Monthly Archives: June 2012

VA Republican 10th CD: Transparently, intrinsically immoral

“…the poor inherit the Kingdom of God,

while the wealthy have their reward already”

- Chuck Colson, The Faith

Frank Wolf

Translation: “The [favored] have their reward already, and the [disfavored] inherit the Kingdom after they bow down to the [favored].” This bastardization of Gospel describes the political programme of Virginia’s Republican 10th Congressional District, an organization that continues to seek new lows. The 10th is now led by John Whitbeck, also a Reform Commission member who I have observed too closely for far too many hours. He comes across as emotionless, cold, calculating, self-absorbed, ideological, and hermetically-sealed against unwanted information.

This makes him the perfect chairman of an organization guided by the late Chuck Colson’s worldview and the district’s intractable Godfather, Congressman Frank Wolf. Wolf received the first Chuck Colson/Prison Fellowship Ministries “Wilberforce award” in 1992, and the now deceased “redeemed” Nixonian hatchet man and the “Christian” crusading Congressman have been married in purpose ever since.

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Atheists Unite! (in Turkey, not here)

Atheists Unit!

The Christian Post, an evangelical Christian news outlet, reports that Fazil Say, a renowned atheist pianist is facing jail time for ”publicly insulting religious values“. His crime, he tweeted “messages that compare the Islamic vision of heaven as rivers of wine and virgins to a tavern and a brothel.

Turkey was recently placed on the “worst offenders” list by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The USCIRF is a highly politicized Congressional commission that wastes $3M annually. Its funding was recently restored thanks to a lobbying campaign by the late Chuck Colson and Frank Wolf.

Turkey is also a key U.S. ally whose military bases are used extensively in mid-East military actions. The USCIRF’s action harmed international relations and demonstrated to the world that Wolf will defy the Executive branch and national security to further his Evangelical political program. The USCIRF’s work is predominately anti-Muslim. It scans the international legal arena for statutes that grant “[Muslim] religious leaders the right to criminalize speech and activities that they deem to insult religion.

Maybe the USCIRF should start right here in Loudoun where a member our own courthouse grounds committee recently called atheists “storm troopers“. That’s how it starts, right? First brand a group a threat to the state, then, in an act that is more tyrannical than criminalization, brand their speech and activities an insult to religion, decency, tradition, the family, blah, blah, blah. Maybe the USCIRF and its backers should protect the rights of *all* atheists. No, that wouldn’t further their agenda. Atheists unite! But not here, move to Turkey.

Bad for business, stupid, hateful or all three?

Congressman Frank Wolf’s hatred for China is transparent to people who know technology and follow the business pages. In late March, Wolf wrote a press release warning of the perils of Huawei’s wireless devices and telecom equipment. The equipment “may be subject to espionage“, Wolf cried. He must know that U.S. legislation referred to as CALEA mandates espionage. If the equipment didn’t provide the capability to snoop, it couldn’t be sold in the U.S. I guess Chinese companies are just SOL. Next time, Wolf should come up with a better, less transparent excuse to shield him from accusations of sinophobia.

Congressman Wolf's image of the administration

There is a political side to this. He wants to brand the Obama administration “pro-communist” and soft on security and he’ll sacrifice free-trade and laissez faire capitalism in the process. Now, he wants to create a class of patent that our larger more intrusive big brother government will snatch off the market. He calls them “economic security” patents. Bloomberg Business rips him a new one for this incredibly dumb idea. ‘“It’s ridiculous. Absurd,” says Robert Stoll, who ran the agency’s patent applications office before retiring in January.‘ The article goes on.

Each year the patent office is flooded with about half a million applications. The agency would have to figure out which of those to pluck out for secret status. Companies spend millions trying to divine which products will be hits and which will flop—it’s hard to imagine the government’s crystal ball would be any better.

I can’t understand why voters don’t see through Wolf’s (and the rest of the Republican’s) government is good/ government is bad schizophrenia. Government reformers, like many on Loudoun’s Government Reform Commission generally agree that the private sector is more efficient and innovative than government. I believe Ken Glozer said “I worked for OMB and I know how screwed up government can be.” That’s right. It’s really screwed up when powerful Congressmen dictate policy because of deeply held dark ages cold war ideological obsessions. Not only do businesses want to patent their work here. They also want to patent it in China. Then the Chinese government will protect it too. VA 10th CD “job creators“, beware, you’re represented by an unhinged, hateful ideologue who may hurt your bottom line.

The W-word

Workers Unite! (Rockwell Kent - Carleton.edu)

Communism 101, capitalists own the means of production. Workers create value by producing products and services. Workers don’t own much of anything. They sell their labor power to their employer. In order to maximize profits, employers squeeze the most productivity out of the workers for the least wages and benefits possible. Capitalists and workers used to be two distinct poles of a dialectic.

Not any more. Republicans, the primary but not exclusive representatives of the owners of the means of production, are winning hearts, minds and elections. Politically, Republicans now also represent the worker. Republicans own the W-word. Take this defense of Bill Dean’s opposition to the now defunct metro phase II PLA. Please note that “[Y]your opinion” in the quote was my assertion that contractors object to the PLA because it reduces their ability to exploit the workforce.

