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Fred Shanks for Danville City Council

With early voting now a big thing in Virginia, it increasingly seems daft to wait until this late to bother with political endorsements.  More than forty percent of Danville’s voters have already cast ballots before the first poll opens. It’s a bit like campaigning for the barn door to be locked after the horse has escaped.

But I will forge ahead with an endorsement in a Special Danville City Council election.  This is for the remaining two years of former Councilman Adam Tomer’s term.  He moved from the area this summer.

There are three candidates for the seat.  Former Councilman Fred Shanks and political newcomers Bryant Hood and Petrina Carter.

***CAVEAT*** My media company, CVip Media Solutions, has done extensive work for the Shanks campaign.  Use that to produced whatever-sized grain of salt you like.

I can say with 100% certainty that my endorsement would not change even if this were NOT the case.  As a reporter and a more-than-interested observer, I have been following Danville City Council closely since the late 1980s.  I cannot think of a period where Council is more in need of an internal watchdog.

For years, the venerable Stokes Daniels served that purpose.  He meant quite a few 8-1 votes.  But even in losing some votes he was always successful in getting his point across.  He reminded Council constantly that they were not spending THEIR money.  It was THE PEOPLE’S money.  This seems like an elementary thing, but it is not.  I’ve seen it happen to MANY fiscal conservatives who get elected to Council.  Making the numbers add up is a constant struggle.  And if you keep your nose in the books long enough, it is tempting to begin attaching a personal connection to the numbers, forgetting that it’s not yours.  Daniel was a constant reminder of that.  As a result, Danville developed a reputation for writing and passing mostly lean budgets.

When Daniels retired, we were blessed to get another watchdog to fill his role.  Fred Shanks brought the wisdom and experience gained from running a small business, but he also brought Daniels’ budgetary ferocity. 

Yes, most of Danville was pleased when we were able to spend money on significant projects, like a new Fire Headquarters.  But it was Shanks who constantly insisted that we could get the job done without building (in his words) a “Taj Mahal.”  There is no doubt that the new fire headquarters looks VERY nice.  Because people see that, they denigrate the person who did NOT support it.  Shanks’ opposition was over the finances, not the idea.  Shanks knew this stance would make him unpopular.  He didn’t care.  After all, it is the PEOPLE’S money.

Shanks brought one of the more unique perspectives that Council had seen in some time.  In addition to his business experience, the *nature* of his business gave him keen insight into zoning laws and regulations.  It was a natural for someone who had also spent a dozen years on the Planning Commission.  It was VERY nice to have that expertise on Council.

Shanks knew that making hard budget calls and having to say “no” on more than one occasion could cost him support…both at the polls and in Council Chambers.  Some members bristled at his constant barrage of questions, and his unwillingness to instantly accept that their proposal was the greatest idea a human being had ever developed.  He didn’t care.  After all, it is the PEOPLE’s Council.

Since Shanks lost his re-election bid in May, we have gotten a sneak peek at how Council operates without sufficient internal controls.  It is not pretty.  Shanks had been off of Council for less than a day when they began.  After the Mayor assured the public that there would be an open and transparent process for selecting an interim Council member, Council suddenly announced in open session that they had found their guy.  No public hearings—no nominations—not even a WORD of input was allowed from the people.  They immediately began secret meetings and settled on a choice.  That was a slap in the face to the people of Danville.  That is a government body behaving in a contemptuous way towards those they serve.

We saw further evidence last month when Council approved an agreement to build a new police headquarters at the former Dan River Executive Building campus on West Main.  Despite this being a crucial decision about a significant use of public dollars and resources, there was no formal public input taken.  Just a couple of hastily-made speeches before Council took the final vote.  Again, they are supposed to serve US.  Their recent actions suggest they see the relationship in a completey opposite manner.

This is one of the potential pratfalls of a government entity that forgets it’s purpose.  That is when the members themselves need to step up and self-police, to make sure the body does not continue acting in a cavalier manner.  Right now, there is only one member I have any confidence of doing such a thing.  But Madison Whittle is just one person.  The rest of the Council is populated by people who see municipal government as a great tool with which to do things.  That doesn’t make them bad people, but people like that who operate without sufficient internal checks are almost always going to behave the way Council has the past few months.  They are going to do big things and make big decisions withOUT going through the laborsome process of listening to too many people.

I have met Bryant Hood and respect him.  I have not met Petrina Carter, but people I respect say VERY good things about her.  I have no doubt either could serve well on Danville City Council.  But right now, I think we need something else. Something more.

We need a Councilman who is going to remind this panel (again) who they work for and why.  A Councilman who is going to demand open sessions and public input at every opportunity.  A Councilman who is, on occasion, going to say “no.” A Councilman who has an unrivaled love of this city and its people.  A Councilman who brings one of the most impressive municipal resumes you will ever see.  A Councilman who has met a payroll, laid out a zoning plot, negotiated utility rates, recruited industry and made hard budget choices without worrying about popularity.

