Something really big is going on in the Republican Party. The organization Republican Majority for Choice will no longer support the party.
Susan Bevan and Susan Cullman, co-chairwomen of the RMC, say the reason for no longer supporting the Republicans is the general hostility toward women within the GOP’s culture.
The co-chairs noted that, over the years, the organization has supported Republicans who embraced family planning because it reduces poverty, increases educational attainment and workforce competitiveness and improves health. However, the party has moved to the extremes, socially and fiscally, since the new administration came into power and is now punishing millions of women by shutting down health care clinics offering cancer screenings, basic health services and family planning.
The Republican Party has taken actions to deny birth control coverage, while complaining about unintended pregnancies. Their extreme views against and general nastiness towards women is making many RMC members rethink their loyalty to the party. Also, the general unrest in the country, unleashed over the past two years, is making both men and women who have forever been loyal Republicans move away to another point of view.
The former Republicans are making tracks to the other side. The Pew Research Center has recently noted that 56 percent of women identify as or lean towards Democrats, and the gap is wider among college graduates and minority voters. Seventy percent of millennial women have either registered as Democrats or lean Democratic.
Locally, here in the First District, every voter now has the opportunity to fix those things that have been going wrong in this country by voting in the November midterm elections.
Editor’s note: This letter originally appeared in the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star, and is re-posted here with the author’s permission.
I have been trying for over a year to meet with my Representative or his staff. When he first ran for office he promised to be the “Most accessible Member of Congress” but that has not been the case. While I am sure that many special interest groups lobby Mr. Brat, of the over 700,000 registered voters in the 7th district I bet not that many private citizens ask to meet. I had a meeting scheduled in April of 2017 with a staffer. She cancelled an hour before and refused to reschedule.
He has gotten a lot of negative press with his “Women in my grill” comment and the fiasco at the late opening of his campaign office last month. He emailed an invitation to constituents. Those who wanted to attend pre-registered. The disaster happened when those people arrived with their printed confirmed tickets and were either turned away or threatened with arrest if they did not leave.
You must be joking. Is this the United States?
His staff knew that damage control was needed but like most hastily thrown together reactive plans, a great idea was executed poorly. Coming to the county and offering to meet with interested constituents was a great idea. It was poor form to only inform select constituents, inconsiderate to give 24 hours notice, and out of touch to hold it during the work day.
We were graciously allowed 25 minutes where we brought up concerns regarding his lack of accessibility to constituents, poor response after the tragedy in Charlottesville last year, his habit of quoting a hate group on his Facebook page, lack of leadership on ethical issues, fostering division among citizens, and inconsistencies between his words and actions.
Sadly after all this time waiting to actually have a conversation with the man I was greatly disappointed. He seemed to have no idea how to conduct civil discourse and to have an intellectual discussion about differing ideas. He was arrogant, defensive, and provided information that was untrue. He seemed unable to grasp any viewpoint that is different from his own or to consider a different interpretation of his words and actions. People who cannot separate their self-value from their ideas are unable to compromise in order to work well with other legislators.
I have had an opportunity to speak with both candidates for the 7th congressional district and my choice is an easy one. I will vote for the candidate who is well informed on current pending legislation, has foreign policy experience, cares about issues specific to the rural areas, and understands the challenges of raising a family. She is a true public servant and I hope you will join me in supporting Abigail Spanberger for Congress.
Editors Note: This letter has been submitted to the Central Virginian, and is reposted here with the author’s permission.
This letter is an attempt to address the characterization of Islam raised by Pastor Harrelson (June 14) in a letter to the editor and again mentioned in a letter by T. A. Johnson (July 22). Pastor Harrelson has already put himself forward to block a mosque in our community.
Islam, or people who identify as Muslims, comprise over 2.2 billion of our earth’s 7.3 billion population, with Indonesia being the most populous Muslim country (88% of its 261 million people identify as Muslim).
Islam is a very complex and multifaceted religion. As a system of beliefs, Islam is more than the Quran (which actually translates as “recitation”). In addition to the Quran there are the Sunnah – the narratives on the life of Muhammad – which are a second source of Islamic teachings. Simplistic analyses of one or two Suras (chapters) will produce un-researched, unsupported conclusions.
To explain the Hadith and the Quran there are various historical, legal, and scholarly schools that have rendered analyses and conclusions concerning every Sura of the Quran. These schools of study and analysis offer interpretations of the meanings and importance of various texts. Al-Azhar University was established in Cairo, Egypt in 970 A.D. to concentrate on the study of the Quran and the Hadith, and remains a chief center of Islamic and Arabic learning to this day.
I doubt that Pastor Harrelson has immersed himself in such rigorous study of Islam. Nor does he seem to accept the idea that charlatans of any religion can or would hide themselves behind a holy book. The KKK passed itself off as a Christian organization. From our own history we know there is a difference between religion and charity and religion used to harm, discriminate, and support injustice.
We also know that some commentators have ulterior motives when they characterize the religion or habits of others. I’ve lived in a Muslim country and experienced zero fear, but only warmth, understanding, friendship and caring. Assigning or designating “otherness” to our fellow human beings – people of color, of different nationalities, of different ethnic groups, religious affiliation or even geography (e.g. Africa) is the basis of fear, hate, lack of empathy, and in the final analysis, an act of cowardice and weakness, not strength.
Editor’s Note: this letter originally appeared in the Culpeper Star Exponent, and is re-posted here with the author’s permission.
The Administration is considering expanding tariffs to apply to another $500 billion worth of Chinese imports. This move would double the number of tariffs that the Administration has imposed on Chinese goods and would include nearly all Chinese exports to the United States. Looking at the Administration’s tariffs George Will recently called protectionism “socialism for the well-connected” as the government picks winners and losers. Expanding tariffs is a gross example of a negotiation scenario called a circular firing squad.
The Administration’s approach to international negotiation is to aggressively demand much so that the other party will surrender without negotiating. When you don’t know anything about international relations and the other countries’ history, bullying may appeal to the naïve, but the experts know otherwise. China withstood an American economic boycott for 30 years and is now the second largest economy in the world. Preserving Face is an important cultural attribute in Asia. China proved the point by robustly responding to U.S. moves by cutting purchases of American goods, a major component of which is agricultural products. China is not about to be bullied and it knows Europe is not a substitute market for the volumes China buys.
The Administration did not expect a robust response from China and will have to lay out $12 billion to mitigate some of the damage done to the farm sector as China called its bluff. That $12 billion in debt is on top of the $1.5 trillion debt from the Republican Tax Bill. The Administration’s half-baked $12 billion sop just puts the American farm sector on welfare, probably jeopardizing the American family farm. The Administration does not have a good track record at winning bets like this.
