House Democrats Laud Budget Passage

Saturday, February 28, 2009

I just received this from the DPVA. I'm glad we've got a budget and I'm glad we got the stimulus money that Republicans opposed almost unanimously, but we're still facing some serious cutbacks here in Virginia. Just imagine how bad things would have been if Republicans had gotten their way?
House Democrats Laud Budget Passage
Federal Stimulus Funds Help Virginia Avoid More Devastating Cuts

Richmond, VA - Today, the Virginia House of Delegates passed Virginia's budget in the midst of the worst economic crisis since World War II by an overwhelming vote of 90-8. The hundreds of millions of dollars provided by the federal stimulus package allowed Virginia to avoid thousands of additional state job cuts and significant additional cuts to core services such as education, public safety and health care.

"Without the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan approved by Congress with President Obama's leadership, we would have been in far more trouble than we already are," said House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong. "Being able to partially fill the massive budget shortfall with nearly a billion dollars in federal stimulus money was an absolute lifeline to the Commonwealth of Virginia."

"Nearly $500 million in stimulus funds went into education," said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Ken Plum. "I am glad that we were able to get serious about our budget situation and go from using magic money supposedly in the Water Quality Improvement Fund to real money provided by the federal government to help staunch the fiscal hemorrhaging."

"A majority of Republicans consistently opposed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, but were more than happy to use the money to avoid more politically unpopular cuts," said Legislative Black Caucus Chairman Kenneth Alexander.

UPDATE: Gov. Kaine's statement in the comments section.

Funny Tweets by "Sideshow" Bob Marshall

The following is a perfect example of why I call Del. Bob Marshall (R-Mars) "Sideshow Bob." From his Twitter account earlier this afternoon.
i vote yes to allow consideration of a resolution critical of congressional imposition of mandatory spending. It failed of introduction.
Oh my god, not "mandatory spending" on things like public safety, health care, energy efficiency, transportation, etc. Oh no, we just couldn't have that! Hahahahahaha.

This one's even funnier.
VA budget has $1.6 billion in federal stimulus $. This is stealing from our children, grandchildren, etc. I will oppose budget conference.
As opposed to the huge budget deficits run up under true-believing "supply-side" Republican Presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, perhaps? Whatever, "Sideshow Bob." Whatever...

UPDATE: In stark contrast, here's Del. David Englin on the same subject from his Twitter account two hours ago:
is glad the final budget puts back nearly all of the $400M we thought we'd have to cut from education - thank you Congress and Pres. Obama.
And from 1 hour ago:
is listening to House Republicans bash President Obama's stimulus package...right before they vote to take the money and save Va.'s future.
Also from 1 hour ago...
proudly voted for a balanced, constitutional state budget that will protect quality of life for Va. families. Thank you President Obama!
The difference between the two parties couldn't be more stark. Which do you prefer, mindless/kneejerk "no" or constructive efforts to help working and middle class Americans?

Obama: Special Interests in For a Fight!

From the White House website: "President Obama explains how the budget he sent to Congress will fulfill the promises he made as a candidate, and assures special interests that he is ready for the fight."

Terry McAuliffe on Tim Kaine Comments

In response to my question, Terry McAuliffe reiterates his oft-repeated promise to run a positive primary campaign and to focus his criticisms on Bob McDonnell.

Delegate William Fralin Retiring

According to Del. Adam Ebbin on Twitter, Delegate William Fralin (R-17) is retiring. Fralin has been a member of the House of Delegates since 2004, representing the counties of Botetourt (part) and Roanoke (part), plus the city of Roanoke (part). Fralin serves on the Education, Privileges and Elections, and Transportation committees.

Blogger introductions at McAuliffe HQ

Terry McAuliffe, Mo Eleithee (McAuliffe communications director), Ben Tribbett (NLS), Mike Stark ("Republican Slayer"), Lee Diamond, Josh Chernila (Blue Commonwealth), myself, Mike Henry (McAuliffe campaign manager), David Waldman (Daily Kos, Congress Matters), Ken Bernstein ("Teacherken"), Laura Clawson ("MissLaura," Daily Kos), Arjun Jaikumar aka "Brownsox" (Daily Kos), Dana Houle (Daily Kos), Chris Guy (Fred2Blue), Delacey Skinner (McAuliffe Communications director), Adam Filer (McAuliffe campaign), Liz Smith (McAuliffe campaign), Dave Leichtman (Blue Commonwealth), Eli Kaplan (McAuliffe campaign).

Chris Guy Video: Kidding Around With McAuliffe

It was great seeing fellow bloggers like Chris Guy of Fred2Blue at the McAuliffe dinner last night. I'll have a lot more video and comments later, but for now, here's some video - and thoughts on the proceedings - courtesy of Chris. By the way, I agree with Chris's observation, and several other bloggers I've talked to do as well, that "I don’t know who’ll win the primary between McAuliffe, Deeds, and Moran. But so far McAuliffe has the best campaign, hands down."

General Assembly Going Into OT on Budget?

Will the Virginia General Assembly need overtime to complete work on a budget for the Commonwealth? Maybe, maybe not.
House and Senate budget negotiators reached a tentative deal about midnight Friday on the state’s $77 billion two-year budget.

The accord leaves in doubt whether the General Assembly will take a rushed final vote on the 16-month spending blueprint late today or adjourn late for the sixth time in eight years.

Six senators and six House members bickered right up to the moment they sealed the deal with a handshake minutes before midnight.

I love the part about "bicker[ing] right up to the moment they sealed the deal," but hey, this is the "making of sausage" after all - not pretty, but it's how legislation usually gets done.

By the way, thank goodness for Barack Obama, the Democratic Congress, and three moderate Republicans (Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Arlen Specter) for the federal economic recovery and investment package.
The consensus the two sides reached uses about $1 billion in federal stimulus money to offset a $3.7 billion shortfall, the deepest on record in Virginia.

It would restore many of the cuts a plunging economy and poor tax collections forced on health care, public safety and education.
Remember, every single House of Representatives Republican, including so-called "moderates" like Frank Wolf, voted against the "stimulus" package. If they had had their way, those cuts to Virginia "health care, public safety and education" would NOT have been restored, and we'd have Cantor, Wittman, Wolf et al. to thank for it. This is exactly why we need to help Glenn Nye and Tom Perriello, both in "swing" districts, to retain their seats in 2010. That work starts right now.

Ben, Mo, and Me at Terry HQ

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ben Tribbett, yours truly, and McAuliffe communications director Mo Eleithee at campaign HQ prior to tonight's blogger dinner.

P.S. I've got video of the entire dinner. It's over an hour long - way too long for YouTube - so I'll have to figure out what to do with it exactly (e.g., break it up into 6 or 7 separate videos? just do the highlights?)

Dear Bob. Love, Terry.

Terry McAuliffe tells Bob McDonnell where to stick his offshore oil rigs (and his rigid right-wing ideology in general). :)

Thank you for your letter today. I must say that given your long record of opposing the progress of the Warner and Kaine Administrations, I'm not surprised to receive your letter. I am nonetheless disappointed.

I agree that we have a unique opportunity to create new jobs here in Virginia, but I believe that the opportunity lies in investment in renewable energy and growing our green jobs sector. If we want to grow our economy and create good jobs here in the Commonwealth, we must focus more on bipartisanship and less on ideology.

I support Governor Kaine and the bipartisan approach that is now Virginia law. We should have limited exploration only for natural gas-not oil-off of the Virginia coast. This law was approved by both Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly.

NASA and the U.S. Department of the Navy have both voiced concerns about drilling off of the Virginia Coast. Your approach would reject their input and potentially jeopardize their operations.

The best way to create jobs here in the Commonwealth is to focus on making Virginia a leader in renewable energy. We must harness Virginia's innovation and natural resources to develop renewable energy sources, like wind, solar, and even chicken litter, to expand our green jobs sector and reduce our dependence on oil.

That's what I'll do as Governor- focus on bringing people together to create good jobs, not getting tied up in the same old ideological fights that have blocked progress in Virginia for too long.


Terry McAuliffe

P.S. I'm heading to a bloggers' dinner with Terry this evening. Should be interesting, as bloggers' dinners always are! :)

CPAC Conference: What a Party!

