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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Gillespie-Warner: The Clash of the Establishments

November 4th is almost upon us, and unlike some election cycles many of the races this year are not yet won; the race here in Virginia between incumbent Democrat Mark Warner and challenger Ed Gillespie is one of them. For the benefit of those not in Virginia, Warner has been ads that amount to pointing out that Ed Gillespie was one of Washington’s highest paid lobbyists, and accusing him of wanting people to put their Social Security benefits at risk. Gillespie has refrained from responding to those ads, choosing instead to point out that Warner has voted with President Obama 97 percent of the time, and that he supports Obamacare. More recently Gillespie ads have attacked Warner for talking to a Virginia lawmaker about a job for his daughter, a scandal that may be a game changer.
Senator Warner is a former Governor who was very popular in Virginia and has maintained a sizable portion of that popularity since moving to the Senate, largely due to his ability to portray himself as bi-partisan and independent of the party leadership. Unfortunately Warner quickly learned that in Washington you have to go along to get along, and raced up a voting record that does not support that image. Warner toed the party line with the best of them voting with the President 97% of the time, voting for the failed stimulus bill and Obamacare despite his promise that he “would not vote for a health-care plan that doesn’t let you keep health insurance you like." His position on immigration is at odds with the majority of people in the country, supporting amnesty for illegals and despite having an “A” rating with the NRA, Warner changed his position on guns in the wake of the Newtown school shooting.
So here we have an incumbent Democrat who has to run from his voting record rather than on it still leading against a very experienced Republican challenger who has every reason to be in the lead but can’t quite seem to get there. Many pundits have examined this race and offered their take on it, but I have yet to hear anyone offer a convincing argument for why Ed Gillespie has not been able to move ahead. Admittedly Warner is a formidable opponent but the country as a whole, including Virginia, has soured on the political agenda he has championed, which should make him vulnerable to someone with the political experience of Ed Gillespie.

Gillespie has taken Warner to task on some important issues such as healthcare, jobs, etc., all of which should be safe topics. Unfortunately Gillespie cannot tackle the issue of immigration, probably the one issue that could quickly propel him into the lead, because on that issue he and Mark Warner are on the same page. The American people have shown time and again that they oppose any discussion of amnesty until the border is secure, yet neither of these candidates’ positions reflect that reality.

The problem for both candidates lies with where they place their loyalties. Warner’s popularity existed because despite his affiliation with the Democrat Party he did not come across as a far left moonbat like so many of his Democrat counter-parts. Once he arrived in Washington however, in an effort to win favor with the moonbats in the Democrat leadership he chose to vote according to their wishes rather than the wishes of the people who sent him there. The recent revelation about his involvement in the Puckett resignation scandal makes it clear that he is in fact just another hyper-partisan political hack.

Gillespie is a skilled politician who should have been able to pounce on Warner’s record, but he too is beholden to the leadership of the Republican Party who are almost as batty as some of the Democrats. In short, both candidates are being hurt because of their ties with the establishment politicians in their respective parties. Like other Democrats, Warner has to avoid being linked to Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi. Gillespie has to run against Warner with his hands tied in order to maintain the favor of the GOP leadership and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Perhaps Gillespie would do well to take a close look at how well that worked out for Eric Cantor.

Would it be too much to ask to have at least one candidate willing to represent us?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Let’s end the marriage of convenience between Church and State

Lost among all of the Ebola related headlines are many other issues which should be addressed. One in particular is the current controversy in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho over two Christian pastors who have been threatened with fines and jail time for refusing to perform same-sex marriages. Of course, this attack on religious liberty is something many of us have seen coming for quite some time and I assure you more will soon follow. The fault here lies not with proponents of same-sex marriage, but with churches who have allowed themselves to become government agencies with respect to marriage.

Christians define marriage as a union between one man and one woman in obedience to God, while government sees marriage as a union between two consenting adults to create a legal status. For generations churches have been conducting wedding ceremonies to create their definition of a marriage, and at the same time have acted as an agency of the government in creating the legal union. Until now that has not posed a problem because the definition of marriage had not been called into question, and it was a convenient way to kill two birds with one stone. The fact is however, this tradition blurred the line of separation between church and state that should never have been allowed to exist.