Trump braggadocio while refusing to release his taxes strongly suggests he is not a successful businessman. For example, he filed for bankruptcy on his three Atlantic City casino properties. First was the Trump Taj Mahal in 1991—which was $3 billion in debt after just one year in operation. Four years later, Trump missed an interest payment on a $53.1 million bond; the company declared bankruptcy and walked away. How do you lose money running a casino?
Then again, Trump took out a $245 million loan to purchase the planes and routes of Eastern Air Shuttle. Two years after he launched Trump Shuttle, the airline wasn’t making enough money to even cover the $1 million monthly interest payment on his loan. Trump ultimately defaulted, surrendering ownership of the airline to his creditors.
If he couldn’t make it in casinos, or airlines, or steaks, maybe Trump could sell vodka? The trademark was abandoned in 2008, and the liquor was out of circulation by 2011. We know what happened to Trump University. The underlying story is business man Trump borrows money he can’t repay. It is not clear that $12 billion from the U.S. Treasury can fully cover all the farmers’ losses or that the Republican Party will allow this executive policy.
What the farmer knows is that once a market is lost, it is difficult to recreate without subsidies, which is why George Will warned about the government picking winners and losers.
An important part of Culpeper’s economy is agriculture. Let’s hope the soybean producers around here are not among the losers. Culpeper Republicans proudly boast about “free enterprise.” George Will makes clear that tariffs are taxes and do great damage to free enterprise. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen whether Republican candidates in the midterm election adhere to Trumps coattails or abandon him and embrace the economics of free enterprise.
Editors Note: This letter originally appeared in the Culpeper Star Exponent, and is re-posted here with the author’s permission
Over the past 18 months, Congressman Dave Brat (R, VA07) has been heavily criticized by his constituents for being inaccessible and unresponsive. This condemnation came to a head last Friday during an event at Brat's campaign headquarters. Constituents on Brat's email distribution list had been invited to and issued tickets for the event which was described as an "open house" and "birthday celebration" for him. However, several attendees were denied admission and/or asked to leave the event. No explanation was provided by Brat's staff as to why these constituents were refused access to their Representative.
Testimonials from a few such folks were posted on social media, and a certain level of uproar ensued. On Monday, I contacted Brat's office and the woman who took my call refused to "get into it" with me about what happened on Friday. When I politely pressed her about why ticket-holders were told to leave, she said "because we know who you are." Does that mean Brat's staff refused access to those it assumed had not donated money or time to Brat's campaigns, and thus are unworthy?
Facing a great deal of negative comments from his constituents and remembering he is up for re-election in November, Brat has now set up "mobile office hours" to meet with some folks in his District over the next couple of weeks. However, there are quite a few caveats to his pseudo-invitation to voters:
• In each County in VA07, Brat will hold a mere 90 minutes of office hours.
• People can request an appointment to discuss an item currently before Congress, or to request assistance with a federal agency.
• Individuals/groups with the same general concern may be seen together.
• Appointments are limited to 10 minutes in duration.
• No audio or video recordings of meetings are permitted.
• After an appointment is requested, Brat's staff will let you know if and when you can arrive for a meeting.
So, let's boil this down. Congressman Brat will meet with 9 individuals/groups (90 minutes of office hours / 10 minutes each) in each County. Nine. How the lucky nine are chosen is a mystery – Brat's email makes no mention of this. Is it first-come, first-served? Is it by luck of the draw? Is it by who is the most vocal supporter?
Now, let's say you are one of the lucky nine. You now have 10 minutes to address your one allotted concern with Mr. Brat. Ten. Don't forget, though, you may not be having a one-on-one meeting; you may be grouped with others who have a similar general concern. Good luck actually getting your question posed, much less answered to your satisfaction. Whatever response you do get, remember to take good hand-written notes, as audio and video recordings are not permitted. What is THAT about? What is he afraid of?
What Mr. Brat thinks these office hours will achieve is unclear. Are they to make up for his holding no open, public town hall event in over 400 days, despite frequents requests for such events? Are the office hours to evoke an aura of transparency and accountability to his constituents? It is telling that Brat is only offering to discuss issues currently before Congress. Why would he refuse to respond to questions regarding his views on other items of local or national importance?
Some will want to give Congressman Brat credit for setting up these mobile office hours. Brat seems to count dropping by and chit-chatting with random folks at local businesses as 'constituent meetings,' so I am certain he will toot his horn loudly over these formal times now being established for meetings. However, remember what this publicity stunt really is: Nine people; Ten minutes each; One issue. If you're lucky.
Editors Note: this is a preview of a letter submitted to the Richmond Times Disgrace, and the Chesterfield Observer which due to its length will probably not be published in either paper, and in anticipation of that is re-posted here with the author’s permission.
Six months ago, a piece titled White House’s Week from Hell was posted in Blue Louisa about the antics of this mis-administration. And judging from their actions over the course of the past two weeks, they have found new ways to take their greed and lust for power to another level. Where curses in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of Men are inadequate to describe their treachery.
A descent into Seven Hells which even the writers of “Game of Thrones” would be hard pressed to top. And with self inflicted trade wars that could have a devastating effect on the worlds economy, trashing our European allies and NATO already fading into distant memory, one can only ask, what else could go wrong with this clusterfuck? The Drumpf could have a summit in Helsinki, a “personal” conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, with no government officials keeping any records of the meeting.
And where it appears at the press conference afterwards that Putin was the only one keeping track of what was said.
Nor does the Drumpfs body language remotely suggest that this was a meeting of equals.
Given his penchant for “going rogue” even employing the principles of Occam’s razor to describe what transpired isn't adequate. The most logical explanation for why he excluded any official from the U.S. government from being in the room with him with Putin is because he did not want any official from the U.S. government to know what was said or agreed to in that room.
Leaving U.S. officials at the highest levels and the American people completely dependent on whatever spin the Russian’s want to put on this meeting. And if those actions were not tone deaf enough, the Drumpf “follows up” on this disastrous summit by inviting Putin for a second summit in Washington DC and a self congratulatory parade.
Meanwhile there continues to be something off about the Drumpfs administrations actions since the Helsinki meeting, something’s not right and it smells. Either he is an agent of Russian interest or he is so profoundly ignorant, insecure and narcissistic that he’s incapable of realizing that he’s advancing Putin’s agenda.
While some may believe he’s a Russian agent, that seems unlikely because the Russians would never allow a true mole to take such crazy risks of exposing themselves. With a former head of CIA operations against Russia observing "he's not a controlled agent because if he was, they'd tell him how to behave so as not to endanger himself."
And while Vladimir Lenin’s famous phrase "useful idiot," is often used when describing the Drumpf, the technical Russian term for an unwitting but helpful asset is a "confidential contact." What he has to offer Russia isn't necessarily information, but his willingness to act as a human wrecking ball against America's traditional allies and trading partners.
