CV & local officials misleading you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strange, I always thought that as modern society evolved that rationality was supposed to serve as a brake if not a guide to the unbridled passions of faith. This link should serve as a cautionary tale.

Furthermore, these programs are bad policy because they deliberately overlook the poor track record that other faith based approaches around the country have had with social problems particularly with education.

The abject failure of abstinence only sex education in state after state along with the misinformation propagated by the  Commonwealth’s pregnancy crisis centers speak for themselves.

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

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

Jon Taylor

Return of the Austerians

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Such public complicity allows conservative myths like ones moral character and hard work are how the ultra rich got there  along with the presumption that “Republicans seem to do more for people” to circulate unchallenged.

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

Jon Taylor