Monday, July 31, 2006

The Marshall Newman Amendment and The First Amendment Challenge

This is a bad law made worse by being a state constitutional amendment. Ironically, it used to be a conservative principle to not want to tamper with constitutional law without knowing what the unintended consequences could be. And there could be many consequences that even most conservatives don’t want to see occur.

To understand why, you need to see what the amendment says in its entirety. Here’s how the Marshall Newman Amendment reads:
“That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this commonwealth and its political subdivisions.

This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or it s political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities or effects of marriage.”

It’s the last paragraph that is problematic because it overreaches. It’s so broad that it could take away the rights of unmarried heterosexual couples and even two people of the same gender who happen to own a home together, pool their resources for economic reasons and don’t have an type of sexual relationship.

Indeed that’s why the AARP has gone on record opposing these types of laws.

The people who could be most impacted by unintended consequences from this amendment, as well as similar laws in other states, are the elderly. And as often happens, it’s a burden that would fall disproportionately on elderly women.

One reason is that women outlive men by a few years so there are more widows around than widowers. And there are many women who are heterosexual who never married despite wanting to be wives. So they are childless too. Many also may be sole survivors among their siblings.

With a thin support network, pooling resources including housing, utilities, and food costs makes sense. In addition, as people age and get frail it gets harder to live on their own. By teaming up with a best buddy, both may extend the time that they can live independently and stay out of nursing homes.

All of the issues such as medical consent, power of attorney, ability to enter into contracts, visitation in hospitals could be put into jeopardy for these senior citizens and destroy their efforts to stay independent and live out their last days in dignity.

That’s one issue.

Another is that for various reasons, heterosexual couples may not wish to marry. But they too could be affected by the overly broad reach of this amendment. I think that with this bill the state is overstepping its authority and reaching into areas of domestic arrangements that ought to remain private.

But it would be disingenuous of me to stop there. I frankly also don’t think the state ought to be in the business of defining marriage. I have no quarrel with any religious denomination defining the limits of whom they will give the marriage sacrament to and what they will recognize as a marriage. If it’s a religion of which I’m not a member, I’m not going to tell the faithful what I think they should do. It’s not my business.

But here’s the rub. What if a religious group, the Unitarian Universalists, for example, decided to perform same sex marriages – not domestic partner ceremonies, but actual marriages? Actually, there are several faith traditions that I could see taking that step besides the UUs. The Metropolitan Community Church, which is specifically a gay church, could do it (they may already). Reform Jews could take that leap, as could the United Church of Christ. I’m not saying any of them will, but it would be plausible for one of these denominations to do it since all of them have declared themselves “Welcoming Congregations” for gays.

So, if one of these religious groups offers same sex marriage ceremonies, is it a violation of their constitutional rights for any state to deny them that right? Does it become a First Amendment violation for the state to interfere with the practice of religion? Since most objections to gay marriage stem from a traditionalist interpretation of the Judeo-Christian religions, would it even be a violation of the Establishment Clause to impose the morality of the traditionalists on those of a non-mainstream religion?

There are, in fact cases, where the courts have ruled that states do have the right to interfere with religious practices, but there is a very high bar for states, which have to prove that it protects the common good. Indeed, there is a burden on the states to show how interfering with a religious practice is harmful and a danger to the public good before it can ban any practice.

The Supreme Court even ruled in favor of the Native American Church, which uses peyote as a sacrament. The Drug Enforcement Administration tried to prevent them from holding their peyote ceremonies and the case went all the way up to the highest court in the land, which ruled that as long as the Native American Church limited peyote use to its members, it did have the right to partake of its sacrament. Although prevention of drug abuse is considered a pretty strong example of protecting the public good, that argument did not prevail against the Native American Church.

So, I wonder what would happen if a church or denomination ever took the challenge?

It may be crazy. There may be something I’m overlooking. After all, I’m not a lawyer let alone a constitutional expert. But I’d love to hear from some of you out there who might have some thoughts and even some legal expertise. Is any of this a plausible scenario for a constitutional challenge at the federal level?

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Whoosh of Taxpayers' Money

That’s how David Addington, former chief counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney, described the Services Acquisition Reform Act, Congressman Tom Davis’ showcase piece of legislation to benefit his contractor buddies including Donald Upson, founder of ICG Government, a consulting firm that has steered high tech clients towards lucrative government contracts.

According to an article by Robert O’Harrow and Scott Higham, in today’s Washington Post, the exact quote from Addington in reference to this bill is, “I hear the whoosh of taxpayer dollars out the window. The bill is not fiscally responsible and cannot be supported in its current form.”

The current form includes provisions to allow contractors to bill for time and materials with no fixed cap on the total amount and also to allow contractors to determine how much money they were saving the government and then to share in those savings. These and other provisions of the so-called reform act would loosen oversight and make the government susceptible to fraud and abuse.

Indeed, the increase in the use of private contracts and the lack of trained federal contract specialists to oversee these contracts has been an issue for years in the federal procurement community

As yesterday’s Washington Post article, “Homeland Security Contracts Abused,” by Griff Witte and Spencer S. Hsu, points out, there has been a steep increase in no-bid and single source contracts in the Department of Homeland Security, an agency plagued with reports of contract abuse.

Part of the problem is a prevailing political philosophy that nothing the government does is as good as what the private sector can do. There has been a concerted, deliberate effort to shrink the federal workforce and to categorize more and more government jobs as inherently commercial and so open to competition with the private sector. The theory is that this will produce a more cost effective government. And sometimes it does. But in over 90% of the private-federal competitions, the federal workers win because they actually can do the job cheaper and better. Of course, this has led to demands by private contractors to change the rules. So much for free and fair competition. Private industry proves once again that if it can’t win under the rules, it can get its friends in elected office to change the rules of the game. That doesn’t produce efficient government or save costs though.

Indeed, even Bush Administration officials who embrace privatization have criticized Davis’ legislation for its weaknesses. As this Washington Post sidebar points out, Angela B. Styles, former Chief of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy at OMB was a critic of the Services Acquisition Act and some of Davis’ actions on behalf of his high roller corporate friends.

Tom Davis said dismissively of Styles, “Our clashes with Angela Styles were very clear from day one. We sat down with her two or three times and she just was not getting adult supervision at OMB. I don’t think they had any idea what was going on.”

