Category Archives: Politics

Prayer requests

I posted a this request on the Facebook “resources on prayer you’d like to see offered” discussion board of the National Prayer Center of the Assemblies of God:

I would like to see you denounce imprecatory prayers and specifically the Facebook page praying for the death of President Obama. If the people signed on to these pages actually believe in the effectiveness of prayer, they are making serious threats on President Obama’s life, and that is disrespect for the law as well as the President. If they believe their action is harmless, they do not believe in prayer or in God. If you permit it to continue without commenting, you are abdicating your leadership role, concurring in the death threat, or denying God’s power.

I received this response, posted to the discussion board:

The National Prayer Center vehemently denounces the expression of prayer for the harming of anyone, and would remove such sentiments from its page as soon as noticed.

This discussion board has only the invitation, my request, and their response since the middle of March, so not much of a discussion is going on there, and the response posted in this quiet corner does not amount to “vehemently denounces.” What I cannot understand is the quantity of mean-spirited and downright hateful rhetoric that is coming from self-proclaimed Christian people, and the silence of the church at large regarding the situation.

Here is the problem:

  • If a church does not believe in the power of prayer and still asks members to invest their time and energy in a useless activity, that church is committing the worst kind of fraud.
  • If a church does believe in prayer and tolerates — or worse encourages — members to pray for harm to people, that church is concurring in the curse.
  • If believers are acting contrary to the understanding of the church and doing in the name of Christ something that the church denounces, that church is ineffective as a spiritual leader.

To be perfectly clear, when I say “a church,” I mean the group of people with whom you gather for worship as well as the larger denominational organization — Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic, A of G, Church of God, Church of Latter Day Saints, Seventh Day Adventists, Church of the Brethren, etc. All of these should be publicly denouncing the use by Christians of imprecatory prayer to curse our nation and our leaders. So far as I have seen, they have not done so.

Open letter to Virginia legislators

This letter has been sent on e-mail to my Senator, William Wampler,  and my Delegate, Joseph P. Johnson:

Dear (Virginia legislators)

I am writing to encourage you to vote against amendments to the budget bill that cut services in health, support of families and children, and education. I know that these are rough financial times. Rough financial times require us to hold our breath and trust one another, to share our resources so that everyone can come out okay in recovery. This is not the Democrat way or the Republican way. It is not the Christian way. It is not the way of the right or the left. It is in fact the only way to recovery. Nothing else works for hard times.

As a student of history, which I know you are as well, I know that governments are instituted to serve people, to make a good life a possible goal, and to even out the good times and the bad times. Virginia has done well with that, and has maintained a good environment for business and workers. If we cut health, family support, and education now because of hard times, we won’t all come out okay in the recovery. We will in fact all come out worse, because we will downgrade the educational level of our workforce, lower the standard of health for the Commonwealth, and leave families — upon whom society rests — to fend for themselves.

I don’t think people are as mean and greedy as they have been represented in the press, and I don’t think they would be as angry if our leaders, like yourself, would stand up and give them the truth instead of letting them receive their news and views from FOX. Most of us wouldn’t mind a small tax increase if it meant that we could go to bed each night knowing that Virginia’s mothers and children were not hungry or cold or ill and unable to afford medicine. Every Virginian is either a mother or a child of a mother, so every Virginian knows what I am talking about on a very personal level.

I know that you can’t spend money you don’t have, but I also know that people of a democracy or a commonwealth count on government to create and run programs and projects for the benefit of citizens. When a government loses or gives up the ability to raise revenues for essential programs, it can no longer serve its purpose. It changes from being a servant and conservator of the Commonwealth to being an expensive parasite, absorbing resources for its own existence when it can do us no good.

Please vote “no” on additional cuts, and give us a budget that will let us sleep better in the Commonwealth. There will be a great health benefit to that good night’s sleep we get after making sure we have done all we can for the people we serve.

How American democracy isn’t working

American democracy has historically been an effective two-party system. Each party was pushed by fringe groups and activists to the left and right, but each remained strong enough to actually get work done and sustain the system. Then came the radical right, whom reason cannot sway because reason is trumped by ideology. So now there is a great divide between the “tax-and-spend” liberals who are driving the country into debt and “small government” conservatives who want to reign in costs. The talk shows and news desks still use these definitions without critical comment from the reality sector. If there were critical fact-based comment, people would notice that under the “small government” conservatives, government grew by leaps and bounds. Also, they would see that the surplus that “tax-and-spend” liberals handed to cost-conscious conservatives was rendered — by conservatives — into a staggering deficit.

