Monthly Archives: October 2010

The Facts Of Democratic Policies

The Washington Post has an interesting article about the disconnect between the facts of recent policy, and the things people believe about recent policy.

Most Americans still think that the bailouts of the banks, the auto companies and American International Group will wind up costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. In fact, the latest guess is that the government will come out even on the deal, and may even turn a profit.

Many Americans think that the economic stimulus package has been a failure. In fact, the estimates from a wide range of experts say the stimulus has saved or created more than 3 million jobs.

Many Americans believe their federal taxes have gone up in the past two years. In fact, for 90 percent of households, taxes were temporarily cut.

After the headlines of the past few weeks, most Americans probably think government has been able to do little, if anything to stem the tidal wave of foreclosures. In fact, over the past 18 months, two mortgages have been modified to avoid foreclosure for every completed foreclosure. – Steven Pearlstein

It’s nice to see a major newspaper publishing the facts of our economic reality, even if it is in a lament about how people don’t know the facts about our economic reality. And even if the paper seems to ignore any role it may have played in failing to effectively propagate the facts of our economic reality while people were establishing their beliefs about it.Mr. Pearlstein’s article is descriptive, rather than prescriptive. He, in effect, says “I don’t have an answer, but I certainly admire the question.” This is not helpful.

What is helpful is illustrating what has been done as clearly as possible. Perhaps, then, even pointing out that the good things that have been done have been done at the hands of those serving in public office today, and over the vociferous objections of the minority party.

But what do I know, I’m just a blogger.  

Don’t Teach Lies In History Class [Updated]

[Update]I heard from friends on the School Board that Loudoun is not going to be using the textbook at issue. It’s a supplementary text issued by the state that localities can use at their option. Loudoun is going to decline to use it until and unless it is corrected to fix the factual errors the article points out.

LCPS has put out a statement regarding this book, the full text of which is available if you click through.

What?!

A textbook distributed to Virginia fourth-graders says that thousands of African Americans fought for the South during the Civil War — a claim rejected by most historians but often made by groups seeking to play down slavery’s role as a cause of the conflict.

The passage appears in “Our Virginia: Past and Present,” which was distributed in the state’s public elementary schools for the first time last month. The author, Joy Masoff, who is not a trained historian but has written several books, said she found the information about black Confederate soldiers primarily through Internet research, which turned up work by members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. – The Washington Post

The Loudoun County Public Schools should IMMEDIATELY suspend use of this text book (if they’re allowed to under the Dillon Rule). This is inexcusable and obnoxious. Using a known neo-confederate, white supremacist organization like the Sons of the Confederate Veterans as a source for an elementary school history textbook is the height of fraudulent reinterpretation of historical events.And it is fraudlent.

Masoff said one of her sources was Ervin Jordan, a University of Virginia historian who said he has documented evidence — in the form of 19th-century newspapers and personal letters — of some African Americans fighting for the Confederacy. But in an interview, Jordan said the account in the fourth-grade textbook went far beyond what his research can support.

“There’s no way of knowing that there were thousands,” Jordan said. “And the claim about Jackson is totally false. I don’t know where that came from.” – The Washington Post

The Post article takes a “blame the Internet” view of the research, pointing out that the author of the book relied on Internet searches for their information. Personally, I blame the person who thought that relying on an Internet search, instead of proven scholarship, was a good idea when writing a text book.

Do not teach lies in history class. There were no battalions of black soldiers under Stonewall Jackson. That is simply a lie. This book should be disqualified from our classrooms on that basis.

[Update] Here is the full text of the LCPS statement on this book.

LCPS Suspends Use of Fourth Grade Social Sciences Text

Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) has suspended the use of the state-approved fourth grade social sciences text “Our Virginia: Past and Present.”

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) told the state’s school divisions Wednesday that text did not meet its standards.

“The Virginia Department of Education is advising the commonwealth’s 132 school divisions that the statement in ‘Our Virginia: Past and Present’ about black Confederate soldiers is outside accepted Civil War scholarship and does not reflect the content of the commonwealth’s academic standards,” VDOE Director of Communications Charles B. Pyle said in a statement on this subject.

LCPS used “Our Virginia: Past and Present” as a supplemental text. Its use will be suspended until VDOE reviews the text and issues corrections and supplements.

The Real Frank Wolf

This little video from the Jeff Barnett for Congress campaign says it all:

Here’s the quote from that vid that I find most damning:

For decades on the appropriations committee, Wolf wrote the budgets that added more debt than any other time in U.S. history (source: OMB)

The right-wingers and tea-partiers can rail all they want about the debt and say that it’s spiraled out of control the past two years, but here’s evidence from the non-partisan OMB that Wolf (and by extension, the Republicans) were the major players in the explosion of the federal debt.

It’s time to retire Frank Wolf.

Sixteen Tax Cuts

Did you know that President Obama has cut taxes for small businesses sixteen times!

Did you know that Congress passed legislation, that the President signed, that gave specific incentives to companies to hire people who have been out of work for months and months?

Well, you should.

I think Austan Goolsbee is my new favorite wonk. He and Elizabeth Warren need to form a superhero team.Special bonus video! Austan Goolsbee on the President’s tax plan.

He’s Baaaack!!! (continued)

Lowell over at Blue Virginia has a new post on a very Delgaudio-like interview given by the noted homophobe, the hate-filled Dick Black.

