Blue Louisa: A blog Covering Central Virginia & national politics from a progressive perspective
On May 30th, Virginia lawmakers have voted to extend healthcare to 400,000 low-income residents. It is time for the 7th District’s Congressman to follow suit. Dave Brat has maintained his pro-Trump agenda to dismantle the life-saving Affordable Care Act despite the overwhelming need of many in the 7th district for more affordable health insurance.
Democratic candidate Abigail Spanberger believes health care is a human right. I have an illness that requires constant maintenance and I rely on the lowered premiums that keep co-pays from the doctors I see at an affordable price. Before the ACA I lived paycheck to paycheck. Now I have a daughter and our expenses have increased. I’m worried that we won’t be able to afford the care I need if the ACA is dismantled.
I feel very detached from Representative Brat and remain disappointed that he only makes policies to serve the wealthy minority that elected him. I hope Abigail Spanberger will win so that my healthcare needs are protected and I can take care of my family without fear that my illness will go untreated.
Editor’s Note: This letter originally appeared in the Amelia Bulletin Monitor, and has been re-posted with the author’s permission.
I was diagnosed with a chronic, lifetime illness my sophomore year of college. I was not working so my parents used COBRA and paid $28,680 out-of-pocket to get me back to health so I could graduate college. The Affordable Care Act has helped families like mine by keeping children on parent’s health insurance until the age of 26 but it hasn’t done enough to help lower medication costs.
I have to pay $3,000 out of pocket by March, every year, due to how expensive my medications are. My finances are very tight but I am very lucky to be able to afford my medication. I could not work or be a good mother without it. I am painfully aware that my life is not attainable to many Virginians with my diagnosis. That’s why it is important to make medications more accessible by lowering costs.
The current administration is out of touch with the reality many Americans face on a daily basis. Politicians like Dave Brat are loyal to party members and special interest groups, while Virginians, especially the working poor, are suffering under Republican policies and leadership. That is why I am hoping Abigail Spanberger will be elected to replace Rep. Brat. She is aware of the hardships many voters in the 7th district endure, and I believe she is prepared to do what is best for the 7th District and protect healthcare for all Virginians.
Editor’s Note: This letter originally appeared in the Culpeper Times, and has been re-posted with the author’s permission
I’ve been a Republican since I first cast a vote. Sadly, the GOP I knew no longer exists. The GOP I knew strengthened our economy on free trade not the failed ideology of tariffs. The GOP I knew upheld NATO, our alliances and promoted American leadership on the world stage. Today’s GOP has transformed into something much darker, infected by “blood and soil” nationalism, anti-immigration sentiment (even for legal immigration), isolation from our allies and appeasement of Russian aggression.
Today’s GOP is the party of purity populism over practical solutions and government shutdowns/gridlock over compromise. This ugly state of affairs has only been encouraged by Congressman Dave Brat.
As a veteran of Iraq and security clearance holder, I was mortified to see Trump disparage our nation’s federal law enforcement and intelligence community while standing side-by-side with Putin in Helsinki. What was Dave Brat’s response? To blame former President Obama through whataboutism theatrics.
Where was Dave Brat when Trump attacked John McCain’s time as a POW? Gold Star parents? The disabled? Called for reporters to be jailed? Dave Brat was nowhere to be found. I can disagree and still respect an elected official. What I can’t abide, is an official refusing to stand up for truth due to a fear of offending a special interest or a party leader.
When the rule of law, oversight and truth are put into jeopardy, we must choose leaders who will embrace bipartisan solutions, strengthen our support of national security agencies, stand up to Russian aggression and make Congress an effective branch of government again. That is why I am proudly casting my vote for Abigail Spanberger, a centrist and former CIA officer, this November. Abigail will represent ALL people of the 7th district and put country before party.
Editor’s Note: This letter originally appeared in the Culpeper Star Exponent, is re-posted here with the author’s permission.
I remember when the movie “Signs” by M. Night Shyamalan premiered. The film left us scratching our collective heads because the underlying story was not what we thought it would be about.
