Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Kate: Out of the Education Closet and On Fox News

Kate is one of the smart ladies I blog with. An ESOL director, she interviewed with FOX News to talk about her immigrant students who struggle to learn English. Read her comments below, and be sure to watch the segment Utah Responds to "Speaking Spanish."

"OK, so this piece was made in response to feedback that our local Fox affiliate received when they created a 2-part series on availability of Spanish interpretive services in local police stations, hospitals, etc.

The journalist who created the series got ripped a new one by folks that feel that immigrants “need to speak English” (etc…etc…ad nauseum, you’ve heard it all before).

They wanted me to address this so-called “unwillingness”, and of course, I was champing at the bit to do so. This attitude drives me up the f***ing WALL.

So that’s where it came from. I agree, this is something of a departure for Fox, which was why I fussed over the integrity of my quotes. However, I think the story’s producers were genuinely surprised at the amount of vitriol the story originally caused.

My next task is to call the journalist and ask him to do yet another follow-up story about how people can get involved and tutor ESL in their communities.

BTW, it does me good to read your blog and know that there are people everywhere who love immigrants as much as I do." --Kate

Our President Doesn't Care About Us. Do Our Other Leaders?


We find it stunning for the President to reject a $5 billion increase for education, medical research and other priorities as unaffordable, while insisting that Congress finance the $51 billion cost of AMT relief through higher deficits instead of by closing tax loopholes exploited by multi-millionaires. The President’s action speaks volumes — not about fiscal discipline, but about his misplaced values.

With this veto, the President is saying that this nation can’t afford even to maintain current service levels in education, medical research, “meals on wheels” for the elderly, and other areas. In fact, he has proposed cutting funding for programs in the vetoed bill by $7 billion below the current levels, adjusted for inflation. Congress, by contrast, would boost funding by $5 billion.[1] To reach the President’s funding levels, Congress would have to cut from the vetoed bill $1.4 billion for medical research, $1.3 billion for K-12 education, and $254 million for Head Start, among other items.

At the same time, the Administration has denounced good-faith efforts in Congress to pay for AMT relief by closing several tax loopholes exploited by some of the wealthiest people in the country. The Administration and its backers are intent on protecting an unjustified tax break that millionaire hedge-fund managers use to shelter large sums in foreign tax havens and a dubious tax break that wealthy equity-fund managers exploit to pay taxes at lower rates than many middle-class families.

This veto is not about fiscal discipline. It is about priorities — whether multi-billion-dollar tax loopholes for a tiny number of very affluent individuals matter more than the needs of much of the public.

End Notes:
[1] The difference between the President’s budget request and the vetoed bill is $10 billion, not counting a $2 billion increase in advance appropriations that Congress provided for certain education and job training programs. Counting these funds, the difference is slightly under $12 billion.
# # #
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization and policy institute that conducts research and analysis on a range of government policies and programs. It is supported primarily by foundation grants.

To ask questions, or send comments, write to
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
820 First Street, NE, Suite 510
Washington, DC 20002
Ph: (202) 408-1080
Fax: (202) 408-1056

Funny Thing About Blogging Is...

I was talking to my friend up north this morning, and I was asking her why I was picked out of a crowd to be bullied. "It's your words," she said. "People read your words and think you are someone you aren't."

"Yeah, I write a lot of letters. They come out pretty good, so they think I'm some kind of....I don't know what. Little do they know I'm just some housewife wearing slippers, worrying about cellulite!" She had me laughing hard at this point. "I mean it's just words and letters!"

"Well, that's all the President is," she said.

Okay. She had me rolling by this time.

But it's true. For some reason, I can blog and blog and write letter after letter, and people who don't know me think I'm something else. It's not that I'm faking who I am. It's that writing brings out my inner thoughts in a more organized way. People who see me on the street wouldn't every bother to look at me or notice me. Other than to say hello or chat, that is. I can be pretty chatty at times.

This is not to say once I leave the computer, my "inner bitch" dies (that's what my friend calls it--my "inner bitch"). My inner bitch just lies dormant while I live the rest of my life as a parent and a wife. I'm saving her for an important moment, though I don't know what that moment is yet. Who knows. There may even be several.

My inner bitch isn't violent. But she's adamant and relentless. She's skeptical, suspicious, and observant. She's pretty smart but not so smart you'd take her for a genius. She sometimes shows herself just a little, sometimes a lot. She sometimes intrudes on only parts of these postings. Then again, she sometimes takes over the postings. My inner bitch despises injustice, bigotry, and accepted hatred.

My outer self isn't so much like her. Sometimes I think I need need to let her out more often, but frankly, I don't want the kind of bullying that might bring on. Yes, I'm afraid, not what people might think of me but what they might DO about it. It's a throwback to more violent days, times when I really was a victim.

There. I said it. Victim. It's really hard to say that because I hate using the term and applying it myself. But denying it is stupid. And besides that, I'm no longer a victim. I'm a survivor. And I will protect myself and my family. And I will not stop defending what I believe in.

That doesn't mean, however, that I'm not nervous about bullies.

Especially bullies with guns. Bullies with guns need to be stripped of their weapons until further notice. inner bitch continues to thrive, and I continue to laugh about things like Presidents who live on nothing but words. Words drive the world. So I guess that means we should use them judiciously, eh?

A little course in word usage might prove good for everyone.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sex Ed Wars in VA--New and Improved!

"The longer you delay the commencement of sexual activity, you have healthier and happier kids and more successful kids," said Cuccinelli.

Well GOOD! Then teach your KIDS that! Don't expect schools to ignore medicine and differing opinions.

I'm not fond of Planned Parenthood's propagating abortion, either, but if we don't educate kids, we are ENDORSING abortion. Get your education, science, sociology and psychology straight, Mr. Cuccinelli. You can't have it all--objective, well rounded education will help achieve the end results you are looking for.

Comments like these remind me of the article debunking research that says teens who have early sexual experiences have higher incidents of juvenile delinquency. Now, my first question would be, since MOST teens have early sexual encounters, how the HECK can you come up with a stat like that? It makes no sense. In addition, do we really want to teach a curriculum based on shame, saying kids who have had sex are likely to end up being criminals? It's bad enough our media equates sex and violence. Come on now.

