On Monday I sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation, Aubrey Layne and the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) asking them to delay their vote yesterday to give preliminary approval to the I-66 Outside the Beltway tolls until they could meet in Northern Virginia and hear from concerned citizens. (Check out the Fox5 story above.) Unfortunately, they ignored my request. The final CTB vote to go ahead with the tolls in the I-66 project will be on December 9th in Northern Virginia. If you live in Northern Virginia I encourage you to contact VDOT at firstname.lastname@example.org with your concerns and plan to attend the meeting if at all possible. If you don’t live in Northern Virginia this should still be an issue of concern to you since it will set a precedent that the Governor and unelected Board members can take a road that is already paid for and slap tolls on it in spite of massive citizen opposition.
I have reviewed the Transform 66 website (www.transform66.org) and sent another letter today to Secretary Layne and Governor Terry McAuliffe encouraging them read VDOT’s own website because it conflicts with some of the statements they have made with regard to the Transform I-66 projects.
VDOT’s own 2012 and 2013 studies said:
tolls would be from 15-20 cents per mile;1
the conversion of existing I-66 lanes to toll lanes “do not assume that existing lanes would be tolled,” and “were not analyzed;”2
that public support for tolls would have to be generated, and that questions remained about tolling existing lanes.3
Secretary Layne and Governor McAuliffe are undermining public trust for this project by failing to properly inform the public. No I-66 Message Boards were used to alert drivers to potential tolls and they have provided no analysis nor justification for such tolls.
The 2014 VDOT I-66 survey of I-66 users mention tolls four times, but not the price of such tolls. How can the Commonwealth Transportation Board vote to give authorization to this project without even know the costs of the potential tolls?
I fully support the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority prioritizing using the annual $315 million in funds they receive from the Northern Virginia taxes collected to widen I-66 inside the Beltway, expedite extending VRE to Gainesville/Haymarket, add additional parking at VRE and Metro parking lots and create 4,000-6,000 park and ride spaces in areas that do NOT take family farms.
Delegate Bob Marshall
1 “The toll for the peak periods in the peak direction for Package 1 was set at 15 to 20 cents per mile (in 2007 dollars), depending on the demand in each segment. In the reverse-peak direction for the peak periods the toll was about 20 percent lower than the peak.”[page 3-25 I-66 Multimodal Study Final Report, June 8, 2012 http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/resources/NorthernVirginia/I-66_Multimodal_-_Final_Report.pdf 2 “ … Options that simply converted existing lanes to tolled lanes were not analyzed; rather it was assumed that any tolling option would require adding additional capacity.”
“… the tolling scenarios assessed for this high-level Tier 1 tolling analysis do not assume that existing lanes would be tolled, but rather that tolls would be applied to new roadway lanes, with the most likely scenario resulting from tolls applied as part of a HOT lanes system that allow 3+ occupant vehicles to avoid paying the toll. [Page 9-8, Transportation Technical Report, I-66, http://www.vdot.virginia.gov/projects/resources/NorthernVirginia/I66_TransportationTechnicalReport_2013-02-25-ForWeb.pdf ] 3 “Policy issues with tolling existing capacity on an Interstate wold need to be addressed; Potential policy issues with tolling Dulles Airport users; Public support for tolling existing capacity would need to be addressed.” [page 1-4, I-66 Multimodal Study, Supplemental Report, August, 2013, http://www.virginiadot.org/VDOT/Projects/Northern_Virginia/asset_upload_file118_54324.pdf
I-66 Improvements Study, Finalized Survey, Southeastern Institute of Research.
Here we will look at our leadership, but first a diversion.
Fun On A Saturday Afternoon
On Saturday afternoon, I attended Delegate Bob Marshall‘s Campaign Kick-Up” Event (Virginians will vote on November 3, 2015.). It was fun, good food, dancing, and politics. Got to watch Delegate Marshall dance with his lady, Cathy, and Senator Dick Black dance with his lady, Barbara. That obviously made the ladys happy. Now my wife is after me to dance. Oh well….
I was there for the food and the politics. In addition to Delegate Marshall, Congressman Rob Wittman, Senator Black, Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, and Willie Deutsch (candidate for Member School Board – COLES DISTRICT) spoke. Clerk of the Court Michele B. McQuigg also attended. McQuigg surprised Marshall a bit when she declined to speak, but she did had little reason to do so. Wittman and Marshall both spoke glowingly of her, and she obviously supports Marshall. And there were plenty of good speeches.
