Reviewing Congressional Lies

Over the past few weeks, we’ve all witnessed a number of unprecedented civic events; starting with the Women’s March, to people around the country getting up in their representatives grill, to the emergence of movements like Indivisible and Together We Will showing that resistance to a conservative takeover of the U.S. government is real even in red states.

Since the inauguration, Republican’s have been doubling down; on executive orders, on the Senate confirming all of the Drumpf’s nominees who will presumably be busy “deconstructing the administrative state.”

And with the House joining the Senate in removing pollution controls for mountain top coal mining, such deconstructive policies along with opening up National Park lands for exploitation of the nation’s natural resources have become standard operating policy.

Both Brat and Garrett voted for this along with prohibiting any ACA subsidized plans from using federal money for abortions, and removing workplace rules for contractors. And when not busy “legislating” in their sponsors favor, Congress is presumably acting in response to the growing media attention to the “resistance movement” using every trick in the politician’s playbook.

Starting with ghost trains to nowhere, ridiculous excuses, fake Facebook Town Halls, to holding them long after they are relevant.   And at the executive level, should be clear that Drumpf’s recent banning of certain media outlets is more than him being a thin skinned fool fond of calling the media the “opposition party.”

This is exactly how an authoritarian strongman behaves, using the power of the state to intimidate the rest of the media into normalizing their extreme behavior. So expect to see more distractions like his speech to Congress to keep everyone’s eye away from inconvenient facts, like the Republican’s “plan” always was to repeal the ACA, never to replace it.

Mostly because it’s paid for by taxes on the wealthy, and like Social Security it clearly demonstrates that government makes people’s lives better. Republican’s goal has always been to eliminate those taxes, and deliver that windfall back to the affluent by any means necessary, including claims that millions with pre-existing conditions are “crooks and grifters.”

Perhaps that’s what Paul Ryan meant when he said health care is “…the ability to buy what you want to fit what you need,” with tax credits. So if you’re rich enough you won’t need his worthless credits, and if you’re not, your chances of joining the uninsured just went up.

When it comes to dealing with inconvenient facts, Congress will refuse to investigate this administrations many malfeasance’s and conflicts of interest and Russian connections.

Because his outright lies builds on years — decades — of Republican’s using lies as a public relations tactic.

It is highly effective, because it’s impossible to argue with anyone who won’t even concede basic facts. And it’s why Republican politicians are falling in line with his most obnoxious lies, reinforcing memes like “paid protesters,” with their own lies.

Distractions which make it easier for his administration to quietly double down on stamping out grassroots momentum with executive actions like Preventing Violence Against Federal, State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement Officers  that calls for “…recommendations to the President for legislation …. defining new crimes…” and clearly signals to state and local authorities that “they  not being tough enough on protesters and activists.

Nor is it any coincidence that several Republican controlled states are proposing bills along these lines, in addition to new and innovative ways to suppress the vote. Whether these deeds come out of some dusty playbook, or were conjured directly from Steve Bannon’s fevered imagination, the result is the same, a government of the .01%, by the .01%, for the .01%.

Jon Taylor

Fact checking the lies

Everyone knows the old saw, “How can you tell when a fisherman (or a politician) is lying? His lips are moving.” And, everyone also knows that lies are not particular to just one party, one president, one congressman or one official at any level of government.

Lies have been part of politics since at least ancient Greece, if not earlier. The Ten Commandments prohibit bearing false witness for good reasons.

That being said, the lies being perpetrated by the current president are simply breathtaking in their enormity, frequency and ridiculousness.

Why care about the president’s loose relationship with facts? Well, if he is inexperienced, impulsive, ignorant, ego-maniacal, petty and resentful of experts, that will underpin how he frames the issues of the day and how he orders resources to handle those issues.

He is at the pinnacle of our national decision-making apparatus. The American taxpayers pays billions of dollars for the best intelligence programs in the world, on which other countries also depend for their survival, and the American president gets his information from Fox News! If you were the prime minister of another country, how dependable an ally would you conclude the United States to be?

