana Meredith

Brat’s manipulative anti-establishment messaging

During this year’s election, voters will be served one of the greatest lies of modern times: “anti-establishment” rhetoric. It’s no secret this anti-establishment sentiment speaks to our anxieties about power, economics and democracy more than any other phrase. What’s not as clear is how it serves to redirect our anxieties away from obvious economic realities and onto social issues that often have little to do with the underlying issue. Its how Republicans talk about class – without actually talking about class

There are four ways this phrase appeals to us – each of them redirecting the pitchforks away from those with monetary capital and toward those with cultural capital. First, it frames it as an insurrection against the established order. Second, it invokes populism against the cliché of undemocratic power brokers in smoke-filled backrooms. Third, it pits mythical “Real American’s” against the elite. Whenever a Republican candidate speaks of a ruling class, the emphasis is on “class,” someone who is well-educated, knowledgeable and who acts like they are better than you.

Finally it’s shorthand for the candidate’s purity against any compromises. It’s not so much a declaration of their absolutism in the face of appeasement but meant to serve as a testament to their purity of purpose, where attaining political power is not their ultimate goal, but to serve the “will” of the people.

Railing against Washington is a familiar trick, convenient shorthand for out with the old, in with the new. Republicans are uttering this phrase far now more than ever, campaigning against business as usual in Washington, while they are doing nothing against business as usual on Wall Street.

These fears – of incumbents, insiders, elites and dealmakers – are being cynically stoked without tackling the underlying conditions that caused them. Our political, social and cultural establishment is being castigated, while the elephant in the middle of the room, the economic establishment is never named.

All this rhetoric is intended to channel resentment towards social issues; such as economic disparity without actually disrupting the influence that powerful corporate interests and the nations wealthiest have on our society, a way of addressing the working classes anxieties without redressing them.

Sort of like the devil trying to convince us he doesn’t actually exist the most persuasive kind of power is that which denies its own existence.

While “anti-establishment” may be the buzzword of this political season, it’s the one thing that will not get talked about. Which brings us to a previous posting about Dave Brat, and how he uses these techniques to manipulate his audience, particularly conservative Christians.

It’s important to note that he is not just some “college professor,” he is part of a well oiled political machine, one that is increasingly being recognized as the nation’s third-largest political party.

The Koch brothers and their front group, Americans for Prosperity are deeply engaged in 32 states in everything from Senate races to city bond measures funding local zoos. Nor does AFP represent a majority of the Koch’s network of political organizations.

The Koch’s are supporting Republicans and tea party candidates around the country precisely because they have aligned themselves with their goals, deflecting voter’s anxieties and frustrations away from their economic priorities.

The Koch’s and their cronies have developed a blueprint for beating establishment Republicans all across the country, and for them, the revolution has just begun.

It’s their version of a Taliban-like insurgency, carefully harnessing the forces of religion and libertarianism. Politicians like Dave Brat represent the first wave their army, “comfortable being explicitly religious in their identity”…and overtly religious with their politics  and economics.

Equally comfortable with their so called populist and progressive “messages,” yet the pathologies underlying their brand of populism are quite real: “fascism, nativism, anti-intellectualism, persecution of unpopular minorities, exaltation of the mediocre, and romantic exaggeration of the wisdom and virtue of the masses.” Making Dave Brat nothing more than a false prophet of Christian Economics.

This is exactly why Koch affiliates have poured lots of money into the religious-political complex since 2011. They intend to use the media and the mantle of religious authority to cloak their agenda, while stealthily endorsing their candidates.

Several decades ago, it was the theologian Sinclair Lewis who first said, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”  As then, the question remains, what will you do about it?

Jon Taylor

Republican Medicaid Obstructionism Hits a Snag

Virginia’s Republicans ongoing obstruction of the Commonwealth’s legislative process was first covered here in early June. http://bluelouisaorg.fatcow.com/2014/06/09/republicans-behind-budget-crisis/  Since then, the Republicans have taken advantage of Democratic Senator Phillip Puckett’s sudden resignation which gave them a temporary 20-19 edge in the Senate, paving the way for them to join the GOP controlled House in passing their “budget.”