When we try to enforce one approach to education, what we get is imbalance. Educational history proves this over and over through various schools of thought that have limited thinking and failed our children. Sex ed is no different. Even worse, when policies are made that limit education, what we are sending is the message that our government and our policy makers do not trust the religious communities and/or parents to teach children values. Religious of any kind should be insulted and afraid.

This reminds me of a discussion I've been having with my brother. SEE BELOW. Remember, he's an ultra-conservative Catholic, and I'm a moderate. My attempt, as always, is to find some reasonable middle-of-the-road solutions, and to me, that means things like:

1. Do not allow children under the age of 16 to obtain birth control or abortions without parental consent.

2. Do not allow public schools or clinics to give out birth control to children under the age of 16 without parental consent.

3. TEACH your children your beliefs about sex. You WILL have to talk to them in order to do this.

4. Ask your church to provide value-based sex education.

5. Public schools should provide an objective, wide scope sex ed and health curriculum. They should also work with parents to encourage parents to help interpret this curriculum for their children. They should also teach about respect, relationships, and responsibility. But no one says public education should be a substitute for parental and church involvement.

6. Realize your kids might have sex even if you teach them not to. Realize a curriculum based on health will help them make the right decisions. Kids can buy contraceptives over the counter, if they really want to.

7. If we don't teach kids about health and sex, we spread disease, increase teen pregnancy, and actually encourage abortion. Kids have abortions because they feel desperate. You NEVER want a kid to feel desperate. That's when the worst decisions are made.

8. Simplify and encourage adoption. Hundreds of thousands of parents would love nothing better than to love a baby. And hundreds of thousands of scared mothers would prefer to know their babies are living in good homes rather than feeling forced into having an abortion.

We need to eradicate abortion. We can't do this by changing people's minds on what they think their freedoms are. Roe vs. Wade is out there. It's useless to try to overturn it. It's unlawful and unethical to persecute clinics and their employees, especially when we have NOT made alternatives easily accessible. But if we change our culture, give parents resources and education, we can do what we need to do, one small step at a time.


e-mail discussion between my brother Joe and me:

Re: Policy Priorities

Joe: I'd rather see 'em start at home by stopping 1.2 - 1.6 million innocent babies that are aborted each year in the US. I say this because...

Inevitably, any aid to foreign countries for the poor ends up being mixed in with aid for abortion and contraception. In some cases, contraception and abortion "education" becomes a requirement for the aid. Richard Nixon started this policy so that poor 3rd world countries wouldn't take all the resources we needed here in the US. Nice, huh? And the Democrats have pretty much adopted that policy...

And if you have this "flaw of intent" baked into an aid policy, the focus, which should be on people's dignity, gets all messed up and will totally not work. I'm convinced that's one of the reasons why most social programs in this country don't work. People getting aid are problems to be solved rather than humans that should have their dignity respected.

Me: Question: since all people are not Catholic, do you think there should NOT be birth control education and/or access to birth control that would prevent most abortions?

Joe: Ideally, no public funds. In reality, don't you think stressing abstinence first and b.c. as a backup would be better? The pill causes abortion and other side effects, including possible links to breast cancer.

Me: Well, I think you can stress abstinence, especially in your religious education classes. And I don't think birth control should be available in school to minors without parental consent!!! But if we want to be rid of abortion, we need to do it in steps. The first step is education and birth control. Religious institutions should teach what they want, so long as they aren't bashing other religions. Persecution and radical policy of any kind NEVER works. We know this from history, so we have to try another route. Remember, not everyone shares your beliefs about sex and medication, but MANY people can agree that abortion is NOT a good thing and should be avoided.

Joe: "Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion"

- Mother Teresa

I agree with almost everything you said... but...

Many may believe that abortion is wrong, but most don't believe strongly enough to stop it. We vilify Hitler (and rightly so) for killing over 6 million of our Jewish brothers and sisters. We've killed 7X that number legally and with the protection of the US courts since abortion was legalized in 1973. God bless America, "home of the free and land of the brave."

Me: Joe, here is what I am saying. You aren't understanding the method to my madness. You don't have to convince anyone abortion is wrong. You have to give them better options so they won't CHOOSE it!! People don't choose abortion because they are sick, mean, stupid, or whatever. They do it because they are DESPERATE! So we need to prevent people from GETTING desperate. THAT is how you STOP abortion. You don't do it by trying to change their minds or morals because OBVIOUSLY that doesn't work.

One more thing...people WILL have sex. Be real. Better for them to have safe sex, especially with condoms that cut down on disease.

Yes, Joe, your kids WILL have sex some day with or without your approval. I think you are having a hard time with that. It's okay. I don't want to think about my kids doing it either, and I certainly don't want to SEE it! LOL. It's like thinking about your PARENTS having sex. YUCK!

Joe: From Tales from Lake Wobegon

"If you don't want to go to St. Louis, what are you doing on the train?"

- Father Wilmar in his one-line annual sermon on contraception

People should wait until they're married and are ready for children.
Promiscuity and drug usage continue to be the main causes of the AIDS epidemic as well as all the other STD's.

Me: But Joe, the point is....not everyone shares your beliefs about sex. That's all I am saying. And if people are not willing to bend a LITTLE, then abortion and all kinds of other social ills will continue to plague us. We have to start reaching a median we can LIVE with. In the meantime, teach your kids whatever you want.

Joe: I read once that the highest number of abortions come from middle class Caucasian women. Desperate housewives?

Whether the above stat can be verified, it's certain that for centuries people believed abortion was wrong. Even the Romans wouldn't put a woman to death if she was pregnant (they'd kill her after she gave civilized!) Western culture doesn't claim it's wrong any more. In fact, all morality has been declared "relative", so right and wrong are defined by a how a person feels. And if you still believe that some things are absolutely wrong no matter what and should be enforced by law, you're......intolerant! As if not putting up with murdering innocent children is an attitude to be patiently tolerated by the more "enlightened" members of our society. ArgHH!!! Now my blood pressure is up there. Thanks, I should be able to write a LOT of code this afternoon :-)

Me: I would have to see where you get your numbers from. That doesn't ring true with me.

Stop getting your panties in a bunch. It's not healthy.

