The Roosevelts: stark reminder of better times?

Excerpt from Ken Burns’ ‘The Roosevelts’ Reveals Everything Wrong With Our Current Political Class’  by Joseph Palermo

Ken Burns’ seven-part PBS series on the lives of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, is a remarkable achievement. Burns sheds a poignant new light on the personal and public lives of three monumental figures in 20th Century American history. And in doing so, he illustrates the relative rottenness of the hacks, partisans, and plutocrats who make up the political class that rules America today.

By exploring the lives and times of TR, FDR, and ER Burns shows that in our not-so-distant past the governing institutions of this country were actually responsive to the needs and desires of working-class Americans. This superb and moving portrait is a perfect fit for our times. The utter failure of our current “leaders” is glaring by comparison.

Yes, TR was a warmonger, and FDR signed the order that imprisoned innocent Japanese Americans. There are long lists of both presidents’ failures. But we shouldn’t let those flaws bury the fact that both TR and FDR were not afraid to stand up to big corporations and Wall Street if they viewed their actions as damaging to the country. That alone is probably the biggest difference between those leaders of the early decades of the 20th Century and today.

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Va Senate bill to curb teen cell phone use while driving



 Teen drivers who use cell phones while operating a vehicle can now be ticketed for that behavior if police stop them for another offense. A bill that cleared the Virginia Senate today would tighten the restriction on cell phone use by provisional license holders, meaning authorities could stop them simply for using their phone while operating a vehicle.

What is to keep the kid from putting the cell phone down if they are getting pulled over?  This bill makes no sense.

After seeing studies about distractions while talking on the phone, it might be time for a bill restricting cell phone use while driving, regardless of age.  Anyone caught texting while driving should be dragged out of their car and beaten soundly about the head and shoulders.  

Virginia needs to stop ignorning the cell phone/texting problem and legislate some serious laws with teeth.  Too many accidents are a result of people fiddling with their technology.  Eyes off the road, even for a second, can be deadly.

Dirty Air Act (TRAIN) Passes the House?

From Huffington Post:

The U.S. House of Representatives forwarded a bill on Friday that environmental leaders warn would undermine the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to curb air pollution and protect public health. Green groups are now urging the Senate and President Barack Obama to stand strong — and avoid a repeat of recent environmental health failures, such as the shelving of proposed ozone and greenhouse gas standards.

“The Tea Party House has passed, with ease, the most radical dirty-air legislation in the history of this country,” John Walke, the clean air director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told HuffPost. “It absolutely eviscerates the legal standards for adopting emissions limits under the Clean Air Act.”

Introduced by Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.), the Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act would create a special committee to oversee the EPA’s rules and regulations, and require the agency to consider economic impacts on polluters when it sets standards concerning how much air pollution is too much. For the last 41 years, since passage of the Clean Air Act, only scientific and medical considerations have been allowed in that analysis.

“This results in lying to the American people about whether the air is healthy or not,” said Walke.

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Arkansas Bans Smoking in Cars With Children Under 14

Arkansas currently has a law that prohibits smoking in the car with very young children.  The law has been extended to include children under 14 years of age, claiming that it will spare children from secondhand smoke.  The law includes all children, even one’s own.  There is a $25 fine.  IN California, the fine is $100.

Is this law too intrusive?  What happens if a smoker takes his/her own children into the home?  Is that child exposed to second hand smoke?   What other bad habits will the state tell us we can’t do in front of our own children? How does this differ from a  child seat law or a helmet law?   Bottom line, is it any of the state’s business? 


Cut, Cap and Balance or Duck, Dodge and Dismantle

The Tea Party backed “Cut, Cap and Balance” fiscal plan has passed the House by  234 to 190, on a largely partisan vote, but has no chance of becoming law.   The bill will probably not pass the Senate and the President has promised to veto it.  According to Huffington Post:

Five Democrats, including Reps. Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Health Shuler (N.C.) and Dan Boren (Okla.), sided with Republicans in passing the measure. Nine Republicans opposed the bill, including Tea Party favorite and GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). In a statement issued after the vote, Bachmann said the bill “does not go far enough” and should have included provisions to defund health care reform.

