Category: Griffith

Why Griffith Cares So Little About His Constituents (Hint: Follow the Money)

A recent letter in the Roanoke Times proclaimed “Griffith Represents Kock Brothers.” Easy enough to check, so I surfed over to www.opensecrets.org and confirmed that Griffith received $6,000 from Koch Industries in 2017-2018.

Check the total received and you see that Koch has contributed $41,000 to his four campaigns, a tidy sum, but trailing Alpha Natural Resources, who through the company, their PAC (political action committee), and wealthy individuals, contributed over $61,000. Alpha is a coal producing company, so if you’re wondering why Griffith supports coal so aggressively, well, there it is.None of this was really that surprising. However, when I surfed down to the total source of funds, I saw the chart below. This shows that only $15,083, or 3.8% of contributions to Griffith come from small individual donors. The rest comes from PACs, and large individual contributors, which are typically employees of large supporting organizations and PACs. 

For perspective, when Republican Devin Nunes published the Republican memo regarding Trump and Russia, his Democratic challenger received over $100,000 of contributions, with most coming from small contributors. That’s over six times the amount Griffith has collected in two days.

So if you’re wondering why Griffith spends so much time working for coal, oil, and gas companies, and so little time proposing legislation that helps his constituents, now you know.  He serves for those who fund his campaigns.

If you want to remove Griffith, you’re going to have to support his challengers, with your contributions, with your energy, and ultimately with your votes.

Here’s the website for Anthony Flaccavento – Flacc4Congress.com
Here’s the website for Justin Santopietro – Justin4VA.com

Griffith Toes The Republican Party Line in Thoughtless Memo-Gate Blog Post – Is Anyone Surprised?

by Fayma Nye

Morgan Griffith’s blog post regarding Memo-Gate demonstrates his thoughtless regurgitation of whatever position the Republican Party directs him to try to cram down our throats. Entitled, Rogue Individuals at FBI Tilted the Scales of Justice, Griffith’s tagline sets the tone for yet another attempt by the majority party to create evidence of a grievous offense where none exists. The “evidence” offered and intended to “prove” the claim of “rogue individuals” and “political purposes” does exactly the opposite.

Read through to the last paragraph of the memo, and it contradicts its own assertions by stating (correctly) that Papadopoulos’ drunken bragging to an Australian diplomat about information the Russians had on Hillary Clinton is what triggered the Russia investigation. The diplomat contacted the FBI, and that, along with other evidence, convinced numerous attorneys and the judges on the FISA court that surveillance was, indeed, warranted.

Here’s what NPR had to say. “But what this line in the memo reveals is that the investigation was initially triggered not by the Steele dossier but by information about the activities of Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.”

The Memo Doesn’t Dispute Collusion

It’s also interesting to note that the memo doesn’t address, in any way, whether any collusion existed between Russia and the Trump campaign. Trump and his minions have denied collusion from the start, but evidence of a clear connection have emerged as multiple Trump officials, including Popoadopulous and Michael Flynn have pled guilty to lying to the FBI about this very issue. It’s a thinly-veiled and frankly pathetic attempt to divert the Mueller investigation away from pursuing this critical issue that threatens to undermine our democracy (see Time Magazine, Donald Trump’s Lies Are Fatally Wounding Our Democracy).

Overall, the Republicans have become confident that their supporters will believe anything if they repeat it often enough, and Morgan Griffith’s comments are an example of this. Did he even read the memo through to the end? In his eagerness to “pile on” and revel in the sanctimonious glory of staking a claim on the moral high ground, he couldn’t take the time to read for himself the entire three and one-half pages.

Rather than prove their premise, the Republicans have shown, instead, that they have built an entire case on their lie that the FISA surveillance permit was granted based on the Christopher Steele dossier, which it was not.

Did Trump collude with the Russians? We still don’t know, and nothing about Memo-Gate offers proof one way or another. Sound far-fetched? Well, we absolutely do know that Trump’s son and son-in-law met with Russians claiming to have damaging information on Hillary Clinton, a meeting that Stephen Bannon (of all people), labeled treasonous. We know that Trump wrote a false memo on behalf of his son claiming that the meeting related to “a program about the adoption of Russian children.”

What Memo-Gate does prove is that Griffith and his Republican cohorts care more about protecting Trump than they do about the existential issue of whether the current president of the United States colluded with one or our principal enemies to get there. We in the VA9th deserve better.

