This morning's Washington Post had a curious article, entitled "Jim Webb, former senator from Va., takes on his party's hawks. And maybe Clinton." I say "curious" because it made the point-blank, matter-of-fact (as if it's glaringly obvious) statement that Jim Webb is "antiwar," even an "aggressive, antiwar populist." But is there any actual, ya know, evidence that Webb is "antiwar" in a general sense, as opposed to being against specific wars fought at specific times in specific ways, while also being FOR other wars fought at other times in other ways?
The Post article, written by former National Review reporter Robert Costa, doesn't get into that -- it simply states it as a matter of fact, point blank, that Jim Webb is "antiwar." But is he? Let's look at a few data points from his record. But first let me just make absolutely clear what my point is here: the following is NOT meant as criticism of Jim Webb, but of the Washington Post article (and the media more broadly) for wildly oversimplifying this complex, strategically thoughtful and highly knowledgeable (certainly on foreign policy and national security matters) man's views, and by shoehorning the whole thing into an inane, wildly oversimplified, political narrative about the supposed "hawk" Hillary Clinton being challenged by the supposed "antiwar" Jim Webb. It's just lame on all levels. With that, here are some of Webb's actual views on this subject.
I may be one of the few people in the Congress who still strongly supports the Vietnam War. I believe that the logic for the Vietnam War was sustainable, and I believe that the American people, in spite of the way we look back at Vietnam, also agreed that the political logic for Vietnam was sustainable, even though the way that we fought the war was not sustainable.
That's right, Webb strongly supported the Vietnam War then, and he strongly supports it in hindsight. And why didn't we fight that war in a "sustainable" way, one that might have led to victory? In Webb's view, part of the problem was the "anti-war left."
FAIRFAX, Va. – Following Barbara Comstock’s offensive comments comparing immigrants to FedEx packages, today the John Foust campaign sent a FedEx package to Comstock’s campaign headquarters, containing the following note from John Foust:
People are not FedEx Packages. I urge you to immediately apologize to Northern Virginia’s rich and diverse immigrant community.
Summary: We in Liberal America are now embattled. America has been in kindred battles before, and on those occasions to which we look to see our finest American ideals expressed and embodied, great American leaders have shown the way: "See the evil. Call it out. Press the battle." But in this crisis, in this battle, Liberal America is falling far short of our nation's finest ideals. Why is that? ****************
The American electorate is probably about to give more power to a party of traitors.
This statement, though shocking, can be verified by these steps (many of which are substantiated here):
The Republican Party ("the Party of No") has chosen to prevent anything from being accomplished.
To choose across-the-board obstructionism is to knowingly hurt the nation.
The Republicans' motivation for obstructionism is to regain power.
To sacrifice the good of the country to gain greater power over it is to betray the nation.
The dictionary definition of "traitor" is "a person who betrays a friend, country, principle...."
Most pollsters say that, in the upcoming elections, this "Party of No" will gain seats in the House and the Senate.
What's wrong with America that a political party can act in such a disgraceful way and profit from it?
Something must be amiss with those who will vote for so demonstrably traitorous a party.
But something is also wrong with the part of the American body politic that opposes the Republicans -- i.e. Liberal America.
Compare how Liberal America is dealing with this destructive force with what Americans, through their greatest leaders, have done in their finest hours: the nation's founding, the Civil War, and the World War against fascism.
Possibly only because Hannah Graham disappeared did we learn she was a victim of foul play. Statistically, 1,137 other American undergraduates were raped that day. Why aren't they in the headlines? Bet you if four UVA football players had gone missing in five years, those cases would have been solved.
There is every disincentive for victims of rape to report their assaults. When they do, they invariably become victimized again. The deck is stacked in favor of assailants. You'd think that in the enlightened environs of college campuses this would not be so. When will the discussion about violence against women change from women avoiding potential danger to men behaving with respect?
There is nothing positive about this to learn from the leadership on Virginia's campuses. And there seems no accountability for leadership failures. The President of James Madison University (JMU), at a minimum, provided cover for the malfeasance in his administration's handling the Sarah Butters sexual assault, deflecting blame onto the victim. Governor McAuliffe plastered over the scandal of Title IX investigations across Virginia by appointing a task force to conduct a "top-to-bottom" review of procedures for investigating sexual assaults and resolving complaints at public colleges and universities. You can conduct the tightest investigations in the universe and it won't prevent the next broken life. Nice try Governor, but this won't change the climate on campuses. You want Presidents of Virginia's universities and colleges to be invested? Fire one; start with JMU President Alger who allowed Sarah Butters' dignity to be trampled upon.