Trump isn’t the only politician who’s not very truthful. Here in the 7th District, we have our very own Congressman Dave Brat, whose ramblings in his two Facebook Live town halls were laced with half-truths, untruths and wild exaggerations, and a lot of “bobbing and weaving.” He claims to be open and accessible to all his constituents but cherry-picks which questions he will answer in advance and then “answers” the questions by embarking on lengthy, rambling discourses without answering the questions.

You can watch for yourself the videos of these two town halls right here, and reach your own conclusions: https://www.facebook.com/RepDaveBrat/videos/781234302028525/ and https://www.facebook.com/RepDaveBrat/videos/781234302028525/.

Brat’s first actual live town hall was held this past Tuesday in Blackstone and it was more of the same, though I have to give the congressman credit for having the courage to walk the line on his way in and for sticking it out for an entire hour with a mostly unfriendly crowd of constituents—about 500 in all, though only about 150 made it into the venue.

Both Politico (http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/republicans-congress-town-hall-235255) and the Washington Post (https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/the-women-got-up-in-brats-grill-and-then-some/2017/02/21/9e8db1fa-f855-11e6-be05-1a3817ac21a5_story.html?utm_term=.08e6b903c12f) reported fairly, in my humble opinion.

If you want to watch it yourself, the entire thing is on Buzz Feed News at: https://www.facebook.com/BuzzFeedNews/videos/1416138551740492/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE.

How to separate the lies from the truth? It’s called “fact checking,” and anyone can do it. Here’s an example: Some blog called “The Daily Internet” reported “British Parliament Makes History and Votes ‘No’ Regarding State Visit from Trump.” The right would deem this scandalous, yes? Is it true? No. How do I know? First, I searched Google for “Did parliament vote down state visit by Trump?” and got about 1,390,000 results (0.65 seconds). I clicked on the first one, a report by the well-regarded British newspaper, “The Guardian.” Its headline read: “MPs debate refusing Donald Trump a state visit to Britain—Politics live.”

In reading the report of the debate, I discovered that, in fact, there was no vote at all, and Deputy Foreign Secretary Sir Alan Duncan reaffirmed to the members of Parliament that the state visit would go ahead as planned.

Dig a little deeper into “The Daily Internet.” Click on “About Us,” and you will discover that it is “… a group of dedicated news junkies, satirists and journalists offering interesting insights on current events in an interesting format…. We occasionally weaponize satire and are not afraid to toe the line, even cross the line to make a point or get a laugh. Satire elements are labeled as such and not intended to mislead.”

The reader must judge for him or herself how many grains of salt to take with their reporting.

Here’s the latest Trump example: The Washington Post reported that he made 13 “fishy claims” during his rally in Florida, and although I realize that many of this newspaper’s readers do not regard the Post highly, they do, in fact, fact-check what they report. It’s their job. Editorials are editorials, that is, opinions, but the reporters do report the facts, and they back up their reports with facts.

You can read the fact checking of Trump’s 13 fish stories right here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/02/19/fact-checking-president-trumps-rally-in-florida/?utm_term=.d7712443e6e3.

What news sources can the truth-seeker trust? What fact-checkers can the truth-seeker trust? Because this is an opinion column, you may not agree with my choices, but I believe that these three are some of the stalwarts: www.factcheck.org by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, http://thehill.com/—The Hill Newspaper, that is a non-partisan reporting source that also features opinions written by leading voices from both sides of the political aisle, and the inimitable http://www.snopes.com/ – that we all have been using to debunk ridiculous stories for ages.

My own list would not include Fox News, needless to say, but I’m also quite dubious of reports coming out of MSNBC, though I am fond of Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell. Donald Trump may not like what he reads in the New York Times, the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal, but hey, he’s demonstrated on many occasions that he’s not interested in the facts. He doesn’t like CNN, either. “The lying, dishonest media,” he says—he should talk.

If one chooses not to believe “the mainstream media,” what else is out there? Most experts put The Economist and Reuters at the top of the list, along with the BBC, PBS and C-Span. The Star-Exponent recently published a piece by well-known journalist, Ted Koppel, who quoted John Adams, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion but not to their own facts. Don’t believe the lies, find out the facts for yourself. The Founding Fathers insisted on protecting a free press for they understood that the free flow of information was the core of the representative democracy they built. Don’t let them down.

