Friday, December 15, 2017
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A Sacred Obligation at the Wise, Virginia Health Fair

photo-25My title has multiple meanings.

Perhaps that will become clear.

How did you spend your weekend?

At 1:30 AM Thursday I got in my car and drove for about 6 hours through the night to the mountains of Southwest Virginia, which in the daylight are so heart-breakingly beautiful one almost forgets the poverty of so many therein.

photo-24I stopped briefly to check in to my hotel in Norton, then drove a few miles more, through Wise to the Wise County Fairgrounds for yet another "mission," this my 5th.

It was the 15th anniversary of the Wise Virginia Health fair, with dental services provided by the Missions of Mercy of the Virginia Dental Association's foundation and everything else provided by Remote Area Medical, founded by Stan Brock.

Officially the event began on Friday, but first we had to unload these two trucks and set up.  We had many students from the School of Dentistry at VCU, as well as from other colleges and universities.  I will talk some more about the students for whom this too was a sacred obligation, as it was for so many - of course the dentists volunteering under what became extremely difficult circumstances, and general volunteers, like yours truly.

Please keep reading.

The Sadness Lingers

This post will be very different.

I am not going to quote anything from the piece to which I refer you.

I do not want to take anything out of context.

Nor do I wish to spoil the flow of what the writer has poured into it.

Charles M. Blow's columns in the New York Times now appear twice a week, on Thursdays and on Saturdays.

Usually the evening before he puts up a link on Facebook and asks readers to "let me know what you think."

He did so tonight, for this column, whose titled I have borrowed for this post.

I simply ask that you go read it.

Anything else you is a blessing, particularly if you help enable others to read it.

Peace.

Virginia Democratic party going after Cuccinelli on gifts

Let me offer without comment the contents of an email blast just sent out by Brian Coy, communications director of the Democratic Party of Virginia (apologies on any formatting difficulties)


Is $6,700 of Nutritional Supplements Cuccinelli's Idea of a 'Reasonable' Gift Cap?

WTVR caught Ken Cuccinelli yesterday and attempted to nail him down on whether he will accept a gift ban in light of his and Governor McDonnell's ethics scandal over gifts from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. No such luck:

"Cuccinelli would not say whether he supports what his opponent, Terry McAuliffe, has proposed; a $100 dollar limit on gifts to politicians and their immediate families. Cuccinelli only said he would support 'any reasonable cap.'"

The Attorney General may be ducking specifics about what gift cap he would accept, but his history with Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams offers an idea of the types of gifts he deems "reasonable:"

* Flight to New York paid for by Jonnie Williams $628
* Lodging in Jonnie Williams' Home - $800
* Thanksgiving Dinner at Jonnie Williams' Smith Mountain Lake House - $1500
* Summer vacation at Jonnie Williams' Smith Mountain Lake House - $3000
* Flight to Kentucky - $3200
* Box of Anatabloc nutritional supplement - $6700

"Since Ken Cuccinelli won't tell Virginians if he agrees with Terry McAuliffe's $100 gift ban, it's 'reasonable' to assume that he has not had a sudden change of heart about accepting thousands in gifts from Jonnie Williams, who has had conflicts of interest with his office," said DPVA spokesman Brian Coy. "Virginians know that accepting those gifts, and 'forgetting' to disclose many of them, placed Cuccinelli in a scandalous conflict of interest. If he finally recognizes that, he should say come clean and accept the McAuliffe gift ban."

Mark Warner – I will no longer support you

Mark Warner voted against the assault weapons ban. Mark Warner voted against limiting the size of magazines. Mark Warner is the most popular political figure in Virginia, and could have voted for both measures without in any way jeopardizing his reelection in 2014

Mark Warner is from a state that saw the slaughter at Virginia Tech.  Cho used both ten and fifteen round magazines for his two handguns.  Think how much damage he did.  Think how much more he might have been able to do had he had 30 round magazines and had to change less frequently.

I have been involved in Democratic politics in Virginia including at a statewide level. Mark Warner is considered the 800 pound gorilla of Virginia Democratic politics. In a sense my taking this stand may make me toxic in Virginia politics.

I don't care.

It does not matter that neither of these amendments were going to pass. I rely on the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.:

There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.
It matters not to me whether Mark Warner believes the baloney of the gun lobby or merely lacks the guts to stand up for what is right.  What is right is to stop the slaughter.

If you are unwilling to step up to that, I am unwilling to offer you my support, my money or my vote.

