The End Result of "Drill Baby Drill"

Friday, April 30, 2010

I think Bill Maher speaks for most of us today when he says, "Every asshole who ever chanted 'Drill Baby Drill' should have to report to the Gulf Coast today for cleanup duty."Oh, and let me just add: f*** you Sarah Palin!
Finally, just remember, if "drill baby drill" (or should we call it "spill baby spill?") afficionados like Bob McDonnell gets his way, the following photos could be coming to the Virginia coastline sometime in coming years. Let's all tell him, "no thank you!"
UPDATE: According to Reuters, "White House says no offshore drilling will be allowed in new areas until review of oil spill off La. coast."  Great, but how about offshore drilling in current areas using similar types of drilling equipment and techniques, such as failing to use acoustic valves as part of blowout preventers, as is done in other parts of the world?  Oh, and how about we make getting off of oil our #1 priority?  Until we do, disasters like this will happen again and again. Needless to say, that is completely unacceptable.

What Would Gulf Coast Oil Spill Look Like Off Virginia's Coast?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

by The Green Miles

Thanks to the magic of Photoshop, we can cut the Gulf Coast spill & paste it, scaled to size, off the Virginia coast in the area where drilling is planned. Via Twitter's Brad Johnson, here's what it looks like proportionately.Obviously this is not exactly what a Virginia oil spill would look like. There are many variables -- wind direction & speed, water current patterns. This is not a forecast, it simply shows relative sizes.
What would all that oil do? Would it head out to sea? Towards the Chesapeake Bay & Virginia Beach? Up to Ocean City? Who knows.
But hey, at least oil spills come with a darkly comic side. Sen. Mark Warner, arelentless cheerleader for oil & gas drilling off Virginia's shores, is now being listedamong coastal-state senators who've "expressed concerns about the safety & environmental impacts of offshore drilling." Who says you can't have it both ways?
UPDATE by LowellMuch, much better news!
In a groundbreaking decision that some say will usher in a new era of clean energy, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said today he was approving the nation's first offshore wind farm today, the controversial Cape Wind project off of Cape Cod."This will be the first of many projects up and down the Atlantic coast," Salazar said at a joint State House news conference with Governor Deval Patrick. The decision comes after nine years of battles over the proposal.
Last I checked, wind power doesn't cause environmental catastrophes like offshore oil drilling does.

Since the Corporate Media Won't Cover This....

Monday, April 26, 2010

Yesterday on the National Mall, there were tens of thousands of people (myself included) holding an Earth Day rally. But you'd never know that if you read or watched the corporate media today. Imagine if there had been tens of thousands of people calling President Obama a "Communist" or whatever? That's right, wall-to-wall coverage. How about if there had only been a few hundred people calling Obama a "Communist" (or a few dozen if they had guns) or whatever? Yep, same thing, wall-to-wall coverage. But tens of thousands of people - I've seen estimates of 150,000 - protesting for the planet (or immigration reform, for that matter, or any other "progressive" cause)? Apparently, it's not worth covering, in the infinite wisdom of the "so-called liberal media" (actually, the media is corporate and dumbed down "infotainment," through and through). Anyway, here's some video of speeches, music after the "flip." Enjoy! P.S. To learn more about Earth Day, click here.

