(Sour) Cream of the Crop — Part III

Corey-StewartHis name is Corey Stewart.  He is a white supremacist and he is the GOP nominee for senator from Virginia in November.   Remember back in 2015 when Trump warned of ‘bad hombres’?  Well, Corey Stewart is just one such bad hombre.  But guess what?  Donald Trump is supporting Stewart’s campaign.  Surprised, aren’t you?

Where to start?

On July 15, 2017, Stewart announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for the United States Senate seat currently held by Democrat Tim Kaine. He promised a “very vicious, ruthless race,” claiming that Republicans “are looking for a more aggressive populist candidate.”  The GOP doesn’t particularly like him, and in fact the Republican Party of Virginia was said to be trying to find a way to block his nomination at the end of 2017.  On the other hand, he has the support of such bigots and fools as Jerry Falwell, Laura Ingraham, Steve Bannon, and of course Trump himself. corey-stewart-2Last night, Stewart won the GOP nomination, and today republicans fear that his nomination will adversely affect other republicans running for office in Virginia.  Former Republican lieutenant governor Bill Bolling said, “I am extremely disappointed that a candidate like Corey Stewart could win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. This is clearly not the Republican Party I once knew, loved and proudly served. Every time I think things can’t get worse they do, and there is no end in sight.”

Let me list just a few of Stewart’s more egregious points:

  • In a tweet on December 8, 2017, Stewart drew criticism for reviving the birther conspiracy by suggesting that former President Barack Obama’s birth certificate and Roy Moore accuser Beverly Nelson’s yearbook were forgeries.

  • Following a vote in the Virginia House of Delegates to expand Medicaid in February 2018, Stewart led an event outside the Virginia State Capitol where he held up rolls of toilet paper and called Republicans who voted for the measure “flaccid” and “garbage”.


  • Stewart led the successful effort to reduce Prince William County’s concealed-carry handgun permit fee, reducing the overall cost to lawful handgun owners from $50 to the state minimum of $15.


  • Stewart raffled off an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in January of 2017, and he praised the weapon as “a good rifle.” He posted on Twitter in March of 2018 that the gun — which was used in horrific mass shootings, including the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, the Route 91 music festival in Las Vegas, the Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — was actually less deadly than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.


  • He supports ‘Constitutional carry’ in Virginia, which would enable law-abiding citizens to conceal carry handguns without a permit.


  • In March 2017, Stewart admitted that he and his campaign had been editing his Wikipedia page since at least May 2014 to remove unflattering information and add positive spin, through at least two registered accounts.


  • He is a staunch defender of Civil War monuments and has gone so far as to say that anyone who wants to take them down is “like ISIS”.


  • Last night at his ‘victory’ party, he had his fans chanting that tired old chant, “lock her up”, referring to Hillary Clinton, and then he added that his democratic opponent, incumbent Tim Kaine, should also go to prison (no reason offered), saying, “That might just happen, by the way. And Timmy too. Oh, we’re going to have a lot of fun between now and November, folks!”

As if all of that weren’t bad enough, he has claimed Paul Nehlen to be his “personal hero”.  Nehlen, you may remember from my post of January 9th, is the Wisconsin candidate who is an extreme white supremacist, and who supported the likes of Roy Moore and was a major proponent of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory, among others.

Stewart, predictably, condemns his fellow republicans who spoke out against the white supremacist march in Charlottesville last August.

Trump, naturally, had a professional and dignified response to Stewart’s nomination win last night …trump tweet re stewartA “total stiff”?  Didn’t most of us stop with the name-calling along about junior high school?

The good news is that he will be running against Senator Tim Kaine, who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016, and Kaine has a relatively strong approval rating in the state.  Conversely, Donald Trump’s approval rating in Virginia is a low 37%.  I am not going to jinx Kaine by saying that I don’t think Stewart stands a tadpole’s chance in the desert, but if … and it’s a big if … the trend of common sense and values that Virginians have shown of late persists, I see Kaine coming out on top in November.

There was a time I would have referred to Stewart as an insignificant circus clown, but that was in the days before Trump, the days before all forms of bigotry and hate came to be considered acceptable behaviour by the masses.  Corey Stewart is pond scum an undesirable choice to sit in Congress, and does not belong in the United States Senate.  Let us hope the voters in Virginia remember that on November 6th.

Roy Moore’s Clone?