I am, for the record, a tax-and-spend liberal. I am liberal because I believe people are as they are, diverse to the point of individuality. And life is hard. So we need to accept, help, and support each other as much as we practically can. If we do that, we will feel good about ourselves and others. I was brought up in a Christian family, and I think that Christians are compelled to be liberal by many New Testament teachings. I could make a long list, but one example should serve: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”Gal. 6:2. So I am not offended to be called a liberal. As for the “tax-and-spend” part, I want to point out that “tax” and “spend” are really the only two functions available to government. Without taxes, the unit of government — federal, state, local — would go bankrupt, and therefore could not serve citizens. The means of service to citizens is government spending. A government could possibly tax without spending, but that would be abusive. A government cannot, as we have seen over the past several years, spend without collecting taxes.

President Obama visits with Republicans

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/all/modules/swftools/shared/flash_media_player/player.swf

Franken anti-rape legislation roll call

These are the 30 Republican senators who voted against the Franken anti-rape legislation. And yes, McCain of Arizona is on the list:

  • Alexander (TN)
  • Barrasso (WY)
  • Bond (MO)
  • Brownback (KS)
  • Bunning (KY)
  • Burr (NC)
  • Chambliss (GA)
  • Coburn (OK)
  • Cochran (MS)
  • Corker (TN)
  • Cornyn (TX)
  • Crapo (ID)
  • DeMint (SC)
  • Ensign (NV)
  • Enzi (WY)
  • Graham (SC)
  • Gregg (NH)
  • Inhofe (OK)
  • Isakson (GA)
  • Johanns (NE)
  • Kyl AZ)
  • McCain (AZ)
  • McConnell (KY)
  • Risch (ID)
  • Roberts (KS)
  • Sessions (AL)
  • Shelby (AL)
  • Thune (SD)
  • Vitter (LA)
  • Wicker (MS)

Change We Can Believe In

Open letter to Barack Obama:
For a long time now we have heard the rantings of fringe elements, the voices of hate and fear that have been gathered into one loud rant against the public option. I think it is time to take the offered compromise off he table and announce the dropping of all age and disability requirements for Medicare. The system is in place. People want it. People need it.
I admire your commitment to having everyone at the table, but that commitment assumes that the people at the table are people, not purchased pawns of ideologies and financial interests that cannot by prior agreement that they put above their legislative duties say anything but “no.” The Republicans have never been at the table. The insurance companies have never been at the table. They have not considered reason or bargained in good faith. They have not bargained at all. They have just continued their rant.
If the public option is off the table, then we need to step back to single payer. That is the way you have to bargain with people who do not recognize a reasonable compromise.

Thank you to Rick Boucher

Congressman Boucher here in southwest Virginia’s 9th District has brought many good things to our area of the state over the years, not the least of which is the technology that we enjoy connecting our schools and colleges. He is a good representative for our region of the Commonwealth, and his service to citizens in the region is undisputed.
In the health care debate, he and I are on different sides with regard to the public option. That said, I appreciate his attention to keeping children in the insurance loop. Here is a quote from his recent e-mail to me:

… we must ensure that low-income children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children?s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) do not have their health care benefits reduced. Children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP often receive specialized care, and we must ensure that children, particularly special-needs children, continue to receive the health care services they need.
During consideration of the health reform legislation in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I supported an amendment which ensures that no children would be moved from CHIP to the new Health Insurance Exchange until the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) determines that their coverage will not be reduced as a result of the transition.
I also strongly support provisions to reduce the administrative burdens required for enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP to ensure that eligible, unenrolled children are able to sign up for these vital programs.

I very much appreciate Congressman Boucher’s initiatives to protect our children, especially our special needs children. This is critical to health care reform.
I am asking him also to consider supporting the public option to cover all children and their working parents. Many working parents are excluded from insurance or unable to afford their employer’s plans. Parents are very important in children’s lives, and their health needs to be protected as well. Health care is not a commodity to be traded for profit, but is essential infrastructure for a productive economy.
I am still hoping that Congressman Boucher and Senator Warner both will support President Obama’s idea of the public option. I believe that insurance companies and health care providers will adapt to the new economic environment with a public option and continue to thrive and make money. People on the other hand cannot adapt to not having health care.

