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Monday, June 24, 2019
Both the less than saintly Pope John Paul II and his successor, former Hitler youth Pope Benedict XVI stacked bishoprics across the globe with reactionaries who desired to take the Catholic Church backwards in time and keep women subjugated to men and gays stigmatized and marginalized. The Church remains saddled with many of these reactionary bishops and cardinals who seemingly prefer to drive members from the Church than face new scientific and medical knowledge and social enlightenment. These reactionaries also seek to wage war with the Church's religious orders that do not fall directly under their leadership but instead have their own independent leadership. One order, the Jesuits, has for centuries been the home of the Church's intellectuals and also the most educated of the Church's religious orders. Now, this dichotomy within the Church has collided in of all places, Mike Pence's state of Indiana where a Jesuit run high school is defying a reactionary archbishop's order to fire a gay teacher. NBC News looks at the conflict. Here are highlights:
A Jesuit-run prep school in Indianapolis is defying a demand by the local archbishop that it fire a veteran teacher who is in a same-sex marriage, prompting the archdiocese to revoke recognition for the school as a Catholic institution.
In a letter to parents, the leaders of the Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School said Archbishop Charles Thompson’s “direct insertion into an employment matter of a school governed by a religious order is unprecedented.”
“After long and prayerful consideration, we determined that following the Archdiocese’s directive would not only violate our informed conscience on this particular matter, but also set a concerning precedent for future interference in the school’s operations,” school officials said.
The letter was signed by the school president, the Rev. William Verbryke, and the heads of the board of trustees, W. Patrick Bruen and Daniel M. Lechleiter.
They wrote that for 57 years, school leaders have decided who gets hired.
“Brebeuf Jesuit has respectfully declined the Archdiocese’s insistence and directive that we dismiss a highly capable and qualified teacher due to the teacher being a spouse within a civilly-recognized same-sex marriage,” they said in the letter.
The school leaders reassured parents that their stand “will not change the mission or operations of Brebeuf Jesuit” and insisted that “our identity as a Catholic Jesuit institution remains unchanged.”
“We will continue to offer a rigorous academic program that follows more than 450 years of Jesuit tradition and is committed to expansive and critical thinking, competent and compassionate ethical concern, creative and artistic expression, and excellence grounded in faith and the dignity of the human person,” they wrote.
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis said in a statement that a Catholic school is required to "clearly state in its contracts and ministerial job descriptions that all ministers must convey and be supportive of all teachings of the Catholic Church."
The battle over the gay teacher has been going on for two years.
Brian Paulson, who leads the Society of Jesus Midwest Province, which represents Jesuits in the Midwest, called the archdiocese’s move “disappointing.”
“In the summer of 2017, Brebeuf Jesuit became aware that one of its teachers entered into a civil marriage with a person of the same sex,” Paulson said in a statement. “This fact became publicly known via social media.” When the archdiocese asked that the teacher’s contract not be renewed, Paulson said the school refused. “The teacher in question does not teach religion and is a longtime valued employee of the school,” Paulson wrote.
Paulson said they will appeal the archdiocese's decision.
The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest who is one of the leading advocates for LGBT Catholics, called the move by Brebeuf's leadership "courageous."
One of the top private schools in the city, Brebeuf Jesuit serves about 800 students in grades 9-12.
The Catholic Church needs to leave its 12th century dogma on sex and sexuality behind or else, over time, it will find itself a much smaller, Africa centered church. Kudos to the school leadership for saying "no" to ignorance and bigotry.
Sunday, June 23, 2019
Polls indicate that on issue after issue, Donald Trump is out of sync with a majority of Americans. That's one reason why his approval ratings have never gotten out of the low 40% realm - more often they are under 40%. Indeed, Trump's approval is limited to small factions: right wing evangelical Christians and extreme right Catholics - the so-called Christofascists - white supremacists, and Republicans who according to Gallup surveys comprise only 30% of voters (thus, 89% approval by Republicans equates to only 26.7% of overall voters). The take away, therefore, is that when Trump and the sinister Mike Pence claim that they represent American values, they, in fact, do not. They represent a rump minority of Americans who are at war with modernity, science and knowledge, and who cling to racism and religious superstition. As a result, Trump is at war with a majority of Americans and their values. A column in the New York Times makes the case that the Trump/Pence war against LGBT Americans personifies this betrayal of the beliefs of the majority. Here are column excerpts:
During the 2016 campaign, he spoke out against a North Carolina law forbidding transgender people to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity and said that Caitlyn Jenner could use the commode of her choice in Trump Tower.And then, of course, there was his speech at the Republican National Convention, when he carefully enunciated “L.G.B.T.Q.,” pledged to protect those of us represented by that consonant cluster and, upon hearing applause, added, “I have to say, as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said.”
