Barrett Brown
reddit AMA - October 2010

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IAmA Democratic congressional candidate for Virginia's 4th district and an atheist; my opponent, founder of the Prayer Congress, won't debate me. If elected, I'll create a sub-reddit and have my aides monitor it for suggested legislation and input in gene

What reason is he giving for not debating?

Barrett here. I'm going to go ahead and field this one since I know the answer, which is that neither Forbes nor his campaign has given an answer, even when asked by a newspaper editorial board that has supported him for years. Here's a link to a recent editorial on that particular subject.

I'm a Virginian, but I shamefully don't have a clue which district I'm in. I live in Loudoun County. Do you know which district that is? Also, if I am in your district, why should I vote for you over the other guy? Or, I guess a better way to word it is, how do you differ from your opponent, other than in a religious way?

Barrett here. You're not in the 4th district if you live in Loudoun, but you can still volunteer or donate (assuming that LeGrow is able to win you over when he answers your question a bit later this week).

Where does the OP mention his own religion, or that of his opponent, aside from the mention that his opponent wanted to introduce religious legislation?? I think you're looking for something to bitch about in what would, otherwise, be incredibly useful dialog. - Edit: downvote this because I'm a tool and Wynne_LeGrow let me know about it.

Uh, in the other guy's defense, the title does indeed note that Wynn is an atheist and that his opponent is the Prayer Caucus founder and thus obviously a Christian. The update above might answer his question, but hopefully LeGrow will be able to answer it more fully himself.

How long has Virgina's 4th been controlled by the Republicans? And how long as Mr. Forbes been in the seat?

Randy Forbes has been in office since 2001; previously, the seat had been controlled by a Democrat. Incidentally, the district went for Obama by a slim margin in 2008.

Is there a way i can vote for you from texas :)

You've got bigger fish to fry.

(This question was deleted by the user)

We'll probably be doing a separate post in which we'll reproduce these questions along with Dr. LeGrow's answers.

that's kind of stupid then, why didnt you just wait to do the IAMA until you're man would be ready to actually respond?

Because we're stupid.

What'tha a politician thats funny?

That was from me, Barrett Brown, advisor to the campaign. LeGrow is not funny at all.

i like how you threw in that you were an atheist thus solidifying your massive upvotes from the hive.

We like that too.

no thanks, we virginians aren't interested in you, bye.

I'll break the bad news to Dr. LeGrow.

Hey, here's some cool slogans you can use. LeGrow - for stem cell research. Live and LeGrow LeGrow Pot Virginia needs to LeGrow LeGrow - if he's right you don't have to go to hell They don't LeGrow them like they used to LeGrow, French for "The Grow" LeGrow my Eggo LeGrow: "Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole." Sorry - this is really a good song. Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole - not like you! I mean, this is really a good song. If you understand this cover, you'll understand me. Man, I had this dream I lived in Kent, Washington and played guitar in a grundge band back in 1992. I'm so fucking high. VOTE LEGROW - HE HAS ADD. "Hi, I'm Wynne LeGrow, my opponent thinks he can just stand up there on his high tower and throw large barrels at me, some of them flaming, while I jump over them? Well, I have another thing coming." Then he pulls out his Mario hammer. - This idea I want to be paid for, I already ran it by Dino Rossi, so there's a bidding war. So there's this 86 Nissan Maxima driving down the road. It stops at a gas station and the driver gets out. It's (the) LeGrow. He collapses the door (Vanity Fair slang for closing a door) and walks into the gas station. We pull back to the Maxima and the camera runs over its sleek looks. At the end "The 86 Nissan Maxima. Casual Calm." -You'd get mass weird retro people votes. Before you get annoyed - this shit works. A castle moat. LeGrow is struggling in the briney waters looking up the correct spelling for "briney". This circus ape jumps from the castle and onto LeGrow. LeGrow begins beating back and the ape seems to be beaten, but then a bigger ape with a helmet jumps onto the fight. The two apes pull LeGrow from the water and throw him onto the castle side of the moat. They respect his fight and shake hands with LeGrow. This kind of humanity is what Virginia needs, don't let any knucklehead tell you different. And just an idea - LeGrow: Ape fighter. I want, at least, 45567 million for this idea. And the nudes from the Johanssseeennn (spl?) shoot. LeGrow has a message for Washington lobbyists: FUCK YOU! I have more...