Styles’ previous boss, Mitch Daniels, former chief of OMB and now Republican governor of Indiana countered, “She was getting plenty of supervision. If Tom had a problem with Angela, I suppose it’s because she understood the issues too well.”

Others may also have a problem with just how close Davis is with Upson, founder of ICG Government. So close, in fact, that Davis’ wife, Jeanne Marie Devolitis-Davis works for ICG as a part-time consultant. Indeed, she was Upson’s first hire. And although she was listed on the masthead of his website as a partner, her job consists of working 10 to 20 hours a week from home, mostly on her cell phone, for which she was paid $78,000 last year. Nice work if you can get it.

Of course it wasn’t the hours she put in that got her the handsome salary, it was the results she produced. She was able to contact an undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security to provide access for one of ICG’s clients. Devolitis-Davis and Davis have also appeared at ICG sponsored events as keynote speakers and their pictures are prominently displayed under ICG banners on the company’s website.

Both Davis and Devolitis Davis insist they’ve done nothing wrong. Indeed, Davis sought the advice of the Congressional ethics committee. Devolitis-Davis said that she was told specifically not to mix her private professional activities with her husband’s congressional duties. Both insist that there is a solid wall between their professional – political activities.

So far the Washington Post has uncovered nothing illegal and there probably isn’t any blatantly criminal influence peddling going on. But generally federal employees, elected officials, and all government workers at federal, state and local levels are held to a higher standard than just what is legally allowable. That standard can best be summed up as “would a reasonable person looking at the facts conclude that there is a conflict of interest?”

Of course reasonable people can look at the same set of facts and sincerely disagree with the conclusions. But in this particular case, and given the current climate of corruption emanating from Washington – everything from waste and abuse of DHS contracts to lobbying scandals on the Hill – I think reasonable people concerned with good government and protecting taxpayers’ interests can conclude that this one, at least, is too close to call. And that should be troubling for Virginia voters.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Year of Loss

The Buddhist magazine, Tricycle, once ran an edition devoted to pain and the practice of meditation. One article stated that nothing focuses the mind like pain.

I know that's true.

I’ve recently experienced quite a bit of pain due to some dental problems. None of this was life threatening. I mean, we’re talking about a couple of toothaches not lung cancer.

But pain is pain. And severe pain is hard to push out of consciousness. My pain varied. At times it was sharp, like small needles cutting my mouth. At other times it was a dull, excruciating throb. The pain also traveled. First in one tooth, then another. It drove me crazy because I didn’t even know where to tell my dentist it was located. What if I picked the wrong tooth? What if he missed where it really was and worked on the wrong tooth? The pain was so maddeningly elusive that I knew my descriptions were not going to be very helpful.

Of course, it turned out that he got it. With X-rays and careful examination he knew where to work. I ended up losing two teeth and needing a crown.

I was afraid it would be far worse. I really fear losing my teeth and needing complete dentures. When I was growing up, I saw the adults in my family including my father, my grandmother, and several aunts and uncles, all lose their teeth. When they had their dentures in they looked fine. But I hated the look they had when they took them out, as they all did from time to time. I gather that dentures are not always comfortable and people sometimes need a break from wearing them. And without them, their mouths looked caved in. My relatives would suddenly look old and defeated.

I have always associated loss of teeth with aging and loss of vigor. And I live in dread of that.

This has been a year of loss for me anyway, which has thrown those fears into sharp relief.

Beginning the end of last year, actually, I watched my mother’s slow decline come to an end. She had had a stroke in May of 2005. At first she rallied and came back from a couple of months in a rehabilitation facility to her home in Fort Lauderdale. With my father’s care, a part-time home health care aid, and various physical therapists visiting her, she was able to recover to the point where she walked with a walker and could get around. She had never lost her ability to speak, but she still received speech therapy. At 90 years old, she made a good recovery.

Or so we were told.

While she was able to be cared for at home, she never really regained her independence. She needed help with such basics as dressing and personal hygiene. Neither she nor my father could keep their home clean without assistance. The housecleaning was the easiest for them to accept. The personal needs for which she also needed assistance were harder for her to cope with.

She also had macular degeneration, which left her unable to see well. She could make out broad outlines, recognize people, and avoid bumping into obstructions. But she couldn’t read or even see a television screen. This intelligent woman who loved to read and watch CNN News was reduced to listening to a radio, staring out a window, and eventually losing interest in most of her surroundings.

When I visited her over Thanksgiving, I took her for a walk. She had to walk around her condo complex’s catwalk a couple of times a day as part of her physical therapy. This woman, who I always remember enthusiastically participating in any therapy that would aid her recovery, complained and balked at doing it. “I’m so tired,” she protested.

The catwalk is only a three-minute walk for an average person. For us it took 15 minutes of painfully slow shuffling. And by the end of the first lap she was breathless. “Ok, mom, you did good. You did great,” I encouraged her.

But the truth was that she was in the worst shape I’d ever seen her in and rapidly deteriorating.

About a week after that, I called on a Sunday to see how she and my dad were doing and he told me “Your mother’s acting up.”

I was puzzled and asked to speak to her. As soon as he put her on, I could tell what he meant. She was delusional, talking about things that had happened when I was a teenager, some 40 years ago, as if they were current.

Both my father and I feared that she was showing signs of dementia. But I also remembered a friend’s mother who had died of complications of emphysema. She too had begun experiencing mental confusion, hallucinations, and other symptoms similar to dementia. I told my father he had to take my mother to the doctor the next day. I realized that the problem could be pneumonia and that she might not be getting enough oxygen to the brain. I insisted he call the doctor first thing in the morning and prayed he would listen.

As it turned out, she deteriorated through the night and my father called 9-11 and had her rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night. She was experiencing congestive heart failure and pneumonia.

By the end of the week I told him I was coming down. I had been in constant touch with her doctors and the hospital. He told me not to come. In fact, he said bluntly, “There’s no need to come here. We’ll all meet in New York for the funeral. Why do you have to run around coming here then going back up there? You’ll get sick too. Or caught flying in a snow storm” My poor over protective dad.

I said nothing. The silence grew. Then he said, “But you want to see your mother while she's still alive.”

I said in a small voice, “It would be nice, dad.”

“Ok, come.”

