Virginians: You mad yet?

After decades of grousing about service, family values, the rule of law, executive restraint, and the dignity of the Office of the President, Republicans elected a draft-dodging, sexually abusive philanderer who has no understanding of the Constitution, boasts about all his executive orders, and embarrasses the nation with his childish tweets and his reality show cabinet of hired and fired loudmouths.

Are you mad enough to do something about it yet?

I ask because the goon who now soils the world’s most dignified office has a minion poised to do the same to the highest office in Virginia.

You can stop it by voting. And when you vote, don’t stop at Governor. Because every Republican victory only encourages Republican hatred, lies, and embarrassing behavior.

Sure, a lot of Republicans are decent human beings. But what good is a decent Republican who doesn’t denounce the hatred and lies of their party’s leadership? What good is a decent Republican who supports the lie that smart immigration policy is the same as supporting vicious gangs? What good is a decent Republican who doesn’t stand up to the NRA as they distort the meaning of our Constitution to make money from the blood and fear of American citizens? What good is a decent Republican who will throw away federal funds for Medicaid expansion just to spite hard working Virginians who might benefit from it?

This is the year for real Virginians to show the wold that we’re smart enough to see the truth behind the lies and bring back some dignity to hour highest offices. This is the year we get to the polls and vote for Democrats up and down the ticket.

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Don’t let the Smithfield Times Bring you Down. Get Out and Vote!

This will be my second post criticizing The Smithfield Times. I was pleased with Ryan Kushner’s response to my previous criticism, but am now once again disappointed with the Times’s unfair reporting.

In the “Our Forum” section of the Smithfield Times, the Times states that the race for the 64th Virginia House district has already been decided because the district is “solidly Republican”. They don’t say who the better candidate is, but can only muster lukewarm support for the presumptive winner, Emily Brewer.

She is personable and engaging, and while much of her literature has checked all the party-line blocks — less abortion, more guns, fewer taxes — she strikes us as an intelligent and reasonable person who will quite likely listen to all of her constituents. The 64th District could do a lot worse, and on occasion, has.

It would be nice for the Times to elaborate on why they feel the candidate who sticks to party line talking points might listen to all of her constituents. If Emily Brewer has spoken to anyone other than her base supporters, why doesn’t it show in anything she’s said or written? By contrast, Rebecca Colaw has met with Confederate as well as African American groups before forming an opinion on monuments. Colaw has been knocking on Republican and Democratic doors during her campaign, and like most of the people she has spoken to, supports background checks while vowing to fight more restrictive gun control measures.

Before partisan redistricting, the 64th elected Democrat Bill Barlow ten times in a row, and Democrat Hardaway Marks was elected five times before him. Many of the voters who elected Bill Barlow counted themselves as Republicans but crossed party lines to elect the more qualified candidate. Many still live in the district and have a chance to do so again.

Rational Republicans and Democrats alike can only elect the more qualified candidate if they vote. They should avoid being discouraged by the Smithfield Times’s undemocratic resignation that the candidate they tacitly support has already won.

Ryan Kushner’s Reply

Ryan Kushner of the Smithfield Times responded to an email which was similar to my previous post. I appreciate the courtesy and what I think is the honesty of his reply, and feel I owe it to him and to the handful of people who read what I write that I post his words without further comment.

Hi Mr. Goldberg,

I really appreciate you reaching out. I agree with most of this.

I personally did not perceive that being “less firm” on the subject of the statues was a negative, but I can see how one might take it that way. Ms. Colaw did not give a firm answer as to whether she believes they should be removed or not (which, again, is not necessarily a negative thing), but said that she was intent on seeking a compromise, which was stated in the article.

Ms. Brewer did answer the question about background checks at gun shows in her response (whether it was a good answer or not), which I also noted in the story. We don’t have control of what someone might presume she may have also said if it wasn’t included in the story.

As for free community college, while I couldn’t fit the whole response into the article, I did note Ms. Colaw’s intention to further study the state budget to research whether it was possible.

Again, I thank you for the email. I always appreciate feedback, particularly in summaries of political events. If you’d like to send your thoughts as a letter to the editor, please feel free to shoot it over to editor@smithfieldtimes.com.