Joe: It doesn't depress me to talk about this stuff but I feel so badly about this because human beings are the most precious thing on earth. Killing them for any reason is terrible. Killing the unborn is unconscienable and is also socially unsustainable. Is there a reason why we now have suicide shooters in our schools, drive by shootings on our highways, and terrorists allowing kids to blow themselves up in malls? We didn't have a lot of that when abortion was illegal. I'm not saying that was the only cause. But life has gotten a whole lot cheaper since 1973...

Me: We didn't have a lot of that when abortion was illegal." No. We just had Nazis! LOL. Joe there has always been mass murder. We just change the method.

Joe: Abortion and euthanasia are nothing but a gift wrapped Nazi legacy. Just different classes of unwanted people. Some time I'll find the article that talks about what German doctors did in the 1920's to special needs people. This was BEFORE Hitler took over. But it certainly paved the way for the horrors of what happened in the 1940's. The modern parallels are frightening. And we're walking willingly down the same road in the name of "freedom". For God's sakes, this kind of inhuman treatment is what we were really fighting against in WW2 and the Cold War! God help us. Sorry to sound the gloom and doom award but we're so stupid!

Me (afterthought): Yes, we are stupid. But we don't have to be. Stupidity, in this sense, is a choice. And I'm not into gloom and doom.

Holidays Won't Happen for the Homeless Without Our Help

Council seeks help to keep center running
Tuesday, November 13, 2007

You'd think at this giving time of year, the Drop-In Center for the Homeless would be awash in money.

But it's not.

The Cooperative Council of Ministries, which supports the center, is coming up short.

"We normally don't get extra this time of year," said Jim Tefft, who represents Lake Ridge Baptist Church on the council which is comprised of 27 area churches.

County staff members run the shelter where the chronically homeless can stop by for food and the council reimburses the county twice annually, Tefft said.

The council needs about $6,500 to make its January installment.

"It seems every six months when it's time to make a payment, we're scratching for money," Tefft said of the biannual payments of $18,000.

If the council can't make the payment, it would have to cease operations at the center, Tefft said.

Area restaurants can get in on the action and help the council raise money.

Cici's in Woodbridge recently donated a percentage of its sales to the council.

On Dec. 3, the Silver Diner will give 20 percent of all sales between 5 and 9 p.m. to help the homeless, Tefft said.

People who want to donate can send checks to Servants At Work, P.O. Box 4608 Woodbridge, VA 22194.

Servants at Work is the non-profit fundraising arm of the council.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Why Are You So Angry?

"One" Acrylic and Glitter Paint (LOL) This posting has been revised at the request of an email contact.

My mom bought my kids a book. It's called What Are You So Grumpy About? They read it a lot. I think it helps them understand their bad moods and figure out what's really bothering them. We have lots of conversations like this. It's hard for kids to put their feelings into words.

Adults aren't any different. We get angry. We often can't explain why we are angry in ways that don't fuel more anger. I get like this too, especially when I feel like someone is dishonest, manipulative, unfair, or just plain mean.

Kids feel this. It doesn't change for us just because we live on the planet longer than they have.

I'm angry about the Immigration Resolution. But before we get to my anger, I want to tell you what I have heard from other people who are also angry, people who have acted out in anger that I do not believe is in the best interest of our community. BUT these people have valid points that need to be addressed.

1. People complain about over-crowding in homes. That can easily be fixed, not by defining family, but by following and enforcing building safety codes.

2. People complain about resources being used up by "illegals." This can be fixed by mandating every employer take out taxes for their employees. No contracting, people. Or, day laborers can pay into a pool to cover local and federal taxes. There are ways to do this.

3. People complain "illegals" work under the table. This relates to #3. Employers need to sponsor their employees and take some responsibility for taxes. Period.

4. People complain that "illegals" increase crime. This is a myth. Most "illegals" want to avoid the law. If for no other reason, they stay quiet and out of trouble because they don't want immigration issues. The ones who don't can be dealt with through the ICE program.

5. People say "illegals" in this county form gangs. This is also a myth. It's mostly our legal citizens who are in gangs. And again, "illegals" who ARE in gangs need to be dealt with through ICE.

6. People complain that "illegals" don't speak English. But many are trying to learn. Impatience with that learning process doesn't make it happen any faster. And if they are paying taxes, which many already ARE, they can take classes. Furthermore, no matter what someone's citizen status is, students PAY for county adult ESOL classes anyway! Classes through the county are NOT FREE.

7. People complain about messy houses and property value, pinning it on "illegals." HOA's have the authority to ask people to reasonably clean up their yards. Besides that, many citizens have messy yards. Why? No time, no money, or no clue. So help them out by giving guidelines and asking them kindly to clean it up.

8. People complain about "illegals" using the hospitals. First, we don't know how many actually are "illegals," especially when we are sitting in the emergency room as spectators. Second, too many poor "legal" people and self-employed don't have health insurance. Health insurance is key. Employers can help with this.

Why am I angry?

1. People think hatred and prejudice will cure this problem--it doesn't work. It makes it worse.

2. People think spreading their prejudice and hatred will help them win some kind of power, authority, prestige, and/or fame. What it earns US is a rotten community.

3. People think catering to the unreasonable and campaigning on the unreasonable will make them popular. It does. But it's selfish. Selfishness is unacceptable, especially if the concerns above are already taken care of.

4. The Federal Government has dropped the ball on this issue for too many years. It's their responsibility. Enough said.

5. The method for implementing this resolution has been unjust, undemocratic, and shady. Our BOCS has little accountability, little regard for a majority that communicated its needs in the same way Martin Luther King did. MLK didn't have email or a blog. How dare the BOCS dismiss speaking out and rallying as a valid practice of democracy in action?

6. The BOCS has used input from a racist group to write and implement this policy. This is not to say every member of Help Save Manassas is racist. But there is no doubt in my mind that the group's leader IS racist, is driven by a lust for power, and has ties to white supremacist organizations. Purely my opinion, of course, based on what I have read, heard AND seen (for more, see videos from 9500Liberty).
Non- racist members of HSM would be much better off forming their own REASONABLE group. There are some well spoken, intelligent people in HSM. They can get what they need without the hatred of their fearless leader who has his own political agenda.

