Latest Entries »

Some well-meaning person a couple of centuries ago laid down the etiquette dictum never to discuss religion and politics.  That makes no sense for Christians or those living in a self-governing republic.  And that’s putting it in the kindest words I can come up with.

First, the politics.  Can effective citizens not discuss politics?  Do political ads or the media tell us everything we need to know about candidates for office or important legislation being considered?  I think not.  Making informed votes and giving meaningful input to our representatives about important legislation require enough accurate information.  Listening to other people, especially those we would normally disagree with, gets us out of the echo chamber of our favorite channels and websites and gives us a look at candidates and legislation from different perspectives.

What about religion?  Isn’t that a personal, private matter not appropriate for the public square?  It could be, for a personal, private religion.  For religions people did not make up just to experience some kind of peace or joy within themselves, silence fails.  Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, and Muslims would be incredibly selfish to be silent about the only way to escape a present or future Hell.*  For Christians and Muslims, it would also be disobedient.  They are adherents of missionary religions–though the methods are quite different–which command that the believers tell others about their respective ways of salvation.  To expect or demand that believers be silent about what and who they believe is ridiculous.

But won’t people get upset and argue about religion and politics?  Some will.  We can choose, however, to behave like mature, thoughtful adults.  We can listen to other points of view without feeling so insecure in what we believe that we can’t handle any challenge to it.  Who knows?  We might even learn something.  Perhaps we’re not 100 percent right about everything.

Here are some ways of mixing religion and politics for Christians.  I won’t speak about mixing the other religions’ adherents’ political and religious responsibilities mainly because I don’t know them well enough to do so.

The best place to start is to look in the Bible for what God has to say about Christians’ political responsibilities.  I could be a liar or talking through my nose, so it’s better to check what I say against the ultimate authority.  Good books to look through for political principles are Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Judges, Ist Samuel through Nehemiah, the Gospels, Acts, and Romans.

The sine qua non of Christians’ religious responsibilities is to pray.  Everything else we do–vote, discuss politics, contact our legislators, campaign, write, run for office or what have you–are pretty useless if we don’t.  If we want God’s blessing on America, we need to ask for it.  The Bible discusses a couple of specific ways for us to pray.

We need to pray for our leaders.  Paul commands this in 1st Timothy 2:1-3.

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,…

Notice that this does not say to pray for leaders who we agree with or even good leaders.  Paul lived in the Roman Empire under some very nasty emperors and governors.  We might think that this or that president, governor, judge or congressman is awful, but we still need to pray for him or her.  In fact, we need to pray for bad leaders all the more.

We don’t have to agree with everything that a leader does.  We can pray for a president and still discuss how we disagree with a particular policy or decision.  If we believe an official is doing something illegal or unconstitutional, speaking out against it is not only permissible but necessary.  Our leaders are only human beings.  They can make mistakes or hold immoral policy positions like anyone else.  When a leader promotes injustice or immorality, we must speak out about that particular issue, while we are praying for him or her.

We also need to remember the most important leaders:  the citizens.  We live in a self-governing republic.  That means our government works for and answers to us.  Every election, we have the choice to keep the current leaders or elect new ones.  The citizens are in charge.  Therefore, we are to pray for the citizens just like we pray for any other leader.

This post went in unexpected directions.  Maybe that’s a good thing or a God thing?  In any case, this subject requires another post or two.

*  I can’t speak about Jews’ missionary efforts because I’ve never heard a clear teaching about either a command to tell other people about Yahweh or heaven and hell.  I don’t intend to denigrate Judaism in anyway.  I was brought up a Jew and later was dragged kicking and screaming into faith in Christ.

I stole the title. Richmond.com uses that on their Twitter feed as a title for discussions of anti-social Richmonder behavior, such as not cleaning up after the dog during a walk. A much more serious Richmond issue exists that needs to be addressed.

