Reduced Parking Subsidies Fail to Destroy Arlington

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

by The Green Miles

clarendon grillSometimes when a positive change happens, afterwards it seems so self-evidently a good idea, we forget there were people rabidly opposed to the positive change. The most obvious recent local example of the journey from the revolutionary to the mundane: Virginia's smoking ban, which opponents predicted would devastate Virginia bars & restaurants. Instead, smokers stepped outside, everyone enjoyed the cleaner air, and we all quickly moved on with our lives.Arlington recently stopped subsidizing free parking at the former Department of Human Services garage at Wilson & Highland in Clarendon, where it's now $2 to park on nights & weekends. That rate is among the lowest in the neighborhood. The result? People continue to heavily utilize that garage, Clarendon continues to thrive, and the county is raising revenue while providing a nudge towards Metro/walking/biking.
It's worth remembering that while it was being debated, Arlington Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey basically called the $2 fee an affront to humanity:
TheGreenMiles :: Reduced Parking Subsidies Fail to Destroy Arlington
This proposal is a nickel-and-dime approach to governance that is beneath Arlington's leaders to propose, let alone enact. County Board members can make quick work of this wrongheaded proposal by simply refusing to advertise it for a hearing.
Instead, the enacted plan has worked as intended, with side effects like increased parking in neighborhoods quickly addressed with zone changes.Now the County Board is making plans to address tight parking in busy areas on nights & weekends, approving a long-term parking management plan that could extend meter times, generating much-needed revenue from a scare commodity that's currently subsidized as free. I know, revolutionary, right?
But McCaffrey has dialed up the rhetoric even further with this plan, predicting it will be nothing less than the end of Clarendon as we know it:
[F]orcing those in Clarendon or other commercial areas to pay for meters well into the evening, or on Sundays, is counterproductive and will place those areas at a severe competitive disadvantage. In the long run, it will reduce the county government's revenue, not increase it.
The argument here is essentially that to avoid paying a couple of bucks in parking fees, people will:
  • Go to DC or Alexandria where they'll have to pay just as much if not more for parking
  • Pay just as much if not more in gas to drive long distances to places where parking is free
  • Tell their spouse, "Sorry honey, I was going to take you to Clarendon for dinner, but they're charging $2 for parking now, so instead I made you this Hot Pocket."
Look, I know people hate paying for something that used to be free. It's annoying. But that's not a good reason to keep policies that worked for 1990s Clarendon with its large surface parking lots but are outdated in 2010s Clarendon with its tall buildings in which people live & work.All we're talking about is cutting the government subsidy for free & discounted parking and using the money to fund things like repairing roads and educating kids and fighting fires. Is that so controversial?
Cross-posted from The Green Miles

George Allen Attacks ActBlue, Daily Kos, "liberal online activists"

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hahahahahahahahaha.Yeah, right. (Note: click on image to "embiggen")
Seriously, though, what's particularly amusing about this fundraising email is how ridiculous it is to think that the folks over at Daily Kos are big Tim Kaine fans. I mean, has there ever, in the history of Daily Kos, been a positive front-page diary about Tim Kaine (ok, there have probably been one or two, but not many)? How about a positive diary about Tim Kaine by a Daily Kos user not from Raising Kaine (back in 2005, when we were focused on defeating Jerry Kilgore)? Good luck finding either of those. On the other hand, you certainly will be able to find Daily Kos diaries attacking Tim Kaine, such as this onethis onethis onethis onethis onethis onethis one, and this one (25% approve of Kaine's job as DNC chair, 40% disapprove), etc, etc, etc.
Yeah, George Allen nailed that one: Tim Kaine is WILDLY popular at Daily Kos and with the "liberal  online activists who are now taking up his cause." The only problem is, it's not true. Apparently, somebody forget to tell the "liberal online activists" that they were supposed to be super-enthused about Tim Kaine, cuz they certainly haven't gotten the message. As usual, though, the facts - those crazy, messy things! - don't matter to George Allen nearly as much as whatever he's being paid to spew out, whether it's climate science denial or attacks on clean energy or "pants on fire" claims, even by PolitiFact's lax (for Republicans) standards.
As for ActBlue, does George Allen understand that this is simply a political committee, established in 2004, "that enables anyone to fundraise on the Internet for the Democratic Party candidates of their choice?" Also, does Allen understand that this fundraising tool is "open to all registered Democratic campaigns and candidates" -- whether they are liberal, moderate, conservative, whatever?  Apparently not.
Finally, does George Allen understand how laughably absurd it is for him, of all people, to criticize how someone fundraises and from whom exactly? Allen, of course, being a guy who fundraises with organizations representing Citizens United and the Koch brothers. What a joke.

PolitiFact FAIL. Maybe Rename It PolitiFiction or PolitiBias?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's sad, I had such high hopes for PolitiFact. Finally, a service that would do what the corporate media has failed so abjectly to do in recent years: report not just on what politicians say, but whether or not there's any truth to what they say. Instead, what we usually get from the corporate media is phony "objective reporting," wherein there are almost always two "sides" to everything, even if one "side" is a complete joke/lie/farce (e.g., global warming skeptics/deniers) while the other side is considered absolutely definitive by 99% of scientists or economists or whoever (e.g., global warming science).Anyway, that's what I was hoping PolitiFact would get at. But, sadly, they haven't.
There have been several examples right here in Virginia in recent months. For instance, there was this hack job on Bob McDonnell's job. Then there was this pathetic attempt at "balance" that was anything but. There's also this hack job on Terry McAuliffe. And then there's this one, in which PolitiFact puts on the kid gloves for poor wittle Wobert Hurt.
That's just a few examples of PolitiFact Virginia's struggles with fact vs. fiction in recent months. What about beyond the borders of our fair Commonwealth?
With that, we bring you...the latest PolitiFact FAIL -- and for me the last straw with this organization --  this one on the question of whether, as Jon Stewart claimed the other day in his interview/debate with Chris Wallace, Fox News viewers are the "most consistently misinformed media viewers." According to PolitiFactFiction, Jon Stewart is wrong. But is he really, or should PolitiFact actually be renamed PolitiFiction or PolitiBias?
Nope, didn't think so.
A case in point is Politifact’s recent and deeply misguided attempt to correct Jon Stewart on the topic of…misinformation and Fox News. This is a subject on which we’ve developed some expertise here…my recent post on studies showing that Fox News viewers are more misinformed, on an array of issues, is the most comprehensive such collection that I’m aware of, at least when it comes to public opinion surveys detecting statistical correlations between being misinformed about contested facts and Fox News viewership. I’ve repeatedly asked whether anyone knows of additional studies—including contradictory studies—but none have yet been cited.
I suggest you read the entire debunking of PolitiFiction at DeSmog Blog. Bottom line: this is a major fail by PolitiBias. And, as DeSmog Blog concludes, "When the fact checkers fail-and in this case, they not only failed, they generated a falsehood of their own--they have a special responsibility to self-correct." So, we're waiting guys!

