This, ladies and germs, is Katie Parent, candidate for school board in Springfield, bragging about having “picked a fight against the district.”
Well, as long as you’ve got an open mind.
Parent has a conspiratorial view of critical race theory. She has posted messages on social media in support of the truckers’ convoy to Washington, D.C., which means she’s cool with closing down cities, being loud and obnoxious, harassing locals, and interfering with daily life. As you see above, she’s also identified herself as part of a closed Facebook group called “Vermont Against Excessive Quarantine.” So she covers the waterfront of far-right activism.
Funny thing, she doesn’t seem nearly so brave outside of her little right-wing bubbles. This week, Seven Days did a long and worthwhile story on far-right candidates for school and select boards, and Parent was one of several who did not answer requests for interviews. Braveheart!
While the bulk of our attention was focused on Dan French’s abject surrender to the Omicron variant, we got hit with a double dose of bad news regarding the equity of our justice system. Or should I say the lack thereof.
The first hit was a study showing that Black people were six times as likely to be jailed in Vermont as white people. The second was the latest installment in a series of studies showing a substantial racial disparity in traffic stops, searches and seizures. Those are, respectively, the endpoint and the beginning of the so-called “justice” system.
Can there be any doubt that we have a big problem in our law-n-order process? Can there be any doubt that Black people are getting the short end of the stick?
Well, unless your name is “John Klar,” but more on that later.
Stop me if you’ve seen this movie before. Statistics showing racial disparities are revealed. They are met with furrowed brows and Expressions of Earnest ConcernTM, along with determination to Get To The Bottom Of This. Time passes, another round of statistics is revealed, lather, rinse, repeat. Makes me tired, sad, and mad.
Now that the Olympics are over, let us return to our regularly scheduled awards for stupidity and/or obtuseness in the public sphere. Unlike Olympic champions, you won’t see these honorees standing tall and proud while their national anthem is played.
In the leadoff spot we have the Remind Me, Whose House Is This Again? Award, which goes to State Rep. Alice Emmons, for publicly pondering whether reporters should be barred from the Statehouse.
Emmons, chair of the House Corrections & Institutions Committee, is the longest-serving state lawmaker, and has a prickly attitude toward the media. I once saw her berate a reporter in front of a couple dozen people, because the reporter dared to record a committee hearing on his phone. Technically, people are supposed to check with the chair before recording, but that rule is never, ever enforced. Except when Emmons gets a bee in her bonnet. So reading this passage in VTDigger wasn’t much of a surprise:
Rep. Alice Emmons, D-Springfield, told the Joint Legislative Management Committee that while “we want to make sure the press is available to our work,” she is unsure “how that happens on their end.” She said that while it’s possible the press will be allowed to cover the Legislature in person in 2022, “they could also do it by Zoom.”
Yes, they could. But c’mon, if you’re reopening the Statehouse, you’ve got to let the reporters in. It’s a little thing called “freedom of the press.”
After the jump: A doomed attack line, a twisting of history, and the flimsiest felony,
This being midsummer in a non-election year, things are a little bit show in #vtpoliland. Or maybe there’s stuff going on, but since there are practically no reporters on the #vtpoli beat right now, we’d never find out about it.
As a result of this lack of news, this edition of the Veepies (our awards for stupidity and/or obtuseness in the public sphere) roams far afield into the realms of journalistic conflicts of interest, conservatives panicking over nothing, and even sports talk radio.
That’s where we begin. The Please Stop Talking About Something You Know Nothing About Award goes to Rich and Arnie, co-hosts of the afternoon talk show on Burlington’s 101.3 The Game. On Tuesday afternoon, the day Simone Biles withdrew from the team gymnastics competition, the boys pulled down their pants and showed their asses for all to see. (The show is archived on the station’s website and podcast.)
Arnie repeatedly referred to BIles’ mental health crisis as “having a bad day,” and accused Biles of costing her team the gold medal. Rich questioned “the timing” of her withdrawal, and asked, “Was she having a bad day first, or was she having a bad day after she messed up the vault?” (She withdrew after a subpar performance on the vault.)