Yeah, those conservatives really know how to have a good time!
As the beaten and battered conservative faithful gather at the CPAC event in Washington, casual incitements to violence against the President, Democratic leaders and liberal Americans once again are filling the air.  While former UN ambassador John Bolton produced guffaws with the specter of Obama's hometown being destroyed in a terrorist attack, Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher earnestly suggested some members of Congress should be shot.  Meanwhile readers of the web site of Fox News host Sean Hannity voted on "what kind of revolution" they found most appealing, even as Glenn Beck discussed the coming American civil war.
What fun, so sorry I missed it! :)

UPDATE: More lighthearted, feel-good videos here.

Barack Obama: "By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end"

Barack Obama is a man of his word, responsibly but expeditiously winding up the war in Iraq and focusing on more important concerns (e.g., Afghanistan, the economy):
Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.

As we carry out this drawdown, my highest priority will be the safety and security of our troops and civilians in Iraq. We will proceed carefully, and I will consult closely with my military commanders on the ground and with the Iraqi government. There will surely be difficult periods and tactical adjustments. But our enemies should be left with no doubt: this plan gives our military the forces and the flexibility they need to support our Iraqi partners, and to succeed.

After we remove our combat brigades, our mission will change from combat to supporting the Iraqi government and its Security Forces as they take the absolute lead in securing their country. As I have long said, we will retain a transitional force to carry out three distinct functions: training, equipping, and advising Iraqi Security Forces as long as they remain non-sectarian; conducting targeted counter-terrorism missions; and protecting our ongoing civilian and military efforts within Iraq. Initially, this force will likely be made up of 35-50,000 U.S. troops.

Through this period of transition, we will carry out further redeployments. And under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. We will complete this transition to Iraqi responsibility, and we will bring our troops home with the honor that they have earned.

As they say in Arabic, "ma'a salama" and "ila liqaa" to Iraq. In plain English, that means, "bye BYE!" :)

Video: Del. Shannon Valentine on Divesting from Sudan

Why is this so hard for Virginia to do if 27 states have already moved to divest from Sudan and its genocidal regime?

Strong Rumor: Goode Will Run for Congress in 2010

I'm hearing strong rumors that Virgil "So Bad He's" Goode will be running to regain his former seat from Tom Perriello in 2010. I'm also hearing that he's never stopped campaigning and that he thinks his loss was a "fluke." He's even claiming credit "for nearly $1.5 million in earmarks likely headed to his former Southside Virginia district, even though he no longer represents the area in Congress." Amazing.

P.S. This wiill be a war, one we've gotta win for Tom!

Bobby Jindal; Katrina Story Was False

The Great Republican Hope for 2012 is a liar.

Live Blog with Mike Signer: 2 PM, Friday

I had a chance to sit down with Democratic LG candidate Mike Signer the other day and was very impressed with his intelligence, passion, and progressive values. Mike has agreed to "live blog" here - answer your questions - at 2 pm this Friday (today). I strongly encourage you to ask whatever's on your mind (on second thought, maybe not WHATEVER is on your mind - lol). Also, I invited other LG candidates to come here and "live blog" as well. Thanks.
I'm Mike Signer, and I'm running for Lieutenant Governor because I actually want to be Lieutenant Governor, instead of using the office as a political stepping-stone or placeholder. This campaign is about you -- it's about Democratic activists, across Virginia, building a viable progressivism on the heels of the victories of leaders like Jim Webb, Barack Obama, Mark Warner, Gerry Connolly, Tom Perriello, and Glenn Nye. It's about turning the office of Lieutenant Governor into a public advocate. It's about moving past the dark days of “old Virginny," taking on the antiquated systems that are failing working Virginians and their families. It's about building a new Dominion now.

From the enthusiasm I've heard about my campaign in dozens of meetings with hundreds of Democratic voters around the Commonwealth, I firmly believe this is the right time for Virginia Democrats to invest in a nominee who represents the new generation of leadership. I believe my experience in Virginia government and as Deputy Counselor to Governor Warner, my achievements as an activist fighting for justice and fairness in Virginia, my work with some of the top progressive policy minds in the country, and over a decade of service as a Virginia Democratic activist and strategist make me that candidate.

I'm running for Lieutenant Governor because I believe the office can play a very active role in increasing opportunity in our economic system, helping to create thousands of new jobs, and taking on predatory practices; pushing our environmental system to the forefront of the country; fulfilling the sacred contract we have with veterans and military families; and fighting for justice and fairness in our democracy by taking on "Old Virginny" institutions like Dillon's rule and Jim Crow-era disenfranchisement laws.

I hope you'll take part in this venture. With your help, we can create a bottom-up movement of Virginians dedicated to the future rather than the past—to creating a new vision for one of Virginia's three constitutional offices, to challenging politics as usual, to creating a viable progressivism in "Blue Virginia," and, finally, to putting Democrats back on the offense this fall.

Mike Signer on the Corruption that is Richmond

This is hilarious but disgusting at the same time. We really need people who will shake up Richmond and "take Virginia toward a New Dominion."

P.S. Last night at the DNC, Signer said point blank that Richmond is "fundamentally corrupt," that it has a "cozy and corrupting culture." Wait, you mean unlimited money by corporate interests flowing to citizen legislators who we don't pay jack**** could lead to a corrupting influence?!? Wow, you don't say! :)

P.P.S. This is one of the best uses of YouTube I've seen by a statewide candidate this cycle. I'd like to see a lot more of this type of thing, candidates talking directly to us, not just to other elected officials who've endorsed them, the corporate media, or whoever.

White House Middle Class Task Force Meeting Now on Green Jobs

Click here for a live blog of "the first meeting of the [White House's] Middle Class Task Force, with a focus on a green jobs as a pathway to a strong middle class." The panel includes "the VP, 6 cabinet secretaries (including newly confirmed Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, the author of the Green Jobs Act), and senior White House staff." The "[f]irst presentation is from John Podesta from the Center of American Progress, then it will be Fred Krupp from the Environmental Defense Fund and Van Jones from Green for All."

Check out the liveblog.

What Does Bob McDonnell Have Against Virginia Law Enforcement?

That headline refers to comments by Norfolk Sheriff Bob McCabe and Washington County Sheriff Fred Newman on a conference call this morning about Bob McDonnell opposing stimulus money for Virginia. Also on the call were Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille and Henry County Supervisor Paula Burnette.

According to Sheriff McCabe, Norfolk's already staving off serious cuts to law enforcement. Without the stimulus money from the federal government, there would have been "massive layoffs." Already, his department is understaffed and struggling to have deputies on the street. Rejecting the stimulus money would "just add to the problems" he's facing.

Sheriff Newman says that the last thing we need to do is downsize law enforcement during an economic downturn that is causing increased property and drug crimes. The economic stimulus package is a "win-win for everyone," which is why he can't understand why Bob McDonnell (and several Republican governors) would turn down the money. "We need our funds," Newman said, "especially here in southwest Virginia."

Mayor Euille said that this stimulus package is critical to our economic future, to investment in transportation infrastructure, etc. The stance that McDonnell is taking on this indicates that he is out of touch with what Virginia cities and counties need.. How would McDonnell propose balancing the budget without the stimulus funds? Unfortunately, McDonnell appears to be simply upholding the unfortunate position of the national Republican Party.

Henry County supervisor Paul Burnette says that her area has been experiencing high unemployment for years, and that they need this money for transportation infrastructure, workforce retraining, etc. She doesn't understand the complaints about "strings attached," since money from the state to local governments almost always comes with such strings. This is not an acceptable reason to oppose the stimulus package. "Local government is where the rubber hits the road."

Apparently, Bob McDonnell doesn't understand the challenges and pressures faced by local government. Either that, or he does understand but he simply doesn't care. Either way, it's unacceptable.

UPDATE: See the letter to Bob McDonnell, signed by more than 50 Virginia local officials, in the comments below.

Kaine: Simmer Down Boys or Let's Rumble?

It looks like Tim Kaine hasn't been enjoying lines like "fighter not a fundraiser" or "an ass named Trippi."
Kaine said he recently spoke to Virginia's Democratic U.S. senators, Mark R. Warner and James Webb, about helping him rein in the candidates if their attacks go too far.