As a merit shop subcontractor who has about 50 full-time skilled workers (it used to be more before the recession) that I consider my friends, family and valuable employees that I have invested millions of dollars in training in the latest safety and construction skills, I strongly disagree with your opinion.

…This project is already subjected to Davis-Bacon wage rates determined by the federal government with or without a PLA, so pay and benefits are a non-issue

The buffoons are holding this project up over a non-issue because they need to pay their union masters back through the corrupt political system that appointed them to the MWAA board.

The writer must think we’re stupid to believe she spent millions to train 50 workers. Really? If she spent $2M, she spent an unbelievable $40,000 to train each worker who earnins from $15 to $23 per hour per the Davis-Bacon Act. Would any company spend that much to train low wage earners? Does anybody believe that “pay and benefits are a non-issue“? If so, see capitalism.

Meanwhile, Congressman Wolf has been working with Virginia Republicans to “screw labor and strip local control” of the MWAA for the past year, or longer. His recent comment that the PLA is “a festering sore“ indicates that he has nothing to fear from the Democrats or labor. He can exhibit outright hostility with impunity.

Where do the Democrats stand? The LCDC web site reports that unions addressed the next to last LCDC meeting, including; teachers and school employees, service employees, flight attendants, AFLCIO, food and commercial workers, communication workers, air traffic controllers, and construction laborers. LUNA, the construction union that represents “5,000 construction workers in Loudoun” lobbied for union protections in the Metro Silver Line Phase II project. Too bad for them. The LCDC just threw them under the Metro train right onto the hot third rail.

After the MWAA killed the Project Labor Agreement (PLA), the message from LCDC leadership was capitulation. We fought hard for our “friends in Labor“, but we lost, and mass transit is more important, and by the way, it was only a 10% PLA bidding bonus for Phase II. Voluntary PLAs will be there, so suck it up, knock on doors, phone bank and get Democrats elected. Go Dems! Democrats may court the unions on the surface but they are not leading anything and are actually preventing inter-union organization efforts from gaining traction. Democrats do not represent workers and they have no choice but to capitulate.

Labor relations are subject to the fragile economics of the industries and broader economic fears. The teaching profession is being de-professionalized by a Democratic administration. The airline industry suffered bankruptcies and political assaults since Ronald Reagan busted the air-traffic controllers. Their union, PATCO was really “an organization of conservative, skilled white men; men with their eyes on corner lots in the suburbs where they could raise their young families.” PATCO endorsed Reagan and Reagan had cause to fire them because their generous contract barred them from striking. Reagan really stuck it to them by refusing to hire them back after the strike. When highly skilled white-collar workers became expendable, the game changed.

The conservative white-collar PATCO is a model for LCDC’s worker friends. The concept that the worker will own the means of production, that the people will be responsible for planning what society produces and how products are developed and manufactured doesn’t exist in the local body politic. There are land-use questions – walkable transit-oriented versus sprawling auto-centric – but Loudoun’s abominable “design” is so auto-centric that the idea that Metro will affect those critical done decisions is ridiculous. The development chaos that built Loudoun was outsourced to the real “corrupt political system”; the system that sells automobiles using images of Craftsman-style bungalows, but no longer manufactures those small well-built American-made homes. It now sells us plastic wrapped colonials with three car garages to house automobiles owned by workers who, while stopped in traffic, dream of returning home to the mythical bungalow that sealed the deal on the car.

Automobile sold by the mythical bungalow in the woods

We live in an endless cycle of dream and myth that never connects the harsh reality that the middle class is shrinking and most production takes place in developing countries where workers and natural resources are exploited. There are workers out there, but we dare not speak of them.

Meanwhile, the Republican black and white thinking unburdens voters from these complicated geopolitical issues. A fertilized egg is a citizen, marriage is between one man and one women (at one time), workers are bad – unless my company employs them, business is good and there is no such thing as pollution. Democrats want the same thing for the workers that the Republicans purportedly deliver, jobs, and nobody seems to want the real change that is required to build a stable, self-sustaining economy.

If “worker” wasn’t the W-word, maybe we could make some progress. For now, Scott Walker won, the PLA is dead, the people voted, and workers had better tighten their belts.

Delgaudio demands that men use the women’s restroom

Crossposted at Equality Loudoun.

Joe My God shares with us yet another dumb fundraising letter, this one yammering on about people going to the bathroom (what is it with this guy and bodily functions?) His panties are in a bunch this time because trans women use the (duh) women’s room. What else would they use?

I guess it’s time for another lesson on reality-based world, since it doesn’t seem to have gotten through the last dozen or so times. The target of Mr. Delgaudio’s diatribe is not open to creative interpretation. That target is a specific woman who was (presumably) assigned male at birth. I suppose that I need to spell it out, again. Mr. Delgaudio is demanding that everyone use the restroom that corresponds to the gender they were assigned at birth, including when that assignment was made in error.