7. My best friends are Hispanic. Years ago, one of them took a trip to Canada. On the way back, she didn't have identification. They didn't want to let her back in. She speaks English, was adopted and has lived here since she was 9. She later received papers from Immigration, asking her to prove her citizenship, which she had a hard time doing, since she was adopted in Columbia years ago and her parents didn't have the paperwork on hand. This immigration policy can target anyone who looks different or speaks differently.

8. I have worked with the immigrant population and the international population since I moved here. The people I know have been kind, respectful, hard workers who believe in the United States. I hold these people in the highest regard. I don't want them hurt.

9. We have enough hatred in this country, enough war, enough discrimination without fostering it in our own back yards. I don't want my children growing up in a stressful environment in which their very choice of friends can be jeopardized by adult politics and prejudice.

10. Division and strife yield violence. I've experienced enough of both to say it has already started. I want it stopped before it spreads.

Now...if there ARE any readers out there....I hope you now understand why I am so angry.

One more note: When anyone decides to become a public figure he/she will be written about in blogs. A public figure is a community leader. I think we know some of those, don't we? In case you are wondering, I am quite obviously NOT one.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Election Day Resolutions

Well, here it is. Election day. Local government.
I never realized how important local government was until I moved here and felt the weight of their decisions on the very way I live my life. My home, my children's futures, my neighborhood, the culture are products of their authority.

And I don't like what they have given me.

I will not accept racism in my county.

I will not accept injustice and inequality.

I will not accept violations of human rights, violence, crime, needless bickering, and hatred.

I will not accept disregard for the disabled and the elderly.

I will not accept poverty for some and extreme wealth for the few.

I will not accept disregard for natural resources and the environment.

I will not accept over-development, poor planning, gridlock, and crowded schools.

No matter who wins the elections today, I will not stop reminding you of your responsibilities to PEOPLE, EVERY SINGLE PERSON in this county, not just a few.

You will NOT ruin this place where I live with your personal agendas, prejudice, one-sidedness, and lust for self-serving power.

You will not build your egos off me, my children, or my family.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Prince William's Folly

"Greg Letiecq, the HSM's newly-elected president, states that race is not a factor in HSM's fight against illegal immigration. However, he and HSM actively participated in drafting PWC's initial immigration resolution with the Immigration Reform Law Institute ("IRLI"), the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform ("FAIR"). FAIR is a nonprofit immigration reform organization that seeks, among other goals, to end illegal immigration. Greg Letiecq also supported the April 2007 "Hold Their Feet to the Fire" anti-illegal immigration rally held in D.C. and organized in part by FAIR. The Washington Post reported that at least 7 of the 15 speakers at the rally were connected to FAIR or U.S., Inc.

The connection between IRLI, FAIR and U.S.Inc. is their founder, Dr. John Tanton, who has been linked to white supremacists by watchdog groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center.
FAIR has accepted funding from the Pioneer Fund, which promotes eugenics research.

See 1997 NYT article on p.4) ; (discussion on FAIR). Dr. Tanton has funded and founded other anti-immigrant organizations, such as U.S. English. See; (for links to reports/articles). "

My commentary: So HSM drafts Prince William's Immigration Resolution with the help of FAIR, which is linked to white supremacist groups. The BOCS works with HSM and adopts it, Corey Stewart and John Stirrup being the main supporters. Therefore......we should ask about about Stirrup's and Stewart's ties with FAIR and/or other sympathizers of white supremacy groups.

Please Read the Following Article.

Prince William's Folly

Ask yourself who has ties to which groups and why anyone wants to be the "power" behind the Help Save Manassas "movement" instead of giving credit to the KKK. Is it that they don't like the KKK or is it that they are in competition? You decide.

November 6, 2007: Tomorrow's Elections in PWC

My sis-in-law was asking about "issues" that will be on tomorrow's ballot. Unfortunately, there are no "issues" to vote on--only candidates. In order to do that effectively, we need to know which candidate stands for what.

Now, I can provide my opinion, as I told her. I can even provide information on candidates. But I can't do it without cussing out certain candidates. So if you want objective information with links to candidates and what they stand for, I suggest you visit I found this website because my sis-in-law suggested I type in "candidates PWC VA."

This site produces a custom ballot, giving users a preview of upcoming elections. VERY cool and useful. Unfortunately, what is painfully obvious is this: too many candidates don't have websites, didn't send in pictures, and didn't post their position on the issues. Candidates who DO have their own websites outside of usually have an "issues" page or some place that describes what they believe and how they presume to implement their policy. But these are often difficult to locate, or people only visit them if they already know what the candidate stands for.

What is disappointing about too many of our candidates is this: they aren't transparent. And there are too many write-ins because too many positions are uncontested.

I have a serious problem with candidates who are not transparent. I have a serious problem with government operating in "private" mode, where citizens don't know what the heck is going on with their process and how they arrive at their decisions. I'm not saying candidates without websites are necessarily hiding anything or even that they DO have something to hide.

But I am saying, in the age of electronic access, VA has to do a lot better at collecting all candidate information, where candidates stand on the issues, candidate biographies and affiliations, their educational backgrounds, and their governing styles--all in one place.

I am also saying that state government meetings need to be recorded, videoed, and archived for the public.

When the public does not know how elected officials arrive at their decisions, not only are we not getting our tax money's worth, we are left in the dark when voting time comes around.

Personally, I don't want to be left in the dark.

Who runs my state and my county matters to me because I don't want to be ruled by war-mongers, haters, bigots, liars, and/or morons.

Now, I can certainly list the people I think fall into those uncomplimentary categories. If you are reading this post, you might know who some of these people are already. But I cannot and would not presume to choose for anyone. I told my sister-in-law this. It's undemocratic and counter-productive.

I can tell you the people whom I think would be best suited for the jobs that match my personal beliefs. These are people I have heard speak at forums or in public meetings. Here they are:

Sharon E. Pandak
Bruce E. Roemmelt
Charles J. Colgan, Sr.
Corey R. Riley
Glendell Hill
Lucile S. (Lucy) Beauchamp
Gilbert A. (Gil) Trenum, Jr.
Julie C. Lucas
Denita S. Ramirez
Paul B. Ebert

Here are some more of my picks:

Jeanette M. Rishell , Bill S. Day, Jr. , George L. Barker , Paul F. Nichols

I'm writing in our school Principal for Brentsville District Supervisor, as I said before.