5 Myths About…the WaPo's Most Cynical Feature

Sunday, April 25, 2010

by Kindler

The media loves pretending to challenge "the conventional wisdom".  That must explain why the Washington Post Outlook section seems so fond of its regular feature, "5 Myths About [fill in the blank]", in which a designated scholar appears to debunk some pesky myths that deserve to be deflated.  But this feature is not what it seems, and it most certainly is not performing a public service.  Here, in a style that the WaPo might understand, are 5 myths about this ridiculous weekly feature:Myth#1:  The authors of these pieces are objective, disinterested scholars
Horse-hockey!  Today's piece, "5 Myths About Green Energy", was written by Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute.  Here are a few facts you should know about the Manhattan Institute:
- It was founded by Reagan's spymaster William Casey to promote "market-oriented principles", i.e., to give ultraconservative ideology the facade of academic rigor.
- It has included such "scholars" as Charles Murray, notorious for his book The Bell Curve, the thesis of which was basically white racial superiority.  Another alumnus is David Frum, speechwriter for George W. Bush, who was responsible for crafting the most meaningless phrase ever to pass through a pair of presidential lips: "Axis of Evil."
- It has received funding to support tobacco industry positions from RJ Reynolds, Phillip Morris and Lorillard.
- Among its donors are the right wing Scaife and Koch Foundations - the latter known for funding climate denial and similar misinformation in support of its interests in the oil industry.  (See Greenpeace's recent report, "Koch Industries Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine.").
Now just imagine you're an oil company and you want to discredit a competing product like - oh, say, "green energy".  If you publish an ad with your corporate logo on it, your bias will be hard to conceal.  But if you pay a right-wing think tank to write an article in a respected newspaper busting the "myth of green energy", you give your talking points that much more credibility.  Such a deal!
kindler :: 5 Myths About…the WaPo's Most Cynical Feature
Myth#2:  These pieces really are about "busting myths", which needs to be doneCow cookies!  These are opinion pieces where the author is presenting one side of the story and suppressing the other side.  That would be fine in the Outlook section if these were simply labeled as opinion pieces.  But this feature is set up to identify the perspective that one opposes as a bunch of "myths", which is, let's face it, a polite word for "lies".  It's one thing to say that your opponents' beliefs are wrong; it's another to say that they are spreading lies.
Yes, of course, sometimes people do spread lies and misinformation (Glenn Beck comes to mind) and need to be called on that.  But to encourage writers, every single week, to label their opponents' viewpoints as mythological is not IMHO conducive to a healthy debate over the issues.
Myth#3:  Readers will recognize these as opinion pieces, so no harm done
Bull burgers!  Don't assume that.  The "5 Myths" label deceptively draws the reader into believing that these are not opinions pieces but fairly objective analyses showing where the conventional wisdom needs to be adjusted.  Readers not aware that the Manhattan Institute is a far right wing institution, for example, may think that it reflects some kind of scholarly consensus that "green energy" really is a phony, untenable enterprise, as opposed to the rising and promising field that it is.  A simple opinion piece attacking green energy would come across and be received much differently.
Myth#4: It's okay as long as it features "myth-busting" by both the right and the left
Hog hocks!  A regular misinformation section in the newspaper is not okay just because it allows both sides to take turns participating.  There will be readers who come away from today's piece thinking that green energy is just a big hoax, without knowing about the author's biases of the flaws of the "5 Myths" approach.  That damage is not fixed just because next week may feature a progressive writer busting certain myths of conservative dogma.
Myth#5: This is a fun and harmless way to make the Outlook section more interesting
Turkey tuchus!  We've already discussed the harm of this deceptive approach.  If the WaPo's opinion editors want to make Outlook more interesting, here's a radical concept: why not feature a wider range of opinions and a broader range of writers than the usual dull, elite, inside-Washington crowd?  How about pulling in some viewpoints from unconventional places like (OMG!) the blogosphere?  How about shaking up the design, making it unpredictable, making it innovative?
You don't need these subtle deceptions like "5 Myths" to attract readers.  To the contrary, why not bring this snoozer of a section down to earth, closer to people, make it more challenging and pathbreaking, with less opportunities for lobbyists to launder the messages they are paid to deliver into opinion pieces?
Now you know, dear WaPo editors, that the value of this particular Outlook feature is purely mythological.  So please bust it off your pages and replace it with more openly expressed opinions - from all sides.

George Mason: Climate Denial U.?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Northern Virginians have lots of reasons to take pride in George Mason University, as a rapidly growing academic community named the #1 national university to watch in the 2009 rankings of US News & World Report, with Nobel Prize winning faculty and an occasionally great basketball team.
Unfortunately, GMU is also known as a "magnet for right wing money" which takes millions in corporate cash to run a network of centers to gin up and legitimate the latest ultraconservative talking points.
Now let me be clear: I strongly favor an academic environment that is open to debate and opinions from all across the political spectrum.  But there is a difference between principled, reason-based academic stands and corporate-funded attempts to skew debate and provide a fig leaf to cover naked profit-based self-interest.
This brings me to the unfortunate role that our local university is playing in the political war over climate change. A lot of NOVA residents may not realize that GMU gives funding, support and - most importantly - academic legitimacy to some of the best known and most persistent deniers of the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change - notably Patrick Michaels and S. Fred Singer.  In doing so, GMU perpetuates the myth that there is widespread academic disagreement about the facts and causes of climate change when in fact there is not.  
kindler :: George Mason: Climate Denial U.?
Notable among the funders to GMU are the notorious Koch brothers, about which Greenpeace recently released a damning report, "Koch Industries Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine."  Koch, the second-largest privately-held company in the US, supports its interests in the oil industry by funding dozens of think-tanks, websites, and PACs to create an echo-chamber that endlessly repeats the latest bogus climate denial claims to convince the media, politicians, and citizens that climate change is just a hoax concocted by corrupt scientists, enviros and the nefarious Al Gore.Koch and other right-wing donors give their money to support a web of GMU-affiliated organizations with names like the Mercatus Center, Institute for Humane Studies, and the Science and Environmental Policy Project.  Through these centers, GMU and their donors support such climate denial luminaries as Professor Patrick Michaels.
As Mother Jones noted a couple months ago:

Patrick Michaels has more credibility than your average climate skeptic. Unlike some of the kookier characters that populate the small world of climate denialists-like Lord Christopher Monckton, a sometime adviser to Margaret Thatcher who claims that "We are a carbon-starved planet," or H. Leighton Steward, a retired oil executive and author of a best-selling diet book who argues that carbon dioxide is "green"-Michaels is actually a bona fide climate scientist. As such, he's often quoted by reporters as a reasonable expert who argues that global warming has been overhyped. But what Michaels doesn't mention in his frequent media appearances is his history of receiving money from big polluters.
Oh, yeah, about that corporate money, it includes:

a $63,000 grant in the early 1990s for "research on global climatic change." He also received $25,000 from the Edison Electric Institute, an association of electric utilities, from 1992-95 for "literature review of climate change and updates." And a 2006 leaked industry memo revealed that he received $100,000 in funding from the Intermountain Rural Electric Association to fund climate denial campaigning around the time of the release of An Inconvenient Truth. Reporter Ross Gelbspan wrote in his 1998 book The Heat is On, one of the earliest works documenting industry funding for climate change skepticism, that Michaels also received $49,000 from the German Coal Mining Association and $40,000 from the western mining company Cyprus Minerals.
Michaels and his supporters boast of his credentials - including his position as Senior Fellow in the School of Public Policy at GMU.  Curiously, however, if you search on Michaels' name on George Mason's website, you don't find much - unlike other professors, who generally have their own web pages detailing their research and activities.  Might GMU be trying to downplay his presence on their faculty?
You won't have much luck finding S. Fred Singer on GMU's website either, although he is the other big climate denial fish being fed by the university.  You have to go to the website of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) - one of the centers GMU keeps at arms length, conveniently, to attract corporate money to support conservative causes while keeping the university's hands clean.
Singer, according to Source Watch, set up the precursor to SEPP with funding from the Reverend Moon's Unification Church.  He's had even more luck with other funders from the fossil fuel industries:

In a September 24, 1993, sworn affidavit, Dr. Singer stated that he had two meetings with Robert Balling in Pheonix for which his expenses were re-imbursed. Singer believed the the funding, which he received from Balling, originated from the Western Fuels Association.  Singer also admitted to working as a consultant on approximately half a dozen occasions for the Global Climate Coalition and that payments to him came either from the firm of John Shlaes, the coalition's director or the PR firm, E. Bruce Harrison, which worked for the coalition.  He also stated that he had undertaken consulting work on "perhaps a dozen or so" energy companies. This included work on behalf of oil companies, such as Exxon, Texaco, Arco, Shell, Sun, Unocal, the Electric Power Research Institute, Florida Power and the American Gas Association.
(He also, incidentally, has in the past attacked the scientific finding that secondhand smoke can cause cancer, in a collaboration with a tobacco industry lobbyist.  This is one of the many connections between the corporate funded campaigns against regulation of tobacco and greenhouse gas emissions - apparently it's a small world among academics up for sale to the highest bidder!)
There are many other corporate-funded attack dogs against climate science and environmental regulation hiding in the GMU bushes, like:
- Susan Dudley, Director of the Mercatus Center - which has received some $10 million dollars from Koch to rail against government regulation - and a Bush appointee to OMB, where she not surprisingly did all she could to stop environmental and other regulations.
- Brian Mannix, Dudley's hubby, another Mercatus henchman and a Bush appointee to the EPA, where he reviewed EPA regulations before sending them to his wife at OMB to be killed.
- Walter E. Williams, GMU Economics professor, who begins one article with the scholarly observation: "Most of what the radical environmentalists preach is wrong or exaggerated, and sometimes are simply outright lies."
All of these folks have a fondness for spreading their views through non-peer-reviewed publications, articles and web postings that don't adhere to the minimum requirements of the scientific method.  But they still benefit from being able to claim sponsorship by a reputable, accredited university.
So fellow NOVA residents, I'm not asking you to turn your backs on GMU - no, better that we turn our attention to what this university is up to and raise our voices when its good name is used to promote junk science and corrupt causes.  We deserve a great university - not a corporate shill - in our midst, and we should fight to ensure that is what GMU becomes.

