Showing posts from January, 2007

Parsing the Bible – In A Democracy

Jesus, as far as anyone knows, never said a word about stem cell research, never a word about abortion, or never a word about homosexuality. But our American fundamentalist Protestant churches seem suspiciously intent on finding vague and ambiguous meanings in a few isolated verses to support, what I allege, are their preconceived and biased points of view regarding these issues. And they do this while completely missing the overriding message of Jesus. They form churches that act more like country clubs without the golf courses, and pretend that sitting in the pews an hour each week gives them the moral superiority that will convey them to the front of the line at the Pearly Gate.

Few of these churchgoers can abstract themselves for a moment and realize the circularity of, in the case of Southern Baptists for instance, of having their elderly pious male deacons carefully select each of their pastors such that this bias is perpetuated and even accentuated.

These same congregations,…

Who The Hell Is Congressman Cantor Representing?

There have been six important votes in this new Congress:

A bill intended to implement the remaining 9/11 Commission homeland security recommendations – Eric Cantor voted NO.

A bill that would raise the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 over the next two years – Eric Cantor voted NO.

A bill that would expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research – Eric Cantor voted NO.

A bill that would require the government to negotiate Medicare prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies - Eric Cantor voted NO.

A bill intended to make college education more affordable by gradually reducing the interest rate on need-based student loans issued after July 2007 from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent – Eric Cantor voted NO.

A bill intended to encourage development of alternate sources of energy. - Eric Cantor voted NO.

Is Cantor just a product of Virginia’s Republican gerrymandered districts? Is he just a Republican pol who follows lock-step instructions from his neo-conservative bosses?…

Congressman Eric Cantor – Virginia’s Mister No

Last week there were four important votes in Congress:

A bill intended to implement the remaining 9/11 Commission homeland security recommendations – Eric Cantor voted NO.

A bill that would raise the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 over the next two years – Eric Cantor voted NO.

A bill that would expand federal funding of embryonic stem cell research – Eric Cantor voted NO.

A bill that would require the government to negotiate Medicare prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies - Eric Cantor voted NO.

Is Eric Cantor actually representing the approximately 700,000 residents in Virginia's 7th congressional district? Or is he just another lawyer type Republican propelled into office by the local Republican king makers? How many in his district could actually pick him out of a line up or offer one thing they can remember this Congressman actually accomplishing for his district, state, or nation?

Try calling his office and getting the monotonous voice of a staffer who…

Virgil Goode Should Not Represent Virginians

The current estimated population of the United States is 300,970,614 as of this moment. The Reapportionment Act of 1929 currently fixes the total number of Representatives at 435. That means that each Congressman is selected, on average, from a population of approximately 691,886 citizens. Can someone explain to me how Virgil Goode, the Representative from Virginia’s 5th District is the best out of almost 700,000 Virginians? His remarks about Muslims in America is reprehensible, embarrassing to the state, ignorant, biased, and far from the tradition of great Virginians who came before him and who made such positive contributions to this state and to this nation.

For him not to fully recant his statements, fully apologize, and additionally take meaningful steps to address the harm he has caused further shows his character. Our national problems require better and Virginia certainly should have better men and women to deal with the national challenges of 2007.

The Republican Party, Vi…

Facing a Growing Divide in America

Perhaps I am a bit of a European-style socialist, although I’ve not thought of myself as such. I’m not that comfortable being pigeonholed. I actually agree with and/or find merit in quite a bit of what the ”other side”, the conservative right, is arguing in this discussion, this controversy over minimum wage increases. I am rather open-minded and willing to listen to the arguments.

The core issue to me though is not as clear as it seems to most conservatives. I am unconvinced that applying economic theory alone outside the context of sociological and behavioral considerations is the best response of government to those who are at the bottom of the wage scale. I certainly do not support an increase in the minimum wage for what might be called “feel good” political strategy.