We need Fred Shanks on Danville City Council.  And we need him NOW.

CCS Endorsement: Matt Bell, Chatham Town Council

Chuck’s Common Sense usually doesn’t invest much energy in making endorsements in Town Council races.  Because of the small scope of such bodies, the kind of bribes I insist upon for my coveted support are shamefully small.  I mean really…you want me to base endorsements on actual things like issues and politics!??  HARUMPH

At any rate, I will do just that in this year’s Chatham Town Council race.  Matt Bell is running a write-in campaign for one of the seats.  It was announced late in the season, after an incumbent decided not to return.  That would have meant one fewer candidate on the ballot than open seats.

I first met Matt about 12 years ago while working news at WBTM/WAKG.  At the time he was an enterprising college student who had done some VERY interesting and exhaustive research into Dan River Mills.  One quickly saw the intelligence, fused with passion.  THAT is a winning combination.

I also took pity on a college student who loved the Atlanta Braves by “loaning” him my MLB Subscription password.  Don’t worry, Matt.  The statute of limitations is up on that.

After graduation, Matt continued to follow his passion.  When he became interested in photography, he quickly became one of the best in the area.  (See picture for proof) His sports work was particularly noteworthy.  His pictures graced the pages of the Danville Register and Bee. Matt won awards for his NEWS photography.

But Matt’s interests were broader.  He eventually became a full-fledged reporter, covering his new hometown of Chatham.  Like with photography, he quickly became a pro—one of the best in the area at what he did. Like I said earlier, when you combine talent and passion, you get success.

In terms of policies, Matt is as practical as you would expect from someone who has impressed me.  He realizes municipal infrastructure is crucial to creating the springboard from which REAL improvements can occur.  If you are constantly addressing issues with your backbone, the rest of your body will suffer.

Matt is a hopeless sports fan.  That should be enough to vote for him right there.  But through that he realizes that there is a very real economic impact from having a vibrant and thriving High School and children’s sports system.  It brings people to town.  It brings *excitement* to town.

Matt wants to re-kindle Chatham’s bucolic town center.  He says the opportunities are bountiful. And he says they must involve things beyond county government in order to be truly effective.

Matt realizes that while Town Council’s authority stops at the Town Limits sign, their interests do not.  He is VERY keen on forming partnerships with the County, and with private entities nearby to make sure the people of Chatham benefit.  Helping people comes in more forms than just jobs.  Often it is a series of smaller things that leads to a better quality of life.

Matt’s fusing of his formidable talent and passion have already produced outstanding results.  Now that his talent and passion is focusing on municipal government, the winners will be the town of Chatham.

It is with unbridled enthusiasm that CCS endorses Matt Bell’s write-in campaign for Chatham Town Council.

Now about those Detroit Tigers jokes….

Send a message. Write in Denver

Well the latest in my semi-annual series of endorsements from Chuck’s Common Sense is likely gong to piss off a lot of people who otherwise hold a good opinion of me.  I’ll teach ya! (grin)

Things were anything but normal this election cycle in Virginia’s 5th Congressional district.  Two years ago, voters approved a political newcomer, Republican Denver Riggleman, to replace former Congressman Tom Garrett.

Those who know me know that I take a dim view of politicians in general.  That’s why I was so surprised when I found myself subconsciously cheering as Riggleman went about his work.  He teased us in 2018 that he had a “libertarian streak.”  Turns out that was an entire swath!  Every position he took seemed to take the position that the smaller government was, the better for the rest of us.  He was a tireless supporter of small business and a tireless opponent of those who wanted to use the unchecked power of the federal government to dictate policy that impacted the day-to-day lives of most people.

In short—he was the first bonafide, honest-to-God Free Market libertarian we had seen in some time from this area.  He quickly endeared himself to me and other like-minded folks.

The problem with us libertarians is this.  We are free thinkers.  We do things to maximize individual liberty, and we don’t give a damn what others think. If you like the idea of using the power of government to sanction people who disagree, you will not like us for long.

In 2019, Riggleman officiated a wedding ceremony where two of his campaign officials got married.  They were two guys.  Of course the legality of gay marriage has long since been settled.  But the stubborn Bible-thumping, fire-and-brimstone, hate-fueled subset of the Republican Party could not abide such an affront.  They began pushing back against Riggleman and suggesting a primary challenge.