My husband, Dan, booked me on a plane. The day it was scheduled to leave, the National Weather Service was predicting an ice storm. Washington, DC does not usually get ice storms that early in December. But then the weather has been freaky for a while all over the country. Dan and I drove to the airport and checked into an airport hotel to make sure that I’d be able to make the plane that morning. The ice storm hit that night and into the early hours of morning. By 8 o’clock it was over, just in time for a messy rush hour. But I had arranged for a hotel shuttle to the airport and made it in time to wait for the inevitable delays because the storm had moved up the coast and was affecting air traffic as far as Rhode Island.

After a two-hour delay, I was on my way. But I never dreamed the mess I was walking into.

My mom was stable in the hospital. But it was my dad’s condition that shocked me. He had gotten a bad flu that was rapidly turning into pneumonia too. He could barely breathe, looked pale and couldn’t eat a thing. My mom, when I got to the hospital, was barely conscious, slipping in and out of sleep and unable to talk. When I spoke to Dan I whispered into the phone, “I knew my mother was dying but I think I’m going to lose my father too.” I started to cry.

The next day, at the hospital, I signed forms not to put her on a respirator. I spoke to a doctor who told me, “Nature is trying to take its course but we keep interfering.”

He explained her prognosis. They could stabilize her enough to send her to a rehab facility again. And then she would deteriorate again and they would send her back to the hospital again. And then … but you get it. “She won’t be going home,” the doctor told me. “Your father can’t take care of her anymore. She needs more care than even you could give her at home.”

“So, how do we stop interfering?” I asked.

That’s when he told me about hospice. My father and I went to look at the hospital’s on-site hospice facility, which was beautiful. It was spotless without being sterile. The furnishings were soft, homey, and serene. The staff was loving. The doctor set up a meeting between my father and me and the hospice nurse, who evaluated my mother. The meeting was at 9 o'clock on a Sunday night and as soon as we were done, they were already moving my mom up to the hospice.

She was there for a week.

With her being cared for, my father too was finally able to get the medical attention that he so desperately needed. Once he was on antibiotics and getting a good night’s sleep he began to recover.

After my mom’s funeral in New York, my father and I flew back down to Florida and I stayed with him for a week. Dan drove back to Virginia for a couple of days then drove down to Florida to be with us. It was a sad time and a healing time. We took my father to sit at the beach where the sun and sea air worked their magic on his lungs, his body and his spirit. We let relatives and friends provide comfort.

My father is still doing well, but when I speak to him on the phone I detect that his breathing is growing more labored. He has greater difficulty walking. And he talks about missing my mom. I don’t want to get over dramatic, but I know that it’s only a matter of time until they are reunited. Until then, I am determined to enjoy every minute of my time with him, whether on the phone or my frequent visits to Fort Lauderdale.

But this has been a year of loss. Serious loss, like my mom, and minor loss.

A toothache in the scheme of things is not so serious. But when the loss of a tooth is a pointer to the loss of youth it takes on new poignancy.

For all of us, being a parent, an aunt or uncle, or a grandparent and watching children play reminds us of our own childhood and points us back to happy times. But being an adult and taking care of an aging parent also points us to the future and to our own aging. And every sign and symbol of that future takes on new meaning. It’s a reminder to not squander the time we have. It’s been said before, far more eloquently, but every moment of our lives is a precious opportunity to tell those we care about how much we love them.

Don’t ever pass up the opportunity.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Jeanette Rishell: Fighting Grandma and Advocate for the Common People

Jeanette Rishell, candidate for the House of Delegates from the 50th District, knew she was in a friendly crowd when she attended last night’s Northern Virginia Central Labor Council meeting in Annandale.

Rishell showed up in white slacks and sneakers with white socks. As she apologized to one audience member for the casual attire saying, “I’m sorry for the shoes but I’ve been out walking my district.”

She got back a cheerful, “Oh that’s ok, that’s just what we want you to do to win.”

Rishell grinned broadly.

She was introduced by former firefighter and fellow blogger Bruce Roemmelt, who is still a member of the Central Labor Council. The reception grew friendlier still. As Roemmelt, who ran against Bob Marshall in 2005, explained to the group, his interest in Jeanette’s candidacy grew stronger after he heard her deliver a sermon last September at church.

Both are members of the Bull Run Unitarian Universalist Church (UUs). The Unitarian Universalist Church goes back to the earliest days of the United States and boasted Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson as members or supporters. The church has always had a progressive reputation.

Jeanette Rishell spoke as a lay participant in the church service. Most UU churches have ministers who perform the service three weeks out of every month, with a lay-led service on the fourth week. The lay-led service last September coincided with Labor in the Pulpit, an AFL-CIO sponsored program that encourages ministers and congregations to think about and discuss social justices issues including workers’ rights, minimum wage, and the right to organize and join unions. The program is held either on the Sunday before Labor Day or close to it in various church congregations, including Catholic, Methodist, Episcopalian, and Presbyterian. Some Jewish synagogues have Labor in the Bema events on that Friday night or Saturday as well.

At this particular service, Rishell, a former history major in college who now works as Project Assistant to the Chief Financial Officer at Carteret Mortgage Corporation, discussed the important role organized labor had on American history and the rights of all workers.

At last night’s meeting of Northern Virginia organized labor, she made the same points as she had last September in her church.

Rishell pointed out that today children are not taught about labor’s contribution or its importance to American history. She called that “a concerted effort on the part of those in power” to deny labor’s role in providing a safe working place, minimum wage laws, and health and pension benefits to workers.

She reminded the audience, composed of trade unionists, of “the long, bloody” struggle of unions against the power of big business in the early 20th century, invoking the life and beliefs of Walter Reuther, the legendary United Auto Workers Union leader who died in 1970. Rishell also spoke about how U.S. trade policies and international treaties have damaged not only organized labor but have eroded the rights of employees who are not protected by unions. Most workers in America do not belong to unions and increasingly have seen that their wages have less buying power and their health benefits and pension plans are being eroded as they watch their jobs being shipped overseas.

Jeanette Rishell, a grandmother, promised to be a good friend to labor and to all workers, and to work as hard as possible to win her election and to fight for Virginians.

Her other issues include slowing out of control growth in the 50th district, holding landlords responsible for overcrowding in rented houses, pursuing legislation to punish businesses that knowingly hire illegal workers and addressing the root issues that cause illegal immigration, including the erosion of worker rights and depressed wages. She also would like to work on legislation to ensure that adequate public facilities laws protect citizens from the transportation headaches caused by new development.