Since I’ve been driving for Uber, an online taxi service, I’ve gotten to know Richmond a lot better.  I lived in the city for about 15 years, but moved out to the counties over ten years ago. In that time, the city has changed quite a bit. Many of the old, dilapidated neighborhoods now have new apartment buildings and houses. I don’t know how it was possible, but we have even more restaurants and clubs. There definitely seems to be less crime as women are walking around the downtown area at night with apparently no thought of danger. All in all, the city has definitely improved.

I like how the city has changed so much that I feel like an ambassador when driving out of town passengers. I tell them about how there’s always something to do as we have so many festivals and outdoor concerts. The Bacon Festival seems to wow them. The James River has class-four rapids in the middle of the city. We’re a foodie destination with Richmond chefs and restaurants getting national notice. There are the Jefferson, Maymont Park, historical sites, farmer’s markets all over the place, and on and on. The people are friendly and laid back. Driving around on a sunny day, my passengers see Richmonders strolling around, relaxing on restaurants’ outdoor patios, and generally having fun. There’s a lot to brag about.

One embarrassing issue, however, is impossible for my passengers not to notice. The vast majority of my driving takes place downtown and in the Fan, one of our older and more diverse neighborhoods. Unfortunately, these areas contain our oldest and most “diverse” roads. Some streets have potholes left after the winter. Many streets have a lot patch-job paving after water or sewer repairs. Some of the man-hole covers, apparently by design, are potholes. Driving these roads punishes both my car and my passengers.

The badly maintained streets scream city government incompetence. If there is one thing a city ought to do and do well is maintain the streets. It shouldn’t be rocket science. We have decades of data about repairs and maintenance. We should be able to predict maintenance needs (the wear and tear, the damage from the weather, and the number of patches from sewer and gas repairs) and budget accordingly. Streets that get the most use should be regularly repaved.

I can’t imagine the city doesn’t have the money. Thousands of new tax-paying residents have moved into the city if the new apartment buildings all over the place are any indication. Given the meals tax, the new restaurants ought to be pouring cash into the city treasury. If the city doesn’t have the money to properly maintain the streets, perhaps the issue is fiscal incompetence. Considering how many stories of Richmond government wasting money have been written, this is more than likely the problem.

This issue is making me rethink a discussion I recently had with a political activist. We both agreed that libertarians are wrong that roads should be privatized. However, thinking about how badly the roads of Richmond have been maintained reminded me that everybody has reasons for what they believe. The libertarians are reminded of government incompetence every time they drive in the city. Perhaps they think the private sector could do a better job.

I still don’t think that privatizing the roads is a good idea, but privatizing the road maintenance merits some thought. What if the city hired one private contractor to maintain the roads? The road contracting companies could bid for the job, giving realistic budgets for the cost of maintenance and a reasonable profit. If after a year or two, the contractor is not doing a satisfactory job, he or she could be fired and the job put out for bids again. Even if the experiment failed, the city would at least know what a realistic road maintenance budget is and plan accordingly.

Obviously, the issue of street maintenance is more complicated than can be discussed in a few paragraphs. Nevertheless, certain basic facts remain. The local government is responsible for maintaining the streets. If the streets are not maintained properly, the local government isn’t doing its job. Richmond is a great city with a lot going for it. A government that maintains the streets properly would go a long way in making the city better.

Hillary, come save us!!

“Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top. Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion so you can do more than just get by. You can get ahead and stay ahead, because when families are strong, America is strong. So I’m hitting the road to earn your vote, because it’s your time, and I hope you’ll join me on this journey.”

I can honestly say that Hillary Clinton’s announcement video left me almost speechless. Anybody who knows me well would say that is—perhaps unfortunately—a rare occurrence.

The very first sentence, about how the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top, defies anything approaching logic and is another lame appeal to class warfare. If the deck is stacked in favor of the rich, the one-percenters, then it must be stacked against the rest of us? How? What is it that the rich can do that would prevent the rest of us from working hard, saving and investing our money, starting businesses, or doing anything else that would that would improve our finances?

