Monthly Archives: December 2011

Spam posts redux

Just deleted another (and yet another!) spam post (and banned the posters).

I do NOT want to have to change our posting permissions, but it may come to that. Please be prepared for a change to come.

A reminder, a rumor, the RPV, and a round (reposted from

A reminder that you’ve got limited time if you want to be a voting member of the LCDC. I don’t really understand why they have the deadline, but there you go.

A commenter on Too Conservative said that Bob Moses is running for Chair along with Evan MacBeth. So at least there’s a choice? If you’re interested in voting?

Personally, I think not allowing on-site registration is a mistake, but it ain’t my party.

The RPV seems to be making their own errors, but at least I can laugh at those.

Last but not least, here’s a little something to lighten the mood:

Give DAAR a second chance

[Because it needed to be said.. -Epl.]

I doubt that the general membership of the Dulles Area Association of Realtors (DAAR) wants to be associated with the model pictured below.

The RW triangle

How corrupt politicians stay in office

The illustration shows one way that corrupt politicians continue to win elections. They start by repeating outrageous lies about concerned citizens; for example, that anyone who wants to protect the quality of water in our creeks and streams is a “socialist” or “radical environmentalist” attempting a “land grab.” Along the way, the corrupt politician receives campaign contributions from financial interests who profit by building large, high-end homes on top of limestone karst, or in riparian buffer zones. Their profit is realized through their disregard for the environment, their own clients (homebuyers), and the common good.

Continue reading

No. Spam. Seriously.

I just had to delete a user and their post because they were selling some form of snake oil. No. No Spam.

Occupy Chanukah and Christmas

The actual meaning of Chanukah and Christmas has taken a back seat to the culture war thanks to vandals and government authorities who justify their behavior.  Lest we forget the actual meaning of the holidays, Tikkun’s Rabbi Lerner reminds us of their scriptural roots of the traditions.

Chanukah was the first recorded national liberation struggle against Greek imperialism, and Christmas celebrates the birth of a hoped-for messiah to free the Jewish people from Roman imperialism.

The symbolism of a homeless couple giving birth in a manger surrounded by animals because the more comfortable people have not been able to make room for them inside a roofed home is akin to the symbolism of the candles lit on Chanukah to celebrate the victory of the powerless over the powerful: both offer a powerful reminder that both Judaism born of slaves in Egypt and Christianity born of a movement of the poor and powerless were in their times the “Occupy” movement that confronted the powerful and those who served them.

I’d add that Chanukah is not a religious holiday.  It is a secular celebration of a military victory.  God did not speak to the Maccabees as he spoke to Moses and the prophets.  The Book of Maccabee is not a part of the Torah or the Old Testament, but I digress.  Rabbi Lerner laments the sins of modern-day religious authorities.

Major forces in the Christian world have sided with the war-makers, ultra-nationalists, and the blame-poverty-on-the-poor cheerleaders for vast inequalities and protection of the rich against the needs of the rest. Jews, while retaining their commitment to domestic liberalism, have become tone-deaf to the cries of the oppressed in Palestine…

One of the reflections of the way both religions have lost their ethical core is that the vast majority of people in both religious worlds have allowed their winter holidays to be turned into orgies of consumerism.

He also provides hope and ethical guidance as any good rabbi would.

The good news is that a counter-movement of spiritual progressives has emerged in the past few decades—spiritual progressives who are willing to challenge the distortions in their own religious communities while simultaneously doing battle with the institutions and practices of the wealthy and powerful. Spiritual progressives recognize that even those who appear most insensitive to the needs of the poor and powerless, as well as most committed to war and to policies that benefit the 1 percent at the expense of the 99 percent, are themselves often quite decent people in their private lives who have simply accepted the fundamental structures of capitalist society as immutable, and have therefore decided that in an oppressive society they’d rather be on top than on bottom. For us, the struggle is not simply about winning specific battles that slightly limit the ability of the powerful to exploit the powerless—it is a battle to transform the fundamentals of this society, to create the kind of rebirth of goodness symbolized by Chanukah and by the birth of Jesus.

An in the midst of this, it’s remarkable that the Atheists who have occupied the courthouse square are truly square with Lerner’s message.  All people of faith, or not faith at all should support their occupation and their powerful message that no single set of religious beliefs is entitled to exclusive domination of the public commons.  Once we’ve cleared that up, we can move on to the normal struggles against militarism, greed, conspicuous consumerism and the positive transformation of the fundamentals of this society.


There are those who think the answers to economic progress in a democracy are simply to be had by privatizing everything as much as we can as soon as we can, all the while de-regulating the market place. (Both nationally and locally.) In case you are not yet sure how you feel about that—or even if you think you are, consider your almost 1000% increase in tolls on the Greenway. If that’s not enough to get you “into the streets,” then consider also this local example:

In a current HOA condominium neighborhood in Loudoun, a recent discovery was made of structural repairs needed. There are two cost options for these repairs: 1) $2 million dollars; or 2) $700,000. A vote will be taken of homeowners (never mind the ones who lease and whose lease will increase. They can’t vote.) There is a corporation that owns several investment condos in the community. It gets to vote each piece of property it owns. The rule is “one property = one vote,” not “one person, one vote.”