Right Place, Right Time: Bringing Offshore Wind to Virginia

by tolbejr

Cross posted from Article XI
It is cliché to use the phrase, "I was in the right place at the right time," but today more than 300 people gathered in Virginia Beach because it is the right place and right time for Virginia to move forward with the development of offshore wind.
Offshore wind represents clean, renewable energy for Virginia.  The winds blowing off our coast could power 750,000 homes in the Commonwealth within the next 15 years, but clean energy is not the only benefit of offshore wind.
Harnessing the energy of the wind has the potential to create thousands of good jobs for Virginians.  From the building and maintenance associated with turbines in the seabed to the supply chain that manufactures the parts, if Virginia acts now we stand to reap huge economic gains from this burgeoning industry.
It's for these reasons that the Virginia Sierra Club has partnered with some unlikely allies, including Dominion Virginia Power and McGuire Woods, to host this wind conference.  We realize the opportunity that offshore wind gives Virginia and we're committed to making it a reality.
Our number one priority at the Sierra Club is addressing climate change.  To mitigate the worst impacts of climate change the United States, and indeed the entire world, will need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels in the near future.  To accomplish this requires that we bring renewable energy to scale.  This means that we want to see major investments in efficiency, solar, wind and biomass that will gradually displace older more polluting sources of energy.
Building a clean energy future will require new ways of doing business for all of us.  It means groups like the Sierra Club need to partner with and support the clean energy industry.  That's why the Club took the lead on Virginia's first offshore wind conference.  We are hopeful that today's conference will be an important step along the way to realizing a clean, renewable, profitable energy revolution in the Commonwealth.  

Would a $10,000, All-Expenses-Paid Trip to France Be Kosher in Other States?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Since this whole issue came up regarding whether it's cool for state legislators to accept an all-expense paid trip from to France from a uranium company, I've been curious to know how other states treat this type of situation. I started with the state I grew up in, Connecticut, because I have a good friend who's a state legislator there and also because I lived there for 15 years or so. The short answer from my friend is that, no, Connecticut legislators are not allowed to do this. I also checked the Connecticut "Guide to the Code of Ethics for Legislators"; here are the relevant provisions:*"As a legislator, there are rules in place regarding accepting gifts from both restricted and
non-restricted donors. In general, you may not accept gifts from restricted donors."
*Restricted donors include "Registered lobbyists," "Individuals or entities doing business with the legislative branch," "Individuals or entities seeking to do business with the legislative branch," and "Individuals or entities engaged in activities regulated by the legislative branch."
This uranium company is certainly engaged in, or attempting to engage in, "activities regulated by the legislative branch." Hence, it's clearly a "restricted donor" under Connecticut ethics guidelines.
*"A gift is defined as anything of value that you (or a member of your family or your staff)
directly and personally receive unless you provide consideration of equal or greater value
(e.g., pay for the item)."
Like, perhaps, a $10,000 trip to France?
*"You may receive payment or reimbursement for necessary expenses if you, in your official capacity, actively participate in an event; for example by giving a speech or presentation, or
running a workshop."
In this case, based on what I've read and heard, the legislators going to France are not giving speeches or presentations, running the event, or anything like that. They are simply guests of the uranium company, with a tour of a "closed mine in western France where uranium was mined for 50 years until the late 1990s" and "several days in Paris" (no uranium mine there!).
Bottom line: this trip would clearly not be legal for a state legislator in Connecticut. Of course, the tradeoff there is that they've got public financing of campaigns, which almost everyone participates in. They've also got nearly 90% contested races for their state legislature, but that's another issue for another discussion...
OK, so that's Connecticut, where it's definitely not legal to take a $10,000, all-expense-paid trip from a corporation. What about another state? How about Wisconsin? See the "flip" for more (short answer: no way this would be legal there).
lowkell :: Would a $10,000, All-Expenses-Paid Trip to France Be Kosher in Other States?
*"The lobbying law imposes numerous restrictions on lobbyists and principals.  In particular, it prohibits lobbyists and principals from furnishing any of the items listed below to legislators or to other elective state officials, agency officials, legislative employees, or candidates for elective state office:* Lodging.
* Transportation.
* Food, meals, beverages, or money.
* Any other thing of pecuniary value"
Clearly, in Wisconsin, this trip would not be legal.
*An exception: "A principal may give and a legislator may accept anything of pecuniary value which is also made available to the general public."
In other words, if the uranium company offered all 8 million Virginians a $10,000, all-expense-paid trip to France, then it would be ok for the legislators to go. Of course, the company would also be bankrupt many times over, but whatever...
*Another exception: "A legislator may receive reimbursement or payment of actual and reasonable expenses from a lobbyist or principal for a published work or for the presentation of a  talk or participation in a meeting, under certain circumstances authorized under the Ethics Code."
Doesn't seem to apply in the case of a $10,000 trip to France with several free days in Paris, etc.
*Also, "A lobbyist or principal may provide educational or informational material to legislators."
Let's just put it this way: if Wisconsin interprets "educational or informational material" as including a $10,000, all-expense-paid trip to France, then their ethics code is a complete joke.
Bottom line: There's essentially no conceivable way that this trip would be legal in Wisconsin.
Also of relevance, in California, "Public officials may not accept gifts of more than $390 from any single source per calendar year. (Reg. 18940.2.)" Also, "most payments by a third party for a public official's travel will count as a gift to the public official subject to the $390 gift limit." Finally, "If a for-profit corporation wishes to pay an official's airfare or other transportation to a foreign country, the rules are very strict. There is no exception for speeches. Generally, the payment is a gift subject to the applicable limit." End of story - this trip would be ILLEGAL in California.

