Daily Archives: April 25, 2015

Our ever-vigilant keepers of the public order

Oh boy, a cop scandal of our very own. And thankfully, it doesn’t involve shooting someone dead on little or no pretext. Just a digital cornucopia of hate speech from one of Vermont’s Finest.

The Vermont State Police is investigating one of its own for material that the trooper posted to social media.

One of the latest Facebook posts from Cpl. Jon Graham’s personal page is an article from Right Wing News. A photo of a smashed Virgin Mary Statue. And a comment from the trooper reading, “and these animals will kill you if you speak badly of Mohammed….tolerance.”

…The posts go back years, seemingly undetected by state police. Some allegedly penning his thoughts like one from 2014, “was just behind a Prius with a Bernie Sanders 2016 sticker…oh how I wanted to spin her vehicle out.”

Others make comments about actual crimes, “Officer involved shooting in Windsor tonight…officer okay…scumbag in hospital…as it should be.”

More specifics in a moment. First, though, a couple of notes that cut to the heart of the problem.

— Graham has been a state trooper for 15 years.

— He’s been posting hateful, racist, sexist stuff on Facebook for years. And his bosses never noticed?
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The Eternal General Strikes Back (Warning: SATIRE)

Y'know, this picture works with almost any song lyric.

Y’know, this picture works with almost any song lyric.

Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell, having come under intense criticism for his handling of campaign finance prosecutions and his own questionable compliance with the law, came out in true Two-Fisted Attorney General fashion late Friday.

(Warning: SATIRE.)

In a hastily-called news conference, Sorrell announced the filing of several new accusations against Dean Corren, last year’s Democratic and Progressive candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

Sorrell had previously charged Corren with violating the state’s public financing law by accepting tangible assistance from the Democratic Party, namely an email blast with an estimated value of $255. Sorrell’s proposed punishment for this crime: a total of $72,000 in fines and reimbursements.

“I have been accused of excessive zeal in this prosecution,” said Sorrell, a brace of assistant and deputy Attorneys General forming a semi-circle behind him. “To the contrary, I have uncovered even more violations by Mr. Corren. Taken together, they paint a clear and unmistakable picture of a rogue campaign.”

Among the new charges against Corren:

— At a Democratic State Committee meeting, Corren sneezed and a party official loaned him a handkerchief. “A tissue would have been within the bounds of the law,” noted Sorrell, “but a piece of haberdashery is clearly a significant gift that Mr. Corren could have potentially used throughout the remainder of his campaign.”

(Warning: more SATIRE… after the jump.)
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RESET takes a step forward

House Bill 40, also known as the RESET bill, made it through the Senate Natural Resources Committee friday. Unscathed, for the most part.

RESET, for those just joining us, is the overhaul of Vermont’s renewable energy policy. It has already been adopted by the House. It’s got a lot of good stuff in it. For the most part, it’s been making good progress in a low-key way; with so many other Big Things on this year’s agenda, RESET has attracted little attention. Which I suspect is exactly how its supporters want it.

It has drawn some fire from the anti-renewables crowd, who want to change the siting-approval process in ways that would make it much harder to build renewables. From their point of view, that’s a good thing. My top priority is climate change, so I think it’d be a bad thing. Mostly.

The one and only anti-renewables member of the Senate Natural Resources Committee is John Rodgers, putative Democrat from the Northeast Kingdom. Generally, the Senator is very pro-business and development (he’s a cheerleader for the Bill Stenger EB-5 project), but he’s a staunch opponent of ridgeline wind who’s branching out into anti-solar as well.

Rodgers was the wild card in SNRE’s consideration of H.40. He was clearly in the minority, but he’s a persistent cuss, and he brought some amendments with him to Friday morning’s hearing.
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A good cry on the Senate floor

So David Zuckerman gave an emotional speech today.

Two days after the Vermont Senate voted to end the philosophical exemption for parents who don’t want their kids vaccinated, a senator opposed to the change delivered a tearful address about being attacked online, his father’s death and how scientific uncertainty led him to his decision.

… “I have been attacked as being anti-science, not caring for those who are less able to protect themselves and mocked for my profession as being unqualified to make informed comments,” he said.

His reference to “being attacked online” almost certainly included me. After the Senate vote, I criticized Zuckerman’s tactics in trying to derail the bill in question. I said “scientists must be laughing their asses off” at his notion of genetic testing for potential vaccine allergies. I belittled his argument that schools would lose large numbers of students, and said that Zuckerman and his allies were “grabbing at any pretext, no matter how absurd, to preserve the philosophical exemption.”

And you know what? I’m not sorry.

My language regarding the Senator doesn’t hold a candle to the rhetoric used by anti-vaxxers, who’ve accused me and other vaccine supporters of being fascists and tools of Big Pharma, among many other things. They’ve accused doctors who support vaccination — the vast majority of doctors — of being either fools or sellouts. My posts on vaccines have been written in an environment inflamed, in large measure, by those on the other side.

Also, while I’m very sorry for Zuckerman’s loss and respect how it informs his beliefs, (a) I didn’t know any of that at the time, and (b) he’s not the only one who’s suffered devastating personal losses. It happens to a lot of us. My brother would have turned 55 today if he’d lived that long. The circumstances of his death have informed my views on some current issues, but I haven’t played that card in a political debate. (Not that I blame Zuckerman for doing so; there’s a time and place for everything, and he hit his time this afternoon.)

All I could see was Zuckerman’s political effort to preserve the philosophical exemption. I thought his tactics on Wednesday were transparent and not terribly coherent. I still do.