I would also bet that in the weeks before Election Day in every community around the country people are again left scratching their heads when the “signs” - in this case, their campaign signs - go missing from their roadways, yards, or vehicles. Citizens are left feeling violated because those signs show support for their chosen candidates and encourage others to vote.
We may not agree with the messages shown on the signs, and some people think that taking them is just a prank performed by some misguided folks having fun. But stealing signs is much more than just vandalizing. It is an infringement on another’s freedom of speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Are there any legal consequences for this behavior? Yes. It is important to note that destroying, defacing or stealing political signs is illegal and could result in serious consequences in the state of Virginia. When found guilty, the perpetrator could be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor that could result in hefty fines. However, there has to be a burden of proof which is often difficult to validate.
So, what can you do? Please - leave these signs alone. Let freedom of speech prevail. Change our society with your vote instead of doing something illegal.
William Quarles Jr. is the Co-Chair of the Goochland Democratic Committee.
Editor’s Note: This letter originally appear in the Goochland Gazette, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
Our beliefs -- the things we accept as true -- can be split into things we are told (based mainly on “Authority”) and things we can observe/test for ourselves (based on “Evidence”). Everyone uses both sources, but not to the same degree. Even scientists rely heavily on evidence first discovered by earlier workers (Newton famously said that he saw farther then others because he stood “on the shoulders of giants”), albeit requiring that such sources be both accurate and subject to confirmation. To that base, they add new information (data) and explain precisely how it was obtained. At the opposite extreme, fantasy novelists and various other artists create worlds less burdened by reality, using that emancipation to explore beauty, morality, and other topics ill-suited to scientific analysis.
Government needs to work mainly in the scientific mode when fashioning policy. Our philosophical compass is pre-set by the Constitution. “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” is a blunt statement of assumptions, our ideals. Self-evident! Policy is the recipe we follow in striving to reach those ideals and factual information plays the role of ingredients. In our guts we know that nonsense like “alternative fact” is a poor substitute. While truth is often elusive, it is out there somewhere. Good bakers do not replace shortening with bacon grease because that spoils the cake.
Real facts are similarly important for legislative policies dealing with nature. And science is the best system humans have ever developed for discovering verifiable information about nature. “Truth isn’t truth” has scant appeal as a logic framework. The most obvious problem with alternative facts is that they are infinitely flexible: groups with opposite ideologies can invent countless fabrications that align neatly with their views. That approach gets us nowhere.
As I write this letter, monster Hurricane Florence is stalling just offshore, sucking up extra seawater from an overheated ocean. The damage it inflicts over the next few days will be extraordinarily expensive, probably lethal. Scientists have warned us to expect more ‘rare’ events like this (e.g., last month’s western fires, last year’s Hurricane Maria, etc.) as the result of climate change. Not just a few cherry-picked scientists, but a staggering 97% of climate scientists agree that global warming is artificially inflated by human activities. Such agreement among scientists (a notoriously skeptical lot) is stunning.
Yet, our president dismisses the matter (“Chinese hoax”) and current congressional enablers cry “Controversial!” When asked directly about climate change, a few just announce “I am not a scientist!” Think about that. When our car won’t start do we just declare, “I am not an auto mechanic!” or do we find someone who is? We value expertise, people who know how to work with real evidence…real facts.
In the District 7 Congressional race, Abigail Spanberger is clearly the realists’ pick. One cannot work in federal law enforcement and CIA anti-terrorism intelligence by cherry-picking only information bearing happy-face stickers. Facts matter. By contrast, Dave Brat ducks, asserting “The best way to care for our environment is through economic growth and free markets” at the local level. He does not explain how a worldwide climate crisis will be fixed via local free markets. His statements on the environment are science deserts, a turtle retreating within its shell. We need science and facts on this and many other issues. We need Spanberger’s commitment to reality.
Douglas W. Mock
Editor’s Note: this letter originally appeared in the Goochland Gazette, and is re-posted here with the author’s permission.
It appears that Dave Brat is just not listening. Before he voted for a revision of the tax code last year, I wrote to him suggesting several improvements.
