Friday, December 23, 2011

A Good Time To Consider Changing Our Congressmen

The lovely Morgan Griffith
The continuing soap opera in the House of Representatives remains an embarrassment to every American who cares about whether we have an effective government. Next year those of us living in this small, rural area of the country have a large opportunity to make a change in it. We have three Republican Congressmen--Bob Goodlatte of the 6th District, Morgan Griffith of the 9th and Robert Hurt of the 5th--who are at the very core of the Intransigence Blockade Movement.

Goodlatte: Let's kill some horses
Each is a Republican and each is standing for re-election, Hurt and Griffith for the first time. Goodlatte, who initially ran a campaign based on term limits more than 20 years ago, shucked that little burden as soon as it came to involve him directly.

Griffith, Goodlatte and Hurt represent six votes--not three--because if they all lost, we'd be minus three Republicans, who vote "no" on nearly every piece of legislation benefiting the American middle and plus three Democrats, who would consider the merits of legislation. That's a significant swing in an election where Dems are targeting just 20 Republicans. My guess is that none of these three is among those targeted because this region is thought to be so solidly in their far right corner. I'd love to see that disproved.

Griffith and Hurt upset two of the most competent men in Congress--longtime 9th representative Rick Boucher, a paragon of Congressional competence, and Tom Perriello, one of the smartest and best equipped young people in the body. Griffith and Hurt represent two of the least competent, most radical at a time when the House votes "no" on nearly everything worthwhile and the Supreme Court tells us corporations are people, thus solidifying bribery as government policy.

Yesterday's backdown vote on the extension of the payroll tax cut, shrinking Medicare payments by 27 percent to doctors and the extension of unemployment benefits--all of which would be helpful to those without a lot of income--shows the Repubs know they are vulnerable when ignoring those who aren't rich. But it also shows what lengths the Dems must go to to enact even the simplest legislation--and only two months' worth of it--that benefits somebody other than a millionaire.

Out of focus Goodlatte with Robert Hurt
This is government on the brink and it simply won't do. When Newt Gingrich shut down the government under President Clinton, the Repubs were clobbered at the polls. Republicans now believe that because of Fox News and talk radio they are invulnerable to that kind of backlash  and so they have become increasingly reckless.

Goodlatte and Griffith have mostly run under the radar, letting Richmond's Eric Cantor serve as the mouthpiece of the radicals, but each is vulnerable based on votes, and each has an additional cross to bear: they have strongly supported the killing of wild horses in the American west more because it costs a tiny part of our budget to keep them alive than anything else. Horse lovers are not a demographic one wants to piss off and Goodlatte/Griffith are both on the equestrians' "to do" list.

We have the opportunity to demonstrate to the Republican Party that the government belongs to us, not to them and their corporate masters. It is an opportunity we don't often get and Christmas is a swell time to consider giving ourselves a thoughtful and long-lasting gift.

(Photos: Goodlatte,;  Goodlatte-Hurt photo by Lynn Mitchell,; not sure who took the Griffith photo, but looks it like his camera had horns and a spiked tail.)

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