Category Archives: Politics

A world of difference?

This raises a question about whether or not we all actually live in the same world:

What to do in that 5th District Delegate race

Making a long story short, I am voting for Michael Osborne. If you want to know why, read on.

In the 5th District House of Delegates race in Virginia, we have two candidates:

  • Republican Israel O’Quinn, community and government relations director for Food City’s parent company, K-VA-T Food Stores
  • Independent Michael Osborne, a former pastor educated at Graham Bible College and Liberty University who owns Our Father’s House Christian Bookstore and regards his major disagreement points with Democrats “the moral issues.”

I have read the newspaper interviews, but I have not heard Israel O’Quinn speak. If you haven’t noticed, Republicans aren’t making house calls. They are speaking to their own choirs and not very available to the public. I have bumped into Michael Osborne twice without even trying.

The first time that I met Osborne, who likes to be called “Oz,” was at a candidate forum at Virginia Highlands Community College. He did not talk about the issues, just about being a minister and a Christian, and I think he mentioned coal. Then someone asked him about Cap and Trade, and he stated that he was against it. I asked him if he knew of any places in the United States or elsewhere that Cap and Trade was being used, and he did not. I told him there were such places and suggested that he do a Google search and inform himself on the issue. Then I put Oz in my book as a social conservative who did not have any knowledge of other issues and decided I wouldn’t vote for anyone in the 5th District race for Virginia House of Delegates.

Tonight I got to talk with Oz again when he attended the Washington County Democrats potluck at Abingdon High School. I saw him come into the room, and he came directly to me and told me he had done as I suggested and informed himself on Cap and Trade. We talked about Cap and Trade for a few minutes, then about energy in general, and about the future of energy, the Keystone XL pipeline, and associated ideas, like national energy independence. He was still not incredibly well-informed on a wide range of the energy issues, but to be fair these are national issues and not state issues. More to the point, he had remembered my question, he had learned about Cap and Trade, and he was talking with me about it.

Personally, I think Oz would make a better Democrat than he would a Republican, since I have not met a Republican in the past 15 years who was interested, willing to learn something, or willing to discuss an issue with someone who disagreed.

His opponent Israel O’Quinn is a Republican with a possible personal interest in privatizing the ABC stores in Virginia, which is an economic mistake at least equal to the car tax fiasco. He will be a rubber stamp for the regressive administration now in Richmond, otherwise he would not be their pick or have their solid — and impressively well-funded — backing. There is a chance that with Oz we will have a delegate who informs himself on the issues, thinks about what is best for southwest Virginia, and listens to his constituents and not just to his political and corporate sponsors.

Why Occupy?

The folks who are standing up to tear gas and rubber bullets have a reason. If we understand it, we can fix it, starting in November:

Mitt Romney’s pledge

Pro-choice, multiple choice, or pro-life, Mitt Romney rejects a hyphenated title. He pledges instead “to preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose.” This is not a label or a reaction to any endorsement. He has not changed his mind, and he will not change it. Listen to his statement:

Luke 16:19-31

My friend asked, “Why do Republicans hate taxes and the Department of Education?” This is an interesting question that deserves a thoughtful answer.

Republicans explain that education should be in the private sector, and parents should have “educational choice.” This means that corporations and private foundations can make money from schools as parents pay for the education of their children. Wealthy people’s children will have better education than poor people’s children, but that is as it should be. I am reminded of when I taught ninth grade English at Edgewood High in San Antonio, Texas, in the late 1960’s, using fifteen-year-old textbooks sent to the inner-city school district from affluent schools north of the city. These books reminded me — then and now — of the “crumbs that fall from the rich man’s table.” (Luke 16:19-31) The Remote Area Medical Clinics here in Virginia make me think of that parable, and of food ministries giving backpack meals to hungry children. Reducing the quality and availability of public education establishes a de facto underclass limited to low-wage jobs and permanently mired in poverty.

Taxes maintain infrastructure and essential public services that should not be left to the ups and downs of market influences. Interestingly, most of the things we define as infrastructure — roads, bridges, airports, seaports, electric and sewer lines — support the market itself. Trucks could not bring inventory shipments to market without these supporting structures. So the market rests upon infrastructure built largely by tax money. Individuals use the same roads and bridges, driving their cars to work and to the store. But wealthy business owners who move tons of freight and count on the roads and bridges to bring both inventory and customers benefit enormously from tax-supported infrastructure.

It appears fair to me that these giant beneficiaries of public infrastructure should pay a larger share of taxes. But Republicans say that taxes are redistribution of wealth, taking the wealthy person’s hard-earned money and returning it to deadbeats who would themselves be wealthy if they had worked as hard as millionaires have worked. Reason and experience tells you that most poor and middle-income people work harder than millionaires, but Republicans do not operate from reason or consider experience. They have an “idea” that guides their thinking, which is why we say their approach is “ideological.”

