Protect me? Oh, really?

In Warren v. District of Columbia, DC’s highest court ruled it is a “fundamental principle of American law that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen.”

The Supreme Court has upheld such decisions.  Police have no duty to protect individual citizens.  (See here for several citations; the Wikipedia citation is down on SOPA protest day.)

So why do they rule that speed traps and drunk-driving checkpoints are legal?  Aren’t those designed to protect individuals?  Some states get it right, and either prohibit them or don’t conduct them because police lack the statutory authority.     I like this page about the legality of the checkpoints, noting the “DUI exception to the Constitution.”

What could possibly be the states’ vested interest, other than – wait for it – protecting individuals?

So what the courts are really telling us is that governments (police forces) don’t have to protect individuals unless they can potentially make money from it.

What we’re paying Legislators to do

Sometimes even I wonder why I rail so about politicians and government?  Is it blinders?  Am I just so opposed to government (as it is) that I can’t see the good?  Perhaps.  But then I go looking for something, and the inanity strikes me over and over again.  Do we really need to pay people to do these things?

While tracking the status this morning of a bill that would require committee and subcommittee votes to be recorded* I came across the House Rules Committee’s probable agenda for yesterday.

Glad to see they’re doing such important work.

Later, they’ll tout in their campaign literature and session reports how busy they were, and how much legislation they had to plow through.

So thrilled that Dave Albo found something important to introduce, now that his abusive Virginia driver fees were repealed (and cost the state a BUNCH of money in collecting and then refunding).

Albo – HB94 – School boards, local; meeting procedures  (Requiring local school boards to use Roberts Rules — at least he requested in Committee that it be stricken.  He might be redeemable.  Might.)

Brink – HJ128 – Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness Week; designating …  (Surely he doesn’t think designating a week is going to do a single thing for any baby?  “Oh, no, I have to wait until tomorrow to shake this baby senseless; this is awareness week!“)

Cox – HB349 – Virginia War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission (Virginia War of 1812???)  (This one is actually a funding bill, requiring the commission to be funded or to die)

Crockett-Stark – HJ98 – First Lady Edith Bolling Wilson Day; designating …

Englin – HJ105 – Virginia Cider Week; designating …

Englin – HJ143 – Spay Day; designating …

Filler-Corn – HJ107 – Hold Out for Hunger Day, designating …..  (Let’s legislate something so we can guilt people into donating …)

Gilbert – HJ49 – Governor’s Executive Reorganization Plan  (Must have been contentious.  Two people in Rules don’t want the Governor’s plan, which eliminates a number of entities.  Or perhaps they just don’t want to approve  anything the Governor does.  Hard to tell without recorded votes.)

Hugo – HJ142 – Asian Lunar New Year Day; designates day designated as new year (Because if we don’t legislate it, the Asian Lunar New Year might happen everywhere else but Virginia.  Who says time can’t stand still?)

Hugo – HJ144 – Small Business Day; designating … (Because the legislature can’t leave them alone to just do their jobs the rest of the year.)

Hugo – HJ145 – Preeclampsia Month; designating …. (Guess that’s how we get around the whole prenatal care thing … one month a year we write on the calendar that women should be watching for symptoms.)

Marshall – HJ93 – Local Government Education week; designating …  (I’m not really sure local governments would be happy if their citizens REALLY understood everything they do!  Sounds like an excuse for them to publish more flyers.)

Orrock – HB79 – Disability Commission; establishing work groups …  (“Shall establish,” not “may establish.”  Strike 1.  Commission was set to sunset in July; this allows it to continue.)

Sickles – HJ120 – Mesothelioma Awareness Day; designating … (Excuse me? Is there anyone with a television who isn’t aware of mesothelioma?  And that lawyers will “help” you get money.)

 

 

* Not recording committee and subcommittee votes allows the chamber to send a bill somewhere that legislators don’t have to go on record as supporting or opposing.  This happens frequently.

