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Friday, January 21, 2005

What Am I? Chopped Liver?

The Virginia legislature is back in session and its elected membership is itching to pass laws. Lots and lots of laws. They think it is what they were sent there to do.

One of the more annoying that they will be debating has to do with a ban on teenagers driving and talking at the same time (which I find a scary thought in itself) on cellphones. As reported in the Washington Post this morning:

Va. Bill Would Bar Cell Phone Use by Teen Drivers

By Rosalind S. Helderman and Maria Glod Washington Post Staff Writers

RICHMOND, Jan. 20 -- The Virginia Senate's Transportation Committee approved a bill Thursday that would bar young drivers from using cell phones.

The proposal, backed by several Northern Virginia senators concerned about a rash of deadly accidents, would require teenagers, some of the most voracious users of cell phones, to pull over before making calls -- even if they plan to use a hands-free device.

Sen. James K. "Jay" O'Brien Jr. (R-Fairfax), who is sponsoring the measure along with Sen. William C. Mims (R-Loudoun), said many of the recent accidents on Virginia roads involved activities already illegal, including speeding and drinking. But with renewed attention on the dangers driving poses for teenagers, the two decided to reexamine laws for potential improvements. (

Why are they focusing only on teenagers? I'm just as dangerous when I'm driving and talking on my cellphone. Paula would say I'm dangerous even without the phone but what does she know? She favors laws banning the slaughter and exportation of kittens. So how much can her opinions matter?

Seriously, this O'Brien character and the honorable Senator Mr. Mims are Republicans. Republicans! Republicans don't create nuisance laws like this. It's the Democrats who want to legislate us out of existence. If Mr. O'Brien believes the causes of the many traffic accidents that are occurring in northern Virginia are already covered by other laws - and the accidents are occurring anyway - what does he truly expect to accomplish with another law? "Well, gee, I knew there was a law against manslaughter, dude, a crime punishable by life in prison, but this cellphone-use-while-driving ban - with an accompanying fine of $250 - is a whole different thing. I'm definitely going to be more careful, man."

Good grief.

I'll bet these two "Republicans" were amongst those who abandoned their party's principles and voted to raise my taxes too. If there is need of a law, it should be directed toward that incongruity.

On Bush's Inaugural Speech

William Safire seems to think President Bush's inaugural speech yesterday was a humdunger.
Bush's 'Freedom Speech'

On his way out of the first Cabinet meeting after his re-election, President Bush gave his longtime chief speechwriter the theme for the second Inaugural Address: "I want this to be the freedom speech."

In the next month, the writer, Michael Gerson, had a heart attack. With two stents in his arteries, the recovering writer received a call from a president who was careful not to apply any deadline pressure. "I'm not calling to see if the inaugural speech is O.K.," Bush said. "I'm calling to see if the guy writing the inaugural speech is O.K."

Yesterday's strongly thematic address was indeed "the freedom speech." Not only did the words "freedom, free, liberty" appear 49 times, but the president used the world-watched occasion to expound his basic reason for the war and his vision of America's mission in the world.

I rate it among the top 5 of the 20 second-inaugurals in our history. Lincoln's profound sermon "with malice toward none" is incomparable, but Bush's second was better than Jefferson's mean-spirited pouting at "the artillery of the press." (link)
I was able to watch a portion of the speech. As far as I'm concerned, it was okay. I fully agree with everything Safire has to say in his glowing praise of the president's theme and the lofty words that the 43rd president used in his "fire of freedom" address. But a speech before a large gathering has two main features: (1) content and (2) delivery.

I have often said a speech-giver fails in his or her attempt if they don't reach to the heavens and draw down the Lord God Almighty to provide support. Even if the subject matter involves sewer system improvement. I'm talking wrath of God thunder. Clenched fists. Pounding of the podium. Righteous determination. Arms raised high and proclaiming victory! If you're going to speak on the subject of "the fire of freedom," light the torch!

I had the opportunity to catch a bit of President Kennedy's inauguration speech that he delivered in 1961. The difference, I think, between that speech and President Bush's was that the former delivered his "ask not what your country can do for you ... " speech with a passion that signified his seriousness about the subject matter. I think Bush's was better written - by far - but it never became George W Bush's speech. It was, throughout, a Michael Gerson speech delivered by George W Bush.

There is a huge distinction to be made in that.

Contrast that which was said by Bush yesterday with the greatest speech of my lifetime:
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!" (link)

Ah, The Irony

The New York Times this morning is reporting that the ACLU is going to consider censuring - or giving the boot to - two of its members for having committed the crime of exercising their right to free speech. For a person who chooses to heap ridicule on the sanctimonious among us, it doesn't get any better than this.
A.C.L.U. Will Consider Disciplining 2 Officials
By Stephanie Strom

The American Civil Liberties Union, which since its inception has fought to protect free speech rights, is scheduled to begin a debate today over whether to discipline - or potentially move to oust - two board members for speaking to reporters.

The executive committee of the A.C.L.U. board will discuss whether Wendy Kaminer and Michael Meyers have acted inappropriately as board members. The two have criticized some actions by the executive director, Anthony D. Romero, and the executive committee for what they said was a failure to provide proper oversight.

Nadine Strossen, president of the A.C.L.U., wrote in an e-mail message responding to a reporter's questions that the subject was added to the committee's agenda at the request of its Oregon affiliate. The committee will then decide whether the entire board should address it over the weekend at its quarterly meeting. (link)
I came to the conclusion a long time ago that liberals in this country really don't believe any of the notions they espouse. They favor gun control until they feel threatened and arm themselves - or in the case of Rosie O'Donnell or Michael Moore, hiring a heavily armed bodyguard. They are big on the environment, but they drive SUV's and fly in G-5's from one global warming seminar to the next natural resources defense meeting. They shed tears for the poor but go out of the way to shield themselves from them and, as is the case in Malibu, try their best to keep the human rot from walking the public beaches in front of their palatial estates (Barbra Streisand will even sue if you try to take a picture of her home). They support the disproportionate taxation of the wealthy but will set up limited liability corporations and off-shore accounts in order to shield their own stash from government confiscation.

And of course there's the ACLU, which purportedly champions everyone's right to free speech - unless you want to talk about God in the lunchroom in school, say a prayer at commencement, form a Bible club after hours that would meet at the local high school, or begin your town council meeting with a Praise God.. They decry the banning of books (Nazis!) by your public library - unless the book is the Bible. Then they demand it be banned. And now they want to stifle the free speech rights of some of its members.

As a famous person once said, I think it was Aristotle, "it don't get better than this."