Letter to the Editor: Joe Paterno, Charlton Heston and the American Way of Life

We again have sorry events that captured the news cycle and are emblematic of what we seem to stand for.  And icons that shill for this, Joe Paterno for college football, and Charlton Heston (aka John Charles Carter) for a moron’s right to deliver unspeakable evil and harm from a gun barrel.

As to Paterno, I contend that looking the other way is shameful, particularly when the reasons for doing so were ignominious and venal.  Paterno is a creep for placing football above pederasty, which puts him squarely with the mealy-mouthed priests (or rabbis, ministers or imams) that violated innocent young people in the pursuit of their own perverse satisfactions.

Football is not salvation, nor is it a moral compass.  At bottom, it’s an advertising vehicle for snacks and beer and an entertainment for those requiring passive and vicarious pleasure.  And that’s all it should be.  There is nothing wrong with this but if you wish to acquire the life lessons to constitute a moral compass, as those paying to get an education at institutions that ostensibly prepare them for a rich, full, and productive life – exalting football uber alles ain’t the answer.

Neither is Charlton Heston.  Imagine for a moment Charlton Heston being required by a just God to deliver eulogies at funerals of Columbine, Tech, or Aurora victims. What do you suppose he’d say?  “Serves you right for not being armed?” Or would a just God have performed justly, giving CH a Sandy Weill moment by forcing him to say something like, “you know, I was wrong”.

There’ll be those reading this who can go no further since a brain spasm to invoke the argument that guns don’t kill people will have fully taken hold.  My friends, guns do kill people. Lots of them.  Everyday. Take guns away from Columbine, Tech and Aurora shooters, and they ain’t shooters anymore.  How would they then act out their desperate fantasies?  A bomb?  Poison?   Maybe.  But recognize that such incidents are rare because it takes much more planning and organization to perpetrate such acts, and because those modalities are very tightly controlled.

I’d guess the argument for gun rights is Constitutional or opposition to government intrusion.  But no Constitutional reasoning supports the massacres that a wrong-headed reliance on the 2nd Amendment has produced.  I challenge the many Constitutional scholars who read this paper and this letter to furnish a factual predicate and arguments to support a slaughter of innocents.  Even Scalia recognizes limits on guns, but don’t let that stop you.

As to government intrusion, I challenge those of you willing to set aside hypocrisy long enough to explain why it is a government intrusion to regulate strictly something that takes so many innocent lives when you’re perfectly willing to take away happiness from same sex couples or the freedom that permits women to decide on conception or childbearing.

Will I convince anyone with this effort?  Sure I will.  And I may persuade someone to speak out if they would have otherwise been silent.  Or perhaps persuade the otherwise closed-minded to read Tuchman’s The March of Folly or Diamond’s Collapse, books which articulate the social dangers better than I could ever hope to.  So I will have contributed, in some small way.

 

Donald Marro

The Plains, Virginia

Letter to the Editor: Revelations

No, nothing Biblical or from Pat Robertson or Franklin Graham, just an examination of how our Governor, some legislators and the Senator from the Religious Right all reveal themselves as contemptuous of most everyone who isn’t.  As the E*Trade baby says, “here’s my shocked face”.

So, what revelations?  First, the Governor and conservative Republicans ran on promises to restore prosperity.  Their base knew this was nonsense, but the good burghers took the bait and now are yanked unceremoniously from their complacency.  Guns and god, si; jobs?  maybe later.

Why?  Because culture warfare is precisely the distraction that’s needed to obscure the widening wealth and privilege gap and diminishing prospects of economic improvement for non-elites.  Global prosperity is a better strategy than containment but the conservative Republican construct requires non-elites to work against their own interests and become an underclass, to be realized fully by destruction of safety nets, education and unions, the offsetting balancing and bargaining forces for non-elites.  And remarkably, hereabouts at least, the non-elites cheerfully do so.