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.”

___________________

*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.

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?

Virginia National Defense Industrial Authority
– It takes EIGHTEEN people to fulfill this mission? Figure the taxpayer only pays mileage and per diem, including lodging for overnight trips to the capitol. If they only meet once a year, figuring conservatively $200 for lodging and per diem, plus $100 for mileage, that’s $5400. Multiply that by the number of boards and advisors in the state, and you start talking some money.

We also have:
Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth
Virginia Small Grains Board
Virginia Bright Flue-Cured Tobacco Board
– Alzheimer’s Disease & Related Disorders Commission

And those are just the ones announced in the governor’s press release of July 1st!

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.

Support your children

So, I’m keeping half an eye on the “path to citizenship” proposals being considered again.  I call them the “let’s reward criminal behavior” proposals.  In case it’s not clear, I am fully supportive of immigration — legal immigration — such as that my great grandparents and others of their ilk practiced.   I support nothing that ignores the fact that many people’s first action on American soil is  law-breaking.

I see many arguments for allowing those who were brought here as children, having no say in the matter, a path to citizenship.  I understand the argument that it is unfair to children that they be labeled as “illegal” as they didn’t choose — they did what their parents directed.

No dice.  The question should be addressed to the children.  Particularly to those in high school, or who want to go to college in the US.  Maybe an essay contest.   Describe why your parents would choose to raise you in a country where you have no legal rights.   You may address the issue from any angle you choose.  Did they not want you educated?  Do they not want you to vote?  Are they trying to teach that you can get something for nothing?  Why would they do this to you?

The arguments that “it’s for the children” ignores the fact that the parents — those biological units who are responsible for a child’s welfare — have elected to model illegal behavior as the norm.  We should be deploring the fate of these children with parents so unconcerned.

And we should be asking their home countries to take them back until they can model the right lessons.

Cuccinelli the politician

The saint of the social busybodies, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, sponsored a brief in the DiGiacinto v. the Rectors and Visitors of GMU case. The wording in the brief came eerily close to a page from the Brady Bunch’s playbook.   It went so far as to assert that preschoolers would be at risk if a gun owner carried into a campus building.   This after he told the Virginia Citizens Defense League last year the case was “indefensible.”

Well, yeah, it was indefensible, thus the emotion-laden, “think of the children” far-out scenarios.  This is the page from the Bradys — if you can’t use logic, then scream with emotion, invent situations, and portray gun owners as idiots who turn from polite citizens off campus to raging lunatics the moment they step on campus.

Guess the Brady’s made a bigger campaign contribution.

There’s one good from this, albeit a small one.  Cuccinelli’s silent.  That is also unusual.

What Michelle Obama SHOULD have said …

The 7-year-old told the first lady during a visit last week to New Hampshire Estates Elementary School in the Washington, D.C., suburbs that her mother had said President Obama was “taking everybody away that doesn’t have papers.”

The girl then adding that her mother “doesn’t have papers.” Mrs. Obama tried to reassure her that the president was working to solve the immigration problem and “everybody’s got to work together in Congress to make sure that that happens.”

Mrs. Obama’s response should have made these points:

– Parents are responsible for following laws

– Parents are responsible for teaching their children that we are a nation of laws

– Parents without papers are not legally living in the United States; they are breaking the law

That doesn’t necessarily make the parent a bad person, but it does make the parent a criminal.   “Criminal” means “breaking the law.”

Criminals are those people who choose not to follow laws.  Adults are responsible for the choices they make.  If they make choices that hurt their families, they are still responsible for the choices they make.

America welcomes immigrants.  Many, if not most, Americans trace their ancestry to immigrants within just a few generations.  Immigrants bring incredible diversity to a melting-pot nation.

As it was, Mrs. Obama told that little girl that everything would be okay; that people would be rewarded for breaking the law; and that Congress would overlook all kinds of lawbreaking if it got them votes.