Why this year’s election is important

Over the past few weeks, people have been receiving multiple fliers in their mailboxes, and it’s virtually impossible to drive anywhere in the county without seeing any election signs. Nor is it any coincidence that they are all for Republican candidates.

And it is another indication of the huge disparity in financial and logistical support between the two parties at the state level.  And why this year’s election will be one of the most important elections in your lifetime

Republicans are currently one seat short of a veto proof super majority in the House, and 5-6 seats short in the Senate. Should they get a super majority in the House, or even retake the Governor’s mansion this year; this will be the kind of legislation Virginia’s General Assembly passes in the years to come.

And with 87 House of Delegate seats being contested this year, versus the usual 15 to 20, it remains to be seen if the Koch Brothers sponsored American’s For Prosperity disinformation campaign has enough money or resources to ensure their continued dominance of the General Assembly.

You may have also noticed several letters in the CV supporting various candidates; personal “endorsements” which offer little reason to support any of the candidates. And if you look closely at the candidates Facebook pages, you will see that only two candidates bothered to lay out their policy positions.

Unsurprisingly, other than claiming they will somehow “protect” the 2nd amendment, the innocent, and eliminate regulations and taxes, they have almost nothing to say.

This is not an oversight; they are emulating Eric Cantor’s … I mean Dave Brat’s approach to public relations. Convinced that by attending only “events” filled with the like minded, they will be able to use their talking point to raise money … I mean protect themselves from any “inappropriate” feedback, while avoiding talking about any real issues.

Actions which allow them to hide in plain sight the fact that their Party hasn’t had any relevant ideas in over forty years, and that since the 80’s their “solution” has always been to double down on those failed policies.

Up until this year, Republicans in the 56th District have been able to get away with ignoring their constituency knowing full well that in the absence of any meaningful “opposition,” the only thing they  had to do to get elected was to have their name on the ballot.

And for nearly two decades, it allowed one rubber stamp Republican after another to be elected, starting with Bill Janis who was never seen or heard from, except at election time. To his replacement, the slick Peter Farrell, who was literally “appointed” to his first term in office by a Republican gang of four.

And whose notion of being responsive to his constituents concerns consisted of “legislative updates” that pretended to inform them, but were in fact, designed to put a positive “spin” on his Party’s  punitive actions and hypocritical agendas.  

And so far, only one Republican candidate has demonstrated the courage to appear at a well publicized event (Louisa Community Extravaganza) that wasn’t one of their usual echo chambers.

Meanwhile both Democratic candidates, Melissa Dart and Lizzie Drucker have attended several well publicized meetings in Louisa, including the Community Extravaganza, and plan on attending larger events like the upcoming Louisa’s June 10th Street Fair.

So if you really want to learn more about the candidates, take a closer look at their positions, and watch how they interact with the public between now and the June 13th primary.

Jon Taylor

 

Response to Brat’s claims he’s being “attacked” at his Town Halls

Dave

This letter is in response to your email I received today which stated in its subject line:

These relentless attacks caused hundreds of angry people to show up at my town hall meeting last week.”

Sorry to say, you are a lame duck. What brought you into Congress was a lie in search of a rubber stamp. Sorry, because those who selected you and propped you up have done so in the name of preserving a methodology that takes power by deceit, supports the power through illicit gains, and propagates a self-serving legacy of domination by the international and globalized elite (not you, the billionaires, the 1% of the 1%).

As an Independent (and CCW for 42 years), I will help vote you out. You say you are a Christian and a smart guy. Well, you need to shake the wrinkles out of that long unused fabric and make an effort to regain some trust, if only for yourself and your family. The GOP of which you are a part, and for which I voted for in 4 Presidential elections, is deflating under, of all things, collusion with Russia, money laundering, and Treason. A man or woman with an ounce of integrity would rise above this ongoing corruption and lies, and take a stand in the name of all that is good in the world: past, present, and future. Americans come in all colors, from many countries, have varying intellects, and at times, make a real mess of things. But Americans always fight back against oppression and tyranny; for the constitution, and the rule of law. That is our history.

Your choices as a congressman illuminate a philosophy of “go along to get along”. You knew at some time, that you were compromising yourself. You knew it. Down deep, you know you have let yourself down. Your constituents, whom you swore to represent during your term in office, have been superfluous to your thoughts, prayers, and actions evident by the way you have lead and conducted yourself. Pandering to a base that depends on you for leadership and actual facts that you, in turn, withhold, only complicates real progress and solutions.

In your email, you express rage at those who are upset at the job you are doing. Aren’t they just trying to hold you accountable, something for which I believe you signed up? Do you think that public scrutiny in an elected office is wholly unjustified, unfair, and displays extreme partisan politics? (possibly a conspiracy theory by evil left wingers running rampant against the GOP white hats?) I believe that when people, justifiably or not, raise their voices, it is usually in response to a pattern of not being heard, being ignored, and being condescended to on the part of the speaker re: issues which they feel they have no control over. Communication 101. You have avoided communication because it is hard when people either don’t understand, or do understand but are not impressed with your feeble attempts in an amateurish obfuscation of facts (not alt). Your choice in the timing and locations of your Town Halls is also telling. BS is still BS.