A willingness to appease which the Republican Party was more than happy to exploit, taking their grandiose notions of “deconstructive government” to levels that even the Bush/Cheney junta never dreamed of. And it might explain why they have responded so strongly to the recent arrest of a Russian agent, ahem NRA gun moll and the Department of Justice’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers.
With the Treasury Department saying that that it will no longer require certain politically active nonprofit groups, like the National Rifle Association, to identify their financial donors to U.S. tax authorities. And the Republican controlled House refusing to fund the DOJ’s election cyber terrorism efforts.
Actions which in the light of recent revelations about the scope and ongoing nature of Russian interference in our elections, prompted Rep. Lloyd Doggett, to say that their refusal to spend more money on election security "represents nothing less than unilateral disarmament" against Russia, citing the U.S. intelligence community's finding that Russia intervened in the 2016 election.
Nor should anyone forget that even before all these fresh hells broke out that Congressional Republican’s lead by Free-dumb Caucus members, Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows launched a preemptive shot across the bow to sabotage the investigation into Russian interference by proposing a bill to impeach Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General, and coincidentally Muller’s boss.
Or that in an earlier maneuver, Republican Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell refused to allow a vote on a bill which would have protected Muller’s investigation from the Oval office interference.
The simplest explanation for the Drumpfs incessant claims of “fake news” and “no collusion” during his campaign and throughout his term in office is more likely attributable to his fears of being exposed as a grifter only interested in enriching his ego and pockets. And that he likely knew about Russian interference with our election during his campaign, and definitely knew about it before his inauguration.
And while it remains to be proven that Russian agents funneled money through intermediaries to Republican campaigns, including Trumps, given what we know about the indictments of Paul Manafort, and Mike Flynn and their roles in procuring foreign support, coupled with the recent revelations that the NRA was acting as a cut out for Russian funds there’s more than just the appearance that other members of the Republican Party are also complicit.
If there’s a method to all this chaos, it raises the distinct and unpleasant possibility that the Drumpf and the Republican Party have already moved from trying to normalize their behavior to doing everything possible to ensure that their ability to collaborate and collude with dark money groups and foreign powers remains unchecked.
Meanwhile, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein announced this past Friday at the Aspen Security Forum that, the DOJ will inform American corporations, organizations and even individuals if they're being targeted by foreign operations in an attempt to influence the country's elections. Saying said that "exposing schemes to the public is an important way to neutralize them," and that "the American people have a right to know if foreign governments are targeting them with propaganda."
At the same forum, Microsoft VP for customer security and trust Tom Burt revealed that his team discovered a spear-phishing campaign targeting three candidates vying for re-election in 2018, and that they traced it back to Russian intelligence agency GRU, the same organization behind the DNC hacks in 2016.
How this will affect the outcome of the 2018 election is anyone’s guess since there are many factors to consider. Forces which like Newton’s first law, once put into motion tend to stay in motion unless acted on by other external forces.
On one hand there’s the reality that the Drumpf and the Republican Party will continue to weaponize their brand of magical thinking and ensuing chaos. Creating a pervasive atmosphere of resentment where their loyalists feel “safe” supporting their xenophobic and racist views.
And barring a major catastrophe; like 9/11 or a world wide economic crisis will remain constitutionally incapable of entertaining the concept that the object of their idol worship, and indeed the entire Republican Party are corrupt and compromised beyond all redemption.
Nor should anyone underestimate impact of the Republican’s on going voter suppression efforts, or that they are doubling down on them, emboldened by Supreme Courts recent decision.
On the other side of the coin, voter registration amongst first time and younger voters is up significantly. Whether that translates to a surge at the polls remains to be seen. Another encouraging sign is the gender gap, which is the largest on record. And finally, there indications that many surveys are underestimating the number of Democratic voters.
Speaking of surveys, it’s no coincidence that there are far more publicly available Democratic polls than Republican ones, since Replicant’s at every level are busy downplaying the fact that their brand isn’t polling well. Something which will be critical in Virginia, with congressional candidates like Barbara Comstock and Dave Brat find themselves boxed in by their support for the Drumpfs and their Party’s extremism.
And like Cory Stewarts delusional tweet just before this past Saturday’s Senate “debate” with Tim Kaine, they will find themselves unable to control their own narratives, or keep people from laughing in their faces.
One thing is for sure, in the months leading up to the election, we all will have front row seats as these two forces collide. So if you’re serious about “taking your country back,” get out there and vote for Abigail Spanberger and Tim Kaine this November.
An earlier post on Blue Louisa asked if the CV’s readers were ready to be subjected to more “just the factoids” coverage of important local issues, like the County’s Comprehensive Plan? If their last three issues featuring opinion pages filled with syndicated stream of consciousness pieces and no local content is any indication, they will continue publishing conservative narratives at the expense of other voices.
In light of the Board of Zoning Appeals 4-3 vote upholding the county’s height restriction ordinances this week; the CV’s readers should expect to see many letters about the Confederate flag off of I-64 in the weeks to come.
And as meetings about the County’s Comprehensive Plan unfold over the course of the next seven weeks, additional local commentary about the plans merits and shortcomings.
What the CV will print remains to be seen, but what gets lost in the conversation is the fact that over the past few months they have been doubling down on ultra-conservative narratives with misleading op-eds from national politicians and syndicated “experts” in an effort to frame the issues. Narratives which are reinforced by letters from political operatives, like Tyler Adams, who this year had four of his brain droppings … ahem agitprop pieces printed.
To the extent that everyone is entitled to their opinion, well thought out letters, even Republican ones should be welcome. Although in the case of serial ranters like Jerry Reynolds, Robert Merto and Jim Hogan exceptions should be made. What the CV’s reader might not have noticed is how effectively their editorial practices have consigned most meaningful local commentary to the back of the bus so to speak.
Whether this is a byproduct of their “must run” policies, or are the result of deliberate actions is immaterial. The fact remains that local letters, particularly progressive ones are increasingly being written in reaction to something previously printed in the CV, not discussing relevant issues. Like the five letters debunking Dave Brat’s deceptive April 19th op-ed. Lies which were shamelessly repeated in several regional Buffet controlled papers.
IMHO, the CV's journalistic practices go well beyond cutting and pasting factoids, and misleading op-eds. It’s a wholesale commitment to conservative ideology regardless of any inconvenient facts. For their readers, it’s like the story about the frog sitting in warm water which is being slowly raised to a boil. And like the frog, by the time their readers realize anything is amiss, it’s too late.
Take for example, their coverage of the County’s Comprehensive Development Plan, a working blueprint for the County’s economic and residential growth over the next decade, where they have printed two articles and one unsigned editorial. Now compare that coverage to their eight articles and one editorial about the County's broadband project this year.
