Too Conservative Blog: Loudoun Republican Party "Goes WAY Too Far" on President Obama

Monday, October 31, 2011

(UPDATE: The Post reports that Bob McDonnell and the RPV have condemned this. Smart move, also the right thing to do. In contrast, LCRC Chair Mark Sell has not commented. Hmmmm. UPDATE #2: Oh, now Sell has commented, calling it "a light-hearted attempt to inject satire humor into the Halloween holiday." Oh, I get it. Hahahahahahaha!!! - promoted by lowkell)

Here's what the Republican blog Too Conservative (specifically, the blogger "Loudoun Insider") has to say about this mailer by the fun folks at the Loudoun GOP.
...I am no fan of Barack Obama, but putting up a photo of him as a zombie with a bullet hole in his head???????????? Like him or not he is the legitimately elected the President of the United States and Commander in Chief of our armed services in a time of war.  THIS IS DISGUSTING AND SHAMEFUL.  Someone should send this to the US Secret Service.
Of course, this isn't exactly surprising given who's in charge of the Loudoun County Republican Committee (LCRC) -- Mark Sell, seen here as part of Eugene Delgaudio's band o' wackos, "dressed up in a dark blue windbreaker with 'Thought Control Police' across the front, with the balding head, glasses, and goatee." As Too Conservative's "Loudoun Insider" wrote in March 2010, the election of Mark Sell would represent "a return to the Dark Ages." True, but here's what I want to know: did they have zombies with bullet holes in their heads back in the Dark Ages? Heh.

National, Progressive Blogosphere Not Paying Attention To Crucial Virginia Elections

Co-authored with national progressive and Democratic blogger/consultant Cliff Schecter, who totally "gets it" how important local elections in states like Virginia, and his state of Ohio, are to the national picture. Thanks to Cliff for his help on this diary!Remember how much coverage the national progressive blogosphere gave the Anthony Weiner special election in NY-09 a few weeks ago? A great deal! How about the New York 23rd Congressional District special election? Again, this one got enormous coverage in the national progressive blogosphere, even though it had no impact on control of the House of Representatives. Or, we can go back to 2005, when the "Mean Jean" Schmidt vs. Paul Hackett special election for Congress from Ohio's 2nd district got wall-to-wall coverage in the national progressive blogosphere.
These were all worthy endeavors--but have we not yet learned from groups like ALEC and union-busting in the states--among dozens of examples--the price we pay when we don't similarly pay attention to key state legislative races?
We have what you could all a "situation" in Virginia right now, where we've got just 8 days to go until absolutely crucial elections determine whether Republicans and Tea Partiers grab monolithic control of this crucial, "purple," swing state, a state won by Barack Obama in 2008 and that has elected Democrats to both Senate seats and in key House races. Yet, despite the clear importance of these elections, as well as the fact that there are few other significant elections are occurring in 8 days to draw attention away (ironically the Ohio Issue 2 election is then--a result of not protecting the state house and governership in Ohio), there's been essentially zero discussion in the national progressive netroots community, let alone the all-out effort we've seen in so many other races over the past few years, on these contests.  
lowkell :: National, Progressive Blogosphere Not Paying Attention To Crucial Virginia Elections
A bit of background. In 2005, Democrat Tim Kaine won the governor's mansion, in large part helped by the contributions of Virginia progressive, netroots activists. Then, in 2006, the netroots-fueled Draft James Webb movement managed to knock off both the establishment Democratic candidate AND George "Felix Macacawitz" Allen, winning back control of the U.S. Senate in the process. The surge continued in 2007, when Virginia Democrats picked up 4 seats in the State Senate - taking control of that body for the first time since 1999! - and 4 seats in the (still-Republican-controlled) House of Delegates. Then, in 2008, came the culmination, with Democrats winning Virginia's other U.S. Senate seat, as well as control of Virginia's U.S. House of Representatives delegation (by a 6-5 margin), and also handing Virginia's 13 electoral votes to Barack Obama for president. Not too shabby for this former "red state."Since 2008, of course, Democrats have suffered some major setbacks nationally, including the loss of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, and those losses have not spared Virginia. Still, the state remains a crucial, "purple" swing state heading into 2012, one which both parties would love to put into their column, and one whose governor, Bob McDonnell (aka, "Pat Robertson's Manchurian Candidate"), very well could be on the Republican's 2012 presidential ticket. (Something to remember--McDonnell got his start in the Virginia House of Delegates, just as Rick Perry got his start in the Texas House of Representatives).
But first, before we get to 2012, Virginia holds elections for its entire General Assembly on November 8 -- just over 1 week from now. The amount of money being poured into this state by national right-wing groups (see here for an example) is staggering, as they very well know how much is at stake here. Unfortunately, Democrats are lagging far behind, notwithstanding the tremendous efforts of folks like Bill Clinton and Terry McAuliffe, who just raised $1 million for Virginia Democrats. The result of the Virginia Republicans' money advantage: they get to spread the playing field, attack potentially vulnerable Democratic incumbents, and increase their chances of picking up the 3 State Senate seats they need to take absolute control of Virginia.
How bad could things get in Virginia if Republicans and Tea Partiers sweep next Tuesday?  Well, imagine extremists like Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, atruly frightening character, run amok? Imagine raving homophobes like Dick Black (also infamous for sending plastic fetuses to legislators as part of his anti-abortion efforts) around in the State Senate. Imagine gun agendas like these making their way into law in Virginia. Imagine Karl Rove's "one woman wrecking crew" with greatly enhanced powers. Imagine an all-out assault on the environment and a "drill baby drill" push by dirty energy tools like Bob McDonnell. Imagine harsh anti-immigrant legislation like this becoming law. Imagine radical groups like ALEC using Virginia as a laboratory for the rest of the country.
With all of this at stake, you'd think that there would be tremendous interest about Virginia's General Assembly elections in the national, progressive blogosphere. Instead, what we're getting is mostly the sound of crickets chirping.
Seriously, folks, there is essentially NO COVERAGE of the crucial Virginia General Assembly elections on national progressive blogs, and I think it is because people do not know what's at stake here.
The question is, with just over a week to go, will the national progressive blogosphere rise to the occasion and help Virginia Democrats keep control of the State Senate? Crucial races include the ones listed here. As you can see, there are several races that will likely determine whether the Tea Party Republicans take control of Virginia on November 8. Right now, it's touch-and-go whether we can stop them, but we're fighting hard. We could really use some national, progressive activist "love," though, there's no doubt about it. If you're interested, you can start by letting people know about this diary. You can also volunteer for or donate to the candidate(s) of your choice (there are some great progressives running; find out more about them at Blue Virginia). Thanks.