Only 15% of Virginia House of Delegates Seats Being Contested? WTF?!?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I usually don't link to or quote right-wing blogs, but this one by Mason Conservative raises an extremely important issue:
But even I was taken aback when I saw THIS list from VPAP outlining the contested elections in the House of Delegates for 2011.  I was stunned.  Of the 100 seats in the House of Delegates, ONLY FIFTEEN WILL BE CONTESTED BETWEEN A REPUBLICAN AND A DEMOCRAT.  That is an astounding 15% COMPETITION RATE.  Wow.  For the record, here are the districts:  9, 10, 13, 19, 20, 31, 34, 36, 37, 42, 52, 59, 64, 75, and 87.
As a comparison, there will be 17 competative state senate seats out of 40, at a clip of 42% competition rate.
It made me wonder why this is?  Part of it is certainly is redistricting, but I think any Democrat in Virginia should be ashamed of their leadership and candidate recruitment.  On the list of delegates not being challenged are people like Jim LeMunyon, Tim Hugo, Rich Anderson, Tag Greason, Ron Villenueva, Chris Stolle, and Tom Rust; candidates who in the past have had to win close elections and many of whom are freshman.  Democrats failure to, thus far, find candidates to run in these districts is almost laughable and makes one wonder if DPVA Chairman Brian Moran should spend more time running his party rather than running scam schools.
I was going to write my own thoughts on this, but a long-time Democratic activist friend of mine nailed it in an email, which he/she kindly said I could use. Enjoy (actually, you wont't and you shouldn't! -- bolding added by me for emphasis).UPDATE: I just double-checked VPAP, and Mason Conservative is correct, there are currently 15 "R" vs. "D" House of Delegates races listed by VPAP. Of course, VPAP's list may not be comprehensive, but even if you add 15 more, it's still only 30% contested. Heck, even if you add 30 more it's still only 45% contested. It should be 100% in a real democracy!
UPDATE #2: I just talked to a good friend of mine who's a Connecticut state representative (equivalent to "delegate" here). He was very surprised, not in a good way, at how low the percentage of contested races was in Virginia. In Connecticut, in contrast, approximately 134 of 151  House seats (89%!) were contested in 2010. For the Connecticut State Senate, 31 of 36 seats (86%!) were contested. And remember, Connecticut is even more lopsided than Virginia in terms of partisan makeup, except it's the flip in Connecticut (99-52 D's vs. R's in the House; 22-14 D's vs. R's in the Senate). In other words, it's far more hopeless for Republicans in "blue" Connecticut than for Democrats in "purple" Virginia, yet the percent of seats contested in Connecticut is orders of magnitude higher than here in Virginia. Why? A few possibilities: 1) they have public financing in Connecticut, we don't in Virginia; 2) they hold elections in even-numbered years, we don't in Virginia; 3) their redistricting is by bipartisan commission, despite the huge Democratic advantage in the state, as spelled out in the Connecticut state constitution. Those three structural factors appear to account for a major chunk of why Virginia and Connecticut are so different with regard to contested races. We didn't get into state party effectiveness, but I presume that would be part of it as well. Any other theories?
lowkell :: Only 15% of Virginia House of Delegates Seats Being Contested? WTF?!?
By any fair standard, this is a disgraceful performance by the Virginia Democratic leadership.Mason Conservative underplays the negative contribution of partisan redistricting in general, and the particular role of Saslaw, Whipple, Howell, and Barker in this process. It was their squalid deal with the HOD Republican leadership that has consigned VA Dems to a generation of super-minority status in the HOD, and that terrible decision has made it harder for Brian Moran, Ken Plum & company to recruit Dem HOD candidates. But, there is no public record of which I am aware documenting that Moran or Plum ever spoke up and protested what Saslaw & company were doing to the House Dems.
Even if you take the very negative impacts of partisan redistricting as part of the way "business is done" (which I reject), the Democratic candidate recruitment efforts for the HOD were abysmal--and time has expired.
It is against this sorry background, that the Virginia Democratic leadership now wants everyone to work hard and knock doors for our Democratic candidates. That is a great idea where we have good Democratic candidates. Sadly, due to the failures of the leadership, tens of thousands of doors will go un-knocked because there is no Democratic candidate on whose behalf a knock can be made.
This sucks on so many levels it's hard to know where to start. As a progressive, it sucks. As a Democrat, it sucks. As a citizen who believes that our Democracy depends on competitive elections, it sucks. That about does it for now, but feel free to add your own ways this sucks in the comments section.

Breaking: Harris Miller Forced Out as Scam Colleges President; Brian Moran Takes Over!

Friday, June 17, 2011

I saw this story from Ben Tribbett, and couldn't believe my eyes. But no, apparently this is not a joke:
Harris N. Miller, the president and chief executive of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities since 2007, resigned today, the group's Board of Directors announced this afternoon. In a news release issued by the for-profit college group, formerly the Career College Association, Mr. Miller was quoted as saying that he planned to pursue "other career interests." In the same release, Arthur Keiser, the board's chairman, said that Mr. Miller's leadership had been "nothing short of commendable." Brian Moran, the group's executive vice president for government affairs and its general counsel, was named interim president. The Chronicle will have more on this story later.
The question now is very simple: how on earth can Brian Moran possibly be both president of this scumbag organization and chair of the Virginia Democratic party?  I see now way this is possible, ethically or practically or any other way. Congratulations (well, not really) to Brian Moran on his new job, but now it's time for a new DPVA chair.P.S. Was it this video, which this blog publicized, that did in Harris Miller? Clearly, the language in this press release (pursue "other career interests") indicates that Miller was let go. Something obviously went wrong recently. And I'm not sure I see how it could have been anything substantive, because by all indications, it appears that Miller's been highly successful in watering down/weakening new regulations on the slimeball industry he represented.

Our Bizarro Attorney General on the Un-Separation of Church of State

Fans of Superman -- or Seinfeld -- will know about the Bizarro world, where everything is the opposite of here.  As Jerry Seinfeld described the Bizarro Superman's world:
Up is down; down is up. He says 'hello' when he leaves, 'goodbye' when he arrives.
Here in Virginia, we have the Bizarro attorney general -- Ken Cuccinelli.  Just think about it:
- A real AG upholds the law. Our Bizarro AG sues the EPA to prevent it from meeting the Clean Air Act and a Supreme Court ruling requiring the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
- A real AG defends the powerless. Our Bizarro AG tells state colleges and universities that they are prohibited from anti-discrimination policies against gays -- that, in other words, they are obligated to discriminate.
-  A real AG defends his clients, including the state's universities - and upholds the state and federal Constitutions.  Our Bizarro AG launches a perverse war against the University of Virginia to force a climate scientist to stop doing legitimate research.
-  A real AG challenges powerful interests to ensure that they don't harm the state or its inhabitants.  Our Bizarro AG pockets donations from large industries like Massey Energy and makes no effort to determine if they are committing the same kinds of coal mine safety violations in Virginia of which they have been found guilty in West Virginia.
And now there is the issue of separation of church and state.  Per the WaPo yesterday, our Bizarro Attorney General counseled a group of ministers on how to evade the bans on using their pulpits for political endorsements:
kindler :: Our Bizarro Attorney General on the Un-Separation of Church of State
Continue to be good shepherds to your congregations - and don't be afraid when your shepherding includes giving guidance on issues that fall in the political world, because those are the same issues your congregants face each day in their world. Let your voice be heard. Speak out and guide your flock toward what is right and what is true.
How is this problematic?  Let me count the ways:
-  As Cuccinelli's own spokesman admitted, "He cannot give legal advice to anyone other than his government clients." So, of course, they decided to go with the Bizarro definitions of "cannot", "give" and "legal advice," which makes it okay.
- The Attorney General should advise people on how to follow the law and bedrock principles of the Constitution, not on how to find loopholes in them.
- The concept of separation of church and state deserves special reverence in Virginia, the first place in the world where it was codified into law, thanks to Jefferson's Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom (drafted 1777, passed 1786), and George Mason's 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights, which still forms the basis for the Virginia Constitution. While right wingers love to stick phony quotes in Jefferson's mouth, let's try a real one here:

I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state. (Thomas Jefferson, as President, in a letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802, well-sourced with other Founders' quotes on the issue here.)
Here in the land of Mason, Madison and Jefferson, we have our own attorney general taking a hatchet to this "wall of separation."  It makes no sense - in the real world.
But in Cuccinelli's Virginia, up is down, and down is up.  Hello!

Become a Virginia Legislator! Win a $10,000, All-Expense Paid Trip to France!