Where it took them less than 2 days to complete their two-year, $96 billion spending plan and send it to the Governor for approval.

Governor McAuliffe would have seven days to make any changes before sending it back to the legislature for final approval.  What folks like Senator Richard Black (R) forgot to mention in all their self congratulatory promotion that “This was a stunning victory for the Republicans. We passed a budget in a single night and we have effectively blocked Medicaid expansion,” was that it contained a poison pill provision.

One designed to force the Governor into the unpleasant choice of either accepting their draconian budget which didn’t include Medicaid expansion, or risk shutting down the operation of the state because no budget would be in place by June 30thhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/in-virginia-senate-panel-approves-budget-without-medicaid-in-effort-to-avert-shutdown/2014/06/12/326d071a-f1b3-11e3-914c-1fbd0614e2d4_story.html

As you can imagine, Democrats were furious at Senator Puckett’s cowardly defection in the middle of this budget crisis, with House Minority Leader, David J. Toscano initially calling for an investigation in a floor speech during the deliberations. In a statement following his decision, Puckett claimed to have resigned to remove Republican opposition in the Senate to his daughter receiving a full-time appointment to as a judge in the 29th District.

Stanley Brand, a former counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives and a criminal defense lawyer said of the situation, “It may look crass and it may look underhanded and political, but that doesn’t make it a crime.” His statement is a strong commentary about Virginia’s lax ethic’s laws, and Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced there would be no “investigative role” for his office.

The following week, it was reported that that the Department of Justice was investigating this matter, prompting Toscano to say, “I’ve not been contacted by the FBI or the U.S. attorney’s office, so I’m not aware of the nature of the investigation nor the extent, but I do think …”, because of the strange timing of Senator Puckett’s resignation that” …an investigation is appropriate under the circumstances.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/us-probing-puckett-resignation-job-offers-in-va/2014/06/18/defa1a7a-f741-11e3-a606-946fd632f9f1_story.html

Sources familiar with the probe, speaking anonymously, said representatives of the FBI and United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Virginia have been conducting interviews, including elected officials knowledgeable of the chain of events.

One source says a grand jury will convene in Abingdon next week to hear testimony. FBI spokeswoman Dee Rybiski said Wednesday the bureau will neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation, and Brian McGinn, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy in the Western District, said he could neither confirm nor deny the existence of an ongoing investigation. www.timesdispatch.com/news/state-regional/justice-department-investigating-circumstances-around-puckett-s-resignation/article_5a044574-f72e-11e3-aa55-001a4bcf6878.html

Now former state Senator Phillip Puckett,  has retained Thomas Bondurant,  a former federal prosecutor as his lawyer and is claiming innocence while federal authorities investigate the circumstances surrounding his decision to resign.

It is absolutely clear from a preliminary investigation that Mr. Puckett is a man of the highest integrity and has committed no criminal acts,” said his lawyer in a public statement.http://www.roanoke.com/news/virginia/puckett-retains-lawyer-asserts-his-innocence/article_9105370a-f8ea-11e3-9b60-0017a43b2370.html

Delegate Ben Chafin, who is now running for Senator Puckett’s  vacant seat, like the former Senator, has his own judge problem. His sister and former law partner is Teresa Chafin a judge in the Virginia Court of Appeals. She faces reconfirmation by the legislature in 2020, when Chafin could be starting his second full, four-year term in the Senate.

Chafin won’t comment on the Senate rule and any impact on him or his sibling’s candidacy for another term as a judge, saying “It’s not a chamber I’m part of.”

Delegate Terry Kilgore, the tobacco board chairman, involvement in this controversy has been previously documented in this Blue Louisa posting. http://bluelouisaorg.fatcow.com/2014/06/09/republicans-behind-budget-crisis/ Where former Senator Puckett was up for consideration for a position on the Tobacco board in exchange for his resignation.  It’s purely circumstantial that Kilgore tried to kill a residency requirement so that Teresa Chafin, then a circuit judge could move to a house outside her district.