Mike McClary

Editor’s Note: This is reprinted with the author’s permission and originally appeared here

 

2017 General Assembly Wrap up Part I

With less than a week left in this year’s winter session, the Republican dominated General Assembly has been hard at work “muzzling their firebrands — and keeping their crazy cousins in the closet,” while promoting their sponsors interests. And after last weeks “cross over” just keeping track of all the bills passing through one legislative body or another with flying colors only to die on the opposite sides chambers by “unrecorded votes” quickly became an exercise in futility.

While some may claim that such deeds are necessary to maintain the fragile “peace in the valley,” how long can they continue to ignore the fact that it’s an un-kosher peace; one backed by a massive ideological resistance to the very notion and legitimacy of Democratic ideas. What they are really doing, is gas lighting us in an attempt to convince us there never was any conflict … I mean elephant in the room.

So, expect them to proclaim this session a success next week like our Delegate Peter Farrell did last year after the 2016-18 biennial budget passed, calling it “…a conservative, responsible, and structurally-balanced budget that invests in the core functions of government while protecting precious taxpayer resources.”  Convinced no one will notice the growing budget shortfall, their unwillingness to increase revenue, or implement Virginia’s economic programs.

And since protecting taxpayer resources” means using them as a weapon, holding the states schools and employees/police hostage robbing them of their ability to be “core functions of government,” I’m afraid to ask how any of this leads to a “structurally-balanced budget.

Education

When it comes to ensuring the future of education in the Commonwealth, nothing says this was the least the General Assembly could do like nibbling around the edges with bills covering; school discipline, suspension, expulsion, testing (SOL’S) and accreditation, along with state colleges and universities residency standards. Nor was it any coincidence that none of the nine bills addressing student debt survived.

One of the few positive developments educationally speaking was that SB1243, which would have set up educational savings accounts, a key component to privatizing public schools was defeated. In an age where internet connectivity is crucial to education, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen after HB2108, the Broadband Deployment Act is signed by the Governor.

What most people don’t know is that after being “amended” in the Senate it went from being a horrible bill to one using the cover of fiscal accountability to legally interfere with localities ability to manage their infrastructure. Since Louisa County is at the leading edge of this issue, it will be interesting to see how it affects the broadband rollout.  

Constitutional Amendments

Constitutional amendments did not fare well in this session, starting with, SJ221, an amendment to ratify the ERA which quietly died in Senate Committee. And SJ290 that would have kept voting districts contiguous passed the Senate 31-9 only to die in Delegate Cole’s Committee.  Another 10 amendments dealing with redistricting, voter qualifications, civil rights restoration, voter id’s, repealing the 2006 marriage amendment, and charter schools also died in his committee.

The last hope on the constitutional front; restoration of felon voting rights SJ223 would have changed the authority of the Governor to restore those civil rights died a few days ago, after passing the Senate, it was quietly laid on the table in the House.

Voting

Fortunately, Republican efforts to dilute the vote came to naught, like HB1425, which would have awarded electoral votes in the Presidential election to the winner of each congressional district rather than the current system.  Along with HB1696 which proposed to remove the authority of the Governor to make interim Senate appointments, in addition to calling for an immediate special election.

Followed by HB1409 that would have allowed the Foxes in the Hen House … I mean the General Assembly to make technical adjustments to legislative districts so they would coincide with local voting precincts. This bill passed the House along party lines, was read three times in the Senate, and thus far appears to have been left in the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee

Civil Rights/Social Issues

While the General Assembly worked hard to keep their crazy cousins locked up, they were not entirely successful, as Sideshow Bob’s joint resolution HJ549 that pornography is health hazard passed the House by an 82-8 margin with our Delegate Farrell voting for it. Now after sitting in the Senate Rules Committee for two weeks, it appears to have been quietly laid aside.

Too bad, having missed the House debate, it would have been entertaining watching the Senate discuss how wanking on the internet is a health hazard.