I’m glad he enjoyed it. We L.G.B.T.Q. Americans aren’t enjoying him. Far from protecting us, he and his administration have stranded us, packing federal courts with judges hostile to gay rights, barring transgender Americans from military service and giving a green light to Americans who, citing religious beliefs, don’t want to give us medical care or bake us a cake. When several United States embassies — including the one in Berlin, over which Grenell presides — requested permission to fly the rainbow flag this month in honor of Gay Pride, the State Department said no.
It’s an ugly story, and it pretty much sums up Trump’s approach to governing. His treatment of gay people perfectly reveals the flabbiness of his convictions and his willingness to stand at odds with a majority of Americans if it pleases the smaller number who adore him. He’ll suffer our anger for their ardor. Decency and principle don’t enter into it.
And he is at odds with most of the country, very much so. Take the Trump administration out of the equation and the march toward gay equality continues apace. As gay and transgender Americans prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising on June 28, we inhabit a state of cognitive dissonance, staring at a split screen: insults from the White House on one half of it, positive reinforcement from elsewhere on the other.
Democrats’ embrace of Buttigieg, the first openly gay politician to land in the top tier of presidential candidates, illustrates the trajectory beyond Trump. “As recently as five or 10 years ago, I think, a project like this would have been dismissed out of hand,” Buttigieg told me in a recent interview, referring to his campaign. “It was unsafe for Democrats to support same-sex marriage at the beginning of this same decade that we’re living in now.”
Being gay, Buttigieg said, hasn’t been any impediment to his bid for the White House so far. “It led to there being more interest and attention early on,” he said. “Perhaps the most interesting thing is how often it doesn’t come up — all the interviews in which it’s not mentioned. At this point, it’s safe to say that that’s most of the time.”
I was given an exclusive advance copy of a new report by the Victory Institute, a group that promotes L.G.B.T.Q. candidates. It found that the number of known L.G.B.T.Q. elected officials at the municipal, state and national levels in America rose 24.9 percent, to 698 from 559, over the past year. And while some of that is attributable to more politicians coming out, much is attributable to more being voted into office.
With the congressional elections last November, the number of openly L.G.B.T.Q. members of Congress rose to an all-time high of 10 — eight in the House and two in the Senate — up from seven. That same month Jared Polis in Colorado became the first openly gay person to win a governorship. He told me that his sexual orientation was absolutely not a factor in his race: “There might be some people who care about it, but they wouldn’t be considered swing voters, so they’re not relevant in terms of who you have to win over. It never comes up in terms of scrapping for the votes you need in the middle.”
In Chicago in April, Lori Lightfoot became the first openly gay person to win the mayoralty of one of the country’s three most-populous cities. “The fact that I could run as an out lesbian, married, in an interracial relationship, with a child, would have been unthinkable not that long ago,” she said when I spoke with her recently. “You can’t stop progress. You just can’t. It’s like trying to stop a ball from rolling down a hill.”
While media attention focuses on proposed state legislation to deny rights to L.G.B.T.Q. people, there are probably more examples of bipartisan pushes to protect or expand those rights.
According to Freedom for All Americans, an advocacy group, more than two dozen Republican lawmakers in 15 states recently sponsored legislation to protect gay or transgender people from discrimination. They include the chairman of the Republican Party in Florida and the State Senate majority leader in West Virginia. Republican lawmakers were crucially involved in blocking discriminatory measures proposed in Texas, Tennessee and Georgia, the group said. In South Dakota, where Republicans control both chambers of the Legislature, four different measures to permit discrimination against transgender people were defeated this year.