By allowing pastors to become “marriage officials”, churches have unwittingly turned control of their definition of marriage over to the government. Regardless of the religious beliefs of a particular church, by acting as a party to the legal definition of marriage they put themselves in a position to be sanctioned for discriminatory practices. Churches are allowed to hold positions against same-sex marriage, but in most states now governments are not. The only way to resolve this issue is to make a clean break between the religion based institution of marriage created by a church and the legal status of marriage established by the government.

If Larry and Mary want to be married and have their marriage blessed by their church in front of their family and friends, they should be able to do so as long as their church is willing to perform the ceremony. If the couple wishes to have their union blessed by the government in the form of a legal status, they need only stop by the local courthouse and file the necessary paperwork to demonstrate they can be legally married according to the laws of their state, and have a local government official such as the Justice of the Peace make it official. If Ron and John want to do the same thing, they should be able to go through the same process, and as long as they find a church that is willing to perform the ceremony and a state where the law allows them to do so, they can be married.

This process would work fine if pastors of Christian churches were not acting as a legal representative of the government, in effect creating a ‘marriage of convenience’ between church and state. As far as I can tell, the only purpose in this arrangement is to simplify the marriage process so that a couple only has to be married once in order to obtain the benefits of each definition of marriage. I am all about convenience and simplifying a process when possible, but this particular simplification seems to have complicated things a little more than people expected.

This marriage of convenience between church and state was good while it lasted, but the two parties have grown apart. Undoubtedly it is time for them to divorce because of irreconcilable differences.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

It's The Stupidity, Stupid

White House photo

Every morning I drink my first cup of coffee as I peruse the news from the major outlets here and around the world. As you might expect there are very few lead stories right now that are not Ebola related, so much so that it would be very easy to reach Ebola burnout if the situation wasn’t so serious. In my efforts to become informed on the subject, I have learned that Ebola is a very dangerous disease that is much more easily transmittable than we have been led to believe, and I have reached the conclusion that it is not the most serious threat our nation faces.

Please don’t misunderstand, I recognize the dangers posed by this disease, probably better than some of the people who are responsible for protecting us from it; but after a couple of weeks of watching this situation needlessly spiral out of control, it has become obvious that stupidity is more of a problem than the Ebola virus itself.

Sometimes I get the feeling that I’m watching one of those cheap horror movies where the victims of the serial killer make the absolute worst decision possible in their effort to escape (and yes, I’ve seen the GEICO commercial, and it is spot-on) while the audience is collectively thinking “You IDIOT!”. Just as you think our government and public health officials couldn’t get this any more wrong, they surprise you.

One would have thought that as the Ebola outbreak began to spread in West Africa our public health agencies would have recognized the possibility of it spreading into this country and implemented procedures already in place to prevent that from happening, and training healthcare professionals on already established protocols to use in the event it did spread into this country; after all, that is what we’ve been paying them to do. Unfortunately it seems out public health officials have been more interested in origami condoms and trying to figure out why lesbians tend to be fatter than straight women. The much vaunted protocols that the CDC said were violated turned out to be woefully inadequate, and apparently no one felt the need to actually have the necessary PPE on hand.

The first Ebola patient arriving at the hospital in Dallas practically screaming “I have Ebola!” was sent home to incubate a few more days. Once he was admitted and put in isolation, his family members were left in the human sized petri dish of virus infestation to fend for themselves. When people finally questioned the lack of cleanup, news crews filmed a crew armed with a pressure washer spreading the contamination all around the apartment complex.

From there the stupidity has continued to spread much faster than the actual Ebola virus. The administration’s flat refusal to put into place a travel ban has made some question the man’s sanity, and now there is a report that he plans to bring infected foreigners to the U.S. for treatment. The combination of lies, contradictory information, mixed messages, errors in judgment, lack of planning, and total disarray gave rise to a call for an Ebola Czar to be named, and when President Obama finally did so he botched that. The man chosen to fill that spot, Ron Klain, is well suited to manage a political crisis, but has no experience at all in managing a public health crisis.

I will give the American people credit for not being too easily panicked over things like this, but people are getting very uneasy. While an Ebola epidemic in this country is unlikely, sometimes worst case scenarios really do happen, just ask people who were in New Orleans for Katrina. In his weekly video address President Obama said “we can’t give in to hysteria or fear” and that “what we are seeing is no an outbreak or epidemic of Ebola in America”. What we are seeing however, is an epidemic of people in his administration who have “acted stupidly” in their handling of this threat, and THAT is what is driving the fear people are feeling, and it will be the stupidity that creates any hysteria that might arise.