Bob McDonnell's alternative economic reality

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Displaying a trait that appears to be ingrained in the genes of elected Republican officials, it's now abundantly clear that Bob McDonnell is not exactly living in the same economic world that the rest of us are living in. Time and time again, McDonnell has made comments that betray a complete disconnect from the economic struggles of everyday Virginians, not to mention basic facts, history, and reality.

The latest salvo from McDonnell-land is this revisionist desire for the George W. Bush era of economic growth.

President Bush put in a ten-year tax-cut on everything from the death tax to capital gains tax and it was followed by an unprecedented period of economic recovery and economic growth. In fact, it almost overheated the economy through about 2006. So, I think that's the way you stimulate business. And that's the kind of governor that I'm going to be to reduce those impediments to entrepreneurship, to let small businesses grow and thrive and create some opportunity.
Just like John McCain before him, Bob McDonnell clearly thinks that the "fundamentals of [Bush's economy was] strong." Of course, Bush's economic growth model almost led to a Great Depression, but don't let that minor detail get in the way of cutting taxes for the wealthiest Virginians!

This failure to acknowledge economic reality is becoming a theme for McDonnell. First, it was his "sort of unemployed" comment, which I described in this post on Blue Commonwealth. To sum it up briefly, McDonnell tried to claim that his family was "feeling a little bit of it as well" because he's "sort of unemployed" given that he recently retired as Attorney General. Of course, he did so to devote time to campaigning and fundraising, which he could do given that he was very much employed (with a healthy salary, I'd bet) by a Virginia Beach law firm. So, this law firm lawyer some how thinks that he's like the many Virginians that are legitimately out of work. Fantasyland.

Next up, McDonnell decided to show he feels Virginians' pain by ... urging the Republicans in the House of Delegates to reject federal stimulus money for certain unemployment benefits. He made some specious claims about the federal government forcing "unfunded mandates" on the Commonwealth, even though nothing in the stimulus bill requires states to continue funding anything after the stimulus money is used up. (More here on McDonnell's non-reality based claims). Again, a disconnect with the economic realities facing the more-than-just-sort-of-unemployed Virginians (not to mention the actual text of federal statutory provisions, which is quite a neat trick by a former Attorney General.)

So, out of touch with Virginian's economic woes and the facts. But pretty much in step with the modern day GOP. Keep an eye on this trait of McDonnell going forward -- he'll be playing fast and loose with the economic facts about everything, even his own economic situation, throughout this campaign.

Joining Blue Virginia

Hey everyone -- Rob from ol' Raising Kaine checking in with his first blog post. Lowell has kindly invited me to blog here from time to time, so I'll be dropping some occasional posts here on what I believe is one of the best blogs out there. Hopefully, I won't stink up the joint too much.

Thanks again, Lowell. And my first post later tonight.

Pitney vs. Milbank: Crashing the Fourth Estate Gate

A week ago, at a White House press conference, Huffington Post blogger Nico Pitney was called on by President Obama to ask a question about Iran. Pitney proceeded to do so, as you can see here. The question was excellent, certainly up to - if not exceeding - the lofty standards (ha) of the White House press corps. In fact, it was such a tough question that Barack Obama essentially didn't answer it.

All good so far, right? You'd think so, except for one problem -- certain members of the White House press corps, who apparently couldn't handle the fact that a blogger (!!!!) was called on to ask a question at a White House press conference. Forget the fact that this "blogger" happened to be more of an expert on Iran than probably any of the "real journalists" in the room. Forget the fact that this "blogger" is a superb writer who asked a super-tough question of President Obama. Forget the fact that if the White House press corps had been doing its freaking job leading up to the Iraq War, or when the Bush Administration abused its power in so many other ways from 2001 to 2008, we might be in a much better place as a country right now. Forget all that. Instead, focus on what really matters: the feelings of certain members of the White House press corps were hurt. So hurt, in fact, that one of the leading members of that press corps actually whispered in Nico Pitney's ear the immortal (not to mention dignified, mature, sophisticated, etc.) words, "You’re such a dick."

Perhaps it's my psychology major, I don't know, but I've been thinking about this bizarre overreaction - including the use of a crude, 7th-grade scatological insult - for the past few days. I've been thinking about writing more on this topic, but hadn't quite gotten it down in my mind yet. Until now, thanks to georgia10's front-page Daily Kos diary, "The Princess and the Pea." I strongly recommend that you read all of it, but for now here's an excerpt, with bolding added by me for emphasis. Enjoy.
If the media’s coverage of the Bush era illustrates anything, it is that merit means little in a world where failed pundits and passive reporters are rewarded with coveted slots in newspapers and news shows.

What, then, is required then to justify one’s status to the media elite?

What trials and tribulations must be passed before may sit in the White House briefing room?

How many cocktail parties must be suffered before one is granted the approving head nod from those without “temporary press passes”?

How many White House Correspondent Dinners must be attended and how many bellows of laughter must be uttered at jokes about WMD before one can sit in a press gallery without side glances wordlessly asking “what is she doing here”?

How many questions about Bo, about smoking, and about date night must be posited before one exhibits the sufficient level of fluffery necessary to join those hallowed halls?

The simple answer is that the royalty of the D.C. press will always look at bloggers like Nico Pitney with skepticism, regardless of their merit. Not because of the questions they ask when they get to the briefing room, but because of the unorthodox approach they take in getting there.

And the simple conclusion is that beyond the flash-in-the-pan and unjustified outrage at the Pitney question and the clenched jaws of the spurned is a press corps that is so thin-skinned and delicate in constitution that it is consequently and constantly irritated by that small, stubborn pit of ego aching for relevance which is tucked beneath the layers and layers of their “objective” analysis on this issue. Try as they might to shift tactics and methods and models, the traditional press just can’t find a way to get comfortable in this new media landscape, leading even the most "royal" members of the press lash out in the most coarse manner.

But "foul-mouthed" bloggers don't mind the elbow jabs or colorful language. Crashing this gate is rough...and it will be so worth it when it's finally done.
I couldn't agree more. Go Nico Pitney, and all the outstanding citizen-journalist Nico Pitneys out there!

GOP Keeps Hammering Deeds, Wagner on Energy

Posted by The Green Miles

Even after the American Clean Energy and Security Act passed the U.S. House, the Republican Party of Virginia continues to drill Creigh Deeds and Jody Wagner for their refusal to take a position on the bill:
“Creigh Deeds is running as the heir-apparent to Tim Kaine,” Mullins said. “The governor has now publicly praised the scheme and five elected representatives of his party voted in favor of it. Deeds has to say where he stands. This is a legitimate question for a guy who wants to follow in Kaine’s footsteps.”
So far, the Deeds and Wagner campaigns have responded by ... refusing to answer the question:
"Bob McDonnell might want to inform his National Republican attack dogs that he and Creigh Deeds aren't running for the U.S. Congress," Leopold said. "Creigh Deeds is focused on creating jobs and opportunities across the commonwealth of Virginia, through the powers vested in the governor. Creigh Deeds believes that efforts to protect our environment should keep rates low for consumers and business, encourage investment in new energy technologies, and shouldn't favor one region over another."
The attacks have gotten coverage on several newspaper websites and conservative blogs, but progressive blogs haven't touched the issue. (Side note: The line about how energy legislation "shouldn't favor one region over another" is a dog-whistle for "we need to still burn lots of coal.")

Look, Deeds and Wagner saying they supports clean energy while refusing to support clean energy legislation could be smart politics. "There's that radical right-winger Bob McDonnell on one end and that bleeding heart liberal The Green Miles on the other," they can say to undecided voters. "I'm not at either extreme."

But at a time when President Obama is sticking his neck out to get the American Clean Energy and Security Act through Congress, is it really a great move to refuse to stand with him? Aren't you better off taking Rep. Tom Perriello's route and saying, "Agree with me or disagree with me, you know where I stand"?

