Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Maybe I Should Ask Him If He's Stopped Beating His Wife

In the Federalist Papers, the series of 1787 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in support of the proposed new Constitution, Madison wrote, in #57 that the representatives will be true to their constituents for the following reasons:
  1. The people chose these distinguished men to uphold their engagements, so the representatives have an obligation to stand by their words. 
  2. The representatives sense a mark of honor and gratitude feel at least the tiniest affection to these constituents. 
  3. Selfish motives of the human nature bind the representative to his constituents because the delegates hope to seek advancement from his followers rather than the government. 
  4. Also, frequent elections remind the representatives that they are dependent on the constituents for their loyalty and support. Therefore, the representatives are compelled to remain faithful to their constituents. 
  5. The laws created by the legislators will apply to all members of society, including the legislators themselves.
Implicit in all this is the presumption that the representative will be responsive to the citizen's concerns.

As an engaged citizen, I have asked my new (as of this past January) congressman, Don Beyer, a number of questions on issues both of the moment and long-standing, through his twitter account. Here are some of them, with context where necessary. To date, he has not replied to a single one.
  • How do you intend to vote on the #KeystonePipeline? 9 Jan
  • How will this "free" college be paid for? As a taxpayer and VA-8 constituent, I would like to know. 10 Jan (Rep. Beyer had tweeted that "I applaud President @BarackObama and Secretary @arneduncan for their investment in our students.")
  •  Do you believe there should be ANY legal restrictions on abortion? 22 Jan
  • This claim has been completely discredited. Why do you persist in making it?… 29 Jan (he'd tweeted, "#Women are almost 50% of the workforce, breadwinners in 40% of homes, but still only make 77 cents to a man's dollar. That is unacceptable.")
  • Why can I buy auto insurance 365 days/year, but not health insurance? 12 Feb
  • Why can I buy life insurance 365 days/year, but not health insurance? 12 Feb
  • Why can I buy insurance for my smartphone 365 days/year, but not health insurance? 12 Feb
  • Why can I buy home owner's insurance 365 days/year, but not health insurance? 12 Feb
  • What? Are there citizens who are barred from voting? Please explain. 23 Feb (in response to this tweet: "It has been 50 years since the Voting Rights Act was signed - we have come a long way, but we still have much work to do."
  • You're a congressman. Reforming immigration is YOUR job, not the president's. The Constitution gives YOU that power, NOT him. 28 Feb (his tweet: "I voted for short term funding for @DHSgov, the best opportunity to secure funding and keep the President’s immigration reforms in place.")
  • Do you consider @SenatorReid's sleazy land deals that made him rich to be model for elected officials? 27 Mar (his tweet: ".@SenatorReid​ has been a champion for progressive values for decades and a model elected official for generations of leaders to come.") 
  •  Shouldn't company stockholders decide who should be on boards? 19 May (his tweet: "Listening to @repmaloney w @30percentclub Kiersten Salander + @WITWomen Julie Bloecher on why we need #womenonboards")
  • Have you really never heard of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, @RepDonBeyer?… 21 May (his tweet: "We can start by promoting gender equality – paid parental leave, #choice, and #equalpay. #paidleave")
  • Tell us what you did w/$800 billion stimulus money for infrastructure. Then we'll talk. 1 Jun (he wants more money to repair Washington's Arlington Memorial Bridge)
  • $800 billion for "shovel-ready" projects in 2009; only 3.5% of it spent on roads & bridges. Now you come back to us for more? 3 Jun
  • Pls explain what kind of #gunsense law you'd like to propose that would have prevented Charleston shooting. 19 Jun (his tweet: "As a nation we must do better. We must find peace that transcends race, pass #gunsense laws, and work together until we achieve these goals.")
  • Pls provide a link supporting that number. If accurate, wife & I should have gotten a check for about $4,500. 3 minutes ago(in response to this tweet: "In 2014, @EximBankUS returned over $675 billion to the American taxpayers. Let's support Americans and American jobs by passing #ExIm4Jobs.")
In fairness to Congressman Beyer, I've sent a number of these questions to my two United States Senators, Mark Warner and Timothy Kaine, and neither of them has sent me a single reply either. But they represent the entire commonwealth of Virginia, whereas Congressman Beyer represents only my portion of northern Virginia.

Yes, some of my questions are snarky. But a good many of them are quite serious, asking  him his positions on serious policy questions that affect the entire country.

Maybe he's waiting for me to send him a campaign contribution before he deigns to answer to an insignificant insect such as I.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

I Am What I Am

Ever since I was a child, I wished I could fly. There's something wonderful about soaring weightlessly above the treetops and watching the world unfold below you. Sometimes at night, I would dream that I was flying.

In my early twenties, I noticed my hair was thinning, and by my early thirties, I was quite bald. I should have recognized this as a sign of my true nature, but instead, I tried to deny it by going through expensive transplant surgery.

But in my late middle age, I have come to realize I have been fooling myself all these years.

I am not a pudgy white man.

I am an American Bald Eagle - haliaeetus leucocephalus - mistakenly born into the body of a white man.

I know this will come as a shock to many people, especially those who have known me for many years and thought of me as just an ordinary guy and not a majestic raptor. But this is my reality, and as we have all recently learned, there is no such thing as objective truth regarding who or what we are; the truth, as we all now know and acknowledge, is only what we ourselves believe.

In keeping with my newly-acknowledged identity, I expect everyone to accept, embrace, and celebrate the following:

  • I may decide to build a tree house in the oak tree in your front yard, or possibly even on your front porch. In accordance with the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668d), you must not disturb my nest, even if such nest is (as they often are) five feet wide and eight feet deep.
  • I may decide to use your roof, or your front porch, or your car, or your own person, as a toilet. You must not interfere with this behavior. You are welcome to use my leavings as organic sustenance for your flower beds.

  • I may decide to raid your grocery cart. You must not object; rather, you should welcome this opportunity to nourish our national symbol.

  • I may accost you in the street and shriek in your face. Your proper response is to smile and continue about your business.
  • As a protected species, I can not be expected to observe the "No Trespassing" restrictions on your property, and I may decide to hunt small game or small children there. You should be grateful that I am doing my part to maintain the balance of nature.

  • The fish heads, cocker spaniel legs, and other carrion on your patio are natural and beautiful.

  • As you may know, bald eagles mate for life, and do not hide indoors when enjoying sexual relations. So do not be surprised or dismayed to see me engaged in intercourse on your local elementary school's playground slide. Rather, see this as a teachable moment for your second-graders, a golden opportunity to explain to them the miracle of how life comes into being. You may take photos and post them on Facebook. A three-quarters profile works best.

  • You may not deprive me of my attire, or appropriate for your use even such attire that I have discarded, again, per 16 U.S.C. 668-668d. Note that the Code allows for exceptions to this rule on issuance of permits to Native Americans to use such attire for religious or ceremonial purposes; Senator Elizabeth Warren, take note.

You will observe that to all outward appearances, I appear to be a white male homo sapiens. While this in no way compromises my true identity, I will not go so far as to attempt to emulate the behavior of Rachel Dolezal and paint myself black and white, attach a beak to my face, or glue feathers onto my body.

That, I think we can all agree, would be insane.