My letter did not mention any political party. I pointed out many people who might suffer for his vote, including health care employees, law enforcement personnel, employees who use their vehicles for business, victims of casualty losses and many more.
The tax bill actually increases the tax burden for smaller corporations from 15 percent to 21 percent, but drastically reduces taxes for larger profitable corporations. The law rewards married couples with assets in excess of $22 million. I do not consider that to be a middleclass tax cut.
Brat responded with a highly partisan letter full of platitudes without showing any substantive knowledge. He has failed to hold any meaningful town hall meetings. Is he afraid of his own constituents? After all, they might ask him why he voted to remove protection for pre-existing conditions from health care, endangering the pocketbooks and, possibly, lives of the disabled, those with heart and lung disease, cancer and others’ medical conditions.
I am saddened by the negative tone of this campaign by Mr. Brat. Outside groups are pouring money into misleading and untruthful ads. We need new leadership in Washington. I am voting for Abigail Spanberger in November.
Editor's Note: this originally appeared in the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
Dave Brat is a hawk on the annual deficit and the total national debt. At least he is in words. He attacks Democrats and his own party leadership for failing to reduce annual deficits. He constantly warns us of the dangers of the country’s debt. But, do Dave’s actions match his words?
1- Brat voted for the Republican tax bill, HR 1–the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. The Act provided significant tax cuts for the wealthy and lesser tax relief for you and me. However, prior to passage of the tax bill, the Congressional Budget Office issued a report warning that the bill would add $1.8 trillion to the national debt (including the increased cost of interest). Brat voted for the bill nonetheless.
2- Twice Brat introduced bills to create Universal Savings Accounts (H.R. 4904 and H.R. 937). These accounts would allow those who could afford it to set aside $5,500 per year in tax free accounts.
Unlike retirement accounts, Dave’s accounts would allow withdrawals at any time and all of the proceeds (including interest, capital gains and other earnings) would be tax-free. Dave’s Universal Savings Accounts would again reduce taxes, mostly for the wealthy, at the expense of losing revenues and thus increasing the national debt.
3- Brat signed a September 10, 2018, letter to the Speaker of the House and the chair of the Ways and Means Committee urging that the federal estate tax be repealed. But, the estate tax currently applies only to estates over $10 million and allows heirs to keep 60% of the amount over $10 million. To Dave that is not enough. He wants the wealthy to be able to pass on all their riches to their heirs tax-free. Repealing the estate tax would reduce revenue to the government, thus increasing the national debt.
It shouldn’t take an economist to understand that if you reduce revenues to the government by reducing taxes, the national debt will increase. Even my grandchildren, using only arithmetic, would tell you that.
Professor Brat talks big on the national debt. However, clearly his actions demonstrate that he is willing to increase the debt significantly in order to cut taxes for the wealthy. Some people might call this hypocrisy.
Editor's Note: this letter originally appeared in Richmond2day, and has been re-posted here with the author's permission.
The Founding Fathers anticipated a president like Donald Trump when they wrote the Constitution. That is not to say they anticipated a president who would cancel national security clearances to deter critics, publicly side with a Russian despot against agencies of his own government, undermine America’s global leadership by attacking its allies and the institutions that leverage American power, repeatedly and demonstrably lie in his public statements and regularly attack the free press and its role in America’s democracy.
The framers of the Constitution did not anticipate Trump’s specific actions, but they understood that those who hold power could misuse it. Accordingly, the Constitution established a system of checks and balances in which the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government each had powers reserved to it that the other branches did not. The executive branch was relatively strong, but there were deliberate checks on presidential authority, domestically and internationally, in the powers the Constitution assigned to the Congress.
Congress no longer providing oversight
Unfortunately, it is fair to say the current Congress has largely abdicated its constitutional responsibilities to provide oversight and guidance to Trump and his administration. This is obvious with regard to foreign policy and trade policy. In previous decades, Republican and Democratic chairmen have led the Senate Foreign Relations and Senate Finance Committees to conduct substantive reviews of the foreign and trade policies of presidential administrations of both parties — and to pass legislation that directed what administrations could and could not do. An example of this was the Senate committee's years-long impact on the Johnson administration’s Vietnam policies, under the leadership of Democratic chairman J. William Fulbright of Arkansas.
