Congressman, Dave Brat (VA-7th District), recently met with inmates to talk about their problems with drug addiction. In an amazing tone-deaf comment, he told them he doesn’t have an easy life either, citing attack ads as he campaigns for a third term. Brat is a poster boy for the lack of empathy Republican office holders show these days. Brat’s opponent, Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA officer, is calling him out and stressing the real needs of this semi-rural district. This race has moved from Leaning Republican to a Toss Up.
The District’s voters remain concerned that Brat is fully on board with the administration’s misrepresentation of America’s great immigrant tradition. Both Brat and Trump have declared that foreign nationals who entered the United States are “public enemy number one.” Brat misrepresents the reality that the law differentiates among various categories of people who present themselves at the border and tars all with the brush of illegal border crossers, whether they have visas or valid asylum claims, such as those who come from places like China, Central America, Nepal and the Horn of Africa. They each want to hunt down and deport these “menaces.”
Brat has no problem with the administration policy to tear families apart at the border and now thousands of youth and children are housed in temporary concentration camps all over the county. The Administration plans to expand the “Family Destruction Program” ” to even more categories of immigrants and border crossers. The objective is to eliminate border crossers by making the U.S. appear as cruel and unattractive as the circumstances in the failing states of Central America. Thus, America needs to look more inhumane than the gang violence in, say, Honduras.
Of course, Brat and other members of the minority Freedom Caucus are wedded to the misrepresentation that immigrants take jobs away from Americans. I am assured, however, that no one in our local high school is studying to work in a pig slaughterhouse, or the farm fields of the hot and humid south, or as crab meat pickers around the Chesapeake Bay. In fact, time and time again, when local jurisdictions drive off migrant workers, food is left to rot in the fields.
Recently, Brat has taken his anti-immigrant rhetoric to the next level. In an Associated Press interview on the shrinking availability of migrant labor, Brat wholeheartedly concurred with the Administration’s goal of drastically continuing to reduce the number of immigrants. Brat said he did not think the current labor shortage would weaken efforts to restrict immigration.
Citing that about 10 million Americans are not in the labor force, Brat called for improved education and imposing work requirements on food stamp recipients to get more of these Americans into the workforce. “The answer is not to bring in 10 million folks from abroad,” Brat said. Brat the Cruel argues that if the number of immigrants drop by 10 million, then the 10 million people on welfare can find jobs.
He apparently has no idea who is on welfare: women, children, the disabled. The welfare mother in Grayson County is not the kind of person who could pack up and move to the Chesapeake Bay to start picking crab meat. The child on welfare in Nottaway County cannot drop out of school to start picking apples in Rappahannock County. The disabled man in Culpeper County cannot move to Fairfax County and trim hedges.
Besides being heartless and cruel, Brat has little influence in the House, even if he were interested in representing his district by dealing with health care, exploding government debt, and jobs. Brat may have gone to seminary, but it obviously didn’t stress empathy. The voters are beginning to see the Trump/Brat projection of America the Cruel is not a projection of our better angels. That is why the Democratic challenger Spanberger is gaining considerable traction.
Editor's Note: this op-ed originally appeared in the DailyKOS, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
Dave Brat in Virginia’s 7th District, and other Republicans, have called on President Trump to lessen “burdensome regulations,” and make “it possible for people to once again buy the low-premium coverage they prefer.” (Dave Brat, “We Still Can’t Get Healthcare Right,” March 27, 2017).
President Trump responded by recently expanding “short term,” inexpensive health plans, known as “skimpy” policies.
As Dave Brat has called for—these “skimpy” policies increase competition and lessen regulation, but they also gut consumer protections. “Skimpy” plans don’t have to cover pre-existing conditions, or cover 10 essential benefits on the ACA such as emergency room care, prescription drugs, mental health/substance abuse counseling, cancer treatments, etc. Some doctors call these “skimpy” policies “junk insurance.”