Tea Party Works Hard for Jim LeMunyon and Tea Party Takeover of Virginia

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's nice to see the Tea Party proudly supporting people who think like them, folks like Jim LeMunyon for starters (note: click on image to "embiggen"). For anyone who thinks LeMunyon and his crazy REPEAL Amendment are "moderate" in any way, I've got a nice, Colonial-era three-cornered hat (authentic, really  it is!) and some tea from Boston Harbor (also totally authentic!!!) to sell you. As might his Democratic opponent, Eric Clingan, who I urge everyone in the 67th district to vote for!Also note that the NOVA Tea Party writes that "For the first time in a long time, we have the opportunity to control the Governor's mansion, the Senate, and the House of Delegates." Notice the highly significant use of the word "we" in there? No differentiation between members of the Tea Party and the Republican Party, hence why I call them "Teapublicans." Basically, they're flip sides of the same coin, tweedle dee and tweedle dum(b).
All of which means that your choice in 11/8 is surpassingly simple: if you want the Tea Party to control Virginia (and bring the type of dysfunction and extremism we see with Eric Can'tor, etc. in Washington), then by all means vote Republican! If you do NOT want the Tea Party to control Virginia, then make da** sure you get off your butts on 11/8 and go vote Democratic, up and down the ticket. Also, make sure you tell ALL your friends, colleagues, relatives, neighbors, etc., to do the same. The message: STOP THE TEA PARTY from taking over Virginia on November 8! It's as simple as that.

With Just 2 Weekends to Go, Bill Clinton Fires Up Virginia Democrats!

Friday, October 28, 2011

This evening, Bill Clinton was busy doing what he does best -- firing up Democrats for an important election. In this case, Clinton was at his friend Terry McAuliffe's house, speaking to Virginia Democrats and helping raise some serious $$$ to help us hold the State Senate and hopefully win a few House of Delegates seats as well. I'll post more photos if/when I see some good ones. This one's by Ashley, wife of superb Democratic candidate Shawn Mitchell -- thanks, and go Shawn (running against the bat**** crazy right-wingnut and raging homophobe Dick Black)! UPDATE: From Lis Smith's Twitter account: *"@Terry_McAuliffe announces that his event raised over $1 mil for VA Sen Dems." *"@Terry_McAuliffe on President Clinton's record: 'Dont ever let anyone tell you Democrats aren't for fiscal responsibility.'" *"Clinton on @Terry_McAuliffe (aftr rousing intro): 'It's always so hard being with Terry. He's so repressed.'" *"President Clinton going after R's voter suppression efforts: 'power is the motivation.'" *"President Clinton: 'One of the best selling points for Democrats is that we still believe in arithmetic.'" Also, Catherine S. Read reports that Clinton "[d]elivered a wonderful speech about the future of this country and how we fit into a 21st century global economy."

A Long Cold Winter Ahead for Virginia Democrats?

by Dan Sullivan

This first winter storm may be a harbinger of Democratic fortunes if Terry McAuliffe's last ditch efforts can't yield immediate and dramatic results. The RPV is on air with repetitive spots aimed at vulnerabilities created within the DPVA. Many forces are at work, but abandoning the President was most significant.This sign from Occupy Norfolk actually reflects the mindset of many Virginians. The DPVA hasn't dealt well with this. There are only three notable Virginia Democrats, one former, one current, and one future statewide officeholder, who have not been Obama Judases. That has been a strategic mistake. Unfortunately, the DPVA leadership jumped ship in 2009, led by the standard bearer who reached out to Obama too late in the campaign confusing every voter. Then the Party, left without success, leadership, or a message drifted for two years. During that time, Obama supporters have not been without purpose. The purpose of the DPVA has been to protect incumbents in the legislature. Clearly not complementary efforts.
There are so many forces at work against the Virginia Senate Democratic majority (forget the House of Delegates) that it may be wiser to preserve the funds McAuliffe is generating tonight for another day. Senator Saslaw and friends allowed a redistricting environment that the Republicans used to their advantage. Meanwhile the Republicans filled the DPVA message vacuum with themes that have not been challenged. Any notion of fiscal responsibility has been turned on its head so that any past suggestion by any Democrat that transportation improvements might have to be paid for are featured as proposals for job killing taxes in some very slick and effective attack ads. Health care is a wedge issue. Anyone who has seen the wisdom of reform is left twisting in the wind. Phil Puckett has found it necessary to completely abandon President Obama rather than simply disagree with him on coal. There is so much smoke that Republican redistricting carpetbaggers have full concealment.
Dan Sullivan :: A Long Cold Winter Ahead for Virginia Democrats?
The oddly gerrymandered House districts have had another effect that may create the unusual situation where House races suffer down-ballot drop off. The odds that voters know what district they live in and who the candidates are is confused by the intersection of so many House districts crossing into and adjacent to single, yet new, Senate districts. There is a location on US 29 south of Charlottesville where there are signs for seven House candidates representing 5 district races. A couple of those names are familiar to many driving by who will go into the booth on 8 November and not a one will be on their ballot running for delegate in their district. Since it is more likely that they will be Republican message affected, that "R" will draw their mark, if they choose to make one.This evening on WDBJ TV out of Roanoke there were so many political commercials it was as though the regular programming was interrupting them. Without a doubt the RPV is focused on Senator Edwards, who apparently loves taxes. Between Edwards' opponent's spots, Ward Armstrong was present speaking on behalf of himself and Phil Puckett followed on behalf of coal. Last night during World Series game six, Hampton Roads was treated to cartoonish attacks by Mickey Chohany featuring Senator John Miller in an animated car getting whiplashed for proposing taxes. And Ben Loyola is all over Hampton Roads radio with spots complaining about Senator Northam's positions on health care reform. None of these attacks would be so effective if the DPVA had leaned forward early and often during these past three years.
But they didn't. Apparently they never realized that the President is their President no matter how shy they are about that fact. They also failed to realize that the President's supporters were their greatest source of potential energy. So here we are at the just days away from at least two years during which Republicans will be free to pursue any wild whim.
That is, unless somehow McAuliffe's last ditch efforts can staunch the tide by fueling the critical Senate campaigns. But money is probably not enough. The Republicans have stolen the march. There have not been enough Democratic boots on the ground. They are Obama's reserve, unwilling to come to a fight on behalf of fickle allies. And that the result of the DPVA leadership vacuum.  

