Friday, March 30, 2012

Goodlatte, Griffith Stand Up for America (Sort Of)

So this morning I get this urgent press release from Congressman Bob Goodlatte (who's supposed to represent me, but doesn't) telling me what he's been up to. Seems he's started a war with Salem, Mass., over where the National Guard was founded. Big issue this, giving the minor things also on the plate (the budget, women's rights, two wars, nutcases with presidential ambitions, health care bills and bills, crumbling infrastructure, and the like).

Griffith, coincidentally, lives in Salem but does not represent Salem. He represents a district he doesn't think enough of to live in. Go figure. Voters constantly puzzle me.

So here's what Bob says: 

Congressmen Morgan Griffith and Bob Goodlatte issued the following statement after voting against a resolution to recognize the City of Salem, Massachusetts, as the Birthplace of the National Guard of the United States (H.R. 1339):

“This resolution asserts that the first militia – thus the National Guard – was formed in Salem, Massachusetts in 1629.  According to William Shea, author of The Virginia Militia in the Seventeenth Century, his research indicates a very different story:

“When the General Assembly met in 1624, during a period of warfare with the Powhatan Indians, the members decided that, although those men who had arrived before 1612 were exempt from active military service, everyone else was to be trained and ready. Shea contends that ‘it is not inaccurate to say that the Virginia militia was established in a very rudimentary form by the general assembly of 1624.’ Moreover, he notes that in 1626, the General Assembly exempted newcomers to the colony, who would be free from military service for their first year in Virginia. But, all other males from 17 (later 16) through 60 (except for the “olde planters”) were eligible for military duty and were taxed in order to support defense. Shea cites the Records of the Virginia Company of London as his primary source.

“In 1629, the colony of Virginia was divided into four military districts to provide quicker response and flexibility. Local commanders were authorized to raise troops whenever they deemed it necessary to defend their lands.  This preceded the establishment of the first eight counties in 1634, at which point, the counties took over administration.

“While we fully support the National Guard, we had to oppose this resolution because of questionable historical data.”

I'm wondering who could possibly have time to worry about this and even if they did not have a life otherwise, who else gives a parson's shit? "Representatives," indeed.

Photo of the Day: Oh, Wow, Nice Rack!

This is an example of the new racks that will house the current and recently past issues of Valley Business FRONT. Just remember, get there early. These little babies tend to disappear very, very quickly (the magazines, not the racks; they're just cardboard)

Ruling Against Tech in Mass Killings Is Overturned

The ruling by the U.S. Department of Education's administrative law judge against Virginia Tech in the mass of April 2007 shootings has been overturned. here's a statement from Virginia Tech Associate VP for University Relations Larry Hincker, released a few minutes ago:

Virginia Tech officials are pleased by the ruling of the U.S. Department of Education’s administrative law judge that the university did not violate provisions of federal law known as the Clery Act. He eliminated the fines levied by the department.

Administrative Judge Ernest Canellos determined that university actions on the morning of April 16, 2007, after the shootings in Ambler Johnston residence hall, satisfied the requirements of the “timely warning” provision of the Clery Act.

“This was not an unreasonable amount of time in which to issue a warning. " ...if the later shootings at Norris Hall had not occurred, it is doubtful that the timing of the email would have been perceived as too late.” said Canellos.

Furthermore, Judge Canellos determined that the university did not violate federal law because the email notice was sent by the university communications office and not the university police department.

“As the VTPD were busy investigating a crime, it would be an illogical interpretation of the institution’s policies to require the VTPD to physically compose a message rather than provide substantial input on which the message is based. I agree,” Canellos concluded.

While we are satisfied with the ruling that overturns the department’s finding, there is no glee. A horrendous event happened on this campus almost five years ago. Profound sadness remains. We continue to grieve for the families of victims killed or injured by a deranged young man.

Because of what happened here, we know that higher education changed on April 16, 2007. New laws, protocols, practices, policies, and technologies grew from our tragedy. We hope that lessons from this unforeseeable crime will continue to inform the practices affecting campus safety throughout the nation and the world.

Showtimers Loses Federal Tax Exemption

Showtimers' Facility in Southwest Roanoke County
On the grand scale of things, this will not make a big splash, but Showtimers, one of Roanoke's comfortably consistent hometown theater groups, has lost its IRS tax exemption, it says, because of its own negligence. That is sad because it could cost the small company money, which it needs.

It is admirable that the board of directors took full responsibility for the mistake without saying something nebulous like "a mistake was made." I love it when the line is simply, "We made a mistake." OK, so let's get to fixing it. And my guess is Showtimers will do just that.

Here's; David Colatosti's explanation in a note to those who support the theater group: 

We are posting this notice on our website to inform you of a change in our organization. We were informed by the Internal Revenue Service in February that our 501(c)(3) non-profit status had been revoked.

This revocation was retroactive, effective May 15, 2011.

Our status was revoked because our organization had grown negligent in filing the necessary tax paperwork within the federally required timeline.

This change in our non-profit status has tax implications for our donors that we wanted to bring to your attention. Any donations made to Showtimers since May 15, 2011 cannot be claimed as tax deductible in your tax preparations. (Other deductions such as milage etc... are also no longer applicable.

Please consult your tax professional for further information regarding deductions and non-profits.) We truly regret any inconvenience this may cause you.

