|Courtesy of tech whiz Dave Leichtman, see here for final (assuming Gov. McDonnell signs them into law, as he's said he will) House of Delegates redistricting maps and here for final Senate maps. A couple of examples: here are the 30th and 31st State Senate districts (click to "embiggen").UPDATE: It appears the data posted here, at least for House districts, is...uh, "funky." Do a "before" and "after" on the 45th, for instance. If this were really the case, I think we would have heard something from David Englin by now. :)|
UPDATE #2: Dave Leichtman seems to have fixed whatever the problem was. All is now well in the world. :)
Friday, April 29, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
I watched the PBS NewsHour last night, including this segment on President Obama's release of his "long-form" birth certificate (and the insane, idiotic "birther" controversy). As I watched, I found myself growing increasingly disgusted, appalled, and outraged at the attitude, framing, and apparently enormous blind spots exhibited by
|lowkell :: In NewsHour Segment on "Birther" Controversy, Dan Balz Epitomizes Much of What's Wrong with Media|
|2. Balz then gives us this whopper, "the press probably does bear some responsibility for this but..." Ahem, uh Mr. Balz? There's no "but" about it; your industry played an enormous role in creating and fueling this false "controversy," just as your industry played a huge role in fueling the false "controversies" over "death panels" (WTF?), "climategate" (double WTF?), etc. Not to mention the fact that your industry also played a huge role, via wildly biased and heavy coverage of the "Tea Party" phenomenon, in building up that "movement" while ignoring equally large, or in many cases much larger, rallies of labor, environmentalists, and other progressive forces. But god forbid you'd ever take any responsibility for that.3. We then get the "on the one hand, on the other hand" faux "evenhanded" and falsely "objective blather about how Trump might "get some credit for that among people who think this was something that needed to be done," and how it could "enhance him as a political candidate," or whatever. This one isn't particularly egregious, but we see the false equivalence and phony "two sides" b.s. from the lamestream media so frequently, that you'll have to forgive me for being hypervigilant for it.|
4. Then there's this whopper, truly astounding: Dan Balz claims he has no idea -- "I don't know what to make of that, Jim, frankly" -- about why oh why Donald Trump might be raising this "birther" thing and possibly even continuing to play it out (he's now raising the issue of Obama's academic qualifications to get into Ivy League schools)? Seriously, Dan? You've been covering national politics for decades now and you have no idea why Trump might be doing this? Look, I hate to be rude, but you're either: a) a complete imbecile; b) hopelessly naive; or c) just pretending to be naive. So, ok, let me spell it out for you, since apparently it's so difficult to figure out why Trump's doing this. #1, he sees political advantage in tapping into the near-majority of Republicans who "believe" that President Obama really wasn't born in America. #2, he sees political advantage in tapping into what's really at the core of all this, racism and xenophobia towards our nation's first African American (actually, mixed race, of a Kenyan father and white mother from Kansas). If you can't figure that out, you are utterly unqualified to be covering politics, whether at the national level or at the dogcatcher level. Seriously, that's pathetic.
3a. Elaborating on point #3, why won't Dan Balz -- or Jim Lehrer, for that matter - just call it like it is, that much of not all of this "birther" crap has to do with racism? But no, not once in the NewsHour interview do they mention the 8,000-pound gorilla in the room, which clearly is racism -- let me repeat, RACISM - towards our first "black" president. Why is that? Does it have something to do with the fact that the elite news media has enormous blind spots, or are they just a bunch of cowards when it comes down to it, terrified of angering the crazies on the right? The latter possibility would certainly help to explain the wildly biased (towards the right) coverage we get from the "mainstream media," whether in treating seriously the most outlandish, John Birch Society-style claims ("death panels," "climategate," etc.), or in presenting "two sides" to everything (one side says the earth is round, the other says it's flat...).
