Category: Uncategorized

Trump Lies Yet Again (Regarding New York Times Story)

What’s become crystal clear in the painful 12 months that we’ve suffered through with Trump in office is that he lies by default and that any truth that makes it into his statements or tweets are purely accidental. He lies to inflame his base, he lies to feed his ego, he lies to attempt to diminish his enemies, he lies, he lies, he lies.

Here’s the latest in the form of a tweet.

So, Trump claims that :

  • The US bought phony secrets on Trump
  • For $1 million

Here’s what the story actually says.

  • The deal was made by American intelligence officials working through an American businessman attempting to recover secret hacking tools stolen from the NSA.
  • The Russian they were buying the information from promised “compromising material” on Trump, but was told, “they did not want the Trump material from the Russian, who was suspected of having murky ties to Russian intelligence and to Eastern European cybercriminals.”
  • They paid a $100,000 first installment on $1 million, but the first delivery of materials had nothing about the stolen tools, and consisted solely of “unverified and possibly fabricated information involving Mr. Trump and others, including bank records, emails and purported Russian intelligence data.”
  • The material was refused by the Intelligence officials and remained in Europe in the hands of the American businessman.
  • “The episode ended this year with American spies chasing the Russian out of Western Europe, warning him not to return if he valued his freedom.”

According to the Times story, “the Americans desperately wanted the hacking tools. The cyberweapons had been built to break into the computer networks of Russia, China and other rival powers. Instead, they ended up in the hands of a mysterious group calling itself the Shadow Brokers, which has since provided hackers with tools that infected millions of computers around the world, crippling hospitals, factories and businesses.”

So, the purpose of the operation was totally legitimate, the material on Trump totally incidental and refused by the Intelligence officials. The Times story specifically states, “The United States intelligence officials said they cut off the deal because they were wary of being entangled in a Russian operation to create discord inside the American government. They were also fearful of political fallout in Washington if they were seen to be buying scurrilous information on the president.”

What’s critical here is that Trump cites the New York Times story in his tweet, in essence saying that the story is factual. He’s not saying that the Times is wrong and the focus was entirely on obtaining negative materials on him. Rather, he’s totally misrepresenting (lying) about what the Times story actually says, secure in his belief that few if any of the 120,000 who liked or retweeted the story would actually read it.

So Trump lies, and in the process criticizes efforts made by intelligence officials to recover valuable NSA tools. Unfortunately, the most remarkable thing about this story is that it’s totally unremarkable. At this point, it would be more shocking if Trump actually told the truth.

(Author’s Note:  Image from the Daily Nooze)

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.

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.

Gillespie = Trump

This is true for many reasons.

First, and most important, Gillespie is as ill-prepared for the job as governor as Trump is for president. Gillespie is a lobbyist who served Enron and literally has no state government experience; his only skill is selling access to government officials for money, which is illegal in office. Northam is a dedicated, compassionate veteran and physician with ten years experience at the highest levels of state government.  There’s no question that Northam has superior qualifications, temperament, and experience for the job.

Second, they spout the same tired Republican dogma to cut taxes. All trickle down economics has done is make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Cutting taxes in Kansas in 2012 crippled the state in terms of jobs and education, and the Republican Congress recently raised taxes in order to compete. 

Third, they both want to take health care away. Sure, Obamacare isn’t perfect, but nothing the Republicans have proposed has come close to providing the same benefits, and most of Obamacare’s problems relate to Republican efforts to make Obamacare fail. If Obamacare does fail, over 62,000 citizens of VA9th will lose health care

Fourth, they both stretch the truth when it supports their positions. For example, Gillespie has hammered Northam on his position on sanctuary cities, as has president Trump. There’s just one issue; Virginia has no sanctuary cities, which Gillespie admitted in an August debate. That’s why factcheck.org rated Gillespie’s attacks as misleading, which was charitable at best.

