Saturday, February 10, 2007

Wilkes, Foggo Indicted! {Updated}

UPDATE: According the the San Fransisco Chronicle, Wilkes and Foggo (former CIA Eec. Dir.) have been indicted on charges of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering in connection with the Duke Cunningham scandal. Enjoy!! {7:05 PM 02/13/07)

According to several sources, Brent Wilkes and Kyle 'Dusty' Foggo, are about to be indicted for conspiracy and honest services (mail/wire) fraud.

SAN DIEGO - Federal prosecutors are preparing to seek indictments against a former top CIA official and a San Diego defense contractor at the center of the bribery scandal that sent former U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham to prison.

Two government officials familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press on Wednesday that prosecutors plan to ask a San Diego grand jury to return charges of honest services fraud and conspiracy against Kyle "Dusty" Foggo and his close friend, Brent Wilkes, whose lawyers have said he is one of four unidentified co-conspirators described in the 2005 plea agreement for Cunningham, a San Diego Republican.

Honest services fraud is a combination of mail and wire fraud often used in public corruption cases involving officials who have engaged in a pattern of improper activities, such as accepting gifts, trips or promises of future employment from private individuals.

The officials said a second indictment is being prepared that would charge Wilkes and two of the other Cunningham co-conspirators - New York businessman Thomas Kontogiannis and his nephew, John T. Michael - with bribery and several conspiracy counts.

This could prove interesting because more and more pigeons are squawking. Cunningham, Wade and probably these 4 people are all giving testimony in this case(s). Wilkes has already defaulted on his homes and had sold the corporate office of his now-defunct company.

One can only wonder at the developments coming down the Justice Parkway. I wish that Virgil Goode, my rotten congressman, was in this crowd, but I guess he and us will have to wait another month or two (or three). As long as it comes sometime before June of 2008. More on that subject soon, as I interview (by email) a prospective candidate for the seat Virgil has. (5th CD)

Anyone have any favorite Foggo limousine and hooker stories you would like to relate again here for us?

I liked the part where the #3 or 4 at the CIA was drunk on his ass, and riding around in the back of a limousine, picking up congressmen (and only men) ready for a good time.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Virgil Goode Needs an Anonymous Defender?

There is some news to report about Virgil Goode (R-MZM).

In a letter to the Editor of the Farmville Herald, (not online) a reader wrote a letter that not only contained wonderful points to refute the whole issue of Goode vs Ellison, but also mentioned something I have not seen before.

Mr. David Lewis of Farmville spoke about the reasons why Congressman Goode might have done what he did; write a letter to select constituents about how upset he was that Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota would be using a Qur'an to swear on in a private ceremony after the swearing-in on the floor of the House. I am sure everybody remembers what Congressman Goode said, so I won't bore you here.

Mr. Lewis used the word 'peculiar' quite a bit in this letter, in everything from a comment on politics itself, to the nature of the letter Goode sent to those few constituents.

He also comments:
For a U.S. Representative to swear to uphold the Constitution, but then imply followers of Islam should not serve in office seems not only to undermine the tradition of religious tolerance upon which this country was founded, but also to undermine his oath.

This is where the good part starts. Mr Lewis goes on to tell us about the response he got from Goode. I will let him tell it:
I sent Rep. Goode an email to this effect, and he recently mailed me a brief response which was, again, peculiar. Besides his note, he included an "anaysis" of the published letter, but strangely did not identify its author. Less surprisingly, the analysis offered a pro-Goode spin. Take this example from Goode's letter: "I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way." Goode's unidentified defender interprets this line to at least mean that Goode doesn't think the Koran should be used for a swearing in ceremony, but thinks to extend it to mean that the Koran shouldn't be used "for any purpose" would be a "silly reading of the language." And yet the words "in any way" and "for any purpose" seem interchangeable in this situation, so it would not at all be a "silly reading" to assume the line means what it says: that in Goode's opinion, he does not subscribe to the Koran's use in any way.

Mr. Lewis goes on to say that Goode uses divisive logic to make these statements. He rightly remarks that Goode's response, and that of his anonymous defender, seems to suggest that one is either for Ellison's choice or Goode's choice.

Mr. Lewis finishes by saying that it might be easy to explain Virgil Goode's comments in that it could be political pandering. Instead, Mr. Lewis continues, they play into our enemy's hands when they claim that the war is against Islam, not against terrorism.

Either that (as the writer continues), or Mr. Goode should issue a clear statement in order to set the record straight. He goes on to say that the congressman's image has been tarnished.

What is important to remember here also is that very few of our congressional representatives have even bothered to comment one way or another. Same with the public servants who serve in state legislative districts that coincide with the 5th Congressional District.

If none of our local, district, statewide and national Republican officials are going to condemn these obvious racist, bigotted remarks, then we should replace them at our earliest opportunity. This is inexcuseable.

Virgil's anonymous defender is a real puzzler. Is this person on the payroll? Is this person an aide in Washington, DC? Why does he need any help defending himself? If it is not a staffer, why would the congressman need a voter/constituent to do the talking for him? Was the opinion solicited?

Peculiar; absolutely. Out of the norm: not for Virgil Goode.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Symbols of Faith

This is a symbol of my faith. It's called a pentacle. It's not the symbol of a scary Satanic cult that offers animal sacrifices; it is the symbol of a peaceful set of beliefs that are in tune with nature. I believe in both Gods and Goddesses and follow a structure of eight holidays, including the solstices and equinoxes. The points of a pentacle represent to my belief structure the five elements that make up each being: air, water, fire, earth, and spirit, all encased in a never-broken circle. What I believe you can not describe with one word -- though people have tried. The best word that has been found is pagan, though there are about as many misconceptions about this description as there are about that star.