Thanks, these are all terrible.

-B Brown

Dr. LeGrow, councilman Les Whinen says that you're not experienced enough to be Virginia 4th's congressman. Sir, what do you have to say about that?

Perhaps Les Whinen should do more thinking and less whinin'.

If you know you're almost certainly going to lose (sorry to be so blunt, you seem far more qualified than your opponent), you don't have to hold back in your message. Call people in power on their BS without holding back. Don't worry about pandering to to center or the right. If you believe something and have good reason to believe something, go for it. Sell people on your ideas, don't just stroke their egos by repeating back their assumptions. Balls and integrity are something seriously lacking from the Democratic party these days. You have an opportunity to set the standard for "Holy shit, that Democrat is awesome."

I think you'll enjoy the press release we send out tomorrow. That's all we can say until then.

Mr. Brown, I just gave your candidate $10 for using the term "Electric Boogaloo". Please don't use it to send me junk mail for the next year. Thanks and good luck!

Don't worry, the $10 will go entirely towards getting LeGrow elected. We can send you junk e-mails at no cost to us.

you're well-known, sir, for your lenient stance on crime. But suppose for a second that your house was ransacked by thugs, your family tied up in the basement with socks in their mouths, you try to open the door but there's too much blood on the knob

Er, uh, what's your question?

OK. Let me get more Vanity Fair then. LeGrow, he is "earthy" LeGrow you know LeGrowing is half the battle Wynne! LeGrow! Wynne! LeGrow! Wynne! Can't we win and LeGrow? The Courtney Love and LeGrow issue Is LeGrow in shape? You could do one of those half naked Liebovitz shoots with the white curtains and halogens. Then you have Admit It, You're Legrowing One. Wait, so there's this white horse and LeGrow jumps from off camera onto the white horse and as he rides it towards this tower labeled Virigina Is Rad, he spray paints his name on the side of the horse and the horse whinnies in encouragement? We could go New Yorker on them: LeGrow isn't the type of guy to be pegged as some weird Antichrist; he reveals himself in the way that he buys fruit at the local Farmer's (Farmer's Market (FM)). "When I decided to run, I took in account my affinty for Virginia squash." The candidate is, of course, talking about the squash that Marla Mappleseed plants yearly to bring to the local's FM. "My wife enjoys making fondue with it. There's something Virginian about squash fondue that resonates with the people. St. Louis has the arch, Seattle has the Space Needle, but Virginia has squash." In Citizen LeGrow's back plantation he raises squash that he donates to a local "This here's my favorite!" LeGrow exclaims while walking past a bushel of tubular green and yellows that could spill from the sky on any Fall day. You get the idea. P.S. let your New Yorker friends know I can cinch this piece to any personality. Hey, it's just nice to be shot down by a Vanity Fair guy. Thanks,

Sorry, none of these are pretentious enough to be printed in Vanity Fair.

I find it quite disturbing that an election for higher office such as Representative can go without there being at least one debate.

Well, in Forbes' defense, he's an incompetent coward who would lose any such debate. So walk a mile in his shoes before you judge him.

Barrett here, Wynne would be mildly less antagonistic.

(This question was deleted by the user)


Care to elaborate? EDIT: I'm sorry. This just kinda saddens me. Please be open and honest. You accuse your opponent of whining when you're described as being inexperienced. You've also expressed some interest in a debate with said opponent. We get the chance, as anonymous "nobodys" to ask some questions and we get a LOL? I personally don't appreciate this sort of thing from a so called politician who asks to be questioned by the masses and accuses his opponent of being unwilling to debate. I would say your debate sucks, sir.

lol no


Fine, I'll say it. The above exchange is from The Simpsons.

It's interesting that you are willing to use reddit as a governance tool. I always thought that the world could do with a political/government version of reddit, for policy making and general straight talking. I wanted to design one, but figured that the level of accountability would scare the living crap out of any politician. Do you think the internet is being undervalued as a means for governing through dialogue?

Please get in touch with me at; you would definitely be interested in Project PM.

At which point in this thread did we go from fielding questions to DERP DERP HERP DERP? Sorry I missed the reference.

About an hour ago.

I think you partly proved my point just now. BTW I grew up in Dallas and if that was the dumbest thing you have seen all day, you need to get out a bit more.