Ahhhh, France in summer: lazy evenings sipping wine and eating great food at Parisian cafes, perhaps "a lovely picnic at one of the Castles of the Loire or biting into a juicy slice of Cavaillon melon?" Or, there's always the "[m]edieval stoned villages, rolling hills covered in vineyards, fresh pate and a gorgeous river valley" of Dordogne; a spectacular fireworks display at "the world's most famous and iconic Medieval walled city, Carcassonne;" hanging out on the Paris Plage, where you can "enjoy cocktails at the open-air bars or work on their tan on the chaise longues." Just a few ideas for what to do when you're in France this summer on your all-expense-paid, $10,000 trip!So how, you ask, do you get one of these amazing, albeit extremely expensive, trips to France en été? Very simple: run for, and win, a seat in the Virginia General Assembly! I'm not kidding -- check this out:
More than a dozen Virginia legislators are flying to France this month on all-expenses paid trips as part of an aggressive lobbying effort by a company pushing lawmakers to lift a ban on uranium mining in the state.Virginia Uranium invited nearly all 140 state lawmakers to France as it looks to mine what is thought to be the largest deposit of uranium in the United States, in south central Virginia, despite concerns about unearthed radioactive material that could contaminate the area's land, air and drinking water.
Five legislators arrived in Paris on Wednesday to see a closed mine in Bessines, in western France, where uranium was excavated for 50 years until the late 1990s. Nine others leave Tuesday on a five-day trip - expected to cost $10,000 a person - that includes about three free days in Paris
That's right, this company is willing to spend $10,000 each for 140 Virginia legislators -- $1.4 million total -- in order to...uh, assist them in making the "right" (ahem) decision on uranium mining in Virginia.  
lowkell :: Become a Virginia Legislator! Win a $10,000, All-Expense Paid Trip to France!
Put aside the specifics of this issue, whether or not you agree with uranium mining in Virginia, because that's not really the point. What is the point is very simple: as much as legislators claim they can't be bought, can't even be influenced, etc., this is a classic case of how corporations are attempting to purchase our Democracy, both here in Virginia and across the country. Recently, I attended a forum on the egregious "Citizens United" Supreme Court decision, which rubber-stamped and accelerated the takeover of America by the corporations, of the corporations, and for the corporations. Here in Virginia, sadly, it's been that way for a long time, as there are essentially no limits, other than disclosure, on corporate giving to our lawmakers, lobbyists wining and dining them, you name it. Does that make you comfortable?  If so, why?  Personally, it makes me extremely uncomfortable - and angry! Is this really what the Founding Fathers intended? Is this what Abraham Lincoln intended? Is this what our ancestors fought for - and in some cases died for - in World War II and throughout the Cold War?Fortunately, there remains one check-and-balance on this egregious situation -- public outrage and disgust. Thus, as the Washington Post article points out, "Most legislators declined the pricey jaunt - the second invite from the company in two years - months before the fall election."  Wise move, especially at a time when hundreds of thousands (millions?) of Virginians are out of work, underemployed, "underwater" in their mortgages, or otherwise struggling to get by in this tough economy.
In that environment, Virginia lawmakers - most of them, anyway - are smart enough to realize that jetting off on a $10,000 all-expenses-paid junket to France isn't exactly the message you want to be sending. Especially when that junket is financed by a wealthy, powerful corporation with business before you! Can we say, "massive conflict of interest?"  Can we say, as the otherwise deplorable Del. Dave "Abuser Fees" Albo (R-Owned by Corporate Money) correctly calls it, "the appearance of impropriety?" Or, as Del. Mark Sickles (who made the correct decision in turning down the money) puts it, "It could appear to be extravagant." Like a couple bottles of Pernod-Ricard Perrier-Jouet champagne (about $10,000, the price of the uranium-funded boondoggle to France, for 2 bottles), perhaps?
The question is, what on earth are the legislators who accepted these trips thinking exactly? I mean, I can understand Republicans like John Cosgrove and William Janis -- that's what these guys do, after all. And I can understand ethically challenged (to put it mildly) Democrats like Del. Lionel Spruill, who last we saw in 2009 taking huge wads of money from Brian Moran's and Jon Bowerbank's 2009 campaigns for Governor and LG to do...god knows what for them (actually, last we saw Spruill, he was ranting and raving incoherently about not losing his soul by voting for an atheist, Democratic Congressional nominee Wynne Legrow, and abandoning his buddy, Republican Congressman Randy Forbes).
But what about the others listed in the Post article, including several progressives? I can't wait to hear their protestations about how they are personally immune to $10,000, all-expense-paid trips to France, what with their pure moral code and all. That must be why this company feels it's worth it to spend $10,000 a legislator, because they know it has absolutely no chance of succeeding and it's a total waste of their money. Because we all know that corporations are in business to give away money, for no purpose whatsoever, and...oh forget it.

Rep. Connolly Blasts Republicans for "Soviet"-Style "Censorship at its Worst"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

As you can see from this video, Gerry Connolly is hopping mad, and I don't blame him one bit. Basically, the issue here is that, since the NY-26 special election - in which a Democrat won in an overwhelmingly Republican district, in large part on the issue of Republicans' plans to demolish Medicare - the GOP has been making political changes to Democratic "franked" mailers attacking the Ryan Plan, aka the "Destroy Medicare Act of 2011." Believe it or not, the House Republican majority - Can'tor, BONer et al - is now prohibiting the use of language like "to eliminate Medicare as we know it" and are replacing it with neutral/non-descriptive/Orwellian language like "to change Medicare." They are prohibiting the use of "a privatized system that would provide future seniors with a voucher to pay part of their cost to purchase private insurance" and recommend replacing it with "a revised government program with support from private insurance companies." They want to remove the word "voucher" and force Democrats to use their rhetorical "premium support system" language. These changes, and the many other changes the Republican majority is insisting upon, are outrageous and un-American. A few choice quotes from Rep. Connolly follow. I couldn't agree with him more on this one. “It’s Orwellian in nature. This is like Soviet censorship. It’s intolerable. The Majority on the Franking Commission is way overstepping their boundaries. Their job is to make sure that members of Congress are not sending out mail pieces that are overtly political. They are trampling on free speech. It is an outrage of unprecedented proportions.” “Unbelievable. I stunned that the majority would engage in an exercise of this breathtaking censorship, and all because the Republicans are feeling some heat on their plan to kill Medicare.” “The Majority’s edits of my newsletter speak for themselves. Many of these phrases were approved in newsletters that went out the door prior to the NY 26 special election. They are censoring factual content that in some case were their own words. They are changing their tune due to political fallout and bad poll results.” “I can’t even describe the Ryan Plan as ‘the Ryan Plan.’ I can’t describe the Republican plan as a voucher system, even though the Republicans called it that until the NY 26 special election.” “Facts and reality are inconvenient truths, but that doesn’t mean the Republican Majority gets to suppress them. They are trying to alter reality. They are trampling on Minority rights.” “Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail and the Speaker will intervene.”

