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Monday, November 15, 2021

Greetings

Greetings, e-friends! This is the home of the writers and cyberspace entities known as Priscilla King, Saloli, Gena Greene, Grandma Bonnie, and possibly you. We will be inviting other writers, artists, and reporters to display their work here. The more readers and sponsors help this site grow, the more guest posts we will be able to display. We will pay a minimum of $5 per guest post. If we don't have $5, we will post a link to your blog or web site.

If the comments section isn't working, or the "contact" tab isn't showing, please feel free to e-mail salolianigodagewi@yahoo.com.

Unlike some other web'zines, this one is not being kickstarted with a big grant or loan. We are paying as we grow. So, in order to start buying guest posts, or even keep this site alive, we need reader support. If the Google "Support" button isn't working, click here to help fund the site. (Google suggests US$5, which is what most printed magazines cost.) Alternatively, you may use the e-mail link in this paragraph to buy any book you've seen reviewed here (total cost is usually US$10), buy an advertorial article or picture ($50-100 if I write it, less if you do), buy any handmade item you've seen photographed here (they start at a total cost of US$10), or buy data from the Names Maven database (US$1).

Here's a short list of topics that will appear on this blog:

1. Books. All Blogger blogs are or could be linked to Amazon, so whenever I (Priscilla King) write about a book, old or new, you should be able to follow a link to buy a copy. However, if you use the "Book You Can Buy From Me" option to buy an old (secondhand) book, you will be supporting my plan to provide a 10% royalty to living authors whose books I resell. I hope other online booksellers will start doing this; at the time of writing, so far as I know, I'm the only bookseller who is paying the authors when people buy secondhand books.

2. Nature and the environment. Wildlife, birds, animals, flowers, herbs, weather...content produced by us will be regional, but we will link to, and may eventually publish, nature news and pictures from the rest of the world.

3. Animals. Especially cats, but other domestic or friendly animals will appear here too.

4. Knitting and other crafts. We encourage everyone to buy local handmade products. We will display pictures of handmade products that can be purchased through this site.

5. Gluten-free recipes.

6. News items. This blog is not meant to be a substitute for a good national newspaper. From time to time this blog will feature news stories that your newspaper may have missed, such as local news, election news, or obscure "weird news."

This blog has no political affiliation. The frequency with which we link to left-wing, right-wing, or other political material reflects the amount and quality of political material supplied to us. We're looking for sincerity, practicality, and sustainability, not a party identity.

7. Philosophical musings. From time to time some of us, and some of the e-friends whose writing we hope to publish here, indulge in opinions, humorous essays, and philosophical reflections. We are Protestants...but as hostess/editor I reserve the right to publish or link to opinion pieces by non-Protestants if I think the quality of thought and writing is excellent.

WE WANT COMMENTS. We won't publish short comments that link to commercial web sites. We welcome sponsored links to commercial web sites that are set up through Blogger's legal channels. We won't publish poems or articles until we're able to pay for them, but we're always glad to read and/or link to them.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Book Review: The Taste of New Wine

A Fair Trade Book

Author: Keith Miller

Date: 1965

Publisher: Word Books

ISBN: none

Length: 127 pages

Quote: “It wasn’t so much that people lied. We just had an unspoken agreement not to press the truth.”

This book has been quoted and cited and promoted throughout my lifetime, so obviously the problem I have in reading it is my own problem, caused by excessive familiarity. In 1965 Keith Miller could not have known that his book would be read during an Age of Therapy when, motivated perhaps by all the media noise about our President’s having been caught in a particularly tacky sort of lie, everyone was going to carry on about “being honest” as they treated every school, church, or even office meeting as a form of group therapy.

He might have anticipated that the banality of “Have a nice day” would generate the backlash of “Don’t tell me what kind of day to have,” but he could hardly have imagined Americans seriously protesting that using phrases like “Have a nice day” or “Good afternoon” was hypocritical—in the same sense that preaching race hate as a Christian or Muslim doctrine (yes, my generation actually had to deal with that) was hypocritical.

Somehow I doubt that he even foresaw adults seriously debating the morality of answering “How are you?” with “Fine, thanks,” and needing to spell out that, in the context of this little ritual, “Fne, thanks” does not mean “Everything in my entire life is perfect” so much as it means “Capable of making conversation on the subject you want to propose; willing to let you interpret my body language as mostly relevant to the topic,” even though, of course, the feelings our bodies express will not necessarily stick to the topic of a conversation. Body language never lies, but more often than not it distracts.

Keith Miller could hardly have anticipated a period of history in which people would try to “put aside the masks” and “be blazingly real” by ignoring what others had actually said and trying to “read their faces.” If anybody who’s ever been guilty of this social offense happens to be able to read this article, please understand that, even if someone’s face or body position was reacting to the perception that you were a particularly obnoxious idiot, everyone was much better off with the social lie that your tragic mental condition might not have been recognized, yet.

So for me, reading The Taste of New Wine 45 years after its publication, this book seems full of clichés, and I have to remind myself that in 1965 these phrases must have seemed fresh and memorable. The idea that a serious religious practice, for people who were not actively employed as ministers, could consist of living “in relationship with God,” was actually new, once. The idea of debunking politeness and “being honest” had not evolved into its own form of (remarkably unattractive) hypocrisy. Miller was part of a fellowship group that seriously studied the Gospels and attempted to do what they believed Jesus would have done; it wasn’t just incessant chatter and clichés, back then. And Miller’s book was part of a salutary movement away from the kind of Christianity that allowed people to say “I go to church on Sunday, but I don’t let it affect my life during the rest of the week” into the kind that allows people to say “If I go to church on Sunday, or on Saturday or on Wednesday or at any other time, it had better be in order to share what I’ve learned and be guided by what others can teach me during the rest of the week.”This is where our awareness of the need to be “doers and not hearers only” of our beliefs started, and this book has an important place in church history.