Now Kiligore finds himself in hot water over this latest scandal, and is reportedly lawyering up, hiring Thomas Cullen, a former federal prosecutor. Who coincidentally, happens to be the son of the head of McGuireWoods, the giant Richmond law firm where Kilgore’s brother, Jerry is a partner. And just as coincidentally, they are representing Jonnie R. Williams Sr. the man at the heart of the McDonnell scandal. http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/state-regional/virginia-politics/jeff-schapiro/jeff-e-schapiro-southwest-va-political-scandal-ripples-through-richmond/article_c6a27a4a-17c6-55ed-896a-94dee0e6b81c.html

All of these interconnections between these players, who are apparently at the heart of multiple scandals, show that the so called “Virginia Way” is just a genteel way of excusing corrupt politics.

Next: http://bluelouisaorg.fatcow.com/2014/06/21/the-govenor-strikes-back/

Jon Taylor

The Governor Strikes Back

If that wasn’t interesting enough, Governor Terry McAuliffe exercised his line-item veto power to cancel funding for the toothless Ethics Commission, along with the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC), calling it a sham body created by the Republican legislature for the sole purpose of blocking implementation of Medicaid expansion. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/mcauliffe-vetoes-funds-for-ethics-commission/2014/06/20/d5b10e78-f8af-11e3-a3a5-42be35962a52_story.html

McAuliffe railed against Republican opposition to expansion claiming that the states GOP leaders were stubborn and unwilling to compromise, and that he would have vetoed the entire budget if it weren’t days until the end of the fiscal year, and he did not want to risk a government shutdown. Saying that “By refusing any and all compromise, the House leadership has turned its back on people all over Virginia.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/gov-terry-mcauliffe-vetoes-portions-of-virginia-budget-prolonging-medicaid-standoff/2014/06/20/960d98a8-f879-11e3-a3a5-42be35962a52_story.html

For the past month he has been quietly exploring ways to get around the General Assembly including meeting with the President to discuss a possible block grant directly to the Department of Medical Assistance Services the agency which administers Medicaid, and is directly under the Governors control in order to provide health care to Virginia’s uninsured, and he has publicly stated that he was pursuing such options. “Secretary Hazel will have a plan on my desk by no later than September, first detailing how we can move Virginia health care forward even in the face of the demagoguery, lies, fear and cowardice that have gripped this debate for too long,”

While the exact details of how he might accomplish this are not clear, one way would be to emulate his predecessor Spongebob McDonnell’s financing of the infamous Road to Nowhere that was to link Petersburg and Suffolk. That road was financed with toll-backed bonds, and McAuliffe’s could possibly use a similar public-private partnership to build a new health care safety net financed with billions of Federal dollars.

By doing so, he would be taking advantage of Republican written laws which have been in place since the 1990’s that allow the private sector to do what the cash-strapped public sector can’t: underwrite public services bypassing a hostile GOP-controlled legislature.

According to lawmakers in both parties and legislative experts, the Department of Medical Assistance Services the agency that administers Medicaid, which is directly under the Governors control has the same authority as the transportation bureau to enlist private business to manage programs on the public’s behalf.

DMAS could team with health care providers and insurance companies to provide coverage for uninsured Virginians, a cost covered by nearly $7 billion in Medicaid funds. Through its private partners, DMAS might possibly implement a permutation of Marketplace Virginia. http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/state-regional/virginia-politics/jeff-schapiro/schapiro-mcauliffe-has-another-card-to-play-on-health-care/article_0d885470-8a6f-5354-9045-ad5adcb58719.html

Republicans who had hoped block any expansion of Medicaid in Virginia with this standoff on the budget, may have been surprised to see the Governor stand up to them, thinking they had him boxed in. None the less, they have made it clear that they will continue their fight to block Virginia’s expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

When lawmakers return to Richmond, the Republican’s majority in the House is large enough to override the Governor’s vetoes. However, even with Senator Puckett’s defection, they don’t have nearly enough votes in the Senate. Leading to what appears to be a legislative and constitutional standoff.

