Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wounded Wear

Here's an unusual charitable appeal, to say the least. (The link is hidden behind words because it's one of those very long complex links that mess up this web page.)

Here's the home page for Wounded Wear:

Great Billy Jack's ghost...or do I mean Mad Max's?! They're advertising some pretty strange (but cool) items...T-shirts with skulls, boots with outrageous fringe, a biker event in Florida. The web site says the concept and some of the clothes were invented by a wounded Navy Seal, and they've sponsored various concerts, bike rallies, gym workouts, and miscellaneous fun stuff--well, the very young biker type's idea of fun. It's definitely not about hand-patting and "Oh your poor stiff knee." Sort of head-banger-ish but I guess there's a little head-banger left in a lot of veterans.

This link was sent from a reasonably levelheaded Tea Party...I don't know. Looks like things able-bodied teenagers would want to spend their parents' money on more than things veterans would wear, but today's veterans tend to be younger than we are so what would we know. Over to Adayahi, the veteran who's reserved the right to post here but so far hasn't done so. I officially conclude that further coverage of Wounded Wear will be his responsibility.

Online Firearms Manual?

Karen Bracken recommends this link to "an online manual for every gun":

I wouldn't know! I'm sharing this link so that some local lurkers, especially our sponsor at the gun shop, can check it out and share their comments.

Sequestration? Whose Idea's That? (Update!)

The federal government is contemplating a two percent spending cut. Yes, we've received panicky e-mails..."This could affect Head Start programs! And p-p-public housing!"

Somehow, despite the well-known and widely used Washington Monument Ploy we discussed back in 2011, this web site does not imagine that reducing funding by two percent is likely to cause any poor families to be evicted from subsidized housing. At most poor families may be told that they need to pay another ten dollars a month toward their own rent. They won't like it, and it won't be the kind of spending cut this web site likes best either, but they won't freeze or starve.

But wait a minute. From which political party is the panic coming? Could it be...the party of the President who proposed "sequestration"?

(UPDATE: Before even taking the poll below, you might appreciate some numbers from veteran number-cruncher Mona Charen:

Here's a five-question poll to remind you...Fair warning: the fifth question is a fundraising gambit. If you have e-money to spend, this web site suggests that rewarding the composers of this endearing, informative little poll is a nice way to spend it. If you don't, you can skip the fifth question. Or if you skidded into the answer that reflects your political opinion but you don't have e-money to spend, you can click "refresh" to re-take the quiz. I tested this for you.

HB 1577: No Welfare Payments for Vice

Virginia House Bill 1577, incorporating three similar bills and credited to Delegate Tony Wilt, is now law. Here's the link:

And here's the law:

"Recipients of TANF benefits pursuant to this chapter shall not access TANF cash benefits through use of electronic benefit transaction (i) for the purchase of alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, lottery tickets, or sexually explicit visual materials as defined in § 18.2-374.1; (ii) in any transaction in any (a) government store established for the sale of alcoholic beverages, (b) establishment in which pari-mutuel wagering or charitable gaming is conducted, or (c) establishment in which tattooing or body-piercing, as defined in § 54.1-700, is performed for hire or consideration; or (iii) in any establishment that provides adult-oriented entertainment in which performers or other individuals connected with the business appear nude or partially nude."

USO at Work: The Newsletter

The USO has an official online newsletter. Click here to see the current issue, which contains a way Twitter users can get Jeep to donate money (the company has already donated Jeeps) to the USO, a picture of the Warrior & Family Center in Fort Belvoir, a profile of a USO translator, and more:

There's a link you can use if you want to receive regular reminders to contribute money.

More Opposition to Crooked Road Heritage Area

Dear Correspondents, can you guess why Yahoo misfiled Catherine Turner's e-mail, below, as spam? (Probably not, unless you've seen the e-mail or the flyer printed from it.)

"February 28, 2013


Fifteen SWVA Agricultural Assn. Member Counties REJECT The Crooked Road National Heritage Area Designation...see attached

The VA Farm Bureau tells Congressman Morgan Griffith: WE REJECT THE NHA!...see attached

Wythe County Commissioners Unanimously Reject the NHA Designation

Town Council of Rural Retreat Unanimously Reject the NHA Designation,

Tues. February 26, 2013

Excerpt from email, Executive Director, The Crooked Road, Jack Hinshelwood, December 17, 2012:

As we have stated before, a Crooked Road NHA would do just two things – give this region’s heritage music a well deserved national recognition, and make us eligible for possible federal funding to promote the region’s music. It is that simple. It would not in any way convey local governmental authority to The Crooked Road. Nor would local governmental authority be conveyed in any way to the National Park Service or the Department of the Interior – a fact confirmed by 13 county officials in three heritage areas in three neighboring states.


'give this region’s heritage music a well deserved national recognition...'

Our response:

We believe that our heritage music pre-dated The Crooked Road's marketing efforts, and its future success should not in any way involve the National Park Service by imposing a boundary around nineteen SWVA counties.

'...make us eligible for possible federal funding...Nor would local governmental authority be conveyed in any way to the National Park Service or the Department of the Interior'

Tell that to the National Park Service, Mr. Hinshelwood! Since the NHA will be 50% funded by the NPS, we're pretty sure The Crooked Road will be playing by the Secretary of the Interior's rules:

The management plan also links the local coordinating entity [The Crooked Road Board] to federal funding and broadly sets forth how federal and other monies are to be spent over time. The management planning process must be completed in three years, as stated in the authorizing legislation, and include National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) processes and documentation in order for the Secretary of the Interior to sign the plan. Without the Secretary’s signature, a heritage area cannot receive further federal funding. (NEPA and NHPA outline planning and consultation processes which can be integrated into the management planning process and are explained below.)

'...Nor would local governmental authority be conveyed in any way to the National Park Service or the Department of the Interior – a fact confirmed by 13 county officials in three heritage areas in three neighboring states.'

We don't know who Mr. Hinshelwood's "thirteen county officials" are, but we have documented THOUSANDS of victims of property rights abuses as a result of Heritage Area management plans in our NHA Newsletter, 2nd Edition (see both issues, attached) including Heritage Areas in neighboring states.

For more information, contact: 276-274-8304

The Southwest Virginia Tea Party, Abingdon/Bristol/WashCo "

Why wouldn't this document have reached me until today, when I thought "Since the General Assembly have voted on legislation for this year, there's time to check the spam file," if it had been e-mailed three weeks ago? Links and attachments usually don't snag documents in the spam filter, although the computers I use often fail to open them, or, in the case of PDF documents, take more time to process them than I have. This document was filed as SPAM because it contained...a graphic. A picture of a road sign saying "Proceed With Caution." Apparently Google doesn't like the picture either, because it failed to paste into this document with the rest of the press release, but I assure you there's nothing offensive about it. You've seen similar signs on the road.  

Proceed with caution when e-mailing pictures, Gentle Readers.  

The fifteen counties that have rejected the National Heritage Area designation are: Bland, Buchanan, Carroll, Dickenson, Giles, Grayson, Lee, Pulaski, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise, and Wythe.  