The board and I sincerely apologize for letting this situation occur. We will not let this happen again. We are working hard to correct our deficiencies and improve the way the organization operates. We are also initiating the process to reacquire our 501 (c)(3) status.

In the meantime, our patrons will probably not notice any differences in our productions or organization. We will continue to strive to be the best value in local theatre. We are still a volunteer organization that relies on our people to work hard to produce good theatre. All of us, from the board of directors to the actors on stage to the people behind the scenes are still involved in this effort.

Until such time as we reacquire our 501(c)(3), any donations made to us will not be able to be claimed as tax deductible. Donations are, however, still welcome and still very necessary in our organization. We will update our web page as we take steps towards reacquiring our 501(c)(3) status.

If you have any questions regarding this or anything else, please feel free to email me at: president@showtimers.org

Sincerely,

David Colatosti
President, Board of Directors
Showtimers of Roanoke Valley, Inc.

House Budget Bill: A Great Deal for the 1 Percent; Not So Hot for the Rest of Us

Paul Ryan likes the budget. Do you?
Yesterday's budget vote in the U.S. House of Representatives tells us exactly where the two Republican representatives from this region stand: against the 99 percent, for the 1 percent. Reps. Bob Goodlatte and Morgan Griffith agree with the House plan, though my guess is that in his heart of hearts, Griffith doesn't believe it cuts enough.

The budget would set spending limits at World War II levels, according to The NYTimes, and it would cut taxes--substantially--for the rich.

Among the proposed cuts (which the Senate, of course, would never approve under its Democratic leadership):

  • Transportation, where the infrastructure is dangerously crumbling
  • Medicaid by $770 billion
  • Medicare by $205 billion (at a time when the largest generation in our history is entering retirement and health care costs are rising exponentially). It would be privatized
  • Other "entitlements" (a word which came out of nowhere to demonize social programs) by $5.3 trillion below the president's proposed budget for the next 10 years.
  • Federal pensions
  • Children's nutrition programs and food stamps for the poor
  • The new health care law would be killed
  • Eliminates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (where so many moderate income people get financing for homes)
Other changes:
  • Tax deductions mostly used by the middle would be eliminated (so long mortgage benefit)
  • Taxes would have two rates: 10 percent and 25 percent (guess who gets which)
  • Defense spending would increase
  • Taxes for the rich would decrease (I mean, what do you expect?)

One wag (Richard Block) called the proposal "the longest suicide note in history." Let's hope. Another said, "Paul Ryan's [the bill's author] American Experiment is starting to sound like a 'final solution' for the poor, the old, the young, the workers and middle class of the United States."

What the World Needs Now ... Is More People

Most of us will agree that the most significant problem facing the world now and into the foreseeable future is that the planet has too many people. Overpopulation leads to food and energy shortages, wars over property and water, and the myriad problems that come from that one simple dynamic.

Most of us.

There are exceptions and you don't have to go far to find the source. One is a woman named Michelle Duggar who is the star of a reality show. Nice science credentials. She has 19 children (and wants more). During an interview recently on the Christian Broadcasting Network she insisted, "The idea of overpopulation is not accurate." She says the population of the world could be contained within the city limits inside of Jacksonville, Fla. (My calculations show that Jacksonville would hold about 1.3 billion people stacked front to back, shoulder to shoulder. 'Course if you stack them like cordwood, you could get a bunch more, but I'm not sure anybody wants to live that way.) She says we need more children because they bring joy. (Story here.)

Where do these people come from? Jeeeeezus!


(Graphic: mindprod.com)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

More Activism from the Republican Supreme Court

For many years--probably beginning with the FDR-appointed courts--conservatives have screamed "bloody murder!" about "activist" Supreme Courts. Now we have the Roberts Court, appointed by the Bushes and Reagan and what are we getting from it, but the same kind of judicial activism--on steroids.

From "a corporation is a person" to a litany of decisions broadening access to guns, expanding rights of businesses over individuals and narrowing a woman's rights to make decisions about her own body this court is as legislative in its approach as any in our history. Now before it is the Obama Administration's health care law and the questions being asked by the conservative judges generally have nothing to do with judicial prudence, but with legislative activism.

Here's what the NYTimes has to say about it.

This court has been out of control since its first decision and if Obama is not re-elected, it will get one or two more of these hard-case Republican operatives as members and we'll be more screwed than we already are.

(Photo: Washington Post)

GOP Smacking Down Small Business Again

This poll neglected to mention the Republican influence. It will remember soon enough
For quite a few years I have been trying to make the case that the Republican Party is not pro-business, as many small business people believe. Small business owners comprise a significant force in Republicult politics and have for a very long time, but in recent years the screwing they've been taking would lead us all to believe that they would reconsider their loyalties.

The Bush Administration was close to being a nightmare for small business. The leaders of the Bushies were either big business people or marketing professionals. At one point, the SBA was giving so much money away to companies like IBM (hardly "small" by anybody's standard) that a great hew and cry went up from some small business organizations who have not had a history of complaining about GOP support.

Today's NYTimes has this piece outlining the shock and awe business is feeling toward the Republicult. Here's a quote from the story: 

Business groups that worked hard to install a Republican majority in the House equated Republican control with a business-friendly environment. But the majority is first and foremost a conservative political force, and on key issues, its ideology is not always aligned with commercial interests that helped finance election victories. 

