Monthly Archives: August 2010

Jeff Barnett’s schedule


Monday, August 30th

Town Hall Meeting, 7:00 – 8:30 PM (Press Availability)

Public Safety Building, 1080 Coverstone Drive, Winchester, VA 22602

Tuesday, August 31st

Shenandoah University Political Mixer, 6:15 – 7:30 PM

Clement Dining Room, Shenandoah University, Winchester

Wednesday, September 1st

Town Hall Meeting, 7:00 – 8:30 PM (Press Availability)

Warrenton-Fauquier Visitor Center, 33 N. Calhoun St., Warrenton, VA

Thursday, September 2nd

Town Hall Meeting: 7:00 – 8:30 PM (Press Availability)

Herndon Fortnightly Library, 768 Center St., Herndon, VA

Friday, September 3rd

Jeff Barnett’s 10th District Walking Tour, Day 1: Gore to Winchester

Telephone Press Conference, 9:00 AM (Call Patrick Dorsey for Information)

Winchester Campaign Office Grand Opening: 5:45 PM (Press Availability)

Corner of Braddock and Wolfe Streets, Winchester, VA

Meet-and-Greet Reception, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Eugene B. Smith Gallery, 25 N. Loudoun St., Winchester, VA

Saturday, September 4th

Jeff Barnett’s 10th District Walking Tour, Day 2: Winchester to Berryville

Dinner Meet-and-Greet, 7:00 – 9:00 PM

Camino Real Restaurant, 16 Crow St., Berryville, VA

I hope to see you at one or more of these events!

The Tide May Be Turning

From the Washington Post:

An Albemarle County Circuit Court judge has set aside a subpoena issued by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) to the University of Virginia seeking documents related to the work of climate scientist and former university professor Michael Mann.

Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. ruled that Cuccinelli can investigate whether fraud has occured in university grants, as the attorney general had contended, but ruled that Cuccinelli’s subpoena failed to state a “reason to believe” that Mann had committed fraud.

Finally, there’s hope that maybe we can finally start seeing the end of these harassments being undertaken by the office of the Attorney General.

Of course, we can most likely expect the lunatic fringe to criticize this prudent ruling as an act of “judicial activism”.

“The Court has read with care those pages and understands the controversy regarding Dr. Mann’s work on the issue of global warming. However, it is not clear what he did was misleading, false or fraudulent in obtaining funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Peatross wrote.

End of story. We hope.

He’s Baaaack!!!

The newest entry in the “we’re not surprised” column is this nugget that’s been dug up:

The site was registered on August 8, 2010. No official word from the demagogue potential candidate, but apparently he believes he can unseat one of the strongest Democratic senators in the Commonwealth with his divisive and hateful rhetoric.

Loudoun voters repudiated (not “refutiated”, thank you) Mr. “Baby Pesticides”  5 years ago – rest assured we’re not about to go back to the dark ages again.

EDIT: I did not realize that there was a post on another website with the same title as mine. My apologies.

That great site lists ALL of the reasons leading to Mr. “Plastic Fetuses” being defeated.

Mirror, mirror

Bryan Fischer, in his continuing effort to rid the “American Family Association” of any remaining shreds of legitimacy, has been making some rather astonishing statements. Exhibit A might be his recent assertion that, because they failed to convert all Muslim Iraqis to Christianity, the 4,403 US servicemembers who lost their lives in Operation Iraqi Freedom died for nothing. For no reason other than the constitution of Iraq as an Islamic Republic, Fischer calls the conflict “a tragic waste of American blood and American treasure.”

Here he is again, having a hissy fit because a high school football team in Dearborn, Michigan has altered its practice schedule to accommodate the religious practices of Muslim students (who are the majority on the team) during the month of Ramadan. Evidently, the Apocalypse is nigh:

Let’s be clear here. Dearborn, Michigan has now become a Muslim enclave, a Sharia enclave encircled by sovereign U.S. soil.

Really? This might be more convincing if it didn’t sound just like some 1920s screed targeting them dang fur’n Catholics and their treasonous loyalty to Rome. But it does, and to quote Mr. Fischer, it was published on a blog “right here in the United States of America.” Isn’t he fortunate to have our First Amendment protecting his right to say stupid things?

He goes on to explain that Islam “is not a religion so much as an entire, totalitarian ideology that is determined to control every aspect of life, right down to when you can practice football.”