What do you think? Smart politics or unwise silence?

Congratulations Senator Franken!!!

It's about freakin' time.
The Minnesota Supreme Court has handed down its much-expected ruling in the heavily-litigated Minnesota Senate race from 2008 -- and it's a unanimous one -- deciding against Republican former Sen. Norm Coleman's appeal of his defeat in the election trial and affirming the lower court's verdict that Democratic comedian Al Franken is the legitimate winner of the race.

The courts finds that "Al Franken received the highest number of votes legally cast and is entitled under Minn. Stat. § 204C.40 (2008) to receive the certificate of election as United States Senator from the State of Minnesota." This means that when Franken is ultimately seated, the Democrats will have 60 seats and be able to beat any Republican filibuster if they stay completely united (though good luck with that, obviously.)
Congratulations Senator Franken, the Senate will be a much better - and smarter, and funnier - place with you there! :)

P.S. Everyone sit back, grab some popcorn, and watch as Bill O'LIElly's head explodes. LOL

UPDATE: Coleman concedes:

UPDATE: Barack Obama says, "I look forward to working with Senator-Elect Franken to build a new foundation for growth and prosperity by lowering health care costs and investing in the kind of clean energy jobs and industries that will help America lead in the 21st century."

Perriello: "I can deal with losing reelection. I can’t deal with being a coward."

This is exactly why I love Tom Perriello and wish there were more like him in the U.S. Congress.
Perriello, who knocked off Rep. Virgil Goode in Virginia’s heavily rural 5th District, is unapologetic about his vote and portrays it as a vote to wean America off foreign oil.

“If I have to choose between national security and reelection, for me that’s easy. It’s national security,” he told POLITICO. “I can deal with losing reelection. I can’t deal with being a coward.”

He added: “I was not one of the fence-sitters.”
On that last point, by the way, I'm glad to hear Perriello clear up any misinformation out there regarding his stance on the Waxman/Markey climate change and clean energy bill. For instance, this is simply untrue. The fact is, Tom Perriello always intended to vote for this bill because he thought it was important, historic, crucial, etc. He also tried to convince a lot of his freshmen classmates for the same reason. The bottom line here is that Tom Perriello stands on conviction and does NOT switch his vote or misrepresent his voting intentions for political reasons.

Obamas Celebrate LGBT Pride Month

According to the White House website:
The President and First Lady hosted the first-of-its-kind LGBT Pride Month reception at the White House yesterday. On the heels of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the reception brought together LGBT families, volunteers, community leaders, lawmakers and heads of LGBT activist organizations to celebrate the LGBT community.


The President concluded by honoring the Stonewall protests, which occurred 40 years ago this week. A group of citizens, two of which were in attendance at the White House, stood up to defy an unjust policy at the Stonewall Inn, and this small protest inspired others to stand up against discrimination, helping to spark the gay rights movement. The President closed saying that we "must continue to do our part to make progress -- step by step, law by law, mind by changing mind," because even seemingly small gains can add up to monumental change for our families and our communities.
Obviously, it would be great if progress towards full equality for LGBT citizens of the United States would be faster. Fortunately, it is clear that President Obama intends keep pushing in that direction.

McCain and Palin Advisors Speak Frankly About the "Nightmare" of Sarah

Gee, isn't this a surprise?
Writing in this month’s Vanity Fair, Todd Purdum catalogs just how rapidly Sarah Palin has burned through friends and confidantes.

Walter Hickel, the former Alaska governor who chaired Palin’s gubernatorial campaign in 2006, told Purdum, “I don’t give a damn what she does.”

And John Bitney, a junior-high school friend and former legislative liaison for Palin, said, “I find it’s frustrating dealing with Sarah, because it seems we’re always dealing with emotional crap, and we never seem to be able to focus on the business at hand. Check my feet for horseshoes if I have to sit there and listen to another talk show.”

Purdum also catalogs just how rapidly Palin has burned her bridges. By the end of the campaign, he writes, several aides to her running-mate John McCain — Steve Schmidt, Nicolle Wallace and Tucker Eskew — “were barely on speaking terms with her.”
For more, see "It Came from Wasilla" (as in a cheezy Godzilla/monster movie) at Vanity Fair. Here's a classic paragraph, confirming everything most Democrats were saying after McCain picked Palin to be his running mate:
As Palin has piled misstep on top of misstep, the senior members of McCain’s campaign team have undergone a painful odyssey of their own. In recent rounds of long conversations, most made it clear that they suffer a kind of survivor’s guilt: they can’t quite believe that for two frantic months last fall, caught in a Bermuda Triangle of a campaign, they worked their tails off to try to elect as vice president of the United States someone who, by mid-October, they believed for certain was nowhere near ready for the job, and might never be. They quietly ponder the nightmare they lived through. Do they ever ask, What were we thinking? “Oh, yeah, oh, yeah,” one longtime McCain friend told me with a rueful chuckle. “You nailed it.” Another key McCain aide summed up his attitude this way: “I guess it’s sort of shifted,” he said. “I always wanted to tell myself the best-case story about her.” Even now, he said, “I don’t want to get too negative.” Then he added, “I think, as I’ve evaluated it, I think some of my worst fears … the after-election events have confirmed that her more negative aspects may have been there … ” His voice trailed off. “I saw her as a raw talent. Raw, but a talent. I hoped she could become better.”
The question is, how could anyone in their right mind and with half a brain have ever thought that? I'm baffled.

P.S. Part of me says, "oh please Republicans nominate Sarah Palin in 2012 and we'll crush her," while the other part says, "God forbid, we can't risk the slight chance she might actually win the election."

Scott Surovell Kicks off His House of Delegates Run

Here's an excerpt from an email by Scott Surovell, a great Democrat who is running to replace the retiring Del. Kris Amundson in the 44th district (Fairfax/Mt. Vernon). I urge everyone to do what they can to help Scott, either by donating money or volunteering (or both). Thanks, and go Scott!
I am writing to request your help in a new challenge - my campaign for the 44th District of the Virginia House of Delegates in the Mt. Vernon/US 1 area of Fairfax County.

Unexpectedly, this past Wednesday, my delegate for the last ten years, Kris Amundson, announced that she was retiring. Delegate Amundson has been an highly effective and dedicated leader for our area and her decision was very tough one for her to make. After discussing the situation with my wife and family, I have decided to declare my candidacy for this seat.


To truly solve the state's problems, we still need to bring change to the Virginia House of Delegates. Todays House turns down and obstructs virtually every reasonable measure to move Virginia forward. Each year, it sends scores bills focused on divisive social issues or scoring political points instead of problem-solving measures to improve people's lives. I am committed to keeping the 44th district in Democratic hands and moving the House of Delegates to Democratic control. Our leaders cannot truly solve our problems until this happens.

I intend to focus on real long-term solutions to our transportation problems, investing in education at all levels, helping seniors have full lives in their community, ensuring a clean environment, giving our children full opportunities, creating real well-paying jobs, and making Mt. Vernon a better place to live.

While the voting record of this district is favorable for Democrats, we can take nothing for granted and I cannot campaign without resources, human and financial. I am trying to file a strong financial report by this Tuesday, June 30. With your help, in six days I would like to raise as much money as my opponent did in two months. If you can give $1,000, $500, $250, $100, or $50, I would be honored to have your support...

Whipple Clip Dozen: Tuesday Morning

Thanks as always to Tom Whipple for this amazing service, the "Whipple Clips."


Smart Growth America: "Shovel Ready" FAIL

Smart Growth America is out with a new report, "The States and the Stimulus: Are they using it to create jobs and 21st century transportation?" According to Smart Growth America, the "120-day mark is significant because it is the point by which states and territories are required to have obligated 50 percent of the flexible money granted them for transportation projects by the federal government." This money is part of "the $787 billion stimulus bill that became law in February, [under which] Congress provided states and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) with $26.6 billion in flexible funds for transportation projects." Smart Growth America evaluates how this money's been spent so far, focusing on several "stimulus performance measures" and examining whether or not the projects accomplish the objectives set forth by this "smart growth" group. Here are the depressing - but not surprising, given the emphasis on "shovel ready" as opposed to "long-term, smart growth-oriented investment" - results.