So far as I know, everybody in these counties, without exception, loves tourists. And music. And music festivals. And parks. And scenery. Also crafts, bed-and-breakfasts, antique car shows, pick-your-own-fruit fields, and other things The Crooked Road has attempted to market. We just don't see a necessary connection between any of these things and a proposed land grab by a federal government careening toward bankruptcy and likely to sell the land it has grabbed to foreign interests.

HB 1509: Bad Checks in Cyberspace

Virginia House Bill 1509, which has become law, provides that bad e-payments should be treated exactly like bad checks:

And this web site says jolly high time, and thank you, Delegate Habeeb.

Why Bloggers Have to Chastise the Administration

Bloggers have to chastise the current administration...because the current administration refuses to play by the same rules its party used to score points off past administrations.

Oh, dear. Does this mean our bland and gentlemanly President could have as much to hide as the older, grumpier, less attractive President who made the name "Woodward" famous? Oh, my.

But wait. President Obama is old enough to remember that both the nation and President Nixon did, after all, survive the Watergate Scandal. Implications?

Robert O. Adair: Measuring Tape Murders

Robert O. Adair has fun with the "mystery and horror" of TSA regulations:

Bill Stanley: Medicaid Expansion

From Virginia State Senator Bill Stanley:

Medicaid Expansion

February 25, 2013

From the office of Senator Bill Stanley


Phil Rapp, Communications Director

(o) 804-698-7520

Medicaid expansion was a major topic for the General Assembly this year. The original bill, SB 1329, which was designed to expand the class of Medicaid recipients in Virginia to include those meeting the criteria in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act until such time that the federal subsidy back to the state is reduced below 90%,  had been withdrawn by the sponsor.  The Medicaid expansion issue was placed into the hands of the Senate and House of Delegates Conference Committee where a compromise budget amendment was approved by both houses and included in the 2012-2014 Biennial Budget that was sent to the Governor for his signature on this past Saturday.  I voted against the Biennial Budget because of the Medicaid Expansion language and the financial burden this program will place on the taxpayers of Virginia.

Make no mistake, an expansion of the state’s Medicaid program carries with it a price tag, a very large price tag.  Our country is slowly drowning in a sea of red ink.  Expanding the Medicaid program in Virginia on a promise from the federal government to continually subsidize the program would certainly be foolhardy. We need to be realistic about committing to yet another high cost entitlement program before we jump into this quicksand of more unsustainable debt.

I am very aware of the struggles that too many Virginians in our area are experiencing whenit comes to healthcare. I also remain very concerned about the future cost impact that the proposed Medicaid expansion would mean to the taxpayers in the Commonwealth.  I firmly believe that it is necessary for those who are truly in need to have access to a safety net of quality healthcare. 

Further, many of our district citizens are employed by the healthcare industry. Certainly, the infusion of 9.9 billion dollars of federal money will result in more jobs as well as greater job security in the healthcare industry in our area, and many healthcare delivery professionals and facilities would directly benefit from such an expansion in Medicaid benefits. However, I remain very skeptical of the long term costs that would eventually become a major unsustainable spending issue for Virginia tax payers in the near future.

As it stands now, even without the Medicaid expansion, Virginia’s financial obligation for its part of Medicaid cost takes up over 21% of the total state budget. Simply put, the state’s budget for 2013 is $7.6 billion dollars in Medicaid payments, serving on average 870 thousand claimants each month.

The lure of the Federal government’s offer to subsidize 100% a Medicaid expansion in Virginia for the next three years, followed by a 90% subsidy rate in subsequent two years (for a total of nearly 10 billion dollars) is very enticing for the state to join in but there are no guarantees that the Federal government will actually be able to provide this level of support even beyond the first three years. 

It is the lure of “free money” that makes it so attractive on the surface; but, we know that there is no such thing.

 For example, if by 2017 the Federal government decides that the promised 90% subsidy is just too much to send to the Commonwealth and decides instead to reduce the reimbursement amount to a 50% level, the state stands to be on the hook for an additional 551 million dollars per year.  This amount will balloon to a total burden of 7.9 billion dollars upon the Virginia tax payer for the five year period ending in 2022.  This is totally unsustainable for the tax payers of Virginia to support.  Without major cuts and/or tax increases elsewhere in the budget, this program would be bankrupt within five years.

It’s time to admit that we cannot just keep adding entitlement programs with huge price tags in the hope that somehow, someway these programs will be paid for by the tax payers.  Adding program after program only to have the tax payers face yet more unsustainable funding obligations created by the federal government is irresponsible and must stop.

 To be clear, the hook that the Federal government uses is its argument in strong-arming the states to comply with the voluntary Medicaid expansion is that it will extract the billions of dollars from our state through the burdensome tax system created in the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as “Obamacare”), and will take that money and give it to other participating states if Virginia chooses not to participate. This is patently unfair, yet it is the reason why we see most states are giving in to the federal government.

 The Federal government is borrowing on the order of 44 cents of every dollar it spends as we speak, and is 17 trillion dollars in debt, and growing every day. Virginia cannot cash the checks that the Federal government is writing, nor can Virginia count on the federal government to keep its promises to subsidize Medicaid where it can’t even keep its fiscal house in order.  

 It is also unwise from my view point that the taxpayers of Virginia should rely on even a 50% subsidy rate from the Federal Government by 2017.  I consider the Federal government’s proposed Medicaid expansion plan to be nothing more than a potential “bait and switch” that will leave us and any other state that buys into this plan to eventually be left holding the bag, and one that Virginia cannot afford in the long term. 

 I recognize that a plan to expand Medicaid is necessary, but not by just throwing tax payer dollars at it – instead, we need to re-visit the entire Medicaid system and make the necessary plan design changes and reforms before we commit to yet another unsustainable entitlement cost on Virginia taxpayers. 

 A “quick-fix” from the General Assembly to relent to federal government pressure and expand Medicaid in the Commonwealth under certain conditions, while a noble effort, still does not cure the federal government’s spending and overall inefficiency problem. If this incredible financial burden is passed on by the government to you and me, after five years it could surely threaten Virginia’s ability to pay for our roads, schools, public safety and other essential core services of government in the future.  As a result, I voted against the 2012-2014 Biennial Budget as I believe the Medicaid Expansion program provisions will only result in an immeasurable financial burden for the Commonwealth.

Kentucky Senate Stands Up to Agenda 21

Thanks to Karen Bracken for sharing James Bruggers' report:

This web site hasn't had a separate label for Kentucky news. This web site now recognizes that we have enough kindred spirits in Kentucky to need one.

Mr. Bruggers sounds like a True Green who doesn't realize the extent to which the Green Party has been hijacked by anti-American interests (that aren't really concerned about the earth). Readers who've been receiving Karen Bracken's research and/or observing that "Agenda 21" is the only reasonable explanation for some of the legislative craziness we've been watching, please be especially gentle with him. Remember cognitive dissonance...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cognitive Dissonance, Black History Month, and HR 75

Is listening to the Limbaugh Show while Black an example of cognitive dissonance? This quip from a pop artist wouldn't be worth refuting if some correspondents of this web site didn't seem to me to be running up against real examples of cognitive dissonance these days.

Cognitive dissonance is what we feel when we encounter new information that appears to be factual, yet is directly opposed to other factual information we believe to be true.

