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AndySchmooklerforCongress

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Goodlatte’s Amendment: A Bad Idea Offered in Bad Faith

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Andy Schmookler is running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District of Virginia, challenging the incumbent Congressman, Bob Goodlatte.  An award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, Andy moved with his family to Shenandoah County in 1992.  He is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.  

Congressman Bob Goodlatte trumpets his Balanced Budget Amendment as his big idea. It's a bad idea, offered in bad faith.

Rep. Goodlatte's rules would mean inevitable cuts to Social Security and Medicare -programs seniors rely upon for security and dignity.  The funds that have been built up over years in the Social Security Trust Fund, to provide for the retirement of baby boomers would become inaccessible to the program, according to organizations of retired workers and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.  

Goodlatte's amendment would effectively lock in levels of taxation that shifted the tax burden from the superrich and the corporations onto the backs of middle class families.

His amendment would lead to cuts in programs that benefit average Americans, and lead to increases in taxes at state and local levels.

But isn't that worth it, if that's required for Fiscal Responsibility?  

No. Not every strategy of financial discipline is smart. President Herbert Hoover's form of fiscal discipline made the Great Depression worse.  Goodlatte's amendment would take us down the same sorry path.

This Week’s Elections and Republican Overreach

Andy Schmookler is running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District of Virginia, challenging the incumbent Congressman, Bob Goodlatte.  An award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, Andy moved with his family to Shenandoah County in 1992.  He is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.

This week's elections brought generally good news to progressives and Democrats, and bad news to Republicans, but our Virginia was an exception to the larger trend: the Republicans now control both legislative houses in our state, as well as the governorship.

I see the significance of both the national results, and of the Virginia results, in terms of Republican overreach.

Elsewhere, as has been widely observed, the electorate rejected the extreme policies of today's Republican Party:  

1) In Ohio, they repealed a law stripping working people of their rights, passed at a time when the power of labor is already but a shadow of what it was when the American middle class was thriving.
2) In Mississippi, voters rejected a proposal that would have been the most profound assault on the rights of people to control their reproduction yet seen.
3) In Maine, voters rejected an effort to eliminate same-day voter registration-defeating their governor's contribution to the larger Republican effort to prevent people from groups that generally vote Democratic from exercising their franchise.
4) In Arizona, voters recalled the state legislator who was behind the state's harsh anti-immigration law.

Such is the nature of the spirit that animates today's Republican Party that it habitually overreaches. It knows no restraint. There is a fanaticism and an intensity in this force that recognizes no limit. This is a spirit, history shows, that is not only destructive, but that inevitably leads to self-destruction, and to the destruction of those things it ostensibly seeks to serve.

Not True Conservatives

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Andy Schmookler is running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District of Virginia, challenging the incumbent Congressman, Bob Goodlatte.  An award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, Andy moved with his family to Shenandoah County in 1992.  He is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.

Here's why genuine conservatives should repudiate the Virginia Republican Party as led by Governor McDonnell and Attorney General Cuccinelli.

True conservatives don't want government power being used against the free exercise of legal rights. But that's what these Virginia Republicans have shown they are willing to do.

A congressional panel headed by a Republican found no basis for Cuccinelli's allegations of fraud against a respected climate scientist, Professor Michael Mann, formerly of the University of Virginia. Yet Attorney General Cuccinelli used subpoena power to harass and intimidate Mann and, by extension, to create obstacles to the free inquiry of other professional scientists.

That is not the American way. True conservatism takes a principled stand against such abuses. It does not applaud them. Whatever one thinks of the concerns being raised by climate scientists, no real conservative should ever countenance the use of state power to intimidate and hobble people whose participation in the marketplace of ideas runs contrary to the interests that certain office holders wish to serve.

Nor should one's opinion about the right to abortion affect one's judgment on another abuse of state power.

With Governor McDonnell's support, the Virginia Board of Health instituted regulations that clearly had no purpose other than to impose such heavy financial burdens on abortion clinics that they would be compelled to close their doors, and thus prevent American citizens from exercising a right that has been upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States.  

Tower of Babel: Why We Can’t Talk Across the Divide

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Andy Schmookler is running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District of Virginia, challenging the incumbent Congressman, Bob Goodlatte.  An award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, Andy moved with his family to Shenandoah County in 1992.  He is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.  

Many have noticed that it has become unusually difficult, in recent years, for Americans to talk constructively across the political divide.  One reason for this regrettable development has been a change in our nation's media culture.

In the America I grew up in, we all got our news from similar, basically trustworthy sources.  The people I recall were such excellent journalists as Chet Huntley and David Brinkley on NBC, and Walter Cronkite on CBS.