Top 10 Virginia Political Blogs in Terms of Traffic: May 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Starting now, this will be a monthly feature on Blue Virginia, providing the most accurate traffic statistics rankings possible for the Virginia political blogosphere (not counting corporate media or politicians' blogs). Based on Sitemeter statistics, for those Virginia blogs which show them publicly (at least a couple have Sitemeters, but oddly don't show the results publicly), the top Virginia political blogs in May (in terms of traffic to their sites) were:1. Blue Virginia: 47,587 visits (NOTE: Blue Virginia also has 740 Twitter followers, plus I have 1,333 Twitter followers and 809 Facebook friends)
Not Larry Sabato: 45,782 visits (NOTE: NLS also has 3,504 Twitter followers and 1,058 Facebook friends)
3. Bearing Drift: 34,066 visits (NOTE: JR Hoeft has 520 Twitter followers and Brian Kirwin has 253 Twitter followers)
4. Moonhowlings: 22,619 visits
5. BVBL: 18,464 visits (NOTE: Greg Letieq has 50 Twitter followers)
6. NOVA Townhall: 12,225 visits
7. NOVA Commonsense: 7,621 visits (NOTE: Brian Schoeneman has 380 Twitter followers)
8. The Green Miles: 3,988 visits (NOTE: Miles also has 2,866 Twitter followers and 1,472 Facebook friends)
9. The Richmonder: 2,703 visits (NOTE: The Richmonder has 50 Facebook fans and JC Wilmore has 305 Facebook friends)
10. Red NOVA: 1,567 visits
Now, if we could just get Sitemeter stats for a few others, particularly Too Conservative (my guess is that they'd be in the BVBL/Moonhowlings range, maybe a bit higher) and Vivian Paige (based on the # of blog posts and local focus, I'd guess the middle of the pack somewhere, but hard to say), we'd have a pretty comprehensive idea of the major political blogs (not counting corporate media or politicians' blogs) in Virginia.
P.S. As we've discussed, Technorati and Alexa are almost completely unreliable proxies for "traffic." They also have other serious problems which make them essentially unusable for the purpose of tracking blog traffic. What I'd urge is for every Virginia political to get Sitemeter or Google Analytics and display the stats publicly. Then, we can all compare "apples to apples" and get as accurate a read of the most "popular" Virginia political blogs as possible.
P.P.S. Waldo Jaquith hasn't been blogging much for the past couple years, but his blog used to be (back in 2005, for instance) the leading progressive blog in Virginia in terms of influence, by almost all accounts. However, Waldo never displayed a public Sitemeter, so I have no idea how much traffic he received.

Video: Tom Perriello on Democracy, Standing Up For Our Values, Worse Things than Losing

Monday, June 13, 2011

This past Saturday night, Tom Perriello spoke to the Arlington County Democratic Committee's 2011 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. Perriello's fiery, no-regrets, personal and political speech was very well received by the several hundred Democrats in attendance. Among other things, Perriello talked about the work he's doing in Egypt, telling an amusing story about how someone asked him, a bit sheepishly, "You're giving us this advice, but you lost." More broadly, the theme of the speech was how important it is not to give up, to keep on fighting for what you believe in, to keep on fighting for -- and doing the hard work, on the ground, of -- democracy, to work towards expanding and shaping "our sense of what's possible as human beings," to have courage and perseverance. Perriello's thoughts on losing elections and more are on the "flip" According to Perriello, "There are worse things than losing; not standing up for your values is one of those things...the only thing more frustrating than losing is having never made your argument in the first place." Along those lines, Perriello argued that Democrats need to make the case for what they believe in, that "the best way to guarantee that you lose an argument is to never make your side of the argument" ("it's like a tug of war with only one side [pulling]"). Perriello argued that we need to advocate the Democratic case for building our future prosperity, especially when "Republicans are trying to deny that the future is coming." According to Perriello, "we're on the right side of the future." In stark contrast, Perriello argues that Republicans have come out with a plan that's "devastating to seniors," have blown the budget and used phony numbers to "balance it" (a clear shot at Bob McDonnell), have treated our universities as "political punching bags" (a clear allusion to Cuccinelli's crusade against climate science). Finally, Perriello said he has "no regrets," that he was "proud to support a stimulus which prevented a Great independence legislation and I wanted that to be stronger...and health care reform and I wanted that to be stronger too." A great line by Tom, which I really hope (supposed) "radical centrists" like Mark Warner listens to: "Taking a good idea and cutting it in half doesn't make it a better idea." Bottom line: we either believe in the values we espouse or we don't. If we do, we should fight for them. End of story. Go Tom! :)

Video: McAuliffe Rips McDonnell in Speech to Arlington County Democratic Committee JJ Dinner

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Last night, Terry McAuliffe was one of two - count 'em - keynote speakers at the Arlington County Democratic Committee Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. The other speaker was former Rep. Tom Perriello, whose video I hope to post a bit later today. For now, though, listen to the guy who wants to be our next governor. A few highlights: *Terry joked about how he ran in 2009 on "big ideas," and that if people didn't like them, they wouldn't vote for him. "And you didn't!" It's a funny line, always gets a good laugh. I also have a feeling it's effective politically. *He talked about he's been running around the state doing events, also working hard to push for things he believes in, like renewable energy. Specifically, Terry said it's a "disgrace" Virginia doesn't have a mandatory, renewable energy standard. I couldn't agree more. He also noted that if you're a clean energy investor, you're going to go to the state that puts a priority on increasing that state's share of wind, solar, etc. *He noted that Bob McDonnell didn't offer his car company any incentives to come to Virginia, while Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour did. "You've got to bid on these things to get 'em." *He said that 2010 was a disgrace, in that Democrats had a tremendous story to tell - kept the country from a Great Depression, saved the auto industry, passed the largest middle class tax cut in the history pf America, gave 40 million Americans a chance at getting decent health care coverage, etc. - but they totally failed to do so. In the absence of Democrats defining the narrative, Republicans did. As a result, instead of picking up seats in the House of Representatives in 2010, we lost 63 seats, and that's a "disgrace," because "we were not out there fighting for our values." *He said it "drives me wild" to hear Republicans saying they're going to teach us about fiscal responsibility. He ran through the massive increases in debt by Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43, contrasting it with the enormous ($5.6 trillion) surpluses left by Bill Clinton. *He nailed Bob McDonnell for his nonsense about supposedly "balancing the budget." In fact, McDonnell borrowed huge amounts of money, raided the Virginia Retirement System, generally kicked the can down the road, borrowed from the federal government, etc. "That's not leadership, folks." Terry also ripped into McDonnell for failing to create manufacturing jobs, for failing to do anything to turn Virginia into the energy capital of the east coast, for failing to have a real transportation plan (other than borrow, via Garvee bonds). *Terry argued we have to "get serious," noting that we "spent a year wasting our time talking about liquor stores." *According to Terry, "2011 matters" here in Virginia. Terry took a shot at the redistricting bill, "I just don't like a redistricting bill where...well, we'll win a seat or two in the state Senate, we'll lose a couple in the House of Delegates. Well, I just didn't grow up that way; how about winning the House of Delegates?" That comment prompted some serious eye rolling and grimacing by State Senators Whipple and Ticer. Gotta love it.

Campaigns & Elections Publishes "Virginia Influencers" List: Who's On, Who's Not?