Garrett and Reeves hard at work2

The General Assembly reconvened for a special session the following week, and the House of Delegates went on record as overriding just one of the Governor’s line item vetoes. That didn’t stop House Speaker Bill “ALEC” Howell from pulling some procedural shenanigans which appear to have effectively blocked Medicaid expansion in Virginia for the time being. Allowing Republicans in the House and Senate to effectively “neutralize” the Governors vetoes without the inconvenient optics of having to go on record and actually vote against them.

To put it mildly, this move by Speaker Howell is straight out the “nullification” movement which infected Congress in the days just before the Civil War.  It is a deliberate attempt to obstruct the Commonwealth’s legislative process without appearing to have actually done so. Meanwhile over in the Senate, they wasted little time re-organizing all of the Senate Committees in their favor.

It would seem that they are quite anxious to get ahead of the upcoming special election to replace Senator Puckett, unwilling to risk their temporary control of the Senate on the chance that the voters still might decide to tip the balance of the Senate back to the Democrats. http://www.washingtonpost.com/ local/virginia-politics/in-va-republican-lawmakers-will-try-to-thwart-mcauliffes-line-item-vetoes/2014/06/23/60da8bf2-f8d6-11e3-a606-946fd632f9f1_story.html

The fact that they continue to hide behind such tricks is the true measure of their desperation. They are hell bent on trying to convince the public that they “stood up to Medicaid expansion,” while avoiding any responsibility for their actions. Speaking of responsibility; all this posturing is like rearranging the deck chairs on the the Titanic , trying to look busy while avoiding the inevitable, that this constitutional crisis will end up in the courts.

For months, it’s been clear that the states Republicans have been desperately trying to avoid having to go through with their thinly veiled threat, and last resort of pursuing legal action in the courts. Because they know that despite the conservative inclination of Virginia’s Supreme Court, they have limited ability to fix the outcome to their liking.  They are unwilling to roll the dice and take their chances with the constitutional process and have  resorted to risking the states finances in a high stakes game of chicken. http://hamptonroads.com/2014/06/court-likely-decide-mcauliffes-medicaid-authority

What the Governor will do in the meantime remains to be seen. Unlike the Richmond Times ill fated endorsement of Eric Cantor let’s hope their comment about “May you live in interesting times” prove not to be such a curse.  http://www.timesdispatch.com/opinion/our-opinion/top-opinion-vote-for-cantor/article_f4633cee-fd2a-51db-ada1-d58e0ff061cd.html

Jon Taylor

Brat is a Tea Party Cutthroat

If your reading of local newspapers extends beyond the Central Virginian, you may appreciate a recent letter in the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star from A. Beecher Sutherland, now a former member of the Orange County Republican Committee. Where he states that “The Republican Party or, more specifically, the tea party Republicans, have just slit their throats in the 7th District of Virginia,” and when you “… mix enthusiasm with stupidityyou soon havewhat Vladimir Lenin once referred to as “useful idiots.”

These enthusiastic tea party supporters certainly did their part in ridding our district of Eric Cantor. My first thought was that they did us all a great service, but now I’m having second thoughts. Especially when you ask any of them why they worked so hard to get rid of him, they are hard pressed to give any coherent answers.

Since most of these folks were the same people responding so enthusiastically to Cantors dog whistles for these past seven elections, one has to ask, what happened to change their minds?

Was it really because Eric’s dog whistles were sounding shriller and shriller, and less “real” as the years went by?

Or was it because they needed something else to focus on, something that could give all their fears and prejudices a new relevancy? Much of conservative’s cultural identity is based on being opposed to everything liberal, despising anything associated with it, such as empiricism and reason.

To be a “conservative” increasingly means taking a contemptuous view of reality. And so the proudly ignorant grow more belligerent, day after day.

Brats Supporters

Into this void, comes Professor Dave Brat, a proud participant in the BB&T Moral Foundations of Capitalism Program funded by John Allison, head of the Koch funded Cato Institute.  According to Allison, this is just one of 68 programs around the country “at most of the major universities in our operating area.” Boasting that “many [students] indicate the program is the first time they have heard capitalism defended from an ethical perspective .”

