Our president said over the weekend that certain politicians should “go back” to “the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.”
It is widely believed he was referring to four United States congresswomen. Since they were all elected to Congress, having passed the first hurdle to election of becoming a U.S. citizen, he must mean the states they came from. This type of rhetoric coming from the primary defender of our Constitution seems wildly out of place in both the political and religious founding of this great country. I’m sure certain fundamentalist organizations, like the Klan, are cheering today just like certain countries are alleged to have cheered over 9-11.
Bias, bigotry and lack of tolerance seem to permeate Washington. But Richmond is no slacker in this either. This November, we get to choose new representation in state politics. If you are a woman or a minority perhaps you’ve noticed that Bryce Reeves voted against the Equal Rights Amendment, along with other members of his party. Is this what we Virginians want – a return to barefoot and pregnant? Continued “pay them less because they’re not men?” Deny them control over their bodies? Is it bad to have an abortion, but OK to kill children in schools or coworkers with guns in the hands of those undergoing some sort of breakdown?
While I don’t think abortion is a good idea, it’s not my decision (plus abortions are declining anyway). While I keep and shoot guns, it’s not right to ignore the pain caused by a less-than-rational shooter.
The president will be voted in or out next year (and that’s important); but what about our election this year? Let’s look at our local politicians and decide if they truly represent all of us.
Get out and vote this November, especially if you are a woman or a minority.
Editor's Note: this originally appeared in the July 19th edition of the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author's permission.
What occurred July 9 during the General Assembly’s Special Session should be a wake up call. Three Virginians die every day from gun violence. The majority of these deaths are suicides. Many others are the result of domestic violence.
The current NRA mantra is that a good guy with a gun is the best defense against a bad guy with a gun. But where’s the “good guy” when a person commits suicide? What about women killed by their ex-husbands, husbands, boyfriends or ex-boyfriends? How about a young child who finds a carelessly stored gun? It seems in our society we value human life, except in these cases.
The Governor’s request was simple. After the mass shooting in Virginia Beach, he wanted legislators to reconsider gun legislation that failed to pass a few short months earlier. Virginia’s failure to act has a long history. Twelve years after 32 people died at Virginia Tech we still have no meaningful gun safety legislation. Recommendations from a bi-partisan Blue Ribbon Panel generally have not been acted on. After 12 years of inaction, more than 11,000 Virginians have since become victims of gun violence.
To pretend we are powerless to address gun violence is ludicrous. After the 90-minute charade I watched last Tuesday, even after some influential legislators promised to submit legislation for debate, Virginia’s legislators simply chose to dodge their responsibility to provide for public safety. Many other states have passed legislation to protect lives. It’s time for Virginia to join them.
The Governor said he expected better. We all should expect better. Families who have and will continue to use lose loved ones deserve better. On November 5, it’s time to remove from office those individuals who won’t even consider common sense public safety solutions.
Editor's Note: This originally appeared in the July 17th electronic edition of the Culpeper Star Exponent, and has been re-posted here with the author's permission.
I hereby announce, “No liver will be served in this house.” So does this mean I can be labeled a “vegan,” “pescetarian,” “animal lover” or “animal hater?” No, it means if you’re coming to a potluck at my house, leave the pâté at the end of the driveway.
Was this a bold move? Maybe no one would bring pâté; so just consider it a warning that if you might, don’t. Maybe The City of Charlottesville and Albermarle County’s announcement that their police forces would not participate in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids was also just a warning. I don’t know. I wasn’t part of the decision. I can’t read minds. Enter Jon Russell on July 14, 2019, with his article in the Star-Exponent, "Two communities, two immigration stances," and his labels of a “bold move,” “a political stunt designed to make headlines,” and evidence these communities are “de facto sanctuary communities.” Fact Check: there is no legal definition of a sanctuary community, and such continuous labeling until perceived as truth is a tactic straight out of Propaganda 101.
Last year Sheriff Jenkins signed a 287(g) agreement with ICE; one of two Virginia counties to do so. So far I haven’t seen massive reports of immigrant criminals running rampant in the other 93 counties. I also haven’t seen any hard data from Sheriff Jenkins. How many have been arrested? What were the charges? How many convictions? Deported? Monies received? Spent? Has 287(g) been effective in keeping our community safer, a deterrent in keeping criminals away, or has it merely stoked fear in our minorities and votes for our politicians?
You can count me among the compassionate and the committed to the rule of law, and Mr. Russell and Sheriff Jenkins are welcome to bring the facts to my house anytime. Just leave the propaganda at the end of the driveway.