As she ended her speech she said that she is proud to be a fighting grandma working to better the lives of all working people in Virginia.

And the crowd gave its approval. It grew even friendlier for the grandmother whose pledge is to fight for the little guy in Virginia.

Jeanette will face conservative Republican Jackson Miller in the November race.

Those The Gods Would Humble: Weekend Without Echoes

It is said that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

As readers of my blog know, I was not in favor of the Weekend Without Echoes proposed by Terry Rhea andVivian Paige. It wasn’t because I’m opposed to original content on blog sites. Far from it. And I’ve come to see Terry Rhea’s effort as a noble attempt to try to improve the quality and originality of content in the blogosphere.

My two objections were 1) that it was a response to a challenge by two professional journalists at the Blogging Summit; and 2) I don’t think all bloggers need to be reporters.

I took the challenge to mean an expectation that bloggers go out and generate original hard news stories like those that would appear in the news sections of a newspaper, complete with interviews of subjects, investigative legwork rather than Internet research, and cultivating sources. All the work that journalists do for pay.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing for bloggers to do that if they want to. And that’s the crux of my objection. Not every blogger should feel compelled to do that type of news writing if that’s not what they want to do. Only those who really want to should undertake that.

It’s time intensive and a lot of bloggers are actually people with full time jobs and they blog late at night and on weekends. In short, they don’t have time to report hard news and do it well. And they shouldn’t have to, to feel that their blogs are legitimate or worthwhile.

Further, a lot of paid journalists don’t do that type of news reporting either. Op-ed writers, columnists, and editorial writers all pen their opinions and refer to others’ work as the evidence to back up their views and writing. If there is a professional market for that type of writing (and there obviously is because those are the writers who are often the highest paid and the stars at their newspapers), why should bloggers, who mostly do this for free not also be entitled to pursue writing these types of opinion pieces, complete with reference to other’s work in the very same way?

As it turns out, my argument against the Weekend Without Echoes was a straw dog argument, because Rhea and Paige, as I understand, don’t oppose that type of writing. All they want to see is less of bloggers who simply cut and paste and echo others’ work without contributing any original insight to their blogs.

I still think that a blogger can do whatever he wants that’s legal because he’s an amateur and who can stop him? But I know that when I see a blog that’s all cut and paste, with no original writing to interest me, I pretty much stop going to that site.

And if the Weekend Without Echoes encourages some of those bloggers to do better, it will be a positive thing. And it’s voluntary. Nobody has to join it.

So, I support it. But I wasn’t going to participate. So here’s the embarrassing part.

I vowed not to be a reporter. And I meant it. But what I’m about to post is exactly what I promised never to do again. Write a totally original newspaper style article about a candidate who I heard at a meeting last night. I swear, though, it’s an accident. I didn’t mean to do it at all, much less on the very day that the Weekend Without Echoes begins.

I only went to the meeting of the NoVa Central Labor Council because my husband is a member and it was a free ride home from work with dinner at Kilroys in Springfield afterwards. And I like the people my husband always has dinner with after the meeting. So I went with him.

At the meeting, as House of Delegates candidate Jeanette Rishell began to speak, I took some notes. Before I knew it I had enough to do an actual news story, sort of like a reporter assigned to cover the event.

I say “sort of” because I am not as objective as a real reporter would have to be in theory. I’m a progressive Democrat and I heard things that I liked about Jeanette Rishell. Probably a critic carefully reading my piece would detect my biases. But it’s pretty close to what Shear and Cross originally challenged bloggers to do.

I probably won’t do a story like that again. But then again, who knows? As I said, it wasn’t deliberate this time. It’s that guy God who did it to me by putting me in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Anyway, I probably won’t post tomorrow because of personal commitments, but on Sunday I will probably do a more personal, introspective piece that I wanted to do anyway. So, if they’ll have me, I have decided to support the Weekend Without Echoes.

But I still have anger issues with the mainstream press.

One last thing, I am doing some linking only as courtesy because one of the subjects of my post, Bruce Roemmelt has a blog and I’d like to acknowledge that. And I want to link to Rishell’s campaign site also so readers can go there to find out more about her, contribute money or volunteer to help her. But none of those links are necessary to the article. They are there to help the people I'm writing about. That I won’t give up.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Just Put Up A Fence Around The Blogosphere

I may be the most terminally confused member of the blogosphere to weigh in on what has happened over at Too Conservative.

Apparently it’s been all over the blogosphere by now, but the facts, as reported on Not Larry Sabato, are that Vince Harris, one of the most promising teenage bloggers, was caught posting anonymously and using pseudonyms on his own website.

Jim Riley, who used to post on Too Conservative, and now posts on Virtucon, saved the IPs that proved that all those anonymous posts came from Vince’s computer. In addition, Riley accuses Vince of doing this to promote a particular political agenda.

Riley explained his position in an interview with Shawn Kenney.

The issue then gets muddied up by insinuations that Vince may be gay because he lives with his mother.

Now, this is the part that really puzzles and offends me. Vince is a 17 or 18 year old who just graduated from high school. So, until he turned 18, he was still a minor and unless he took legal steps to declare himself an “emancipated minor” it would be illegal for him not to live with a legal guardian. He couldn’t enter contracts much less sign his own note to be excused from high school gym class. So I have got to wonder what's with conservatives anyway that this is the kind of nonsense insult they've got to dredge up. Remember Riley and some of these others are in their 30s and that's what they're saying about an 18 year old?

I won't even question why they think being gay is the worst thing a person can be either. Bigotry is a topic for a whole other post about the modern conservative mind.

As for the actual, and more serious charge that Vince faked his posts, all I can say is that Vince was wrong to do that. He was immature, despite being incredibly intelligent, and he also was somewhat ethically challenged. I think it’s called making a mistake and getting caught red handed. He needs to really think long and hard about why it was wrong to do this and figure out how to build back the trust and admiration he once had.

I think he will.

The truth is that every adult, if they're honest, can think of some dumb and not very ethical thing they did as a kid that caused them embarrassment. Right now, if I were the adults stoking this thing for my own political agenda, I'd be even more embarrassed about my immature behavior.