The overuse of football as a metaphor for life can be irritating but sadly in the area of leadership, some college coaches are way ahead of their "bosses." Last July after Coach Charlie Strong started kicking players off of his team for their behavior toward women, ESPN commentator Rod Gilmore was asked about football players' violence against women. Gilmore, a former Stanford football player, accomplished attorney, and ESPN analyst praised Strong for doing the right thing.
"He's one of the few people who takes a strong stand against violence against women. I mean he comes out on day one and says that if you don't treat women with respect, you cannot play for him. And he's new at Texas and he backed that up today. But seriously, across the landscape of college football, we don't take it seriously enough." - Rod Gilmore on ESPN
I keep hearing people talking about how Barbara Comstock is supposedly "no Frank Wolf," the implication being that Wolf has been some sort of moderate and that Comstock is a right-wing nutjob. Well, no doubt "Transvaginal Ultrasound" Comstock's a right-wing nutjob, but what about Wolf? Let's go to Project Vote Smart and find out. (# of asterisks indicate level of right-wing nuttiness, on a 1-4 scale)
****Abortion Rights: Back in 1996, NARAL Pro-Choice America gave Wolf a big fat ZERO rating, while the anti-choice National Right to Life Committee gave him a 100%. And in 2013? Same ratings. That's right, Wolf was virulently anti-choice in 1996, and he still is today. No change.
****Reproductive health and freedom: As of early 2014, Planned Parenthood Action Fund rated Wolf a ZERO, reflecting his past 6 years' voting record. And no, this isn't an aberration: from 1995 to 1998, Wolf also received a ZERO from Planned Parenthood.
****LGBT Equality: In 1995/96, the pro-LGBT equality group Human Rights Campaign gave Wolf a ZERO rating. Wolf continued to get ZERO ratings from HRC in almost every year since then, with the exception of a pathetic 9% in 1999 and an awful 15% in 2011-2012.
***Environment: The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) gave Wolf a pathetic 28% lifetime score in 2013.
****Civil Liberties: Back in 1996 and 1997, the ACLU gave Wolf ratings of 12% and ZERO. In 2014? Nothing's changed, Wolf's still a big fat ZERO on civil liberties.
***Civil Rights: Back in 1995-1995, the NAACP gave Wolf a pitiful 18% rating on civil rights. In 2011, he got a 10%, rocketing up to 40% (wow) in 2014.
***Immigration: Wolf got a 100% rating in 2014 from the virulently anti-immigrant "Federation for American Immigration Reform," which the Southern Poverty Law Center labed a "hate group" in 2007. Wolf did manage to get a modest 59% rating in 2014 from the Hispanic Federation, LCLAA, LULAC, Mi Familia Vota, NCLR, and Voto Latino - National Immigration Scorecard.
****Education: The National Education Association gave Wolf a godawful 5% rating in 1996, and a ZERO in 2013. The more things change...
***Labor: Wolf's been bad for working people pretty much forever, with a 25% rating in 1996 and a 33% rating in 2013.
Bottom line: In no way, shape or form has Frank Wolf ever been a moderate. To the contrary, he was hard right wing in the 1990s, and he's hard right wing today. He's also a bit of a conspiracy theory nutjob, obsessed with Benghazeeeeeeee, Islam, gay marriage's "threat" to our culture, and the supposed "terrorists crossing the border". So please, spare us with the "Barbara Comstock's no Frank Wolf." To the contrary, Comstock will be as far right as Wolf, just without the seniority.
You get the sense that with President Obama, the U.S. military is used not as often to really protect American interests...the homeland or even our allies. Instead, the military is just another tool in [President Obama's] arsenal to level the playing field. In other words, Africa really deserves more of America's money, because we're people of privilege.
We're people of great privilege, so we should do what we can, we the American taxpayers, to transfer wealth over to Africa. It's [President Obama's] father's rage against colonialism, as Dinesh D'Souza wrote about, and maybe this is a way to continue to atone for that.
I mean, there are all sorts of things we can do, short of sending 3,000 troops out there. And, frankly, if you're a left-wing activist in the Saul Alinsky tradition, if a few American military personnel have to be exposed to the Ebola virus to carry out this redistribution of the privileged's wealth, then so be it.
"I heartily agree that we have a dysfunctional government, but isn't it the people's fault for voting in the Republicans in the first place?"
