Ken Cuccinelli Continues to Politicize Virginia AG's Office

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Not that this is a big surprise or anything, but Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is ending another year as AG just as he's behaved his entire term in office: in a hyper-political and ultra-partisan manner that has been, and continues to be, a disgrace to his office.In the current case, Cuccinelli has inserted himself into an intra-Republican-party dispute (over access to the Republican presidential primary ballot here in the Commonwealth), one that he certainly has a right to have an opinion on as a private citizen, but also that he would be wise - if wisdom were one of his virtues, which it clearly is not - to keep a low profile on, at least in his role as AG.
I also find it fascinating and ironic that all of a sudden this staunch "conservative" has become a big fan of an activist judiciary, and/or of a legislature telling the state party how to run its own affairs. On this topic, even as the AG's office works to defend Virginia in court, the AG himself keeps talking and talking about it, expressing his view "our system is deficient" (he suddenly came to this realization a few days ago, apparently), that "Virginia owes her citizens a better process," and that "We can do it in time for the March primary if we resolve to do so quickly."
Of course, it might just be poor political judgment on Cuccinelli's part to mouth off on a subject that he's in the middle of litigating, but that in and of itself does not appear to be a legal problem. It is, however, another kind of problem, insofar as Cuccinelli's supposed to be acting professionally, in his capacity as the Attorney General of Virginia, but is simultaneously demonstrating (yet again) that he's far too partisan to effectively do that very thing.
By the way, can AG Cuccinelli be any more disrespectful to Judge Gibney, who just finished ordering Cuccinelli to produce a "three page statement of authorities regarding any conflict that may exist given his public declarations about the subject matter of this case?" Oh wait, I almost forgot that disrespect for a federal judge is actually a badge of honor for the current crop of "conservative" presidential candidates. Heck, even George Will understands this, arguing (correctly, for once) that disrespect for the judicial branch is fundamentally ANTI-conservative. In this case, clearly it's more about Cuccinelli positioning himself politically - and by championing whoever his favorite non-Romney candidate happens to be, while also cleverly taking a shot at his rival Bill Bolling, who strongly supports Romney - than about any "conservative" principles. In sum, with Ken Cuccinelli, he's a rabid ideologue, no doubt, but he's also a clever, conniving - and highly skillful in his own way - politician. All in all, it's not a combination we should admire, although it certainly is a combination that history has taught us to fear.
UPDATEVivian Paige wonders whether it's actually April Fools' Day. The obvious snarky comment is that Ken Kookinelli is a fool every day of the year, not just on April 1.
UPDATE #2Doug Mataconis explains why what Cuccinelli wants to do here is almost certainly not going to work.
In order for a law to become effective immediately upon signature by the Governor, it would have to be passed by supermajorities in both houses of General Assembly, not just any supermajority, but a 4/5ths supermajority...the State Board of Elections has already said that the ballots for the March 6th primary will be printed by January 9th, two days before the legislature convenes. Additionally, as a matter of law, absentee and military ballots must be ready to be mailed no later than January 21, 2012, ten days after the legislature convenes. Absent what would essentially amounts to unanimous consent, as well as an agreement to skip the normal committee process, it would benext to impossible for the legislature to pass a law and the Governor to sign it in time for the SBOE to be able to do the job it is required to do under the law.
Either Ken Cuccinelli doesn't know any of this, in which case he's incompetent, or he knows it full well and is simply posturing politically. My guess is the latter, but I certainly wouldn't rule out the former.

Top 30 Blue Virginia Stories of 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Courtesy of Google Analytics, here are the Blue Virginia stories which received the most "page views" in 2011. All stories are by yours truly, unless otherwise indicated. Thanks to everyone who contributed diaries and/or comments to Blue Virginia in 2011, and also thanks to all our readers. Next year should be a fascinating one, with Barack Obama and Tim Kaine on the ballot, plus many other important races, plus the 2013 General Assembly session, plus Kookinelli's latest kookiness, etc, etc. Stay tuned to Blue Virginia as it unfolds in 2012!1. Maps of New Virginia Senate and House Districts (maps by Dave Leichtman)
2. Why Virginia Democrats Lost the State Senate (by Peter Rousselot)
3. Eugene Delgaudio: Radical Homosexual Pirates Invade Tampa; Loudoun County Next?
4. Loudoun Republican Urges People to Thank Communist Soviet Veteran?!? FAIL!
5. George Allen: "Macaca" Was a "Made Up Word"
6. Virginia Polls are Closed: Results Thread 
7. Small Earthquake Felt in Northern Virginia (by The Green Miles)
8. Top 10 Ronald Reagan Myths 
9. Too Conservative Blog: Loudoun Republican Party "Goes WAY Too Far" on President Obama
10. Major Flooding Paralyzes Northern Virginia (by The Green Miles)
11. I Just Got One of the Weirdest Phone Calls of My Life (I still can't believe this actually happened. WTF?!?)
12. Winners and Losers: Election 2011
13. Why I Really Left Diaspora* (by ycompanys)
14. Polls are Closed: Results Thread
15. Virginia General Election Day 2011: Open Thread
lowkell :: Top 30 Blue Virginia Stories of 2011
16. Video: Thinking Camera's Off, George Allen Whines About How "Torturous" It Is to Speak to Voters 
17. Winners and Losers: Primary 2011 Edition
18. Former Arlington County Democratic Chair: Saslaw/Whipple Redistricting Plan "should be repudiated" (by Peter Rousselot)
19. Rep. Eric Cantor's "Strategic Sneer" at America's Economy (by The Green Miles)
20. Senate Democrats Release Proposed Redistricting Plan
21. Jaime Areizaga-Soto Announces for State Senate; Sen. Whipple Visibly Displeased
22. Tea Party Leader Gloats Over Tucson Massacre (by The Green Miles)
23. Loudoun County Democratic Committee Imploding?
24. Only 15% of Virginia House of Delegates Seats Being Contested? WTF?!?
25. Barbara Favola Gets $2.5k Donation, Votes 5 Days Later to Give Towing Industry $250k More per Year
26. Does Saying You're A Democrat Make You a Democrat? 
27. Stan Barry for Fairfax County Sheriff Re-election Kick Off (by DanielK)
28. 10,000 Activists in Washington to Discuss Crucial Issue to Mankind; Media Barely Covers It
29. GOP embrace of violent rhetoric: A chicken coming home to roost by aznew)
30. Earthquake! AP Reports Pentagon, Capitol Being Evacuated [UPDATE: Magnitude 5.9]

13 Fearless (Foolhardy?) Predictions for 2012

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Here are a "baker's dozen" predictions, fearless and/or foolhardy (and mostly all Virginia related in some way) for 2012. They are mostly by me, but they're also based on input from other Blue Virginia "front pagers." Feel free to add your own predictions in the comments section. Thanks, and Happy New Year!1. The U.S. economy continues to recover, in part as Europe avoids meltdown. The unemployment rate drops below 8% by election day 2012.
2. Willard "Mitt" Romney easily wins the Republican nomination for president, as the anti-"Mitt"s fail to coalesce around one legitimate candidate (and no, Ron Paul isn't a legitimate Republican candidate).
3. Either Ron Paul (although he's damaged goods due to all the past racist, anti-Semitic, etc. writings) or egomaniac loony-tunes Donald Trump -- or another right-wing Tea Party type -- runs as a third-party candidate, in addition to Libertarian Gary Johnson, winning votes from conservatives and others on the right unhappy with flippin'-but-formerly-to-the-left-of-Ted-Kennedy, Willard "Mitt" Romney.
4. In large part because of #1-#3, Barack Obama is reelected president of the United States by a comfortable margin (3-5 percentage points), although not as big a landslide as in 2008.
5. Obama wins Virginia again, albeit by a more narrow margin than last time around, thanks to a huge margin in Northern Virginia, heavy turnout by African Americans and Latinos, and OFA's organizing ability - but NO thanks to DPVA.
6. Mitt Romney selects Bob McDonnell as his running mate, but loses Virginia to Obama-Biden anyway.
7. A sunny, upbeat, likable, forward-looking, reality-based Tim Kaine defeats snarling, nasty, divisive, backwards-looking, science-denying George "Felix Macacawitz" Allen, 53%-47%. Allen goes back to lobbying full time (and for a ton of cash!) for the people destroying our planet and keeping us addicted to fossil fuels.
lowkell :: 13 Fearless (Foolhardy?) Predictions for 2012
8. Democrats and Republicans end up tied for control of the U.S. Senate. Vice President Biden breaks the ties, but the Senate remains largely paralyzed as it has been for several years now (thanks to Republican abuse of the filibuster, mainly).
9. Democrats come very close, but fall just short of taking back the U.S. House of Representatives. Watch your back, John Boehner, as Eric Can'tor mounts a coup attempt for Speaker!
10. The Supreme Court does NOT rule the individual mandate as unconstitutional, although with some sort of wishy washy language that falls far short of a definitive ruling and leaves it as a live political issue. Whatever the exact decision, the Supreme Court case reminds people, in the middle of a presidential election eyar, that the mandate was originally a conservative, Republican idea (supported by Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, etc.), an alternative to "Hillarycare"'s employer mandate. Ken Kookinelli throws a temper tantrum, ranting and raving about King George, "First Principles," blah blah blah.
11. In part due to the DPVA's utter dysfunction, there will be no serious Democratic candidates opposing Morgan Griffith, Robert Hurt, or Eric Can'tor.
12. Newt Gingrich is NOT on the Republican ballot in the Virginia primary, but he nonetheless manage s to (mis)use a few more absurd historical analogies (in addition to "Pearl Harbor") to express how this is the WORST thing in the history of the world!!! LOL
13. Budget and tax battles continue all year, at the end of which, a reelected President Obama's leverage  - due to the imminent expiration of the Bush tax cuts, as well as budget cuts slated to kick in automatically - leads to a grand bargain of sorts (this may be the final straw for Boehner, or Can'tor's "Nixon goes to China" move, which Boehner lacked the credibility with Tea Party to pull off).  