Don’t be gullible. Make up your own mind. My mind is clear that if you simply substitute the words “Republican party” for “FBI” in the tagline, it reads true.

Read Griffith’s entire post here: Griffith: Rogue Individuals at FBI Tilted the Scales of Justice.

Read House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence memo and fact-checking comments here.

Flaccavento’s Rural Progressive Platform Highlighted in Yes Magazine Article

Many voters in the VA9th support Anthony Flaccavento because he has a realistic vision for how rural areas can pull themselves up by the bootstraps, not through food stamps and welfare, but through targeted investment. Flaccavento formalized his plans into the Rural Progressive Platform, upon which his candidacy is largely based. In a recent article, Why Rural America Isn’t a Lost Cause for Progressive Ideas, Yes! Magazine recognized the platform as a dynamic program that’s being adopted by candidates in other states like Pennsylvania and New York.

Describing the program, Yes! details, “The platform outlines a framework for progressive values within a rural context through the lens of three central elements: land, livelihood and community. It provides progressive policy examples that cater to each of those elements, including increased investment in sustainable farming, ending policies that undermine organized labor, and expansion of rural health clinics and addiction treatment centers.”

Largely based upon the platform, the article relates that rural politicians around the country are “buying into a new way of campaigning…talking about raising the minimum wage, universal health care, debt-free college and investing in local assets, like natural landscapes and small business development, instead of industrial recruitment.”

What have the Republicans offered to date? Tax cuts for the rich, and the busted promise of trickle-down economics. In the article, Flaccavento disagrees, stating, “Trickle-down economics has been a disaster for most rural places, and we need a bottom-up alternative,” which is a common refrain in his campaign speeches. On his website, Flaccavento further elaborates. “Forty years of cutting tax rates for the wealthiest people and the biggest corporations has not led to widespread prosperity.  On the contrary, it has made a few people unimaginably rich, while diverting resources away from fixing serious problems and building real wealth.  Nowhere could this be more true than in Southwest Virginia.

As the Yes! article points out, Flaccavento’s ideas are taking hold in other races. One example is Emily Martz, who is running for office in New York’s 21st Congressional District, who Yes! quotes as saying, “We absolutely have the power to create jobs that can sustain families if we invest in our two biggest assets, which are our people and our natural resources.” 

Our current representative, Morgan Griffith, hasn’t promoted a single cause not motivated by his corporate donors or Republican policies as spearheaded by President Trump. He’s a parrot for the wealthy and the Republican party, not an advocate for the VA9th. We need a Congressman with the ideas, energy, and focus to help the VP9th prosper. As Flaccavento’s ideas gain national recognition and acceptance, it becomes clearer that he is the best choice.

Time to Move On From Coal

Few things in life are more distressing than losing a job or profession. But nothing is more wasteful than throwing good money after bad, or raising hopes that will never be fulfilled. So it is with coal in the VA9th.

Pictures are worth a thousand words. What the Virgina Coal Extraction image atop the page tells us is that:

  • Despite what Morgan Griffith has inaccurately labeled Obama’s war on coal, coal production in Virginia peaked in 1988 and started its precipitous decline under George H. W. Bush.
  • Coal production and the associated jobs aren’t coming back, despite claims by Griffith and Trump.
  • The best assistance we can provide to former minors is to find alternative opportunities, not make empty promises.

As confirmation, in a recent study, Indiana University researchers found that “Current federal efforts to revive the coal industry will likely do more harm than good to fragile Appalachian communities transitioning from coal as a major source of employment.”  The study’s key conclusions were:

  • Rolling back environmental regulations will not lead to a significant resurgence of the coal industry because those regulations played only a minor role relative to slowing demand for electricity and a surge in cheaper, cleaner sources of energy.
  • Promising coal communities a return of their jobs has the potential to fill them with false hope, which can threaten the very progress that has been made in launching job training programs and other transition steps.
  • Government programs should focus on helping communities find and harness new economic and human development opportunities with a focus on health and education, professional growth, and public services.

It’s natural to feel empathy towards those who have lost jobs through no fault of their own. But the correct focus is on finding new jobs, not promising the return of jobs that will never come back.

Data Sources:

The chart atop the page is from David Roper, Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech.

You can find data sources for the image here.

 

Three Takes on the New Tax Plan

The big question in everyone’s mind should be whether the new tax plan will help us in the VA9th, either directly or indirectly. Several interesting observations point to no.

