Politicians sure do tend to “assume” responsibility

I have been reading a lot of political material lately.  Surprising, eh?

Recently it struck me that politicians – well, in truth, a lot of “leaders” – tend to issue statements in which they “assume” responsibility.

Seems that seldom do they “accept” responsibility*.  Even less often do they admit culpability.

“Assuming” responsibility lets them be magnanimous.  In effect, it says “I’m not responsible – that poor schmuck over there is – but I’m such a big person I’ll assume the responsibility from him and let him off the hook.”

It goes hand-in-hand with issuing non-apologies — you know, the ones that say “I’m sorry you were offended.” rather than “I’m sorry I said something offensive.”

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*Note:  this statement is based on my impressions; I certainly did not do any kind of research to tell whether one or the other word was more popular.

“Lies, damn lies, and statistics” Illustrated

The Brady Bunch is touting this article (note – NY Times.  NY City.  Bloomberg.)  Never mind the fact that the article really is about bureaucracy-related issues, using guns as an example (because guns are what they fight) — only the numbers cited.

10 of 2400 felonies in NC were murders; 8 of them used a gun. 8/2400 = 0.003333. HUGE percentage, eh?

200 permit holders were convicted of gun- “or weapon-” related felonies.  Note the addition of all other classes of weapons.  Remember that US courts have upheld that a cup of soda and ice can be a weapon.

900 permit holders were convicted of drunk driving. Of how many drunk-driving convictions total?  Were any of those permit holders actually carrying while intoxicated (BTW, it’s illegal in NC to carry while you have any alcohol in your system)?

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*Note the NYTimes has to travel to another state to do investigative reporting that matches the point of view they wish to present.

Published in: on December 27, 2011 at 11:06 am  Leave a Comment  

A tale of two hardware chains

Or are they “home-improvement” chains.

Whatever.

On the one hand, Home Depot, whose customer service has become atrocious lately, has stood up for its beliefs.

The hate group “American Family Association” *  has been pressuring Home Depot not to speak out in favor of human rights.  Apparently, it’s okay to favor human rights; you just can’t say so and stay on AFA’s good side.

On the other hand, Lowe’s chose to pull its advertising from the TLC Show “All-American Muslim”.  All-American Muslim follows families in Dearborn, Michigan.  Yet the primary hate group opposing it is the Florida Family Association (*).  Lowe’s comment:  “We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.”   Apparently they’ll defer to communities far removed from the one portrayed.

I haven’t watched All-American Muslim.  It’s not in a time slot I pay a lot of attention to; I know a number of American Muslim families; and I’m not a big fan of TLC.   I  cannot comprehend, though, a company pulling advertising based on opposition from a hate group.  When verifying the information on the Florida group’s web page, I note they’re pissed that neither Hershey’s and Campbell’s Soup has bent.

Excuse me.  I’m off  to buy Hershey’s cocoa, Hershey’s chocolate, and a few dozen cans of Campbell’s soup.   Then I’ll stop at Home Depot for my DIY needs.

Hurricane Irene

I’m not much concerned about Hurricane Irene.

As an advocate of personal responsibility, I’m all for preparation and knowledge.  I’ve been watching the storm track for Irene since it became a hurricane, checking every so often (not every hour) for status.  Thursday I learned we had a 40% chance of tropical storm-force winds by today.  Those in the Outer Banks had greater probability of stronger winds.

So why on the planet of the gods is news not able to lead in to a story with “those most likely to see damaging winds and rain should …” or “most of you don’t need to …”?

Oh, for the record, many of us do need to be prepared for power outages; it seems power companies in this area have a hard enough time dealing with average rainstorms, much less anything that might drop a limb onto one of their lines.

And individuals fall into one of three categories.  Fortunately, some say “I’m prepared for the likely eventuality, and know what I’ll do should stuff hit the fan.”  Others prepare to make laxative french toast, buying up milk, bread, eggs, and toilet paper.  A third faction fails to make any preparation at all, and expects the government to take care of them if they’re wrong.  That’s not personal responsibility at all.

The media enables the second group, adding to traffic congestion, short tempers, and empty store shelves.  Seems the media assumes everyone is too stupid to make any personal-responsibility decisions for themselves, and must be told what to do and when.  Sort of like most politicians.

 

Edited to add this link to a YouTube video showing the storm not strongly formed at all.