Now, Americans have segmented themselves into audiences for different newscasts with different political slant.

That would not be a big problem-except for one thing.  The people following these different sources of "news" are getting different sets of "facts."

Spike in Poverty Tests America’s Spirit

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Andy Schmookler is running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District of Virginia, challenging the incumbent Congressman, Bob Goodlatte.  An award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, Andy moved with his family to Shenandoah County in 1992.  He is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.  

{This piece ran as an op/ed in the Northern Virginia Daily on September 23, 2011.}

Recently we learned that the poverty rate in America has risen above 15 percent -- the worst in almost two decades. Virginia's numbers are not as bad, but they're plenty bad enough and getting worse.

People are suffering. How should we feel about that suffering?

In many years of conducting radio conversations here in the Shenandoah Valley, I found that a lot of people are suspicious of the poor. They see the poor as lazy and unwilling to pull their own weight. Those who focus on that image of poverty are more likely to be hostile than compassionate.

(That cheering for the "Let 'em die" remark at the Republican presidential debate, regarding the hypothetical uninsured sick person, was a more extreme version of that attitude. With his irresponsible decisions, the thinking goes; he made his bed, so let him lie in it. Or die in it.)

For those who look to the Bible for moral wisdom, the more than 3,000 times the Bible emphasizes the importance of attending to the suffering of the poor and looking out for widows and orphans seems to be a clear message that compassion is the right attitude.

Why Corporations Should Not Be Regarded as “Persons”

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Andy Schmookler is running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District of Virginia, challenging the incumbent Congressman, Bob Goodlatte.  An award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, Andy moved with his family to Shenandoah County in 1992.  He is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.

"Corporations are people, my friend," said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney not long ago. So also said the Supreme Court in the 2010 Citizens United decision.

There are many reasons this is a terrible idea, but here's one that isn't widely recognized.  Corporations -- or at least publicly traded corporations -- have been set up in America to have a moral character that in real people would be regarded as sociopathic.

The great majority of real people are a mixture of selfishness and concern for others and for the greater good. Someone who cares only about his own advantage is called a sociopath.

For the kind of "person" called a corporation, self-interest is measured in terms of profit, and unselfishness would involve sacrificing some profit for the good of others.

The problem with the corporation is that even good people are constrained by the system to make their "person" act like a sociopath.

“Class Warfare” and the Abbott-and-Costello Routine

Andy Schmookler is running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District of Virginia, challenging the incumbent Congressman, Bob Goodlatte.  He is an award-winning author, political commentator, and teacher has been a resident of Shenandoah County since 1992.  He is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.

President Obama proposes to close tax loopholes that benefit the super-rich, and the Republicans scream "Class Warfare."  I'm hoping the coming showdown will bring this long-running Abbott and Costello routine in American politics to an end.

Here's how the routine works: The Republicans push through laws that further enrich the already fabulously rich. The Democrats protest the injustice of such policies. The Republicans then accuse the Democrats of waging "class warfare." And the Democrats shut up until the next round.

Over  the years, this rhetorical strategy has enabled our "them that has, gets" politics, filling  me with the same frustrated anger that I felt as a boy when I saw a brilliant Abbott-and-Costello routine in one of their films.

As I recall, the two men are stranded on a desert island with no food, until Costello finds a bag of beans. Abbott argues successfully that since they are buddies, the two should share the food equally.

Abbott eats his half before Costello takes his first bite, Abbott then protests. How can it be that he has nothing to eat while Costello has all those beans? Aren't they buddies? Shouldn't the beans be divided?

Costello senses something's wrong. Still, he agrees to divide the beans again, and again Abbott eats his share while Costello again prepares to eat his, and again is interrupted by Abbott's outraged protestations. Aren't we buddies, share and share alike?

And so it goes until they're down to the last bean, Abbott having eaten all the others.  Abbott then challenges Costello for half the remaining bean. If I remember correctly, Costello ends up throwing his last remaining bean-fragment away--still having eaten nothing-- furious but bewildered.  His hunger tells him he's been had, but he can't quite figure out how.

I could hardly bear to watch this scene, just as over the years I've hated to watch  the success of the Republicans in  shifting the tax burden down the social ladder, dismantling social protections, removing obstacles that were erected to protect the public interest from mighty economic powers--and then clobbering anyone who protests by charging them with waging class warfare.

The Republicans misuse an American ideal that our nation, unlike the Old World, should be free of the politics of class, and that it is un-American for one class to fight another for a better deal.  But like Abbott's plea for "fairness," the Republican distaste for "class warfare" is one-sided.  As billionaire Warren Buffet has declared:  "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning."T

The share of national income of the top 1 percent has more than doubled in the past generation, and with the top one percent of one percent the rise has been still more dramatic.  Inequality of income and wealth are now greater in America than at any time in living memory.