That reflects Americans’ values more accurately than the Trump administration does. In a Quinnipiac University poll in April, 92 percent of Americans said that employers should not be allowed to fire someone based on his or her “sexual orientation or sexual identity.” When Americans are asked whether a full spectrum of civil rights protections should be extended to L.G.B.T.Q. people, the number falls — but a majority of 53 percent still say yes. And in poll after poll, most Americans say that transgender people should be able to serve in the military, with 70 percent of them indicating support in one survey.
Yet the Trump administration keeps tugging in the opposite direction. Trump has nominated and the Senate has confirmed many jurists with explicit, unabashed hostility to gay and transgender rights, including, just days ago, Matthew Kacsmaryk, who received a lifetime appointment as a United States district judge for the Northern District of Texas.
The choice of Kacsmaryk is hardly an aberration, said Sharon McGowan, the chief strategy officer and legal director for Lambda Legal, an advocacy group that has been tracking these appointments to the federal bench. “The arc of history may bend toward justice,” she told me, “but history will not be kind to those who are complicit in what has been happening over these past two years.” She meant in the White House, in the cabinet and on Capitol Hill, where a stubbornly retrograde social conservatism holds sway.
Trump himself continues to murmur words kinder than his deeds, such as his tweet three weeks ago exhorting Americans to “celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made.”
But the contributions Trump is focused on are the votes and donations from the so-called religious right, given in gratitude for his opposition to abortion and his anti-gay actions. “Because he doesn’t have the ability to broaden his support, he’s playing to a narrow base, and at the center of that base is this right-wing faction that’s often garbed in religion,” . . . “He’s throwing them any meat he can find.”
On issue after issue it’s like that: He doesn’t act or speak for the majority, but he accomplishes some narrower purpose, and gets away with it partly because gerrymandering, the structure of the Senate and the Electoral College have led to a government out of sync with the governed.
Trump is on the wrong side of history. But he doesn’t care — so long as it’s right for Trump.
The majority of voters need to end the nation's nightmare and vote Trump from office in 2020. Meanwhile, here in Virginia, we need to vote out Republicans in November, 2019, and give control of the Virginia General Assembly so that Virginia can become a true progressive state.
|Governor Northam addresses Pridefest 2019 in Norfolk.|
Some years back I was on the board of directors of Hampton Roads Pride and was involved in putting on Pridefest, so I know what a huge undertaking it is to put on what now has become a massive event. Yesterday's Pridefest in Town Point Park was over the top with by far the largest crowd ever in the history of the event. The park was packed from the main stage all the way back to Nauticus. I have not seen any estimates of the crowd size - it's a free event, so there are no ticket sales to help determine the number of attendees - but it had to be 20,000 or even more. The photo above of Governor Ralph Northam addressing the crowd and pledging to push for equality for all Virginians regardless of race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity shows part of the vast crowd. The Governor simply said we are all Virginians and should be fully equal under the law. Another first was the fact that there were many more vendors that ever before and included recruiting booths for all of the local police departments, the FBI and the CIA. Trump supporters would likely have an aneurysm. The image below is of a banner at the Newport News Shipbuilding tent - the only company in America that can build our nation's nuclear carriers.
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Yesterday's event kicked off with the Pride Boat Parade which had the largest number of boats ever - including one entry that had to be close to 100 feet in length. The husband and I participated aboard the Americn Rover, a large schooner that does harbor cruises. As for the crowd, like the Block Party on Friday night, the crowd was very diverse - every race, old, young - indeed, a record number of children accompanied parents - and every subset of the LGBT community. One straight Democrat politician I know stated he was nothing less than amazed by the crowd sizes and the happy, laid back vibe of the crowd. Pride events continue today in Virginia Beach at the Neptune Park area of the resort strip. Things have changed radically since my first Pride in 2002 when the event involved perhaps 200-300 participants. Despite the efforts of the Trump/Pence regime and its Christofascist allies, we are NOT going backward in time. The fight will continue.
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The Spirit of Norfolk flying the rainbow flag with the old Naval Hospital in the background.
Saturday, June 22, 2019
Hampton Roads Pridefest take place today in downtown Norfolk at Town Point Park. Very large crowds are anticipated and the event is now Norfolk's largest festival event after Harbor Fest. Sponsors include not only the City of Norfolk which not too many years ago treated the LGBT community as if it was radioactive, and Newport News Shipbuilding, currently Virginia's largest employer and the company that builds America's nuclear aircraft carriers.