Loudoun Times-Mirror Endorsements: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Loudoun Times-Mirror (LTM) has issued a series of endorsements, and it has people - myself included - scratching their heads. Between the LTM, the Kaplan Post (aka, "long-time foreign correspondent Lee Hockstader"), and the ever-bizarre Sun Gazette (a right-wing real estate rag that hates liberals, environmentalists, and Democrats in general, yet endorses only Democrats this cycle? Huh?!?), I'm just about at the point of urging everyone to completely ignore dead-tree-media endorsements. Except that, despite themselves, sometimes they actually make a lot of sense. With that, here's my "good, bad and ugly" list for the LTM endorsements (note: I'm skipping the School Board and Constitutional Officers, as I'm not sufficiently familiar with those races to weigh in)1. Board of Supervisors
*GoodAndrea McGimsey, who has done a great job overall, particularly as a strong proponent of environmental protection and smart growth, most definitely deserves to be reelected. Malcolm Baldwin (a smart growth advocate) is also a good pick, as are Jim Burton and Kelly Burk, who's running against a dangerous buffoon.
*Bad: All the Republicans (except for Eugene Delgaudio, who's in his own category altogether). If their party controls the Loudoun County board, it will be bad news for the environment and a lot of other things progressives care about.
*Ugly: How the h*** can anyone with any sanity endorse a raving, homophobic wackjob like Eugene Delgaudio? Have these people lost their minds, or is itmore insidious than that? Either way, this endorsement of the utterly deplorable Delgaudio frankly calls into question all the rest of the LTM's endorsements, even when they are good ones. Pathetic.
lowkell :: Loudoun Times-Mirror Endorsements: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly
2. House of Delegates
*Good: Democrats Mike Kondratick and Pamela Danner will both make superb delegates if/when voters are smart enough to elect them. In contrast, Kondratick's opponent is your standard-issue teahadist (if that's your cup of "tea" then go for it!), while Danner's opponent Barbara Comstock is both abysmal and also dangerous, as she is extremely ambitious and hopes to succeed Rep. Frank Wolf someday soon. Defeat her now!
*Bad: I'd put all the Republicans the LTM endorsed in the "bad" category, although Jim LeMunyon and his crazy REPEAL Amendment are borderline "ugly." I urge everyone to vote for the Democratic alternative in every case.3. State Senate
*Good: Moderate businessman Shawn Mitchell is an absolute no-brainer choice over the horrendous, bigoted, bat**** crazy Dick Black. Why is this even a contest?!? Mark Herring is also a no-brainer over the extremist (Patricia Phillips) running against him. Finally, as much as it pains me to say it, Barbara Favola(who certainly has improved as a candidate from the start of this campaign, and will be a reliable vote for the 31st Senate district) is also an easy choice overChris "Swift Boat" LaCivita's new pupil, Tea Party Republican Caren Merrick, who's been doing everything she possibly can to avoid talking about social issues, environmental issues, or anything but the fact that she's a successful businesswoman. Yeah, well so is Herman CAIN!!! LOL
*Bad: Republican Jill Holtzman Vogel needs to be replaced, although sadly it doesn't look like that will happen this cycle.
In sum, the LTM endorsements are a somewhat inexplicable hodgepodge of "good," "bad" and "ugly." Some would even call it a "schizophrenic mess." What's the underlying reason for the endorsements? Progressive? Conservative? Pro-environment? Anti-environment? Sane? Insane? What?!? You got me.

Video: Caren Merrick Really REALLY Dislikes Answering Simple Questions!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Following yesterday's 31st State Senate District debate at Rodef Shalom Synagogue in Falls Church, Josh Horwitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence attempts to ask Tea Party-endorsed Republican nominee Caren Merrick for her completed NRA questionnaire, which she had publicly promised (in the previous debate, and also in yesterday's debate) to provide him. Instead, Merrick refuses to even acknowledge Horwitz, while her campaign aides physically block him from approaching her as they claim to have a need to get through quickly. Merrick then stops, takes her sweet time having a leisurely conversation with someone (showing that she was NOT in a rush after all), then (appropriately) ducks out the back door. One thing's for sure, with this kind of attitude - and the kind of behavior by her and by her staff we saw yesterday - Merrick's definitely in the right political party! Heh.