Anyway, that's the end of my anti-media rant du jour. It's good to get this off my chest, but I doubt it does any good whatsoever, as nothing can penetrate the layers upon layers of arrogance, rationalization, and cognitive dissonance resolution we get on a daily basis from a media desperately struggling for relevance, not to mention for a way to stay in business.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
This "story" - that Barack Obama wasn't really born in the United States of America, and thus isn't eligible to be president - has always been complete bull****, the disturbed fever dream of modern day John Birchers (they call themselves "Tea Partiers" and "Republicans" nowadays), racists, and other paranoid loony-tunes. It's also a sign of how much disinformation, misinformation, and outright lies can not only float around the dark recesses of the internet, but also crawl out from under its slimy rock there into the light of day, if we can call the infotainment funny farm idiiocy known as the "mainstream media" the "light of day." The problem is, this one got out of control, finding fertile ground in the Republican Party and "Tea Party" ranks, with one recent poll indicating that only 33% of Republicans are sure that Barack Obama was born in the United States (45% of Republicans say he wasn't, 22% aren't sure). Astounding.The bottom line is that we never should have spent two minutes talking about this garbage, particularly at a time when we have such pressing challenges in our country. Of course, we also shouldn't have spent two minutes talking about imbeciles and self-promoting hucksters like Sarah Palin and Donald Trump. We shouldn't have spent two minutes talking about "death panels," "climategate," and all the other "sideshows and carnival barkers" (as President Obama calls them) sloshing around out there in the sewer.
|What's been fueling the "birther" theories about President Obama, who just happens to be our first African American (actually, mixed race) president? Let's be blunt about this: as Blue Virginia readers are voting overwhelmingly in the poll on our front page right now, the "birther" craziness and all the other craziness about Obama being a "Muslim," a "Kenyan anti-colonialist," etc, etc., is the clear result of: a) racism; b) the right-wing media echo chamber doing its echo chamber-y thing; c) insanity; d) xenophobia; and e) calculated Republican strategy. Just keep that in mind the next time one of these crazy memes starts popping up in your email inbox, on Faux "News," on the Sludge Report, at a conservative forum, at a Republican debate, or wherever.|
P.S. Here's the White House statement on this matter. I'm sure it won't put the "issue" to rest, but hopefully it will make anyone propagating it - or having propagated it in the past - seem even crazier than they already are. And yes, that includes our own Ken Kookinelli, who I'd also point out is a believer in other completely discredited/crazy/crackpot "theories" like "climategate."
At a time of great consequence for this country - when we should be debating how we win the future, reduce our deficit, deal with high gas prices, and bring stability to the Middle East, Washington, DC, was once again distracted by a fake issue. The President's hope is that with this step, we can move on to debating the bigger issues that matter to the American people and the future of the country.
Posted by Lowell at 1:13 PM
|Nice job Dick.|
Senate Democratic and Republican negotiators have reached a tentative deal on a new map for Senate legislative districts. Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Fauquier County, one of the negotiators,cautioned that the deal still could blow up and that Senate Democratic and Republican caucuses are being briefed this afternoon. A meeting of the Senate Privileges and Elections Committee has tentatively been scheduled for Thursday morning and the full Senate could vote as early as Thursday.So, after all this anti-progressive/anti-environment bully's blustering about how he wouldn't change a comma in the redistricting plan, blah blah blah, he basically just accomplished the following (h/t to my General Assembly sources for this):*Sacrifices the new Democratic-leaning district around Richmond.
*Ensured that Democrats have no room for growth in the Senate, that we might (barely) hold our 22 seats but nothing else.
*Guaranteed that the caucus has no chance of becoming mroe progressive.
*Created two new "R"-leaning districts.
And why did Dick cave, after all his bluster about not changing a comma? What I'm hearing from multiple sources is that the legal advisers to Dick Saslaw apparently changed their mind, suddenly deciding that the courts were more of a problem than they had thought. So, they advised Saslaw to avoid that route at (almost) all costs. Hence, the indefensible debacle you see before you. Oh, and just to put the icing on the cake, who comes out smelling good in all this? That's right, Bob McDonnell. Who comes out getting BOTH the policy AND the politics wrong? That's right, Dick Saslaw and Company. Heckuva job, guys!