6 Years After "Draft James Webb," How Has It Worked Out?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Six years, almost to the day, after the launch of Draft James Webb - by a few of us crazy, progressive, netroots activists - how has it all worked out? Here are a few positives and negatives, six years later.Positives
1. We defeated George Allen, at a time when all the "smart" people in the Virginia Democratic establishment felt that it was absolutely hopeless - no chance whatsoever - that we could beat Allen in 2006. That's why they picked a wealthy guy as a placeholder candidate. I never bought that analysis. Why not? Because I looked at Allen's 2000 election numbers (not impressive - just 52% over a severely weakened Chuck Robb), his poll numbers in late 2005 (mediocre), his record in the U.S. Senate (96% voting with Bush, no accomplishments to speak of), and the Republicans' declining poll numbers across the country. With the right candidate, why couldn't Allen be beaten? I didn't buy it, nor did others in the "Draft James Webb" movement, and we acted accordingly.
2. We defeated slimeball lobbyist, conservadem, and unethical hack Harris Miller, despite being outspent something like 6:1 (Miller used that money to savage Webb in mailers as essentially a racist, misogynist, and of course Reagan Republican). That, in and of itself, was a huge accomplishment, for which I'll forever be proud to have participated in.
3. We built a 14,000-strong "ragtag army" of Webb supporters across Virginia. That was one of the coolest things I've ever been involved with, and probably ever will be involved with. It also proved that "people power" can win out over money, the "powers that be," etc.
4. As a U.S. Senator, Webb's done some great work. First and foremost, of course, was his modern-day GI Bill. Second, Webb has been a voice for our fighting men and women, as well as our veterans, across the board. Third, Webb has done great work on East and Southeast Asia, including helping pave the way towards a possible breakthrough with Myanmar/Burma. Fourth, Webb has relentlessly pushed for criminal justice reform, has built a large, bipartisan coalition supporting it, and has not given up despite outrageously absurd obstacles put in his path. I hope he gets this one before he leaves the Senate in a bit over a year. Fifth, I'll never forget Webb's awesome response to George W. Bush's State of the Union address on January 23, 2007. Finally, for those who think Webb hasn't been a strong enough Democrat, it's important to point out that, in the end, Webb has voted approximately 94% of the time with his party -- about the same as Mark Warner, who's voted 95% of the time with the Democrats.
5. We took back the U.S. Senate in 2006, with Webb's election tipping it to the Democrats. That, in and of itself, made it all worthwhile.
6. We arguably prevented Felix Macacawitz from getting the Republican nomination for president in 2008. Remember, in early 2006, Felix was busy running, but not for Senate so much as for president. That's why he was hanging out in places like...oh, Iowa and New Hampshire...and not "real Virginia." Heh.
7. Before I get to the "negatives' below, let me just conclude by pointing out that Webb's been infinitely better than Felix Macacawitz, who would have been a disaster on every issue. So, yes, overall I'd say that in many ways, Draft James Webb worked out extremely well. But now, the negatives...(you knew those were coming!).
lowkell :: 6 Years After "Draft James Webb," How Has It Worked Out?
1. As I've written about previously, my biggest frustration with Webb has been on one of his core "themes" of 2006 -- the importance of fighting for the working and middle classes, the need to measure the health of a society at its base and not at its apex, "Jacksonian Democracy." While I've seen some signs of this, I've also seen Webb inexplicably arguing that "the proposed $250,000 cut off level is too low, and he is advocating that it be raised." I'm sorry, but in no way/shape/form is %250,000 per year working class or middle class. In fact, according to a recent poll, 53% of Americans said that making $150,000 or less actually makes you "rich" in this country, while just 29% said that making $300,000 or more is required to be "rich." So why on earth did Webb make this argument, when in 2006 he argued - correctly - that the rich were getting richer, the poor poorer, and the middle class getting squeezed? I don't know, but I do know he was right then but he's dead wrong now. I'd love to hear what Andrew Jackson would say to Jim Webb on this one if he had a chance.1a. On this same topic, we also had Webb's absurd opposition - "absurd," that is, if he's really the Jacksonian Democrat he claimed in 2006 to be - to the "millionaire's surtax." Webb joined with super conservadems like Ben Nelson and Joe Manchin, plus the execrable Joe Lieberman, on that one. Ugh.
2. The other major area of unhappiness with Webb has been on energy and environmental issues. True, I never expected Webb to be an expert on energy issues, let alone a champion of clean energy and the environment, as he's shown very little interest or understanding of energy markets in 2006 (or beyond). Still, in "Born Fighting," Webb ripped the coal industry, writing that "The Man got his coal, and the profits it brought when he shipped it out. {The people of Appalachia} got their wages, black lung, and the desecration of their land." Given that, I never thought that I'd see Webb speaking a coal-company-sponsored, pro-industry rally on the National Mall. I certainly never expected Webb to slavishly mouth the coal industry's propaganda points, like "we are not going to let EPA regulate coal out of business," or "we need to get our support behind the Rockefeller amendment" (to gut EPA enforcement powers)." Simply appalling. Then there's Webb's support for offshore oil drilling, even in the aftermath of the disastrous Gulf of Mexico BP oil gusher. And, with all of this pro-fossil-fuel garbage, where's Webb's support been for CLEAN energy like wind, solar, and energy efficiency? that the sound of crickets chirping I hear? Why yes, it is!
As for the environment, Webb has not been a friend, I'm sad to say. For instance, he's been absolutely, wildly, dead wrong on global warming, actually stating on the floor of the Senate, "I am not convinced the Clean Air Act was ever intended to regulate or classify as a dangerous pollutant something as basic and ubiquitous in our atmosphere as carbon dioxide." Webb also was absolutely, wildly, dead wrong when he claimed the (supposed) "sweeping actions that the EPA proposes to undertake... represents a significant overreach by the Executive branch." That's so many kinds of wrong it's hard to know where to start. In fact: a) the EPA's establishment (by President Nixon) was approved by Congress, back in 1970; b) the Clean Air Act was passed by Congress, extended multiple times by Congress, etc; c) the U.S. Supreme Court clearly ruled in 2007 that the EPA "can avoid taking further action [on global warming] only if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change or if it provides some reasonable explanation."; d) the U.S. Senate has utterly failed in its duty to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, per the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, the overwhelming scientific evidence, etc. In sum, Jim Webb on energy and environmental issues has been a dismal, abysmal, and wildly irresponsible failure, even as scientific evidence mounts that the planet's environment is in grave danger, with urgent action required IMMEDIATELY. Webb totally doesn't get that, and apparently has no interest in learning.
3. Although we built an amazing rag-tag army of grassroots/netroots volunteers in 2006, we weren't able to sustain this in the long term. Yes, there's still a few-dozen-member "Webb Brigades" club, which meets once a month, but that's not the same as having a full-fledged, 14,000-strong movement fighting for the ideals (Jacksonian Democracy, etc.) Webb espoused in his 2006 campaign. In large part, this was a failure of the Virginia Democratic establishment, which in the end refused to work with us to figure out how to integrate that tremendous energy and talent into the party. Instead, they went right back to their business-as-usual mode, chose to keep their small tent of insiders intact (and safe from the "barbarians at the gate"), and as a result lost a golden opportunity to infuse new energy, vitality, and talent into the party.
4. Continuing on with the theme from point #3, Jim Webb could have used his status to fight for his "ragtag army," help reform DPVA, etc., but he chose not to do so. That's a huge, missed opportunity. It's also very disappointing, given Webb's strong rhetorical support, during the 2006 campaign, for the entire "ragtag army"/grassroots democracy ideal. What happened? Got me.
Bottom Line
On balance, as you can see, there have been major "positives" as well as major "negatives" (or maybe it's more accurate to call them "disappointments") six years after the Draft James Webb movement. I'm still very glad we did it, wouldn't trade that experience for anything, and overall am very happy  with what we accomplished. Still, as you can see from the "negatives" list, it could/should have been a lot better.
P.S. Given everything I've written above, I can't decide if Webb's decision not to run for reelection is a positive or a negative. What do you think?