While both issues are of great interest to their readers, given the importance of county’s development plan what kind of continuing coverage the CV will be give this story as it moves forward remains to be seen. Thus far, their July 5th piece has been the most useful for county residents.
Where Andrew Williams, chief operating officer of The Berkley Group, a planning consulting firm which advises towns and counties throughout Virginia, commented on how difficult it can be to draw broad interest in the planning process. “You can have as many forums as you want, but unless there’s a hot issue, a lot of times people don’t show up,” he said. Adding that “[You have] to cast a wide net throughout the county and have different types of forums for different audiences, and not rush through it.”
With the first of seven meetings taking place on Wednesday the 25th, and continuing every other Wednesday until the first week of September, it should be noted that most of the meetings will taking place during the dog days of August when many are on vacation, and it remains to been seen how that affects the County’s ability to engage people. Mr. Williams specifically recommended that the county concentrate on local festivals, and churches and other groups which are active in the community.
Williams noted that his group often starts the process by sending out a survey to raise people’s interest and then organize forums. To that end, the Community Development Department has placed advertisements in the last two editions of the CV. And in a conversation with their staff , they said that they weren’t aware that their first advertisement (July 12th) had an incorrect number for their office, and stated that the county is currently in the process of putting up notices at their trash and recycling centers, and have plans to put additional signage at key intersections.
Comprehensive plan notice
The biggest concern everyone should have about the Comprehensive Plan is whether the Board of Supervisors is serious about getting “… the community involved as much as possible.” When in light of the last major overhaul of the plan in 2001, the Board was “skittish about too much public involvement in rewriting the document …”
One indication of the Board’s ambivalence is the fact that they “directed the Louisa County Planning Commission to update data in the plan about the county’s demographics and economic indicators, but not to make more substantive changes to the document, and that since the Commission approved those updates in March the Board has yet to approve them. Whether this is out of an abundance of caution“ … fearing a chaotic and time-consuming process,” and is part of the normal process remains to be seen.
According to Jeff Ferrel, assistant county administrator, county residents attending these meetings will be given paper copies of the plans goals and objectives, along with comment cards, and will use color coded stickers to place alongside the posted goals and objectives.
Some might ask why such elaborate preparations are necessary for what are likely be non-substantive changes. And the more cynically minded might see these meetings as another exercise in Kabuki Theatre, and that the entire process was always going to be a dog and pony show, and not a more substantive community based review of the plan.
That being said, the issue of how to make local government more transparent and responsive to the needs of the citizens they serve remains one of the biggest challenges of a representative Democracy, one which only works when the people have real choices, and are informed enough to make educated decisions.
In 1789, when Culpeper was part of the 5th Congressional District, candidates James Madison and James Monroe duked it out to see who would become its first Representative. One of their debates, concerning the fate of the new Constitution, took place on a snowy Sunday night on the steps outside the Hebron Lutheran Church in Madison, which still stands to this day. That may have been our shining moment.
With a population of 12,063, Culpeper was the forty-seventh largest of Virginia’s 148 counties in 1860. More than half of that population was African American, including 6,675 slaves.
Culpeper’s history regarding its non-white citizens is not admirable. Its legacy continues today with the outcry against our Muslim residents and the Sheriff’s enthusiastic promotion of anti-Muslim training and harassment of our Hispanic residents through the 287(g) program. Our community needs to become one of tolerance, inclusiveness, acceptance, and equal opportunity. Our population is now quite diverse: we’re no longer a sleepy southern backwater – our population is more than 52,000. Twenty-five percent of our population is under the age of 18. Fifteen percent are older than 65. Fifteen percent are black, 11% are Latino, almost 3% are Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native American. Women comprise half of our population.
Following the Civil War, Virginia was not readmitted into the United States until 1870, after adopting a new constitution. Culpeper became part of the 8th Congressional District and remained firmly in the hands of the unreconstructed Southern Democrats, under the leadership of John S. Barbour, Jr., who formed a political machine in the late 1880s that dominated Virginia politics for 80 years until the demise of the Byrd Organization in the late 1960s.
Virginia’s Democratic Party embedded Jim Crow laws in the Virginia Constitution of 1901/2, that effectively disenfranchised all blacks and some poor whites. Those with any African ancestry could not serve on juries or run for any office, and so lost any political voice. Most blacks remained disenfranchised until after the mid-1960s, when President Lyndon Johnson and the civil rights movement gained passage of federal legislation to enforce integration and voting rights.
Incredibly, Culpeper has only seen 16 representatives since Reconstruction. One of them, while Culpeper was part of the 8th District, was the notorious Dixiecrat Howard W. Smith, the architect of massive resistance to desegregation, from 1930 to 1966. During his 1964 reelection, at the height of the fight for integration, Culpeper voted for him by a margin of 77.3%. Culpeper was the last county in Virginia to desegregate its public schools.
Culpeper moved from the 8th to the 7th District in 1965. Until this June, the only Democratic primary ever held in the 7th District since the founding of the Republic in 1789, was in 1962, when John O. Marsh beat 4 other candidates and went on to win the general election by 598 votes. and he served four terms, until losing to J. Kenneth Robinson, a member of the Byrd Machine despite being a Republican, in 1970 and Republicans have retained the seat ever since.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Culpeper, ever since moving here nine years ago. I have personally met many of my interlocutors and almost without exception we treat each other with good humor and respect, despite our political differences. We can make that happen for all.
The Declaration reminds us that all men are created equal. If we can’t achieve that in our own communities under our own power, then the Constitution provides us with the mechanism to make it happen: at the polls. Vote on November 6th.
Editors Note: This letter originally appeared on line in the Saturday, July 14th edition
of the Culpeper Star Exponent, and has been re-posted here with the author's permission.
Readers of the Central Virginia should recall learning that their sister papers, the Hanover Herald-Progress, and the Caroline Progress went out of business this past spring. With the CV’s editor, asking in an editorial “Where will the people in those communities get that type of information now?”
A question which Lee Shaker, a professor of politics and media at Portland State University has looked into, finding that self-reported measures of civic engagement – like contacting an election official or attending a local civic organization - dropped significantly after a local paper shut down, rebounding to just half of previous levels after two years.
Other political scientists Jennifer Lawless and Danny Hayes studied the effect of both closures and curtailed coverage across America on elections for US Representatives, races which are for national office, but where voters are local.
Hayes says when papers close or cut coverage, people are less capable of identifying who's running, know what the candidate's positions on the issues are, and ultimately less likely to vote "When local papers cut coverage there's essentially nothing to take its place in these local communities," he says, adding while there have been many online local news experiments they tend to be in already media-rich environments or not as focused on public affairs.