Last December when former judge Roy Moore was defeated in his bid for a seat in the U.S. Senate, many applauded and said it was a sign that Alabamans were finally awake, that there was a turnaround in the south, the nation.  Though I applauded Moore’s loss, I wasn’t so sure it was a sign of change, since Moore only lost to Doug Jones by a narrow margin, 1.7% or only 22,819 votes. Moore, an accused pedophile, a disgraced judge who had twice been thrown off the judicial bench for failing to uphold the law, and a homophobic bigot, should have been defeated by a landslide, if there were truly a change of heart among Alabama voters.  I did not then, and still do not see Moore’s loss as a sign of a blue wave, or that Alabamans have changed their way of thinking.

As evidence, a former top aide to Moore, Tom Parker, an associate justice on the Alabama Supreme Court since 2004, has been nominated by the Alabama GOP to become Alabama’s the next chief justice.  Parker is very nearly a clone of Roy Moore.

tom parker-2Like Moore, Parker holds a deep animus against the LGBT community, and he believes that his judicial decisions should be driven by his conservative religious beliefs. Parker once compared a federal judge, who ruled against the now-defunct ban on gay members of the military serving openly, to Al-Qaeda. He also wrote a judicial opinion claiming that the Supreme Court’s decision permitting same-sex couples to marry “conclusively demonstrates that the rule of law is dead.”

Take a look at Parker’s campaign ad …

In one case in 2016, referring to the Supreme Court decision supporting same-sex marriage, Parker said …

“But in regard to the Obergefell decision, where it’s clear that they jumped outside of all the precedents in order to impose their will on this country, that yes, resisting that decision could maybe start a revival of what we need in this country to return to our founding principles.”

But homophobia isn’t his only fatal flaw.  In 2004, Parker was photographed handing out Confederate flags at a funeral.  Take a look at the photo …Parker et al

See the two men on either side of him?  They are Leonard Wilson, a board member of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens, which describes black people as a “retrograde species of humanity”; and Mike Whorton, a leader with the League of the South, which advocates for the secession of Southern states.

Parker was pleased when the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) criticized him based on the company he keeps, saying he “must be doing the right things” if the organization was upset at him. He said the SPLC was “the most liberal, politically correct law firm in the country, and they have fought virtually every attempt in our state to acknowledge God, who is the source of our rights.”  Ever hear of separation of church and state, Mr. Parker?

The SPLC also filed a complaint against Parker in 2015 after he went on a radio show as a sitting judge to advocate that state courts resist the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.

Parker’s 2016 Supreme Court campaign was supported by another ally and neo-Confederate, Michael Peroutka, who travels the country preaching about merging the Bible, the Constitution and Confederate values.

If we think that Roy Moore’s defeat last December was  indicative of a future wave of voters against racism, against bigotry … think again, for Parker won the primary against incumbent Lyn Stuart …parker ballotpedia

Granted it isn’t a huge margin, but the fact that he won, the fact that he had 241,000+ votes, speaks volumes.

Where Were You, Congressman???

Dear Congressman ____________________,

I am writing to express my displeasure with your performance, or might I say ‘non’ performance over the past 17 months, and to remind you of two things:  to whom you owe your allegiance and that there are mid-term elections on the horizon.

Only this morning the head of the executive branch, the so-called ‘president’, declared himself to be above the law, to be by all appearances, a dictator rather than a president.  And where were you? For months now, Donald Trump has been destroying decades’ worth of international diplomacy.  Where was your voice?  Donald Trump has set back civil rights in this nation by at least a half-century, yet I did not hear your voice raised in objection when he called neo-Nazis and members of the KKK ‘very fine people’.  Last week, the man whose boots you have been licking called for the Department of Energy to force … yes force … coal companies to remain open when they planned to close for lack of profit and market.  He intimated that the nation would subsidize certain coal companies in order to keep them in business.  Subsidies, I might add, that will come from the taxpayer’s pockets.  And where was your voice?

These are but a few examples of the many destructive actions Donald Trump has taken in his 16-month tenure, and not once have I heard you raise your voice in objection.  Not once have I seen you take a stand, refuse to do his bidding.  We the People did not elect you to have you be a ‘yes-man’.  Rather, We the People put you in office to look out for our best interests, not just your own.  Donald Trump is not … I repeat is NOT … your employer, not your boss.  WE THE PEOPLE are your employers.  By allowing Donald Trump to destroy our nation, our lives, with his arrogant, hard-headed, narcissistic acts, you are letting down the very people you are supposed to represent.  And I want to know why!