P.S. Any reason we should be surprised at the incredibly weak candidate they're trying to foist on us here in the 31st district? Nope, didn't think so.
UPDATE: I could go on for hours in the "hate to say we told you so" vein, but for now I'll just say, did Paul Goldman nail this or what?!?
Monday, April 25, 2011
|Right now, with "gas" (in quotes because among almost all energy experts, such as my former colleagues at the U.S. Energy Information Administration, "gas" actually means "natural gas," while "gasoline" or "motor gasoline" is the stuff you pump into your tank at the "gas station") at $4 per gallon in the United States, we're seeing a massive outbreak of political pandering and downright silliness (or foolishness, or worse) in the media, and also among the general public. Almost every day, I read or hear something so factually incorrect, so wildly wrong, that it makes me despair for any hope of ever having an intelligent discussion on this subject. And, if we can't even get our facts straight or have an intelligent discussion about energy, then I'd say there's basically ZERO chance we'll get the policy choices right. And that's in an ideal world, where the oil, natural gas, and coal companies don't completely distort the debate with their massive disinformation campaigns (e.g., Chevron's Orwellian "Human Energy" campaign, the American Petroleum Institute's Big Lie "Energy Tomorrow" effort, the reams of crap coming out of think tanks funded by ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers).Anyway, with that mini-rant out of the way, let me list a few examples of the pandering and silliness (other words that could apply include idiocy, ignorance, denial, delusionial thinking, etc.).|
1. "Gas" prices are high because of "price gouging" or "manipulation," and that we need to investigate and "crack down" on this insidious practice. Just one problem: as Stephen Stromberg correctly explains in this morning's Washington Post, this chestnut is dug up every time gasoline prices spike, but with the same results: "Not only did the FTC conclude that there was no widespread price gouging, it had a tough time even finding credible complaints of price manipulation." That's always been the case, and almost certainly will be the case going forward. As the Richmond Times Dispatch addsthis morning, "Time after time, the FTC has found no evidence to support the conspiracy theories: It found "no evidence that the price increases were a result of conspiracy or any other antitrust violation." That's exactly correct. This "theory" is pure pandering, silliness, hogwash, etc. But it's useful politically to focus people's anger towards the Big Bad Oil Companies (of which, let me be clear, I am no fan to put it mildly!). That's all there is to this one.
|lowkell :: Higher "Gas" Prices Cause Massive Outbreak of Pandering, Silliness, Bad Policy Ideas|
|2. "Gas" prices are high because of something or other to do with Big Bad OPEC. Again, let me just be very clear that I am no fan of OPEC, to put it mildly. Basically, I see OPEC as the "drug dealer" of oil to the people who are addicted to that oil -- you and me, basically. And yes, OPEC's a cartel. But right now, from everything I've seen - and this has been the case for years now - OPEC's pretty much pumping all the oil it can. In fact, according to EIA, the only OPEC country right now with significant spare production capacity is Saudi Arabia, and that's only about 3 million barrels per day (out of a world oil market of nearly 90 million barrels per day), mostly of low-quality heavy/sour crude that isn't particularly desirable. Other than that, OPEC countries are basically producing all the oil they possibly can, in large part to take advantage of $100 per barrel prices, and also in part to make up for the relatively small oil supply disruption from Libya. So much for that theory.3. "Gas" prices are high because oil production in the United States has been kept off limits by the radical environmentalists and their Democratic allies, and therefore has been falling. Uh, no. First of all, according to EIA statistics, U.S. crude oil production in 2010 (5.51 million bbl/d) was actually the highest it's been since 2003, having increased nearly 600,000 bbl/d since 2008. In contrast, during the Reagan/Bush years (1981-1993), U.S. crude oil production fell sharply, from 8.6 million bbl/d to 6.8 million bbl/d. Was that the "fault" of Reagan and Bush keeping U.S. oil production off limits? Actually, no. In fact, U.S. oil production fell as world oil prices collapsed (following the enormous runups of the 1970s), and as oil and gas drilling rigs fell from about 4,000 in 1981 to about 700-800 in the early 1990s. Was that because of the policies of those far-left wingers, Reagan and Bush? Nope, don't think so. Instead, it was the market adjusting to far lower prices, exactly as one would expect would happen.|