Dave Brat is nothing more than a bought-and-paid-for shill, part of a coordinated effort to steer the next generation of young people into their brand of libertarian economics. But the connections between Brat and his libertarian supporters doesn’t stop there. He is just one of many Manchurian candidates from the Koch-backed stable.

Over the past few months, right-wing radio hosts like Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin have pushed Brat non-stop on their radio shows. Politico recently reported on a fast growing and influential network of conservative radio talk show hosts who are driving the countries conservative movement.

Filings with the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Election Commission, as well as interviews and reviews of radio shows, found that conservative groups (such as the Koch Brothers sponsored group Americans for Prosperity) spent nearly $22 million to broker and pay for sponsorships with a handful of influential talkers… Since then, the sponsorship deals have grown more lucrative and tea party-oriented.”

David Brat isn’t just some college professor, he’s a foot soldier of the libertarian billionaire class and its army of talk radio hosts. This is the brave new world of dark money politics, a raving-loon industrial complex of radio shows financed by a vast lagoon of plutocratic payola.

Now Dave Brat’s may pretend to be just another Republican carrying his anti-immigration message to the people of the 7th District, when in fact his sole purpose is to carry his master’s message .

Some may recall how he ran against Cantor by attacking his brand of “crony capitalism” and the incestuous relationship that exists between big money and politics. Like all good misrepresentations; it worked because it has a grain of inescapable truth, that our political system has been captured by the interests of folks like the Koch Brothers, and is personified by Eric Cantors unbridled greed.

Shortly after winning the primary, Brat replaced his 23 year old campaign manager who helped engineer his historic upset with Amanda Chase who worked on Eric Cantor’s 2010 campaign, only to replace her three weeks later with Phil Rapp, a former aide to state Sen. William M. Stanley, who like Chase has never run a congressional campaign.

Not to  mention that his new communications director, Brian Gottstein, used to be Ken Cuccinelli’s communications director when he was Virginia’s Attorney General.

Or that he has hired Tim Edson to be a general consultant on his campaign. Mr. Edson managed Rep. Allen B. West’s  frothing-at-the-mouth, batshit-crazy and unsuccessful reelection campaign in 2012.

Brat also worked along side Chase in Susan Stimpson’s bid for Virginia’s GOP’ lieutenant governor where they lost out in 4 ballots to the pumpkin smashing E.W. Jackson.

If any of his press conferences where he speaks for a few minutes, and takes no questions from the press are any indication of things to come, then nothing has changed in Virginia’ 7th Congressional District except for who is running on the Republican ticket.

With such a cast of usual suspects surrounding Dave Brat, perhaps this is why Mr. Sutherland decided to leave the party. Let’s hope more Republicans come to their senses and follow suite, because it’s obvious that Dave Brat’s campaign is being run by paid shills and is being supported by the willfully ignorant.

Evidence

Jon Taylor

Courage

Let’s talk about “COURAGE!”  Yes, courage because it takes courage to stop complaining, blaming others and really do something to change the things that need to be done in our community or in our government.

What have “YOU DONE?”  What are you doing?  What excuses are you using to yourself and to others?  Well, if you aren’t aware that the upcoming midterm Congressional and Senate elections are the most important that you will ever participate in during in your lifetime, you haven’t been paying attention.  We have seen the greatest degree of disrespect towards any President in our lifetimes; we have witnessed the most unproductive Congress in our history.

We have heard the most vile, intentional lies and distortions of truth known to man knowing that anything that this President and his administration attempts to do, does and has done will be condemned and unfairly criticized like no other President in our history.

draw president

How long are you willing to live without having the COURAGE to do what needs to be done, and what “CAN YOU DO”? Will you leave here knowing that you have made a contribution, or sit on the couch complaining and yelling at TV screens, or your friends in endless telephone conversations? Personally, I would like to think that I left here having done something to contribute to a better life and world for my children, grandchildren and humanity. What about you?