Editor's Note: This originally appeared in the July 15th electronic edition of the Culpeper Star Exponent, and has been re-posted here with the author's permission.
The state of Wisconsin recently maneuvered itself into a position of granting enormous tax breaks – and other advantages that included providing additional infrastructure – to a company (Foxconn) that made grandiose promises that weren’t intended to be kept, were unable to be kept, and have no hope of being kept
You have to ask relevant questions to get some insight or to speculate about the motivation and the ability of any government level to impose a financial burden on an unsuspecting public and expect it to willingly submit to its backdoor machinations. Tony Evers, the new governor or Wisconsin inherited the responsibility to resolve the sham that was named “economic development.”
Without an investigation, there is only speculation about how that fiasco occurred but we can also use that speculation to consider if Louisa County is headed for a similar disaster with the Shannon Hill Project – or Megasite
The Wisconsin Foxconn projections were overly optimistic from the start, but who could’ve known that of the thousands of estimated jobs, only about four to six actual employees had been identified. How certain are we that the Megasite projections don’t have similar flaws? Someone should’ve anticipated what would happen.
We can be confident that the Foxconn mishap likely has its origins in misinformation, disinformation, and intimidation (to some extent). There are really three participants in this drama.
All the participants have access to varying levels of information but in typical fashion, taxpayers have the least information, which almost always manifests itself as the amount of the bill when government and business complete their collusion in a financial enterprise. The victim role is the one assigned to taxpayers, while government and business exchange levels of culpability and responsibility for perpetrating deception. It’s conceivable that government can rightly plead “not guilty” in a few instances when it allows itself to indulge in gullibility.
Business is the “usual” culprit in manipulating and taking advantage of the Economic Development mechanism in its continuing quest for profit – it’s a natural pheromone. Government misunderstands it but submits to the overtures of financial promises, even if they’re unrealistic. But, does government really know how to make a sound business determination?
Taxpayers are at the greatest disadvantage because they lack the exposure to the language and experience with the processes that the government and business have created and protected between themselves.
Land ownership is a significant incentive to entice “development,” especially if the price is right and there’s no further use for that land. If a significant short-term profit can be made because of bleak long-term prospects some business enterprise will certainly offer a large tract of land. Business is extremely adept at getting government to become an accomplice in any venture as long as the magic word is used – Economic Development.
Misinformation can easily be viewed as the propagation of incorrect information without any necessary intent to deceive. This is a familiar pattern with large and diverse groups. It’s a natural phenomenon that’s displayed in communication models as “noise.” It can happen through honest misinterpretation at the start of sending information; through the various levels of business, government, and public; and, the final destination where taxpayers are usually expected to suffer the consequences of mutated information.
Part of this noise is the result of bias and unreasonable expectations. The concept of Economic Development creates optimistic – but unrealistic – expectations even when there is no justification for it. As a society, we tend to ignore any deeper meaning beyond the sound bites we’ve grown accustomed to receiving. The inquisitiveness that accompanies critical thinking has moved along the path of atrophy.
This is a dangerous state that leaves citizens exposed to manipulation by business – sometimes with the aid of government, unwittingly caught in the misinformation trap. And this is only the most benign of the “bad things” that can happen.
Disinformation is even more sinister – an active attempt to deceive and mislead. It becomes worse when government willingly and knowingly abets business. Elected and appointed officials do not simply fail to perform all the fiduciary duties and responsibilities on behalf of the taxpayers, but actively participate to disrupt and distort information. Under these conditions, the reaction is to preserve the undeserved image of a functioning government.
Claims of restrictions to sensitive information are only used to add to the perception of importance – if you believe government can be serious about that. If these distractions work, the government is emboldened to continue its deceit – in concert with business – and increases the risk of further damage to the financial structure that should be benefiting citizens, instead of business.
Intimidation has many facets but its utility is best seen when there is insufficient justification for a planned enterprise and a false choice is offered between only two options when other possibilities exist. Taxpayers are challenged and humiliated to participate in the process – this is the intimidation – then that participation is trivialized when blic comments don’t allow enough time to adequately express concerns.
This is in direct contrast to the audience granted to business. Any obstacles the government places to prevent or minimize public participation are intimidation. Another example of intimidation is government dismissively taunting the public to vote its representatives out of office if the decisions are unsatisfactory. By then, too much time would’ve gone by and even more disasters burden the taxpayers.