Just like in every other faith-based group, some pagans choose to serve in the American armed forces. It's estimated that around 2,000 pagans serve in the military, though I presume that number to be higher. The choice to be pagan, the choice that is allowed by the First Ammendment, is a very private one. It is often misunderstood by the public, and therefore, it is often kept private. All American soldiers are given certain rights, especially if they see combat. These rights include a burial plot and a headstone, which can be engraved with a symbol of faith of the soldier's choosing. The pentacle, however, is not considered a "approved" symbol of faith -- soldiers who elect this symbol of faith are denied the right to express their freedom of religion and have no symbol displayed.

In 1997 a petition was filed with the Veteran's Administration to have the pentacle added to the list of approved symbols of faith. Petitions usually take three to six months to be approved or denied. If denied, there is an appeals process; however, this petition hasn't been denied -- it has simply been ignored. Pete Davis, the petitioner, also is the founder the Aquarian Tabernacle Church. Davis is a veteran, and his son is serving in Iraq as a medic. The church, known as the ATC, is a federally recognized tax-exempt pagan church, which practices the more specific beliefs of Wicca. The ATC holds bi-monthly services that draw a congregation of about 700. It was Pete Davis who submitted the initial petition in 1997, and it was Davis who waited four years for a letter that said that "the VA was revising its regulations" and that his application would have to be resubmitted. Davis complied, and submitted a new application in 2003, only to be told the same exact thing. A third application from the ATC was submitted in January of 2006, but there is still no definitive answer from the VA.

What makes this whole situation ridiculous is that eight symbols of faith have been added while the pentacle has been ignored. An additional Christian Cross, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and the Spiritual Humanists emblem were all approved while the pentacle application was ignored. The Presbyterian Church actually had a second symbol approved, so that their members have a choice, in the time that the pentacle applicants were told, "We're sorry, we're revising our policies. Try again another time." The Universalist Unitarians had their symbol added; so did the Izumo Taishakyo Mission of Hawaii and the Soka Gakkai International Buddist Temple.

I think my favorite of these stories to tell in this is about the Sikh symbol, which was expedited in two weeks to become a symbol of faith so that it could be placed on the military issued gravestone of a soldier killed in the Middle East. Two weeks.

What, I ask, happened when the first pagan soldier came home from the Middle East? No two week shuffling at the VA, that's for sure.

In September 2006, the ACLU came to the rescue, citing:

"The government has no business picking and choosing which personal religious beliefs may be expressed."

Well, I say thank goddess for the ACLU. Thirty-eight other symbols of faith are recognized by the Veterans Administration, including atheism, sufism, and the spiritual humanists. Not to mention that the fundies go screaming about the second amendment when we try to pull AK47s off the streets -- isn't it time we go screaming about the first when they try to ignore the symbol of a peaceful movement? Soldiers go to war and come home in caskets, and they ask for their faith to be honored. Is our government too embarrassed to even give them that? The ACLU has more to say:

"There is no good reason to deny grieving families the solace and comfort available to military families of other religions."

Damn right.

The ATC isn't the only pagan group to apply for the pentacle to be recognized. And soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan aren't the only ones affected here.

Rosemary Kooiman applied for her husband, veteran Abraham Kooiman to have the pentacle included on his gravestone. Abraham Kooiman was was a decorated World War II vet who died in 2002; he's buried at Arlington National Cemetery with no symbol of faith on his military issued headstone because he chose a pentacle, and his government chooses not to recognize the pentacle. Abraham Kooiman fought when soldiers truly were protecting their country. Yet sixty years later, he is being dishonored by his own country. Abraham Kooiman has been interred at Arlington for four years now, without his faith recognized on this headstone. Rosemary has since passed away, but her daughter carries on the fight.

The fight has been going on for a decade while the VA tries to decide if the pentacle is worthy of recognition. My government, which touts its freedom of religion for all, is clearly afraid of that little star with a circle around it.

Army PFC James A. Price was killed in Iraq in 2004 when an IED exploded under his Bradley tank. The Army denied his request for a pentacle marker on his gravestone, so his mother joined the ACLU lawsuit. So did Kathleen Egbert, Kooiman's daughter, and disabled Navy vet Scott Stearns who lives in Seattle and was honorably discharged in 1997 after being wounded in the Persian Gulf. "'Discrimination' might be too strong a word, but it definitely seems like there might be a bias," Sterns told the Seattle P-I in 2005. The ACLU lawsuit has its next court date in June.

To date, there is only one military headstone in the country with a pentacle on it, and it's just about 100 miles from me in Fallon, NV. Nevada National Guardsman Patrick Stewart died in when his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. Posthumously, Stewart was awarded a Bronze star, and then denied his symbol of faith for his gravestone. Roberta Stewart, his widow, lobbied the government to honor her husband's wish but was ignored just as much by the media as by the government -- as you can see, I had to go all the way to the WaPo to find her story (There is also a great OpEd piece in the Pioneer Press). It was Nevada governor Ken Guinn who stepped in with some common sense and convinced state officials to issue the pentacle marker, which was laid in a ceremony last December.

One pentacle marker in ten years -- am I the only one who thinks this is absurd?

The beauty of freedom of religion is that it comes with the freedom to choose. No one else has to understand why you choose it. The government has dragged its feet on approving the pentacle for ten years because of lack of understanding. It's unconstitutional, and above all, it dishonors soldiers like those mentioned here, who served their country with bravery. Some have gave their life for freedom of religion, both theirs and ours. To repay them by ignoring their request for a symbol of faith is a slap in the face.

My government apparently only offers freedom of religion as long as you follow a path that is easily accepted and understood. It is misunderstanding -- furthermore, lack of desire to understand -- that is leading to delay of the freedom of religion for our soldiers, who have given their lives for this country. These soldiers have only asked to be repaid with a symbol of their faith. Understanding that religion is secondary -- after all, do many understand the tenants of the United Moravian Church? Yet it has an approved symbol.