Campaigns & Elections magazine is out with its list of "Virginia Influencers" -- "the most influential political players in Virginia - with no elected officials allowed."  Who's on the list and who's not? Where did C&E get it right and where did they get it wrong, in my view? A few highlights.*The Top 10 Democrats are Tim Kaine, Terry McAuliffe, Brian Moran, Dave Mills, Dickie Cranwell, Ben Tribbett, Mo Elleithee, David Hallock, Paul Reagan, and Pete Brodnitz.
*The Top 10 Republicans are Phil Cox, Chris LaCivita, Frank Atkinson, Ed Gillespie, Pat Mullins, George Allen, Morton Blackwell, Ray Allen, Jr., M. Boyd Marcus, Jr., and J. Kenneth Kluge.
*The "Other Democrats" are Tom Perriello, Doug Wilder, Levar Stoney, Mary Sue Terry, Paul Goldman, Mame Reiley, Jody Wagner, Kevin Hall, Gaylene Kanoytan, Jon Bowerbank, Doris Crouse-Mays, Lowell Feld (yours truly), "Mudcat" Saunders, Kevin Mack, Vivian Paige, Alan Moore, Susan Swecker, Steve Pazmino, Frank Leone, Sean Holihan, "Pixie" Bell, Leigh Anne Collier Weinstein, Fred Hudson, Rex Simmons, Ben Greenberg, Glen Besa, Mike Henry, Joe Abbey, Clair Guthrie Gastanaga, and the Virginia Education Association.
*The "Other Republicans" are Richard Cullen, Michael Thomas, Tom Davis, Tucker Martin, Dave Rexrode, John Hager, Michael Farris, Jerry Falwell, Brian Kirwin, The Obenshains, Sean Connaughton, Robert Baratta, Trixie Averill, Ben Marchi, Richard Viguerie, Gary Byler, Victoria Cobb, Fred Malek, Glen Bolger, Richard Baxter Gilliam, G. Paul Nardo, Michael W. Thompson, Patrick McSweeney, Shaun Kenney, Jason Kenney, Jim Gilmore, Jamie Radtke, Jerry Kilgore, M.G. "Pat" Robertson, and Richard Crouse.
*The "Miscellaneous" list has people like UVA Professor and pundit Larry J. Sabato, Dominion Virginia Power CEO Thomas Farrell II, Virginia Citizens Defense League head Philip Van Cleave, blogger and former professor Bob Holsworth, former journalist and Sorensen Institute director Bob Gibson, big donor Randal Kirk, super-lobbyists Reginald Jones and Whittington Clement, Tertium Quids president John Taylor, Virginia Chamber of Commerce CEO Barry DuVal, and several organizations and companies like Philip Morris parent company Altria, Northrop Grumman, the Virginia Public Access Project, AFSCME/SEIU, and PETA. An interesting, eclectic list.
Anyway, those are the lists. See the "flip" for a few observations and quibbles.
lowkell :: Campaigns & Elections Publishes "Virginia Influencers" List: Who's On, Who's Not?
First off, I'm having trouble seeing any stark dividing lines between the "Top 10" and the "other" Democrats and Republicans. I mean, how is Mike Henry, who I listed as the #1 Democratic Virginia campaign person over the past decade, not as influential as Mo Elleithee, who I listed as #2? How is Jim Webb's Chief of Staff, Paul Reagan, in the Top 10, while Mark Warner's powerful communications director, Kevin Hall, is in the "other" category? How are 2009 LG candidates Jon Bowerbank and Jody Wagner on the list, but fellow 2009 LG candidate - and likely future statewide candidate, unlike the other two - Mike Signer (also head of the New Dominion Project) not on the list at all? Odd.*Having said that, I don't have any major problems with the Top 10 list for Democrats. I also congratulate my fellow blogger and friend, Ben Tribbett, for making that list. Ben's been involved in Virginia politics since he was about kindergarten, I think (not exaggerating by much), and is basically a walking encyclopedia of Virginia politics, districts, precincts, you name it. Ben also has moderated debates (including a 2009 gubernatorial debate), run campaigns, run for office himself, founded and run the popular Not Larry Sabato blog, and also has a number of influential Virginia clients. That's pretty darn influential if you ask me!
*I find it interesting that "Mudcat" Saunders is on the list, but Steve Jarding is not. Perhaps Jarding's work for two losing candidates in 2009, Brian Moran and Jon Bowerbank, affected his (lack of) ranking? Or maybe it's the fact that Jarding's moved out of Virginia for the greener (?) pastures of South Dakota? As for "Mudcat," his heyday in Virginia politics was in 2001 and 2006, when he worked for Mark Warner and Jim Webb, respectively.  Since then, "Mud" worked for John Edwards, and as far as I know has been working on a book.  Anyway, it just seems to me that co-authors and (former?) friends Jarding and "Mudcat" are flip sides of the same coin; if one's on the list, the other should be as well.
*If Joe Abbey's on this list, despite the fact that he doesn't seem to be particularly involved at this point in Virginia politics, then I'm not sure how James Walkinshaw, Chief of Staff to Rep. Gerry Connolly, isn't.
*Congratulations to Democratic blogger Vivian Paige for making the list. I'm a bit surprised, though, that Waldo Jaquith - a blogger who also runs "Richmond Sunlight" and who just received an award from the White House - isn't on the list.
*I'm sure I could come up with a lot more quibbles, but overall I think this is a good list, although of course incomplete.  Oh yeah, Abbi Easter should definitely be on this list.
*As for Republicans, I have a lot less to say, but I'd note that several bloggers made the cut, including Brian Kirwin (no comment), Shaun Kenney, and Jason Kenney.  I'm a bit surprised that several right-o-sphere new media types didn't make it, including Jim Hoeft (founder of Bearing Drift); Jon Henke (George Allen's 2006 new media coordinator, now working for Jamie Radtke); and Greg Letiecq (his blog has been listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "nativist extremist," yet his influence is undeniable in Prince William County and beyond).
*A few others: I'm surprised Larry Roberts isn't on the list, as he's been Tim Kaine's close (and powerful) advisor both in the governor's mansion and at the DNC; David and Monica Dixon, definite power players in Virginia Democratic circles; and GMMB Media Consultants (David Smith, Susan DiLiddo Michels, Jim Margolis, also Delacey Skinner) should almost certainly be on the list, having worked for Mark Warner (2001 and 2008), Jim Webb (2006), and Terry McAuliffe (2009).
This is just a quick, off-the-top-of-my head reaction to the Campaigns & Elections ranking. What do you think of it?  Who else should be on it? Who should be off it?  Why?  Thanks.
UPDATE: Also, no corporate media figures in here? The Washington Post editorial board, which helped give us Creigh Deeds?  Jeff Schapiro? Ryan Nobles? Roz Helderman? Bob Lewis? Etc, etc?  Ouch.

Janet Oleszek Kicks Off Her Campaign With Strong Emphasis on Education, Democratic Values

Friday, June 10, 2011

As NLS first reported, "as of [last night], Janet Oleszek is officially a candidate for Braddock District Supervisor!" A few minutes ago, I had a chance to speak with Janet. Here are the key points:*She's not afraid to take on challenges.
*She believes that current supervisor John Cook is trying to push the Braddock District in a conservative direction, and sees that as "the latest assault on my neighborhood."
*She has proven her credentials by serving in public office for years, as well as by taking on Ken Cuccinelli and coming as close as any Demcorat ever has to defeating him.
*Her #1 priority is education, for several reasons: it's the largest percentage of the county budget; currently, there's nobody on the board who's directly connected to the education community in the way a former school board member like her would be (Kate Hanley was the last one); we need someone whose adult life has been dedicated to achieving excellent in education in Fairfax County; we need to expand educational opportunities, including all-day kindergarten ("I started that fight, it was completed this year"); education is becoming much more diverse, with different challenges that require a partner on the County Board who can guide the educational system into a sound future.
*Janet also emphasized that she will be the school board's strongest ally on the County Board of Supervisors, working to "ensure that Fairfax public schools retain their vigor, vitality, and well-deserved reputation for excellence."
*Beyond education, Janet will fight to maintain "the excellent quality of life we have here" in Fairfax County.
*She will fight for our "world-renowned" firefighters, as "they need to have a champion" on the Board of County Supervisors.
*She will engage with Richmond for the resources "we so desperately need for transportation."
*She will encourage more VRE usage, as part of her belief that public transit and "smart growth" are the only solutions to sprawl and gridlock.
*She is "unapologetically in favor of human and civil rights and diversity in all our public institutions." She promises to work tirelessly  for gay rights, immigration rights, and racial justice.
*She will fight against John Cook's efforts to "privatize coopt public assets into privately held assets" (e.g., his suggestion to privatize the Fairfax County Parkway and turn it into a toll road).
*Finally, with regard to her primary, Janet says, "I agree with Congressman Connolly's astute assessment of Chris Wade's credentials." For more on that, see here.
In sum, we finally have a real Democrat running to take on John Cook. I urge everyone to support Janet Oleszek, both against the "strong McCain-Palin supporter" running as a "Democrat" in the primary, as well as in the general election against Cook. Go Janet!