Even the one advantage that the rich do have, that of being able to bribe congressmen and women to carve out provisions in the tax code that benefit their businesses or investments, doesn’t keep any of us from improving our personal financial situation. Even after six years of Obama, we still live in a capitalist economy in which we can make choices that benefit us and our families. While we might have to pay far more for health insurance, we can still get a part-time job temporarily to pay off debts, build up savings for investments, or save some seed money for a business. We can still go to school to retrain ourselves for a different career. We still have options.

Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.” Really? Those big business bully boys are attacking us, and we can’t defend ourselves? Hillary will come, a knight in shining armor, to defend us weak middle and lower class peons who don’t stand a chance against the rich who are doing something or other to us. Again, what are the rich doing to hurt us, and why can’t we improve our own finances?

By the way, isn’t Hillary a member of that one percent? I’ve heard she makes at least $200,000 a speech. That’s almost four times as much as I’ve ever earned in a year. Hasn’t she gotten book advance deals in the millions? If she’s not a one-percenter, she doesn’t have a clue about money.

“So I’m hitting the road to earn your vote.” This is the one part of the speech that almost makes sense. In eight years as a senator and four years as secretary of state, Hillary has not earned our votes. Can anybody name one solid accomplishment she made in those 12 years, besides getting elected and appointed? Is there any legislation that she forwarded? When she left the State Department, was America’s position in the world better? Did she negotiate any treaties that furthered our interests or actually promoted peace anywhere in the world? No, no, no, and no.

If she hasn’t earned our vote in 12 years of public service, how will she do it on the campaign trail? Will talking earn our vote? Will listening to sympathetic voters in carefully staged campaign conversations do it? No, and no.

The people who produced this ad must think we’re stupid and want to be taken care of by the government. I so hope that’s not true. We’re well capable of taking care of ourselves without Hillary’s championing us. If she is elected, we’ll get the government we truly deserve.

Pot Kettle Black

There has been a terrific uproar since Indiana became the 19th or 20th state to pass a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).  As I understand it, the law was passed so that people would not be forced to lose their First Amendment right of freedom of religion by being forced to participate in activities that would violate their consciences.

Here is the ironic part of Indiana’s situation.  Several businesses and people have declared a boycott on doing business in Indiana because they believe Indiana is doing something immoral by allowing business owners to refrain from participating in activities that would cause them to violate their conscience.  These people cannot –IN GOOD CONSCIENCE–do business in a state that allows immoral activity, i.e. deciding not to provide services for a gay wedding. How is it okay for some people to refuse to do business because of moral concerns but not okay for others?  Isn’t that a hypocritical position?

Additionally, the people calling for a boycott of Indiana are attempting to force the state government to force business owners to violate their consciences.  The business owners are not trying to force anybody to do anything.  Why should they be forced?

Are there new definitions of fairness, respect, and tolerance that I don’t know about?

                                                               He is a kinsman to the Montague;
Affection makes him false; he speaks not true:…
I beg for justice, which thou, prince, must give;
Romeo slew Tybalt, Romeo must not live.

 

                                                                                                             Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare

 

I don’t know why anybody doesn’t like Romeo and Juliet. It’s probably the language, but knowing the basic plot, it’s not all that hard to figure out what’s happening, at least on stage or in a good movie version.

People’s ignorance of the play is a shame because, like so many of Shakespeare’s other plays, it is extremely relevant to what happens in our lives. In the speech above, Lady Capulet is demanding Romeo’s death because he killed Tybalt, her nephew. She automatically assumes that Benvolio, Romeo’s cousin, gave false testimony about what happened. Benvolio had told the truth, explaining that Romeo attempted to be at peace with Tybalt but killed him after Tybalt had killed Mercutio, Romeo’s best friend.

Unfortunately, I’ve reacted similarly when angry, making faulty decisions and prejudging situations before I’ve listened to people explain the circumstances. My emotions ran high, making my intelligence low.

A similar situation occurred with the Officer Darren Wilson’s shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. When news of the shooting broke out, people automatically rushed to judgment, blaming Wilson for shooting an unarmed black man who was trying to surrender, probably because Wilson was racist. Others, rushing just as fast, automatically assumed that Brown was a thug who got what was coming to him.

