Blue Louisa: A blog Covering Central Virginia & national politics from a progressive perspective
If your reading of newspapers extends beyond Louisa's, The Central Virginian, you may appreciate revisiting a 2014 letter in the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star from A. Beecher Sutherland, a former member of the Orange County Republican Committee.
Where he states that “The Republican Party or, more specifically, the tea party Republicans, have just slit their throats in the 7th District of Virginia,” and when you “… mix enthusiasm with stupidity … you soon have … what Vladimir Lenin once referred to as “useful idiots.”
These tea party supporters certainly did their part in ridding our district of Eric Cantor, and initially I thought they did us a great service, but now I’m having second thoughts. Especially when you ask them why they worked so hard to get rid of him, they are unable to give any coherent answers.
Since most of these folks responded so enthusiastically to Cantors dog whistles for the past 6 elections, one has to ask; what changed their minds? Was it really because his messages were sounding less and less “real” as the years went by?
Or was it because they needed something which could keep all their fears and prejudices “fresh,” giving them a new relevancy? Like Brat attacking Cantor for not being "harsh" enough on illegal immigration.
The central problem in the 7th District and around the county is one of identity. And conservative identity is wrapped around being opposed to everything liberal, to the point of despising anything even associated with it. Since liberalism represents empiricism and reason, the incentives for conservatives to reject it multiply.
To be a “conservative” increasingly means taking a contemptuous view of reality. And so the proudly ignorant grow more belligerent, day after day, attitudes the astroturfed Tea Party and their useful minions are more than happy to exploit.
Along with Dave Brat, a product of the BB&T Moral Foundations of Capitalism Program funded by John Allison, head of the Koch funded Cato Institute. According to Allison, this is just one of 68 programs around the country “at most of the major universities in our operating area.” Boasting that “many [students] indicate the program is the first time they have heard capitalism defended from an ethical perspective.”
Brat isn’t just some random conservative economics professor; he's a bought-and-paid-for shill, part of a coordinated effort to steer the next generation of young people towards libertarian economics. But the connections between Brat and his supporters doesn’t stop there, he is one of many Manchurian candidates from the Koch-backed stable.
Over the past few months, right-wing radio hosts like Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin have pushed Brat non-stop on their radio shows. Politico recently reported on a fast growing and influential network of conservative radio talk show hosts who are driving the countries conservative movement.
“Filings with the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Election Commission, as well as interviews and reviews of radio shows, found that groups (such as the Koch Brothers sponsored group Americans for Prosperity) spent nearly $22 million to broker and pay for sponsorships with a handful of influential talkers… Since then, the sponsorship deals have grown more lucrative and tea party-oriented.”
Brat's one of many foot soldiers of the libertarian billionaire class and their army of talk radio hosts. A brave new world of dark money politics, a raving-loon industrial complex of radio shows financed by a vast lagoon of plutocratic payola. His sole purpose is to convey his master’s message to the people of the 7th District.
Some may recall how he ran against Cantor attacking “crony capitalism” and the incestuous relationship which exists between big money and politics. Like all good misrepresentations; it worked because it contains an inescapable grain of truth, that our political system represents the interests of the .1% like the Koch Brothers.
If this speech at a recent press conference where he spoke for a few minutes, and took no questions is any indication, nothing has changed except for who's running on the Republican ticket. Speaking of revolving doors ... I mean the usual suspects; shortly after winning the primary, he replaced his 23 year old campaign manager with Amanda Chase who coincidentally used to be Eric Cantor’s campaign manager, and is now a Virginia State Senator.
While his newly appointed communications director, Brian Gottstein used to be Ken Cuccinelli’s communications director when he was Virginia’s Attorney General. Nor was it any coincidence that the extreme wing blog, Breitbart.com was the only news organization which covered this "press conference."
Such extreme and controlling practices like this are why Mr. Sutherland decided to leave the party. Let’s hope more Republicans come to their senses and follow suite, lest they be exposed as willfully ignorant supporters of a paid shill.
Dave Brat likes to complain.
The 7th District Congressman, whose district spans from Nottoway to Culpeper, is a frequent guest on cable news and talk radio.
One of his favorite topics: complaining about his job and, more specifically, his constituents.
Brat regularly makes the rounds among the press, pundits and political sycophants to talk about the pesky people he was elected to serve. He infamously complained that women were “in his grill” when they approached him to share their concerns about health care. Last August, as neo-Nazis wreaked havoc in the streets of Charlottesville, he took to the airwaves and quickly shifted the conversation, bemoaning the behavior of constituents who attended one of his rare town halls.