This affects everyone, Hayes says, even those who are considered politically engaged. "I suspect over the long term, people who are pretty politically engaged figure out ways to sort of maintain their level of participation," he says. "I'm not sure they'll be necessarily as knowledgeable as they were."
Penelope Muse Abernathy, a professor and researcher at the University of North Carolina, says the closure of community newspapers means more than a loss of information.
Local news helps set the agenda for public debates by bringing particular issues to public attention, encourages regional business development by connecting local businesses with local residents (whether through ads or coverage) and can reflect what's similar or different about a national problem on the local level, she says.
"A strong local newspaper shows you how you are related to people you may not know you're related to," Abernathy says.
There are other effects too. A recent study found cities' borrowing costs to build projects like roads and schools rose after newspapers closed - making those projects more expensive to taxpayers. As similar areas without a newspaper closure did not see those effects, they hypothesize that the loss of scrutiny on local government led to more mismanagement of public funds.
Which brings up the question; what happens to communities when their local paper has other priorities? It’s no secret that the Central Virginian frequently reprints op-ed's from organizations like The Family Research Council, and The National Review, or that their commentary is extremely far to the right.
Whether these pieces are “must run” content, as with FOX NOISE and local Sinclair TV stations is irrelevant, the fact remains that they are intended to reinforce retrograde attitudes, distort the issues, and misinform their readers. What is relevant that it is being driven by their parent company Lakeway Publishers rentier mentality, focused on promoting their brand as cheaply as possible regardless of the consequences.
A mentality which apparently drives the CV’s "just the quotes" brand of reporting, where obvious follow up questions are not asked, and important local events aren’t even covered. Most notably, the three Town Hall Meetings in 2014 &15 with Louisa’s two state senators and delegate.
If local citizens hadn’t submitted multiple letters, most of the CV’s readers would have never known these meetings took place. The politest thing one can say about such selective coverage is “Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is an enemy action.”
So pardon my cynicism as the CV claims in oversized ads that they support their readers’ right to know, when their editorials actively promotes extreme and misleading narratives, and their reporting minimizes the consequences of local official’s actions.
That being said, the CV has improved the quantity and quality their local coverage. Now instead of minimal news, the CV’s readers can look forward to reading a collection of disjointed “factoids.” Like this weeks front page article about state laws which just went into effect.
While this “accurate and factual information” represents a marked improvement over their previous practice of cutting and pasting information about the General Assemblies affairs from Delegate Farrell’s press releases. For most of their readers, there was so little meaningful context to this “information” that it might as well been factoids from outer space.
Likewise, the CV printed eight stories this year about the Broadband Authority and the Board of Supervisors, consistently avoiding discussing the three elephants in the room. That Supervisors Wade, Adams and Williams were attempting a hostile takeover of the board, doing everything they could to subvert the broadband authority and derail the Broadband project, among other things.
The closest the CV ever got to admitting this reality was when they quoted now outgoing Supervisor Troy Wade claiming “I used to be the one with new and fresh ideas, but I ‘m not that one anymore.”
In the months leading up to the mid terms, and the 2019 state elections, elections which will include three members of the Board of Supervisors, it remains to be seen if the CV can identify who has the “fresh ideas,” and what if any merit those ideas have, or if we will get more of the usual stenography?
The president has implemented a policy of zero tolerance for immigration. This means separating the children from parents. Why is he doing this? In my opinion the president is using the children as pawns to get money for his wall on the southern border. Really!
These families are walking hundreds of miles and/ or days with few clothes, little money and leave behind their life to get to the border of the United States to ask for asylum. They are fleeing poverty, crime, drugs and death only to be told “no” because there is no room, or being blocked from stepping on U.S. soil.
We are all immigrants. At some time your family decided to come to the United States. What if your ancestors were blocked and/ or denied entry. Where would you be?
Put yourself in these immigrants’ shoes. I am a mother of six children. If I thought my children were being recruited for drug gangs, my daughters were being raped or receiving death threats, I would move heaven and earth to get them to safety. This is what is happening to most of these families.
Instead, when they ask for asylum, the parents and children are separated. The parent(s) is charged with a crime. The children are taken away crying, screaming, further frightened — and apparently the children are unable to be touched by those caring for them while confined.
There is even the possibility these children may never see their parents again. They are put in internment camps (jail) just like during WWII with the Japanese camps in the U.S., Hitler in Germany, and Mussolini in Italy. Is this what we have become?
First, the president had a Muslim ban, now it is Mexico and south. I see a pattern; it is called brown skin. If we don’t speak up now, what policy will the president enforce next? Are you next?
Whatever happened to compassion, heart and love thy neighbor as you would love yourself? I keep hearing “We are better than this.” Maybe not!
Editors Note: this originally appeared in the June 28th edition of the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted on Blue Louisa with the author’s permission.
In an interview on Richmond’s Lee Brothers show, Dave Brat said, ““I like bringing everybody together. I went to seminary, and I’m going to run positive, on the issues.”
I’m not sure what kind of economic professor Brat was but I can tell you even his worst student would question the thesis in his June 3 article in this newspaper. Brat, Trump and the Republicans have already moved the old Jim Crow stereotypes from African-Americans onto Hispanics: lazy, criminals, gangsters, rapists. In his column it’s this new group that needs to be feared. Seriously? These families being cruelly separated at the border are desperately seeking asylum from almost certain death in places like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. “Huddled masses yearning to be free,” anyone? Brat continues to defend the many lies that Trump and his administration have told the American people about this terrible situation. Where is his humanity?
His column is disrespectful both of democracy and his job as a representative of a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” He has not held a real town hall in more than 410 days. “The women are in my grill no matter where I go.” He substitutes meaningless friendly photo ops for meaningful dialogue with his constituents. As a member of the Freedom Caucus, Brat suggests that ideological purity is more important that solving peoples’ problems. That is why Senator John McCain characterized Brat and his ilk as the “no-to-everything” caucus.
Brat’s column insists that when Blue voters “get to the low-tax, high growth areas, they vote in favor of policies that undermine the economic environment they were attracted to in the first place.” Brat’s analysis—that population shifts represent people trying to avoid paying taxes—is neither economically nor sociologically sound. It is, however, useful for and designed to divide American citizens against each other. Just like Trump does.
Brat gets personal and uses Henrico County as a place, once deeply red, where new people are bringing their blue state values with them See Carolyn Walker’s excellent rebuttal to this idiotic theory, in her Letter to the Editor of June 11th—“Brat has it wrong about “red” and “blue”.
While Americans may prefer lower taxes, they also want the government, at every level, to be involved in ensuring things like affordable healthcare, quality education, safe roads, bridges and airways, and a fair business environment. Republicans, however, will drop many of these things by the wayside in their quest to constantly reduce taxes so they can appeal to their woefully ignorant base in order to get reelected. Now, they’re putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block. Look at Kansas to see Republicanism in action. Its Republican government drastically reduced taxes, its infrastructure crumbled, its deficit skyrocketed, and its economy tanked. It can only afford four days of school per week.