However, the truth about the pettiness of this whole dust up and how much it's been overblown comes from Mason Conservative. This was posted as a comment he made on NLS:

"AMEN! I have never seen more people act so crazy of something that just flat out doesn't matter! WHO CARES IF HE POSTED ANONYMOUSLY! I post on Vince's site all the time, and one of his "anons" could have been at something I said. I"M NOT OFFENDED. To the people that are offended, its a said statement. This is BLOGGING, people, not National Security. The middle east is burning down (and my parents are in Israel--so excuse me for being disgusted by this whole "controversy"), Virginia needs real attention by people willing to speak out. Honestly, WHO CARES! WHO CARES! So maybe Vince didn't want his name out on every post--I can't understand how grown men and women get so worked up over this when we all have our own real lives.
And to those who are taking cheap shots at Vince, talking about living his mom and all--grow the hell up. How dare anyone even pretend to judge his personal life.
This is a fake stupid controversy that furthers the notion that bloggers are wackos who are hyper-partisans and don't care about what image we sent out as a collective group. Talk with facts and talk with passion, those should bet he only two rules. If your offended that Vince went anonymous, then your just a sad person who needs more things to care about in your lives."

Mason Conservative may be the last sane blogger standing.

As for the rest of the adults who continue to post anonymous and really ugly comments about Vince, just put up a fence and call it an insane asylum.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Life's Been Good

Republicans scratch their heads and can’t figure out why the average American is so sour on the economy. Growth’s been solid, they point out. Corporations are profitable. Inflation is still relatively low. There are lots of indicators that point to a solid, healthy economy. So other than blaming a mythical liberal media, they can’t understand why all the uncertainty about the economy, which is also translating into anger at Congress before a mid term election.

Now Paul Krugman, in his Friday New York Times column has the numbers that show what most real Americans on Main Street have long sensed. The growth of the economy has been good and has solidly benefited the already wealthy. But it has left behind the average middle class American who works very hard for a living.

Krugman examined the economic indicators for 2004, which, as he explains, are the latest numbers available for an economist to get a complete picture of what went on. He extrapolates from the 2004 model that today’s economic picture wouldn’t be too different. Well, if a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s what the 2004 picture showed Krugman.

In 2004, the economy grew by 4.2%. That’s a healthy surge. The problem is that this economic growth largely benefited the elite. If you exclude capital gains from a rising stock market (which would have put the income figure even higher), the richest 1% experienced a 12.5% growth of their income.

Meanwhile, average income for the bottom 99% only rose 1.5%. But it wasn’t only the poor, the working class and the lower middle class who lost ground. The 95 percentile of people richer than 19 out of 20 Americans gained only modestly.

Last August, the Census Bureau reported that real median family income fell. Poverty increased and the number of Americans without health insurance also went up.

And Krugman also points out that education did not necessarily shield Americans from losing economic ground. Despite the insistence of economists (who he claims should know better) and some politicians who also should be wiser, Americans can’t educate themselves out of the inequality gap. Krugman cites Thomas Picketty and Emanuel Saez, whose long term estimates he terms “the gold standard for research on this topic.” According to Picketty and Saez, the biggest increases went to those already in the economic stratosphere with higher education being no guarantee of greater earning power. In fact, the real earnings of the typical college graduate actually fell in 2004.

Krugman was just talking about wages. But most educated Americans have experienced other indicators that their economic well-being has been eroding. While wages are down, Americans are working more hours now than they have since the forties and they’re taking less home in real dollars relative to prices.

But other tangible benefits also have been lost. More Americans’ pensions are in trouble. There has also been an erosion of health benefits. And while inflation looks modest on paper, the price of food, gas, fuel for home heating and air conditioning have all gone sky high.

Most of us don’t buy the large ticket items every day. But everybody buys groceries and fills up his car weekly. We all experience sticker shock every time we get utility bill for electricity to heat or cool our homes.

Americans just aren’t keeping up. And add the insecurity of layoffs and outsourcing woes and it’s no wonder the average American is in a sour mood and is looking for some new answers. When asked, the majority of Americans say we are headed in the wrong direction. And what scares the Republicans is that the voter may indeed vent his anger at the polls come election day and vote to take the country in a new direction without them at the helm.

The problem is most of the people – Republicans and otherwise – who can’t figure out why America is in such a sour mood are part of the problem. They are the ones in that upper 1%. They are corporate executives, large investors, rich politicians, prosperous newspaper publishers, and generally wealthy people who are responsible for writing the rules to benefit themselves at everybody else’s expense. For them, life’s been good.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Out Of Pocket For A Day Or Two

As the title says, I'm going to be unavailable tomorrow and possibly Friday. But I'll be back over the weekend with hopefully something to say.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Webb-Allen Appearance on This Week With George Stephanopoulos

I just finished watching Webb and Allen on ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos. Before I give you my impressions of how the candidates did, I’m going to give you the full disclosure, as if there’s any doubt where my sympathies lie. But it’s the ethical thing to include.

I’ve been an enthusiastic Webb supporter and occasional volunteer since the primary. As my husband puts it, I’ve drunk the Kool Aid. And he’s a Webb supporter too, albeit a more balanced and pragmatic one.

Having said all that, I think Webb did well. First, the superficials, which count because they register on a subliminal level with voters. Webb looked comfortable and relaxed while sitting for the interview with Stephanopoulos. His body language was open and easygoing. No mainstream media pundit can Gore him with the charge that he’s stiff or unlikable.

Allen looked more formal but also comfortable. I don’t think either candidate lost points for how they personally presented themselves.

By the way, the show was not a direct debate between the two candidates. Rather it was two separate interviews with the host one-on-one with each candidate, seated fact to face in an office or living room type setting.

Although, I really liked that the show began by contrasting Allen’s cowboy boots with Webb’s combat boot, I was unhappy at how ABC characterized Webb as the anti-war candidate who won the Virginia Democratic Primary based only on that issue. Here’s the reason this didn’t please me.

ABC took that narrative right from the Washington Post’s election coverage of the primary. Michael Shear was the one who attributed part of Webb’s victory over Miller to “young, enthusiastic anti-war bloggers.”

For a reporter who criticizes bloggers, he should spend a bit more time reading them. Since I was a modest contributor to the blogosphere at the time, I can tell you that Shear got only part of it right. I’m not particularly young (and neither are several other bloggers I know) and the anti-war issue was not the one I particularly blogged about in my support of Webb. All Shear got right was that I was enthusiastic.