4. This whole situation is temporary, or recent, or has something specific to do with this particular crop of politicians. False. In fact, we've been in essentially the same situation - addicted to oil, doing nothing to transition to a 21st century energy economy, complete political failure when it comes to energy - since at least the early 1970s. Actually, I'd go back further than that, when we made the fundamental decisions in this country to structure our entire economy (energy intensive industries, tremendous waste) and way of life (e.g., suburban/exurban sprawl forever!) around three absurd assumptions: a) that there was a bottomless well of oil out there; b) that oil would always remain cheap; and c) that there were no serious repercussions - national security, economic, environmental - to our wild and crazed consumption of "the devil's excrement," as oil has been aptly called. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
5. "Gas" prices in the United States are absurdly high. True, gasoline prices are higher than they were last year, but looking at this chart of inflation-adjusted gasoline prices, you can see that they're actually not particularly out of whack with U.S. historic norms. Also, as you can see from this table, U.S. gasoline prices have consistently been the lowest (by far) among the advanced, industrialized countries. For instance, in 2009, premium gasoline cost $2.61 per gallon in the U.S., compared to $5.87 per gallon in the U.K. and $6.47 per gallon in Italy. Why? Because most other OECD countries tax petroleum products at far higher rates than we do in the United States. Here in Virginia, for instance, we haven't raised our miniscule gasoline tax (17.5 cents per gallon) in 25 years.
6. This is mostly about Libya. Not really. Protests started in Libya around February 15-16, 2011. According to EIA, gasoline prices had already risen from by about 60 cents per gallon -- $1.86 per gallon on 8/27/10 to $2.47 per gallon on 1/14/11 -- before the Libya unrest started. Since mid-February, gasoline prices have risen another 70 cents per gallon or so. In other words, about half the price rise occurred pre-Libya, about half post-Libya. However, we also have to consider the fact that Libya isn't the only thing going on the world. For instance, there's been unrest throughout the Middle East, including in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, pretty much everywhere. What oii markets are worried about, and what they're building in a "risk premium" over, is the fear that all this unrest might spread to the oil-rich Persian Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia, and cause a massive oil supply disruption. In turn, that's being factored into the price of oil for delivery in a month, 3 months, 6 months, a year, etc.
7. This is all, or even mostly, a supply issue. Definitely not "all," and mostly not "mostly." :) In fact, oil producers are pumping just about full-out at this point, and have been for years, with world spare production capacity averaging around 2.8 million barrels per day from 2000 to 2010, a small fraction of the 80+-million-bbl/d world oil market. Instead, what's been pushing up oil prices, overwhelmingly, has been rapidly growing oil demand. That's grown inexorably (and enormously), from 66.5 million bbl/d in 1980 to 85.3 million bbl/d in 2010. During that period, China alone saw its oil consumption skyrocket from 2.3 million bbl/d to 8.4 million bbl/d. U.S. oil consumption grew during that period, although not as rapidly, from 17.0 million bbl/d to 19.1 million bbl/d in 2010. And that oil demand growth isn't expected to stop anytime soon, with EIA forecasting world oil consumption of 92 million bbl/d in 2020, 104 million bbl/d in 2030, and 111 million bbl/d in 2035. That's most of the story, right there; on the supply side, the only real question is when world oil production will plateau and start to fall (some believe it already has).
8. Last but not least, there's the hoary old myth that it's all "speculation". True, speculation can play a role in oil prices, both on the upside and the downside. However, speculators don't create the underlying supply/demand/"risk" fundamentals that underpin oil prices. I'm also not a believe in conspiracy theories, especially until all the "Occam's Razor"-type explanations have been exhausted (in the case of oil prices, Occam's Razor is doing just fine!). Finally, it's important to note that much of what is popularly called "speculation" is really just markets dealing with uncertainty and risk, such as worries about Middle East unrest spreading to Persian Gulf oil fields in coming months. There's nothing insidious or irrational, per se, about that.