Dave, this is very simple. You are on the wrong side. I’m not talking about politics, I’m talking about what you profess to believe in when you say you are a Christian, etc. That Democrats have plenty of problems is not the issue. What has been going on for years now has segued into the biggest scandal and criminal conspiracy revelations that the world has ever seen. Even a general awareness should have given you severe pause many times along the way. Even if you decry the MSM as fake news and derive your news from other sources, you are smart enough (you say you are) to know what is really going on, and how badly this might upset your applecart.

Clearly, you have and do support Donald Trump, a businessman who has been mobbed up since he was helping his father in his real estate business back in the 1980s. Public records in every iteration depict a pattern of deceit and making money on the backs of others. 3,500+ lawsuits against him? I won’t bore you with Trump’s lack of principals, character flaws, or mental stability, but I’m fairly certain that Jesus would not have been a Trump fan, and would not have been quiet in pointing this out and remedying.

There will be charges of High Treason and espionage resulting from counterintelligence investigations that will bring about convictions leading to the death penalty. That is a serious reality. Multi-faceted money laundering schemes involving the U.S and Russian mob, illegal data laundering, illegal contributions to GOP superPACs from foreign and sanctioned countries that flowed right back into the Trump campaign,  voter machine tabulation hacking, and voter mail fraud operations. Add obstruction of justice, RICO charges for Trump et al and for the GOP, and criminal pursuit of prominent billionaires.

How bad does it need to get? When this is over, I would not be surprised if the amount of prosecutions exceeded 100+, including some from the GOP, the White House, and Congress. The facts (not alt) now unfolding will continue to paint Trump and the GOP with a wide swath of conspiratorial criminality. The saddest thing is, every action, every crime, was a decision in which they alone own. The incompetence was prolific. The arrogance moved with impunity. Money. Power. Greed.

Your email is a cry for help. Help me, these crazy people are just plain not nice and are not going along blindly into the abattoir while we steal them blind and take all that is precious to them and theirs. I say this to you in all seriousness. If redemption is important to you, you should consider muting seditious talk of circling the wagons around Trump and defending what you think you won fair and square with a twang to the 2nd Amendment aka: defend your rights with guns. That would result in American bloodshed, and you would additionally add to your guilt, and all that for which you will be held responsible. Everything that you claim your party won, was, in fact (not alt), stolen.

I encourage you to make a plan to do what is right. I’m challenging you to find your integrity and to look to who you will be when the dust settles. The excuses you and others have made involving the end justifying the means will result in unhappy endings on a sliding scale. That is an absolute inevitability. Make the decision to put our country and the rule of law above whatever you think your party is demanding of you. That doesn’t make you a Democrat or a party traitor. It is the right thing to do, and will make a difference: to you, your family, and to all of those constituents you swore to represent under the constitution when you took your oath. That will make you an American of equal worth under the law.

You are a lame duck. So why not be an honorable lame duck.

Rennie Coleman

Editor’s Note: this blog has been reposted with the author’s permission, and originally appeared here.

Trump and Brat – two peas in a pod

Dave Brat has nailed himself to the Trump cross. Or, perhaps he’s just tied himself on, like a lesser thief. Despite his identification with the ultra-right Freedom Caucus, Brat has cozied up to Trump more and more in recent weeks.

During his May 9 town hall, he was asked if he would support a congressional investigation of Trump’s Russian ties. His response left everyone puzzled. He said he saw no need for an investigation, but if people in the audience brought him evidence of Trump’s collusion with the Russians, he would pass it on. Such a response struck everyone as odd because Congress has carried out long and expensive investigations of the Benghazi incident, Hillary’s emails, Iran Contra and the Clinton impeachment, among many others.

These partisan-motivated hearings dragged on and on without coming to any negative conclusion. After seven Benghazi investigations, the idea that that the House only responded to public pressure, and was disinterested in an investigation of Trump’s Russian ties seriously undercuts Brat’s assertion that this is an administration of laws, not men.

Brat’s assertion, however, coincides with the views of the administration that the FBI’s investigation of its ties to Russia is “probably one of the smallest things that they’ve got going on their plate.” Really, Dave, you expect the public to do your work for you?

Handing over Israeli intelligence to Russian visitors in the White House, an event barred to the American press, doesn’t provide much support for Brat’s assertion that this administration is one of laws. Despite White House protests, the American president cannot just declassify intelligence from another county on a whim. Not only is that a violation of the originator’s sovereignty, but it undermines other governments’ confidence in American leadership.

Most recently, Trump fired the head of the FBI which was investigating the Trump transition team’s connection with the Russians. This connection has already cost General Michael Flynn his appointment in the new administration, so there is obviously something there. Brat gave an interview, carried in this paper on May 12, in which he said that the Comey firing demonstrated that America was governed by the rule of law.

Except…Trump destroyed his own credibility by his later interview with Lester Holt stating he decided to fire FBI Director James Comey before the deputy attorney general’s recommendation landed on his desk.

Trump claimed in another interview that he fired Comey because he was “grandstanding” and “showboating.” Yet Brat is quoted as saying Trump was defending the rule of law. Trump claimed that low morale at the FBI also encouraged him to fire Comey.

