This is the third in our series of letters from Nelsonians relating their concerns about Dominion's Atlantic Coast pipeline.
Marion Kanour is an involved and active member of the Nelson community. She was born and raised in Norfolk, served in the US Marine Corps for 4 years as an Aviation Supply Officer and has been an ordained Episcopal Priest for 21 years. Marion currently serves as the Priest of Grace Episcopal Church, Massie's Mill, Nelson, VA. She has a knack for seeing needs in our community and setting about to fill those needs. As well as supporting many community groups (i.e, the renovation of a local baseball field), she has played an integral role in the creation of Nelson's Domestic Violence Task Force, as well as being the organizer of one of Nelson's anti-pipeline groups, Free Nelson. She and her wife, Barbara Heyl, live in the Greenfield area of Nelson County.
The following is the second in a series whose purpose is to show what's gone wrong in our nation's political arena, and to help start the process of setting things right. The series is addressed to all those who are disturbed by what the Republican Party has become, and frustrated by the failure of the Democratic Party to combat it effectively.
Summary: In the conduct of today's Republican Party, we can see a pattern of destructiveness. It displays an insatiable lust for power and wealth, an impulse to prey upon the vulnerable, a preference for conflict over cooperation, a persistent dishonesty, and a willingness to sacrifice the greater good for selfish advantage. Putting the pieces together, we see that our national crisis is not just at the political level, but goes deeper to the moral and spiritual levels.
I have a message and a plan to help turn back this force. To succeed, it will need the help of many.
The Republican Party, I have said here, has been taken over by a destructive force. Time now to flesh out more of the picture showing the relentlessly destructive nature of what now animates the Republican Party:
It's a force that's insatiable in its lust for power and wealth.
Even though we have the greatest income inequality that we've had in living memory, this force works continually to widen that gap still further. All their budgetary proposals would take from average Americans to give more to those who already have the most. As they protect those who have tripled their share of our national income, they cut food stamps to the most vulnerable Americans -- even at a time when jobs are scarce and even the middle class is struggling.
In the realm of political power, this force has given us a Supreme Court that handed down that disgraceful decision in Citizens United, making it still easier for the nation's widening inequalities of wealth to be translated into inequalities of political power. With our government put up for auction, "All men are created equal" gets swamped by the Almighty Dollar. The Republicans have been working to turn our government from one "by the people" into one controlled by those giant so-called "persons" that make up the corporate world.
With special session only days away, Virginians are still waiting for Speaker Howell and the rest of House Republican leadership to show that they're even willing to consider a plan to expand Medicaid and close the coverage gap. Republican leaders have yet to put forward legislation to ensure that 400,000 Virginians have access to the healthcare they deserve – but they have wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars on political posturing.
Even as conservative Republican governors in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Wyoming have embraced expansion, Virginia House Republicans are willing to squander taxpayer dollars while hundreds of thousands of their constituents go without care. Bringing back lawmakers to Richmond without taking action is an expensive political charade, and Virginians just aren’t buying it.
And as House Republicans stay silent on a plan, editorial boards across the state are calling on them to change their tune.
There's always a story behind the story and sometimes one belies the other. Remote Area Medical (RAM) is a godsend; make no mistake about it. But like any private sector organization, the transparency or accountability we demand from government is not always evident. Today's "conservatives" would never acknowledge that.
Watching and taking part in the transformation of a rural air terminal into expeditionary specialty clinics, dental and vision, is not an immersion in military precision. It almost can't be when much of the labor is borrowed. The effort resulting when organization is flattened results in stove-piping. The raw volunteers care about pitching in and recognize the limits of their ability to contribute to technical assembly of the equipment. There are enough seasoned volunteers that as long as the boxes and bags are lined up at their assigned places, they can readily and efficiently assemble and order materials; in their areas. The lack of organization and efficiency among the unguided volunteers is more than compensated for by their numbers and camaraderie. From pitching tents (probably the most organized effort), to setting up tables and chairs, to moving crates and boxes, the unbridled activity ends in mission accomplishment.