Here’s what the New Republic Magazine said on this issue, and Gillespie morphing into Trump:

The motto of the gang MS-13—“Kill, Rape, Control”—pulsates on the screen, before cutting to a graffiti portrait of Ralph Northam, the Democratic nominee for governor of Virginia. Then a warning: Northam cast a “deciding vote” in favor of sanctuary cities, ushering in a wave of MS-13 terror in Virginia.  If you believe the ads, Northam would empty the state’s prisons and open the country’s borders to let foreign felons wreak havoc in Falls Church and MacLean.

Those tattooed men were, in fact, prisoners in El Salvador. Similarly, there are no sanctuary cities in Virginia. This rhetoric would be shocking coming from any candidate, even in 2017. But the ads are particularly notable because they support Ed Gillespie, a former chair of the Republican National Committee who is synonymous with the Republican establishment of the last 30 years. Gillespie—well-monied, well-connected, and very powerful—represents the exact establishment that Donald Trump ran against in 2016. And now he’s the Republican nominee for governor in Virginia, running a campaign with distinct Trumpian themes.

The bottom line is this. This isn’t about partisan politics, Republican vs. Democrat. This is about sending the most qualified candidate to Richmond.

Gillespie = Trump.

Don’t allow the same disaster to happen to Virginia.

Let’s Put Hate in a Box (and Bury it Once and for All)

It came as no surprise to me that clashes between white separatists and those offended by their ideologies resulted in violence, including the death of one ‘counter’ protestor. Before I continue, I am also aware of the two police deaths associated with the helicopter crash. All three of these deaths were unnecessary and a most unfortunate side effect of our collective failure to recognize our common humanity.

Violence begets violence. I am against it until and only until my life or those of my beloved are under real and obvious threat.

The current climate in Charlottesville and other places around our country is one of competing ideas, differing views about our history, and the basic sin of pride. It is important for everyone living in the United States to understand that we are a melting pot. Except for truly Native Americans, we are mostly a large, sloppy, and slow accumulation of immigrants, arriving through many generations of hopefuls who saw and see America as a promise of new and better lives. This is exactly what and who we are.

But lest we forget, some of us did not come of their own free will. Most obviously that would include the African slaves, but also Irish and other indentured servants escaping persecution both political and religious. This is who we are, and immigration continues through our southern borders…the present influx of Hispanics, who, for the record, are mostly also Native American…seeking better opportunities for themselves and their families. They cross artificial/political lines based on wars won and lost.

As each wave of immigrants comes into our country, ‘we’ benefit from the willingness of these eager workers to start at the bottom of the ladder. To put it simply, our infrastructural land and cityscapes would not exist without this influx of cheap labor over time. This advantage is not lost on the industrialists, the agri-business empire, all the way down to any of us who needs a maid or yard man. Every time we shop at Walmart or our local grocery chain store, we are buying low-priced produce partially based on that cheap labor.

Pride is our downfall. We, all of us, have more in common than not. We work hard, we raise our kids, love our families, we want time and space to enjoy our lives, to pursue our goals, and to find real meaning somewhere in the middle of all of that. We NEED one another in order to make sense of our lives. To suggest that we are not equal in these pursuits is vain, destructive and limiting. What we miss by not freely associating with those whose cultural identity is different from ours is enormous. We have so much to share, to learn from one another.

From a biologist’s point of view, the human family is actually one race. This is a true fact, not an alternative one. Many will dispute this, but in terms of what ‘race’ actually means, we are one: black, yellow, red, white and blue. It is time for us to discard our prejudices and look deeply inside of ourselves…do we choose hate over love, do we choose anger over calm, do we choose working together or working against one another? Life is hard enough without these costly choices.

Making ‘America Great Again’, Trump’s clarion call, has a ring to it. The word I find questionable is ‘Again’. What does that mean, and to whom? The United States is, historically, a young country, still an experiment, kind of like a teenager. If we are to succeed, remain strong on the global stage, to offer moral guidance internationally, we must be strong together here at home. We must resist the temptation to move backward in time, but instead to look ahead. We must replace personal pride with American pride. Let’s put hate in a box and bury it once and for all.

