Bob McDonnell, Just Go to Jail

August 12, 2015

By Adele

Virginia’s former Republican governor Bob McDonnell reminds me of a cat who hates going to the vet (that is, all cats), flailing his arms and legs to keep the justice system from cramming him into his carrier.

In January, McDonnell was sentenced to serve two years in prison on 11 felony corruption convictions for accepting six-figure largesse from a sleazy businessman who fostered a questionable relationship with McDonnell’s wife. Bob has remained free on bond pending appeal.

So far, Bob’s attempts to overturn the convictions, get a new trial, yada, yada, yada, have been rejected.

If Bob had simply accepted his punishment, he’d be about one-third through his sentence by now — and richer by months of wasted attorneys’ fees.

Bob’s latest pitch for a rehearing was unanimously rejected by Virginia’s 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week. Now he vows to take it to the Supreme Court.

What sticks in my craw is McDonnell’s inability to complete a thought, a habit he shares with many Republicans on many issues, but that’s for another post.

To give just one example, he responded to his latest appeal rejection by saying…

“In my 38 years of public service to my country and the commonwealth, I have never misused my office nor ever promised anyone anything in exchange for money.”

Failing to finish with…

“No, instead I took cash, trips, and merchandise valued at $167,000 from a virtual stranger and gave him nothing in return. This behavior has been well-documented; it’s usually called stealing and punished with jail time. I’m pursuing these appeals to avoid paying for my crimes.”

McDonnell’s lawyers summed up the bigger issue with this gem…

“The facts of this case and the court ruling have serious negative consequences for nearly every public official in America. We will not cease our legal fight until Gov. McDonnell is fully vindicated.”

The “serious negative consequences” are that politicians will have to stop being crooks, seeking office only for personal enrichment.

Instead of fighting to keep corruption in government, if Bob McDonnell really had a shred of integrity, he’d stop kvetching and do his jail time — and thank God every day he only got two years.


Someone, Please, Explain “Debate” to Fox

August 7, 2015

By Adele

UVA’s political wonk Larry Sabato theorized to Rachel Maddow, and I paraphrase, that the Republican National Committee wants fewer than 17 candidates, but doesn’t have the cojones to dissuade anybody, so it’s letting Fox’s asinine debates do the job.

To get the “right” top 10 candidates, a number Fox pulled out of its ass, Fox probably cherry-picked the polls it used to get Chris Christie and John Kasich included.

I watched the 7 rejects in the 5 p.m. session (including Ricks Perry and Santorum), and no way was it a “debate.” The moderators simply lobbed cues to each candidate to regurgitate stump speech chunks. They didn’t face off at all.

Carly Fiorina gave the only noteworthy performance. Or, as mod Megyn Kelly later said, Carly “unleashed a can.”

You can’t not compare Carly to Sarah Palin’s witless garblings, and Carly was a veritable Demosthenes. Had she not run Hewlett Packard so deeply into a ditch that they gave her $40 million to get permanently lost, you might think she had a shot.

Lindsey Graham provided comic relief with his Donald Trump imitation, trying to evoke terror by claiming ISIS is invading the U.S. any minute now.

You had to feel sorry for them all.

The main event began at 8:50, as if Fox has never scheduled TV programming before. The moderators explained, “Since viewers think it starts at 9, we’ll wait,” and then wasted 10 minutes on inane banter.

Speaking of moderators, they were that nonentity Chris Wallace, over-processed Megyn Kelly, and Eddie Munster.

They marched the candidates on stage into a lineup and then ordered them to applaud the audience. In confusion, a few half-heartedly did.

Once behind the podiums, it was “Face the Mods” again. Gratuitous attempts at actual debate consisted of throwing one candidate’s cracks about another candidate back in the wisecracking candidate’s face and asking if he still believed them to be true.

Rand Paul proved feisty, bless his curls, and got into one good little tangle with Chris Christie that almost got ugly.

Donald Trump was dickish as always, but basically well-behaved. I don’t think he called anybody weak or stupid to their face. However, Megyn, as sternly as a vacuous but bitchy blonde can, reminded him that he’s called women “fat pigs” and “dogs” before.

Like Palin, I guess Megyn prefers her men to show their misogyny through legislation, not name-calling.

They tried to get Trump on the ropes for being friends with the Clintons and formerly having some liberal positions. He blew them off, claiming his ideas have “evolved, just like Reagan’s.”