In the end, what's the answer to high prices at the pump? Clearly, the United States needs to break its oil addiction. Do that, and the problem is mostly solved. How to accomplish that? It's also clear that, by far, the biggest "bang for the buck" by far is on the demand side, in terms of energy efficiency (e.g., upgrading our fleet fuel economy from the 20s to, oh, the 40s or 50s mpg?). Also, switching from gasoline-powered to electric-powered vehicles would certainly get us off of oil, although in order to avoid an environmental disaster, we'll need to produce that electricity using wind, solar, and other non-carbon-emitting sources of energy (nuclear's a possibility; fuel cells almost certainly are NOT the answer, as it take a great deal of energy to strip out hydrogen from fossil fuel feedstocks). Will we do any of this, given our almost complete political dysfunction and the utter foolishness/ignorance we see every day when it comes to energy? I strongly doubt it. Which means: get used to the ups (mainly) and downs (less and less frequently) of oil and gasoline prices in coming years; move closer to where you work, if at all possible; buy the most fuel-efficient car you can; bike and walk everywhere you can; take public transportation; settle in for the long haul on this one; don't look for quick or easy policy fixes, because there aren't any that are actually achievable in our political system. Feel better? Nope, me either.
|Read this Huffington Post article on the taxpayer-funded corporate welfare scam known as the "for-profit 'education' industry" and you'll understand the title of this article. It's truly disgusting, as is the president of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (where DPVA chair Brian Moran also has sold his soul for a bootload of $$$$). Here's a sample:|
Some of the largest publicly traded college corporations receive nearly 90 percent of their revenues from federal student aid programs. While government money fuels increased enrollments and record profits, the industry has poured increasing amounts of those proceeds into an unprecedented effort to preempt the rules through greater influence in Washington.In other words, an industry that derives a vast majority of its revenue from federal funding is actively using that money to fight government efforts for accountability.Read that last quote again: Harris Miller WISHES he could just write a check and buy a vote. He actually ADMITS IT! Wow, we always knew he was an utterly arrogant sleazeball lobbyist, but he doesn't even try to hide it!Just as bad, by the way, is the fact that Hararis Miller has hired on the "got cash, we'll represent you, no question asked!" Podesta Group (sampling of clients: BP, Wal-Mart, "Clean Coal," Duke Energy, and Egypt under Husni Mubarak) and the utterly execrable Lanny Davis (activities include support for "the Latin American equivalent of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce," "defending the Honduran military authorities' removal of President Zelaya from power in the 2009 Honduran constitutional crisis," providing public relations support to "Ivory Coast leader and flagrant human rights violator Laurent Gbagbo" as well as "Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the longtime dictator of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea"). Anyway, it's completely unsurprising that the for-profit "education"cesspool, which specializes in ripping off taxpayers, poor people and veterans, would fit right into Podesta's and Davis' client portfolio, and also that Harris Miller would take to those two like pigs in s***.