Annals of Terrible Ideas: An Outer Beltway

DC, Friday afternoonThere's been revived talk lately of building an Outer Beltway, a large highway with a radius about twice that of the existing Beltway. There are plenty of reasons it would be a terrible idea, starting with how ludicrously expensive it would be. If adding HOT Lanes to the Beltway cost $2 billion, how much would a whole new Outer Beltway cost?But as David Alpert writes at, the main reason an Outer Beltway would be a boondoggle is that it simply wouldn't ease regional traffic congestion:
The mobility problems outside the beltway are primarily about getting to and from the core, plus the local trips tied up by inadequate local street connections. Yes, traffic is bad for many people, and that's something planners need to address instead of dismissing.However, more beltways will only accommodate a small fraction of the trips involved. Most people will still drive toward or away from the job centers at or inside the beltway, in DC, Bethesda, Silver Spring, Tysons Corner, Arlington, and Alexandria. An Outer Beltway or three doesn't help with that at all.
That "or three" is no joke - road advocates NVTA envision no fewer than six Beltways (PDF).

Jim Webb's Libya Resolution: A Few Thoughts

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I've got a few thoughts on Jim Webb's Libya resolution. First and foremost, I don't see where this leads. I mean, the debate over the roles of Congress and the Executive Branches in conducting (or participating in) military operations has been going on for decades now, and has pretty much led to a complete dead end. How many military operations have we seen in the 20th and 21st centuries - including in the Reagan Administration, which Jim Webb was an important part of - where Congress actually declared war, or even where Congress a priori approved the use of force?  Very, very few, if I'm not mistaken (including Reagan's military actions in Libya, Nicaragua, Lebanon and Grenada, none of which had Congress' explicit, a priori consent; did Jim Webb protest then?).  As far as today's Libya situation is concerned, what's preventing Congress from passing whatever resolutions or holding whatever debates it wants?  Other than the fact that public opinion appears pretty strongly behind U.S. support for air operations in Libya, and also given that numerous Republican and Democratic members of Congress support the operation, or if anything have criticized Obama for not doing MORE!
Anyway, the bottom line is that I mostly see the Webb/Corker joint resolution as getting nowhere and accomplishing nothing.  We'll see...
In addition, I think this comment on the Frum Forum nails it:
So, what is it they want? Withdrawal? Congress did not have to enact the War Powers act; they did so because they were unwilling to do their duty in making a decision. Now they complain but without putting forth an idea or plan or decision.Regardless of my personal views of lending support to NATO's bombing in Libya, I find Congress' actions over the last several decades, going all the way back to Reagan, completely incomprehensible and irresponsible.
That about sums it up for me. What about you?

Climate Change - Where is the Anger?

by Kindler

Cross posted at Daily KosIt will not be long before people look back on our era and say "Why didn't they do something?  ANYTHING?"
The Age of Climate Disruption is not something to expect to wait for in the distant future -- it has arrived. We are seeing, right before our eyes, an unending cycle of droughts, killer heat waves, crop failures, floods, hurricanes, record tornados.
And still our "leaders" do nothing, nothing, nothing about the crisis staring us all in the face.  The reigning approach can be summed up in a single word: denial.  (Latest of endless examples: the House voting to prevent the Dept. of Homeland Security -- that includes FEMA -- from spending a single penny on adaptation to climate change;  Rush Limbaugh insisting that only candidates who lie about climate science are qualified to be president.)
But enough about them -- this diary is about us.  
kindler :: Climate Change - Where is the Anger?
I've certainly seen frustration and cynicism among my fellow environmentalists on this issue. But where is the anger? Where is the rage that they are stealing our future from us, and that they are doing so for the slimiest of reasons -- to protect their donations from Big Oil and Big Coal?  Where is the fury that instead of dealing with, and educating the public, on climate change, nearly the entire conservative establishment is spreading wild conspiracy theories that it's all a "hoax"?Take a page from our friends on the right. The whole Tea Party movement began with an angry rant on CNBC by Rick Santelli.  It grew with rallies where right wingers got all their frustrations out in public.  It exploded when Tea Partiers besieged Congressional town hall meetings and got in their Congressmen's faces.
In the process, they attracted the media, gained and motivated followers, used that fury to drive grassroots organizing, won the 2010 elections -- and now have the power they are using to furiously push their agenda.
I'm not saying we need to dress up like George Washington and talk about "revolution".  But the Tea Party demonstrated that passion is what drives grassroots movements.
The lack of openly and loudly expressed fury about climate change is one of the big reasons why the leadership of this country has been able to get away for so long with inaction.  The Obama administration has made some important moves -- funding billions of dollars in investments in clean energy in the stimulus, trying to pass climate change legislation, initiating EPA regulations, proposing various energy efficiency initiatives. But because the grassroots has not pushed them that hard, they have not pushed that hard to take truly decisive action.
What are we doing to make our voices heard on climate change?  While I give Bill McKibben enormous credit for all he's done to raise awareness on the issue, the main idea behind his group, demonstrates the problem.  It's about trying to motivate the public about climate change by focusing on...the right number of molecules of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (350).
Getting people worked up over...molecules?  With due respect to McKibben and co., I don't believe I've ever heard of a lamer public relations strategy.  What percentage of the population truly understands what carbon dioxide is, what molecules are, what the right number is?
More importantly, you don't need to talk about such esoterica.  Talk abouty Joplin, MO.  Talk about Katrina.  Talk about the huge wildfires currently raging in Arizona. Talk about the crop failures and the coming food shortages they will represent.  Talk about the 15,000 people killed in last year's Russian heat wave.  (Didn't hear about it?  Sorry, the media was too busy covering Charlie Sheen.)
The bottom line here is that those who have held up action on climate  change for so long are simply destroying our way of life -- in the profoundest sense possible.  Of course, it is usually conservatives who make this type of argument, for much more trivial reasons.  Whereas having a gay couple move into my neighborhood has pretty much zero impact on my way of life, having to live with the reality and related fear of more climate related disasters, potential food shortages, more tropical disease, etc. affects my life and future at the deepest levels.
They are stealing our future. It's time to get angry, to explode onto media forums and vent to our public officials and engage the climate deniers and expose them as the bunch of liars bought off by the oil industry that they they are.  We need to debunk their bunk everywhere that it pops up.
We will not win this fight by calmly talking about molecules. We will win it with passion that pierces the heart and makes enough noise to be heard. No, we should not be nasty or destructive or anything other than strategically focused.  But we need to dramatically turn up the volume.
We're not being heard yet -- and it's getting late.  

