On Veterans Day

On Veterans Day, I find it difficult to utter “Happy Veterans Day”. Some part of me recognizes for many, it is not in the least happy.

For those who feel their service is unrecognized, or worse, punished due to inexpertly written or poorly applied laws; for those who are subject to administrative actions that are clearly so intent on doing what’s “fair” that they forget the option of doing what’s “right”; for those who bear the trauma of their service for the rest of their lives, I am profoundly and truly grateful.

Those of us who were fortunate to have served only in peacetime can look at inconvenient deployments, unaccompanied overseas tours, and the like, and realize though it felt like hell at the time, it was nothing compared to what our less fortunate brothers in arms have felt.

While we all did our part, we all, too, owe the greater debt of gratitude to those who experienced the worst of service life.

Thank you.

Published in: on November 11, 2013 at 3:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thanks

Thanks to Shayne Simmons, who hasn’t had anything to say here, for sending views my way.

Published in: on November 6, 2013 at 11:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Barriers to entry

I’ve been taking a lot of flack from self-defined “one-issue” voters lately. What’s annoying is that these are really not one-issue people at all, but they think they are. They (most of them) think “conservative” is an issue and the Tea Party defines “conservative.”

I refuse to vote the self-identified “conservative” candidate in the Virginia gubernatorial race.  Because every gun-rights group in the Commonwealth has endorsed him, I’ve been called stupid, a traitor, a “liberal” (as a pejorative, of course), misguided, and other terms.

What many of these people – people who have known me for years – fail to realize is that gun-rights is simply the barrier to entry.   After that, you other positions come in to play.  If you don’t support my gun rights, I don’t recognize your “right” to my vote, pure and simple.  That lets out Terry McAuliffe, though I have a strong handful of other reasons.  My only other absolute barrier is a conviction that the Tennessee constitution got it part right (“Whereas Ministers of the Gospel are by their profession, dedicated to God and the care of souls, and ought not to be diverted from the great duties of their functions; therefore, no Minister of the Gospel, or priest of any denomination whatever, shall be eligible to a seat in either House of the Legislature.”) and I’d carry that to “any elected office”.  Those are the barriers to my vote.

After the barriers comes the curtain – the other civil rights.  Candidates can pass the curtain if I disagree with them on these issues, but only if they have very very strong credentials and a record of respecting others’ beliefs and practices.  Among these are the right to marry the person I choose; the right to confer with my doctor and elect those medical procedures best for me; the right to speak my mind even if that speech might offend your god; the right to be treated equally under the law; and the right to insist that your religious preference not affect mine.    In other words, believe what you want, but don’t restrict others.  After that, I assess life experiences and personal characteristics.  And I consider whether my votes can help keep the government split.  That is, all else considered, let’s assure that no one party controls the Governor’s mansion and both houses of the legislature.

It’s that latter set of criteria that many of my gun-rights acquaintances don’t understand.  I believe that in their minds, those rights are inextricably linked, and individuals can have differing opinions on each and every one of them.  It’s a matter of prioritization, and deciding which have to be met and which can be squishy.  In my mind, the gun-rights question must be met, and a combination of the others must be met.  Cuccinelli can’t meet any of them.

Both barriers are in place for LG.  That’s a shame, because the LG is an important person in Virginia, with tie-breaking authority in our evenly divided State Senate.  “None of the Above” as a write-in is the only option.  I feel this is a cop-out, but it is the only way an American has to show that no candidate is acceptable.   We are literally prevented by election law from expressing our opinions.  Even a “none of the above” is seen only in the category of “write-ins” – also-rans – unless there are enough of them the same.   If all voters would write in, maybe the message would be carried, but there are just too many who are happy to select all the people with the same letter after their names, no matter their qualifications.

I am still seeking the election that has a slate of candidates without barriers.

OUR Government?

Is it really “our” government?  If so, why is it “closed”?