"We would like to keep it in acceptable bounds," Kaine said. "I can see myself weighing in with these guys, saying, 'Hey, think about November. You're acting in ways that may not be helpful in November.'"

Kaine's comments appear to be an obvious reference first and foremost to the Moran campaign's repeated attacks on Terry McAuliffe (implying that he's a "fundraiser" not a "fighter") at the state JJ dinner. It might also be a reference to Terry McAuliffe's joke - at a Richmond press corps roast - about Brian Moran having "an ass named Trippi." (personally, I thought that was pretty funny in the context of a raunchy roast, during which Creigh Deeds joked about B&D, among other things).

On the other hand, Kaine "predicted that the primary will ultimately benefit the party's bid for a third consecutive term in power." Kaine referred to Barack Obama's knock-down-drag-out primary battle with Hillary Clinton, which not only did NOT destroy the nominee, it probably strengthened him (under the theory of "whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger?").

So, there's a bit of mixed messaging here; on the one hand, "simmer down, boys," and on the other hand "let's rumble!" Personally, I'd prefer a high-minded debate on the issues, but something tells me that with these three competitors in there, we're going to be closer to a "rumble" before this is all over - Tim Kaine's exhortations or not.

P.S. By the way, I'd remind people that Jim Webb survived Harris Miller's campaign essentially calling him a misogynist, racist and anti-Semite. In contrast, this campaign has been like a G-rated movie with the kids ("fighter not a fundraiser" was so incoherent that it's almost hard to take it as an attack, although it undoubtedly was meant as one).

Why We Need a Democratic Governor

Why do we need to keep a Democrat in the governor's mansion after Tim Kaine leaves office early next year? See here for a few examples:
During his monthly call-in radio show on WRVA in Richmond, the governor reiterated his intention to sign recently passed legislation to impose a statewide ban on smoking in public restaurants that do not have separately ventilated areas for those wishing to light up.

Kaine also said he would veto legislation passed by the General Assembly that would allow holders of concealed-weapons permits to bring their hidden guns into establishments that serve alcohol.

"I'm very nervous about the public-safety impact of that bill," he said.

And the governor signaled he would endorse a further legislative crackdown on the payday-lending industry...

Imagine if we had Governor Kilgore or Governor McDonnell right now? They'd let hidden guns into bars in a heartbeat. They'd be friends of the payday lending industry. They'd allow smoking in restaurants. And they'd do a lot of other bad stuff, whether you care about the environment, public safety, education, health care, women's rights, gay rights, nonpartisan redistricting, or any number of issues. In short, we need to defeat Pat-Bob McDonnell-Robertson this year, or Virginia's going to be a lot worse place next year and beyond.

P.S. Belated "happy birthday" to Gov. Kaine, who turned 51 yesterday.

Wagner: Kaine Might Have Left Governorship if There Had Been a Dem. LG

Thursday, February 26, 2009

This isn't earth-shattering news, but I think it's interesting that Jody Wagner says it so directly. I don't recall anyone else saying this, but I could be wrong. Tim Kaine himself said, "I’ve got a commitment and I should serve my full term."

Adam Ebbin Calls Out House Republicans

"Delegate Mark Cole objected to my resolution commending Equality Virginia. He refused to 'yield' for a question." - Adam Ebbin on Twitter

"[David Englin] is proud of Adam Ebbin for calling out House Republicans on the floor for singling out his resolution commending Equality Virginia." - David Englin on Twitter

George Will is Truly Bonkers

No further comment necessary.
We thought we were done with the topic of George Will and climate change. But now we've gotten an advanced look at Will's latest column, set to run tomorrow in the Washington Post and in syndication. And it amounts to a stubborn defense of the amazing global warming denialist column he published earlier this month, that was ripped apart by just about everyone and their mother -- including us.
As I said: Truly. Bonkers.

Tim Kaine: 40% Chance of Dem's Taking Back House of Delegates

This is exactly why we need a fighter AND a fundraiser for our gubernatorial nominee.
"What are the chances on the House side that we are going to win? I would say maybe 40 percent," Kaine said. "But that is a good enough percentage to say 'lets go after it and who knows, we might get a break or two with retirements. We might get a break or two in a primary'."
That's a very different tune than the normally super-optimistic Kaine was playing a few weeks before the 2007 General Assembly elections, when he was predicting that Democrats would pick up as many as 15 House of Delegates seats (we ended up with 4).

P.S. Message to Tim Craig: it's spelled "optimistic" not "optomistic." :)

47th House of Delegates District (Arlington) Field Firming Up?

It looks like the race to succeed Del. Al Eisenberg (D-47th) is starting to firm up. According to the Arlington Connection, three people who had been considering running - Ted Bilich, Alfonso Lopez, and Mike McCarthy - are now "wavering" or outright saying they're not running.

If Alfonso Lopez -- Gov. Kaine's top legislative liaison on Capitol Hill -- doesn't run, that would be the most surprising (at least to me) of the three mentioned by the Connection. For starters, I had assumed - as had many Arlington political activists and insiders - that Lopez was simply waiting for the end of the Virginia legislative session to announce his candidacy. Also, at the last meeting of the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC), Lopez told me point blank that he was running and that he had moved into the 47th district months earlier. Anyway, we'll see what happens, but right now, it looks like the candidates to succeed Al Eisenberg are:

*Miles Grant
*Patrick Hope
*Adam Parkhomenko
*Andres Tobar
*Alan Howze

I've been talking to people about this race and will have a full analysis in the next few days. I've also got questionnaires out to all the candidates and have heard back affirmatively from four of the five (guess which one I haven't heard anything from).

OMB Director, Avid Blog Reader

Patrick Ruffini on "Joe the Plumber" and the "Unserious" Republican Party

I don't agree with Patrick Ruffini on much, but I certainly do agree with him on this:
If you want to get a sense of how unserious and ungrounded most Americans think the Republican Party is, look no further than how conservatives elevate Joe the Plumber as a spokesman. The movement has become so gimmick-driven that Wurzelbacher will be a conservative hero long after people have forgotten what his legitimate policy beef with Obama was.

A movement self-confident in its place in American society would not have made Joe the Plumber a bigger story than he actually was...
Exactly; there's nothing self-confident about this absurd know-nothing, "real America," right-wing, populist "Joe the Plumber" schtick. Especially when the poster boy for the movement is a guy whose name isn't really "Joe" (it's "Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher"), who's not even a licensed plumber, who's a tax cheat, and who is nowhere near the income threshold ($250,000 per year) where he would have seen a tax increase from that dirty "socialist" Obama. That's just bad comedy, not a serious political movement for 21st century (or any century, for that matter) America. When Republicans ditch "Joe the Plumber," Sarah Palin, Eric Cantor and all the other know-nothing, populist, right-wing-ideological clowns out there, they may have a serious party again. Until then, they won't.

Progressive Blogosphere Ratchets Up Political Clout?

Check this out:
A group of liberal bloggers said it is teaming up with organized labor and MoveOn to form a political action committee that will seek to push the Democratic Party farther to the left.

Soliciting donations from their readers, the bloggers said they are planning to recruit liberal candidates for challenges against more centrist Democrats currently in Congress.

The formation of the group marks another step in the evolution of the blogosphere, which has proven effective at motivating party activists to give money and time to political campaigns, especially in local races.


The new organization is in many ways the liberal equivalent of the Club for Growth, a conservative group that has financed primary challenges against Republicans it deems insufficiently dedicated to tax cuts and small government.


.... Organizers said they already had a bank account of $500,000, which they raised over a short period in September when several blogs solicited donations. Organizers said they expected to collect far more than that when they start fundraising in earnest this month.
This is intriguing to me on several levels. First, as co-founder of the Draft James Webb movement, netroots coordinator on the Webb campaign, co-author of a book on the netroots, and an active netroots participant since 2003, I'm curious to see how the progressive blogosphere develops in general.