I deserve an answer, and in fact, demand one.  I do not want one of the canned, computer-generated responses that I get anytime I attempt to communicate with my elected ‘representatives’.  I want you to read my letter and I want a thoughtful and honest response from you.  Anything less is unacceptable.  I want to hear why you are standing silently by while one madman destroys the nation.  I want to know what you plan to do about the abomination that sits in the Oval Office today.  I want to know why you are not vociferously advocating to remove this ‘man’ from office.  I want to know why you are willing to sit in your comfortable office and merely watch while Trump destroys our environment.  I would like some answers.

If you have not the integrity to provide the answers to my questions, if you have not the integrity to stand up for what is right, rather than to continue to be a sycophant to Trump, then I can guarantee you that you will not have my vote on November 6th.  I can also promise that I will use my voice to encourage others to vote you out of Congress and to vote in somebody who will perhaps use their power, their voice, to try to save this nation from the madman in the White House.

 

Sincerely,

Jill E. Dennison

Citizen, voter, humanitarian

He Slithered From Under A Rock …

Nathan Larson is 37 years of age, from Charlottesville, Virginia, and is running as an independent for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives this November.  Nathan Larson

Larson’s platform is comprised of a 12-point manifesto:

  1. stopping the war on drugs
  2. protecting gun ownership rights
  3. putting an end to U.S. involvement in foreign wars arising from our country’s alliance with Israel
  4. benevolent white supremacy
  5. private borders
  6. patriarchy
  7. freedom of speech
  8. freedom from age restrictions
  9. suicide rights
  10. jury trial rights
  11. discrimination rights
  12. free trade

Quite a list, eh?  This guy is a piece of work.  Let’s look, briefly, at a bit of explanation for a few of the items on the above list.  Take #2 … Nathan is against any and all restriction on guns.  Period.  He notes that some call on banning assault weapons and raising the legal age for gun ownership in the wake of recent school shootings, but Nathan, in all of his wisdom, knows what the real cause for the school shootings is:

“In reality, it’s (((feminists))) and (((psychiatrists))) who are causing the school shootings. Many boys end up fatherless because feminists encouraged female sexual promiscuity and undermined husbands’ authority over their wives. Feminists encourage young women to go to college and get a career rather than getting married and starting a family as soon as they become sexually mature. Since the modern career woman has her own money, and ample opportunities to cheat on her husband by claiming that she needs to stay late at work and then go to yoga class, she ends up eventually leaving him. Since growing up without a dad is stressful for boys, they end up going on psychiatric drugs that cause them to become actively suicidal and violently aggressive. They then shoot up schools.”

In #4, he posits that whites are so superior to all other races that they must always lead, and by doing so, they will make the world better for other races.  He applauds Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church, and Adolph Hitler, murderer of six million people.

“Blacks, if given power, will not know what to do with it. If they were capable of running a first world country, then Africa would not be in the state it’s in …”

Are your hackles raised yet?  Just wait … let’s take a look at #6, Patriarchy …

“Congress should repeal the Violence Against Women Act and all other legislation that interferes with patriarchal rule in the family. We need to switch to a system that classifies women as property, initially of their fathers and later of their husbands. “

“If girls were not being put in high-risk situations, such as university frat parties where they get drunk to the point of passing out in the company of a bunch of libidinous young men, then they would probably not get raped so much.”

Freedom from age restrictions, #8, calls to abolish virtually all age restrictions, including voting, holding office, marriage, and even drinking alcohol …

“I call for repeal of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. I think alcohol should be subject to no more regulations than any other consumable product, such as milk or soft drinks.”

nathan larson 3Larson first ran for Congress in 2008 in Virginia’s 1st District. However, he was later disqualified after threatening to kill either President George W. Bush or President Barack Obama.  In 2008, he sent a letter to the Secret Service warning of imminent plans to assassinate either President George W. Bush or President Barack Obama, an act of civil disobedience meant to call attention to the tyranny of the U.S. government. In 2009, he pleaded guilty and served 16 months in federal prison and three years of supervision upon his release.  His conviction would have made him ineligible to run for public office, but when Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe restored voting and other civil rights to thousands of felons who had completed their sentences, Larson became eligible to campaign again.

Now, my first inclination, and perhaps yours too, is to write this guy off as a bad joke, a nut case.  Nobody in their right mind would vote for him, right?  But … he garnered the 1,000 signatures required to run for office.  And think back about two years, when we were still laughing at that entertainer fella with the bad toupee who thought he would win the presidency in November 2016.  See where I’m going here?  Yes, Nathan Larson is a pimple on the posterior of society, but then … so is Donald Trump, and look where he is sitting today.  I think it safe to say that we can no longer take these far-right, white supremacists as a joke and simply write them off, for I believe there is a contingent of voters that is determined to vote for anybody who is willing to cast aside the ideologies, the norms, that have governed in the past.