“Free market is not always the same as pro-business,” said Barney Keller, spokesman for the conservative political action committee Club for Growth. 

To quote Pete Seeger: "When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?"

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Real Blame in Florida Teen Shooting

As much as I understand the greif for the young man who was killed by a loose-cannon vigilante in Florida recently, I think the protesting is aimed at the wrong target. The shooter is easy. We can frame him up as a gun-totin' racist redneck looking for a black kid to kill and finding one.

What we're not sufficiently enraged about, however, is the Republican law that allowed--even encouraged--this to happen. It's the testosterone-soaked Stand Your Ground law formulated by men whose manhood is such a question to them that they have to continually expand gun laws. We have reached the point now in Florida and other states with similar laws and easy availability of guns that the only people with a defense is the criminal who's shooting.

How did we get here? We let the NRA buy legislators who gave that ignoble organization (headed by Roanoker Wayne LaPierre to our city's everlasting shame) everything it wanted without question. At least the Repubs and the conservative chicken-shit Democrats did.

These legislators are as responsible for the teenager's death as the shooter is. They killed him; they've killed a lot of others and they will kill more. And we'll stand and watch, some of us applauding.


(Graphic: tucsoncitizen.com)

Smith Mountain Lake Movie Broadcast Time Moved

The world premier of Sarah Elizabeth Timmins' movie "Lake Effects," which was filmed at Smith Mountain Lake last year, has been moved to Sunday, May 6 at 8 p.m. on the Hallmark Movie Channel. The movie stars Jane Seymour.

Michelle Obama Tech Commencement Speaker

Here's a nice little surprise from Virginia Tech from those of us who think Michelle Obama ranks among the best First Ladies. Here's the release from Tech:

The First Lady, Michelle Obama, will address Virginia Tech graduates at the 2012 University Commencement ceremony to be held on Friday, May 11 at Lane Stadium/Worsham Field.
 
“We are delighted that the nation’s First Lady, Michelle Obama, will join us to celebrate commencement with Virginia Tech’s 2012 graduates," said Virginia Tech President, Charles Steger. "This is an exceptional and noteworthy honor that certainly ranks as the highlight of anyone’s college career.”

Mrs. Obama joins U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-VA, as commencement speaker.

"This is the first time a First Lady has addressed a Virginia Tech commencement," added Steger, "so this is a unique opportunity to welcome two dynamic leaders who are outstanding role models for today’s young men and women."

Mrs. Obama begins a series of commencement addresses at Virginia Tech, a location where she was inspired by the resilience of the student body and community coming together to support each other during difficult times. She later travels to North Carolina A&T University and to Oregon State University.

Another Fine Example of Republican Government in Action

In Florida where Republican legislators have made it legal for outlaws to shoot dead a person for wearing a hoodie in public, the Repubs are making it even harder than it already was to vote.

New laws, described as "onerous," are forcing some of the most trusted names in voting to suspend efforts to register newbies because of the potential that the organizations will be fined if they don't dot every "I" and cross each "T" in the specific manner mandated by people who don't want more voters--who tend to be Democrats.

The report in the NYTimes today is here.


(Graphic: democurmudgeon.blogspot.com)

Monday, March 26, 2012

My Pal Janis' Statement for Women

This is my newest T-shirt, sent down from Charlottesville by my good buddy Janis Jaquith.

Janis, who is one of the most entertaining writers I know (columnist for C'ville and NPR) designed this based on a photo of her grandmother, who looks remarkably like Janis--two very, very pretty women.

Janis wanted to honor a woman who stood up for her gender at a time when it was being assaulted by our leaders, thinking it would be appropriate at a time of a Republican War on Women, the one we're experiencing now.

I like the shirt (and the bumper sticker) and will wear both proudly.

Janis is raising money for President Obama's campaign, for Tim Kaine's campaign for Virginia governor and "for anyone who runs agains Rep. Robert Hurt in the 5th District." (Hurt is the empty suit who defeated Tom Perriello, one of the most promising legislators in the country in years. You can buy these T-shirts, bumper stickers and other stuff here.

Quote of the Day: 'World Just Got a Little Less Civilized'

"I think I've figured out my wistful sadness over Bob Fishburn['s death]. It's kinda like when George Plimpton died, only more personal. In essence, the world just got a little less civilized."

--Christina Koomen, Roanoke (pictured)

Income Disparity: How Rich is Rich These Days?

Not Rush Limbaugh, but he plays him on TV
From the New York Times today comes lovely news for those of you who earn $1,019,089 a year. The news is not so rosy for those of us who don't. Here's some of what The Times story says:

In 2010, as the nation continued to recover from the recession, a dizzying 93 percent of the additional income created in the country that year, compared to 2009 — $288 billion — went to the top 1 percent of taxpayers, those with at least $352,000 in income. That delivered an average single-year pay increase of 11.6 percent to each of these households.

Still more astonishing was the extent to which the super rich got rich faster than the merely rich. In 2010,37 percent of these additional earnings went to just the top 0.01 percent, a teaspoon-size collection of about 15,000 households with average incomes of $23.8 million. These fortunate few saw their incomes rise by 21.5 percent.