1. Create and Save Jobs: "Yes, but they will not create as many or as quickly as they could have. For instance, studies suggest spending another $2 billion on repair would have created 4,300 new jobs, more quickly."
This is exactly what I thought would happen if the emphasis was on getting things done FAST rather than doing this RIGHT. The entire conceptual problem with "shovel ready" from the outset was that it took the failed model we've been using, one that encourages sprawl and profligate oil consumption, and "stimulates" it. That's a huge mistake.

2. Fix our crumbling infrastructure: "Yes, but not as much as it could have. The 62.9% share for repair and preservation is a vital investment in catching up. But states and regions will now have $6 billion more miles of roads to maintain...when they could not afford to maintain the ones they already have."
Same comment as in #1. Huge mistake.

3. Provide a balanced transportation system "No. Less than 7% of spending is going to projects that will increase transportation choices for people and freight."
This is about as stupid as you can get. At at time when we should be spending almost all our transportation dollars on creating a smart, environmentally friendly system that slashes our consumption of oil, we're doing the opposite here. Also, at a time when people are hurting economically, we're only spending 7% on increasing peoples' transportation choices, providing inexpensive and reliable rail, trolley, bus, etc? My god, can we get any more short-sighted and foolish?

4. Improve public transportation: "No. The ARRA's $8.4 billion in capital grants for public transportation elsewhere in the ARRA will certainly help. [But] Spending 0.9% of flexible funds for public transportation will have little additional overall effect."
Did I mention stupid, short-sighted and foolish yet? Oh yeah, I guess I did.

5. Reduce the nation's energy dependence: "No. Required roads were marginally more efficient. But the spending going to roads, accounting for 93% of the total, will not reduce oil consumption in any meaningful way. And the 30% going to new roads will generally increase consumption."
The exact opposite of what we want to be doing. Let me add "insane" to my list of derogatory adjectives.

6. Promote long-term economic growth: "Mixed...the 31.3% for new roads will, for the most part, go to a category of investments whose economic returns have been falling, while missing high-return investments in system management and public transportation, coordinated with growth."
In short, we've missed a huge, historic opportunity here. Great job, guys.

7. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions: "No. For the same reasons as #5."
I'm out of derogatory adjectives for now. Make up your own.

8. Not contribute to additional sprawl: "No...the number, type, and location of many of the new and widened roads planned will almost certainly contribute to sprawl."
Fail. Fail. Fail. Oh yeah, then there's "Fail!"

9. Reduce commute times and congestion: "Mixed. In the short run, additional lanes may ease congestion. In the long run, the congestion-reducing benefits of additional public transportation generally outweight those of additional lane miles, which fill up again."
One more adjective: pathetic.

In sum, this is close to complete FAIL. The only question is, are there other parts of the stimulus package that counteract the almost unmitigated adverse impacts of this portion? To some extent, that may be the case, but that's certainly no excuse for complete FAIL on this part. But again, this is exactly what was inevitable when the decision was made to go with conceptually brain-dead "shovel ready" projects as opposed to taking more time and investing carefully in areas that will provide long-term benefits economically, environmentally, and in every other way. Instead, it was "hey, look at all this money, let's spend it like a bunch of drunken sailors - yeehaw!!!!" And you know how well that usually works out. (snark)

P.S. By the way, here in Virginia, we come in at 39 out of 51 on Smart Growth America's ranking factors. On the positive side, we've spent 60% of the total road money allocated so far on "system preservation" - shoring up bridges, roads, and other infrastructure that's falling apart - and another 40% on "new [road] capacity" which will encourage sprawl and which we can't afford to maintain. Duhhhh. Meanwhile, we've spent 5.2% of the funding on "public transportation and non-motorized projects." That may be better than many other states, but it's still completely inadequate. In my ideal world, I would have spent all the money on two things: shoring up our crumbling bridges, public transportation systems (e.g., Metro) and roads, with the rest going to new public transportation projects. Obviously, we're not living in my ideal world, or anyone's ideal world if you care about "smart growth," slashing our oil consumption, protecting our environment, and getting the most long-term "bang for the buck" from our transportation investments. In sum: this is an example of almost complete systemic FAIL. Which, sadly, is exactly what I thought would happen.

Deeds Tours Norfolk Small Businesses

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sen. Creigh Deeds, Democratic nominee for Governor, toured Norfolk businesses today to discuss the challenges that business owners face in the current economic climate. He was joined by Norfolk Vice Mayor Anthony Burfoot, City Treasurer Tom Moss, and Delegate Lionel Spruill (D-Chesapeake) on his first visit to South Hampton Roads since the June 9 primary.
"It's a great day to be in Hampton Roads, it's a great day to be in Norfolk. We are going to learn as much as we can today about how we can help build small businesses to help people create wealth and improve the quality of life in all of our communities. I look forward to our visit today and I look forward to a vigorous debate as this campaign progresses." – Senator Deeds

Deeds and his group toured facilities and talked with small business operators and owners on Tidewater Drive about their challenges, and about the importance of keeping Virginia’s economy moving forward with common-sense leadership. The businesses spanned a broad spectrum from mental health and educational services to heavy truck sales and service; from a two person job and life skills development operation to a firm that has grown from a sole proprietorship run from the trunk of Andrea Cleaves' car to a 115 employee entrepreneurial success to a company that conducts sales and service in two Hampton Roads cities of heavy vehicles and equipment which other companies rely upon to keep their businesses rolling.

Cross posted at Blue Commonwealth

Algae to the Rescue?

I'm not big on miraculous technological quick fixes in general, certainly not for a problem as vast as anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. Still, I read this and couldn't stop myself from getting a little excited:
Dow Chemical and Algenol Biofuels, a start-up company, are set to announce Monday that they will build a demonstration plant that, if successful, would use algae to turn carbon dioxide into ethanol as a vehicle fuel or an ingredient in plastics.

Because algae does not require any farmland or much space, many energy companies are trying to use it to make commercial quantities of hydrocarbons for fuel and chemicals. But harvesting the hydrocarbons has proved difficult so far.

The ethanol would be sold as fuel, the companies said, but Dow’s long-term interest is in using it as an ingredient for plastics, replacing natural gas. The process also produces oxygen, which could be used to burn coal in a power plant cleanly, said Paul Woods, chief executive of Algenol, which is based in Bonita Springs, Fla. The exhaust from such a plant would be mostly carbon dioxide, which could be reused to make more algae.

“We give them the oxygen, we get very pure carbon dioxide, and the output is very cheap ethanol,” said Mr. Woods, who said the target price was $1 a gallon.
Will this work, let alone on the massive scale that will be needed to replace our 20 million-barrel-per-day oil addiction? I'm skeptical, but if it does, it could totally transform our economy (for the better), slash the flows of money to Khamenei/Ahmedinejad and Our "Friends" the Saudis, enhance our national security, and save the planet from ecological disaster. Not bad for a bunch of algae. :)

Coming Soon...Senator Al Franken?