No, I need to get out less.

Constituent of WA Congressional district 05, but I had a few questions for Dr. LeGrow.
  • What was the impetus to run for a Congressional seat?
  • You stated that you were in favor of repealing No Child Left Behind, however, you propose alternative methods of funding education. Can you elaborate on some of the proposed alternatives?
  • Your opponent introduced H.R. 6260 in 2008, establishing a monetary incentive for development of energy independence. (Which is odd considering his stance on offshore drilling / climate change) Do you feel like this program is a legitimate path towards finding a solution, or do you propose a different way to drive energy reform.
  • In 2009, you refused to participate in Project Vote Smart, how do you defend your position?
  • Finally, your opponent is a 4th term incumbent in a traditionally republican, white collar district. Do you feel that he wont debate you because he has the numbers already?
Thanks in advance,

1- I was concerned about global climate change and the huge national debt.

2 - I am not an education expert, but I support race to the top program that spends money more wisely instead of just focusing on statistics.

3 - That's unusual, considering his stance on offshore drilling and climate change. Rep Forbes's bill was unworkable. It relies on "scientific breakthroughs" as the only solutions to our problems - when many approaches can now be instituted to encourage energy efficiency. CAFE standards, smart electrical grids, etc. A carbon tax or some sort of cap and trade is clearly needed. We should continue scientific research toward new energy sources, but Mr. Forbes and many other politicians pretend like there's no solution at hand. There is - we just need the political courage to make it happen.

4 - I was wary at first of Project Vote Smart - they offered yes or no questions when the answer what not as clear cut. That said, I recognize the value of the service and my campaign has since made multiple attempts to complete the survey (admittedly after the deadline). Project Vote Smart has not given me the opportunity to answer.

5 - He may feel that he has the numbers but his refusal to debate suggests that he does not have the courage of his convictions. His excuses not to debate are laughable and portray a fear that his ideas cannot hold up when challenged.

First of all, that would be amazing. Good luck. As far as questions go:
  • Which issues are you most passionate about? They can be major or minor political issues.
  • what do you think is the number one improvement that could be made in the way American political discourse?
  • What made you want to be a politician?
  • Name a congressman that you look up to or respect, and why.

1 - Global climate change is real and it is caused by human beings burning fossil fuels. If this is not adequately addressed, the world as we know it will change dramatically for the worse.

2 - Campaign finance reform would help level the playing field, especially in terms of getting competing ideas out there for voters to examine.

3 - Eight years of mismanagement by the Bush-Cheney administration convinced me that changes needed to be made and those in power at that time did not have the insight, judgment or knowledge to make those changes.

4 - I admire Barney Frank's insight in dealing with complex problems and his wit in dealing with his detractors.

I live in VA and am voting in the 11th district race. I voted for the Libertarian candidate, even though I know he doesn't have a chance. Has your lack of religion played a big role in the campaign? Does the general public know that you're an atheist? What is your #1 goal that you want the country to accomplish if you get elected? Thanks.

People certainly seem interested in the novelty of a nontheist candidate, but it is not a serious campaign issue. The local papers make it the number one story when they write about me - so yes - the general public is aware. However talking to voters one-on-one it is not a primary issue.

My number one goal would be to change the dialogue about climate change in Washington. I do not think our leaders take it seriously enough, and we need to act now or the results will be catastrophic.

Who, in congress right now matches your political believes? I am a Bay Stater, so you aren't competing for my vote, if that helps.

Russ Feingold.

(This question was deleted by the user)

I am aware of liquid floride thorium reactor technology. I won't pretend I fully understand it but it seems very promising.

The Government can encourage research, but we need a strong private research sector. As noted on other postings, India is already moving forward in this field and sees it as critical to future energy supplies. We should move with the same sense of urgency given our dependence on foreign and domestic fossil fuels and the specter of global climate change among us.