In contrast, this Congress has held no comprehensive hearings on Trump’s policies towards NATO, North Korea, Russia, the European Union or China, despite controversies regarding administration actions in all these areas. The Senate Finance Committee has held limited hearings on Trump’s trade policies, but has not produced legislation to affect administration policy, such as the widely reviled tariffs. And it has been the free press, playing the role the Founding Fathers intended, that has provided the most effective oversight of those Trump administration officials who resigned for scandals involving the misuse of public funds.
Sadly, the most active area of congressional oversight has been by Republicans in the so-called “Freedom Caucus” who have attacked the Justice Department’s management of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential elections. The “Freedom Caucus” has consistently prioritized protecting Trump over the nation’s interest in protecting the fundamental Constitutional right to elections free of foreign interference.
The Founding Fathers also anticipated the problem of excess partisanship in government. James Madison warned about the dangers of “factions” (what we now call political parties), noting they could act to advance narrow rather than national interests. Another current example of this is the Republican leadership in the House and Senate generally allows votes on legislation only if a majority of Republicans support it, not if a majority of all legislators support it. As a result, the Congress is stymied on issues polls show the public wants action on, such as immigration reform, but on which Republicans cannot agree.
Madison and Alexander Hamilton argued that the size of the new American republic would blunt the danger of factions, but not alleviate it. Ultimately, Madison noted, popular elections would correct problems caused by excess partisanship.
Mid-course midterms correction needed
The congressional elections of 2018 are a timely way for voters to make a course correction in American governance that the Founding Fathers would approve. Voters in the 2018 elections must support congressional candidates who pledge to hold Trump and his administration accountable, but who also commit to working across partisan lines to produce practical approaches to the challenges facing the country. Candidates who are uncritical of Trump and his administration and those who are hyper partisan for either party do not meet the Founding Fathers’ test, do not deserve support and should not be elected.
James Madison argued that the new Constitution was necessary because “[e]nlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm.” Trump fulfilled that prediction, which makes the 2018 elections among the most important in the nation’s history. In 2018, voters must demonstrate their commitment to the American way of constitutional governance and elect people who will make the Congress once again what the Founding Fathers intended: a check on the misuse of presidential power and forum where national, not partisan, interests prevail.
Kenneth C. Brill was a career diplomat who served as an ambassador in the Clinton and Bush administrations and a senior intelligence official in the Obama administration.
Editor’s note: this originally appeared in USA Today, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
I could not believe an editorial written by Fred Gruber entitled “Re-Elect Dave Brat.” Mr. Gruber says that Brat’s opponent, Abigail Spanberger, is “using the dastardly tactic in her TV ads of lying!” Mr. Gruber points out that Brat “has a master’s degree in divinity, and by no means would he be a liar.”
I think Mr. Gruber needs to turn his TV on more frequently and to listen to and read more news. Brat’s campaign is actively spreading a conspiracy theory about Abigail being complicit with terrorists who attended an academy where she taught. Abigail taught English to children at an embassy-sponsored school in 2002 and 2003. This was a temporary job she held while awaiting her security clearance to work for the post office.
The individuals identified as terrorists attended the school in the 1990s, long before Abigail taught there. This is a blatant lie being put out by Brat. It’s been running for weeks. If Brat knows or thinks it’s a lie, he should have already had it removed and made a public announcement and apology saying that it is absolutely not true instead of letting it continue. In my opinion, by doing nothing to stop this propaganda, he is “using the dastardly tactic” of lying!
Another area that Brat has not been untruthful about is his funding. Just this past week he said he didn’t have the funds Abigail has. Abigail is not accepting money from any super PACs and is relying on her potential constituents, like you and me, to fund her campaign. Brat, on the other hand, is being funded by the billionaire Koch brothers. He is one of eight congressmen they want to keep in Congress because they know he will not vote against anything to hurt their businesses, which, by the way, have been named among the worst 10 polluters in the world.