Supreme Court Votes as Expected in New Haven "Discrimination" Case

A few minutes ago, the Supreme Court ruled as expected, 5-4 along partisan lines (Kennedy joined by Alito, Roberts, Scalia and Thomas), in favor of white and Hispanic firefighters who filed suit against New Haven, Connecticut. Here is the opinion of the Supreme Court, along with a dissenting opinion by Justice Ginsburg. This case garnered particular attention because of the fact that it overturns a decision backed by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

Majority Opinion by Justice Kennedy
...Certain white and Hispanic firefighters who likely would have been promoted based on their good test per-formance sued the City and some of its officials. Theirs is the suit now before us. The suit alleges that, by discarding the test results, the City and the named officials discriminated against the plaintiffs based on their race, inviolation of both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 253, as amended, 42 U. S. C. §2000e et seq., and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The City and the officials defended their actions, arguing that if they had certified the results, they could have faced liability under Title VII for adopting a practice that had a disparate impact on the minority firefighters. The District Court granted summary judgment for thedefendants, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

We conclude that race-based action like the City’s in thiscase is impermissible under Title VII unless the employer can demonstrate a strong basis in evidence that, had it not taken the action, it would have been liable under the disparate-impact statute. The respondents, we further determine, cannot meet that threshold standard. As a result, the City’s action in discarding the tests was a violation of Title VII. In light of our ruling under thestatutes, we need not reach the question whether respondents’ actions may have violated the Equal Protection Clause.

Dissenting Opinion by Justice Ginsburg
The Court today holds that New Haven has not demonstrated “a strong basis in evidence” for its plea. Ante, at 2. In so holding, the Court pretends that “[t]he City rejected the test results solely because the higher scoring candidates were white.” Ante, at 20. That pretension, essential to the Court’s disposition, ignores substantial evidence of multiple flaws in the tests New Haven used. The Court similarly fails to acknowledge the better tests used in other cities, which have yielded less racially skewed outcomes.

By order of this Court, New Haven, a city in which African-Americans and Hispanics account for nearly 60 percent of the population, must today be served — as it was in the days of undisguised discrimination — by a fire department in which members of racial and ethnic minorities are rarely seen in command positions. In arriving at its order, the Court barely acknowledges the pathmarkingdecision in Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U. S. 424 (1971), which explained the centrality of the disparate-impact concept to effective enforcement of Title VII. The Court’s order and opinion, I anticipate, will not have staying power.
Let's hope that Justice Ginsburg is correct.

Whose Advocate is Bob McDonnell?

One is often reminded that consumer advocacy is not Bob McDonnell’s forte. Lowell’s piece on Cronkite brought to mind commentary in The Wall Street Journal about the cable industry. Apparently McDonnell believes it’s fine that monopolies are unregulated. Or he just doesn’t understand that monopolies do not respond to market forces (they obliterate them). This speaks to the broadcast industry's trend to infotainment and the quality of programming bemoaned by Lowell. It also speaks to McDonnell's concept of the marketplace and his responsibility to his constituency; or who really constitutes his constituency.

Over the years, the cost of cable TV service has slowly and consistently crept up. The service provided has changed, but in most cases, not as a result of any choice consumers made. Beyond a very basic set of FCC regulations, the cable TV industry is free to provide you what it chooses and charge you for what others choose. Yes, you are paying for others' viewing habits. And you are provided not what the market dictates, but what a monopoly deems broadly attractive to potential customers (and its bottom line).

As Martin Peers explains in his piece, the average household views only 16 of the 118 channels available. It turns out I’m among the below average, but what he tells us means that average someones are paying for 112 channels we don’t watch. The number of channels is a marketing tool. But oddly enough, the most viewed channels, those affiliated with the broadcast networks, generally do not receive fees from the cable industry. What the cable industry (actually you and I) must underwrite are the channels that cannot make it in the “free market.” Those like Nickelodeon which have viewership to justify their revenues, would likely make it as broadcast channels or as ala carte competitors. Those like ESPN Classic or the NFL Network wouldn’t even come close. And surprise, surprise, many of these loser channels are owned by the cable operators themselves. They get their subsidies from us coming and going.

Based upon viewership, Nickelodeon receives $312 per viewing household while ESPN Classic is paid $3,781 and the NFL Network $6,642. So, if we had a real ala carte option, actual viewers who choose the service by selecting the channel would pay about $26 a month to watch Nickelodeon while ESPN Classic fans would pony up $315 a month. And only a very few would be able to afford the real cost of the NFL Network option; it would be more economical to attend the actual ballgames.

These "networks" are the most dramatic examples of monopolistic excess. However, every channel we don’t watch yet pay for by averaging the costs across all viewers while ensuring a profit for the monopoly is another abusive fee made possible by failure to enforce appropriate economic policy. Our former consumer advocate, Bob McDonnell of the unfinished term as Attorney General, was completely silent on this and apparently oblivious. But he has never distinguished himself through his economic acumen. This translates to a "business oriented" (or directed) potential governor to the detriment of the economy and the citizens of Virginia. And why would anyone think his teammate, the Cooch, would pursue any other policy? Virginia deserves a Governor and Attorney General who take their responsibilities for her citizens' welfare seriously and provide it priority. That would not be Bob or Ken.

Paul: Krugman: "Treason against the planet"

Paul Krugman has a must-read article in today's New York Times on this past Friday's pathetic display by House Republicans on arguably the most important environmental bill in U.S. history. Here's an excerpt:
So the House passed the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill. In political terms, it was a remarkable achievement.

But 212 representatives voted no. A handful of these no votes came from representatives who considered the bill too weak, but most rejected the bill because they rejected the whole notion that we have to do something about greenhouse gases.

And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.


Yet the deniers are choosing, willfully, to ignore that threat, placing future generations of Americans in grave danger, simply because it’s in their political interest to pretend that there’s nothing to worry about. If that’s not betrayal, I don’t know what is.
I have nothing much to add to this right now, having written about the subject extensively. For the moment, I'll simply leave you with the top-rated comment so far on Krugman's article. I couldn't agree more.
It's fitting that the shrinking, largely regional GOP has been leading the fight against this. Climate change skepticism, in some ways is the perfect convergence between the most rigid kind of fundamentalism and the most short-sighted version of capitalism. Confronting climate change will create new industries, new technologies, and other ways to advance the economy. The GOP clearly sees no reason to confront the future or even the world in which we live. Yet, they will be the first to complain when their entrenched interests are threatened by changes in climate.

Whipple Clip Dozen: Monday Morning

The top headlines from or about Virginia this Monday morning courtesy of Tom Whipple.


Arrogance, Jealousy, Ignorance and Fear are Not an Attractive Combination

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I've got to agree with Karen "Anonymous is a Woman" Duncan on this one:
The Washington Post is a shell of the newspaper it once was, Dana Millbank is an arrogant, pretentious and rude clown, as is Howard Kurtz, and Amanda Carpenter, from the Washington Times, is actually the very last person to talk about partisan bias. Pot to kettle...oh well.

You know the Huff Post and the blogs must be doing something right if we all are getting under their skin.
h/t: NLS

UPDATE: More classiness on Dana Milbank's part, reportedly calling Nico Pitney "such a dick" shortly after the CNN segment ended. They must have taught Milbank that one in J-School. Ha.

Terry McAuliffe Continues the Charge

Yesterday while I was canvassing in the 82nd District for Creigh Deeds and Peter Schmidt, Terry McAuliffe phoned. I missed the call, but it didn’t stop Terry from covering the very ground we might have if we had spoken anyhow. This gesture was more than successful candidates have made in campaigns where my efforts were of significantly more consequence than his. I was simply a volunteer. This was more than tidying up. He left his number and asked that I call if there was anything else. There isn’t. But it further sealed the deal for me. Beyond dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, he is making sure we do exactly what I was doing when he phoned: work for Democratic victories in November.

In a Richmond Times Dispatch letter to the editor today written by Nancy St.Clair Finch, many of the aspects of his campaign that intrigued were expressed. Terry McAuliffe didn’t need to run for governor. But Virginia Democratic politics needed a refresh. There was so much voter fatigue after the Obama success, that voter interest on our side had waned enough that contests even in safe NOVA had become more than competitive. Hopefully, the turnout for the primary shows a reversal of that trend.