And we saw lots of the usual mean Fox-baiting to elicit hatred of immigrants, gays, and the Fox-generated delusion that U.S. Christians are being persecuted.

But the candidates largely stuck to the high road. Jeb Bush was so reasonable, he came off as the only Bush who probably ever should have run for office.

John Kasich shined as a kind and moderate voice of reason.

Ben Carson got in some zingers and complained about not being given enough time, to which Megyn purred that she fully intended to personally give him more time, so much more time.

And then didn’t.

I learned Ted Cruz is Canadian. So, Republicans are good with Cruz for president even though he was born in another country to a U.S. citizen. But Obama, who was born in a U.S. state (Hawaii) also to a U.S. citizen, is NOT an American.

How do they keep all that crazy straight? Oh, right. They don’t even try.

Will this Fox farce be enough to sink some candidates? Only time will tell.


Donald Trump, the GOP’s Face – and Hairball

August 4, 2015

By Cole

Last week, the Quinnipiac poll showed Donald Trump ahead of the GOP pack by 7 points. He polled at 20%, with his next closest rival, Scott Walker, at 13%.

This week, CBS’ poll put Trump in the lead with 24%, followed by Jeb Bush at 13%.

When Trump calls Mexican criminals and rapists, conservatives are eating it up, now that their bigotry toward blacks became un-PC since the Charleston massacre and weekly unjustifiable shootings by white police officers.

And then the Supreme Court took away another target of their hatred by legalizing same-sex marriage across the board. What to do, what to do?

Thank God for Trump. He came along and told them who it’s OK to hate now.

Trump, who has never held office, insults and belittles his fellow contenders, many duly elected senators and governors. Trump calls them weak and stupid, and the Republicans who love it ELECTED these politicians Trump now disses.

There’s no such thing as hypocrisy in the GOP playbook.

In the CBS poll, 79% of Republican voters think Trump isn’t afraid to speak his mind, the highest by far of any candidate.

True, Donald Trump will fill anyone’s ears with the mental diarrhea that continually dribbles from his pie hole. He and Rush Limp Paw have that in common.

If there’s one good thing to say about Trump, it’s that he can self-finance his campaign, if he does it. He won’t owe hand jobs to any fat cats, as his fan-boy Ted Cruz would after his PAC raked in $15 million from just two brothers in Texas, Farris and Dan Wilks.

Most of the others, on both sides, are just as bad. Campaigning has become so outrageously expensive, it’s next to impossible NOT to sell your soul.

The most unfortunate thing about Donald Trump is not his arrogance and egotism. It’s that his obnoxious persona probably masks a very little man. He bullies and retaliates against anyone who dares to criticize him to divert attention from what a pathetic, empty shell he really is.

He claims he’d make Mexico pay to construct our wall along the border. He’ll have Mexicans loving him for creating jobs. He knows how to wipe ISIS out of existence. He can bring China, Putin, and the rest of the world to heel.

All these big promises from a man who can’t face hair loss, even though he’s got plenty of company with men his age and there’s absolutely no shame in it.

Trump would rather have comedians ritually savage him every day of his life than let the world see the real him.

Bernie Sanders doesn’t give a rat’s ass about age or baldness, and he draws crowds that could eat Trump’s audiences for breakfast.

Denial is the real tragedy of Donald Trump. If he presented himself with authentic honesty, balding, straight-talking, and financially self-sustaining, he wouldn’t need to play the bully and might have a shot at being the next president.

But as long as he keeps that matted hairball glued to the top of his head, he’s a buffoon whose poll numbers must only reflect his pure entertainment value because, surely, even Republicans can’t be that dumb.


My Belated Intro to Richmond’s Civil War Past

July 14, 2015

By Karen

Until recently, most of my Civil War knowledge came from Gone With the Wind.

Since moving to Richmond, Virginia, in 1972 and watching this city nurse a chip on its shoulder over the “Lost Cause,” I just assumed Richmond somehow suffered similarly to Atlanta during Sherman’s march to the sea, although I knew Sherman never laid a paw on Richmond.

As it turned out, no Northern army ever invaded Richmond, although it was the capital of the Confederacy and a prime target. However, battles were fought all around it.

My ignorance in this seems incredible, I know, but I went to school up North, and the Civil War was a chapter in American history. Down here, I’m told it’s a whole high school year’s curriculum.

Since 2015 marks 150 years since war’s end, Richmond has reveled in it yet again — until the Charleston massacre and its aftermath brought everybody up short.