Mr. Gruber is correct about Brat being the most conservative member of the House. He always votes straight down the Republican agenda no matter how harmful to his constituents. He did vote for the tax reform that took away numerous deductions, credits and the individual exemption of $4,050. Meanwhile, private golf courses and airplanes are now tax exempt! Heirs to millions of dollars of inheritance will not have to pay taxes on the first $11 million to $22 million.
All the interest we middle class people earned on money we try to save for emergencies or retirement is taxed 100 percent. I wish the election was being held after taxes had to be filed. Then people would see how they will really be affected. Brat voted to rescind the Affordable Care Act, causing millions of people to lose their healthcare. Republicans promised repeal and replace. Thus far there has been no “replace.”
If Republicans stay in control, the rest of the ACA will be ravaged and people with preexisting conditions will be sentenced to death because they won’t have insurance. He also stands with Republicans who want to cut Social Security benefits, Medicare and Medicaid and every other social program in existence.
Brat sends a lot of newsletters with pictures of himself with some constituents. However, he has not held a real town hall meeting in over a year. Any meetings he holds are held in places that will accommodate just a few people. Submit your name to attend, and if you are not recognized as a supporter, you are removed for lack of space. He refuses to answer hard questions about what is going on in D.C. and what HE is doing to help fix problems.
We don’t need more of the same old same old. Vote for Abigail Spanberger. Send her a donation while you are at it. You won’t be sorry.
Editor’s Note: this originally appeared in the September 20th edition of the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
Legendary journalist Bob Woodward’s latest book, "FEAR: Trump in the White House," is a chilling portrayal of the unending chaos at the very center of our government, where Trump’s aides desperately attempt to protect the country and themselves from his erratic, lying, ignorant, unrelenting, and stubborn, narcissistic behavior on a daily basis.
You should read it—it’s stunning. Woodward, of Watergate fame, helped bring down another lying president, Richard Nixon. Woodward has written books about our nine most recent presidents—20 percent of all America’s chief executives. Woodward is careful and meticulous – writing "FEAR" based on real interviews with people involved with this administration, on “deep background,” meaning that their identities would not be revealed.
If they asked to say something “off the record,” he would say no. In most cases, the respondents would go on with, “Well, I’ll just tell you anyway.” He has tape recordings of all these interviews, and in reading the anecdotes, there can just be no doubt that the dialogues in “quotations” are absolutely true-to-life.
Despite Trump officials’ blanket denials, they have not, in fact, denied anything that Woodward has quoted them as saying.
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker has calculated that Trump has lied more than 5000 times since his inauguration. In Montana last week, he made 125 false or misleading statements in a mere two hours.
As Hurricane Florence approached the Carolinas, he had this to say: "3,000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much.
Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000... This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!” These appalling and bald-faced lies have infuriated Republicans and Democrats alike all across the political spectrum.
Bob Woodward calls this, and similar behavior coming out of every part of his apparatus, “the war on truth.” Unfortunately, as in other fascist governments, millions of people have been duped into believing propaganda.
Not surprisingly, Trump’s Republican war on truth is being fought at every political level. Corey Stewart is a racist bigot who embraces white nationalists and spreads vicious lies about Tim Kaine.
Our very own Congressman, Dave Brat, is a prime example of a politician who twists facts, insinuates lies about his opponent, and repeatedly lies to his own constituents. According to PolitiFact, 67 percent of Brat’s statements are rated either “False” or “Mostly False.” In contrast, only 17 percent are rated “True.”
Check for yourselves. If Brat had the slightest bit of character or a shred of human decency, he would have disavowed the gross invasion of privacy, perpetrated by Paul Ryan’s “Congressional Leadership Fund” PAC, after Spanberger’s Personal Security Questionnaire was illegally released to them.
Culpeper’s town councilman, chair of the local Republicans and founder and national director of the American City County Exchange (ACCE) an ALEC spin off, Jon Russell, foolishly promotes Brat by repeating lies about the so-called “deep state” and accusing Spanberger of running as a tool of the Democratic establishment.
You have a choice on November 6. Abigail Spanberger has taken the high road and is running on her vision of service to her constituents, not promoting negative ads nor lying about Dave Brat. She doesn’t have to. His record and his behavior speak for themselves.