The Trump administration says “skimpy” plans are good for young/ healthy people. However, young people who get critically injured in car accidents, have substance-abuse issues or acquire youth cancers (testicular cancer, or leukemia), might be left high and dry on “skimpy” plans.
Also, economists warn if younger/healthier people pull out of the ACA premiums may skyrocket for sick and older folks left on exchanges. And buyers beware: ‘Skimpy” plans historically have been falsely marketed, promising to cover conditions that in the fine print (few read) are not actually covered.
Dave Brat is also advancing high-deductible Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). These accounts, often invested in the stock market, allow consumers to save for medical care tax-free. People who rarely get sick/injured make out best with HSAs.
Brat’s biggest contribution to healthcare is that he co-sponsored a bill raising dollar limits people can contribute to HSAs each year—up to $9,000 for individuals and $18,000 for families. The higher your earnings, the higher your tax deduction with HSAs.
Abigail Spanberger, also running for Congress in the 7th District, wants to increase competition in health care, too. Spanberger wants to maintain coverage of the 10 essential benefits in the ACA for all Americans, as well as protections for pre-existing conditions. She also believes Medicare X (which is not universal health care) would compete on exchanges with private insurers, encouraging them to lower overhead and thus premiums.
Medicare X would be a public option on ACA Exchanges, which consumers could voluntarily buy at any age. This plan uses the same doctor networks in traditional Medicare (the popular government healthcare plan for seniors) but would also cover maternity/pediatrics.
Importantly, Medicare X would not touch the Medicare Trust Fund, or change its solvency, because consumers would pay premiums. But Medicare X would be affordable, because unlike private insurers, it doesn’t have high overhead. That’s because it doesn’t have to pay shareholder profits/ big CEO bonuses, or spring for expensive TV ads/ fancy PR.
Importantly, Medicare X would be rolled out in rural areas first, since rural areas have little competition on the exchanges and many rural hospitals are struggling to survive.
Knowing how candidates define “competition” in healthcare helps constituents be more educated voters.
Editor's Note: this letter originally appeared in the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
In this election, we the people (you and me) have the opportunity to elect one of our senators and our member of Congress for the 7th Congressional District. The choices for the Senate are Tim Kaine or Corey Stewart and for the House of Representatives, Abigail Spanberger or David Brat.
Actually, there is only one choice you have to make. Do you support moving forward to solve the many serious issues facing our country and our community such as access to affordable healthcare, including prescription drugs and protection of coverage of pre-existing conditions, updating our rural infrastructure like broadband and for policies that would attract new economic development and good paying jobs for Central Virginia?
Or do you surrender your vote to those who have no vision or ideas and who are wedded to the vestiges of the past and use wedge issues to divide us?
Stewart and Brat are ideologically attached at the hip and are goose-stepping in circles to keep their base riled up, distracted, and misinformed. They have no fresh ideas and aren’t really interested in solutions—only rabble-rousing.
Stewart and Brat have repeatedly supported the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and blocking expansion of Medicaid in Virginia. The Republican plan was supposed to be a repeal and replace strategy, but in practice it was repeal and bury. Brat has no plan! A vote to repeal was a vote to kill any protection of existing conditions which is exactly what Dave Brat did and what Stewart supports! Dave can run but he can’t hide from his voting record!
On the other hand, Kaine and Spanberger each bring their own unique knowledge, government experience and leadership skills to find practical solutions to our problems and are capable of working across the aisle.
For me, the politics of hate has no room in Central Virginia. The time has come to leave our troubled past behind. So, I am voting for moving forward with Tim Kaine and Abigail Spanberger and I encourage you to join me!
Editor's Note: this originally appeared in the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission
These are conservative values that most of us respect: Fiscal responsibility, intelligent leadership, respect for the Constitution and traditional institutions, law and order, respect for the Ten Commandments and other ethical and moral principles, competence, merit, advanced planning, making changes carefully and thoughtfully, conserving resources, “gentlemanly” and “ladylike” behavior such as respect for other people and ability to listen to their views, thoughtful consideration of issues, and many more.