This is at the tactical delivery end. Strategically there is always another view that is masked by the appearance if not the reality of good intentions. My father had no time for the American Red Cross. After raging battles on isolated Pacific islands during World War II, the Red Cross sold donuts to the Marines and sailors ashore; the Salvation Army was there handing out goods gratis. Guess which organization he favored. My wife cannot turn down a request for a donation from Saint Jude's in Memphis despite having no clue who Danny Thomas was; it's those children. On the other hand, when I see anyone collecting donations to benefit our military service members or veterans, I challenge their credentials on the spot. I wasn't as discerning with RAM until I saw the DC-47 (a WWII DC-3 configuration) touch down in Lee County. After all, RAM had been endorsed via association by both of Virginia's United States Senators, our current Governor, and General Assembly members from both sides of the aisle.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, September 15. Also, I've finally gotten around to reading Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the 21st Century," am finding it fascinating (and highly relevant to political battles in this country over income inequality, fiscal policy, etc.), and thought I'd post this interview with the author a few months ago. Also note that the Roosevelts, who are the subject of a documentary by Ken Burns currently running on PBS, would almost certainly appreciate the data and conclusions of Piketty's book. Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? Not so much!
The second in a series of posts to Blue Virginia sharing letters from Nelsonians which outline their concerns, frustrations and determination to stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. We hope from these letters, BV readers, our local, state and federal officials will begin to acknowledge and understand the validity of the arguments being made by residents of rural Nelson County. Our elected officials would allow a for-profit, privately held company, in this case Dominion Power, to encroach upon our lands and our way of life. Nelsonians may live in a rural area, but are not stupid. They are well-informed, knowledgeable and will not stop their efforts to shine a light on the issues that affect them. Governor McAuliffe can hide in a restaurant rather than speak to protesters, some officials can vote against the best interests of their constituents, but Nelsonians are united in their fight.
Sherri Moyer Brooks and her husband, Nelson County Sheriff David Brooks are native Nelsonians and life-long Democrats. Their property is in the path of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Sherri and David received one of the dreaded letters from Dominion Power "asking" for permission to survey their property, which also outlined Dominion could do so without their permission. David recently asked the Warner campaign to remove his name from a letter Senator Warner sent out listing Sheriff Brooks as having endorsed him, when David had not. You may read that story here.
Spending just moments with Dr. Joseph Smiddy is a cascade of chilling water for those claiming faith in the American health care system. What a lot of people proclaim as the best medical system in the world isn't delivering for many with the greatest need right here in Virginia.
"It's not just that they can't afford any sort of insurance that might be available to them under the Affordable Care Act. It's that this is a horribly underserved region in terms of medical resources." - Henry Schuster, 60 Minutes producer (at 3:17)
Organizers of an expeditionary Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic just outside of Jonesville, Virginia expect something on the order of 600 patients today and tomorrow. This is the first of this kind of event in Lee County, set up in and around the airport that sits further west than Columbus, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan, far removed from Richmond. Sadly, this constitutes primary care for many residents. When I arrived yesterday as a volunteer, 22 hours before the first patient would be seen, there were already three carloads of people lined up to ensure they could get one of the specialty services. They know the routine.
Somehow Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City) avoids discerning scrutiny from his constituency. Even with all that tobacco money he is bringing home, many of those living in Virginia's poorest county rely upon the generosity of others for any health care at all. The county's only hospital closed about a year ago.
On September 30, 2013, the Lee Regional Medical Center closed its doors after serving the community for 70 years. With the loss of jobs and decreased access to medical care, the residents of Lee County have been deeply impacted by the hospital's closure. - Lee County Hospital Authority
In an attempt to restrict access by the public to Dominion's pipeline "open house" in Augusta County, Dominion has moved the "public event" to a private venue, Augusta Expo, at Fishersville after Augusta County Administrator Pat Coffield canceled the event at the Verona Government Center. A request by Dominion to search the public before entering the open house because of "safety concerns" was denied by Coffield.
The Augusta Alliance, an anti-pipeline citizens group, had planned a rally to be held outside the Verona Government Center to coincide with Dominion's "Open House" scheduled for Monday, September 15. The "Open House" was to begin at 4 pm for elected officials. In an interview by Tri-Cities.com,
Coffield stressed that the government center is a working government building where public business takes place. "This overlaps with our operations,'' he said of the open house. He also said when a public meeting is held in a public building it is not proper to search bags or restrict access.
