Several days ago, the three Republican congressman who "represent" the western half of the state made news when they appealed to the Postal Service not to close Roanoke's regional mail sorting station. It makes good sense not to close that station. The closure would cause 400 postal workers to lose their jobs. Mail destined for southwest Virginia would have to be shipped to Greensboro NC to be sorted and then trucked back to Virginia. However, perhaps those same Republicans should tell citizens exactly why the Postal Service is in such dire fiscal straits that it has to consider draconian measures that would otherwise make no sense.
Bob Goodlatte (R-6th) was a member of Congress in 2006 when both houses, which were under Republican control, passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA). Under that bill, the Postal Service is the only agency of the government that is required to pre-pay future health benefits to retirees and all future pension costs for the next 75 years, and they have to do that in 10 years! That bill totals $103.7 billion. That means they're not just paying for present employees who will retire in the future, but they are also being required to pay for possible future employees before they actually hire them. Plus, none of this money can be used for benefits for employees who are now retired. Oh, no. That additional money also has to be paid by the Postal Service now.
Not only is no government agency or entity required to meet such draconian requirements. No private company is, either. So, the questions I have are these: Who thought up this idea that is guaranteed to bankrupt the Postal Service? Why and how was this law passed? The answers are pretty bad.
So now that Bob Goodlatte has visited the border and determined that all blame for the immigration crisis du jour rests squarely on President Obama's shoulders, maybe we can get to some substantive discussion. Dismissing Goodlatte's and Darrell Issa's grandstanding on its face, a well-considered, rational strategy is essential.
"Word has gotten out around the world about President Obama's lax immigration enforcement policies, and it has encouraged more individuals to come to the United States illegally, many of whom are children from Central America." - Bob Goodlatte, R-VA 6th
This is a ridiculous and simple-minded assertion designed to play on prejudice and fear. The law that codified current policy toward unaccompanied minors, the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) was enacted in 2008 and signed by President Bush. Reagan administration policies in and subsequent neglect of countries in the Central American Northern Triangle, which includes Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, have directly led to the highest homicide rate per capita in the world. These governments cannot contend with rising levels of violence. Internally displaced persons constitute the bulk of those displaced but increasing numbers of people are crossing state boundaries in search of safety. However, criminal gangs are transnational, meaning there is no sanctuary obtained by crossing an adjacent border.
The TVPRA requires the establishment of standards for custody, creation of more child-friendly asylum procedures, and relaxation of eligibility for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJ) visa status. These are simple internationally recognized expectations of humanitarian treatment. Do the critics believe that inhumane treatment of children for their first 72 hours or so in America will somehow discourage migration?
I hope you will visit his site to provide a more balanced survey for his staff of researchers. As you probably know, Bob panders to the Tea Party at every turn. These kinds of "scientific" ploys provide the cover that allow him and others like him to fabricate the façade of representation.
By the way, a Roanoke Zip code is 24017; one for Staunton is 24401.
Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) came to call in Representative Bob Goodlatte's (R-VA 6th) district yesterday. He seeks a dialogue about immigration reform with Goodlatte, who controls which immigration bills are considered in the House. Goodlatte declined the invitation to appear at the event in Harrisonburg due to a scheduling conflict.
The Chicago Congressman made two appearances in Virginia on Monday as part of an effort to break the immigration reform deadlock. The appearance in Harrisonburg was a Virginia Organizing event and was attended by a crowd of some 400.
Gutierrez said he came to Harrisonburg because he had been invited. This event, he said is one of as many as a thousand such that will occur across the country demonstrating support for comprehensive immigration reform "even in Republican parts of Virginia."
"...in every survey, whether the surveys are conducted by a conservative leaning institution or a liberal leaning institution, all find, in general, people are for comprehensive immigration reform." - Representative Gutierrez
Bob Goodlatte, the 6th District Republican who promised to serve five terms in the House of Representatives and then retire from office, won't get a free ride in 2014 as he tries for his twelfth term (so much for promises from Goodlatte). Bruce Elder, a member of city council in Staunton since 2006, has announced that he is running for Congress next year in the 6th. Elder marks the first time that a person who has successfully run for political office and lives in the Shenandoah Valley, where the majority of voters in the district live, is challenging Goodlatte.