Make no mistake that unions and government can be abusive: so too Wall Street, Congressional or religious miscreants.  The solution is for unions to be like they are at Caterpillar or in the auto industry, and for Government to cut civil service, pension padding and the lifetime employment nonsense.  But the trickle down economics crisis led to, even forced, Clinton era surpluses and balanced budgets, so Bush-era enormous borrowing and the Wall Street Crash (v. 2.0) isn’t being used to punish Wall Street excesses or restore tax code equity but to terminate contract and personal rights.  Conservative Republican hypocrites never met a crisis they didn’t make, or like.

And we also have McDonnell and legislators (including Mrs. Vogel) claiming they didn’t know a trans-vaginal ultrasound was invasive.  They wrote the legislation after what, sampling medical marijuana?  Anyone who pretends to this wide-eyed stupidity has no business legislating, has no respect for the electorate, and raises questions of competence for themselves and their defenders.

Closer to home we have Clarke County citizens advocating armed insurrection: no doubt the “I can’t have enough guns” crowd taking seriously Palin’s foolish comment.  Palin’s pandering was what consuming ambition demands even though impressionable minds take such statements as an invitation to murder.  Spare me that abortion is murder; abortion is the law.  Or prove it shouldn’t be, not to your clan or from the pulpit but with scientific rigor.  Or is science trumped by religion, again, as in Galileo’s time.  You don’t like Sharia law but find nothing wrong with Vatican law?  You want to imagine a future under religious teachings, look at Afghan tribal areas or most of the Middle East (except Israel where religious law is for the religious, not the state).

The knee-jerks who disagree first and analyze later miss that a more perfect union means letting others do as they wish within universally accepted bounds of public policy; and that an armed insurrection isn’t some romantic notion that Palin and her ilk make it out to be, or a drunken walk in the woods to shoot critters that don’t shoot back.

Is it clear yet that there is a compelling need to take back the system from those who’d prefer that ballots may be won by false promises, or worse, that the ballot may be replaced by the bullet?

Sure it is.  Any takers beside Shaun Broy?

 

Donald Marro

The Plains, Virginia

Letter to the Editor: Wannabe VP Bobby McD

Wannabe VP,
Bobby McD,
took Jill up the hill
to become a culture warrior.

but poor Bobby McD, 
it seems he forgot
conservative Republican women do not
much care about their sisters.

scholarly Bobby McD,
(the fornicators enemy),
then had an epiphany
on the importance of vaginas.

our courageous wannabe VP,
(sensing he might soon be
auld Booby McD),
conferred with his ambition.

and quickly concluded he must,
throw Jill under the bus
to show how hard he’s fighting

to keep folks just like him
from probing for sin,
in places where they’ve no business.

meantime send Jill your best,
and ask her to protect
women’s access to Bayer aspirin,

and not to worry about or take
time for promises one must make,
while campaigning, utter distractions,
just let ’em eat cake.
Donald Marro
The Plains, Virginia

Letter to the Editor – Never on Sunday (Except Blood Sports)

The 2012 legislative session is getting off to a bang – no pun intended.

There are ten (10!) bills introduced, each intent on being first to disturb the peace and tranquility of Sunday by allowing that vanishing species, the hunter, to go out and kill things: birds, animals, other hunters, people who thought the woods were to walk in on Sunday without becoming a target.

There is fundamental compromise involved with living in a society and culture that nominally respects the wishes of a diverse body of citizens. We have noise ordinances so people have quiet enjoyment of their property, we don’t force people to practice a particular religion, or force people to take part in certain activities, except driving on the right side of the road and hunting.

Where would we be without the NRA, hunters and a constitutional amendment allowing hunting. But the argument for hunting fails in our egalitarian, free-market blah-blah-blah society the moment Sunday Hunting imposes a nuisance on others. One day a week of not being able to cap a critter won’t lead to being overrun, and it doesn’t strike me as deprivation, particularly since girls and boys aren’t falling over themselves to learn to be blood thirsty, or in any case.

So what’s wrong with a day of rest for everyone, a day for tolerance and contemplation?

If you must kill to eat, that’s one thing. But if you kill to thrill, that’s another. If you must do that, don’t do it on Sunday.

Defeat these bills: HB 172 (Loupassi), HB 369 (Webert), HB 921 (Lingamfelter), HB 989 (Morefield), HB 1002 (Ramadan), SB 151 (Puckett), SB 173 (Petersen), SB 464, SB 464 (Substitute) (Northam), SB 512 (Wagner).