We’ve paid them.  We’ve dutifully paid taxes we allowed them to impose.  A LOT of taxes.  Yet we’re letting them take the money, not appropriate it, and then close OUR facilities.  OUR monuments.  OUR courts.  OUR national parks.  Including those that get NOT A DIME of federal funding.  Including monuments with NO doors to lock, no restrooms to clean, and no trash cans to empty; outdoor monuments on OUR National Mall, in OUR national capitol.   Federal Park Police are “essential” to impose the restrictions, in the name of “protecting federal lands, buildings, waterways, equipment and other property owned by the United States.”   Um, that’s by US.

The Washington Post lists “public schools” under the heading of “Federal services” that are open.  Where are the federal public schools?  Yes, I understand that public schools receive some federal funding (without going in to the why of that).

Federal web sites?  Closed.  Because, you know, it takes SO MUCH human intervention to maintain them operable.  Okay, I get that those with changing content may not be updated.  But closed???  Inoperable???  

And, of course, the first lady can’t pour forth her supportive messages without federal funding.

So, this is information you can get anywhere.

What are you doing about it?   Yesterday, I got a lot of busy signal at the Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121.  Today’s Washington Post indicates the monuments and memorials are only half-heartedly closed.  It may be necessary to gather some volunteers to empty trash by the weekend, and that seems like a worthwhile cause.  (No matter how much I expect better of my fellow Americans, I know they do not clean up after themselves.)

Published in: on October 3, 2013 at 9:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Double standard?

So, here I am reading the local paper this morning (Mt. Vernon Patch, to be precise), and I see yet another article on one of our gubernatorial candidates attacking another.  This time, I see McAuliffe’s statement that “he did nothing wrong and has never received any special treatment because of who he’s friends with or happens to know.”

Yet his champions, here and here, are insisting McDonnell got something because of who he’s friend with or happens to know — that it’s impossible not to.   

 

And they expect us, the voters, to think there’s a difference between the parties?

 

Now, the gifts McDonnell got were tangible, rather than skid-greasers

Published in: on August 13, 2013 at 8:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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Fairfax County Police department confused me

I made an on-line report recently of suspicious activity in my neighborhood.  Actually, I’m not even certain it was suspicious, but it was people at my door who were not looking for a specific person, but rather for “Korean families”.  (I didn’t bother to tell them I have a Korean family next door; I had no reason to.)

A few days later, I got an e-mail from “Laura Evans” which said 

Further information is required to complete the processing of your Internet police report (Control Number) xxxxxx.

Please call 703-246-2581

No signature block.  No title, or reference.

A reverse look-up showed the phone number to be from a Department of Public Works.  I decided the e-mail was spam and set it aside.

Later that day, I got a voicemail from “Officer Evans” stating this was my second call (no, it was my first) and to call her.  When I did, I got a recording and chose not to leave a voicemail.

Today I receive a second voicemail from Officer Evans that my report was about to be cancelled.  I called and managed to speak with her.  

 

It was like pulling teeth to get Officer Laura Evans to accept a report that didn’t include my date of birth or DMV customer number. The rationale she gave is that it “makes the report complete.”   I didn’t provide it, as I consider it personally identifiable information which is irrelevant to the report. It’s, frankly, not my problem whether the police department considers the report complete or not.  They do have my name, address, and phone number; isn’t that enough identification?

When she said “you are refusing to provide …” I asked her to change her wording to “I choose not to provide …” She *did* state she would complete the report and note that I chose not to provide.

I may have to FOIA this thing in 6-8 months just to see.

Published in: on March 14, 2013 at 10:04 am  Comments (1)  
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Oh, why not …

I formally rejected the Catholic church many years ago, after I realized I had been going through motions for a long time, and hadn’t really believed many of its tenets.  Still, I have found myself fascinated by papal conclaves and the selection of a new Bishop of Rome.