Abigail Spanberger embodies these conservative values, and much more.
The Republican Party is no longer the party it once was. It has abandoned these conservative values in favor of a cult-like allegiance to its leader, who does not manifest these principles.
The support of Republican members of Congress for this dictatorial leader demonstrates that they share his values and have “gone off the deep end.”
Elect Abigail Spanberger Nov. 6 to be our next Congressional representative for the 7th District.
Editor’s Note: this letter originally appeared in the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
Most people watching last month’s Kavanaugh confirmation saw a group of elderly white men putting on a hypocritical spectacle, certainly not an honest, impartial and open hearing. After Dr. Ford was questioned by a woman, Rachel Mitchell — a female prosecutor of sexual crimes, who was brought it specifically to tone down the bad optics of a group of clueless old men on the Senate Judiciary Committee grilling a survivor of sexual assault, things got interesting.
Starting with a recess featuring Senator Graham's over the top display of fake outrage, followed by Kavanaugh’s testimony. The angry face he presented to the world in his opening rant … I mean statement wasn’t something new; with classmates from his Yale days describing him as a belligerent heavy drinker. So it came as little surprise to watch him shamelessly lie under oath about his drinking and about the meaning of words in his yearbook.
And if you were wondering why Senator Lindsay Graham suddenly took over the questioning of Kavanaugh from Ms. Mitchell, it was because he realized that after she asked a few basic questions, that Kavanaugh had already committed perjury. And given her line of inquiry, he was about to perjure himself even further.
Mitchell wasn’t just interrupted by Graham; her questioning was completely terminated by him and his GOP colleagues. That was the whole point of Graham erupting in fake outrage and his Senatorial buddies conspiring to make sure that Mitchell did not get another crack at Kavanaugh.
The melodrama behind Senator Graham's fake outrage was to distract the public from what he was really doing. Like a good magician; with lots of smoke and fire so you don't pay attention to the little man behind the curtain. Graham could not directly silence Mitchell, so he silenced her in another way to prevent her from asking relevant questions.
A point touched upon earlier by former FBI director, James Comey in a New York Times op-ed, where he sais that Kavanaugh’s testimony regarding comments in his high school yearbook, (detailed here) amount to a “flashing signal to dig deeper.” The reason is simple: “Little lies point to bigger lies.”
Which brings up, what else is Kavanaugh lying about, and why is this administration and the Senate Replicant’s so desperate to keep his records from being publicly available?
One clue comes from one of the few documents that the Drumpf administration made publicly available, a memo to Ken Starr, where he went out of his way to harass Bill Clinton —declaring that “it is our job to make his pattern of revolting behavior clear” — a clear sign that the rage we all saw during his testimony was not an aberration, but rather a life long pattern of behavior.
What we saw during his testimony was a view into the soul of Trumpism. It’s not about “populism” — it would be hard to find a judge as anti-worker as Brett Kavanaugh. Instead, it’s about the rage of white men, upper class as well as working class, who perceive a threat to their privileged position. And nothing makes a man accustomed to privilege angrier than the prospect of losing some of that privilege, and in his case, those privileged roots are precisely why he’s so angry.
And despite Dolt45’s assurances after Kavanaugh’s testimony that he would give the F.B.I. “free rein” in its week long probe of Ms. Ford’s allegations, it was another one of his lies. With the New York Times reporting that the White House had asked the F.B.I. to question only four witnesses, and neither Kavanaugh nor Dr. Ford were on the list.
As far as anybody outside of the White House, and Senate Judiciary Committee circles can tell, this is who the FBI’s “limited in scope” investigation actually interviewed.
A point made clear by Senator Harris’s subsequent post confirmation interview with current FBI director, Christopher Wray this week.
At this point, you’re probably asking, with all that baggage, why didn’t the Replicant’s just go with another conservative Supreme Court candidate?