For example, if you believe that Rush Limbaugh is a bigot, you might feel cognitive dissonance if you went to and looked up his comments on celebrities of African descent. You would find that, not in Serious Thinker Mode but in Entertainer/Humorist Mode, he's made plenty of wisecracks at the expense of young entertainers--not necessarily just the ones who dabble in politics or philosophy. That's part of his "grumpy old man" routine, and he targets young entertainers of all ethnic types. On the other hand, if you search specifically for serious thinkers of African descent, you'll find that Limbaugh has positively promoted their work.

I have a bit of an advantage over young readers, because I remember, many years ago, having a senior patient say to me, "Have you ever seen anything by a writer called Thomas Sowell? I think they told Rush Limbaugh to put someone Black on his show, because Mr. Sowell is not a radio person...but he did make some interesting points..." and over the years that's been true. Thomas Sowell has made many interesting points on many subjects. He's written ponderous, scholarly historical studies, stepped outside of his field to conduct a professional-quality psychological study, written witty satirical newspaper columns, explained Marxism to non-economists, more. This web site recommends, and will distribute, anything by Thomas Sowell as a Fair Trade Book, but Limbaugh saw him first.

Then there are older "conservatives"'ll need to search for them by name, and weed out irrelevant results when other people have similar names, but you'll find Limbaugh commending and promoting many African-American writers, and also women and other "minority" writers...It's still Black History Month, so maybe we could use a quick study of the history of African-American Republicans on the Limbaugh Show.

Walter Williams. (I'm just picking one recent supportive link for each name that comes to mind, no claim that this is the best; there are many, and this is a timed exercise. Because Limbaugh's links don't fit into this system well, each quote is linked to the page on which you'll find it if you scroll down.) "I like what our old buddy Walter Williams says. You want to start talking about giving something back, well, who ought to give it back is the thieves, criminals, life's reprobates who've taken what isn't theirs."

Condoleezza Rice. "We've watched a whole lot of white guys beat up on any number of African-Americans, Condoleezza Rice, Mia Love."

Allen West (OK, a politician more than a writer). "[Debbie Wasserman Schultz] this woman's party moved heaven and earth to defeat African-American Mia Love, African-American Allen West, and replace them with white men.  So the hypocrisy is rich."

Michelle Malkin. "Michelle Malkin had a great, great rant on this the other night on Hannity..."

Shelby Steele and Thomas Sowell, together. "This guy's gonna join the ranks of Thomas Sowell and Clarence Thomas and Shelby Steele." (Too bad the reference is to a man leaving the Democratic Party.) Another recent transcript mentions Steele in the context of "people who deserve the Presidential Medal of Freedom."

You can go on. If anybody out there happens to be a conservative looking for a Black History Month presentation, I recommend going on with this for longer than ten minutes. I don't find it particularly fresh; I suspect that the people who didn't think Limbaugh would be so respectful of African-American writers haven't read much of the serious writing of which Limbaugh is respectful. I want to move on to some topics that have come up in e-mail addressed to this web site.

Cognitive dissonance is also what I feel when I think of U.S. House Resolution 75, the one about the United States withdrawing, at least symbolically and temporarily, from the United Nations. I think the United Nations is trying to dictate internal policy to member countries, and its charter, its right to operate within or be supported by these United States, specifies that it's not allowed to do that, and we need to do something to chastise the United Nations before it gets out of hand. the idea of an organization that serves as mediator between nations, and prevents border disputes from turning into world wars, not a good thing? Ouch! That mental pain you just shared is cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is what I feel when some of you send me flames directed at legislators this web site respects, supports, and just plain likes. Tell me Delegate Orrock's a RINO, a tax-and-spend greedhead "Republican In Name Only," and I think, "Well, I don't know him--he just has an unusual name that tends to be part of The Team and was attached to one successful bill I especially loved, this winter. Maybe he really is a RINO. But that was a good bill! Should I spend some time reviewing the complete collected work of Orrock and these other accused RINO's?" That's cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance tends to impede action. Karen Bracken sent out an e-mail that urged eight hundred people to read a post on this web site. More than eight dozen did, right away. Karen Bracken sent out another e-mail that urged the same eight hundred people to support U.S. HR 75. Two days later, she said I was the only one who'd commented on it at Popvox. Well, maybe some of her e-friends have computers that don't work well with Popvox; Popvox works for me, but a lot of my e-friends have computers that don't even work well with Blogspot. Maybe some supported HR 75 anonymously. But I suspect a lot of people are still dealing with that cognitive dissonance. Isn't there something in between letting the U.N. turn into a global dictator, and dropping it smash on the floor? Isn't it still, in some ways, a good thing? Ouch! Ouch!

What communications experts recommend doing, to alleviate the pain of cognitive dissonance, is (when possible) introducing "dissonant" information slowly, in small doses. The term "dissonance" comes from music. In music, if you're playing in the key of G and you play a G chord and an A chord at the same time, that's dissonance--excruciating dissonance. If you play a G chord and then go straight to an A chord, that's a more tolerable degree of dissonance; it'll get people's attention, but it will sound like a bid for attention and not an ugly mistake. If you play a G chord, then a D, and then an A chord, that's modulating in a way that only trained ears will hear as anything strange.

The writer known in the real world as Suzette Haden Elgin, and in cyberspace as Ozarque, was a communications expert whose hobby was science fiction, so the example of modulation in communication that she favored was the "marketing" of Star Trek to TV executives who didn't believe a science fiction series could work. The producers of Star Trek modulated between ideas by using an analogy. "Wagon Train was a successful series," at least at the time, "and Star Trek will be Wagon Train in space." They could "see" that, and that's how TV history was made.

When a conflict of ideas has people thinking "but...but...but..." one way to get them off those "buts" is for someone, anyone, to find a way to modulate. I supported HR 75 right away because, in politics, supporting a bill like this can be that in-between step some of us want. HR 75 does not have to be enacted into law and enforced as such to be useful. If the United Nations sees a critical mass of support for HR 75, that may be enough of a warning to get the sort of apology and corrective efforts we really want. I recommend that everybody support HR 75 for that reason.

What about nasty, nasty HB 2313? I know those of you who drive, or need the services of drivers, perceive this bill as nasty, and that's a lot of Virginia voters...there is still a part of me that likes HB 2313, and I still say it's brilliant, masterly, conservative, libertarian, and ethical. And unnecessary. And probably, based on the information I've seen, unjustifiable. And I'm still sort of proud that, when whoever it is wants a bit of world-class lawyering, mediating, and triangulating done, they ask a relative of mine to do it. Talk about cognitive dissonance! I don't know whether Governor McDonnell will stall this bill long enough to give us time to discuss this in depth, although I'd like for him to do that and I encourage everyone who uses Facebook to tell him so.

We could go on. This post is long enough. I'd like to find a good bill, if possible, to commend before signing off for the night. Anyway, I trust I've explained the concept of cognitive dissonance well enough to be helpful to everyone. If not, please e-mail

HB 1350: Math Remediation and How Not to Need It

Virginia House Bill 1350, which has passed both the House and the Senate, provides for "math remediation."