Bob McDonnell's Scrooge Budget: Keep Giving to the Rich, Take from Kids, Seniors, etc.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gov. Scrooge Bob McDonnell just finished presenting his budget for Virginia, and it's as bad or worse than most of us thought it would be. A few lowlights:*There are no new revenues in the budget {UPDATE: I'm informed that there's an increased drivers license fee, which could raise a few million dollars a year -- still utterly inconsequential in the context of an $85 billion two-year budget, but it's worth mentioning for accuracy's sake) which means that everything's a zero-sum game. Remember that, as you analyze the budget: if there's an increase in one area, there has to be a decrease in another.
*No new revenues also means continuing to starve transportation (have fun stewing in gridlock for many more years to come), failing to replace federal "stimulus" funds that are now ending, and absolutely nailing Medicaid ("$258.6 million saved by not funding inflation costs for hospital rates under Medicaid").
*The budget hurts kids, foolishly and counterproductively taking "$81 million from gutting Democratic former Gov. Tim Kaine's Virginia Preschool Initiative." That's really, really stupid, as pre-k is one of the most effective ways to get kids learning early. Why on earth would McDonnell cut that?
*Meanwhile, note that the wealthiest Virginians and most powerful corporations aren't asked to pay any more. And note that there are no cuts to corporate welfare (e.g., coal, movies, wine, you name it -- even the space industry gets some holiday goodies!) in this budget, despite the fact that this largesse costs Virginia tens of millions (or more) per year, for mostly no good public policy reason. Priorities, priorities, I suppose.
Bottom line: this is a classic Teapublican't budget -- hurting the poor, the elderly, the young, the most vulnerable, while protecting the gravy train rich people and corporations are riding on. It's disgusting, but it's also not surprising, given that this IS the Republican Way after all. Ebenezer Scrooge had nothing on these guys when it comes to cold-heartedness and selfishness.
P.S. The House Democrats' press release is on the "flip." I'm not sure how they can "vow" anything, given that there are only 32 of them in the 100-member House of Delegates, but alrighty...

Four Years Ago: Dems Rev Up to Run for Governor. Today: Crickets.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Four years ago almost to the day, Virginia Democrats like Creigh Deeds were busy - not to mention eagerly - revving up to run for governor in 2009. For instance, check out the announcement above, by Creigh Deeds, from December 13, 2007 (at the same time, national Democrats were salivating at the prospects of taking back the White House, as Bush's approval ratings were in the toilet bowl and the economy was sinking into recession). In response, another Virginia Democrat running for governor, Brian Moran, responded by (strongly) hinting that he'd be announcing  for governor as well, but not until after the early 2008 General Assembly session. In reality, of course, Brian and Creigh were both running hard at this point in the cycle 4 years ago. And soon to follow were numerous Democratic candidates for LG (Jon Bowerbank, Jody Wagner, Mike Signer, etc.) and one strong one for AG (Steve Shannon).This time around? Basically, we've got the sound of crickets chirping on the Democratic side, even as Republicans galore - Bill Bolling, Ken Cuccinelli, Keith Fimian, Corey Stewart, Pete Snyder, Dick Black, Jeff McWaters, Bob Marshall, Rob Bell, Mark Obenshain, Jill Holtzman-Vogel, and who knows who else in coming months - come out of the woodwork to eagerly throw their hats in the ring, or hint at doing so, for 2013.
In comparison, who's on the roster for Democrats? Well, we've got Terry McAuliffe probably possibly running for governor. We've got Chap Petersen and Ward Armstrong mentioned as possible 2013 candidates. In the former case, however, there are no signs of any moves to gear up for such a campaign. In the latter case...after getting his butt kicked (and spending a ton of $$$ doing so) this past cycle, plus pissing off a lot of Democrats with his conservadem distancing from/dissing of President Obama, c'mon Ward, you MUST be kidding! Another possibility for 2013 had been (at least theoretically) Tom Perriello, but he de facto took his name out of contention last week, as he accepted a  great job heading up the Center for American Progress Action Fund(congratulations Tom -- smart move!).  

Breaking: Virginia Democrats (Sort Of) Lose Lawsuit on Senate Control

Friday, December 16, 2011

Well, at least we tried.
A Richmond Circuit Court judge has denied a top Senate Democrat's request for a temporary injunction that would keep Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling from casting the tie-breaking vote to give Republicans working control of the evenly-divided Senate.In an opinion issued this morning, Judge Beverly Snukals concluded that "the public interest would not be served by having a deadlocked Senate that is unable to agree on organization."
So, with that news - and barring a successful appeal at a higher level - it now looks like Republicans will have control of the Virginia State Senate, making Dick Saslaw Minority Leader (unless he's deposed, which he should be by all rights, but which appears highly unlikely). The only questions at this point are: how badly will Virginia Republican'ts overrreach, and if they do, how bad will the backlash be? Stay tuned...UPDATE: Sen. McEachin has issued a statement. Based on this analysis, I may have been wrong that Dems "lost" the lawsuit. Not sure; any thoughts?
"While I respectfully disagree with  the outcome, it was purely a procedural decision. The judge determined that the matter was not ripe for a final determination on the merits. The opinion was not a decision on the merits of whether the Lieutenant Governor can vote on Senate organization."I call on the Republicans to respect the will of the voters and past history. The senate is evenly divided, 20-20 so committees and responsibilities and power should be divided to reflect that even split, just as the Republicans said in 1996.  Even then Governor Allen spoke to the need for parity under these same circumstances.
"The Senate Democratic caucus will continue to explore all its options, both legal and procedural, to resolve this issue in a way that reflects the actual outcome on election day, not an arrogant partisan power grab, totally to the benefit of one Party that does not reflect a majority of the Senate," Senator McEachin concluded.

Will GOP Demand Drug Tests for Coal and Oil Subsidies?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

By TheGreenMiles

Spirit of Freedom 2011 Jim ClyburnSteve Benen flags this quote:
South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, a member of House Democratic leadership, told POLITICO he rejects a host of the top Republican offsets, illustrating the tricky path Democrats must travel when negotiating with the GOP."I have a real problem with what I consider a penalty to the federal employees; I got a real problem with the mandated drug testing for unemployment insurance," he said Monday, citing an extended federal pay freeze and a favorite conservative change to jobless benefits. "We don't demand drug testing for people getting farm subsidies."
Will the GOP be demanding the CEO of Exxon Mobil be drug tested before Big Oil gets the billions of dollars in subsidies that the GOP supports? What about for nuclear power industry executives and the billions in subsidies House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has asked for? How about here in Virginia, wheretens of millions of dollars in subsidies for mining & burning coal are handed out each year - will Gov. Bob McDonnell & Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli be forcing Dominion Virginia Power CEO Tom Farrell to fill a Dixie cup to prove he's clean?Of course not. Republicans only want to bully the least powerful & most vulnerable among us in the 99%. The 1% can keep collecting their huge taxpayer subsidies, no questions asked.

