Tag Archives: politics

I Don’t Understand

June 17, 2022

There are three abhorrent memories that come to mind this morning when I think of Donald Trump.

The first is that during his presidency, he took a vacation just about every weekend. And he didn’t just go anyplace; he always went to one of his own golf resorts. By doing so, he promoted his commercial brand (which you’re not supposed to do as president) just like he did when lining up Trump steaks in front of the press corps, and he spent our taxpayer dollars directly upon his own enrichment (after all, the Secret Service had stay in hotels somewhere). The Secret Service blew their budget protecting him during these dalliances.

The second memory is of his gaslighting about the COVID pandemic. Although he knew early on how serious it was, he lied about it to the public. He lied because he knew presidential fortunes can be tied to boom economies. To acknowledge the threat might have hurt our economy and therefore his re-election chances. And because of his gaslighting, the government responded slowly and ineffectively at a time when it could have made a difference. So he lied, and we died.

Finally, my third memory is of January 6, 2021. I’ve been watching the Congressional hearings this week instead of Tucker Carlson’s “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” routine. Trump corruptly tried to subvert our democracy. He and his rioters tried to overthrow our government. A majority of Americans believe he should be criminally charged.

So here’s what I don’t understand. A majority of Americans also say they would re-elect that fool.

Could both polls be correct? Could a majority of us both want him charged and want him re-elected?

I hope not. I hope we’re not that lost.

Staunton City Wants to Eliminate Curbside Recycling

April 7, 2021

Here within the city limits of Staunton, we regularly pay city fees for our water and sewer and for our trash and recycling. However, perhaps because they are nonsensically spending $200,000 on golf carts, the city now needs to tighten the budgetary belt a little. Their solution is to eliminate curbside recycling. (See the discussion beginning on page 117 of the April 1 budget work session minutes.)

The City Council is holding a public hearing on the budget tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. I encourage everyone who cares about this subject to participate either by in-person or phone-in comments or by sending an email to the Clerk of Council like Deena and I have done below. (Click for instructions.)

Here is the email we sent:

Dear Clerk of Council:

We are writing in opposition to the proposed change to the city recycling program, as contemplated during the April 1 budget work session, to eliminate curbside recycling.

As we understand it, if Staunton citizens wish to recycle their household glass, paper, and metal wastes, they will no longer be able to place them in curbside bins for collection. Instead, they will have to transport their materials to a collection center at Gypsy Hill Park.

While the objective to reduce fees is laudable, the council overlooks the effect human behavior will play in all this. Most of us do not have the time, energy, and some cases, the transportation to cart our recycling to the park every week. We pay city fees for this service, so that is the service we expect to receive. If the city expects us to port our own recycling to the park, then most of us will simply choose not to do it. We will instead opt for the convenience of throwing it all into the regular trash, the environmental impacts be damned.

The council’s analysis suggests that their new model will permit the resumption of plastic recycling through Dave’s Recycling in Harrisonburg. Fine; if having a collection center at GHP will facilitate plastic recycling, then by all means establish a plastic-collection center there. But do not tie that to general recycling unless you wish participation in general recycling to be severely impacted.


Matthew & Deena Warner

Thoughts about the Impeachment

February 11, 2021

Watching and reading the impeachment trial is doomscrolling of news we’re currently powerless over. The managers have a slam-dunk case and top-notch presentations, while the defense is comically feckless, but fascist sycophants like Lindsay Graham, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley will lie and acquit him anyway.

I hope that, thanks to the overwhelming evidence being presented, the foregone conclusion of this trial will prove very costly to the Republican party. Trump’s actions were a deep betrayal of his oath, and the resultant, continuing damage to our republic is an existential threat to the United States.

Below is the 13-minute video played in the Senate on the first day. If you have the stomach for it, I urge you to watch the whole thing.

It is so obvious that this is exactly what Trump wanted to happen. The screaming crowd, which crushed and killed police officers, is an appalling thing to behold. And to think that Staunton Mayor Andrea Oakes tried to justify this evil with the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., is just shameful.

News Leader Publishes My Letter about Mayor’s Statement

January 21, 2021

The News Leader published my letter to the editor today. In case the link eventually disappears behind their pay wall, here is the letter in full:

Mayor Oakes’ statement excusing the rioters was shameful: Letter

Mayor Andrea Oakes’ statement at the recent City Council meeting concerning the D.C. insurrection was shameful and appalling. It has no place in the City of Staunton, let alone on its council.

Rather than denounce the rioters and murderers as she should have, Mayor Oakes excused them. She said, “Riots are the language of the unheard,” and then she went further by equating the insurrection to the Portland riots.

