Thursday, May 26, 2011


Seneca, a Roman Senator, said, “the fates lead you to your destiny, or they drag you to it.”   When it comes to civil rights, must Virginia always be dragged to do what’s right?

We have two intolerant, backward-looking, gay-averse elected officials in Richmond, Governor Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cucinelli, who devote too much of their so-called public service, vitriol and taxpayer funds on compromising the rights and liberties of gay couples and preventing them from adopting any of the 5,700 children now in foster homes including the 1,300 eligible right now.

In Virginia, a single person, without regard to sexual orientation, may adopt a child so it doesn’t matter that Virginia doesn’t recognize gay marriage.  The standard is what’s in the “best interest” of the child.  There are 3,350 same-sex couples in Virginia raising more than 6,000 children.  The Governor and the State’s chief lawyer, who say they are pro-family, apparently think that these 6,000 children would be better off in foster homes. 

The Governor and AG have insisted on regulations for the State’s Social Services Board that authorize discrimination against any adopting gay.  AG Cucinelli told the Board that it was prevented from preventing discrimination.

This civil liberties’ violation parallels a bill introduced in the General Assembly in 2005 that required social workers to determine the sexual orientation of a prospective adoptive parent so that they could prevent gay persons from adopting. 

Our House of Delegates thought that was a great idea by a margin of 71-24, telling you something about their brotherly love; fortunately, our enlightened State Senate buried that wrong-headed bill.

In 2005, former State Senator Russ Potts (R-Winchester), running as an Independent for Governor, surprised Republican nominee Jerry W. Kilgore when he said he saw no reason why gay couples shouldn’t adopt children.

Potts reportedly said, “We’re all God’s children” and no gays “ought to be precluded from adopting a child.”  He knew gay parents that were “very loving, caring” and “at every one of the Little League baseball games and the parent-teacher events.”  Potts said he couldn’t “imagine that a gay person gets to the pearly gates of heaven and this loving, benevolent God is going to deny that person a place in his kingdom because he or she is gay.”

Messrs. McDonnell and Cucinelli enjoy a more caustic reading of the almighty’s will in their unholy crusade against gay families.  They don’t appreciate what Paul told the Thessalonians that “those who despiseth, despiseth not man, but despiseth God.”  I take comfort from Job, where it’s written in the Old Testament, that “the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment.”

A citizen coalition has demanded that the Virginia State Board of Social Services reconsider a policy that permits discrimination against adoption based on sexual orientation as they believe we are all bound to love our neighbor as ourselves.  This basic precept from the Sermon on the Mount has been excised from the editions of the bible that our “leaders” consult.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011