"Good Chance" Cuccinelli's Running for Governor

Sunday, October 23, 2011

by Kindler

Per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Attorney General Cuccinelli dropped a bombshell last week when he "told a student at Norfolk Technical School on Tuesday that there is a 'good chance' he'll run for governor."Yes, there was the usual after-the-fact correction by his spokesman, "clarifying" that Cuccy didn't specify when he would run for governor.  Perhaps those who've never heard a politician talk before may fall for that one.  As for the rest of us...
Look, let's cut through the BS.  While Cuccinelli excites the extremists who possess his party, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling has all the charisma of an armadillo.  And as soon as Cuccy announces for Guv, Bolling is guaranteed to look like one of those armadillos by the side of a dusty Texas highway.
If Cuccinelli runs, he will be the Republican nominee, and if the Dems fail to challenge him effectively, he will become our next governor.   Just think about how much he would set back the progress and reputation of this state.  At a time when even the Wall Street Journal,Forbes and The Economist are admitting that climate change is a scientific reality, Cuccinelli continues to pursue his lawsuit against the EPA for attempting to protect the public from the effects of climate change -- while refusing to drop his baseless and unconstitutional assault on Professor Michael Mann for engaging in legitimate academic research.
Cuccinelli's Virginia will be one in which the state acts aggressively as a bully to suppress all the favorite scapegoats of the far right -- gays, unions, environmentalists, immigrants, pregnant women, etc., while favoring vested interests like Big Coal, multinational corporations, gun manufacturers and the Church.
And guess what?  If we allow the State Senate to go Republican Tuesday, November 8th, there will be no check on the man and a lot of momentum carrying him forward.  Scared?  Well then get out there and fight for our Democratic candidates!  

Photo of the Day: Felix and Friends

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Well, isn't this just heart warming? Three of our favorite Teapublicans together in one photo. On the left is typical Republican corporate tool Del. Tim Hugo(snarky side note: his independent opponent, Diane Blais, is running a BRUISING race against him, as you can see from this video). In the center is our old friend Brian Schoeneman, banned from this blog a long time ago for incessant right-wing trolling, now running for House of Delegates (believe it or not) against the excellent - and likely to win by a wide margin on November 8 - Del. David Bulova.And, last but not least is none other than Felix Macacawitz, last seen in 2006 calling S.R. Sidarth a racial slur (which it turns out comes from Allen's mother's native French Tunisia), angrily denying his Jewish heritage, and listening to old friends and football teammates dredge up stories about how Allen used to blow off steam by such activities as shoving a severed deer head into a black man's mailbox (in Bumpass, VA), habitually using the "n word," and posing happily with white supremacists.  For whatever reason, at this fundraising event for Brian Schoeneman, Allen forgot his noose and Confederate flag, not to mention his horse, but I'm sure this virulent worker-and-union-basher didn't forget his brain-dead/cringe-inducing sports metaphors and smarmy whoring for dirty energy industry.
Anyway, sounds like a great event, I'm really bummed I missed it! (snark) How about you?  

The Case for Climate Alarmism

Thursday, October 20, 2011

by: kindler

There was an important piece in yesterday's Daily Climate, "Evidence builds that scientists underplay climate impacts".
The story points out numerous examples in which, contrary to the right wing line that climate scientists are "alarmist", climate change impacts are proving worse and coming quicker than most scientists have predicted:

A decade ago scientists predicted the Arctic wouldn't be ice-free in summer until 2100. But the extent of summer ice in the North has rapidly shrunk and today covers 70 percent of the area it did in 1979. Now some scientists think the Arctic could be naught but open water within 25 years.In August, a team lead by University of York researcher Chris Thomas published a study showing that plants and animals are moving to higher elevations twice as fast as predicted in response to rising temperatures. They're migrating north three times faster than expected, they found.
As for extinctions,[...]the real-world rates are more than double what the best computer modeling showed: While the studies, on average, warned of a 7 percent extinction rate, field observations suggested the rate was closer to 15 percent.
In short, scientists -- and I would add politicians, the media and much of the environmental community -- have been too conservative in their estimates.  In trying to avoid scaring people or overstating the case, too many have understated it, and in the process, failed to rouse the world to action to prevent the awful consequences that are already beginning to come true.
kindler :: The Case for Climate Alarmism
I am not writing this to place blame, but rather to make the case for us to raise the alarm now.  We are out of time, we face massive disruptions and catastrophes worldwide, and we need to get governments, businesses, institutions and individuals engaged in major efforts both to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today -- to avoid even greater disasters -- as well as to adapt to the future shocks that now seem inevitable.  Despite a few bright spots, we have barely begun the work of redesigning, rebuilding, retraining and reorienting society to meet these looming challenges.  About the case for alarmism, allow me to cite a historical example.  In 1919, the US and its allies emerged as victors from World War I and President Woodrow Wilson was strenuously making the case for a League of Nations to promote and enforce peace.  He repeatedly made the "alarmist" argument that "I can predict with absolute certainty that, within another generation, there will be another world war if the nations of the world  -- if the League of Nations -- does not prevent it by concerted action."
Of the "little children -- bright-eyed little boys, excited little girls," he said: "I know that if by any chance we should not win this great fight for the League of Nations, it would mean their death warrant" as they would have to fight "that final war" in which "the very existence of civilization would be in the balance."
Of WWI's weapons: they "were toys as compared with what should be used in the next war."
All outrageous, over the top, sensational, gratuitous stuff.  Oh, and one more thing -- it all proved to be TRUE.
Tragically, in a story you will find familiar, Wilson faced an ultraconservative Republican Congress determined to kill everything he supported, regardless of the cost to the country and the world.  And so they first gutted and then killed his proposal for the US to support the League of Nations.  The international organization that emerged was crippled without US participation -- and proved completely unable to stand up to the threat of fascism represented by Germany, Japan and Italy.
World War II came as soon, and proved at least as awful as Wilson had predicted.  Many of the kids he had mentioned in his speeches were indeed tank fodder within years.
My point is simply this: When we have the facts behind us, we must not shrink from presenting and pushing them into the public domain even if they seem sensationalist or alarming.  The truth must prevail, even -- no especially -- when it is awful, shocking and disturbing.
We have ample evidence that climate change is not just coming, it is here, with dire consequences, from killer storms to droughts to floods to the destruction of forests and countless species.  Don't ever shrink from broadcasting that message loudly and unapologetically, because the consequences of denying this inconvenient truth will be even worse.