Editor’s note: This originally appeared in the Culpeper Star Exponent, and has been modified with the author’s permission to clarify Mr. Russell’s relationship with ALEC and ACCE.
With weeks remaining until the election, Republicans controlling the House and Senate will double down on their attempts to remain in power. Whether it’s another tax cut for the wealthy, or yet another continuing resolution which keeps the government open a little longer, the results will be the same.
Less tax revenue, more borrowing and increased federal debt. And less money for vital social programs, all part of their ongoing efforts to reduce our government to where it’s “small enough to drown in the bathtub.” While fiscal responsibility should always be a priority for Congress, Republicans are willing to use any means necessary to blow up the Federal budget as a pretext to their real goal; eliminating Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
And whenever they’ve had full control of Congress and the presidency, they’ve passed budget busting legislature like the 2001-2003 Bush tax cuts, the 2004 Medicare part D donut hole, and most recently last year’s tax cut which doesn't take full effect until after the mid-term elections.
The fact that the latter adds another $1.9 Trillion to the deficit, and their proposed tax cut 2.0 would increase the deficit by another $3.8 Trillion isn’t relevant to Congressional Republicans. What is relevant in the words of Grover Norquist is that they can; “... inflict pain. It is not good enough to win; it has to be a painful and devastating defeat. We're sending a message here. It is like when the king would take his opponent's head and spike it on a pole for everyone to see.”
While their take no prisoner’s attitude appeals to their supporters basest tribal instincts, ultimately it’s a distraction, one which allows Republicans to hide in plain sight the fact that they continue to “socialize the losses, and privatize the profits,” passing the risk for shady financial practices to the American people, setting the stage for another worldwide economic crisis.
With the Drumpf threatening more trade wars, and shutting down the government if he doesn’t get his border wall, the chances increase with every misstep. Meanwhile Republican leaders claim they have a plan to avert a government shutdown on September 30th, hoping to postpone that fight until after the midterm elections.
Having allowed our government to shut be down twice this year, once in January and again, briefly, in February and demonstrating a great reluctance to confront a President who thinks that government shutdowns are a “great political issue”, it remains to be seen how successful they will be.
One indication of just how clueless the Republican’s economic policies continue to be comes from an April 2011 letter to the Central Virginian. Where “Many of the world’s leading economists believe that this country cannot move forward on a psychological level when their government refuses to even admit culpability in the continued cover up of the greatest illegal transfer of wealth our nation and the world has ever witnessed.”
“Restoring trust is crucial to our economic recovery, and trust will not be restored until those responsible for the financial crash are held accountable.”
Since that didn’t happen, the political consequences of the 2008 financial collapse here and abroad were largely ignored. With Columbia economic historian Adam Tooze pointing out in his book, “Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World,” we are still living with the consequences of that crash.
The Fed’s decision to use taxpayers’ money to bail out the banks in 2009 and not the American people was intrinsically a political decision, one which has facilitated the upwards transfer of trillions of dollars of wealth from the middle class to the .1%
According to Tooze the Fed covertly provided close to five trillion dollars in liquidity and loan guarantees to non-American banks, along with roughly ten trillion dollars to foreign central banks through currency swaps. With an official at the New York Federal Reserve telling Tooze that it was like “a guardian angel was watching over us.” If the full scope of what the Fed was doing were known, there would have been a massive uproar.
Perhaps more accurate statement should be; this happened because our justice system has stopped punishing financial criminals, and has evolved into a protection racket — no matter who's in office or which party's in power.
Since 2003, the Justice Department has practiced a policy of deferred prosecution agreements, allowing companies to escape criminal convictions in exchange for promising not to engage in any further illegal activity, along with a nominal fine. Leading several federal judges to call it a “façade of enforcement,” a way to avoid the consequences of their illegal behavior because they are now “too big to prosecute.”
Actions which have fueled the resentment of people around the globe, an anger that was exploited in this country by plutocrats like the Koch brothers with their astroturfed Tea Party movement in 2009 and culminating with the Drumpf as the loudest voice in the room.
