Love at the County Courthouse

Photo: Leesburg Today

The Rev. Don Prange, Pastor of Lovettsville’s St. James Church, appeared outside the Loudoun County Circuit Courthouse to witness love, the love of same sex couples, committed to a union that the court and the laws of Virginia fail to recognize or allow.

Had these couples gone first to the Clerk’s Office and asked to file a marriage certificate, they would have been rebuffed.

Episcopal Priest, Daniel Velez Rivera, said, “God has made us equal in his image” but the law doesn’t recognize persons made in his image as equal.

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Scary Seeds

Off Mountain Road, in Loudoun County, Todd Morrison has a small farm and, when he first moved in, and they sprayed herbicide, everything turned brown in the field in front of his house except the soy; he got concerned.  We should all be concerned.

What was in the soy that remained unaffected by the herbicide spray?

The truth was the soy seeds had been genetically modified and that began Todd’s quest to understand what that meant, finishing up with his campaign against genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and in favor of organic and community farming, not just on his place but throughout the Loudoun County area.

Todd learned that seeds have been modified with DNA from bacteria, viruses, other plants, even animals.  In other words, there is even a cross-species GMO hybrid created (plant with animal) with this genetic engineering.  There is also mounting evidence that GMOs bring with them health problems.

Worse yet, if you’re trying to avoid GMOs, Todd reported, that 80% of our processed food has GMOs.

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Impure Water – And Getting Worse?

When we use water, drink it, cook with it, bathe in it, it’s not “pure.” 

Accepting that it’s impure, how “safe” is our water?

The answer is we have cause for concern.

The reasons are obvious in Northern Virginia.

There is the increased density of our population, the accompanying development, the large number of households that use wells, the bad practices that many of us follow that can compromise the water’s “purity,” and, perhaps worst of all, the waste products that industry is allowed by law to dump into the water, also what industry dumps that is unlawful (that it’s not supposed to discharge), and how weakly the feds and the state push back against those who pollute, allowing the general public to absorb the cost and risk to their health and mortality.

We don’t always think of the cycle of water that we take for granted. Continue reading

Erin Go Bragh! (Ireland Forever!)

John P. Flannery kissing the Blarney Stone

John P. Flannery kissing the Blarney Stone

Some have jokingly said it was unnecessarily redundant, even dangerous, that I felt it necessary to kiss the Blarney stone, a block of bluestone found at the heights, in the parapet of the Blarney Castle, enchanted by the goddess Cliodhna, for its fabled gift of gab and flattery.

You tip the kind strong rain-garbed guard who holds you from falling as you lean backward.

We were told one soldier did fall, long before, perhaps after a pint, slipping between the walls, sliding to the ground, landing on his head, speeding him on his way to his final heavenly reward.

It was a somewhat rainy day when I underwent this transformation, bending backward, without fear of contracting anything even remotely dangerous to my health – as we are all related who kiss this grand stone, just like every member of a Catholic congregation may drink safely from the same Holy Communion cup

It’s more apt for a lawyer, however, to kiss this Irish stone as, according to the legend, it was this stone that Cliodhna first commended to the builder of the Castle so that he could plead his case in court successfully. Continue reading

Clean Air Is Important For Most Of Us

Some may remember when Ronald Reagan’s Press Secretary James Brady, grabbed the president as they flew over a forest and said in mock alarm, “Look, Mr. President — Killer trees! Killer trees!”

Mr. Brady made this mid-flight stand-up joke in reference to the President’s statement that trees were a major source of air pollution.

Most High School students appreciate that trees absorb Carbon Dioxide and other harmful gasses including Sulfur Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide, and release the oxygen that we need to breathe.

One tree can store 13 pounds of carbon dioxide a year and supply enough oxygen in a day for four people to breathe.

Few think it was the “good old days” when President Reagan’s Administration cashiered twenty top EPA employees, when Assistant EPA Administrator, Rita Lavelle, was convicted of perjury after misusing toxic clean-up Superfund monies, and EPA Administrator Anne Burford resigned when found in contempt for refusing to turn over Superfund records. Continue reading

The Game of Chicken – over Kiev

Pro-Russian woman waves a Russian flag in support of armed men in military fatigues in Balaklava

Pro-Russian woman waves a Russian flag in support of armed men in military fatigues in Balaklava

This involves whether we allow “them” to kill our kids in wars abroad, this time possibly in the Ukraine and Crimea, while we forego benefits here at home like education, roads, retirement, you know, peacetime benefits.

The United States has been slamming Russia, calling Russian President Vladimir Putin “ruthless,” for protecting the Crimea with Russia’s Black Sea force, and, almost everyone in our government and the media, ignores what prompted this international showdown, namely, what the U.S. was itself doing in the Ukraine with the EU, that prompted President Putin to defend Russia’s interests.