Posted by Lowell at 1:11 PM
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
|Over the first 3 1/2 months of 2011, according to EIA, the price of (benchmark West Texas Intermediate) crude oil in the United States has averaged around $96 per barrel. This compares to $61.95 and $79.48 per barrel in 2009 and 2010, respectively, during a severe economic downturn that caused world oil demand to fall sharply from pre-recession levels/growth rates. Today, with the world economy - and, hence, world oil demand - rebounding, combined with unrest in the Middle East and an oil supply disruption in Libya, oil prices (and, of course, gasoline prices) have moved back up as well.Now, none of this should be particularly surprising to oil market economists, but I was curious -- did any of them actually manage to correctly forecast this situation? First, let's start with one outfit that actually suspected something like this might happen, back in March 2005 no less!|
Oil prices have entered the early stages of a multi-year period of trading in which economic growth and rising demand could push oil to $105 per barrel, enough to meaningfully reduce energy consumption, Goldman Sachs analysts said Thursday."We believe oil markets may have entered the early stages of what we have referred to as a "super spike" period -- a multi-year trading band of oil prices high enough to meaningfully reduce energy consumption and recreate a spare capacity cushion only after which will lower energy prices return," said analyst Arjun Murti.When this forecast came out, I was working as a world oil markets expert at EIA. I clearly remember most people scoffing at the Goldman Sachs forecast (note: not to pat myself on the back, but along with a few others at EIA, I was very bullish on oil prices at that point -- based on rapidly growing world oil demand and tightening OPEC spare capacity, among other factors -- and most definitely did NOT scoff at Murti). In fact, as this article explains, "When Murti first predicted oil could reach a $105 a barrel, way back in March of 2005, oil was trading below $60. The prediction was scorned and laughed at, even as it caused a bump in crude prices... some thought it was just a Goldman Sachs publicity stunt." Instead, as it turns out, "Murti's call was dead right, and all the naysayers were wrong."Other than Murti, what were most other forecasters expecting oil prices to be? I looked back at past long-term outlooks from EIA and other analysts, and the bottom line is that almost nobody saw this coming. For instance, back in 1998-2000, major forecasters (e.g., the IEA, EIA, DRI, PEL, PIRA, and GRI) were all predicting oil prices for 2011 (I've extrapolated between 2010 and 2015, since there are generally no point estimates for 2011 per se) under $30 per barrel (in $2010). Clearly, nobody was even close to where we're actually at today -- nearly $100 per barrel for the first 3 1/2 months of 2011.
So, I figured that as the forecasts got closer in time to today, they'd get significantly better. But no...not particularly. For instance, forecasts for 2011 made in 2004-2005 were generally in the upper $20s per barrel (in $2010), to about $40 per barrel in the case of PIRA. Again, not even close to where we're actually at.
Posted by Lowell at 1:09 PM
Monday, April 18, 2011
|There's great stuff happening across the Potomac River right now, with with a rally of 5,000 young climate activists culminating the weekend-long "Power Shift 2011, a youth clean energy conference and one of the largest grassroots trainings in history."|
And, of course, the corporate media is barely covering it. Even more glaring, I just did a Google News search for "tea party rally" and found reams of corporate media coverage of their "tax day" rallies. So, let's get this straight: 5,000 climate activists taking on the Chamber of Commerce in the nation's capital gets no "lamestream media" love; a handful of wildly misguided people wearing funny costumes gets tons of it? Again, it must be that darn "liberal media bias" - boy do I hate that! (snark)
P.S. Another photo's on the "flip."
UPDATE: The New York Times has coverage. I still see nothing on the local "paper of record," the
|lowkell :: 5,000 Young Climate Activists Protest at Chamber of Commerce; Corporate Media Continues to Ignore|
Posted by Lowell at 1:08 PM
Saturday, April 16, 2011
|Public Policy Polling pretty much sums up the insanity that has infected today's Republican Party.|
Only 38% of Republican primary voters say they're willing to support a candidate for President next year who firmly rejects the birther theory and those folks want Mitt Romney to be their nominee for President next year. With the other 62% of Republicans-23% of whom say they are only willing to vote for a birther and 39% of whom are not sure- Donald Trump is cleaning up. And as a result Trump's ridden the controversy about Barack Obama's place of birth to the highest level of support we've found for anyone in our national GOP polling so far in 2011.What would be the equivalent on "the left" (in quotes because, in this country, we have a centrist party and a far-right part, but no significant "left" or progressive party) of this finding? It's hard to even think of one, but perhaps if only 38% of Democratic primary voters were willing to vote for a Democratic candidate who firmly rejected 9/11 conspiracy theories? Crazy, I know, and of course that's not the case. Yet on the Republican side, there are actually 23% of voters who will ONLY vote for a "birther" and 39% who aren't sure if they'd only vote for a "birther." (see FactCheck.org for a complete debunking of that "theory")By the way, it's not just "birtherism" that's infected the Republican Party these days. It's also denial of climate science (despite massive, overwhelming, undeniable evidence over decades and thousands of studies), belief that all our budget problems are because of "out-of-control spending" (correct answer: our budget deficit is overwhelmingly the result of the Bush tax cuts, two unpaid-for wars, the recession, and rising health care costs fueled by an unhealthy and aging population), near-theological belief that the answer to every problem is to cut taxes for rich people and corporations, and even dabbling with "nullification" (Ken Cuccinelli and many other Republicans), paranoia about "Sharia Law" taking over America (I know, WTF?!?!?), and even secessionist tendencies (Rick Perry) The question is, what's happened to cause the Republican Party electorate to go so completely haywire in recent years? A combination of 9/11, economic malaise, and the election of a mixed-race president? Is something else going on here? What do you think?