The bottom 99 percent received a microscopic $80 increase in pay per person in 2010, after adjusting for inflation. The top 1 percent, whose average income is $1,019,089, had an 11.6 percent increase in income. 

(Graphic: maggiesnotebook.com)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Quote of the Day: Frank Rich Looks at the War on Women

"It’s not news that the GOP is the anti-abortion party, that it panders to the religious right, and that it’s particularly dependent on white men with less education and less income—a displaced demographic that has been as threatened by the rise of the empowered modern woman as it has been by the cosmopolitan multiracial male elites symbolized by Barack Obama. That aggrieved class is, indeed, Santorum’s constituency. But, as Stephanopoulos was trying to get at when he challenged Romney, this new rush of anti-woman activity on the right isn’t coming exclusively from the Santorum crowd. It’s a phenomenon extending across the GOP. On March 1, every Republican in the Senate except the about-to-flee Olympia Snowe—that would be 45 in total—voted for the so-called Blunt Amendment, which would allow any employer with any undefined 'moral' objection to veto any provision in health-care coverage, from birth control to mammograms to diabetes screening for women (or, for that matter, men) judged immorally overweight."

--Frank Rich in a NYTimes piece today that is, by far, the best narrative--albeit it long--I've seen about the Republicult's War on Women. This is chapter and verse and a lot of background and detail you'll need. If you're not convinced these people want to totally disenfranchise women, read on.

CBS Report: VCU, GMU to the Atlantic 10

Here's an interesting report from College Football Insider telling us that the Atlantic 10, which just lost three teams, will replace them with three top-level names among mid-majors--two of them in Virginia. Here's the report: 

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), George Mason and Butler have had discussions with the Atlantic 10 and indicated to the league they have potential interest in joining for the 2013-14 school year, sources told CBSSports.com.

VCU and George Mason are currently in the Colonial Athletic Association and Butler is in the Horizon League. All three schools would need approval from their respective school boards to make the move.

Sources told CBSSports.com that VCU's Board of Visitors already has had at least two meetings about making the move, while Butler has negotiated with representatives of the Atlantic 10 for the league to assist financially for the Bulldogs to change leagues.

The three schools would help replace schools that are leaving the A-10. Temple is headed to the Big East and sources told CBSSports.com that Charlotte has received an “informal invitation” to the Sun Belt. The 49ers are starting up a football program in 2013 at the FCS level, but couldn't make a move to the FBS until 2015.

Creighton, of the Missouri Valley Conference, also has been mentioned as a possibility for the Atlantic 10.

(Photo: www2.timesdispatch.com)

A Road Through the Heart of a Great Sledding Hill

On the way from a movie at the Grandin Theatre tonight, I noted that a road has been cut through the lower half of the great snow sledding hill on Memorial Avenue at Richardson-Wayland Electrical. Avid biker Chris Berry, who knows these things, tells me it is an extension of the Roanoke Valley Greenway which comes across the Roanoke River to this spot from Vic Thomas Park. How ironic: erase one special form of recreation in favor of another.

I really hate to see this little sledding hill eliminated. I'll bet that hill has been used by kids and their sleds for as long as there has been a Roanoke.

Photo(s) of the Day, Too: Mads and Oz at the Pah-tay


Here are a couple of photos from Madeline's birthday party party yesterday that I like a lot. (And yes, it was the "party party" because her birthday was last week and she thinks the St. Patrick's Day Parade is for her, so the party comes later.) On the right is a shot I really like: Oz gnawing on something.

Photo of the Day: Strong Enough to Move


This is the bleeding heart (my own personal liberal plant) I brought with me from Raleigh Court when I moved to the Northwest sector of Roanoke. BHs are, in my experience, pretty hard to move, and this one was old and big, so I had a lot of trepidation about moving it. But here it is, springing all over March. Pretty flower and I am confident it has found a home here. With me.

Bob Fishburn: His Life Mattered

Bob (seated), Sibyl (right)
There never were enough Bob Fishburns around and now there is one fewer. We're all poorer for the passing of the 77-year-old former editor, wonderful writer and generous supporter of his and his family's community.

Bob was one of those FFVs you hear about so often in these parts (that's First Families of Virginia for those of you not from around here), but he wasn't like so many of them. You'd never have imagined he was worth a fortune, but you would easily imagine that he'd give it away if he had it. And he did.

Bob and I worked as part of the local newspaper's reporting contingent in the 1970s and he was always one of my favorites. I thought it odd that a man with so much money would be an editorial writer for a small daily newspaper, but it was a passion of his. His was a newspaper family, owning the local daily for many years before it was bought in 1969 by the corporate interests of Landmark, which is based in Norfolk.

The newspaper was a local paper in every respect when the Fishburns owned it and the employees were treated like valuable human beings. (I noted that his obit in the local daily was written by somebody I've never heard of, demonstrating again how thin the ranks of veterans is.) I always appreciated the way the Fishburns, in general and Bob in particular, treated people. He was a third generation of the family that owned the paper (grandfather J.B. and his dad, J.P. both serving as publishers).

Bob was never a man of grand gestures that brought attention to himself. He was a subtle man, a humorous man, whose self esteem was solid enough that getting credit for his good works was not a priority. When I went looking for a photo to go with this posting, I could only find the one you see. It is North Cross School's photo and was taken when he was honored there for some grand deed. No other photos, though. Sad because he was a tall, handsome, genteel man and you need to see that.

