"Felix Macacawitz" Reads Blue Virginia?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Speaking of racists, it looks like George "Felix Macacawitz" Allen may be a Blue Virginia reader. Check this out by the highly paid shill for the climate change-denying, clean energy-opposing, fossil fuel industry-funded Institute for Energy Research, which Rush Limbaugh approvingly labeled the "energy equivalent of the Heritage Foundation." Nice.

Anyway, according to "Felix Macacawitz," the statistics on coal mining employment in Appalachia -- presented by Justin Maxson, president of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, in the Washington Post this weekend (and which we referenced here at Blue Virginia) -- are "misleading." How exactly are Mr. Maxson's statistics "misleading?" No alternative statistics are presented, only a reference to "the hundreds of thousands of American jobs related to American coal." Of course, the term "related to" is extremely vague and can mean anything George Allen wants it to mean.

The reality is that, in 2006, "there were 82,595 people employed in coal mining in the U.S.," of which 5,262 coal mining jobs were located in Virginia. This latter figure is in line with the statistics cited by Mr. Maxson, who reported that there are 2,537 coal miners in Wise County. So, in order to have an intelligent discussion here, what we need from the "other side" is some actual statistics of their own, as opposed to vague language about the "very good-paying jobs" provided by coal mining, and specifically by the environmentally devastating - and highly capital intensive, hence low in terms of labor intensity - mountaintop removal coal mining. So far, we've got nothing. Unless, that is, you count the (highly) paid shilling of the guy most famous for calling Indian-American S.R. Siddarth a previously obscure, now infamous, racial slur.

Waldo Jaquith Calls Out Laurence Verga As "Racist"

Wow, I don't think I've ever seen Waldo Jaquith as angry as this, but it's totally justified as far as I'm concerned. Check this garbage out.
The Daily Progress reports on Republican candidate for congress Laurence Verga’s response to the question of what the biggest threat to U.S. national security is:
Verga said the biggest threat is the Americans who voted the Obama administration into office. “That was political correctness gone awry,” Verga said.
...what Laurence Verga is saying is that Obama is only president because he’s black. 69,456,897 Americans—52.9% of us—tossed national security aside because we supported President Obama over Sen. John McCain merely because Obama is a black man and, therefore, not a real American, so he can be known to be secretly undermining national security...

When people talk about teabaggers being racist, this is exactly the sort of shameful horseshit that they’re talking about. Fuck this guy.
I second that motion. I would also add that supposedly "sane" Republicans like Robert Hurt should have spoken up when Verga made this statement at the 5th CD "Tea Party" debate last night. Their silence speaks volumes.

Krystal Ball For Public Option, Scott Robinson Refuses to Answer

As we've already seen on energy and environment, "Don't Ask Don't Tell", guns and jobs, the contrast between Scott Robinson and Krystal Ball could not be greater. The contrast isn't just on the two candidates' positions on the issues, but also on their depth of knowledge and willingness to lead on a wide variety of subjects. As we've seen in case after case, Krystal is a strong leader from the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party." In contrast, Scott Robinson is a conservative Democrat on issue after issue, all while attempting to hide that conservatism behind evasiveness ("I'm gonna wait until the study is conducted"), talking about a technology that almost certainly will never be economically or technologically viable as a solution to our problems ("breeder" reactors), or outright refusing to answer a direct question from an audience member (see video above at 1:20). Lame.

With regard to the public option, which was discussed in the Stafford County Democratic Committee forum 8 days ago, Krystal Ball is clear and strong:
I’ve been a vocal supporter of the public option from the beginning. And I would have absolutely voted for the health care bill that passed the House. I think that the public option is a critical part of reform because it is one of the most serious efforts that we have in the House bill to actually cut costs and increase competition. It’s the exact sort of thing that a responsible Republican should be for. It’s not a left-wing socialist government takeover. It’s a responsible way to increase competition. And I think it is an important part of reform.
Exactly, thank you Krystal Ball!

In sharp contrast, Scott Robinson avoids a direct answer, bobbing and weaving about "not get[ting] wrapped up on what the term is." Oddly, Robinson claims to support any plan that "lowers the available to all Americans affordable." Yet, as "Leaving My Marc" points out, "[t]he public option is a critical part in attaining the competition that is needed to meet those three principles." Also, as most of us know, the public option is one of the most popular pieces of health care reform among the general public. So why is it so hard for Scott Robinson to say he supports (or, more likely, opposes) it?

As if all that isn't bad enough, Robinson disses the public option by claiming it is somehow part of a utopian "perfect plan" (that, presumably, progressives shouldn't be pushing). "As a result," according to Robinson, "we have no plan." Of course, that's an absurd straw man argument. The fact is, most progressives have strongly supported the public option, but most of us also have been clear that if there's no public option in there, we are willing to swallow hard and support passage of President Obama's health care plan as an important step forward in this area. Also, I'd point out that if Congress goes to "reconciliation," there are almost certainly 51 votes for the public option in the U.S. Senate, why a public option leads inexorably to "no plan" is beyond me.

In the end, what really bothers me about Scott Robinson's (non)response here is the unspoken subtext. Essentially, what we have is a conservative Democrat buying into Republican framing (that the "public option" is some utopian but unreasonable vision of the "perfect" that's killing the "good"). In addition, what we have is a conservative Democrat implicitly blaming progressives for holding up progressive legislation, as opposed to pointing his finer at the real culprits - the monolithic, kneejerk opposition of the Eric Cantor/John Boehner/Mitch McConnell right-wing Republicans. That's infuriating. And, as if all that's not bad enough, we can't even get a straight answer from said Democrat to a simple "yes or no" question from the audience. I mean, c'mon, how hard is it to answer "yes" or "no" on whether you support the public option? And why would any Democrat support a candidate who refuses to answer such a basic question on an important issue? Sorry, we've seen this movie before, and we don't want to see it again.

Robert Hurt: Climate Change Denier

So much for State Sen. Robert Hurt (R) being a "moderate" of any kind.
A question [at last night's Lynchburg Tea Party debate] about “Climategate” produced agreement among the three candidates who answered it.

Hurt said Climategate is “scientists who have given us something that is not true. It is faulty information and it has real consequences in the 5th District, in the loss of jobs and in power bills from Appalachian Power Co.”
Of course, I'm sure Hurt's views have nothing to do with the fact that he receives large amounts of money from electric utilities like Dominion "Global Warming Starts Here" Power. And I'm sure Hurt's views have nothing to do with the fact that he's being challenged for the nomination from even further to the far right than he is, such as one candidate's cuckoo comment that cap and trade "is all about promoting the socialist agenda of this adminstration." Uh huh, which is why cap and trade is a Republican idea that sprung out of the Reagan Administration as a "marketplace approach" to controlling pollution. And that's why Republican George HW Bush attended the 1992 "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro, stating that "environmental problems are global, and every nation must help in solving them."

