It is Randy Forbes, Not Ella Ward, who Refuses to Debate

Since we’re all talking about debates now, I should mention that the Virginian Pilot ran an article which correctly reported that Ella Ward didn’t want to debate Randy Forbes in July because she didn’t have a campaign manager at the time. What the article failed to report is that the Daily Press set up a debate for October, and Randy Forbes declined to participate.

From Rebecca Troyer, Daily Press, to Melinda Gainer, Ella Ward’s Campaign Manager:

Rep. Forbes has declined to debate, so we will NOT be conducting a 4th District debate on Oct. 8

Mr. Forbes’s feelings might have been hurt by the failure of a campaign manager that Ella Ward didn’t have to respond to his overtures to debate on his timeline. But instead of punishing Dr. Ward for what he took as a snub, he has decided to punish the citizens of the fourth district by denying them a chance to hear two appropriately prepared candidates in a fair debate initiated by a third party.

Randy Forbes also refused to debate his previous opponent, Dr. Wynne Legrow, in 2010.

The Pilot’s failure to mention Randy Forbes’s refusal to debate in October is very misleading after reporting that Ella Ward’s declined to debate in the early days of her campaign. The people of the fourth district should know that it is Mr. Forbes, not Ella Ward, who refuses to face his opponent on even terms in front of his constituency.

Ella Ward for Congress

Voters in the 4th U.S. Congressional district can choose to vote in the Republican or Democratic primary tomorrow for their House representative. Those who vote in the Democratic primary will have a choice between Ella Ward and Joe Elliot. Republicans will have Randy Forbes and Bonnie Girard.

Democrats should vote for Ella Ward. I’ve met Joe Elliot, and he seems like a decent person, but his pathetic campaign has been little more than a distraction. He’s done a disservice to his supporters and to 4th District Democrats by continuing his unenthusiastic campaign when he could have been supporting the Democrat who will prove to be the better challenger to Randy Forbes.

Ella Ward is a highly qualified candidate. She has multiple degrees, including a Doctoral Degree in educational administration and supervision from Virginia Tech, and a history of service to her community as a teacher, school administrator, and councilwoman.

Knocking Randy Forbes out of his long-held position as the 4th Congressional district’s representative is a tough challenge. He uses religious rhetoric to deeply divide his constituency and publicly panders to the majority. It’s a winning formula which took him to an easy win over his previous challenger, Dr. Wynne Legrow, despite Dr. Legrow’s education, entrepreneurial success, and military service.

This year, the best chance of defeating Randy Forbes lies with an energetic and highly qualified public servant, Dr. Ella Ward. I encourage 4th District Democrats to get themselves to the polls tomorrow, June 12, and show our support for Ella Ward for U.S. Congress, 4th District.

Portrait of Ella Ward
Ella Ward for U.S. Congress

So-Called Christians are Making me Mad

I was subjected to ‘The 700 Club’ because someone had it on at the rec center, and I saw a segment about church goers who might otherwise support the president but are now having reservations because of the gay marriage thing. You folks make me sick.

You want a be good Christian? Vote for the guy who wants to help the jobless make it through hard times. Vote for the party that didn’t present false information in order to justify a war. Vote for the guy who is concerned about the land, the water, the air, and the creatures over which God gave us dominion. Vote for the party that didn’t put the Catholic Worker on a terrorist watchlist because they’re against violence. Vote for the guy who didn’t earn millions putting others out of work, and didn’t hide his money in a foreign bank to avoid rendering taxes to his own nation. Vote for the guy who actually is ‘Concerned About The Very Poor’. Don’t vote against most of your believes just to support a man who is more interested in proving how Christian he is rather than doing the good deeds that Jesus asked us to do.

Of all of the Christian rules to put above the others, this is one of the stupidest. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. And based on what he said about marriage, if we don’t allow gay marriage then we should outlaw adults living with their parents, and outlaw men remaining single. Homosexuality is only forbidden in the Old Testament, not the New, But enforcing Old Testament rules would mean no bacon, no lobster, no work on Saturday, and bringing two doves to temple every month to atone for menstruation.