To which I gave a response I'd like to share here, because it says a lot about how I see the essence of what's going on in America today. I wrote:
The question of "fault" is a tricky one.
Yes, at the very least one can say that a serious defect is revealed by the vulnerability of so many millions of Americans to being conned in this ugly way. It is possible to perceive the defect in these people, and in the culture that shaped them.
I live among these people, and they are many of them wonderful people. And they've got no clue what it is that they're supporting.
So yes, there is a lot of brokenness that goes onto having these people get conned into lending their support to an evil force.
But the question of whether, or how much, we should look at this as their "fault" depends on how we understand the whole workings of brokenness in the world.
For more of Mark Levin's insanity (e.g., that the GOP is filled with "cockroaches" who aren't conservative enough; that the National Organization for Women is actually "the National Organization of Ugly Women"; that there really are "death panels" in Obamacare; that clean air and clean water mean "poverty;" etc.) see here. Also see Barbara Comstock touting this nut's endorsement below. Bottom line: Comstock's not a "moderate," as she's no doubt like people to believe, in an way, shape or form. And she'll prove it if she gets elected to Congress on November 4. Let's make sure that doesn't happen!
Governor McAuliffe, stung by legislative setbacks that he foresaw when he campaigned saying that he didn't want to be Governor if he faced a veto-proof General Assembly, is going to his advertised strong suit: jobs. It's a gamble. And he's playing a high profile hand with Stone Brewing.
Stone Brewing wants to expand East Coast sales. A brewery located on our side of the Mississippi expands presence and reduces shipping costs. The potential sites for the new brewery have been narrowed to Ohio and Virginia. Each state has its own transportation advantages with Ohio arguably better situated. But only Virginia allows sales of Stone Brewing's higher alcohol by volume (ABV) content brews.
There is something of an irony here. The competition is between Ohio and its Republican Governor, John Kasich and Virginia and our Democratic Governor. But it is Ohio's Republican legislature that stands in the way of Ohio's successful courtship of this employment plum.
"Stone Brewing expects to invest up to $60 million in its east coast brewery which will include a restaurant and retail area. The company anticipates 375 jobs would be created over 5 years." - WOSU Public Media
Last December, Ohio state Democratic Representative Dan Ramos introduced a bill that would adjust the allowed ABV content, removing that obstruction, if it really is one, from consideration. It had bipartisan support and an almost equal number of the 21 cosponsors from each party. But this will be familiar to Virginians: Ramos's House Bill (HB) 391 went to committee where it has since languished.
From what Stone Brewing has announced about the decision to locate, one can deduce that Ohio is the preferred location. The anticipated announcement allows time for Ohio legislative action on HB 391 but action has been slow coming. For once a Republican legislature may offer Governor McAuliffe an advantage. Sadly it isn't Virginia's.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, September 27. Also check out President Obama's weekly address, in which he talks about the effort against ISIL.
As much as the corporate media and Ed Gillespie campaign would love to create a "race-is-tightening" narrative vs. Sen. Mark Warner, it's highly unlikely that's actually the case. For one thing, the Quinnipiac poll showing Warner with "only" a 9-point lead is the first poll by that outfit since March, when hardly anyone had even tuned into the race yet. At that point, for what it's worth, Warner held a 15-point lead (46%-31%). Now, Quinnipiac pegs the race at 50%-41%, which basically means that Gillespie has consolidated the core, Republican base. That's good for Gillespie, but far from sufficient to move this race out of the "likely Democratic hold" category.
Second, it's important to note that you really can't compare poll results from different polling outfits. In this case, Roanoke College and Christopher Newport University's most recent polls of this race had Warner with a (hard-to-believe) 20-point lead, so the Q-poll showing it at 9 points led the Gillespie campaign and corporate media to conclude, "ah ha, the race is tightening!" Of course, if you look back at the last two CBS/NY Times polls, they've got it at +12 and +10 for Warner, statistically about the same as Q-poll's +9. And, frankly, I'd be more likely to believe the CBS/NY Times poll, which Nate Silver rates as a strong "B" polling outfit, then Roanoke College (C-) or Christopher Newport University (C+).
Finally, a new poll out today by Public Policy Polling (B- rating from Nate Silver) is headlined with the narrative-killing "Warner holds a steady lead." Even worse for the Gillespie/corporate media narrative pushers are the details: "Mark Warner leads Ed Gillespie 48/35, compared to a 49/35 advantage when we looked at the race in April."