These comments highlight that at some point, 9th district voters need to ignore the party line and start voting for representatives who pursue our best interests. While there may be a few wealthy individuals in the district who benefit from the new tax plan, overall it’s a huge negative.

All district voters should be asking themselves, “what’s in this bill for me?” The honest answer is very little, if not nothing at all.

OK, on to the comments.

The first is from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank created in 1986 to include the needs of low- and middle-income workers in economic policy discussions. Here’s what the EPI said.

“After spending most of the year promising a tax cut for the middle class, Republicans in the Senate have joined their colleagues from the House of Representatives in reneging on this pledge. The bill passed today is nothing more than a giveaway to the richest households and corporations, period. It will raise taxes on many low- and moderate-income households, and the deficits it will leave in its wake will be used to attack Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—a strategy clearly telegraphed by both the Republican budget resolution from last month as well as by Senator Rubio more recently.

Besides lying about who would benefit most directly from the tax cut, defenders of today’s bill have also lied about the trickle-down benefits that will accrue to workers in the form of higher wages. Simply put, this bill will not raise wages for typical workers—but it will deny health insurance to 13 million workers, a measure Senate Republicans included to help contain the overall cost of giving large tax cuts to rich households and corporations. This bill is a scam through-and-through.”

The second is from the ChangeWave Investing newsletter which before now, has been very apolitical. In the December 5 newletter, author Josh Levine states (sorry, it’s a private newsletter, so I can’t provide a link,

“Growth is the key word for those promoting the tax plan. Proponents argue that by reducing the corporate income tax rate to 20% from the current 35% – along with a provision that allows some companies to bring back hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign profits at a lower rate than they otherwise would’ve paid – will translate to higher capital investment and wages. In other words, if the government taxes the rich less, the wealthy will save more, grow US capital stock and investment, and make workers more productive.

While such a tax scheme will ensure higher profits in the short run, thus giving a further tailwind to share prices, there is little evidence to support the case for trickle-down economics.

Fact is the share of national income going to the top 1% has doubled from 10% to more than 20%, while income accrued by the bottom 50% has been almost halved, from 20% percent to 12.5%. There has been no growth at all in the average pretax income of the bottom half of the population over the past 40 years – during which trickle-down enthusiasts promised just the opposite.

Today corporate profits and cash balances are already near historic records, and the business cycle is in the latter stages with interest rates and unemployment at long-term lows. If anything, such a tax plan would be far better suited for an economy at its trough, rather than closer to a peak.”

The third is from a letter to the editor from Rebecca Jones in the Roanoke Times which adds a local bent.

“The TCJA is full of gimmicks which will negatively affect southwest Virginians. Any small tax cuts benefiting the middle-class will be temporary: most of us will see our taxes rise within a few years, and those earning the least will see the biggest tax increase. Tax cuts for large corporations will be permanent, with no guarantees whatsoever that these billions in tax cuts will be used to create jobs or increase wages. Recent history suggests these corporations instead will direct their windfall to stockholders, CEO pay increases, and stock buybacks.

The wealthiest Americans will benefit mightily from tax cuts and the estate tax repeal, while the middle class, small businesses, and colleges and universities will bear the brunt of the noxious effects of a plan crafted to satisfy GOP mega-donors.

For families with children, college and graduate students, and those with student loans, the TCJA repeals vital deductions, making it harder to afford college tuition and significantly increasing student debt. TCJA harms colleges and universities directly in ways which will make higher education much more costly and less accessible.

Shame on Morgan Griffith! Call him today and tell him we are too smart to fall for this con game!”

 

Fox’s Shepard Smith Tells the Truth on Uranium One; Fox Viewers Want Him Out!

President Trump and his Republican enablers in the Senate and Congress (including Morgan Griffith of the VA9th) have repeatedly attempted to deflect focus on Trump’s Russian ties by claiming that Hillary Clinton traded Uranium to Russia in exchange for contributions to the Clinton Foundation. This claim was found to be flat out False by Snopes.com and rated four Pinocchios on the Washington Post.  FactCheck.org concluded, “there is no evidence that donations to the Clinton Foundation from people with ties to Uranium One or Bill Clinton’s speaking fee influenced Hillary Clinton’s official actions.”

The latest rebuttal came from a welcome but unusual source; Fox News own Shepard Smith. Here’s the video.

What’s absolutely hysterical is how Fox’s viewers are responding to Smith’s factual rebuttal. Here’s a sample tweet. 