Elder is the owner of a classic car retail business in Staunton, Elder Antique Auto. Several of us in the 6th had lunch with Elder several months ago as he explored whether to make the run or not. What was most encouraging to me was that Elder recognized the necessity of having a pool of donors ready to support his candidacy and the need for him to have an experienced campaign manager.
Interviewed by the Staunton News Leader, Elder outlined the issues he intends to run on - bipartisan civility, education and transportation infrastructure, including strengthening rail to relieve truck pressure on Interstate 81. Elder predictably invoked the names of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine as examples of Democrats who have successfully worked across the aisle in their political careers.
"I'm proud of being a Democrat, but I think we have to start thinking about ourselves as Americans and as Virginians, put some of this partisan bickering aside and do the work of the people," Elder said.
Elder recognizes the difficulty of winning in the most consistently Republican district in the state. However, my enthusiasm for his candidacy was reinforced when I googled 'Bob Goodlatte" and the first thing on the list was an ad leading to Elder's website. How refreshing to see a candidate in my congressional district who understands the role of new technology in a winning campaign. Things are looking up for Democrats in the 6th.
Bob Goodlatte (R-6th) seldom bothers to introduce legislation, but he has roused himself from his usual lethargy to add one other bill to that ridiculous "balanced budget amendment" he introduces every session of Congress. Goodlatte is proposing HR 352, the Tax Code Termination Act, which would abolish the Internal Revenue tax code. The bill would repeal the entire existing tax code, except for Social Security and Medicare taxes, by December 31, 2017.
Goodlatte rightly points out that both Republicans and Democrats know that the present tax code is badly broken and riddled with preferences for those with the money to buy them. Somehow, Goodlatte thinks that ending the tax code at a date certain will force Congress to sit down, sing "Kumbaya" and miraculously write a simpler, fairer tax system. You think?? How did that" fiscal cliff" go, folks?
By making deep cuts to defense and domestic programs, the rationale for the so-called "fiscal cliff" was that it would force Congress to compromise and come up with a better solution to our long-term deficit. So far, I simply see Congress, House Republicans in particular, simply kicking that can of fiscal dynamite down the road for a couple of months and refusing yet again to face reality. Goodlatte's latest fiscal folly, HR 352, would do nothing but put the broken tax code in the same place that the budget has ended up - held hostage by rigid ideologues on the right who have no idea of how to govern a representative democracy.
As long as the GOP is manipulated by a group of extremists who believe that compromise is surrender, as long as the main goal of Republicans remains to make President Obama fail, we will not be able to solve very real and very serious problems we face as a nation. We need leadership, not empty attempts to gum up the works of government like Goodlatte's lame proposals.
Two days before it was too late, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, after another of their delaying and obfuscating tactics, finally roused itself and voted to keep student loan rates from doubling by linking that action to a reprieve for vital transportation money for the next year. All the representatives from Virginia, except two, voted for the common-sense action. Those two were Bob Goodlatte (6th) and Robert Hurt (5th).
Had the bill not passed, before July 1, federal highway money would have dried up, costing millions of jobs, and student loan interest rates would have gone from 3.4% to 6.8%. Barbara Boxer (-CA) introduced a highway bill in the Senate last year and John Mica (R-FL) in the House in January. There, the proposed legislation languished until the obstructionists who are determined to stop Congress from passing anything were overwhelmed by pressure to do something and voted "yea" on the conference report with a student loan amendment that combined the Senate and House bills. All the obstructionists, that is, except 52 Republicans including Goodlatte and Hurt.
I'm sure I could contact Goodlatte's office asking why he voted as he did. I would receive back a form letter stating how glad he was to hear from me and then spending the rest of the letter telling me what a great fiscal conservative he is and how all our ills would be solved by a balanced budget amendment. After all, that's the response I've gotten in the past, no matter what the issue was. I don't think I'll waste my time.