For your information, Mayor Oakes, the invaders of the U.S. Capitol who bludgeoned a police officer to death with a fire extinguisher were never “unheard.” The country has been listening to their garbage all year. They further had a voice through their votes and then through their dozens of spurious lawsuits to overturn the election. They still lost, but that’s the nature of democracy. That they then attacked the U.S. Senate and the vice president is their crime, not ours to justify.

You would do well to digest Gov. Northam’s recent State of the Commonwealth Address when he said, “I say to every elected official in Virginia: You can be part of our democratic institutions, or you can use falsehoods to try to destroy them. But you can’t do both.”

What is your choice, Mayor?


Trump Must Be Impeached, Convicted, Removed, and Shamed for the Good of Our Country

January 10, 2021

As long as GOP members and their families weren’t personally threatened, it was all right with them if Donald Trump betrayed everything the USA stands for. That’s one of my takeaways from Wednesday’s events at the U.S. Capitol.

Fine, then. Maybe now they’ll do the right thing, and the right thing will be on their desks tomorrow when the House introduces an Article of Impeachment. It will surely pass the House and go to the Senate, where Mitch McConnell will surely sit on it for the remainder of his party’s majority.

After that, the Democrat-led Senate will surely hold another impeachment trial. It will be done over President Biden’s objections. And there’s a good chance that, again, the Senate will not convict, because that requires a two-thirds vote, and the Democrats will only have a razor-thin, one-half majority.

So, again, the integrity of our nation will fall to the dubious care of Republican senators, those who make up the difference between one-half and two-thirds.

If I were one of the impeachment managers standing in the well of the Senate on closing-arguments day, I would present those particular senators with the reasons for why they must convict:

  1. The first reason is practical. A conviction (even during Biden’s term) would preclude Trump from ever holding public office again. Many, many Republicans, I’ve heard, have harbored secret wishes over the years that Trump would just go away, just return to his gaudy real estate and his morally diseased family, and leave governing to the grownups.  But because of the influence he wields over voters, most have been afraid to say so publicly.  Well, I would say to them, now’s your chance.  Wouldn’t you like to ensure he can never, ever return to power and thus leave the paths to power open for yourself?
  2. The second reason appeals to their higher selves (selves I’m not convinced they possess anymore). These Republican senators whom I’m addressing, I assume, entered politics not solely for personal gain. At some point in their formation, they felt a calling to a higher purpose, to serve the country and make the world a better place. That higher calling is at the heart of what it means to be an American. During our better days, it’s a moral authority that illuminates the world, that inspires and cajoles (and often bullies) other countries to do better. But under Trump, we’ve lost that authority. He’s betrayed and perverted everything we stand for. If sedition that incites an insurrection is not a “high crime and misdemeanor,” then what is? What will it take for you to uphold your oath? If you again make excuses for the man like you did during last year’s impeachment, saying that this doesn’t rise to the level of conviction, then the United States will further lose its credibility with the world and with its own citizens. Donald Trump has led this country into chaos and evil. You must convict.

This Man Could Have Saved Your Loved One

September 12, 2020

By now, every person on the planet, if they haven’t experienced the virus firsthand, is a degree or two of separation from somebody’s who’s been sickened by COVID-19. The United States leads the world in confirmed cases and deaths.

Source: News Leader / Gannett

How could we have minimized this?

On January, 28, 2020, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told President Donald Trump that COVID-19 would be the greatest national security threat of his presidency. By February 7, the president understood the virus’s transmission method and severity, because at that time he told reporter Bob Woodward, “But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. … It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”

He said just the opposite to the public. He did absolutely nothing to prepare for the coming pandemic except to play golf and accuse the media and Democrats of being alarmist.

The above information is not opinion. They are historical facts, so I will not “agree to disagree” with you.

Here are my opinions: what President Trump should have done, starting on January 28, was to invoke the Defense Production Act for the manufacture of PPE and ventilators. What he should have done was share what he knew with state governors. They might have locked down their communities right then and there, rather than mid March, when the horse had already left the barn.

If not for Trump’s dereliction of duty, the world might have suffered significantly fewer than 916,000 deaths by now.

If your loved one died of COVID-19, you should be enraged at President Donald Trump and every Republican who enabled him. They sacrificed that person on his altar.

Behavior Bingo

June 24, 2020

You know the game. You play it when you watch presidential debates and take a drink every time someone says “taxes,” but in this version, you have a bingo grid filled with your predictions.  (Suggested squares for a debate also include: Goes To Commercial Break, Candidates Refuse to Shake Hands, and Interrupts Other Person.)

When I explained this type of bingo to my kids, I described it as a coping mechanism, a way to vent off petty annoyances without causing a relationship problem. Maybe you’ve secretly played it during a party or a relative’s visit to better deal with behaviors that get on your nerves. There he goes again with the belly scratching. That’s one of my squares.