Posted by Lowell at 1:06 PM
|So, how many of you were aware that this weekend, in Washington DC, the Power Shift 2011 conference has brought 10,000 (ten thousand) youth climate activists to help "'shift the power' and lead the clean power revolution?" Wait, you hadn't heard about this important conference, even though it's on an issue that affects the entire planet, and which is crucial to the future of our economy, our national security, and our future as a species? Well, if it makes you feel any better, neither have most Americans, thanks to our friends in the corporate media.So, I just did a few Google News searches on this conference. One search was for "Power Shift 2011," which returned 62 results, most of which are blogs or environmental news services of various kinds. Other than that, there's a bit of coverage - in Politico and The Hill's blog - about President Obama's meeting with "young climate change activists." Other than that, nada. I also did a broader Google News search, using words like "climate change" and "activists" and "washington," and didn't fare much better. Basically, the media is almost completely ignoring this important conference, even though it's being attended by 10,000 people from across the country, even though President Obama just met with several of its leaders, and even though it's an issue that's absolutely crucial to all of our futures.|
So, I was thinking, how much corporate media coverage would there have been if 10,000 Tea Party activists - or, heck, 1,000 or even 100 Tea Party activists - were convening in DC right now, spewing nonsense and conspiracy theory ravings? Right, we all know it would be massive, wall-to-wall, 24/7, on TV, radio, and in print media. What if President Obama had actually met with the Tea Partiers' leadership, as he just did with the climate change youth activists? That almost certainly would have occasioned breathless, live, constant coverage by Faux, MSNBC, CNN, etc., not to mention domination of Sunday talk shows and editorial pages and front pages. But take away the far-right-wing lunacy, the funny costumes, and the lack of any substance, and what does the corporate media do? Ignore it, of course.
|lowkell :: 10,000 Activists in Washington to Discuss Crucial Issue to Mankind; Media Barely Covers It|
|What's the lesson here? A few things. First, the corporate media is utterly worthless, corrupt, and pathetic. Second, there's the concept that there's a "liberal media" is beyond laughable, when they almost completely ignore/black out a crucially important issue that also happens to be anathema to right-wing, anti-science, pro-polluter ideologues. Finally, it appears that the key to corporate media coverage involves some combination of: a) wearing funny costumes; b) acting like extremist know-nothing buffoons; and c) screaming that the media is biased against them.It's utterly infuriating, and the corporate media needs to hear about it. I strongly encourage everyone to write to Washington Post Ombudsman, for instance, and complain loudly about that paper's disgraceful lack of coverage of a major event on a crucial issue in its own backyard. Also, here are instructions for sending the Post a letter to the editor. I'd strongly recommend you let them know how you feel about their blatantly anti-environmental, anti-progressive, pro-right-wing, pro-corporate biases.|
P.S. It's times like this I'm glad I have a blog to vent my frustration. This is infuriating.
