Letter of the Day

State Workers Have Needs, Too

Editor, Times-Dispatch: Can we assume from Victoria Cobbs’ letter about the budget situation that she is childless, not a state employee, someone who thinks that there really is free lunch somewhere, or all of the above? I ask this because her letter seems to criticize people for expressing their frustration at the political tug o’ war that we are compelled to call the Virginia General Assembly.

While teachers and state employees do stand to benefit from the needed raising of revenue, other citizens will, too. People want to have the State Police on hand to save them from the bad guys and probably want the best quality teachers in front of their children’s classroom. I would contend that as teachers and state employees, we are “average citizens,” though largely unappreciated.

We have limited influence in our employee status. But given the opportunity to speak to my legislator as a constituent, I think it perfectly appropriate to express my displeasure at the legislators’ behavior and their failing to do their job for us. The legislators have spent way too much time and money grand-standing and posturing. Suzanne J. Tarr. richmond.

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Quote of the Day

“I think the Bush campaign, Bush and Cheney are on an absolutely idiotic track, none of these guys served [in Vietnam].”

–Stanley Karnow, Historian on the GOP’s election-year attack on opponent John Kerry’s Vietnam service.

Are the Republicans trying to sink themselves?

The Politics of Catholicism

Apparently a Cardinal – that’s some big wig in the Catholic Church, not to be confused with the bird of the same name that happens to be Virginia’s ‘official’ bird of the Commonwealth – anyway, some Cardinal is warning politicians not to cross the church on its teachings or they may risk all kinds of bad stuff. I suppose St. Pauline St. Croix of the Holy Lamp may come down and smite them with a flaming crucifix or some such thing.

Well, I’m not sure how much authority I’d give to an old, unmarried guy who runs around molesting teenage boys. No. If I were a politician, I’d tell him to keep your little round bland pieces of stale bread and cheap wine and shove ’em where the sun don’t shine. Although, that’s probably what they do anyway for laughs.

Special Aside/Note: Since I AM Catholic – piously non-practicing mind-you – I can say such dastardly things and get away with it. Nanny nanny boo boo… (you know the rest).

SCOTUS vs. VPOTUS vs. Big SecretsOTUS vs. Some guy named Otis (not to be confused with the makers of the elevators)

I fell asleep last night listening to the arguments before the Supreme Court of the United States, which, if you’re really cool, you refer to as ‘SCOTUS’ regarding Dick ‘Head’ Cheney and his secret energy dealings that went into crafting his evil energy policy – secret dealings that he would like to keep secret. Some whiny-ass lawyer from the Serria ‘don’t club the gay baby harp seals for Jesus’ Club was droning on and on about legal precedent this and legal precedent that. Every few words, some pretentious person wearing a black robe would say something incomprehensible. Meanwhile, somewhere a guy named Otis makes himself a bowl of black bean soup and pets his dog Elmo, who is eyeing the soup but prefers oatmeal.

And, if you want something more coherent on the subject, minus the guy named Otis part, check this out.

Child Support News

Check out this site. Here’s a comment I sent to the owner(s):

As the son of a father who skipped out on my Mom and didn’t provide a red cent until he was forced to do so by the courts, I’d just like to ask what exactly you’re trying to accomplish with this site? What is the Jail4Judges Initiative? What is your point concerning Child Support?

As I see it, good people are out there doing a difficult job trying to get people to take some responsibility for bringing a child into this world. Whether they are government employees or professional bounty hunters, this is a job that someone will do. Would you rather not see it happen? What exactly would you like to see happen? Again, I don’t see the point of your site. It is vague at best in its positive contribution to any discussion on the topic. Please provide some insight.

Just to clarify, my father and I have a good relationship now, but I come to the discussion with knowing how it feels for a custodial parent to be left in the lurch. I’m wondering if the owner(s) of this site will respond.

The way I look at it, the government’s intervention in this type of matter is better than having private vigilantes hired to go around hunting down shirkers. No telling what would happen to the shirkers if a vigilante was paid enough money. They could shake ’em down for more than they would have had to pay if the benevolent government had taken control of the situation. If it were me, the loss of a couple of fingers for a few missed payments would be a fair shake down.

The message: You think government intervention is bad. Be careful what you wish for.

Internet Tax

This from todays’ WaPo:

“The Senate yesterday took up a proposal to permanently ban the taxation of Internet access, a move that supporters say would encourage the deployment of high-speed Internet service but opponents argue could result in billions of dollars in lost revenue for state and local governments.”

State and local governments are also missing out on revenue they could gain from taxing the air we breathe. They could also put a tax on time. For every hour people are living within the borders of a particular state or locality, people would have to pay a small tax. Oh, whoops, that’s right we don’t live in the alternative dimension of Tax Everything.

And, in conclusion, it’s not ‘lost’ if you never had it in the first place.

Letter of the Day

House Per Diems Earn Rebuke

Editor, Times-Dispatch: Reports that legislators are accepting $115 per diems during the special session really got me thinking.