3 Weeks Before Election Day, Virginia Political Blog Traffic Indicates Little if Any Enthusiasm

Friday, October 14, 2011

Earlier today, I crunched some numbers and put together this graphic of RK and Blue Virginia traffic statistics (Sitemeter visits, to be consistent) for July and September going back to 2006 (I have only spotty stats for 2005, but I clearly remember that there was a big spike in RK traffic from the spring to the fall that gubernatorial election year). I ran the graph by several Democratic friends, and they all had the same basic reaction: this is NOT good at all! (one friend expressed it as "danger Will Robinson") What's the problem? A few points.1. Since 2006 (actually since 2005), Virginia progressive blog traffic has ALWAYS increased sharply between the dead time in the middle of the summer to September preceding the general election (and yes, Virginia, it's always an election year in this state). For instance, traffic on RK increased 77% from July 2006 to September 2006, and 45% between July and September 2008. Even in 2009, with close to zero enthusiasm for Creigh Deeds, traffic was up on Blue Virginia by 24% from July to September.  
2. Perhaps the most relevant comparison is to what happened in 2007, the last "off-off-year election" in Virginia. In that year, RK traffic increased by 29% between July and September; exactly as one would expect as we move closer to the general election, and as political junkies and activists start to really tune in, look for information, etc.
3. In sharp contrast, this year, BV traffic is actually down by 14% from July to September. Of course, the primaries were in August this year, not in June as they usually are, so that might skew the results somewhat. However, BV traffic is also down from February-April 2011, and basically flat from June of this year. In other words, interest in the general election among BV readers actually appears to be declining as we get closer to the general election. WTF?!?
Lots more on the "flip," including strong evidence that this isn't just happening at BV, or in the Virginia progressive blogosphere, but pretty much across the board.

4. What's going on here? Why the different pattern this year from every other year going back to 2005? My theory: core progressive activists and Virginia political junkies are simply not enthused this year. At all. Truly abysmal.It's important to point out that this phenomenon is not unique to Blue Virginia. For instance, according to Sitemeter traffic statistics, Not Larry Sabato is down this year from July to September, by 24%. A relevant comparison for a previous year might be May 2009 (the month before that year's primary elections) to September 2009, when NLS traffic increased by 15% (NLS traffic also increased sharply from July 2009 to September 2009, as well as from May and July 2010 to September 2010).
What about pro-Republican blogs? Bearing Drift traffic is down sharply from July 2011 (32,509 visits) to September 2011 (25,623 visits). It's also down from May (34,085 visits) and June (26,282 visits) of this year.  BVBL is down as well, from 17,644 visits in July (and 18,464 visits in May) to 16,492 visits in September.
What about October so far, halfway through the month and with just over 3 weeks to go until election day? Also not looking good: Bearing Drift's on track for about 28,000 visits, down from July, and BVBL's on track for about 15,000 visits (also down from May and July). Same thing with BV and NLS, both experiencing slow months so far in October, with just over 3 weeks to go before the general election.
I asked former Arlington County Democratic Committee Chair Peter Rousselot what he thought of this graph. Here's his response:
---the year by year comparison, 2006, 2007, 2008, tells me what I would expect in terms of activist interest: highest in a Presidential year, next highest in a non-Presidential federal year with both Congressional and Senate races on the ballot, lowest in the Constitutional year with only state-level offices on the ballot. The comparison between June and September tells me that there is a spike in interest as the general election approaches.---the most striking thing about 2009, 2010, and 2011 compared to 2006, 2007, and 2008 is the huge drop of in interest and enthusiasm in all 3 of these latest years compared with the 3 preceding years.
---another striking thing: I would have expected the 2009 graphs to be substantially higher than the 2011 graphs. Instead, they are pretty close. That tells me that Creigh Deeds truly failed to excite the Democratic activists as the general election approached.
---the 2011 interest in the primary was significantly greater than the 2011 interest in the general--so far. This suggests that the "save our senate" concept is not inspiring Democratic activists terribly much. Another way to look at it: as we approach the general, our 2011 Dem candidates are inspiring our base about as much as Creigh Deeds did in 2009.  :(
OK, you're saying, this is all interesting, but how meaningful are blog traffic numbers? I'd argue that they're meaningful statistically, in that they strongly correlate with other metrics of activist/political junky enthusiasm and engagement. For months now, I've been hearing anecdotally that Virginia voters are turned off of politics, that they pretty much hate it, see it as toxic, have no enthusiasm for it, etc. Also, looking at money and other indicators like press coverage, there really just seems to be no excitement for these crucially important Virginia elections. And again, it's not just on the progressive side, although anecdotally, I'm hearing that there's somewhat more enthusiasm among Virginia Republicans than among Democrats right now. Republicans also have a LOT more money flowing into the state than we do.So, where does this leave us? Basically, not in good shape. If Virginia Democrats and progressives remain unenthused the next three weeks, from what I'm hearing - and also in my own judgment - it's quite possible that we'll lose 3-8 House of Delegates seats and stand more than a 50/50 chance of losing the State Senate as well. It's not inevitable, of course, but this is crunch time. If we wake up now, we can still salvage this situation. If not, we can look forward to single-party Republican rule in Virginia, with crazy legislation of all kinds coming down the pike in 2012. It won't be pretty if it happens, but it's still avoidable. Not if we stay comatose and discouraged, though.