Clearly, Ms. West and her supporters don’t want facts to get in the way of their opinions. This level of “thinking” clearly demonstrates how Trump still has a 37% approval rating.

Anthony Flaccavento Throws Hat in Ring at Grayson Dems Barbeque

The Flacc is back, and let’s hope the second time is a charm

Anthony Flaccavento, who ran for Congress back in 2012, is running again in 2018. Below is his recent talk at the Grayson Democrats Barbeque in October 2017.

Sorry for the poor quality of the video; I shot it with an iPhone and no tripod and processed it a couple of ways to limit the shakes and video noise. But the audio is clear, and Anthony’s message is striking; he has a plan to help the VA9th get on its feet.

Anthony’s website is https://www.flacc4congress.com/ and his Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/anthony.flaccavento.3.

I shot video of Anthony during his last campaign, and then used some footage for some testing performed for my day job as video journalist.  This involved watching and listening to his talk many, many times, and Anthony’s message really stuck with me.  Here’s the one-minute snippet.

There are thoughtful, compelling words, particularly given who now occupies the White House and how poorly Griffith has represented the district. It’s up to us to take our country back, and complacency is no longer an option. I hope you’ll join me in supporting Anthony will all of your energies.

Democrats Paint Virginia Blue

It’s shining today in the VA9th, even if the sun never peeks beyond the gray clouds currently painting the sky. Yesterday, Virginia voters painted the state blue, choosing the better gubernatorial candidate, rejecting campaigns based upon lies and negative ads, and rejecting the fraud who currently resides in the White House. Let’s hope it’s just the first step towards rolling back the malignant tide of divisiveness and policies by the rich for the rich formulated by Trump and his Republican enablers in both houses, including Morgan Griffith.

While overjoyed at the result, we have our work cut out for us in the upcoming Congressional race, as most of the VA9th was solidly red by margins close to 80%. Clearly, the statewide elections were won in NOVA.

But the campaign to unseat Griffith begins today, it begins now. Griffith has done little but trumpet the policies of the White House, which is particularly galling since there are few rich people in his district and many who need health care. Griffith has no vision to help make the VA9th strong and vibrant again, his major legislative efforts support large pharmaceutical companies or seek to undermine government-based offices like the Congressional Budget Office that help keep both parties honest. He supports and enables the lies that Trump keeps telling and fewer and fewer voters keep believing. We’re coming for you, Griffith, and if last night’s election doesn’t throw fear into your heart, you’re not paying attention.

We thank everyone on both sides who shared their honest views and emotions on our Facebook page over the last few months; intelligent conversation benefits everyone. To those who cursed, insulted, spread lies and mistruths, or attempted bullying, or those who debased the conversation with idiotic memes, we hope you learned from Gillespie’s stunning loss that lies and negativity don’t sway the Virginia voter. We’re big boys and girls and can take your insults, but if you want to be effective, try calm, supported logic. Or not. Keep doing what you’re doing to help us unseat Griffith and elect a Democratic congressman who will actually support the district. 

HARVEY, IRMA, AND US

Prices at the gas stations along Stuart Drive in Galax have jumped considerably in the past couple of weeks, and thanks to the temporary shutdown of refineries in Texas, prices may go higher.  Hurricane Harvey knocked out 25% of the nation’s gasoline refining capacity and caused the spike.

Given the extraordinary impacts of Harvey and now Hurricane Irma, impacts that have affected us in Grayson County, one wonders if Morgan Griffith has changed his views on global warming or if he is still a member of that cabal in Congress subscribing to the prehistoric, anti-science view that human activity is not changing the world’s climate.  In other words, is he still dragging his knuckles on the ground.

Global warming did not cause Hurricane Harvey, but it did greatly exacerbate its effects.  Rising sea levels coupled with warmer air and ocean temperatures resulted in the unprecedented flooding in Houston and surrounding South Texas communities.  Warmer air holds more moisture and produces more rain, which in combination with increased flood hazard from rising sea levels, produced the catastrophic inundation portrayed on the news.  The storm also stalled over the Gulf Coast for days, which may have been a consequence of changing atmospheric and ocean circulatory patterns.  Instead of moving out after a few hours, Harvey continued to dump rain days after making landfall on August 24.  The effects of Hurricane Irma were less catastrophic than feared, but still devastating.  Irma was the biggest hurricane ever, and its impacts were felt across Florida.