His and Sibyl's special interest was the theater, but the entire arts and cultural community in Roanoke benefited from their generosity and their broad knowledge. Bob earned his degree from W&L and served a stint in the Navy before getting a little more education at Columbia and becoming a reporter. He worked a bunch of editing jobs and joined the editorial staff of the local daily in 1967.

He was a marvelous writer at a time when writing was a significant strength of the paper, and I don't know that he ever aspired to anything more than that in the business. He was one of those rare birds who finds a comfortable limb and stays put.

His community work included helping to found Mill Mountain Theatre and he was on the board of the Roanoke Symphony and the Roanoke Fine Arts Center. He helped open Center in the Square in 1984 (taking a leave of absence from the paper to work on it).

His generation of newspaper reporters included people like George Kegley and Bob McLellland who proved that good journalists didn't have to divorce themselves from the community. I can't imagine anybody ever accusing any of the three of being biased because of those interests. (Kegley is the only one who remains alive and he is still deeply involved.)

Bob worked in education, the Red Cross and the Science Museum, as well.

Bob Fishburn's life mattered. I can't think of anything better to say about a human being.

The Argument Against Goodlatte's Balanced Budget Amendment

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the man who represents us in Congress and who is full of ideas that the far right loves, is again pushing his Balanced Budget Amendment. This comes on the heels of his absurd pronouncements that the Obama Administration's health care bill would cause us massive levels of debt (when actually it will reduce same).

I'm not a good man with numbers (ask my business partner), but Rich Lowry is. He wrote this piece for the conservative Bible, The National Review and here's some of what he says about the amendment:

The balanced-budget amendment came to prominence in the Contract With America (Note: That should read "Contract ON America") back in the 1990s. It fell a vote short in the Senate and was soon forgotten — and deserved to be. A simple balanced-budget amendment threatens Republican fiscal priorities; it would create even more pressure to raise taxes. A straightforward amendment recognizes no difference between balance at 24 percent of GDP and at 15 percent of GDP.

Realizing this, House Republicans have crafted a version that essentially mandates their favored fiscal policies. It requires that spending not exceed 18 percent of GDP and stipulates that only a two-thirds majority can raise taxes. Only modesty, presumably, prevented the amendment’s authors from spelling out budgetary levels for the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Constitution is meant to set out the basic rules of the road for American governance. It’s not an appropriate vehicle for enshrining transitory or controversial policy preferences. ... That the amendment would precipitate legal action is acknowledged in the amendment’s own language: “No court of the United States or of any State shall order any increase in revenue to enforce this article.” Judicial interventions in budgetary matters are, by implication, acceptable so long as they bring spending cuts.

... [The amendment] allows for a waiver in fiscal years in which a declaration of war against a nation-state is in effect. ... We haven’t declared war on anyone since World War II. The amendment’s exception wouldn’t have accounted for the Cold War or the War on Terror, neither of which entailed declarations of war on nation-states.

... The impulse behind the amendment is certainly laudable — to attack the debt problem at its root. But a strictly balanced budget is not important enough to be written into the Constitution. The difference between balance and a small deficit is meaningless in the long run ... We ran budget deficits from 1970 to 1997, and the republic survived. ... The current threat to the country is historic deficits driven by historic levels of spending. Favoring the balanced-budget amendment does nothing to address those problems in the here and now.


We must remember where these deficits came from: George Bush left them for us when he tried to conduct two wars, cut taxes and spend like the conservatives accuse the liberals of wanting to spend. Bush's dad also left historic levels of debt and Reagan ran them up to unhealthy levels, as well. And don't forget: Bill Clinton left not only peace, but also a surplus in the treasury. Without a balanced budget amendment.


(Graphic: salon.com)

Speaking of Rush Limbaugh: "I'm a Slut," How 'Bout You?

This is funny. My pal Gloria Elliott sent it to me. It's titled "I'm a Slut" and is performed by the delightful Reformed Whores.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Quote of the Day: A Sane Republican!

Richard Hanna: Give money to Democrats.
"I think these are very precarious times for women, it seems. So many of your rights are under assault. I'll tell you this: Contribute your money to people who speak out on your behalf, because the other side -- my side -- has a lot of it. And you need to send your own message. You need to remind people that you vote, you matter, and that they can't succeed without your help."

--Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) at an Equal Rights Amendment Thursday

Photo(s) of the Day: OK, Kids, Say, 'Cheese!'

Picture 1: They're normal, looking for a way to express themselves.
Photo 2: They're starting to loosen up.
Photo 3: They have permission to be themselves.
Photo 4: OK, kids, project!
Photo 5: Let's see who the actors are.
I went by Madeline's post-birthday-birthday-party today to take a couple of photos and came up with this series that I just love. Line up a bunch of seven-year-olds and ask them to pose and generally they do what they think you want. Today we had them do that, then asked them what they wanted to do and here's what they came up with. It's a hoot.

Name That Cat: We Have a Winner!