We must all energize ourselves and our friends to get out the vote in November to send Brat into retirement, so he can re-immerse himself in his Judeo-Christian economic nonsense (did I mention he went to seminary?).
After so many years of being ignored by Cantor who was pursuing loftier ambitions, and the spectacle of Brat’s do-nothing buffoonery over the past four, we must finally elect someone to the House of Representatives, who will actually work to represent us, and help us solve the nation’s problems. That person is Abigail Spanberger.
Editors Note: This letter originally appeared in the Sunday June 24th edition of the Culpeper Star Exponent, and has been re-posted here, with the author's permission.
I hope everyone has had the opportunity to read Senator John McCain’s recent book, “Restless Wave,” or watch the HBO documentary on his life, “John McCain: For Whom the Bell Tolls,” which aired this past Monday (it’s “on demand”).
I didn’t vote for Senator McCain when he ran for president, but I respect him as a Navy fighter pilot, courageous prisoner of war, a long-serving legislator, maverick, patriot and American hero. He is the epitome of “Duty, Honor, Country.”
It is outrageous that Cadet Bone Spurs treats McCain with such contempt for being captured. The Congress sent Trump a massive VA reform bill on May 23rd but somehow, Memorial Day passed without him getting around to signing it.
Where have all the other Republicans of courage gone? Republican legislators are running away from the Constitution they used to honor. Free speech? Not for football players. Freedom of religion? Not for Muslims. Rule of law? Not for immigrants or the Central Park Five. Not for the victims of former sheriff and convicted felon Joe Arpaio, whom Trump pardoned. Now, we have ICE channeling the Gestapo.
The Founding Fathers wrote our Constitution to create a federal government with three main functions: First, it established a national government consisting of a legislative, an executive, and a judicial branch, with a system of checks and balances among the three. Second, it divided power between the federal government and the states. And third, it protected individual liberties of American citizens. These elements put a premium on cooperation, compromise and mutual benefit. Trump and his Republican allies, especially the laughably-named “Freedom Caucus” that Senator McCain calls “the say-no-everything crowd,” have shredded these functions and protections. Never has the Congress so thoughtlessly abandoned its high ground against a reckless executive.
We need senators and congressional representatives that are not complicit with the dismantlement of the Constitution.
As citizens, our duty is to use the voting booth to elect people who will speak for us, not Wall Street, K Street lobbyists, or the Koch Brothers.
The Virginia primary election takes place on June 12th. Republicans who decide to vote in their own primary must choose among Nick Freitas, Corey Stewart and E. W. Jackson – all Trumpians – to run against Senator Tim Kaine. The rest of us, in Culpeper and across the 7th Congressional District, will choose between Abigail Spanberger and Dan Ward to run against incumbent Dave Brat, who has distinguished himself by avoiding his constituents, grandstanding on conservative talk shows and for closed, hand-picked audiences, while reminding everyone that he thinks he’s an economist and went to seminary. The only bill he has introduced during his entire time in the Congress that actually became law was to rename an arboretum.
Spanberger and Ward, on the other hand, have outstanding records as patriots, public servants, and strong credentials in national security. They are grass roots candidates not beholden to the party establishment. They want to represent the interests of all their constituents, work across the aisle to solve problems, and restore checks and balances among the three branches of government – unlike Dave Brat.
I will mourn for John McCain. He may be the last of the truly great United States senators. As for his Republican colleagues in the House and Senate, they are standing neck-deep in Trump’s swamp. They must all go – and, you can start that process by educating yourself, picking your champion, and voting on June 12th. This may “only” be a primary, but it is a watershed moment for Culpeper and for Virginia.
Be a part of history.
Editors Note: This letter is appeared in the Sunday June 3rd edition of the Culpeper Star Exponent, and has been re-posted here, with the author's permission.
Dave Brat brags about the Republican Tax Reform and says it will help “those that need it most.”
I want to know how making golf courses and private airplanes tax exempt helps those “who need it most.” I would also like to know how doubling the amount of tax-exempt inheritance to $11 million for singles and $22 million for couples helps “those who need it most.” Meanwhile, every penny of interest earned on money most of us try to save toward our retirement or emergencies is taxed!
Brat has been extolling that the change in the standard deduction will result in major savings for the majority of lower and middle income people, mostly because the standard deduction was raised from $12,000 to $24,000 for couples. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, we can no longer take the personal exemption of $4,050 per person, or $8,100 per couple, as a deduction. A family of four would lose $16,200 in personal exemptions.
Adding the previous standard deduction of $12,000 to the exemptions the family was able to deduct $28,200 in 2017--$4,200 more than the new tax plan. Millionaires are paying millions less in taxes while middle class people are paying a few dollars less and in some cases more. Tax cuts for the rich are permanent. Tax cuts for the rest of us will expire in 2025 or sooner and will cause our taxes to go up. How is the reform “helping those who need it most?”
Brat has stated that many corporations have handed out bonuses and given pay raises. One company he identified was Wal-Mart, probably one of the biggest employers in the world. Wal-Mart gave some employees bonuses and pay raises, and in the meantime, they fired thousands of employees and closed 26 of their Sam’s stores. A survey showed that only 14 percent of corporations said they would provide bonuses, pay raises, and hire more personnel because of tax reform. What the absolute majority is doing is buying back their own stock so that their profits will be larger. As for the unemployment rate going down, most of the new jobs are seasonal and temporary.
Brat gets a lot of free publicity from the media. He writes quarter-page commentaries which have been published in almost all local papers. Candidates running against him do not get the same advantage. Without an official title behind their name they have to pay for publicity.
The next thing on the Republican agenda is to make cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the Children’s Health Insurance Program in order to reduce the billions in debt they created by giving billionaires and millionaires large tax breaks. We need someone who will look at each bill carefully and vote according to the needs of his constituents instead of blindly following the party line. Vote Brat out of office before he does further damage instead of helping “those who need it most.”
Editors Note: this originally appeared in the May 31st edition of the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted on Blue Louisa with the author’s permission.
One of my favorite freedom discussions took place a few years back when a friend and I were conversing with our five-year-old daughters about whether they could or could not go play at the neighbors’ house. My friend told her daughter no, she couldn’t. Not until she was able to take responsibility for getting home at a certain time, at which the five-year-old yelled loudly with hands on hips: “I don’t want responsibility! I want freedom!”
So, to respond to Duane Adams’ letter to the editor published May 17, yes, we all want freedom. That would be great. Regulations are annoying. They slow me down and get in my way. Sometimes they are so poorly written they are laughable.