Tom Perriello at Center for American Progress: "A Creative Middle Path on Iran"

I attended this event at the Center for American Progress yesterday. The featured speaker, starting at about 2:45, was Rep. Tom Perriello (D-5th, VA). I've listed a few key points, after the "flip." Overall, excellent job - thoughtful, articulate, nuanced, wise - by Tom Perriello on an important topic, and yet another example of why he richly deserves to be reelected this November! *"Being tough means doing your homework" *It's a mistake to limit ourselves to "20th century weapons in a 21st century conflict" *Opposition movements in Iran are growing, but the outcome of their efforts is "not inevitable"; *It's a high-tech game of cat and mouse between the Iranian government and the opposition *There's a higher per-capita number of blogs in Farsi than any other language *We now live in an era where the voices of non-state actors have tremendous power" *The surest way to see sanctions backfire is to not be able to control the spin within the country of exactly what's happening" *Legitimacy is crucial in the context of Iranian "regime transition" (as opposed to "regime change") *In addition to sanctions and military force against Iran, both of which remain "on the table," we need to look at creative solutions we haven't thought of yet; what is the "option set" where we can "maximize the upsides and minimize the downsides?" *The nuclear issue is "very serious" and playing out rapidly; strategies that talk about 20- or 30-year culture change are not really ones that will meet the context of how Washington is thinking about the problem. *We need to think about what we can we all do, with legitimacy, to support the courageous Iranian opposition movement and move towards "regime transition" in Iran sooner rather than later. *We need more "open source," Iranian voices rather than just information seen as produced in the US or UK. *The tendency of Congress on foreign policy issues is to write a hawkish, non-binding resolution that accomplishes "little or nothing," but everyone votes for it and feels "tough on national security." *There is, however, "genuine interest" in Congress in supporting Iranian democratic activity, eliminating development of nuclear weapons, doing something about human rights abuses. *There's "some hunger for new ideas," but we are in a "hyperpartisan environment right now." *"Anything that seems less than a march to war will be something that those who are on the other side can take and try to make a political issue out of." *"There is, even among the most hard right and hard left, some understanding that sending in support with a big American flag on it doesn't exactly help the opposition movement on the ground." *To solve this specific problem, it helps to understand the broader context/grand strategic framework, for instance on global nuclear non-proliferation, a real Middle East peace agreement, etc.

Cooch Speaks At Conference of Crazies

See NLS for more on "The Awakening" conference Ken Cuccinelli spoke at yesterday. First, this woman's panel was "immediately followed by a speech from Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia's Attorney General." For more on Cindy Jacobs, see here and here. Wild. As if that's not crazy enough, check out this panel, which claims that if the Employment Non-Discrimination Act passes, basically "teh gayz" will do all kinds of heinous things to disabled veterans and stuff. Like, with anal probes. Anyhoo... Not that people like Andrea Lafferty, Cindy Jacobs, and Ken Cuccinelli care, by the way, but I wonder how long it would take for their heads to explode if they read this article, which explains that "[v]arious forms of same-sex sexual activity have been recorded in more than 450 different species of animals by now, from flamingos to bison to beetles to guppies to warthogs." They might particularly appreciate the fact that "Male Amazon River dolphins have been known to penetrate each other in the blowhole." Ah, nature! :) Oh, and how long will it take everyone else's heads to explode when they realize that Virginia's freakin' Attorney General was speaking at this conference o' crazies? Anyway, turn up the volume (very poor recording quality) and enjoy "teh crazy!"