According to Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), there are at least 8 white supremacists running for office in the mid-terms.  Expect to hear more from me on this topic.  Sigh.

An Ugly Voice — Peter T. King

I had no intention of writing about this topic again this week.  I was fairly certain it would come up again in the near future, for I don’t think the final word has been said yet, but I thought the topic was put to bed for a nap, at least.  Until, that is, the abominable New York Congressman  Peter King had to open his mouth and spew the most ludicrous thing I have heard and get the needle on my radar twitching and my fingers itching.  And what topic is that, you may be wondering?  The NFL decision to fine teams & players who refuse to stand for the playing of the national anthem before games.

My feelings on this are well-known and do not bear repeating, but an examination of Mr. King’s statement is definitely in order.  As I mentioned in my last post about this topic, Take A Knee, there was one team owner who stood above all the rest in the decision of the team owners.  Christopher Johnson, acting owner of the New York Jets, stood up for his players …chris johnson.jpg“I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest. There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.”

I applaud him for being the only one to stand heads above the rest, to have the courage of his convictions, to stand for his players.  But apparently Representative King viewed it a bit differently …Pete King.pngHe is comparing taking a knee rather than standing at attention for a stupid song to a Nazi salute?  He is comparing a peaceful protest against police brutality and racial injustice to a group of people who commited murder, who committed genocide, who committed crimes against humanity when they killed more than 6 million people???  What tree did this ‘man’ fall from?

I commented on his tweet:

“You are delusional, Mr. King, and not worthy of the office you hold.  Have you ever read the U.S. Constitution?  I suggest you do so, post haste.”

That was mild, compared to what I wanted to say, but Twitter has a word limit, and presumably a set of standards about language, so I restrained myself.  But let us ask a question here:  Is this the ‘new norm’?  Is what used to be admirable no longer so, and bigotry now what is looked up to?

I was encouraged that, with few exceptions, the comments to King’s tweet were along the lines of voting him out of office, which tells me that no, We The People have not become cruel, heartless, anti-freedom idiots.  But how did we come to this point, to this place where we are electing people to high offices in our federal government who have so little humanity, no empathy for humans?  And in New York, of all places!  C’mon, New Yorkers … you’re better than this!

Peter King photo.pngMr. King piqued my curiosity … people don’t just become this way overnight, after all … so I dug a little deeper.  What I found is an unapologetic racist, an intense Islamophobe, homophobe.  King has been in office since 1992, and it is the opinion of this writer that it is well past time to take out the trash.  Let us hope that there is a strong, viable candidate running against Mr. King in the 2nd congressional district of New York in November.

Hey Democrats — Listen UP!!!

As a left-leaning, liberal-thinking independent voter, I have had serious reservations regarding the ‘blue wave’ that everyone is talking about.  It is a theory that democrats will win big in November simply based on the fact that Trump and his sycophants in Congress are doing such a horrible job that all sensible voters will vote in a democratic candidate … any democratic candidate.  For months, I have said that it wasn’t enough, that the democratic party needs cohesion, that the candidates need a solid, respectable platform.  I have called for the DNC to find and support candidates who are ‘squeaky clean’, who carry no baggage that would give the GOP an opening for mud-slinging and under-handed shenanigans.  Last night I found my sentiments echoed by Anthony Zurcher, a journalist for the BBC.

“One of the ongoing criticisms of Democrats since Barack Obama moved out of the White House is that the party has been defined by what it opposes, instead of what it wants to do.

They’re not Donald Trump. They’re against travel bans, border walls, trade wars, financial and environmental deregulation, corporate tax cuts and repeal of the Obamacare health insurance system.

But what are they for? What are their ideas?”

It’s true.  Think about it … we know exactly what the GOP stands for because they are loud and obnoxious about it.  They will defend to the death their 2nd Amendment rights, they applaud Trump’s vision of a wall along the southern border, they want immigration stopped, they want environmental regulations removed on businesses, especially the fossil fuel industry, and the list goes on.  There is no doubt what they stand for.  But ask the average person what the democrats stand for, and the answer would likely be … the opposite of all of the above.  They know what they are against, but they don’t know what they are for.  Which, of course, is not quite true, but one could be forgiven for thinking it was, given that the democratic party as a whole is not speaking above a whisper these days.