The daily Richmond Times-Dispatch, which was in overdrive publishing Civil War dispatches and articles to avoid the real work of covering current events, opened my eyes on Richmond’s past, and it was jaw-dropping in light of the decades of pouty “Yankee Go Home!” attitude I’ve seen.

Picture this

Early April 1865 and the Union Army was attacking Petersburg, south of Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, when the Confederate Army faced the fact that it couldn’t defend Richmond.

President Jefferson Davis lammed off to Danville, deserting his mansion for U.S. Major General Godfrey Weitzel to use as HQ when he arrived. During his stay, Weitzel found in a desk a letter to Davis from General Robert E. Lee dated October 1864, containing the news flash that the cause was lost and they should make the best terms they could. But Davis sat on that intel and let the killing continue.

Before abandoning Richmond, Confederate soldiers broke open all the liquor and either poured it into the streets or drank it, then they set fire to warehouses holding munitions and tobacco so the Yankees couldn’t have them, and looting broke out.

The fires quickly raged beyond control and began consuming most of the downtown business district while the rebel soldiers marched away, leaving the civilians defenseless and in utter chaos and confusion.

When Gen. Weitzel and his men rode into Richmond, which no Yankee army had yet laid a finger on, it was being rocked by explosions, burning to the ground, and ransacked — by its own inhabitants.

The Union Army quickly distinguished the blazes, restored order, and began distributing food and tending to those in need.

And here’s the most ironic twist: Robert E. Lee had a brick residence downtown, near the fire zone, where he’d left his daughter and invalid wife. Unable to evacuate, they introduced themselves to the Union soldiers, who posted guards and kept an ambulance on standby for Mrs. Lee. General Lee was able to return to his unburned home after his surrender at Appomattox a week later, thanks to the Yankees.

Gen. Weitzel later wrote his memories of all this, stating that the people of Richmond (especially the blacks) were so thrilled by his army’s arrival that they kissed his soldiers and their horses.

Two days later, Abraham Lincoln himself came to assess the damage. Lincoln showed great compassion and mercy, and the future looked promising. That lasted less than two weeks, when an actor and Southern sympathizer named John Wilkes Booth, who’d spent some time performing in Richmond, assassinated Lincoln.

Resentment, spite, and racism have been allowed to flourish in the South ever since, and statues of defeated Civil War players are everywhere. It took the killing of nine innocent black people by an ignorant little white bigot wrapped in a Confederate flag to get the rest of the country to finally do a double-take at the South’s festering obsession and the latent racism that usually goes with it.

By all reports, many Southerners seem to be accepting that the Cause was wrong, the South lost, it’s part of the United States again, and it’s time to move on. And a good first step is to pull down that divisive flag that has become America’s Swastika.

In Virginia, we’re getting the Confederate flag off a few license plates, but a huge one still proudly waves beside Interstate 95, on private property, to signal that not everyone is welcome here yet.


Speaking of the Arthur Ashe Statue…

July 4, 2015

By Cole

Karen’s probably somewhere shooting off fireworks for the 4th, so I’ll fill you in on the latest with Arthur Ashe.

On Thursday as Karen was typing her previous post, somewhere in Richmond, Doug Wilder, a former Richmond mayor and Virginia governor (the first black man ever to be elected a governor in the U.S., no less), was tweeting about the weeds growing around the weird Arthur Ashe statue.

All the other Monument Avenue statues of Confederate generals are pristine. How quintessentially Richmond.

The Ashe statue was erected before my time in 1996, but I can just hear its staunch opponents when they finally gave in to letting a black man, a mere tennis player, stand among their Confederate generals.

“OK, fine. You can put your silly old statue on Monument Avenue. Just don’t be expecting us to keep it dusted and polished!”

Wilder’s tweets hit the front page of the Richmond Times-Dispatch Friday morning, and by day’s end, the city had cleaned up around Arthur Ashe.

Without Confederate flag kerfuffle putting the spotlight on the South right now, I have no doubt Wilder’s tweets would have been dismissed as sour grapes. Those weeds didn’t grow overnight. If the powers that be had any respect for the Ashe statue, it would have been maintained along with all the others. But better late than never.

Meanwhile, in another part of town…

I learned there’s yet another big Confederate monument. It honors Soldiers and Sailors and stands in Libby Hill Park. Thursday or early Friday, some fool scrawled in red spray paint what might be the word “cracker” and the initials “RBGz” with an up-arrow beside it.

Let’s not get into what this illegible, wit-free gibberish says about the quality of a Richmond education.