Jim Moran Explains Why Frank Wolf Needs To Go

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Although Rep. Jim Moran is a Democrat and Rep. Frank Wolf is a Republican, I don't think I've ever heard Moran say a negative word about Wolf, or vice versa. Well, last night, at former Del. Margi Vanderhye's house (at a fundraiser for 10th CD Democratic nominee, Jeff Barnett), that changed. Watch as a fired-up Jim Moran strongly lays out the case against Frank Wolf and why he need to be replaced. Good stuff.

Delegate Bob Marshall Suggests Shooting Lawmakers Over Policy Differences is OK

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

by LeavingMyMark

This is cross-posted at Leaving My Marc. At a recent Stafford County Tea Party rally, Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13th) suggests that it is OK to shoot lawmakers over policy differences. First we have Corey Stewart comparing the Obama administration to the Nazi’s, now we have this. Obviously, he was just misquoted. Again, this sort of irresponsible rhetoric may cause someone with violent tendencies to think it is acceptable to act out in this way. You can obviously hear the teabaggers laughing and shouting words of encouragement. Unbelievable. I just can’t understand why Virginia Republicans are falling all over themselves to appeal to teabaggers. They are becoming more of a fringe party everyday.

PWC Chairman Corey Stewart Compares Obama Administration to Nazi Regime

Monday, April 12, 2010

This Saturday, my Blue Virginia colleague Marc Broklawski attended a Tea Party rally in front of the Stafford County, Virginia courthouse. As Marc writes, "One of their featured speakers was Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart. This is the same person that recently sent a letter to Ken Cuccinelli thanking him for his frivolous health care reform lawsuit." Stewart is also well known as a rabid xenophobe, the author of the notorious "rule of law" resolution in Prince William County that was the basis for the film, 9500 Liberty. Now, Stewart has gone even further off the demagogic deep end. I'll let Marc Broklawski take it from here.
With all the crazy things that Stewart has said or done in the past, nothing prepared me for what I witnessed this past Saturday from him. There were many things he said that were non-factual and completely offensive, but his comparison of the Obama administration to that of the Nazi regime was outrageous (fast forward to the 5:25 mark). [...] For Stewart to even suggest that this administration is anything like that of the Nazi’s is way over-the-line, irresponsible and deeply offensive. How the chairman of the second largest county in the Commonwealth of Virginia could make this despicable statement is beyond me?!
Wow, even for Corey Stewart - notorious xenophoboe and thug - this is really bad. h/t: Leaving My Marc. Great work by Mark Broklawski!

New Study: 38,000 New Jobs, $6.3 Billion in Consumer Savings if Virginia Pushes Energy Efficiency

A bit earlier today, an important new study by Duke University and the Georgia Institute of Technology was released. The report is entitled, Southeast Energy Efficiency Study: Energy Efficiency in the South, and it confirms what I've been saying for years now: energy efficiency is by far and away the "lowest hanging fruit" of any energy source.  To put it another way, energy efficiency gives us the biggest energy bang for the buck, far more than nuclear power (one of the worst in terms of "bang for the buck") or "clean coal" (highly speculative and extremely expensive), for example. How much "bang for the buck" we can get from energy efficiency is made clear in this report, including the section specifically on Virginia.*"The policies analyzed in the report offer the potential to reduce Virginia's total energy consumption in all three sectors by approximately 7% in 2020 and 12% in 2030."
*"This avoided consumption is equivalent to about 5 power plants in 2020."
*"Efficiency policies in Virginia will create jobs, spur significant economic growth and save consumers and businesses billions of dollars" ("38,000 jobs in Virginia in 2030", "Save more than $3.5 billion in 2020 and $6.3 billion in 2030").
*"These savings amount to the equivalent of the energy required by about 4,600 Wal-Mart stores and roughly $80,000 in annual energy savings per business in 2020."
*"These savings amount to the equivalent of the energy required by about 320,000 Virginian households and about $325 in annual energy savings per household in 2020."
To put it another way, as David Roberts of Grist points out, "for every dollar the South invests in energy efficiency, it will receive an average of $2.25 in benefits over the next 20 years in jobs, economic growth, and lower bills."  