Best,

Ryan Kushner
Staff writer
The Smithfield Times
228 Main St.
PO Box 366
Smithfield, VA 23431
Phone: 757-357-3288
Fax: 757-357-0404
Email: rkushner@smithfieldtimes.com
Website: http://www.smithfieldtimes.com

Colaw Will Dig In and Find Answers

The forum that I wrote about earlier is over and done with so it should be time for me to leave it alone and move on. But Ryan Kushner’s article about the event in the October 18th edition of the Smithfield Times is slanted to make Rebecca Colaw seem weaker when she is by far the stronger candidate, and I want to set the record straight.

For example, Emily Brewer did not answer the question about background checks. But like Brewer, the article is unclear about her response, saying,

only Colaw suggested the need for an end to purchasing firearms at gun shows without a background check, Brewer stating that there was already a provision in place that allowed sellers to refuse a sale at the shows.

Mr. Kushner quoted part of her reply and left open the possibility that somewhere in the rest of her response was an answer to the question.

Ms. Brewer also avoided answering the question about women’s reproductive health.

The only editorializing in the article is where Mr. Kushner describes Ms. Colaw’s stance about Confederate monuments as “less firm” than Brewer’s. But Ms. Colaw’s response was amazing. She spoke to African American groups and The Sons of the Confederacy and found common ground. She said that neither side wants to pay for removing the monuments. She also said that each monument has its own circumstances that would have to be addressed because, for example, some are on public grounds and some on private. So indeed, Ms. Colaw’s response might be “less firm” than taking a side on an issue without doing any research, but her response is far more balanced and truthful, and shows the kind of effort Rebecca Colaw will put into addressing the issues that affect Virginians

Rebecca Colaw’s response to free community college was also intelligent and revealing of the amount of effort Ms. Colaw will put into addressing our issues. She said she was against public funding of community college until she looked at how Tennessee implemented it. She said it would add to the tax base by creating more and better paid taxpayers. She also said she would research the details before pushing for it. But her answer was glossed over, and she was made to sound as if she supported free college without any thought of the costs and benefits.

Rebecca Colaw is what our community needs. Emily Brewer stuck to talking points. Rebecca Colaw spoke truth to opposition and provided data to back it up. She proved her willingness to hear different sides of controversial issues and to dig in and find answers to complex problems.

Rebecca Colaw Supports Background Checks. Her opponent didn’t say.

At a forum in Smithfield, Virginia, the candidates for Virginia’s 64th House of Delegates district were asked about their position on background checks. The Republican candidate Emily Brewer said that she supports the Second Amendment. She said that gun sellers have a right to refuse to sell to anyone they don’t want to. She said she supports the right to carry. She said nothing about background checks.

Rebecca Colaw, the Democratic candidate, was clear: She supports them. She said that as a lawyer, she knows where criminals get guns. They get them from gun shows.

In 2013, Emily Brewer tweeted her support for President Obama’s executive order on background checks, and now she won’t mention background checks while answering a question about them.

I find it disturbing when a politician who knows what’s right is afraid to say so.

Background checks won’t prevent every tragedy and won’t stop every criminal or mentally ill person from getting guns. But they’ll make it harder. Some will get caught using fake ID’s and some will get caught because their mental state prevents them from understanding the consequences of trying to get a gun. Others will have to work harder to arm themselves or supply guns to others.

Rebecca Colaw is a gun owning Democrat who believes in our right to bear arms and clearly states her support for background checks. Most Virginians support background checks, too. We should work to elect candidates who agree with us and aren’t afraid to say so.

I dislike kneeling protesters; but I dislike racist murderers more

Often, the choice isn’t between something you like and something you dislike. It’s often between something you dislike and something you dislike more.

I dislike national figures protesting during the National Anthem. But I dislike more a president who has harsher words for them then he does for white supremacists. I dislike failure to properly show respect for our nation’s symbols. But I dislike more when people, especially those who never served, misinterpret a silent demonstration as a direct insult to those who lost their lives or abilities to preserve our right to protest.