Does God want us to enforce a two thousand year old set of rules or does God want us to understand the morality and responsibility that he was trying to teach us with those rules? When I was raising my children, I had rules about what we watched on TV, when we ate dinner, who was allowed in the house. I also taught my children to be compassionate and responsible. It was not specific rules that I was trying to teach them. I would be disappointed if my children adhered strictly to old rules; I want them to make their own rules, as long as they do so with compassion and responsibility in mind. Here’s another analogy; imagine a mother leaves with strict instructions not to get water on the new carpet. But then a fire breaks out, and the baby sitter grabs a bucket of water to douse it while the children yell, “No, Mom said ‘No Water’!” God hasn’t sent us a babysitter in a long long time. The circumstances have changed. Perhaps God expects us, by ourselves, to start acting like adults.

To push my idea further, Jesus came and said that the old laws are still in effect, but then he went and changed them, which is why Christians can eat pork and lobster. I’m not Christian, but I believe in the wisdom that Jesus taught. What is meant by not changing the laws while changing them? I say it’s that some laws must be changed for others to remain. God gave Man dominion over the earth and also told us to be fruitful and multiply. But today overpopulation, consumption of resources and pollution are our biggest threats. Perhaps in order to maintain God’s commandment of dominion we must change the rule about men taking wives and producing lots of children.

Whether you agree with my conclusions or not, you cannot legislate all of your beliefs. And you shouldn’t fool yourself into thinking that either Obama or Romney will let you do so. Pat Robinson said, “you don’t have Jesus running against someone else. You have Obama running against Romney.” In his perverse way, he’s spot on. We have a choice between two men, each of whom will satisfy some of your Christian desires. One will shout to the world what a Christian nation we are with high-profile displays of Christian rule enforcement. The other will help feed the hungry, care for the sick, and try to ensure we don’t destroy the planet over which we have dominion.

I know my choice, but I’m not Christian. You have to make yours. Make the right choice.

Southern Democrats Should Support Marriage Equality, As Should We All.

Here in Southern Virginia, I’m baffled and depressed by the number of Democrats who wax conservative when discussing homosexuality, and cite Jesus as the reason for doing so. But there are plenty of Christian laws that we don’t enforce in this country. In the Bible, Jesus said, “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife”. But there is no law against being single, and no law against living with your parents, so why should there be a law against gay marriage?

Those who discriminate against homosexuals do so not because they love God but because discriminating makes them feel superior. The rules that we naturally love are the ones that we can easily follow while others struggle to do so. Those of us who are straight men are not straight because we’re law abiding or disciplined or moral. We’re straight because we like pussy. Does that make us more godly? Closer to Jesus? We share a quality that we share with most roosters, billy goats, and male dogs. I can think of no quality that I share with a billy goat that makes me feel morally superior to people who don’t share that quality. I might if I were a vegetarian.

Discriminating by sexual preference is as abhorrent as discriminating by race. Supporting laws against homosexuality doesn’t make you a good Christian, supporting religious doctrine doesn’t make you a good American, and liking pussy doesn’t make you a good man. All Americans, and especially Democrats, should support the president, support marriage equality, and stand against discrimination.

Still lying about voter fraud

John Fund, over at the National Review, wrote about voter fraud, and like so many conservatives, he just couldn’t resist another stab at the shriveled, murdered corpse of ACORN.

To review: The ACORN voter scandal was not a hoax played by ACORN but one played on ACORN by temporary workers who turned in fraudulent applications instead of doing what they were hired to do, which was to register real voters. More importantly, even if undiscovered, the fraudulent registrations would never have resulted in a fraudulent vote. That’s because Micky Mouse, Superman, and even more realistic made-up names cannot take physical form and show up at the polls. Still, Mr. Fund taps into the still believed lies about ACORN and refers to “an ACORN-style group registering thousands of illegal or nonexistent voters” as justification for tighter voter ID laws.

Moving on to the next lie, Fund tells us that James O’keefe’s latest in a series of misleading videos “demonstrated just last month how easy — and almost impossible to detect — voter impersonation can be”. In the video, a young, White, O’keefe operative presented himself as someone named “Eric Holder”, in the Attorney General’s polling station and without any challenge was offered Mr. Holder’s ballot. But true to form, O’keefe’s video doesn’t show what right wing alarmists say it shows. The operative left without taking the ballot. Had he taken it, the real Eric Holder would have had to use a special ballot, an investigation would have been triggered, the fraudulent vote discarded, and the operative would have faced serious election fraud charges. In order to pull off voter impersonation fraud, the impostor must use the name of someone who is registered to vote but will not show up, and has to risk five years of prison and a heavy fine just to cast one single vote.