I know that this is distinct from companion animals but these are much the same mores here that make animal welfare problematic, although the Farm Bureau for once got it right and opposes Sunday hunting,. Peace and tranquility appeals to people as Sunday activitives, and that extends to the animals. Some culture should promote the merit in moderation, and be a model for others.

It would be nice if this culture were ours.

Donald C. Marro

Letter to the Editor: Assistant School Chief Addresses “Closure” Question

Dear CDN

Workdays in public schools, especially over holiday break, provide much needed time for personnel to “get caught up” with paperwork, organization, planning, technology upgrades, maintenance and other important tasks that are often pushed aside when school is in session. When students are in school, they along with staff and parents are the main priority, not the support activities mentioned above.

Over this holiday break for students, many of these tasks are in process or have been completed. This is work that must be done and the effort of our employees to complete these tasks before students and staff return on January 3 is greatly appreciated.

For my colleagues in the Central Office, several hours of our morning was spent with paperwork and reports, followed by a collaborative effort in the adjacent building with the organization of the records room. Not overly exciting work, but again, work that must be done.

While at lunch, I reviewed the news on the CDN. I also reviewed several comments on our “closure” that need to be addressed. I am writing this for my colleagues, but with some hesitation for I know this too may draw comments. Perspectives draw comments; my perspective is to clarify what I believe is an inaccurate representation.

As we all know, budgets have been tight for several years, so with careful thought and consideration, the School Board was forced to make critical staffing considerations. The result of these cost-saving measures is that most CCPS support personnel, including secretaries and custodians, have 240-day contracts (not 247-day contracts – see below for details). For efficiency and consistency of schedules, seven days have been identified as “division closure”, meaning school and office phones (probably) will not be answered during these designated times because clerical personnel are not required to report to work. That does not mean that school employees (administrators and others) with 247-day employment contracts were given the gift of time with extended holidays. School employees are required to report to work as per their clearly stated School Board contract, in accord with their clearly identified work calendar, otherwise they are required to submit for annual leave.

Also, for those interested, 15 school employees were required to report to work today. 73% reported; the others took annual leave. 247-day employees are permitted to take their annual leave when school is not in session.

(Generally, there are 260 weekdays in a year; 52 weeks x 5 days/week. Clarke County School Board policy identifies 13 unpaid holidays each year. Therefore, there are 247 possible Monday-Friday workdays in a year; 260-13=247).

Respectfully

Rick Catlett

Mr. Catlett is assistant superintendent for Clarke County Public Schools.

Letter to the Editor: Payroll Tax Cuts

Our President proposes to extend & expand payroll tax cuts from the Social Security Trust Fund.  Why would he want to endanger the promised benefits to our Senior Citizens by not fully funding this program?  If his motivation is to allow citizens to keep more of their own money, why not reduce the gas tax or some other similar Federal revenue?   How about serious Tax Reform that reducing rates and eliminates loopholes?  Why not “Freeze” spending at last year’s level? How about a 1% decrease in all Federal programs? Why is it that the only proposal to pay for this Trust Fund cut is an increase in taxes on other citizens?  Class Warfare?  Is there not any program of lesser priority in the Federal Government that could be trimmed back to offset the reduction? 

We need political leadership that brings forth substantial change in the size & scope of our Federal Government.  Our country is approaching federal spending levels at 25% of GDP and has now gone over $15T in debt.!!  There should be no discussion of any SPENDING GROWTH.  Big Government is not working, it is the problem.  This large bureaucracy should be dismantled.  Our elected representatives, Democrat & Republican, need to quit “playing on the margins” and get serious about changing the fiscal course of this country.

Please join the Northern Shenandoah Valley TEA Party in a discussion on this topic and other public policy issues.  We must hold these politicians accountable.

Jay L. Marts

Frederick County

Jay Marts is a political activist and organizer of the Northern Shenandoah Valley TEA

Letter to the Editor: Broy Says Time to Move On

November 22, 2011

To the people,

There comes a time and a place for everything, including that which I shall now act upon in an effort that is focused on the greater good and initiated by the clear “will” of the people.