Pagans are not asking to hold public rituals on the White House Lawn -- we are asking for an engraved symbol that honors the faith of soldiers who believe as we do on the stone that remembers their life. Is that too much to ask when these men and women have given their lives for the freedoms we enjoy in America, including the freedom to worship in whatever way we choose?

More Information: #1 | #2

Sara Brooks is a Pagan who resides in California. She is the daughter of the owner of this blog.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Blogroll Update, Part Deux

I have had a comment left on my blogroll update thread:

I don't see I'm Not Emeril on that blogroll. But then again, I guess I never will. Thankfully.

If Mr. NotEmeril had noticed during the past year, his blog and another complainer's were on my blogroll, but were removed due to their incessant need to ignore reality and to use unfortunate pejorative terms for Democrats. Since I am a Democrat, I thought it would be only fair to remove them. This is my blog, after all.

I welcome all to ask me to be included. Leave me a comment if you would like to be included or removed.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Quote of the Day

Men will define themselves by the choices they dare to make and cannot, as men, avoid making; for man forever creates and recreates his own universe and the rules and frames of reference and systems by which he must judge himself—but not other men; for he has finally learned that to kill other men for not worshiping his gods is to compel them to kill him for not worshiping their gods.

John P. Marshall
The Teacher and His Philosophy

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Blogroll Updated

I have updated my blogroll to reflect several blogs that have become daily reads. I am still messing with the format here, since the big changes I made over the holidays. After I had made those changes, my blog feed wasn't showing up on Waldo's Virginia Political Blogroll, so I contacted him. I thank him again here for his help and his wonderful contributions to the Virginia Blogosphere.

I added six blogs. I deleted the listing for Norm's OMT (RIP).

If you don't see your blog here, then leave a message or send me an email, and I may add you.

I guess other than these houskeeping chores, I am still basking in the glow of the speech by the junior Senator from Virginia last night in response to the SOTU speech.

Congratulations Senator Webb, we always knew you would be good at this. And keep up the good work.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bush Bores; Webb Scores

I am not surprised that the President's speech tonight was boring. I mean, how many times can we listen to him pay lip service to issues without calling into question his sincerity? He has talked about energy policy and alternative energy in almost every SOTU speech he has given. So far, that has translated into little or nothing done about this important issue. Are we supposed to believe him when he says tonight that he will do something to encourage development of alternative energy sources?

The same situation with the Iraq war. He has made excuse after excuse, promising things he couldn't deliver, and on and on. Meanwhile, our citizens, who volunteered to secure our country and defend it have been killed and maimed in the battlesfields of Iraq instead. Think of the lives changed because of this war. Husbands, brothers, sisters, Moms, Dads, will NEVER BE COMING BACK due to the incompetence of the President and his hangers-on.

Jim Webb's response stole the night. His was a reasoned, well thought-out presentation of the steps that will be taken to correct some of the problems this administration have saddled us with. He was at ease, confident and assured that he could talk to all of us and get across, by using examples of historical figures, the problems and their solutions.

My favorite line from Sen. Webb? When he ended his speech by saying, "These Presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way."

Gee, I love that kinda talk.

Below is the Senator's speech as it was released to the media.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Democratic Response of Senator Jim Webb
To the President's State of the Union Address

Good evening.

I'm Senator Jim Webb, from Virginia, where this year we will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown - an event that marked the first step in the long journey that has made us the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth.

It would not be possible in this short amount of time to actually rebut the President's message, nor would it be useful. Let me simply say that we in the Democratic Party hope that this administration is serious about improving education and healthcare for all Americans, and addressing such domestic priorities as restoring the vitality of New Orleans.

Further, this is the seventh time the President has mentioned energy independence in his state of the union message, but for the first time this exchange is taking place in a Congress led by the Democratic Party. We are looking for affirmative solutions that will strengthen our nation by freeing us from our dependence on foreign oil, and spurring a wave of entrepreneurial growth in the form of alternate energy programs. We look forward to working with the President and his party to bring about these changes.

There are two areas where our respective parties have largely stood in contradiction, and I want to take a few minutes to address them tonight. The first relates to how we see the health of our economy - how we measure it, and how we ensure that its benefits are properly shared among all Americans. The second regards our foreign policy - how we might bring the war in Iraq to a proper conclusion that will also allow us to continue to fight the war against international terrorism, and to address other strategic concerns that our country faces around the world.

When one looks at the health of our economy, it's almost as if we are living in two different countries. Some say that things have never been better. The stock market is at an all-time high, and so are corporate profits. But these benefits are not being fairly shared. When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did; today, it's nearly 400 times. In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day.

Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth, even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world. Medical costs have skyrocketed. College tuition rates are off the charts. Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas. Good American jobs are being sent along with them.

In short, the middle class of this country, our historic backbone and our best hope for a strong society in the future, is losing its place at the table. Our workers know this, through painful experience. Our white-collar professionals are beginning to understand it, as their jobs start disappearing also. And they expect, rightly, that in this age of globalization, their government has a duty to insist that their concerns be dealt with fairly in the international marketplace.

In the early days of our republic, President Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American-style democracy - that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base. Not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but with the living conditions that exist on Main Street. We must recapture that spirit today.

And under the leadership of the new Democratic Congress, we are on our way to doing so. The House just passed a minimum wage increase, the first in ten years, and the Senate will soon follow. We've introduced a broad legislative package designed to regain the trust of the American people. We've established a tone of cooperation and consensus that extends beyond party lines. We're working to get the right things done, for the right people and for the right reasons.

With respect to foreign policy, this country has patiently endured a mismanaged war for nearly four years. Many, including myself, warned even before the war began that it was unnecessary, that it would take our energy and attention away from the larger war against terrorism, and that invading and occupying Iraq would leave us strategically vulnerable in the most violent and turbulent corner of the world.