Who needs to read this book? Maybe young people who missed the Age of Therapy, who were taken to church just because their parents went. Anne Lamott’s nonfiction books narrated how, when she became a desperately poor single mother, a small, poor, majority-minority church adopted her and her son. And she went to services, out of gratitude to the people who’d slipped her small amounts of much-needed money when she needed the money, even after she achieved fame and prosperity as a writer. And she took her son along. And funnily enough, even though she’d explained exactly why to the entire English-speaking world, the kid rebelliously asked why he had to go to church. Okay, so there are probably other twenty-somethings who can relate to this young man’s story. Most of their parents have not written bestselling books that explain exactly why they go to church, and most of their stories would be different from Lamott’s. So to those people this old book might still be relevant. Go back to where some of us started—reading this book, or any of the dozens of books that elaborated on its themes, in a church-sponsored school with a lot of ministerial students. This is a first book about how a yuppie-type married man discovered the reality of spiritual life within his own religious tradition. It helped some of your parents make that discovery for themselves. Maybe it will help you.

Just be prepared, if The Taste of New Wine does help you, to see reactions on the faces of people my age that may warn you that you’re speaking in clichés.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Robert Hurt Thanks Veterans, and Comments on Other Things

From U.S. Representative Robert Hurt:

"
Dear Friend,
Communicating with the people of Virginia’s 5th District and hearing your feedback is very important to us. In order to ensure that we keep you up to date on what is going on from month to month, we record a monthly video address. You may watch the video address on our website at hurt.house.gov, and you may read the address below:
Video Address Text
“Hi, I’m Robert Hurt. Thank you for tuning into our Monthly Video Address.
“It is an honor to represent Virginia’s Fifth District, and I appreciate the opportunity to share with you some of what we have been working on during the month of May. Over the past month, my colleagues and I have continued our efforts to enact policies that will provide more opportunities and a brighter future for the American people.
“This month, it was reported that over 800,000 people dropped out of our labor force in April -- reducing the labor force participation rate to a 35-year low. Many communities in the Fifth District continue to experience unemployment rates well above the national average, and our rate of recovery from the economic downturn has been weak. That is why the House of Representatives has adopted dozens of pro-growth proposals that would help jumpstart our economy and get us back on track. However, the President and the Senate must join in our effort. It is my hope that in the coming months we will be able to find bipartisan common ground in encouraging job opportunities for Virginians and Americans, and I remain committed to continuing to work toward this crucial goal.
“Also this month, I am pleased to report that the House of Representatives passed legislation to establish a Select Committee to investigate the events surrounding the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. During ongoing congressional investigations into this subject, we have discovered that the Administration has not been transparent with Congress and the American people. It is critical that this Select Committee focus on obtaining a complete and objective picture of the attacks that claimed the lives of four Americans so we can ensure that this does not happen again.
“At the same time, we have recently learned that the Department of Veterans Affairs has provided service to our veterans that has fallen miserably short. To help address this issue, last week the House of Representatives passed the Department of Veterans Affairs Management Accountability Act with a strong bipartisan majority. This important legislation allows for the removal of ineffective and derelict senior level officials at the VA that are contributing to the mismanagement within the agency. It is my sincere hope that this bill will serve as an important step toward greater care for our veterans by holding the VA accountable for its actions and initiating much needed reforms.
“Finally, and most notably, we observed Memorial Day to give thanks to all of the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives while defending our country. To all of those who are and have been members of our armed forces – thank you for all that you have given up in the name of American liberty. Your sacrifice has allowed us to enjoy a way of life which we often take for granted. With these sacrifices in mind, our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who have served or are serving our nation and their families.
“Once again, I thank you for the opportunity to represent the Fifth District of Virginia in Congress, and I look forward to continuing our work to promote a brighter future for our children and grandchildren. As we close, I encourage you to sign up for updates at our website at hurt.house.gov and join the conversation on our social media pages. Thank you for tuning in to our monthly video address.”
"

Constitutional Convention?

I'm trying to move this kind of thing off Bubblews, but time's limited and people are still looking for it here, so here is Patricia Evans' e-mail:

"From the Committee for Constitutional Government:

Here is the text of the flier that will be handed out at the GOP convention next weekend, June 6.   If you can help hand them out at the convention, please contact Sue Long at  suemlong2@gmail.com  Any help in handing them out would be greatly appreciated.
 
Is a Convention to Alter the Constitution a Good Idea?
Federal overreach is of great concern—rightly so. What to do about it is of equal concern.
 
With the best of intentions, some citizens are calling for a constitutional convention to pass amendments to our U.S. Constitution for the purpose of reigning in federal power. The premise is that the states would control the convention—who the delegates would be, how they are chosen and how many per state; what amendments would be proposed and voted on, what the processes would be and any other matters the convention would take up.
 
But Article V of our Constitution states clearly the two ways to amend the Constitution:
 
1. Congress proposes amendments and presents them to the States for ratification; or
2. When 2/3 of the States apply for it, Congress calls a convention to propose amendments.
 
Our Constitution is clear: States are authorized to apply to Congress to call a convention. Beyond that they have no say.   
 
This is confirmed by an April, 2014 report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the authoritative source Congress uses for accurate information. CRS states without exception
that only Congress makes all the rules. It points to the ’70s and ’80s when there was considerable interest in an amendment convention. (And states then began rescinding applications.) Congress introduced 41 bills that included specific conditions as to the procedures for a convention including selection of delegates which would be, as opposed to “one state, one vote”, instead,a formula based on the Electoral  College, whereby Virginia would have 13 votes to California’s 55, etc. The report shows not only what Congress could do; it verifies what it has already done in preparation for a convention.
 