This happens every time a societal or political issue intrudes on the Toy Department of Life. Sports talk radio is suddenly, horribly out of its depth.
Look, guys. You can’t schedule a mental health crisis. You don’t know what’s going to set it off. When it happens, it can be like a tsunami dragging you down. We know that Biles felt unable to compete safely, so withdrawing was the responsible thing — for her well-being and for the team’s prospects in the competition. So just shut up about issues that you can’t be bothered to learn about, and stop making fools of yourselves.
After the jump: Two cases of conservative hysteria, and a veteran reporter steps in it.
John Klar, erstwhile gubernatorial candidate and self-described leader of the short-lived Agripublican movement, has been a busy beaver. He regularly contributes opinion pieces to little-read far-right outlets such as True North Reports and The American Thinker. They’re not worth reading, but they do merit the occasional bit of scrutiny.
After all, this is a guy who got 12,762 votes for governor in 2020. He got walloped by Phil Scott, but that’s still 21% of the Republican electorate who either agree with Klar or hate Scott so much they’d prefer an unknown alternative.
Last week, Klar posted two pieces on consecutive days, each are on the same subject: the evils of the Black Lives Matter/antiracism movement and its essentially alien nature. The pieces include notable displays of Vermont nativism, unsubtle racism and white victimhood. (Maye he should move to Stratton.)
First, his February 19 TNR piece (click through at your own risk) entitled “Vermont Liberals Gaslight…Themselves?” Let’s run down the highlights, shall we?
The last pre-primary campaign finance reports are in, and the big winner is… yep… Your Governor, Phil Scott.
Not that he raised much money. In fact, he raised so little that it’s clear he feels no urgency whatsoever. (Of course, he’s spending minimal time campaigning as long as the pandemic still hovers, but c’mon, if he had to raise money he’d find ways to do it.)
The latest fundraising reports cover the month of July, basically. During that time, Scott raised a mere $19,000 — bringing his campaign total to $99,000. (Numbers of more than four figures are rounded to the nearest thousand.) Even more telling is how much money he spent: A measly $1,133 for the entire month.
(Interesting entry in Scott’s “Expenses” column: $218.44 in fees to ActBlue. Which means the Democrats’ number-one online fundraising tool is serving as a conduit for Phil Scott?)
Scott is not afraid of John Klar. He’s not afraid of Rebecca Holcombe or David Zuckerman. He’s not afraid, period.
The other gubernatorial reports reinforce Scott’s apparent bulletproofness. Whoever wins the Democratic primary is going to emerge with little or no money in the bank, and the national Democratic donors aren’t coming to the rescue.
After the jump: The Dems’ respective hauls and the race for Lite-Guv.
Impartial seekers of the truth, putting out a one-sided “survey” in a transparent effort to gin up some “evidence” to support their preconceived notion. This is, must I say it, a disgrace.
And to judge from the rhetoric and approach, I’ll bet you a shiny new quarter that the Venn Diagram of “Mask Survey” and “Anti-Vaxxers” is a single circle.
But I have to credit the bravery of the “citizen scientists” behind this flyer. They’re right up front owning their beliefs and accepting the conseq— oh wait, sorry. They actually provide no identifying information or means of two-way contact; only a gmail address and, on its website, a P.O. box in Marshfield.
Nowhere on flyer or website do they cite any of the “research” that “shows there are likely to be disadvantages” to wearing masks. I like the qualifiers: “likely” meaning “fuzzy and unproven,” “disadvantages” in place of “hazards” or “dangers.” In plain English, “undisclosed research that shows a possibility of inconveniences in wearing masks.”
Of course there are “disadvantages.” Masks are a little annoying, they make my glasses fog up, people can’t see your facial expressions, it is a little harder to communicate. The rest of it is bullshit of a particular type — the conspiracy-minded worried-well contingent that makes up most of the anti-vaxxer movement.
Vermont Public Radio and Vermont Public Television have announced a series of broadcast debates in advance of our August primary. The big news: Gov. Phil Scott is not listed as a participant in the Republican gubernatorial debate on July 22. Only his little-known challengers — John Klar, Emily Peyton and Douglas Cavett will take part.
Blockbuster ratings, I’m sure.