We recently discovered, however, that Behavior Bingo can also be a relationship-building exercise. The key is to play it openly. Owen (age 10) and I recently did this, with me making a grid of his idiosyncrasies, and he making one of mine. After 24 hours of baiting each other into unknowingly performing the various tics and suddenly running off in the middle of conversations to mark our grids, we compared our results.

Here’s Owen’s grid of me. He got most of them as well as a three-way bingo, but the red dots are ones I either fessed up to (“Drinks Whiskey”) or performed on the spot as a joke (“Says ‘I’m getting big'”):


Played this way — and without malice, of course — Behavior Bingo could help you get along with the people you’re quarantining with. It demonstrates your familiarity and love of the other person, and it’s a lot of fun.

Winner in SAAC/SDDA Art Contest, Week #8

June 15, 2020

Every week this summer, the Staunton Augusta Art Center and Staunton Downtown Development Association sponsored a new art contest around different themes. In previous weeks, my wife, each of my kids, and my mother-in-law won. This week was my turn. Week #8’s theme was friendship, so I submitted a slightly political piece titled “Friends Forever”:

SAART’s announcement says:

we are happy to announce that for our final week (and for the first time this summer)
we have a tie

My prize will be a T-shirt. The Warners are looking forward to tie-dying our winnings!

State of the Corona

April 29, 2020

I hope everyone reading this is on the course to some financial, medical, and mental stability, and I wish them well. Of course, hopes and wishes are nearly as worthless as thoughts and prayers, so I’m sorry for that. Isn’t it sad that this simple sentiment — a hope and a wish for your well being — as worthless as it is, is already more empathy than what our president can summon?

I’m so sick of that rotting orange in the White House, and I’m sick of reading about how he has and continues to screw over this country during the pandemic. As early as January, when intelligence agencies warned him this was coming, he played round after round of golf at our expense when he should have been asking us to shore up supplies of PPE and ventilators. In fact, he could have started on that a couple years earlier, when he was warned such supplies were dangerously low, rather than spend his time firing the pandemic task force.

It’s obvious that his sole concern right now is not our health and safety but his re-election, and the key to that is the economy. He wants governors to reopen schools this spring because schools are a vital part of the economic engine — the health and safety of our children be damned. He’s so desperate for us to get back to work that he wants us to inject household cleaners and UV lights into our bodies, and failing that to take an anti-malarial drug, an unproven and dangerous treatment for COVID-19, which he happens to have a financial interest in.

I am not yet sick from the corona, but I am sick of him.

A Way to Reconnect with Political Polar Opposites

December 19, 2019


74 Year old earns his BJJ black belt

All hope is not lost, friends. We can still find common ground.

The owner of my martial arts school and I are political polar opposites. He’s a MAGA Trump supporter. I’m a liberal Democrat. We have only two things in common, but it’s enough to sustain one of my best friendships.

1. We’re both family men.
2. We both love Brazilian jiu-jitusu.

Joining a school community like this is absolutely a reason to give it a try, and in today’s divisive (and warming) climate, we need things that bond us together. Give it a try.


Pete at the Roaming Rolls blog just came out with a terrific post titled “6 Things To Consider Before Starting Jiujitsu.” Here is a summary of his subtitles and my favorite excerpts, but I urge you to click through and read the whole thing for yourself.

Jiujitsu Involves Touching
I’m talking about a form of touching that is completely void of emotion and creepiness, but stems from calm intent. There are many different forms of touch, and though jiujitsu is one of the less caring forms, it still harbors familiarity with touching, this inevitably makes you more invested and engaged with people.

Jiujitsu Takes Time To Get Good At
The very nature of jiujitsu breeds honesty.

Most people won’t even have their purple belts in the time it takes for the average Karate practitioner to receive their black belts. […] Like with anything you should be in it for the sheer enjoyment of the game. This also makes the jiujitsu black belt as legit as they come.

Jiujitsu Eats up your Week
With so many techniques to learn, and so many subtleties within those techniques, along with an inability to bullshit your way up the ranks, having to dedicate all this time comes as no surprise.

It’s Generally a Solo Venture
From the outside, jiujitsu doesn’t only look strange, confusing and somewhat homoerotic, but it’s also a martial art. That factor brings an element of fear to people on the outside.

You Will Get Injuries
Bear in mind that you’re just as likely to sustain injuries at a similar frequency in sports like tennis, football and even more so in skateboarding.

The Journey Never Ends
There are simply too many techniques, and differences in subtitles to each of them.
This is part of what makes jiujitsu so appealing and addictive. It’s the prospect of (like in science) exploring infinity forever. Constantly learning and growing, and enjoying it for that process alone.