We had a brisk discussion of what my new cat's name should be and came out with a winner in what can best be described as a "dogfight." Or something close. Here are the entries:

  • Katie Jones (a dog trainer in the military): SkippyJon, WillieJack, FriskyPants
  • Roni Sutton: Mr. Mistoffelees
  • Cheryl Crowell: Moonshine
  • Anne Piedmont and Jill Elswick: Beethoven (Jill was first)
  • Jill Elswick : Radical
  • Bobbi Hoffman: Simon
  • Michelle Bennett: Shine or Egg
  • Dean Browell: Blank? (The question mark is Dean's, not mine)
  • Janeson Keeley: Curtis Pride, pro baseball and Kenny Walker, pro football; Eb (the lead character in my novel CLOG!) Let me note here that in 1905, the New York Giants won a world championship in baseball with a star pitcher named Dummy Taylor who was a deaf mute. "Dummy" was a common nickname for deaf mutes in those unenlightened days. A wonderful novel, Havanna Heat by Darrell Brock, weaves a marvelous story around Taylor and a young Cuban pitcher who is deaf.
  • Jody Warnke: Habibi (حَبيبي) is an Arabic  word whose literal meaning is "my beloved" (for a male object of affection; the feminine form is "habibti" or "habibati") and that originates from the adjective "habib" ("beloved"). In addition to its literal meaning, the term can denote any of several less formal relationships and can serve as a term of endearment at the corresponding level (e.g., "friend" or "darling"). (Note: Problem here is that I ain't callin' my cat "darling.")
  • Laura Purcel: Poe
  • Becky Mushko: Eddie Tor (doncha love puns?). From Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," there's Tybalt, which meant "king of cats." Tybalt, from a Latin-American origin, also means "he who sees." Since the kitty doesn't hear, he's going to have to rely on sight a lot more, so the name Tybalt would be appropriate. Some names that imply "white" are Gannon (fair-skinned), Wycliff (white rocks), Dwight (white, fair), Gavin (white hawk), Elgin (noble, white) and Finnian (fair). I'm partial to Finnian.

    And the winner of lunch at Noah's Cafe at the Taubman Museum in downtown Roanoke is:

    Bonnie Bradshaw: Pooka, a fairy spirit in animal form from Celtic mythology, a wise but mischievous creature. (He was James Stewart’s invisible, 6-foot-tall, rabbit friend in “Harvey," a movie and play I've adored for decades.)


Find of the Month: Brand New Sheets, 46 Years Old

My new buddy (who's awaiting a name) with the new Belk's sheets.
Here's the price tag.
Sometimes it's too good to keep to yourself. On one of my periodic excursions to Goodwill recently, I came up with the above (and, no, not the dang cat). These are State Pride sheets from Belk's, priced at $2.49 for the double bed size. They're still sealed in their package. I found two full sets.

An Internet search revealed that these brand new sheets were made in 1966. They are 46-year-old virgins. I tore open (gently) the package this morning and put the sheets on my bed. They have the new smell and a feel I hadn't felt in many years. They don't make 'em like they used to.

Can't wait to snug into them tonight.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A New Contest: Name That Cat and Win Lunch

Name that cat. And, no, I'm not choking him; just posing him.
Today I picked up a new friend at Roanoke Animal Rescue and I don't have a name for him yet. That's where you come in.

I need some help naming the little guy. Here are the specifics:

The cat is a short-haired white male, with green eyes, about nine months old, affectionate, active and stone deaf. He walked into my house for the first time and simply owned it. He's not an arrogant little guy, but he is curious and seems to like to have fun.

So, submit your suggested name to editrdan@msn.com and the winner will win lunch with me at Noah's at the Taubman Museum. If you don't want to eat with me, I'll give you a gift certificate and you can take whom you choose.

Right now, the cat doesn't have a name, but it doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of difference, since he can't hear it anyway. The name's for me, not him.

Quote of the Day: Funny, but "Deeply Scary"

Krugman accepting Nobel
Nobody writes better about just how crazy our friends on the Republican fringe are than Paul Krugman, a 2008 Nobel laureate in economics. The Nobel alone is enough to drive Repubs nuts, but there's more.

Krugman's commentary is liberal, full of reasoned fired and is, without exception, fearless. The right hates him, I suspect because it's almost impossible to argue his conclusions, armed as they are with enough facts to drown opposition in a sea of research and reason.

Today, he's explaining the wild-eyed--and totally incorrect--assertions that President Obama has made sure gas prices are going to climb out of the building, that his health care bill just doubled in price and that he wants all this to happen. It's a plot to alter conservative lifestyles. If that were the case, I'd be president, but Obama is nothing if not practical, pragmatic and logical in his approach. He knows gas prices are volatile and that they make spoiled-rotten Americans angry.

Here's a quote from the column: 

" ...  it’s a lie wrapped in an absurdity, because the president of the United States doesn’t control gasoline prices, or even have much influence over those prices. Oil prices are set in a world market, and America, which accounts for only about a tenth of world production, can’t move those prices much. Indeed, the recent rise in gas prices has taken place despite rising U.S. oil production and falling imports. O.K., this is all kind of funny. But it’s also deeply scary.

" ... O.K., this is all kind of funny. But it’s also deeply scary." 