Like I said, free thinkers have a maddening tendency to tell people to self-fornicate when they suggest they are upsetting the status quo.  So it was with Riggleman.  His naysayers quickly glommed on to the fact that he did NOT kiss President Trump’s pinky ring with *quite* enough gusto. Yes.  Riggleman committed the unforgivable sin of pointing out that some of the things Trump did and said were pretty damned stupid.  He also praised the President when he did actual *conservative* things; like trim regulations and appoint originalist judges.  But no.  To the tribalist GOP leaders anything about from 100% acquiescence to the Glory of Trump was viewed as apostasy. 

The tribalists were able to cover their opposition with accusations of “not listening to his base.”  No.  The only reason there was a primary challenge for Riggleman was because he officiated a gay marriage.  That is IT. It was not his style, his politics or anything else.  It was because he did not share the hatred that far too many Republicans still hold for gay people.  To Riggleman’s everlasting credit, he did not try to distance himself from this.  He basically said, “Yea…I did it.  Your move.”

Acting like you would expect small-minded people to act, the Republicans nominated an empty suit named Bob Good to take up their banner.  His Liberty U creds ensured the GOP faithful that they would NEVER have to worry about him doing anything crazy like recognizing the humanity of people with whom he disagreed.  No.  He checked all of the boxes. Jerry Falwell Jr. would look away from his poolboy long enough to nod his head.

Unfortunately, the Republican nomination process confirmed for the umpteenth time why I do NOT identify as a Republican.  There are evidently enough hate-filled people left in the party to carry a nomination battle.  Good won. With room to spare.  So be it.

Good is going up against Democratic nominee Dr. Cameron Webb.  He seems like a swell guy.  Seriously.  He seems like someone I would like to talk to.  Unfortunately he holds most of the main orthodox Democratic views on crucial issues like Gun Rights.  He also seems to fall under the predictable Democratic trope that the answer to any and all problems is more government.  That makes him 100% unacceptable.  Sorry.

Without a candidate to support I will do the only thing I know to do.  I will write in Denver Riggleman in this year’s Fifth District Congressional race.  He will not win.  I know that.  I have voted MANY times for candidates I knew had no shot at victory.

My only hope is to send a message.  To the Republicans in the fifth district who railroaded someone (unlike your boy) who actually wants to DECREASE the size of the Federal Government and lessen it’s influence in your day-to-day lives.  Hopefully this will send a message loud and clear.  We are NOT going to vote for any vapid collection of atoms with “R” next to their name.  I didn’t do it with Ken Cuccinelli.  I didn’t do it with Corey Stewart.  And I won’t do it with Bob Good. 

It takes quite a bit of effort to turn a reliably red Congressional district blue.  But the Republican gentry in the 5th district has parlayed raw hatred and cavalier stances into a formidable witch’s brew this year.  At some point you WILL learn the lesson.  If not this time, perhaps next time.

Casino: Yes or No? Are you kidding me?

           

I cannot imagine a more obvious choice being on the ballot in the form of a referendum.

         Earlier this year, the Virginia General Assembly passed a measure allowing three economically-disadvantaged localities to vote on the possibility of allowing a casino to open in their borders.  Unfortunately, this is a list that Danville is all-too-accustomed to occupying.

            The question is simple.  Do the voters of Danville approve or disapprove of a proposal by Caesar’s Entertainment to build a casino and resort center at the site of the former Dan River Factory in Schoolfield?  The company plans to invest 400 million dollars and create 1,300 new jobs.  That does not include an estimated 850 construction jobs.  Ceasar’s will give Danville 25 million dollars up front if the vote passes.  Once running at full capacity, Caesar’s estimates annual municipal tax payments to the city of 38 million dollars.  That would account for more than a fourth of the current budget.

            Michael Jordan has never had an easier layup than this.  Tiger Woods has never had a simpler tap-in.  The numbers fall under the old, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” cautionary tale.  But the numbers are legit.

            The biggest number to consider is zero.  That is the amount of direct monetary municipal support that Danville is promising Caesar’s.  If we were putting up eight million, like we did with the Coleman Marketplace; then we could have a robust debate about whether the investment is worth it—short term AND long term.  But we’re not.  So the only debate we’re left with is what shirt do we want to wear on Tuesday to go to the polls and vote “yes.”  Of course many of you have already voted this year.  I’m not crazy about that, but that’s a blog post for another day.

            But in a city that has turned negative self-image into a lifestyle, the naysayers emerged.  Despite overwhelming mathematical and other evidence, they dialed their sour setting to “11” and surged onward.  20th District State Senator Bill Stanley, who has disappointed me more times than I care to remember, cautioned our region against putting all hopes for our economic recovery on a casino. So much for being with the party of Jobs and Economic Development.

            There is nothing in this that suggests we are pushing all of our chips in on this venture.  (WHOA, he’s clever!).  Supporting the casino doesn’t come at the expense of all other economic development efforts. We will continue to recruit (and attract) high-end manufacturing jobs to Danville in order to take advantage of the superb training infrastructure that’s been developed at Danville Community College.