A disappointing side of Chap Peterson

In his blog on post-primary thoughts, State Senator Chap Peterson, D-Fairfax, shows a side of his character that should be distressing to voters concerned with rampant partisanship.

While referring to other primary winners, Democrats, by their district, Chap refers to Dick Black as “R-Anywhere”.   I’m once again disappointed, but find myself wondering when I’ll get out of my castle in the clouds and start expecting this of Northern Virginia politicians.  Of most politicians, actually.  I keep finding people who are generally good people, if mistaken in their points of view, who then show blatant disrespect for others with differing views.

And none of the five internet identities I’ve tried will allow me to post comments on Peterson’s blog any more.  Makes me wonder about the possibility of being blocked.  Is that paranoid?

The American Bar Association is on the government-solution bandwagon

The ABA has done it too.   In its Resolution 111-A, it asks the government to help out students who voluntarily take on too much debt.

They’re asking the federal government to alter the terms of loans the individuals took from private corporations — commercial lenders.  Sure, they’re asking the commercial lenders to change terms as well, but the idea of asking the federal government to change loan terms after-the-fact is an anathema to me.

To the ABA and anyone else…

If you want to go to law school, fine.  Figure out how to pay for it, negotiate for the loans if needed, then live up to your end of the contract.  If you make a mistake, live with it.  DO NOT ask Uncle Sam to take care of it for you.

Americans and bullying

I see more and more articles about bullying.  Of particular concern to me are bullying of schoolchildren and gays (or those perceived to be gay).

School bullying is particularly heinous.  What keeps going through my head, though, is why these children are not being taught to stand up for themselves.  I was subject to a little bullying in school, but when the bullies found out it wouldn’t really affect me, they stopped.

We (as a society) have put all this effort into raising “self-esteem” for our students — no one fails, everyone wins — and yet we have obviously not instilled any self-confidence.   Sure, some children are less assertive than others, but isn’t it our role as parents to listen to our children, from their youngest days so they feel comfortable talking to us about bullying, and helping them to become as confident as possible in their own self-worth?

So I’m cogitating….

Americans used to pride themselves on self-reliance and interdependence at the community level.  Now, we seem to be teaching our children to conform, not to rock the boat, and to roll over rather than fight when the time is right.  Non-conformance may be the excuse for bullying, so our children may believe non-conformance is somehow bad.

When a child commits suicide due to schoolroom bullying, parents are devastated, of course.  I wonder if some of them don’t share the  guilt, though.  Why couldn’t their child confide in them?  How does the bullying get so bad as to generate suicide thoughts and the parents not know?  Have they not shared thoughts and feelings as a matter of course?  Have they tried to shield their children from issues of concern, so not discussing them seems the norm?  Are we doing today’s children a disservice?

And have we been doing it for too long?  While I generally figure adults can fend for themselves, some young adults are a product of this lax child-rearing.  We teach them they’re victims (the active-shooter scenario in most schools, for crying out loud, involves hiding behind melamine or plywood desks); that fighting, even in defense of their lives, is bad.  Schools help — those who fight are all disciplined (maybe), without regard to any issues of self-defense.  Too many are not teaching self-reliance, but victimhood.

We need to help our children.  That help starts at the individual level.  Parents and guardians, and teachers as well, need to encourage our students to talk, we need to celebrate individuality from the earliest years, and we need to ensure our students have the tools to take care of themselves, whether it’s fighting back or enlisting help.

But none of the articles focus on the “victim”.  “Experts” seem to think we can stop bullying by passing laws and “strengthening” school “no-tolerance” policies, and don’t look at the full scope of the problem.  Will this work?  Apparently not; bullying, according to popular press, is on the increase.

Published in: on August 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

What our government bureaucracy rewards

I would hope civil libertarians have this on their scope:

“Finalists named for top federal workforce awards”

Note what the Washington Post considers noteworthy.  The first one they list is someone who will regulate what goes in to your body.  Now, I’m in no way defending smokers; though I quit over 10 years ago, I’m not the rabid anti-smoker, and don’t care what you do to yours.  What I do find reprehensible is a statement like “We have a fundamental authority now that no other country has.”  Fundamental?  Really?  What they have is an assumed authority based on a fundamental assumption that the government has a right to control you.  In my book. Deyton would be doing a great service if he advertised and educated, so people understand what they’re ingesting, and its effects.  From there, personal responsibility takes over.

I’ve not gone to the full list of nominees. In a couple of past years, some deserving folks have actually been recognized.  This year, I hope it’s not the one the Washington Post is cheering.