I literally had tears in my eyes yesterday as I watched the live stream from Vatican Square, and heard the Cardinal Protodeacon announce “Habemus papam!”  I couldn’t tell what he said immediately afterward; was it “Francesco” or “Francisco”?  

Almost immediately, Twitter came alive with “Pope Francis I”.   

Maybe it’s my love of a multi-cultural world, maybe it’s my respect for others’ languages, maybe it’s my despair of Americans wanting to Anglicize everything, but I was terribly disappointed that “Francesco” became “Francis”.  Is it so terrible to refer to Pope Francesco?

I’ll also admit that I didn’t feel the same disappointment that John Paul i (or II) was not Giovanni Paolo, or that Benedict was not Benedicto.  Perhaps it’s because those names are not common in American life, but Francesco certainly is.

Though I don’t believe in the primacy of the Pope, or his church, I was taken by his apparent humility in his initial remarks, and wish most heartily his god will guide him. I wish as well the best for those who choose to follow him.

But I’ll probably still refer to him as Francesco (Primo).

Published in: on March 14, 2013 at 8:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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“They Deserve A Vote”

Emily Miller, senior opinion editor of the Washington Times, writes:

The top legislative priority for gun owners in the previous Congress was passage of a national concealed carry reciprocity bill. The measure sailed through the House on a bipartisan 272 to 154 vote only to die at the hands of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who refused to bring it to the floor. Since President Obama won’t waste an opportunity to exploit the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the measure is being brought back to life. 

How can Reid justify thumbing his nose at the President — the leader of Reid’s party?  Did not the President exhort in his State of the Union address, that the victims “deserve a vote”?  Why is Reid afraid of that vote?

I am not a fan of a national concealed-carry reciprocity bill, at least not without some sense that Congress won’t set the bar so high that it would be akin to qualifying for the Olympics in shooting, or scoring a perfect score on the Camp Peary tactical course, to “earn” a permit.  I DO NOT TRUST the federal government with this process.  Frankly, I’d rather some states (or DC) disarm its citizens than allow Congress to determine standards.  At least states/localities can be replaced by their own citizens.  But not to permit the vote is directly contradictory to the President’s wishes.


Published in: on March 9, 2013 at 4:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

We ELECT these people

The Virginia legislative season is back.

Time for amusement.  The do-nothing, feel-good legislation rolls on.

I’ll be adding more of these as I happen across them.  I have only just so much duct tape I can wrap around my head at one time to keep my brain from exploding.

 

HB1366 “makes it unlawful for a person to smoke in a motor vehicle in the presence of a child younger than 13 years of age; punishable by a civil penalty of $100.”   (Delegate J. Morrisey, D-74)

Okay, who thinks it’s a smart idea to light up in an enclosed space around a child?  Anyone?  Anyone?

Better yet, who thinks a police officer will take the time to cite someone for such a feel-good law?  Oh, by the way, it’s a secondary offense, so you have to do something else wrong, for which the officer will cite you, and then s/he can pile on, if s/he’s in a bad mood.   (Of course, by now the cigarette would be gone, wouldn’t it?  More on that later …)  Since it’s been my experience officers in Fairfax County  run red lights, change lanes in an intersection, cut off other drivers, don’t bother with directional signals, and read their computer screens while driving, I’m not sure they’d recognize a traffic offense.

And … the fine doesn’t go to some health fund, as one would expect since smoking is a health danger, but to a literary fund.  Maybe so offenders could read the new law.  And that literary fund sure could use an extra $200/year.

 

HB 1367  ” includes cigarettes specifically in the category of things deemed litter for purposes of criminal punishment for improper disposal of trash. The bill also provides that in lieu of the imposition of the Class 1 misdemeanor criminal penalty, the court may order the defendant to perform community service in litter abatement activities. If the offense involves a cigarette or cigarettes, the court shall order the payment of a $100 civil penalty payable to the Litter Control and Recycling Fund established in § 10.1-1422.01 in addition to the imposition of such community service.”  (Delegate J. Morrisey, D-74)

At least this one goes to the the Litter Control and Recycling Fund.