            There are, of course, the moral objections over a casino.  There is no way that can be debated.  We can debate facts, but not feelings.  If you feel a casino is evil, there is nothing I will do or say to change your mind.  Let’s move on.

            One of my favorite faux-concerns is that the presence of a casino will increase the number of problem gamblers in Danville.  If you believe this, then your logic will force you to also conclude that recruiting a Ruth’s Chris Steak House to Danville will increase local obesity rates.  Or that a new microbrewery will send alcoholism through the roof.  I am terribly sorry.  A study that shows a 20% increase in problem gambling in Bugtussle-Arkansas after a casino opened does NOT translate into an inevitable increase in Danville.  It simply does not, no matter how many times you cut-and-paste it.

            Gentrification might be the funniest argument of them all.  Seriously.  Think about it. Espousing that concern means you could NEVER support something that increases the local tax base, because SOMEONE’S property values might go up.  I hope you can see how deliciously moronic this would be. 

            A slightly more legitimate concern is the thought that the casino will bring a crime wave to Danville not seen since the last Martin Scorcese feature film.  Casinos have legendary security procedures, so the concern must be that crime in the community will go up with all these folks walking around with cash—or with the problem gamblers knocking off convenience stores to get 50 bucks to blow playing Keno. 

Well, we already have a fair amount of that, thank you very much, with nothing more than the state lottery and those shady machines you see at the local Quick Mart.  Do you know what the number one predictor of crime is?  It is poverty.  There are VERY few examples of a locality lowering their poverty rates while concurrently suffering from an increase in crime. 

Also consider that the casino is only a portion of this proposal.  It also includes a large hotel, resort facilities, and a civic center.  I am 52 years old.  The desire for an honest-to-God Civic Center in Danville goes back many decades.  Most of the previous proposals had the city government building it.  You can see what that might be a problem for Joe and Jane Taxpayer. Well, here we have that coveted civic center—coming in tax free.  That is a good deal.  No, it is a GREAT deal.

            Another popular argument is that Caesar’s will NOT invest 400 million dollars and will NOT employ 1,300 people.  Well that is pure, groundless speculation—the kind that is essential for opposing something this obvious.  But for the sake of argument, let’s grant this.  Let’s say the casino only spends 300 million dollars and only hires a thousand workers.   Explain to me why this would be a BAD thing.  Then I want you to tell me what other economic venture in the last 50 years has delivered similar numbers. You won’t need more than one hand to count them.

            Math is math.  Before the first shovelful of dirt is even turned on a casino, the city will get 25 million dollars from Caesar’s.  Guaranteed.  If Caesar’s wins the referendum on November 3rd, then changes their minds on November 4th, we STILL get 25 million dollars.

            So that is your initial baseline.  You have to convince me that a casino will do 25 million dollars of economic and social damage in order to outweigh the good.  Go ahead.  Give it a shot.  Can’t do it?  No surprise.  Now imagine having to make that same justification based on annual estimated municipal taxes of 38 million dollars.  Every single year.  (“But they’ll never bring that kind of money in!!”)  OK then.  Same challenge applies if they average only 25 million tax dollars a year.  You STILL cannot do it.

Another argument stepped heavily in weak sauce and desperation is that Caesars’ plans to market outside the area are doomed—that the vast majority of players will come from the Danville area—and thus we will be the ones with all of the inevitable gambling zombies roaming the landscape.  Be honest.  What economic sense would it make for Caesar’s to build a casino here, if they thought 90% of the players would be locals?  That would not even BEGIN to justify the size they are considering.

            There is one more thing to consider.  Right now we have a massive eyesore on West Main Street.  The remnants of the once-mighty Dan River Mills is an excellent visual demonstration to the economic changes we’ve endured in the city, but I see no compelling reason to have to keep looking at it.  Now then, what exactly could that site be used for?  Whatever your answer(s) may be, ask yourself—why hasn’t that already happened?

            The ironic part of all this is that I will likely be the LAST person that darkens the door of this casino.  The allure of gambling is completely lost on me.  I’m also good at math.  I already have many other things I spend money on that bring me joy.  But I can NOT deny these numbers.

            If you had a chance to vote on another Goodyear plant, would you approve it?  Of course you would.  And unlike with other major economic ventures, this casino brings with it NO environmental concerns and no need for decades-long Environmental Impact Statement from the Army Corps of Engineers.

            It is rare that We The People get such a direct say in a venture that could have such an impact on their area.  Usually such calls are left entirely in the hands of lawyers, politicians, bankers and others in the elite.  Well folks, this is our chance.  We can behave like Danville leaders did sixty years ago and bow to worries about “what if” and oppose a Danville path for Route 85… OR … we could take this bold step and give us a platform from which we bring even BETTER things to our city.