Second, in 2007, I was working with several other Virginia netroots activists to put together something quite similar to this, except our goal wasn't, per se, to "push the Democratic Party farther to the left." Instead, what we were talking about was creating a big-tent, broadly progressive organization which would continue the momentum from the 10,000-strong "ragtag army" of Jim Webb's victory over George Allen to keep building the Virginia Democratic Party and the progressive netroots/grassroots movement in Virginia. Among other things, we planned for exactly what is described above, a progressive counterpart to the "Club for Growth" (we were going to call it the "Club for Progress"). We planned online tools to empower activists and to reward them for increased involvement (we called that the "mojo app"). And we planned to have organizers in every part of Virginia.

So, what stopped us? Basically, time and money. On the money front, we were hoping the DPVA would see the potential of this and jump on it in a big way. They seemed interested, but the process took too long and the netroots' leaders needed to make a living to support their families (I know, what a concept). Also, we never got to the point of lining up major donors before we pretty much had to move on with our lives. In the end, the Obama campaign pretty much did the mojo app and empowering activists part. To my knowledge, they never set up an equivalent of the Club for Progress. Also, their focus was - rightly - on electing Barack Obama, not necessarily on growing progressive netroots movements in each state over the long run. That was our objective, and I personally still believe it would be a smart thing to do. Meanwhile, I'll be watching this new grouping of "liberal bloggers," MoveOn and organized labor to see where it leads.

UPDATE: Sam Stein has a much better explanation then the New York Times of what this is all about...

Hugo vs. Hogan: The Death Match?

If you want some entertaining Republican on Republican full-contact martial arts action (well, rhetorically anyhow), click here. Hilarious.

Obama Leads the Way Once Again, This Time for Animals

I am very happy to see that not only is the Obama family getting a dog, but that it's going to be a rescue.
What kind of dog will soon be frolicking on the South Lawn? Mrs. Obama says she thinks she is going to look for a rescue Portuguese Water dog who is "old enough" and a "match" for the family dynamic.
What is "dog rescue" and why should you consider it for your next furry friend? See the Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation of Sumerduck, VA, for more information.
The Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation (LDCRF)...rescues abandoned or displaced dogs and cats from the threat of euthanasia by area shelters or other at-risk situations. Once in our care, these companion animals are fully vaccinated and spayed or neutered. We also provide for those animals who need additional time and medical care before going to a new home.
Personally, I would never consider getting a dog from anything but an animal shelter or a rescue organization, unless and until the day comes when no dogs are euthanized because of overpopulation and inability to find a home. Unfortunately, that day is not here yet, thanks in large part to unscrupulous breeders and the people who purchase animals from them.

Tom Perriello's Father Reported to be "Gravely Ill"

I just read this:
Tom Perriello has left Washington to be with his family in Ivy, Va., due to the sudden illness of his father Dr. Vito Perriello.
According to the headline at What Is Right for Virginia (original report in the Charlottesville Daily Progress), Dr. Perriello is "gravely ill." I am very sorry to hear this and am hoping hard for a quick and full recovery for Tom's dad. I've never met Dr. Perriello, but if he's anything like his son, I'm sure he's a great man.

McAuliffe Talks Energy, President Obama's #1 Issue

Terry McAuliffe provides a lengthy response to a diary at ArticeXI which questions comments he made on a recent radio program ("Hearsay" with Cathy Lewis). The ArticleXI diarist believes that McAuliffe contradicted his previous statement on the proposed Surry County coal-fired power plant, which was "If a new coal plant is built, it should be as clean as possible -- and from my understanding, the one being proposed for Surry County does not meet that standard." Now, the diarist writes, "His tentative support for the plant also appears to be in direct contrast with his previous statement." Here's Terry McAuliffe's response, with my comments.
Hey, my staff alerted me to this post. Sometimes I try to say so much so quickly in these short interviews that I ending up skipping over a few things and I just wanted to take a moment and clear up any confusion about where I stand on this issue.
Yes, anyone who's been around Terry McAuliffe - a man who makes Bill Clinton look taciturn and reserved (lol) - knows that he often tries to "say so much so quickly." :)
For the record, I stand by the statement you quoted - my position hasn't changed. When I'm governor, my focus isn't going to be on building new coal plants. It's going to be on finding ways to keep from having to build new coal plants.
Excellent, that's exactly what the focus SHOULD be on!
That starts with reducing the demand for energy by increasing efficiency. And it's not good enough to just tell folks that they need to cut back. When I'm governor, I want to make the Commonwealth of Virginia a national leader in energy conservation - starting with our government buildings. I've also called for high speed rail, and when I unveil my business plan for Virginia, I'm going to throw out a host of other proposals we can take to reduce our energy consumption.
Also, excellent, although just to clarify, "energy efficiency" and "conservation" are related but quite different concepts. "Energy efficiency" means producing the same output (or service) with less energy, or more output with the same or less energy. "Conservation" means reducing energy consumption and usually getting less outout (or service) in exchange. We probably need both, but energy efficiency is by far and away the one we want to be shooting at. (note: there's yet ANOTHER concept, called "energy intensity," which I can explain if anyone's interested).
Second, we need to make sure more and more of the energy we do use comes from renewable sources. I want to create a sustainable market for them here in Virginia, and bring more high-quality, green jobs to our Commonwealth than any other state in the nation. In his address to Congress last night, President Obama emphasized the importance of using our energy policy to turn the economy around. And I can assure you that when I'm governor, creating green jobs is going to be my priority.
Excellent. Last spring, I had a chance to sit down with Mark Warner, and we talked extensively about the potential economic and business opportunity that "clean tech" and "green jobs" brings to Virginia. This includes tapping into our tremendous research universities and educated workforce to become THE LEADER in the nation and possibly the world in the burgeoning "clean tech" sector. That could prove absolutely crucial to Virginia's economic future and we need to seize the opportunity, not miss it.
I was the first candidate in this race to call for making our voluntary renewable energy standard mandatory. It creates renewable energy jobs; it's good for our environment; and it helps the energy companies make money in the end. With the agriculture and forestry as our leading industries, we have tremendous potential to grow biofuels and create new markets for our farmers. When I'm governor, I'm going to partner with the federal government, the private sector, and our colleges and universities to help make that happen. Green jobs are the jobs of the future, and I'm going to work every single day to make Virginia a leader in creating them.
I'm very happy to see Terry McAuliffe reiterating his call to institute a MANDATORY Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) here in Virginia. What the RPS will be exactly is still not clear, but I'd say let's shoot for what California is doing, 33% by 2020 renewables.
But while we move into an energy economy that is more dependent on alternative fuel technologies and less dependent on coal, we need to make sure that we're not leaving folks behind - and that's the point that I was trying to get at on Cathy Lewis's radio show.
Right, we can't "leave folks behind," which is why we've got to retrain people in declining industries (coal employment in Virginia has plummeted (from around 10,000 jobs in 1990 to about 4,000 jobs now - 0.05% of the state's population) in recent decades) for the new jobs of a new energy economy. Let's hear more talk about that fact from all our gubernatorial candidates.
Look, we need to make some big changes toward creating a cleaner energy future now, because the current trajectory for our state and our planet is clearly unsustainable. But part of making those changes responsibly means making sure that we calculate the impact those changes have on everyone and work to do everything we can to minimize any damage.