If we all took responsibility, we would have no need for government regulation. But we don’t. We are lazy. We are greedy. We say, “Everybody else is doing it.” We litter. We pollute the air and water.
Edmund Burke, widely regarded as the philosophical founder of modern conservatism, made a distinction between ‘individual liberty’ and ‘social liberty.’ “
“Permit me then to continue our conversation, and to tell you what the freedom is that I love, and that to which I think all men entitled. This is the more necessary, because, of all the loose terms in the world, liberty is the most indefinite. It is not solitary, unconnected, individual, selfish liberty, as if every man was to regulate the whole of his conduct by his own will. The liberty I mean is social freedom. It is that state of things in which liberty is secured by the equality of restraint. A constitution of things in which the liberty of no one man, and no body of men, and no number of men, can find means to trespass on the liberty of any person, or any description of persons, in the society. This kind of liberty is, indeed, but another name for justice; ascertained by wise laws, and secured by well-constructed institutions.”
Can we, by participating in our democracy, and by electing leaders not beholden to one group or another, construct better institutions, and thereby achieve this social freedom in which we maximize each one’s liberty without treading on others?
P.S. - For those who think that we should rely on the unseen hand of the marketplace: It doesn’t work when economic power and political power are one, which is what seems to have happened.
Editors Note: this originally appeared in the May 24th edition of the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted on Blue Louisa with the author’s permission.
For those of you who read the Central Virginian, you might have noticed two letters in their May 17th op-ed section. One by Mr. Jackson defends Dave Brat, claiming he has made a “difference.” And like Mr. Reynold’s and Hogan’s pieces from the week before, he makes little effort to point out where he made a difference.
Other than a vague libertarian proclamation that he supports “reining in the Federal Reserve banking cabal,” a grandiose rationale little removed from Mr. Adams assertion that extreme Senate candidate Nick Frietas “will defend our freedom,” from government micromanagement.
What these letters have in common is their reliance on ideological faith to justify Republicans social and economic policies, using deceptive claims like “Conservatism is a positive, uplifting philosophy” and “economic and personal liberty are the keys to prosperity” in an effort to normalize their Party’s extreme agenda.
Nor does one have to look very hard to find evidence of this mindset in Louisa, like this week’s front page story about the Board of Supervisors and Broadband.
Reporting which glosses over the fact that the Board is being hijacked by a gang of three in plain sight, starting with their 7-0 decision to allow two at-large members to serve on the Broadband Authority, a “compromise” which is intended to allow the likes of Jim Ogg, one of the persons most opposed to the Broadband project to have a say in deciding the Broadband Authorities future.
On a related note; most of this blogs readers know that the CV has refused to allow either Abigail Spanberger, or Dan Ward to respond to Dave Brat’s misleading letter last month. According to representatives of both campaigns, the CV claims it’s because they have a policy of not printing letters from political candidates or their campaigns.
A decision which is certainly their prerogative and one which they have repeatedly failed to exercise equally, like turning last year’s election week op-ed section from a “rebuttal” edition into one promoting Republican candidates, just as they did the year before.
What people don’t know is that Adams letter to the CV was also broadcast verbatim via a State Party controlled email system the same day this letter came out. If this were the first time that something like this happened one might be tempted to simply dismiss this as a local paper being duped by slick operators.
But it’s hardly the first time, and likely won’t be the last.
And while the CV may profess they have a responsibility to keep their readers informed about what’s going on in Virginia’s General Assembly and Congress, it should be said that they only started “informing their readers” about the deeds of the General Assembly after being called out by multiple letter writers for failing to report on several town halls with our state representatives.
And that their notions of what constitutes informing their readers consists of reprinting material straight from the legislators fliers, web and Facebook pages, regardless of how accurate or truthful it is. Such willingness to accept whatever these representatives say as the gospel truth shows that the CV’s editor and reporters either don’t have enough knowledge of the issues to ask relevant questions, or aren’t interested in asking those questions.
Inactions which allow them to call political propaganda informing their readers, and why when provided evidence that these legislators are clearly misrepresenting the material facts, and that their “guest commentaries” are appearing in other local papers and RW blogs around the state, the CV’s response continues to be the sound of silence.
On the day that the White House celebrated a day of prayer, Rudy Giuliani said that multiple payments to numerous women on behalf of the Donald Trump may have been possible. Now, it appears that Michael Cohen was reimbursed to the tune of $500,000 by a Russian oligarch close to Putin. Meanwhile Speaker Ryan tried to fire the chaplain of the House of Representatives, Reverend Patrick Conroy, a Jesuit priest who offered a mild prayer for justice during the debate over the GOP tax cut.
Scott Pruitt continues his corrupt lifestyle at the taxpayers’ expense while destroying environmental protections as fast as he can. Ryan Zinke, at Interior, is selling off our National Parks and Monuments. The swamp is not being drained; it’s becoming an open sewer with many new inhabitants.
Most egregious of all his egregious decisions, just this past Tuesday, Trump abrogated America’s partnership in the international agreement that was also signed by the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union, Russia, China, and Iran. It is a multilateral arms control deal, unanimously endorsed by a United Nations Security Council Resolution. We are now in violation, and Iran is free to restart its nuclear weapons ambitions if it so chooses.
The other signatories are decrying Trump’s decision, and informed military, scientific, national security and diplomatic experts who have served in both Republican and Democratic administrations are all horrified. The International Atomic Energy Agency has determined, through remote monitoring and unprecedented intrusive access to all Iran’s nuclear facilities, that Iran is, indeed, in complete compliance. Bush abrogated the last agreement with North Korea and now Trump has demonstrated that, once again, the United States cannot be trusted to keep its international commitments.
But change is sure to come, and the 7th Congressional District will be right in the middle of it. Excited about the extraordinary quality of the candidates who stepped up to run against Steve Bannon protégé Dave Brat, for the first time in years, the Democratic Committee of the 7th Congressional District decided to hold a primary and let the people choose between candidates Dan Ward and Abigail Spanberger, who have been crisscrossing the district in an intense but civilized campaign for votes.
This is a clarion call for democracy and a demonstration of the Democratic Party’s robust confidence in the will of the people. If you truly want America to become great again, then it must start here in the 7th District by kicking Dave Brat out of office, reelecting Senator Kaine, and taking back Congress from the Republican Party, which has effectively blocked any progress in this country for the last ten years.
The Primary is scheduled for June 12th. Be sure your voter registration is up-to-date, that you have the proper identification, and that you know where your polling place is (you can do all this at one website: http://www.voteinculpeper.info/). Then, go exercise your rights.