BUT, each and every homeowner will be assessed either $3500 or $10,000 depending upon the choice this one company makes.
In other words, there is only 1 absentee landlord making this decision – not the resident owners who live in the neighborhood, although they will share the cost burden – most of them seniors or working families… many of them with mortgages under water as a result of the last housing debacle.

Moreover, who will guard against the possibility that the whole repair proposal is possibly a fraudulent scam? The only people who could afford the lawyer to do that are the ones who stand to benefit from having homes dumped on the market at a low price that they can snap up for investment purposes.

THIS is how wealth is transferred from the bottom up… and only a small example. THIS is how we become dis-enfranchised and will increasingly so when corporations own everything. They have already bought Congress and the investment HOAs, and a commuter highway. Why is anyone so eager to give them more?

Citizen Oversight Panel

The newly-elected BoS was sworn into office on Friday night at an apparently pretty posh affair paid for by Suzanne Volpe (R – Algonkian) with unspent campaign funds.  The celebration was a break from the traditional ceremony held at the Government center but not from what I observe as a culture of triumphalism.  The newspapers are reporting that this new BoS has been very busy.  Most alarming was a Leesburg Today report that:

The board’s first meeting Tuesday, Jan. 2, will include the votes on the vice chairmanship and the committee assignments as usual, but the board also will follow through on the formation of the government reform commission. Supervisors said the appointment of members to that group would take place at its first meeting.

This action seems a bit hasty doesn’t it?  The BoS hasn’t even met.  They are actively developing a strategy to court new businesses but haven’t been outspoken about relationships with ordinary citizens.  In its “Choose Wisely” editorial, the Leesburg Today offers good advice regarding the government reform panel:

The work of the panel will only be successful if the right people are tapped to serve. This isn’t the place for political paybacks, partisan hacks or self-serving opportunists. This is an opportunity to get some of the county’s brightest people-students of government, industry experts and finance gurus-around the same table to examine the operations of Loudoun County government in detail, and identify ways to make it function better.

This is a good opportunity to ask the citizens of the county – not politically active people the supervisors already know – to step forward.  The least they can do is to try to appear to be free from the influence of “partisan hacks and self-serving opportunists“.

The OpenBand law suit doesn’t help their image.  The article reports that five of the Supervisors received large contributions from Bill Dean (OpenBand’s owner) and MC Dean (OpenBand Media’s parent company).  The law suit won’t be served if the BoS agrees to renew the cable franchise agreement which guarantees OpenBand (according to my hasty calculations) $400K/month in revenue.  This isn’t a bad return for $35K in campaign donations.  Will the recipients of campaign contributions recuse themselves from the franchise agreement vote?

We also have the Loudoun Delegation meeting with a highly anti-environmental Chamber of Commerce.   It appears that road building and opposition to health care reform top their priorities.

All this activity should raise a red flag.  The representatives are going to move fast to favor more of the same development and economic “growth” and political hackery.   Their momentum is high and they are taking advantage of the holiday season to sprint ahead of citizen oversight before they “officially” take office.  It’s imperative that we form a Citizen Oversight Panel (COP) as quickly as possible.  More to follow.

Does this look like hate speech to you?

Update: See more photos from the Leesburg courthouse on Saturday, when four new displays were added. Just added: the text of the “Letter from Jesus” that was vandalized the evening of December 5.

Another update: The Beltway Atheists’ take on all this is up at their blog. They are quite right about this: “The NOVA display, like all of our previous displays, failed to trash christianity or to attack christmas.” The frequently repeated sentiment summed up by the opening line of this recent misguided letter to the editor“The anti-religious courthouse lawn displays crafted by Rick Wingrove and the others were erected for one purpose only: to insult and provoke those who believe in God” – is a ridiculous kneejerk reaction to the expression of ideas with which those who are offended disagree. Disagreement does not equal insult, people.

On the other hand, I do think the author is dismissive of the spontaneous interpretation of the Skeleton Santa by those who didn’t have prior knowledge of its intended meaning (“That the christian community was absolutely wrong about the display did not alter their narrative, that it was an atheist attack on christianity.”) While that statement is certainly true, what those people saw conveyed hate to them. A little more sensitivity to the feelings of such people, even if it’s not mutual, would go a long way, IMO. The Christian community is not a monolithic group, any more than the atheist community is. Unfortunately, some of them responded in kind (trigger warning for those offended by hateful language and profanity, the author quotes from one of the emails sent to the group, and I can only hope that person doesn’t claim to be a Christian).

Does this look like hate speech to you?

Yeah, me either.