The acting director of the FBI testified before Congress that morale at the FBI was just fine, thank you very much. None of this supports Brat’s assertion that Trump is faithfully following the rule of law.

Before Trump dismissed Comey, claiming that he had been obliged to act because of the way Comey handled an investigation into Hillary Clinton, he had previously fired Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Yates and Bharara were conducting investigations of the administration’s ties to Russia. Brat continues to insist that Trump is a reasonable fellow.

During the last election, with the polls running against Brat, then-candidate Mike Pence was photographed bringing pizza to Brat’s staff. For all his Tea Party Freedom Caucus rhetoric and Calvinist theology, Brat probably understands that he is not now very securely popular. Perhaps that realization, and the Trump’s threat to run an opposition candidate in the primaries against those that cross him, has caused Brat to join his cause with Trump’s.

Brat must calculate carefully. Midterm elections are coming and Trump’s approval ratings continue to fall. Speculation has begun that the GOP’s current House majority may be in jeopardy. At the 100-day mark, Trump’s approval rating is lower than any past president since polling began. Even this White House knows that most presidents who have governed in the modern era have seen their approval ratings slide between the 100-day mark and the subsequent midterm elections. So there is more slippage to come—you can count on it.

Trump’s legislative agenda is also in peril as House Republicans have done little to demonstrate that they are ready and able to be a successful governing party. At his Midlothian town hall, Brat kept asserting that the Republican “repeal and replace” so-called health care bill protected preexisting conditions. But he and the audience knew the bill allows the states to get a waiver from such a circumstance, thus putting millions in jeopardy. It’s a dishonest bill that will throw millions off their insurance. Brat ought to be ashamed of himself for supporting it.

Brat’s close association with the Trump may be costlier than he thinks. If the Republicans stop protecting the current occupant of the White House over his close ties with Russia, his exposure of Israeli intelligence and his continuing mindless ranting, and Trump subsequently goes down, he may carry Brat and other hardliners down with him. Then, maybe, this country can start pulling itself back together. We must work hard to do that, merely hoping it will happen will not do the job. Resist, insist, persist, enlist.

Mike McClary

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

 

 

Louisa County needs to update to new living models

In reading the article “Couple homeless on the land they own” in the May 11 edition of The Central Virginian, I was struck with the absurdity of Mr. Gobie and Ms. Archer’s predicament.

My first concern was how were they going to comply with the county’s regulation when his means of income are limited because he can’t work in his garage because of the permit necessary stating he had to have a “proper” home to live in.

It would appear to me that his camper should be considered as his “proper” home until such a time he can resume his occupation and have income to proceed with improvements. It just seems mean-spirited to harass this couple that is doing their best to survive on their own land. To pay for staying at Small Country Campground is $158 per week without any hookups. How can they afford this?

My insurance company made me take out a separate policy on our camper, treating it like a second home. I could no longer just add it to our bundled policy covering home and auto as I had done in previous years. So, the definition of a camper has been changed. I also pay the county personal property taxes on my camper.

My second concern is that since the nation is turning toward the “Tiny Homes” movement, which incorporates these as permanent homes on wheels that can be moved as wanted, what will Louisa County consider in this situation? I saw a “tiny house” listed in the newspaper for $30,000 last week in Culpeper. It is on wheels. Come on Louisa. You need to change the law. We have to be flexible for the upcoming movement.

Lewalta Haney

Editor’s note: this first appeared in the May 18th edition of the Central Virginian, and is re-posted with the author’s permission, and is only available via hard copy or online to paying subscribers

Dave Brat’s Horrible, Terrible No Good Problem with the First Amendment

Question: When is a Congressman’s “Town Hall” not really a Town Hall?

Answer: When it is held in a house of worship on private property.

Freedom Caucus Member Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA-7) hosted his second Town Hall of 2017 on May 9, 2017 at the Clover Hill Assembly of God in Chesterfield County, Virginia, the home church of his co-host for the event, state Senator Amanda Chase. Well known to the national and international media for his January 2017 remarks, “the WOMEN are in my grill…to hold a Town Hall”, Brat’s only previous Town Hall in 2017 was held in a tiny restaurant in Blackstone, VA, a remote rural area of his district at which signs and posters were forbidden and questions had to be submitted on note cards, provided at the event, to a moderator who then selected which ones Brat would be asked.

Brat followed up with two “pop up” town hall meetings: one at a small tire shop and the other at another small restaurant- “pop up” because he only gave 24 hours’ notice of the events and held them on weekdays in the middle of the week at times when most of his constituents would be at work.

Following the Blackstone event, the Virginia ACLU notified Brat in writing that forbidding signs and posters at his Town Hall events was a violation of his constituents’ Constitutional rights to free speech.

Immediately following the House of Representatives’ narrow passage of the AHCA bill on May 4, 2017, Brat announced by email that a Town Hall for his district which would be held during the ten-day House recess. The email laid out the rules:

1.) admission would be by ticket only. A limited number of free tickets would be available online. No person without a ticket would be permitted inside the Town Hall. The Town Hall would start at 7 PM with ticket holders admitted beginning at 6:30 PM. A wait list was available for those unable to confirm a ticket. Wait list individuals would be admitted at 6:55 PM if space was available.