Although Webb’s anti-war stand plus his strong military credentials played a strong part in the Draft Webb movement and I would venture to say that most of the bloggers who supported him are against the Iraq War, the major issue in the primary was actually economic. In fact, the major issues dominating the blogosphere were whether Webb could be a loyal Democrat (from the Miller campaign) versus whether support for outsourcing and guest worker programs were proper Democratic values (the Webb campaign’s issue). The debate was whether outsourcing would alienate a major portion of the Democratic base, including labor unions. So, I would term the primary as being as much about economic fairness versus free trade as it was about the war in Iraq, and it was a continuation of the debate between the party’s moderates who made up the Democratic Leadership Council versus the fair trade liberals and the labor supporters.

None of that was ever mentioned in the Washington Post print edition coverage and was barely a blip in the more extensive on-line coverage of the primary victory.

The reason I think that’s important is because candidates who run on only one issue, especially those whose only issue is to be anti-war, don’t usually fare well in general elections. In the 70s, when the country was as deeply divided over the Vietnam War as it is today over Iraq, and a slim majority favored withdrawal from Vietnam, George McGovern still went down to a crashing defeat against Richard Nixon. There were a lot of reasons why. But the simple truth is that even the slim majority of anti-Vietnam Americans couldn’t prevent a debacle for Democrats in that presidential race.

Americans may oppose a war but they are viscerally uncomfortable with “cutting and running” and appearing weak or dishonorable. They want to be reassured that we will have a responsible plan to extricate ourselves from a war and that it will not compromise our security or our honor. And while I strongly believe that Webb is the man to come up with that plan, I also think he has to convince people that he’s not a Johnny one-note.

Americans are also pragmatic people who want a problem solver who is aware of their economic concerns. The economy looks good on paper for investors, corporate boards of directors and senior executives. The unemployment rate looks low and inflation is growing only modestly.

But most Americans are uneasy about their job security. Their pensions and health benefits are being eroded, if they even still exist. And inflation appears low because the two most volatile items, food and gas, are not included in the Consumer Price Index. Yet those are the two items that consumers must pay for most often. We only buy computers, clothing, refrigerators and cars once in a while. We buy gas for our cars and we heat or air-condition our homes, and purchase food all the time so guess which prices impact us the most? The very ones not measured or counted in the inflation rate.

People are also aware that the U.S. deficit rate is far too high and that a cause of it is the generous tax breaks for the wealthiest one percent. They’re afraid that they are mortgaging their children’s future to reward billionaires for generously supporting Bush’s campaigns.

Finally, despite ABC’s lead in with the Iraq war, both candidates did touch on those issues. George Allen made the same tired arguments that George Bush’s tax breaks benefited American families. He cited the child tax credit, protection of family farms, etc. The truth, though, is those who have benefited most from the tax cuts are those who needed it least. And at the expense of the country’s security and well being.

Webb pointed out that a country at war should not be cutting billionaires’ taxes. On the other hand, he proposed a modest 5% tax cut to veterans. He claimed that it would not cost the Treasury too much. I wish he had had specific numbers, though, before advocating it. I think it’s a good idea because, as Webb pointed out, most of those affected would be World War II retirees making getting about $30,000 in pensions and Social Security. Those people deserve a tax break. And targeted tax cuts to the middle and working class and lower income groups actually provide a greater stimulant to our economy than tax cuts aimed at the very rich (something else I wish he had had more time to point out).

That’s because ours is a consumer economy, and economists have shown that a tax break to a lower income family will encourage them to go out and purchase goods they need but might defer buying. It will also encourage a middle income person to invest a bit more. A wealth person is already going to buy what he wants and will invest at the same rate he always does. He will use his tax break to put in his savings account. Saving is a good thing, to be sure, and not enough Americans save (a whole other issue that I will address some time). But saving doesn’t stimulate a sluggish economy. Spending on consumer goods does. So any tax cut that encourages somebody who wouldn’t normally spend on consumer goods will stimulate a sluggish economy.

So, a tax cut for retired veterans, or even for a working class, recently returned vet, would do more for the economy than a tax cut that benefits mostly the upper one percent of the wealthiest Americans.

While Webb, with coaxing admitted, somewhat shyly, I thought, that he would indeed roll back Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy one percent, I think he needs to be more forceful in saying it. And he needs to point out that he favors tax cuts targeted to other groups, both out of economic fairness and pragmatic realization that it’s better for the economy and the nation. He also can couch it as a values issue.

How about saying that those to whom much is given, much is expected? Rather than put it in terms of class warfare or soak the rich, I would like to see him challenge the wealthy to be noble and step up to the plate and pay their fair share for the common good. The object shouldn’t be to hurt the wealthy but to point out that everybody benefits from a fiscally sound country that can pay its bills and provide for its national security, and its citizens’ health, education and welfare. Supporting the common good, economic fairness and everybody paying their fair share and reaping the benefits of that together are actually values. They are Democratic core values. I hope that Jim Webb forcefully embraces those as his platform and stays on that message and frames it in a positive “we are all in this together way.”

And, of course, his early opposition to Iraq is an overall plus as long as it doesn’t become the only plus. I think that’s how the mainstream media wants to paint him. On the one hand, reporters personally may like and respect the man. But the corporate media has a vested interest in keeping the status quo, which is good for their bottom line. Most of their executives and boards of directors are free trade advocates and want nothing to do with fair trade, economic fairness or worker rights. So they also have a vested interest in painting Webb as a one issue anti-Iraq war hero. It’s great narrative that appears to favor Webb but really may not help his bottom line come election day.

Remember, Republicans are great at seizing the narrative to their best advantage. And they have a lot of corporate allies in media to help them. So Webb has to forcefully get his complete message out. And that, by the way, is where the blogosphere can really help him and not just be the media’s echo chamber. That’s our role in politics. If we say it enough and build a critical mass, eventually some honest reporter will have to acknowledge it. The media will have to cover it more fully and accurately or risk becoming truly irrelevant to their readers.

All of the above about sharpening Webb’s message and ensuring that he is not perceived as a one issue candidate is for the future of the campaign to think about and work out.