Control is in the hands of the Congress guilty of overreach in the first place!
 
Who is financing what?  George Soros is pouring millions into organizations promoting a convention. The seed money to start the Convention of States in 1912 was $1,207,183, collected in donations, though they had no paid solicitors. Most opposing a convention are paying out of pocket with their own non-tax deductible dollars.
 
Promoters claim there is no concern about a runaway convention. History tells us otherwise. The 1787 convention was called for the purpose of adding amendments to the Articles of Confederation. Yet, it was scrapped altogether and a whole new constitution was produced. There is no ruling authority to prevent that from happening again. Present at the 1787 convention were statesmen like George Washington and James Madison. How many such do we have today?
 
There is also a claim that 3/4 of the states would have to ratify any proposed amendment.  Once again, the 1787 convention set a precedent by changing the rules. They changed who ratifies from legislators to conventions and the required number for ratification from all the states to 3/4. What could happen today? Ratification by a simple majority of the states?  Or by Congress?  Or by no one?
 
The claim that “The states would never ratify a bad amendment.” does nothing to quell concerns. The 16th and 17th amendments come to mind. 
 
Why take the risks? If convention supporters somehow accomplished state selection of delegates, who would they be?
 
Speaker William Howell appointed those
attending the first “Convention of States” promotional gathering. Attending from Virginia:
 
Sen. Frank Ruff, who voted for the tax increase/ transportation bill (HB 2313) in the 2013 Virginia Assembly and fought against the Boneta Farm bill;
 
Del. Scott Lingamfelter, who voted in the 2004 Virginia Assembly to rescind any application for a convention (that had been passed when Democrats controlled the Assembly) on this basis:“WHEREAS, the operations of a convention are unknown and the apportionment and selection of delegates, method of voting in convention, and other essential procedural details are not specified in Article V…the prudent course requires the General Assembly to rescind and withdraw all past applications for a convention to amend the Constitution of the United States …”
 
Then, Lingamfelter prefiled a motion to call FOR a constitutional convention to be voted on in the 2014 Assembly.
 
Del. Jim LeMunyon, who voted for the tax increase/transportation bill (HB 2313) in 2013 and sponsored Homeowners’ Association bills opposed by Association dwellers;
 
Del. David Albo, who also voted for the tax increase/transportation bill (HB 2313) in the 2013 Assembly and voted against a convention in 2004, but for it in 2013.
 
Do these sound like people we trust to vote on making good changes to our Constitution?
 
Changing the name to a “Convention of States” or “Balanced Budget Amendment” (BBA) does not change what it is. It is still an Article V convention called by Congress for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution. States may convene all they wish; states meeting together is traditional. But for the states to make the call for a convention and/or decide its conditions would be completely unconstitutional.
 
Are the amendments being proposed advisable? For example, a BBA would result in raising taxes to balance the budget if there was no agreement on cutting the spending. Also, the BBA would increase the power of the federal government. As it is, the government can only spend money on the enumerated powers listed in the body of the Constitution. The BBA would result in no constraints on spending other than the cost, bypassing the limitations of the enumerated powers.  
 
Who besides well-meaning patriots support convention? Globalist George Soros, liberal California Governor Jerry Brown, Richard Parker, a former member of the 1960s radicals known as Students for a Democratic Society and  Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessing, an Obama supporter.
 
Could we depend on the states to reign in federal overreach when it is the states that take federal grants, making them an accomplice to the overreach? 
 
Since Congress disobeys the Constitution, is the solution to change it? If people don’t obey the 10 Commandments, should they be rewritten? When government officials don’t abide by the Constitution now, why trust they would obey an amended one?
 
   The solution? Obey the Constitution, not change it. For more information, contact the address below.
Committee for Constitutional Government • Box 972 • Gloucester VA 23061 • saveourconstitutionnow@yahoo.com

Groups that have gone on record opposing a call for an Article V convention
 
VirginiaRight.com, American Policy Center, Concerned Citizens of the Middle Peninsula, Virginia, Third Congressional District GOP, Danville Tea Party, Newport News GOP City Committee, Eagle Forum,  Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of the American Revolution, The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AFL-CIO,  Gun Owners of America, National Rifle Association, United Republicans of California, California Democratic Party, The American Independent Party, National Association to Keep and Bear Arms, The Constitution Party, American Pistol and Rifle Association, Pro-America, The John Birch Society, The Second Amendment Committee of Hanford, CA, Constitutionalists United Against a Constitutional Convention, United Organizations of Taxpayers, Voters Against Conspiracy and Treason, and
Mid-Peninsula Tea Party (comprising the counties of Gloucester, Mathews and Middlesex), Mathews County GOP Committee,the Conservative Caucus...to name a few.