Other Republican defectors included Reps. Walter Jones (N.C.), Francisco Canseco (Texas), Scott DesJarlais (Tenn.), Connie Mack (Fla.) and Ron Paul (Texas). Paul said he has never voted for a debt ceiling increase and never will. In addition, he took issue with Republicans for not including defense cuts in the mix of discretionary cuts.

“All spending must be deemed discretionary and reexamined by Congress each year,” Paul said in a statement. “To allow otherwise is pure cowardice.”

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New Laws go in to effect July 1 in Virginia

The Richmond Times Dispatch has posted the new laws that will go in effect July 1.


Drinking and driving: Teens who drink and drive will face harsher penalties, including loss of their license for a year and either a $500 minimum fine or 50 hours of community service. Currently, the punishment is loss of license for six months and a maximum fine of $500.

On Friday, some Virginia restaurants will have the option of going BYOW — bring your own wine.

It’s just one of nearly 900 bills — out of 2,968 proposed — that passed during this year’s winter General Assembly session. Most of the new laws take effect July 1.

The wide array of new laws ranges from an expansion of the availability of protection orders to new measurement standards for selling shelled oysters. Here are some of the highlights.

Booze towns: Residents of towns with a population of more than 1,000 will now be able to vote on whether their county should allow the sale of mixed drinks. Previously, town residents could not vote in such county referendums. The law is meant to address situations where a “dry” town is located in a “wet” county, or vice-versa.

Bring your own wine: A new law will allow restaurants to permit patrons to bring their own wine. The catch? The restaurants will be allowed to charge a “corkage” fee for the privilege.

Underage drinking: Anyone who purchases alcoholic beverages for or otherwise helps someone who they know or have reason to believe is younger than 21 obtain or consume alcohol is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Current law does not address consumption or “reason to believe” that the person is underage.

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Virginia Proposed Anti-Bully Legislation

From the Washington Post, Virginia Politics Blog:

NoVa. delegates push anti-bullying legislation

By Rosalind S. Helderman

Two Northern Virginia Democrats are sponsoring legislation to attempt to curb teen bullying, a topic that’s received heightened national attention due to a spate of suicides of teenagers who had been targeted by classmates.

Del. Adam Ebbin (D-Arlington) is proposing a billthat would make egregious bullying a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Ebbin cited the case of York County high school student Christian Taylor, who committed suicide in May.

Taylor’s mother has said she complained to school officials and local sheriff’s deputies that the 16-year old was being bullied but they did little to help. The local sheriff’s office has said it investigated her complaints and turned them over to school officials after determining no laws had been broken. In a wrongful death suit she has filed against local officials, Taylor’s mother indicates that her son’s bully allegedly told him before his death: “You need to just go ahead and kill yourself and get it over with.”

Ebbin’s bill would define bullying as “recklessly or intentionally endangering the health or safety of a student by exposing the student repeatedly, and over time, to physical aggression or intimidation, whether through direct physical contact or through the use of information or communication technology, resulting in bodily injury or other harm to person or property.” It would also give victims the right to sue those who have bullied them.


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The Wannabe Delegate

 Corey Stewart is still hasn’t learned he isn’t a delegate to the General Assembly nor is he a state senator.  Perhaps he is going to run for either Senator Colgan’s seat or Del. Miller’s seat so he can introduce  his immigration reform.

The News & Messenger:

On Thursday, Stewart plans to announce multiple pieces of legislation for the General Assembly to con-sider, one of which is based on legislation passed recently in Oklahoma.

The first item would require all law enforcement officers in the state to check immigration status upon lawful detention if there is reasonable suspicion that the person detained is an illegal immigrant.

The second piece would be similar to legislation currently passed in Oklahoma that taxes international money transfers. The fee, which went into effect last July, is $5 on money transmissions up to $500, plus 1 percent of the amount in excess of $500. Consumers who file state tax returns can get a refund of the fees.

Businesses that fail to remit the fees to the Oklahoma Tax Commission face possible suspension of their licenses.

Stewart said this would adversely affect illegal immigrants who don’t have Social Security numbers and do not pay state taxes.

“A normal guy who pays state taxes, you are going to get money your money back,” Stewart said.

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Puerto Rican–Americans Soon to be Without Birth Certificates

Last December, in an attempt to curb identity theft, the Puerto Rican government invalidated all previously issued Puerto Rican birth certificates as of July 1. 2010.  This measure leaves many Puerto Ricans living in the United States in a rather uncomfortable position– No birth certificate.

