Weekend Warrior

This Friday at 4 pm, I left the office and headed to the Town of Vienna for their annual holiday party.  A couple hours later, I was picking up my wife Sharon (looking fashionable as always) and we were headed to a reception at the house of President Angel Cabrera and the George Mason Board of Visitors.  We finished the evening with a late-night dinner in “Koreatown” (a/k/a Annandale).

Saturday morning, I rode the “Santa Express” with my daughter Ida Grace (3), from the Burke VRE station to Manassas and back.  After the ride was over, we drove out to Centreville and joined the Sully Democrats in their brunch with Santa.

Saturday afternoon, we went and picked out a tree from the Knights of Columbus (St. Leo’s Parish) and set it up in our living room.  I then stopped by Congressman Gerry Connolly’s volunteer “thank you” party at Old Town Hall.  After bringing home my son Thomas from basketball practice, I hit the gym and worked out until 7 pm.

So it wasn’t until now (8:30 pm) that I had a chance to publicly call for the resignation of Del. Joe Morrissey (D-Henrico) following his conviction yesterday.

What’s your excuse?

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Who Shot John?

Here’s the story.

Fifteen months ago, John Geer was standing in the doorway of his townhouse in Springfield, Virginia.  A single shot from a Fairfax County police officer left him lying in a pool of blood.  He was there for an hour, untreated.  Nobody called an ambulance.

He died that day, leaving behind two teenage daughters.  To this day, they have no answer to the following questions:  who killed their father and why.

You may not have heard of John Geer.  Nobody protested his death.  No celebrities have taken up his case.   LeBron James doesn’t wear his tee shirt.  He was just an ordinary homeowner in Springfield, Virginia, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Now he’s dead.

Amazingly, Fairfax County does not feel the need to release the details of this case, which involves a County police officer shooting a County resident.  Instead, it has fought every attempt to uncover the details of the case — even objecting to requests by the family’s attorney to simply see the police report.

There is a Federal grand jury looking into this case.  (If recent events are any indication, that may not mean too much).  Regardless, this is a truly chilling story.

What is somebody was shot and killed by the law and everybody knew about it …

And nobody cared enough to disclose the facts?

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And Rolling Stone Retracts …

Well, we all got played by that one.

It will take a few days to sink in, but the fact is that the “Rolling Stone UVA Rape Story” is now headed — rightly or wrongly — into that list of media stories which drew tremendous anger and attention at the outset and fit the national zeitgeist for “teaching lessons” about race, sex, etc.  Then the story turned out, well, differently.

The Scottsboro Boys in the Thirties.  Tawana Brawley in the Eighties.  Duke Lacrosse in recent years.

I’ll admit that I fell for it.  The Rolling Stone story made me furious and fit my pre-conceived notions about fraternities at UVA and the “ivory tower” mentality of hiding violent crimes in Honor Code proceedings.  My own biases, dating back to my  student days, came into play.

There was only one problem — the story, as reported, was not true.

We may never know what happened to the young woman in question.  We do know that major elements of the story, as reported by Rolling Stone, are simply false.  Amazingly, the reporter who broke the story simply failed to corroborate certain key details — or interview a single one of the alleged witnesses.

The Attorney General has commissioned an investigation of this alleged rape and sexual violence in general at UVA.  Apparently, that investigation will continue.  That’s fine but it must be predicated on finding the truth — not pre-determined notions of what the facts “should” be (or what is politically desirable for the prosecutor).

If it turns out that certain allegations lack sufficient evidence or are not credible, then that conclusion must be honestly reported.  If, on the other hand, the AG finds evidence of unreported crimes, then please prosecute them.

There’s been a lot of talk over the last few weeks of the need to educate young men about “rape” and “sexual assault.”  That’s the advantage of actually prosecuting cases, as opposed to rallies and vigils which only feed a one-sided viewpoint.  As I said in this space a couple weeks ago, nothing will make an impression on a college campus faster than a felony conviction and sentence in a state prison.

But making (and publishing) a false accusation against a randomly chosen fraternity is not the solution.  To paraphrase Barry Goldwater, dishonesty in pursuit of a popular political objective is no virtue.  Honesty in defense of an easy target is no vice.

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Scrooge and Marley

Tonight was opening night for the City of Fairfax Theater’s “Christmas Carol” at Truro Anglican Church.  For those of you who don’t know your Charles Dickens, “Carol” is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a stingy and misanthropic attorney in Victorian London.

Scrooge is visited one Christmas night by the ghost of Jacob Marley, his deceased law partner and only past friend.  (Imagine my ghost coming back to visit Scott Surovell — okay, you get the picture).

At the instigation of Marley, Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Future, who collectively demonstrate the perils awaiting Scrooge if he doesn’t get his act together.

Chastened, Scrooge repents his miserly ways and bestows gifts on his neighbors and bonuses on his employees.  His final words are to the little tyke, Tiny Tim, who replies:  “God bless us every one.”

I’m a big Dickens fan and this play was true to the sentimental themes at the heart of his writings.   Of course, I’m biased because my daughter, Mary Walton, was the Ghost of Christmas Past and my wife, Sharon, played the violin accompaniment.

Shows continue through the weekend.  Check www.fairfaxcitytheatre.org for details.

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Thanksgiving in Roanoke

It’s 7 a.m. on Friday morning and I’m setting up shop in the front lobby of my favorite hotel, the Hotel Roanoke.  The old Southern style lobby, with its large rooms and historic murals, is decorated with about two dozen Christmas trees, each decorated by a local business or nonprofit.  Very cool.

Sharon and I drove down here yesterday with the kids; it was 3.5 hours down I-81.  No traffic.  Beautiful view of the mountains.

(I started Thanksgiving by running a 5K to benefit the Fairfax City Firefighters’ fund.  Up and around the GMU campus and back downtown.  Felt like I was running fast the whole way but finished in 23:30.  It’s been a slow year.)

We  had Thanksgiving dinner last night at “Billy’s” on Market Square.  Prime Rib, turkey, mashed potatoes, Virginia ham, fresh shrimp, biscuits, greens, need I go on?

Today, we’ll do some shopping and hang out at the Hotel until heading to the big game in Blacksburg this evening.  Hokie Fans, I love you …. but ten losses in a row is enough.

Cavaliers by a touchdown.

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