2.) “In order to facilitate a meeting where everyone can have an unobstructed view, and where we do not leave litter behind in the facility; no signs, placards, banners, or flyers will be permitted in the meeting.”

No information was given as to the total number of tickets available, the number allocated in advance to Brat supporters, or the number allocated to Sen. Chase and her supporters.

Tickets were seized quickly once announced. Those trying to obtain one after 30 minutes, were told the event was sold out and they could sign up for the wait list. On the afternoon of the event, however, a second Brat email went out which said,” All tickets available for the event are accounted for at this time. We do not anticipate granting entrance to anyone who is not holding a ticket that is in their name (we will be checking photo ID at the door). And because it is private property and on-site parking is limited, no one will be admitted to the parking lot without a ticket.” The Virginia ACLU was notified and promptly sent another letter to Brat sternly reminding him that prohibiting signs, posters and banners at his public Town Hall event would be considered a First Amendment violation.

With two public schools available across the street and dozens more in his district, the decision to hold the event in a private property church was a strategic one on Brat’s part.

It allowed him to skirt the Virginia ACLU’s earlier warnings about free speech infringement. As private property owners, the church leadership would be free to set the rules regarding admission, denying admission and presence of signs, banners, flyers and posters on their property. Additionally, the church owners could, and did, have armed Chesterfield County police posted at the driveway entrance checking for tickets, at the church doors, and inside the church turning aside anyone with a sign, poster or banner, forcing them to go to a sidewalk across the country road.

Ticket holders lined up at the church doors beginning at 5:45 PM and were individually checked to make sure their photo ID exactly matched the name on the ticket. No wait-listed individuals were admitted at 6:55PM. Instead these individuals were denied entrance and ordered to exit church grounds. The church doors were then closed and guarded by armed Chesterfield County police. Inside the church, estimates of the crowd were 400-500 people, but live streaming video showed rows and rows of empty seats even 20 minutes after the meeting had begun.

Hearing of the empty seats from their friends inside, some people from across the road approached the church doors asking to be admitted since seating was available. Police officers politely but firmly said no and escorted them back across the road.

Reporters from most local, national and international media covered the event. These journalists, whose first mission is to investigate and inform the public, duly noted the crowd size and tone. Click bait adjectives “rowdy”, “raucous”, “unruly”, “booing”, “jeering”, “interrupting” were widely used, Although the press is currently under attack by this administration and a journalist in West Virginia was arrested that same afternoon for asking a question of HHS Tom Price, the First Amendment, did not seem to be on any of the reporter’s radar.

No one from the media commented on the implications of holding a meeting as a civic voice for constituents in a house of worship, Christian worship at that, given that other venues were readily available.

The crowd of people across the street, numbering over 100 individuals, staged a Die In. One outraged would-be-participant made a video of the group of people gathered there, expressing their frustrations and clearly stating the First Amendment violations that were being perpetuated by Brat and Chase and being ignored by the media.

Citizens Blocked from Rep. Brat's Town Hall

On May 9, 2017 Rep. Dave Brat strategically hosted a "public" town hall on private property and enlisted Chesterfield Police Department in blocking constituents from filling empty seats at the event. Brought to you by VA 7th District Concerned Citizens.

Posted by VA 7th District Concerned Citizens on Wednesday, May 10, 2017

When the Town Hall began with a Christian prayer offered by the church pastor, members of the audience held up red pieces of paper to show their disapproval of this. Throughout the 90- minute meeting, which dealt primarily with attendees’ objections to the recently passed healthcare bill, Sen. Chase repeatedly scolded the crowd for their boisterousness, at one point standing up and shouting, “This is MY Town Hall now…so sit down.” and threatened to remove noisy people from the building. She ordered the armed police officers to the center aisle to implement this. The police didn’t remove anyone.

Brat reminded the crowd, as he does multiple times in every meeting, that he is an economist and that he went to seminary. (Brat’s economic theory is based on his Calvinist beliefs.) He returned to his favorite themes of  the Judeo-Christian foundations of our country and health care as a predictable free market commodity. When a questioner said that health care is a human right, Brat countered the question with, “.”I don’t think y’all want the separation of church and state (…) In the west rights come from God”.

In a press interview immediately following the event, Brat was asked how excited he was about the bill, he replied, “I’m a Calvinist,” he said. “I’m the frozen chosen. I’m an economist. So, it’s like—excitement? Whatever.” He also added, “I don’t think people get that excited on policy in general,”

Chase added that it is the responsibility of the church, not the government to protect the poor, needy and vulnerable. “If a person needs help they should join a church.”

Rep. Dave Brat and Virginia State Senator Amanda Chase

Historically, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (both of whom Brat quotes frequently when it suits his purpose) disagreed on several issues in their writings, but on one thing they were both clear: separation of church from government is essential and must be preserved. Madison wrote:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

They were so committed to this belief that they enshrined it as the First Amendment to the newly-written Constitution of the fledgling nation. All other rights which they listed in the following nine Amendments known as the Bill of Rights, come secondary to these First Amendment rights.

Choosing a church as venue for the Town Hall was a calculated move by Dave Brat to infringe upon the First Amendment rights of those who wished to attend.