Both of these judgments occurred before there was any investigation. People saw the news on television, listened to radio commentators, and just assumed that Brown was guilty of assaulting Wilson or that Wilson was guilty of shooting Brown down in cold blood. Both sides assumed racism. Brown did what he did because he was a young black thug. Wilson did what he did because he was a white racist cop. It didn’t matter that no autopsy had taken place or that witness testimony had not been taken and investigated for accuracy. People saw the news and saw what they wanted to see.

 

Unfortunately, this “sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity,” as Dr. King said, did an awful lot of damage. Before any kind of serious investigation took place, crowds were out in Ferguson’s streets, protesting Wilson’s shooting of Brown. The militarized Ferguson police force attempted to use shock and awe to control or disperse the protestors, and the protests escalated. Over the following weeks, the protestors began destroying Ferguson businesses to communicate their anger.

The police were also hurt by people’s prejudgments. Officer Wilson had to go into hiding with his family out of fear for his life. His career as a policeman is over, even though he had an exemplary record and had never used his gun on a suspect before shooting Michael Brown. There was a declared war on police, with two officers in New York being killed execution style for no other reason than they were police officers.

Are there bad cops? Sure. But acting prejudiced towards them, assuming racism and ill will on their part, is just as bad as racism. A whole group of people are judged and condemned because of the actions of a comparative few.

Race relations also took a hit. Just like with O.J. Simpson and George Zimmerman, people divided along racial lines regarding the guilt or innocence of the suspects. People rushing to judgment before serious investigation took place deepened the racist neural paths in our brains.

 

Seven months later, the investigations are complete. The grand jury in St. Louis, after examining the evidence—perhaps after examining more evidence than should have been available—declared in November that there wasn’t enough evidence to try Darren Wilson for murder or any other crime. Eric Holder’s Justice Department, after three more months of investigation, stated that Wilson committed no crime nor violated Michael Brown’s civil rights. Had there been any evidence to support his guilt, Darren Wilson would have been arrested on federal charges and given a court date by now.

Too bad that much of Ferguson burned to the ground, innocent policemen were killed, and racial tensions were stirred up before the investigations were completed. We could have avoided all that nonsense had we not rushed to judgment but waited for the investigators to do their jobs and let the truth come out. Perhaps we can get it right next time.

A good step in that direction would be for the people who condemned Darren Wilson prematurely to admit they were wrong and (let’s get a little crazy here) apologize to the man for prejudging him. Unless that happens, I’ll be surprised if at the next incident there isn’t yet another rush to judgment.

“SECOND, people purchase the health insurance they want from the insurer they want, just like car insurance. People could purchase an expensive comprehensive plan that covers routine care, a less expensive high-deductible plan, or a plan that only takes care of medical emergencies, like we had back in the 70s.”

 

So I wrote in the column on health care reform that appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch last Sunday. The underlined section was poorly worded to say the least. The phrase “medical emergencies” suggests car accidents, broken and bloody limbs, 3rd degree burns over the majority of someone’s skin, and the like. I should have chosen my words more carefully, which looks pretty bad for someone who wants to earn his living from writing.

A better phrase would be “catastrophic care.” This includes emergencies involving ambulances and emergency rooms, but it also refers to serious illnesses requiring expensive treatment. For example, treatment for cancer, lupus, Crone’s (?) disease, and serious mental illnesses would be paid for. Minor routine illnesses and injuries, would be paid out of pocket.

A really smart insurance company would pay for or at least subsidize routine checkups and standard diagnostic tests that would catch serious illnesses before they became serious. They could also give discounts for maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and other good health habits, like they do with car and life insurance policies.

The Washington Post recently published an editorial comparing the Republicans’ opposition to Obamacare to the Democrats’ Massive Resistance to school desegregation in the 1950s. That’s comparing apples to chainsaws. In an op-ed rebutting the editorial, John Whitbeck, the Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, rightly points out the difference between opposing a very expensive and ironically named government program —the Affordable Care Act—and supporting racist policies and practices.