Scott Jackson-Ricketts
Independence

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.

People Will Die

Despite massive protests from people across the political spectrum, the Republicans in Congress are moving ahead with another cynical attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with legislation that will deprive millions of health insurance, including an estimated 839,000 Virginians. The Graham-Cassidy Bill gets rid of the individual mandate, but it also will result in increased insurance premiums and bring back lifetime caps on treatment. Once again people could be denied coverage or charged more for pre-existing conditions. Coverage for essential preventive care, such as mammograms and other tests to screen for disease, will not be guaranteed. Everybody in the country will be impacted if this bill passes— even people who have health coverage from an employer or under Medicare. Doctors, other medical professionals, hospitals, and clinics provide services because they are assured payment by insurance companies. When massive numbers of people lose coverage and cannot pay for health services, the healthcare providers go out of business. The doctor and hospital that would treat you in an emergency just might not be there. This bill is being rushed to a vote in the hope that regular people will not have time to figure out what is in it, but bottom-line, it is just another vile attempt by Republicans to prevent

Everybody in the country will be impacted if this bill passes— even people who have health coverage from an employer or under Medicare. Doctors, other medical professionals, hospitals, and clinics provide services because they are assured payment by insurance companies. When massive numbers of people lose coverage and cannot pay for health services, the healthcare providers go out of business. The doctor and hospital that would treat you in an emergency just might not be there. This bill is being rushed to a vote in the hope that regular people will not have time to figure out what is in it, but bottom-line, it is just another vile attempt by Republicans to prevent

This bill is being rushed to a vote in the hope that regular people will not have time to figure out what is in it, but bottom-line, it is just another vile attempt by Republicans to prevent government, at either the state or federal level, from providing anything like universal access to healthcare. This may be great for fat-cat Republican campaign donors, but it will cause great harm for the rest of us. People we know may die. Any candidate who supports this heinous bill or who like Ed Gillespie who says he does not support or oppose the bill is the servant of corporate interests and not the people. Indeed, Mr. Gillespie’s position is the definition of moral cowardice.

Griffith Supports Trump’s Tax Plan (That Raises Taxes on his Constituency)

Rep. Morgan Griffith plays the good soldier in this MSNBC interview, supporting president Chirp’s tax plan. Griffith asserts that the plan will benefit everyone. Here’s the finding from the Tax Policy Center

“Those with the very highest incomes would receive the biggest tax cuts. The tax cuts are smaller as a percentage of income in 2027, and taxpayers in the 80th to 95th income percentiles would, on average, experience a tax increase.”

So, the top 1% get the most benefit, while those on the bottom may see an increase. Since the average income in the 9th District is just under $37,000 (according to Wikipedia), a good percentage of voters in the district fall between the 80 – 95 percentile.

Again, as with health care, Griffith supports president Chirp against the interest of his constituents.

What a True Leader Sounds Like (Hint: It’s Not Trump)

There were racial slurs written on five doors at the Air Force Academic Preparatory School. Here’s the response from Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, superintendent of the Air Force Academy. Five minutes long, the video teaches how a leader should have acted regarding Charlottesville and the NFL situation. He makes two key points.

  • Leaders lead by uniting, not dividing. Had Trump really wanted to resolve the NFL situation (not that it needed his attention) he would have invited players and owners to a closed-door meeting, not fanned the flames in an Alabama stump speech. Trump made the situation much, much worse, not better.
  • Our diversity makes us stronger. Trump’s anti-Muslim, gay, Mexican, handicapped, woman-related comments show that he doesn’t believe this, and I suspect that most people who accuse kneeling NFL players of disrespecting the flag rather than protesting police brutality and other inequalities don’t believe this either.

This talk is five minutes in length and is beautiful and inspiring. In many ways, the armed services represent the best of us and America; I wish all of us could adhere to the ideals Lt. Gen. Silveria speaks of.