Wow, who knew that Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush were closet "socialists," or that Barack Obama's "agenda" actually started more than two decades ago, when he was just in his 20s. Yes, people who believe this stuff are completely, batshit, Cuccinelli-level crazy. Yet these are the same people who Robert Hurt found himself debating - and agreeing with, at least on climate change - last night. That pretty much tells you all you need to know about Robert Hurt, and none of it is good.

Whipple Clip Dozen: Sunday Morning

Thanks to Tom Whipple for the Sunday "Clips."


Lindsey Graham: My New "Green" Hero?

Today's New York Times has two must-read op-ed's on climate change and clean energy, one by Al Gore ("We Can’t Wish Away Climate Change" and one by Tom Friedman quoting Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham ("How the G.O.P. Goes Green"). Gore's op-ed is excellent, and I strongly recommend that everyone read it. However, something tells me that the op-ed quoting Lindsey Graham - my new "green" hero? - could be more significant politically. As Tom Friedman writes, "Five more G.O.P. senators like him and we could have a real energy bill." And make no mistake, we desperately need a "real energy bill," ASAP.

Here's why I call Lindsey Graham - not exactly a champion on environmental issues in the past - my new "green" hero. First, Graham understands that environmental protection is something positive that Republicans should "buy into" and "embrace." Second, Graham totally gets it - unlike even some Democrats - that there's no magic techno-fix for our energy and climate problems, but instead that "you will never have energy independence without pricing carbon." Graham elaborates:
The technology doesn’t make sense until you price carbon. Nuclear power is a bet on cleaner air. Wind and solar is a bet on cleaner air. You make those bets assuming that cleaning the air will become more profitable than leaving the air dirty, and the only way it will be so is if the government puts some sticks on the table — not just carrots. The future economy of America and the jobs of the future are going to be tied to cleaning up the air, and in the process of cleaning up the air this country becomes energy independent and our national security is greatly enhanced.
If this sounds just like Tom Friedman writing in "Hot, Flat and Crowded," you're right. In fact, if I didn't know that Lindsey Graham was saying those words, I would have guessed they were coming out of Tom Friedman's mouth. And on this subject, that's a very good thing.

Third, Graham correctly calls out Congress for "political malpractice" on this issue. I couldn't agree more. As Al Gore points out in his op-ed, "When the Senate failed to follow the lead of the House of Representatives, forcing the president to go to Copenhagen without a new law in hand, the Chinese balked. With the two largest polluters refusing to act, the world community was paralyzed." Heckuva job, Senate, thanks a lot!

Fourth, Graham understands that for us to succeed in transforming our energy economy and solving huge challenges like climate change, we need business and the tremendous power of the capitalist, market economy on board. Which is why Graham says that "The Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers need to tell my colleagues it is O.K. to price carbon, if you do it smartly." Who's going to get the Chamber of Commerce et al. on board, Democrats or Republicans? I'd say both, but more the latter than the former. Hence, we desperately need Lindsey Graham and at least a few of his GOP colleagues to hop on board this (preferably high-speed) train.

Fifth, Graham is 100% correct that Republicans can't just be "the party of carbon pollution forever in unlimited amounts" if it wants to have any appeal to young people and not just be the party of "one more short, white Republican over 50," as he puts it.

Finally, Graham gets the larger, long-term picture here, that "We can’t be a nation that always tries and fails," that "We have to eventually get some hard problem right." Well, my fellow citizens, we are now facing an extremely "hard problem" and we are not in the least bit getting it "right." With Republicans like Lindsey Graham on board, however, there's a chance that we might do so. All of which is why (pro-business and not much of an environmentalist in the past) Republican Lindsey Graham, assuming he's willing to put his political muscle where his rhetoric is and get those "five more G.O.P. Senators like him" on board, has the potential to be my new "green" hero.

Sen. McEachin's Letter to the Virginia Holocaust Museum

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The following letter is from State Senator Donald McEachin (D-9th) to the President of the Virginia Holocaust Museum, Jay M. Ipson. The letter is in response to a "protest" scheduled for Tuesday at the museum in Richmond by Fred Phelps and his Westboro "Baptist" "Church." Thank you to Donald McEachin for writing this letter and for standing up to this "gang of thugs."
Dear Mr. Ipson,

I understand that the Virginia Holocaust Museum is to be the site of a protest by Fred Phelps and his gang of thugs. Although I know he calls himself a minister and his followers, parishioners, none of them deserve the dignity of these terms. I wanted to let you know that my heart and my prayers will be with all of you at the Holocaust Museum on Tuesday.

I understand that you are keeping the museum open and that a counter protest is planned. I want to commend you for your actions. We must never ignore or run from hate. We must not allow these kinds of people to bully us, to remove our dignity or to live in fear. As you know better than I, hate that is ignored or surrendered to is hate that grows and thrives and, eventually, wins.

The Virginia Holocaust Museum is a testament to victory over hate, survival over decimation, dignity over surrender. In some ways, your museum is the “perfect” place for these thugs to gather because they stand in the face of survival and they are forced to confront right over evil and humanity over cruelty.
However, I have no faith in their ability to observe or learn these lessons and, with that in mind, I regret even more that your staff and your visitors will be subject to their hatred and cruelty and inciteful words. That is why I wish I could be with you on Tuesday, to stand shoulder to shoulder with you, your staff and your visitors; so that they would know that all decent people stand together in the face of this detestable group.

Your Museum paves the way for Virginians to see and learn that all people deserve freedom and equal opportunity, that all of us deserve to live our lives in dignity and peace, with respect and understanding from our neighbors. As we go forward in this century, the good works you and your folks accomplish will help teach those lessons and make the difference for generations to come. When we look on back on these times, we will see that you all have not only been a bulwark against evil, but a beacon for the future, an inspiration as we seek freedom and opportunity for all.

Again, please know that I will be thinking of you on Tuesday, that it will make me try even harder to make the best and fairest decisions as I work at the General Assembly. But, truly, my spirit with be with all of you, standing shoulder to shoulder, looking into the face of evil and, once again, surviving and conquering.

May God bless you and keep you.


A. Donald McEachin

Video: President Obama on Chile Earthquake

For the latest updates on what's going on in Chile, check out the NY Times news blog.

Virginia’s Proposed Incumbency Protection Program

Written by Aldon Hynes, cross posted at his request.