I want to share with all of you a picture that I have carried with me for more than 50 years. This is my father, when he was a young Air Force captain, flying cargo planes during the Berlin Airlift. He sent us the picture from Germany, as we waited for him, back here at home. When I was a small boy, I used to take the picture to bed with me every night, because for more than three years my father was deployed, unable to live with us full-time, serving overseas or in bases where there was no family housing. I still keep it, to remind me of the sacrifices that my mother and others had to make, over and over again, as my father gladly served our country. I was proud to follow in his footsteps, serving as a Marine in Vietnam. My brother did as well, serving as a Marine helicopter pilot. My son has joined the tradition, now serving as an infantry Marine in Iraq.

Like so many other Americans, today and throughout our history, we serve and have served, not for political reasons, but because we love our country. On the political issues - those matters of war and peace, and in some cases of life and death - we trusted the judgment of our national leaders. We hoped that they would be right, that they would measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm's way.

We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it. But they owed us - sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.

The President took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable - and predicted - disarray that has followed.

The war's costs to our nation have been staggering. Financially. The damage to our reputation around the world. The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism. And especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve.

The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military. We need a new direction. Not one step back from the war against international terrorism. Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos. But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq's cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.

On both of these vital issues, our economy and our national security, it falls upon those of us in elected office to take action.

Regarding the economic imbalance in our country, I am reminded of the situation President Theodore Roosevelt faced in the early days of the 20th century. America was then, as now, drifting apart along class lines. The so-called robber barons were unapologetically raking in a huge percentage of the national wealth. The dispossessed workers at the bottom were threatening revolt.

Roosevelt spoke strongly against these divisions. He told his fellow Republicans that they must set themselves "as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob rule on the other." And he did something about it.

As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower during the dark days of the Korean War, which had fallen into a bloody stalemate. "When comes the end?" asked the General who had commanded our forces in Europe during World War Two. And as soon as he became President, he brought the Korean War to an end.

These Presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way.

Thank you for listening. And God bless America.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Recipe For Disaster

(This is the first in a series of articles about the Cumberland County Schools)

You might think that a school system would be aware of safety procedures. In this case, you would be wrong. Either that, or the Cumberland County Public Schools just doesn't give a damn.

When the schools started using the Luther P Jackson school site for a middle school at the beginning of the year, the transportation of students to and from that site became necessary. I drive by that area almost every day, going to the Post Office or somewhere else. Last October, when I saw someone standing out in the middle of a busy highway with her hand up, I was both mad and disbelieving. I have done work in the road before as a land surveyor, and I always kept protective gear close and wore a vest and a hardhat. I have seen many instances where the driver of a car will claim that they did not see anything even when someone was there with a brightly colored vest.

I went to the School Board Office. I talked with Jim Thornton, Superintendent of Schools, about what I had seen. This was not the first time Mr. Thornton had talked. We have had a storied relationship almost from the moment I moved to this area 5 years ago. That, however, is another story for another day.

Mr. Thornton assured me that the problem would be taken care of. He agreed that an accident would be a disaster and he wanted to avoid that. We exchanged pleasantries, talked about the elections, and I was on my way.

You can imagine my amazement then, when last Monday, I was driving by at that time of day and I saw the same thing again. Tuesday I made it a point to be there. This time, the person had all black clothing on, black gloves, and a black stocking cap on. I took a few pictures with my phone and came home.

Well, I like pictures, and I like my cell phone, but the two really don't mix. The quality of the pictures wasn't that great, and I wanted to be able to show that I wasn't making this up. This week, I had my camera in the car from a meeting the night before. I went over to the school area and waited. The same thing happened again, and I took many pictures of it.

Here's what I saw that day this week:

Mr. Thornton, do you owe an apology to me and the parents of students on those buses? I think you already know what my answer is. Fix this now, or put up with complaints in the real world about your inability to get this done. This is not rocket science, Mr. Thornton.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Waldo Loves Open Government

Waldo Jaquith, perennial blogger and all around codeslinger, has introduced today his latest project, Richmond Sunlight. The website is a one-stop shop for information on the legislative process and the players (Delegates/Senators) in that process.

What Waldo has given us is a gift, for all of us to use and understand and comment further on the goings-on in the General Assembly. To celebrate the finish of his project, Waldo has given away the website to The Virginia Interfaith Center, a non-partisan organization run by Rev. Doug Smith. The Reverand Smith is a former classmate of Waldo's at the Sorensen Institute at UVA.

According to Waldo, the two of them will have a news conference where the two will shake hands on this deal.

I just want to thank Waldo publically for his hard work on this project. I got a chance to play with the site during beta testing, and it is a comprehensive, fully complete tool to answer questions about the Legislature and it's members.

Thanks again, Waldo.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Xenophobic Virgil Goode Celebrates Election in a Racist Way

Virgil Goode (R-Rocky Mount) has proven once and for all time that he is a zenophobe and a racist. A letter which was sent to hundreds of constituents surfaced in the Charlottesville media, (C'ville Weekly) and it is without a doubt both the worst written letter, and the most misguided and foolish letter that I have ever read.

Many stories have been written today about this incident. Waldo has a story, stated with incredulity. There were also entries on national blogs, and a Republican blog in Virginia, to name a few. There is a sense of "oh my god, did he really say that?" quality to them all. I have seen universal condemnation of this letter.

What makes this letter so bad, you ask? Read for yourself and determine your own own conclusions:

Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515-4605

December 7, 2006

Dear Xxxxxxx:

Thank you for your recent communication. When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran. We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country. I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.

The Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” are on the wall in my office. A Muslim student came by the office and asked why I did not have anything on my wall about the Koran. My response was clear, “As long as I have the honor of representing the citizens of the 5th District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office.” Thank you again for your email and thoughts.

Sincerely yours,
Virgil H. Goode, Jr.
70 East Court Street
Suite 215
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151

Let's look at this a little closer, shall we?

I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way.