Bottom line: We should never ever ever (repeat a few more times) take ANY race for granted, and we should always work like we're down a point or two. Having said that, there's no indication of any particular trouble for Mark Warner at this point, other than one poll by Quinnipiac College, which still shows Warner leading by a comfortable, 9-point margin. Next subject.
P.S. From the same PPP poll, there's 55%-35% support for Medicaid expansion, 62% support for increasing the minimum wage to $10 an hour, and 28%-46% DISapproval for the Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly. In short, welcome to "blue Virginia!" :)
A federal complaint has been filed by Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) citing events that I witnessed and documented for Story of America. On June 20, 2014, I traveled to Lawrenceville, Virginia to film an emergency town hall meeting about the possibility of putting an Unaccompanied Alien Children's (UAC) program on the campus of the recently closed St. Paul's College.
HOME's complaint argues that immigrant minors were denied equal housing opportunity and subjected to discriminatory statements when public outcry, much of it clearly hateful, was cited as the primary reason for moving the program elsewhere. I have shared portions of the many hours of video I shot with HOME upon their request.
I learned a lot from reading HOME's press release below. In fact, it changed my outlook on what I saw that frightful evening. The lesson for me is this: sometimes public sentiment appears to be so passionate and so overwhelming that we assume it to be the only meaningful consideration when making public policy. But what happens if that sentiment, and the decisions that stem from that sentiment, violate constitutional rights and other rights that are protected by law? Although I did not see it on June 20th, I see now that the events I witnessed in Lawrenceville may be such a case.
It's easy to forget that our nation decided to outlaw unequal treatment based on race 150 years ago, and again 50 years ago. Whether or not political entertainment combine with current events to popularize overt discrimination, the law is the law, and it needs to be enforced.
The bottom-line is that our Constitution and legal system protects minority rights despite popular opinion. It's easy to forget this when the popular opinion is expressed so loudly and dramatically.
Below is the Story of America video I released in June documenting some of the discriminatory statements that are mentioned in the federal complaint.
CLICK HEREto read the blog post I wrote at the time, and please read HOME's press release below:
In response to Barbara Comstock’s insulting comments at the recent VA-10 debate comparing immigrants to FedEx packages, the Democratic Latino Organization of Virginia (DLOV) – an organization dedicated to supporting candidates who embrace policies that benefit the Latino Community of Virginia – and Virginia Delegate Alfonso Lopez issued the following statements condemning Comstock and calling for her to apologize to the Latino community:
Statement From Dadly Cordero Terán, Spokesperson for DLOV:
"With Barbara Comstock's FedEx/immigrant tracking statement, it seems Virginia Republicans are either going out of their way to deliver the next great right wing bumper sticker or auditioning to be shock jocks on AM radio. Between this and Ken Cuccinelli referring to immigrants as ‘rats’, perhaps they're actually campaigning for votes on Last Comic Standing because they've gone beyond insensitivity into outright ridiculousness. This is a joke, right?"
"Con la declaración de Barbara Comstock comparando a los inmigrantes con paquetes de FedEx parece que los republicanos de Virginia estuvieran cambiando de profesión en rumbo a ser payasos. Junto con Ken Cuccinelli y su referencia a los inmigrantes como 'ratas,' quizás de veras están haciendo campaña para ganar un concurso de chistes al decir cosas tan ridículas. Seguro que solo están bromeando y que pronto ofrezcan opciones pragmáticas para poder tener un verdadero debate sobre un tema que realmente afecta los residentes del distrito 10."
Statement from Virginia Delegate Alfonso Lopez:
"Considering the significant demographic shifts and the increase in the number of immigrants and New Americans in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District and throughout the Commonwealth, these comments are incredibly insensitive. Delegate Comstock has shown that she lacks a fundamental understanding of our immigration system. We need serious Members of Congress who will debate and support comprehensive immigration reform without relying on unthinking and dehumanizing statements."
"Teniendo en cuenta los cambios demográficos significativos y el aumento en el número de inmigrantes y de los Nuevos Americanos en el Distrito Congresional #10 de Virginia y en todo el estado, estos comentarios son increíblemente insensible. Delegada Comstock ha demostrado que carece de una comprensión fundamental de nuestro sistema de inmigración. Necesitamos miembros fuertes en el Congreso que debatan y apoyen lareforma migratoria integral, sin depender de las declaraciones insensatos e inhumanas."
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