On the Road Again, Nelson!

I used to drive with the window down, my left arm resting on the door. Never had air conditioning in those days. Summer or winter, the rolled down window was all there was.

Always had a cassette player, though, so I could blast the Doobie Brothers, Jimmy Buffet, the Crusaders, Weather Report, Bonnie Raitt, or whatever else I was listening to at the time and sing along.

I hear your voice everywhere

It’s echoes of love

Making me look back over my shoulder

Echoes of love are started all over.

Something like 30 years ago, I had a teeny, white Renault. Never went very fast, even going downhill. Got blown around a lot by big trucks on the freeway. In their rearview mirrors, I could see the drivers laughing as they passed. I guess they didn’t see many Renaults in North Carolina. Could also have been because I had a license plate that said “SLUG.” Or maybe it was because you didn’t often see big guys like me driving little cars they could barely fit into.

I suppose I should have given them the benefit of the doubt.

One winter night in Philadelphia, I was stopped at a red light. The guy next to me motioned for me to roll down my window. He leaned over and yelled, “Hey, brother, they build that car around you?”

The light turned green and he took off laughing.

It was a honey of a car, though. Still maybe the best I’ve ever had. Reliable. Great gas milage. Easy to work on. Once replaced the gas tank by myself; wouldn’t dream of even trying it with my current car. Couldn’t go fast, but it did make it cross-country more than once, packed floor to ceiling with all my worldly possessions. Truth is, I’d probably still have it if it wasn’t totaled by a drunk driver one night. I saw it for the last time, there amidst the auto ghosts on Pier 40, where they towed it after the accident.

Folded up like a little, white, French accordion, my hand to God.

Why Marriage?

There are many purposes served by marriage, the public declaration of the permanence of love between two people: social stability, the encouragement of certain sets of behaviors, provision of loving and positive infrastructure for children and families, financial and legal benefits, among them.

Why should one class of Americans be allowed to avail themselves of these benefits and not others? Specifically, why should only heterosexuals be allowed to marry?  Further, why should our society as a whole be deprived of the strength and goodness arising from same-sex marriages?

Here are my thoughts in defense of marriage, posted previously on this blog. Briefly, based on my personal experience and observation, I believe couples of all types seeking to be married should be fully supported in that goal. And now, it seems, our president does too.

Let certain states express bigotry, fear and loathing, if they feel so compelled. There is no defensible justification, there is no positive social purpose served by denying the right to marry to anyone – not on the basis of any single religious philosophy, not on the basis of race, not on the basis of gender, not on the basis of sexual orientation or preference.

If marriage is to exist at all, it must exist for all who desire it.

Congressional Profile: North Carolina’s Virginia Foxx

This may be no big deal to her. In fact, Virginia Foxx, a Republican representing the far northwest corner of North Carolina in Congress might be delighted to be criticized by a San Francisco liberal. If so, get ready for  the waves of delight, Ms. Foxx.

Representative Foxx was one of only 11 members of Congress to vote against the aid package to help Gulf Coast victims of Hurricane Katrina. She was one of only 33 Republicans to vote against extension of the Voting Rights Act in 2006. Both are extraordinary positions, the first is inhumane to those who were suffering, but the second is particularly sad because of North Carolina’s long tradition of support for Civil Rights. Its former governor, Terry Sanford, was among the most active southern governors supporting civil rights. She is also confused about who worked to pass the act initially. Here, she reveals her ignorance on the floor of the House of Representatives and is called out by another Representative.

Representative Foxx asserted that Matthew Shephard’s murder was not a hate crime committed because he was gay, but rather a robbery gone bad. She went on to say that the use of the crime to pursue hate crime legislation was a “hoax.” All police evidence shows clearly that the crime was, in fact, directed against Shephard because he was gay.  Here is Foxx’s statement on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Representiative Foxx perpetuates the fiction that the president (that is, the Democratic president) can have an effect on gasoline prices in the United States and can create “energy independence.” Nothing can be further from the truth. Energy independence is but a conservative wet dream. The very notion has been discredited by every knowledgable and responsible energy analyst, even many within the energy industry itself, including the then-CEO of America’s second largest energy company. Here is Foxx’s statement on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Representative Foxx has said she “has little tolerance” for people who had to accumulate debt (i.e., take out student loans) in order to pursue their educations. Here, she discusses how things were back in the dark ages when she and her husband went to school. She is apparently unaware how expensive higher education has become, the cost of which forces many to accept large amounts of debt in order to obtain education. This is especially startling when one remembers that, before she entered politics, Foxx was president of a community college.

To stand out as an exemplar of ignorance and stupidity in an organization like Congress takes hard work; by her own record and words, Virginia Foxx proves herself more than up to the task.

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