The event was preceded by events around the area virtually every day this past week - more events are tomorrow in Virginia Beach - including the "Block Party" held the last number of years in Scope, Norfolk's sports and concert arena. Having attended and closed down the party, it was packed, with the area floor completely filled with hundreds, if not thousands dancing while and even larger number socializing. The Block Party alone is far larger than Pridefest was for many, many years and the crowd covered a wide gamut of ages and every ethnic group was there, white, Black, Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander. Trump supporters would have thoroughly hated seeing such a multi-racial crowd getting along and having fun together. Things have come a long way since I came out going on 18 years ago.
Yet much remains to be done - both here here in Virginia where, if the Democrats take control of the General Assembly in the November 2019 elections, LGBT Virginians will finally have non-discrimination protections - and in many parts of America where bigots and Christofascists hold sway, encouraged in their message of hate by the Trump/Pence regime, the Republican Party, and, of course, scamvangelists lining their pockets with money as they pervert the Gospel message. To accomplish these needed changes, perhaps a new model is needed. Self-proclaimed LGBT activist groups like the Human Rights Campaign ("HRC") and Equality Virginia ("EV") increasingly seem most focused on raising money to support ever higher salaries to their leadership and larger staffs. Actually getting things done to benefit the wider array of the LGBT community has faded in importance despite lip service to the contrary.
In a piece in New York Magazine, gay conservative Andrew Sullivan looks at where the LGBT community finds itself today both in terms of positive improvement and criticism of some gay activists and organizations like HRC and EV that have lost their way. Some of what Sullivan says is on point, and some of it is out in the weeds due to his failure to let go of some aspects of conservatism and religion. Here are excerpts:
There has never been a better time or place in the history of the world to be gay than in 2019 and in the West.I think it’s worth repeating that — especially in front of the younger generation — because it gives us critical perspective on where we are now and where we are headed. If you glance at media aimed at gays, lesbians, and transgender people, you might imagine we are living in a state of siege. Gay students arriving in college in 2019 will be told instantly that they are oppressed in countless ways, and trans students will be told that they can be oppressed by gay people, as well. Check out the website for the biggest gay lobbying group, the Human Rights Campaign, and you will find that gays and lesbians and transgender people “have been under constant attack” since Trump became president.
And, yes, there has been some blowback, as one might expect after an astonishing decade of faster progress than in any civil-rights movement in history. The impulsively renewed ban on transgender service members makes no sense, was enacted by presidential whim (a tweet, no less), defended with arguments that collapse upon scrutiny, and opposed by much of the military brass. With luck, law, and lobbying, it will fall. There has also been executive action to defend the religious freedom of those fundamentalist Christians who make up a core of the Trump base. But it says a huge amount that Christianists are this panicked. They keep losing both secular and theological arguments — along with many members, especially among the young.
And look at what remains: marriage equality, even in Alabama; corporate America competing to brand itself as pro-gay (sometimes to an excruciating degree); full integration of gay service members; a lesbian mayor of Chicago and, in Corey Johnson, a future gay mayor of New York; a married gay man among the main contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination; a cornucopia of media-affirming gay and trans equality; openly gay and lesbian figures in almost every sphere of American life; a preventative pill for HIV and a pill to all but eradicate it from the living; and explicit legal protection from discrimination for half of the gay people in the country.
I’m not saying there isn’t more to be done — laws against discrimination in employment and public accommodations in those states that don’t yet have those protections, for example . . .
It is, I know, sometimes hard to take “yes” for an answer. It is also prudent, given human history, to be vigilant in defending the gains. But this level of openness and equality was unimaginable only a decade ago. Compared with the 1950s, when “sodomy” was illegal in every state, when the government hounded gay men and women in public service out of their jobs and demonized them as inherently treasonous, when gay people were barred from entering the country, and when psychiatrists believed them to be mentally ill, this is close to utopia. Compared with the 1980s and early 1990s, when gay men found themselves circling the drain of their own extinction, and witnessed horrors and pain and stigma as never before, this is incredible.