It was the critical first decision from which all other decisions for the event could legally follow, like toppling dominos. Because of that first choice by Brat, the subsequent decisions by the church leaders could not be disputed. Hence, as private property owners, the church leaders were within their rights to restrict attendance and deny wait-listed individuals from entry to a public Town Hall event. They were also within their rights to prohibit signs, banners, flyers and posters on their property and require that the audience submit questions on note cards instead of verbally to Brat.

Why would a Congressman host a Town Hall meeting in a church when multiple other public venues were available? Was his intention really to listen to his constituents’ concerns as their elected representative and to respond to them? What happened that night, and in the emails from Brat’s office leading up to it, was a clear and intentional assault upon the principle of separation of church and state on which our country is founded and the accompanying First Amendment rights to Free Speech and Free Assembly.

Dave Brat imposed his personal Christian beliefs on his constituents and allowed that belief system to control and exclude them, hoping no one would notice or call him on it.

In the current administration, we have become increasingly dependent on a free press to provide accurate information and analysis of a rapidly changing and fearfully-confusing time for our nation. It’s not uncommon for politicians to give talks to church congregations. In some Congressional districts, Town Halls are held in churches because the church is the largest space for public gathering, but that’s not the case in Brat’s district and certainly not in Chesterfield County. The fact then that no one in the media recognized this as a violation and sounded an alarm is especially worrisome. Perhaps if the co-host had been a non-Christian and had held the event in a non-Christian house of worship and had begun it with a non-Christian prayer, the flagrant violation would have been more apparent and noted.

Brat has greased a slippery slope. His deliberate decision to use a house of worship instead of a nondenominational venue for a civic event is not an inconsequential occurrence but rather a skillful ploy to “manage” his constituents into a situation that is less threatening to himself, but very threatening to their constitutional rights. It is an act of insidious guerrilla warfare on our most important constitutional rights. Failure to respond to his actions with strenuous public and media objections will “normalize” this abnormal, unacceptable and unconstitutional action and set precedent for further encroachment. If we don’t seize this opportunity to make our voices heard loudly, clearly and to multiple audiences, this experience will not be the last time Dave Brat or other elected officials employ this method to control and exclude their constituents

Maggie Dolan

Editors Note: this article has been reprinted with the author’s permission and originally appeared online here and here.

Dave братъ is the Wurst

Apparently Congressman Brat was busy limiting his public interactions even before voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. An avoidance tactic he intends to double down on with his May 9th Town Hall in Midlothian, starting with restricting the number of tickets for seats in an effort to pack the house with Republican faithful.  

And when coupled with his self serving “announcement” that because of concerns about “leaving litter behind” that no signs, placards, banners, or flyers would be permitted, it’s clear he’s trying to avoid the bad optics of any negative public reaction.

Having attended his 2016 Clown Hall in Louisa, I can say that it will be a predictable affair; starting with a lengthy biography.

And eventually he will get around to telling everyone that only draconian actions will save us from insolvency, accompanied by a litany of bogus statistics, it will be the first of many lies he tells that evening.

Unlike his previous public meetings, he will not simply ignore the audience; he will use those lies to bait for anyone foolish enough to challenge his authority. A tactic which allows him to avoid answering any questions, manipulating his ultra-conservative audience’s sense of dismay over these “questions” — in their “sanctuary” — to steer any conversation back into a reassuring patter designed to mislead constitutients and the faithful alike.  

And it’s an echo chamber effect we’ve seen before, where the local Republican representatives gather to share and reinforce their lies. And thus far, the only question with Senator Chase is what role she will play in this farce.

While Brat’s primary goal is to minimize any negative publicity, he will attempt to dismiss any controversy over his deed or remarks as the work of “paid” activists.  Convinced these transparent lies will help persuade an incurious media that their video clips are the real story. 

Or perhaps he’s counting on local papers to simply ignore that this meeting ever took place, just as the Central Virginian did when they failed to cover any of Louisa’s three Town Halls.

The reason why he exerts such control over his meetings is to hide his limitations as a public speaker in plain sight. It’s no secret he conceals his compulsive tics and mannerisms by limiting his movements, or that he’s a painfully awkward and uninteresting public speaker. He is first and foremost a professional liar, a charlatan with a lifetime of experience delivering canned speeches to captive audiences.

And even though he’s just a well trained delivery boy, he’s no pushover. So don’t expect him to be easily derailed, or flustered by questions. The way he rolls with the punches is to use “humor” to deflect any line of questioning in as contemptuously and dismissive a manner as humanly possible.

And if you are still determined to learn more about his incompetence, take a look at how  he functions outside of tightly controlled environments. Like this recent radio show, where in a freewheeling format his disjointed word salad sounds more like a Valley Girl suffering from Tourette’s syndrome than a Congressman.

Now ask yourself if this is Virginia’s Most Useless Congressman, or someone who will really represent you?   

Jon Taylor

Editor’s note: A version of this letter appeared in the May 11th edition of the Central Virginian, and is only available via hard copy or online to paying subscribers.

Getting to know Ben Hixon, candidate for delegate

Citizens in Culpeper, Orange and Madison counties have selected Ben Hixon as the nominee in the House of Delegates 30th District to run against incumbent Nick Freitas, who ran unopposed in 2015. The 2017 elections are critically important to getting the Commonwealth of Virginia back on an even keel, as well as being an early referendum on the egregious policies and practices of the current occupants of Congress and the White House.