Both of these men need to remember that the only "new" money Bob McDonnell's phony "transportation plan" found for Virginia highways came from bonds sold using money from future federal transportation funding as collateral. In fact, they both should remember that federal jobs in NoVA and defense dollars in Hampton Roads fuel Virginia's economy.
The latest Congressional scorecard from the League of Conservation Voters flunks every single Virginia Republican, including House members like Scott Rigell, Rob Wittman and Frank Wolf who'll be trying to sell themselves as moderate in November. Committed opponents of clean air & water, public health, and wildlife like Eric Cantor, Randy Forbes, Bob Goodlatte, Morgan Griffith and Robert Hurt all scored in the teens. Meanwhile, Virginia House Democrats Gerry Connolly, Jim Moran and Bobby Scott all scored 100%. On the Senate side, both Sen. Mark Warner and Jim Webb scored 100%, though given that both support oil drilling off Virginia's shores and Webb has opposed clean air regulations, neither is perfect on conservation.
Bob Goodlatte (R-6th) must be having a good cry after the loss of his latest pet project. As chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet, Goodlatte helped write that so-called anti-piracy act that spurred blackouts on web sites and a petition to Congress with millions of signatures opposing the bill. For now, votes on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate are dead in the water.
Harry Reid, reacting to the protests against PIPA, has postponed bringing it up for a vote (which means he doesn't have the votes to pass it). In the House Lamar Smith, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said he will not consider SOPA "until there is wider agreement on a solution."
As Andrew Cohill of Design Nine in Blacksburg told The Roanoke Times about the bill from Goodlatte's subcommittee, "The law is written so broadly that the federal government could literally shut down any website they chose to. That's the problem with a poorly written law: It doesn't matter what the intent is if it's poorly written."
Neither bill currently before Congress does what proponents say is their goal - protecting copyrighted works from pirates. Instead, the powers given to the government endanger the freedom of the Internet with the threat of arbitrary shutdown of sites. That sounds more like China than the United States. Back to the drawing boards, Goodlatte, or better yet, retire from Congress like you promised long ago.
(People power, perhaps the 99% beating the 1% for a change, instead of the other way around? I like the sound of that! - promoted by lowkell)
Why Beating Bob Goodlatte Could Have a Very Big Impact
I am running as a Democrat to take the 6th District congressional seat away from the Republican, Bob Goodlatte. With this campaign, we have an opportunity to achieve something of real importance, something that reverberates far beyond the 6th District.
Sure, it's an uphill fight. Sure, our incumbent Republican opponent will far outspend us. Sure, this is the most difficult district in Virginia in which to beat a Republican.
All the better! The more surprising our victory, the more powerful the blow we will strike by winning this race!
Remember the nature of this terrible crisis we face in America today. Money power is taking over our country, robbing average Americans of their futures while enriching the already fabulously wealthy.
We have an opportunity to show America how people power can defeat money power -- by inspiring old and young, liberal and conservative, to rise up and repudiate those who have put advantage for the few ahead of serving the greater good.
Here we go again in the 6th District. My "representative" in the House is on one of his usual tirades. Bob Goodlatte is an avid fan of a "balanced budget amendment." In fact, Goodlatte finds some reason to introduce one during each session of Congress. He even did that while he voted for all of George Bush's budget-busting schemes. Now, even though Goodlatte insists that he is a conservative, perhaps he would do well to check into what some real conservatives have said about the ridiculous idea of amending the Constitution to force a "balanced budget," something logically impossible to do.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Peter Schouk, a professor at Yale Law School, stated, "I can think of no other law that would empower judges to exercise more political and policy-making discretion than a balanced budget amendment. It would quickly realize every conservative's fears of an 'imperial judiciary' that 'legislates from the bench' - even if the courts simply did their job and did not grasp for that power."
C. Neul, who writes his own conservative blog, had an even better reason for people who are conservatives being adamantly against a balanced budget amendment.
"The fact that the House GOP members are pushing such an amendment is more non-partisan proof that you don't want to give too much power to Congress, because, in total, they are simply never the brightest guys in the room. Letting them add a BBA to the Constitution would create a nightmare worse, if that's possible, than our current...fiscal situation."