Well beyond the time when I became infatuated with the candidates I supported, the issues are now what matter. In his campaign, though, I fell into very deep respect for Terry’s experience, knowledge, and ability to explain issues in addition to those of social conscience, upon which most of us agree, and demonstrate the potential to turn the economic voodoo cauldron stirring Republicans on their heads. We must do that as we face the charges that will be levied going forward. Lowell is a consistent source of background and reference, but there is no wooden stake that will magically win the door to door effort. You see, there is this thing called talk radio and it nourishes fear by festering uncertainty. We need more of Terry’s common sense approach to the issues to win the day. No counter-voodoo; practical solutions to complex problems. So, motivated by Terry, I intend to work to frame as many of these issues so abused by the Republicans in a way that we can effectively counter the oversimplified charges we shall encounter. And go door to door.

Status of Scott, Webb Criminal Justice Bills

Sen. Jim Webb and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-3rd) have each introduced criminal justice bills that appear to be moving forward. Here's a brief synopsis of each bill and its current status.

Bobby Scott's Youth PROMISE Act (HR 1064)
*Introduced on October 16, 2007, this bill - officially known as the Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education Act - would "provide for evidence-based and promising practices related to juvenile delinquency and criminal street gang activity prevention and intervention to help build individual, family, and community strength and resiliency to ensure that youth lead productive, safe, healthy, gang-free, and law-abiding lives."

*According to the Library of Congress' THOMAS System, the bill currently has 219 House co-sponsors, including Rick Boucher, Gerry Connolly, Randy Forbes, Jim Moran, Glenn Nye, Tom Perriello, Rob Wittman and Frank Wolf of Virginia.

*This recent article reports that Scott's bill, which aims "at curtailing crime through preventive measures," is "attracting broad bipartisan support in the House." In addition, Scott's legislation "is supported by over 200 national and state juvenile justice, education and religious organizations and has been endorsed by the cities of Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Santa Fe, Philadelphia, and Newport News, among others."

*Also according to The Hill article, "Companion legislation introduced in the upper chamber by Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) has eight co-sponsors." Here is the list of U.S. Senate cosponsors, including Mark Warner but (for reasons unbeknownst to me) not Jim Webb.

Jim Webb's National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009 (SB 714)
*Introduced on Marsh 26, 2009, the bill would establish a National Criminal Justice Commission "to undertake a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system." The Commission would "(1) review all areas of federal and state criminal justice costs, practices, and policies; (2) make specified findings relating to incarceration, prison administration, the impact of gang activity, drug policy, mental illness among prisoners and the role of the military in crime prevention; (3) make recommendations for changes in policies and laws to address findings; (4) consult with government and nongovernmental leaders, including state and local law enforcement officials; and (5) submit a final report to Congress and the President and make such report public."

*According to THOMAS, the bill currently has 29 cosponsors, including Mark Warner and three Republicans (Graham, Hatch, Snowe).

*The Daily Press reported on June 13 that Webb "has moved to minimize the [political] risk [of tackling this issue] by reaching wide across the political spectrum for support."

*Jim Webb's U.S. Senate website lists dozens of organizations endorsing his bill, ranging from the International Union of Police Associations to the American Jail Association to Human Rights Watch and the American Friends Service Committee.

*To watch highlights from a hearing on Sen. Webb's bill by the Senate Judiciary Committee (Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs), please click here. According to Webb's Senate website, "Chief William Bratton of the Los Angeles Police Department testified on the bill: 'I believe that such a debate is long overdue on the national level and I agree that we need a contemporary, widespread and far-reaching review of our entire criminal justice system in order to better serve and protect the public. We must focus on preventing crime before it occurs rather than respond to it after it does.'"

Outlook for Both Bills
*From a source who covers the Hill closely, I'm hearing that Bobby Scott's bill - with 18 Republican cosponsors, a hearing date, a companion Senate bill, and 219 House cosponsors (sufficient to get a discharge petition and move the bill to the House floor without waiting for it to be reported from committee) - has "fast track" written all over it. This bill could even pass the House by the August recess.

*I'm also hearing that President Obama's mentor on crime policy, Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree, is a big fan of Bobby Scott's legislation. Watch for President Obama to do an announcement about how he thinks this bill rocks, and watch it sail to passage.

*As far as Webb's bill is concerned, I'm hearing that there's no hearing date set, no companion House bill, and only three Republican co-sponsors so far. According to one of my sources, this "relatively straightforward bill" most likely will end up passing, but "probably...not for a few months."

In the end, I believe that both Bobby Scott's Youth PROMISE Act and Jim Webb's National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009 are excellent bills and strongly urge their passage. Right now, it looks like Scott's bill is definitely on the "fast track," with Webb's lagging a bit but still very much alive and kicking.

Paul Krugman Demolishes Global Warming Deniers

The graph pretty much constitutes "case closed," but if you need more, see Paul Krugman's writeup here:
One of the favorite arguments of climate-change deniers is “but it was warmer in the late 90s...

What this [graph] tells me is that annual temperature is indeed noisy: there have been many large fluctuations, indeed much larger than the up-and-down in the last decade or so. But the direction of change is unmistakable if you take the longer view. The fitted line in the figure is a 3rd-degree polynomial, but any sort of smoothing would tell you that there is a massive upward trend.

Of course, trend-spotting is no substitute for causal modeling; and the models are getting truly scary in their implications.
Given the overwhelming scientific evidence for what's happening in terms of climate change, it should be obvious to anyone with half a brain that the only thing we should be doing right now is discussing how to head off planetary ecological disaster, not whether to head it off. Only in the world of people brainwashed by ExxonMobil-funded climate change denial institutes, or completely ignorant of the most basic scientific knowledge, or receiving huge campaign contributions from Big Oil and Big Coal, could this even be a question.

Unfortunately, as the House of Representatives vote Friday on Waxman/Markey demonstrated, the phrase "ignorant of the most basic scientific knowledge" appears to describe all but 8 House Republicans. The rest of John Boehner and Eric Cantor's crew, including self-proclaimed "moderates" like Frank Wolf and self-deluded/self-proclaimed "environmentalists" like Rob Wittman, are in effect wholly-owned, bought-and-paid-for subsidiaries Big Oil, Big Coal, and the Big Lie.

"Debunking Canadian health care myths"

One of the favorite bogeymen of those opposed to health care reform is that - gasp, horror, ZOMG! - we might become like that nightmare known as "Canada!" How many ads have you seen raising the dire prospect of "Canadian-style health care," including supposed long waits for care, nasty bureaucracy, etc? A lot, I bet. Well, guess what (surprise surprise): it's all bulls****. Check this out.

*"In actuality, taxes are nearly equal on both sides of the border...However, Canadians are afforded many benefits for their tax dollars."

*"The U.S. has the most bureaucratic health care system in the world...[while t]he provincial single-payer system in Canada operates with just a 1 percent overhead."

*"Ten percent of Canada's GDP is spent on health care for 100 percent of the population. The U.S. spends 17 percent of its GDP but 15 percent of its population has no coverage whatsoever and millions of others have inadequate coverage. In essence, the U.S. system is considerably more expensive than Canada's."

*"While HMOs and other private medical insurers in the U.S. do indeed make such decisions, the only people in Canada to do so are physicians. In Canada, the government has absolutely no say in who gets care or how they get it. Medical decisions are left entirely up to doctors, as they should be."

*"There are no waits for urgent or primary care in Canada. There are reasonable waits for most specialists' care...[and] it is noteworthy that Canada boasts lower incident and mortality rates than the U.S. for all cancers combined."

*"Most physicians in Canada are self-employed. They are not employees of the government nor are they accountable to the government. Doctors are accountable to their patients only."

On and on it goes, myth after myth - mainly perpetuated by the health care industry, Big Pharma, the HMO's, and their (mainly Republican) political allies - shown to be complete lies. The bottom line is this: next time you see an ad or hear a (probably Republican) politicians trying to scare you about "Canadian-style health care," simply take the complete opposite of what they're saying and you'll undoubtedly be much closer to the truth.