As ably reported in the Star-Exponent last week, Ben Hixon is a native of Louisiana where he grew up in an atmosphere not unlike the one many Virginians have also experienced. Ben’s forebears were from South Carolina during the American Revolution so he is no stranger to southern ways. He recently moved here from Seattle where he was pursuing graduate studies in computer science. Ben’s mom is an English professor at Middle Tennessee State. His dad is a musician. His brother, who joined the 101st Airborne after 9/11 and fought in Iraq, then went into military intelligence, now lives in Georgia. His first cousins are both ministers, one a Baptist minister down in Mississippi and the other a Methodist minister back in Louisiana.

It is time to take back the House of Delegates. If not for the Governor’s vetoes, the Virginia General Assembly would have set back freedom and liberty in Virginia for decades. Ben Hixon will be one of the leaders in this fight to transform politics as usual. He believes in the Party of Freedom, in contrast to the Party of Trump.

Ben supports personal and economic liberty as well as the strong social safety nets that keep us safe and free. He will cut regressive taxes like the car tax and grocery tax, eliminate barriers for starting new businesses such as excessive occupational licensing, and cut back the regulations that exacerbate crony capitalism.

Ben believes equally in freedom of speech, press, religion and self-defense. But freedom also means the ability to live our lives. Healthcare and an affordable education aren’t just concepts—they are fundamental freedoms that must be guaranteed to every Virginian.

As Ben puts it, “how can we be free to live our lives if we’re not safe from disease and terror? If we don’t have an education? If we don’t have clean water to drink and clean air to breathe?” If elected, Ben will fight for the freedom of everyone in Culpeper, Madison and Orange, and for every Virginian, starting with gerrymandering reform, unencumbered rights to vote and the expansion of Medicaid to the 400,000 uninsured Virginians who desperately need it.

Ben knows that the role and obligation of government is to protect our freedoms. “I’m for freedom of speech, press and religion. I will defend gun rights and homeschooling. Affordable healthcare is a fundamental human freedom, as are education, military protection, voting rights and a healthy environment. I’m for economic liberty, strong private labor unions and the freedom to collectively bargain. Regulations kill jobs and are a last resort to prevent demonstrable harm and fraud. The best way to grow the economy is deregulation coupled with overwhelmingly strong safety nets.

This will not be an easy battle.

Ben Hixon faces a formidable opponent whose war chest is rich indeed. Freitas’s fellows in the House of Delegates, especially those also facing challengers, will close ranks behind him. We can expect further efforts to gerrymander our districts, disenfranchise and discourage voters and deny basic freedoms to every man, woman and child in Virginia.

This past Thursday, the United States House of Representatives, including our very own Congressmen, Dave Brat and Tom Garrett, voted to take health insurance away from tens of millions of Americans. They voted to bankrupt millions more with bogus provisions designed to enrich health insurance companies at the expense of those with pre-existing conditions. They voted to deny Medicaid expansion to the poorest of Americans who so desperately need basic healthcare.

As Paul Waldman so aptly stated In the Washington Post, “I won’t mince words. The health-care bill that the House of Representatives passed this afternoon, in an incredibly narrow 217-to-213 vote, is not just wrong, or misguided, or problematic or foolish. It is an abomination. If there has been a piece of legislation in our lifetimes that boiled over with as much malice and indifference to human suffering, I can’t recall what it might have been. And every member of the House who voted for it must be held accountable.”

The only way to reverse these shenanigans that are being perpetrated by the irresponsible scalawags (an honorable, old American political term) in the Congress, is to restore government of the people, for the people and by the people. This means starting with Virginia’s own House of Delegates—starting with electing Ben Hixon to replace Nick Freitas. Then, we can move on to take back the House of Representatives from reprobates like our Congressmen, Dave Brat and Tom Garrett, in 2018.

Find out more about Ben on his Facebook page and on his website, www.benhixon.com. You will find an outstanding discussion of his views on the issues important to all of us. Ben Hixon is a candidate I can back. I hope you all can, too. Resist, insist, persist, enlist.

Mike McClary

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

 

 

DAVE BRAT CLEARED OF ALLEGATIONS

Recent allegations that Dave Brat represents the citizens of the 7th District of Virginia have been dismissed after it was confirmed that a meeting with some of his constituents was cancelled by his office at the last moment. It took several weeks of painful effort by these constituents to finally get a meeting scheduled only to be discarded by the incompetence of his office. The sequence of events was as follows.

A number of constituents from the 7th District wanted to meet with Brat to ask questions about policies and to express concerns about the status of programs. After considerable stonewalling, Brat’s office required that questions be submitted in advance before a meeting would be scheduled. Supposedly, this was to have sufficient time to prepare answers. Because of the unresponsiveness displayed by Brat at the February Town Hall Meeting in Blackstone, the written questions had sufficient detail for him to prepare an intelligent and informed response, which the people of the 7th District deserve. A date was finally set for the meeting, but not a time. It wasn’t until the day before the meeting that a time was set. Then, on the day of the meeting, two hours before the meeting, Brat’s office called to cancel the meeting. This was a completely disrespectful act to those who pay his salary and get nothing in return, but this appears to be typical of how he mistreats his constituents.