The first sentence here is excellent; a clear recognition that the path we're on now is unsustainable. The second sentence is not the way I'd put it; this isn't about "minimizing the damage" of moving to a new energy economy, it's about seizing the amazing opportunity offered for transforming our state and our nation (while protecting the planet from devestating climate meltdown) in years to come.
The fact of the matter is that there are lots of people in our Commonwealth who are employed in the coal industry, and for the most part, they're located in some of the most economically distressed parts of the state. Jobs in these areas don't come easy, even when the economy isn't in a serious decline nationwide.
It's true that jobs don't come easy in places like far southwestern Virginia, where almost all the 4,000 coal-related jobs in Virginia are located. The problem, once again, is that employment in this industry has plummeted over the past few decades and does not represent any kind of future for southwestern Virginia. To the contrary, that area needs investment in human capital (education), communications technology, probably tourism infrastructure if it's going to thrive moving forward. In short, SWVA needs a vision for economic development moving forward, given that coal jobs almost certainly won't be there forever...
So when someone comes along saying they're going to open a plant - like the proposed coal plant in Surry -- that will provide a couple thousand much-needed jobs, there is an economic impact to stopping that plant. I visited Surry, and I talked to the folks in that community. And all I was saying on that radio show is that, in this economy, I don't want to take an action that will prevent job creation unless I feel confident that I can replace those jobs.
Another issue is that when a federal cap-and-trade bill passes Congress, this year or next year, it's going to cause the price of coal to rise relative to other energy sources, and also cause coal's market share to decline indefinitely into the future (barring a major technological breakthrough on Carbon Capture and Sequestration technology). With this in mind, Virginia needs to prepare itself so that it gets ahead of the curve (and benefits from doing so). If not, it will suffer the consequences of failing to do so, and there will be a lot more jobs to be "replaced" than there are now!
The transition to renewable energy sources is going to take some time, and I want to make sure that -- in addition to developing new clean coal technology -- we're also reviewing our rules and regulations to ensure that any new coal plants that are built use every available technology to produce energy as cleanly as possible. The plant in Surry is still just an idea at this point and I plan on taking a much harder look at the specifics of the proposal - including what type of technology is going to be used -- and hear from all of the folks who have a stake in the outcome.
Actually, the transition to renewable energy sources (and energy efficiency, which actually should be first) can and will move very quickly if we get the pricing right by internalizing market "externalities" through cap-and-trade (or a carbon tax).
That brings me to me final point. I also want to hear from you. Good ideas come from all corners of the Commonwealth, not just Richmond. I've received some really great ideas - both in the economic roundtables I'm holding across the state, and online. I'm going to end up incorporating quite a few of them in the very detailed business plan for Virginia that I'm going to unveil in the coming weeks.

So if you've got an idea about how to reduce energy consumption, encourage alternative energy development, or make the transition away from traditional sources of energy less painful for folks who work in the coal industry, then I want to hear about it. So please, come to my website and drop me a line.

Excellent, I'm very glad to hear that, and would encourage a meeting with the groups listed on the left-hand column here (Sierra Club, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Virginia LCV, Environment Virginia, etc.). In general, I'm very excited that we have all three of our Democratic gubernatorial candidates talking about the need for energy efficiency and renewable energy. I'm seeing strong signs that all three seem to "get it" on this vitally important area. I'm amazed that, unlike a few years ago, you almost can't listen to a Democratic statewide candidate in Virginia and NOT hear talk about energy and the environment. Heck, even Republicans (e.g., Rep. Randy Forbes) are talking about a "New Manhattan Project to Tackle Energy Dependence". And of course Barack Obama just finished a speech to Congress in which he made energy and "green jobs" Job #1.

In other words, on the energy and environment front, it looks like things are finally (FINALLY!) moving in the right direction after 8 long years of inaction, and I couldn't be happier to see this (anyone out there who STILL believes that elections don't have consequences?!?). Just the fact that Terry McAuliffe felt the need to respond in detail - and so quickly - to a diary challenging him on a Virginia environmental blog speaks volumes. And, of course, Brian Moran has laid out an excellent energy plan, while Creigh Deeds bill (SB 1212) to help Virginia homeowners save money by converting to green energy systems passed unanimously in the Virginia Senate the other day. It's a great day in Virginia when we've got gubernatorial candidates competing on who's STRONGEST regarding energy and the environment. At this rate, maybe even Bob McDonnell will get behind "creation care" one of these days? :)

David Brooks: Jindal's Approach a "Disaster" for GOP

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hey David, want to come write for Blue Virginia? I think we could use you here! :)

Video of Jeff Frederick Calling Dem's "Competing Parasites"

Jeff Frederick begins speaking at about 6 minutes's a hoot! I particularly love it when he calls Democrats "competing parasites" (around 11:30) who want to "feed on us" (the taxpayers). Lovely.

ATM Fees to Access Your Own Wages?!?

I just saw this on Del. David Englin's Twitter feed and couldn't believe my eyes.
voted against a bill that would cause workers to pay ATM fees to access their own wages. It died yesterday, came back, and passed today.
Wait a minute, seriously? There's a bill that makes you pay ATM fees to access your own wages? Is this the bill (by Republican Thomas Norment)? Here's the language:
...Authorizes employers to pay wages and salaries to an employee hired after January 1, 2010, by credit to a prepaid debit card or card account, without the employee's affirmative consent...Currently, payment via prepaid debit card or card account requires the affirmative consent of the employee
What on earth? This thing passed?

UPDATE: If it is Tommy Norment, VPAP reports that his top donor in 2007-2008 is the Virginia Banker's Association ($18,359).

UPDATE #2: David Englin confirms that this is, indeed, the bill. He writes:
Currently, with the consent of the employee, an employer can pay a
person via a debit card. This bill has the state imposing that on certain employees without their consent. The bill gives the employee one free withdrawal of funds per pay period, but doesn't define whether a pay period is one week, two weeks, four weeks, etc. If you get paid $2000 per month, you either have to walk around with $2000 in cash for a month, or you have to make multiple withdrawals and pay withdrawal fees. Moreover, as Chris Saxman pointed out, there's nothing in the bill to stop a debit card provider from giving an employer some kind of financial incentive to impose this on employees. Furthermore, there are no security provisions in the bill, so if you lose your debit card, you could be losing your entire pay period's worth of pay.

Supporters argue that you can use the debit card directly to pay for good and services. However, not all stores take credit cards, especially in poorer, rural areas.

Twitter forces one to cut to the core of the issue, which is that it "would cause workers to pay ATM fees to access their own wages."

Bobby Jindal's Idiocy Leaves Rachel Maddow Speechless

It's not just Rachel who's speechless, believe me. I mean, what on earth IS this idiocy? Still, be thankful for small blessings; I'm glad to hear that "Republicans want to work with President Obama" and that they "appreciate his message of hope." On second thought, wait a minute, what am I saying?!? Seriously, as if the Party of NoTM really intends to work with President Obama? Yeah, and Eric Cantor's going to say something intelligent one of these days, too. Suuuuuuure....

First Item on the White House Agenda: Green jobs and "lots of 'em!"

Does the Obama White House "get it" on clean energy, green jobs and the environment or what? This is impressive:
Vice President Biden and the rest of the Middle Class Task Force get down to (official) business for the first time Friday, Feb. 27, at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

On the agenda: jobs. Green jobs. Lots of 'em.

Half the cabinet will be there, along with top domestic policy aide Melody Barnes, top environmental policy aide Carol Browner, and Pennsylvania's Gov. Rendell, Sens. Specter and Casey, and Reps. Chaka Fattah and Robert Brady.

But what are green jobs? Where are they? And how do you get one?

Beyond the political heavy-hitters, a lot of clean energy leaders -- including prominent voices from the worlds of policy, non-profits, local government, labor, and business -- will be on hand to try to answer those questions, and these:

--How can we change Washington to make green jobs a political reality? (John Podesta, President and CEO, Center for American Progress)
--How can we ensure access to green jobs to everyone? (Van Jones, founding President, Green for All)
--How do we connect people who need jobs to companies that need people? (Fred Krupp, President, the Environmental Defense Fund)
--How can the federal government help bring green jobs to the middle class? (Carol Browner, Assistant to President Obama for Energy and Climate Change)
--What's the role of the labor movement in creating green jobs and training workers for them? (Leo Gerard, International President of the Steelworkers of America
--How do you create green jobs in a city? (Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia)
--How can public-private partnerships help train people for green jobs? (Cecilia Estolano, CEO of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Authority)
--What's the role for business? (Mark Edlen, President, Gerding-Edlen)

That's an impressive agenda, no doubt about it. In fact, I'd love to be at the conference for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that it's being held at my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania (aka, "NOT Penn State!" - lol).

Congratulations to Vincent Harris

Congratulations to Vincent Harris of Too Conservative on this good news:
Happy I got into GWU Grad school in media n public affairs... Waiting on Georgetown now
The only problem is, if GWU (or Georgetown) trains Vincent in media/public affairs, won't that just make him that much stronger a proponent of "too conservative" candidates like Mike Huckabee? Oh well, I guess we'll just have to raise the level of our game as well! :)

P.S. I went to GWU for grad school, and look where it got me. Hahahaha.