--
"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."  - Thomas Jefferson "

Morgan Griffith on Emissions Regulation

From Congressman Griffith's E-Newsletter:

"
President Allows Nations with Emerging Economies to Pick Carcass of U.S. Economy
Monday, June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new regulations that would require our nation’s existing power plants to cut their carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.  This rule will impact approximately 1,000 fossil fuel-fired plants, particularly those that burn coal or natural gas.
In issuing these regulations where Congress has refused to legislate, the President and his EPA are seeking to fulfill his 2008 promise that, “…under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”  (Interview with the San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board, 1/17/08)
Amazingly, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in her statement unveiling this latest attack on the American family, “Critics claim your energy bills will skyrocket.  They’re wrong.” 
Let’s see.  The President says it will make your rates skyrocket, but because they know that’s politically unpopular, Administrator McCarthy tells you the opposite. 
Somebody is trying to fool the American people.
A reporter asked me last week if I thought that developing nations would see what the United States was doing and then issue similar regulations for emissions from existing power plants after President Obama does so. 
I told the reporter, Matt Laslo, a freelance reporter covering Congress, that what I think the other nations see is an opportunity to pick the carcass of the American economy.
After nations with emerging economies watch this Administration’s unreasonable regulations damage our economy, negatively impact our jobs and our access to reliable energy, and raise our electric rates, do you expect that these nations will “follow our lead?” 
I am of the belief that these developing nations will promote their own country’s energy needs.   They want what we have – prosperity – and this Administration’s policies are making it easier for them to take our jobs. 
A company choosing to open a facility in one of these countries – which do not have the environmental standards we currently have or had 10 years ago – will be able to more cheaply produce products.  In doing so, they will damage the quality of the air for the world. 
Since we live in the Northern Hemisphere, we share air with China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Myanmar, etc.  All of us in the Northern Hemisphere share the same air.
According to a NASA study, it takes just 10 days for the air from the Gobi Desert in the middle of China to reach the eastern shore of Virginia.  Instead of implementing regulations or policies that discourage the domestic production of goods, we ought to encourage manufacturing in the United States – where we do care about our air quality.  This would benefit the world’s air quality, and certainly would benefit our economy as well.  We can have balanced, reasonable regulations, but this new proposal by the President is neither balanced nor reasonable. 
I am of the belief the President’s expectations that other nations will “follow our lead” will be dashed, just as his expectations for a “reset” of our relationship with Russia – which has been described in a New York Times story as “…a very climate-change-skeptical society” – were dashed...  
I am deeply concerned about the impact that these regulations will have on our electric prices, our economy, our access to reliable energy, and more.  I vow to continue fighting these regulations and additional efforts the President may undertake to advance his War on Coal, which is, in turn, a war on middle class America.
"

Fair disclosure: This web site has suspected for a very long time that the corporations that collect money for providing energy could reduce nasty emissions, continue to employ local people at decent wages, and also reduce our bills, if they got serious about reducing the waste at the top of the corporate pyramid. This web site has nothing to offer, other than the force of opinion, toward making them get serious about that.

This web site has also felt distressed for a long time by travellers' reports of how careless with the environment people are in some of these countries from which the calls for tighter regulations in the U.S. have come. There's a very famous, beautiful picture of one specific place in China that dominates my favorite Chinese restaurant. An iconic place, like Mount Hood or Lake Louise. That place, its names, and what it's like there, now, are discussed in Peter Hessler's book River Town (which I discussed at http://priscillaking.blogspot.com/2012/05/book-review-river-town.html). 

Last year, when this web site received correspondence that I thought was worth sharing even if I had some misgivings about it, this web site just posted it and waited for readers to comment. This year, having read my own Yearbook (which is now available to sponsors with any donation over $75), and felt misrepresented by my own web site, I feel obligated to comment. I don't know exactly how a real conservative, one who wants to conserve our environment as well as our money, would go about encouraging corporations to set responsible policies for themselves and thus limit their own economic growth. I do understand that, in the absence of the kind of religious fervor observed in a few very small Protestant groups, in some not all Catholic monasteries, and in the Old Left Wing, it's extremely hard to motivate an American to choose to pass up any opportunity to bank more money this year than he banked last year. So hard that I'm not sure how anybody could blame Congress for being unable to do this. But this web site would like to see them at least give it a good try

Please keep up the good work, Congressman Griffith.

"As always, if you have concerns or comments or wish to inquire about legislative issues, feel free to contact my offices.  You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671.  To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov."

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Chatabout

What is Chatabout? It's not really a blog site; it's a chat site that invites people to leave 20-word comments on different topics. Having to stick to the topics keeps the chat polite and sociable...I think the reason why people hang out on Chatabout is that we get paid per comment. I've spent a few online days, or parts of a few online days, there. Even earned a tiny Paypal payment.

It is possible to view a selection of the comments one specific person has left at Chatabout. Here are mine:


Or search for a topic of discussion and see how many people have left comments on it. Foods, flowers, animals, entertainment, stores, restaurants, products, and similar polite topics have pages.

Chatabout users can post questions and collect answers, or browse through other people's questions and leave their answers, through this index page:


Or chat about recent news stories, indexed here:


Many bonuses are offered to Chatabout users. A lot of them will involve filling your in-box with spam and may demand personal information that it's not advisable to share on the Internet. Some of them seem to be legitimate...for example, today there was a bonus offered for posting anything about Chatabout on a blog.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mark Warner on Government Efficiency

From U.S. Senator Mark Warner, D-VA:

"

There is one thing in Washington that everyone should be able to agree on, and that is we must improve how our government works. I’m happy to report the President has signed our bipartisan Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, or DATA Act into law. This groundbreaking government reform legislation will allow Virginians to track exactly how their tax dollars are being spent by the federal government.

Because of the DATA Act, every federal agency must now display their financial data in the same format on a single easy-to-read website. The public should be able to see clearly how much each agency and program across government spends. With a national debt of $17 trillion (and growing every day), I know it’s more important than ever that we reduce unnecessary spending.


Click here to watch a short video about consolidating and eliminating
 unnecessary and wasteful government reports.