The rhetoric and photo ops are as frightening as can be if this is what we can expect from our elected officials in the future who appear to clearly promote the interests of the wealthy and large, powerful corporations that continue to exploit most of us every day.

These same politicians want to tell us that they cannot support Medicaid Expansion to give people life-saving health care because of their unfounded claims of “fraud,” but fraud that is primarily committed by the large healthcare conglomerates who resolve their thefts of government funds by settling their claims for pennies on the dollar and a promise not to do it again, while getting even more lucrative and expansive government contracts of our Medicaid/Medicare business.

But where are the honest, religious (no matter what religion you profess and even if you profess none) communities of human beings who treat everyone the same, have real intellect and common sense?

Unfortunately, we are the ones who must do the work to get everyone to the polls in November to this most important election because it will have the greatest impact on the lives of “ALL” of our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, as well as generations to come.

Gloria Pope

ABC, Anybody but Cantor

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know that our long time 7th Congressional Congressman, Eric Cantor lost the open Republican primary to his tea party challenger, Dave Brat.

While many in the media are calling this David vs. Goliath contest, “one of the most stunning primary election upsets in congressional history”, and a “game changer”, such comments are missing the real story of what happened.

What happened is clearly established, the Standing house Majority Leader, Eric Cantor lost the Republican 7th Congressional district primary by nearly 12 points.

The why’s are considerably more complicated; a confluence of several trends, starting with a wide spread ABC – Anybody but Cantor sentiment shared by many voters on the left and the right. With longtime Virginia Republican strategist Chris LaCivita noting that Cantor “… spent days, weeks and months traveling around the country, raising money” for fellow Republican’s in the House and Senate.

Combined with years of constituent unresponsiveness, his fundraising travels helped to create the perception that he didn’t care about their concerns, and his disinterested attitude lead many in his district to believe he no longer represented them.

A perception that was reinforced by his tone deaf remarks about the 2011 earthquake which devastated Louisa and the later hurricane that caused widespread damage throughout his district that “federal aid would be released, when corresponding cuts were made elsewhere.”

Such callous disregard for his constituents had no immediate consequences in a heavily Republican district where none dared to openly challenge him. Yet, since 2010 a slow lingering sense of resentment was starting to build up.

While the 2010 midterms were a “Republican romp,” it was the first time Cantor was held below 60 percent in a general election. His Democratic opponent, Rick Waugh polls found little enthusiasm among Cantor supporters, with only 51 percent of voters saying that they would vote for Cantor, and Floyd Bayne, his tea party opponent got between 6 and 7 percent of the vote.

Soon afterwards, a group of anti-Cantor activists from both left and right met in person to discuss campaigning against Cantor. People who otherwise had little ideological common ground were starting to cooperate in engineering his demise.

What happened in this primary was the culmination of more than four years of grass-roots organizing, from both the right and the left, to unseat him.

In those early meetings, they started discussing tactics, and shared techniques for voter targeting and for evaluating the relative cost of earning the votes of different types of voters. The tea partiers already knew how to mobilize the folks who showed up at tea party meetings: what they needed was a way to find supporters or potential supporters who were unlikely to bother with regular meetings.

The biggest problem was how to get access to accurate and easy to use data, as the-easiest-to-use political data is owned by the two major political parties. Jonathan Stevens, the former Waugh campaign political director used his statistical knowledge and near-photographic memory to work from crude, publicly available State Board of Elections data, and manipulate that data into targeted sets of voters more like those that would be available to a large campaign from one of the two parties.

Creating data sets of voter information and preferences that are generally unavailable to independent or insurgent campaigns opposed by a party establishment. Some techniques like had been used by Obama’s presidential campaign—which Stevens worked on in 2008—but they had not been widely adopted by Republicans, let alone tea partiers without access to the big party databases.

Now Tammy Parada, an independent consultant who was at our post-election meetings in 2010, and later Chesterfield County coordinator who designed Brat’s election model knew how to use them.

The rest as they say is history.

Next:  http://bluelouisaorg.fatcow.com/2014/06/17/this-primary-what-really-happened/

Jon Taylor