In 2006, political scientists studied a group of 180,000 voters in Michigan. Using a control group and four study groups, they researched what efforts would be most effective raising voter turnout. They found that people who were told that it was their civic duty to vote were six percent more likely to vote. On the other hand, voters who were sent letters describing how often their neighbors had voted in previous elections where twenty seven percent more likely to vote. In a Washington Post article, Your Neighbors Could Find Out, So You'd Better Vote, researchers talked about the implications of this research.
Gerber, who also works at Yale, said campaigns would have to use the technique with caution, because the last thing a candidate wants to do is annoy people who are going to vote for him or her. But Green said nonpartisan groups, even public authorities, might consider using the technique to boost turnout, especially in municipal elections that often bring out just 15 percent of eligible voters.
One non-profit decided to act on this. In October 2009, the Know Campaign planned to send out a letter to voters in Virginia informing them of how often their neighbors had voted in the previous elections. The idea of being shamed into voting did not sit well with people from Virginia and the Know Campaign was investigated by the Virginia State Board of Elections. An article in the Washington Post, Va. investigates legality of access to voter list reports:
Under Virginia law, the Board of Elections can furnish lists of voters only to the courts, the Department of Motor Vehicles, bona fide political candidates, political parties, political action committees and nonprofit groups that promote voter education or registration. The law further restricts access to voting histories, prohibiting the Board of Elections from giving the histories to anyone except candidates, elected officials or political party chairmen. Those who do obtain the lists are also required to sign a statement, under penalty of perjury, promising not to disseminate the information to those not authorized to have it.
According to an article in PilotOnline
The State Board of Elections has already been sued once by the Know Campaign … That suit was settled, but the group has promised to sue again if the law is not changed to allow wider access to the lists…Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's office has advised lawmakers that the current law won't stand up in court because it gives candidates and parties privileged treatment over others seeking access to a voter history list.
Del. John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake stated, "We had two options. We can make it available to everybody or we can make it available to no one." The idea of not making voter history available to candidates was a concern to some Delegates. They noted that it is already very expensive to run for office and losing the access to voter history would make it even more expensive.

Del. Johnny Joannou, D-Portsmouth, however, argued "Voting is a private function of a private citizen. If it costs too much money to run, don't run."

This sounds like the ultimate in incumbency protection. First off, carrying out one’s civic duty should not be considered a private function. It is a public responsibility. Yes, how people vote needs to be protected and kept private, but not whether or not they voted. We need to encourage citizens to get out and vote. In addition, we should not be placing additional hurdles to people running for office. Failure to encourage people to vote and placing additional hurdles to running for office are two effective tools for protecting incumbency.

Let us hope that the people of Virginia contact their elected officials and encourage them to make it easier to run for office and to encourage neighbors to get out and vote.

Saturday Statistic: Just "2 percent of employment in the central Appalachian region"

From this morning's Washington Post comes a factual response to those who claim, against all evidence to the contrary, that the highly mechanized form of coal extraction known as "mountaintop removal" is a major employer in Appalachia (or anywhere else). As Justin Maxson, president of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, explains, it's not.
Coal mining is part of the economy in Appalachia, but it hardly accounts for "most" of the region's employment, as The Post claimed.

In fact, coal mining jobs amount to only about 2 percent of employment in the central Appalachian region; the percentage is only slightly higher if you consider related employment. It does not account for anything approaching most of the employment. In Wise County, where The Post's story was set, there were 2,537 coal miners, or about 11 percent of total county employment, in 2004. That's fewer workers than hold jobs in retail trade (3,118).

Instead of inflating the importance of the Appalachian coal industry, coal counties need to face reality. It's time to diversify their economies, look at the facts and stop believing in a comfortable yet nonetheless fictional story of coal's overwhelming contribution to the region's well-being.

Justin Maxson,

The writer is president of the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development.
That's right; according to someone who lives in Appalachia and knows what he's talking about, coal mining accounts for only a small, if not miniscule, percentage of employment (2% in central Appalachia, 11% in Wise County) in the region. Of that, the specific form of mining known as "mountaintop removal" accounts for an even smaller share. And, as an added bonus, mountaintop removal coal mining seriously harms the environment - drinking water, wildlife, etc. - for the people who live there. As Jim Webb, a man whose Scots-Irish family roots go back generations in the Appalachian region, writes in his book "Born Fighting":
The people from the outside showed up [in Appalachian coal country] with complicated contracts...asking for "rights" to mineral deposits they could not see, and soon they were treated to a sundering of their own earth as the mining companies ripped apart their way of life, so that after a time the only option was to go down into the hole and bring the Man his coal, or starve. The Man got his coal, and the profits it brought when he shipped it out. They got their wages, black lung, and the desecration of their land...Coal made this part of Appalachia a poverty-stricken basket case while the rest of the mountain region remained mired in isolation.
That pretty much sums it up.

President Obama: "The Olympic Spirit, the Spirit of Bipartisanship, and Health Reform"

The full transcript is here.

Will McDonnell, Cooch, and House Republicans Cost Virginia Northrop Grumman?

Will Bob McDonnell and House of Delegates Republicans, both of whom have rejected granting protections to GLBT employees of the state government, end up costing Virginia Northrop Grumman? Based on this story, it it appears to be looking more and more likely.
A Maryland state senator and gay rights advocates are urging defense giant Northrop Grumman to reject Virginia as a location for its new corporate headquarters because of the Commonwealth's position on state protections for gay employees.


Madaleno, who is gay, wrote that new Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) are "turning back the clock" on gay rights, as Maryland's attorney general has announced the state will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Virginia voters in 2006 amended the state constitution to prohibit gay marriage.

On Friday, the chief executive office of Equality Virginia, a gay rights group, sent Northrop Grumman CEO Wesley Bush a similar letter. The group has scheduled a news conference on the topic for Monday.
The bottom line is this: GLBT-unfriendly policies are not business-friendly policies in the year 2010. Who knows, maybe gay bashing was considered "business friendly" back in the pre-Stonewall (not to mention pre-civil rights and pre-womens' rights) 1950s, an era to which Bob McDonnell, Ken Kookinelli, "Sideshow Bob" Marshall, and Marshall's fellow House Republicans appear eager to return, but it certainly isn't today.

The question is, why do we let these people get away with claiming that they are "business friendly" when they clearly are not, at least when it comes to attracting the smartest and most talented workers to Virginia? And why do we elect people who kill the goose that lays Virginia's golden egg - physical infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.) and so-called "human capital" (education, health care, high quality of life)? Now, there's a possibility that these people might lose Virginia Northrop Grumman - and all the jobs and tax revenues that would come along with it - through their bigoted, reactionary, retrogade policies towards GLBT people. Once again, as always, Republicans are doing a "heckuva job!"

Whipple Clips Dozen: Saturday Morning

Thanks to Tom Whipple for the Saturday "Clips."


Adam Ebbin vs. "Sideshow Bob"

Friday, February 26, 2010

Unfortunately, as Adam Ebbin reports, the "motion to pass by" was agreed to, effectively killing the amendment to require non-discrimination against state employees. Ebbin adds, "Only 3 Republicans did the right thing and only 3 Democrats did the wrong thing. Every member of the Black Caucus stood with me, as in past years." And, of course, "Sideshow Bob" Marshall was right there, leading the charge, this time against gays and lesbians. What a wonderful, wonderful man Marshall is. Yes, that was extreme sarcasm.