I'm on the fence about some others. But I won't get to vote on all of these people anyway because they aren't in my district.

I would openly tell anyone to ban and/or remove Corey Stewart and John Stirrup, two people I believe are unethical, bigoted liars. In fact, I don't even know how they can BE on the ballot, they are so underhanded.

I've added some more "no-way-in-Hells" to my list: Miller, Gill, and Lingamfelter.

My opinion, of course. Don't want to be accused of slander or anything, even though my website clearly says ALL of this is opinion unrelated to any organization or affiliation I might have. You never know what some people will try to prove in their attempt to gain or keep power.

So my advice?

1. Figure out who these people are and what they stand for.

2. Don't vote based on a single issue or candidate's stand. That won't help us in the long run.

3. Don't vote for people who divide us, create anger and violence, can't operate ethically, or want to hide what they are doing with our money and time.

4. Think about what you really want from your local government officials who CONTROL what happens in our daily lives. Then make a choice.

I have my own, well thought out and well supported opinions.

You make sure you have yours, too.


More articles on candidates can be found here.

If you want to hear debates, go to the Committee 100 website.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Thoughts on Home Schooling

I have nothing against people who home school. I assume they do it for reasons of their own, and I have to assume with all the networks out there, they do it in conjunction with reasonable academic standards and external support. Families who home school have different relationships with their kids, and apparently they can pull that off. That interests me.

I also don't have a problem with people who put their kids in private school. If they want to do that and pay for it, that's fine. If they want their kids to have a faith-based education, that's fine too. I went to Catholic School for a number of years, and I did get something good out of it, including a love for Transcendentalism, studies in morality, Biblical analysis, and even world religions. Private schools don't always offer the kinds of options provided in public schools, but it really depends on the private school, and unfortunately, the price.

I even don't have a problem with tax vouchers for private schoolers and home schoolers IF their children aren't receiving external, public assistance in addition to home schooling. But I think this limits the children's educational options, and I wouldn't agree with that. You can't have it both ways, however: you can't have vouchers AND expect to use public services. That's like saying if my child goes to public school, he/she deserves services from private schools, too.

What I have a BIG problem with is parents and politicians who think it's okay to provide vouchers AND cut public education. I have HUGE problems with home-schooling parents who are judgmental towards those of us who choose NOT to or CANNOT home school our children. And I have a problem with people who say, "I don't have kids. Why should I foot the bill?"

Let me address these issues one at a time.

First, anyone who can afford to home school does so at their own financial risk. The majority of citizens cannot survive on single incomes, especially when they live in high cost of living areas such as ours. If a family is able to live on one income, great. I don't deny them that pleasure or convenience or the lifestyle that it supports. But the reality is, that description doesn't fit most of us. Home schoolers require space for learning, supply storage, and organization. Example: we live in a townhouse with minimal storage space. I work part-time from home, occasionally venturing into the world of meetings when they don't conflict with taking care of my children. My husband endures a long commute to a government job. We barely make it. While we earn slightly over the average, our family has high medical costs many families do not have. We are frugal, but we live paycheck to paycheck. I could never home school my children for the simple reason, I have to work.

Second, homes choolers generally have children whom they are capable of educating with some external assistance. Home schooling parents must be able to switch from the role of teacher to parent. Children must be able to switch from student to sibling to offspring. Teacher and children must be structured.

No one says it's not a hard job in any setting. Of course it is. Ask any teacher how easy his/her job is, and you will probably hear the same answer: ironic laughter equalling, "You're kidding, right?" This isn't to say home schoolers or public school teachers don't love their jobs or aren't committed. They wouldn't be teaching if they weren't.

Public school teachers are reviewed and observed. They are required to follow hefty school, state and federal codes. They fall under administrative disciplinary procedures. Schools are audited, as are their finances. In general, public schools and their teachers have tremendous oversight and accountability, whereas home schoolers and private schools are free to operate under fewer regulations.

That being said, quality teachers require constant training. If you look at any school, you will see teachers are required to attend a certain amount of training each year to keep their skills current. To my knowledge, there is no such requirement for home schoolers. Now, it could be that home schoolers DO train on their own to ensure the success of their children. But this is certainly not mandatory. In fact, it isn't even mandatory that a home schooling parent have the same education as a public school teacher: home schoolers need not be state certified in the more comprehensive way public school teachers are.

Public school teachers use curricula that has undergone extensive research and approval through state and federal channels. Whether we agree with these methods or not, there is a process, keeping all state schools on similar tracks. Parent who don't feel their children are receiving challenging education have the option of enrolling children in extracurricular programs and "gifted" programs. Home schoolers do not always have access to these options. They do, however, have access to home school networks.

Students with particular needs require teachers who have specialized training in disabilities. And parents with chidren who have disabilities need additional support. For example, my younger daughter requires team teaching because her learning and speech are impaired. She is capable of working part-time in her larger classroom, but she must work with a specialist to address her other learning needs. While I hold an M.Ed., my focus has always been on adult education and writing. I am neither qualified nor tempted to address her needs myself since I would not want to impede on the progress she has made with her teachers. Of course, I am an integral part of her education and work closely with her teachers, but as a primary teacher who has focused on adults and their particular cognitive skills (more abstract, for example), I could not do my daughter the academic justice she deserves.

People outside of the academic world often believe teaching is an easily learned skill, that adapting to learning styles, creating curriculum, and facilitating learning means nothing more than rote memorizing, passing out worksheets, sticking a child in front of a computer, listening to tapes, drilling math facts and spelling, and/or reading aloud. While certainly these are all components of learning, they are not "real teaching." These methods alone will not teach a child to think critically. They do not require a child to implement learning into real life situations. They do not teach children to think for themselves or work with a variety of others to do the same. Teacher training takes years, and there are best practices that professional teachers are encouraged to follow.

In larger school settings, children learn about group dynamics with people who are not like them. They must learn and follow school rules. They learn about the democratic process by having a say in their classroom operations. They learn about group responsibility by working in teams and using self discipline for the good of the class. They meet, work and think with people outside of their own families, circles of friends, and cliques because they must. The school reinforces values such as respect, hard work, and resourcefulness. In cases where children lack social skills, these environments are imperative if we expect them to function as active members in the community. I know my children could not do without this kind of education.