Highlights include Dick Black (yes, that’s really his name) riffing on the supposed evils of gays in the military – increased HIV and AIDS, ogling and fondling in the showers and the foxholes, and worse!

And Lowell also notes that our own clueless representative, Frank Wolf, “praised Black as ‘a vital member of my team’”.Thankfully, Jeff Barnett, running to unseat Wolf in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, has issued a statement:

McLEAN, VA – Jeff Barnett, Democratic Candidate for Congress in Virginia’s 10th District, has condemned recent statements about gay people and the military made by Dick Black, Republican Candidate for Virginia State Senate. Black recently sat for an interview with a group named “Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.”

“Mr. Black’s comments about the imagined “danger” of gay men and women serving in the military are hateful,  and they are an affront to the thousands of people who serve their country with honor but live in fear,” said Barnett. “Not only are Mr. Black’s comments inappropriate, they are incorrect. I served for 26 years in the United States Air Force. I can state unequivocally that simply allowing gay people to serve their country will not, as Mr. Black ludicrously contends, cause deaths on the battlefield. In fact, it is the outdated and discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy that really endangers soldiers, by undermining the trusting and honest relationship that should exist between a commander and his men.”

“Mr. Black’s comments are very upsetting. Perhaps equally upsetting is that Frank Wolf, who likes to portray himself as a moderate, has called Mr. Black “a vital member of my team.” Discriminatory statements of the kind propagated by Dick Black have no place in the American political discourse. I call on Frank Wolf to denounce these hateful sentiments immediately,” Barnett said.

Is this what we want in Loudoun County? We want hate-filled bigots like Dick Black and Eugene Delgaudio representing us? And we want Frank Wolf to act as benefactor and behind-the-scenes supporter?

We defeated Black once. We will do it again. Wolf is next, followed by Delgaudio. Let’s work together to rid Loudoun County of hate, fear-mongering, and a perpetuation of lies and innuendo, all in the name of securing votes.

Wolf, Black, and Delgaudio, I pity you all. As a military veteran, I am appalled that you discredit my fellow troops in this manner. You are a disgrace to this county, and to this Commonwealth.

Fairfax Times Endorses Barnett

In every re-election which Frank Wolf has run in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District, the Fairfax Times has endorsed him.

Until this year.

In Barnett, a retired Air Force colonel whose most recent job involved advising corporate and government leaders on the information age, we see someone who is tailor-made to lead a district that boasts an array of technological industries and government defense contractors.

We certainly like Barnett’s emphasis on creating and preserving jobs, which includes providing tax incentives for small businesses to expand as well as helping area firms innovate and compete in the global marketplace.

We also like his thoughts on reducing the federal deficit, expanding lifelong education opportunities and leveraging Northern Virginia’s proximity to Washington, D.C., to get more federal road and transit money. As a 26-year military veteran who spent time keeping the peace in some of the world’s hottest war zones, he also has some interesting thoughts on making the U.S. military leaner and meaner.

Frank Wolf, as always, is a good, safe choice.

Jeff Barnett, who radiates energy and optimism, is a better one.

It’s time, after 30 years, and twice where Wolf said he would serve a limited term (and later re-neged), that the 10th District changes for the better.

Jeff Barnett is better.

Sen. Herring Requests Road Funds

From the office of our outstanding Senator, Mark Herring (D-33), via Facebook:

Leesburg, VA – Senator Mark Herring (D-Loudoun and Fairfax) has sent a letter to Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton requesting available state funds for two projects critical to alleviating traffic along the Route 7 corridor:  the construction of a planned interchange at Route 7 and Belmont Ridge Road, and the construction of the Sycolin Road overpass.

“The completion of these two projects will make great strides toward the completion of Route 7 as a limited access highway and improve traffic flow on one of the region’s most critical transportation corridors,” Herring states in his letter

“It would support employment growth in a corridor of regional and statewide significance, bolster the area’s economic competitiveness, reduce congestion and travel time on Route 7, improve the quality of life for thousands of commuters who suffer through heavy traffic congestion and frustrating delays every day, improve safety for the traveling public by eliminating two of Loudoun County’s most dangerous intersections, and allow for the state to be a full partner in the public/private partnership that has characterized the forward progress of the corridor over the last fifteen years.”

The letter comes as a result of the second meeting of Senator Herring’s Route 7 Task Force, a group of fifteen business and community leaders that Herring has formed to address the rapidly worsening congestion on Route 7.  The group identified the Route 7/Belmont Ridge Road interchange and Sycolin Road overpass as top priorities for getting traffic moving.  The group agreed at the meeting to compose a companion letter to Secretary Connaughton, to be signed by all of its members.  

In September, Governor McDonnell, along with Secretary Connaughton, released the findings of an independent financial and performance audit of the Virginia Department of Transportation.  Among the audit’s findings: $800 to $900 million in funds that the Governor noted could be put to work immediately building roads and reducing congestion statewide.

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Excellent work, Senator. The Belmont Ridge Road (Rte. 659)/Route 7 interchange is one of the most dangerous intersections in Eastern Loudoun. It is in dire need of improvement, not only to improve traffic flow, but for the safety of other drivers.

Disclosure: my wife sits on Sen. Herring’s task force.  

Open Seat in Broad Run in 2011

From the Loudoun Times Mirror, Broad Run District Supervisor Lori Waters has announced she will not seek re-election in 2011.

This is an election that is really in play now. As the Broad Run District chair for the LCDC, I do know that we have prospective candidates for this seat. I’m just not at liberty to discuss them at this moment.