1st CD Candidates on Guns, Jobs: More Contrasts in Leadership

Courtesy of the "Leaving My Marc" blog, here are two more videos from the 1st CD Democratic candidate forum held last weekend in Stafford County. First, here are Krystal Ball and Scott Robinson on gun issues.

As "Leaving My Marc" points out, both candidates are supporters of the 2nd Amendment, but only Krystal Ball is absolutely clear where she stands on this issue:
...we need to focus on how do violent criminals get their weapons. By and large they do not get them from retail outlets, they are getting them on the black market, they are getting them from friends who bought them on the black market. And what we really need to focus on to cut down on violent crime, which is absolutely a plague of this nation, is anti-trafficking legislation..
For his part, Scott Robinson claims that this is "not really a federal issue; it’s really a state issue." Well, alrighty then (rolls eyes)...

Now, on to the issue of job creation. As "Leaving My Marc" notes, Krystal Ball "currently owns an educational software company" and has extensive "experience as a successful small business owner." This comes through loud and clear as you listen to her talk about "the sort of incentives that can help small business owners," including "access to credit [which] is absolutely critical." Krystal also "wants to invest in green technology and provide incentives for companies and entrepreneurs to locate their business within the district, especially in Economic Empowerment Zones." And, most impressively, she "wants to invest in smart grid technology, which would allow alternative energy sources to become viable and potentially lead to individual’s ability to become energy entrepreneurs through selling their excess energy through the grid." Great stuff.

In contrast, Scott Robinson's prescription for job creation in the 1st CD apparently comes down to one thing - broadband. Not that there's anything wrong with broadband, in fact it's a great thing, but obviously it takes a lot more to jumpstart economic growth than simply hooking more people up with broadband internet access. As "Leaving My Marc" points out, expanding broadband is a great idea, but "that can’t be the entire plan." Fortunately, Krystal Ball has a great deal more in her toolkit than yet another one of the technological "magic bullets" that Scott Robinson seems so enamored with.

Jim Moran's "Outraged Exclamation Point" on "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

An excellent, moving speech, which Rachel Maddow calls an "outraged exclamation point," by Rep. Jim Moran (D-8th).
I rise today to share the substance of an email from an active-duty soldier in Afghanistan. Response to an inquiry from his commanding officer related to the military's review of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, the soldier shared how he and his partner of 10 years have managed multiple deployments to Iraq and to Afghanistan. He explained that they survived like any couple does except, because of the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, his partner would not be informed in the event of his death and could not make any emergency decisions that would normally fall to a spouse. Their situation is typical, even within his unit; he learned that a fellow soldier was also gay, only after he was killed by an IED in Iraq. The partner of the deceased soldier wrote the unit to say how much the victim had loved the military, how they were the only family he had ever known.

Front Group, Fake Members, Polluter Money Target Virginia's Air

Posted by The Green Miles

Who's attacking the Clean Air Act in Virginia? Why are they hiding behind a front group that was just created two weeks ago? A little detective work turns up an unsurprising answer -- but one with some comically bad cover-up work.

Ads began running in Virginia & several other states today attacking the Environmental Protection Agency for trying to do its job & protect our air as mandated by the Clean Air Act -- passed by a Democratic Congress, signed by a Republican president, and approved by a conservative Supreme Court.

The announcer in the ad never says who paid for them. In tiny, semi-transparent type at the bottom of the ad are the words "Paid for by the Coalition for American Jobs." If that name sounds about as credible as the law firm of Dewey, Cheatem & Howe, you're on the right track.

The next major red flag: The "Coalition" won't say who's in the coalition. Its website just makes a vague reference to "businesses, industries and others." And its "resource" page is completely blank. I showed the link to my dad who laughed, "All out! Sorry, folks! We expect another shipment in on Thursday!" At this point, I'm imagining the offices of the "Coalition" are in the back of a pickup truck with the engine running.

Who's the website registered to? The "Coalition" doesn't want you to know, having hidden its registration information. And why not? The website is as flimsy & phony as the group itself. Here's a photo from the site:

A "Coalition" supporter? Not exactly. More like a stock photo:
You'd think front groups would have learned from Big Coal's embarrassing "FACES of Coal" stock photo scandal. Guess not. In fact, the entire Flickr account of the "Coalition" appears to be stock photos.

What about the group's phone number? It's a cell phone that goes straight to voicemail ... but a search shows up as having it registered to "Chemis American." Is that the American Chemistry Council, based in Arlington? Considering the "Coalition" ads are prominently featured on the Chemistry Council's front page, it looks like we have a winner!

Why wouldn't the American Chemistry Council want its name attached to the ads? Given that the ExxonMobil Chemical Company is a member, I can see where the Council would want to distance itself from, well, itself. And it turns out the website was created by a public relations firm called v-Fluence, whose clients include the American Petroleum Institute. (The firm didn't return my call asking who'd paid for the "Coalition" site.)

Frankly, it's insulting that the American Chemistry Council & other big polluters think Virginians can be fooled by phony front groups with fake members. I hope shenanigans like this help convince Senators Mark Warner & Jim Webb to stand against any polluter efforts to gut the Clean Air Act.

Even more bizarre is that certain conservative websites mindlessly posted the ad without ever asking who was behind them. Those same bloggers will put a big "Don't Tread on Me" banner on their website -- but have footprints all over their backs from polluter front groups.

Sen. Judd Gregg (R): Reconciliation is "majority rules"

"Reconciliation is a rule of the Senate (that) has been used before for purposes exactly like this on numerous occasions... Is there something wrong with majority rules? I don't think so."

"We are using the rules of the Senate as they are set up to be used, and that happens to be the rule of the Senate."

"If you’ve got 51 votes for your position, you win!"

So sayeth Republican Senator Judd Gregg in strong support of using reconciliation, at least when it came to opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Apparenlty, reconciliation is cool with Republicans as long as it's used to: a) give huge tax cuts to rich people who don't need them; or b) trash the environment. But it's not ok with Republicans to use reconciliation in order to expand health care coverage for tens of millions of Americans, even after legislation doing just that has already passed the Senate with 60 votes, and even after they lost the election in 2008, and even after our country was founded on the concept of "majority rules" (with protections for minorities, of course). But why be consistent when you can be an obstructionist?

h/t: The Seminal

Annabel Park Live Blogging on Washington Post at 2 PM

FYI, my friend Annabel Park will be live blogging on the Washington Post at 2 pm today (Friday) to talk about her "Coffee Party" movement (see the Washington Post feature article on this in today's paper). Check out the live blog and ask Annabel a question!

P.S. The Coffee Party has now grown to over 15,000 members from 9,000 yesterday. Impressive!