And with the Governor vetoing HB2264 which would have restricted federal funding for Planned Parenthood, things are getting interesting with my personal favorite SB1324 that states that no person shall be required to participate in the solemnization of any marriage (aka issue marriage licenses) if it violates their belief that it is the union of one man and one woman.

This bill passed the Senate by a narrow 21-19 margin, and after being “amended” in the House it passed by a 55-41 margin with Farrell voting for it. Since the Senate unanimously rejected it the following day, it will be interesting to see what “compromise” arises in conference.

Followed by SB1262 which states that any designated a sanctuary city shall be jointly and severally liable for any tortious injury committed by “immigrants” should they act to restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws. This bill squeaked by Senate 21-19, and after sitting two week in the House Courts and Justice Committee it appears to have been left on the table.

However, its companion bill HB2000 which stipulates that no locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws, passed the House along party lines, and after reconsideration, squeaked through the Senate by a 21-19 margin. This is definitely one bill the Governor should veto.

Jon Taylor

NextWrap up Part II

 

2017 General Assembly Wrap up Part II

Local Issues

Readers of the Central Virginian, may not aware that for the first time in recent memory they are covering bills in the General Assembly which directly affect the people of Louisa. This year, both of those bills were introduced by Delegate Farrell.

The first, HB1513 would have required all courts to make two-way electronic video and audio communication available in any pre-trial proceeding died in subcommittee by an unrecorded voice vote.

The second, HB1570 authorizes Louisa County to empower the local industrial development authority to acquire, own, operate, and regulate an airport. This bill passed the House and Senate by overwhelming margins, and is now awaiting the Governors signature.

Labor

For a party that claims to support job growth, the Republican’s have a funny way of showing it. With the House and the Senate passing HB1753 an anti-worker wage bill that would bar agencies from requiring state contractors to pay their employees a prevailing wage. This is a bill the Governor should veto.

Energy/Environmental

It’s been said that the General Assembly has “… become a screen behind which complex and costly issues unfold often unnoticed…”, and where “…The business of Virginia is business.” And when it comes to taking care of the business, nobody is more important than Dominion Power. So this would probably be a good time to point out that the son of Dominion’s CEO is our 56th district delegate Peter Farrell.

While his history of abstaining from voting on bills involving Dominion is well known. The fact that they still pass 97/98-x, hardly makes him a profile in ethics. And considering that he sits on the House Commerce and Labor committee, where 10 energy bills offered up by lesser Republicans and Democrats died his year.  His talk may be bigger than his walk.

Farrell also voted on two other energy bills which died along the way. And while Dominion wasn’t a direct beneficiary of HB1678 which allows hydro frackers to keep the amount and concentration of chemicals  used in gas wells from becoming public knowledge. Or HB1679 which compels the DMME to require disclosure of chemical ingredients, and the amount or concentration of chemicals or ingredients used in gas wells.

The fact that Dominion has invested heavily in, and will benefit immensely from the pipelines carrying the gas produced by these wells gives them plenty of incentive to see that the General Assembly does everything possible to ensure the “Halliburton Rule” remains in full effect in the Commonwealth.

Still, when it comes to passing on the true cost of things, nobody does it better than Dominion. Like SB1398 the coal ash bill which originally required that no permits would be issued before the assessments have been reviewed and evaluated by state official had that requirement removed, effectively allowing Dominion to do whatever they want with the ash.

Since the Governor already signed a number of heinous pro Dominion bills in the past, it remains to be seen if he signs this one.

Speaking of burying the ashes … I mean passing the buck, there are two companion bills SB1110 which would allow power companies running 138 KV lines to apply for a certificate to supersede local zoning ordinances, and HB1776 which grants the SCC the authority to issue certificates of public necessity to satisfy all local zoning ordinances. The former has already passed the Senate, and is waiting to be voted on by the full House.

While the latter, like all of the following bills are awaiting the Governors signature or veto.

With SB1473, the General Assembly has found a novel way to assist Dominion in saddling their customers with their costs. Here’s how it works;  should your community have less than one unplanned outage a year over the course of a decade, it is their opinion that it is “in the public’s interest” to move those faulty electrical lines underground, and presumes that Dominions ratepayers will be reasonably and prudently billed for this service.