(Almost) Everybody Loves Obama!

By any standards, this is impressive. That's right, only 8% of Americans who watched Barack Obama's speech last night were "negative" about it. The rest were "very positive" (68%) or "somewhat positive" (24%). Who were the "negative" 8%? Here is one of them. And here is a great response, by Ben Tribbett:
I couldn't disagree more strongly. When you lower the tax rate on the Rich, you are transferring wealth to them.
Another good one from Ben:
Your arguments all lead to the government not being involved at all, which would mean no taxes and anarchy.
And finally, the piece de resistance:
Any changes to tax code = transfer from someone to someone else. Always. Period.
Ben's on a role this morning! Republicans and Libertarians like Jon Henke? Not so much. :)

In 2009, We Need A Fighter AND a Fundraiser!

In his argument for Creigh Deeds over at Blue Commonwealth, "Aznew" writes:
Mr. Moran is right about one thing: We don't need a fundraiser.

But we don't need a fighter, either.

We need a Governor.
Aznew is riffing off of Brian Moran's JJ dinner speech a couple weeks ago, during which he took a not-too-subtle swipe at former DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe with the line, "We need a fighter, not a fundraiser." Now, let me just say that I like Brian Moran a lot, believe he's an excellent Democrat, and would be happy to see him as our next governor. knew there was going to be a "however," right?...that "fighter not a fundraiser" line was one of the most ridiculous I've heard this entire election cycle (right up there with the brain-dead "Brian has a Boston accent" and "Terry McAuliffe's a carpetbagger"). Let me explain.

Back in Electoral Politics 101, or possibly even in 6th grade civics, we learned that to win an election, you need to convince voters that they should vote for you and not for your opponent. (I know, duhhhhhhhh....) We also learned that there are several ways to go about accomplishing these goals (this list is not meant to be comprehensive): through the force of your personality, the appeal of your message, the effectiveness of your campaign, the cogency of the case against your opponent, and the passion of your supporters.

Which brings us to Brian Moran's "fighter not a fundraiser" line. Aside from being completely inappropriate to attack a fellow Democrat at a UNITY dinner for Democrats (let alone right after President Clinton exhorted the candidates to be positive, not negative), this line simply makes no sense whatsoever. The fact is, what we Democrats need in a candidate against Bob McDonnell is going to be a fighter (big time) AND a fundraiser (also, big time). Without both of those things - plus a grassroots movement (which, as co-founder of the Draft James Webb movement and co-author of Netroots Rising, I'm all about!), plus a strong message, plus a strong messenger, plus a bit of luck - we will not win this November. Period. And here's the ironic thing: I'm sure that Brian Moran understands this as well as anyone.

Here's a quick review of a few recent victories by Democrats in Virginia and how they did it.

1. Mark Warner vs. Mark Earley (2001): According to VPAP, Mark Warner spent $20.8 million on that race, defeating Mark Earley, who spent a measly $8.5 million. Warner ran a strong campaign in many ways, including his appeal to bluegrass and NASCAR fans, but he also spent a boatload of money. A "fighter AND a fundraiser," in other words.

2. Tim Kaine vs. Jerry Kilgore (2005): According to, "The 2005 campaign was the most expensive gubernatorial race in Virginia history. Kaine raised $20.1 million, Kilgore $24.5 million and Potts $1.3 million – for a total of $46 million." Once again, we had a "fighter AND a fundraiser." And we won.

3. Jim Webb vs. George Allen (2006): Webb's campaign raised over $8 million, plus millions more that came in from the DSCC and other sources. We all knew that Jim Webb was a fighter, but he also had to be a fundraiser (as did Chuck Schumer over at the DSCC, which helped Webb a great deal) - as much as he hated it - to defeat George Allen.

4. Tim Kaine vs. the Republicans (2007): Tim Kaine's Moving Virginia Forward PAC raised $3.4 million in 2007 to help elect Democrats. The result? We took back the State Senate and picked up 4 seats in the House of Delegates. Obviously, our candidates had to fight, but the fundraising by Tim Kaine didn't exactly hurt matters. :)

5. Tom Perriello vs. Virgil Goode (2008): According to the News and Advance, "The 5th District congressional race between Democrat Tom Perriello and Rep. Virgil Goode was a $4.8 million affair in which the top spender won at the polls, pending a recount." I know this is sounding like a broken record here, but once again, we had a fighter AND a fundraiser, this time in the person of now CONGRESSMAN Perriello.

6. Barack Obama vs. John McCain (2008): Everyone knows that Barack Obama's a fighter, but he also is an amazing fundraiser. According to the New York Times, "President-elect Barack Obama brought in nearly $750 million for his presidential campaign, a record amount that exceeds what all of the candidates combined collected in private donations in the previous race for the White House..." Yet again, a "fighter AND a fundraiser." Starting to sense a pattern here? :)

Now, to the 2009 governor's race. According to WTOP, as of 12/31/08, Brian Moran had $769,605 on hand after raising $761,894 and spending $916,581 in the second half of 2008. In comparison, Creigh Deeds had $803,729 on hand after raising $610,533 and spending $404,004 in the same period. Terry McAuliffe had $718,079 on hand after raising $947,505 and spending $229,426 in a few weeks. And Bob McDonnell had $2,034,801 on hand after raising $2,098,610 and spending $747,993 during the last 6 months of 2008.

The bottom line here is that the 2009 governor's race is going to cost a fortune, certainly far more than the $46 million spent by Tim Kaine, Jerry Kilgore and Russ Potts in 2005. Bob McDonnell already has $2 million cash-on-hand, and you better believe that national Republicans are going to pour everything they've got into this one. Which means just one thing: whoever the Democratic nominee turns out to be this year had damn well better be a fundraiser - a prodigious one at that - or we can start imagining the nightmare words, "I, Bob McDonnell, do solemnly swear..."

P.S. By the way, I didn't even mention it because it's so obvious, but all three Democratic candidates have proven that they are fighters. For instance, Terry McAuliffe has spent nearly 30 years fighting for Democrats, including wrestling an alligator (now THAT'S dedication - lol) for Jimmy Carter (personally, I wouldn't have wrestled a poodle for Jimmy Carter). :) Creigh Deeds is fiery and feisty. So's Brian Moran. Which brings us right back to needing a fundraiser in addition to needing a fighter...

P.P.S. You're right, Aznew, we need a [Democratic] governor. And the only way we're going to get one is to make sure our candidate is both a fighter AND a fundraiser! :)

Kaine's Right, Limiting Out-of-State Students Gets an "F"

I strongly agree with Gov. Kaine on this one:
Virginia's governor says legislative limits on out-of-state students at state-supported colleges are not a good idea.


Gov. Timothy M. Kaine says the answer is for the legislature to better fund state schools, allowing them to expand enrollment and keep in-state tuition lower.

Schools prize the much higher tuitions out-of-state students pay to cover tight budgets.

Sure, it's frustrating if there's no room at a Virginia college or university for your child the A student. But why is that, exactly? Gov. Kaine is exactly right, it's because our state colleges and universities have been chronically underfunded for years (thank you House Republicans and your flat-earth unwillingness to ever raise revenues). So how does cutting down on out-of-state students and their "much higher tuitions" (e.g., $14,000 per year higher at GMU for out-of-state compared to in-state students) help improve that situation? Right, it doesn't. Which is why bills like this one by Clifford Athey and this one by Tim Hugo deserve grades of "F" (for "futile" and "foolish").

In Election Year, Cooch Starts Acting Like a Moderate?

We'll see how this plays in the Republican primary for Attorney General, where being the biggest, baddest, meanest SOB on crime is a major advantage (and where any sign of "coddling criminals" could be a death penalty...for your candidacy, that is).
[State Sen. Ken "Right Ron?"] Cuccinelli is a supporter of capital punishment and has backed other measures to expand its use, including a bill this year to broaden the definition of law enforcement officers whose killing could be punished by the death penalty. Under that bill, sponsored by Del. Brenda L. Pogge (R-York), the state could seek the death penalty for any person who killed an auxiliary police officer, auxiliary sheriff's deputy, a fire marshal or an assistant fire marshal with police powers.