Public schools, with all of their faults, teach social lessons that other schools cannot. We often do not like these social lessons, especially in schools that lack discipline, safety, and quality. However, by cutting funds to public education, we encourage that trend as opposed to fixing it, putting more burdens on unqualified parents and private institutions with limited resources. Again, I am not saying home schoolers are unqualified, and some do have resources available. But this is certainly not the norm, nor should we expect it to be.

Public education in our country not only has a history, but it is the law. As a society, we are required to provide education, accommodations, and specialized instruction to those who need it. When we cut public education, we deny our responsibilities to our children and to our society as a whole. Whether or not we have our own children, we benefit from the majority being educated and productive. Those without children who argue "I don't have them, why should I pay?" have been, in my experience, the first to complain when kids drop out, fall into the criminal justice system, or live in poverty as a result of poor education. No one benefits from children whose education suffers. Ironically, many who do not want to pay for public education are graduates of the system.

Of course, some children do benefit tremendously from both home schooling and private schooling. However, schools and education must fit the individual needs of the child. The number of children who benefit most from home schooling are far outweighed by those who attend public school either by choice or necessity. When we ignore or pass judgment on parents who make these choices, on teachers who are dedicated to their students or careers, and on administrators who support our public school system, we deny the majority the right to learn, to progress, and to have equal opportunity in our society--to really have liberty and pursue happiness. No child should be denied these inalienable rights.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Black Velvet?

Black velvet and that little boy's smile ?

Black velvet with that slow southern style?

A new religion that'll bring ya to your knees.

Black velvet?



"Help Save Manassas ( is the Manassas chapter of Help Save Virginia, an anti-illegal immigration grassroots organization. It is led by Greg Letiecq who writes the influential and controversial blog, Black Velvet Bruce Li ( Letiecq and HSM made history when they wrote what is considered to be the harshest anti-illegal immigrant local legislation in the country."

Questions to Ask Yourself:

1. Since when does a citizen group in this area hold so much weight with the BOCS that they write policy for the entire county?

2. Corey Stewart misused $30,000+ of tax payer money to support his political agenda attached to the immigration resolution. He was cleared, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a SCUMMY thing to do, especially since he ignored the majority at the town meeting he invited people to.

3. Corey Stewart and John Stirrup, co-authors of the resolution with HSM, were the proponents of this resolution. What other ties do these two BOCS members have to HSM? What other affiliations do they hold?

3. Corey Stewart holds a B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. Somehow, it seems someone from Georgetown School of Foreign Service might offer something other than a one-sided policy targeting foreigners of all nationalities. Wouldn't someone with a degree in this area be able to formulate better policy for an international population?

4. John Stirrup graduated in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science in accounting, from Seton Hall University. Why is an accounting major permitted to author immigration and social policy?

5. Why did HSM suddenly change from hate speech to, "We're going to send them away with love"? Why do they think inciting hatred and discrimination is loving? Why do they believe breaking up families is loving?

Na-Noo-Na-Noo NaNoWriMo

Well, I knew I couldn't do it. I knew I couldn't resist the call of NaNoWriMo even when I said I am not going to put that kind of pressure on myself this year because I have so many things to do. But now that I've had to cancel nearly all my weekend plans (at least those that require some exertion and/or standing, and/or lifting, and/or walking a lot), my brain know....even if that novel draft isn't what you want it to really ought to do it. Your body, your brain, and your hyperactivity are TELLING you to do it. No, it's not a message from God. It's a message from every other entity sending you the clear signal that you need to get writing.

So here I am once again starting late. Last year, as you might or might not care, I started halfway into the month-long-marathon to complete 50,000 words in a month. I did it in just a little over (or under....can't really remember now) two weeks. But you see, the difference was I was writing largely in my own voice, the voice of a female character in the present. She has her own life and her own personality and certainly her own age and looks, but she is not so far removed from me as this next character: my previous identity as a gay black man in the Victorian Age.

Now I think I explained before what this is all about. I sometimes tell people that one of my previous lives was as a "gay black man in the Victorian Age." Part of this comes from a joke my gay friend has (but not entirely a joke) that he thinks he was a German woman in a past life. So I put together all the experiences I feel closest to and somehow came up with my "past life." The issue of course, is I don't really have a clue what it would be like to be ALL of these things back in the 1800's. I can well imagine, but still.

I've done a lot of reading about the Victorian era, lots of studies about the 1800's, and lots of throw-back-voice-taking through writing poetry about the Civil War. I have an idea what my past persona's voice sounds like, but historically, I don't know if it makes sense. My man is an intelligent butler who always lived up North, has never directly experienced slavery, but whose close friend has. My man also likes to wear bloomers and such, but I'm not going to give away the plot here. You'll have to read the published version someday! Beware, however, I'm terrible at marketing my books. So it might take you awhile to ever find the book at Barnes and Noble.

This is going to be a mix between historical fiction, social commentary, and light comedy. It's written in the form of a diary. So it will be easy to read and hopefully, entertaining as it is enlightening.

So now...I have to get working some more. My back is telling me it's time for ibuprofen first, but after that....look out, NaNoWriMo. I know I pronounce it wrong. But your website says that's okay.

Friday, November 02, 2007

A New Understanding of Pain

Sometimes I think we don't fully sympathize with someone's pain until we have some of our own. I know when my husband hurt his back, I wasn't always the patient saint about it. I've never seriously hurt my back.

When I worked in food services a hundred years ago and had to lift 5 gallon tubs of ice cream on a regular basis, my lower back did get hurt, but at that young age, well...I healed quickly. Besides, I was single and my laundry didn't weigh as much.

The last time I ever felt back pain like this was when I was 28 and pregnant. My hips and lower back hurt so much, I could not roll over in bed without groaning. The doc said it was part of being pregnant, that the hips kind of split apart when the baby grows and drops, and since I was carrying my baby low, it was more likely to happen. It didn't help that I slipped on ice during that pregnancy.

I used to be able to jog when I was a young'n in my early 20's and that helped keep the weight off. Unfortunately, I kind of killed my knees and feet by doing this. But my metabolism was great!

Okay, now I will quit the damn whining. Rolling around in self pity is so obnoxious and noxious and pathetic.

My real point is...I feel bad that I was sometimes impatient with my husband when his back was hurt and he said he couldn't do fun things with me like take a short hike. Now I know what he was talking about.