Cuccinelli compared slavery to abortion in 2008

Ken CuccinelliThe Washington Examiner is a conservative DC area paper, owned by right-wing billionaire Philip Anschutz, which this coming June will stop its daily print run and be replaced by a weekly magazine. That makes this story all the more delicious. The context of the story is that Democrats in Virginia have been pushing out a video taken by a tracker at a small small gathering of religious conservatives in Williamsburg, VA, in which the Virginia Attorney General and putative Republican nominee for Governor of Virginia equated abortion and slavery, as you can read in this AP story at Salon

The Examiner story's 2nd paragraph reads

The outspoken conservative and candidate for governor made an almost identical statement in a 2008 "Cuccinelli Compass," a regular letter he writes to supports to supporters, The Washington Examiner has learned. In it, Cuccinelli reviews a biography on British abolitionist William Wilberforce and draws a connection between Wilberforce's fight against slavery to his own efforts in the Virginia Senate to curb abortions in the state.

The story also offers Cuccinelli's defense of those remarks:  

Might Washington’s NFL team have to change its name?

Washington RedskinsWhen the ombudsmen of the major paper, The Washington Post writes a column like Patrick Pexton: Listening to Native Americans, one has to wonder. In that column we learned that were the team now led by Quarterback Robert Griffin III ever to return to play its games within the city limits, the current mayor, Vincent Gray
said recently that, if the football team were once again to play its games in the District, a discussion would have to be held on its name.
This is within the context of yet another lawsuit against the team's name coming in March, a symposium at the Museum of the American Indian on the topic of team nicknames in sports, and recent news coverage of a swimming team at a high profile girls school, Holton Arms, where the swimmers wore feathers and face paint. And as Paxton notes,
columnists have been talking with Native Americans about these issues for a couple of decades.

I will explore Paxton's column anon, but I will start with this for those who do not know the team's history - the nickname has absolutely nothing to do with honoring Native Americans.

Why I have not been around

Last Sunday evening at 6:10 my wife and I walked into the MRI section of Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington.  She had been having severe back pain and in order for her physician to make a referral to a pain management specialist an MRI of the affected area was a prerequisite.  

She returned home from the hospital after 7 last night, with both of our lives changed forever.

Some of you have been following our saga.  If you have not and want details over time, you can go to my user page at Daily Kos and begin with the posting on Sunday 1/27 and simply read those with lots of comments through Friday 2/1.

Or you can continue to the extended text where I will offer a more succinct recounting.

Hate Comes to Arlington

crossposted from Daily Kos at Lowell's request.  It appeared there on Sunday January 20

I live in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood of Arlington VA.  My house is on N. 16th St, 2 blocks west of Glebe Road.  On the Southeast corner of the intersection of Glebe and N. 16th St. is the Mount Olivet United Methodist Church.  The Church has been on that site since before the Civil War, as you can read in its history.  It sponsors AA meetings, provides food for the needy, its Boy Scout troop sells Christmas trees.  I have served on the Board of our local community center, and in general they have been cooperative, with no more than the normal rough edges between a church many of whose members are from outside our community and the immediate neighborhood.

We cannot blame them for what happened this morning.

Today hate came to Arlington. Today the Church was picketed - by the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka KS.

Yes those people. The ones whose website reads http://www.godhatesfags.com/

And whose signs look like these:

Westboro Baptist Church protesters

On the issue of arming people in schools

BUSHMASTER AR-15I oppose putting more guns into schools

A policeman with a sidearm will be no match for someone with the AR-15 Bushmaster shown above. I do not want to turn our schools into armed camps.

I wrote a version of this as a comment in an on-line discussion about Terry McAuliffe's proposal to place armed policemen in every school in the Commonwealth. Since then we have had a parallel proposal from Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association to have armed NRA trained volunteers in every school. Governor McDonnell has argued for training school personnel to carry weapons as a means of keeping students secure. All three are wrong.

Keep in mind there was an armed policeman at Columbine.

Keep in mind that the Fort Hood shooting took place in the midst of a heavily armed military base.

And keep in mind that just as LaPierre was holding a press conference, a man was walking down a highway in rural Pennsylvania shooting people.  He killed three and wounded several others, including State Policemen, before he himself died.

The best use of policemen in schools is the building of relationships.

Please continue as I offer my thoughts beneath the fold.  I write this as an educator, someone who had military training with firearms, and someone who is well aware of how unprepared even trained police are to handle a situation like Columbine or Sandy Springs Elementary.

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