I also dislike the lack of respect for our nation’s many police officers, most of whom are self-sacrificing public servants who risk their lives for the protections of others. But I dislike more the idea that innocent people killed by racist murderers in uniform isn’t a problem that needs to be addressed.

So as unpleasant as I find Colin Kaepernick’s decision to publicly shirk his show of respect for our National Anthem, I’ll take his side over the side of people who would rather he didn’t do so and also rather the issue he has brought attention to not receive that attention.

It’s unpleasant taking the side of people who get payed much more than they should for playing a game. It’s not the side I like. It’s the side I dislike less.

Last Leper in the Colony

I hope I can be forgiven for being a little apprehensive when a friend or an acquaintance who is not an author asks me to read a book that he has written. But ‘Last Leper in the Colony’, by Wynne LeGrow, MD is clear and engaging, and an important read for anyone interested in religion and politics. Wynne has a knack for describing the ironic and an honest way of describing his own fears and shortcomings that will warm the reader to him and keep the reader looking forward to the next page. No matter what your faith or how strong your convictions are, the influence of religion on politics despite the founding fathers’ efforts to keep them separate, is an important topic that should not be ignored.

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If You’re Not Freaking Out about Net Neutrality…

(image is just text) Urgent: If you're not freaking out about Net Neutrality right now, you're not paying attention

I let July 12 sneak up on me.  I meant to do more to get ready for the Net Neutrality protest but today is July 12 and I hadn’t mentioned it to my friends or even brought it up at the Democratic Committee meeting last night.  Part of the reason – but only part – is none of my family or friends are talking about Net Neutrality.  I don’t see much about it on my Facebook feed.   Net Neutrality is way in the back of people’s minds and a lot of folks aren’t even sure what stand they should take on this issue.  Right now we’re obsessed with Junior’s collusion with Russia to dig up dirt on Clinton.

For those who aren’t ready to jump on the left side of every issue, Net Neutrality might seem like just another case of Liberals asking government to step in and regulate something which might better be guided by the invisible hand of the free market.  I understand that argument.  I think we on the Left generally want too much regulation and before the Right went insane, they provided a rational voice of opposition to our excesses.  There’s nothing  wrong with having someone say, “Don’t you think you’re spending too much money on this issue?”, or “Don’t you think those folks would be better off solving their own problems?”, or “All those regulations are going to make it too hard for people to do what you expect them to do.”

But that rational voice of opposition has gone rabid.  And without that rational voice, people on the Left should occasionally ask themselves, “Is this something that requires more government regulation?”, and we need to train ourselves to say “No” more often than we currently do.  But when our primary source of information is in danger of being overtaken by corporate interests who would be in control of what news and opinions we get to hear, then we should fight to keep that from happening.  I believe our Founding Fathers would agree.

Article 1 Section 8 of our Constitution gave the Federal government the power to establish post offices and post roads.  Early on, the leaders who shaped our nation knew that the government had a role in ensuring that the people had fair access to information.  That role still exists now that the Internet has become our primary postal route.  Allowing corporations such as Comcast or Verizon to throttle the route for some sources of information while keeping it wide open for others would be in violation, at least in spirit, of the guarantee of free flow of information that the framers wrote into the Constitution.

If corporations control our information, they can control us.  We can’t protest abuses of power if we don’t know about them.  We can’t organize if we can’t communicate.  We’re about to cede control of our information to the companies that own the routes through which that information flows.   

Imagine not being able to access the Washington Post or the New York times to learn that Donald Trump Jr was told, in an email, that he would be meeting a “Russian government attorney” to provide dirt on Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump”.  Imagine not being able to read how Republicans are “Taking a sledgehammer to Medicaid” .  

This is why we have a 1st Amendment.   If we lose fair access to information, we lose one of the most fundamental aspects of a free society.  Let’s not let that happen.  It’s easy to let the Net Neutrality issue slip by.  It’s wonky and technical and hard to directly equite to such issues as health care, voter suppression, the environment, or war.  But it’s central to all of those issues.  

So do me a favor.  I’m feeling pretty guilty for not doing more up until now.  Go to www.BattleForTheNet.com and sign the petition.

