The Commonwealth Iconoclast

A site dedicated to covering issues relevant to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and nation at large, plus other interesting things too, as I see fit...

Monday, July 18, 2005

My 5 minutes of Jerry Falwell

Yesterday afternoon the temperature outside was a blistering 92 degrees, so it was a perfect day to sit inside, soak in the AC, and listen to the Sunday political spin masters doing their thing. Unfortunately, the most vile and vitriolic of all the Sunday politicos that I viewed was not found on Meet the Press, or The Week with George Stephanopoulus, but instead came from the pie-hole of the Reverend Jerry Falwell from the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Reverend Falwell caught my eye during an early morning channel surf session. I said to myself, hell why not, listen to what the guys has to say for 5 minutes, what could it hurt? Well, about 30 seconds into my 5 minutes, I remembered why Jerry Falwell likely has more allegiance to the RNC than he does to Jesus Christ. Though I'm a bit foggy on Falwell's exact wording, he essentially pontificated something along these lines:

We know the evils (or maybe threat was the word?) of liberalism in our Country. But liberalism like Howard Dean is not the only threat to our Country, inaction is an equally grave threat. Evangelicals and Christians who claim to be righteous, but do nothing/little to combat these threats of liberalism, are equally responsible for the acts of liberals...

Ok, so I guess the message was suppose to be if you think your a true Christian, then you need to do everything within your ability to squash liberalism, and reject anything remotely associated with the democratic party, or your nothing more than a closet Jane Fonda. When you consider Falwell's hate filled misogynistic post 9/11 tirade, the 5 minute portion of Falwell's sermon that I viewed on Sunday was mild. But scary all the same.

Maybe I live in a bubble, but what shocked me was Falwell's open criticism of the DNC's Howard Dean. Falwell didn't even make an attempt to use the "wink, hint, hint" when discussing the "evil" democrats, he just simple called out Dean's name. I was a bit shocked. Maybe you could make the counterpoint that maybe, in some hypothetical church, in Boulder or Berkeley, a minister is calling out the RNC's Ken Mellman, and telling his/her clergy about the evils of extreme conservatism. Possible I guess? But unlikely.

Regardless, this hypothetical church probably doesn't get regional television coverage to spew its politically motivated ideas in the name of God, whereas Falwell does. It appears to me that individuals like Falwell feel completely immune to charges of political partisanship (hence loss of their tax exempt status) , and therefore don't mind one bit blatantly talking politics at the pulpit (or as in Falwell's case, intolerance and hate). Regardless of political affiliation, I feel that blatant political pandering by the church is wrong. Period. (Guess I'm shit out of luck these days!)

I have no doubt in my mind that if it were 40 years earlier, Jerry Fallwell and all his righteous "conservative" colleagues would have told the world about the evils of integration to our society, and how the evil liberals are destroying the fabric of the USA through forced integration. (Oh, wait a minute, Falwell did oppose integration!) Now Falwell lives in a different era, but it's still the same hate, regardless of how you look at it. Praise the lord!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Attack of the John Kerry Clones....

A newly adopted campaign strategy that the Virginia GOP appears to be using ever so frequently is to compare every democratic candidate for any statewide office to John Kerry. For instance, you might recall that a Virginia GOP political action committee recently ran a TV commercial in which Tim Kaine, the democratic nominee for governor, was compared to the evil, baby killing, tax raising, draft dodging (oops, well anyway), gun hating, anti-church, commie loving, hater-of-all-things-held-sacred-by-good-ole-country-boys, John Kerry.

Now this strategy has appeared to have funneled all the way down to Virginia's 26th District's House of Delegate race too. Today an article appeared in the Augusta Free Press in which Matt Lohr, the republican nominee, compared his opponent, Lowell Fulk, to John Kerry, because Fulk had the audacity to be the chairman of Rockingham County's Democratic committee. It's nice to know that Lohr will be a candidate that will focus his campaign on issues of real importance to the residents of the 26th district, and not get side tracked by petty name calling. Doesn't the thought of having a legitimate two party system just infuriate you too?