The difference between me and hubby, though, is I am a ROTTEN patient. Even if I am hurting, I tend to do things I shouldn't. Sometimes it's because I don't want to put the burden on anyone else. Other times, I simply forget until my body reminds me, "Hey stupid. You can't do that right now." See, hubby is smarter than me. He doesn't try to push it if there's something wrong.

He keeps telling me if I let this crap get out of hand, I will end up on bed rest. YIKES! The thought of bed rest scares the hell out of me. I was voted "most likely to be a cranky wench" if I ever had to be put on bed rest. To boot, I have WAY too much to do for that to happen. So I suppose in my old age, I better slow down.

The other problem is, I don't FEEL old! I often feel old in my mind (meaning I feel like I've had many previous lives that have added to this one, and this one hasn't exactly been low stress), but I don't feel like what people define as physically old--a word which unfortunately, usually holds the connotation of being decrepit, unable to take care of oneself, and dependent in too many ways. Of course, that's a stereotype and in many cases, a myth. "Old," as my Dad says, is always fifteen years beyond our own age, no matter what that age is. So I guess not feeling old is normal to a point.

Besides, my knees have hurt for more than a decade. When I got them x-rayed recently, the doc told me in addition to a cyst, I had "age related degeneration." I always thought my birthday numbers would have to be higher to earn that diagnosis, but I guess not.

Oh in case anyone is wondering, I'm only 38. That's pretty young, I think, to have "age related degeneration." But maybe I've just been unreasonably optimistic about my health.

In any event, it's time to rest this weekend. I have another doc's appointment on Tuesday, so that's good. The kids have Monday and Tuesday off, so that's even better. Slow it down a little. Relax and let them do the same.

Then I will be all re-grouped for Tuesday, voting day. I'll need my strength to show the girls how important it is to vote.

And I'll need my strong will to keep from spitting venom on the ballot choices.

Grinning evilly, as usual...


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Another Meme from Dive

Dive...that guy who rants best all the way from England gave me yet another good q & a set to have fun with. You gotta love those grumpy ranters who make you laugh in spite of their really bad attitudes! Keep it up, Dive. We know deep down (VERY DEEP DOWN) there's a teddy bear in there.

Name one person who made you laugh last night.


What were you doing at 8:00?

This morning? Writing and getting the kids ready for school.

What were you doing thirty minutes ago?

Walking the dog.

What happened to you in 2006?

I spent the year trying to recover from god-awful 2005.

What was the last thing that you said out loud?

"Come on, my good girl." (I was talking to the dog, incidentally.)

How many beverages did you have today?

I think I've had at last a gallon of water/soda/coffee, most of it being water.

What color is your hairbrush?


What was the last thing that you paid for?

Those chocolates I ate last night. Paid with my intestines.

Where were you last night?

Trick-or-treating with the kids. Sitting on the front steps with hubby, handing out candy and chatting with neighbors.

What color is your front door?

Pine green.

Where do you keep your change?

Wherever it lands.

What's the weather like today?

Crisp and cool and sunny. PERFECT!

What's the best ice cream flavor?

Strawberry cheesecake with chocolate chunks (I've never actually HAD that but it sounds awesome).

What excites you?

None of your business.

Do you want to cut your hair?


Are you over the age of 25?

More than a decade over.

Do you talk a lot?


Do you watch The O.C?

What the heck is that?

Do you know anyone named Steven?

Not that I can remember.

Do you make up your own words?


Are you a jealous person?

With my husband, yes.

Name a friend whose name starts with the letter A.

That's a tough one. Let me get back to you on that. Don't think I know any "A" people.

Name a friend whose name starts with the letter K.

Wow. I suck at this alphabet friend thing.

Who is the first person on your received call list?

A colleague.

What does the last text message you received say?

I don't know how to use text messages. And I don't want to pay for them, either.

Do you chew on your straw?

Good question! I might and not realize it. Huh.

Do you have curly hair?

No. Sometimes wavy, however.

Where's the next place you are gonna go?

To pick up my kids from school and whisk them off to the dentist.

Who's the rudest person in your life?

My closest friends. LOL

What was the last thing you ate?

An apple.

Will you get married in the future?

Sure. I will marry my husband all over again.

What was the best movie you have seen in the past two weeks?

Have I SEEN a movie in the past two weeks? I can't remember.

Is there anyone you like right now?

Huh? Of course! I like lots of people.

When was the last time you did the dishes?


Are you currently depressed?

Nope. But I could use a vacation.

Did you cry today?

Yup. My brother sent me this really sweet midi recording he did for my birthday.

Open Letter to Congressman Davis

Dear Mr. Davis:

I am writing to you once again as a constituent with a real concern. As you might have heard, key issues in our country have gone unresolved because funds have been spent to support and extend this war. As someone who values the services of our soldiers and military, I am asking you not to allow Secretary Gates' to spend $190 billion dollars to continue this war.

Your Congress and White House continue to exploit the brave sacrifices that our military personnel and families offer our country. I say "your" because it has become apparent the voices of the majority are ignored on Capital Hill.

Without safe and timely withdrawal of American Troops, reconciliation with the Iraqi people and promises to physically, emotionally and financially support the troops will become next to impossible. Helping the American people will continue to be impossible. Please read up on important issues like healthcare, domestic poverty, and student loan scams/predatory lending. Please review the emotionally charged debates our country (and my county in particular) has had over illegal immigration. These issues are more likely to affect our quality of life and safety than the war in Iraq.

By avoiding and ignoring domestic policy, Congress has turned our country into a war zone of discrimination, economic hardship, and violence all its own. We cannot allow this money to be spent when we have even greater issues right here in the United States and the responsibility of protecting our military and their families.

The greatest way to support our Troops is by bringing them home safely. And the greatest way to serve your constituents is to pay attention to what is happening in your own back yard.

Thank you for considering my request.

Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Affording It All: Teaching Our Kids, Caring for Our County

If ever voters had reason to think twice about Corey Stewart’s fiscal management skills, now would be the time. Not only is next Tuesday, November 6 voting day, but this morning, at a joint meeting between the Board of County Supervisors and the Prince William County School Board, it became perfectly clear that Mr. Stewart has made some bad decisions in his brief tenure as BOCS Chair.