When the Ukraine President, Viktor Yanukovych, balked at signing a trade agreement on political and free trade pacts with the EU, at our insistence, and wanted instead to sign with Russia for a $15 billion dollar bailout for his bankrupt nation, President Yanukovych stunned his prospective EU “partners,” and was ousted from his office in a New York minute and fled for his life to Russia.

He was replaced as quickly by a more pliable new leader, “acting” President, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, so that he could sign the EU agreement we wanted him to sign. Continue reading

Delgaudio attorney apparently switching sides

EugeneDelgaudioSadPandaLeesburg Today reports that Charlie King, the attorney representing Eugene Delgaudio in the citizens’ effort to have Delgaudio removed from office by the Circuit Court, has filed a subpoena seeking documents from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The rationale for the subpoena, according to Charlie King:

“Almost every article written about Supervisor Delgaudio mentions the designation of Public Advocate as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center,” King said in an email statement. “The Sterling petitioners (in a petition to remove Delgaudio from office) cited Public Advocate’s hate group status as one basis for removing him from office. In today’s America, calling somebody a member of a hate group is serious.”

Yes, it certainly is. And now I don’t know who, if anyone, is in charge of strategy over at Public Advocate/Office of the Sterling Supervisor.

Regarding SPLC’s 2012 addition of “Public Advocate of the U.S.” to its short list of anti-gay organizations extreme enough to be called “active hate groups,” Delgaudio only sings one note. Every transparently planted online comment, every press release, every public utterance directed at Loudoun County we’ve seen has repeated the same monotonous talking point: That the SPLC designation was made “because Public Advocate upholds traditional marriage.”

The repetition of this talking point has been so consistent that it could not possibly be accidental. The propagation of this lie has been the centerpiece of Delgaudio’s public relations management of the revelations about the co-mingling of his hate group’s fundraising activities with the privileges of his public office.

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It’s not perfect but it’s the best judicial system in the world? Really?

When we think of the Salem witch trials or Sacco and Vanzetti, our impulse is to discount that anything like that could ever happen now.

Yet it does.

We have all sorts of things going wrong in our judicial “system.”

We have too many cases because “stats” drive funding rather than policy driving order and peace.

The more sensational the case, the more winning the case trumps doing justice.

The more sensational the case, the more likely that the accused doesn’t have the resources to fight back.

We flood our courts with “drug” cases but not like the ones I handled as a federal prosecutor in New York against large heroin suppliers. Continue reading

Stop trying to focus on the word you used. The word you used is not the problem.

Bob FitzSimmonds (l) and Steve Martin (r)

Bob FitzSimmonds (l) and Steve Martin (r)

It’s possible, of course, that Bob FitzSimmonds doesn’t know what a common slang word for a part of the female anatomy means (he’s now claiming to have confused it with “twaddle”), although it’s hard to believe – even if he is “an old white guy who needs to get out more.”

If he and his supporters have any sense at all, though, they will stop trying to “explain.” When people try to “explain” to those whom they have just offended not only why they should not be offended, but how their being offended is actually an unfair attack on themselves, it does not go well. (Just ask Virginia State Senator Steve Martin. Actually, don’t ask him, because he still doesn’t get it.)

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Patrick Henry College to sexual assault survivors: “If you were telling the truth, God would have kept you conscious”

The administrators at Patrick Henry College have had a tough week.

Beginning on Sunday, PHC founder and chancellor Michael Farris posted a public statement about the recent disgrace of two important leaders within the religious homeschooling and “parental rights” movement, both of them because young women have come forward with testimony of sexual misconduct and abuse of power. Former Home School Legal Defense Association attorney Doug Phillips resigned last fall from the separatist group he had founded after it was revealed that he pursued a sexual relationship with a young woman, under 18, who was under his “authority.” Bill Gothard, leader of an influential Christian Patriarchy instruction program, is slowly being exposed as a predator who has for decades sexually molested young women sent to him, often at his personal invitation, to be his interns.

Farris did not dispute the misconduct of these men, seeming to accept evidence of their “protracted patterns of sin.” Instead, he tried to distance his own kind of “leadership” from theirs. But his statement is very strange. Attempting to avoid criticism of the authoritarianism that undergirds his own position, it ends up reading as if he thinks these “leaders,” these powerful men, should rightly have such control over the women and children under their authority, and that maintaining this position of male authority is a “basic strength.” The only problem with these men is that their strength was allowed to “get out of control.” The statement then ends with a lighthearted punchline normalizing the idea that men naturally want to pursue young women, but are inhibited by the fear that their wives will shoot them.

What came the next day must have been a surprise, although one is at pains to imagine why.

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