First Kaine-Allen Debate: Live Blog

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

For whatever reason, the Richmond Times-Dispatch won't let anyone embed their live stream of the first Kaine-Allen debate, going on right now in Richmond. Here are some notes as the debate goes along, in part through peoples' Twitter feeds. *MoElleithee: Here's what I'll do to fix Congress:1) tackle tomorrow's challenges, not fight yesterday's battles. Begins with education. *Ben Pershing: Kaine says "Congress is dysfunctional and doesn't know how to fix our economy." That's putting blame on both parties, not just GOP. *Brandi Hoffine : In opening remarks, @timkaine offers positive, forward looking vision. George Allen offers tired Republican talking points *Ben Pershing: Kaine says it's too early to tell about uranium mining economics versus environmental impacts in Virginia. *Kaine says he approved Wise County coal-fired plant, but also talks about the need for clean energy. *Allen goes on and on about the need for dirty energy. Shocker, since he's made a ton of $$$ off of said industry. Will he disclose those ties? *Ben Pershing: Allen makes clear his two top Obama policy targets: "massive stimulus spending" and "job-killing" healthcare mandates. *Mo Elleithee: Here we go again. @georgeallenva rails against "sanctimonius social engineers" in Washington. Wonder how many of them live in NoVA. #VASEN *Flat tax? Allen says our tax code is far too complicated. "Freedom to choose flat tax." Says Kaine is "defending this complicated tax code." (he is?) *Allen says he thinks mortgage interest deduction and deductions for charitable contributions are good. Taxpayers could stay under "convoluted" system or go to flat tax. Alrighty... *Mo Elleithee: Allen's response to flat tax reverts to talking points -- completely ignores the question about SPECIFICS of his "plan" *Kaine -- Allen's answer was as complicated as the tax code. He wouldn't pin himself to a number, and that's instructive. Agrees that tax code is "way too complicated." We should take away the big subsidies that George Allen voted for as a Senator. Bush tax cuts -- Allen was deciding vote. They were put in place temporarily, because if they were permanent they would bust the budget. That's exactly what happened (along with voting for wars that weren't funded, etc.). Let Bush tax cuts expire at top end, over $500,000. We also need to make cuts -- "it's balance, it's balance." More on "flip" *Kaine: All we have to do is deal with the Bush tax cuts, that's $4 trillion worth of deficit reduction potential. We don't need people who pledge allegiance to Grover Norquist. Allen's plan is even tighter than Rick Perry's plan that would force massive costs to defense, Medicare, etc. *Question about "macaca" being "fair game." We are accountable for what we've said and done in public life. I haven't been talking about that on the campaign trail. I have followed what George said, including his apology, and I give him credit for that. When Allen said that, "welcome to America," there was no confusion about what Allen meant - that the young man was less of an American than you and me. That's the divisive politics we need to put behind us in this country. Like referring to federal employees as "sanctimonious social engineers," knocking peoples' soft teeth down their whining throats. This is not what Virginians want, what we're all about, we're all real Virginians, Allen's a bully. *Allen - "Macaca" was a mistake, diverted campaign from issues families care about. "I do want to unite people, all people, I'm from a football family..." "I do care about the people of Virginia." Talks about "gas prices," claims there are people in Washington who don't care about high gas prices. Really? Energy policies are hurtful. Kaine's in favor of cap and trade, direct attack on coal. *Ben Pershing: Allen takes question about macaca and transitions into a discussion of energy policy and gas prices. A microcosm of the campaign? *Allen says he's worked with Mark Warner over the years, also former DPVA chair Paul Goldman on renovating schools. We need to rein in debt, federal spending (note: after he participated in running up HUGE debt in the 2000s!). "Unaccountable, unelected bureaucrats." (note: Can we say "tired straw men and red herrings?" This guy is SO tiresome). Allen says "additional revenue" means "tax increases." (note: he seems to oppose any increased revenue at all, which of course mans all cuts, no balance whatsoever) *Mo Elleithee: follow-up to @georgeallenva: do you believe we need more revenue to deal with deficit. Answer: "don't use Washington speak." Huh? *Kaine -- George would not work as part of a bipartisan Gang of Six to find balanced approach. Mathematically, there is NO WAY to solve deficit problem without a balanced approach. Allen has put his pledge to Grover Norquist above his pledge to his office. Allen's plan is exactly what he did as a US Senator, and it tanked the economy. We had the biggest surpluses in history when Allen entered the Senate. Allen then voted for every spending item that came down the pike - Iraq, Medicare expansion, etc. They turned biggest surplus in history into biggest deficit. We can't fix this by following Grover Norquist. In Virginia, we were the best state, AAA bond rated, etc. "You've gotta have a balanced approach or you just can't run this nation." *Kaine to Allen - why did you vote repeatedly to give yourself salary increases. (Allen's answer: uhhhhhh.) "I don't think members of Congress deserve any salary increase." Spending was a problem in the years I was in the Senate, I voted against "bridge to nowhere." *Kaine: When Allen came into office, we had huge surplus, but Allen says one thing and does the opposite. State spending went up 45% in 4 years when Allen was governor. Same thing in US Senate. $3.5 trillion of raising debt ceiling limit. Voted against pay-go restrictions 6 times. Best judge of what somebody will do is what they HAVE done, and you increased spending dramatically in the Senate. *Allen: Your record as governor was one of raising taxes, leaving office with a budget predicated on a massive tax increase. Unemployment rate almost doubled when you were governor. (note: yes, because Bush and Allen crashed the economy) You were chair of partisan, political DNC in last year as governor. *Kaine: My job was not the most partisan job in America, you can look at the way I conducted myself. I took that job to serve the commander in chief. In many ways, my last year as governor was my best year. I was able to ban smoking in bars and restaurants. Many Fortune 500 companies moved here. I'm very proud of my service to Virginia and my fiscal record. I was governor during worst recession in many years -- recession largely promoted by the philosophy you promoted in the Senate. Despite that, we kept Virginia's AAA bond rating, "did amazing things," cut $5 billion from budget, cut estate tax... *Allen - You've been advocating for every significant initiative Obama has put forth, including the stimulus. "In fact, the jobs haven't materialized." You can talk about deficit spending, but you've been advocating for spending that's far more than the rates ever were before. You may consider closing rest areas good management... Also, if you had been successful in raising taxes, cap and trade, Virginia wouldn't be as attractive for business. (note: Allen is wildly wrong on cap and trade, remember that he's an extremely well-paid shill for the dirty energy industry). You were in line with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barack Obama. *Kaine - Wiping out Al Qaeda, saving the auto industry, etc. Allen - Not the role of the government to determine best product. *Question on gay rights around the world. Allen -- That isn't a subject I've heard from the people of Virginia, who are concerned with jobs, energy prices, foreign aid generally. Talks about our energy policy (and he's totally wrong again). Aid should be focused on humanitarian (so, apparently, Allen would favor slashing aid to Israel - fascinating). Claims Israel going to pre-67 borders would endanger Israel (even though this has been U.S. policy since 1967). *Kaine - The United States is strongest when we combine military, diplomatic, economic, moral example. In last decade, we really let a # of those fray, especially moral example. We condition aid on things like protecting religious minorities and other moral issues. I think it's a great thing that we look negatively at countries who persecute people for who they are, that's a horrible thing. We're in a time that a lot of tough cuts have to be made, foreign aid would be part of that (although it's not a large part of the budget). Israel has to be right at the front in terms of aid. In terms of oil drilling, we're producing a lot more oil and gas now than when Allen was a Senator, also exporting more refined oil now than when Allen was a Senator. *notlarrysabato: George Allen too much of a coward to say what he would do about aid to countries that put gays/lesbians to death. *Ben Tribbett: Good for Tim Kaine on his answer on this. George Allen is a dinosaur who can't even defend human rights of people he disagrees