Overall, though, on today’s show, I don’t think Webb was hurt by the anti-war characterization because in the contrasting interviews, Webb gave a reasoned and nuanced view of his opposition. Allen, on the other hand, repeated the Bush administration’s tired and shopworn clichés about how important it was that we captured Saddam Hussein and that if it wasn’t for Bush Hussein would still be living in one of his palaces.

Allen seems to believe that the world is safer because we evicted Hussein from a palace and he’s now on a show trial, which has led to executions of judges, lawyers and innocent bystanders. Note to Allen: The world would actually be safer if we hadn’t gotten distracted from Afghanistan and if bin Laden were no longer living in the Pakistani mountains where he continues to threaten us.

Ironically, immediately after the segment with both candidates ended, with Allen’s ringing endorsement of Bush’s Iraqi policy still fresh in the viewer’s mind, the Roundtable segment led off with a discussion on the end of Bush’s cowboy foreign policy. It portrayed a more circumspect and cautious Bush with his hands tied on the growing nuclear threat posed by North Korea.

George Will, no friend of liberals, admitted that Bush’s handling of the war in Iraq was a mess. He also said that prospects for dealing with North Korea were not good and all the other participants, including Donna Brazile and Peter Beinart, from The New Republic, seemed to agree that at this point, the only solution may be that we have to learn to live with a nuclear threat from a crazy man in North Korea because there is no good solution. Something that wasn’t true in 2003. The Bush administration simply took their eye off the ball to pursue a failed policy in Iraq that knowledgeable people, including Webb, warned them about.

The Bush obsession with Iraq even before 9/11 has been amply documented by Paul O’Neill, Bush’s first Treasury secretary, and Richard Clarke, a former White House senior security adviser who served in the first Bush administration, the Clinton administration and the early days of George W’s administration.

Back to the TV show (remember, this was actually supposed to be about how Webb did on that?), I think Webb did well. I also believe that Allen was hurt by mouthing tired clichés in support of the Bush administration. It was especially obvious that he, like Bush, doesn’t have a real clue as to how to get us out of Iraq. His only answer is more of the same indefinitely. With public doubts about the war multiplying, that has to hurt him, especially if things continue to go badly over there.

Webb on the other hand, did not look like a wild eyed, cut and run defeatist. He speculated that we might be able to be out of Iraq in about two years but said he was against a definite timetable. He pointed out that he did not have access to security briefings and was not yet even a senator and so he refused to let himself be tied down to positions that he might later have to disavow when he does have access to more accurate intelligence information. I think Americans will appreciate that caution and common sense.

Webb can make a good case that he is the best suited candidate to lead on a variety of issues including national defense and foreign policy, national security, and economic fairness. He must stress all his capabilities and not let the media package him as only the anti-war candidate. That is going to be an uphill battle for the campaign because so far the media has shown a tin ear to what the campaign has really been about.

But the one thing that works in Webb’s favor is he has a certain celebrity. The media is interested in the Virginia race. If they think there’s a real possibility of an upset here, they will keep focusing on it and give Webb the exposure he needs to get his message across. Overall, I think he’s off to a good start and today’s interview helped him.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Challenge, The Echo Chamber, The Mainstream Media, and The Bloggers

Yesterday, I posted a strong objection to Michael Shear’s and Gordon Cross’s challenge to bloggers to do more original work. While I wish f.t. rea and all the other bloggers who signed on, great success with their experiment, “A Weekend Without Echoes,” I still feel that Shear and Cross were being somewhat disingenuous in their original objection that bloggers depend too much on other people’s work.

I’m not talking here about those bloggers who simply cut and paste a bunch of material from other sources without any original comment or thought of their own. ft rea is right that there are too many who do indeed resemble that kind of echo chamber. But a good many bloggers link to stories in order to comment on the news of the day. They are not doing the original reporting. But they are offering up their unique opinions and points of view about current events. I think that is a valid addition to the marketplace of ideas. In fact, bloggers aren’t the only ones who do exactly what Cross and Shear seem to be objecting to. Below is a brief excerpt from today’s Washington Post editorial (italics and bolding are mine, not in the original):

“AS REPUBLICANS this week began a series of hearings on immigration policy, President Bush was reportedly signaling new openness to compromise designed to produce legislation this year. The compromise, according to a report in the New York Times, would center on "enforcement-first": improve border security, as a majority of House Republicans want, and only then move on to the guest-worker program and legalization for illegal immigrants that Mr. Bush and a majority of senator s favor.”
As you can see, the Washington Post, a major national daily newspaper with a large budget, many writers and reporters of their own, and a subscription to the major wire services and syndications, still refers to a report in the New York Times as the jumping off point for their lead editorial.

So, how is that different from what a lot of bloggers do?

In fact, a conscientious blogger will give the reader a link to the original report so that the reader can peruse it himself and check the blogger’s accuracy. He’s providing the original source for the reader as well as giving his own opinion.

Of course, for technical reasons, a print newspaper can’t do that. But even in their on line version of the above editorial, the Washington Post didn’t link to the original New York Times report and didn’t credit the reporter either. I know when I link to an article or report, I try to include the name of the reporter who provided the original source and often the title of the article as well as the link. The reporter deserves the credit for doing the original report and the reader deserves to see the article on which I based my opinion and comments.

My main point yesterday, though, was that bloggers are not journalists. There is no obligation for us to go out and report the news. Some bloggers who have time, resources, skill, and talent may choose to do so. I not only have no objection to a blogger reporting the news, if he does a good and accurate job, I applaud him for it.

But just as newspapers have editorials, op-ed columns, syndicated columnists, and letters to the editor, blogs can have posts that are solely the authors’ opinions and not original or investigative reports. But nobody can have an opinion in a vacuum. In order to make a persuasive argument, the writer has to present evidence for his point of view. To get that evidence, he must do research, marshal his facts and present them in his essay. And any conscientious writer will give credit to his original sources. That’s all linking is.

That’s all the Washington Post did when it referred to the New York Times report. And that’s all countless other authors do when they write, whether it’s for magazines, scholarly journals, or non-fiction books. And that’s what I’ll continue to do. On July 21 through 23 and every day that I post.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Challenge: Hell No, I Don't Accept!

Washington Post writer, Michael Shear, and Daily Press writer, Gordon Cross, must have impressed a lot of bloggers at the recent Sorenson Institute Blogging Summit. I wasn’t there, but from what I’m reading, they apparently laid down the gauntlet to bloggers to produce original work rather than linking to other stories, especially those already in the mainstream media.