Arlington Democrats Slam Cuccinelli for Spreading "Misinformation" on Global Warming

The following resolution, slamming Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, is pending a vote next week by the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC). I expect that it will be approved overwhelmingly, and I thank ACDC chair Mike Lieberman for taking the lead on this crucial issue. As always, I'm proud to be an Arlingtonian!
Resolution on Virginia Attorney General’s Actions on the Clean Air Act

Whereas, overwhelming scientific evidence now indicates both the current reality of climate change and the fact that warming trends are being influenced by human activities that release greenhouse gases, principally carbon dioxide;

Whereas, the United States Supreme Court in Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007), found that greenhouse gases are air pollutants covered by the Clean Air Act and held that the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has the authority and a duty under the Clean Air Act to determine whether greenhouse gases pose a threat to public health and if it does, to take corrective actions;

Whereas, the US EPA appropriately discharged its statutory authority and duty in reaching its finding that the mix of six long-lived and directly-emitted greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) “in the atmosphere may reasonably be anticipated both to endanger public health and to endanger public welfare.”;

Whereas, on February 16, 2010, the Virginia Attorney General filed a request with the US EPA to reconsider its determination and also a Petition for Review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit seeking judicial review of that determination;

Whereas, in a statement to the press announcing his filings, the Attorney General explained, “We cannot allow unelected bureaucrats with political agendas to use falsified data to regulate American industry and drive our economy into the ground.”;

Whereas, the Commonwealth of Virginia is presently in a severe budget crisis and cannot afford to waste taxpayer dollars on frivolous politically-motivated litigation;

Whereas, Virginia’s elected officials should be focused on responding to and addressing threats to public health and welfare created by air pollutants, while promoting a clean energy economy and green jobs, rather than attempting to spread misinformation and obstruct progress on these matters;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Arlington County Democratic Committee hereby condemns the actions by the Virginia Attorney General to petition to reverse and obstruct US EPA's climate change endangerment finding, asks that these petitions be withdrawn, and asks that no further Virginia taxpayer dollars be spent to pursue these or similar actions

Krugman, Pearlstein on Republicans' Health Care "slander," "misdirection," "do nothing"

Steven Pearlstein and Paul Krugman sum up my feelings about the Republicans' pathetic performance yesterday at the health care summit.

Steven Pearlstein, referring sarcastically to Republican "leaders," writes that the "most important thing Republicans think is that if there are Americans who can't afford the insurance policies that private insurers are willing to offer, then that's their problem -- there's nothing the government or the rest of us should do about it." He quotes Eric Can'tor, who yesterday said that Americans were only "allegedly" wronged by the health care system. That pretty much sums up the Republican attitude right there; "I've got mine so screw you." Or, as Pearlstein puts it, "For Republicans, the uninsured remain invisible Americans, out of sight and out of mind." Maybe we should call them the Ostrich Party?

Paul Krugman sums it all up, writing that this entire debate is ending right where it began, "with Democrats offering moderate plans that draw heavily on past Republican ideas, and Republicans responding with slander and misdirection." The bottom line, according to Krugman, is that "House Republicans don’t have anything to offer to Americans with troubled medical histories," other than "to afflict the afflicted, to make the lives of Americans with pre-existing conditions even harder." Of course, all this flows naturally from a morally bankrupt ideology in which the poor and vulnerable are annoyances who should be scorned as "getting what they deserve."

Sadly, that's the "Grand Old Party" these days -- "slander," "misdirection," and "do nothing." Needless to say, this Eric Can'tor/John Boehner GOP is a far cry from the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Rooevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, even Richard Nixon or George HW Bush. Unfortunately, today's Republican Party has become the party of no - no ideas, no leadership, no compassion, no integrity, no shame, no...well, you get the idea. Personally, I'll support the party of "yes" (on making life better for the American people) over the party of "no" (except to corporate welfare and restrictions on people's rights) any day. How about you?

UPDATE: Also see EJ Dionne's article, which begins, "The Republicans simply don’t want to pass comprehensive health-care reform. Dionne also argues, correctly, that "Now it is absolutely clear that the only way health-care reform will pass is through majority rule in the Senate, otherwise known as the “reconciliation process."

Mark Warner On Financial Reform

Mark Warner is working with Bob Corker (R-TN) "on a plan to overhaul financial regulations, strengthen bankruptcy provisions, and resolve resolution situations "towards receivership not conservatorship." This is an area Mark Warner knows a lot about, and I'm glad to see him working hard on it. For more background on the Warner/Corker approach, see here. One key area I'll be watching closely is whether progress is made on "the administration's proposal to create an independent agency to regulate all consumer loan products and prevent the kinds of abuses that led to the subprime mortgage debacle." So far, that seems to have been the stumbling block; we'll see if Senators Warner, Corker, Dodd et al. are able to reach an acceptable compromise.

Whipple Clip Dozen: Friday Morning

Thanks to Tom Whipple for the Friday "Clips."


Dennis Findley Ends 10th CD Campaign

A few hours ago, I received an email from 10th CD Democratic candidate Dennis Findley, announcing that he is "ending [his] campaign for Congress in the 10th District of Virginia." Findley explains: "A family matter has arisen that requires my undivided time and attention and thus this is not the right time for me to continue my pursuit of elective office. While obviously disappointing, family always comes first and I have no regrets." He pledges to "helping the Democratic nominee for this race defeat the incumbent, Frank Wolf."

I just wanted to take a minute to thank Dennis Findley for stepping up to the plate and running for public office. Although more conservative than I am on several key issues, Dennis is a class act through and through. He is also a smart and articulate guy with a great deal of passion for helping children with special needs and learning disabilities, providing health insurance coverage for early treatment of children with autism, and many other issues. I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.

P.S. Dennis Findley's withdrawal from the race leaves three other Democrats officially in the race: Rich Anthony, who I endorsed last December and who I am now consulting for; Jeff Barnett; and Julien Modica. The 10th CD apparently will decide definitively this weekend on a nomination method and date; the "firehouse primary" they tentatively decided on a few weeks ago may go by the wayside, but we'll find out soon enough.

Annabel Park's "Coffee Party" Profiled in Washington Post

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Click here
to read the Washington Post story on my friend, and former Webb "ragtag army" member - Annabel Park's "Coffee Party" movement. As the Post says, it's really "percolating!" :)

P.S. There are 9,361 fans of the movement and growing fast - sign up here.