This reminds me of a cool true story about how a primary school teacher, not otherwise a very good or well liked teacher, taught advanced math to everybody. I've cited other things my fourth grade homeroom teacher said (not in Gate City!) as things that ought to get a teacher fired...but by the time we left fourth grade I think all thirty-five of us were just about ready for eighth grade algebra. This is something I've been asked to share with homeschooling readers, so here's the story.

I am not good at math. I was not good at math. Early in the year I was sent home with a nasty note to the effect that some schools might not require everyone to learn the multiplication table in grade three, but this one did, so would my parents please make sure I'd learned it before I came back to school in the morning. Other kids were going swimming. My parents said that I could still get in some swimming if I memorized the multiplication table fast. So I did. Only I was still dysnumeric; the fact that I've learned the multiplication table, and the addition table, does not keep me from making idiotic mistakes in multiplication and addition. I'm not capable of being "taught" not to be dysnumeric, but after grade nine I learned to cope with it.

And everybody knew,'cos Piaget said, that nobody under age ten is capable of understanding multiplication well enough to learn division or fractions. My teacher understood that as well as he understood that several of us were still nine or even eight years old, when he started teaching us advanced arithmetic.

He told us that a doctor had advised him to drink less coffee for his health, so if he started to feel drowsy, what he was supposed to do to wake himself up was work out a math problem. We were free to ignore him. We were also free, just in case we were feeling drowsy too, to shout out the answer for each step in the math problem the teacher was working out on the chalkboard.

So at least once a day, and sometimes eight or ten times, whenever a critical number of people started looking out the window and waiting for other people to finish something, this teacher would set up a math problem on the chalkboard. "5280 divided by 365. If you know the answer, shout it out. 365 into 5..."

"Won't go," a few kids would shout.

"365 into 52..."

"Won't go!" more of us would shout.

"365 into 528..."

"One time!" Everybody would get into it.

"Next step?"


"One times 365 is 365..."


"528 minus 365 is..."

And so on. Absolutely no pressure. No comparisons. No nagging. We were just watching a grown-up do something grown-ups did, and being encouraged to pay attention to the details of it.

We had a thick, intimidating math book. "New math" was the current fad. It allowed teachers to toss out simple exercises in geometry, just for fun, to liven up arithmetic lessons. Thanks to "new math" that book contained exercises in long division, fractions, decimals, ratios, percentages, solid and plane geometry, non-decimal number systems, and I think compound interest.

Before spring break, we were all doing those exercises. The book explained a long, complicated, oldfashioned way to set up division problems. "Just ignore that. It's oldfashioned. You all know how to divide, multiply, subtract, and bring down." We all did. The book explained fractions, decimals, non-decimals in the same way the teacher did. We did those exercises too.

I was nine years old. According to Piaget, I didn't understand the idea of division. Actually I think I understood it pretty well, although I wasn't ready to explain it to people who didn't. According to Piaget, I'd merely learned by rote how to do a few tricks. Well, that's as it may be. I have never had any trouble doing those tricks, in high school, in college, or in adult life, beyond the basic fact that I'm dysnumeric. There may well have been a time when "Division is the reverse of multiplication" was just a thing I'd heard adults say, and a time when I understood it. I don't remember any transition between those times.

In any case, that rote learning did me no harm at all. I don't think it did anyone any harm. I think kids are wired for a certain amount of rote learning. They hear adults saying things, they repeat them in ways that show that they didn't understand them, and then one day they're teenagers or adults and they do understand those things. As long as there's no pressure on children to learn things by rote, there's no danger in it. A parrot may learn to say that 63 divided by 7 equals 9 and think that that's a song lyric or a given name. A child may learn to say that 63 divided by 7 equals 9, without thinking what that means, and then later, when the child's brain has developed further, the child sees that of course if you have 63 of something and want to divide it into 7 piles you put 9 in each pile.

This was not a special school for bright students, although I don't remember any evidence that anyone had major brain damage. You could do what my teacher did with any student, or students; with any subject, not only math. It's how one-room schools work; students on the lower level learn by observing what those on the higher level do.

Next year we came back home, just in time for me to be in the class of the world's worst math teacher, the one who had a good system but couldn't make a move without oozing emotions: she was menopausal, an undiagnosed diabetic, she hated fifth grade math, she hated fifth grade kids. She liked to inflict pain. Some kids I knew who'd been good students up to grade five started failing math and developing mental blocks in grade five. I didn't. I already knew everything the hateful fifth grade teacher was supposed to be teaching us, so her hostility didn't touch me--although I didn't like her, personally, any more than anyone else did. I had nothing to worry about in sixth or seventh grade math, either; the teachers were nice, some of the "new math" games were fun, I already knew all the concepts, and I was still dysnumeric.

Eighth grade algebra was different. That class had a real old-school teacher. We were ready to learn the concepts, and that teacher made sure that everyone had learned the concepts by making us set up our own equations, not just work out the exercises in the book. I think that's an excellent way to identify students who really need any "remediation."

But these days the academic standards seem so low...why can't children learn the things we're being told they can't learn? Why do we need the "at least even this generation of little brain-damaged trolls can learn this much" approach called Common Core, which Karen Bracken calls an anti-American plot to make American children ignorant? What's wrong with a little rote learning in place of coffee for the teacher? No pressure, no trauma. Divide. Multiply. Subtract. Bring down. Your children can do that. If I can learn anything to do with numbers, you know your children can.

There was, now that I think about it, another wonderful thing my unlovable fourth grade teacher did. He never told our class, "You are smarter or better educated than other children. You already know everything other children your age are going to be struggling to learn, about math, for the next three years." That was true, but it wasn't something middle school students need to think much about. I don't know whether my fourth grade teacher had any spiritual consciousness or even much public spirit. Maybe he was just self-serving. When children aren't told that they've learned something that's supposed to be especially difficult, and can therefore consider themselves especially clever, they are free to formulate the thought, "I had a good teacher."

Creative Excuses

Right. I've spent a lot of my limited online time this morning on things that are related to this web site, or more specifically to that long-awaited physical store where you can buy Fair Trade Books for ordinary used-book prices, but don't show up on the blog. That's my excuse. Oh, yes, don't forget that it takes most of an hour to get from the Gate City computer center to the Nickelsville computer center.

And then the way I normally start working on this blog is to pick three posts from the Google blog feed to read, thus opening three more tabs for Google-friendly sites including Amazon and And this is what Liz Klimas had to share:

Right. One more. This one's not true, but it was my high school class's pick: "I don't have my (major subject) homework because some Iranian terrorists tried to kidnap my study hall supervisor, who they claimed to believe is related to the Shah. So we were all thinking of ways to convince them that Ms./Mr. __ is American, and nobody even sat down to do their homework..."

Oh,'m opening that now.

How to Be a Woman Priscilla King Envies

I've written about being envied by other women, so it's time to write something about women I envy. Well, not to the point of its becoming a Deadly Sin, but enough to make me think "She's so lucky, she's so blessed, I envy her."

And, local lurkers, yesterday afternoon I just set things up for you to be "her."