There are no expectations that he has the courtesy, or the courage either, to reschedule another meeting or to respond in any manner to the questions he requested and ignored. The last response from his office about rescheduling a meeting was that it couldn’t be determined because of uncertainty. The best guess right now for a meeting is never; that way he won’t have to face concerned citizens with his lack of understanding and empathy. His lack of responsibility and accountability to his constituents is worth having bright sunlight shining on it.

He’s obviously trying to avoid having to answer legitimate and serious questions about his untenable positions on various topics. Most likely, he’s trying to save himself from embarrassment because he just doesn’t know the answers, or he knows that he only has the wrong answers. This behavior follows and mimics his dismal performance at the Town Hall Meeting last February in Blackstone. His priorities and responses are better tuned to contributors instead of constituents.

So what does it take to ensure a meeting with Brat; prepare a large donation check instead of questions and answers? Would large checks from his contributors improve the chances of gaining higher priority for a meeting, instead of simple concerns from his constituents? The chances increase; besides, those “contributions” work better to diminish the anxieties of financial expectations of a Representative and motivate his responses, which would be proportional to the size of the contributor’s check. With that extra “pocket change” to supplement whatever campaign he’s really running, he may very likely share the same disdain and unresponsiveness to his constituents as Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) from the Oklahoma 2nd District. His position is that the taxpayers don’t pay him; a cohort of Dave Brat with similar thoughts. And such is the nature of our “Representative” of the 7th District, Dave Brat.

In light of his inaction because of his intense fear and loathing of his constituents by continually avoiding facing them, he is hereby absolved of any further responsibility to further represent the good people of the 7th District. Dave Brat can go home now. All the constituents, voters, and taxpayers of the 7th District have the power – and should exercise it – to remove him from the office he barely occupies and deny him the salary he hasn’t earned. They need to replace him with someone who has the courage to face the problems borne by the people – those same problems he helped to create and refuses to correct.

Go Brat. (Interpret that as “Just Go Away Brat.”)

Joe Mikolajczak

 

Budgetary Smoke and the Long Con

With media outlets determined to interpret and spin Congresses recent actions, it should be interesting to see what they have to say about the one week budget extension, along with the Republicans’ inability to pass any significant legislature.

Will they ignore that this temporary spending measure passed only because House Democrats voted to keep the government from shutting down? Will they gloss over how Mitch McConnell insisted on a voice vote, lest any Senator be recorded? 

These kind of craven deeds are typical of right-wing theocrats utterly convinced of their place in the elite, and totally committed to the notion of massive tax cuts and windfalls for the wealthy. Believing their misdeeds can be hidden in plain sight.

Who despite having six plus years to come up with a replacement plan for the ACA came to the table with nothing. So it wasn’t surprising to see Speaker Ryan fail for the second time in three weeks to bring Zombiecare 2.0 up for a vote.  And when such missteps are combined with his inability to pass a budget resolution, it’s yet another reminder of their inability to govern responsibly.

Circumstances which remind me of the villain’s remark in James Bond movie Goldfinger; “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it’s enemy action.” And how will their failures to exploit majorities in both chambers play on the Drumpf’s compulsive need to be seen as a winner — as someone who “gets things done.”

An illusion he goes to great lengths to maintain; starting with his many signing statements, half of which are calls for reviews, commissioned reports or established panels to issue recommendations that collectively represent a dizzying schedule of 90-, 120- and 180-day increments for federal agencies to evaluate the feasibility of White House goals.

While there’s nothing wrong with collecting information to make better policy decisions, considering how little this administration has actually used information (aka, facts) to drive their policy decisions, it’s more likely that his true “intent” was to use these signing statements as opportunities to play to his audience, letting them know he’s “making his priorities clear.”

Like his racially charged con … I mean promise to restore the white male industrial wage-earner to their rightful place in society. Returning to an era where rigid social hierarchies ruled, where harsh punishments were the norm.  And true to form, he delivers the easiest part of this punitive formula — using his attorney general to crack down on those he calls threats.

Meanwhile, his tax proposal will blow a massive hole in the federal budget, starving the government of revenue and saddling future generations with the burden of fixing the social safety net. It would slash tens of billions of dollars from anti-poverty programs, leaving tens of millions of Americans without health insurance, and does nothing to bring jobs to this country.

Surprisingly his brand of scorched earth populism has almost no effect on his supporters, where despite all of his broken campaign promises, and lies; they are determined to support him in greater numbers than last Novembers election.

Whether it’s because they watch too much FOX Noise —

Or don’t think they will be affected by the coming economic regime, or are too culturally conditioned to understand it, all that matters to them is the perception that his racist and nativist crusade against people of color and Muslims is working.

Given the centrality of racism and white supremacy in today’s Republican Party specifically, and movement conservatism more generally, his overt hostility to people of color is widely considered a sign of “success” by his supporters.

That poll also signals a deeper problem. In many ways, voters of all persuasions are unable to make consistent and coherent voting decisions, unable to connect their personal decisions to questions of institutional power and political outcomes, a crisis of civic literacy which threatens the foundations of American democracy.