Sabato on McDonnell's Confederate History Proclamation: "this is a disaster for him & VA."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato has some strong words for Bob McDonnell this morning. Sabato tweets:
Already tweeted about Gov. McDonnell's Confederate proclamation, but it's becoming increasingly clear this is a disaster for him & VA...McDonnell is even being denounced in a Richmond Times-Dispatch edit. The RTD normally leads the cheers for the GOV...VA's national image is suffering. It looks like the Old Dominion again, not the New Dominion so many in BOTH parties have worked hard for...Unlike some, I have no problems with a proclamation saluting Civil War sacrifices & urging study and reflection as we approach war's Sesqui...But it MUST include unqualified condemnations of slavery and secession. To do less is to elevate 19th century VA over 21st century VA...In his own interests, and the state's, Gov. McDonnell must amend this proclamation promptly or face long-lasting recriminations & turmoil...I know Bob McDonnell a bit. He was born in Philly, grew up in NoVa, has never shown slightest evidence of prejudice that I've seen...He hoped to slip this in quietly to please a small vocal part of VA constituency. Didn't work. Now he's being redefined by it. Action needed.
So, my fellow Virginians, what we have here is a complete and utter debacle - but not a surprise in the least bit! - by Pat Robertson's Manchurian Candiate after just 3 months in office. As if this isn't bad enough, Bob McDonnell's "Confederate History Month" proclamation comes on top of several other debacles - protection (or lack thereof) for GLBT citizens, ridiculous lawsuits against the federal government on health care and climate change, etc. - by McDonnell and Kookinelli since they took office in January 2010 (seems like an eternity ago).Now, I realize that Creigh Deeds wasn't exactly the ideal Democratic gubernatorial candidate (to put it mildly!). But, to everyone who stayed home on Election Day 2009...well, something tells me you're not too happy right now! Anyway, don't say you weren't warned about how extreme and destructive Cooch and McDonnell would be if they were elected. I've been blogging about them since 2005, and it's been clear to me since pretty much Day #1 that they're completely off the deep end. Now, they're proving it.
UPDATEColbert King weighs in, says "Bob McDonnell can't change Virginia's history of slavery." As much as he would like to, that is.

Washington Post: "Gov. McDonnell's airbrushing of Virginia history"

This morning's Washington Post editorial page writes about Bob McDonnell's "Confederate History Month" proclamation:
It's fine that Mr. McDonnell decided to proclaim April as Confederate History Month; the Confederacy is an important chapter of history that merits study and draws tourists to Virginia. But any serious statement on the Confederacy and the Civil War would at least recognize the obvious fact -- that slavery was the major cause of the war, and that the Confederacy fought largely in defense of what it called "property," which meant the right to own slaves.Instead, Mr. McDonnell's proclamation chose to omit this, declaring instead that Virginians fought "for their homes and communities and Commonwealth." The words "slavery" and "slaves" do not appear.Even more incendiary is the proclamation's directive that "all Virginians" must appreciate the state's "shared" history and the Confederacy's sacrifices. Surely he isn't including the 500,000 Virginia slaves who constituted more than a quarter of the state's Civil War-era population, who cheered the Union and ran away to it when they could.
The question is, why would Bob McDonnell, or any governor, do this in the Virginia of 2010?  In McDonnell's case, as the Washington Post points out, he has spoken "movingly of slavery's evils" and "paid eloquent homage to former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, the grandson of slaves" in his inaugural address. So, again, why would he do something so "incendiary" and divisive, as opposed to issuing a proclamation aimed more at uniting all Virginians?  The Post offers two possible explanations:1) "Charitably, we might suspect sloppy staff work"
2) "[L]ess charitably, we'd guess he is pandering to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group that lionizes the Confederacy and pressed for the proclamation."
My guess is the latter, but I can't get in McDonnell's head, and I don't want to try (****shudddddder****). Whatever the reason for McDonnell's "Confederate History Month" proclamation, and specifically the wording he's used, it's troubling and - once again, for the nth time in 3 months - embarrassing to Virginia.   What's even more troubling is that this latest McDonnell administration action comes in the aftermath of the brouhaha they caused over combating - or not combating - discrimination against gays and lesbians. If you recall, we had no "Executive Order" from McDonnell, as we got from Governors Warner and Kaine, on this issue. Instead, we got an essentially toothless "Executive Directive" on the matter. That "Executive Directive" came in response to Attorney General Cuccinelli's letter to Virginia's public colleges and universities urging them NOT to protect GLBT students and faculty from discrimination.
Is this becoming the "minority insensitivity administration" or what? At this point, in the aftermath of McDonnell's omission of any mention - let alone serious discussion - of slavery in his "Confederate History Month" proclamation, it sure is starting to look that way.
UPDATEThis is even worse.
McDonnell said he did not include a reference to slavery because "there were any number of aspects to that conflict between the states. Obviously, it involved slavery. It involved other issues. But I focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia."
WTF?!? Slavery wasn't one of the "most significant" parts of Virginia history? My god, what did they teach this guy at Pat Robertson's law school?In response - and rightly so! - "The proclamation was condemned by the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus and the NAACP. Former governor L. Douglas Wilder called it "mind-boggling to say the least" that McDonnell did not reference slavery or Virginia's struggle with civil rights in his proclamation." I agree strongly with the Legislative Black Caucus and Doug Wilder; McDonnell's airbrushing of slavery and the civil rights struggle is completely outrageous, shameful, and unacceptable.
UPDATE #2: A couple of quotes on history that I think are relevant.
*"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
*"A people without history is like wind on the buffalo grass." - Sioux proverb
UPDATE #3NLS reminds us that, back in 2002, then-Delegate Bob McDonnell pushed for the House of Delegates to recite a pledge which came from the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Amazing.
UPDATE #4: Sen. Donald McEachin speaks out.
UPDATE #5: I was just talking about this with a friend; we agreed that if Bob McDonnell's goal here was to attract tourists to Virginia, he should have been as inclusive as possible - Civil War and African American Heritage Month, perhaps? Instead, he decided to be as divisive and