 

HB1375 “requires a retail establishment that has a toilet facility for its employees to allow a customer who suffers from Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or other medical condition that requires immediate access to a toilet facility, to use that facility during normal business hours if certain conditions are met. The measure does not apply to certain filling stations or service stations or to banks or savings institutions. The operator of a retail establishment that violates this requirement is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $100. A violation does not subject the retail establishment to further liability to the customer.” (K. Rob Krupika, D-45)

Full disclosure – I suffer from Crohn’s disease.

This bill says a business owner must allow me to use a restroom.  Unless he runs a gas station or bank, though why those are excluded escapes me.

If he doesn’t, there’s no penalty.

But we’d have a law ……..

SB 736 “requires drivers and passengers to wait for a reasonable opportunity to open vehicle doors on the side adjacent to moving traffic. The bill also requires that in this case vehicle doors only be left open as long as necessary. A violation constitutes a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of not more than $100.”  (J. Chapman Peterson, D-34)

Because I always leave my car doors open much longer than necessary, and I’m sure hundreds (or even thousands) of others do as well.

And wasn’t it sweet of him not to include “any law-enforcement officer, school guard, firefighter, or member of a rescue squad engaged in the performance of his duties.”

Re-election

Imagine this.

You’re the boss; you own a small company with about 200 employees who are the face of your  business to the public; what they say binds you.

You hire Bob Brightguy, and tell him go forth and do.

Then you go do something else for a while.  Services are rendered and billing works in your name.

When it’s time for contract renewal, you look over the list of employees up for renewal, you say “Oh, I know that name.  Yeah, keep him.” and you go play more golf.

That’s what WE THE PEOPLE seem to be doing with our elected officials.  They’re our employees!

We’re not paying attention to how Bob Brightguy votes on routine issues. Does he go along to get along, doing as the party says?   Does he introduce legislation that’s good for the entire county/state/country?  Does he automatically say “no” to ideas that aren’t part of his list of interests?  Is he swayed by unions, associations, lobbying groups, or individuals with deep pockets?  What other sources of income does he have besides what WE THE PEOPLE pay?

When it’s re-election time, we get bombarded with “look what I did for you” mail, e-mail, and phone calls.  Well, to be even more frank, often we get “look what a scumbag the other guy is” instead, or “Fred Flamelight hates redheads, so vote for me.” communications instead.

Can you name one piece of legislation your State Delegate or Senator introduced?  Do you know how s/he voted on legislation that’s important to you?  Do you look to see whether the legislation s/he votes for is giving power to the government or taking it away, and cast your votes accordingly?

What is your federal representative an expert on?  What Committees does s/he sit on?  How does s/he vote on routine issues?  Is s/he party-line, and does that meet your approval?

I ask all this because I was part of a discussion recently where someone was complaining about a ballot issue on our November ballot, and whining that s/he didn’t know anything about it until s/he got to the polls.  ( I’m leaving alone for now the whole issue of a responsible voter learning BEFORE election day what will be on the ballot.)  The issue was a Constitutional Amendment, which by law our legislature must pass it in identical form two years in a row; then they must pass a bill dictating exactly the wording to appear on a ballot.  So by the time the voters see it in November, it has been through the General Assembly twice.

Confidence in our politicians has dropped to atrocious levels over the past few decades, yet WE THE PEOPLE don’t know what our legislators stand for.  Often we don’t know their real stance on issues of importance to us, we don’t know whether their voting record matches their campaign promises, and sometimes we just vote because s/he has a D, R, L, IG, S, or I after his name.

Wake up, voters.  Pay attention – or you get the government you have now, with an approval rating in the cellar and the power to do just about anything they want because they know you won’t listen to anything but Fox or MSNBC, if that.

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