The deadline for registering to vote in the June 12th Primary is May 21st. Absentee voting has already begun. June 5th is the last day you can request that an absentee ballot be mailed to you. June 9th is the last day you can vote absentee in person at the Registrar’s office. The polls open at 6:00 am on June 12th.Candidates’ yard signs are popping up around town. Volunteers have begun canvassing door-to-door, and you may be receiving phone calls urging you to register, vote, and support one candidate or the other. The important things are to become informed on the issues, where the candidates stand on them, and then exercise your franchise.
Editors Note: This letter is scheduled to appear in the Sunday May 13th edition of the Culpeper Star Exponent, and has been re-posted here, with the author's permission.
Mr. Reynold’s and Hogan’s May 10th letters in the Central Virginian were similar to their previous ones; filled with misrepresentations of the material facts, unsubstantiated claims, and outright lies. Like how Mr. Hogan professes to be; a concerned citizen, not affiliated with any party, and a former CPA, yet declines to discuss the tax bill he’s ‘rebutting.”
Instead he chooses to divert the conversation with declarations that Democrats will spend millions unseating Brat. Perhaps, but with all that dark money pouring into his campaign coffers, it’s more likely they will be significantly outspent.
He gives lip service to the notion of following the rule of law with fancy words like obstreperous, while claiming his president is being targeted by a special prosecutor and a judicial system run amuck. Attempting to move the conversation away from our being a nation of laws where all are accountable, to antiquated ideas like constitutional revisionism.
And yet claims that he favors “not electing a representative who can just give a good speech,” knowing full well that Brat is a born carnival barker, who won’t be out shilled, at least when people aren’t up in his grill. Perhaps that’s why for over a year, his man has been limiting his public appearances to closed audiences.
But when it comes to defiant misrepresentations, half-truths and outright lies Jerry Reynolds has no peer
Demonstrating his cluelessness after citing Apple’s announcement of “the largest share buybacks in American corporate history’’ and that they are “making out like bandits,” as proof of how well things are going well. Completely oblivious to the dangers which accompany such concentrated wealth.
Whether November produces a Blue Wave, or Democrats are swept out of the Senate, Republican’s will continue to distort the facts. Like Jerry’s claim that President Obama’s economic message was, “the best days are behind us. Get used to the decline. America has no Exceptionalism about it. America never was that great.”
Misrepresentations aimed at those who feel their status and privilege is being threatened, speaking to their disillusionment and anger with the modern world. A dissatisfaction which leads one to either embrace reactionary politics fetishizing the past, or progressive politics which aims to create a better future.
Republicans are doing everything they can to redirect that anger, “not towards those who are the cause of their misery but against those who are just below them on the economic ladder,” using the sheer repetition of their small lies to convince the public that theirs is the only truth.
Meanwhile, piece by piece, notions of objective reality dissolve as facts give way to a unending barrage of alternative facts until people become so habituated to their distractions that their openly racist and xenophobic messages become normalized.
Jerry’s claim that people despise Trump depends on who you talk to. His supporters will approve of his actions no matter what the consequences by overwhelming majorities. Meanwhile, he and Republican leaders continue to circumvent the rule of law, deconstructing and politicizing our government at every opportunity.
If they are being scorned, it’s because of these deeds and growing confirmation of widespread corruption.
A reality which many Republican’s will deny as long as there are FOXified myths like American Exceptionalism for them to cling to.
While many had hoped that when the Drumpfs policies started to affect his supporters that they would start to see the error of their ways. I suspect their capacity for delusion and rationalization exceeds any means of measurement, and his supporters will continue to be willfully defiant.
Like Eddie Devine, owner of Devine Creations Landscaping in Kentucky who says restrictions on seasonal foreign labor may put him out of business, and that “I feel so stupid” and that “I feel like I’ve been tricked by the devil.”
But what makes him angriest is that Trump’s properties in Florida and New York have used 144 H-2B workers since 2016. “I want to know why it’s OK for him to get his workers, but supporters like me don’t get theirs,” Devine said.
Observations which signal two possibilities about Trump's supporters; either they voted for Trump because he is a racist or they voted for him despite his racism, which they did not see as a disqualifying character trait. They were not duped or tricked into supporting him.
They made a conscious and intentional decision: Now some are upset that he has not honored his part of the bargain. While others like Bryan Hall, owner of G.W. Hall and Sons Seafood packing plant on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, continue to cling to the belief that “Trump can fix it with his pen.”
Living in world where any rationalization will do, incapable of admitting their hero’s actions is the cause of their circumstances, and virtually unreachable even when their livelihoods are at risk.
I read with dismay Representative Dave Brat’s highly partisan defense of the new tax law which mainly took effect on January 1. Representative Brat has ignored many important points.
The first point he has failed to mention is that the individual cuts are temporary and will expire in a few years. These temporary rate cuts come with many reductions or eliminations of certain deductions. Personal exemptions are gone, hurting most larger families. There are new limits on mortgage interest and real estate tax deductions. Miscellaneous deductions are gone.
This will hurt many individuals, such as salesmen who use their vehicles for business; medical personnel and law enforcement officers who must maintain their uniforms; contruction workers and mechanics who must purchase their own tools, as well as many others.
Many larger, very profitable corporations will see their tax rates go down from 35 percent to 21 percent. Personally, I have been in favor of this type of corporate tax reform for many years. However, most smaller, less profitable corporations will suffer as they will experience a tax increase from 15 percent to 21 percent.
The estate tax exclusion has been doubled. This will be a huge benefit to a very small number of very wealthy Americans.
It is time we have a tax code that is simpler and fair to all Americans—one that does not just pick winners and losers. I wrote to Mr. Brat prior to the vote, but unfortunately his reponse seemed full of platitudes. I would welcome any reasonable dialogue he would like to have with me regarding these matters.
Stephen Wunsh, CPA
Editors Note: This letter originally appeared in the May 3rd edition of the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted with the author’s permission.
In his guest column in the April 19 issue of The Central Virginian, Congressman Dave Brat painted a rosy picture of the effects of the Tax Reform Act. He claims that over 90 percent of middle class Americans will get a tax cut of $2,000 this year.
But wait a minute—you have to be making $76,000 a year to get that size reduction. And that is a single person’s income, not a family income. For that to be the average, you have to be using a really wide brush to paint such a picture of the middle class. It certainly isn’t the average or median income family in Louisa County.
If you are making minimum wage, your reduction will be less than $200 annually.
Mr. Brat extols the reduction of tax rates on small businesses. That’s great. But wait a minute? What do you call small? What about the dramatic reduction in corporate taxes, from 35 percent to 21 percent? That’s not just for “small” businesses.
There is a problem with reducing taxes. If the government takes in less revenue, how will we pay for roads, schools and other infrastructure? We won’t be able to, and they are already talking about cutting Social Security and Medicare because we “can’t afford” them.
Editors Note: This letter originally appeared in the May 3rd edition of the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted with the author’s permission.