I would really like a more in-depth view of what you hope to accomplish in Congress. Your website says that "healthcare, the economy, finding alternative forms of energy, education, and the work-force" are important to you. Alright that's great, but everyone says that. Its incredibly easy to say that we should develop sources of alternative energy, but what are you going to do to advance that. If your elected what specifically are you personally going to do. Are you going to introduce legislation specifically to ensure that these goals come to fruition? Can I get a more in depth analysis? And now for a more interesting line of questioning:
  • Also, what famous political philosophers do you look up to most and why? (e.g.: Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, Mill, etc.)
  • What was the biggest regret you've ever made?
  • What is your favorite TV show?
  • How do you feel towards Sarah Palin?
  • How much do you plan on accomplishing in your first term in office. It is considered naive and in poor-judgment to offer legislation or speak often in your first 1-2 terms.
  • What are your views on respecting individual liberty? How do you feel towards things like seatbelt laws?
  • What are your views on net neutrality?
  • What are your views on affirmative action?
  • What are your views on The Patriot Act?
  • What are your views on capital punishment?
  • What are your views on earmarks?
  • What are your views on the expansion of the federal government?
Regardless of how you answer these questions, as long as you answer them, even if you only answer 5 of them, you've earned my support. Sometimes showing you care means more than sharing the same political views.

1.) What famous political philosophers do you look up to most and why?

I spent most of my life studying and practicing medicine. I spent little time reading philosophy. The existential philosophy of John Paul Sartre may best reflect my personal philosophy. Political philosophers? Calvin and Hobbes.

2.) What was the biggest regret you've ever made?

I don't spend my life looking back and second-guessing my decisions. I make my best judgment and move forward. This is not to say that I do not admit my mistakes. I simply see no point in dwelling on past decisions.

3.) What is your favorite TV show?

I have watched CBS News Sunday morning intermittently for many years and find that it often covers interesting topics. In the past I have been a fan of MAS*H and Seinfeld.

4.) How do you feel towards Sarah Palin?

Sarah Palin is an empty vessel. She is totally uninformed on any number of topics and proud of it. She lacks curiosity and she is incapable of demonstrating true insight on any topic that interests me. Those who react positively to her seem to be reacting to her showmanship and pseudo-patriotic musings. Her refusal to take questions from any serious journalist reveals her lack of confidence.

5.) How much to you plan on accomplishing in your first term in office?

I plan to speak out on the increasing risks of global climate change and the risks associated with the huge national debt. These were the main reasons that motivated me to run in the first place. What I can accomplish in the first 1 to 2 terms remains to be seen.

6.) What are your views respecting individual liberty? How do you feel towards things like seatbelt laws?

I respect individual liberty until it starts imposing on others' freedom. I accept the need for seatbelt laws because the government can control such things when traveling on public highways. It has clearly been demonstrated that wearing seatbelts decreases the risk of injury and death. Those who are more seriously injured while not wearing seat belts in auto accidents will of necessity be cared for in hospitals and the resultant bills will result in increased insurance costs for all of us.

7.) What are your views on net neutrality?

I favor net neutrality as it would allow equal access for all on the Internet. The internet, at it’s core, is about innovation. For the government to place laws restraining this innovation would be bad for our economy and our general welfare.

8.) What are your views on The PATRIOT ACT?

I feel that The Patriot Act was an ill-conceived idea and should never have been passed. It restricts individual liberties in ways that are unnecessary. The laws in place prior to The Patriot Act were adequate to handle the situation.

9.) What are your views on capital punishment?

I am against the death penalty. Two stories that were on the front page of the Richmond Times-Dispatch recently demonstrate problems associated with the death penalty. One article was about a young man who bludgeoned four people to death when he was 19 years old. He was given a life sentence without parole. The other was about a woman with an IQ of 72 who was executed. She had agreed to have two men murder her husband and stepson. There was evidence suggesting that one of the two men who committed the murders had manipulated the woman in an attempt to get insurance money. The death penalty is applied too haphazardly to justify its use. In addition, I have never seen any study which demonstrated that the use of capital punishment was a deterrent. States that employ capital punishment have as high or higher incidence of capital crimes per capita than states that do not.

10.) What are your views on earmarks?

I think everyone would be better served if earmarks were eliminated completely. In that way any appropriations made for programs would have to be voted on and paid for directly.

11.) What are your views on the expansion of federal government?

Clearly some parts of the federal government have grown much larger than they need to be. Since September 11, 2001, many new agencies have sprung up to deal with security problems. Unfortunately many agencies duplicate the function of other agencies and do not communicate with each other as needed. My main concern would be that government function efficiently and the size of agencies be determined by the nature of the job they are performing.

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