“We’re not going to win if we spend all our time bemoaning that he’s there. He’s there. And we have to offer an alternative.” — Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar

“People ask how come you’re not offering alternatives. And I say we are.” – Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown

During a recent “Ideas Conference”, democrats tried to zero in on the party platform …

  • Minimum wage increases
  • Expanding public schooling
  • Ethics, reform and oversight
  • Dismantling the oligarchy
  • Guns, the environment and health care

That’s it … that is what comprises the core values of the democratic party.  Okay, I am on board with all of the above, but there is so much more.  And why are the three arguably most important issues lumped together at the very end???

My concern is that this election will devolve into a mud-fest.  I am also concerned that for democrats, it will become a single-issue election:  gun regulation.  While gun regulation is certainly among the top concerns today, if it is allowed to become the central focus, I’m not sure how well the democrats will fare, for it is also the single most contentious issue on the docket, with far too many being told by the GOP that democrats want to abolish the 2nd Amendment and ‘take all your guns’.

While political ideologies do have a base platform, the day-to-day issues tend to be reactionary.  In this, the era of Trump, they are typically a reaction to whatever horrific thing he has most recently said or done, and there is no dearth of material on which to react.  But this gets us nowhere, it pulls us down to the level of the GOP, and it won’t win elections in November.

The Democratic Party stands for many things:  social & economic equality, social programs, labour unions, affordable college tuition, universal health care, equal opportunity for all, consumer protections, and environmental protections, to name a few.  This, then, is what the candidates need to be focusing on, the message they need to be getting out.  It will help that Trump & Co are making a mockery of our government, and the anger that generates will certainly play a role, but it is not going to be enough to carry the day.  It is absolutely essential to the continuation of this nation as a democratic republic that the demographics of Congress be changed.  The current majority in both the House and the Senate are naught but sycophants, book-lickers, who will bow to Trump’s will and who will fight to keep the madman in office, for he is their job security.

Please, democratic candidates, focus on the issues rather than simply being the “anti-Trump”.  Trump will, I firmly believe, help sink his own boat as well as that of the GOP, so leave him to it, and focus on presenting a united, sensible, humanitarian front. It is easy to argue against every single thing Trump has done or will do between now and November 6th, but there is a bigger goal here, and to achieve it, we must do better than to be the “Party of No”.

Jimmy Kimmel Speaks …

It says something when a comedian shows more intelligence, more compassion, and more humanity, than the men and women we elected to administer and oversee our government.  Jimmy Kimmel is a comedian, not a politician.  He makes his money cracking jokes, making people laugh.  But on a number of occasions, he has used his platform, his voice, to send a message to our elected officials, and also to We The People.  Last night was one of those occasions, when he spoke briefly, yet eloquently of yesterday’s school shooting in Texas.

“Hi. Before we get to our guests—and the jokes tonight—I want to take a moment because, as you know, we had another school shooting today. This time in Santa Fe, Texas. At least ten people were killed, ten are wounded. Mostly high school kids. 

And, once again, our leaders are sending their thoughts and prayers. President Trump said he is with the people of Santa Fe in this tragic hour and will be with them forever—except for when it comes time to do something. Then he will not be with them. And neither will any of the congresspeople—or governors—who don’t ever do anything because they are fearful that it will hurt them politically. They know the truth. They know this has gone too far. But they’re too cowardly to do the right thing. They care more about the support of the NRA than they do about children.

So they sit there, with their hands in their pockets, pockets that are full of gun money, and do nothing. They just wait for the outrage to pass, because it didn’t happen to their children. There’s only one way to look at this: How would you feel and what would you do if these were your children who were killed today? The truth about our democracy is that the people don’t make laws, we vote for those who do. So… the least you can do is register to vote right now. I mean the only way we can make any meaningful impact on this epidemic is to make sure we vote for politicians who will do something.”

I give a standing ovation to this man for having more sense and being a better person than those who are sitting in the Capitol or the Oval Office today.

 

Meet David Sadler …

Over 2 million black Americans were unable to vote in 2016.  One in thirteen African-Americans are not able to vote due to a felony conviction.  In four states, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, that rate is one in five!  My initial intent was to write this post on the topic of ‘felon disenfranchisement’, as it is called.  But I came across the story of one man who fought to restore his right to vote and is now running for state senator representing the 25th District of Alabama.  This man’s story is amazing.  Be sure to take a look at the ‘hugs’ video!

He Walked for His Right to Vote. Now He’s Running for Office.