I know that Mr. Delgaudio has a wife, and I know that he has daughters. Would his wife and daughters feel comfortable using the same restroom as this guy? Perhaps he should ask them. How about any of these guys, below? I’m sure they’re all lovely people and would in no way pose any harm to Mr. Delgaudio’s wife or daughters, but the question, as he has posed it, is the presence of men in the women’s restroom.

So, this is what Mr. Delgaudio wants: For these and other men to use the women’s restroom alongside our mothers, wives, girlfriends, sisters, daughters and other women in our lives. Continue reading

Offensive holiday intentions

John Mileo, a member of the Courthouse Grounds Committee writes that Rick Wingrove, CEO of the Beltway Atheists, is in the process of “rounding up his storm troopers… to persuade the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors… to rule against the inclusion of a creche as part of this year’s so-called Seasonal Display.” The storm troopers – Sturmabteilung, SA, or Brownshirts – provided protection at rallies, disrupted opposing political parties and intimidated Jews during the rise of the Nazis. I fail to see how a half dozen BoS public comment speakers could be compared to “storm troopers”, but I also failed to understand how a small group of prayerful Soulforce youth could elicit a storm trooper-like response from Patrick Henry College for daring to engage students in open dialog.

PHC's "storm trooper" dialog

And here is where the two stories meet. Mike Farris, the only person in the county to actually call for shock-troop-like protection of the fragile ideology fed to his PHC students, is also the constitutional lawyer consultant to the CGC that illegally cleared citizens from its last meeting. Mr. Mileo did not mean to be offensive, forgive him, he didn’t understand what he was doing – channeling the Christianist-right’s ubiquitous persecution complex.

Last December, Prison Fellowship Ministry’s Pat Nolan wrote a letter to the editor with a similar argument, that “neo-pagans [sic] of the SS belittled and mocked all who acknowledged a higher power than the state” and that “[e]ven the simple act of celebrating Christmas was outlawed.” The late Chuck Colson also used Nazi imagery in his “Breaking the Spiral of Silence” DVD to portray, among other “liberal” menaces, same-sex couples as modern day “storm troopers.” Thankfully, “Breaking the Cycle of Silence” was Colson’s final exercise of Godwin’s law.

Creche on the courthouse lawn, 2011

The use of this imagery is offensive, and the Board of Supervisors is planning to allow the CGC to get away with it. At last night’s public input, Chairman York invoked his privilege to indicate that the BoS intends to approve the PHC designed display because it will be similar to the national display at the Ellipse. For me, the content of the display – a creche, Christmas tree and menorah – isn’t the issue. The issue is the intention of the BoS and CGC to establish a phony religious mythology that frames any opposition as threatening, terrorist, and even Nazi. That intention is so offensive that the PHC design should be rejected outright and the BoS should take a timeout to think about what they are doing. Mr. Mileo did. After belatedly consulting a dictionary, he posted the following comment to his own letter:

I have requested that the editor replace the word “storm troopers”, which I was using as a metaphor, with the word “member.”

Thank you Mr. Mileo. Unlike the BoS, your retraction demonstrates a willingness to admit error and change course.

Help build a home for LCpl Martinez in Purcellville

Invitation to help build a home for LCpl Martinez in Purcellville

From my inbox:

Homes for Our Troops will be building at NO COST to the veteran a specially designed brand new home for a disabled veteran.   The recipient of this new home will be Marine Lance Corporal Michael Martinez.   LCpl Martinez was 5 months into his first deployment when he lost both of his legs in an IED blast in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on March 11, 2010.

This organization is need of volunteers and supplies including donations for tent/chairs/pa system and food donation requests. We will also need an honor guard, national anthem singer, escort and key speakers.  Most importantly, we are looking for someone who will donate the flag pole that will be placed in the front yard of this hero’s new home.

If you know anyone that would be willing to donate these items, or volunteer supplies or their time on this weekend to help in the build, please forward this email along.

You can contact Christopher West or Renee Larsh for more information.

I’m going to help out, won’t you?

 

EZPass service charges? Oh hell, no.

In my inbox this afternoon, I found a note about the proposed $1/month service fee that VDOT is considering charging for the privilege of using EZPass (full text below the fold).

I resent being charged extra for a “convenience” when the “convenience” actually allows VDOT (or banks in the case of ATMs) to hire fewer workers, thereby saving VDOT money. Money that amounts to millions a year.

I further resent being charged extra when the Greenway, already exhorbitant, and privately owned, doesn’t have any toll collectors at all, and takes no cash. Because I have a height deficiency, I have to actually get out of my car to use the credit card machines on the Greenway, which feels unsafe. I generally try to avoid the Greenway on principle, but when I use it, I have no choice but to use EZPass. To be charged extra to use something that enables a FOR PROFIT company to avoid hiring workers really frosts my cookies.

I will be discussing this at home and, if the charge is implemented, will probably be turning in my EZPass in protest.

Go to the VDOT webpage and register your disgust with proposed charge. I did.

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