I sense that solely thinking in a supply/demand free market way about minimum wages is simplistic and unrealistic, although I do agree that this works well at the micro level and does bring about efficiency and fair…

Mitt Romney Flip-Flops

“I believe every American deserves equal opportunity” – so says Mitt Romney. "I was wrong" to say in 1994 that "all people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation . . . . I’ve led the fight to protect traditional marriage. I’ve taken every legal step I could conceive of to prevent same sex marriage.”

For the overwhelming number of heterosexuals in this country that means also the equal opportunity to get a marriage license should they fall in love and want a mutually committed relationship. But homosexuals, no less law abiding, no less tax paying, no less legally voting, no less moral than heterosexual citizens, are not allowed to get a marriage license – are disenfranchised from the rights, privileges, and rewards that our government bestows on heterosexuals.

When will conservatives educate themselves that homosexuals are (1) not a threat to traditional marriage, and (2) giving equality to homosexuals to marry could ac…

An Argument in Support of the Minimum Wage

Classical economics, Adam Smith, and free market forces – all wonderful concepts and very efficient and practical methods of managing our micro marketplace activities.

Except – except that in this natural world the ultimate progression is that the weak eventually fall by the wayside and the strong ultimately accumulate all the wealth. It is a game of Monopoly played large and as anyone who has played Monopoly knows, it is no fun to play once someone else controls all the hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place.

Are those opposing a hike in the minimum wage suggesting that the obscene pay packages of many, if not most, of America’s top companies are the result of free market forces? Hardly, they are the result of networked boards, good old boy networks, greedy contracts of these executives, and the impotence of the finely divided stockholders who have little ability to coalesce into an effective opposing force. Do they think that there are not capable managers in America who could competentl…

Virginia – A Goode Place to Live

Yes, with this year 2007 being the 400th anniversary of the founding of the first permanent English colony in the new world (remember John Smith and Pocahontas), we Virginians can be duly proud to live in a state that has produced such illustrious leaders. Now I’m not referring to the old history book crowd – the George Washingtons, Thomas Jeffersons, James Madisons, or Patrick Henrys – no they are mere footnotes in our 1950’s history books. Wildly exaggerated personalities (Washington never cut down a cherry tree or threw a silver dollar across the Potomac River) – men who were in actuality traitors to the British government which was legitimately ruling at the time. They were the rabblerousing, rebellious, free thinkers, hopelessly idealistic upstarts. Jefferson probably even grew his own marijuana that he and his black slave girl Sally Hemings would smoke during their love trysts.

No readers, I am talking about the real men of Virginia – the men who we today look up to, revere, …

The Second 100 Hours

The Democrats are off and running on their much flaunted first 100 hours, and I wish them luck. But I haven’t heard a word on what is to follow. May I be so bold as to suggest an approach for the second 100 hours that potentially could turn our country around and make major strides in solving vexing problems that have been building and unaddressed for decades -- for the world is moving exponentially but government reform is moving linearly if at all.

Let me preface my idea by reflecting back on another issue where Congress perennially maneuvers itself into gridlock -- military base closings. Military bases are very parochial beasts and local self-interest and political survival are usually at stake. It makes sense to periodically readjust and resize our military but “not in my front yard” is the position of any Congressman with a base in his/her district. This problem has had a simple and rather elegant solution – Congress appoints a non-partisan, bipartisan, respected and truste…

Spring Is Finally Here!

Yes, Richmonders, after our long winter, this weekend we are seeing that Spring is finally returning and we will no longer suffer the indignities of Winter’s cruel grasp.

Should you be a typical Richmond conservative Republican, please know that the previous sentence was said in jest. I am enough of a scientist to know that even our unseasonably warm episode does not verify global warming. Nor does the fact that 2007 is predicted to be the warmest year on Earth in recorded history, nor does the fact that glaciers are receding, ice caps are melting and breaking away, and natural phenomena all over the world are changing in relation to temperature.

This is me and my brother in a photo taken in Richmond in the winter of 1951 – back when we had winter in Richmond and most often even snow.

But one wonders just how far into global warming one must venture before even a Richmond conservative Republican will cry “uncle” and admit to the effect man is having on our shared environment. It mus…