I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I encountered Brat at the Louisa County Agricultural Fair and quietly listened as he chatted with supporters.
Brat didn’t offer an uplifting message about the work he is doing on our behalf in Washington. Instead, he complained about a significant slice of the 7th District electorate, demonizing those who dare to disagree with him and suggesting a dark conspiracy concerning his district’s geography.
In one encounter, Brat discussed the redrawing of his district in 2016, mandated by a federal court to help remedy the unconstitutional gerrymander of a nearby district, “I lost all of Hanover. They did it on purpose…I taught there for 20 years so everybody knows me,” he said.
He added that he was “dumped,” then pointed out that he picked up Amelia, Powhatan and Nottoway counties. “But I didn’t teach there for 20 years so I gotta go meet people.”
It’s Dave Brat’s job to represent us in Congress—all of us. We pay him to go to Washington and speak up on our behalf. But, for Dave, it’s a chore to travel across his district and listen to our concerns. It’s a pain to meet people in Nottoway. It’s a bother to talk with women, worried about losing their health care, in Henrico.
This November, let’s do Brat a favor and relieve him of his duties.
Editor’s note: This originally appeared in the Blackstone Courier-Record, and is only available to paying subscribers
“The truth is not the truth.” – Rudy Giuliani
“What you are seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” – Donald Trump
Congressman Dave Brat recently instituted “mobile office hours,” because his constituents demanded accessibility, as he hasn’t held a town hall for fifteen months. I met with him Tuesday morning for my ten minutes – one of only nine “lucky” constituents in the one and a half hours allotted to Culpeper County with more than 50,000 registered voters.
My primary topic – the “rules” limited us to one – was foreign affairs and the Iran nuclear deal, in particular. I have thirty years of experience in that field under several Republican and Democratic administrations. The nuclear deal, in particular. I have thirty years of experience in that field under several Republican and Democratic administrations. The nuclear deal was a multi-national effort that halted Iran’s nuclear weapons program in its tracks. Trump’s irresponsible abrogation of that deal is one of the biggest foreign policy blunders in modern history. Mr. Brat simply dismissed its success and parroted Trump’s talking points that the deal should have covered multiple issues.
He couldn’t come to grips with how an international consensus on multiple issues was difficult to reach. Mr. Brat’s view is that “Iran wants to whack us. Their people are totally opposed to the regime. They are the number one sponsor of state terrorism.” I seriously doubt that Iran will ever have the capability to “whack” us and his view of domestic Iranian politics may be wishful thinking. I should fact check things, he said. Seriously? He doesn’t know that about me yet? Several times I was compelled to say, “that’s just not true.”
Dave Brat was interviewed by NBC12 in Richmond recently. When asked why he has not denounced Corey Stewart’s blatant bigotry and racism, he responded that he only deals in policy, but it didn’t keep him, in the same interview, from trying to tar Abigail Spanberger as a rabble-rouser because (he said) she was sitting in the front row at the Chesterfield town hall. Ms. Spanberger was there, alright, taking notes as a constituent and private citizen. She didn’t announce her candidacy until July. Screaming and cursing during the prayer? See for yourself, Brat lied.
People became enraged because he ignored their questions about the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act and just regurgitated his scripted talking points. When the interviewer later asked why he was on Alex Jones ultra-far-right radio program with his “conspiracy-laced rants that make [Beck and Limbaugh] “sound like tea-sipping NPR hosts on Zoloft.” – Rolling Stone, Brat said it was just an opportunity like any other.
Contrast this with Abigail Spanberger’s professional performance in her interview on NBC12. The differences between the two could not be starker. It is even more apparent if you listen to Mr. Brat and conservative radio show host John Fredericks, who bills himself as “America’s Godzilla of TRUTH.” Mr. Brat’s attacks on Ms. Spanberger were desperate, unhinged, and patently false, see for yourself.
Watch Mr. Brat’s first TV campaign ad, posted just this past week In it, he takes credit for things he had nothing to do with, except party line votes. One statement, that he wrote a law shutting down child-trafficking websites, is a total lie. All he did was sign on as a co-sponsor to a bill introduced by a Democrat four months earlier.
Conservative columnist George Will recently observed “The midterm election won’t be about liberals versus conservatives. It won’t be about Democrats versus Republicans. That election will be about moral, decent human beings versus Trump supporters.” Dave Brat will stand solidly behind the unindicted co-conspirator, Donald Trump. Where will you stand?
Editors Note: This letter originally appeared in the Culpeper Star Exponent, and is re-posted here with the author’s permission.
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.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.