            Tell the Negative Nannies we’ve heard enough.  Vote YES on the casino referendum Tuesday November third.

Fill The Seat

For someone with strong political opinions, I have been amazingly resistant to becoming embroiled in party-based squabbles.  Being a Constitutional Libertarian usually results in siding with the GOP on several issues—but not always. Without that strong loyalty, I am content to sit on the sidelines while the two parties bicker about those issues that are NOT of concern to anyone outside of the party.

I had a Virginia State Senator tell me years ago that the most partisan process in Richmond was redistricting.  He says the two sides usually got along well enough on other issues…but redistricting was the Rubicon.  It was a no-holds-barred bloodsport where the victors (the majority party) got ALL of the spoils. There is no runner-up trophy when it comes to drawing political boundaries…and the advantages it offers are obvious.

I would imagine the Congressional equivalent of this bloodsport has become Supreme Court nominations. And we are about to see the latest evidence following this weekend’s death of long-time Associate Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg. (pictured)

Under the original design of our government, the Supreme Court is the most powerful component of the Judicial Branch.  But over the past few generations it has become MUCH more.  As Congress has abdicated more and more of their authority, SCOTUS (and the Executive Branch) has gained power.  Those who want to make significant changes have learned it is very hard to get that accomplished in something as big and unwieldy as Congress.  It is MUCH easier to get five out of nine justices to agree with you.

That growing SCOTUS power has been the backdrop of efforts the past few decades to make sure agreeable justices were occupying those nine seats. And those efforts have becoming increasingly more bitter and partisan.

For most of the history of this nation, Supreme Court confirmation hearings and votes were largely perfunctory, uneventful affairs.  There were noticeable exceptions; but for the most part nominees were approved unless there were obvious red flags.

That began changing during the age of Reagan.  Robert Bork was nominated to the court in 1987.  But Democrats were afraid that he would be hostile to some of the landmark court decisions.  He was defeated.  The reprehensible Sen. Ted Kennedy delivered one of the most uncalled-for summations in the history of the Senate:

“Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is—and is often the only—protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy”

 In the process, the verb “to Bork” was born.  The Oxford English Dictionary defines it:

“To defame or vilify (a person) systematically, esp. in the mass media, usually with the aim of preventing his or her appointment to public office; to obstruct or thwart (a person) in this way.”

Bork’s treatment ushered in a new era of scrutiny for Supreme Court nominees.  Four years later, Democrats upped the ante in the nomination of Clarence Thomas.  A shocked nation listened as august Senators began asking questions about pubic hairs and the like.  In short, the SCOTUS nomination process had become a slightly more dignified episode of Jerry Springer. 

But curiously this seemed only to apply to Republican Presidential nominees.  Those made by Democrats (Kagan, Sotonayor, Ginsberg) were largely uneventful.

Below is a list of SCOTUS nominees, following by the hours used during their confirmation hearings, and the number of questions asked.

1981   Sandra Day O’Connor        12         8
1987   Robert Bork(NC)                  30        15
1987   Anthony Kennedy               11        47
1990   David Souter                         20         4
1991   Clarence Thomas                 25        18
1993   Ruth Bader Ginsburg          20        20
1994   Stephen Breyer                    20         5
2005   John Roberts(CJ)                 20        231
2017   Neil Gorsuch                         20        324
2018   Brett Kavanaugh                  48      1,278

You don’t need to have a good memory to harken back a couple of years ago to the Brett Kavanaugh hearings.  At the risk of utilizing hyperbole, I will say that it was a low point in the history of US politics.  Senate Democrats tried to ruin the life and reputation of a man without a SHRED of contemporary corroborating evidence.  Their stenographers in the media dutifully amplified every allegation, each more outlandish than the previous one.  Even as the claims stretched the limits of incredulity the attempts to smear continued unabated.  I will never forget it.

With that in mind, I ask myself today that if the party roles were reversed, would Democrats listen to the better angels of their nature and forego an attempt to nominate a justice while they had the White House and a Senate majority.  And then I begin laughing heartily.  We know the answer.  This party was willing to metaphorically murder a nominee in 2018 whose only provable sin was disagreeing with them.  Democrats have abundantly demonstrated there is NOTHING they won’t do in order to maintain control of the Supreme Court.

Democrats…it was YOU that turned SCOTUS nominations into a winner-takes-all bloodsport. YOU are the ones who ended all expectations of comity & compromise. You went scorched Earth on Kavanaugh.  And NOW you’re asking for restraint?