(Photo by Holly S. Flannery)
Perhaps we’d all appreciate what we risk losing in Loudoun if we visited places that are like Loudoun once was.
As a street kid in the South Bronx, the nearby park, away from the swings, in the rolling green meadows, was something like nature. 
A Boy Scout troop hike across the George Washington Bridge to the New Jersey Palisades was better.
The best by far, however, was when our family foursome took a five hour summer drive in my Dad’s Plymouth to the Adirondack Mountains.  Each summer my parents found an affordable rental cabin right on Lake George, just South of Fort Ticonderoga, where Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys still lurked waiting should the British dare to regain the fort; best, James Fennimore Cooper’s “Hawkeye” paddled a dug-out just ahead of you when you swam through the morning mist.
Loudoun shared an identity with nature in 1983 when I bought an historic log cabin called the Janney House in Waterford, Virginia from the Morton family who had restored it. 
In the years since, we’ve lost our way in Loudoun.
The developing theme in this fall election season is about how to exploit and destroy by development the nature that made Loudoun so special.
This past weekend was my birthday and I was hauled off by my wife Holly to an uncertain location in Pennsylvania. 
After about three hours of driving, we reached a stream called Bull Run, a small but fast stream, full of fish, flowing down a ridge called Laurel Hill to join the Youghingheny River.
Over a four mile run, Bull Run drops from about 2,050 feet above sea level to about 1,070 feet, making the water run white near Mill Run, Pennsylvania.
Over the centuries, this water force has shaped and fractured the natural sand stone, forming buff-colored ledges. 
The river is bordered by tall trees, and the floor of the forest is deep with fallen oak leaves. 
Edgar Kaufman bought this land in 1918; his family loved to sit on the rocks and watch the water fall; in 1935, they commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build a home that fit this setting.
Wright wrote how his “visit to the waterfall in the woods stays with me” and the project “has taken vague shape in my mind to the music of the stream.”
Wright designed a home that emerged and extended out of the cliff in three levels with terraces open to the sky above and the water fall below (thanks to cantilevered slabs anchored in that cliff). 
You can walk down from the main room on the first floor family room and sit with your legs dangling in the stream.
There’s not a place in the house, called “Fallingwater,” where you don’t see and hear the calming stream.
Wright believed that what we contribute in architecture to the land should be “organic,” that “form and function are one,” and so we marry the structure to its context.
We could do worse than mimic Wright’s architectural philosophy. 
Indeed, I’m sure we shall do worse – if we continue to build in Loudoun without respect for what’s natural.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Is the trade of a barn and an historic working farm for a
new grocery store - a Harris Teeter - really worth it?
Joni Mitchell: "They paved paradise ... to put up a parking lot ..."
Putting aside how some engineering geniuses accidentally knocked down an abandoned barn in Purcellville that they promised to preserve and protect, while making way for a spanking brand new Harris Teeter grocery store, you have to ask how many grocery stores does a town really need? 
How much food can the town’s people eat?
We already have a few big stores in town, namely, Bloom and Giant, and there are other smaller stores as well, for example, for the health conscious, we have Healthway Natural Foods, also the 7-11 for small fast stops, and even “My Deli and CafĂ©” for the sandwich on the run.
I confess a personal bias for Giant as I shop there occasionally and my daughter Diana works there.  But I used to shop at Bloom before Giant and sometimes still do.  There’s the loaf of bread and milk I get at the 7-11.  And we can’t overlook what's nearby, Natural Mercantile in Hamilton and Wegman’s only fifteen minutes away in Leesburg.
Meaning no offense, “why in the world do we need a Harris Teeter?” 
It’s been long reported, seemingly without sufficient enviro or governmental empathy, that, at the same time we are planning for this new grocery store, right across the street, in order to make way for the SCR, we are destroying a 250-year old farm, Crooked Run Orchard Farms, where you can still pick fresh produce yourself; one friend said she picks 50 pounds of berries a season; it is bitterly ironic that, as we trash a producing historic farm, we are making way for a retail grocery store? 
Now that the court cases are winding down, and this farm family has been crushed like a bug, a fleet of monstrous earth-moving machines stands ready, motors running, to punch holes in the ground, tear through their vegetable patches, knock down the barn, lay a road, and, slice and dice this family’s dreams to shreds.
Many came to this County because it was a land of farms, of rolling green pastures and country roads sunk out of sight by design because the sight of roads diminishes the landscape.
We are squandering our natural legacy by inches and miles, converting the living and beautiful into an everywhere sameness, supplanting the curve of a hill, rock outcroppings and pastures with manicured patches of grass, acres of asphalt, and glass and steel boxes that sell what we can get elsewhere or what we don’t need at all.
A Greek philosopher said, “Nothing improves our aim like having a target.”
Is our target eating more and getting fatter?
Is it endangering the groceries we have by increasing competition in the face of a doubtful demand?
Is it making a magnet store to attract more people to move here, without regard for how we afford the necessary services or infrastructure?
None of these “targets” are worthy.
We won’t receive a dime’s worth of benefit from this unrelenting and unnecessary fast-growth development.
But the profit that these developers expect make them totally indifferent to preserving and protecting what’s living, natural and beautiful about this County.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) doesn’t respect your constitutional right of privacy as an individual, not if you’re a woman.
Governor McDonnell seeks to zero out any medical advice you might get and any abortion you might seek to have in your first trimester – if it’s from any of the 20 affordable clinics in Virginia.
He also wants to prevent any woman from paying for any health insurance coverage rider on the state insurance exchange that would cover an abortion in the first trimester.
This is nothing new to women who have known men all their lives who try to tell them what to do and who treat them like they’re property – consistent with the “original intent” of our flawed constitution before its belated amendment in 1920.
The Governor insists in sonorous incantations, at the drop of a political leaflet, that women should be grateful that he has interfered with their health choices, first, by imposing new stringent and unnecessary health regulations that shall operate to bar first trimester abortions in any of the 20 clinics that already follow unassailable medical procedures, and second, by banning private insurance coverage riders for abortion care on the state insurance exchange.
The Governor forces on women his factually unsupported religious belief that a fetus is a person in the first trimester.  No matter that the constitution says otherwise as a matter of law.
McDonnell disclosed his eccentric projection of the ideal “American Family” in a 1989 graduate thesis at Pat Robertson’s “university.”   Bob later said he didn’t really mean what he wrote, but his public actions since have confirmed that he really did.
O’Donnell said in his thesis that birth control and abortion had “reduced birth rate below that which is required to replenish the current population” (at p. 6).  Our 2010 census, however, demonstrates that this nation was 4.6% of the global population in 2000, at 282 million people, and has enlarged its footprint, at 4.9% of the global population, with 310 million people.
Bob said he believed the “trend of working women and feminists” encourages the “non-parental primary nurture of children” (at p. 40).  In other words, Bob wants women pregnant and bare foot, and not working -- so they may “nurture.”  “Feminism,” Bob wrote, lest you have any doubts about his chauvinism, is among the “real enemies of the traditional family” (at p. 65).
“Blue law” Bob also decried “the perverted notion of liberty that each individual should be able to live out his sexual life in any way he chooses without interference from the state” (at p. 9).
To preserve and protect the family, Bob said the government “has the right to legitimately discriminate in support of this goal” (at p. 34).  O’Donnell explained that the way he’d do that would be to “chip away at the fringes” of the law that allows for a woman’s constitutional right of choice (at p. 54).  Obviously, precluding health care and insurance coverage fit his stratagem.
Like the indifferent play-acting Monty Python physicians, in “The Meaning of Life;” Bob is telling women who believe that they have the right to control their own bodies, to think again, “you are not qualified.”