What would help the Republicans oppose Obamacare effectively would be to have an obviously superior conservative alternative that would bring down the cost of both health care and health insurance. Fortunately, I happen to have one right here.

 

FIRST, we take care of our health. We put down the potato chips, get off the couch, and do some yard work. Swim some laps. Get on a treadmill. Pump iron. Dance. Walk. Something!

The rest of healthy living isn’t exactly a secret. At the grocery store, more fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meats, skim milk and whole grain whatevers go in the cart, with less pizza, cookies, sodas, and beer. We stop smoking or, if we can avoid addiction, smoke a really good cigarette or cigar every once in a while. We get enough sleep.

If we took care of our health, we’d go to the doctor less and buy less medicine. We don’t pay for health care we don’t use. Who knows? The law of supply and demand could kick in, and we pay less for the health care we do use. In any case, we’d save money.

NOTE: This does not require an act of Congress. We don’t need anybody’s permission to take care of our health. We don’t need taxpayer subsidies. We can reduce our health care expenses simply by taking responsibility for our health.

SECOND, people purchase the health insurance they want from the insurer they want, just like car insurance. People could purchase an expensive comprehensive plan that covers routine care, a less expensive high-deductible plan, or a plan that only takes care of medical emergencies, like we had back in the 70s.

People could choose not to purchase health insurance. However, if they have a significant health crisis, they shouldn’t expect a bailout from the taxpayers.

There are advantages to the emergency-only plan to both the doctors and the patients. As routine care would not be covered, doctors wouldn’t have to pay somebody to file a claim in order to get paid. Just like when getting a flu shot at one of those mini-clinics inside grocery stores or pharmacies, we would pay the doctor directly for diagnosis and treatment of a minor sickness or injury. The doctor’s overhead decreases, and he or she can pass some of the savings on to the self-paying patients in reduced fees.

Because the insurance companies wouldn’t be negotiating the fees for routine care, the patients could know exactly what the fees are and shop around for the best care at the best price. They would save money since comparison shopping gives doctors incentive to charge reasonable fees. These savings are in addition to the lower premiums of emergency-only health insurance.

Able to shop for health insurance in the free market, workers would no longer be limited to the plans offered by their employers. Instead of giving a limited list of insurance options they subsidize at a fixed percentage, employers could now offer a subsidy for purchasing insurance, money towards the high deductible, higher wages, or some combination of the three as part of a benefits package. Or they could offer higher salaries as one more way to attract quality employees.

What happens to the huge tax break employees receive by purchasing health insurance with pre-tax dollars through their employers? We extend the tax break to everyone by making health insurance a deductible expense. Alternatively, instead of using the tax code to paternalistically punish or reward our behavior, we could simply lower taxes for everybody by about the same amount as the tax break.

What does Congress need to do to empower citizens to have real choices in purchasing health insurance? Using its constitutional power “To regulate commerce … among the several states,” Congress enacts a law that health insurance companies can operate in any state they want as long as their premiums are consistent in every state. People would be able to choose from any health insurance company in the nation. A free health insurance market would mean more competition, an incentive for companies to keep their prices low

THIRD, Congress reforms tort law. This means when doctors make a mistake, the victim doesn’t win the lottery. The lawyers argue over actual and not punitive damages. If a doctor’s error or negligence causes permanent injury, the victim will get lifetime medical care for everything related to the injury and some compensation for the pain and suffering. They won’t become multi-millionaires, nor will their lawyers.

When Congress reforms tort law, doctors’ malpractice insurance premiums (often more than $100,000 a year) decrease. Doctors can reduce their fees, which they would do to keep cost-conscious patients. Prescription costs would decrease a bit as drug companies wouldn’t have to spend so much money protecting themselves from lawsuits.

FOURTH, medical care for people who cannot afford it devolves to the states, localities, private charities, religious institutions, and individuals. The federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in medical care and can’t afford it anymore.

The first resource people should be able to look to for help with significant medical expenses is their families. Family helping family used to be normal. The next resources to look to would be a person’s place of worship and private charities. If they can’t help enough, local and state government should be a last resort.

