Monday, July 29, 2013

Carlos Danger meets Robbin' Hood

“Halt, who goes there,” Carlos Danger shouted in the cold night air. “Between the chill and the shrill sound of the jangling coins the equipment is wilting.”

“Tis only me,” replied Robbin’ Hood. “I’m taking from the rich and giving to me. They’re showering me with money. My cup runneth over.”

“I don’t give a tweet about money. Ya know any hot babes who want a little sexting fun? That’s what I give a tweet about,” Carlos firmly replied. "Besides, I thought Robin Hood took from the rich and gave to the poor."
Bob McDonnell flashes
his Rolex.
I won't post what
Anthony Weiner flashes.

“Sexting?” Why waste your time on that? It won’t buy you clothes, watches, or other nice things. I agree with The Cooch... time for us Republicans to ban that nasty stuff. Besides, I gotta agree with my compatriot and the next governor, if ya gotta pick your sin, money lasts longer than poon tang.

“Ah Robbin’, your wife looks really hot in those new clothes from Nordstrom, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Lord & Taylor. What’s her cell number? Maybe we can exchange a few pics.”

“Oh, Carlos,” shouted Robbin, “leave my wife outta it you perverted Democrat.”

“Okay Robbin’, forget it. Five kids? She’s been rode hard and put away wet... way past a prime weiner like mine. But whatta ya gonna do with all your cash?”

“I’m just trying to get to the end of my term without being tarred and feathered and with my bank account stuffed. Plus, I like this watch! These damn Virginians are getting pissed off over nothing. Don't they realize that everyone does it? They'll really be mad when they find out taxpayers are picking up my legal bills.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. The national media is trying to run me out of the mayoral race just cause I want to stuff something... if ya know what I mean.

Three months later...

“Well, Robbin’, guess we’re cooked goose. Run outta the Big Apple and the Capitol of the Confederacy. What do the people not understand about the privileges of power? Why don’t we hang together for a while and plot our comebacks? After all, they forgave Sanford and Vitter.

“Carlos, you are so right... the voters don’t have any understanding of the sacrifices we make doing the people’s business. They seem to forgive sex scandals, but no so much when money is involved....! Hey, maybe my friend, The Cooch, will let us stay with him Smith Mountain Lake for a week or so. Freebie from his (and my) friends with deep pockets. Sweet place. Besides, he's got nothin' to do now that he got his butt kicked.”

“Any hot women around the lake?”

“I’ll flash the Rolex!”

“I’ll flash my junk!”

"Well that's okay but, The Cooch won't look at any boobs."

"Party pooper."

A short spoof of political corruption starring:
  • Anthony Weiner as Carlos Danger
  • Bob McDonnell as Robbin’ Hood

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mark Herring to visit Staunton

Mark Herring, the Democratic candidate for Attorney General, will visit Staunton on August 13. Details in the flyer below:

Click on picture to zoom in.
Join Mark to learn more about his ideas for
common sense leadership
in the important office of Attorney General.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Coal combustion waste is a major polluter of water

We know coal pollutes the air causing or complicating health issues for many people around the globe. On the east coast, downwind from many Ohio Valley and other coal-fired utilities, the air quality can be downright dangerous at times - much of that because what goes up into the air from those tall smokestacks ends up in our lungs.

Now there is new evidence that coal is perhaps the major contributor to toxic pollution of our streams and rivers. It not only comes from toxins that fall in rain, but also from wastewater laden with arsenic, boron, mercury, and other chemicals that are released in waterways in violation of the Clean Water Act. It is becoming increasingly clear that "coal plants have used our rivers, lakes, and streams as their own private waste dumps for decades."

The Executive Summary of CLOSING THE FLOODGATES: How the Coal Industry is Poisoning Our Water and How We Can Stop It begins:
Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of toxic water pollution in the United States based on toxicity, dumping billions of pounds of pollution into America’s rivers, lakes, and streams each year. The waste from coal plants, also known as coal combustion waste, includes coal ash and sludge from pollution controls called “scrubbers” that are notorious for contaminating ground and surface waters with toxic heavy metals and other pollutants These pollutants, including lead and mercury, can be dangerous to humans and wreak havoc in our watersheds even in very small amounts. The toxic metals in this waste do not degrade over time and many bio-accumulate, increasing in concentration as they travel up the food chain, ultimately collecting in our bodies, and the bodies of our children.
Placing profits first, we can't expect the industry to police itself or to easily give up the cheap (for them, expensive for our health) ways to dispose of toxic wastes. Take action to tell the EPA that we need strong regulations to safeguard our waterways and American families from toxic wastewater from coal plants.