Iran: "Frustration," "Despair," and "Off the Mark" Intel

In just over two weeks, the situation in Iran has gone from anger to hope to tragedy to "frustration" and "despair".
Even in areas of [Tehran] not known for liberal politics, the sense of frustration, and despair, was palpable. Those who accuse the government of stealing the election said they had lost the hope for change they had during the protests that drew tens of thousands of people into Tehran’s streets. But others also confessed to feeling depressed.


There were further signs on Saturday that the opposition was running out of options in its attempts to nullify the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which has been confirmed by the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The Expediency Council, headed by former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, issued a statement that called the supreme leader’s decision the final word on the election, although it did say the government should investigate voting complaints “properly and thoroughly.”

Mr. Rafsanjani has been one of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s strongest critics and one of the most ardent supporters of Mir Hussein Moussavi, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s chief rival in the election. But after the vote, the former president had been quiet, and many Iranians had hoped he would broker some compromise behind the scenes.
In other words, it looks like Iran's pro-Democracy reformers have been crushed, at least for now. Meanwhile, Holocaust Denier/All-Around Madman Mahmoud Ahmedinejad demands an apology from Barack Obama for condemning Ahmedinjad's brutal crackdown (including the cold-blooded murder of Neda Agha Soltan by his goons), and Obama basically tells him to go pound sand. So much for U.S. diplomacy with Ahmedinejad's regime? The prospect sure aren't looking great at the moment.

Finally, this report in Newsweek caught my eye:
President Obama's cautious response to election results in Iran may be partly explained by the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies were off the mark in assessments they gave the White House and lawmakers. Five officials familiar with intel reporting and analysis, who asked for anonymity to discuss sensitive material, say most experts at the CIA and other intel agencies initially believed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won reelection solidly—and that if there was fraud, it was at the margins.
So, let's see, the same CIA which said the Soviet Union would last forever, which completely missed the Iranian Revolution back in 1978, which told George W. Bush that the existence of WMD in Iraq was a "slam dunk case," and which almost totally screwed up prior to 9/11 ("failures to implement and manage important processes, to follow through with operations, and to properly share and analyze critical data"), was "off the mark" once again? I'm shocked, SHOCKED I tell you!

Sun Rises in Morning, John Boehner Makes Fool of Himself

After his embarrassing, pathetic rant/tirade Friday on the floor of the House of Representatives, Minority Leader John Boehner makes a fool of himself once again:
On Friday, the House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act... After the House finally voted on and passed the legislation, the Hill asked Boehner to comment on what he had hoped to gain through his “filibuster-like” delay. “Hey, people deserve to know what’s in this pile of sh*t,” Boehner replied.
Gotta love that civil discourse and appropriate language by a leader of the "traditional values" party. Of course, this is the same clown who also said this:
George, the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you’ve got more carbon dioxide.
Of course, as anyone with half a brain knows, C02 isn't a "carcinogen" and nobody is claiming that it is. Also, cows emit METHANE not carbon dioxide, but why would Boehner bother to know any of that before spewing out a bunch of his own hot, non-carcinogenic, non-bovine C02 into the atmosphere? To put it another way,, we're not exactly talking about a rocket scientist here. Of course, we're not talking about rocket scientists with most Republican leaders these days, but at least Eric Cantor just spews meaningless drivel, not foul language, out of the same part of his anatomy Boehner refers to above.

P.S. You'd think that someone who represents "the rich farmland of Darke, Mercer, Miami and Preble counties" would know something about cows and cow flatulence, but apparently Boehner isn't even curious about a major business in his own district.

Whipple Clip Dozen: Sunday Morning

Today's Virginia news, courtesy of the Bob Brink (pinch hitting for Tom Whipple).

5. NEW STATE LAWS TAKE EFFECT WEDNESDAY (one interesting change: "Voters will [now] be allowed to go to the polls wearing clothing such as T-shirts or buttons that back a candidate.")

UPDATE: Also see Mark Warner's op-ed on expanding the powers of the Federal Reserve. Warner's view, in short: "This is a mistake."

Bill Bolling: Wrong Diagnosis, Wrong Cure

Writing in the Moonie Times, Bill Bolling shares his analysis of Virginia's budget problems with us. What's interesting is that Bolling manages to get both the diagnosis and and the cure completely wrong. First, here's what Bolling's diagnosis:
Over the past three years, Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine has attempted to balance the state budget through overly optimistic revenue projections, the use of one-time money to pay for ongoing programs, an excessive use of state debt, federal bailout dollars and raids on the rainy-day fund.

The result has been predictable. Over a three-year period, we have experienced more than $5 billion in budget shortfalls, with more on the way, and I have no doubt that we will deplete the state's rainy-day fund by the time this governor leaves office.
Where do we even begin with this sophomoric silliness? First, let's tackle the argument that Tim Kaine is the root of all evil here. The fact is, with one major exception - the Republicans' estate tax repeal, which Kaine should have vetoed because it cost Virginia as much as $150 million per year in revenues to help a few rich families - the Kaine administration has acted appropriately the past three years, and essentially no differently than most other states. The fact is, when the national economy was humming along on the faux-strength of a massive housing bubble that almost nobody believed would pop anytime soon, the state's finances were in fine shape. Instead, the political battles waged during the first three years of Tim Kaine's governorship mainly centered on how to increase spending, primarily on transportation but also on Tim Kaine's signature pre-k "Start Strong" education initiative. What happened was that House "flat earth" Republicans rejected pretty much every method government can employ to raise revenues, with two notable exceptions that went down in flames: regional taxation authorities, struck down by the state Supreme Court; and "abusive driver fees," struck down by a massive popular uprising against them. Other than that, "flat earth" Republicans rejected even a tiny increase in the gas tax, despite Virginia having one of the lowest gas taxes in the country, and also despite the fact that Virginia hasn't raised its gas tax in two decades, even to keep up with inflation. That's House Republicans for you!

Second, with regard to "overly optimistic revenue projections," the fact is that every state and the federal government as well, nor just Virginia, was expecting high revenues, based on a booming housing market and (apparently) strong economy that many believed would go on forever. It didn't, and states all across America are hurting. This is not just a Virginia issue, and in fact Virginia remains better off than many other states in many ways. True, we've got major problems and challenges, but to blame those on Tim Kaine - as opposed to the collapse of George W. Bush's Ponzi Scheme Economy, is utterly absurd and demonstrates zero understanding by Bill Bolling of what's going on in our country and our commonwealth.

Finally, Bolling critizes Kaine for using "federal bailout dollars" and the "rainy day fund." This is brain dead on numerous levels. I mean, would Bolling seriously have rejected federal stimulus money and let our hard-earned tax dollars go to other states, as many of his Republican compadres (e.g., Bob McDonnell) do? If so, why? As to the "rainy day fund," if the current "great recession" doesn't qualify as a "rainy day," then what on earth would? Perhaps Bill Bolling can explain, but I certainly can't. [Note: later in his op-ed, Bolling uses the phrase, "Fortunately, most of these budget cuts were avoided when Virginia received an estimated $4.8 billion from the federal stimulus package," seemingly contradicting his earlier criticism that Kaine used "federal bailout dollars" to help balance Virginia's budget. Huh?]

Starting with these shaky, intellectually flawed premises, Bolling then proceeds to the usual "slash and burn government" rhetoric of right-wing Republicans everywhere, talking about "set[ting] strict budget priorities and focus[ing] our spending decisions on the core responsibilities of state government." OK, Mr. Lieutenant Governor, the ball's in your court and we're all ears. Which specific state programs would you cut? [Note: I should say "cut further than they already have been cut"] Education? Transportation? Public safety? Land preservation? Cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay? What? We're all waiting for your answers...