Additionally, doctors could provide a certain portion of their services pro bono, like lawyers. Many (most?) already volunteer in free health clinics.

 

These reforms aren’t perfect. They don’t guarantee that all citizens get the health care they need. Plus, there are costs. We would have to take responsibility for our health and manage our health care expenses. We would have to be willing to help our family and neighbors with the occasionally unexpectedly high expenses not covered by insurance.

These reforms do, however, have a couple of advantages over the last two reforms (HMOs and Obamacare) we’ve tried. The cost of both health care and insurance would decrease. We would make most of our health care decisions, not IRS or insurance bureaucrats. The $2.0 trillion cost of Obamacare would be eliminated.

In other words, in exchange for taking personal responsibility for our own health care and helping those who need it with theirs, we get a lot more freedom, lower health care costs, and less expensive government.

The first step might be the hardest. Enough voters would have to say to our representatives and senators, “Stop trying to make sure we have adequate, affordable healthcare. You obviously can’t. We can. Restore the healthcare freedom which rightfully belongs to us.”

If enough of us speak loudly and clearly to our elected officials, we could make real reform happen.

Whatever else we can say about the Ferguson grand jury decision, we can’t say there has been a lot of debates, protests and rioting about it.  Everybody seems to have a strongly held opinion.

Unfortunately, 99.9999999% of us weren’t there to witness the incident.  We didn’t see Michael Brown charge Darren Wilson or Darren Wilson stand over Michael Brown’s body unloading his gun in it.

Therefore, those arguing for or against the verdict are most likely arguing from ignorance.  We rely on hearsay reports, including what the media (who rely on hearsay reports) says.  Arguing from ignorance, our opinions mean nothing.   They are based on nothing.  They carry no weight.

We can change that.  The grand jury report has been released.  It includes all of the testimony from witnesses, Michael Brown’s autopsy report, all of forensic evidence, and all of the expert testimony.  Did Darren Wilson kill an unarmed teenager who was attempting to surrender, or did Wilson use deadly force to defend himself?  We can check the evidence out for ourselves.   Until we do, we have nothing of value to say about the guilt or innocence of Darren Wilson.

http://www.ksdk.com/story/news/local/ferguson/2014/11/25/ferguson-grand-jury-documents/70100296/

People like Mark Warner.  I like Mark Warner.  I once participated in a town hall teleconference call of his.  He came across as open-minded, willing to listen to other points of view.  A Republican delegate in the General Assembly when Warner was governor said that he was very friendly and easy to work with.

 

Warner has branded himself as a moderate, willing to compromise and work with both sides of the aisle. He calls himself a radical centrist. This seems to be the voting public’s perception.

 

If only it were true.  Warner’s five-and-a-half year Senate voting record shows that he has voted almost exclusively the Democrat party line, otherwise known as President Obama’s agenda.  The numbers bear this out.  The Virginia GOP claimed that Warner voted for Obama’s stated positions 97 percent of the time.  Politifact investigated and ruled this claim as true.  In 419 senate roll call votes, Warner voted for Obama’s expressed position 406 times.

 

But wait.  That’s only 28 percent of Warner’s 1,473 roll call votes.  What about the other 72 percent?  Couldn’t those votes show Warner as much more conservative than the average Democrat?

 

Some people think so. The National Journal and Open Congress both conducted voting studies which show Warner as one of the most conservative Democratic senators.  Warner has sponsored or co-sponsored legislation to approve the Keystone pipeline and to permit drilling for oil and natural gas offshore of Virginia.  Unfortunately, this legislation never made it to the Senate floor for a vote.  Warner’s complete voting record, however, shows that saying that Warner is one of the most conservative Democrat senators is like saying Joe Smith is one of the most progressive members of the John Birch society.

 

According to Open Congress, Warner has voted the Democrat party line 92 percent of the time in the current Congress.  Over his entire senate term, he has voted against the party 243 times out of about 2700 votes, which still has him voting the party position over nine times out of ten.  If one factors in the times he abstained (101), which is not actually voting, his support for Democrat positions climbs to 94.5 percent.