Vote Delgaudio or We'll Get "Tyranny and Socialism," "rationed fuel" and "rationed butter!"

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Apparently, the theme this morning is bat**** crazy teahadists. First, there was raging homophobic wackjob Dick Black, desperately lashing out at Democratic businessman and candidate Shawn Mitchell. Now, it's our old favorite, Loudoun County Supervisor (yes, he actually was elected) Eugene Delgaudio, another foaming-at-the-mouth homophobe (see here for his rant on "homosexuals dressed as pirates {who} whisk {the young men} away to God knows where to take advantage of them sexually") with an email that has to be read to be believed.Yes, that's right, if people don't reelect Eugene Delgaudio, then "Tyranny and Socialism, respectively, [will] take over this Board of Supervisors," resulting in "rationed fuel or electricity...rationed butter due to the 'fat content'...limiting the area you can plant trees or bushes." No, this is not a joke, satire, parody, or anything of the sort, it's just Eugene Delgaudio behaving as he always does.
For the "full buffoonery," as Lloyd of Too Conservative calls it, click here, and ponder the question, where on earth do Republicans find with these people, and what does it say about their party that their candidate ranks are filled with foiks like Delgaudio?!?

Thank You NRA!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Thank you NRA! Why do I say this? Because they've saved all of us a lot of time and effort. Through theirratings of Virginia candidates, we all now know who we should vote for and who we shouldn't, really without any further effort on our part. Basically, it's one-stop shopping: anyone who gets an "A" rating from the NRA shouldn't even be considered, while anyone who gets a "D" or "F" should jump to the top of your preference list.To understand what these letter grades mean, and why they're the exact opposite of how you normall think of grading, check out the NRA candidate questionnaire which has items on it like: repealing Virginia's one-handgun-per-month law; allowing unfettered "sale, purchase, possession and transfer of semi-automatic firearms;" preventing doctors from "questioning patients about firearm ownership;" opposing "legislation requiring locking devices (safes, trigger locks, cable locks...) or other locking procedures for firearms stored in the home;" etc. That's some extreme stuff right there, and that's how you rack up an "A" rating with the NRA, by answering those questions "correctly." A few interesting races where the NRA rating should make a big difference in how you choose to vote?
*Senate District 1: John Miller (D rating) vs. Mickey Chohany (A rating). Vote Miller!
*Senate District 13: Shawn Mitchell (D rating)  vs. Dick Black (A rating). Vote Mitchell!
*Senate District 22: Bert Dodson (C rating) vs. Thomas Garrett (A rating). Vote Dodson!
*Senate District 31: Barbara Favola (F rating) vs. Caren Merrick (A- rating). Do NOT vote Merrick!
*Senate District 32: Janet Howell (F rating) vs. Patrick Forrest (A rating). Vote Howell!
*Senate District 33: Mark Herring (D rating) vs. Patricia Phillips (A rating). Vote Herring!
*Senate District 34: Chap Petersen (C+ rating) vs. Gerarda Culipher (A- rating). Vote Chap! (although Chap's rating is too high for my liking, he's still better on this issue, and on every other issue, than Culipher)
*Senate District 36: Toddy Puller (F rating) vs. Jeff Frederick (A rating). Vote Toddy!
*Senate District 37: Dave Marsden (F rating) vs. Jason Flanary (A rating). Do NOT vote for Flanary!
*Senate District 39: George Barker (F rating) vs. Miller Baker (A rating). Vote George Barker!
Also, check out the House ratings and do NOT vote for Mark Dudenhefer (A rating), Bob Marshall (A rating), Ronald Villaneuva (A rating), Scott Lingamfelter(A+ rating), Barbara Comstock (A rating), Brian Schoeneman (A rating), Matthew Fariss (A rating), David Ramadan (A rating), Michael Watson (A rating), etc.
Remember, an "A" from the NRA rating means the person supports the wildly-out-of-the-mainstream items I've listed above. A "D" or "F" rating from the NRA is truly a badge of honor, as it means the  candidate opposes the NRA's extreme agenda, in spite of that organization's huge amount of money and organized supporters. Despite that fact, of course, the NRA and what it stands for remains in the small minority of Americans, the vast majority of whom support reasonable gun safety measures. Hopefully, that quiet majority will show up on November 8 and express their preferences accordingly.  