People born in Puerto Rico are American citizens because Puerto Rico is an American territoy.  However, their birth certificates come out of Puerto Rico.   Some background from Yahoo News:

The change catches many off-guard and unaware.

Julissa Flores, 33, of Orlando, Fla., said she knew nothing about Puerto Rico’s law.

“I was planning a trip and now I don’t know,” she said. “Do I need to go get a passport? If my birth certificate is invalid, am I stuck here?”

People born in Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth, are U.S. citizens at birth. Anyone using a stolen Puerto Rico birth certificate could enter and move about the U.S. more easily, which could also pose security problems.

Puerto Rico’s legislature passed the law after raids last March broke up a criminal ring that had stolen thousands of birth certificates and other identifying documents from several different schools in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Ricans on average get about 20 copies of their birth certificates over their lifetimes, said Kenneth McClintock Hernandez, the commonwealth’s secretary of state.

This is because they are regularly asked to produce them for such events as enrolling children in school or joining sports leagues. Schools and other institutions have typically kept copies, a practice prohibited under the new law since January, McClintock said.

As much as 40 percent of the identity fraud in the U.S. involves birth certificates from Puerto Rico, McClintock said he was told by the State Department.

“It’s a problem that’s been growing and as the need in the black market for birth certificates with Hispanic-sounding names grew, the black market value of Puerto Rican birth certificates has gone into the $5,000 to $10,000 range,” McClintock said.

Thus far, there seems to be little effort by the U.S. or Puerto Rican governmentsto educate the 1.5 million people born in Puerto Rico and living on the mainland about the new law.

Government officials in the US and in Puerto Rico have made very little effort to educate native Puerto Ricans about the change in the law, nor have they advised them how to resolve their problem of not having an official birth certificate.  It seems to me that the Puerto Rican government needs to set up an office in every state to assist those people living in the United States.  Certainly they don’t want to force them to return to Puerto Rico just for a birth certificate.  How can millions of people be processed in 5 months. 

This situation seems like a classical case of ‘Beware of unintended consequences.’

Concealed Weapons in Bars Passes VA Senate

Sen. Emmett W. Hanger said the law kept citizens from enjoying such restaurants as Red Lobster. Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple responded she never felt threatened at Red Lobster.
Sen. Emmett W. Hanger said the law kept citizens from enjoying such restaurants as Red Lobster. Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple responded she never felt threatened at Red Lobster.

From the Richmond Times Dispatch: (by Jim Nolan)

The Virginia Senate today cleared the way for Virginians to be allowed to carry concealed guns in cars and bars.

In a 22-18 vote, senators approved Senate Bill 334, which would allow people with concealed gun permits to carry their firearms into restaurants that serve alcohol.

Six Democrats joined 16 Republicans to pass the legislation, which had passed the General assembly last year but was vetoed by then-Gov. Timothy M. Kaine.

Senators also passed legislation that would allow Virginians who do not hold concealed gun carry permits to transport their handguns in a locked glove compartment or container in their car. The vote on Senate Bill 408 was 24-16, with six Democrats joining 18 Republicans to support the bill.

Both bills now head to the House of Delegates, which is likely to pass them. If the measures clear the House, Gov. Bob McDonnell is expected to sign the bills into law.

The legislation allowing concealed guns in bars prohibits any concealed gun carrier from drinking alcohol while armed.

Currently gun owners may bring their weapons into restaurants, provided the guns are clearly visible. They can also carry concealed weapons into restaurants that do not serve alcohol. Restaurant owners, however, have the right to exclude guns or weapons of any kind from their establishments.

All of us can think of reasons why drunks and alcohol don’t mix. However, is that what this is really about? What are the compelling reasons for people to carry concealed in a bar? Should those people be forbidden to consume alcohol also?

HB 53 Too Many Xfile Episodes?


Several friends sent me a copy of the daily koz article on Virginia HB 53 accompanied by peals of laughter.  I am fairly skeptical about Koz and immediately looked for another source.  I mean this bill looked like the Xfiles joined Armageddon.  Unfortunately, the Washington Post pretty much reported the same story. 

