Monthly Archives: February 2005

A Long Way to Go…

…in education

For every 100 freshmen entering high school, 68 will graduate on time. Forty will go on to college with only 27 returning for their sophomore year and just 18 receiving college degrees.

Anti-Abortion Forces Lose Again

In what is becoming a total rejection of the anti-abortion agenda, another bill, this one that would ban the use of some state funds for abortion, was killed by a Senate committee.

All these votes, however, will be use in brochures of the radical right. I happen to think that the votes could also appear in brochures of progressives, if they are cleverly positioned.

Teenager Cell Phone Use

The House passed an amended version of the Senate’s bill banning cell phone use by teenagers while driving. The House version would allow teenagers to use hands-free devices.

I’ve commented before that I think the use of the hands isn’t the issue but the mental distraction.

And why did a third of the House, mostly Republicans, vote against the bill?

The Senate will have a chance to remove the amendment and must vote on it again.

Beleaguered Christians

Any doubt about the agenda for those professing to protect religious freedom by expanding the Virginia constitution should be dismissed by this quote:

“Our country was built on the Christian principles of the Bible,” he said. “Today, our Constitution, in my opinion, has to be strengthened to protect those rights of all Christians around this country.”
–Del. Charles W. Carrico, the resolution’s sponsor

The Virginian Pilot has more.

Many supporters had hoped that the passage of HJ537 would open the door to organized prayer in schools.

The amendment’s author, Del. Charles W. Carrico, Sr., R-Grayson, initially said his amendment would allow formal classroom prayers if students’ parents requested it. Carrico later said he misspoke, after legal scholars who support his amendment said school-sanctioned prayers would still be unconstitutional.

Carrico, a retired state trooper, said he would reintroduce the amendment in 2007 because he believes judges are restricting the rights of students and adults to speak openly about their faith in schools.

Which led Sen. Dick Saslaw (R-Fairfax), who is Jewish, to recall his school days.

[Saslaw] recalled attending public school in Washington, D.C., when school-sanctioned prayer and Bible-reading were allowed. The school was divided between Christian and Jewish students, and Saslaw said, “There were kids that felt awful uneasy about it.”

Leaning toward Carrico, Saslaw asked, “What do you tell these other people that don’t read from your Bible … What do you tell those Muslim parents?”

“I don’t know what I would tell them,” Carrico replied. “I tell my children that you respect people of other faiths.”

Saslaw responded, “If you respect those other beliefs then you don’t impose your religion on them.”

Apparently, Carrico hadn’t thought so far as to consider other religions.

The whole issue is bogus.

Fortunately, a Senate committee killed the resolution.

Your Va. Lawmakers at Work

From a Washingtpon Post story about how the budget conferees are doing the citizens’ work of crafting a budget.

Both sides have offered some concessions, but there have been few face-to-face discussions. Instead, both sides gathered separately — munching on Oreo cookies and watching college basketball games late into the night — while their staffs traded written offers that were swiftly rejected as “insulting” or “inadequate.”

…The negotiations have been interrupted at times by end-of-session dinners with lobbyists, including the annual Wild Game dinner, at which Callahan and others had the opportunity to munch on black bear, goose, pheasant, rabbit and squirrel. The dinner’s motto: “Hey, if it walks, crawls, swims or flies, it may be there.”

Indecent Exploitation

In Congress right now are bills to dramatically increase fines for indecency over the airwaves. The FCC has defended the proposed new fines because it says it has seen a dramatic increase in the number of complaints. In 2001, there were about 400. In 2004, over a million.

Pretty dramatic, huh? But guess what? 99% of the complaints came through one organization: the conservative Parents Television Council.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell’s response: “Hey, it doesn’t matter where these complaints about indecency came from. These are still Americans being outraged.”

Again, the Bush administration manipulates the media through a conservative group.

Guckert: The Real Story

The Washington Post Ombudsman Mike Getler made the Jeff Gannon affair a secondary issue in his column, but at least he put it there and had a good quote from a reader.

“I don’t understand why The Post has turned the ‘Jeff Gannon’ story into yet another piece about bloggers. The story happened to be broken by bloggers, to their credit. But the story has two serious elements that The Post should report out on its own: 1) How is it that in an era when we have to take our shoes off to get on an airplane, a guy gains access to the White House with an alias on his ID badge? I don’t believe that has yet been answered; 2) To what extent was granting ‘Gannon’ access another form of buying or manipulating the news? These are important questions.” I agree.

Just don’t expect Howard Kurtz to agree with his ombudsman. Note today in his column about scandals in the news biz. Kurtz again makes the story all about bloggers and makes a single reference to the Gannon story.

Web experts helped liberal bloggers reveal former White House reporter Jeff Gannon’s real name and X-rated background.

As if his sexuality and an alias were the real issues. I just wished Kurtz would investigate the story Getler thinks is more important. But maybe Kurtz doesn’t want to go too hard on a Republican administration.

UPDATE: A lot of professionals feel the same way as The Post’s ombudsman.

UPDATE 2: CBS is reporting “Gannon” may have been a Karl Rove plant.

Framing Gay Marriage

Good article in the Roanoke Times about the impending battle for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriages and civil unions in Virginia. Equality Virginia is “framing” the debate.

“I think it’s imperative that we frame the debate as one of persecution of liberty,” said Molly McClintock of Christiansburg. She’s on the board of Equality Virginia, a lobbying organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender concerns.

“We have got to educate everyday Virginians that this is an extremist measure pushed by a minority voice. That there’s no legal need for it since we have laws on the books, and plenty of them, to prevent marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships” by gays, she said.

McClintock, a court-appointed special advocate representing abused and neglected children, said opponents also must “make our message more clear than we have about the role of government versus the role of the church in relationships between adults.”

Gays and lesbians, she said, want “government protection and recognition of a legal relationship that two adults choose to form. Those governmental bodies have never wanted or been able to tell individual churches or congregations what they must recognize in a religious way.”

The article has quite a few quotes from clergy on both sides of the issue. It will imperative for clergy who believe government has intruded on its turf to be heard loud and clear. They will need to be as engaged as ministers opposing gay marriages.

So’s Your Mother

Jerry Kilgore’s mother may have a legal problem. [Link Fixed] But the intelligentsia doesn’t think it will hurt the likely GOP nominee for governor.Kilgores_mother

“This campaign would have to get incredibly nasty for mothers to be considered legitimate targets,” said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist.

“That’s one I believe the Democrats will stay away from,” he said. “The old ‘Your mother wears Army boots’ attack usually backfires. Mothers are special.”

Political analyst and Emory & Henry College president Thomas Morris said he, too, doubted that the investigation would even be raised, much less seen by voters as relevant.

Even if criminal charges were to be filed, Sabato doubted that the news would resonate statewide. “Ninety-five percent of Virginians have never heard of Gate City, and couldn’t find Scott County on a map,” he said.

And assuming voters did hear about the scandal, they might be reluctant to hold it against Jerry Kilgore.

As Sabato put it: “Is he his mother’s keeper?”

Sabato et al may be right — for only one reason: It’s not a mother of a Democrat who is in trouble, in which case I would expect to see the Swift Boat Vets Against Voter Fraud swing into action. Dems shouldn’t be afraid of looking into this because “[t]he Kilgore family, critics say, runs the political machinery of Scott County.”