Now that Dick Saslaw has executed his preordained cave-in to the governor who dared to use his veto pen following the GOP in the House of Delegates snookering the Dems there into a "bipartisan" vote on their redistricting plan, those of us in Roanoke still don't know where we will land in congressional redistricting. As expected, the Republicans in the House of Delegates want to keep Roanoke, a Democratic stronghold of 97,000 people, in the 6th District, which is the reddest of Virginia's red districts. That way, Augusta and Rockingham counties can continue to more than offset Roanoke's votes.
The State Senate's original congressional plan put the city of Roanoke in the 9th District. I'm sure the rationale there is that the 9th District is far more likely to flip than the 6th, assuming that the Democrats can field a strong candidate against Morgan Griffith, whose home under both proposed plans is finally in the district he represents in Congress. The dilemma for Roanokers is this: Do we have more in common with the Shenandoah Valley or with the New River Valley, with Harrisonburg or with Blacksburg?
Republicans wanted to be sure to put Griffith's home base of Salem in the 9th. Democrats evidently decided they would go along with that but, in return, also give Mrogan an area guaranteed to vote Democratic in 2012. According to the Roanoke Times, in 2008 President Obama carried Roanoke by 9,540 votes. In contrast, Griffith carried the entire 9th in 2010 by 8,963 votes.
So, where does the orphaned Roanoke belong? I would opt for the 9th. However, there are those who say, "But, we have nothing in common with Gate City, Wise, or Bristol." Well, who does? Don't those folks actually have more in common with east Kentucky and east Tennessee than with Roanoke? For years, Roanoke has sold itself as the city of Southwest Virginia. Putting us in the 9th simply validates that truism.
The McDonnell-Cuccinelli antics add to the fog that provides cover for the unfounded ramblings of the Goodlattes of Virginia. Unchallenged by Democrats, these anecdotes become embedded in the electorate's world view. That won't change anything in the 6th District this year. But they wash over Virginia for 2011 and beyond.
The Mutt and Jeff act is a perfect one-two reactionary strategy. The Attorney General tilts at windmills while the Governor provides a "more balanced" view of principle, sounding reasonable, businesslike, and bipartisan. Meanwhile, uncontested Republicans like Goodlatte (here showing bipartisan appeal) hold town halls with apprehensive audiences where they twist the facts to stoke the fear and resentment. No effective counter from the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA).
"George King of Lynchburg asked why energy products that are made in China, such as photoreceptors, couldn't be made in the United States. Goodlatte said the answer lies in reducing the cost for companies to operate in the United States, through lower health-insurance costs and lower corporate taxes." - reported in The News & Advance
It couldn't be the almost slave labor cost advantage...it must be the evil health insurance and taxes. Unfortunately, this plays well in Peoria...or more appropriately, anywhere outside NOVA. And when these trees fall in the Republican forest, the case for a red Virginia is built from the timber.
According to the Lynchburg News & Advance, that city's Tea Party has banned the press from their August 5 meeting with Bob Goodlatte (R-6th) and 5th District GOP challenger Robert Hurt.
At a May meeting than drew about 50 people, the Tea Pots said that the "distraction of the press" being present was what members objected to. What distraction? Reporting what the seven GOP candidates in the 5th District had to say to potential voters?
Not only is the press being denied admission to the August meeting, but chair Mark Lloyd said only "registered members" plus "regular participants" will be allowed to attend. That policy reminds me of those phony "town hall meetings" George Bush used to have, where only card-carrying Republicans were allowed in and questions were screened in order to avoid the press in attendance hearing something critical of Bush.
I agree with the New & Advance editorial. "By excluding the media from Thursday's meeting, the Lynchburg Tea Party is serving only itself. But maybe that's what this third party political movement is all about."
Meanwhile, in August Tom Perriello is again holding 22 town hall meetings - open to the press and to all citizens - throughout the 5th District. Robert Hurt, who was opposed by many of those same 5th District Tea Pots and who has an independent challenger on the far right - Jeff Clark - is making a very big mistake when he agrees to meet the Tea Pots in secret. Just what will he promise them? We'll never know.
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