Because gay men and women are almost always brought up by straight parents, this history is hard to pass on. And so perspectives can be warped. Those whose livelihoods are built on defending victims have an interest in sustaining a victim paradigm for gay America, in which they are the saviors. And victim narratives are comfortable. They allow us to avoid responsibility for our own problems, while transferring it to others. . . . They actually provide status among today’s elites — and can help you advance your own career solely on the basis of your orientation if you want to go to college or get a job at a major corporation.
I think it’s time to shuck off this narrative, because it is a crude simplification of the gay experience, because it is profoundly out of date, and because it focuses us on other people we cannot always change while ignoring things closer to home that we can. What we need now, I think, is a narrative more productive and constructive, less about the harm the world can do to us, and more about the good we can give back to the world.
It will mean earning a living, raising kids in some cases, pursuing careers, sustaining marriages, and everything every straight person does without thinking twice about it. Being gay is not a political act; it is about deeper things than politics: love, above all, but sex and relationships as well. . . . We seek, in this sense, a kind of irrelevance for our sexual orientation — a world in which the hetero and homo categories define none of us, straight or gay, and the category of human includes us all.
But there’s more to the souls of gay folk than just this kind of normalcy, it seems to me. Unlike straights, we remain a specific minority, with life experiences that do shape us differently, and a way of life that will always, in some ways, be a subculture, as well as a counterculture. Equality and virtual normalcy need not be seen as ends, but as platforms for something larger, just as they are for other enfranchised minorities. Integration is not the same as assimilation.
This does indeed require pride in what we have that is distinct, a pride that is worth celebrating once a year. We have as gay people, it seems to me, a gift in our sometimes hidden sexual and emotional difference, a gift that teaches us at quite a young age not to judge a book by its dust-jacket, or to dismiss the different because they make us, at first, uncomfortable. The suffering that will always accompany gay and lesbian teens — the suffering that is a function of being so different at such a crucial age — can be deployed as adults, if we so choose, to see and alleviate the suffering of others.
[G]ay people’s lopsided contribution to the arts, fashion, design, and aesthetics are ways in which we can reflect society back to itself with greater depth and beauty.
These gay gifts can be shared. They always have been, of course, but under acute duress, and often silenced or unknown. What I’m emphasizing here is embracing these roles more explicitly as our charism, defining ourselves more clearly as human society’s indispensable regenerators, pillars, and buttresses. Gay male friendships can inform straight male ones — and surely for the better. Gay teachers can be a special boon to kids whose own family may not be engaged or supportive. We can be gay uncles and aunts, an often invaluable resource — financially and otherwise — for our siblings’ kids.
Gay scholars and aesthetes can protect and preserve our common inheritance. Gay entrepreneurs can invigorate decaying neighborhoods and innovate new ways of living. Gay writers can become, as they often are, the strongest champions of free speech — because, for so long, it was the only right we had, the indispensable resource to let each other know that we existed.
As the long night of persecution gives way to the dawning of integration, let’s take a moment both to remember the legions of human souls who knew nothing but darkness, to acknowledge the vast numbers of gay people around the world for whom such freedom still doesn’t exist — but also to recognize this unique and pivotal chance for renewal and reinvention in the West. We should indeed have pride in our past, our selves, and our lives as survivors. But as we peer into the future, and to what we can still bring to the world, let us also know joy.
One of the most powerful forms of activism is simply living one's life openly and proudly. Yes, if one lives in rural areas of red states, that can be difficult and perhaps life threatening. But the more of us that do this and demonstrate our normalcy to the straight world, the more positive change there will be. Demonstrate daily that we are not the "other" to be feared but rather friends, neighbors and positive participants in our communities. Yes, it can be scary, especially for those of older generations who grew up living in fear, but it is the way forward. It is something the husband and I try to do every day be it at work, social gatherings, participating in a sailing regatta, . . . the list goes on and on.
