The GOP compromise package for transportation collapsed yesterday when the Axis of Taxes... er, I meant the Senate Finance Committee... endorsed a competing road-funding mechanism that is certain to get voted down in the House of Delegates. Working with Senate Democrats, Senate Finance Chair John H. Chichester, R-Northumberland, engineered a statewide gasoline tax instead."The Empire Strikes Back," Bacon's Rebellion, February 2, 2007
Writing in the Washington Post, Amy Gardner and Tim Craig summed up the Senate logic with this quote from Sen. Janet D. Howell, D-Fairfax:
"A reasonable plan does not take money from public education, higher education, health care and public safety. Especially, it doesn't take money from our sick and our disabled neighbors."
Yeah, it's really tragic how the state has been starving Virginia's widows and orphans. The state budget is only 20 percent higher this biennium than the previous one. Pardon me while I barf.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Best Of The Web Today, February 1, 2007
Thank Me for Not Spitting
This is just breathtaking. William Arkin, who writes an online column for the Washington Post "on National and Homeland Security," takes soldiers to task for expressing "frustration with opposition to war in the United States" (link):
"I'm all for everyone expressing their opinion, even those who wear the uniform of the United States Army. But I also hope that military commanders took the soldiers aside after the story and explained to them why it wasn't for them to disapprove of the American people. . . ."
"These soldiers should be grateful that the American public, which by all polls overwhelmingly disapproves of the Iraq war and the President's handling of it, do still offer their support to them, and their respect."
"Through every Abu Ghraib and Haditha, through every rape and murder, the American public has indulged those in uniform, accepting that the incidents were the product of bad apples or even of some administration or command order."
"Sure, it is the junior enlisted men who go to jail. But even at anti-war protests, the focus is firmly on the White House and the policy. We don't see very many "baby killer" epithets being thrown around these days, no one in uniform is being spit upon."
"So, we pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them, we support them in every possible way, and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they are above society? . . ."
"The recent NBC report is just an ugly reminder of the price we pay for a mercenary--oops sorry, volunteer--force that thinks it is doing the dirty work."
In a defensive follow-up, Arkin acknowledges that mercenary was an ill-chosen word. Still, we're hard-pressed to do justice to just how appalling this is, though James Lileks comes pretty close.
Senate panel kills transportation billShedding light on the motivation of the eleven senators who decided the roads weren't really in that bad a shape after all: "The committee did approve separate legislation to increase the statewide sales tax on the wholesale price of gasoline by 5 percent."
Some lawmakers said the compromise bill was the best chance at a resolution in this session.
Mason Adams, The Roanoke Times
Richmond -- The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday killed a transportation funding compromise between House and Senate Republicans, setting up another showdown between the two chambers over how to pay for construction and maintenance of state roads.
The Finance Committee voted 11-4 to kill the compromise legislation, based largely on worries over its use of $250 million a year from the general fund. (link)
For the love of God.
Iraqis were given their freedom, and yet many have chosen civil war. Among all these religious prejudices, ancient wounds, social resentments and tribal antagonisms, who gets the blame for the rivers of blood? You can always count on some to find the blame in America. "We did not give them a republic," insists Newsweek's Fareed"Who's to Blame for The Killing," The Washington Post, February 2, 2007
Zakaria. "We gave them a civil war."
Of all the accounts of the current situation, this is by far the most stupid. And the most pernicious. Did Britain "give" India the Hindu-Muslim war of 1947-48 that killed a million souls and ethnically cleansed 12 million more? The Jewish-Arab wars in Palestine? The tribal wars of post-colonial Uganda?
We gave them a civil war? Why? Because we failed to prevent it? Do the police in America have on their hands the blood of the 16,000 murders they failed to prevent last year?
Last year, after a pool of tears were shed over the plight of America's poor, the Democrats abruptly turned their backs on them, saying, "We don't want to help them that badly."
Senate OKs Min-Wage Bill
February 2, 2007 -- WASHINGTON - The Senate voted overwhelmingly yesterday to boost the federal minimum wage by $2.10 to $7.25 an hour over two years, but packaged the increase with controversial tax cuts for small businesses and higher taxes for many $1 million-plus executives.
The increase in the minimum, the first in a decade, was approved by a 94-3 vote, capping a nine-day debate over how to balance the wage hike with the needs of businesses that employ low-wage workers.
The bill must now be reconciled with the House version passed Jan. 10 that contained no tax provisions. (link)
Let's see if Ted Kennedy and his fabulously wealthy friends in the Democratic ranks in Congress really want to do something to help the poorest of their constituents by mandating that $2.10 increase. Or if theirs was nothing more than greenhouse gas emissions.
In former Senator George Allen's case, you offer up an apology for slavery (which proved to be highly effective in getting him reelected ...).
Or, if you're a United States senator who has even less integrity, you hunt down Al Sharpton and plant your lips on his rotund derrière:
Gaffe 'N' GrovelCan we all agree that anyone who professes his or her undying love for the Reverend Al Sharpton should never have his finger on the nuclear weapons button?
By Ian Bishop, New York Post Correspondent
February 2, 2007 -- Washington - Bloviating Sen. Joseph Biden shifted into full suck-up mode yesterday to salvage his 2-day-old presidential bid by taking his mea culpa campaign to the Rev. Al Sharpton's radio show.
"I love you," Biden gushed to Sharpton during a 15-minute spot on the program.
Actually, Biden was searching for some love after setting Capitol Hill abuzz Wednesday with his inflammatory newspaper quip that Barack Obama was the "first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy" to run for the White House. (link)
Go away, Joe. You were always a goof. Now you're on the verge of being seen as nothing more than a pathetic old goof.
Florida Shifting to Voting System With Paper TrailYou may remember, it was only six short years ago that the state of Florida ran into trouble with its paper ballots (old man standing in the street outside a polling place in south Florida, on the evening news, peering into the camera, crying out in anguish: “I think I accidentally voted for Pat Buchanan!”).
By Abby Goodnough and Christopher Drew, The New York Times
Delray Beach, Fla., Feb. 1 — Gov. Charlie Crist announced plans on Thursday to abandon the touch-screen voting machines that many of Florida’s counties installed after the disputed 2000 presidential election. The state will instead adopt a system of casting paper ballots counted by scanning machines in time for the 2008 presidential election.
“Florida is like a synonym for election problems; it’s the Bermuda Triangle of elections,” said Warren Stewart, policy director of VoteTrust USA, a nonprofit group that says optical scanners are more reliable than touch screens. “For Florida to be clearly contemplating moving away from touch screens to the greatest extent possible is truly
Other states that rushed to buy the touch-screen machines are also abandoning them... (link)
So, to better serve old men who can't figure out how to punch little holes in the proper place on a sheet of paper, many Florida counties went to the expense of replacing all the paper ballots with electronic touch-screen machines.
They proved to be no better. The old men down there couldn't understand the whole poke-your-finger-on-a-name process either. So many errors. So many errors.
So we go to Plan C. With high hopes. And a growing number of old men ...