The problem with either, misinformation or disinformation is that the results are the same. And, the solutions are the same:
That perspective may have complemented or conflicted with the government understanding, but the right of the people takes precedence. In Louisa, it might make a difference to its citizens if they knew that the biggest beneficiary of Option 1 to the Shannon Hill Industrial Park Development is a Richmond entity – not someone from Louisa. Under Option 3 of that plan, the only beneficiary of the land sale is the Richmond entity.
That information is available if someone knows where to look for it, but it wasn’t forthcoming from the Louisa County government.
Consider how Wisconsin could have facilitated the participation of its citizens to reach an equitable agreement with Foxconn – if all the information were made available. The government could have ensured that all reports and studies would be readily available well in advance of decision milestones, if for no other reasons than:
Exchange of clear information is necessary for the security of the public – both financial security and, especially, political security. Sometimes we can see the government adopt an arrogant tone with voters because of how it manages to portray itself in the hierarchy. Too often, that kind of intimidation succeeds because citizens don’t always realize the rights that they still have, or the rights they’ve abdicated along the way.
Consider what the Wisconsin voters could have done without the arbitrary obstacles of a government. As a society, we’ve become too timid – timid to the point where our employee, the government, is telling us what to do. In some ways, it’s the same thing as a contractor (business) telling the government what to do. There’s very little difference. Business tells the government; and the government tells the people. This is the process of government going in the wrong direction.
Is there that much difference between the state government of Wisconsin and the county government of Louisa?
In magnitude, yes. In the ability and capability to serve all the information to the taxpayers that allows a consensus decision, both the government and business are successful in isolating the public from deciding on those issues that affect it.
Is there that large a difference between the vulnerability of the citizens of Wisconsin burdened with Foxconn and the citizens of Louisa disadvantaged by the Megasite?
The risk to and alternatives for the public don’t get to be addressed when the path to “Economic Development” machinery is already in motion.
Do the citizens of Louisa County deserve the risk and burden of Shannon Hill Industrial Park turning into a Wisconsin Foxconn?
The taxpayers of Louisa still haven’t received a full accounting of the decision made by its government. The voters of Wisconsin could have avoided the Foxconn fiasco with information, participation, and control. These same things are needed in Louisa because of the steps taken by the government without our consent.
We make the mistake of sometimes forgetting that our elected officials work for us. It’s not up to the government to make decisions for the people; it’s government’s duty and responsibility to implement the decisions of the people.
We have just celebrated one of our founding fathers’ greatest achievements—the Declaration of Independence, penned by Thomas Jefferson, listing grievances of the colonies against the governance of King George III of Great Britain.
Jefferson wrote a mission statement that still guides the hearts of free men everywhere. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The Declaration challenged George III’s unbridled authority to interfere with local government, abuse taxation, and maintain an army, while at the same time not protecting the settlers against the Indians on the frontier. Discouraging immigration and suborning justices to comply with the King’s will were listed. There are 27 indictments in all.
Jefferson ended with the observation, “In every stage of these Oppression's, we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”
With British abuses in mind, the Founding Fathers designed the Constitution. When I became a presidentially appointed Foreign Service Officer, I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. My military colleagues, other public servants, the Congress and even the vice president take the same oath.
In their day, Jefferson and his colleagues swore an oath to a person: The King. The Founding Fathers took great pains to construct an instrument of law that contained the unbridled powers of the monarchy they opposed. Hence, the Constitution is the reason Americans believe no one is above the law.
John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the United States, summed up the constitutional project by saying, “If Congress or any other department of government can ignore the limitations of the Constitution, all distinction between government of limited powers and a government of unlimited powers is done away with.”
Further, “the people themselves cannot make treaties, enact laws, or administer the government. They must do such things through agents. That these agents might abuse this power was no argument against giving it, for the power of doing good is inseparable for that of doing some evil.”
Thus, the Constitution deliberately created a balance of power between the three branches of government. The First Amendment protects the press, which we have long called the fourth branch of government.
Jefferson himself was very aware of how frustrating the press could be, but he also saw it as a protection against tyranny. The Founding Fathers would never have labeled the press the “enemy of the people.” In fact, the great contemporary defense of the Constitution comes from the Federalist Papers—which were printed, not in book form, but as newspaper articles.
The Constitution requires much of us. It also assumes that representatives and senators will represent the interests of their constituents. That assumption was embedded in Lincoln’s eloquent phrase, “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
Today, we have representatives who seem more interested in getting their dogma straight than their constituents’ problems solved.
We have a president who talks about “my army” and “my generals.” That’s the people’s army, thank you. We have a president who talks about foreign policy as a function of his feelings about other leaders. He does not talk about what best protects America or its image in the world.