A set of circumstances which masks the danger behind the Drumpf’s clownish veneer, his ways of lying are not just the actions of an impetuous man-child. They are part of a deliberate strategy designed to cloud our capacity to think, to live in the realm of truth.

And while many of the Drumpf’s supporters understand his policies will hurt people like them, they will continue to overwhelmingly support him. According to a recent ABC/Washington Post survey 96 percent of his supporters said they would vote for him again.

Whether it’s because he so brazenly flouts the truth … I mean tells it like it is, or promises to put “people” in their place has never been clear.  And because his presidency is essentially a rebellion against liberalism itself — his language, tone, personal behavior, and policies are all designed to foster a sense of resentment.

Considering that he has the attention span of a hummingbird, his ability to maintain his supporter’s sense of anger is a testament to his skills as a demagogue. And since he is already siphoning wealth from public coffers, through petty graft and public policy, his familiarity with how taxes cuts work, and ability to speak the lingo, offer him a chance to pull off his biggest con.

Make no mistake, any “compromise” he makes with the Republican’s over tax reform will promise much while delivering little. For example, his initial one page proposal would have cost the Government an estimated $5.5 trillion in lost revenue over the next 10 years, while adding another $20 trillion to the national debt by 2036.

Money that were it going towards infrastructure and investment — in health care and education — is sustainable, since there are substantive benefits to such spending, and it has been shown to promote long-term prosperity.

Unfortunately, regressive taxation also happens to be a topic where his self interest is most in line with conservative ideologues and radical Republican governance particularly at the state level.

Where for the past eight years, they have conducted a Dr. Moreau laboratory of economic experiments which have brought them: stagnant growth, rising poverty, higher income inequality, and recurring budget crises. Bringing us to this inescapable conclusion; Republicans across the country are really bad at governing, and Congress is even worse.

Both of their plans for enacting tax changes are based on irreconcilable models. So will it be the Cheeto faced Twittler’s tax cuts with nothing to offset lost revenues, save rosy future forecasts? Or will it resemble Speaker Ryan’s proposal; a dedicated tax generating revenue over time, offsetting some of the top corporate rate cuts?

When Paul Krugman’s recently compared an episode of the Twilight Zone” called “It’s a Good Life,” to the current administration, he wasn’t being facetious. He was pointing the similarities between this tale about an immature 6-year-old with monstrous superpowers who terrorizes a small town, with the inhabitants constant fear made even worse by the need to pretend everything was fine, lest any hint of discontent bring down terrible retribution.

Considering how determined Congressional Republicans are to avoid conflict with the Drumpf, their public proclamations of “finding areas where they agree,” there could be more truth to Krugman’s comparison than we realize, especially since they are equally determined to slip out of town before anyone notices their entire “plan” for spurring faster economic growth, creating millions of new jobs and raising wages is based on magical thinking.

Just like believing he  won’t do as little as possible, shifting whatever responsibilities he can to the next sucker. As long as he gets to bask in the adulation of his audience, he doesn’t give a shit about anything Congress does or says; just so long as they hurry up and do their damn job.

Jon Taylor

 

Spoiled children need time outs

Virginia’s 7th Congressional district is made up of nearly three quarters of a million people and we are represented by a man acting like a child who has been caught misbehaving. Dave Brat ran on a platform of being accessible to his constituents. While it is true that you can contact his office, what he did not say is that you will not get a direct response to your concern.

Congressional recesses are also known as “district work periods.” They exist to make sure legislators do not lose touch with constituents. Town halls are a time honored tradition and a basic part of our democratic heritage. During this past recess, Mr. Brat elected not to hold any town halls, not even one, despite numerous requests. It is his job to do so. Instead, he has held “pop up” meetings with 24 hours notice during the work day. His office says his schedule is not public ahead of time and they seem unable to do any long term planning.

Mr. Brat knows he has been caught breaking his promise and he is running and hiding to those who will support him and provide photo opportunities for his Facebook page. Avoidance is his top strategy. As a voting constituent and small business owner, I have emailed, faxed and telephoned. I receive back form letters thanking me for my support which do not answer my question, only dodge it.

I viewed both of his Facebook live events, which was much like sitting in a large college class listening to the professor drone on and hawk his book. I attended the town hall in Blackstone, was fortunate to get in, and even had one of my questions asked of Mr. Brat. He did not answer it, or any other questions posed to him. He talked around the subjects so that when played back later his answers could be construed as both for and against.

I next requested a meeting with his office on April 3. After submitting all of my contact information and my questions ahead of time, I was scheduled for a meeting on April 18. Two hours prior to the meeting, I got a call that the meeting was cancelled and they were unable to reschedule. I believe my questions were just too hard to answer.

Avoiding constituents’ concerns and breaking campaign promises is a clear and consistent pattern with Mr. Brat unless you are a big donor or blindly follow the Republican platform. While immediate consequences are most effective in addressing bad behavior, November 2018 is coming, Mr. Brat. Our opinions on your representation or lack thereof will be “accessible” to you then and you will be sent to time out.

Aleta Strickland

Editor’s note: this first appeared in the 4-27-17 edition of the Central Virginian, and is re-posted with the author’s permission, and is only available via hard copy or online to paying subscribers.