I went into Mountain Treasures, bought a large bag for $2, and filled it with a few books and some name-brand clothes I would wear in Washington. Then I bought another bag and filled it with jeans and jerseys to wear if I get to work on another remodelling project this summer, which I want very much to do. Then I bought two more bags and filled them with all that nylon and polyester fabric that no fashion-conscious female would actually wear in this century, but it's sturdy and should make lovely linings for knitted handbags. I have lots of leftover yarn and would like to knit some unique handbags. That's $8 altogether, and rather than wait and see whether I could jam those four big bags into a car, since it was four o'clock anyway, the storekeeper just hauled the bags up to the Cat Sanctuary in a truck.

Where does that leave our local independent charity store? Stuck with five racks of adult-size clothes, not to mention a whole room of child-size clothes, I can't wear. But I wish I could.

I'm a "Winter." I have no hang-ups about wearing makeup in a cold, dry climate where it stays on and feels nice, but I live in a warm, damp climate, so I try to avoid wearing makeup at all. If you wear only your own colors, you can do this and people won't ask whether you've been ill.

So, still on the rack when I left Mountain Treasures, there were beautiful pale pink and blue "Summer" blouses...that would make me look as if I hadn't washed my face lately, and I have.

There were fashionable "Autumn" sagebrush and willow-leaf green dresses...that would make me look jaundiced, and I'm not.

There were durable, practical brown should be getting the picture now.

Also there was an utterly cool sweatshirt, not noticeably worn, with a message like "I Want My Senior Discount." This is for someone who may still occasionally be mistaken for a student due to things like slimness, black hair, energy, running down the street, playing with kids, etc., but is at least 55 years old. I want this shirt, but somebody else out there could enjoy it during the years before I'm old enough to wear it.

Also there were a lot of men's things, and things for women who are taller, shorter, fatter, or thinner than I am. Things that will look good on somebody else, not me. Somebody else is lucky. I envy her.

I didn't even look at the children's things, although I know people are always looking for bargains on little boys' jeans and I've seen several pairs in this store. The Nephews go to school in other states. Somebody else has children who live at home and go to a local school. Sometimes I envy her, too.

And books...I found a few treasures. One reader's trash is another's treasure. Somebody out there has yet to read Russell Targ's wild and crazy "memoir of a blind biker," Do You See What I See. Lots of people just automatically assume it can't be true, rather than read about the technology--and the legal fine print--that allow it to be true. ("Legally blind" includes a lot of people who can read and walk around with glasses. Targ's one of them. Now don't you want to read about how it's possible for him to ride a motorcycle?) I read that book. I sold it to one of the storekeepers. You have yet to read it, whoever you are. In a way I envy you, too.

Local readers, the Mountain Treasures store has been given clothes, books, hearing-aid batteries, fake turquoise bead jewelry, I even saw a HP DeskJet printer in there, to sell to raise money for local food bank, shelters, and disaster relief programs. These are local people's efforts to keep local people independent after small-scale disasters in their lives. They are the places where you or I would go if we lost everything to an earthquake or a forest fire. And the store has been receiving truckloads of summer clothes, which the Experience Corps workers who run the store are eager to put on the racks, but they can't start putting the summer things on the racks until you clear some more winter things out of the way.

And now you know we're not talking about the nasty spun-plastic things out of somebody's grandmother's closet. There are still some cotton-lined nylon jackets in the store, but I cleared out all the nylon dresses and polyester pants suits for you. We are talking about natural fibres, fashionable colors, designer labels. We are talking about things you'd see young, rich women wearing in affluent suburbs of Washington.

So please go out to the west end of Jackson Street, across from the Citgo store, go around to the back of the block to find the door to the first floor (the ground floor will become our new police station), and buy a whole bag full of garments that might be called bargains for $2 each, only, during the rest of this week, you can buy them for $2 per bag. I may recognize some of those bargains on you. And I will envy you.

Bill Stanley: Virginia's Transportation Debate

On Tuesday, Virginia State Senator Bill Stanley e-mailed us two documents on HB 2313, set to become law if not rejected by Governor McDonnell (who seems already to be shouldering the blame for this unpopular tax increase). This web site welcomes all contributions donated by elected officials. However, when the contributions arrive in formats other than plain e-mail text, it may take me a while to get the documents online. Here is Senator Stanley's statement on "Virginia's Transportation Debate":

"Virginia’s Transportation Debate
February 24, 2013
From the office of Senator Bill Stanley
Phil Rapp, Communications Director
(o) 804-698-7520