Cooch Hearts Massey Energy and Its Deadly Coal Mines

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Early today, there was a terrible tragedy at a coal mine in West Virginia. Our hearts go out to all the victims, as well as to their families, friends and coworkers, in what's being called "the worst U.S. mine disaster since 1984."In addition to sadness, this explosion should also make you angry. The fact is, this mine had "a history of violations for not properly ventilating highly combustible methane gas, safety officials said."  Why was that situation never dealt with adequately?
For a possible answer to that question [NOTE: see update #3 below], see NLS, which points out that: 1) Massey Energy is based in Richmond; 2) Massey's Knox Creek site in Tazewell County "was one of ten sites in the country to be cited for major health and safety violations last October"; 3) our fine Attorney General is not only NOT cracking down on Massey, he "is actually working with Massey Energy on his lawsuit against the EPA;" and 4) Massey hearts Virginia Republicans, having donated $61,000 to Virginia Republicans in 2009 ("and $0 to the Dems"), not to mention $441,463 to Virginia Republicans since 1997 (just $8,250 to Democrats), including $40,000 to Bob McDonnell for Governor and $10,000 to Ken Cuccinelli for Attorney General.
So, as NLS concludes:
Now Ken Cuccinelli has a choice to make. Will he open up an investigation and ensure that the Massey mining site in Tazewell that has had so many violations of health and safety will comply with the law and ensure its workers safety?  Or is he going to ignore safety warnings even after yesterday's tragedy and hope by 2013 that Massey continues to reward him with large political contributions for his efforts to help in their legal actions against the EPA?We're waiting for an answer Mr. Attorney General.
Yes, we are waiting for an answer, but don't expect one anytime soon. The fact is, Ken Cuccinelli and others in Virginia government - overwhelmingly Republican - are deeply in the pocket of Massey Energy and Don Blankenship, far more concerned with doing their bidding than in protecting workers, the environment, etc.More broadly, the question is why, in the year 2010, we are still stuck in a 19th century energy economy (coal and other fossil fuels) instead of a 21st century one (energy efficiency, wind, solar, geothermal, etc.)? Also, why do we let scumbags like Massey Chairman/CEO Don Blankenship get away with murder - repeated, serious safety violations leading to the deaths of miners?  On both of those questions, there's a very simple answer: follow the money...
UPDATESatirclAlxndria tweets, "WVA mine accident, 25 dead & @KenCuccinelli waxing rhapsodic about Roanoke sunrise & press interviews!"
UPDATE #2Daily Kos has more on Don Blankenship and the politicians he gives $$$ to.
UPDATE #3: Just to be clear, let me just state that there is absolutely no evidence Ken Cuccinelli caused or contributed to the terrible tragedy in West Virginia. What I'm saying is that Cuccinelli (and Virginia Republicans more broadly) receives large sums of money from Richmond-based Massey, that this is not a good thing, and that Cooch should be focused on cracking down against safety violations in Virginia before we have a mine disaster here as well. Cooch also needs to stop doing the anti-worker, anti-environment bidding of companies like Massey.
UPDATE #4: It's also worth noting that Virginia's two previous AG's, Jerry Kilgore (2002-2005) and Bob McDonnell (2006-2009), apparently did nothing to rein in out-of-control Massey Energy on worker safety, the environment, or anything else. Neither did Mark Earley (1998-2001) or Jim Gilmore (1994-1997). 