Quite often I am an interested but uninvolved observer of partisan bickering on Capitol Hill.  Without a party I don’t have a dog in the hunt.  But I will say this for Republicans.  Their track record on approving judges with originalist views on the Constitution is FAR superior to Democrats.  And as someone who views the Constitution like a Christian views the Bible, that is important to me.

Piss off, Democrats.  Enjoy Associate Justice Barrett.

Absolutely Unacceptable

I am the furthest thing from a prude you will find.  I have become legendary for telling off-color jokes, getting away with casual profanity and saying controversial things because I am addicted to freedom.  Freedom for everyone. I think anything goes—so long as there is consent.  11-year old girls are not able to give consent.  Period.  End of story.

Netflix this week debuted the film “Cuties.”  It depicts the lives of 11-year old French girls living in what appears to be a hellish underground for little girls that are targeted for sexual displays.  But it is not the cinematography or writing that is the subject of concern.  It is the fact that the film utilizes ACTUAL 11-year old girls to convey the story.  That’s right.  They hope to shine a light on child sexual exploitation—by sexually exploiting children.

This is a bit like torturing an animal in front of people, filming it, and calling it social commentary on animal abuse.  We would NOT accept this as a society.  So why are we willing to turn a blind eye here? 

“Schindler’s List” was able to accurately portray the horrible treatment of Jews during WWII without actually harming Jews.  Several movies have graphically displayed the horrors of drug abuse without forcing the actors to actually shoot up heroin.  Really—it’s not that difficult.

I cheerfully stipulate that porn is often in the eye of the beholder.  What one sees as porn the other may view as passionate or creative coitus. But I will accept NO nuance when we are talking about little girls being involved.  I am NOT going to share the infamous clip that is making the rounds.  You’ll have to find it for yourselves.

The most alarming part of all this is the number of people defending this.  I can handle dissenting opinions.  But I must say I had hoped that something this egregious would be one of those rare instances where political and social differences would not matter.  That we could look at something so clearly wrong and say “that’s wrong.”

Wrong again, Chuck.

I cannot believe we have gotten to the point where I would have to defend a position that states 11-year old girls should NOT be baring their breasts in a sexually provocative manner while performing the equivalent of a pole dance in front of hundreds of adults. Never did I think I would have to explain why it is wrong for little girls to stroke their private parts and simulate BDSM during the course of a dance.  But here we are.

As a reporter, I can remember covering several trials where the accused had images of children on their computer.  We were not shown the images (nor was I interested in seeing them) but the courtroom was told the children were partially or fully naked, and pictured in sexual poses.  The defendants were found guilty.  Who knew that they could have packaged it as a movie and claimed he was “fighting” child sexual exploitation.  They would have gotten a 90% review on Rotten Tomatoes, just like “Cuties” did.  (fact)


2020 has impacted me as much as anyone else in terms of sapping joy out of my soul.  But the sheer number of people who are trying to tell me the sexualization of 11-year old girls is “Ackshually OK” is driving me mad.  I am going to say or do something very soon that might get me in trouble. I am a consistent and jealous defender of Free Speech.  But that only pertains to adults offering consent.  I am honestly distressed that I would have to include such an obvious caveat. 

If you are struggling to come up with ways to explain or defend this movie, do us both a favor and block or unfollow me right now.  Seriously—I have no desire to interact with someone who seeks to defend child pornography.  Add *that* to the growing list of things I never thought I would have to say.

Fact Check Follies (again)

Earlier this week, President Trump and others pointed out the latest 180-degree pivot from Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Kamala Harris.  After polling data showed that the riots were not “playing well” with middle America, Democrats pulled muscles to find the nearest microphone to “condemn the violence.”

Trump and the others pointed out that this was at odds with Harris’ efforts just a few weeks ago to promote and contribute to a fund that bailed out protestors arrested during the original round of riots in Minneapolis.

Seems straight-forward enough, right?  Not so fast!  FACT-CHECKERS TO THE RESCUE.  The reliably-mediocre Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post broke away briefly from his DNC video conference to publish this dreck.  In it, he defends Harris by pointing out that while Harris DID tweet support for a bail fund, the money didn’t just assist protesters.

Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen to another round of Fact Check Follies…the show where we demonstrate that the beknighted Fact Checking community is just bias by another name.

That’s it.  That’s the defense.  That, according to the ever-so-neutral Kessler is enough to rate this claim “unrated.”  What courage.  Kessler couldn’t toss away his last remaining microsliver of credibility by giving this even a single “Pinocchio.”   He should have just gone ahead and rated it, “true, but not really because a Republican said it.”

Kessler admits Harris supported a bail fund for people arrested during declared riots—but he throws in a meaningless extra detail that is supposed to somewhat mitigate the claim.  Wow. “Journalism Dies In Darkness,” indeed.

