Monthly Archives: January 2005

Lying to Defend Marriage

“I do not believe that we are here because those individuals who want to defend marriage brought us here,” [Sen. Stephen D. Newman (R-Lynchburg] said. “We are here because there is another element in America today that has made it very clear that going after the current definition of marriage and changing that definition of marriage is a stated goal.”

A lie is a lie is a lie. What are you defending? Mr. Newman. And gays don’t want to change the definition of marriage. They want to keep the definition the same and be able to marry. But lying is what the radical right does. Maybe they’ve discovered that the Bible promotes lying.

VDOT Continues Improvement

The anti-taxers are losing one of their arguments against funding VDOT.

The latest findings show that 78 percent of construction projects were completed on time in the second quarter of the 2004-05 fiscal year, which ends in June. In real numbers, the percentage means that 64 of 82 projects scheduled for completion during that period were finished on time.

The percentage represents a nearly threefold improvement from the second quarter of the previous fiscal year, when on-time performance was 29 percent, VDOT said.

Kaine Engages Kilgore on Capital Punishment

Clearly capital punishment is an electoral winner in Virginia. We love to kill people. That makes it all the more heartening that Kaine, while he has finessed the issue, still is willing to engage Kilgore, and best of all, to do so on a moral and religious basis.

“I don’t know the direction that the Kilgore campaign is trying to go with this, but I do find it insulting that someone would challenge my ability to keep an oath,” Kaine said this week. “I’ve been elected to office five times, and I’ve taken five oaths to uphold the law to the best of my ability. I take that very seriously. I take it as seriously as my marriage oath.

“I find it insulting that somebody would challenge me on that, but I can take it. I’m a big boy. I know that it goes with the territory,” Kaine said. “But how many people in Virginia are there who take oaths of office who also have strong religious beliefs? My guess is a lot.

“So are we saying that people with strong religious beliefs who take oaths of office can’t be trusted to mean what they say when they utter that oath? I would hope not,” Kaine said.

In this Augusta Free Press article, two poli sci professors, Quentin Kidd of CNU and usual suspect Stephen Farnsworth of MWU, provide two polar opposite critiques of Kaine’s approach.

“I think Kaine has to be careful of engaging himself in a prolonged values discussion,” Christopher Newport University political scientist Quentin Kidd told the AFP. “If he lets the debate in the gubernatorial race become a discussion of values, he has nothing to gain and everything to lose. His history is a little harmful in this area, in particular on the death-penalty issue. I think he has a lot to lose here by focusing his attention on his position on that as being an issue of faith.”

That the Kaine camp seems to be willing to take the issue on this early in the campaign season is a bit of a surprise, Kidd said.

“The only thing I can assume is that the Kaine campaign is aware of this and is aware of the problems that could emerge from a discussion of this and has decided that it needs to take them on. I would also assume, though, that the Kilgore campaign is aware of the repercussions of pushing this issue into the forefront as well. Looking at both of those assumptions, I can’t see where Tim Kaine comes out on top in the end,” Kidd said.

“If he lets the debate in the gubernatorial race become a discussion of values, he has nothing to gain and everything to lose.” Kidd couldn’t be more wrong here. It’s that approach that has conceded values to the right, leaving the left to be portrayed as lacking any values. I much prefer Farnsworth’s analysis.

“Looking back at last year’s campaign, where the Kerry campaign made a key mistake was when it decided not to speak more to the issue of values than it did,” Farnsworth told the AFP.

“The Bible offers up more material on the moral-values front than what it has to say, for example, about the issue of gay marriage,” Farnsworth said. “There are numerous passages related to social justice and efforts to eliminate poverty and promote peace and that sort of thing that speak to the values held by many Democrats, but those issues weren’t brought up. There are opportunities for Democrats to speak to issues of faith, but it tends to be Republican candidates who speak to those issues while Democrats do not.

“Tim Kaine, from all indications, seems to have learned from John Kerry’s example. He has been, to date, much more public with his feelings on faith and values issues,” Farnsworth said.

Though I’m far from any expert (and far removed from any religiosity), I’ll bet the Bible has plenty of fodder for progressive stances. I applaud Kaine for engaging Kilgore on this.

What Strategies?

Here’s the headline and first graph of a Richmond Times-Dispatch article Saturday.

Gov. Warner Reveals Education Strategies

As part of his national drive to redesign the American high school, Gov. Mark R. Warner, chairman of the National Governors Association, yesterday revealed a list of 10 actions that states can implement to accelerate statewide reforms for high school education.

Two brief paragraphs later the article ends with nary a word about what those strategies are. “Hello, give me rewrite!”

Is Clinton In Dean’s Corner?

It’s a shame that the New York Times wastes newsprint to tell us about the food offered by candidates for the chairmanship of the Democratic party instead of their agendas. In fact, there was only this morsel of news.

[The other candidates] are struggling, with some frustration, in the shadow of Dr. Dean, who welcomed them to New York by rolling out a significant endorsement: Harold Ickes, a longtime Democratic activist who is a face of the establishment Democratic Party and is close to the Clintons.

Charter Details Still Unknown

Read Bob Gibson’s “Notebook” this week and you might understand why I’ve been whining about the University “charter” plan. With only a couple weeks to go, we still don’t know the details. Why do I think this is a deliberate ploy by the universities to spring a plan at the last minute before the public has a chance to study its impact? It’ll be a done deal before we know its implications.

UPDATE: Link to Daily Progress fixed.

And here’s the link to the charter plan as described on the UVa. web site. (Thanks to Phil in the comments section for the heads up. Except that if you read it, you’ll understand why reporters and legislators alike say the details are unclear. Tell me if you can tell whether in-state enrollment will remain about 67%.

Attorneys Fees

Here’s an interesting piece about a bill Sen. Tommy Norment (R-James City County) is proposing. I’m usually against “tort reform” because it’s really an attempt by the GOP to protect businesses from their own fraud and willful indifference and choke off donations to the Democratic Party. But if there are cases where the plaintiff gets $1,000 and the attorney gets $30,000, there’s something wrong.

A proposed compromise on attorney’s fees, according to the trial lawyers’ Pearson, is that when the two parties agree to settle a case and the attorneys can’t agree on fees, the parties can go ahead and settle while the disagreement over fees goes to court. That way, the case is closed for the two clients and the meter stops running.

The Irony of an Activist

For several years, I have been involved with a group that advocates the renovation of our high school. When we started, our approach was controversial. Rather than just say “fund our renovation,” we pointed out ways the school board could save money. One was to redraw school boundaries of an overcrowded high school and fill the seats at a half-empty one nearby.

But folks in that area of the county didn’t want to hear that. They wanted a new high school and criticized us for suggesting they didn’t need one. A particularly cowardly school board member anonymously criticized us in a newspaper article, agreeing with the leader of the new school movement that we were pitting one neighborhood against another.

Thus, I thought this article ironic. It seems the school board, which approved building the new school, redrew the staff’s recommended boundary to include residents of the Mason Neck area, who have enough money to buy any politician’s vote they need.

Parents of some children who will attend the new school said they are upset that the School Board created an enrollment that guarantees crowding.

“I think it’s really bittersweet,” said Elizabeth Bradsher, a mother of two in the Silverbrook neighborhood who felt that Mason Neck should not have been included in the south county boundary.

“I wasn’t against any community. The issue is capacity and planning,” Bradsher said.

Bradsher is the one who criticized our group for pitting one community against another. She wanted her new school and didn’t want to redraw boundaries. The new school will draw principally from new neighborhoods of half-million dollar homes, whereas the half-empty school, which is newly renovated and home to an International Baccalaureate program, has a high minority enrollment.