And I’ve only just begun – I’m working on several other bills that will improve government efficiency. For example, I recently introduced another bipartisan bill that would eliminate duplicative, wasteful and unnecessary reports that federal agencies produce. The Washington Post had a story about our legislation, and reported that Congress is still ordering up six reports about the Soviet Union, a country that dissolved in 1991, as well as about Spanish-American War veterans, the last of whom died in 1994. I think that’s ridiculous. My legislation would eliminate or modify more than 300 of the worst offenders that are wasting money and staff hours.  

None of these initiatives will fix all of our budget problems, but increasing transparency is critical to accountability. That’s what I learned over more than 20 years in business and as Virginia’s governor, when I was proud that Virginia was named the best managed state. The passage of the DATA Act proves that Washington still can come together on a bipartisan basis to pass commonsense reforms that put the taxpayers first. I promise to keep working in the Senate to continue to hold the federal government accountable for waste, fraud, and inefficiency, and give the taxpayers the transparency they deserve.

Regards,

Mark R. Warner"

Robert Hurt on Benghazi Investigation

From U.S. Representative Robert Hurt, R-VA-5:

"
May 13, 2014

The House is Leading the Way with a Full Investigation into the Benghazi Attack

Dear Friend,
Like all Americans, I was devastated by the terrorist attack responsible for the deaths of four American foreign service personnel stationed in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. From the outset, my colleagues in the House and I have been committed to thoroughly investigating the events that transpired on that terrible night. During ongoing congressional investigations into the details surrounding the attack and its aftermath, we have discovered that the Administration has not been transparent nor completely truthful with Congress and the American people regarding what transpired that night and in the days following.
The victims’ families and the American people deserve to know what exactly happened during the terrorist attack in Benghazi, and we must do all we can to provide transparency and accountability into this tragic event in our history.
That is why last week the House of Representatives approved a long overdue piece of legislation that would create a select committee to investigate the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya which claimed the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. The Select Committee will be comprised of 12 Republican and Democrat House members and will be tasked with providing a full and complete study of the attacks, the U.S. response, and our efforts to bring the terrorists to justice. Following the investigation, a final report will be issued to Congress.
I have long supported this initiative and was a co-sponsor of Representative Frank Wolf’s resolution creating a Select Committee to investigate the attack. It is my sincere hope that this measure will allow the House of Representatives to fully uncover all of the facts behind the Benghazi attacks on behalf of the victims’ families.
I was proud to support this important initiative to begin a select committee investigation focused on obtaining a complete picture of the terrible attacks that claimed the lives of four Americans so we may work to ensure it does not happen again.
If you need any additional information, please visit my website at hurt.house.gov or call my Washington office: (202) 225-4711, Charlottesville office: (434) 973-9631, Danville office: (434) 791-2596, or Farmville office: (434) 395-0120.
Robert met with Maurice Miller, who served in the Army in Korea, when he visited Arlington National Cemetery with the Lynchburg Exchange Club.
Robert met with Tom Skalak, Vice President for Research at the University of Virginia.
Sincerely,
Robert Hurt"

Morgan Griffith on Insurance Rate Hikes

Today is an historic first!

Gentle Readers, since this web site was launched I've been nominally on the e-mail lists of all three of my people in Congress; I also get episodic e-mails from the office of State Senator Carrico and from correspondent Patricia Evans' Representative Robert Hurt. However, it has seemed that some official e-mail from the offices of Members of Congress contains official graphics that snag something in Yahoo, or in Internet Explorer, or in public-access computer security systems, or something or other; Congressman Griffith's e-mails are the only ones that have arrived regularly.

The Heartbleed problem caused some internal upgrades in Internet Explorer; now graphics seem to be less of a problem...and today, for the first time, the e-newsletters from Senator Warner and both Congressmen arrived, all on one day.

Although I just said I was planning to transfer the political content elsewhere, that system is still under construction. And I don't want to leave youall out of this historic first event. So here, today, are what all three of our elected officials wanted to share with you, in four separate posts, in alphabetical order, beginning with...

U.S. Representative H. Morgan Griffith, R-VA-9. (Sorry there's no text version. The video link doesn't work from the page I'm on now (the editing page) but works from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7tGqHnyFPI&feature=youtu.be. )

"
In case you missed it, you can watch my interview with Neil Cavuto - the first live broadcast from the new Radford University studio - by clicking here or on the image below.
For more information on the Insurance Rate Transparency Act, please visit www.morgangriffith.house.gov or contact one of my offices.
"


What I'm Doing These Days

Will today be the day this web site finally begins its Great Breakdown? For several months now, I've been planning a way to put the different types of content that have been here in different places...a Books & Writing place (probably here), a Links place (Google +), a Short Bloggy Posts place (Bubblews), a Politics place (t.b.a.), and also a Strictly Short Stuff place, here:

http://chatabout.com/referral/u/63718

Chatabout actually pays people to read and post twenty or thirty words at a time in "conversations" on various topics. Products, food, animals, news items, whatever. If you are a penniless writer, please use that link.

By separating the different departments this web site has had, I'm hoping to make each of several web pages more attractive to different types of sponsors. Some people like "serious, hard-hitting" news and reviews; some prefer a web site to be bland and literary; a surprising number of online readers want to read something short, soothing, and cheerful. No problem...we just need to sort these different kinds of things into different places...like putting canned vegetables, paper towels, and fresh fruit in different aisles at the grocery store.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Tim Kaine on Military Service Members

From U.S. Senator Tim Kaine:

"Dear Friend,
With one in three Virginians directly connected to the military, listening to the concerns of servicemembers will always be a top priority of mine. 
This week I introduced the Servicemembers' Compensation Empowerment Act - bipartisan legislation that would direct the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission tasked with issuing cost-savings recommendations next year to formally survey servicemembers on their preferences with regards to compensation and benefits, such as housing allowances and healthcare. As of now, no official study has been conducted to determine the relative value of these benefits to the military personnel who depend on them. You can learn more here.
 