Can you imagine? A faith tradition that actually expects you to think about what you’re doing even when you’re not sitting right there in church? One that requires the faithful to practice certain rituals and diets at certain times of the year, and provides rules for conduct in every aspect of your life? I can only conclude that Bryan Fischer is one of those “Sunday Christians” who doesn’t let his religion interfere with his real life too much (although he seems to have established a career based on letting it interfere with other peoples’). This notion of “separation of church and life” as what defines a bona fide religion as apart from “an entire, totalitarian ideology” will come as a surprise to many Christians, including certainly the ones at my church.

It will also come as a surprise to Christian Nationalists like Michael Farris and Chuck Colson, who I think would argue that their “biblical worldview” is comprehensive and inseparable from their political activism, work and family life. So comprehensive, in fact, that it’s used as justification for being rude to strangers, denying established scientific fact, bearing false witness about legislation, controlling adult children’s dating relationships, physically abusing and silencing young people, crushing academic dialogue, demanding special exemptions from normal job requirements, dehumanizing minorities, and generally using litigation and the legislative process to withhold basic rights from other citizens. There is literally no aspect of life where these busybodies don’t think their religion entitles them to intrude, including inside other people’s bodies. You might even call it an entire, totalitarian ideology.

10 Reasons Gay Marriage is Wrong

(I shamelessly stole this from a friend on Facebook, it’s brilliant. -P13)

10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage is Wrong (reposting Mitchell Sturges)

01) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning.

02) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

03) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

04) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn’t changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can’t marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

05) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britany Spears’ 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

06) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn’t be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren’t full yet, and the world needs more children.

07) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

08) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That’s why we have only one religion in America.

09) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That’s why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven’t adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

Sen. Herring in 2013

The Washington Post’s Virginia Politics blog has started reading the tea leaves for the 2013 statewide races. And Loudoun’s own Sen. Herring is mentioned in the article.

Other Democrats being talked about for statewide office are Sen, Mark Herring of Loudoun County for attorney general, former Del. Brian Moran, who ran for governor last year, and former Del. Steve Shannon, who ran for attorney general and recently opened a PAC. But expect Moran and Shannon may end up back in the General Assembly before they make another run at statewide office. – The Washington Post

This article follows along a long string of speculation that the Senator is looking to run statewide in 2013, and one of the main pieces of evidence cited is his hosting of an event at an otherwise uneventful JJ dinner this year.

Each year, candidates seeking higher office in Virginia host hospitality suites after the Democrats’ annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner.

But so far, only state Sen. Mark Herring of Loudoun County is hosting one after the black-tie fundraiser Saturday night in Richmond.

We hear Herring is considering a run for attorney general in 2013, but in an interview this week he said that 2013 is a “long way off” and that he’s focused solely on his re-election to the Senate next year and being the best senator he can be. – The Washington Post

In the interests of full disclosure, I’m a strong supporter of Sen. Herring and believe he would be an excellent candidate for higher office, and more importantly, an excellent Attorney General or Governor.  I spoke with someone who works with the Senator, and he reminded me of the following:

“I think it’s important that you know Senator Herring’s position regarding the speculation and that is that he is 100% focused on his reelection in 2011. 2013 is a long way off, and he is very flattered to mentioned as someone people think would be qualified to seek statewide office.”

Senator Herring is public service at its best. Oh, and he makes a fantastic grilled ear of corn.  

Tarina Keene on Rachel Maddow

The Executive Director for NARAL Prochoice Virginia was on the Rachel Maddow show last night to talk about Cuccinelli and his opinion that abortion providers can be regulated far more than an ordinary OB/GYN’s office. Abortions are already hard to get in Virginia, especially if you live in a rural area.

I am on the NARAL Prochoice Virginia Board, and I’m proud of it, and of Tarina.

The video is after the jump.Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sign This, Send That 9

More unionbusting in New York, and David Waldman leads the way on filibuster reform.

  • Tell Xerox: No More Unionbusting! – Motts in upstate New York, and now Xerox in Staten Island.
  • Filibuster Reform – Remember when David Waldman came to the LCDC and talked to us about Filibuster Reform? Well, he’s leading the charge with a petition you should sign.

  • Meet My Senators for Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is setting up meetings with critical Senators to advocate for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Both Senators Webb and Warner are key to this effort. You can sign up to help.
  • Turn Off Fox – This is a campaign to get citizens to ask businesses with TVs in them (think barber shops) to turn off Fox News. I love it, because Fox News funds terrorism, thus watching Fox supplies money to terrorists.
  • Can The Catfood Commission – The Social Security reform commission chaired by Sen. Simpson is a stalking horse for cutting benefits even though Social Security is solvent. Sign the petition to tell President Obama not to cut this critical element of our safety net.