When catastrophes like Harvey and Irma occur, our hearts go out to the people affected, but we also feel some guilty relief that this did not happen to us.  It would be foolish, however, to think that in a world with a rapidly changing climate, we in Southwest Virginia are insulated from a natural disaster on the scale of Harvey or Irma.  A devastating hurricane landing on the Virginia coast might knock out our power for a protracted time and produce destructive winds even this far inland.  Other climate disasters include prolonged drought, which may result in a greater chance of wildfires in our heavily wooded region.  We got a taste of that last summer when 40,000 acres burned just south of us in North Carolina.   The eastern white pine and Virginia pine in our woodlands would light up like torches in dry conditions.

Climate science is complex, and it is impossible to predict where and when particular disasters might occur.  We do know, however, that the probability of human-caused climate disruptions is increasing.  We also know that the primary cause of these disruptions is global warming brought about by burning fossil fuels.  For decades, scientists have been measuring carbon in centuries-old air pockets trapped in the Antarctic ice sheet.  Beginning with the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700’s, increased carbon in these samples correlates with the increased burning of fossil fuels, concurrent rising temperatures, and now the increased probability of extreme weather events.

Despite the scientific evidence, Morgan Griffith remains a vigorous proponent of burning even more fossil fuel—especially coal.  In his weekly newsletters, he has referred to “clean coal” leading his readers to believe that there is some environmentally and economically viable means of burning coal without adding carbon to the atmosphere and increasing global warming.  In theory, this is possible through carbon sequestration, but it is an expensive process and has not been done at a meaningful scale.  It is a pipe dream.  Still, Mr. Griffith promotes the idea to give false hope to his constituents in coal-producing counties and to continue lining his pockets with donations from coal companies.

The Chinese currently plan to spend five times as much as the US on developing clean energy.  Meanwhile, while the Chinese are leaving us in their dust, Mr. Griffith wants us to look backward, burn more fossil fuels and deal with more climate disasters.  He and his cohorts in Congress need to get their heads out of that place where the sun does not shine.

Free Forum Tackles Local Impact of Continuation, Repeal, or Replacement of Obamacare

OPEN HEALTHCARE FORUM
September 12, 2017 at 6:30 PM
Historic 1908 Courthouse in Independence Virginia

The repeal or replacement of Obamacare has been a national debate for most of 2017, but the economic impact is typically studied only at the national level. What would happen in the Twin Counties if Obamacare is repealed? How would Twin County Regional Hospital be affected? What would be the impact of any of the proposed Obamacare replacement plans?

These are critical issues that should effect your vote in several upcoming elections, including the November gubernatorial election, where Ralph Northam supports Obamacare while Ed Gillespie advocates for its repeal. In 2018, incumbent Senator Tim Kaine supports Obamacare, while Representative Morgan Griffith has already voted for its repeal. But where would Obamacare’s repeal leave the Twin Counties?

To explore these issues, the Healthcare Information Committee of Southwest Virginia has scheduled an open health care forum to discuss the economic impact of the repeal or replacement of Obamacare. The forum will be held on September 12, 2017, at 6:30 PM at the Historic 1908 Courthouse in Independence, VA. Speakers will include:

  • Christina Dalton, a healthcare economist at Wake Forest University
  • Dale Alward, the new Chief Executive Officer of Twin County Regional Healthcare
  • Robert Lazo, a local family practice physician
  • The forum will be moderated by Twin County Regional Hospital Board Member Doug Vaught

The forum will start with brief statements from all speakers, after which the floor will open for questions. Beyond the issues mentioned above, the panelists are prepared to respond to a number of questions, including:

  • Do we need the Affordable Care Act?
  • Is the individual mandate necessary?
  • Are there alternatives to Obamacare that might work better?
  • What happens to me if I get sick and have no insurance?
  • Can I get covered by Medicaid?
  • What do these programs mean for sustaining our local hospital and medical services in our area?
  • What happens to a community when hospitals close and doctors leave?

Most of the debate on Obamacare has centered along party lines, with little understanding of the local impact of its continuation or repeal. This open forum is your chance to get educated on these issues, and intelligently vote for the candidate that supports your views.

Forum sponsored by the Healthcare Information Committee of SW VA. Members: Nancy Liebrecht, Chair;  Fayma Nye, Treasurer;  Rob Meinecke, Harriett Meinecke, Betty Sutton,  Mary Lily Nuckolls