Thank you.

Update (7/13): Comcast says they support Net Neutrality, but not “reclassification of broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II”. The verge says Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T want Congress to make a net neutrality law [ as opposed to regulation ] because they will write it.

Five possible outcomes for health insurance under Trump and the Republicans

1) Republicans repeal ACA and replace it with something that sucks.  The rich get richer.  “Real Americans” lose their health coverage, get sick, go bankrupt, and die happy because they defeated the liberal agenda.

2) Republicans do nothing to the ACA.  People stay home and watch the next hit series on HBO.  Republicans stay in control and their supporters blame big government for all of their problems.

 

3) Republicans give the ACA a minor tweak.  They rename it “The America First Health Care Act” and declare victory.
4) Trump gets us all killed.
5) Republicans come up with something good and everyone is happy, but it’s still no better than anything we could have had years ago if Republicans had worked with Obama instead of obstructing him.

Spicer’s Lies Mean More Than You Think

There is a post that’s been going around on social media explaining the purposes served by the blatantly dishonest press conference given by Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer.

Sean Spicer at Press Room Podium

Sean Spicer. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by user GrahamHughey

I’m worried that the significance of the crazy lies is greater than most people realize, and that the outrage over the new normal will fade.

For most of us (two thirds, according to the post), Spicer’s lie wasn’t meant to convince. It was meant to establish. It’s not like a guy with pockets full of jewelry telling the police that he had nothing to do with the jewelry store that just got robbed. It’s more like the same guy with a gun telling a witness, “You didn’t see a thing”.

With this new normal, Trump can tell us that the economy is booming even if it collapses. He can tell us that public schools are working even as public school students slip further behind their wealthier peers. He can tell us that he has actionable evidence of crimes committed by his political adversaries (“Lock her up!”), and it should go without saying that he can start wars on false pretenses for economic gain or to distract from domestic issues.

Trump and his team know that there has been and will continue to be a backlash against this new normal. They’re prepared for it. Which means that we have to give them more than what they’re prepared for. The resistance must be greater than what any of us have expected. Introverts and TV addicts have to start getting active. People who have never voted before have to start taking an interest in political activity, and it would be great if Sanders and Clinton supporters could come together.

Below is the post that I referred to. It was originally tweeted by Anna Rascouët-Paz, but written by “someone who worked in a past administration”. I transcribed the text ( using Google Drive ) because the original was in a graphic format, so any grammatical errors might not be from the original.

If you are puzzled by the bizarre “press conference” put on by the White House press secretary this evening (angrily claiming that Trump’s inauguration had the largest audience in history, accusing them of faking photos and lying about attendance), let me help explain it. This spectacle served three purposes:

1. Establishing a norm with the press: they will be told things that are obviously wrong and they will have no opportunity to ask questions. That way, they will be grateful if they get anything more at any press conference. This is the PR equivalent of “negging,” the odious pick-up practice of a particular kind of horrible person (e.g., Donald Trump).

2. Increasing the separation between Trump’s base (1/3 of the population) from everybody else (the remaining 2/3). By being told something that is obviously wrong – that there is no evidence for and all evidence against, that anybody with eyes can see is wrong – they are forced to pick whether they are going to believe Trump or their lying eyes. The gamble here likely to pay off is that they will believe Trump. This means that they will regard media outlets that report the truth as “fake news” (because otherwise they’d be forced to confront their cognitive dissonance.)

3. Creating a sense of uncertainty about whether facts are knowable, among a certain chunk of the population (which is a taking a page from the Kremlin, for whom this is their preferred disinformation tactic). A third of the population will say “clearly the White House is lying,” a third will say “if Trump says it, it must be true,” and the remaining third will say “gosh, I guess this is unknowable.” The idea isn’t to convince these people of untrue things, it’s to fatigue them, so that they will stay out of the political process entirely, regarding the truth as just too difficult to determine.

This is laying important groundwork for the months ahead. If Trump’s White House is willing to lie about something as obviously, unquestionably fake as this, just imagine what else they’ll lie about. In particular, things that the public cannot possibly verify the truth of. It’s gonna get real bad.