David Sadler wants to be the next state senator representing the 25th District of Alabama, a stack of three counties in the southern part of the state that includes the capital, Montgomery. He is handsome, charismatic and passionate, and speaks in the apolitical language of unity and justice. He’s running as a Democrat but doesn’t strongly identify with any political party.

He probably won’t win — the 25th District is overwhelmingly Republican and white — but don’t tell him that.

“We’re going to win,” Mr. Sadler said on one unusually cool evening late last month, as he hunkered down on the general-admission lawn at the Montgomery Biscuits’ minor-league ballpark. His 5-year-old son, Dennis, sat curled on his lap, wrapped in a thick yellow Biscuits blanket.

Mr. Sadler, who is 45 and runs a car service in Montgomery, recounted a recent conversation with one of his regular clients, a political pollster. “You cannot win. Flat out. You cannot win,” Mr. Sadler recalled him saying. “But then, within five minutes of talking to me, he said, ‘You know what? Let me take that back. If anybody can win, you can win.’”

You’d think that Mr. Sadler would be the kind of citizen-politician who would define the American system, fulfilling its ambition to be a participatory democracy. But it’s only through his own extraordinary efforts to break down the system’s barriers against him that he can even vote, let alone run.

Mr. Sadler grew up near Pittsburgh as a clean-living, law-abiding kid in a family of drug dealers. Shortly after starting college, he was charged with attempting to sell a small amount of crack cocaine to an undercover informant. It was a case of mistaken identity, he said. But he agreed to plead guilty — he was young and afraid, and his court-appointed lawyer told him it was the only sure way to avoid prison.

In 2000, Mr. Sadler moved to Orlando, Fla., with plans to play professional football in the arena league. At the first workout, he ruptured a tendon in his knee. He gave up sports and applied to a master’s program in international business at the University of Central Florida, but his request for financial aid was denied. “And that’s how I found out I was a convicted felon,” Mr. Sadler said. “I had no clue.” The consequences, he quickly learned, were not limited to financial aid. He couldn’t get jobs other than menial labor, and — along with about six million other Americans with a criminal record — he couldn’t vote.

Felon-disenfranchisement laws have had a huge and largely unnoticed impact on American politics, including possibly altering the outcome of the 2000 presidential election. Most were passed in the late 1800s explicitly to keep black people from the ballot box, and today they continue to hurt minorities disproportionately. But lately the tide has been turning, as many states have made it easier for people with criminal records to vote again. In Florida, which disenfranchises more people with criminal records than any other state, voters will decide in November whether to restore voting rights to as many as 1.5 million of their neighbors. And New Jersey lawmakers are considering whether to join Vermont and Maine as the only states to allow people to vote even while in prison.

For Mr. Sadler, the only way to regain the right to vote was a pardon from the governor of Pennsylvania. So he did what anyone with limitless energy and a very good pair of shoes would do: He hand-delivered a clemency petition, walking from Orlando to the governor’s office in Harrisburg. Over 32 days in the dead of summer, he walked 1,178 miles, dawn to dusk daily, sleeping on benches and subsisting on whatever food he could afford along the route. He grew a beard and lost 25 pounds. “That walk was like my pilgrimage to manhood,” Mr. Sadler said. “I looked like Forrest Gump.”

The governor denied his petition. But his walk earned him publicity and the attention of a veteran civil-rights activist and political organizer in Alabama, Jerome Gray. Mr. Gray convinced Mr. Sadler to move to Alabama and lead a push to restore voting rights to the more than quarter-million disenfranchised Alabamians. Mr. Sadler took the job, and traveled around the state in support of a 2004 state law that made it easier for people with a criminal record to regain the right to vote.

When Mr. Sadler tried again for a pardon, Mr. Gray gave him some advice: “Don’t make any noise this time. Don’t walk; don’t do anything.” Instead, Mr. Gray said, lie low. In 2011, it worked. “I say it’s my rebirth,” Mr. Sadler said. “It took me 16 years, but I got it.”

Since then, Mr. Sadler has gotten married and started a family — he and his wife, Destiny, have three young children. Last year, he helped push for another significant reform of the state’s infamous “moral turpitude” law, a Jim Crow-era relic that has blocked hundreds of thousands of people from voting.

He also has a streak of showmanship, an instinct for virality and a desire to connect with people that could serve him well in public office, but which have so far manifested in a series of increasingly bold and disarming public actions, beginning with his long-distance trek. In 2016, Mr. Sadler stood blindfolded outside the Biscuits’ stadium and offered free hugs — “to prove to people,” he said, “that it’s not the same old South.” Fans of all colors and ages took him up, and a video of the event has gotten more than six million views on Facebook.