 Here's Janis, Matt and I after we met in my DC office last year
I also introduced legislation this week to extend and reform the Special Immigrant Visa program (SIV) for Afghans who risked their lives serving alongside Americans – many from Virginia – as interpreters or working with U.S. organizations over the last 13 years. Many are now in danger of violent retribution. Last year, my office was able to help Janis Shinwari, who served as an interpreter for Captain Matthew Zeller of Virginia, obtain his SIV. Janis and his family were able to get a fresh start in Virginia, and it’s my hope we’ll be able to give more brave Afghans like the Shinwaris that same chance. 
Sincerely,
 
Senator Tim Kaine"

Morgan Griffith to Discuss Benghazi on TV

For those who've been following the Benghazi investigation, here's a heads-up from U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith, R-VA-9:

"Friday, May 9, 2014 –                               

Watch Congressman Morgan Griffith tonight at 6:30pm on CNN's "Crossfire."

Topics to include Benghazi."

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Online Censorship?

You read it in Al Gore's The Future...Big Business and Big Government don't like the way people like you and me may not get as much publicity, but are equally as available to those who look, as people like, well, them. Gore was blithely looking forward to developing ways that "we" (the Limousine Left) could stifle independent blogs that might even be, horrors, conservative. And Gore's "we" have been working on it all right...

Reality check for Internet service providers: I lived without any Internet service whatsoever for forty years, and if you impose censorship on the Internet I could actually enjoy living without it again. I still know how to type and print without depending on a computer. I could be doing newsletters. I even have the skills necessary to type samizdat. And if Congress lets the evil alliance of Big Business and Big Government dictate that "freedom of the press" refers only to literal presses and typewriters, I will use those.

Readers, please hit that "plus" button, and feel free to share your plans for going Net-free if Internet censorship is not limited to FAMILY FILTERING ONLY.

From Patricia Evans:

"Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal dropped something of a bombshell with leaked news that the Federal Communications Commission is planning to abandon so-called “net neutrality” regulations—rules to ensure that Internet providers are prevented from discriminating based on content.  BUT  under the new proposed system, companies such as Comcast or Verizon will be able to create a tiered Internet, a change that observers predict will curb free speech, stifle innovation and increase costs for consumers.

While the exact rules won’t become public until May 15th, what we know now is that the FCC intends to allow ISPs to create a “fast lane” for internet content, which established content providers with big bucks can pay for in order to gain preferred access to consumers on the other end. With this proposal, the FCC is aiding and abetting the largest ISPs in their efforts to destroy the open Internet. Creating a fast lane for those that can afford it is by its very definition discrimination.  This is truly the American way of censorship. Figure out how those with the deepest pockets can smother the free speech of those with little or no voice on the one medium in which information flow is still treated equally.


So given the potential disastrous consequences, why is the FCC pushing this through?
Like so many problems in American government, the policy shift may relate to the pernicious corruption of the revolving door.  The current FCC is filled to the brim with revolving door industry lobbyists.  The FCC is stocked with staffers who have recently worked for Internet Service Providers (ISP) that stand to benefit tremendously from the defeat of net neutrality. To sum up, the top cable and wireless lobby groups in the US are led by a former FCC chairman and former FCC commissioner, while the FCC itself is led by a man who formerly led both the cable and wireless lobby groups.

But overall, the FCC is one of many agencies that have fallen victim to regulatory capture.  Beyond campaign contributions and other more visible aspects of the influence trade in Washington, moneyed special interest groups control the regulatory process by placing their representatives into public office, while dangling lucrative salaries to those in office who are considering retirement. The incentives, with pay often rising to seven and eight figure salaries on K Street, are enough to give large corporations effective control over the rule-making process.

Please share this article far and wide and perhaps enough public awareness can make a difference:

Read More: Say Goodbye To "Net Neutrality" – New FCC Proposal Will Permit Discrimination Of Web Content

by Tyler Durden    ZeroHedge on 04/26/2014 

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-04-26/say-goodbye-net-neutrality-%E2%80%93-new-fcc-proposal-will-permit-discrimination-web-content