Monday, July 22, 2013

It's a Boy

Okay America, it is time to get over it - we kicked the Brits and royalty out over two centuries ago, already! Yet most Americans - or at least the news media - seem absolutely enthralled by what emerges from the royal womb. Why should we give a cluck?

So, here is my tribute to William and Kate with assistance from the legendary British group, The Who, from their great rock opera, Tommy.

Hey William. Hey Kate. How about naming the kid Tommy?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Fairy Tale

A Fairy Tale eggplant that is. I bought the plants at a local greenhouse and really wasn't aware that these small, striped eggplant are so different than the large Black Beauty eggplant I'd grown for years. When the first fruits appeared I thought something was wrong, that they were deformed, or worse. The fruits weren't the deep purple I was used to and they were about the size and shape of a small banana - 5" or so.

So, a couple nights ago I used them in a cheesy squash/eggplant casserole and it came out great. Mild flavor, white flesh, skins more tender than the large eggplant, and they didn't seem to brown as quickly when exposed to the air. Plus, the small size is a bit deceiving since the plants are prolific and produce an abundance of the fruits.

Tonight I fixed them an interesting fried way that is a bit bland but the texture and mouth feel was great. The eggplant and the potato flakes lend themselves to adding flavors like Cajun spices or dipping in dressings or sauces that give it just the kick you want. Here is what I did for what I'll call Potato Crusted Eggplant:
  • Peel and slice the eggplant in 1/2 inch slices and place in cold, lightly salted water for 10 minutes.
  • Beat one egg with a tablespoon of water and add salt and pepper to taste (you could substitute seasoning salt, Cajun spices, Dizzy Dust, or your own concoction).
  • Put one cup of instant mashed potato flakes in a shallow bowl.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet with 1/4 cup butter over medium flame.
  • Drain the eggplant and dip slices in the egg mixture and then coat in the potato flakes. Brown in the butter for 3-4 minutes per side until golden. 
  • Serve warm as a side dish or as an appetizer with a dipping sauce.
Fresh eggplant from the garden doesn't last all that long so enjoy them while you can. Eggplant Parmesan is good, but there is more than one way to skin an eggplant (and way more than one variety of eggplant to choose from).

Friday, July 19, 2013

American Skin

President Barack Obama spoke eloquently as an American today. "It ain't no secret" that racism in America still exists in all but Faux News wingnut minds. Other than the president, few have spoken as poignantly as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

Newsleader calls for a hundred year plan for Augusta Schools

In a recent editorial, Staunton's Newsleader chastised the Augusta County School Board for failing to come up with a "plan to guide the school system into the next century." Now that would be quite a feat even for the crystal balls sitting around that all-knowing editorial table.

Almost by definition any strategic plan is a work in progress that must change with the times. Planning for the next three to five years should involve a reasonably high level of specificity and perhaps forecasts for 10 to 20 years can at least get some things right. But, a 100 year plan? Surely the Newsleader jests! There are way too many variables and unknowns to take a stab at such a distant target. Technology, Virginia politics and laws, whims of the board of supervisors, federal laws, derechos, climate change, and all sorts of unpredictable things are out there just waiting to blow any plans totally out of the water.

One hundred years ago could the editors have seen beyond slow typesetting, black and white newsprint, and newspaper boys? Did they know that TV, with its color and moving pictures, would rock the world of newspapers? Could their clairvoyance have foreseen the internet and online media that is killing traditional print newspapers and magazines?

Just a few years ago could the managers at the Newsleader have seen their incredibly shrinking presence in the community and the outsourcing of their printing operations? Did they see the decline in subscriptions? Did they know a once proud independent newspaper would be owned by Gannett?