Well, a group of well-respected bloggers, people whose work I admire, enthusiastically and somewhat uncritically took up the challenge.

F.T. Rea, at Slantblog, actually issued the challenge for all bloggers to spend a weekend, July 21-23, producing only original copy. Vivian Paige and Rea signed on with the enthusiasm of teenagers being invited to their first prom. JC Wilmore, at least, made the point that bloggers, unlike professional journalists, especially those with large, well-funded dailies, often do this in their spare time and with far fewer resources than even the small town farm weekly newspapers. But only Bearing Drift gave this whole suggestion and the intellectually dishonest journalists who suggested it the proper response. If I may indulge in an old 60s hippie exclamation: Right on!

These journalists are taking you guys for a ride.

First of all, bloggers are not journalists. Pure and simple. Unlike the well-paid reporters at WaPo, most bloggers actually have day jobs. Eight hours a day, day jobs! Often with overtime and long commutes. So where a reporter spends 8 to 10 hours a day being paid for his reporting and writing, a blogger may only have an hour or two a night, maybe a little more on the weekends to produce his work.

Reporters also get expense accounts. My husband ran into New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman in the M & S Grille, a pricey Washington, DC seafood restaurant, interviewing a source over lunch. I don’t think the average blogger could afford that. Most of us pay our own way out of our own pocketbooks. So, no, we can’t cultivate sources the way Friedman can.

As for original work, even a modest sized newsroom subscribes to more than one wire service, probably has a police radio scanner and receives a mountain of press releases. Without even trying, they are plugged in. I’m not going to say that the best reporters don’t generate their own news stories. Of course they do. But they don’t do it in the isolation of a suburban living room. They have lots of technical and professional support and information flying at them all day. And of course they have done the homework of cultivating sources that feed them stories.

And some bloggers do roughly the same thing. Not Larry Sabato is probably one of the best at it. Although frequently inflammatory, Ben Tribett produces a lot of original work that comes from personal sources, not just links. He’s the closest to the type of blogger/journalist that Shear and Cross are trying to encourage. But Ben also doesn’t have a day job. He's an entrepreneur who has devoted his days to making his blog his day job. He's a pioneer in attempting to get a blog to the professional status where it can support those bloggers who want to make it their career.

But for others, it’s just not a realistic expectation for them to act like a journalist given their limited resources of time, money, and opportunity. So, they just don’t function as reporters. But then neither do some of the most well-paid and respected newspaper writers (I’ll have more to say about that below.)

Not every blogger has to be a reporter, let alone an investigative reporter, as Cross would like us to believe. Suggesting that we cover the stories the media misses is simply disingenuous. Where would we find them? And even more important, if those stories are actually that important, why the hell aren’t the mainstream newspapers digging them up and covering them? They’ve got the resources that we don’t to do it better.

In fact, I wouldn’t want to see an inexperienced amateur attempt an investigative piece. He could do more harm than good if he gets it wrong. There are a million pitfalls for the inexperienced when it comes to investigative reporting.

Does a blogger have the investigative skills? Do all bloggers actually know the difference between a source giving you a quote that is “not for attribution” versus “off the record” or “for background only?” If you’re dealing with a public information officer or seasoned politician who does know what those terms mean and you agree to them without knowing what they are, you could embarrass and betray a potential source. And if you get sued, do you have insurance as a newspaper does? Money to pay a lawyer? Are you willing to sit in jail for the 18 month life of a Grand Jury to protect your source’s identity? If not, don’t even go there because a good reporter will do that. Indeed he has to or all reporters will never be trusted by their sources again. Jail time is an occupational hazard of being an investigative reporter and you learn that in journalism school.

Those are just a few of the pitfalls of an amateur blogger trying to act like a professional journalist.

But this challenge from Shear and Cross is deeply dishonest on a whole other level.

Many newspaper writers also aren’t reporters. They don’t go out and investigate original news stories. They are columnists who do think pieces and opinion articles and editorials. Basically, they refer to other reporters’ news stories and comment on them.

That’s pretty much what the best of the bloggers do. We too look at the day’s news, interpret it and offer our opinion of what’s going on. And that’s every bit as valid a piece of writing as front-page newspaper reporting. In some cases, bloggers also are reporters. But in many ways we are more an extension of the editorial page or the op-ed column.

Indeed, some of the best writing, not just in op-ed columns, but in magazines builds off the reports of others but features the writer’s unique take on the events. It’s not original reporting but the commentary is still fresh and inventive. How much original reporting do Maureen Dowd, Paul Krugman, David Brooks or George Will do as opposed to offering their comments on others’ news reports?

So, as far as this challenge goes, Michael Shear and Gordon Cross just threw you guys a red herring and believe me, it stinks like three day old fish.

You have absolutely no obligation to do original reporting. And you can refer to other writer’s work and link all you want. In fact, think of links as an electronic footnote.

The other thing those two didn’t tell you is that when scholars do original work, it’s still built upon the work of those who have gone before them. No academic article or book would go to press without extensive research and footnotes. And if that’s good enough for academia, it’s good enough for me too.

Bottom line: Michael Shear and Gordon Cross can’t tell me how to blog and I won’t tell them how to report the news. So, hell no, I don’t accept their challenge. And neither should you.

Monday, July 03, 2006

List of Events Jim Webb Will Attend on July 4th

I'm posting a fairly comprehensive list of the July 4th events that Jim Webb will be attending/ marching in tomorrow in the NOVA area. Since not everybody lives in Fairfax County, here's some other places in Northern Virginia that you can go to have some fun and see Webb and other candidates.

All events listed are from the Webb for Senate website:

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Dale City 4th of July Parade
Dale Boulevard, from Kirkdale to Center PlazaDale City, VA
10:00 AM
Please let us know if you plan to attend.

City of Fairfax Independence Day Parade"Marching Down History’s Lane"
Downtown Fairfax Historic DistrictFairfax, VA
Parade steps off at 10:00 AM
Please let us know if you plan to attend.

Vienna 4th of July Festival
Caffi Field120 Cherry Street, SEVienna, VA
Event runs 12:00-5:00 PMJim Webb arrives at 1:30 PM
Please let us know if you plan to attend.

And, of course, please click here and feel free to contribute generously to the Webb campagin too.