with. *Kaine - We need more transportation revenues. We did a good job of management. *Allen - When Tim was head of DNC, he wasn't looking to squeeze money out to improve roads and keep rest stops open. We kept promises to people of Virginia when I was governor. Welfare reform. Promoted work ethic. Safer communities. Regulatory reform. Economic development. Over 300,000 net new jobs created. Lower taxes, pro-growth, pro-ecnomic development with better schools. We froze tuition for higher education. When Tim was government, Virginian lost over 100,000 jobs, unemployment rate nearly doubled. I'm advocating proven solutions, better future for people of Virginia. Tim has been advocating for $800 billion stimulus, $4.4 trillion added jobs, 1.1. million jobs lost since stimulus passed. (note: can say complete logical fallacy?) *Mo Elleithee: So, to be clear: @georgeallenva says he spent more state money because of strong economy. Then he became Sen and tanked economy. #vasen *Question on campaign finance, outside groups. Allen -- I've always been an advocate of disclosure and freedom, I like Virginia's approach. McCain-Feingold was a "restriction of freedom." I would just hope the ads will be accurate in their portrayals of my positions, Tim's positions, etc. (note: the problem is, THEY ARE NOT!) *Kaine -- Citizens United opinion was an absolute disaster. To allow corporations to spend money the way they're spending it now is a disaster, especially combined with ability of people to spend money secretly. Watergate was about cash in bags. Citizens United opened up to secret money. Corporations should not have same rights as living, breathing persons. I've been the victim of the first attack ad of campaign, by Allen's good friend Karl Rove. The notion that these are independent expenditures is a great fiction. The first ad was false, as almost every newspaper said. I submitted balanced budgets one after the nest. That kind of thing makes me so excited about this race. I've got the forces of everyone aligned against me. *Ryan Nobles claims there are just as many pro-Democratic groups. That is TOTALLY false. *Kaine - I'd agree tomorrow with George Allen to keep third-party groups out of this race. (note: of course, Allen would NEVER agree to that!) *Question on Soering case. Kaine - I am very proud of my record as a crime fighter, in Richmond (cut violent crime 55%) and in Virginia (only time in recent times that Virginia's been one of safest states in country). Soering committed horrible crime. German government approached me to ask for prisoner transfer, part of statute put in place by President Reagan -- can get American prisoners home. I rejected the request. German government at the end of term, they guaranteed that Soering would stay in jail on the German nickle and never step foot back in US, my attitude was "good riddance!" *Allen - We disagree on a lot of things, this is another fundamental difference. When I was governor, we made sure we had safe communities. Richmond was very dangerous, police officer killed on Father's Day by criminal on parole. We abolished lenient parole system in Virginia. When Virginian judges/juries sentence someone, they ought to serve that sentence. There needs to be integrity in government, truth in sentencing, we have fundamental difference of opinion. *Gov. Tim Kaine: Staff: Check out our full rapid response web page for the facts on today’s debate: *Allen asks Kaine about the "stimulus" and his support for it. *Kaine - When stimulus was passed, we were in worst free fall since 1930s, in large part because of the policies YOU voted for. You increased debt enormously, also continue to raise deficit beyond your time in the Senate. Much of that deficit was the direct result of policies YOU promoted and voted. Your policies put America in a free fall. In 2009, stock market and GDP was collapsing, now GDP is growing, stock market is around 11,000 now, we've added private sector jobs for 19 or 20 months in a row. John McCain's chief economist says the stimulus bill created or saved about 3 million jobs. 1/3 of it was tax cuts to working Virginians. You like tax cuts to oil companies. *Allen - You've been bringing up this debt issue. The reality is that the last three years, deficit spending has become the norm, $4.4 trillion added to the deficit. Stimulus bill, reality is 1.1 million people have lost jobs since it passed. Stimulus is not working (note: Allen's empirically and analytically wrong on pretty much everything he says -- look it up yourself, do your own research, Allen's just completely wrong.) *Kaine asks Allen about debt ceiling, notes that Allen voted repeatedly to raise the debt ceiling with no conditions. This year, the Chamber of Commerce, Gov. McDonnell, Rep. Cantor, all said we need to do a deal, you said you were against it even if it would put America's credit at risk. *Mo Elleithee: Nice. @georgeallenva is now holding up a chart showing how the economy is struggling thanks to the policies he supported in the Sen #vasen *Allen - Washington was failing dire need to handle big increase in deficit spending. Congress put the military at risk. (note: Allen's completely evading the question) Need tough choices to be made, not as you say "raising taxes." Line item veto, blah blah blah. *Kaine - On the issue of tough choices, "you're all boots and no cattle man." Debt/deficit increases largely the result of what YOU did! People were making very tough choices this past summer, reduced federal spending by $1.1 trillion and you said you were against it. You demonstrated fiscal irresponsibility. Also, if you can't even work together McDonnell, Cantor, Chamber of Commerce, what does that say (Allen responds that McDonnell and Cantor have endorsed him) *Kaine - State should not adopt amendment defining life beginning at conception, because that would criminalize contraception. Tough moral issue. Should have explicit policy of reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortion. Access to contraception, better health care, etc. You should not criminalize womens' right to make their own reproductive decisions, that's something government shouldn't be doing. Allen has advocated personhood amendment, that would be outrageous intrusion of big government into places big government should't go. Allen would criminalize birth control pills. *Allen - I don't see personhood amendment as preventing contraception (note: he's wrong again). I have 100% "pro-life" voting record. Taxpayers shouldn't pay for abortions (note: they don't!). We were able to stop partial birth abortions. I agree with Tim on adoption. Parental notification. I don't think Kaine's accurate that personhood would prevent contraception. *Question about Tea Party "endorsements" of George Allen. How did that misrepresentation occur. Allen -- It was only 1 person, that was a mistake, a confusion over woman with same name. We've put out a lot of endorsements from great names - business, clergy, Tea Party activists, members of General Assembly, great grassroots organization. We have great support all across the state. Lots of folks are joining the "A Team," including independents and even Democrats, people responding to our positive message. Issue of coal, cap and trade, SWVA knows it's an attack on coal, that means jobs in coal fields but also in Roanoke. *Allen - I'm not a doctor, I'm just using logic, maybe a little Latin, about contraception. If the egg is not fertilized it is not conception. *Kaine - Allen was a stock owner in Barr Labs which produced the "Morning After Pill," which presents FERTILIZED egg from implanting in uterus. IUDs stop FERTILIZED egg from implanting in uterus. {Note: Kaine is 100% correct, Allen is 100% incorrect, not to mention extremist). We should not go back to those days. On coal, I permitted a coal-fired power plant (in Wise County). "I was proud of it," capacity for carbon sequestration. On Tea Party, I'm looking forward to talking to them. If they care about spending, they should compare my record with a Senator who turned biggest surpluses into the biggest deficits in American history. *Health care reform question. Health Care Freedom Act." Kaine - I will vote against any repeal bill, I will vote to make it better. I've been to remote access medical clinic in Wise County. Thousands of people line up to get simple medical treatment in richest country in world. We're so much better than that as a nation. We don't need to have 1 million+ Virginians uninsured. I do think Affordable Care Act was a big step forward. More than 20 million seniors have received free preventive care when they couldn't before. Millions of small businesses eligible. Every American safer against abusive insurance company practices. Allen wants to take all that away, just like he wants to privatize Social Security and adopt Ryan Plan. *Allen - This has been another policy that has been very harmful. I've heard from a lot of people very worried about it. Bizarrely claims that Kaine as claiming "Obamcare" was responsible ("taking credit") for Wise County remote medical care, clearly COMPLETELY missing the point, since Kaine said the opposite! This is hurting jobs. We need health savings accounts.