Fairfax County Supervisor Gerry Hyland sent out an interesting “invitation”.  In it, he noted something new — an admission charge of canned goods for United Community Ministries.

I wrote asking whether he was simply promoting a very tasteless joke or actually charging admission to an audience with a public official — a serious lapse of ethics and an electoral issue, in my eyes.

Later he sent out a notice stating:

Some folks have challenged my “tongue in cheek” requirement that admission to the event is a can of food for the hungry.  Not to worry, this was my erstwhile attempt to emphasize the desperate need to help United Community Ministries feed the less fortunate.  Obviously, I have no legal right or desire to deny anyone admission to the Town Meeting, nor would I ever do that.  Lest there be any doubt, there is NO requirement for anyone to bring food for admission to the Town Meeting.  However, any help you can give will be sincerely appreciated.

Now, let’s apply junior-high-learned analysis.  The fact that “tongue-in-cheek” is contained in quotation marks can say one of two things — one, that the quote comes from elsewhere, or two, that it does not have the meaning one would normally associate with it.

How many of us really believe this was a tongue-in-cheek request?   I don’t, because the original message also said that if you “forgot”, you could promise to make that donation within a week.

Make a stupid mistake, such as requiring a donation – even for such a good cause?  Forgiveable.

Implying that is not what you meant?  Typical politician.

The 2011 Scott and Toddy Show: or Let’s Not Define Civil Discourse in VA-36 or VA-44

(I’m having difficulty uploading the recording I made.  It may have to follow.  Maybe that’s what I get for using Windows Media Player instead of a real audio program.  I can hear it fine on my machine. Where I reference time hacks on my recording, the time is very rough.  For some reason, I can’t see the time hacks on my playback. )

Today was the 2011 Annual Town Hall Meeting sponsored by Senator Linda (Toddy) Puller (VA-36) & Delegate Scott Surovell (VA-44).   (I’ve linked to both sites, but Puller’s is, as of today, 29 January, woefully out of date). It should have been titled differently.   I came away feeling as if I’d just attended a report on a Democratic Committee strategy session, and not a report of legislation.  This is the third such town hall I’ve attended – two under Surovell’s predecessor Kris Amundsen, and one with Surovell.  I presume there was one last year, but I never heard about it.  Probably because I’m not on the Democrat’s mailing list.  I don’t know why—I’m on the Republican’s list, and I give them exactly zero percent more credibility than I give the Democrats.

I simply cannot understand how an elected official can stand in front of constituents and vilify “the other side” while barely defending positions on budget, transportation, education, child care, health care, redistricting, and other issues.

Toddy spoke first.  After  lamenting that she was in Richmond during the storm and came home last night to find her driveway not shoveled (in all fairness – she can’t do it, but it doesn’t seem to me it’s her constituents’ worry that whoever was supposed to have done it did not), she whined that the legislators only had a week to submit bills.  Not that they follow that rule; she did note that every day someone asks unanimous consent to submit another bill.  Why have a rule you’re not going to follow?  And how on the planet of the gods can a legislator not know what legislation s/he intends to submit in a given year.  What are they waiting for?

Since 1994, Toddy has been fighting for studies of one form or another for US-1 – that glorious highway that defines Virginia east of I-95 from Prince William County to DC.  It’s poorly constructed, with little to no capability to handle the number of cars that traverse it each day, and sadly in need of work.  However, the other side of that issue is that there is apparently no will on the part of the County or the State to enforce laws on the highway, either.   I’m almost convinced there are massive magnets built into intersections for the 6-or-so-mile stretch, given the number of people who think intersections are THE place to change lanes.  And for that stretch of highway, people seem to have forgotten that if you miss a turn, you go down, turn around, and come back.  No, on US-1 you cut across three lanes of traffic, right-of-way be damned.  I’m personally convinced that vigorous enforcement of existing laws on just the 4-mile stretch from the beltway to Ft Belvoir would easily solve both traffic problems and the lack of funding for transportation.  At about 19:00 on the link (audio of the townhall) she starts talking about it.

Then she complains about lawyers arguing over the meaning of law.