Because Kavanaugh is a life long political operative; who’s Forrest Gump-like encounters included representing Texas Gov. George W. Bush in the court case which ended the Florida recount in the 2000 presidential election, and has been involved in nearly every ideological flash point since 2000, and likely why he was promoted from clerk to circuit court justice during the Bush era.
More importantly; are his beliefs that nothing the president does is illegal, that they can’t be investigated, sued or indicted. Deep seated ideological convictions which were first outlined in an article that he authored in 2008 for the Minnesota Law Review. Where he stated that certain burdens should be “excused” for sitting presidents, burdens like indictments, and civil suits. Kavanaugh believes that presidents should be free from being sued while in office—a position he, rather inconveniently, did not hold while working for Ken Starr.
And with the Gamble vs. US case coming up during the Supreme Courts current session, and with likely investigations of the president, his staff and Republican members of Congress, along with Presidential pardons also likely to wind up on their docket, it’s clear that not just any Federalist Society stooge could assure them that they never will be held accountable or prosecuted.
Last week, at a rally in Mississippi, Donald Trump, savagely mocked sexual assault survivor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, to the absolute delight of his supporters. Later that same day, we learned about the shenanigans of Trump, his father and his family that may amount to hundreds of millions of dollars of tax fraud, thus exploding the myth of the self-made man.
Closer to home, our Congressman, Dave Brat is just as much a divider as this man he worships. Earlier this year, in an interview on Richmond’s Lee Brothers show, Brat said, “I like bringing everybody together. I went to seminary, and I’m going to run positive, on the issues.”
Really? Have you looked at what he’s been posting on his Facebook pages lately? Have you looked at how his supporters respond to comments from the constituents who disagree with his stance on issues that affect them?
It’s exceedingly ugly. He blatantly lies about his opponent’s stance on issues, and accuses her of directing teenagers to leave a nasty note at his house—something that apparently scared him to death—but her denouncing the act, apologizing and banning the culprits from her campaign wasn’t good enough.
He’s also lied about her mere attendance at the Chesterfield Town Hall as being evidence of her protesting, rabble-rousing and condoning cursing during a prayer—all photoshopped lies.
Polling suggests that the No. 1 issue facing citizens of the 7th District is health care. Where does Dave Brat stand on the primary cause of individual bankruptcy in America? At every opportunity, although claiming otherwise, he has voted to turn his back on supporting Virginians with pre-existing conditions.
He voted for the so-called “American Health Care Act,” which would have allowed insurers to add surcharges to 3.4 million Virginians with pre-existing conditions: Up to $4,270 for asthma, $17,060 for pregnancy, $26,180 for rheumatoid arthritis and $140,510 for metastatic cancer.
If House Republicans had succeeded in passing the American Health Care Act—the Obamacare repeal bill—49,700 people in Brat’s district would have lost health coverage.
And how about issues affecting veterans? Brat held his first town hall in more than a year, quickly cobbled together after Abigail Spanberger met with more than a hundred people at an open Veterans for Spanberger rally a few days before.
You only got in to Brat’s, maybe, if you RSVP’d in advance. Perhaps 40 people attended—you could tell from the pictures there were many empty seats.
Brat spoke for less than three minutes, then outsourced the proceedings to Rep. Phil Roe of Tennessee for the next hour and a half.
Brat knows nothing about veterans’ issues. The reality is that he joined other Republicans in blocking these bills: Clay-Hunt Suicide Prevention Act, Health Benefits & Retirement Pay Restoration, Wounded Veterans Job Security Act, Veterans Retraining Act, Homeless Veterans Reintegration, Disabled Veterans Home Accessibility Act, Job Corps Act, Torture Veterans & Victims Relief and Veterans Business Center Act.
Yes, Dave Brat did that.
Brat has walled himself off from his constituents. A member of the far-right minority caucus in the House, he is totally ineffective as a representative of the 7th District. He ignores the majority of us.