Evan Macbeth to Be New LCDC Chair? Coup Attempt vs. Bruce Roemmelt in PWC? Plus, Fairfax Wackiness.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

After the third straight year of disastrous elections for Democrats here in Virginia, you'd expect a great deal of ferment among Democratic committees, including DPVA. In the case of the DPVA, of course, we're not seeing that, as the culture of non-accountability for failure is deeply entrenched there. Bottom line: at DPVA, it's much more about who people "like," maintaining their exclusive club, racial/gender/regional politics, etc., than about competence and merit. In other words, DPVA seems well beyond hope.At the local committee level, though, we're seeing a bit more ferment right now. Over at NLS, Ben reports that "In York/Poquoson, the new Chair is Jake Evans, a 21 year old local student." Congratulations to Jake, talk about a youth movement!
On a far less pleasant note, Ben reports that "Party switcher Chris Wade who ran for Supervisor as a "Democrat" this year (voting in his first Democratic Primary for himself) was elected Co-Chair of the Braddock District Democratic Committee." Now, to be clear, I have ZERO problem with party switchers from "R" to "D." Recall that I "drafted" one of them  -- Jim Webb for Senate in 2006 -- and worked for his campaign. So what's the difference between Chris Wade and Jim Webb (other than that Chris Wade is NO Jim Webb in any way, shape or form)? Simple: Jim Webb explained, repeatedly and persuasively, the thought process that led him to move from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. In Chris Wade's case, there STILL, believe it or not, has been no explanation for how he went from self-identified "strong McCain-Palin supporter" in 2008 (3 years ago) to suddenly a "Democrat" today. So, what's Wade doing as a Democrat, and what in bloody you-know-where is Wade doing being ELECTED to a Democratic Committee?!? What I'm hearing is that, for whatever reason(s), Wade is seen by certain "powers that be" as a potential Democratic candidate in the future. Why, I have no idea, but it's certainly not based on Wade's efforts for Democrats over the years, that's for sure. Terrible choice by the Braddock District Democratic Committee.
In other news, I'm hearing that Evan Macbeth (pictured with Mark Warner above) is highly likely to be elected the next chair of the Loudoun County Democratic Committee on January 7 (he was the only announced candidate as of a few days ago, after Andy Resnick pulled out of the running). I think that's great news, as LCDC is in desperate need of having strong, energetic, dynamic new leadership, which Evan will provide. Evan's challenges basically involve picking up the pieces -- actually, more like rubble -- from the Mike Turner years as LCDC chair. That includes a 9-0 Republican Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, former LCDC members running around endorsing against their own party, and general dysfucntion all around (come to think of it, LCDC isn't that dissimilar to that other Macbeth - Shakespeare's, including the intrigue, backstabbing, deceit, etc.). I wish Evan Macbeth the best of luck in pulling together all the REAL Democrats in Loudoun County and in reenergizing the LCDC!
Lots more on the "flip," including the coup attempt against Bruce Roemmelt and the wackiness in FCDC that needs to be stopped.

Kaine Campaign Conference Call Lays Out Themes for Virginia 2012 U.S. Senate Race

I just got off a conference call with Tim Kaine's campaign manager, Mike Henry, and Senior Adviser Mo Elleithee, in which they outlined the state of the race for U.S. Senate in 2012. Here are my edited notes.Mike Henry said he's "excited about what we've accomplished" so far.
According to Henry, the Kaine campaign's focused on four main things. First, building a strong financial foundation, both in terms of grassroots dollars and also in terms of running a "lean and mean" campaign. "Lean and mean" is particularly important, given all the outside spending from pro-Republican groups. Also of note, Allen's campaign has not been as thrifty as the Kaine campaign, having spent as much as they brought in the last quarter, giving the Kaine campaign a cash-on-hand advantage. This is important as negative and false ads are already running and expected to continue)
Second, according to Henry, the Kaine campaign's focused on voter outreach, getting Tim around the Commonwealth, including incredible trips to Southside, Southwest, the urban crescent, pretty much every geographic region in the state. Kaine's gotten a really really good response so far.
Third, the Kaine campaign is focused on online organizing, which is becoming more and more important. Henry is very proud of the Kaine campaign's website, which will help arm grassroots activists with the ability to get involved, also is a fully functional mobile site. The Kaine campaign is organizing through smart phones as opposed to just "old fashioned computers." They've also got a fully functional Spanish language site, not just one page.
Fourth, the Kaine campaign's been focused on constituency outreach, building a large field and political program to reach out to people from all walks of life. That includes the faith community, particularly important given Tim's background and that faith has been such a big part of his life. Also focused on college campuses organizing, reaching out to constituency groups and organizing in key battleground communities and counties. For instance, the Kaine campaign has a very aggressive program to focus on Virginia's Latino population.
Finally, according to Mike Henry, the campaign's off to a great start, but no doubt this will be a competitive race, which is why "we're definitely bringing our A game to this race."

According to Mo Elleithee, the Kaine campaign's excited about tomorrow's debate. They expect it to be lively, laying out a strong contrast between two very different candidates with two very different visions about how to get the economy back on track and what fiscal responsibility means. For instance, Elleithee notes, Allen spent six years in Washington supporting economic policies that got us into the crisis we're in today, squandering the largest surplus in American history and turning it into a huge deficit. And now, after all that, he's asking voters to reelect him to the U.S. Senate so he can do more of same.In contrast, Mo Elleithee says that Tim Kaine has a record of real fiscal responsibility, governing during one of the worst recessions in American history, cutting the budget while continuing to invest in key priorities like education that are critical to Virginia's economy. That's why Virginia's still ranked the best state for business, and why we weathered the economic storm with a lower unemployment rate than other states.
According to Elleithee, Kaine and Allen have fundamentally different visions on how to get the economy moving again. Unlike  Allen, for example, Kaine believes we need to invest in people and infrastructure, so we can keep our economy strong, competitive, and moving forward.
The debate tomorrow will follow along those lines.  Essentially, we've got one guy (Allen) who says we need to fight Washington every chance we get. Then we've got another guy (Kaine), who says the federal government and Virginia's economies are linked, that it's better to FIX Washington not just FIGHT it. Unlike Allen, Kaine has a willingness to actually work together.
Both guys, according to Mo Elleithee, are experienced, both have stood on statewide debate stages before, both are pretty good at it, and we expect both candidates to make their points and make them well. This is the beginning of a long conversation over the next 11 months. When we lay out these contrasts, we feel pretty good about the outcome.
Question from Dave Catanese (Politico) on Kaine as DNC chair vs. Allen supporting Bush.
Elleithee: Allen has said repeatedly that the best way to see what someone is going to do is to look at what they've done in the past. Well, let's look at Allen's record then. He says send me back to Washington despite the fact that my votes got us into this mess in the first place so I can do it all over again. There's not much of an appetite in Virginia for that.  Virginians want someone to put partisanship aside and work for the common good. George Allen has shown no interest in doing that, finding common ground, working across party lines, focusing on challenges of the future. He's pushing the same, failed economic policies that got us into this mess. Look at their records as elected leaders - very, very stark contrast.
Tim Kaine governed during the recession that George Allen created.  Allen handed Kaine and other governors a big mess. It's basically the guy who helped create the mess vs. the guy who helped Virginia weather the storm.
Question from Wesley Hester of the Richmond Times Dispatch on the Allen campaign trying to tie Kaine with Obama. Do you think you can win Virginia if Obama does not?
Mo Elleithee: I actually feel good about Obama's chances in Virginia. If you look at all the polls, both the presidential and Senate races are very competitive, and there's no reason to believe that this will change between now and November 2012. This will be a very competitive state. Despite throwing the kitchen sink at Kaine, there's been consistency in every poll.  Voters will look at the two candidates, their individual records, and make a decision based on that. Kaine's doing well in every region of the state he needs to win. Kaine's doing well with independent voters.  If the Allen people want to continue spending their time and money on tying Kaine to Obama, I say god bless em, I just ask for an address to send a thank you note to. It just shows that they don't want to focus on George Allen's failed record and how he'll do things different this time than last time.
Question from Mike Shear of the NY Times on whether "macaca" is a relevant issue for this campaign? If not, will you tell/insist that others do not talk about the issue in their ads, etc?
Mo Elleithee: I agree with Gov. Kaine - anything in any candidate's record is fair game for discussion, anything they've said or done is something voters will consider. Voters want leaders with a record of bringing people together and a desire to UNITE people as opposed to DIVIDE. If you look at the records of George Allen and Tim Kaine, those are very different records.  Kaine worked across party, geographic lines, to unite Virginians of all types toward the common good. Allen has a long record of putting partisanship and ideology above all else, pitting one group against the other. That contrast will become very evident during this campaign.  Bringing people together (Kaine) vs. tearing them apart (Allen).
Question from Robert McCartney of the Washington Post on tying Allen to policies that brought about recession. What specific policies?
Mo Elleithee: A lot of this will come up in the debate tomorrow. In general: on their fiscal records, Allen took office when America had a huge surplus and voted repeatedly for every single budget that turned the surplus into a deficit. That record put us in very tenuous fiscal and economic footing, and George Allen will have to answer for that, especially now that he's running around the state claiming to be a fiscal conservative - he had a chance to do that and he didn't.  Allen will have to answer for his record and reconcile that with his rhetoric. Now he's pushing for increased tax breaks for wealthiest Americans, big oil, etc. at the expense of education, infrastructure, Virginia's defense industry, many of Virginia's small business owners. That approach has been tried, didn't work.  He's saying let's go back to old, failed approach. Record doesn't match the rhetoric on the fiscal matters. Allen's preferred economic policies are failed, why would we want to give them another go?
Question from Ray Reed of the News and Advance on whether the economy will determine the race.
Mo Elleithee: We have seen some very slow economic improvement over past couple years, certainly since George Allen took a wrecking ball to it.  Clearly, there's still a long long way to go. What's going to dictate our chances of winning this seat have more to do with the economic visions both guys put forward. Virginians know there's a long way to go. They will vote for person they want to take us down that road. George Allen wants to pull a U-turn and takes us right back.  Kaine knows that we need to keep moving forward to keep up with competitors on the international stage, including investment in green technology, R&D investment at Virgnia's institutions of higher education.  Allen wants to go right back to same old policies that got us into this mess in the first place. The economic climate is important, but the candidates' visions are just as important.