Tooze writes that “it is an open question whether the American political system will support even basic institutions of globalization, let alone any adventurous crisis fighting at a national or global level.”
Meanwhile, this administration and their G.O.P. cronies are busy hastening the next financial crisis along —doing everything possible to undermine our ability to deal with it. What often gets lost in most conversations about the Great Recession, is the magnitude of the damage that the 2008 financial contagion wreaked on democratic governments around the world.
According to Stanford University Business School Professor Anat Admati, the actions taken by our government and indeed governments around the world have contributed to a widespread breakdown and a lack of trust in any institution.” “What we witnessed here … is kind of ominous. It raised a lot of questions about who controls society ― corporations or the elected government.”
Nor is any coincidence that in the past few years we’ve seen a dramatic increase in nationalistic and fascist rhetoric from political candidates and leaders around the world, particularly this administration. Or that the Republican’s messages have evolved from coded dog whistles straight into fear and conspiracy theories.
If we're going to have any chance of preserving what’s left of our democracy, now is the time to throw the Republicans out office. So get out there and cast your vote for Abigail Spanberger as your new 7th CD representative, and re-elect Tim Kaine as our Senator.
Four years ago we hired Dave Brat to carry out one job–to be our Representative in the House of Representatives. Now, Dave is back asking us to rehire him for two more years. As with any job you have ever held or, if you’re in business, with any employee you’ve ever hired, the main question in determining whether you keep your job, or whether you keep that employee on the payroll, is how well they have done that job.
It is clear that Dave Brat has NOT done a good job at being a legislator. Of the legislation he has sponsored, only one bill has become law, and that one was to name the arboretum at the Richmond VA hospital. Most of the legislation Dave has sponsored or co-sponsored has not even gotten out of committee. Even members of his own party don’t support his legislation: six of his introduced bills have not been cosponsored at all; seven bills have been cosponsored by only one other member.
Apparently, Dave Brat didn’t read the job description when he ran for Congress. He does not view the House of Representatives as a legislative body, but as a pulpit for espousing his vision of a free-market society in which everybody gets rich, free from government control. He has spent far more energy in Congress trying to block things from getting done than legislating.
Dave Brat is a true believer. He thinks that compromise is a show of weakness and he will not compromise. And it makes him particularly unqualified to be a legislator. Accomplishing anything in a legislative body requires you to argue strongly for your position, and then to bargain and compromise to get the best enacted law you can get.
It’s up to you and me to decide if Dave Brat gets rehired. Whether you are an Independent, Republican or Democrat, when you vote in November you need to ask, “what has Dave Brat done for me”. If you’ve been paying attention, you will realize that Dave Brat has done nothing for you, and vote accordingly.
Editor’s note: this letter originally appeared in Richmond2day, and has been re-posted with the author’s permission.
I’ve given the proposed mega industrial park a good bit of thought and driven through a number of (mostly empty) business parks in this county and others. I agree with the argument that we need business to support the residential growth. However, this endeavor is quite misguided. My arguments fall into two categories.
First is the location. The proposed site intrudes into space that was designated Rural in the comprehensive plan. It abuts land that our church owns and has been using as a retreat. We felt confident that we could count on the continued quiet and peacefulness of the site given the rural designation. Would we be putting our efforts into creating this space for contemplation if we had known that the board of supervisors could just wipe out that designation and put industry, noise and traffic right next to it? People need to be able to count on these designations to make plans and decisions. People have put enormous energy into creating homes for their families. The proponents and the economic planners claim there will be buffers, but we have no guarantees that these will be significant or effective.
Second is the highly speculative nature of the concept. When they describe it, it sounds great. All the things needed to attract the ideal businesses. Money rolling in. Lower taxes for us. What could go wrong?
They say it will attract clean quiet businesses that pay workers well. Every county wants those. There are other mega sites in the state that are about ready to go (Berry Hill). To lay out millions of dollars of our tax money to buy and develop this land and then hope they will come is not a good way to do business. When the most highly prized businesses choose elsewhere, then we will be stuck with accepting less desirable ones. We will be in debt and will have no way to be selective. What’s to prevent Louisa from ending up with the noisiest, smelliest, most water polluting, low wage paying businesses?