I point all this out for one main reason.  There are an alarming number of people who treat “fact-checkers” as the last word in any debate.  They are seen as a mic drop/slam dunk/irrefutable resolution to any and all disputes.  There is a reason that the vast majority of those who feel this way are left-of-center.  That’s because the mainstream media outlets who routinely deploy their “fact checking brigade” are simply utilizing an extension of the outlet’s own bias—often precipitously to the left.

And for the umpteenth time—they have every right to do that.  But I also have the right—I would say an *obligation* to remind people that the saintly fact-checkers are often shrouded activists going by another name.

Yes…we live in the Golden Age of “Fact-Checking.”  Except when the subject is someone the mainstream media is fond of.  Then they instantly become collectively incurious—offering nothing but grace, equivocation and endless benefit of the doubt.  The ‘fact-checking’ genre is little more than opinion writing and activism masquerading as impartial reporting.

Think about this when you slap down a Snopes link in the middle of a date and act like you just hit a walk-off homer. 

Black Lives Matter: The Concept vs. The Movement

blmThis might prove unpopular, but I think it is URGENT that we make a distinction between Black Lives Matter-The Concept and Black Lives Matter-The Movement.
 
The concept that Black Lives Matter should be universally agreed to. Under which circumstances should black lives NOT matter? This is a no-brainer, if you possess even an ounce of humanity.
 
But Black Lives Matter-The Movement is a different animal. On their website the group that has formed and grown over the past several years lists it’s goals. Several are reasonable goals about equal protection under the law, justice and so forth. But they go WELL beyond your typical concern over race relations.
 
A lot of it is borderline social Marxism.
“We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”
 
This is Hillary’s “It takes a village” concept taken to the nth degree. They also want to “free ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking.” If someone could explain how this view improves Black people and their experience I would love to hear it.
 
I point all this out to say this. None of their views are evil. It’s actually boilerplate modern progressivism. But because they are packaging it under the rubric of “Black Lives Matter,” they are able to say that if you disagree with their goals then you must think that Black Lives do NOT matter. That, of course, is nonsense on steroids. In a society that promoted responses over reactions, such a puerile observation would be laughed out of existence. But that is not our society. We unfortunately operate from the assumption that feelings are facts. And we will let them get away with this.
 
This is the same gambit some have used recently to equate policy disagreements with former President Obama as “racist.” Or policy disagreements with Hillary Clinton as “misogynist.” Or that if you disagree with the tactics of AntiFa you must be PRO fascist.
 
It is a frustrating thing to witness. Because the casualties are honesty, productive debate, collective intelligence and basic manners.

We were “corona-duped”

As horrible as the riots and looting has been over the past few weeks they have served a purpose—and more than just the obvious.

 

For one it has likely ended the gun control debate for the short term.  It is exceedingly difficult to fault someone for thinking they need a little firepower after witnessing the way police disappeared when confronted with a REAL threat.

 

safe-unsafeBut more importantly, it has exposed some uncomfortable truths about those who have been the most vocal about taking strict social control measures to thwart the spread of COVID-19.  Their relative silence this past week shows that most of their concern had little to do with health.  It had more to do with controlling the behavior of others.

 

From the get-go I have said that the numbers on this did NOT suggest a draconian solution.  No I am not a doctor or an epidemiologist…but I CAN think, reason and judge.  It appeared that this was going to have a mortality rate in the 1-2% range…at worst.  But fear is a powerful emotion.  And people had a generous amount of fear drilled into them for several weeks—enough to where they were willing to do just about ANYTHING to slay this dragon that had been created.

 

Now, the very same people who called lockdown protestors “granny killers” (or worse) have been bending over backwards this week to support the protests.  Supporting the protests is not the issue.  The issue is supporting them so soon after you excoriated people for doing the EXACT same thing in terms of social distancing.

 

If your argument is that the protestors have weighed the risks and decided that it is worth it in order to protest, that’s fine…but you are missing the point. Many of us thought it was worth the risk to attend a loved one’s funeral, or to go to work, attend a church service, get our hair cut, or to do a thousand other innocuous things. But we weren’t allowed to — because of the same people who are now ignoring whatever health risks the protests have created.  They are letting protesters do what they denied to us for three months—the ability to do or NOT do something, based on the risks as you weigh them.

 

There are a lot of risks people would have been willing to take over the past three months to do certain things, but we were told we could not because it would have put others at risk.  Are those protestors not putting others at risk?  No they’re not.  But then again, our going to the hair salon or to church would not have put anyone at risk three weeks ago.  You were lying about the problem—you needlessly exaggerated it in order to make yourself feel essential and important.  You overplayed the risks so you could look like a great savior.