As a result of the historic vote this past weekend in the Virginia General Assembly, the solution to fund the state’s transportation budget is unfortunately on a fast track to be one of the highest tax increases in state history. The Senate and House of Delegates have approved a bill that if signed into law by the Governor, will cost tax payers as much as 6.1 billion dollars over the next five years (at a minimum, an average of over 1.2 billion dollars per year in new taxes). While I applaud the sincere hard work and dedicated efforts of the Conference Committee which was tasked to write this bill as a means to find a solution to an important issue for Virginia, and understand why both Delegates and Senators decided to vote for this measure, I voted “no” on the bill (HB 2313, Speaker Howell, Patron).
Here is the summary of the main points (and tax increases) of the bill:
ü Increase the state sales tax from 5.0% to 5.3% (In Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, the sales tax is increased to 6%);
ü Eliminate the current 17.5 cents per gallon flat tax (at the pump) on gasoline, and replace it with a new per gallon gasoline tax to the wholesale price (“at the rack”): +3.5% paid by gas distributors (which will be passed on to consumers at the pump) note: the sales tax will be based on the February 20, 2013 price with any future decreases not going below this floor amount.
ü Increase the diesel fuel wholesale tax to 6%;
ü Apply a $100 annual fee on alternative-fuel vehicles, including hybrids;
ü Increase sales tax on new vehicles (cars and trucks) in a graduated amount from 3.0% to 4.0% this year, and increase it further to 4.3% by July 2016 (an increase of an additional minimum $375 per new vehicle when fully implemented);
ü Increase the amount of general fund money diverted to fund transportation from .5% to .675%, raising approximately $200 million when phased in completely. General fund monies are used for public schools, Medicaid, public safety, and core services of government;
ü Use a substantial portion of any future sales tax proceeds generated from the Internet purchases (if the U.S. Congress passes the Marketplace Equity Act), the proceeds will be distributed as follows: 55.5% for schools, 22.2% for local government, and 22.2% for roads and public transit. However, if the act fails to pass in Congress (and it hasn’t passed so far) by 2015, this bill will replace the revenue it would generate for transportation, education, and localities through an additional 1.6% increase in the wholesale gas tax, thereby increasing the new wholesale gas tax from the 3.5% level to a higher level of 5.1% per gallon by 2016. If this Marketplace tax is passed, small businesses will be forced to comply with the different tax rates of thousands of state and local jurisdictions throughout the United States. While all of the big online companies will be able to comply with this requirement, this may force their small business competitors online out of business;
ü The personal property tax paid by Virginians would increase from 3.5% to 4.3%;
ü The tax on vending machines sales rises from 4.5% to 6% in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, and increases to 5.3% in the rest of the Commonwealth;
ü Heavy equipment used for contracts on road construction, railroads, docks, etc., will be increased from 3.5% to 4.3%;
ü Except for the increased tax on motor vehicles, all other tangible personal property will be taxed now at 5%;
ü The bill creates the formation of new regional taxing authorities that could potentially add nearly $550 million tax dollars per year in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia;
ü In Northern Virginia, commercial, industrial and residential land and building sales will have an additional tax of 25 cents per $100 of value;
ü In Northern Virginia there will be a 3% hotel tax;
It’s clear, that more than six different taxes and fee structures are being increased under the shadow of the fixed gas tax being abolished.
It’s also important to note that while the 17.5 cents per gallon tax would disappear under this new bill, the tax increases at the wholesale level will automatically occur and be passed on to us consumers. For example, should the wholesale price per gallon reach $4.00 per gallon, which is very likely, the new 3.5% wholesale tax will equal 14 cents per gallon. And if the aforementioned Marketplace Equity Act tax is not passed by the Congress, the additional 1.6% tax increase imposed by this bill will bring the new tax per gallon to 20 cents, or 2.5 cents more than the current 17.5 cents tax rate.
Quite simply, the potential total price tag for Virginia tax payers over five years could be, at a minimum, 6.1 billion dollars.
I understand and agree that transportation is a core service of government that must be addressed, but its costs cannot and should not be satisfied by massive tax increases on the citizens of Virginia, and certainly not during times of economic strife and uncertainty that we have been enduring at this time. I had initially supported Senator Steve Newman’s approach to the transportation funding bill, which was a revenue neutral approach and re-allocated funds that Virginia already had in its possession. While it may not have been perfect, (as quite frankly, no plan ever is), the passing of the Newman Transportation plan would have helped in moving the debate on transportation in a more financially conservative direction. Unfortunately, we are now looking at bill that contains a complex set of tax hikes that affects every Virginian throughout the Commonwealth on a daily basis.
More specifically, the Transportation bill, in its current form, is nothing more than a tax on all Virginians with little or no direct relief for the transportation issues facing the 20th District. I have been fighting for funding for the I-73 corridor as a major step necessary to restore economic prosperity in Southside and Southwest Virginia – however, this bill ignores the funding need for this critical project.
I commend Delegate Charles Poindexter for his excellent Rte 58 bill (HB 1953) that would guarantee financial backing for the completion of the widening of Rte. 58, in Patrick County as a necessary transportation need for the economic growth of our region. In the Senate, both myself and Sen. Bill Carrico supported and fought for his bill for the continued funding commitment and we were thrilled that it passed; and, the Rte 58 corridor widening project is indeed included in this transportation plan. However, in the Transportation bill passed by the General Assembly, no increased funding for any expansion other than those already previously budgeted by Governor McDonnell will occur until the year 2020, and only then, the increase will be by a mere 20 million dollars. 8 years is too long for us to wait to begin to complete the widening of Rte 58, and the amount allocated is far from what is needed to complete the project in a timely manner. We need Rte 58 widened now as an essential component of our economic recovery and vitality in the future here in our area.
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), investments in highway construction deliver nearly 6 dollars of economic impact for every dollar invested. For every 1 Billion dollars invested in highway construction, more than 42,000 jobs are created. I firmly believe that Southside and Southwest Virginia have consistently been ignored over and over again on major funding to meet its transportation and job creation needs, while the northern and eastern regions of the Commonwealth consistently receive the lion share of the transportation budget.
If the gas tax and sales tax structures are to be revised along with additional fees being implemented without any incremental funding to our region, it becomes extremely important to send a clear message that we are not in support of taxation without a resulting benefit. Both Southside and Southwest Virginia cannot be ignored any longer. I am very disappointed with the decision by the conferees to specifically omit the I-73 project from the transportation bill.
The I-73 corridor is of national significance, connecting the Great Lakes with the Carolinas’ coast. The Commonwealth Transportation Board has determined that I-73 in Virginia would follow US 460 from West Virginia to Blacksburg, I-81 to Roanoke, and then parallel US 220 south through Franklin and Henry Counties to the Virginia-North Carolina line. The Transportation Board has already approved a 70 mile corridor of I-73 running from Roanoke to the Virginia-North Carolina border. Even though the construction of this highway would connect the sea ports of South Carolina to Southside Virginia, and onward west to the interior of the United States, funding for this segment has yet to be allocated by either the state or federal governments.
It cannot be denied that the transportation funding needs of Virginia have either been delayed or ignored for a number of years in the General Assembly. While this bill may meet many of the funding needs of the Commonwealth’s vast transportation system in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads areas, it does little to benefit us in the 20th District. It is painfully clear that the Transportation bill passed this past weekend by the General Assembly is lacking a critical opportunity to help return economic prosperity to a region of the state where unemployment reaches over 16% in at least one our largest areas. This is a missed opportunity, and for the current transportation bill to focus instead on further funding in more economically advantaged areas is exceptionally disappointing on many levels. Unfortunately, this bill makes all Virginians, including the citizens of Southside and Southwest, pay out of their own wallets their hard earned money for road projects that benefit certain more affluent parts of the state, without providing a direct benefit to all of Virginia. "

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Steve Martin Campaigns on Budgetary Issues

It's a campaign e-mail asking for money, but I know a lot of people will agree with State Senator Steve Martin about this: "We could have funded transportation without raising taxes, if we were willing to...[fund] less growth in spending...[W]e could handle it." Hearty amens from the choir...

Though there were great successes this legislative session in advancing education choice and accountability, fighting off attacks on gun rights, and tightening down on the kind of ID that is acceptable at the polls, I am very disappointed in the tax increases, the authorization to expand Medicaid, and the delay of the new voter ID law. Trust me, I voted right on each issue.

We could have funded transportation without raising taxes, if we were willing to take more out of General Funds to do so. That would have required less growth in spending in certain operational areas, but we could handle it. Nor did we have to fold on giving a legislative commission the power to expand Medicaid at its will; an action which is, in my mind, unconstitutional - our Attorney General certainly says so. You never had to worry that I might vote for any of it.

My record is that of a clear and consistent conservative - one you can count on as your next Lieutenant Governor - a fiscally responsible, limited government, liberty-minded conservative. My record is solid on issues ranging from taxes and spending to education, property rights, the 2nd Amendment, and traditional family values. And folks, let's be frank about this; I'm the only candidate with the experience and know-how to get the job done in an evenly divided Senate.

While I've been quite active on the campaign trail these past seven weeks, my responsibilities in the Senate had to take top priority. That's what I was elected to do. My campaign, though quite active and visible, has also been hampered by the law which prohibits me from raising money during session - a prohibition that did not restrict my opponents. Thankfully, I am finally out from under that prohibition.

I need your help today to reach my goal of raising $50,000 by next Monday evening, March 4th. The money is much needed to communicate our message across the Commonwealth and assure we nominate a strong, experienced, limited government, liberty minded conservative as our Republican Lt. Governor candidate at the May 18th Convention. This money will allow me to stay in close contact with you and our other filed delegates and potential delegates who will make up our victorious majority vote. As you know, I must communicate all over the Commonwealth to let folks know of my conservative record and readiness to be their best Lt. Governor candidate statewide.

You can make a contribution online, or mail a check made payable to Steve Martin for Lt. Governor to: 25 E. Main Street, Richmond, VA 23219. Let us know of your support at, so we can keep you informed and up to date. I am forever grateful for the privilege of service.

God Bless,"
[Senator Martin's signature graphic failed to show up here.]