Meanwhile, the very rich are paying the lowest tax rates in half a century, half the rate they paid on ordinary income until thirty years ago.  Corporate taxes constitute only a fraction of the share of national income that they were in the 1950s.  And the compensation of corporate executives has skyrocketed while the median wage of average Americans has fallen.

Maybe it's showdown time. The polls show that a substantial majority of American believe the rich should be paying more at this time of widespread economic hardship.  The data show how policies of our government in which big money has been playing a growing role- have aided a massive shift of wealth from the middle class to the super-rich. Our national goals will be hard to achieve without more sharing of the burden.  Real sharing.

At long last, it seems the cry of "class warfare" is not intimidating the Democrats and their leader, the president of the United States.  Let's hope that's so.  It's about time that average Americans get their fair share of the beans.

To learn more about Andy, please go to www.AndySchmooklerforCongress.com

You may also follow Andy on Facebook and Twitter  

My family knows the pain of joblessness firsthand

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Andy Schmookler is running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District of Virginia, challenging the incumbent Congressman, Bob Goodlatte.  He is an award-winning author, political commentator, and teacher has been a resident of Shenandoah County since 1992.  He is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.  

Some suppose that the fact that I'm running for Congress means that my family and I are part of some elite, living on Easy Street.  But in fact the economic hardships of this time have touched our family quite directly.  

We've two sons who have been part of the whole cohort of young people struggling to find a place in America's workforce.

Some suppose that because I had the privilege to be educated at outstanding universities, and because I am a published author, I must have had an economically easy time of it.  Not at all:  I've spent my whole adult life doing what I thought God wanted me to do, and having a calling and making a living are not the same thing.  The only way my wife and I have survived is through frugal living and careful management of our resources.

Each of my two sons, in their adolescent years, saw my example and told me, "I'm not going to be like you, Dad.  I'm going into a well-paying profession and make a bundle."

But as the years passed, somehow - like so many of us - they found themselves becoming more like their parents than they planned!  My older son found that the theater was his great love, and my younger one that his spirit longed to write great fiction.

They grew up in an era where America seemed full of opportunities, so they followed their dreams.  Now has come this era of joblessness.

My first-born, by now possessing an MFA in theater directing, pounded the pavement in Washington state where he lives.  Looking for any job, to make ends meet.  Waiting tables, Building things.  Whatever.  Months rolled by and, aside from a temporary gig here and there, nothing to show for it.

For a parent, the distress of one's child hurts even worse than one's own.  We watched from afar, commiserated, helped, prayed.

Recently, at last, good news has come.  He found a job-not full time, but one that combines two of his gifts:  teaching theater.

For our youngest, the search has dragged on is another story.  (There is also a daughter, who earned a professional degree in psychology, and is on a secure footing.)

A hard-working, responsible, highly intelligent fellow, he just graduated with honors from Harvard.  But after this summer, what's next? It was his plan that he'd get a good position for a capable young man with a wide-ranging and versatile mind, and while he did that job he'd be using his spare time to develop himself as a writer, get published, build up a portfolio.
It's not as though he hasn't waged a smart and comprehensive campaign to find something.  And it's not as though he's failed to impress people he's met in his search.

But in today's America, opportunities for those with a liberal arts education have become scarce.  It is technical skills of one kind or another that provide entry into the workforce.

Our young son's story is but one version of the heart-breaking experience of perhaps millions of young people in America today.  A whole generation of our talented youth are ready and eager to contribute to the vitality and productivity and well-being of America, but today's America has little use for them.

A great society should not accept this. It is a crucial time of life when a young person reaches that transition point of stepping out of the role of student and dependent and becoming a worker standing on his/her own two feet.  This is when the sense of adulthood takes form.  It is a moment crucial to the solidification of identity, of work habits, of self-esteem.

This is what our politicians should be attending to:  getting America back to work, filling the gap in demand through which so many American lives are falling.  

Those who claim to be looking to our future with their fixation on cutting programs that help people should instead be protecting our future by creating jobs.  Especially for our youth, for whom wasted years now - studies show - leave life-long detrimental effects.
Americans still benefit from the great work done by FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps.  That "Greatest Generation" would surely have been less great if their government had abandoned them in those difficult times.

Our youth today deserve no less from the America of today.

Postscript:  For our son, there now appears to be good news-a job, probably, to start after the new year.  But even if his drought is over, the pain in America remains widespread. Just today, at the barbers' shop here in Shenandoah County, Virginia, where I live, I heard about dozens of people just laid off when the construction-related business that employed them had to shut its doors after decades of successful operation. The profits of big corporations may be setting records, but we need that famous kind of tide that lifts all boats.  