Why We Hate the Kaplan Post: Stealing from Blogs Edition

Over at The Green Miles, my fellow progressive, Virginia (and environmental) blogger Miles Grant explains how the Post stole his story about how global warming might bring armadillos to Virginia. Miles points out that just 2 days after he published his piece, "the Washington Post's Post Local did the exact same story." Without any attribution or credit, of course. Why "of course?" Because the Washington Kaplan Post does this all the time. For instance:*As Miles points out, "Just last month, the Post-owned Fairfax Times stole a quote from without attribution."
*On July 20, I broke the story on Barbara Favola receiving a $2,500 donation from Advanced Towing, then voting 5 days later to give the Arlington towing industry (including Advanced Towing) $250k more per year. A day later, the Kaplan Post ran with the story, but without any credit or attribution of any kind to Blue Virginia, which was tipped off about the story, then researched it and wrote it up (aka, "broke the story").
*It happened again today with this Post story, about Keith Fimian starting a PAC to help the Virginia GOP. The only problem? Again, Blue Virginia broke that story, this time back in July -- over two months ago. So, did we get any credit from the Kaplan Post for this? Hahahahaha, you must be kidding -- this is the for-profit "education"/corporate hack/desperate-to-stay-in-business-at-any-cost/Kaplan Post we're talking about. C'mon!
*This isn't just a recent phenomenon. Check out this 2006 Media Bistro story, in which "A story in Saturday's paper on mass firings at the Corcoran Gallery of Art failed to credit the influential blog where the news first broke."
*It's not just blogs, either; check out this story, in which "the Washington Post issued a rare apology for publishing two stories last month that included 'substantial material that was borrowed and duplicated, without attribution, from The Arizona Republic newspaper.

*Also, check this out (h/t to a commenter on TheGreenMiles).
I've written to the Post ombudsman about this multiple times over the past few months, and he's said he would look into it. So far, though, I'm not seeing any improvement in the Post's behavior. In fact, based on the fact that they just stole two Virginia bloggers' stories in the span of 24 hours, it appears that they're actually getting worse! Amazing.

Clean Energy Business Owners and Residents Protest Clean Energy Shutout at Governors Energy Summit

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

by: Sierra Club NovaHub

This morning, clean energy business owners and Virginia residents participated in a rally and press conference organized by the Sierra Club and Chesapeake Climate Action Network that called on Governor McDonnell to support clean energy development and stronger Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) safeguards for Virginia families.As the host to some of the South's most influential elected officials at today's Southern States Energy Board (SSEB) Summit, Gov. McDonnell was the opening speaker for a summit entitled Shaping Energy Policy: The Critical Path for States whose agenda lacked any discussions on clean energy, energy efficiency or how proposed EPA protections can benefit Virginians. Instead, the agenda solely featured panels on oil and gas development, nuclear energy and claims on how EPA regulations will impact the fossil-fuel industry
"Governor McDonnell's total exclusion from today's Energy Summit of not only renewable energy, but how he will protect the health of Virginia families while providing the energy they need indicates that his priorities are misguided," said Keith Thirion, Virginia organizer for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
"Is Governor McDonnell putting the profits of Big Oil and King Coal before the health of Virginia families?" said Kate Pollard, field organizer for the Sierra Club. "With this one-sided agenda on energy policy in meetings and summits predominantly sponsored by dirty energy companies, what else are we to believe?"  
Sierra Club NovaHub :: Clean Energy Business Owners and Residents Protest Clean Energy Shutout at Governors Energy Summit
Gov. McDonnell, who recently declared October "Energy Month," is the chairman of the SSEB. The summit comes in advance of the Board's annual meeting in Richmond on October 15; a meeting whose agenda also lacks any discussions on renewable energy.
"Addressing climate change, which is primarily caused by burning fossil fuels, through stronger EPA protections is supported by 71% of registered voters, and is a continued concern for Virginians especially in light of increasingly severe storms and flooding," said Thirion. "Instead of convening this 'Polluter Fest,' the governor should focus on spurring green industries in the commonwealth by developing clean energy sources like offshore wind power that alone would bring 10,000 jobs to Virginia."
"Virginia needs a focus on renewable energy, especially solar energy," said Kent Baake, renewable business owner of Continuum Solar. "Last year showed huge demand for solar when an incentive through federal ARRA funds were available. Coal gets $45 million every year for a production tax credit, why can't solar share in some of this state government support?"
Check out the photos from the rally...

Webb, Others Shine Light on For-Profit Abuse of GI Bill

by: Elaine in Roanoke

In a visit to Roanoke recently to support the re-election of fellow ex-Marine State Sen. John Edwards, as well as in testimony before a Senate committee, Sen. Jim Webb raised serious questions about how for-profit schools and colleges are benefiting handsomely from federal money but not producing decent results for veterans.Webb noted that the average cost to taxpayers at for-profit schools is twice that at a state college or university, $10,900 vs $4,900, yet almost one-half of veterans who signed up at for-profits withdrew within one year of entering. Those schools got 37% of funds disbursed under the GI Bill, but only trained 25% of veterans using the bill.
"The World War II GI Bill, history shows, had a similar problem. In 1951, a GAO report found that 1,700,000 veterans had enrolled in courses offered by for-profit schools, 5,000 of which sprang up after the creation of the GI Bill...The abuses [of that bill], especially among for-profit vocational schools, led to...restrictions of that program and to even stricter restrictions under the program established after the Korean conflict and then eventually to the somewhat parsimonious GI Bill given to those who served in the Vietnam War," Webb told the Senate committee.
The Senate heard even harsher criticism from Ted Daywalt, a retired Navy officer who now operates an online job board. "When one looks at the evidence, [it is clear] the Post-9/11 GI Bill has been usurped by predatory for-profit schools."
Daywalt praised the University of Phoenix and American Military University as schools that weren't abusing the program, but he slammed Washington-Post-owned Kaplan as one that deserves federal scrutiny. He said there are perhaps 40 for-profit schools that are taking advantage of the generous Post-9/11 GI Bill, recruiting veterans simply for the federal dollars they bring with them and caring little about results for the students.
Elaine in Roanoke :: Webb, Others Shine Light on For-Profit Abuse of GI Bill
One Virginia example of how this situation needs vigorous oversight is Strayer University, with 11 locations in the state. It spends 52% of its revenue on marketing and profit, according to a staff analysis last month from the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.Jim Webb's main concern is that the rip-off of veterans by some schools in their quest for  maximum profit will endanger the educational benefits our volunteer armed forces have earned and deserve. He's absolutely right.
I have found one bright spot in this mess. The Washington Post reported a sharp decline in its Kaplan profits for the first quarter of 2011. The drop was attributed in large part to falling Kaplan enrollment following critical reports on Kaplan's lousy educational outcomes, plus the Post's $30 million investment in Corinthian Colleges, a failing for-profit whose stock is now worth about $1.30 per share and falling.  