In the end, it's easy for Bill Bolling to take cheap potshots, given that he's been essentially invisible the past 3 1/2 years as Lieutenant Governor, a job which entails presiding over tie votes in the State Senate, attending funerals and groundbreaking ceremonies, and (to paraphrase John McCain on the role of the Vice President) "inquiring daily as to the health of the governor." Perhaps if Bill Bolling had actually been "in the arena," we could take what he has to say seriously. But since he hasn't been, and since he's basically been a complete nonentity as Lieutenant Governor, we most certainly should not.

"Most trusted man in America" on Deathbed

Saturday, June 27, 2009

At 46, I am old enough to remember watching Walter Cronkite in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when he anchored the CBS Evening News and was known - for good reason - as the "most trusted man in America." As a kid, I assumed that if there was something important happening in the world - whether in Vietnam, Dallas, or Memphis - Walter Cronkite would know about it and would give it to us straight; accurately, professionally, without fluff or glitz, no gimmicks or fancy graphics, respectful of the viewer's intelligence, etc. This contrasts starkly with the situation today, when I feel like my IQ drops 20 points every time I turn on the network news. In contrast, I always felt smarter and better informed after watching Walter Cronkite. And I miss that greatly.

Aside from personally being a great reporter and anchor, Walter Cronkite more broadly represented an era before the curse of "infotainment," before 24/7 "missing white girls" and "shark attacks" (and cloyingly idiotic "human interest" stories), before superficiality and stupidity took over the mainstream "news" and turned it into nearly unmitigated trash. Today, if you are one of the tens of millions of Americans who get their "news" primarily from ABC, CBS, NBC or (god forbid) Fox, chances are you know almost nothing about what's happening in the world. Certainly, you will not get serious analysis, depth, breadth, or even more than a few minutes of "hard news" on the network nightly "news" broadcasts. For that, you can turn to PBS or the BBC on television, NPR on the radio, the few remaining newspapers and "news" magazines that are worth anything, or some excellent reporting and writing being done by the "new media." Other than that, forget about it. The sad reality is that today, there's no Walter Cronkite, let alone the superb news bureau working behind him, on a U.S. commercial network. And for those of us who remember what it was like watching Walter Cronkite in his prime at CBS, that's a great loss.

P.S. Over at The Young Turks website, they do an excellent job putting the imminent death of Walter Cronkite into perspective:
See, kids, a long, long time ago, the Networks actually covered the important things going on in the world rather than devoting their time to dead pop stars, news anchor colonoscopies, and the latest missing blond. They had actual Foreign Bureaus with real investigative journalists who reported on and shot true images of war as it happened. They weren't embedded PR people for the Pentagon.

But, those days are gone, along with the integrity which once epitomized reporting. If you are old enough to remember Walter's tearing up and choked voice when announcing the death of our 35th President, you know that he truly was America personified on that day. He felt and expressed the grief of a nation.

Bob McDonnell: Bush-o-Nomics is the Way to Go!

An instant classic, courtesy of Bob "Bush-o-Nomics" McDonnell at Boys State (Lynchburg, 6/26/09).
Many of you probably remember after 9/11 we did something to stimulate the economy then too. You know what we did? We cut taxes. President Bush put in a ten-year tax-cut on everything from the death tax to capital gains tax and it was followed by an unprecedented period of economic recovery and economic growth. In fact, it almost overheated the economy through about 2006. So, I think thats the way you stimulate business. And that's the kind of governor that I'm going to be -- to reduce those impediments to entrepreneurship, to let small businesses grow and thrive and create some opportunity.
Now, here's the Wall Street Journal's "Real Time Economics" blog on the Bush economy:
President George W. Bush entered office in 2001 just as a recession was starting, and is preparing to leave in the middle of a long one. That’s almost 22 months of recession during his 96 months in office.

His job-creation record won’t look much better. The Bush administration created about three million jobs (net) over its eight years, a fraction of the 23 million jobs created under President Bill Clinton’s administration and only slightly better than President George H.W. Bush did in his four years in office.


...The current President Bush, once taking account how long he’s been in office, shows the worst track record for job creation since the government began keeping records.
Bob McDonnell wants to emulate THAT?!? God help us if he's ever elected governor.

P.S. While not creating jobs, the Bush administration also managed to turn a huge budget surplus into an equally huge budget deficit. They managed to widen income inequality in this country. They managed to encourage a housing bubble which, when it popped, led to the worst U.S. economic recession since the 1930s. Apparently, that's what Bob McDonnell's economic model is. Brain. Dead.

Whipple Clip Dozen: Saturday Morning

Tom Whipple gets a much-deserved break from his "clips," Bob Brink pinch hits.

1. MCDONNELL CONFIDENT OF VICTORY IN THE FALL (yeah, wait 'til Mark Sanford, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney et al. come to campaign for him! - lol)
3. DEEDS, MCDONNELL SAY THEY CAN IMPROVE TRANSPORTATION WITHOUT RAISING TAXES (well, we need money somehow, which leaves borrowing or "growing the economy" as two options I can think of)
4. KAINE REFUSES TO GIVE GOP TRAVEL RECORDS (just curious, did Jim Gilmore provide all his travel records when he was governor and RNC chair?)
8. DEMS WEIGH GAS-TAX OPTIONS (Virginia has an extremely low gas tax that hasn't been raised in two decades; increasing it a few cents a gallon won't even be noticed by consumers)
10. DEEDS TAKES FIRE FROM GINGRICH GROUP (and we care what Gingrich thinks...why?!?)

Actually, Michelle Malkin...

Actually, Michelle, what's really "wanted" in this country is a lot more courageous, principled, pro-environment and pro-millions-of-green-jobs Republicans like the following 8 who voted for historic green jobs, clean energy and climate change legislation yesterday.

*Mary Bono Mack (CA) - THANK YOU!
*Mike Castle (DE) - THANK YOU!
*Mark Kirk (IL) - THANK YOU!
*John McHugh (NY) - THANK YOU!
*Frank LoBiondo (NJ) - THANK YOU!
*Leonard Lance (NJ) - THANK YOU!
*Dave Reichert (WA) - THANK YOU!
*Chris Smith (NJ) - THANK YOU!

Bobby Scott Signs "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Letter

Yet another reason why Bobby Scott is a Virginia state treasure.
U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, D- 3rd District, has signed a letter asking President Barack Obama to suspend the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy and allow gay people to serve in the military without penalty.

Scott and 76 other legislators this week signed the letter, which argues that the policy does a disservice to the country by forcing out experienced military personnel who are found to be gay or lesbian.
It's time to repeal the antiquated, counterproductive and immoral "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Thanks to Bobby Scott for realizing this and taking action accordingly.

Video: Barack Obama on "Opening the Door to a Clean Energy Economy"

Barack Obama says:
Because this legislation is so balanced and sensible, it has already attracted a remarkable coalition of consumer and environmental groups; labor and business leaders; Democrats and Republicans. And I want to thank every Member of Congress who put politics aside to support this bill on Friday.

Now my call to every Senator, as well as to every American, is this: We cannot be afraid of the future. And we must not be prisoners of the past. Don’t believe the misinformation out there that suggests there is somehow a contradiction between investing in clean energy and economic growth. It’s just not true.

We have been talking about energy for decades. But there is no longer a disagreement over whether our dependence on foreign oil is endangering our security. It is. There is no longer a debate about whether carbon pollution is placing our planet in jeopardy. It’s happening. And there is no longer a question about whether the jobs and industries of the 21st century will be centered around clean, renewable energy. The question is, which country will create these jobs and these industries? I want that answer to be the United States of America. And I believe that the American people and the men and women they sent to Congress share that view. So I want to congratulate the House for passing this bill, and I want to urge the Senate to take this opportunity to come together and meet our obligations – to our constituents, to our children, to God’s creation, and to future generations.

Tim Kaine Statement on Passage of American Clean Energy Security Act

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tim Kaine's statement on passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act.
“Today the House took an important step towards transforming the way we use and produce energy in this country. The American Clean Energy and Security Act will put America in the position to lead the global clean energy economy, while finally breaking our dependence on Middle East oil and addressing the gathering threat of climate change.