The Virginia House of Delegates voted Wednesday on HB 53.  It is a bill that makes it illegal for anyone to put a microchip in your body without your permission.  The bill passed the House of Delegates.  The bill is mainly aimed at employers, insurance companies and government. To most people, having a bill that sounds like the Xfiles is a bit unusual:

According to the Washington Post, quoting from the bill’s sponsor:

Del. Mark L. Cole (R-Fredericksburg), the bill’s sponsor, said that privacy issues are the chief concern behind his attempt to criminalize the involuntary implantation of microchips. But he also said he shared concerns that the devices could someday be used as the “mark of the beast” described in the Book of Revelation.

“My understanding — I’m not a theologian — but there’s a prophecy in the Bible that says you’ll have to receive a mark, or you can neither buy nor sell things in end times,” Cole said. “Some people think these computer chips might be that mark.”

Cole said that the growing use of microchips could allow employers, insurers or the government to track people against their will and that implanting a foreign object into a human being could also have adverse health effects.

“I just think you should have the right to control your own body,” Cole said.

The religious overtones have cast the debate into a realm that has made even some supporters uneasy and caused opponents to mock the bill for legislating the apocalypse.

In the interest of respecting diversity, I am not coming to comment other than to ask, why is our House of Delegates dealing with  this type of legislation?  Have there been threats of  body snatching?   Aare we going to make it illegal to do the alien abduction thing?   If it is religious, doesn’t that belong in church?  Is our state legislature losing it or what? 

Mulder and Scully, here I come!

I will respect diversity…I will respect diversity….I will respect diversity…..

12 Hand Guns a Year Limit in Danger of Repeal

Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-Woodbridge) has introduced a bill that would repeal the 1 handgun a month law that has been in effect in Virginia since the days of Governor Doug Wilder.  HB 49 has made it out of committee and stands a good chance of being passed.  The Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee voted 15-6 Friday to advance Del. Scott Lingamfelter’s bill.

Why do we have such a law limiting the number of handguns we can purchase?  In a nut shell, Virginia was a gun running state.  Prior to 1993, when the 1 hand gun a month law went into effect, Virginia was the  # 1  gun-running  state.  Scofflaws would come to Virginia, buy up a load of guns, and return home to sell them illegally.  New York had a particular problem with Virginia guns.  Since the law was passed, Virginia has been #6 in gun running. 

According to CBOnline:

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia’s ban on buying more than one handgun a month would be repealed under a bill that passed a House committee on Friday.

The Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee voted 15-6 to advance Del. Scott Lingamfelter’s bill to a vote in the GOP-controlled House, where it is likely to pass.

Supporters say lawmakers have carved so many exemptions into the law that it was no longer effective. Since the legislation was passed in 1993, legislators have exempted the state’s 214,000 concealed carry permit holders, all law enforcement and corrections workers, those whose guns were stolen within a month of purchase and other groups from the ban. It does not apply to rifles or shotguns.

“It may have had a purpose in 1993 when it was passed, but if did, the rationale for this statute has been neutered by all the exemptions that now exist,” Lingamfelter said.

Opponents argued the prohibition had helped move Virginia from being the nation’s No. 1 supplier of guns used in the commission of crimes to No. 6. Repealing it, they said, would make it easier for criminals to get guns through so-called straw purchases. In a straw purchase, someone who can pass the required federal background check buys the gun for someone who is a felon, mentally ill or for some other reason is barred from buying guns.

“If a person can walk out with a box full of Glocks, they’re going to walk out to the street and sell them,” said Andrew Goddard, who has lobbied against gun rights bills since his son was shot four times at Virginia Tech in 2007 but survived.

There seems to be room for compromise here.  Many of us who are gun owners don’t mind being limited to buying 1 a month.  Perhaps changing the law to 2 hand guns a month might help.  If a person needs to buy more guns than currently are allowed, there are many ways around the problem.  Virginians need to be looking carefully at how to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, especially after the massacre at Virginia Tech, rather than repealing all laws.  We are going to wrong direction.  

It appears that the legislators in this Northern Virginian region  all support the wild west mentality of buying as many guns as one wants.  Hopefully down-state realizes that this law in Virginia not only protects Virginians but also the rest of the country.  Being #6 isn’t great but it beats being #1.