New Bloomberg Story Shows Far-Flung Predatory "Capitalism" of Koch Industries

Monday, October 3, 2011

by: KathyinBlacksburg

At its best, capitalism is the best of the historic economic systems.  At its best, the capitalist system renders the American Dream attainable for most Americans, even as the wealthy are well-heeled.  For some of the well-heeled, though, that isn't enough.  For some, it's anything goes.  At its worst, the capitalist system becomes entirely predatory, wrapping itself inside out as it ultimately devours itself.  That process is under way as I write this.  And at its worst, it is something right out of today's news (specifically, an expose by Bloomberg News). The story about which I write is one detailing alleged exploitation, and alleged corruption by Koch Industries. There are several allegations of wrongdoing.  These are pretty amazing allegations in this article, not from a liberal blog, but from Bloomberg News! The expose is a must read here. According to Bloomberg's Asjylyn Loder and David Evans, the Koch Brothers, are not just political meddlers and libertarian extremists, but corporate ones (extremists) as well.  They appear to be the poster children for why regulation is necessary and should be maintained, improved and re-enforced.Like it or not, it is almost certain you indirectly support capitalism run amok with your purchases. If you have Stainmaster carpet, you feed Koch Industries. If you buy Angel Soft or Quilted Northern TP, you feed the Koch machine to the tune of about $7 a week. If you are a woman with Lycra in your clothing (It's not just for shape-wear and swimsuits any more. Even slacks, jeans and shirts now tend to have it) you are feeding the Koch Brothers. (I plead guilty.) Would that our donations to the Tea Party were put to more productive use!!!!!  But our purchases ought to be directed more productively and profitably for our own interests and those of most Americans. (Note to self...)
But, aside from being one of the largest privately held companies in the US, Kochs' biggest product is the "Astroturf" organizations they've built to launch the so-called Tea Party movement and capture the politics of America. You owe it to yourself to read up and remember the details of the Bloomberg article.  It will come in handy (over and over) as we in Virginia try to stave off a complete Tea Party takeover of the Virginia Senate. Go ahead.  Read it!  Then, ask yourselves how patriotic these so-called Tea party "patriots" really are.

What If Republicans Take Back the Virginia State Senate?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What will happen if Republicans take back the Virginia State Senate on November 8? I've thought about this question off and on (mostly off) for the past few months, and I still haven't reached any firm conclusions. However, with a definite possibility (30%? 40%? higher?) of that actually happening in 5 weeks, I thought it might be worth throwing out a few thoughts and opening it up for discussion.1. One thing is clear: a Republican takeover of Virginia's government, with no checks or balances on them to speak of, would be extremely bad news for Virginians. Extremely bad news, that is, unless you're a wealthy, white, male Virginian (or a big, powerful corporation). But for the remaining 95%-99% of us, it could get really ugly.
2. The only question is how far right wing an agenda the Teapublicans would push, whether on LGBT rights, women's reproductive freedoms (and you thought shutting down abortion clinics was bad...), gun laws (seehere for more on that subject), immigration laws (Arizona and/or Alabama here we come?!?), crazy federalist stuff like teahadist Jim LeMunyon's radical "REPEAL" amendment, trashing Virginia's environment, etc., etc. In short, if Republicans win the State Senate on November 8, 2012 and 2013 could truly be horrible years to be a Virginian.
3. Would a far-right-wing lurch by Virginia Republicans tarnish Bob McDonnell's utterly-false-yet-ubiquitous "moderate" image, potentially making him less appealing as a national figure (although paradoxically making him more appealing among the teahadist base)? Would McDonnell try to rein in a Republican-controlled General Assembly, would he encourage them, would he hide under his desk, or what?
4. Would a far-right-wing lurch by Virginia Republicans cause their approval ratings among Virginia independent voters to plummet (for possible analogies, see Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, and other states where something like this has happened), potentially increasing Barack Obama's and Tim Kaine's chances of winning Virginia in 2012? Would this effect carry over into 2013, making it more likely that Democrats would make big gains, including possibly taking back the governor's mansion, that year? In sum, would a far-right-wing lurch by Virginia Republicans next year, if they are not restrained by a Democratic-controlled State Senate any longer, hurt their electoral chances in Virginia and actually help Democrats in 2012 and 2013?
5. The bottom line for me is that, purely as a partisan Democrat, I actually can see upsides to Republicans taking back the State Senate, for the reasons listed above. However, as a Virginian, I only see downsides, at least in the short term. The question is, would the short-term downsides (and possibly longer-lasting damage) be "worth it," if they were compensated for by the long-term destruction of the Republican "brand" in Virginia, by Barack Obama and Tim Kaine winning in 2012, by Democrats taking back the governor's mansion (and gaining multiple seats in the House of Delegates) in 2013, etc? That's a tough call, and it's highly tempting. In the end, though, I come down to fighting the battle at hand and to avoiding the "known known" disaster in the short term, which a Republican takeover of the State Senate almost certainly would be.
What do you think? Feel free to weigh in. Thanks.