 

And what about those of you who have been good little soldiers?  Who have done exactly what government asked of you for the past three months—no matter how much it hurt.  No matter how much it impacted your bank account?  Don’t you feel even a LITTLE pissed now that Government leaders are suddenly saying that standing shoulder-to-shoulder, sweating and breathing on each other is no big deal?   Do you feel as though you’ve been played for a fool?

 

People made major sacrifices to fight the spread of Coronavirus. Now, the same people who demanded those sacrifices tell us they are suddenly NOT a priority.  If this sounds like a sickening double-standard, that’s because it is.  The ONLY thing that has changed in the past few weeks is that THIS round of protests you agree with…the other you did not.  Really…that’s all there is to it.

 

In short, we’ve been deceived.  We destroyed the economy and millions of peoples’ lives and livelihoods for nothing.  People who get a REAL charge out of being able to dictate the behaviors of others have used this as a pretense to feel relevant and powerful.  These are bad people.  Unfortunately, I fear too many people will bend over and meekly accept whatever these people say the next time they use fear to fill in the blanks of the unknown.

Another well-educated dumbass

harvardA piece published Friday in Harvard Magazine is the latest salvo fired in the left’s never-ending battle against homeschooling.  This battle has picked up steam in the past few weeks with millions of Americans becoming involuntary homeschoolers.  However this new article in the august journal makes no mention at all of COVID-19 when it talks about the risk of homeschooling.  In short, Professor Elizabeth Bartholet argues for a “presumptive ban” on homeschooling.

I’ll take on her points one-by-one.

“Homeschooling not only violates children’s right to a “meaningful education” and their right to be protected from potential child abuse, but may keep them from contributing positively to a democratic society.

Two things.  Number one, there is no “right” to a meaningful education.  Nor to ANY education.  Just because something is a good idea does not make it a “right.”  Educations have to be provided.  If it is a “right,” then you are also assuming the right to conscript teachers to perform this service for whatever you decide to pay them—if you decide to pay them at all.  A lot of government mischief has come about because of the misattribution of “right” status to things that are simply “desirable.”

Secondly, her assertion that putting kids in schools protects them from child abuse is silly beyond belief.  If a child has abusive parents their chances of being abused does NOT increase if they are being homeschooled.  This is a college professor, folks.

“We have an essentially unregulated regime in the area of homeschooling, if you look at the legal regime governing homeschooling, there are very few requirements that parents do anything.”

Well, Brainiac I can tell you that in Virginia we are required to have our children periodically be tested to make sure they have mastered basic skills.  Ours have passed these ridiculously easy tests with flying colors.  My 13-year old autistic son recently observed, “Why I am taking a test for little children?”  They both scored in the upper-90 percentiles.  (Dad Brag).

Apart from that, why should you be concerned about the *manner* in which my kids are educated?  If they have the basic skills, what else do you need to know? Our journeys may take different routes, but if we arrive at the same destination, what’s the problem?

“Surveys of homeschoolers show that a majority of such families (by some estimates, up to 90 percent) are driven by conservative Christian beliefs, and seek to remove their children from mainstream culture. Some of these parents are extreme religious ideologues who question science and promote female subservience and white supremacy.”

And there we have it.  It is DANGEROUS for Christians to be able to educate their children in a non-secular environment!  Why they might miss out on Drag Queen Story Reading Time for pre-schoolers; or Middle School Teachers passing along vital information like demonstrating how to put a condom on a banana!  Homeschooling also means there’s also virtually no chance kids can be suspended for eating a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun.

It is also instructive that a word search on her other published material produced no similar concerns from the good professor on Muslim parents homeschooling their children.  Weird.

Hey, professor!  Surveys ALSO show homeschooled children routinely have higher test scores, lower rates of teenage pregnancy and drug use, along with better performance at college and universities.  We wouldn’t want any of THAT would we?

In public schools, Karens like Bartholet can better ensure that “children grow up exposed to community values, social values, democratic values, ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people’s viewpoints.”

Ah yes…tolerance of other people’s viewpoints.  Unless they’re Christian homeschoolers.  Spare me.

“Many of these parents have authoritarian control over their children. It’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.

Oh the irony.  So what the ever-so-smart professor is saying is that the burden of proof should be on parents to get permission to homeschool from the government.  Well she is only 100% wrong.  Our children don’t belong to the government.  The only way you think this way is if you believe that children actually belong to the State.

The bottom-line issue is the same as it ever was. Control. Those of the liberal persuasion (and those who already are in positions of authority) require a populace that is JUST smart enough to contribute, but without possessing any pesky intellectual curiosity. Their ideas work best when people think feelings are a substitute for thought…when people react rather than respond…and when people don’t ask “Why” too much.

I think this decades-old quote from one of my favorite pundits still applies today.

“I Would Rather Be Governed By the First 2,000 People in the Telephone Directory than by the Harvard University Faculty.” – William F. Buckley Jr.

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