My first impression? Why would he use the Koran, he is Christian, is he not? Beyond that, it shows a fundamental lack of respect for the holy book of another religion. Predictably, Virgil is not so good at this part.

The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.

Sentence structure, please! What does Representative-Elect Ellison and the rest of the sentence have to do with each other? Is it an implied connection to the rest of the sentence, which states Virgil's racist view that if people don't listen to him, there will be lots more Koran-totin' heathens wanting to use the Koran, when they are legally elected to the Congress of the United States? By the way, 'demanding the use of the Koran' is on its face a racist statement, and by its nature deprives people of their Constitutional rights to practice the religion of their choice.

It also deprives people of any race or religion the right to run for elective office.

After that, there are some spectacularly run-on sentences and some more flag-waving bullshit. I am sad that Virgil won on Election Day. The problem for me is, do those people who voted for him really believe this kind of anti-constitutional, racist, bigoted anti-religous blather? If they do, that is the part that depresses me and scares me the most. I had thought better of the people in my Congressional District.

Also posted at DailyKos

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Delegate Onzlee Ware Resigns From DPVA Board

Delegate Onzlee Ware (D-Roanoke) has resigned from the Vice Chair position on the Democratic Party of Virginia Board, effective Novemeber 20, 2006.

Delegate Ware has been in the House since 2004, and represents part of Roanoke City and part of Roanoke County. (11th District) He is a native of North Carolina, where he recieved a JD degree in 1984.

His Vice-Chair position was that of Organization. Below, Chair Dickie Cranwell's letter to the Central Committee is reproduced.

November 24, 2006

Dear Central Committee Members:

On November 20, 2006, I received the resignation of Del. Onzlee Ware from his post as Vice-Chair for Organization (First Vice-Chair) of the Democratic Party of Virginia. Del. Ware has requested his resignation be effective immediately. His leadership within our Party will be sorely missed. However, I am pleased to know that we will still benefit from his leadership in the General Assembly.

Due to the short notice before our upcoming quarterly meeting, I ask that the Central Committee hold an election for the office of Vice-Chair for Organization at the February 2007 meeting. Until the vacancy is filled, I am appointing Del. Jennifer McClellan to serve as the “acting” Vice-Chair for Organization pursuant to Section 4.6 of the Party Plan.

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday. I look forward to seeing many of you on Friday.


C. Richard Cranwell

I know all Democrats and Progressives will join me in thanking Delegate Ware for his service to the party, and welcome Delegate Jennifer McClellan to her interim post. Please contact your committee's chair about input to the election process in February 2007.

Delegate Jennifer L. McClellan
Member Since 2006
D - 71st District
County of Henrico (part); City of Richmond (part)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

VA-05 Danville Register-Bee Blasts Virgil Goode

In the middle of what should and has been the strongest area of support for Virgil Goode (R), the local newspaper has lowered the boom on Virgil.

In one day, the Media General-owned newspaper printed both an article and an editorial. The article has to do with Virgil's wife sitting on the board of the North Theatre Group, while at the same time, Virgil was busy doing what he does best.

The Danville Register Bee:

Goode’s wife, Lucy, served on the board of directors of the North Theatre as the congressman was securing $150,000 in federal funds for the project. Linwood Duncan, Goode’s press secretary, continues to serve on the board.

The editorial was not kind, to put it nicely.

The article in itself is bad enough for Virgil. Especially since he has declined to debate several times this year, even after he had asked organizations to plan events last summer.

The editorial, coming 19 days before the election, is stunning.

If anyone in Washington gets the idea that the United States should join with Canada and Mexico to form a “North American Union” similar to the European Union, or build some sort of NAFTA Superhighway, they’ll have to go through Rep. Virgil Goode first.

That is, if anyone in Washington ever decides to advance either one of those ideas.

Remember, this is the same company that owns the Richmond Times-Dispatch (ugh). This is before either candidate is endorsed.

For Virgil to be so put in his place in practically speaking, his own backyard, is a huge change of direction for this area.

What we have here is a proposed resolution protesting an idea whose time has not come - and may never get here. While an Internet search of both terms does return results, it’s not clear that anyone in Washington is seriously proposing either the North American Union or the NAFTA Superhighway.

Goode’s resolution appears to tap into the fear some people have that large forces are conspiring to strip the United States of its sovereignty and make it subservient to an unelected group. In the past, the targets of this kind of worry were the United Nations and later, to the enforcement arms of various disarmament and trade pacts.

It’s hard to understand why Goode would be worried about a political marriage that hasn’t been proposed or a road that nobody appears interested in building. The sovereignty of the United States is worth preserving, but what is Goode really doing with his sponsorship of this resolution?

Ahhh, fear. Where would the Republicant's be without it? They wield it like a mighty sword, trying to intimidate the populace with it like a bully on a schoolyard.

Virgil has yet to make any disparaging comments about the war in Iraq. That's because he is a war profiteer. His relationships with nefarious characters such as convicted felon Mitchell Wade, criminal Richard Berglund, and others has changed him.

He gave up his party for a seat on the Appropriations Committee. I wonder if it was worth it? As for the answer to the newspaper's question, I'll let them finish up themsleves, they are doing a great job.

Perhaps it has more to do with the conservative nature of the 5th District than the North American Union or NAFTA Superhighway. In the southern end of the 5th District, thousands of jobs have been lost to trade pacts. The idea that the United States could lose its ability to shape its own future would be a frightening prospect - if it were true.

But it’s not.

So that's Virgil Goode; always proposing to do worthless things elsewhere, unless it pays better to do it here.

It's time for a change.

Friday, August 18, 2006

George Allen: Only The Rich Should Have Property Rights

In a press release today from the National Center for Public Policy Research, George Allen is revealed to be anti-property rights. Surprised? I didn't think so. {emphasis added in following quoted text}

Washington, D.C. - Nearly one year after the U.S. Supreme Court's shocking Kelo v. New London decision touched off a firestorm of bipartisan support for stronger property rights protections, some anti-property rights groups are receiving support from a surprising source: Senator George Allen (R-VA).