Strangely, however, what I found most memorable was a speech not given by a politician. Instead, the fellow giving the invocation made the most powerful statement, and his quotes of Charles Finney and Noah Webster formed the core of his speech. I then decided quotations from those two gentleman would form the core of this post.
Why Must We Choose A New Leadership?
Many wise and learned men have written about the problem of finding good leadership for a republic. That includes why we must be careful.
It is to deny, what the history of the world tells us is true, to suppose that men of ambition and talents will not continue to spring up amongst us. And, when they do, they will as naturally seek the gratification of their ruling passion, as others have so done before them. The question then, is, can that gratification be found in supporting and maintaining an edifice that has been erected by others? Most certainly it cannot. Many great and good men sufficiently qualified for any task they should undertake, may ever be found, whose ambition would inspire to nothing beyond a seat in Congress, a gubernatorial or a presidential chair; but such belong not to the family of the lion, or the tribe of the eagle. What! think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon?–Never! Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.–It sees no distinction in adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving freemen. Is it unreasonable then to expect, that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time, spring up among us? And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs. (from here)
Note that Lincoln speaks of only the chief leader. He predicted that some leaders would be controlled with only the greatest difficulty, and we now have a leader who speaks brazenly of the power of his phone and his pen. Yet what is our real problem? Is President Barack Obama a man possessed of the loftiest genius, or is it that at every level of public office we have elected unscrupulous men and women? Thus, when our president does not fulfill the obligations of his office — when he violates his oath and breaks The Law Of The Land — he finds support. Therefore, we cannot stop him. We cannot even slow him down. And so our leader, the leader of the world’s most powerful nation, has set the whole world in turmoil, and we can only watch the unraveling.
What have we failed to do?
Some call Charles Finney the Father of American revivalism. Whether he was such or not, Finney spoke at a time preachers were willing to speak of politics.
The church must take right ground in regard to politics. Do not suppose, now, that I am going to preach a political sermon, or that I wish to have you join and get up a Christian party in politics. No, I do not believe in that. But the time has come that Christians must vote for honest men, and take consistent ground in politics, or the Lord will curse them. They must be honest men themselves, and instead of voting for a man because he belongs to their party, Bank or Anti-Bank, Jackson, or Anti-Jackson, they must find out whether he is honest and upright, and fit to be trusted. They must let the world see that the church will uphold no man in office, who is known to be a knave, or an adulterer, or a Sabbath-breaker, or a gambler. Such is the spread of intelligence and the facility of communication in our country, that every man can know for whom he gives his vote. And if he will give his vote only for honest men, the country will be obliged to have upright rulers. . . . As on the subject of slavery and temperance, so on this subject, the church must act right or the country will be ruined. God cannot sustain this free and blessed country, which we love and pray for, unless the church will take right ground. Politics are a part of religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part of their duty to God. It seems sometimes as if the foundations of the nation were becoming rotten, and Christians seem to act as if they thought God did not see what they do in politics. But I tell you, he does see it, and he will bless or curse this nation, according to the course they take. (from here)
Was Finney right? Is politics part of the religion in a country such as this? All I know is that who we vote for reflects a moral choice. When fail to vote for the welfare of our family, friends, neighbors, and countrymen — when we vote selfishly — God cannot sustain us as a free and blessed country.
Noah Webster is famous as a lexicographer for his commitment to education. He stated our obligation as voters this way.
When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, “just men who will rule in the fear of God.” The preservation of government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws. (from here)
So what should we do? How should we select good leaders? Fortunately for us, the Bible offers us some good advice. A couple of thousand years ago, here is what the Apostle Paul told a young protegé about selecting leaders for the church in Ephesus, which was then a corrupt city.
3 This is a true saying: If a man is eager to be a church leader, he desires an excellent work. 2 A church leader must be without fault; he must have only one wife, be sober, self-controlled, and orderly; he must welcome strangers in his home; he must be able to teach; 3 he must not be a drunkard or a violent man, but gentle and peaceful; he must not love money; 4 he must be able to manage his own family well and make his children obey him with all respect. 5 For if a man does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of the church of God? 6 He must be mature in the faith, so that he will not swell up with pride and be condemned, as the Devil was. 7 He should be a man who is respected by the people outside the church, so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the Devil’s trap.
We tend to overlook Paul’s advice and think only of church leaders. Yet our nation’s borders envelope thousands of churches. Our political leaders ensure the morality of our laws. Like it or not, our leaders impose their values upon society. When our leaders are immoral, they endanger our own values and the values of our family, friends and country.