Does Saying You're A Democrat Make You a Democrat?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

As most of you know, I was one of the co-founders of the "Draft James Webb" movement. I say this not to pat myself on the back, but to note that I'm perfectly happy to accept "converts" - as Webb put it - into the Democratic Party. That is, as long as they're sincere, have good reasons for becoming a Democrat, and aren't just switching parties because it's the politically expedient thing to do. In Webb's case, he explained very clearly to Josh Chernila, Lee Diamond and me in December 2005 why he had switched from the Republican Party and become a Democrat (e.g., "the health of a society should be measured at its base, not at its apex;" the Democratic Party is the party for working people; the Republican Party has lurched to the right). His arguments were compelling to me, and I believed he was sincere.Why do I raise this subject now? Because, just recently, a candidate announced for Braddock District Supervisor as a Democrat, yet everything I've learned about him so far indicates that he's been a Republican for years. For instance, this article has a quote by Republican John Cook, the current Braddock Supervisor, claiming that Wade has "voted in a few Republican primaries, has never voted in a Democratic primary." In addition, according to Cook, Wade "did not vote in the local elections in 2007, has not been active in his community and from what I can see has not had any leadership role in any community organization or any community effort at all."  Of course, that's Republican John Cook - who Wade is challenging for the job - talking, so let's take that one with a grain of salt.
I also checked the Wade for Supervisor website and could find no indication of Wade ever being a Democrat. More importantly, I found no reason why he has supposedly become a Democrat.
But here's the killer for me: a Democratic friend of mine checked the voter file (owned and operated by the DPVA and DNC), a screen shot of which I've included in this post, and what we found was that Wade had identified himself on November 1, 2008, just prior to one of the most important elections of our lives, as a "strong McCain supporter." Not only that, but he only identified himself as "leaning" Mark Warner. That's right, believe it or not, this guy who now claims to be a Democrat appears to have voted for McCain-Palin (unless he went from "Strong McCain" on November 1 to voting Obama a few days later - not!), and may have voted for Jim Gilmore over Mark Warner (hard to tell on that one). Anyway, to me, that's the end of story, as the 2008 election was recent and utterly crucial - one of the most important of our lifetimes. As far as I'm concerned, someone who voted for John McCain and Sarah Palin just 2 1/2 years ago could possibly be a Democrat today, but only if they had articulated a d*** good reason for switching their entire way of thinking in that short time period. With Christopher Wade, there's absolutely nothing. Sorry, no dice.
Oh, one more really weird thing on the voter file. As you can see, someone went in there on March 22, 2011 - about 2 weeks before Wade announced for Braddock Supervisor as a Democrat - and updated Wade's entry to indicate that, suddenly, he's a "Strong Democrat."  Very, very fishy.
Last but not least, I was also told just a few minutes ago by one of the most committed and active Fairfax Democrats I know, "I don't know where Chris Wade comes from...I've never seen him at any Democratic events until March of this year."
Bottom line: Christopher Wade shows absolutely no sign of being a Democrat. Instead, he shows every sign of being a long-time, strong Republican, one who went so far as to vote for John McCain and Sarah Palin (ack!!!) in 2008.  I'm sorry, but that's not acceptable. We need a real Democrat running for Braddock District Supervisor, and we need one ASAP!

Why We Switched from GoDaddy

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sorry about Blue Virginia being down most of today as we switched the domain away from GoDaddy to another hosting service. Believe me, it wasn't fun for any of us today. However, I think after you check out the following links, you'll agree that we switched for good reason.1. Time to stop using The president is a pro-Bush, pro-Gitmo, wingnut
2. GoDaddy President: Serious Republican Donor
3. CEO Bob Parsons' Elephant Hunt Sparks Outrage
Given all this, how on earth can any progressive political blog justify using GoDaddy?  Well, we admit it, we did for several years, and all in all I don't have any complaints from a technical or cost perspective. But, in a broader sense, it was a huge mistake, as Raising Kaine and Blue Virginia were/are fiercely progressive blogs, and GoDaddy's owner is a wealthy right winger opposed to everything we believe in. Also, there are plenty of other hosting services out there, including ones that are more in line with our values, such as being 100% powered by wind energy.
Why didn't we switch earlier? Basically, because most of us hate dealing with technology, and also because we figured switching would be a huge pain in the butt. Which it was. To put it mildly. In the end, though, the elephant shooting pushed us over the edge, and we decided we had to tell GoDaddy to GoTakeaFlyingLeapOffaShortPier.  And, despite how absurdly difficult it was to complete the process, overall we're glad we did it.  

30th State Senate District Democratic Candidates Speak at Business Forum

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I reported earlier today on the 49th House of Delegates district forum held yesterday morning in Falls Church, and sponsored by the Northern Virginia Democratic Business Council. This post covers the 30th State Senate district forum, with candidates Adam Ebbin, Libby Garvey and Rob Krupicka participating. Libby Garvey spoke about "end[ing] the gridlock in Richmond," about her successes with the Arlington public schools, and about "building relationships...across party lines." Adam Ebbin talked about clean energy, Metro, BRAC, Columbia Pike streetcars, Route 1, support for small business, and building "effective relationships to work not just across the aisle but across the Commonwealth." Rob Krupicka noted that his name is pronounced like "Eureka," said we need "new ideas to solve problems," talked about his "leading role in making Alexandria an environmental leader," about his role in helping small business be successful, education, and mass transit. He said we have to stop the "politics of blame that sets us back, doesn't focus on solving problems." P.S. As with the 49th HoD district, I remain neutral in this race, but I'm listening carefully to what these three good Democrats - and strong progressives - have to say. I hope to make an endorsement at some point this summer. How about you? Any preference in this race, and if so, why?

31st State Senate District Democratic Candidates Speak at Business Forum

See here for my report on the 49th House of Delegates district and here for the 30th State Senate district forums held yesterday morning in Falls Church by the Northern Virginia Democratic Business Council. Last but not least, here's the 31st State Senate district forum, with Democratic candidates Barbara Favola and Jaime Areizaga-Soto. In his remarks, Areizaga-Soto talked about his background (Attorney, business, Obama administration, JAG, policy advisor to Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple). According to Areizaga-Soto, we need representation to "stand up to the extremism and demagoguery we see every day in Richmond." We also need transportation solutions, including a "dedicated source to fund them." "I believe everyone should have the opportunity for a world-class education...the opportunity to succeed and thrive." He promised to fight the "narrow-mindedness that threatens progress." "I want to go to Richmond and fight for our Democratic values." Barbara Favola said she's running for two reasons: 1) her long career in local government (14 years on the Arlington County Board) and her local perspective; 2) she wants Richmond to be more progressive, more compassionate. She talked about the many successes we've had in Arlington, including connecting land use and transportation decisions ("that mindset I think will serve us very well in Richmond"). She believes we need to invest more in K-12 and higher education. She called for a dedicated funding stream for education. She noted her work on behalf of the environment and her endorsements by "Sen. Saslaw, Sen. Whipple, Sen. Howell, Sharon Bulova, David Poisson and others." P.S. I haven't endorsed in this race, but am watching it closely and hope to do so in coming weeks. By the way, the primary elections in all these races will be on August 23.