But Cuccinelli was the only Republican senator to vote against eliminating the triggerman rule.

Personally, I agree with Ken Cuccinelli on this one, that Virginia shouldn't be moving towards - as Cooch says - "the biggest expansion since we began utilizing [capital punishment] since 1976." However, I'm not exactly the typical Republican primary voter, so I'm not sure that supporting Tim Kaine and being "the only Republican senator to vote against eliminating the triggerman rule" is good primary politics for Cuccinelli. Unless, that is, he thinks he's pretty much got the AG nomination locked up, in which case, it's on to the general election and high time to start moving - at least a teeny bit - towards the "center." In short, this could either be a principled stance by Ken Cuccinelli (I doubt it, given his strong support for the death penalty in the past) or a calculated political move to act more like a "moderate" in an election year in which Cooch knows he'll need support from moderate, suburban voters in places like Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. That's my guess; how about you?

Barack Obama: "It begins with energy"

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

From tonight's speech to Congress by President Obama, this man is obviously someone who "gets it" on energy and the environment. Among other things, President Obama understands that is long past time that we start slashing our greenhouse gas emissions, and that's exactly what he calls for here. President Obama also understands that transforming our energy sector towards energy efficiency and clean, renewable power is crucial to our future economic prosperity and national security. Now, it's up to all of us to tell our representatives to make it happen. There's no time to waste.
...the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education.

It begins with energy.

We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. And yet, it is China that has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient. We invented solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it. New plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run on batteries made in Korea.

Well I do not accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders – and I know you don’t either. It is time for America to lead again.

Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years. We have also made the largest investment in basic research funding in American history – an investment that will spur not only new discoveries in energy, but breakthroughs in medicine, science, and technology.

We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.

But to truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. And to support that innovation, we will invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.

By the way, for anyone out there who still believes that elections don't matter, I present Barack Obama's words on energy and environment as Exhibit A that they're dead wrong.

Tim Kaine on Barack Obama's Speech

Governor (and DNC chair) Tim Kaine on his friend Barack Obama's speech tonight:
As President Obama made clear tonight, there is still a lot of work to do to get our country back on track. But better days do lie ahead. In his short time in office, President Obama has already offered a comprehensive approach to get our economy moving again now and in the future. With the help of the Democratic Congress, he implemented a responsible economic recovery package that will help millions of Americans get back to work and provides meaningful tax relief for 95 percent of working families. He has proposed common-sense solutions to tackling the housing, banking, and financial crises.

In the weeks and months ahead, we face many more difficult choices. We must reform the health care system, put our country on the path to energy independence, modernize our education system, and cut our deficit spending. And we must commit to a government that is honest, transparent and accountable to the American people.

These goals are interrelated, and all must be accomplished to transform our country for the long-term. This is what the American people elected President Obama to do, and I have full confidence that he will make the investments and choices necessary to put us on the path to fiscal responsibility and keep the American Dream alive.

By the way, what's more exasperating, watching Republicans applaud for stuff they oppose(d), or watching Republicans sit on their hands as Barack Obama fights for a greater America? And these people wonder why they keep losing elections? Duhhhhhh....

Barack Obama: "Well, that day of reckoning has arrived"

From Barack Obama's non-State-of-the-Union-State-of-the-Union address to a joint session of Congress this evening at 9:01 pm Eastern Time.
We have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.

Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.

Now is the time to act boldly and wisely – to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. Now is the time to jumpstart job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down. That is what my economic agenda is designed to do, and that’s what I’d like to talk to you about tonight.

Jeffrey Feldman (the "Frameshop" guy) tweets that "Obama['s] speech looks like a blend of JFK, Johnson, and (possibly) Reagan style rhetoric." Wow, if that's the case, this could really be one heck of a speech!

h/t: White House blog

UPDATE: Full text of speech in comments section.

Hilda Solis Confirmed as Labor Secretary

Hilda Solis is the new secretary of labor. After Republicans backed away from an expected filibuster and agreed to stop their weeks of delaying tactics, the Senate this afternoon approved Solis’s nomination by an 80-17 vote.

Says AFL-CIO President John Sweeney:

The confirmation of Rep. Hilda Solis is a huge victory: Finally, Americans will have a secretary of labor who represents working people, not wealthy CEO’s. It is also a historic moment as Rep. Solis becomes the first Hispanic secretary of labor.
Rock and roll, time to reverse the Republicans' anti-worker policies and start restoring some semblance of checks on corporate power in this country. Teddy Roosevelt is smiling right now, wherever he is. :)

P.S. Note that all 17 votes against Solis' nomination were cast by Republicans. Shocker, isn't it? :)

Major Green Groups Whack Will and Washington Post

This letter is exactly what's needed to help counter the corporate media's - in this case, George Will's and the Washington Post's - atrocious, disgraceful, "unfairly unbalanced" reporting on environmental (particularly climate change) issues. I urge everyone to (respectfully) email Washington Post Ombudsman Andy Alexander at and tell him what you think of this situation. Thanks.
Andy Alexander
The Washington Post
1150 15th St. NW
Washington, DC 20071

Dear Mr. Alexander:

We are writing today to express urgent concern over your refusal to correct George Will's February 15 column, "Dark Green Doomsayers." Will used his nationally syndicated column to make several clear distortions about global warming.

First, Will misused data on global sea ice levels from the Arctic Climate Research Center (ACRC), wrongly suggesting that ACRC data undermine the overwhelming scientific consensus surrounding "man-made global warming." In fact, the ACRC says the opposite is true -- the sea ice data Will cited actually support the scientific consensus that humans are causing global warming.

Second, Will claimed that "according to the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade." Will cited no source and provided no quote for this claim. In fact, last year, the WMO stated that the "long-term upward trend of global warming, mostly driven by greenhouse gas emissions, is continuing." And just last month, WMO secretary general Michel Jarraud reportedly said: "The major trend is unmistakably one of warming."

Third, Will rehashed the discredited myth that in the 1970s, there was broad scientific consensus that the Earth faced an imminent global cooling threat.

Will's column has sparked widespread criticism. Yet, the only response from the Post seems to be to defend Will with further misinformation. When Brad Johnson from the Center for American Progress Action Fund contacted you to correct Will's distortions, you reportedly refused to acknowledge that they exist.

Global warming is one of the most urgent issues facing our country and the entire world. In dealing with an issue of such magnitude, the Post has a duty to provide the truth to its readers.

George Will is entitled to his own opinions, but he is not entitled to his own facts. We respectfully ask that you immediately make your readers aware of the glaring misinformation in Will's column.

Thank you.

Carl Pope
Executive Director, The Sierra Club

Gene Karpinski
President, League of Conservation Voters

Brent Blackwelder
President, Friends of the Earth

Eric Burns
President, Media Matters For America
Also, check out this excellent Daily Kos diary by super-environmentalist Adam Siegel. We need more diaries like that from more people as well...

Congratulations to Our Neighbors in the District of Columbia!

It's about time this happened.
The D.C. Voting Rights Act has passed through cloture in the Senate, 62-34. It is now a certainty to pass into law.

The act grants D.C. a full voting member in the House of Representatives, a seat which will be held by a Democrat for a long, long, loooong time...
No more "taxation without representation" for the people who live in our nation's capital. Excellent news; Mark Plotkin must be celebrating today. Also, kudos to Tom Davis and Jim Moran for their hard work on this issue over the years.

Delegate Ken Melvin Announces Retirement

I just received this press release from the DPVA and thought I'd pass it along. Throughout his career, Ken Melvin (D-Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth) has been a strong supporter of women's rights, gay rights, civil rights, civil liberties, and education. Also, in 2008, the League of Conservation Voters gave him a 100% rating. Ken Melvin will definitely be missed in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Delegate Ken Melvin Announces Retirement

Portsmouth Lawmaker Concludes Distinguished Career

Richmond - Today, Delegate Ken Melvin of Portsmouth announced that he would be retiring from the House of Delegates after 24 years of service. As one of the longest-serving members of the House Courts of Justice Committee, Delegate Melvin has earned a reputation as an arduous defender of civil rights and a strong voice for the disadvantaged.