We also may think of Paul’s advice as quaint, not appropriate for today. For example, when Paul wrote this passage, he wrote to people who would not have seriously considered women as leaders. Paul, however, appointed women to positions of trust, and he readily accepted their help. As 1 Corinthians 9 explains, Paul adapted to the culture of each people he visited. He wanted people to listen to when he preach the Gospel, not argue over side issues.
22 Among the weak in faith I become weak like one of them, in order to win them. So I become all things to all people, that I may save some of them by whatever means are possible.
23 All this I do for the gospel’s sake, in order to share in its blessings.
Thanks to a couple of thousand years of such patient Christian teaching, in this country we no longer allow men to select themselves to lead by using the point of their swords. Instead, we vote. Hence, each Christian now has an obligation to demonstrate how a Christian should participate in politics. When we support our candidates, and when we vote, we can put Paul’s words to action. We can back the candidate we would most like to have in charge of our church. If he (or she) is not fit for that job, he probably won’t do a good job as a leader of our county, our city, our state or our country.
Most of the time we should be quiet and listen. Because we don’t know very much, very few of us have much say. Yet there are times when we should say something. What is funny is how often we have to tell indiscreet elected officials to leave well enough alone.
See No Evil Republicans
Your calls and emails are having an impact on the Obama Trans-Pacific Partnership trade legislation contained in HR 1314, but we can’t stop now!
The two-part Obama Trade bill will be reconsidered Tuesday, June 16 in the House of Representatives to overcome a temporary setback for Obama.
The first vote was on Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA provision), which provided job retraining and other assistance to American workers who will lose jobs from the Obama Trade bill (HR 1314). If Obama’s Trade proposal is such a good deal, why will Americans lose jobs?
The TAA vote lost 126 Yeas to 306 Nays. Representatives Beyer, Comstock, Connolly, Hurt, Rigell vote YES. Representatives Brat, Forbes, Goodlatte, Griffith, Scott, Wittman voted NO.
The House then voted on the Trade Promotion Authority provision (TPA). That passed 219 Yeas, to 211 Nays. Representatives Beyer, Comstock, Connelly, Forbes, Goodlatte, Hurt, Rigell voted YES. Representatives Brat, Griffith, Scott, and Wittman voted NO. (Please thank these four Congressmen for their opposition.)
POLITICO notes that the TPA’s provisions are treated as national security secrets with tight restrictions on who can read the bill and under what conditions:
“If you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you’ve got to be a member of Congress, and you’ve got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door.
If you’re a member who wants to read the text, you’ve got to go to a room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center and be handed it one section at a time, watched over as you read, and forced to hand over any notes you make before leaving.
And no matter what, you can’t discuss the details of what you’ve read.”
Congressman Dave Brat, commenting on the TPA bill, said: “fatal conceit is to think that I’m smart enough to walk in a room and read 400 pages of legalese and believe it and know everything that’s in a trade bill that’s 400 pages long and digest it with everything that can go wrong … Ask your congressmen to explain to you what they know about it. And if they don’t tell you anything, say, I don’t trust the current regime. And I want a no vote out of you.”
Senator Sessions (R-AL) responded to the mixed vote on the Obama Trade bills:
“A vote for TAA next week is a vote to send fast-track to the President’s desk and to grant him these broad new executive authorities. … it will empower the President to form a Pacific Union encompassing 40 percent of the world’s economy and 12 nations—each with one equal vote. “Once the union is formed, foreign bureaucrats will be required to meet regularly to write the Commission’s rules, regulations, and directives—impacting Americans’ jobs, wages, and sovereignty. The union is chartered with a ‘Living Agreement,’ and there is no doubt it will seek to expand its membership and reach over time.
Fast-track … can expedite an unlimited number of yet-unseen international compacts for six years. … which includes labor mobility among more than 50 nations, further eroding the ability of the American people to control their own affairs. …The same people projecting the benefits of leaping into a colossal new economic union could not even accurately predict the impact of a standalone agreement with South Korea … which promised to boost our exports to them $10 billion, instead only budged them less than $1 billion, while South Korea’s imports to us increased more than $12 billion, nearly doubling our trading deficit. … opening our markets to foreign imports while allowing our trading partners to continue their non-tariff barriers that close their markets to ours.
If we want a new trade deal with Japan, or with Vietnam, then they should be negotiated bilaterally and sent to Congress under regular order. Under no circumstances should the House authorize, through fast-track, the formation of a new international commission that will regulate not only trade, but immigration, labor, environmental, and all manner of commercial policy.”
