Monthly Archives: June 2014

Want a government job? What’s your religion?

Arlington Commonwealth Attorney Theo Stamos

Arlington Commonwealth Attorney Theo Stamos

If you were asked to disclose your religion to get a job in government, you’d say, “that’s none of your business.”

Any public employer who wants to know your religion is wrongly using your response to prefer or reject you for a public job.

The interview question also violates federal and state constitutional rights and statutory prohibitions against asking a job applicant about his faith.

The Commonwealth Attorney from Arlington, Theo Stamos, nevertheless told a court last week that there’s nothing wrong about “probing” a public job applicant’s “religious beliefs.” Continue reading

Frank Wolf rebukes his own church on the House floor

Frank Wolf trains Eugene Delgaudio (Sterlingfest, 2006)

Frank Wolf trains Eugene Delgaudio (Sterlingfest, 2006)

Congressman Frank Wolf, “our human rights advocate” rebuked his own Presbyterian church on the House floor yesterday.

Calling himself a “follower of Jesus,” Wolf said he’s “deeply grieved by what transpired at last week’s gathering of the PCUSA’s general assembly.”

Speaking on the House floor Tuesday, Wolf said the vote violates the biblical definition of marriage as a joining of one man and one woman.

Is this what Congress is for, to engage in public, sectarian, anti-gay hissy-fits? Thanks for representing your constituents, not!


The R-word

Geronimo defended Apache lands against Mexicans and Texan forces (by Edward S. Curtis)

Geronimo defended Apache lands against Mexicans and Texan forces (by Edward S. Curtis)

One of the first books I read was James Fennimore Cooper’s, “The Last of the Mohicans.”  Cooper also wrote, a book titled, “Redskins,” a term much discussed, and rightly so, these days.

In March 2013, Cooper’s hometown, settled by his father, retired the High School’s team name, the “Redskins.”

When I watched tv  as a boy, or went to the local movie house, it was cowboys killing savage “redskins.”

Cooper wrote in his book, “Mohicans,” that, “History, like love, is so apt to surround her heroes with an atmosphere of imaginary brightness.”

Consider General Jeffrey Amherst, the Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces.  In 1763, Amherst sought to exterminate Indians by injecting blankets given to American Indians with small pox.

Most Americans look at the large sculpted heads on Mount Rushmore of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, and they see the founding fathers – they see heroes.

The surviving descendants of indigenous tribes observe a somewhat dimmer image of flawed men who sought to destroy their race.

In 1799, General Washington gave orders to “lay waste to all the [Iroquois] settlements around … that the country may not be merely overrun, but destroyed.”

In 1807, President Jefferson said, “…if ever we are constrained to lift the hatchet against any tribe [,] we will never lay it down till that tribe is exterminated or is driven beyond the Mississippi.”

President Lincoln in December 1862 ordered 38 members of the Dakota Sioux Nation hung for fighting for the food our government promised for their land – but then failed to provide.

President Roosevelt, a self-described Indian fighter, said, “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.” Continue reading

Government inaction

There are dual claims to good government, first, we need access to know what the selected “elected” are doing, and, second, we need to have the truth when they purport to tell us what they’re “really” doing.

The political class often fails miserably to conform with either of these two basic principles of transparency which is absolutely necessary so that we can decide whether we need to appear at hearings, to object to proposed policy initiatives, and to vote for our representatives.

While this applies to all government, we cannot ignore the fact that the entire U.S. House of Representatives is up for election this year, so we have an amazing opportunity to get answers while these candidates are the most vulnerable, namely, when they want our vote.

We must demand that every congressional candidate tell us what he’s going to do differently to make Congress work, lest we fail to ask, and are forced to watch another season of that too terrible, long-running, reality c-span tv show, “Government Inaction!” Continue reading

Guess who’s coming to Virginia

AFP sponsored anti-medicaid expansion event with Delegate Tag Greason and Randy Minchew. The sign behind Greason reads "HANDS OFF MY HEALTH CARE"

AFP sponsored anti-medicaid expansion event with Delegate Tag Greason and Randy Minchew. The sign behind Greason reads “HANDS OFF MY HEALTH CARE”

We can’t ignore how money is spent in political campaigns because, plainly, those who contribute expect something in return.

