I happily retired to Luray six years ago, live on the beautiful Shenandoah River, and plan on dying here. But, having been born in New Jersey (in Paterson, of all places) and raised among fellow Italian Americans (I still have a New Jersey accent), my heart still belongs to the Garden State. I have to admit that I miss the people I grew up with and their succinct, sometimes sarcastic, views on any subject, and who don’t take crap from anybody. They simply call it like they see it.
Take the “reality” TV show “The Real Housewives of NJ,” which I think is an embarrassment to all Italians from New Jersey, but is typical of Italian-American women. These ladies are tough and swear like sailors; I wouldn’t pick a fight with any of them. Of course, no comparison with the gentile Southern ladies of Page County and Luray. I do, however, like one of the wives from the early episodes, Caroline Manzo, whose husband’s family owns a famous restaurant in Paterson.
What mostly impresses me about Caroline Manzo is her simple, no-nonsense approach to life and other people’s issues. It was clear from the start that who you hang out with matters a lot to Caroline. Her famous quote from the show now sells millions of posters:
“You hang out with trash and you start to smell like garbage.”
New Jersey is not Virginia, but I think some politicians could learn a few things from Caroline Manzo about whom they hang out with. Take, for example, our own member of Congress, Rep. Ben Cline. According to the list of political contributors to his recent re-election, he has a lot of questionable supporters, none of whom is from Virginia, thank goodness.
One Congressman, Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, is currently a hot item in the national news right now. He’s a rich playboy who’s never had a real job, lives off his father’s money, is an avid Donald Trump supporter, and now is being accused of sex trafficking and having carnal relations with a minor, all charges of which he denies as he is being investigated by the FBI. He does, however, admit to being a “generous” guy, but hasn’t gotten any support from the former President, although he did ask Trump for a blanket presidential pardon near the end of Trump’s presidency, just in case.
Gaetz also was a Ben Cline supporter, to the tune of $2,000 in the 2020 election.
Ben Cline’s other financial supporters aren’t much of a surprise to me, and I suspect Caroline Manzo’s quote about folks smelling like garbage would apply here too. Just a handful of political animals in Congress with whom I would never want to fraternize.
Along with Cline, his contributors voted to support a frivolous Texas lawsuit last year filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, which illegally contested the results of the 2020 presidential election (Cline is a law school graduate). In effect, 120-plus Republican members subverted the Constitution and undermined public trust in our democratic process, not to mention claiming that Trump had won the election and violated their oaths of office. No apology from Cline.
A sampling of Ben Cline’s re-election supporters follows (none is from Virginia). They all are loyalists to Donald Trump, still believe he won the election, and still support the former President’s “big lie” controversies in their public statements — even five months now after the legitimate election of President Biden by both the voters and the Electoral College. These lies and public statements continue to contribute to voter confusion, have fueled dozens of proposed state legislative actions to restrict minority voting, and helped incite the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Ben Cline’s Congressional supporters include:
· Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) — Referred to by fellow Republican Ohioan and former GOP Speaker of the House John Boehner in his recent book as a “political terrorist — never building anything, never putting anything together.” $4,000 to Cline.
· Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) — Current House Minority Whip, the second-highest Republican within the House of Representatives after Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Still believes that Trump won the election. $4,000 to Cline.
· Former Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) — Trump’s fourth and final chief of staff, who still refuses to acknowledge that Trump lost the election. He was known by his former congressional colleagues as someone not to be trusted. $2,000 to Cline.
· Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX) — Texas Congressman. $2,000 to Cline.
Who needs “friends” like this? People in Page County and other localities in Ben Cline’s congressional district deserve better than this crew, and we certainly don’t need contributions from non-Virginians to elect our representatives. Ben Cline needs to be more careful who he hangs out with.
Anybody smell garbage?
Don Feliciano ~ Luray, Va.
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