Why does a Delegate from Richmond or Chesterfield need the same amount of money to cover lodging and food, which is what the per diem is supposed to cover, as a legislator from Abingdon? To me, this is a gross waste of taxpayer dollars. Delegate Brad Marrs is accepting his per diem during the special session, one of the only “local” legislators to do so. I highly doubt that Marrs needs a hotel room during the session, yet he gets $115 a day just like the rest of the legislators. It doesn’t make sense.

All legislators should be allowed up to $115 a day, but they should be required to document their spending and provide receipts for lodging and meals. Those who don’t need lodging wouldn’t get paid for it. A step toward reform and real fiscal conservatism would be to reimburse legislators for their actual expenses, as opposed to giving them a per diem. State and local governments don’t write out blank checks to their employees for hotel rooms they don’t need and meals they don’t eat, and the General Assembly shouldn’t, either.

Also, per diems should be forbidden during special sessions. Taxpayers should not have to pay extra for the legislature’s inability to compromise. Tamra Anderson. midlothian.

Letter of the Day

Pi Debate Focuses On Math, Marriage

Editor, Times-Dispatch: In a recent letter, Donald Cahill tries to relate recognizing same-sex marriage to redefining the value of pi. There is a basic flaw in this argument. Pi is a mathematically proven number. It is a known fact that when one takes the ratio of the circumference of a circle related to its diameter, one gets pi. I am sure that there is an argument somewhere that disputes this, but none that holds any water.

As far as marriage goes, there is nothing other than precedent (based on moralistic views) that says marriage should be only between a man and a woman. The issue here is one of rights and freedoms, not whether one believes same-sex marriage is good or bad.

Pi is defined by science; marriage is defined by society. Michael Z. Bruni. richmond

There are those vein of people who don’t like to hear about science. Apparently, these are the people who were sorely disappointed when they were told that the Earth isn’t actually flat.

Drivel of the Day

em>Movie Flop Suggests Ignorance of History

Editor, Times-Dispatch: It has been suggested in several publications that the current non-hit movie, “The Alamo,” fails to connect with today’s film audiences.

Of course, they probably know Davy Crockett only from asides on “Happy Days,” and have never heard of Sam Houston and Jim Bowie. Still, there should be no shame in their ignorance, thanks to those vital classes in “self-esteem” being taught in schools. Win Worth. richmond.

Something fails in the marketplace of ideas and the blame is our education system? Uh… I don’t see the connection. Also, why Mr. ‘Worth’ thinks learning self-esteem and learning about The Alamo are mutually exclusive goals fails to be explained in his published post.

Meanwhile, the Alamo may be important in the history of Texas, but pick any other major historical event related to any state of the Union or the country as a whole and try to make a blockbuster movie out of it. You may fail most of the time. Success in the movies is not guaranteed and certainly is not a gauge of our appreciation for history (most politicians don’t learn from it so why should their constituency).

In sum, The Alamo, being educational, would have been much better mini-series fare. Apparently, though there wasn’t really much of a story, other than the battle itself, so maybe it isn’t all that educational after all. Might the lack of plot have something to do with its failure? After this debacle, though, at least we can say that movie makers may have their own reason to shout ‘Remember the Alamo!’

Worst Mascot Ever

Not sure what someone was thinking here. It’s supposed to be a site about ‘Radical Love of Truth in Jesus and Christianity’. If this site is trying to win converts, I’m not sure the vomiting angel is a really good mascot. I guess, though, when they say ‘radical’ they actually mean ‘tasteless.’

Sudan Massacre

Apparently, there’s a bunch of Arab militias killing black Africans in Sudan. Is it Genocide? Or is this just another phase of a civil war that has been going on for the past seventeen years? Check out this for more information regarding this complex situation. With our own mess in Iraq, I’m not sure exactly what our country can do. Make everybody play nice?

Tom’s ?

When Suzanne Vega’s song ‘Tom’s Diner’ came out it was actually the DNA remix. This was 1991, about the time I was graduating from college. Lots of people found the song annoying. I was one of those freaks who actually liked it. I thought it was existential and poetic and all the stuff I liked at the time. Plus, it had a good, mellow beat and that cool swelling smooth synth line.

Anyway, Suzanne Vega produced an album full of all of the ‘Tom’s Diner’ rip-offs that followed and it was released as ‘Tom’s Album’. On it iare a few raps, a German version of the song (that, honestly, sucks), and an adaption of the song relating to the sit-com ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ called Jeannie’s Diner. The album also includes a hilarious take-off, recorded lived, by a group calling itself Bingo Hand Job. I had heard of this album way back then and almost bought it once. But, never did, until just recently.

When I got the album, I checked out the tracks and yeah, there was the Bingo Hand Job version. Bingo Hand Job. Bingo Hand Job. I couldn’t really remember where I had heard that name before. Then, I listened to it and I realized that I was listening to the voice of Michael Stipe of REM.

So, well… that’s today’s story kids. Click here for more of the background of the gig where this song was performed.