1st CD: Stark Contrast in Leadership on "Don't Ask Don't Tell"

It's hard to imagine a starker contrast than what we see here between Krystal Ball and Scott Robinson on the issue of repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell." First, here's Krystal with the correct answer, both in terms of substance - repeal this harmful policy - as well as on leadership - stand up for what you believe in, don't have your finger in the wind or outsource your judgment to other people.
I have been pretty vocal about the fact that I support full equality for the LGBT community. It may not be a very politically popular issue, but I wouldn't run if I didn't think I could stand up for the values I believe in. And, as part of that, I think it's absolutely something that needs to be repealed, particularly now that Admiral Mike Mullen has come out - the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - and said "this is a policy that doesn't make sense, it's not in our nation's best interest and we need to get rid of it."
Now, here's Scott Robinson with the wrong answer, both in terms of substance and also in terms of leadership.
I, too, have the president's position. I'm gonna wait until the study is conducted, and I'm I gonna support whatever the study is. I trust the chairman and I trust the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and whenever that study comes back, I'm going to support [it].
As Marc points out at "Leaving My Marc", "If there is one thing I have learned is that people, rightly or wrongly, support leaders that are principled and wiling to take stands on difficult issues." On this issue, repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is the right thing to do on every level - pragmatic, moral, and even political, as 75% of Americans support gay people serving in the military. Which is why there's certainly no need for a politician - let alone a Democrat - to be waiting for a commission's report to decide his or her stance on the issue. If Tom Perriello has proved one thing over the past 2 years, it's that standing up for your convictions can be the right thing to do AND a winner politically. That's why I strongly support Tom, and that's also why I strongly support Krystal. Let's help elect both of them in 2010!

Quick Report on Eileen Filler-Corn Event

Just a quick report as it's getting late. I just got back from a reception in support of Eileen Filler-Corn for Delegate. The event was held at the home of Terry and Dorothy McAuliffe in McLean, with "special guest" Mark Warner in attendance along with about 100 supporters of Filler-Corn (Rich Anthony, Krystal Ball, John Foust, Rex Simmons, Bruce Nielsen, Chris Ambrose, etc., etc.). There was a lot of energy in the crowd, and both McAuliffe and Warner spoke extremely highly of Filler-Corn.

Based on the energy I saw tonight, plus what I heard from people I spoke with at the event, it seems like Eileen's got momentum heading into the final days of the special election for Dave Marsden's former seat, but this is still likely to be a nail biter. Eileen's clearly the best qualified of the two candidates, that's not even a close call. Substantively, Eileen will fight to protect schools and teachers, while her Republican opponent will...uh, do what Republicans do, which is say "no" to everything, rubber stamp Bob McDonnell, and "cut, cut, cut some more." In short, you'd be crazy to vote Bolognese! :)

By the way, don't forget to help Eileen GOTV this weekend. On Saturday, Jim Webb kicks things off at 9:30 am at Eileen's campaign headquarters (5618 Ox Road, Suite C). Join him if you can and help Eileen hold this seat for the "blue team." Thanks.

Virginia State Senate Passes Budget On 30-10 Vote

The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus reports:
The Democratic-led Senate of Virginia today passed a two year budget that will help protect jobs and critical services in the Commonwealth. The Senate budget minimizes cuts in public education, higher education, public safety and health care services while investing in economic development initiatives that will create jobs and promote economic growth in the Commonwealth. The budget includes no general fund tax increases and rejects many of the most devastating and job-eliminating cuts proposed by Governor Bob McDonnell. The budget passed the Senate with a bipartisan margin of 30-10 with all Democrats voting for passage.
Other points.

*"...the Senate rejected over $700 million in cuts to education proposed by Governor McDonnell"
*"The normal two-year recalculation of the Local Composite Index will occur under the Senate budget, meaning that state aid to local school districts will be distributed more fairly and accurately based on population and property values."
*"The Senate’s budget holds all localities harmless in the recalculation, meaning that no locality will receive less than was proposed by Governor Kaine."
*"The Senate rejected Governor McDonnell’s recommendation to eliminate the state’s support for school breakfasts..."
*"Many healthcare services that were cut or eliminated by other budget proposals were saved by the Senate."
*"The Senate budget includes $24.2 million for agricultural best management to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. It also keeps open five state parks that faced closure under Governor McDonnell’s proposed budget, including the historic Twin Lakes State Park."
*"The budget passed today by the Senate will keep cops on the street and provide adequate resources to maintain safety and order."
*"The Senate’s budget puts $81 million dollars back into local sheriff’s departments, saving the jobs of deputies who serve as the primary law enforcement in many communities."
*"The Senate budget realizes approximately $508 million in savings by partially deferring payments to the Virginia Retirement System for public employees...The deferred payment will be repaid into the VRS system in payments of $74 million annually for ten years beginning in 2013."

Perriello: "Until the Senate gets its head out of its rear-end...Our economy is at risk"

I think that Tom Perriello's interview with enviro blog Gristmill should help you all understand why he's my favorite Congressman, by far (not to mention the great work he did on stripping health insurance monopolies of their antitrust protection). Here's an excerpt. Go git'm Tom!
Every week the Senate doesn’t act [on clean energy and climate change legislation], it either freezes that investment and innovation or it sends it overseas. We’re giving up jobs. The Senate—the ridiculous tactics of the Republicans and the timidity of the Democrats—is standing in the way of the kind of job creation we need.


Keep in mind that cap-and-trade is a Republican idea. It was a good idea when the Republicans came up with it and it continues to be when Democrats support it. It’s a good idea because it uses capitalism to solve a core problem. When Republicans are honest with themselves—many of them come up to me and say, “Look, I’d love to support it, I know this is the right approach, but if I do this I’ll have a primary challenger tomorrow.” That’s not conviction politics. That’s spinelessness. There’s a lot of posturing that goes on up here.


That’s [stripping "cap-and-trade" out and passing an energy-only bill] more insider baseball crap. I don’t really care. I’m sick of starting with what can we get through the Senate; let’s start with what solves the damn problem. Until the Senate gets its head out of its rear-end and starts to see the crisis we’re in, our country is literally at risk. Our economy is at risk, because these jobs are being created overseas. It should have the same urgency with this problem that it had bailing out Wall Street.
Wow, talk about "conviction politics!" :)

Video: "Does Bob Marshall Agree With Rev. Ellison that Haiti Earthquake Was God's Punishment for Voodoo?"

From Right Wing Watch, we learn that:
Rev. Joe Ellison introduced Del. Bob Marshall last week as a "warrior who will fight for our cause." Ellison – with Marshall at his back – agreed with Pat Robertson and said that the Haitian earthquake was God's punishment for practicing voodoo. Two minutes later, Marshall said that disabled children are God's punishment for abortion.
Here's what Ellison says in the above video.
From a spiritual standpoint, we think the Dr. Robertson was on target about Haiti, in the past, with voodoo. And we believe in the Bible that the practice of voodoo is a sin, and what caused the nation to suffer. Those who read the Bible and study the history know that what Dr. Robertson said was the truth.
Right Wing Watch goes on to ask:
Does Marshall stand behind Ellison and his remarks on Haiti? Or will Marshall blame the Washington Post for first reporting Ellison's comments, just as he has blamed the Capital News Service for first reporting his own?

It is not an accident that Marshall and Ellison echoed one another and Pat Robertson. They all believe that God exacts vengeance on those who do not follow their peculiar and ultraconservative interpretation of the Bible.
And just as Marshall believes that God exacts vengeance on women who have abortions. It's amazing this guy holds elective office, but he really needs to resign now.