The vote on TAA will be on Tuesday, June 16th. Please let your Congressman know that you want to know how they voted, and that you will share how they vote with family and friends. Contact your representative by visiting the House of Representatives website and fill in your zip code in the top right corner to be connected to your Congressman’s website or contact the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, ask for your Congressman by name and you will be connected. If you call ask to speak to either the Chief of Staff or the Legislative Assistant who handles Trade issues.
Thank you so much for your help!
Delegate Bob Marshall
P.S. If you would like to donate you can do so below or if you’d like to volunteer to help my campaign you can do so at my website at www.DelegateBob.com
Because Marshall is a Conservative, he is rarely indiscreet. He has taken the time to understand why things are as the are. He also displays an understanding that his job is about serving the people of Virginia, not his own ambitions.
We have an election coming up in November, as is usual here in Virginia. In Prince William County, we will be electing our delegate and senator to the General Assembly. In addition, we will be filling all the elected offices in our county. So as Marshall suggests, if we want to make a difference in the outcome, there is no time like the present.
stake (n.2)“that which is placed at hazard,” 1530s, from stake (v.). Perhaps literally “that which is put up,” from notion of “post on which a gambling wager was placed,” though OED points out there is “no evidence of the existence of such a custom.” Weekley suggests “there is a tinge of the burning or baiting metaphor” in this usage. Hence, “an interest, something to gain or lose” (1784). Plural stakes, “sum of money to be won in a (horse) race,” first recorded 1690s (compare sweepstakes). To have a stake in is recorded from 1784.
Language is complicated matter. With so many words and variations in their meanings, we don’t communicate with each other well. When politics takes over, the ratio of noise to data increases. Then we war with words, battling over their meaning, and we risk entirely failing to communicate. Then instead of discussing issues we trade accusations, calling each other names.
Consider the controversy over quarantining people coming or returning from the nations in west Africa where the Ebola virus is epidemic. What is the meaning of the word “scientific”? On one side with have people claiming the experts, bureaucrats from the Center for Disease Control, are on their side. Therefore, the “science” is on their side. On the other side we have people examining the science. These wish to make sense of the requirement quarantine military personnel, who are not supposed to be treating Ebola patients, whereas we need not take any serious precautions with medical personnel who have been treating Ebola patients.
Have doctors and nurses now become part of our new overlord class? Has the day come when it is appropriate to regard military personnel as the most untrustworthy scum of the earth? Or our some politicians just determined find any excuse to pit us against each other?
How easy is Ebola to catch? In spite of their precautions, why have doctors and nurses caught it? Perhaps that has to do with what the CDC means by airborne. Since Delegate Bob Marshall sent out an email on this subject today, why not let him explain?
Because Ebola can be spread by water droplets (generated by a sneeze or cough), according to a flyer which was compiled by the CDC, I think it is particularly important that Congress immediately act to restrict travel of those who live in or have visited Ebola-affected areas until Ebola has been eliminated.
Since the President has refused to act, Congress must not be afraid to use its authority to protect the safety of the nurses and doctors, especially those in the ER’s, our dedicated first responders, other hospital patients who could be inadvertently exposed to Ebola, and everyone who may come in contact with someone infected with Ebola who may or may not recognize their symptoms at the time.
I want you to have information to keep you and your friends and relatives safe. Common sense dictates that temporarily preventing potential Ebola carriers into the country until Ebola has been contained is the most effective means to achieve this goal. We all greatly admire the doctors and other volunteers who have risked their lives to treat those suffering from this horrible disease, but it shows no less respect to insist that these public servants be prevented from contact with others during at least a 21-day quarantine period.
Until travel is restricted, we must depend on time consuming, expensive, less than reliable tracking of symptoms which may or may not be present in an Ebola carrier, exposed contacts, and their contacts. Unless “we the people” demand action from our elected leaders, nothing will change. Please call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard 202-224-3121, ask to be collected with your two Senators and Congressman, or find your representatives and demand that they act to protect us!
Thank you for your help.
Delegate Bob Marshall
With respect to the Ebola virus, what is at stake? Since we do not know much about the disease, we can only guess what it might do. However, we do know some viruses have proven very resistant to our ability to suppress them. Hence the cold is common, and the flu arrives every winter. Could Ebola visit us so frequently and with even more severe consequences? When we have leaders so intent upon politicizing science, using words to club their opponents, who knows?