If you give a $100 contribution hoping that will offset the cost of a candidate’s flyer or postage, there’s little expectation that this relatively unsubstantial sum will buy a candidate’s undying obeisance to your wishes should your candidate prevail in November.

But what if you are contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars in ads that your dream media team creates, if you are glorifying “the candidate” and slander-blasting any opponent to kingdom come with half-truths and whopper lies, if you bundle the contributions of others to show the reach of your influence, if you provide endorsements from organizations that you control that appear independent of each other (but are not), and, if you do snazzy multi-color snail mail mailings, robo-calls, push polls, social media, print and electronic blast “press” releases tearing down the opponent, who may be financially unable to shout back with anything like equal force, while, all the time, continuing to deify your candidate?

The scale of influence enjoyed by this Daddy Warbucks’ species of no-holds-barred contributor tilts the scales of our electoral process from anything fair to grossly inappropriate because the candidate elected by such extraordinary largesse is beholden to the contributor who brought him or her to our dysfunctional political hoedown – the U.S. Congress.

This pay-to-play phenomenon appears to be the rule, as evidenced by the fact that candidates raise millions to get jobs that pay less than two hundred thousand dollars. Continue reading

Mame – you may have known her

Mame Reilly was a democratic activist who cared deeply about the issues and the causes that make a civilization and enrich and sustain a people and she made a difference touching and leading so many political campaigns and inspiring so many pols and people.

Her time was too short.

This remarkable lady has died but I can see her broad smile as if she were standing before me right now ribbing Jim Moran.

It is an Irish curse, Yeats said, to dream things the world has never seen. Mame Reilly dreamed and acted upon those dreams, the unfinished American dream, and, because of her belief, of her belief that things needed to change, she helped make those changes for the middle class, for women, for persons of color, for so many who needed a fair break.

Mame was also a nice and kind person with a gentle way in a hard business, politics, the business she did best.

When I left the Hill in December 2001, after 9-11, I was spoiled for politics. Mame sensed I needed a cause to get me going again. That’s how she was with every one.

When we all worked in the presidential campaign in 2008, Mame always seemed to be within two degrees of separation of anything you might be doing in that historic primary and the general election campaign. We had a battle between two great Americans in the primary that defied the conventional wisdom that no black or woman would or could become president.

Mame was loyal and good and true as only the Irish can be.

There’s a harp playing an Irish jig in her honor in memory of this great lady.

I can hear her humming that Irish tune.

Mame, how we all loved you!

Kill Shot

Christian Sierra – killed by the Police

Christian Sierra – killed by the Police

It looks like it’s a big mistake to ask the police for help – when you consider that a Police Officer reportedly pumped four deathly slugs into the chest of a 17-year old Loudoun Valley High School Student, Christian Alberto Sierra, who had threatened to kill himself.

Friends of Christian called the police, dialed “911” for help, trusting that the police would do everything in their power to save Christian.

Instead, the responding police officer killed Christian at or about 2:12 pm on May 24, 2014, claiming afterwards, by official spokespersons, that the shooting was justified because Christian was armed with a knife and lunging toward the officer on a public street.

What in the world did the officer do to prepare to encounter this suicidal young man?

Christian apparently had already cut himself and was in high distress.

Christian’s mother, Sandra, said he had not “lunged” at anyone, he was running that way.

Christian’s father, Eduardo, said, “They got a phone call for a suicide case, and they came to finish the job.”

Civilian suspects are disclosed publicly as “persons of interest” and even their pictures are published.

But a stonewalling standard that refuses to disclose anything is the rule when the “suspect” is an “officer.” Continue reading