Bill Carrico Focusses on Achievement: 350 Jobs

From State Senator "Bill" Carrico, via Stuart Higley:

Richmond – The General Assembly has adjourned its 2013 session, bringing a conclusion to what has been a productive two months in Richmond for the citizens of Southwest Virginia. When the final gavel fell in the State Senate on Saturday, a budget had passed both chambers that includes $18 million to open the River North Correctional Facility in Grayson County.

“This has truly been a historic session of the General Assembly for Southwest Virginia,” said Sen. Bill Carrico (R-Fries). “For years, we have fought tirelessly to open the River North Correctional Facility and put hundreds of our citizens back to work. At long last, with the support of leaders across the state, we have passed a final budget that will open the facility. I cannot overstate the magnitude of this victory for our region.”

The conference budget, which was passed in the House and Senate on Saturday, includes $18 million to open the Grayson County prison in October of this year. It is estimated that approximately 350 jobs will be directly created by the facility, which was completed over two years ago but has remained vacant since. If Gov. McDonnell signs the budget bill, then the facility will face no further hurdles en route to opening in the fall.

The 2013 session saw Carrico pass a number of bills of local importance and resulted in a key post on the Finance Committee for the first-term Senator, who spent 10 years in the House of Delegates. “This session has been a watershed moment in my public service career,” Carrico said. “It’s an honor to have had such a successful session, and I’m excited by the good news for our region and my influential role in the Senate.”

Carrico will serve on various committees during the interim, and plans to actively campaign for Republicans during the upcoming 2013 elections."

Morgan Griffith on the U.S. Budget, Part II

From Congressman Morgan Griffith:

"Numbers for nerds, and other Americans who care – Part II
Last week in Part I, we outlined America’s spending problem using numbers based on official data collected from the U.S. government. These numbers were provided by David Walker, a former U.S. Comptroller General. He presented the problem as if the U.S. was a household with an annual income of $50,502 (the median income as of September 30, 2012) and annual expenses of $73,417, leaving a deficit of $22,915.

This week’s column is about laying out various proposals under discussion to deal with our debt and deficit problem: we can increase revenue, cut spending, combine the two, increasing revenue while simultaneously enacting spending cuts and other pro-growth policies, and/or use risky monetary policy.

Increasing revenue
Some suggest that increasing revenue (raising taxes on wealthy Americans) is the solution to our debt and deficit problem.

In 2013, however, the federal government is projected to spend $3.8 trillion, and it is projected that the deficit will be under $1 trillion for the first time in four years. If we were to take all the earnings of every millionaire, we would still be left with a shortfall of between $100 billion and $200 billion. And the nation’s debt would still be more than $16 trillion.

If you rely on taxes alone, you cannot solve the nation’s debt and deficit problem without raising taxes on the middle class.

Cutting spending
Others argue that cutting spending is the solution. Some point to foreign aid, suggesting that it be cut. Foreign aid accounts for a little over one percent of the federal budget. Others would say cut Congress. Congress’ budget is around one-tenth of one percent. So even if we cut these two areas completely, more would have to be done in order to curb spending.

As mentioned in Part I, federal spending continues to surge. David Walker once said “There has been a dramatic increase in spending under the Obama administration. Most of it is attributable to year one of his presidency and the stimulus … but President Obama has continued to take spending to a new level.”

Cutting spending would require discipline and sacrifices.
Another group says that a combination of pro-growth policies, spending cuts, and tax increases would be the best way to get the country back on track. This group argues that, while spending must be cut, the federal government simply must raise more revenue.

Other potential options that some in the ‘hybrid’ group support include rolling back regulations to create jobs, increase the number of taxpayers, and, in turn, increase tax revenues, or implementing any number of changes to the budget process in order to make it more effective.
Risky monetary policy
What many don’t want to talk about is inflation and currency devaluation. Let me explain.

If I borrow $1 today and pay you back after a period of inflation, that $1 buys less. That money isn’t as valuable as the money that you lent me. Hyper-inflation is devastating to the economy, but history has examples of heavily indebted nations using this tactic as an effort to get out from under the heavy burden of crippling debt.

Similar to this would be currency devaluation. This can also lead to hyper-inflation. Both of these options used exclusively are equivalent to or just short of a country declaring bankruptcy. But if you have inflation or currency devaluation as part of the package, some would argue that it is an effective means at bringing debt under control.

An option that relies heavily on inflation or currency devaluation makes the country look weak, ineffective, and like a risky investment for businesses.

Regardless of whether you support increasing revenue, cutting spending, a hybrid approach, or even a package with risky monetary policies, I hope we are in agreement that, at this critical point in our nation, we cannot afford to operate without a plan, without discipline, and without accountability.

I have tried to spell out the possible solutions without too much bias. Those who regularly read this column know I prefer a hybrid that is made up of spending cuts and economic and regulatory policies that get people back to work.

In the next several weeks, I will give specific examples of some bills and policies I think will help our country deal with our debt and deficit problem.

As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office by email, please visit my website at

How to Vent About McDonnell's Tax Hike

One more chance to let Virginia's Governor Bob McDonnell know that you don't like HB 2313...oh, wait, it's Facebook only:

Note the target for real rage, named on the Facebook page...we can't be too mean about Senator Kaine since he's a contributor to this web site too, but some of the lousiest ideas in this winter's legislative session do have his fingerprints all over them. Since he's shared a viable, if boastful, explanation for the untenable claim a supporter made that he had reduced crime in Richmond (without being a reformed serial offender), this web site retracts our description of Senator Kaine as lying. We maintain that anything that wasn't perspiring profusely, in Richmond in early November of 2005, has to have been a mutant, although we did not personally observe whether this was actually true of Tim Kaine or was only asserted by a supporter. We would also like to see whether Tim Kaine would have been elected U.S. Senator, or anything else, by paper ballots.

I'll say this about the transportation funding, the "carrot" used to nudge Delegates to accept this unpalatable bill. Regular readers know I've had a good deal to say about the Nickelsville Road--it is the Nickelsville road, the only one that has even two paved lanes so far as I know--and the Copper Creek Bridge. This is a Roosevelt Era two-lane bridge, in the "Why bother with pedestrian lanes, two cars aren't going to be using the bridge at one time" style. Cars approaching the bridge in either direction go down long steep hills and, since one lane is closed for construction this winter, they wait--if they can!--at a stop light for their turns to cross the bridge. It's an alarming bridge that nobody should have to cross in icy, snowy, or actually even rainy conditions...and tomorrow's likely to be a rainy day. It's a bridge school buses have to cross daily.

But did we need to raise taxes to make the long-needed improvements to the Copper Creek Bridge? Duh. What about all those wretched Boards and Commissions? Those things are called Boards because they absolutely beg for the metaphoric ax.

This whole post ought to be on the Facebook page...but I don't do Facebook, and they don't seem to have a Google + or Yahoo link.

Which Republicans Endorse Same-Sex Marriage?

Billy Hallowell promises a list of 75 prominent Republicans who endorse same-sex marriage. He does not deliver that list in this post:

So, which Republicans are those, exactly? The more confused ones, I'd say...and the more greedy, venal, power-grubbing ones who want to continue discriminating against bachelors. And against widows.