(Note: The Republican fight with the Nobel is legendary. Consider that the winners include Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Barack Obama and others they hate and that Peter Diamond, who was nominated to the Federal Reserve board was blocked by Alabama's Richard Shelby ... shortly before winning the prize in 2010. Republican winners? Teddy Roosevelt won, but he was a Republican in name only and was kicked out of the party. Henry Kissinger won, but I don't think he ever had a party declaration. 'Course, the right says the Nobel is yet another plot by the left ...) 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Republican Theocracy Attacks Science in Tennessee

It's not even slowing down. The Republicans in Tennessee are now in the process of exchanging the teaching of science in the classroom for instruction in religion. It will be the law. Here's part of the story (the rest is here on Addicting Info):

On Monday, the Republican dominated Tennessee Senate passed an anti-evolution bill by a vote of 24-8. The bill, known as HB 368, is sponsored by Republican Senator Bo Watson and “provides guidelines for teachers answering students’ questions about evolution, global warming and other scientific subjects,” according to Knox News,  "The measure also guarantees that teachers will not be subject to discipline for engaging students in discussion of questions they raise, though Watson said the idea is to provide guidelines so that teachers will bring the discussion back to the subjects authorized for teaching in the curriculum approved by the state Board of Education.” 

The bill basically encourages teachers to present scientific weaknesses of “controversial” topics. In the case of evolution and climate change, both have been scientifically proven and the only weaknesses that have been presented by the right-wing are based on unscientific biblical verses. In other words, Republicans want teachers to use religion to destroy accepted science.

BRL's Scrabble Tournament Draws Record Crowd

Shannon and Dan Radmacher talk over a word at the Scrabble tournament.
A full house of 130 players got a good dinner and a good game.
Getting ready to start the competition.
Lucy Lee of Roanoke's Big Read looks for a word.
That's Christina Koomen in the middle with teammates Jeanne Bollendorf (right, in blue) and Carolyn Payne.
The Housewives of Chapparal Drive had the lowest score and quirkiest name.
Working on words.
These old friends showed up dressed in red and black.
They're having fun. Look at the faces.
Judge George Kegley walked around with his rule book, telling players, "That's not a word!"
Blue Ridge Literacy's annual Scrabble tournament did itself proud today, drawing 12 teams at lunch and filling the Jefferson Center's Fitzpatrick Center with 130 players at the dinner hour. It was the largest turnout yet for the tournament, one of the the organization's primary fund-raisers each year.

Republican Government in Virginia Takes a Poll Hit

Women protesting Republican actions arrested in Richmond demonstration.
In what could hardly be termed a "surprise," approval ratings for Virginia's Virginia Assembly, dominated by Republicans, and its Republican governor are heading south following a contentious session dominated by social legislation and what has been termed "a war on women."

A Quinnipiac University poll, released yesterday showed that the legislature's numbers fell to 38 percent approval and 47 percent disapproval. Gov. Bob McDonnell, meanwhile,fell to a "53 percent approval rating, with 32 percent disapproval, is the lowest since Quinnipiac began polling in the state ..." according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The approval of McDonnell by women fell from 54 to 48 percent and disapproval rose from 25 percent to 34 percent. Men liked him a little better, but not much and that approval was down four points.

According to a story in the Times-Dispatch Steve Farhsworth, a political science professor at Mary Washington University, said, "When your state government is being ridiculed nightly by the late-night comedians, that's not going to help your approval numbers. It does not help Virginia's approach to getting new business to be a national laughingstock."

The T-D quoted Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Brian Moran as saying, "This experiment in united Republican government has been an abject failure and today's poll indicates that Virginians are starting to realize it." Even Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins said the poll shows voters have tired of what he called "the tantrum."

The poll surveyed 1,034 registered voters from March 13 to March 18 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

(Photo: c'ville)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

River Laker Fights Back: Files Grievance, Goes to Court

River Laker (right) and his mouthpiece, Melvin Williams
River Laker, the sometimes controversial, always-entertaining Roanoke City library employee who got in trouble about a year ago for dropping trou at a fund-raising event, is fighting the city over a grievance he filed recently.

River, whose British sense of humor is sometimes at odds with conservative Roanoke, was rebuked for taking off his clothes at a singles fundraiser. Riv says he was protesting the meat market approach. I never heard that before today, but I'll take River's word for it until something else comes along.
Anyhow, he has hired a lawyer named Melvin Williams and Williams has hit the PR circuit, providing the narrative below and the photo with this post. Here's what Mel has to say (I'm waiting to hear from the city, which I suspect will not comment): 

River Laker has requested that the Circuit Court for the City of Roanoke determine the grievability of his grievance concerning retaliation by the City against him in his employment as a result of his exercise of free speech at the Valentini Bachelor and Bachelorette event sponsored by The Square Society at 202 Market on February 4, 2011.

As you know, Mr. Laker was a participant in the event by invitation from The Square Society.Mr. Laker used the opportunity to protest against the event: while being auctioned he disrobed but for a strategically-placed bicycle helmet. (Contrary to media characterizations, the act was not a “striptease”.)

Mr. Laker objected to the event because it demeans people and places a value on how provocatively the participant performs at the auction.The event has now been dropped from The Square Society’s annual fundraising events.

Mr. Laker is an employee of the Roanoke Public Libraries. Despite the City publicly stating that Mr. Laker’s protest was on his personal time and was not something that it could comment on, since the event the City has targeted and severely restricted him in his employment in retaliation for what he did on his own time on private property. This treatment culminated in January 2012 when the Director of Libraries issued a Written Reprimand to Mr. Laker accusing him of insubordination.