Senator Allen is the chief sponsor of legislation that would create a massive federal "National Heritage Area" that would stretch from Charlottesville, VA, through Frederick County, MD, and end in Gettysburg, PA. Such areas are best described as heavily regulated corridors where property rights may be strictly curtailed.

Allen's bill would deputize special interest groups -- many with clear anti-property rights agendas -- and federal employees to oversee land use policy in the corridor.

"Senator Allen often describes himself as a 'Jeffersonian' conservative, which he defines as someone who doesn't like 'nanny, meddling, restrictive, burdensome government,'" said Peyton Knight, director of environmental and regulatory affairs at the National Center. "However, if you fail to support your rhetoric with substance, you're all hat and no cattle."

Sen. Allen's initiative in some ways resembles a pork-barrel earmark, as it disburses funds to pre-selected preservationist interest groups. Unfortunately, it is even worse than an earmark, as it would threaten property rights by:

1) Creating a "management entity" to oversee land use policy in the area composed of groups that have a record of being hostile to property rights.

2) Directing this management entity to create an inventory of all property it wants "preserved," "managed" or "acquired."

3) Giving the management entity the authority to disburse federal funds for the purpose of land acquisition and restricting land use - an enticement for such activities.

"This is a transparent effort by "not in my back yard" elitists to milk millions of dollars from the nation's taxpayers to mandate gentrification of their rural landscape. These bluebloods want their pretty views and bucolic fields preserved in perpetuity at the expense of property rights, small landowners and farmers, and taxpayers," said Robert J. Smith, a senior fellow at the National Center.

"It is remarkably similar to the exclusionary zoning for 'green space' and 'open space' that roiled New Jersey politics and communities for a quarter century," Smith adds. "Such policies were ruled unconstitutional by the New Jersey Supreme Court in the Mount Laurel decisions for being economically and racially discriminatory, and as an effort to lock out low and moderate income families and especially people of color, blacks and Hispanics."

Mychal Massie, national chairman of the African-American leadership network Project 21, which is affiliated with the National Center, notes the impact of Allen's bill will be felt disproportionately.

"Senator Allen's Heritage Area scheme is further evidence of the chasm that develops between working families and elected representatives once they are in office," said Massie. "Allen's measure would restrict and limit land use to all but the very wealthiest, and would severely and unjustly handicap families and individuals of moderate means."

Dr. Roger Pilon, director of the Cato Institute's Center for Constitutional Studies, notes the irony that overzealous preservationists at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello are corrupting Jefferson's legacy, ostensibly in an effort to protect it: "They want to traduce Jefferson's views in order to save his views."

Citizens of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania might look to property owners caught within the boundaries of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area in Arizona to catch a glimpse of their possible future.

The Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Resources has filed a report explaining the situation in Yuma. The report, which accompanies legislation designed to amend the Yuma Heritage Area in order to protect property owners, states:

"When the Yuma Crossing Heritage Area was authorized in 2000, the public in Yuma County did not understand the scope of the project and was surprised by the size of the designation... Concerns were raised by citizens about the size of the designation and the potential for additional Federal oversight. The fear of adverse impacts on private property rights were realized when local government agencies began to use the immense heritage area boundary to determine zoning restrictions."

Thomas Jefferson was quite clear in his views regarding property rights when he wrote: "The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management."

Robert J. Smith adds: "No one supporting such plans and legislation attacking the underlying principles of a free society can conceivably then have the hubris to attempt to wrap themselves in the mantle of Mr. Jefferson's belief in individual liberty, or in Ronald Reagan's inclusive conservative Republicanism."

"It dishonors 250 years of American history and freedom-from Abraham Lincoln's genuine Hallowed Grounds in Gettysburg to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello mountaintop," he said.

Whew! I know that's a lot to digest. This is the gist of it: George Allen only wants property rights for the wealthy and privledged class, where he considers himself to reside. All his wealthy buddies and donors. He is above the citizens he represents, so naturally, he would be in favor of restricting property rights.

This has to be stopped. Call Allen's offices. Email George Allen about this outrage. Read more about this at the links below. We can't let the snobby elites in this country take our property rights away.

As this press release states, "All hat and no cattle".

For more information on this issue, see "The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area: An Example of How Pork-Barrel Politics Can Threaten Local Rule and Property Rights," by Peyton Knight, available online at, or "Assertions vs. Reality: The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act of 2006," by Peyton Knight, available online at

Friday, August 11, 2006

Snippets from the Fifth - including a Party!

I am writing this to update everyone on some things. There is a podcast of the debate the other day with Al Weed and Virgil "I didn't know they were illegal" Goode. Others here have commented on that debate, as has Ben Tribbett and RK's own Lowell Feld. I also have crossposted yesterday's diary on Raising Kaine about that debate.


We are also having a house party this Sunday for Al Weed here in Cumberland County. Here are the details:

What: House party for Al Weed for Congress

Where: 1304 Sports Lake Rd. (Cartersville area)

When:  Sunday, August 13, 2006 4-6PM

Light refreshments and beverages (including Al Weed's own wine from Mt. Cove Winery exclusively) will be available.

Come and listen to Al speak and tell Al what you think about today's issues and the Congressional Campaign.

If you need more information and/or directions, please email me at beautiful_mind AT hughes DOT net.

Things are looking better for Al all the time. Virgil Goode is a horrible Congressman and representative to the Fifth District. Virgil's latest report to the district talks only about making English the official language of the United States. He is also behind a lot of efforts to build a wall or fence between us and Mexico as a way of addressing the immigration problems this country faces.

Remember, Virgil said recently, something about raising the minimum wage in this country would provide a 'green light' to illegal immigrants to come to this country. He is so out of touch with reality, it is no wonder he didn't think the donations to his campaign were illegal.