We must ask ourselves, if avoiding the tyranny of George III is the steel in the construction of the Constitution, are we honoring the Founding Fathers and the Culpeper Minutemen, who fought tyranny to live like free men, when we forget what the Constitution requires of us?
Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared in the Culpeper Star Exponent and is re-posted here with the author’s permission.
It seems that Jerry Reynolds is upset because someone denigrated President Donald Trump with disrespectful language.
Trump is a cruel, egotistical, racist, narcissistic maniac who tells lies more often than he tells the truth. The Washington Post has documented over 10,000 instances of lies and misinformation that Trump has told since taking office. Trump is known for denigrating almost everyone he knows or even those he doesn’t know, with the exception of the leaders of Russia, Israel, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and China.
Trump acts like a five year-old child in a playground by giving people infantile nicknames. En route to London, he sent out a nasty tweet about the mayor. He insulted Gold Star parents who had lost their son and said he had sacrificed as much as they had by creating jobs and making donations.
He insulted the late John McCain while he was alive and even after his death, because he was a prisoner of war. Meanwhile, Trump was at home dodging the draft with fake bone spurs.
He talks down to and openly criticizes other world leaders who do not agree with him. If you watch televised international meetings that Trump attends, you will see that he is also disrespectful in his actions. He’s been shown pushing others out of his way so he can be up front. He talks down to and criticizes other world leaders with no consideration of how this will affect our relations.
Trump is a wanna-be dictator. According to Psychology Today, some of the traits of a dictator are: charming, charismatic, self-confident, independent, sexually energized, self-absorbed, masterful liar and compassionless, with a boundless appetite for power.
He doesn’t follow the rules of governing. He uses his executive privilege to cover up things he doesn’t want Congress or the public to know. Controlling people by not allowing them to testify, and covering up information not only from the people but also Congress. That is definitely an act of a dictator.
He thinks he should be allowed to do whatever he wants to do, even though he does not have Constitutional authority to do so. He wants to use military funds to build his wall. He wants to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia.
He thinks the treasury department is his own personal bank account to spend however he wants. He has spent over $112 million to play golf at his resort in Florida, and that doesn’t include money wasted on his other golf trips to his other golf clubs. While we taxpayers have been footing this bill, Trump is making a profit by charging his staff, press members and secret service detail for food and lodging while staying there. We pay the tab every time he plays golf at one of his clubs and he makes a profit. This is the man who criticized former President Barack Obama for playing golf!
His latest big waste of taxpayer money was taking his four adult children and their spouses to London. Taxpayers paid $1.3 million for hotel accommodations alone!
He is so jealous of Barack Obama that he has tried to destroy any good that Obama did. One of his first actions was to appoint an individual as secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency who had sued the agency at least three times. That individual rescinded almost all of Obama’s regulations on fossil fuel, coal mining, wastewater and other issues that have a detrimental effect on our environment.
Obama joined a group of 100 nations who agreed to work toward clean air. Trump is the only world leader to withdraw. He backed out of the multi-national pact with Iran on nuclear weapons, and now we are on the verge of war with them.
Trump brags that he has done more to reduce unemployment than any other president. When Obama took office, the unemployment rate was at 7.8 percent. When he left office, it was at 4.7 percent, a 3.1 percent decrease. It is currently 3.8 percent, which is less than a percentage point decrease since Trump took office.
Trump has immigrant families in virtual concentration camps with unsanitary conditions, and doesn’t think we should be providing them with personal hygiene products. He claims to be a Christian, but he certainly doesn’t act like it as far as these people are concerned. Read Leviticus chapter 19, verses 33 and 34 to find out what God says about how to treat strangers living among you.
As for the Mueller report, it was initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine if there was collusion or corruption by Trump and his administration. While collusion could not be confirmed, Trump was not totally exonerated from obstruction of justice. No fewer than five of his associates are now in jail as a result of their criminal activities.
Trump declared that his tax cuts would help lower- and middle-income people the most. However, the plan eliminated many deductions that average working-class people previously used, such as $1,050 per person personal exemption and creating mortgage interest caps, causing millions to pay more taxes than they had previously. Meanwhile, the plan made private airplanes and golf courses tax exempt. Does anyone know how many airplanes and golf courses Trump owns? We’ll probably never know since he refuses to release his tax returns and has directed the Internal Revenue Service to not provide them to Congress, even though there is a law on the books that says they must. More obstruction of justice?
I know Mr. Reynolds and other Trump fans will rant and rave, and say I am lying. All they have to do is check the facts. I did.
Editor’s Note: this op-ed originally appeared in the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.