In his defense, however, Mr. Stewart was on his best behavior. Whether due to insufficient coffee consumption during the 7:30 breakfast provided or the tensions that have been growing for weeks over the immigration debate, or Stewart’s questionable use of tax money to forward his anti-immigration election agenda, the Mr. Stewart we got this morning had little in common with the brash commander-in-chief-persona we’ve met at previous county meetings—certainly, a refreshing change.

Stewart’s attitude shift, though, could also have been a product of previewing material presented at today’s meeting. He prefaced by saying, “We’re up for a tough year….the worst year since 1992.” Finance Director Christopher Martino took over by over-viewing Prince William County’s economic health report. The climate proved chilly for Corey Stewart who didn’t have much to say in defense of his latest tax reduction attempts.

While in past months, Stewart has defended his refusal to raise taxes by saying he doesn’t want to burden tax payers anymore, according to county reports, property taxes online don't show these increases . Of course, when residential assessments go up, taxes are increased proportionately. BUT the percentage has lowered so much, the increase barely affects citizens.

The booming housing market allowed for “lean budgets” but the recent decline no longer permits refusing to consider other means to increase county revenue: PWC schools face a 30 million dollar deficit, having to defer construction of fourteen new, absolutely necessary schools; public services including police and fire have reached a point that County Executive Craig Gerhart calls “must-have increases” in fiscal year 2009.

While citizens might balk at hearing “higher taxes,” the fiscal justifications for doing so make sense, especially when we consider most tax payers would feel only nominal impact from increases. For example, the tax cut the Board implemented last April resulted in tax payers saving less than $100.00 per year. But the shortfall the cut caused resulted in education, public services, and human services operating at a loss this year and next, losses that compound the longer they remain unaddressed.

Gerheart pointed out that many citizens do not understand the significance of a high bond rating, but in the world of county management, the rating affects everything the county plans to do now and in the future. A high bond rating marks the county as providers of quality life. It has taken Prince William County years to build its rating, and if that rating is lost, it cannot be regained.

The county currently holds “triple A” bond rating, a kind of credit worthiness allowing Prince William to finance roads, parks and other public infrastructure. But the county is only permitted to borrow up to its debt capacity. Without increased revenue, that debt capacity will remain stagnant as costs continue to rise, giving the county what looks like a poor credit and fiscal image that could result in losing the high bond rating. As Gerhart explained, the more revenue received in taxes, the more the shortfall is reduced, the more bonds the county qualifies for based on increased debt capacity.

Brentsville supervisor Wally Covington interjected that before the county discussed increased funding for schools, he wanted more accountability from the School Board, proof that monies were being allocated to the right construction projects. He pointed out that the high school in his district houses trailers.

Superintendent of Schools, Steven Walts explained why high schools, especially those in the west end of the county, have become overcrowded: when the county has reached its debt capacity, new construction and renovations must be deferred. In addition, developers have not provided funds for new schools when they built new developments.

Various School Board members described the results: crowded hallways, increased class sizes, more than a dozen trailers even at elementary schools. A brand new middle school has already been filled to capacity. Projected increases in student enrollment show this problem will get worse without increased funding. As one School Board member pointed out, this is happening throughout the county, “we need to look at the county as a whole.” The School division cannot afford to manage education according to magisterial districts.

More than one School Board member reported that in previous years, the School Board and the Board of County Supervisors have dealt with the budget through a revenue split policy. The partnership between the two Boards has worked smoothly through meetings, open communications, communications protocol, and exchanges in information. Dumfries Distrcit Supervisor Maureen Caddigan said, “That’s the way it was when I fist came on this board…no bickering.” Over the past year, however, this has not been the case. She emphasized the need for smaller classrooms, competitive pay for teachers, and reassuring parents that their children’s education will not be compromised by these shortfalls.

School Board Chair Lucy Beauchamp requested an educational subcommittee on school budgets, which was agreed upon and will be appointed next week. Corey Stewart asked if the Board Chairs would be part of that committee, to which Beuchamp said, no. The committee would be made up of members of both boards representing four districts. She said in the past it has worked best when Chairs were not on the committee. The committee would make recommendations regarding the budget and revenue split, holding weight with both boards in reaching a final decision.

Beuchamp’s request for an education subcommittee comes at a crucial time when communications and budgets between the two boards must be repaired. Maintaining a world class education for Prince William County’s students and a viable place for families to live will not be an easy task.

“Keep in mind, there’s not going to be free lunch,” Hilda Barg, Woodbridge District Supervisor said.

She was not referring to school lunches.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Enough Already!

Outraged students at Michigan State chased organizers with baseball bats.


Because they didn't like a guest speaker invited to campus.

Now. I doubt I would have enjoyed the speech by "Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party who was convicted in 1998 for incitement of racial hatred over material denying the Holocaust. " But then, I would never attend an event in which anyone "was brought to campus for a speech denouncing Islam" unless I had a reason and a method in mind. Let me give you a hint. The method of bats et al is unacceptable.

I appreciate that the organizers opted for questions and answer sessions. I think that's a great way to open dialogue. Too bad the bat-carriers didn't take advantage of that opportunity to expose the speaker for the demon they think he is.

I'm not sticking up for the Young Americans for Freedom. To me, they sound like skinheads. Sorry, but that's what they come across as. But I am also not sticking up for anyone who thinks violence, out-of-control behavior, and lack of thought are the answers. These are two sides of the same radical coin. And I don't like radicalism.

If you cannot attend a function like this and remain civil to some extent, don't go. Watch it on video and blog about it later. Rant to your friends. Write editorials and articles. Work to change campus, state and federal policy. Do SOMETHING constructive. Reactions and not actions are never useful, and no rational person who can really make a difference will give credence to people who act like hoodlums.

I am disappointed with these students. I understand not wanting hate speakers on campus. I wouldn't want them there either. Frankly, I don't know why administrators put up with it. Yes, free speech is necessary. But if the campus is not ready to spend money on extra security and liability insurance for these events, I suggest they tell students to relocate their violence-inducing activities. I am quite sure the local public auditorium and police would NOT put up with it. Campuses shouldn't either.

Campuses are made for free speech, yes, but they are not there to promote free-for-alls.

A little balance and common sense here.

Please, people.