Perhaps the editors's scrying is blind to the coming end times for the Newsleader? My crystal ball gazing tells me the Newsleader will be a historical footnote as we move into the next century and likely be only a vague memory long before. So, I doubt we get an editorial followup accessing the 100 year success of the School Board strategic plan. Fortunately, none of us will be around to judge the accuracy of this prediction.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Run for the border Bobblehead Bob

Bobblehead Bob runs for the border... if he knows where it is. Maybe between Augusta and Rockingham, Bobblehead?

Augusta County needs data on nutrient pollution

The Augusta County Board of Supervisors is considering joining a nutrient monitoring program to get factual information on the amount of agricultural and non-point pollution entering the Middle and South rivers. This pollution, of course, travels downstream to other counties and eventually into the Chesapeake Bay.

The U.S. Geological Survey will provide equipment to monitor sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus over a three year period. The EPA has assured officials that the program will be accepted in setting the watershed model for the Chesapeake Bay.

All sounds good, right? Free equipment and accurate data to drive future decisions. Well, some supervisors say not so fast. The hangup is the $85,000 annual cost to properly conduct the monitoring. One member of the board, Larry Wills, is seeking state funding and/or cost sharing with downstream Rockingham County but apparently he has come up dry so far.

Even Rep. Bob Goodlatte seems to support a monitoring program because of the up-to-date data it will provide. But, in typical Bobblehead Bob talking out of both sides of his mouth fashion, he doesn't want the data to actually accomplish anything, saying the Chesapeake Bay model is flawed.

With a 2025 deadline approaching for Virginia's blueprint for cleaning up the Bay, we need all the data we can get to make accurate, scientific decisions. Yes, the Commonwealth should be picking up some or most of the tab for localities but even without that funding Augusta County should move forward now. Costs of monitoring and restoring our streams and rivers will only increase in the future and decision makers need quality information sooner rather than later. Plus, plenty of Augusta residents fish, swim, and canoe in these popular local rivers.

Perhaps Mr. Wills can explore the possibility of working with organizations that have trained volunteers to do the water monitoring to help trim some costs. Organizations like Friends of the Shenandoah River and Friends of Middle River have been doing just that for years.

Check out CCC's earlier posts on the South River and Middle River.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Your summer float could land you in hot water

South Fork Shenandoah River
There isn't much better than a river float on a hot summer day. Maybe you get your fishing line wet. Perhaps you sit on a rock in the middle of a rapids enjoying the cool bubbling water, birds, and quiet. You are thrilled by successfully running a tricky Class 3.

Our navigable waters - streams, creeks, rivers, and bays - are supposed to be open for all Virginians. They are conserved for the people as places for fishing, swimming, boating, and solitude. All sportsmen thought that access to our public waters was assured but recently some landowners have accused boaters and others of trespass even though they never set foot on dry land.

It appears that simply posting signs and threatening to sue is enough to "privatize" a river or steam. When you show up in court the landowner has the upper hand as he/she often won't have to prove ownership of the riverbed and our "commonwealth" won't lend a hand or a paddle to defend your rights to public access. More info on the background and legalities at the Virginia Conservation Network.

This loophole in the law needs to be plugged and only the General Assembly can do it. Contact your delegate and senator and tell them to act during the 2014 session. Tell them to keep our navigable rivers in the public domain for the use of everyone in the commonwealth.

Friday, July 12, 2013

How a bill doesn't become law

Bobblehead Bob Goodlatte and his Republican cronies are responsible for one of the greatest do-nothing Congresses in American history. Jimmy Kimmel offers a contemporary take on the old School House Rock cartoon, How a Bill Becomes Law, as he lambasts our dysfunctional legislators.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Virginia makes progress on the Chesapeake Bay but work remains

Virginia and all the Chesapeake Bay states are making progress on reducing pollution flowing into the bay, but no state has achieved all their 2013 goals. The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint lays out the plan for restoring rivers, streams, and the bay itself. In 2009 the bay jurisdictions created two-year milestones to provide transparency and accountability.

Virginia set eight goals and, according to the analysis done by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Choose Clean Water Coalition, is meeting five. Stream fencing and urban stream restoration made significant progress and exceeded targets while stormwater ponds, wastewater treatment plants, and forest buffers are on track. Among the areas that the Commonwealth needs to redouble efforts are planting grass buffers along farm streams and constructing urban infiltration projects. As Jacob Powell of the Virginia Conservation Network noted, "it is clear that Virginia must now commit to investing in a modern stormwater infrastructure the same way it has committed to our wastewater infrastructure."