Watch him in action when he debates Abigail Spanberger in Culpeper on Oct. 15. Watch on Comcast Channel 10 or Fios channel 21. Unless, of course, he proves cowardly and withdraws, as he has done in Richmond.
The madness can end on Nov. 6—but only if you vote.
Editor’s Note: This originally appeared in the Culpeper Star Exponent, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
Virginians are always at a crossroads in November. With elections every year, we are faced with making choices that affect our lives for years after the vote is cast. We need to think of what’s best for us, while keeping in mind the well being of our state and nation. Some of us are Democrats. Some of us are Republicans. Many of us are independents who make up our minds after Labor Day.
In Virginia, we have had a strong economy for many years. Our governors understand that the state of our Commonwealth is tied to the state of our economy. They have worked to put the economy at the top of their priorities.
Not so for our other Virginia representatives. Congressman Dave Brat has morphed into Eric Cantor and become a mouthpiece for special corporate interests outside our state. In fact, he doesn’t even bother to come to our county these days and certainly doesn’t represent our interests or those of the state of Virginia.
He has consistently voted to limit the jobs of our largest state employer – the federal government. Federal employees and contractors live and pay taxes in Virginia and add a lot to the state and local coffers.
Brat’s support for offshore oil drilling on our coastline threatens our military bases as well as two of our other major industries in Virginia – tourism and the fisheries of the Chesapeake Bay. There are hundreds of thousands of jobs already created for Virginians by the military, tourism and fisheries, many more than the number of hypothetical jobs created by offshore drilling. Ask yourself, whose interests is Brat representing there? Just check his political action committee donations.
As a congressman, Brat has tried to destabilize the country and its institutions.As a Trump supporter, he has been complicit inAmerica losing its role as the top global military, political and economic power. He is a do-nothing congressman.
Locally, what has Brat done for Louisa? I can recall only one thing. A couple of years ago, he got an EPA exemption for existing water wells for the town of Louisa. One thing in four years – not a good track record. We have a good alternative this year. Congressional candidate Abigail Spanberger is committed to helping the citizens of the 7th.
She has publicly committed to defending Medicare and Social Security and opposing ANY cuts to these programs. Mr. Brat and the Republicans are looking to cut Medicare and Social Security to reduce the deficit they created with the huge tax cut for the wealthy they passed earlier this year.
The annual salary of a member of Congress is $174,000. Too much for people who don’t do their job? Abigail Spanberger thinks so and is a strong advocate for the No Budget, No Pay Act, proposed legislation providing that members of Congress would receive NO salary unless Congress passes a multi-year budget which is their primary responsibility.
Contrary to what the TV ads say, Mrs. Spanberger has no ties to terrorists. In fact, she has a security clearance granted to her as a CIA field operative. Believe me, getting a clearance at this level requires a great deal of scrutiny and an extensive background check. Not everyone passes muster. Guess who does NOT have a clearance at this level - Mr. Brat.
So…who you gonna trust?
Editor’s Note: This letter originally appeared in the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
Before you vote, remember what the Democrats have done for you and other people in the country. Even the ones who seem to think the Democrats are horrible and a threat to your freedom benefit from the work of Democrats.
Here is a list of what you have. Thanks, Democrats.
• 8 hour work day
• 5 days a week
• 40-hour work week
• Safe working conditions
• Health insurance
• Equal pay laws
• Child labor laws
• Collective bargaining
• Overtime pay
• Family medical leave
• Paid holidays
• Lunch Time
• Morning and afternoon breaks
• Holiday and weekends off
And let’s not forget Medicare and Social Security. These are only a few benefits from a Democrat government.
Suzanne B. Johnson
Editor’s Note: This letter originally appeared in the Central Virginian, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
What Dave Brat says:
“There is no doubt that we must be good stewards of the environmental treasures with which we have been blessed. As a father, I understand that the welfare of future generations depends on it.”
What Dave Brat has done.