 

Eliminating every vote except for actual passage of bills (no votes for amendments, procedural motions, impeachments and nominations) presents a different picture.  Since 2009, Congress has passed 752 laws according to Congress-summary.com.  Warner voted against the Democratic position on three of those laws, hence, supporting the Democratic position 99.6 percent of the time.  The three bills were supplemental appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Program, a trade agreement with Columbia, and the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014.

 

This means that Warner has voted for virtually all major Democratic legislation.  He voted for Obamacare, providing the 60th vote and making it filibuster-proof.  He has voted for all of the debt ceiling increases and all of the spending bills that have added over $7 trillion to our debt in just over five and a half years.  He’s not a budget hawk, at least not with his votes.

 

My subjective perception of Warner is that he has a moderate temperament.  Perhaps he was able to use amendments to make some legislation less progressive.  Regardless of how moderate his temperament is, it hasn’t translated to his votes.  His efforts to bring more moderate legislation to the Senate floor have largely failed, which was perhaps inevitable in a senate run by Harry Reid.

 

In any case, Warner’s record lets us know where he stands on issues when it matters—when it’s time to vote.  Regardless of his rhetoric, a vote for Mark Warner is a vote for the progressive Democratic agenda of Barack Obama and Harry Reid.  He will vote to keep Obamacare, should it come up for repeal.  He will vote to raise the debt ceiling and for budgets which add hundreds of billions to our national debt every year.  Over 700 of his votes confirm this.

 

We don’t know how Republican Ed Gillespie will vote should he be elected.  He says all the right things at the moment.  Like so many other politicians, unfortunately, he could go back on his word.  Nevertheless, there is a chance that Gillespie will consistently vote for lower spending, reform of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, repeal of Obamacare, and other measures necessary for fiscal responsibility and constitutionally limited government.  We need to vote to give him the opportunity.

At first face, the persistence of those who want the Redskins to change their name seems admirable.  Neither Daniel Snyder  nor Redskins fans appear to be budging at all.  Nevertheless, the protesters keep pressing and continue to pick up supporters, Phil Simms and Tony Dungy for example.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume the protesters are right.  Say that “Redskin” is a horribly degrading epithet, like “nigger,” “spic,” or “wop.”   The movement to change the name continues to gain steam, and somebody convinces Daniel Snyder or the next owner to change the name.  What happens next?   There are parties in the street.  The protesters congratulate each other and get lots of good press from the media.  Perhaps the few Native Americans who found “Redskins” offensive are interviewed and talk about how much they like the change.  And then the next 24-hour news cycle takes over.

Beyond the name, what has actually changed?  Nothing, at least regarding life for Native Americans.  The name change has not resulted in any reduction in alcoholism, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, unemployment, suicide, high school dropout rates, or any other social ill on Indian reservations.  For hundreds of thousands (millions?), life will be just as wretched as before.

Given the very real problems that cause actual misery, pain and death for Native Americans, what would be more admirable for the Redskins protesters to do would be to help them to overcome some of these problems.  Perhaps they could start Alcoholics Anonymous  and Narcotics Anonymous chapters on the reservations.  Or the businessmen among the protesters could mentor Native Americans in starting businesses and developing sustainable economies on the reservations.  Others could help fathers and husbands learn to connect with their families and stop the cycle of family dysfunction that spiritually and psychologically cripples the next generation.

If the protesters gave real help to Native Americans and challenged Redskins fans to do the same, there wouldn’t be victory parties with dancing in the streets.  There would be very few, if any, television interviews.  There wouldn’t be a single moment when everybody could declare victory and go home.

However, life would be a lot better for some Native Americans.  More of their children could go to bed in a house with both their mother and their father sleeping under the same roof.  More would finish school and successfully provide for themselves and their families, giving the next generation some hope.   Somehow, that just seems better than the symbolic victory of a name change.

Redskins protesters, if you want to do Native Americans some good, do the hard work that will actually make life better for some of them.  If not, just keep doing what you’re doing and smile for the cameras.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 268 other followers