If I Were A Global Warming Denier...

Friday, April 2, 2010

This past winter, global warming deniers busted a collective gut laughing about how snow (gasp!) in winter (double gasp!!) meant there was no global warming.  That's right, everyone, there was snow in winter, so global warming was proven to be a hoax! Yeah, they really got all those crazy scientists with all their crazy "facts" with that one. Snow in winter. Hahahahahahahaha. Ha.Anyway, it's spring now, and if I were a global warming denier, I'd be vewwwwwwy quiet. Why should they be quiet?  Three reasons.
1. It turned out that this past heating season turned out warmer than normal. Today's Washington Post reports that "heating degree days"  ("an index of fuel consumption indicating how many degrees the average temperature fell below 65 for the day") this season are 3,622, compared to a normal of 3,711 and last season's 3,874.  Fewer degree days, of course, mean it's been warmer than normal this heating season. For global warming deniers, that's a big, forehead slapping "d'oh!!!"
2. Yesterday's high temperature at Reagan National Airport was 74 degrees, compared to a normal high of 61 degrees. Today and tomorrow, it's supposed to be 80 degrees, or 19 degrees above normal. This past winter, we had several days where temperatures were on the order of 19 degrees below normal, and global warming deniers were claiming that was proof there was no global warming. Should they now be citing near-record warmth as proof that global warming exists? The answer is, "of course not," because that would be just as assinine as claiming snow in winter disproved global warming. Still, it would be nice if they'd be consistent in their utter illogic.
3. Finally, we have a story which hasn't gotten much attention on Drudge, Glenn, or Rush: "A parliamentary panel investigating allegations that scientists at one of the world's leading climate research centers misrepresented data related to global warming announced Wednesday that it had found no evidence to support that charge."  What's that, you say?  What about that huge! SCANDAL!!! all the global warming deniers - our fine Attorney General, included - were talking about?  You mean it turns out that "nothing in the more than 1,000 stolen e-mail messages or in the ensuing controversy challenged the scientific consensus that 'global warming is happening and that it is induced by human activity?'"
But, but, but, but, but, but, but, but....GlennRushDrudgeCooch please tell us what to think, make those cognitive dissonance-causing facts go away!!! Yeah, it's sad, but if I were a global warming denier right now, by all rights my head should have just exploded.

Democrats Turn Economy Around; Best Jobs News Since 2007

As the Washington Post reports, the U.S. economy added 162,000 "non-farm" jobs last month, representing "the biggest one-month jobs gain in the past three years."  And in other good economic news, "[t]he Institute for Supply Management reported that manufacturing activity was up for the eighth consecutive month, with a rate of growth faster than any since July 2004." But wait, there's more:
...Factory orders, particularly in durable goods, are so positive at a 0.6% month-to-month rise that they are beginning to merit the description of  "robust." And retail sales at chain stores were also up 0.6% for the week, which means they are on target to top 3% or more for the whole month compared with last year's dismal record.Motor vehicle sales were up as well, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 11.8 million, a vast improvement over February...
And let's not forget the stock market, which just had "its strongest first quarter since 1999." Great news, and we have Democrats - who passed a huge economic recovery package, as well as several other jobs measures, with essentially no Republican support - largely to thank for this (the graph above tells a powerful story). So, where's Eric Cantor and his Party of no this morning to talk down America's economy and to tell us that the economic recovery package passed a year ago "isn't working?"  No comment on the above graph, which shows the economy cratering under a Republican administration and coming back strong with Democrats in charge? Apparently, the cat's got the Republicans' (forked) tongues so far today, but give 'em time, I'm sure they'll think of something bad to say soon enough.