Dave Brat sponsored, cosponsored or voted for–
1-(HR 2157) to deprive a president of authority to ban oil drilling on the continental shelf.
2-(HR 806) to weaken EPA’s ability to enforce clean air standards.
3-(HConRes 119) to declare that a carbon tax is bad for the economy
4-(HR 3281) to dispose of federal reclamation projects.
5-(Amendment to appropriation act) Prohibits EPA from enforcing Chesapeake Bay clean-up goals.
6-(HR 1119) to lower emission standards for coal-burning plants.
7-(HJRes 38) to allow coal mines to pollute rivers and streams.
8-(HR 1525) Discourage enforcement of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Act.
9-(HR 3880) to ban EPA from dealing with climate change.
10-(HJRes 36) to allow flaring of gas on Bureau of Land Management oil leases.
11-(HR 1901) to cancel tax credits for developing alternative sources of energy.
12-(HR 5538) to further reduce EPA’s ability to protect the environment.
13-(HR 4544) to ban the EPA from eliminating air pollution that affects health in other countries.
14-(HR 637) to prevent EPA from addressing greenhouses gasses in enforcing the Clean Air Act.
15-(HR1314) to eliminate EPA’s Renewable Fuel Program.
–opposed President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
–supported the United States withdrawal from the Paris Climate accords.
Is Dave Brat a good steward of our only planet?
Editor's Note: this originally appeared in Richmond2day, and has been re-posted here with the author's permission.
While working on a collaborative effort between CHIP of Roanoke and Virginia Tech to study how low income affects kindergarten preparedness, I began to understand the struggles many Virginians face in growing up poor and how the majority of impoverished individuals cannot rise above food security let alone financial security.
Since then, I have had little hope for change and have been frustrated with my representative, Dave Brat. Congressman Brat’s loyalty to wealthy constituents and willful, unabashed, detachment from large segments of Chesterfield County is hurting families. Poverty is hazardous for children impacting health and learning. The south has the greatest number of low-income families.
Thankfully, Abigail Spanberger, who is running for Congress in Virginia’s 7th District, understands the need for life-saving programs like Medicaid and CHIP. She has used facts to drive action and policy professionally and if elected, I believe she will start giving priority to those in most need and preserve vital support organizations so children can reach their maximum potential regardless of income.
Editor’s Note: This letter was originally published in the Blackstone Courier-Record and has been reposted here with the author’s permission.
My representative (Dave Brat), in a recent newsletter, brags about the Republican tax-cutting bills he has voted for this week. He also brags about the major Republican tax bill that he voted for last year. He says that the 2017 bill has given each of us an extra $2,000 to spend. But, is Brat leaving something out?
1. Brat doesn’t tell us about the billions of dollars that these tax bills have given and will give to corporations and individuals who already have huge amounts of wealth.
2. Brat doesn’t tell us that the tax cuts in last year’s tax bill (H.R. 1) will require the United States to borrow an additional $1.8 trillion over ten years to make up for the lost revenue.
3. Brat doesn’t tell us that the tax cuts in one of the bills (H.R. 6760) he voted for this week will require the United States to borrow an additional $630 billion to make up for lost revenue just in the first ten years. The yearly borrowing after that will be $300 billion or more every year indefinitely into the future.
4. Brat doesn’t tell us that two other bills he voted for (H.R. 6756 and H.R. 6757) will require borrowing of another $26 billion over ten years.
Republicans in the House of Representatives have an uncontrollable appetite to spend borrowed money. And, even worse, they’re giving most of it to the wealthy. They toss us a $2,000 bone (and I won’t believe that until I file my tax return next year) and they expect us to thank them by reelecting them. Don’t think so!
I hope you’re not gonna let our Republicans in the House get away with borrowing trillions of dollars just to make themselves and their friends richer. Obviously, they cannot be trusted to represent you and me. You need to vote Democratic on November 6.
Editor’s Note: This originally appeared in Richmond2day, and has been re-posted here with the author’s permission.
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.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.