The idea that drives much of the radical right-wing agenda is a Christian doctrine called “dominionism” that seeks to make the Bible the foundation of law in the United States. Their doctrine, or ideology, teaches that God is the only legitimate ruler. God rules through powerful people that he has put in place. You can tell that these people are chosen by God by the mere fact that they are wealthy and powerful. Working people should be content with their place, work hard, and if God decides they are worthy, they may become wealthy. But if they do not, they are still supposed to work hard and be content, and enough money will trickle down through charities and jobs given to them by wealthy people.

Dominionism also includes the social agenda — opposing LGBT rights and women’s right to choose, and assuring that traditional power structures remain in place. The social agenda is the preservation of ideological control, setting up a society in which rules from the Bible become laws.

The dominionist belief that God gives governments the right to rule runs counter to the ideas of democratic government, which come not from the Bible but from secular thought prevalent during the French Revolution and the American Revolution. Thinking about liberty and equality encouraged people to refuse to believe that God had given their kings the right to rule, and instead people began to believe that governments draw their just powers from the consent of the governed. Democratic forms of government with citizens casting votes for their legislators and heads of state originated from this set of ideas, not from the Bible.

If it seems that the GOP is trying to “roll back” progress and “rewrite history,” it is because they are trying to do exactly that. In order to do it, they have to break public education in science, math, history, social science, and the arts. They also have to convince people that God made them either rich or poor, and they must be content with their station in life. The poor receive charity from the rich, and the rich are appreciated and respected because God gave them riches and put them in charge.

That is why the GOP hates taxes and the Department of Education.

Assigning the blame where it belongs

Greenpeace is inaccurate in saying Corporate polluters don’t have to worry about dismantling the Clean Air Act because President Obama is doing it for them.

Corporate polluters don’t have to worry about regulation because their lobbyists and their money convinced voters to elect obstructionist Tea Party GOP candidates to office in 2010 and tied the president’s hands.

We elected a President who made promises based on our needs and our participation in government, and he has provided more opportunity to participate than any president in history. For this we have called him weak, because he asks us to support him and then is still unable to turn the Tea Party GOP obstructionists that we the voters sent to congress.

Don’t elect any more small government no taxes keep your hands off my money and give me all of yours Tea Party GOP obstructionists. If you voted for one of these people last time — that would be Morgan Griffith in Virginia ninth where I live — the mess we are in is your fault.

It ultimately comes to the voter. Vote for someone who wants to continue the programs and practices that have helped common people live well. Vote for Social Security, Medicare for all, good roads, good postal service, good worker protections, collective bargaining, good public schools and universities, and good government in general. Quit believing the corporate lies, and vote for people who will help and not obstruct the programs that President Obama has proposed.

Why the TV news is garbage

Today WCYB reported that “Obama Calls For Israel’s Return to Pre-1967 Borders,” and added commentary about the negative response. Their report is not true. In cable news, you hear the headline over and over. In local news, you hear it once. If the headline is not true, you don’t hear the truth.

Of course the excuse if you raise the issue is that they are pressed for time and do not have time to include the details.

For those who can get to the Internet to check up on what people say, WCYB.com posted a longer article titled Obama Calls For Israel’s Return To Pre-1967 Borders
by Tom Cohen of CNN. If you go that far to check, you still have to read a bit to know that someone misled you because the headline is still a half-truth, which is a politically significant lie:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Barack Obama on Thursday made official the long-held but rarely stated U.S. support for a future Palestinian state based on borders that existed before the 1967 Middle East war.

In the past, the United States has unofficially backed a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict based on the borders in place prior to the war 44 years ago in which Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula.

In a major speech Thursday, Obama became the first president to formally endorse the policy, but he also acknowledged the need for modifications through the negotiating process due to conditions on the ground. [italics mine]

The words in italics do not correct the lie in the headline. They confuse the issue with the idea that this information is an aside or a nod or a concession added to the recommendation. I heard the original speech. What President Obama said was that Israel should return to the pre-1967 borders with mutually-agreed swaps to form secure borders that can be defended. There was never a suggestion at all that Israel should return to the pre-1967 borders. Unfortunately, the lie is as much as the TV news reported, and the truth in the article is well hidden because over 90% won’t follow up the TV news story, and of those who do, most won’t read past the headline and the first two paragraphs.

President Obama’s actual statement is quoted in paragraph 5:

“We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states,” Obama continued.

Farther into the story on the website, the article reports President Obama’s strong support for Israel:

At the same time, Obama reiterated unwavering U.S. support for Israel’s security, and he endorsed major negotiating positions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, including an incremental handover of security responsibilities by Israel when conditions on the ground allow it.

Obama declared the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security “unshakable,” and said “every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself — by itself — against any threat.”

“Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism; to stop the infiltration of weapons; and to provide effective border security,” Obama continued, touching on the major concerns of Israel in facing a new Palestinian neighbor. “The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.”

So the long and the short of it is that if you want to know what really happened, you will have to search for it. The TV news is not going to tell you.