Debates, Distractions and Religious Freedom

I sometimes find Glenn Greenwald to be a bit much. I know that makes me a blasphemer in the progressive blogosphere, but here I stand and I can do no more. That being said, his post about the furor over the Park51 Islamic Center in Manhattan made me think about the current “debate” over the undebateable (Private Property + Freedom of Religion = Essential Core of American Values) differently.

If you chose to narrowly define the topic of the controversy as nothing more than the Manhattan address of Park 51, then obviously it pales in importance to the unemployment crisis, our ongoing wars, and countless other political issues.

But that’s an artificially narrow and misguided way of understanding what this dispute is about.  The intense animosity toward Muslims driving this campaign extends far beyond Ground Zero, and manifests in all sorts of significant and dangerous ways. – Glenn Greenwald

All too often, pro-Christian protests are not so much pro-Christian as against other faiths, or even against other threads of Christianity, let alone faiths that do not accept the divinity of Christ.

Which brings us to the relevance of the Park51 protests to Loudoun County: the revisiting of Courthouse displays that will take place before the Board of Supervisors in September. If you believe that the crazy that is going on in Lower Manhattan couldn’t happen here, rest assured that the irrational vitriol so prevalent there will be appearing shortly before our elected officials in the form of a re-energized false controversy over Christmas displays.  It is important to remember that we all agree that freedom of speech is a correct basis for determining what should and should not be permitted on public, courthouse grounds. It’s also important to remember that this is a manufactured controversy meant to allow the empowered majority (white, Christian males) to play the part of the victim even while persecuting real minorities. Thus, back to Greenwald:

To belittle this issue as though it’s the equivalent of the media’s August fixation on shark attacks or Chandra Levy — or, worse, to want to ignore it because it’s harmful to the Democrats’ chances in November — is profoundly irresponsible.  The Park51 conflict is driven by, and reflective of, a pervasive animosity toward a religious minority — one that has serious implications for how we conduct ourselves both domestically and internationally.

If Park51 ends up moving or if opponents otherwise succeed in defeating it, it will seriously bolster and validate  the ugly premises at the heart of this campaign:  that Muslims generally are responsible for 9/11, Terrorism justifies and even compels our restricting the equals rights and access of Americans Muslims, and more broadly, the animosity and suspicions towards Muslims generally are justified, or at least deserving of respect.  As Aziz Poonawalla put it:  “if the project does fail, then I think that the message that will be sent is that bigotry and fear of Muslims is not just permitted, it is effective.” – Glenn Greenwald

And that is why it is critical to watch the activities around the September hearings on Courthouse displays so closely. The forces of intolerance in our local society (not just our nation, but here in Loudoun) want to know how far they can push the envelope. They want to legitimize bombastic bigotry as an acceptable form of civic discourse. It is important for the voices of reason and compassion among neighbors to be heard in the face of what is sure to be a litany of false hyperbole from conservative-organized speaker after speaker.

I make a bold prediction that I pray is wrong: The September hearings about Courthouse displays will feature anti-Islamic language and anecdotes. That is, after all, the theme in the air on the right. When the Board of Supervisors held a hearing about the Chesapeake Bay Act, more than one speaker cited such regulation as a outgrowth of fascist progressive policies originating in 1930s Europe, a talking point which was then making the rounds on Glenn Beck and right-wing talk radio. So do not be surprised when anti-Muslim intolerance makes its appearance in discussions of Christmas displays. That’s the current talking point (well, that and hatred of babies).

Stands against intolerance, bigotry and, yes, crazy, must be taken locally, not just nationally. It is at the local level that these divisive impulses calcify and metastasize to become feeders into a negative national discourse. It is here, at the root, that they must be cut out. And it is up to us, the citizens of Loudoun, to do the weeding.

That’s exactly the message that will be sent, and that’s what makes this conflict so significant.  Obviously, not all opponents of Park51 are as overtly hateful as those in that video — and not all opponents are themselves bigots — but the position they’ve adopted is inherently bigoted, as it seeks to impose guilt and blame on a large demographic group for the aberrational acts of a small number of individual members.   And one thing is certain:  if this campaign succeeds, it will proliferate and the sentiments driving it will become even more potent.  Hatemongers always become emboldened when they triumph. – Glenn Greenwald

Remember this, come September’s hearings: If you stay silent in the face of crazy, you let crazy win. Take a stand for reason and faith. Don’t let this “debate” be dominated by false ideas and abhorrent policies. Stand up, take the microphone, and show what Loudoun’s real values are.

[Update] – If you think this courthouse displays hearing isn’t a political setup by the Right, consider that AG Cuccinelli is making a national issue of it!

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) writes in a new opinion that local governments do not have to ban holiday displays that include religious symbols, including Jesus Christ.