Health Care Summit: Live Feed [UPDATES]

Feel free to use this as a thread to discuss today's health care summit specifically, and health care reform in general.

UPDATE: Rich Anthony's thoughts on the health care summit are here. It concludes:
Hopefully, today’s health care summit will lead to a change in the attitudes of Frank Wolf, Eric Cantor, John Boehner and others. But honestly, I’m not holding my breath. The sad fact is, Republicans have spent the past year obstructing progress, talking about how they want health care reform to be President Obama’s "Waterloo" and how they want him to "fail," while Americans suffered under our current health care delivery system.

That’s why it’s now time to cut to the chase. Since Republicans have no intention of being constructive on this issue, unless of course you consider "tear it up and start all over again" to be constructive, it’s time for Democrats – the people we worked so hard to elect in 2006 and 2008 – to use their overwhelming majorities in Congress to get this job done. It’s time for Democrats, and that includes Senators Warner and Webb, to strongly support the use of reconciliation to pass health care reform with affordability, portability, a robust public option, competition in the industry, and mechanisms to keep insurance companies honest. Republicans can claim all they want that reconciliation is not the right way to go, but as usual they are being hypocritical, as they themselves used reconciliation to "jam through" George W. Bush’s agenda back in the early 2000s. Now is not the time to surrender when we are on the brink of victory. Now is the time to lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.

UPDATE #2: Eric Cantor says people are "allegedly" wronged by our health care system? That is some seriously FUBAR...uh, "stuff" right there. Tens of millions of people without health insurance, tens of millions more without adequate coverage, and thousands of people dying every year (plus many more going bankrupt!) because of it is "allegedly" wronged? As I said, seriously FUBAR.

How An Attorney General's Supposed To Behave

Here in Virginia, our sorry excuse for an Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, apparently spends his days plotting to protect polluters and figuring out ways to make it harder for people to get high-quality, affordable health care coverage. In contrast, our neighboring state to the north has an Attorney General who does what Attorney Generals are supposed to do -- work tirelessly to protect the environment, stand up for workers, and of course expand peoples' rights.
Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) declared Wednesday that Maryland will recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere and that its agencies should immediately begin affording gay married couples the same rights as heterosexual ones.

With Gansler's decision, Maryland in effect joins the District and a handful of states including New York that recognize same-sex marriages performed in four New England states and Iowa. The District also has its own measure legalizing those unions that is expected to take effect next week.

Gansler, a supporter of legalizing same-sex marriages, was asserting his authority as the top legal adviser to state agencies to answer a question that experts say had been left unclear by Maryland law. He was responding to a legislator's request that he issue an opinion.
Unfortunately, here in Virginia, we have an Attorney General who speaks to toy elephants, denies global warming, and is so paranoid and anti-government that "he doesn’t want to get his son a Social Security number because "it is being used to track you'." In short, and not to mince any words, Virginia's Attorney General is a right-wing radical whackjob working to take us back to the middle ages. In contrast, Maryland has an Attorney General, Doug Gansler, who is fighting for progress, a healthier environment and a better life for all the residents of his state. Which Attorney General do you prefer?

Bob Marshall Shoots the Messenger, But His Meaning Remains Crystal Clear

Bob Marshall can lash out all he wants against the Capital News Service and call it "slanderous" 'til the cows come home, but that doesn't change the clear meaning of what he said last Thursday. Here are his words, also recorded on video; judge for yourself.
The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children. In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There's a special punishment Christians would suggest.
OK, so how did the Capital News Service take anything "out of context" when it reported, "State Delegate Bob Marshall of Manassas says disabled children are God's punishment to women who have aborted their first pregnancy?" The fact is, Bob Marshall clearly said that, in the Bible, "the first born" is "dedicated to the Lord." Thus, in Marshall's theology, aborting that first born is taking away a child that was "dedicated to the Lord," an obvious offense against God the way Marshall sees it. Thus, the need for "special punishment," which naturally flows from the offense to God. And what is that "punishment?" According to Marshall, it is that "nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children" by increasing the rate of birth defects in later children by the woman who aborted "the first born."

What could be clearer than that? Also, how is it not totally "in context" of Marshall's (fundamentalist) belief system, not to mention of the anti-Planned Parenthood press conference at which he was speaking? Answer: it isn't "out of context" at all, it's very obvious what Marshall is talking about, and the fact that Capital News Service reported that accurately should be cause for praise of Capital News Service, not attack. As far as I'm concerned, Marshall now owes Capital News Service an apology for accusing them of "slandering" him. That is completely false, based on a fair reading of what he said in the context he said it.

By the way, in the video posted above, Marshall refers to excerpts from "peer-reviewed studies" that he posted on his website. You can read those here, but I'm not sure how this is going to help Marshall. For starters, it's very poorly written. For instance, Marshall writes, "If you disagree with abortion safety orthodoxy, well, it won’t get you burned at the steak". Yes, he wrote "steak" not "stake." And check this out, including the multiple typos:
For exaple, if you positively conclude that not only is abortion not safer than chiodbirth, but even more dangerous you are subject to vilification in official US Government publications as at best, anti abortion zealots who are woefully ignorant of medical facts, or dubbed as cunning Elmer Gantry type liars who use abstinence programs as a lure for federal money, but slyly seeking to bring unmarried pregnant teens to Jesus even if the methods involve skirting the moral law!
Other than the typos, all I have to say about this is, "huh?" Why is Marshall referencing Elmer Gantry, the "young, narcissistic, womanizing college athlete who abandons his early ambition to become a lawyer" and becomes "a notorious and cynical alcoholic" who "contributes to the downfall, physical injury, and even death of key people around him, including a genuine minister?" Is Marshall seriously claiming that the basis for his crusade against abortion is not based on his fundamentalist religious beliefs (including the "special punishment" part of his theology)?

If not, then what is motivating Marshall in his tireless efforts aimed at restricting womens' reproductive rights? What has motivated Marshall over the years to make other outrageous statements, no doubt "taken out of context" (yeah, right!), for instance that "sometimes incest is voluntary" and "We have no business passing this garbage [the "morning-after" pill] out and making these co-eds chemical Love Canals for these frat house playboys in Virginia?" Who in his right mind would ever say stuff like this? And why would we not take Marshall's latest, despicable remarks in the context of his many offensive statements over the years? Sorry, Bob, but there's no reason to give you any benefit of the doubt -- your words, meaning, and context are absolutely crystal clear. Nice try at distracting people's attention by shooting the messenger, though!

P.S. If you believe that Bob Marshall is an embarrassment, not just for his latest lunacy but for his entire career of crazy remarks and even crazier legislation, sign the petition and demand that he resign. Thanks.

Whipple Clip Dozen: Thursday Morning

Thanks to Tom Whipple for the Thursday "Clips."


Tom Perriello: Health Insurance Companies Should Play By Same Rules [UPDATE]

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nice job by Tom Perriello, fighting for people not the health insurance monopolies.