"Ken Melvin has one of the sharpest legal minds of anyone I've ever had the privilege to work with," said House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong. "He has devoted his career to the equal and fair distribution of the law, and this House will not be the same without him. I thank him for his service, and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors."

"I have had the joy of working with Ken for over two decades," added Caucus Chairman Ken Plum. "He has served this body with honor and distinction, and we will dearly miss his perspective and innumerable contributions. The Commonwealth is a better place thanks to his work."

Delegate Ken Melvin was elected to the House of Delegates in 1985 and is a senior member of the House Finance, Courts of Justice, and Commerce and Labor Committees. The 80th House District encompasses parts of Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Norfolk.

Heart, Head, Gut and the Virginia Governor's Race

As he always does, Kenton Ngo writes an articulate and thoughtful diary, this time on why he supports Brian Moran for governor. Kenton's core argument is that policy differences among the three Democratic candidates for the nomination - Creigh Deeds, Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran - are small, and that "At the end of the day, it comes down to what my heart says."

Kenton got me thinking, why have I supported the candidates I've supported over the years? Has it primarily been based on what my "heart" says, or has it been a combination of factors? The more I think about it, the more I conclude that my decisions on who to support for political office have been based on three important aspects of what makes us all human:

1. "Head": Also known as intellect or "logos,", this revolves around the candidate's "appeal based on logic or reason." Do I agree with the candidate on the issues? Are we ideologically in tune? Do I believe the candidate has the best chance of winning the general election?

2. "Heart": Also known as "pathos," this comes down to the candidate's "appeal based on emotion." Is there something about the candidate that gets me emotionally excited, fired-up, hopeful, optimistic about the future? Do I simply LIKE the candidate? Do I simply DISLIKE the candidate's opponent(s)?

3. "Gut": Somewhat, but not exactly, related to "ethos," or "the character of the speaker." Maybe the best way to define "gut" is "intuition" or "instinct," a sixth sense that just "gives you a feeling" about a candidate (or whatever).

Anyway, when I'm looking at a candidate to support, the ideal I hope to find is someone who appeals to all three of these - head, heart and gut. I've had several of these in my life, including Wes Clark, Jim Webb, Tom Perriello, and Barack Obama. Some candidates (e.g., Hillary Clinton) have appealed mainly to my head but not really to my heart. Others (e.g., John Edwards) have appealed to my heart but not particularly to my gut. In other words, it's pretty much been all over the place for me. And sure, I can support a candidate who only appeals to one of the head/heart/gut triumverate. But I find myself far more enthusiastic when the candidate reaches me at two or even three levels, not just one.

Getting back to Kenton's overwhelmingly "heart"-based argument for Brian Moran, I have no fundamental problem with it, I would just add in "head" and "gut" to the mix and see where that leads. Of course, the mix is going to be weighted differently for everyone. For instance, Kenton appears to be going almost 100% with "heart" in this particular contest, while others probably are going 100% with "head" or "gut." For me, it's about 33% each, which is probably why I kept going back and forth between Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama during 2007 and into early 2008. Finally, my "gut" feelings about Obama were reinforced by an increased level of "head" and "heart" comfort level, and I decided to support him "wholeheartedly" (pun intended).

Regarding the 2009 Democratic primary for governor, I can definitely see how each of the three candidates has appeal based on "heart," "head" and "gut." Personally, I like all of them (but don't agree with them equally on the issues or believe that each has an equal chance of winning the general election) and will support any of them 100% after June 9. As far as the presumptive Republican nominee, Bob McDonnell, is concerned, it's a "no brainer" (so to speak) for me: my "head," "heart" and "gut" all tell me is really, really bad news. Or, as LBJ said about Barry Goldwater (in response to Goldwater's slogan, "in your heart you know he's right"), "in your guts you know he's nuts!"

What's Going On in Bob McDonnell's Office?

NLS has the stories here and here. And remember, all jobs in the Virginia Attorney General's office are at the pleasure of the Attorney General (the "career" job line from McDonnell is because they keep on some of the guys because they are GOP hacks), so it's not going to be so easy for "Taliban Bob" to say he wasn't responsible for this. I mean, either he KNEW what was going on and did nothing, which is bad, OR he did NOT know what was going on in his own office, which is also bad. Either way, Bob McDonnell has proven that he should not be the next Governor of Virginia.

P.S. Echoes of Jerry Kilgore: "It would be both amazing and pathetic if the Attorney-freaking-General was the only guy that didn’t know about illegal activity in his own office."

P.P.S. Also see here for the classic exchange when then-LG Tim Kaine said to Jerry Kilgore in a debate, "Unless these [press] reports are completely wrong, your office did something that was wrong." Sounding hysterical, Jerry Kilgore responded (in what became a source of never-ending ridicule on the blogs): "I have no duty to you Mister Lieutenant Governor." LOL.

Responding to Waldo

Leading Virginia Democratic blogger Waldo Jaquith writes:
A Democratic president and House, with a Republican Senate—that’s how I like my government. On paper, I should want Democrats across the board, but the results under a split government are just better.

Posted by Waldo Jaquith on 23 February 2009 @ 2pm
My response (h/t to Mike Lux and his great book, "The Progressive Revolution," for much of this information):

*Abraham Lincoln accomplished great things while his party - the Republican Party of his day - controlled the House and Senate 100% of the time. Examples: the first progressive income tax, the Pacific Railroad Act, the land-grant university system, the Homestead Act, saving the Union.

*Teddy Roosevelt accomplished great things while his party - the Republican Party of his day - controlled the House and Senate 100% of the time. Examples (courtesy of Wikipedia):
He was a Progressive reformer who sought to move the dominant Republican Party into the Progressive camp. He distrusted wealthy businessmen and dissolved forty monopolistic corporations as a "trust buster". He was clear, however, to show he did not disagree with trusts and capitalism in principle but was only against corrupt, illegal practices. His "Square Deal" promised a fair shake for both the average citizen (through regulation of railroad rates and pure food and drugs) and the businessmen. He was the first U.S. president to call for universal health care and national health insurance.[5][6] As an outdoorsman, he promoted the conservation movement, emphasizing efficient use of natural resources.
*FDR accomplished great things while his party - the Democratic Party of his day - controlled the House and Senate 100% of the time. Examples: Social Security, the New Deal, the Civilian Conservation Corps, banking regulations, support for family farmers, winning World War II and saving the world from Fascism.

*JFK and LBJ accomplished great things while their party - the Democratic Party of their day - controlled the House and Senate 100% of the time. Examples: sent a man to the moon, passed historic civil rights and voting rights legislation (ending "Jim Crow" for good), launched the Great Society (food stamps, Medicaid, Head Start, Job Corps) and the War on Poverty (poverty fell from 19.5% in 1963 to 12.1% in 1969).

*Ronald Reagan ran up huge deficits, weakened unions and family farms, made our taxation system more regressive, shredded the social safety net, and was responsible for a massive violation of the law (the Iran-Contra scandal), while we had divided government for most of this two terms (Democrats controlled the House for all 8 years of Reagan's presidency)

*Bill Clinton laid the foundation for peace and prosperity during the first two years of his presidency, when Democrats controlled the House and Senate, and when his budget - the one that led to budget surpluses and a booming economy - passed without a SINGLE REPUBLICAN VOTE in the House. During the "divided government" part of Clinton's two terms in office, his goals of universal health care and infrastructure investment were largely abandoned.

*One example, that of George W. Bush, proves that "divided government" is crucial if a REPUBLICAN is in the White House. No need to review the debacle that was George W. Bush's presidency, particularly the disastrous first 6 years when Tom DeLay's merry band of Enron Republicans controlled the House, while Trent Lott's and Bill Frist's Republicans controlled the Senate much of the time.

In short, with all due respect to Waldo, there's absolutely no evidence - at least when it comes to the Democratic Party - that "the results under a split government are just better." In fact, there are reams of evidence to the contrary, with the one exception that undivided REPUBLICAN government has been a complete disaster in recent years. The bottom line? This country has accomplished almost all the progress it has made when one party - Republicans back in the day (e.g., under Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt) when they were a serious party; Democrats pretty much all the time - controlled both the Congress and the White House. Is there any reason to believe this situation is going to change anytime soon? I don't see it.