Last July 4, in response to the shootings of unarmed black men around the country, Mr. Sadler staged his own hanging in the heart of downtown Montgomery. The holiday crowd stood and gawked, but the police left him alone. A sign taped to his body said “Dear D.O.J.: Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.”

That’s not a political platform, exactly, but it speaks to Mr. Sadler’s basic message, which is, he said, “to restore hope and self-worth through faith.” His hope, in the immediate future at least, is to energize the tens of thousands of eligible voters in the 25th District who don’t usually turn out — many of whom may be able to vote for the first time since having a criminal record, thanks in part to his efforts. (He’s not giving up the stunts, though: he said his campaign plans to carry a sofa to cities around the district and invite voters to sit down and talk.)

Jerome Gray, the political organizer, has no illusions about the challenge Mr. Sadler faces, but he declined to count him out.

“He came to Alabama with no car, and now he has a transportation service,” Mr. Gray said. “He owns his own home. He has a fleet of cars. That guy, I don’t write him off, because he won’t go away.” – The New York Times Editorial Board – 16 May 2017

 

Dear Candidate …

Political campaign ads do not have to be nasty, crude, cruel, vicious, and ugly. They do not have to be attack ads.  More and more, however, that is exactly what they are.  I do not watch television, so I am spared the worst of it and see only what flits across my radar on the internet, which is bad enough.  Take, for example, this one …

Disgusting, isn’t it?  But it seems to me that in general, candidates are making a huge mistake, because they are not focusing on themselves, rather are focusing on putting down their opponents.  This is pointless.  So, I composed the following letter:

Dear 2018 Candidate,

I sit here, some six months before the November mid-term elections, and I am assessing the candidates, not only in my own state/district, but across the nation.  In attempting this exercise, I find it very difficult to like you, and thus will almost certainly find it difficult to vote for you in November.  Please listen to what I have to say, for I believe that I speak for the majority of We The People.  You remember us, right?  We are the ones whose votes you need and to whom you will be held accountable if you should be elected, just in case you have already forgotten.

Don’t tell me why I should not like your opponent, tell me instead why I should like you!  And I don’t mean that you should be wearing a butt-ugly shirt made from a U.S. flag, for that is a turn-off in itself.  And I don’t mean that you should have a gun strapped to your belt … another definite turn-off.  You will not impress me with tough talk, or by riding your horse into town. And you do not need to raise your voice!  Yes, I am hard of hearing, but I have closed-captioning on all my devices, so I can know what you are saying without you screeching like a banshee.

Now, what would I like to hear from you?  I would like to hear your views on the issues facing the nation today:  gun regulation, immigration, taxes, education, foreign policy, poverty, health care, the economy, and a number of others.  I would like you to use your words, as we tell our children, to help me understand what your platform is.  My vote, either for or against you, will be based on how closely your views match my own, and if you don’t use your face time to put forth your views, I cannot know what you think, thus I cannot and will not vote for you.

When your entire campaign is based on criticizing your opponent(s), it indicates to me that you do not have a very strong platform, or perhaps have no platform at all.  Perhaps, rather than spend your time trying to dig up ‘dirt’ on your opponent, you should spend that time thinking about how you would improve our public schools, how you would vote on a health care bill that cut funding for children living in poverty, or how you would consider a tax bill that benefits mainly the already-wealthy.  These are the things I care about.

I also care about your own values.  I am interested in knowing where all this money you are spending on television ads is coming from.  Are you beholden to the NRA?  To the fossil fuel industry?  Are you likely to be vulnerable to blackmail for a string of past sexual affairs?  Or worse yet, are you likely to be accused by women (or men) of sexual harassment?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should just go home now, for you are not fit to sit in the Capitol. 

If you only want the votes of those who are not well-educated enough or politically savvy enough to understand a political agenda, then you are on the right path.  But if you want the votes of the thinkers, the people who understand how government works, who have read the U.S. Constitution, then you need to change your ways.  If you believe – honestly believe – that you can make a difference, that you can do some good for this nation, then please do us all a favour and set on a path to prove it.  Design serious ads, don’t mention your opposition, tell us who you are, how you think, and why you believe you are qualified for this job.

This is my advice … take it or leave it.  But be advised that I will not vote for you if the focus of your campaign is putting down another candidate.  I will not vote for you unless I have a good feeling about who you are and what you stand for.  And not only will I not vote for you, but I will do my best to discourage others from voting for you as well.