Despite Teapublicans' Best Efforts to Screw it Up, Democratic Economic Recovery Accelerates

Friday, December 2, 2011

Good economic news this morning!
In a positive sign for President Barack Obama, the unemployment rate surprisingly dropped to 8.6 percent in November - the lowest in two-and-a-half years - as the country's long-stalled economy flashed new signs of strength amid uneasiness about a broader global downturn.The big dip in unemployment from 9 percent in October occurred even though the Labor Department reported Friday that just 120,000 jobs were added in November, a figure roughly in line with expectations.
Unemployment now stands at its lowest level since March 2009 - a clear political plus for Obama but something of a mixed bag considering 13.3 million Americans are still jobless and the sovereign debt crisis unfolding in Europe could tip the world into a recession.
Yes, clearly there are still a lot of problems. And why is that? Well, first of all, President Obama and the Democrats inherited a hell of bad situation from Bush/Cheney/etc. in January 2009. Remember, at that time, the economy was in free fall, unemployment was surging, the budget deficit was projected at about $1 trillion (BEFORE the "stimulus," let's note for the record), the auto industry was in danger of collapsing, etc. Since, then, Democrats have managed to at least stop the hemorrhaging, and even to get things going in the right direction. No thanks whatsoever - don't believe me, review the record on this - to Republican'ts. That's just a fact.Now, just imagine if a few things had happened that didn't happen: 1) the Teapublicans had not blocked investment in U.S. infrastructure, as well as further measures to boost the economy; 2) the Teapublicans had not held the entire economy hostage this past summer over a normally routine debt ceiling increase; 3) the Teapublicans had not insisted on counterproductive austerity in the short term, including cuts in federal/state government employment, instead of the obvious move, which would have been Keynesian fiscal stimulus while the economy recovers, combined with long-term debt reduction; 4) the Teapublicans had not blocked efforts to sharply bring down long-term U.S. deficits; and 5) the Teapublicans had not continuously "talked down" the U.S. economy and placed destroying Obama's reelection chances over the lives of the American people since January 2009? Of course, all of those things would have required the Teapublicans to put their own political calculations second to the needs of our country, and that's clearly something they were NOT willing to do. I just hope the American people see this, and vote accordingly, next November!

Video: Jeff Schapiro on Cuccinelli's Calculation in Governor's Race

According to Richmond Times-Dispatch Virginia political reporter Jeff Schapiro, speaking this morning at the NOVA Democratic Business Council breakfast in Tysons Corner (which I attended, along with about 50 others):
Clearly the Attorney General is gambling, calculating...that the governor may not have the juice to make the difference, and that Bolling is insufficiently strong to carry the governorship for the party.
I'm not sure about either of those assumptions, as Bob McDonnell is highly popular in his party, and in Virginia generally speaking. I mean, if it were just Bolling vs. Cuccinelli one on one, Kooky would win easily. But if McDonnell throws significant political muscle behind Bolling, I'm not sure how it will play out. Thoughts?

Media Matters Demolishes Kaplan Post Coverage of Solyndra Non-"Scandal"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Media Matters does a great job as usual, this time demolishing the Washington Kaplan Post's coverage of the Solyndra non-"scandal" (for more on that subject, see here and also check out the video by Mike Casey of Tigercomm). A few points by Media Matters:*The Post's ombudsman laughably the paper's reporting on this story "showed that the Post produces journalism that is 'hard-hitting regardless of who is in power.'"  
*In fact, the Post's coverage was over the top and wildly biased. For instance, "The Post has published 43 articles related to Solyndra since August 31, not including opinion pieces" vs. just "15 articles related to the Keystone XL pipeline in the same period."
*More wild bias: "Twenty-six of the Post articles mentioned that Obama fundraiser George Kaiser is tied to investment funds that owned a large percentage of Solyndra," while "Only one article noted that before Obama took office and before his stimulus law existed, the Bush administration chose Solyndra 'as one of 16 finalists' for a loan guarantee."
*"Three of the 43 articles have been updated with corrections."
*Only "Three of the articles mentioned climate change or global warming."
*"Attention given to Solyndra dwarfed coverage of other notable stories."
*In the end, "after 43 articles, they have yet to turn up evidence that the Solyndra loan guarantee was anything other than a well-intentioned investment gone bad."
Other than that, it was a superb job by the Washington Kaplan Post. Pat yourselves on the backs, Post boys and girls, you guys rawk!!!

Cuccinelli to Announce Run for Governor Within Days?!?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

According to the Washington Post:
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) will reveal his plans next week to run for governor in 2013, according to well-placed Republican sources.Cuccinelli, a tea party hero who garnered national attention for suing the federal government over the new health-care law, expects to make a formal announcement after the legislative session in the spring, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so they could speak freely about his plans.
The fact that a homophobic, science-denying, extreme social conservative is highly like to be the Republicans 2013 nominee for governor, that's all the more reason for Virginia Democrats to get their act together ASAP. The fact is, as crazy as Kookinelli is, he's a strong politician who should never be underestimated. Clearly, that means we'll need to be as strong as possible heading into 2013. Unless, of course, the thought of "Governor Cuccinelli" isn't enough to light a fire under all of our butts. If that's the case, though, frankly, then we're far beyond hope.Along these lines, another thing we will need to figure out pretty soon is who our ticket will be in 2013. Assuming T-Mac's at the top - and that's not 100% guarantee (either that he'll run, or necessarily that he'd win the nomination, although he's certainly the strong favorite), who will be the LG and AG candidates? I'd argue for strong progressives from the "urban/suburban crescent," candidates who can really fire up our base. I think it's fair to assume that their base will be excited having a Tea Partier at the top of their ticket. What are we going to do to counter that? And, as always, the gubernatorial election will be a battle of bases, so let's definitely have no "Deeds Country" idiocy this time around, please!
P.S. Oh, and as for Bill Bolling, the only question is how badly he'll lose to Cuccinelli, given the latter's popularity among the far, far-right-wingnuts who dominate Virginia Republicans' nominating process.