Obviously Lohr's sophisticated campaign staff knows exactly how to reach the reptilian minds of the conservative 26 district's voters. Somewhere (maybe prison) Karl Rove is smiling. I mean hell, why not just compare the radical left wing Rockingham County reared farmer, Lowell Fulk, to the leftist Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara? Wouldn't that be more accurate?

When you consider President Bush's historic miserable beginning to his second term, comparing Lowell Fulk to the decorated veteran, and senior Senator might not be such a bad thing after all. But the Virginia GOP appears to think that the voters of the Commonwealth are dumb, and they will do anything to "muddy the waters" in order to to get their guys elected (aka politics), even if this means resorting to silly name calling in lieu of articulating a coherent and meaningful platform.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Thank you Russ!

Thus far, the 2005 race for the governorship of Virginia has probably produced the most substanceless campaign in recent memory. The race is so lacking in substance, that neither the republican or democratic candidate can even come up with a catchy phrase to win support. Truly a sad state of affairs in the Commonwealth!

The republican nominee, Jerry Kilgore, most notable advantage is that he is the republican nominee. Whereas Tim Kaine, the democratic nominee, appears to be content with trying to match Kilgore's "conservative values" of tax cutting, and social conservatism. Therefore, it appears that Kilgore and Kaine have essentially morphed into the same candidate more or less.

Instead of becoming a real issues oriented party and focusing on the things that really matter to the moderate majority, the Democratic Party of Virginia appears to have decided to become "GOP light" instead. In all fairness to the Democratic Party of Virginia, they probably feel that a race to the bottom is the only way in which they can match the GOP juggernaut that has dominated the Commonwealth since the early 1990s. (With the lone anomaly during this period being the election of moderate democratic governor Mark Warner, and this of course was due to the outright fiscal recklessness of the former republican Gilmore administration).

In an election where the citizens of the Commonwealth deserve open and honest debate (Ok, I know I'm dreaming here) about issues concerning transportation, education, and so forth, an article appeared today in the Richmond Times-Dispatch in which the all-so-important issue of gay adoption was discussed. You have to understand this is a very important issues to the residents of the Commonwealth and we spend lots of time and energy thinking about this subject!

Russ Potts, the independent/maverick republican candidate, who has become disenfranchised with the Virginia's GOP extreme rightward shift, takes a divergent stance on this issue of gay adoption when compared to Kilgore and Kaine. Here are a few quotes from the 90 minute interview recently conducted by the Associated Press which appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning:

"We're all God's children," Potts said. "I don't think that they ought to be precluded from adopting a child."

"I know of several situations in which a gay person adopted a child and [was] just a very loving, caring parent, was out there at every one of the Little League baseball games and the parent-teacher events," he said.

"I never miss being in church every Sunday at the Braddock Street United Methodist Church. But I can't imagine that a gay person gets to the pearly gates of heaven and this loving, benevolent God is going to deny that person a place in his kingdom because he or she is gay. That happens to be my conviction," Potts said.
He does not, however, support allowing gay marriages, saying he believes it is an institution sanctioned only between one man and one woman.

"I think there's just a tremendous overemphasis on all these social issues when, in fact, Rome is burning: We have the worst transportation challenge in America, we have all these other core services that need to be funded and we come down here and spend endless hours" debating morals and religion, Potts said.

I agree with Mr. Potts' last statement 100 percent. Here we are a few months away from voting for the next governor, and all we can talk about is gay adoption? When you consider all the children (especially minority) that need caring and loving homes why is this even an issue? As long as gay couples are law abiding and can provide a solid and stable home environment then end of issue. Let's talk about what's really important. This is what I gathered from Mr. Potts' interview with the Associated Press.