Crossposted at Raising Kaine

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Al Weed Debates Virgil Goode (R-MZM)

According to the Daily Progress and Bob Gibson, around 300 people showed up last night for a debate between Al Weed and Virgil "I didn't know they were illegal" Goode at the Senior Center in Charlottesville.

A largely partisan and divided crowd of about 300 people at the Senior Center of Charlottesville heard Weed attack Goode as a career politician who takes questionable contributions and supports Bush more than 80 percent of the time, including on the war in Iraq.

Weed, who has a son about to serve a second tour as a surgeon in Iraq, said Goode “follows the Republican lead at every turn” and has never questioned Bush on his war policy in “the failed occupation of Iraq.”

One of the main subjects for debate was the now-infamous MZM contract with the Defense Department, who recently cancelled the contract for the Foreign Supplier Assesment Center (FSAC) and closed the doors the following Monday, July 31, 2006.

Wade’s guilty plea stated that he made the illegal pass-through contributions to Goode’s campaign and that of Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Fla., because he believed they “had the ability to request appropriations funding that would benefit MZM.” Goode denied knowing the contributions were illegal and has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

They also discussed immigration, and Virgil had the predictable answers that have made him the laughing stock (along with Tom Tancredo (R-CO)) of the country when it comes to real debate on that issue.

Virgil IS in denial about the financial windfall he received from Mitchell Wade, the convicted felon.

The Republican said he had “never heard somebody so uninformed as Mr. Weed was in his comments about [MZM and Martinsville]. He said I got nearly $100,000 in illegal contributions. Not so. It was about $46,000 that was straw contributions, but I gave every donation that I could tell was related to MZM to charities around the 5th District.”

Why did you give away over $90,000 then, Mr Goode? For good measure? Do you think that since you gave away more money than you now claim to be 'straw' donations, people will forgive you? Again, do you think we do not know differently?

Virgil Goode is a horrible Congressman for a great District in Virginia. We need to change that to match, with Al Weed, a great man, representing us in the Fighting Fifth District.

Weed blasted Goode for taking what the Democrat called “nearly $100,000 in illegal contributions from a now convicted felon [Wade], and in return got that man $15 million for a useless federal contract - $15 million that could have bought proper body armor for our troops in Iraq.”

“Now that the felon is in jail, the Pentagon has terminated the contract and the taxpayers of Martinsville may owe up to a half-million dollars” for the facility that the defense contractor and its successor abandoned, Weed said. “We deserve better.”

Goode joked that Weed must be smoking marijuana if he thinks MZM got anywhere near $15 million. “Let’s get to his assertion that MZM got $15 million. Totally false,” Goode said. “He must be smoking something like what he’s named for."

Uh, Mr Goode, are you really asking us to believe that things didn't happen the way they have been publically disclosed? Or is it that you still think that none of us can read or use the internet to find out the real truth? The truth is, you accepted almost $100,000 in contributions from the employees and PAC of MZM. You say you had no idea they were illegal, but I find that statement as hard to believe as anything your boss George W. Bush says.

Not only that, but do you really think that it is seemly to criticize Mr. Weed by making jokes about his name? How childish. You yourself made long and loud complaints in the 2004 race because you felt someone was making fun of your name. Maybe that is the standard for a turncoat that calls Republicans his best friends (like George Allen) and refuses to listen to the illogic of his own statements.

If you really think that we believe that you didn't know that the contributions were illegal, then you are too dense to be in Congress. If you did know, then you are a criminal, and should go spend time with your buddy, convicted felon Mitchell Wade.

If you think for a moment that you scare us or that we are going to roll over and cede this race to you, you are mistaken. We will be taking it to you in every way we can. On the internet, in the streets, and at events. There will be no shortage of volunteers to unseat you.

Cross Posted at Daily Kos

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Unity Rally Photo Diary Part 2

Here is Part 2 of the Photo Diary with pictures from the Unity Rally in Charlottesville on Saturday afternoon. Enjoy!

BEWARE: Photo intensive; apologies to dial-up users!

Jim Webb Waits to Be Introduced, Surrounded by Fellow Candidates

Harris Miller, Judy Feder, Andrew Hurst and Al Weed listen in.

The Crowd Finally Gets to Hear From Jim

Jim Electrifies the Crowd

Even the Stalkers are Spellbound

On To Victory!

Andrew Hurst, Brian Moran, Creigh Deeds and Al Weed (obscured) join Jim Webb in ending the rally.

Judy Feder and Al Weed share a laugh as the rally ends.

Afterwards, a big group of us went to a drinking establishment on the Mall and talked for a while. I met some great people, and saw some old friends. It was a great day for Democrats!!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Unity Rally Photo Diary Part 1

I had a great time in Charlottesville yesterday at the Unity Rally in Lee Park, a block from the Downtown Mall. I am going to let the pictures and captions speak for themselves.

BEWARE: Photo intensive; apologies to dial-up users!

Dickie Cranwell Gets the Crowd Going

Creigh Deeds Delivers a Great Speech

Creigh Deeds Brings the Fire

Deeds Makes a Point

Delegate Brian Moran Looks On

These Boots Tell the Story

Stay tuned for Part Two tomorrow. There are a lot of pictures, and I don't want to shortchange any of them by putting too many in one diary.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Well, here I am, back in Cumberland, or Podunk (maybe the people of Podunk would protest that comparison). Since I had not posted anything on the weekend's festivities, I figured now was a good time. Mainly because it is very hot outside, so I come in to do other things when it is hot. Otherwise, I am in the garden or the yard most of the time. (Actually, I am finishing this up at 11+ PM)

First of all, I want to thank the Sorensen folks and Waldo for a great time. They held an event that was not too rushed, varied enough that everyone could get a little of what they came for. There was an easiness to the flow of the workshops and the meals, unlike some other events like this I have been to.