For more information check out the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's press release that highlights the progress being made and has links to the individual state reports. Let your state legislators know that you appreciated the work that has been done and ask them to uphold Virginia's promise to finish the job of cleaning up our creeks, rivers, streams, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What is a Master Naturalist? Want to be one?

Virginia Master Naturalists are volunteer educators, citizen scientists, and stewards helping Virginia conserve and manage natural resources and public lands. The Virginia Master Naturalist program is sponsored by Virginia Cooperative Extension Service, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia Department of Forestry, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and Virginia Museum of Natural History.

The Headwaters Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists serves the counties of Augusta and Rockingham and the cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Waynesboro. Headwaters is currently seeking applicants for the next class of volunteer educators, scientists, and stewards. This short video highlights just a few of the activities of the class of 2012-13:

For more information about the program, training, goals, and commitment email the Headwaters Chapter or call 540-234-9336. For information about other chapters visit Virginia Master Naturalists and click on the chapters link at the top of the page.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Governor McDonnell is more than an embarrassment, he's breaking the law

Rachel Maddow schools the nation about the embarrassment Republican governors are heaping upon their states and their party. Governor Bob McDonnell is more than a simple embarrassment like Maine's crazy LePage - Virginia's governor is both an embarrassment to the Commonwealth and is breaking the law. Governor McDonnell should resign immediately.

Coverage on Bob McDonnell begins at approximately 5:40.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

On July 4th - Remember - This Land Is YOUR Land

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - "This Land Is Your Land" (Woody Guthrie cover) from Consequence of Sound on Vimeo.

Irritated by Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," Woody Gutherie wrote "This Land Is Your Land" in 1940 and recorded it in 1944 yet it wasn't released until 1951. Performed by many artists, perhaps most notably by Pete Seeger, this song remains our premier anthem of Government of the people, by the people, and for the people. More about "This Land Is Your Land" including the missing verse and why it took so long to be released.

This Independence Day may we all recommit to our democracy by reclaiming it from the corruption of money both nationally and here in Virginia.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Bobblehead Bob's pathway to nowhere

Bobblehead Bob Goodlatte and his Republican cronies in the House of Representatives harken back to the days of "just say NO! In this case, Goodlatte (VA-06), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, and most other Republicans are applying that phrase to immigration reforms and are not even willing to consider any path to citizenship for persons currently in the U.S. illegally.

The Senate recently passed bipartisan legislation that substantially beefs up border security (to the tune of some $6.5 billion per year) and includes a "pathway" to citizenship. The term "pathway" is a bit misleading as the Senate bill actually creates a long and winding road filled with obstacles on the way to citizenship. It would take 13 years and require, among other things, for an individual to pass a criminal background check, pay a fine for violating the law, learn English, and provide proof of pay taxes. Not exactly a pleasant walk on a park pathway.

Over in the House they only see two things for immigration reform - higher fences and more guns on the border. Unwilling to consider any means to attain citizenship, the GOP would create a permanent underclass of "illegals" living, working, and paying taxes in the United States. In that shadow existence they'd live in fear, in a permanent subclass, and in a degree of desperation - not exactly characteristics of a healthy community. Goodlatte and the other bobbleheads would make our cities and towns less safe, less productive, less caring, and less just while trampling on the American Dream for everyone.

A majority of the House of Representatives - Democrats plus the few common sense Republicans in that chamber - would probably support immigration reform similar to the Senate bill. But with a fractured Republican Party, a serious lack of leadership from Speaker Boehner and others, gerrymandered congressional districts, and shortsighted congressmen who think only of the next election there is a good chance that Bobblehead Bob's Judiciary Committee and the entire House will do absolutely nothing.

Doing nothing isn't exactly new for the House. Doing nothing is getting old and hurting our nation as we prepare to celebrate Independence Day. It is time for Bob Goodlatte's tired world view to take an exit to the 1950s. It is time for new representation for the good people of Virginia's Sixth District.