P.S. The bill is H.R. 4626, the "Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act," to "restore the application of the Federal antitrust laws to the business of health insurance to protect competition and consumers." As mcjoan writes on Daily Kos, "This is a perfect litmus test vote for whether your representative is on your side, or your insurer's."

UPDATE: Great news from Tom Perriello!
WOW. 406-19! applaud my colleagues on both sides of aisle. ins companies be very afraid.

UPDATE #2: Tom Perriello has issued a press release.
The U.S. House of Representatives today voted 406-19 to pass H.R. 4626, the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act, introduced by Congressman Tom Perriello and Congresswoman Betsy Markey. The two-page bill repeals the special antitrust exemption that health insurance companies have enjoyed since 1945, and will restore competition to the health insurance market to promote affordability, improved quality, and greater consumer choice.

“Today, Washington finally took a stand for patients, for the free market, and for common-sense, bipartisan principles of fairness. Today, we sent a simple message: health insurance companies must compete for business like everyone else,” said Rep. Perriello. “Working and middle-class families are sick and tired of getting nickel and dimed by these companies while they rack up billions in profit and enjoy their monopoly protection. I applaud my colleagues for standing on the side of consumers over the health insurance companies.”

“I’m proud of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for standing up for a common sense bill,” said Rep. Markey. “Long ago, the insurance industry got a special deal from Washington. Big health insurance companies could conspire with each other to fix prices, divide territories and never be punished for it. It's wrong, and this bill fixes it–once and for all.”
And don't forget to "Become a Citizen Co-sponsor of H.R. 4626".

Cuccinelli's Global Warming Denial Views In Tiny Minority

So, according to a 2009 study by Yale and George Mason University, Ken Cuccinelli ranks among just 7% of Americans who are "dismissive" of global warming (see Figure 1 and Table 1 below). Within that tiny minority, Cuccinelli's in the 58% who are "very" or "extremely sure global warming is not happening." All of which puts Cooch in about a 3%-4% minority of Americans on this issue (or, to put it another way, 96%-97% of Americans do not agree with Cooch on this one). Even if we're "generous," the most we can say is that there are 18% of Americans - the "doubtful" and "dismissive" of global warming - who share Cooch's views, with the remaining 82% of Americans not sharing his views. Unfortunately, this guy's our Attorney General; how embarrassing.

By the way, this is interesting:
... most of us desiring environmental change anyway -- no matter where we stand on the man-made global warming matter (with one exception).

According to the study: "Majorities in all six groups identified by the survey (on a continuum from "alarmed" to "dismissive") say that developing sources of clean energy should be a priority for President Obama and Congress, and they strongly support more funding for research into renewable energy sources and tax rebates for people who buy energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels.

Further, regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, which is currently being considered by the Environmental Protection Agency, is supported by 91 percent of the "alarmed," 93 percent of the "concerned" and even by 52 percent of the "doubtful."
That's right, Ken Cuccinelli's view that we should not regulate greenhouse gas emissions is once again in the small minority, with "five of the six Americas support regulating CO2 as a pollutant." Check out these numbers, and keep in mind that they've actually declined over the past year, as well-funded (mostly by the fossil fuel industries) global warming deniers have spewed out reams of misinformation, disinformation, and outright lies. Also, admittedly, scientists and others in the environmentalist community have not done a great job countering the lies, but it's pretty hard when they can outspend you a zillion to one. Sigh.

Chap on the "Fraud" of "Oil Drilling Royalties"

Great article by Chap Petersen. Of course, any article that calls oil drilling revenues "a fraud wrapped in a chimera concealed within a pyramid scheme" has got to be great! :)
Let's review the basic facts:

1. Currently, there are no off-shore drilling operations in the coastal waters of Virginia. Indeed, it's not certain that there are any petroleum deposits which can be tapped cost-efficiently. (there is a surplus of natural gas off our coast -- but it's far more cost-effective to obtain it from existing domestic sources)

2. Current Federal law prohibits drilling within 50 miles of the East Coast. That is the absolute minimum standard to protect our coastal environment and U.S. Navy operations. That means that any future off-shore drilling will take place in waters belonging to the U.S. -- not Virginia.

3. The U.S. Congress has recently rejected the concept that coastal states like Virginia would receive royalties from new drilling off our coastline, if such drilling did occur. Quite simply, there is no incentive for inland states to share revenue which would otherwise go to the Feds.

In summary, this is a train going nowhere.
In sum, there probably isn't any economically recoverable oil off Virginia's coast, and even if there is (which is doubtful), we almost certainly wouldn't get any revenues out of the deal. So what do Bob McDonnell and the Republicans do? That's right, they not only assume oil revenues, but lots of 'em, as part of their non-plan to raise money for transportation and other pressing needs. What a joke, is this some new form of "Laffer" economics? Well, we ain't laffin'! Heh.

The bottom line is that Chap is right, "this is a train going nowhere." Which begs the question, "Why does Bob McDonnell keep repeating, 'I think we can, I think we can, I think we can?'"

Webb, Warner Vote to Pass Jobs Bill

A few minutes ago, Jim Webb and Mark Warner joined 68 other U.S. Senators (including 13 Republicans) to pass H.R. 2847, aka the "jobs bill." Voting against jobs were 27 Republican'ts plus de facto Republican't Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

The Washington Post explains that this bill "is the first element of what Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has said will be a multipart 'jobs agenda.'" The bill that passed the Senate this morning "would give companies a break from paying Social Security taxes on new employees for the remainder of 2010" and extend the Highway Trust Fund for a year, among other things. Thank you, Senators Webb and Warner. No thank you to the Republican'ts.

Bob "No Hypocrisy Here" McDonnell: Get Me More Stimulus Money, Pronto!

Better late than never, but I'm glad to see Bob McDonnell publicly acknowledge the importance of Congress' economic stimulus package.
Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) met with the state's congressional delegation today at the U.S. Capitol and urged the group to help him secure stimulus funds to help build a Rolls Royce manufacturing plant in Prince George County, near Petersburg, several present in the meeting said.

If that makes McDonnell sound like just another Republican who criticizes stimulus spending with one side of his mouth and happily seeks it out with the other, it's slightly more nuanced than that.
Yes, actually, McDonnell does "sound like just another Republican who criticizes stimulus spending with one side of his mouth and happily seeks it out with the other." Maybe the difference is that McDonnell actually has to govern. And maybe, just maybe, McDonnell's realizing that to close Virginia's huge budget gap without raising revenues - which he has ruled out for ideological reasons (and no, mythical, probably-never-to-be-seen offshore oil drilling "revenues" don't count) - he's going to need help from the federal government? We'll see if, in the future, McDonnell continues to bite the hand that feeds him, and also if his fellow Republicans in Virginia's Congressional delegation will fall in line with McDonnell's new pro-stimulus stance. I'm not holding my breath on either count, how about you?

UPDATE: One big happy Virginia family! :)