A word about my pictures: they are disappointing to me. The available light photos are hard to get due to slow shutter speeds. I apologize, and I might buy a new camera. I was discussing the Nikon D-50 with Waldo.

One of the many workshops

The obvious lack of familiarity with the blogosphere was almost painful at times during Attorney General McDonnell's speech to open the 'blummit' (props to Josh C.). As someone has already commented, his mispronunciation of basic terms about blogging were hard to listen to. I talked with a few other people that noticed that the blogger crowd, no matter what flavor you like best, were a tough crowd. There was more than one time during the blummit that the response was tepid at best.

Dr. Robert Holsworth got a great reception, I thought, mostly due to his tendency to stay in the world of actuality as it concerns political races in Virginia. His obvious knowledge of both today and yesterday's politics in Virginia gives him a unique viewpoint and he gave us a great trip through the reality-based community.

Dr. Robert Holsworth

Friday night, the dinner was superb, and I got to hear a great man speak. Jerome Armstrong is a leading architect of what has become the netroots. Markos Moulitsas was a contributor to Jerome's blog, MyDD, long before his own site was born. Jerome was kind enough to autograph the book he and Markos co-wrote, Crashing The Gate when he first came into the room to have dinner with us.

Al Weed sponsored a get-together at the Biltmore on the Corner. It was a lot of fun, and quite a few people showed up, including Senator Creigh Deeds. There were some lively and somewhat serious discussions at times out on the deck. Al had his staff there, and even the under-age crowd showed up in numbers.

The pace on Saturday was definitely more relaxed yet. People generally dressed down somewhat, and there was a great meet-up at Bodo's Bagels first thing in the morning in the same neighborhood as the Biltmore. As someone pointed out, it was a great mix of like-minded people in the sense that we are all bloggers. There was a great mix of people sitting at every table.

The workshops were great on Saturday as well. I was really jazzed to meet David Waldmon, previously only known to me as 'KagroX' on Dailykos. We had talked many times over the blogs, but meeting someone who you have talked with for a while is like two friends meeting. The same goes for Josh Chernilia, who I didn't see on the second day. I met Shaun Kenney, and his wife and children had lunch with us on Saturday.

Saturday's Lunch At Darden

I was impressed with Lt. Governor Bolling, who went around the room after his speech and introduced himself personally to everyone in the rooom. His speech was good, much better than the Attorney General. He admitted his newcomer status to blogging and blogs, and rightfully acknowledged their place in the modern political process.

As I look back on the 24 hours or so of the blummit, my best memories are of two people: Vivian J. Paige and Josh Chernilia of Raising Kaine.

Vivian J. Paige and Josh Chernilia

Both of these people I had read at a distance, and both proved to be energetic, insightful people that do the blog thing and the action that goes with it. Vivian is a joy to have a conversation with; she is animated, smart and a great listener. I hope to continue a particular discussion we had at the Biltmore on Friday night. Josh is also smart, energized and committed. He has participated first hand in some of the biggest changes in the Democratic Party's increasing dominance in Virginia. I hope also to continue the discussion I am having with him on the blogs, and in email.

All in all, a fantastic 24 hours or so.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Al Weed on Kickoff Tour in Southside

Al Weed wasted no time in getting on the road after last Saturday's Convention victory.

This week, starting Sunday, he has visited 17 localities, with three more today. They range from Danville to Farmville, from Keysville to Bedford, and Mecklenburg to Halifax.
We all know that the race in the 5th will be won in the Southside of Virginia. Al has lots of support in Charlottesville and the surrounding area, including his home, Nelson County. Al has talked with bankers, preachers, Native Americans, men and women of all occupations. He has showed off his biofuel campaign car (see below).

At left, Al talks with citizens in Farmville.

Al needs ALL of our support, just as the other candidates this year do. Virgil Goode is even worse than George Allen, in that he is known to be corrupt due to the illegal contributions accepted by him from a now convicted felon.

Here's another photo from the road.

Al with supporters in Keysville.

Show Al some love, even if you just tell him what a good job he is doing. He is accepting donations as well. (Hint, Hint) Al is travelling on his Kickoff Tour in this Volkswagen, modified to run on Virginia Biofuel. For more, see his site and his information about biofuels and Virginia's Southside.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Al Weed Wins the Nomination in the Fighting 5th CD

On Saturday there was a feeling of anticipation in the air as delegates from all over the Fifth District gathered at Buckingham High School to choose their nominee to run against Virgil Goode (R-MZM)in the November election.

There was an atmosphere of business, but that is not to say that there wasn't fun as well. People were telling jokes, talking with their fellow Democrats and getting caught up on all of the latest political gossip.

I don't plan on providing a blow-by-blow account of the day, but the process went very smoothly. The Buckingham County Democratic Committee should be congratulated on the fine job they did setting the convention up. I did not hear one complaint in that department.

Both Bern Ewert and Al Weed gave their speeches, and the nominators and seconds gave speeches for their respective candidates. While the counting was going on, Harris Miller gave a speech and took some questions. Jim Webb got lost on the way to the event and gave a speech as well, after which he took a few questions.

Lunch had been provided for by the Buckingham Committee and some people brought it back to the Auditorium to listen while they ate. Others hung around the lunchroom and talked while they had lunch. Throughout the day I met people whom I had only talked with or blogged with (is that even a term?), such as Kathy Gerber and JC.

When the winning Delegate count was announced for Al Weed, Bern Ewert accepted Al's gracious offer to speak first, and he pledged in no uncertain terms to support Al in his bid to unseat Virgil Goode. It was truly the best speech he has given during the entire campaign.

Al's remarks were short as well, and well received. The Delegates, Alternates and guests all left with a renewed sense of purpose and conviction to the race in front of us. It is a great thing to know that Democrats are unified in the Congressional race in the Fifth District.