Russ Potts appears to be what I believe the republican party stood for many years ago: fiscal conservativism, a common sense approach to solving problems, reluctance to use catchy "one trick ponies" in order to get elected, and the belief in less government intervention in matters of a personal nature. Therefore the "independent maverick" is really starting to sound like the best option for pragmatic voters who are concerned with the truly important issues facing the Commonwealth. We still have a long ways to go before November, but for attempting to focus the debate for the next governor of the Commonwealth on issues of real importance I sincerely thank you Russ Potts!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Tom Dealy and the "Commonwealth Eight"

Over the past few years we've heard plenty about Tom Delay, the former Texas exterminator, turned ethically challenged republican leader of Congress. Delay's corruption would probably be more suitable in an impoverished one-party-controlled state where such behavior by politicians is accepted (because if you don't accept it you will be killed) and generally considered to be a perk of the job. But instead Delay prefers the lucrative and accommodating United States Congress.

The former bug squasher's unethical (and illegal) behavior is a cornucopia of influence peddling, vote swapping, and back room deals . Mr. Delay's "greatest hits" are so extensive, it's hard to single out just one incident. The one incident that I've always personally been fond of is the time Tom Delay used a childrens charity's tax exempt status as a cash conduit in order to circumvent a ban on raising soft money.

Tom Delay and the majority Congressional republicans didn't invent corruption in the United States Congress, they have just perfected it; In 1994 the democrats had their own prominent scandal prone member of Congress, Dan Rostenkowski, who eventually lost his congressional seat to a republican challenger due to his own "greatest hits" of unethical behavior. Also, you might recall that in 1994 republicans won back control of the Congress from democrats, and with their "Contract with America" promised to "restore accountability to Congress and end the cycle of scandal and disgrace" from the power hungry democrats. Does this sound relevant today?

Of course Mr. Delay's antics wouldn't be possible without a "little help from his friends" in Congress. Republican members of Congress have assisted Mr. Delay's corruption by voting to weaken, or gut Congressional ethics rules. The Commonwealth's eight republican members of Congress (aka the Commonwealth Eight), all voted in favor of weakening house ethics rules in order to protect Delay. The web-site House of Scandal, details each Congressional members compliance with Mr. Dealy's voting record, and the amount of money that each Congressional member has accepted from Delay's political action committee (ARMPAC).

The members of the Commonwealth Eight that have voted in accordance with Mr. Delay range from just 90 percent of the time by the independent minded Virgil Goode from the 5th Congressional District, to 97 percent of the time by Eric Cantor from the 7th Congressional District.

Delay's political action committee has rewarded Eric Cantor for his loyalty with $15,000 in campaign contributions. Whereas Goode's marginal support (90 percent compliance) was rewarded with just $5,000 from ARMPAC. It appears that Randy Forbes, from the 4th Congressional District, is one of ARMPAC's darlings. Forbes received $30,000 in contributions from ARMPAC, and thus complied with Delay 95 percent of the time on Congressional votes. Mr. Forbes' $30,000 puts him near the top of all donations doled out by ARMPAC during the 2004 election cycle.

I guess the question that I have is why would the eight republican members of Congress from the Commonwealth so openly associate with such a corrupt individual like Delay? Well I believe the answer to this question can be found in my last post "legalized bribery". Once again, these members of congress have no fear of political fallout due to their close association with Delay. As I mentioned before, an incumbent has a powerful advantage when it comes to reelection. I also want to stress that if congressional democrats openly supported and benefited from a corrupt democratic member of congress, I'd be equally as outraged.

So I guess you could say that the 1994 republican lead "Contract with America" has come full circle. Now it will be the duty of congressional democrats and the few untainted congressional republicans, who have not accepted funds from ARMPAC, to root out corruption and "restore accountability" to Congress. Unfortunately if Delay and his political action committee can continue to operate without fear of violating congressional ethics rules (because the rules can be changed), and dole out cash to loyalist, a corrupt majority will hold onto power for many years to come.