Submitted by Mike Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,
The concept of “net neutrality” is not an easy one to wrap your head around. Particularly if you aren’t an expert in how the internet works and if you don’t work for an ISP (internet service provider). In fact, I think that lobbyists and special interest groups make the concept intentionally difficult and convoluted so that the average person’s eyes glaze over and they move on to the next topic. I am by no means an expert in this area; however, in this post I will try to explain in as simple terms as possible what “net neutrality” means and what is at risk with the latest FCC proposal. I also highlight a wide variety of articles on the subject, so I hope this post can serve as a one-stop-shop on the issue.
The concept of “net neutrality” describes how broadband access across the internet currently works. Essentially, the ISPs are not allowed to discriminate amongst the content being delivered to the consumer. A small site like Liberty Blitzkrieg, will be delivered in the same manner as content from a huge site like CNN that has massive traffic and a major budget. This is precisely why the internet has become such a huge force for free speech. It has allowed the “little guy” with no budget to compete equally in the “market of ideas” with the largest media behemoths on the planet. It has allowed for a quantum leap in the democratization and decentralization in the flow of information like nothing since the invention and proliferation of the printing press itself. It is one of the most powerful tools ever created by humanity, and must be guarded as the treasure it is.
People have been worried about internet censorship in the USA for a long time. What people need to understand is that censorship in so-called “first world” countries cannot be implemented in the same manner as in societies used to authoritarian rule. The status quo in the U.S. understands that the illusion of freedom must be maintained even as civil liberties are eroded to zero. In the UK, the approach to internet censorship has been the creation of “internet filters.” The guise is fighting porn, but in the end you get censorship. This is something I highlighted in my post: How Internet in the UK is “Sleepwalking into Censorship.”
In the U.S., it appears the tactic might take the form of new FCC rules on “net neutrality,” which the Wall Street Journal first broke earlier this week. While the exact rules won’t become public until May 15th, what we know now is that the FCC intends to allow ISPs to create a “fast lane” for internet content, which established content providers with big bucks can pay for in order to gain preferred access to consumers on the other end.
This is truly the American way of censorship. Figure out how those with the deepest pockets can smother the free speech of those with little or no voice on the one medium in which information flow is still treated equally. The nightmare scenario here would be that status quo companies use their funds to price out everyone else. It would kill innovation on the web before it starts. It’s just another example of the status quo attempting to build a moat around itself that we have already seen in so many other areas of the economy. The internet really is the last bastion of freedom and dynamism in the U.S. economy and this proposal could put that at serious risk. Oh, and to make matters worse, the current FCC is filled to the brim with revolving door industry lobbyists. More on this later.
So that’s my two cents. Now I will provide excerpts from some of the many articles that have been written on the topic in recent days.
First, from the article that started it all in the Wall Street Journal:
WASHINGTON—Regulators are proposing new rules on Internet traffic that would allow broadband providers to charge companies a premium for access to their fastest lanes.

If the rule is adopted, winners would be the major broadband providers that would be able to charge both consumers and content providers for access to their networks. Companies like Google Inc. or Netflix Inc. that offer voice or video services that rely on broadband could take advantage of such arrangements by paying to ensure that their traffic reaches consumers without disruption. Those companies could pay for preferential treatment on the “last mile” of broadband networks that connects directly to consumers’ homes.

Startups and other small companies not capable of paying for preferential treatment are likely to suffer under the proposal, say net neutrality supporters, along with content companies that might have to pay a toll to guarantee optimal service.

In Silicon Valley, there has been a long-standing unease with owners of broadband pipes treating some content as more equal than others. Large companies have been mostly silent about the FCC’s moves regarding broadband service, but some smaller firms or investors in startups have said the FCC needs to tread carefully so Internet policies don’t disadvantage young companies that can’t afford tolls to the Web.

“For technologists and entrepreneurs alike this is a worst-case scenario,” said Eric Klinker, chief executive of BitTorrent Inc., a popular Internet technology for people to swap digital movies or other content. “Creating a fast lane for those that can afford it is by its very definition discrimination.”

Some consumer advocacy groups reacted strongly against the proposal. The American Civil Liberties Union said, “If the FCC embraces this reported reversal in its stance toward net neutrality, barriers to innovation will rise, the marketplace of ideas on the Internet will be constrained, and consumers will ultimately pay the price.” Free Press, a nonpartisan organization that is a frequent critic of the FCC, said, “With this proposal, the FCC is aiding and abetting the largest ISPs in their efforts to destroy the open Internet.
The New York Times also covered the story:
Still, the regulations could radically reshape how Internet content is delivered to consumers. For example, if a gaming company cannot afford the fast track to players, customers could lose interest and its product could fail.

Consumer groups immediately attacked the proposal, saying that not only would costs rise, but also that big, rich companies with the money to pay large fees to Internet service providers would be favored over small start-ups with innovative business models — stifling the birth of the next Facebook or Twitter.

“If it goes forward, this capitulation will represent Washington at its worst,” said Todd O’Boyle, program director of Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative. “Americans were promised, and deserve, an Internet that is free of toll roads, fast lanes and censorship — corporate or governmental.”
Let’s not forget that Comcast is attempting to take over Time Warner (I wrote my opinion on that here). So this whole thing seems like a gigantic, status quo consolidation cluster fuck.
Also, Comcast is asking for government permission to take over Time Warner Cable, the third-largest broadband provider, and opponents of the merger say that expanding its reach as a broadband company will give Comcast more incentive to favor its own content over that of unaffiliated programmers.
USA! USA!
“The very essence of a ‘commercial reasonableness’ standard is discrimination,” Michael Weinberg, a vice president at Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy group, said in a statement. “And the core of net neutrality is nondiscrimination.”

“This standard allows Internet service providers to impose a new price of entry for innovation on the Internet,” he said.
Now from TechCrunch’s article, The FCC’s New Net Neutrality Rules Will Brutalize The Internet:
The FCC will propose new net neutrality rules that at once protect content from discrimination, but also allow content companies to pay for preferential treatment. The news, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, would in fact create a two-tiered system in which wealthy companies can “better serve the market” at the expense of younger, less well-capitalized firms.

The above is only “net neutrality” in that it protects all content from having its delivery degraded on a whim. The rubric reported doesn’t actually force neutrality at all, but instead carves out a way for extant potentates to crowd out the next generation of players by leaning on their cash advantage.

In practice this puts new companies and new ideas at a disadvantage, as they come into the market with a larger disadvantage than they otherwise might have. Any cost that we introduce that a large company can afford, and a startup can’t, either makes the startup poorer should it pay or degrades its service by comparison if it doesn’t.