Scott’s absence is no surprise; he has said that he will abstain from politics as long as we’re battling the coronavirus. He simply can’t spare the time for a debate. I’m sure many people will see that as a proper and noble stance.
Well, yes and no.
Here’s the thing. Phil Scott is a politician. Has been since his first run for state Senate in 2000. He holds an elective office. Part of the deal is re-applying for the position — going back to the voters and making a case for why he should continue in office. And as long as he sticks to his full-time Covid-fighting claim, he won’t be doing that part of his job.
Is that really okay? I don’t think so.
To begin with, I’m skeptical that he can’t spare any time at all. Is he working 60, 80, 100 hours a week? Sleeping in his office? Perpetually on call? Or is he one step removed — making major decisions but allowing his officials to do the daily grindwork of putting his policies into practice?
Second, is he still as deeply involved as he was at the crisis’ peak, when everything was shutting down and we faced a frightening array of unknowns? He and his officials constantly assure us that, although continued vigilance is needed, things are fairly well under control. Just this week, he cut back his press briefing schedule from three days a week to two. Doesn’t he have a bit more time on his hands by now?
And third, see above. He holds an elective office, he’s answerable to the voters every two years. If he continues to abstain, he is doing us a disservice.
“Politics” has a bad name. But it’s also essential to our system of government.
It’s pretty obvious that John Klar meant to stir up trouble when he proposed the above addition to the “Black Lives Matter” mural on the pavement of State Street in Montpelier.
Klar, who’s challenging Gov. Phil Scott for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, requested last week that the city close the street on Friday, July 3 so the American flag and the legend “”Liberty and Justice for All” could be painted. The city initially denied the request, although City Council will take it up this week.
Fine, take it up. Then swat it down. This is clearly a political stunt aimed at Them Dang Liberals in Montpelier. I mean, really: Surround the “Black Lives Matter” message with obvious symbols of traditional American patriotism? It would diminish the impact of the original mural and muddy the ideological waters of the pavement in front of the Statehouse.
“That sounds very patriotic, fitting for the Fourth of July,” Scott said. “I wouldn’t say it’s inconsistent with the Black Lives Matter message. I think they’re almost one and the same.”
Scott, who is quick to cry “politics” whenever a Democrat dares propose something he disagrees with, or when a reporter asks an inconvenient question at one of his Covid briefings, is either being disingenuous or dumb about Klar’s idea.
Speaking in purely political terms, things could hardly be going any better for Gov. Phil Scott.
His solid record on Covid-19, while flawed in some respects and overstated by him and his officials, continues to receive widespread praise. He dominates the political news with his thrice-weekly marathon briefings. His popularity appears to be as high as ever, and many Democrats have already — quietly — conceded his re-election.
And now, the July 1 campaign finance filings are full of good cheer for Scott and bad news for his would-be opponents.
Scott’s own campaign barely raised any money between March 15 and July 1 — a mere $8,000. (He’s raised only $80,000 for the entire campaign cycle.) Not surprising, since he has said he won’t campaign or fundraise until the pandemic is over… which may be sometime in 2024, by the looks of things.
But while he is refraining from the dirty business of politics, his campaign is humming right along. It is deficit spending, mainly to pay Optimus Consulting, a D.C. firm that has done all his strategerizing and media buys in each of his gubernatorial campaigns, a cool $114,500 for its services this year. That represents the bulk of total Scott spending.
Meanwhile, the Republican Governors Association waits in the background to inject however much money is needed to ensure a Scott victory. So far, the RGA has funneled $126,000 into its “independent PAC,” A Stronger Vermont. It can easily pump in enough money to overwhelm all other bankrolls in the race, as it did in 2016, when Scott first ran for governor. The RGA spent more than $3 million that year, and effectively knocked Democrat Sue Minter out of contention with a late-summer/early-fall ad blitz. That’s chump change by RGA standards.
(The RGA’s expenditures are purely independent of Scott’s campaign, but paid for so much TV time in 2016 and 2018 that Scott barely had to run any ads of his own.)
And now we know where Scott’s Democratic challengers stand money-wise. It’s not a pretty picture.