“Cracker” may be a reference to Southern white racists but, according to the Times-Dispatch, “RBG” could refer to a rap album, a Pan-African flag, or Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

I’m going with “Rebel Billy Goats” or “Really Bad Grafitti.”

So far, this bit of vandalism has no suspects, so at least they got their getaway right.


Lose the Confederate Flag, Keep the Statues

July 2, 2015

By Karen

I moved to Richmond, Virginia, from the North 43 years ago this month, and it only recently hit me that I’ve been here nearly one-third of the time the Civil War has been over, and I’ve been reminded of it nearly every blessed day and resented it every time.

After the Charleston shootings, words can’t describe how thrilled I was to see some Southern states begin rethinking the preservation of their blockheaded “heritage” and getting with the 21st century.

In Alabama, without asking anybody’s permission, the Republican governor ordered four Confederate flags removed from the statehouse grounds. Amazing!

In VIRGINIA, our Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, ordered Confederate flag license plate issued only to the Sons of Confederate Veterans discontinued and all such plates in use (1,600) replaced. Hallelujah!

The plates were a small gesture, yet the SCV have vowed to fight it — even after the exact case in Texas recently went to the Supreme Court and LOST. (That old, “The South shall rise again!” mentality.)

OK, the flag once stood for the Glorious Cause, but the SCV refuse to acknowledge it’s been hijacked by racists, and racism is what it stands squarely for today.

Some Southerners are wringing their hands over the flag, saying it’s a slippery slope, and what comes down next?

Richmond has a big statue of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, on Monument Avenue (more on that in a sec) that just got defaced twice. One guy spray-painted an “L” on it to signify “Loser” (which was pretty “Lame”). Someone else painted “Black Lives Matter.”

Monument Avenue is a beautiful tree-lined boulevard with a wide green median, lined with lavish, historic homes and dotted with impressive statues of prominent Civil War figures like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson on horseback.

It also has one odd, puny statue of black Richmond native and tennis great, Arthur Ashe, who’s posed as if lobbing a book to a bunch of sawed-off kids. Trust me, getting him on Monument Avenue caused everyone no end of angst.

Anyway, people are worried these statues will get torn down à la Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.

If that happens, are statues of slave owners George Washington and Thomas Jefferson safe?

I’d say the distinction is that the statues haven’t been embraced as racist symbols. They’re of people who played key roles in significant events in our past.

Let’s leave the statues of major historical figures alone. They don’t bother anybody, and in most cases they’re works of art that attract tourists and may be a comfort to some.

But statues and busts of relatively minor figures, like Nathan Bedford Forrest who helped start the KKK, belong in museums as curiosities.

Even though all the funerals in Charleston are over, I hope the South keeps progressing toward accepting that the United States is one country again, founded on the principle that all men are created equal — in spite our many, many lapses and some people’s lingering refusal to face it.


The South Finally Gets Real

June 23, 2015

By Cole

In my nine lives, I never thought I’d see the South accept the fact that the Civil War is over, that most of us are sick of hearing about it already, and that the Confederate flag has become nothing but the American Swastika.

It must be a real punch in the gut to Dylann Roof to see that massacring nine innocent black strangers didn’t start a new race war, but gave blacks and whites reason to bond. And that bonding comes thanks to the victims’ families, who displayed superhuman grace and forgiveness when they were asked to tell Roof what they think of him.

Their utter refusal to take his hate-bait freed whites to finally admit that their obsolete flag belongs in a museum — not atop or near any government building that purports to represent all citizens.

Hot as it is around here, we’ve now got a snowball rolling downhill. Mississippi is thinking twice about the Confederate stars and bars in its state flag. Tennessee may remove a bust of Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest from its statehouse.

Even Walmart is pulling all Confederate-themed merchandise from its shelves. Let’s hope other retail chains follow. If racist punks with an imaginary axe to grind want to rock that rebel look, let them sew it or draw it themselves.

May this phenomenal progress continue until mentioning the Civil War in a way that implies it was anything but a horrible, embarrassing mistake labels the speaker an ignorant bigot.

Certainly, the South can keep laying flowers on the graves of its Confederate dead. It can even admire the bravery of those who gave their lives. But it can also have the decency to admit they died in a self-serving attempt to continue degrading and exploiting people who had done nothing to deserve such treatment, and any claim to the contrary is just revisionist thinking.

It’s time for the South to free itself from the shackles of its history so everyone can feel welcome here — even Karen.

 


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