This will slow innovation and enrich the status quo. That’s a shame.
So given the potential disastrous consequences noted above, why is the FCC pushing this through? After all, “net neutrality” was one of candidate Barack Obama’s key campaign promises (just the latest in a series of completely broken promises and lies).
As usual, you can simply follow the money. While FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is hiding behind a recent court decision that seemingly struck down net neutrality, the court gave him the option to declare the internet a public utility, which would have prevented this outcome. Yet, he didn’t go that route. Why? The revolving door of course!
An article by Lee Fang at Vice sheds a great deal of light on the issue:
Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal dropped something of a bombshell with leaked news that the Federal Communications Commission is planning to abandon so-called “net neutrality” regulations—rules to ensure that Internet providers are prevented from discriminating based on content. Under the new proposed system, companies such as Comcast or Verizon will be able to create a tiered Internet, in which websites will have to pay more money for faster speeds, a change that observers predict will curb free speech, stifle innovation and increase costs for consumers.

Like so many problems in American government, the policy shift may relate to the pernicious corruption of the revolving door. The FCC is stocked with staffers who have recently worked for Internet Service Providers (ISP) that stand to benefit tremendously from the defeat of net neutrality.
The American way.
Take Daniel Alvarez, an attorney who has long represented Comcast through the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. In 2010, Alvarez wrote a letter to the FCC on behalf of Comcast protesting net neutrality rules, arguing that regulators failed to appreciate “socially beneficial discrimination.” The proposed rules, Alvarez wrote in the letter co-authored with a top Comcast lobbyist named Joe Waz, should be reconsidered.
Today, someone in Comcast’s Philadelphia headquarters is probably smiling. Alvarez is now on the other side, working among a small group of legal advisors hired directly under Tom Wheeler, the new FCC Commissioner who began his job in November.

As soon as Wheeler came into office, he also announced the hiring of former Ambassador Philip Verveer as his senior counselor. A records request reveals that Verveer also worked for Comcast in the last year. In addition, he was retained by two industry groups that have worked to block net neutrality, the Wireless Association (CTIA) and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

In February, Matthew DelNero was brought into the agency to work specifically on net neutrality. DelNero has previously worked as an attorney for TDS Telecom, an Internet service provider that has lobbied on net neutrality, according to filings.

In his first term, Obama’s administration proposed net neutrality rules, but in January of this year, a federal court tossed the regulations in a case brought by Verizon. The decision left open the possibility of new rules, but only if the FCC were to reclassify the Internet as a utility. The Wall Street Journal story with details about the FCC’s leaked plans claims the agency will not be reclassifying the web as a utility. The revised rules to be announced by the FCC will allow ISPs to “give preferential treatment to traffic from some content providers, as long as such arrangements are available on ‘commercially reasonable’ terms,” reports journalist Gautham Nagesh.
Well how about chairman Wheeler himself?
Critics have been quick to highlight the fact that chairman Wheeler, the new head of the FCC, is a former lobbyist with close ties to the telecommunications industry. In March, telecom companies—including Comcast, Verizon, and the US Telecom Association—filled the sponsor list for a reception to toast Wheeler and other commissioners. Many of these companies have been furiously lobbying Wheeler and other FCC officials on the expected rule since the Verizon ruling.

But overall, the FCC is one of many agencies that have fallen victim to regulatory capture. Beyond campaign contributions and other more visible aspects of the influence trade in Washington, moneyed special interest groups control the regulatory process by placing their representatives into public office, while dangling lucrative salaries to those in office who are considering retirement. The incentives, with pay often rising to seven and eight figure salaries on K Street, are enough to give large corporations effective control over the rule-making process.
Ars Technica also covered the revolving door angle in its article:
The CTIA Wireless Association today announced that Meredith Attwell Baker—a former FCC Commissioner and former Comcast employee—will become its president and CEO on June 2, replacing Steve Largent, a former member of Congress (and former NFL player).

Largent himself became the cellular lobby’s leader when he replaced Tom Wheeler—who is now the chairman of the FCC. Wheeler is also the former president and CEO of the NCTA (National Cable & Telecommunications Association), which… wait for it… is now led by former FCC Chairman Michael Powell.

To sum up, the top cable and wireless lobby groups in the US are led by a former FCC chairman and former FCC commissioner, while the FCC itself is led by a man who formerly led both the cable and wireless lobby groups.
I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.
But wait, it gets worse.
Among current FCC commissioners, Republican Ajit Pai previously served as associate general counsel for Verizon and held numerous government positions before becoming a commissioner in 2012.
It is extraordinarily tragic that the greed of a small group of crony crooks revolving between the corridors of corporate America and Washington D.C. may be about to ruin the open internet as we know it.

Please share this article far and wide and perhaps enough public awareness can make a difference.

--
"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty."  - Thomas Jefferson"

Monday, April 14, 2014

Paid to Sign Political Petition?

Technically it's illegal to offer people payment to sign a political petition. But here's a twist...what if the payment is just a few "points" toward an Amazon bonus card, not enough for the signer to buy anything, but enough to help people who use paid blog/chat sites to cash in on their content sooner?

To learn more about this offer, click here:

http://voicesforpublictransit.org/ourpetition/default.aspx?recruitment=community&utm_campaign=APTA&utm_source=Resonate&utm_medium=CPM&utm_content=C&utm_term=VPT-Train-Square&DDCA_RegSource=1&DDCA_Medium=CPM&DDCA_CampaignAd=&DDCA_AdUnit=VPT-Train-Square-C3&DDCA_Term=VPT-Train-Square

This web site is actually in favor of more and better public transit, but thinks that, in view of the sorry state of the federal budget and the burden that's likely to be passed down to states and localities, public transportation providers should be trying harder to get funding from the community rather than from government.

I'm filing this one under "Scam" because, although it may offer legitimate Amazon points payment and some judges might pronounce it legal, I think it needs ethical investigation. At least, if this is ruled legal, paid blog/chat sites should start bustin' out all over with petitions representing other points of view...such as petitions to reduce federal spending, even on things everybody likes.