“The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its  free expression should be our first object.” -Thomas Jefferson

I can not ignore this clear will and message from the people of our area, which to me has been heard very loud and so very clear. The charges in which I filed against the two Democratic Sheriffs, however justified it may very well be, are not the best means to the end in which I originally hoped to reach.

These are two very good men, that I in no way intended to wage war against. I wanted to make a point and I think that I certainly did do just that, but that which was initiated as a sincere act of good, turned into an unintentional act of war. I commend their service to each of their communities and ask others join me in continuing to support these two individuals, who are two very prominent faces of the Democratic Party in our area.

We must move forward. There are much larger battles to face as we push onward, with a united goal of making tomorrow just a little bit better that today for us all.

I pray that Mr. Millholland & Mr. Roper will accept my apology, which I now sincerely offer. I ask that they join with me and countless others in a much larger effort to rebuild this party in which we all share, embrace, and remain dedicate to it’s ultimate success.

I formally withdraw the formal charges in which I filed against both Sheriffs on November 12, 2011. I can only hope that such action will in the much larger picture, ultimately make “us” stronger. We certainly need all the strength we can muster as we work collectively to rebuild, strengthen, and move the Democratic Party forward into the months, years, and decades ahead.

I ask that the two local Democratic committees, take these charges and ball them up and give them a good toss into the nearest trash can.

It’s time to move on… Together.

Respectfully,

Shaun D. Broy

Shaun Broy ran as the Democratic Party candidate for Virginia Senate in 2011

Letter to the Editor: Post-Election Virginia

Virginia Senate election results (including for the 27th District race) are now final.  Reason lost.

But the press confirmed my contentions of an apathetic electorate, a Democratic Party inept, effete and moribund, and a press happy with highfalutin moral positions but averse to coverage, exhortation or the sponsoring or organizing of debates.  Nice to be a prophet in my own lifetime.

So few of you voted this time that perhaps a legal challenge to what makes an election will arise.  If voter registration policy, candidate conduct and special interest influence and money combine to discourage 75% from voting, isn’t that a conspicuous denial of citizenship rights.  But that’s as the minority wants it, however stunningly perverse it is.  Perhaps our elected officials can say why mandatory voting isn’t public policy, and why apathy is OK, and why contorted redistricting not geographic representation should make voting a joke, and why candidates can make claims so utterly baseless that their mere expression signals profound contempt for voters.

Let’s use Mrs. Vogel’s claims as example.  First, she claimed support from local Sheriffs based on a bill (SB329) she didn’t author and which didn’t pass, and claimed to help autistic kids based on a bill (SB1062) she also didn’t sponsor and that McDonnell, Cuccinelli and her party won’t implement.  But there was nothing about guns, god and women’s reproductive rights (anathema to those who want a child delivered only to be poorly educated, obese and unloved thereafter).  Why bother with real purpose when those dogwhistles are well-known to the base (our culture warriors did promise gun, god and more abortion restrictions promptly as soon as results were in) and there’s no point being honest about purpose if it wakes anyone up.  Just ask Scott Walker.

And this election isn’t the conservative mandate Mrs. Vogel claimed.  Fewer people (24,531), and only her base, voted for her this time, yet she spent some $500,000 (VPAP), 35% of what she spent in 2007, on a race where her opponents together spent about $1,000.  Most voters but not this paper sat still for this.  Conservative Republicans were elected when we’re worse off than 2007 because other papers thought more of pontificating than improving democratic processes, and Democrats had such tired leadership and no vision even their Sheriffs felt safe jumping ship.

Now we’ll see what jobs our culture warriors create that aren’t at McDonald’s but making things to compete with China and India.  In the face of less federal spending and a Virginia budget shortfall of $1.5 billion, and with job creators, as Boehner says, “on strike” against Americans.  Scary, but surely patriotic – put Americans to work only when they’re grateful for crumbs.  And maybe more mining disasters, oil spills, Loughners, Madoffs, Abramoffs, and legislators who bring guns to the General Assembly and fire them accidentally are actually good for tourism.