Let's Improve DPVA - Tech Edition

Friday, November 25, 2011

by Dave

I've received quite a few inquiries in the days since I launched the petition demanding change from DPVA. People have asked me specifically "what would you do differently?" Many people have presented many different ideas here in the last week, but since I'm an expert on political tech, I'll present my thoughts on what DPVA can do to tech-wise to clean up their act. Hopefully this will generate some useful discussion that we can telegraph to the Central Committee ahead of their meeting. I'd encourage others to do the same in their areas of expertise.1. The one that's easy to say, but hard to do - raise more money to provide more tech resources. We have a Tech Director who is maxed out providing VAN tech support to campaigns and therefore has no bandwidth to be proactive on anything else. We could do so much more for committees and candidates if we only had one other person working full time. The times when we've had two people working at DPVA, we've been more successful, especially with our online operations. There's a direct correlation there.
2. We waste our money on stupid online baubles and website makeovers that accomplish nothing because they have no goals other than to line vendor's pockets. I'm not even criticizing the current website - it's attractive and functional. But DPVA has a history of revamping its online presence without putting any actual content behind it. We should be focusing on GOTV tech improvements like the folks innovating in Fairfax. They're buying used iPod Touches so their canvassers can run MiniVan instead of carrying paper. That's what we need to be doing state-wide.
Dave :: Let's Improve DPVA - Tech Edition
3. We have no webmaster, and haven't for at least 5 years. So we have no original online content, advocacy, or directed message. We'll never be able to have a coherent externally-facing narrative without a chief messenger. And a press person isn't the same as an new media director - a remedial campaign mistake that we don't need to reproduce at the state level.4. The DPVA actively shuns the Netroots community. And it's current Chair was personally responsible, during the '09 primary, for destroying the only concerted effort to coordinate that community with DPVA.
5. The DPVA lacks real tech leadership. The last several tech chairs have not provided the necessary leadership, direction, or new ideas. This is not to demean them personally - it's quite possible that they weren't given the mandate to do so, and if that's the case, it just reemphasizes points made here in the last few days. But when the Tech Chair is setting up and managing the wireless router at Central meetings rather than setting statewide tech policy, we have a problem of leadership.
6. We have a private online group where the Tech Directors for the biggest committees discuss tech innovation. I organized it, yet that's the kind of thing I'd expect from DPVA. We had to start the discussion ourselves because the DPVA doesn't care. Meanwhile there are people around the state, mostly in Hampton Roads and Nova, doing truly innovative things that aren't being shared.
7. This may sound too in-the-weeds, but it's probably the #1 issue facing nascent Dem campaigns in VA. The situation with our statewide VAN contract and the way DPVA works with candidates is ridiculous, over-expensive, and untenable in the long-term as more candidates start becoming more technically savvy. Just to us VAN with DPVA's voter data costs $400 as an Arlington County candidate, for example, and $1500 for a senate district. We have to bring those prices down. We also only update our voter data once a quarter which makes it very hard for active campaigns to make use of that data. Arlington County Dems buy their own data to make up for that.
8. You want to involve youth? Foster tech! Youth involvement online is exceptionally high. You tap into that, and you'll see an uptick in youth involvement.
These are my initial thoughts, and I think all of these points are glaringly obvious to anyone paying attention. As an expert in this field, despite throwing myself at DPVA regularly, I've never been consulted on any of this. And why would they ask? I've never received my gilded invite to Central that allows magic access to our state-wide decision makers. Where's the Tech Caucus? Where's the Tech Steering Committee? Where's anything other than our DPVA Tech Director working his butt off trying to hold things together while the party leadership casts about without direction?
This state of affairs needs to be rectified. People like to argue that the marginal benefit in financing political tech is minimal. But in Virginia, we know that's not true. Look at Deeds' AG loss, Webb's senate win, and Edd Houck's loss a few weeks ago. When things are this close, this purple, everything we do counts.

Video: VA Tech Massacre Survivors, Relatives Debate Guns on Campus, Background Checks with VCDL

Monday, November 21, 2011

The above video, from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, was taken on Thursday, November 17th, at Virginia Tech. As the press release explains, the video shows "[s]urvivors of the Virginia Tech massacre and their family members" debating "the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) - a radical pro-gun group that seeks the elimination of all gun laws, including background checks." According to Omar Samaha, whose sister Reema was murdered in the Virginia Tech mass shooting, "guns be banned on college campuses...[and] we must have universal background checks on gun buyers that adequately screen mental health history." According to Colin Goddard, who was shot four times during the massacre, "The reason that Virginia’s college campuses are some of the safest places in the Commonwealth is in large part because of their strict policies concerning firearms." Finally, Lori Haas - whose daughter Emily was shot in the head but who thankfully survived the massacre, "It’s unfathomable that the VCDL would advocate for the elimination of background checks on gun buyers in the wake of what happened at Virginia Tech." As you can see in the video, the VCDL members disagree with these arguments. Why? Apparently, it's based on their belief that more guns on campus means more safety, not less. In addition, it appears to be based on their perception that the current system for background checks and gun permits in Virginia adequately protects the public from the mentally disturbed, who almost everyone would agree shouldn't have access to guns. Unfortunately, as the Virginia Tech massacre demonstrated, and as pointed out in this video by Lori Haas and others, that simply isn't the case in Virginia at the present time. To the contrary, as pointed out repeatedly in the video, it's extremely easy for just about anyone to get firearms, a concealed carry permit, whatever they want, with minimal if any background checks. P.S. Click here for the Collegiate Times live blog of the event.
SURVIVORS OF VIRGINIA TECH MASSACRE TO STAND AGAINST RADICAL PRO-GUN GROUP TOMORROW ON VT CAMPUS Blacksburg, VA— Survivors of the Virginia Tech massacre and their family members will be on the VT campus tomorrow, Thursday, November 17th to rally with students and faculty for a gun-free campus. Simultaneously, the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL)—a radical pro-gun group that seeks the elimination of all gun laws, including background checks—will be at the Squires Student Center (College Avenue on the Otey Street side) between 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM calling for legislation to force the university to allow the carrying of loaded guns on campus. Virginia Tech survivors will engage in a counterprotest at the same location to demand that VT be allowed to continue to set its own firearm policies without outside interference. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued an opinion last summer that said public colleges must put official regulations in place to ban guns in campus buildings. George Mason University has already adopted such a regulation, which was upheld by the Virginia Supreme Court on January 13, 2011. In that ruling, Justice S. Bernard Goodwyn noted that previous Supreme Court opinions do not “[cast] doubt on laws or regulations restricting the carrying of firearms in sensitive places, such as schools and government buildings. Indeed, such restrictions are presumptively legal.” Larry Hincker, the head of university relations at Virginia Tech, has indicated VT will follow GMU’s lead soon and enact a regulation. In response, VCDL is calling for state legislation that would prohibit VT and all other Virginia universities from enacting their own regulations, thereby preventing them from ensuring the safety of their students and faculty. Students for Gun Free Schools (SGFS) founders Colin Goddard—who was shot four times during the Virginia Tech massacre on April 16, 2007—and Omar Samaha—whose sister Reema was murdered in that mass shooting—are two of the violence prevention advocates who will participate in the counterprotest at VT tomorrow. “The Virginia Tech Review Panel studied this issue more closely than anyone, and they got it exactly right,” said Samaha. “They recommended that guns be banned on college campuses and stressed that we must have universal background checks on gun buyers that adequately screen mental health history.” “The reason that Virginia’s college campuses are some of the safest places in the Commonwealth is in large part because of their strict policies concerning firearms,” Goddard added. “VCDL is not concerned about the safety of the student body or faculty. They are not even listening to the student body or faculty. This is about the desire of a select few to dish out vigilante ‘justice’ as they see fit without regard to the potential collateral damage.” “It’s unfathomable that the VCDL would advocate for the elimination of background checks on gun buyers in the wake of what happened at Virginia Tech,” added Lori Haas of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “The extremists in the VCDL contribute nothing to the academic community in the Commonwealth. They have no business telling students, faculty, and administrators how to run college campuses.” Haas’ daughter, Emily, was shot in the head during the tragedy at Virginia Tech but survived. Goddard, Samaha and Haas are inviting VT students and faculty—and all concerned Virginia residents—to join them at the counterprotest at the Squires Student Center tomorrow between 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM to show their opposition to guns on campus. “Our college classrooms are places for learning,” said Samaha, “not places for violence. If VCDL truly cared about others’ welfare they would be acting to make sure the violent and deranged can’t gain easy access to guns. Their true agenda speaks volumes.”
This post is written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to further Media Matters' mission to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence, and extremism, the fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.

Wait, I Thought Obama Was Killing U.S. Oil, Gas Production?!?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Wait, you mean President Obama isn't killing U.S. oil production? In fact, according to US Energy Information Administration statistics, U.S. oil production actually fell by about 1 million barrels per day while George W. Bush was in office, and now has risen by nearly 1 million barrels per day since Barack Obama's been in the White House? Fascinating, huh? Oh, and U.S. oil company profits are through the roof, with the supposedly anti-oil president in the White House. Hmmmm.Now, check out the "flip" for the story on natural gas. Hint: it's not what you'll hear from Faux, Rush, etc.
UPDATE: Also note that EIA forecasts U.S. domestic crude oil production to increase again in 2012, by about 230,000 barrels per day. D*** Obama!!! LOL
There's More... :: (4 Comments, 57 words in story)

That's right, according to EIA statistics and forecasts, U.S. natural gas production was up just slightly from 2001 to 2008, when George W. Bush was in charge, but has jumped since Barack Obama took office. Again, that's not the narrative you'll hear on the "we report, you decide" network! Go figure.