Cuccinelli’s opinion was a response to a request from Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), who asked whether Loudoun County, under the U.S. and Virginia constitutions and state law law, must prohibit holiday displays on public property. – The Washington Post

And I love how a Delegate from Prince William County and an AG from Fairfax is sticking their nose in Loudoun’s business. I guess that makes PWC’s anti-migrant policies fair game for Loudoun to criticize.

There’s More To Do

Progress is a continuum, not a light switch.

I still want a public option.

I still want us to leave Iraq, and Afghanistan.

I still want cramdown, and the formalization of the short sale process.

I still want gays to be able to serve openly in the military, and get married.

I still want the wealthy to pay their fair share.  

For that matter, I still want riparian buffers.

The fact that I still want these things does not mean that I do not revel in that which has already been accomplished. I’d rather have a lead after the first two months of the baseball season than be behind, but I understand that there’s a lot more baseball to play, even with that lead. So, too, with politics and government. Just because we have gotten so much done doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot more to do. It just means that we’re better off for having done what we have so far.

But neither does it mean that we are done with the issues on which we have already legislated. Throughout US history, Congresses and Presidents have returned to issues after their first attempts showed more was needed:

  • At the beginning of our Republic, passage of the Constitution was not sufficient without the further addition of the Bill of Rights.
  • After the Civil War, passage of the 13th Amendment was proven to be insufficient to guarantee the rights of all our citizens, and we passed the 14th Amendment to rectify those deficiencies.
  • In the first 100 days of the New Deal, dozens of great pieces of legislation were passed. In the following eight years, modifying legislation was passed dozens more times to adjust and improve on the original ideas.
  • During the fight for Civil Rights in the 1960s, the Civil Rights Act was shown to be insufficient, and the Voting Rights Act followed shortly thereafter.

So, too, with the major issues that face us today. From health care reform to financial reform to re-examining our military challenges in the face of a new world, our first steps in reform will not be our last. We must, and we will, return to these questions to address the unforeseen needs and limitations of what has already been done.This is why I get frustrated with the idea that we should give up in disgust because everything isn’t fixed already. This is why I get frustrated when people I talk to ask why they should help when all their work so far has been for naught.

Who said this was going to be easy? Who ever said that electing the first black President and giving him a Democratic Congress would actually be anything other than the first step in fixing the raging cluster of problems left by the previous administration?

‘Tis surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes run through a country. All nations and ages have been subject to them. Britain has trembled like an ague at the report of a French fleet of flat-bottomed boats; and in the fourteenth [fifteenth] century the whole English army, after ravaging the kingdom of France, was driven back like men petrified with fear; and this brave exploit was performed by a few broken forces collected and headed by a woman, Joan of Arc. Would that heaven might inspire some Jersey maid to spirit up her countrymen, and save her fair fellow sufferers from ravage and ravishment! Yet panics, in some cases, have their uses; they produce as much good as hurt. Their duration is always short; the mind soon grows through them, and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. In fact, they have the same effect on secret traitors, which an imaginary apparition would have upon a private murderer. They sift out the hidden thoughts of man, and hold them up in public to the world. Many a disguised Tory has lately shown his head, that shall penitentially solemnize with curses the day on which Howe arrived upon the Delaware. – The Crisis, Thomas Paine

What will this “panic” show of us? What things and people will be brought to light? We have seen what has been brought to light on the other side, hate, bigotry, ignorance, fear and irrationality. What about on our side? Will we provide inspiration, discipline and persistence in the face of these challenges? I believe we can. I believe we will.

Progress is a process, a journey, a constant struggle against the forces of regression, fear, and division. It requires commitment and continuity. It involves steps backwards as well as leaps forward. It is hard. It is always hard.

We are the Party. Not the President, not Congress members, us. The Party is what we make of it. The fight is never done, and the party is not perfect – no human institution is – but it’s what we have, and it’s what we make of it. Just as America isn’t perfect, but we’re working towards an ever-more perfect union. Our Democratic party isn’t perfect. It’s flawed and it’s scared, and it needs our help to stay true to its bearings. But isn’t that kinda the point of being involved in the first place?

President Obama said we are the change, remember? That doesn’t end with an election, the election is only where it starts. – Paradox13

Revisiting issues many would prefer dispensed with will not be easy, but we will do it. Attacking the next challenge will not be easy, but we will do it. But to do it we must remember that it’s “we” who do these things. Not “them.” Not our elected officials alone, our President alone, but our leaders in concert with us, and more often than not our leaders following us.

And that, that is how we continue to move America forward. Yes, we can.