Good luck.

During the 2016 presidential election, I did have a television in my bedroom, and I turned it on first thing every morning, as soon as I got my glasses on so I could find the remote.  By the time I got dressed and made it downstairs for my coffee, I was already outraged by the inanity of the political ads on both sides of the fence.  I thought it was about time somebody tells these people that mud-slinging is not savvy campaigning.  Your thoughts?

Trumpier Than Trump …

There have been some fairly bizarre things happening in U.S. politics since the election of Donald Trump in November 2016, wouldn’t you agree?  Some really off-the-wall candidates have shown up on special election ballots but, for the most part, common sense has reigned at the polls.  But this morning’s New York Times headline had even the jaded Filosofa scratching her head and saying, “Huh?”  (I’m not all that sharp when I first wake up) 

At McConnell’s Urging, Trump Asks West Virginians Not to Vote for Don Blankenship

Don Blankenship has touted himself as being “Trumpier than Trump”.  He just spent a year in prison.  He is a former coal baron.  One of his campaign ads claims, “We don’t need to investigate our president. We need to arrest Hillary”.  Doesn’t it seem that he would be Trump’s candidate of choice?  And yet, Trump tweeted …

“To the great people of West Virginia we have, together, a really great chance to keep making a big difference. Problem is, Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State…No way! Remember Alabama. Vote Rep. Jenkins or A.G. Morrisey!” — 6:53 AM – May 7, 2018

What was I missing?  And to make the situation even more bizarre, once I found what I was missing, I found myself rooting for Mr. Blankenship to win the Republican primary tomorrow!!!   Now, I hear some of you saying, “Girl … have you gone and lost what few marbles you had left???”  Well, let me explain …

There is much to hate about Blankenship, and as I wrote in my April 24th post  he has been referred to as the “most hated man in West Virginia” and the “next Roy Moore”.  And taken together, those two things explain why not only Trump, but the entire GOP do not want to see Blankenship win the primary.  Because he likely cannot win the November election!  And once you realize that, you see why I am rooting for him, for his win would likely serve to hand the senate seat to incumbent Joe Manchin, a democrat.

Now, let me make it even more interesting.  Blankenship, supposedly the most hated man in the state, is actually doing quite well in the polls!  I think this may be a case of what I referred to before as “push … and push back”.  The West Virginia GOP has been running a series of ads like the one below, against Blankenship.Blankenship-1Blankenship is still on probation after serving a year in prison for his role in a mine accident that killed 29 miners in 2010.  As CEO of the Upper Big Branch (UBB) mine, Blankenship ordered the company to delay or stop various safety improvements in 2008, a move that was ultimately proven to have contributed to the mine accident, and Blankenship was convicted of conspiring to violate mine safety standards.  One wouldn’t think that the citizens of West Virginia, a state whose economy relies heavily on coal mining, would even consider this man to represent them in the U.S. Senate, right?

But, as Politico reported last week, Blankenship “is surging ahead”.  Even Don Trump, Jr. got in on the act, tweeting …

“I hate to lose. So I’m gonna go out on a limb here and ask the people of West Virginia to make a wise decision and reject Blankenship! No more fumbles like Alabama. We need to win in November. #wv #wvpol” — 3:44 PM – May 3, 2018

Blankenship wasn’t too upset about it, though, and didn’t blame Trump …

“As some have said I am Trumpier than Trump, and this morning proves it. The President is a very busy man and he doesn’t know me, and he doesn’t know how flawed my two main opponents are in this primary. The establishment is misinforming him because they do not want me to be in the U.S. Senate and promote the President’s agenda. West Virginia voters should remember that my enemies are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and my opponents would not even be running as Republicans had I not resurrected the Republican Party in West Virginia.”

Ahhhh … the “establishment” is feeding Trump lies, and this man is single-handedly responsible for the GOP’s existence in West Virginia, eh?  I wonder if he’s friends with Alex Jones? An analysis by the New York Times claims that …

“The emergence of a former coal boss with a criminal record as a potential Senate nominee seems partly an expression of many West Virginia voters’ desire to poke a thumb in the eye of the Washington establishment, Republicans very much included.”

My mother used to have an expression that I think fits well here:  Cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

My current favourite comedian, John Oliver, sums it all up nicely for us

Trump won West Virginia in 2016, presumably based on his promise to “end the war on coal”, and remains popular there today.  And in truth, Blankenship is at least as “Trumpy” as Trump.  Keep an eye on this one, folks.  And remember that this is no longer the world of sanity we once thought it was.