Toddy then spoke about how she, as Chair of the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee, is holding the governor’s privatization plan hostage (starting about 23:00 on attached).  Governor McDonnell proposes to privatize alcoholic beverage sales in the state, but the Democrats in the state see alcohol as a revenue producer and don’t want to give it up.  I’m not sure where “retail sales” is a governmental function in anyone’s constitution, but there you go.  Toddy should assign the proposal to the Alcoholic Beverage Control subcommittee (there is no other appropriate subcommittee), but has to date not assigned it, nor has she scheduled any action on it.  She bragged that she won’t do anything with it before the House does, since the House is controlled by the governor’s party.   Her words – that way he can’t blame the Senate Democrats for voting it down.  At least she admits to being a coward, and brags about stymying the bill.

She dismisses the governor’s transportation plan, but claims that transportation is her #1 issue.   Apparently his plan involves general fund monies, which she opposes.

I’m not sure what Scott spoke about.   He starts about 26:45 on the attached, and rails against Republicans for a while.  This is a guy who was formerly Chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, so one expects partisanship, but this is ridiculous.   I felt he was giving his presentation in that Chairman role, and not as a state Delegate.  Maybe it is just his mannerism, but every second or third sentence, he looks at Toddy as if for approval.  He sure seems like a Toddy clone.  At least his predecessor – you know, the one who didn’t decide to retire until after the Republicans ran someone against her, and after primaries, so the County committee could name the nominee – was her own person.

First, he complained that he’s not in the Senate, then that he’s not in the majority.  Then he bitches about the press (about 29:58).  And the governor’s definition of “surplus”, referring to the governor’s “budget gimmicks”.   On transportation, he admits that looking at only one’s district is parochial and small-minded, but then complains that he didn’t get enough in the 44th.  Listen about 36:13 – one of the problems in the House is the Tea Party.  Apparently he doesn’t like states’ rights, from the way he dismisses them “or whatever”.  Actually, that’s probably right – he doesn’t think the state should tell the county how to live its life.  Not sure what kind of a reading of the Bill of Rights leads one to think that if the states have primacy over the federal government, then counties should have prmacy over states.  I don’t read it that way.

Redistricting was a big deal.  But my delegate has absolutely no say in anything, if you listen to him.  It’s someone else’s say.  Listen to Toddy starting about 53:25.  Listen carefully. “I have to lose 10K people and probably in PWC.  The growth is in PWC and Lorton.  We will be trying to redraw the PW lines to help Sen Colgan’s district ‘cause his is very very Republican and he’s the only one who could win that district.”  Then Scott says “Toddy left out the part where the AG sues somebody.”  Neither the senator nor the delegate admitted to having a clue how redistricting works.  When asked if it follows a formula or is it a partisan heyday, Toddy blamed politics.  She swears the House of Delegates doesn’t want to be nonpartisan.  She says the Senate will be fairer, implying that the House will not.  They both claimed that “both sides” have hired lawyers.

Then there was the Cuccinelli bashing.  Mind you, if any politician ever needed bashing, it is Cuccinelli, but this was not the place for it.  This was the place, I thought, for talking about issues.  Apparently I was in the minority today.  He blasted the AG opinion that says the state may not appropriate monies to charity.   Much as I dislike Cuccinelli, I do agree that the state has no business providing my tax dollars to charity.  At 44:51, he states the AG is not very popular.   In fact, the statements on the questionnaire didn’t ask about the AG.  At about 45:10, he states the Senate is considering legislation to restrict the AG power for the next three years.  (Addendum;  this post in the Washington Post addresses it.)

Surovell spoke about his survey.  He noted the 283 (46.2% of respondents) who want to raise taxes rather than cut government.   However, 283 respondents of the 8000 surveys sent out is 3.5%, so the real answer is probably somewhere between 3.5 and 46.2%.

Neither individual spoke about any issues s/he had not specifically introduced bills for.  Surovell lamented the fact that he’s limited to 15 bills, but his 15 include solar tax credits, funding  a local charity (a GREAT organization, by the way, but still a charity) and providing credit for students who study piano.  Notwithstanding that he apparently doesn’t give a rat’s ass about cello players, or tuba players, or harpists, can one honestly and with a straight face lament one can’t do enough, while simultaneously sponsoring legislation for piano credit at the high-school level?   At least his constituent survey showed him that of the 2.25% of his constituents who even gave the question any credibility, 48% oppose it.

Toddy was masterful at finishing up the remarks with redistricting, so the initial questions all dealt with redistricting, and they got to electioneer while ostensibly answering questions.
Now, I’ve not been to town halls in other districts.  I only became involved in state issues after moving here to Virginia.  If most town halls go this way, it’s no wonder people blew up at them.