Considering that Dominions rates are not “subject to review” for the foreseeable future, its sounds like a nice racket

Along with HB1671 which allows gas companies in the coalfield region to “recover” certain infrastructure costs from their customers through rate adjustment clauses and its identical companion SB1289 along with HB1760 which authorizes the rate adjustment clause to recover the costs of hydroelectricity generation and storage facilities in the coalfield region.

Here in our neck of the woods, HB2291 would authorize the rate adjustment clause to recover the costs of a system upgrades, equipment replacement, or other costs to extend the operating life of the North Anna, and Surry nuclear plants. Having worked at both facilities, I can certainly appreciate the value of upgrades and preventative maintenance.

However, both of these plants are over 40 years old, already past the theoretical limit of when they should be retired. However, the NRC has extended both plants operating licenses for another 20 years, allowing them to run these antiques at 120% capacity in times of peak demand.  Nor did the 2011 earthquake appear to have shaken their confidence in allowing North Anna to continue operating.

And finally, the General Assembly saved their crown jewel of massive resistance for last, blocking the EPA’s attempts to regulate carbon dioxide with HB1974, claiming only they can grant the DEQ approval to implement the EPA’s regulation of CO2 emissions from existing power plants.

This bill passed the House along party lines, and after initially failing to get through the Senate, an amended version was passed along party lines 21-19, with the House soundly rejecting the substitute the next day 99-0-1. With just a  few days left in this years session it should be interesting to see what kind of kompromat … I mean compromise the two chambers come up with.

Jon Taylor

Defending Veterans’ Care and Benefits

As a veteran, I write this letter to warn citizens about President Donald Trump’s recent government-wide hiring freeze and the serious effects it will have on the quality of care and benefits our nation’s veterans receive. Veterans in Louisa County and across Central Virginia rely on VA facilities and services to access critical support and help apply to federal jobs. Across the country delay of benefits was the cause for the death of many veterans.  Veterans’ care remains uncertain.

It is our obligations as this country promised to provide the care and resources due to our veterans for defending our country.  That’s why I ask every citizen in Louisa County to contract our United States Senators Tim Kaine (202) 224-4024 and Mark Warner (202) 224-2023, and our United States Congressmen Thomas Garrett (202) 225-4711 and David Brat (202) 22-2815, to express your deep concern for our nation’s veterans and urging the President to reconsider this ill-advised policy.

We owe a deep debt of gratitude to veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice, and as a veteran I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure our veterans receive the benefits they have earned, and you should too.

Melvin Burruss

Welcome to Trump’s World

During the campaign, candidate Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” until our country’s representatives “can figure out what is going on.”

President Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 27 imposing a total travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim countries—Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia—despite there not having been any lethal terrorist attacks in America from any of these countries.

Excluded from the ban were Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, and Egypt where, coincidentally, Trump has significant investments. Everyone knows the 19 real terrorists that planned and executed the 9/11 terrorist attacks came from these exact same four countries: This omission was one of the first examples of Trump’s many conflicts of interest showing up on a national security issue.

Several advisers and drafters, Rudy Giuliani among them, publicly said that the design behind the order was to play into the fear scenario by banning Muslims.

Because candidate Trump did not define the phrase “what is going on,” he left the answer to the imagination of his audience. Reiterated throughout the campaign, and stoked by the alt-right media despite the lack of any facts, examples or evidence, “what is going on” became part of the narrative that America was under a fearful siege.

The White House even recently released a list of “78 under-reported terror acts” to substantiate the need for fear and stated, falsely, that the “dishonest” media had ignored them. Would you like the real facts? You can see them here: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/07/full-list-of-trump-under-reported-terror-attacks-and-how-they-were-reported.

Banning travel from Iraq, the principal American ally in the fight against ISIS, was a strange touch, indicating what little knowledge the drafters had of broader Middle East issues.

To Iraq, it signaled that not only will America betray its word, but will treat as trash a long-time ally whose soldiers and people have worked and died side-by-side with ours, at America’s behest.