Is that the county I want to live in?
I want to live in a county that values small, locally owned businesses. I want to live among entrepreneurs not underpaid wage slaves. I would love to see our county come up with a plan for incubating and supporting small businesses.
Mary Kranz Louisa
Editor’s Note: This letter originally appeared in the September 6th issue of the Central Virginian, and is reposted here with the author’s permission.
Liberals and Conservatives do not have to always be in conflict. They are not two separate things. They are like two sides of a coin. They need each other to balance each other out, and it would lead to stagnation if everyone was a moderate and there were no Conservatives or Liberals. Here are some qualities of each that most of us could agree with:
Conservative: Hard work, discipline, order, planning ahead, cleanliness, punctuality, conserving resources, reasonable caution, making changes carefully, safety, protection, individual freedom, self-reliance, independence, and decisiveness.
Liberal: Music, dance, laughter, play, recreation, flexibility, open to new ideas, welcoming changes, creativity, compassion, caring for the sick and the poor, protecting minorities, advocating human rights and democracy, forgiveness and non-judgment, and cooperation.
I’m sure you can come up with more qualities for each that are positive and constructive. Neither has monopoly on truth or lies, violence or nonviolence, justice or injustice, respect or disrespect, love or hate.
Conservatives and Liberals can compromise to work together.
None of their above- mentioned qualities are absolute. To rigidly hold to either side as if these qualities were mutually exclusive, black or white, with no shades of grey, is “stinkin’ thinkin’,” reminiscent of alcoholism and other addictions. We would have to give up being “right,” vs. being “wrong” to get past this.
There are some things we should not compromise on: Actions that advocate stealing, deliberately lying, cheating, physical and sexual abuse, especially of children, violence, and obvious violations of the Constitution. And you could think of more vices not to compromise on. But there is a lot we could work together on if we listened to each other instead of keeping our heads glued to our own echo chambers.
David G. Schwartz Louisa
Editor’s Note: This letter originally appeared in the September 6th issue of the Central Virginian, and is reposted here with the author’s permission.
As a presidentially commissioned Foreign Service Officer, who also worked at the Department of Defense and at an intelligence agency, I was shocked to read the Patrick Wilson article in the Star Exponent’s August 30th edition that a Republican PAC had fraudulently obtained a copy of Abigail Spanberger’s Questionnaire for National Security Positions (SF-86). I filled one out in 1967 and every five years after that until I recently retired. Every veteran and civil servant in your readership knows this document and its importance to national security.
I also have worked FOIA cases at the Departments of State and Defense for 20 years and know that it is impossible under FOIA regulations to legally obtain this highly personal document. It is not an application for employment. It is a list of all the jobs you had, places you worked, your relatives, your travel, friends you have, foreign contacts, medical information, your use (or not) of drugs or alcohol, and credit file information. This form is the basis for a full intrusive background investigation and used to interview virtually every person you list. It is the first line of defense for the entire security system. It is very telling that nothing in it caused the Postal Service or the CIA to refuse employment.
The Postal Service acknowledged that it released Abigail Spanberger’s SF-86 and that it was not released through the FOIA process. Inadvertent or not, its release is illegal. The actions of the Republican PAC in obtaining this form and making it public should make every citizen concerned about privacy and good government cringe, and bring shame on the ethically corrupt operatives who committed this crime.
By the way, this is the same form that Jared Kushner had to fill out multiple times because he kept failing to completely disclose information about his finances and foreign contacts.
Paul Ryan’s PAC blows up the nation’s first line of defense for what? To launch spurious innuendos against a dedicated public servant and her family to influence a Federal election? She is a former CIA officer challenging Rep. Dave Brat here in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. Party above country, again. Much was said about Dignity, Compassion, Dedication, Duty, and Love of County at Senator McCain’s memorial service in Phoenix. Paul Ryan and his PAC could have learned something about important American values, if they were inclined to watch the service.
Editor's Note: This letter was submitted to the Culpeper Star Exponent, and is scheduled to be published later this week.
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