“Not surprisingly, the Republican Party once again stood in near unanimous opposition to this historic plan. Instead of voting for our clean energy future and for the creation of millions of jobs that can’t be shipped overseas, the GOP ignored the opportunity to move our country forward and failed to act in the best interests of the American people.

“I want to congratulate President Obama for his outstanding leadership and Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Hoyer, Chairman Waxman and Congressman Markey for their role in taking this historic step.

“President Obama has said that the nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy. Today, we took a critical step on that path, and Democrats will continue to work with the President to pass a comprehensive energy plan that is good for our economy and good for our environment.”

Tom Perriello Statement on Passage of American Clean Energy Security Act

Have I mentioned yet today that Tom Perriello is my hero? Here is his statement on the passage of the American Clean Energy Security Act (ACES).
Today we declare America’s energy independence and provide a blueprint for building the energy jobs and technology of the future right here at home. America can still out-innovate any other country on earth, and we cannot give in to those who doubt America’s ability to lead once more. Perhaps once in a generation we have the opportunity to revolutionize our economy in a way that creates for future generations the kind of jobs and opportunities that we inherited through the sacrifices of our parents. Today we reverse not only the hemorrhaging of energy sector jobs, but also the flood of our citizens’ dollars to those who would threaten our security.

Freedom isn’t free. Since September 11th our leaders have asked everything of our military families and very little of the rest of us. This bill is estimated to cost families approximately $12 per month – a cost that could be offset by any household that reduces its energy. Therefore, families can choose to sacrifice $12 per month for national security or adjust the thermostat one degree. Have no doubt that clean energy will be the industry of our time. Investing in that industry now is what will put our country back on top over the next decade. If I have to choose between protecting our nation or protecting my popularity, I will choose our great Nation every time.

Southside Virginia will be one of the winners under this bill, accelerating its ascendance to being the future energy capital of Virginia. In a carbon-constrained economy, we will see a resurgence of nuclear power. We can convert former tobacco farms into future biomass producers. And we can see farm and municipal waste turned into power. This bill, particularly the elements those of us from rural districts negotiated, will spur investments in biomass fuels that can flourish on former tobacco farms. We can convert manure on our cattle and poultry farms into power and finally get some profits back to our hard-working farmers. We will not turn this economy around by hiding from our problems, but by having the courage to reinvent our competitive advantage.

Today is a vote for America over petro-dictators. It is a vote for innovation over the erosion of our jobs. It is vote for demanding American leadership rather than settling for a slow slide behind India, China and other competitors. A vote against this bill is a vote to weaken this country, put our people at risk, and sit on the sidelines while we hemorrhage jobs. A vote for this bill is a vote for America’s security, her innovative spirit, good jobs for our citizens, and the future of our country.
Tom Perriello: Best Freshman Congressman ever?

Al Gore Statement on Passage of ACES

Al Gore's statement on passage of the American Clean Energy Security (ACES) Act by the House of Representatives. Thank you to Al Gore for his amazing work over the past few years in raising the public profile on climate change, as well as his work in calling wavering Democrats and convincing them to vote for this crucial legislation. Now, on to the Senate...
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Leadership of the House, and Chairmen Waxman and Markey have, through their leadership, secured an important bipartisan victory for the American people.

The American Clean Energy Security (ACES) Act is one of the most important pieces of legislation Congress will ever pass. This comprehensive legislation will make meaningful reductions in global warming pollution, spur investment in clean energy technology, create jobs and reduce our reliance on foreign oil.

The next step is passage of this legislation by the Senate to help restore America's leadership in the world and begin, at long last, to put in place a truly global solution to the climate crisis.

We are at an extraordinary moment, with an historic opportunity to confront one of the world’s most serious challenges. Our actions now will be remembered by this generation and all those to follow – in our own nation and others around the world.

Miles Grant "Live Blogs" the Waxman-Markey Debate

Great job by Miles over at Daily Kos, where he's busy live blogging the U.S. House of Representatives debate on the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act. A few interesting updates:

UPDATE by Lowell 7:15 pm: ACES passes 219-212!!!

7:01pm -- GOP substitute goes down, now voting on ACES!

UPDATE by Lowell: ABC Nightly News has all Michael Jackson, all the time, except for a bit about Mark Sanford. No Iran, no cap and trade, no "news" in other words. That's your corporate media 4U, what a pathetic joke.

6:40pm -- House finally voting on something! First, the vote on the GOP substitute. Will be final by 6:55pm.

6:33pm -- Anyone else hearing Boehner is trying to push off vote so the major climate action victory won't make East Coast evening newscasts?

UPDATE by Lowell: Is this really John Boehner speaking or is he possessed by Abe Simpson. As in "Dear Mr. President, There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three. P.S. I am not a crackpot." Or "That doll is EVIL, I tells ya. Evil! Eeeeeeviillll!!!...I just want attention." Or "I'll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I recognize Missourah!"

5:30pm -- Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is delivering the Democratic rebuttal to the Republican substitute. A well-reasoned closing argument for ACES.

5:18pm -- Rep. Michele Bachmann says under ACES, "the federal goverment will have control over virtually every aspect of the lives of the American people." No one brings the crazy like Michele.

4:43pm -- Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) just asked for a moment of silence for all the people who will lose jobs because of ACES. Yes, that just happened.

4:39pm -- WOW. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), who'd been threatening to oppose ACES because it wasn't strong enough, just said he'll vote for the bill. That's huge. Big murmur goes through the NWF conference room...

4:28pm -- Interesting tidbit I just heard from one of our staffers -- pro-ACES calls to members of Congress are close to 100% in-district, while anti-ACES calls to member offices are only about 15% in-district. Basically, it's local clean energy advocates vs. a national Big Oil-funded campaign.

4:15pm -- Here we go, Barton demanding recess. Rep. Markey explaining that any citizen in the entire country can view the bill by navigating through the Series of Tubes to the House website.

3:29pm -- Here's yet another example of Republican intellectual dishonesty on ACES: After listening to Republican after Republican all afternoon claim the bill will send jobs overseas, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) says the bill is protectionist because it has provisions to look out for American industries. Which is it, guys?

3:01pm -- Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY): "When the Republican party becomes the protector of the poor, it's the day I've been waiting for."

2:45pm -- Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) asks "why we'd even consider" changing our energy policies during a recession. Yes, Rep. Cantor. Why would we consider changing the status quo that got us into this mess? Why wouldn't we want more of the same failed dirty energy policies? I feel another segment of Really!?! coming on.

2:43pm -- The Republicans opposing this bill have rolled out a virtual Wikipedia of discredited and debunked "studies" on the impact of climate action.

1:36pm -- Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) points out a Congressional Budget Office analysis shows ACES will cost the average taxpayer less than the cost of a postage stamp per day (and that's before you consider possible savings from efficiency).

1:31pm -- Short version of every Republican so far: "This bill is wrong because it picks winners and losers! If it were up to me, I'd pick (ethanol/nuclear/Big Oil) as a winner." No, they have no idea how they're contradicting themselves.

1:13pm -- From Twitter: @russ_walker Racist, disgraced ex senator from Va. opposes #ACES:

1:05pm -- Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) says electricity will remain affordable under ACES and that the economy will continue to grow. Says there will still be a role for coal.

1:01pm -- Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) accuses ACES of picking winners and losers, then calls for subsidies for nuclear power and letting Big Oil drill where ever they want. Gee, wonder which winners and losers Bob would pick if we left it to him?

12:52pm -- Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) opens debate, calling ACES an "enormous jobs bill." Singles out a series of members for their outreach to key constituencies -- Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) for bringing the auto industry on board, Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) for his work with power companies (among others, AEP announced support of bill today), Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) for getting the steel industry's support, Ways & Means Chair Charlie Rangel (D-NY) for bringing low income advocates on board, and Agriculture Chair Collin Peterson (D-MN) for his outreach to farmers.