Today I begin a series of posts to Blue Virginia sharing letters from Nelsonians which outline their concerns, frustrations and determination to stop the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. We hope from these letters, BV readers, our local, state and federal officials will begin to acknowledge and understand the validity of the arguments being made by residents of rural Nelson County. Our elected officials would allow a for-profit, privately held company, in this case Dominion Power, to encroach upon our lands and our way of life. Nelsonians may live in a rural area, but are not stupid. They are well-informed, knowledgeable and will not stop their efforts to shine a light on the issues that affect them. Governor McAuliffe can hide in a restaurant rather than speak to protesters, some officials can vote against the best interests of their constituents, but Nelsonians are united in their fight.
The letter below is from Susan McSwain, who worked for Nelson County for many years as our recycling guru. Under her leadership our recycling program was built and operates today. She describes herself as "A dismayed, lifelong Democrat who owns 500 acres of forest and pasture, who leases land to a hunt club (Mr. Warner professes to enjoy hunting), who has worked all my life to save this planet for future generations. NO PIPELINE!!! NO FRACKING!!!" Susan's letter begins with an email she sent to me regarding my resignation as chair of the Nelson Democratic Committee and continues with a letter she sent to Max at Senator Warner's campaign office in Charlottesville.
With seven weeks to go until Election Day, John Foust is entering the home stretch of this campaign with all the momentum on his side, while Barbara Comstock’s campaign is already losing its luster. The supposed golden girl of Virginia politics has failed to deliver, and is continually on the defense as Northern Virginians learn about her past as a professional partisan operative who has consistently pushed a right-wing agenda out-of-touch with the residents of the district —particularly women.
National Republicans are also venting their frustration that Comstock, supposedly one of their top candidates, has failed to deliver. Politico reported this month that “there is growing consternation” over Comstock’s campaign. In fact, Comstock has fallen short of expectations on every metric: her fundraising has been lackluster, she has failed to connect with women, she has made gaffes at public events, she has failed to disclose clients in “an apparent breach of congressional ethics rules” and she has failed to put her past as a partisan crusader behind her.
To recap, over the summer Barbara Comstock had to answer for:
Activists highlighted the GOP congressional candidate’s record of opposition for women’s health and rights in light of her recent remarks
Leesburg, VA–This morning in Leesburg, dozens of Virginia activists led by NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund National PAC rallied in response to recent comments by Republican Virginia 10th Congressional District candidate Barbara Comstock. The event came a little over a week after Comstock’s bizarre claim at a Fairfax Chamber of Commerce Town Hall that her desire to see Roe v. Wade overturned "would not come into play" were she to become a member of Congress.
In response, speakers from the organizations highlighted Delegate Comstock's record in the Virginia General Assembly, including votes for the controversial 2012 mandatory ultrasound law, medically-unnecessary targeted restrictions that threaten to shut down women's health centers, and an extreme “personhood” bill that could have been used to ban abortion and common forms of birth control.
“Barbara Comstock’s strange claim that her positions wouldn’t matter in Congress is nothing more than an attempt to distract from her unacceptable record and agenda,” said Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. “Comstock has demonstrated her lack of respect for the reproductive rights and choices of Virginia women and families throughout her career – from voting to ban abortion in all cases, to supporting invasive mandatory ultrasounds, to stating her outright opposition to the rights assured by Roe v. Wade.”
If you really want to understand the for-profit scam that is today's GOP, this story is a good place to start.
It seems the infamous coal boss Robert Murray has been forcing his subordinates to give to specific Republican candidates, including our very own Ed Gillespie. Murray is known for many things, none of them good, like the Crandall County Mine Disaster, which exposed his company's lax safety record, coal slurry spills into nearby creeks, and over-the-top, self-serving climate change denial statements as in his 2007 hissy fit to Congress:
"It is time that common sense be introduced into this hysterical, out of control climate change debate, which alleged phenomenon, to our Nation's best scientists, is based on faulty science."
And Murray puts millions of dollars of his money where his mouth is - and then forces his subordinates to do the same, as he was also caught doing in 2012 too.
You have to ask: Why is almost the entire Republican party in the climate change denial, do-nothing camp? Why does Ed Gillespie in particular continue to "dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge" the whole issue?
Because fossil fuel barons like Murray pay them to take the stands of most value to their corporate bottom line. It may not be as blatant as directly helping your donor after he gives you a Rolex and takes your wife on a Manhattan shopping spree. But it's no less appalling.
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