To learn more about Andy, please go to www.AndySchmooklerforCongress.com

You may also follow Andy on Facebook and Twitter  

The Stakes Could Not Be Higher for America: Why I’m Running for Congress

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Andy Schmookler is running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District of Virginia, challenging the incumbent Congressman, Bob Goodlatte.  He is an award-winning author, political commentator, and teacher has been a resident of Shenandoah County since 1992.  He is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.

I'm running for Congress against Bob Goodlatte in Virginia's 6th District because I see clearly the terrible damage that he and his Republican gang are inflicting on the country that I love.

I'm running because I can hardly bear to watch the news these days, since what's happening in our politics is not what America needs.

I'm running because of the righteous anger I feel when people who claim to be patriots declare, "Meet our demands or we'll hurt America."

I'm running because I'm frustrated that  the national leaders we elected to get the nation back on the right track won't stand up to partisan bullies.

If you share these feelings, I hope you will join me in the battle to turn this dangerous situation around.

I'm fighting to uphold the ideals of our democracy.

Our Pledge of Allegiance speaks of "justice for all."  

But that's not what today's Republican Party wants.  It is working to take power from the American people to give to those already very powerful, and to take wealth from average American families to enrich still further the already fabulously wealthy.  In Congress, these Republicans have voted to destroy Medicare, stripping millions of America's older citizens of their secure access to necessary health care, just to fund another tax cut for multi-millionaires and billionaires.

We need government "for the people and by the people," not for the powerful few and by the powerful few.

I oppose the push from Bob Goodlatte and his Republicans to slash the safety net and kill jobs when so many in America are hurting.  I want to stop this attack on the American middle class.

I also oppose Goodlatte's proposals to let natural gas companies ruin our groundwater with their fracking.  I support the rights of small farmers to fair treatment from the agribusiness giants that Goodlatte favors.

He does not represent "justice for all."

Here's another of our founders' ideals: that the truth can emerge through free expression  in the marketplace of ideas.  

But in today's America, the Republican Party and its allies at Fox News and on talk radio have convinced millions that the president wasn't born in America, and that he wanted "death panels," that the stimulus didn't create jobs, and that "climate change" is a hoax invented by self-serving environmentalists.  Our democratic process is being crippled by one lie after another.

Goodlatte & Co. pretend that  the Republican Party actually cares about deficits, but this is the same party that doubled the national debt while times were good, and that insisted last December that we add another $700 billion to the debt for tax cuts for the rich.

I'm running to help truth prevail again in American politics.

Here's another wonderful ideal-- the one that we sing to America expressing the hope that God will crown her good with brotherhood.  But today, the people who have taken over the Republican Party undermine our brotherhood by continually focusing on issues that pit groups of Americans against each other.  They use scare tactics against ethnic minorities, in the guise of protecting our border. They stir up religious hatreds, pretending to protect us against terrorists.

The leadership America needs is not one that practices "divide and conquer" against the American people.  We need leadership that brings us together to achieve our common purposes.

I am running as a Democrat because only the Democratic Party can protect us from the destructive force that the Republican Party has become.  

But we need Democrats who will stand and fight!

We need our leaders to fight harder for the opportunity of all Americans to fulfill their God-given potential.  And the American people need champions in Congress to fight against the forces of greed and see to it that we leave our children and grandchildren an America and a planet as healthy as what was passed on to us.

The stakes could not be higher.  

Will we continue to slide blindly toward the kind of society that Americans have always detested-ruled by greed and the lust for power, deceived by propaganda masquerading as news, and organized to exploit rather than to serve its people?

Or will we revive the vision of our founders and renew those values that made America great?  Will we work together constructively to meet our challenges, and allow ourselves to be divided by those who would exploit us?  Will we choose leadership that brings out the best in us (faith, hope, and love) and not the worst (fear and hatred)?

I invite all Virginians who share these aspirations for our country to join with me in this battle to rebuild our country in the image of America's ideals.

To learn more about Andy, please go to www.AndySchmooklerforCongress.com

You may also follow Andy on Facebook and Twitter  

What Kind of Patriots Are These Republicans

My name is Andy Schmookler and I'm running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District against Bob Goodlatte. I want to thank Lowell and the Blue Virginia community for allowing me to share one of our first campaign videos.    

Thank you and I look forward to posting on Blue Virginia on a regular basis.

Andy Schmookler
Candidate for Congress
Virginia's 6th Congressional District

P.S. I invite you to follow my campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

- Blue Virginia Sponsor -










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