Friday, June 21, 2019
|Flooding area in Norfolk, VA.|
While the Trump/Pence regime continues to insist that climate change is not real and, worse yet, is undoing Obama era policies and regulations that sought to slow global warming, communities and those living on the coast can see first hand that the sea levels are rising. Here in Southeast Virginia, every community south/southeast of Williamsburg has areas threatened by rising sea levels and most have not seriously begun to face the financial burden that will be involved to build sea walls and other infrastructure modifications. As the New York Times reports, the potential partial cost the Virginia Beach is $1.7 billion. Meanwhile, the city of Norfolk (estimated to need 69 miles of sea walls) is devising a plan where neighborhoods could establish themselves as special tax districts to raise funds to make the needed improvements to face rising waters. The overall problem is staggering and Republicans sticking their heads in the sand is not a solution. Small communities could potentially cease to exist in the future. For the city of Hampton, the price tag for 68 miles of sea walls is $642.9 million - the fourth most costly in Virginia (look up your city here). Here are highlights from the Times article:
WASHINGTON — As disaster costs keep rising nationwide, a troubling new debate has become urgent: If there’s not enough money to protect every coastal community from the effects of human-caused global warming, how should we decide which ones to save first?After three years of brutal flooding and hurricanes in the United States, there is growing consensus among policymakers and scientists that coastal areas will require significant spending to ride out future storms and rising sea levels — not in decades, but now and in the very near future. There is also a growing realization that some communities, even sizable ones, will be left behind.
By 2040, simply providing basic storm-surge protection in the form of sea walls for all coastal cities with more than 25,000 residents will require at least $42 billion, according to new estimates from the Center for Climate Integrity, an environmental advocacy group. Expanding the list to include communities smaller than 25,000 people would increase that cost to more than $400 billion.
“Once you get into it, you realize we’re just not going to protect a lot of these places,” said Richard Wiles, executive director of the group, which wants oil and gas companies to pay some of the cost of climate adaptation. “This is the next wave of climate denial — denying the costs that we’re all facing.”
The research is limited in that it considers only sea walls, and not other methods for minimizing flood risk that may be more practical in some places, such as moving homes and shops away from the most flood-prone areas. The figures also don’t include the additional and costlier steps that will be required even with sea walls, such as revamping sewers, storm water and drinking water infrastructure.
Still, the data provides a powerful financial measuring stick for the tough decisions that countless communities — large and small — are starting to confront.
The cities that are quick to adapt to climate risks “are going to attract the jobs and the factories of the future,” said Eric Smith, president and chief executive officer for the Americas at Swiss Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurance companies. “There’s going to be communities that I think will be left way, way behind.”
The new research identifies 241 cities of 25,000 people or more that will require at least $10 million worth of sea walls by 2040 just to protect against a typical annual storm.
Total cost of adding sea walls1. Jacksonville, Fla. $3.5 billion2. New York City $2.0 billion3. Virginia Beach $1.7 billion4. Galveston, Tex. $1.1 billion5. Charleston, S.C. $1.0 billion6. Tampa, Fla. $938.4 million7. Barnstable Town, Mass. $889.2 million8. Corpus Christi, Tex. $861.1 million9. St. Petersburg, Fla. $751.4 million10. New Orleans $725.1 million
Many cities, especially small ones, will not be able to meet the costs facing them. Those that can’t will depend on federal funding. . . . So experts have proposed ways of focusing federal money where it can do the most good — even if that means some places are left out.
One approach would be for the federal government to spend the money based simply on where it would most reduce the future cost of damages, according to Craig Fugate, who ran FEMA during the Obama administration.
He acknowledged that Congress would probably object to that approach, since it would likely mean FEMA would concentrate its resilient-infrastructure funds in just a handful of states.
Another option would be for the federal government to distribute climate protection money based on a city’s property value, its historical and cultural importance, and how much it contributes to the national economy, said Harriet Tregoning, who was in charge of the housing department’s Office of Community Planning and Development during the Obama administration.
Cities could increase their chances of getting money by reducing their exposure to disasters, perhaps by retrofitting their buildings, implementing aggressive building codes and zoning restrictions, and helping residents leave the most vulnerable neighborhoods, Ms. Tregoning said. And there could be extra points for cities that take in people forced to flee other parts of the country.
Mr. Smith, of Swiss Re, said that cities should take responsibility for protecting themselves from the rising toll of disasters, rather than waiting for the federal government.
Virginia Republicans have been denying for years what is actually happening choosing to use the euphemism "repetitive flooding" rather than admit sea level rise.In his view, the chief obstacle is the refusal by some local officials to acknowledge what is happening. “The challenge is, we’re fighting about whether or not there’s climate change,” Mr. Smith said. “They don’t want to embrace what’s right in front of us.”