Fund discusses statistics about people who are worried about voter fraud. But he doesn’t talk about how many of these worried people are worried about ID fraud rather than about rigged or faulty voter machines, lost ballots, doctored counts, and voter suppression. It was a miscount in Iowa, not voter ID fraud, which gave Romney early momentum during the Republican primaries to the relief of Republican strategists who feared Santorum might win the primaries but loose the general election. Lost ballots and insecure voting machines have been serious issues in recent elections, and are more legitimate concerns for voters worried about the integrity of the elections system than hundreds of impostors trying to sway an election one vote at a time.

Voter ID fraud may exist, but if so, it exists in tiny numbers because of the high penalty of getting caught and small payoff of success. Still, if there weren’t actual people, such as those with accessibility issues who live far from government offices, who will be turned away from the polls due to more stringent voter ID laws, then the laws would be fine. But such people do exist, and voter ID laws have a greater effect of blocking these legitimate voters than of preventing fraud. If we want elections that closely reflect the will of the people, we should not deny these votes in order to fight a problem that is already under control with existing laws.

I would take the concerns of those claiming to want truer elections more seriously if they were to concentrate more on proven elections issues, rather than focusing like lasers on a less worrisome potential problem and promoting a solution that will sway elections away from the interests of the poor and poorly connected.

Obama’s not allowed to talk about Bin Laden

Apparently, if the Obama campaign makes any effort to dispel the ridiculous opinion being spread by the right (though not by the Romney campaign) that Obama was nothing but a bystander in the decision to strike Bin Laden in his Abbottobad compound, that’s “Crowing”, or Doing a Sack Dance.

So apparently, Obama should sit quietly while pundits at CNN suggest that Obama was not in charge and idiots like Ben Shapiro accuse Obama of not even knowing what the mission to get Bin Laden was. Indeed, a dignified response to the accusations would be no response at all. I’m sure if he refused to respond to the lies, the right would show the same respect they did for all those months during which Obama refused to respond to the lies about his birth certificate.

Nor should Obama suggest that anyone else, especially Romney, would not have made the same decision. Romney said, ‘Any thinking American’ would have done the same. Except, Romney would have done things differently, as would many of Obama’s top advisors.

Romney’s level headed response,

“It’s totally appropriate for the president to express to the American people the view that he has that he had an important role in taking out Osama bin Laden,” Romney said after visiting the lower Manhattan fire station with Rudy Giuliani, who was mayor when terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center’s twin towers and killed nearly 3,000 people.

“I think politicizing it and trying to draw a distinction between himself and myself was an inappropriate use of the very important event that brought America together,” Romney said.

was, at least, not nasty and doesn’t suggest that Obama is taking credit for other people’s work. But considering the barrage of misinformation that Obama is fighting against during this campaign season, it’s appropriate for Obama to take credit for the decisions he has made as well as it is to distinguish himself from his opponent, who is now trying to distance himself from statements he made in the past.

So I don’t agree that Obama should keep quite about Bin Laden just to avoid politicizing his accomplishments when everything he does or doesn’t do is going to be politicized anyway.

Barack Obama is justified to take credit for his role in killing Osama Bin Laden and in pointing out that Romney was against the strategies that Obama used. The president is not suggesting that he was on the ground in Pakistan with a hunting knife or that Romney didn’t care about Bin Laden. He’s only trying to set the record straight, and is under no obligation to sit quietly while right wing pundits spread lies.

Precedent vs Ideology will be important in the Health Care Decision

From TPM:

Since [ the new deal era ], the high court has overwhelmingly supported congressional authority to make economic regulations — from the 1942 Wickard v. Filburn case, which upheld laws restricting wheat production for personal consumption, to the 2005 Gonzalez v. Raich ruling, which decreed (with the help of Scalia and Kennedy) that Congress may override state laws permitting medical marijuana patients to grow cannabis for personal use. The administration will argue that both laws reflected broad exercises of Congress’s power on the scale of mandating insurance coverage.


Despite the favorable precedents, progressives have a nagging fear that the five Republican-appointed justices will hand down a partisan decision on the scale of Bush v. Gore, to deliver a blow to President Obama. After that unprecedented 2000 ruling, some liberals take little comfort in scholars’ view that political pressure doesn’t usually carry the day in the chamber, that the high court’s longstanding tendency is to make gradual, not radical, shifts in jurisprudence on core Constitutional questions.