Or do you think our legislature will help people die with dignity, be our brother’s keepers, take the drug franchise from Mexican cartels, prepare kids for work at a time of nanotechnology, gene-sequencing, Watson and commercial space utilization.  In your dreams.  Elected officials can’t get transportation right or vegetables, not tomato paste or ketchup, into school lunches.

Perhaps I’ll write regularly on the absurdities of guns, god and denying abortion as public policy, to do my part in challenging culture warriors that think the earth is 4,500 years old and Frederich Hayek should be worshipped as divinely inspired.  Or maybe just re-read Lord of the Flies.

Thanks to those of you who voted against culture warriors.  What are the rest of you thinking?

Donald C. Marro

Mr. Marro ran as an Independent candidate for Virginia’s 27th District Senate seat in the 2011  

Letter to Editor: Smalleys Have No Interest in Salvation Army Land Deal

Having spent some of my youth in a small town, I appreciate how petty jealousies can sometimes be blown up into the most outrageous accusations but the latest allegation made against the Salvation Army and the Smalley’s is beyond bizarre.

The Smalleys do not now, never had and never will have, any interest in the Salvation Army subdivision.  Such an accusation is defamatory not only of the Smalleys but, more importantly to my office, the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army is a public charity that does outstanding work living out the Gospel’s command to “take care of the least of these.”  The income from the sale of the lots will be used in those missions, just like the coins and bills placed into the red kettles this time each year.

To divert any of the assets of a public charity to the benefit of a private person, like the Smalleys, would be a felony known as “defalcation.”  Does anybody in Clarke County truly believe that a nationally renown public charity with a spotless record would ever engage in such activity?  If so, let them say so publicly (not in an anonymous comment) and bring proof.

As to the fascination with the address in Leesburg, the REMax office at that location closed 6 months ago and had no relationship to Mr. Steinmetz or any other member of the Clarke County Planning Commission or the Salvation Army.

That address is a 3 story office building. Mr. Showers office is on the third floor. He and I have been representing the Salvation Army for years.

The Salvation Army subdivision plat is not at that address.  As Mr. Russell wrote Ms. Bouffant on Noverber 3, the plat, is and has always been, in Mr. Russell’s office and any member of the public is free to examine that plat.  How Ms. Bouffault continues to say otherwise is a mystery.

If the public does look at the plat, they will see that, as required by State Code, the name and address of the owner is clearly identified in Notes 6 and 8: The Salvation Army.  The Deed Book and page in the Clarke County land records of the Deed from Mrs. Casey to The Salvation Army is cited also.  Those records are also open to the public.

Because of “Dillon’s Rule,” local government may not impose requirements on a landowner’s right to subdivide that have not been authorized by the General Assembly.  Contrary to the belief of some, Clarke County is not “a kingdom unto itself.”  It is, in the words of one judge, a mere administrative subdivision of the Commonwealth, subject to the limitations imposed on it by the General Assembly.

Since the General Assembly, through the State Code, already requires the ownership information on the plat that will be recorded in the County land records, why does Clarke County, unique among all the counties in Virginia, require that same information to be stated again in another document that is also recorded in the land records?

Why is the second question asked on the Consumer Disclosure statement the name and address of the registered agent of the owner?  Only one kind of person looks for that information, someone like me: an attorney who’s getting ready to sue someone.  That information is far more readily available at the State Corporation Commission website, by the way.  Why is Clarke County trying to make it easier to sue landowners who are going through the subdivision process?  Why is Clarke County providing possible litigants with potentially outdated information when accurate, up to date information is readily available at the State Corporation Commission website?  Why is Clarke County enabling litigation against landowners going through the subdivision process when our Va. Supreme Court has said 3 time in the last 6 years that no one can sue over a subdivision decision except the applicant? Is the County trying to foment frivolous litigation against subdividers?

After a subdivision plat is approved and recorded, if a lot line is changed or street alignment shifted, the State Code requires the lot owners to come back to the Planning Commission and get its approval for that change.

Does Clarke County insist on approving any change in the identity of the registered agent of a landowner who has subdivided their property?   The ordinance doesn’t say.