Same-sex marriage is an oxymoron. Marriage is not about love; it is about uniting families through at least a claim of willingness to produce mutual heirs. Laws that give privileges to those who are currently married are designed not to preserve the traditional family, which has traditionally respected widowed elders and never-married aunts and uncles, but to break up the traditional denying relatives other than the wife or husband any claims on custody of children or sick patients, inheritance of estates, and unpaid but protected leave from work to care for family members.

This web site does not for a minute believe that 99% of the homosexual activist population ever has known or will know anything about love. Nevertheless, this web site supports any homosexual people who are willing to stop screaming in public places and quietly look for love, either with their bedmates or with their friends and relatives. This web site is generally in favor of all attempts to practice love.

But the blather about calling it "same-sex marriage," whether we're talking about a homosexual couple, or maybe friends or cousins who want to share some of the benefits of legal marriage or adoption, is so totally a smokescreen for discrimination...and for greed.

Homosexual people of good will need to give up the pretense that anyone outside their immediate families cares much about their personal relationships, and face the reality that all people, including more than 49% of those who sincerely practice traditional monogamous Christian marriage until death does them part, really need to focus on the legal right of any person to choose his or her own heirs, care givers, etc., on whatever basis the person sees fit.

We all need to focus on that. We need to unite, not divide. (For the purpose of unity, homosexuals need to shut up about the disgusting details of their sex lives and talk about things we all have in common as humans.) We need to think about the situation of a married man who is his disabled wife's primary caretaker and suddenly needs someone else to be his primary caretaker. Or a paraplegic who's never needed to think about sex but does want the right to choose his or her own personal assistant, and reward that person for doing everything else a wife or husband would have done. Or any widow who wants to be part of a family, not a ward of the state, toward the end of her or his life. We need to remove the concept of sex and marriage from our idea of the individual's right to be cared for, and dispose of his or her property, in whatever way s/he sees fit. By the time most of us are ready to exercise those rights, whatever our sexuality may once have been is irrelevant.

Whether you think those little images of Adam and Steve holding hands are cute or disgusting, if you're dragging them into this discussion, this web site hereby declares you Part of the Problem.

Do the math--it's easy enough even for dysnumeric people like me. Even if 15% of the population are capable of some sort of homosexual act, only about 5% of the population want to make a public commitment to a homosexual relationship. Even marriages that are supported by the church and the state and the parents of the people involved have only about a 50% chance of lasting as long as the couples claim they want them to last, so we have to figure that something like 2% of the population, max, might stay in a same-sex marriage long enough for the legal implications to get beyond the question of who keeps the collectible LP's. A greedy government that's trying to latch on to a share of every substantial estate and take over the care of every child and every disabled patient is willing to concede the benefits of marriage to 2% of the population, exchange for denying them to, let's see, the 49% of all people who really are married who will become widows, the close to 50% of all people who tried to be married who will become divorced, and does anybody out there know what percent of the population have never been married?

The challenge to most conservatives may be to stop letting ourselves be distracted by sex, stop letting the homosexuals pretend it's all about them (or has much to do with them), and focus on the rights of all individuals who are or may become disabled, elderly, or dead. That means us. We all need to reclaim the "rights" of married people for all people. We all need to make marriage just one of many bases on which people may choose their heirs or their caretakers.

Is Conservatism the New Counterculture?

Fair disclosure: Chris Field's report is one big long ad for subscriptions to The Blaze Magazine. Problem? Maybe not if you can afford it. Anyway, it made me look, and smile...

If The Nephews were a little older, I'd be asking them for a reality-check at their school, but I don't think grades two through nine are very political yet.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Indignation in Virginia

Whew. This has not been a pleasant legislative session for anyone who thinks we're "Taxed Enough Already." Outbound Governor McDonnell emerges as the scapegoat behind a sneaky compromise strategy in which just a few key Republicans have been nudged off what bill readers inevitably come to think of as Our Team in the state legislature--different ones each time, so all those howlers branding this and that Republican legislator "worthless" are hereby declared unjustified. Bills this web site doesn't like, and other web sites bitterly hate, and legislators have said they'd hate too, have been enacted into law...

I think the Washington Post has the most clearheaded explanation we're likely to get:

Landmark? Oh it's a landmark, all right. It may well set all-time records as having aroused the most rage among levelheaded bill readers, the most name-calling among people who usually keep it parliamentary, the most exchanges among e-friends along the lines of "You should talk about my Delegate/Senator/friend/relative...what price yours and that idiotic move on..."

So let me say this to everybody. We all know politics involves game playing, right? Games have been played. Legislators who are otherwise good people have been set up and used to support things that have probably made their own mothers want to pick up phones and scream at their office aides, "What are youall thinking?!"

Yes, Terry Kilgore supported that nasty ol' HB 2313...

...and yes, although I'd rather see budget cuts than tax increases, I do think that if tax increases had been necessary this would have been a better way to make them than many. I read the thing. It is messy. It is ugly. It is hard on all drivers. And I don't think it was necessary, actually...but I can see how, in the game of larger-scale politics, Republicans might have been pressured into acting as if it were necessary.

Once the terms of debate have been set to "If you don't like this scheme for raising taxes, let's see you write a better one," rather than "Should we raise taxes at all?", then, yes, HB 2313 becomes a good conservative bill because it's based on choices. Virginians who don't want to support this scheme can so vote by driving less, buying less gas, buying fewer cars...and buying less of anything in Virginia (although neighboring states tend to have higher sales taxes anyway, so that's kind of a self-defeating idea, even if the state line is within walking distance). People who are really frugal, or really poor, can safely and legally dodge the burden of these tax hikes. So there's both freedom and justice in tax increases go.

I regret it, of course, as do the correspondents whose e-mail this morning contains headers like "worthless" and "not for dogcatcher."

Although this web site has tried very hard to read the text of bills before considering who's supporting which ones, to avoid looking at images of legislators during the session, and generally to stay out of the "good legislator, bad legislator" trap, there is a list of names that tend to cluster around bills this web site likes. If Delegates Bell, Crockett-Stark, Garrett, Gilbert, Johnson, Kilgore, Lingamfelter, Marshall, Orrock, Pogge, Ramadan, and Lopez (the token Democrat) agree on something, it just about has to be good. They are The Team. I wish all of them were related to me and not only two of them. And I've not enjoyed seeing how, time after time, pressure has been used to split The Team, get just one or two of them to oppose the others, and get conservatives to blast those individuals as RINOs when what we've seen over the long term is that each and every one of them has been set up as the RINO on something or other.

I would so much have preferred to see The Team stand up as a team and tell the tax raisers to go to, oh well, some place in some state where the voters have some use for left-wing ideas. There are just about enough of them, and they are just about good enough at their job, that they could probably have pulled it off.

I'm disappointed in The Team. I'm also disappointed in the correspondents who are wasting rage on a few specific individuals, instead of stepping back and looking at what's been going on behind the House and Senate floors. Right, you've can we start working with people who have been doing a good job, most of the time, to clean up some of this mess as Governor McDonnell leaves the political arena. Let's shift the focus back to how to cut the budget and taxes, instead of wailing about one tax hike against another, and maybe, just maybe, we may get somewhere.