A Supreme Court decision in favor of the health care mandate would reflect a century of precedent. A decision against it would reflect the same philosophy that resulted in the 2000 decision to stop Florida from recounting its own votes, which is that federal power over states’ rights can only be used to enforce conservative ideology.

US Supreme Court

An Overt Display of Dishonesty

A while ago I expressed my concern about the cross-the-board spending cuts that are scheduled to kick in if a budget deal can’t be reached. As Republicans get ready to brazenly renege on a deal that they never really intended to keep, I find myself even more concerned.

But I was off on one point. I thought the most significant factors were that Democrats don’t feel strongly enough about cutting military spending and that Republicans are willing to sacrifice the military in order to cut vital services for the poor and middle class. As it turns out, the most significant factors are that Democrats don’t feel strongly enough about cutting military spending and Republicans don’t give a rat’s ass about keeping their promises.

I felt that Republicans would be more willing to let the cross-the-board cuts kick in than Democrats would because Democrats are more afraid of being branded as the party who weakened our national defenses than Republicans are afraid of being branded as the party who allowed people to die because they couldn’t afford shelter, food, or health care. What I didn’t realize is Republicans felt they could get whatever they want simply by lying.

Apparently the Republicans feel they can earn points by overtly behaving like charlatans, as long as the only people they’re lying to are Democrats. I hope they’re wrong. I hope that the Right wing base won’t actually cheer such a public act of chicanery because if it does, we will be at the brink of having a one-party government ruled by maniacs with the support of middle class citizens convinced that the reason they can’t get ahead is the poor have too much of their money. I don’t see such a future as being good for anyone but the ruling class.

Chess board and pieces

Lying about Employment with Charts and Numbers

In response to Mitt Romney’s boldface lie that Obama is a “job destroyer”, Greg Sargent has been calling on Romney to explain himself. The truth is, as soon as the stimulus took effect, the hemorrhaging of jobs that occurred as a result of deregulation and lack of oversight started to turn around, and jobs have been created; not destroyed. How can so many people be fooled when the numbers are readily available and how can pathological lier like Mitt Romney be hailed as the Republican candidate most likely to beat Obama?

Take a look at these two charts:

Series Id: LNS11300000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title: (Seas) Labor Force Participation Rate
Labor force status: Civilian labor force participation rate
Type of data: Percent or rate
Age: 16 years and over

Series Id: LNS12000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title: (Seas) Employment Level
Labor force status: Employed
Type of data: Number in thousands
Age: 16 years and over

Both are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. One was pointed to in a Hot Air article to suggest that Obama’s policies, specifically health care reform, destroyed jobs (The article is titled “ObamaCare, the Job Destroyer”). The other is similar to a chart in Paul Krugman’s blog demonstrating that Obama has created jobs.

How can two charts about employment data look so different? Because only the second chart, “Employment Level”, shows whether jobs have been created or destroyed after the President’s fiscal policies took effect.

The other chart represents a problem and is concerning, but it does not indicate what Hot Air wants you to believe and does not undermine the fact that after the stimulus passed, the job decline turned around and our economy created over two million new jobs.

What the first chart, titled “Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate”, shows is the percentage of U.S. population who are either employed or looking for work. Employed or looking for work means you’re part of the labor force. How does a person fail to be counted as employed and also fail to be counted as looking for work? Certainly, when someone gets fed up after weeks of not finding a job and becomes discouraged, that person drops out of the labor force. Like I said, it’s concerning. But also people who stay in school rather than finding a job, stay at home parents, and retirees are not in the labor force.

The baby boomers are retiring, and that’s having a real effect on labor force participation, as are discouraged workers.

To get a feel for the meaning of employment level vs labor participation, and whether a drop in labor force participation makes Obama a “job destroyer”, imagine a group of 10 people. 8 are working, and 2 are looking for jobs. One new job appears and one of the job-seekers snatches it up. The other gets discouraged and stops looking. Has employment improved or have jobs been destroyed?

When someone says that Obama is a Job Destroyer, they are mistaken or lying. And you cannot trust any news source or presidential candidate that promotes such a fallacy.

Update: I had the first chart labeled incorrectly, and incorrectly referred to the second chart in the text when I was talking about the first chart. I had mislabeled it “(Seas) Civilian Labor Force Level” instead of “Civilian labor force participation rate”