What if the telephone company changes it’s name; does Clarke County’s unique ordinance require the lot owners to come back to get a new Consumer Disclosure statement reviewed, approved and recorded?  The ordinance doesn’t say.

When the lots are sold to an individual homeonwer or to a homebuilder, will the Consumer Disclousre statement have to be changed, approved and rerecorded? The ordinance doesn’t say.

Is the listing of the utility providers a promise (covenant, representation or warranty) that there will never be natural gas service in the Salvation Army subdivision?  Can future homeowner’s sue the Salvation Army if the electric co-operative ever merges with another electric company?  The ordinance doesn’t say.

The problem with localities freelancing on subdivision requirements is that it creates uncertainty which is why conforming to the State Code is the safest route for localities to follow in processing subdivisions.

No the County cannot tell the Salvation Army, or any other land owner, to take a hike.  Subdividing your land is a right and local governments cannot prohibit subdivision nor can local government impose conditions on that right not authorized by the General Assembly.

After years of processing its subdivision plat, its time for the Salvation Army plat to be approved on December 2nd.

John W. Farrell, Esq.
McCandlish & Lillard, P.C.
11350 Random Hills Rd., Suite 500
Fairfax, Virginia 22030

Letter to the Editor: Marro Announces Withdrawal from Senate Race

I’ve decided not to run.  I’ve decided to withdraw.

It won’t take long to explain why.  There was no groundswell of support for an issues campaign from the press, the people, or the Parties.  The press, except the Clarke Daily News, uniformly supports money politics.  The people, by and large, are too lazy to educate themselves on an opposition candidate that doesn’t titillate or intimidate, and Democrats are such a shadow of their former selves that the Party clanks around like the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Clarke Daily News - Opinion & Editorial

I chose to run only because the incumbent Senator, Jill Vogel, is a culture warrior with ambition.  It was wrong, it seemed to me, that there was no opposition for a freshman senator who won by a whisker and whose proudest first term achievements were to turn back the clock on women’s reproductive rights, deny healthcare to the disadvantaged and pander to NRA crazies who just can’t have enough weaponry in enough places to really feel really safe.

But that’s the way to get ahead and surely that’s what Mrs. Vogel and conservative Republicans desperately need and want – a charming female face to swan an apathetic electorate.

I stayed in the race even when a Democrat surfaced because Democrats gave only begrudging, almost meaningless support to Shaun Broy, their candidate.  Mr. Broy is young, lacks gravitas, has no meaningful professional experience and espoused unpopular ideas in an unpopular style, and so courageous Democrats found ways to avoid appearing with or supporting him.

I understand the practical realities but also understand loyalty and strategy; Democrats spent no time thinking about the value of beating Mrs. Vogel and upsetting the Republican apple cart as a consequence.  Broy could’ve been their Pygmalion – he’s smart and intense training could have re-made him quickly, as in fact, it has.  So I made it my business to make a race so he could.

The irony is Democrats convinced 47% of the people last time to vote for a female equivalent of a cigar store Indian, then couldn’t find a candidate this time to carry a Democrat banner, except, of course, Mr. Broy, on whom they then turned their backs.  Democratic Party leaders should remove themselves from this District, or at least from active involvement in political matters.

I know the future of Virginia is not in its elites but in its people.  If we don’t educate, protect, motivate, resource and facilitate through effective government the productive use of the human capital of Virginia, we’ll have a period more like the 19th Century than the 21st.   But now it’s not my fight but Mr. Broy’s.  And so, I thank those of you who thought well enough of my candidacy or positions or both to help me get on the ballot and/or helped roadtest my positions.

I offer no advice on what to do November 8th other than turn out and vote.  I’d endorse Mr. Broy if he had active support from a remade Democratic Party, one committed to Mr. Broy as it was to Karen Schultz in 2007, a remade Democratic Party to give Broy’s generation and mine choices other than OWS or the Tea Party.  A remade Democratic Party attractive to moderates makes my withdrawal a victory for those who disdain money politics and prefer truth seeking and issues.

And by the way, I saw the movie: the meek do not inherit the earth.