Banning travel from Iraq has created hostility between our two countries and we can expect less cooperation from the Iraqi government and more suspicion of American motives. The executive order threw the fate of Iraqi translators, soldiers, support personnel and their families into jeopardy. Never has America so shamefully abandoned its friends.

This harkens back to the Vietnamese, who learned in the aftermath of that war what happens to those who throw their hats in the ring with the Americans, only to have the Americans pull out and abandon them.

Trump also ordered the suspension of any refugee admissions for an initial period of 120 days. This blocked refugees from any country in the world no matter where they were located or from where they originated. Refugees are the most vetted of all travelers to the United States—I know because, as a career foreign service officer for 30 years, I was intimately involved in administering our refugee programs.

The drafters of the executive order display compete ignorance in believing that terrorists can don the refugee label and schedule travel to America at a moment’s notice. Refugees must first be registered and vetted by the United Nations, and then they enter an extended, meticulous and exhaustive U.S. vetting system that includes inputs from the entire intelligence community. Years later, the few successful refugees are assigned to churches or civic organizations in the United States that arrange travel, reception and sponsorship in their new communities. Refugees can’t just unilaterally decide to come to here.

General John Kelley admitted during his confirmation hearing for Secretary of Homeland Security that this sweeping executive order was amateurishly conceived and implemented. For example, a former Swedish prime minister was held for secondary interrogation merely because his passport showed that he had previously attended an international conference in Tehran. Green Card holders who had long ago been vetted and permanently admitted to the United States were suddenly stripped of that most precious status. What do we do with the new President of Somalia who has dual citizenship?

This is a classic tale of fear and inexperience damaging the reputation of the United States as a steady democracy, built on the rule of law, with an immigrant tradition envied by the whole world.

This executive order does not make America safer, nor was it carried out with the sophistication our friends and allies expect. This poorly conceived initiative, which has had such a negative impact on international relations, should have been reviewed by the proper Executive Branch agencies, then briefed to other countries in the world though our embassies, and implemented in a comprehensive and coherent way by our immigration officials. Instead, we got chaos, misunderstanding, conflicts with allies, perhaps 100,000 stranded and terrified travelers holding American entry visas, and court cases challenging the administration’s authority.

The constant in this fiasco is the appeal to fear—is this our new normal?

What else may this mean, impulsive, draconian, inexperienced, erratic and unpredictable new government inflict on its citizens and permanent residents?

We must rely, more than ever in our history, on the checks and balances created by the Founders in our Constitution with its separation of powers. The Judiciary Branch must continue its duty to contest unlawful acts by the Executive Branch, and we, as voters, must be vigilant in demanding that our elected representatives in the Legislative Branch do the same.

Dave Reuther

Editor’s Note: This has been re-posted with the author’s permission and originally appeared here.

Military raids deserve close attention

Military raids are high risk, high reward missions. We seldom hear about successful raids except for those that are high profile. We always hear about the failures.

The first raid I remember was Son Tay. That attempted rescue of POWs in North Vietnam happened in May 1970. They failed because the POWs were moved days before the raid. Bad luck or lack of current intelligence.

The next was Jimmy Carter’s gutsy call to rescue the Iranian hostages. That raid failed because of poor execution by Marine Corps helicopter pilots. Carter ordered the abort after three of the eight Marine helicopters failed due to maintenance and flight crew errors. After the abort, a Marine helicopter hovered into a C-130 killing five and exposing the mission. If the accident had not happened, we could have tried again another night. Carter took the hit for that but it was a military screw-up.

I would call what the 15 soldiers and airman who attacked Afghanistan days after 9/11 a raid. With guts and money, they hired the Northern Alliance and went on to defeat the Taliban and corner Al-Qaeda in Tora Bora. That could have gone on to be one of the most successful raids in history. It failed because we chose not to insert troops to destroy Al-Qaeda including Osama bin Laden. We let them go so we could get ready to invade Iraq. This failure was never investigated.