Mr. Laker had never before received any type of disciplinary action in his employment with the Roanoke Public Libraries.He vehemently denied the allegation in the Written Reprimand and filed a grievance.Instead of addressing the merits of Mr. Laker’s grievance though, the City only broadened the allegations of misconduct from that set forth in the initial Written Reprimand.

The Written Reprimand is merely the next step in a pattern of retaliatory conduct visited upon Mr. Laker by the City because of his 202 Market protest. Therefore, his grievance seeks to address all of the various ways that he has been targeted.The City has refused to address all retaliatory conduct except the Written Reprimand, which ignores the ongoing pattern of conduct and focuses only on the incidents individually. Consequently, Mr. Laker has appealed to the Circuit Court for a determination of whether he can grieve the entire course of conduct.

A hearing has yet to be scheduled on the matter, but we anticipate that the hearing should occur within the next few weeks.

Stay tuned for the entertainment value, if nothing else.

Photo(s) of the Day: Backyard Fashion Show

Sometimes the back yard is trip enough to discover the season's latest and brightest outfits. This morning, my cherry tree wore what you see--in the mist. Pretty stuff.

Steve Brown Named Music Director at Roanoke Public Radio

Steve Brown, new music director at WVTF
WVTF Public Radio in Roanoke  has named Steve Brown as its new music director. Since October 2011, Brown has been host of the weekday "Morning" and "Afternoon Classics" from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., “a lengthy announcing schedule by any broadcasting standards,” says WVTF Program Director Rick Mattioni.

In his role, Brown now programs all the classical music for the weekdays and Saturday afternoons. In addition, Brown updates the playlists that appear on the WVTF website and maintains the music library. He posts to the station’s Facebook page and takes calls from listeners. He is also the producer and host of the live broadcasts of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra (RSO) and “Inside the Music” podcasts. He will also continue to serve as the director of public service announcements.

Before joining WVTF ub 2991, Brown worked in the Office of Sponsored Programs at Virginia Tech. Brown served 21 years in the U.S. Navy. During his time in the service he worked in broadcasting and served as a choir director. He also did a stint at WUWF Public Radio in Pensacola, Fla.

Brown is active in local theater and serves as associate conductor and unofficial composer in residence for the Blacksburg Community Band. His original body of work in music and theatrer includes five musicals, three plays, and hundreds of compositions that have been performed by orchestras and bands both locally around the world. He lives in Christiansburg with his wife, Maureen, and children.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Quote of the Day: Just Worn Out

"Sometimes I get as tired of writing about stupid zealots as you tire of reading about them. So I'm taking today off, even if Rush Limbaugh says something thoroughly outrageous or another Republican nutjob introduces another absurd bill. I'm tired."

--Dan Smith, blogmeister

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Brief Review of the Republican War on Women

Republican view of American womanhood of the future
Soraya Chemlay, writing here in the HuffingtonPost, takes a breath and pauses briefly to review the fast-occurring events of recent days wherein Republicans are attempting to re-define the rights of women in the United States by taking them away.

Almost everything being talked about in these 10 points is happening in states where Republicans have a majority in one or both general assembly houses or in the U.S. House of Representatives where Republicans rule. In Virginia, the house is Republican and the Senate is split, but Republicans don't share power there and, because the Lt. Governor is a Republican, they have tie-breaking power, so they rule (on everything but the budget).

What we are seeing with these extreme bills is the true color of the Republican Party. These are the social contracts the far right wingers have made with each other, promising that some day ... Today is some day. More moderate voices have begged these people to slow down and to avoid overreaching, but they don't know what moderation means and soon, Virginia women could well be draped in burqas.

Here's a summerized breakdown on the Republican attempts to strip women of rights (all from Ms. Chemlay's column):
  1. A bill would require women to carry still-born fetuses to full term "because cows and pigs do." The Georgia House has passed this and the Senate is looked at as a 50-50 possibility.
  2. A number of bills would sentence women to death to save a fetus.
  3. In Mississippi, there is an effort to criminalize pregnancy and miscarriages. Women would be arrested and imprisoned, charged with murder for miscarriages.
  4. In several states, notably Pennsylvania (Virginia backed down after introducing a similar bill, mostly because of the governor's political ambitions) women would be forced to undergo involuntary vaginal penetration with an ultrasound probe.
  5. Women could be disabled or killed by either withholding medical treatment or forcing them to undergo involuntary medical procedures.
  6. In Virginia and other places, there have been efforts to give zygotes "personhood" rights. The zygote would, in effect, have more rights than the woman.
  7. Bills have been introduced inhibiting, humiliating and punishing women for their choices to have an abortion for any reason by levying taxes specifically on abortion (including abortion in case of rape and threat to the mother's life). In Arizona, Kansas, Texas, Virginia, Colorado and Arkansas are among those states.
  8. An Arizona bill would allow employers to delve women's private lives and only pay for insurance when they agree, for religious reasons, with how she choses to use birth control.
  9. There is an effort to refuse funds that would help make low-income money healthier (Texas just turned down $35 million that would help 300,000 poor women with preventive care).
  10. Some of the bills would deprive women of their ability to earn a living and support themselves and their families.
If you think this is not serious or doesn't concern or is being exaggerated, you're not looking closely. These zombies are coming for you and they are on the run.