We still have some representatives in Washington

I have talked to many people out here in the still-pretty-red end of Virginia who took and wore the blue ribbons I gave out in support of the public option. In the Ninth District, Congressman Rick Boucher opposes the public option. He invited panelists who have vested interests in the for-profit system to stand by him at his town hall. I am sure that was easier for him than speaking on his own to people who voted for him who will continue to be exploited for profit if the public option fails.
The opponents of the public option are loud, but they are not representative of the general population. Most of them are coached or paid to equate support for the public option with support for illegal immigration, abortion, and (thank you, Lyndon LaRouche website, Sarah Palin, Chuck Grassley) death panels.
The great majority of people who need the public option work every day. There are a lot of us, doing our jobs and counting on the people we elected to stand up for us. We can’t come to a rally because we have to go to work. There is a privileged, sponsored, well-orchestrated few of the bus people and Tea Party crowd. That is why their sponsors have to train them and bus them around.
We need the public option. We need single payer in America, but if a strong public option is as close as we can get, we want that.
People like Jim Moran (Virginia, Eighth District) are listening to the real voices of America and not the bus people and tea party brigade. They are making hard decisions and they are committed to finding a way to get what people need. They are holding true to the principle that government should be representative of the people, not sponsored by a corporation.

Sauce only for the goose

Sam Youngman on “The Hill” in an article titled “White House insists it wants bipartisan health bill” reported:

Some Democrats want the administration to use special budget reconciliation rules that could allow a healthcare reform bill to move through the Senate with only 51 votes. That would negate the need for Republican support.

But of course the Republicans have a good reason to oppose that:

Former President George W. Bush used reconciliation rules to move tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. Republicans have argued using the rules to reform healthcare would be different because of the scope of the legislation.

Do they mean it would affect more people, and some of them would not be millionaires?

Not getting out of the way, either

Sarah Palin has refused to lead Alaska, and she clearly doesn’t follow anything except her rush to nomination in 2012.
She has a right to both of these decisions, but she shouldn’t have been on Twitter about 6 hours ago complaining that the stimulus she blocked isn’t working. Here is her message from Twitter (using 2 Tweets):

AKGovSarahPalin More talk of #2 “Stimulus” Pkg? Please no- for so many reasons- incl the 1st one hasn’t done what’s promised, & debt forced on AKn kids is [begin second Tweet] selfish & immoral bc it robs their future opportunities!”If there is trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace ” Thomas Paine about 5 hours ago from TwitterBerry

On May 21, Sarah Palin slashed $80 million from Alaska state budgets, at the same time refusing $28.6 million in federal clean energy work stimulus money, claiming it would impose state-wide building codes. She did this by veto, without consulting with her own senate finance committee:

From NewsMiner.com, By Rena Delbridge, Friday, May 22, 2009
He [Sen. Joe Paskvan, D-Fairbanks] said the funds clearly do not require a state-wide building code as Palin originally protested.
?Rather, it requires efforts to implement energy standards that can be accomplished on a local basis,? he said.
Rep. Jay Ramras, R-Fairbanks, said he can?t figure Palin?s rationale for turning down the energy money.
?I remain dumbstruck,? he said. ?When I look at how hard we all worked to get the $7 million to $9 million in the budget for in-state gas studies that would directly benefit Fairbanks, and then to turn away twice that much?
?I don?t know how to respond. It must be nice to live in the Mat-Su Valley where you have the lowest natural gas prices in the United States. The rest of Alaska is struggling, and now they can?t access that $28 million.?
He suggested Palin?s veto could be for ?bragging rights? as she appears more frequently on the national political stage.

Sarah Palin accepted 2% of the offered stimulus money for other activities, but refused 98%, including the large clean energy work package:

Legislators were caught by surprise that Palin acted on the bills, since they hadn?t received prior notice about her veto plans. In the past, governors have notified at least Finance Committee co-chairmen as a matter of courtesy.
Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, is co-chairman the House Finance Committee. He said yesterday he?d had no contact with the governor?s office on budget matters since the legislative session ended in April. He said protocol would have meant working more closely together.

I am getting my rule book and adding another level to the making things work adage, “Lead, follow, get out of the way, or shut up about things not working.”