Barack Obama had a good record with raids. There was Captain Phillips who was rescued from Somali pirates by Navy Seals. Obama authorized that. In January 2012, Navy Seals rescued two aid workers in Somalia and wiped out the pirate gang. September 2016, the Israeli Embassy in Egypt was sacked. Israelis were in danger. Netanyahu called Obama and asked for help. American troops went to their rescue. In a statement Netanyahu said “I asked for help. He said ’I will do everything I can.’ And he did.”

And of course, there is the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. That’s a good record.

President Trump’s first raid had problems. We don’t yet know if it was a failure in planning, operation, or intelligence. This needs to be carefully examined. But when all is said and done, Trump said YES.

George DeSerres

Editor’s note: reprinted with author’s permission, and originally appeared here.

 

Can you hear me now?

A follow up to Dave Reuther’s earlier piece ….

Brat made his first public splash after attacking Eric Can’tor as a pretty boy mouthpiece & fundraiser for the party, more concerned with his donor’s needs than his constitutients during the 2014 Virginia Republican primary.  Now he is using the same tactics to misinform the public, and deny them any opportunity to ask questions.

As this video shows …

… he limits his public exposure to gatherings of the like minded, the seclusion of invitation only fundraisers where his brand of tent revival homilies for the masses is enthusiastically welcomed, just rinse lather, and repeat.

Despite holding a recent Facebook Town Hall,  there won’t be another “live” one until after the clock has run out. What follows will be filled with lies and deflections, starting with claims of “paid agitators.”

Don’t take the bait, call out those lies, keep re-framing the conversation into what an ineffectual leader Brat is. Point out how he deflects criticism, panders with social distractions, and his tacit approval of the Drumpf’s many signing statements.

Some appropriate responses to how smugly he’s expecting his constitutients to overlook those deeds are:

Can you hear us now, Dave?

“And when’s the next Town Hall?”

Jon Taylor

Virginia Republican Joins Concern About Hearing Loss, Yah Sure

Congressman Brat (7th District VA), always willing to address issues of public health, has joined with other Republicans to fight rampant hearing loss among firearms owners.  Fox News reported this week that Congressional Republicans are poised to change federal guns regulations to make buying a silencer easier.

The Hearing Protection Act, H.R. 3799, re-introduced earlier this week in the GOP-controlled House would still require a background check to buy a silencer. But, buyers would no longer have to pay a $200 fee or wait for months after filing extensive paperwork with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Brat cosponsored the bill just before the recent elections to assure the support of his NRA base.  In addition to enhancing the revenue of the manufacturers, it would waste hundreds of thousands of dollars of police equipment purchased in major urban centers to identify the location of gunshots. Like the ShotSpotter system in Washington, DC, and similar systems in a number of other American cities.

And when coupled with voting to allow disability recipients with mental disorders to buy guns, one has to ask how putting guns in the hands of the legally incapable, along with promoting the use of silencers remotely in the public interest?

In a morbidly curious way, it does make you wonder how future attacks will play out when the police aren’t able to triangulate on gun fire and readily corner the perpetrator(s).

Does Congressman Brat deserve a high five for allowing the mentally incompetent to buy guns, or for attacking the epidemic of hearing loss among gun owners?

Congressman Brat who is noted for refusing to appear in public, hold town halls, or debate his opponents may be the one suffering from hearing loss.

 

Dave Reuther

 

Bring Them In

On Friday, January 27, 2016, President Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending refugee admissions for 10 days and indefinitely barring the processing of refugees from Syria.  It also seeks to limit immigration both on a religious and ethnicity basis.

This is not who we are, and for residents of Louisa County, it is not who we will be. Our nation, as evidenced through the immigrant background of so many of our families, is built upon the principles of tolerance and understanding.  Denying entry based on where a group of people are from or what they believe defies what our founding fathers fought for.

It is a policy we as a nation took during the buildup to World War II which led to deaths of thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in their homeland.  It is a policy that can hinder our troops fighting abroad today who rely on intelligence provided from foreign nationals who stand to be denied entry based on this order.

We once stood as a beacon of hope and light for all who were forced to leave their homeland out of fear.  It is time for us to stand up and fly that flag proudly once again.  We also encourage and support Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring effort to obtain information on any detentions in Virginia resulting from the President’s executive order.

Melvin Burruss