P.P.S. Last night on ABC's national news broadcast, the first 10 minutes of the show were on tornadoes and other extreme weather occurring in the United States right now. In all of that, there was not ONE SINGLE WORD about climate change, or about the Power Shift 2011 conference taking place this very weekend in Washington, DC. What's THAT all about exactly? Oh yeah, that "liberal media bias" again. Hahahahahahaha.
P.P.P.S. A couple links to good coverage on the blogs include Adam Siegel's excellent work and Brad Johnson of Think Progress.
Posted by Lowell at 1:05 PM
Friday, April 15, 2011
|I've been hearing rumors about this news - that US AID senior attorney and U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Jaime Areizaga-Soto might throw his hat in the ring for the Democratic nomination in the 31st State Senate district - for weeks now. Earlier this month, for instance, I talked to Areizaga-Soto at the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC) meeting, and he was trying to decide whether to run for Del. Adam Ebbin's House of Delegates seat (Ebbin's vacating the seat to run for State Senate), or for the 31st State Senate District (where Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple is retiring), or for the 47th House of Delegates district (if Del. Patrick Hope decided to run for the 31st State Senate district).I've been trying for the past couple of days to confirm persistent rumors I've been hearing that Areizaga-Soto's definitively decided to leave his federal job and run for the 31st State Senate district Democratic nomination. So far, I haven't heard back from Areizaga-Soto, and nobody else is confirming it on the record (off the record is another story - lol). However, I'd expect definitive word soon on Areizaga-Soto's plans shortly. Stay tuned!|
P.S. Another factor in Areizaga-Soto's thinking is that he definitely seemed disinclined to run in against his friend - and former Tim Kaine aide, including head of the Virginia Liaison Office to Congress - Alfonso Lopez for House of Delegates in the 49th district (Ebbin's seat). Currently, there's one announced candidate (Stephanie Dix-Clifford) for that nomination, but it's widely expected that Lopez will announce his candidacy sometime soon.
P.P.S. For video of Areizaga-Soto speaking at the bipartisan redistricting commission forum at GMU a few weeks ago, see the "flip."
UPDATE: I should add that Areizaga-Soto is, by all accounts, a strong progressive. Given that fact, as well as his impressive bio, I'd definitely welcome him to this race!
|lowkell :: Jamie Areizaga-Soto To Throw His Hat in the Ring for 31st District Dem Nomination?|
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|What's this all about exactly?*"PilotOnPolitics Sources expect @bobmcdonnell to veto legislative redistricting bill. Announcement possible today. No comment from governor's office."|
Also, the Examiner's David Sherfinski tweets, "Gov. McDonnell plans to veto the General Assembly's redistricting plan, a source has confirmed."
I'm trying to figure out why McDonnell would veto these plans, not just amend them (perhaps with the recommendations of his own, bipartisan redistricting commission?) and send them back to the General Assembly. I'm also wondering if the House or Senate will override McDonnell's veto, and if not, what does THAT mean? One possibility, I suppose, would be that elections would be held this year under current district lines, then again next year (a presidential election year) under new lines. Is this actually possible? I doubt it, but I'd say the chances just went from zero to...I don't know, but a positive number.
UPDATE: The Washington Post reports, "Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) vetoed a bill Friday afternoon that would have drawn new state legislative boundaries in Virginia for the next decade, saying he believes it violates state and federal law."
UPDATE #2: Here's a link to Bob McDonnell's letter explaining his reasoning. According to McDonnell, he has major issues with the Senate plan in particular: 1) lines "are not compact" as "required in the Constitution of Virginia" and "do not properly preserve locality lines and communities of interest;" 2) "the Senate plan may violate the one person-one vote ideal embodied in the United States and Virginia Constitutions"; 3) the Senate plan "is the kind of partisan gerrymandering that Virginians have asked that we leave in the past."
So now what? At the minimum, it appears that the Senate's going to have to negotiate - big time. What a mess.
UPDATE #3: Dick Saslaw responds, accuses McDonnell of "playing politics" and vows the Senate Democrats won't "surrender." The problem is, politically, McDonnell could come across as the "knight in shining armor" - standing up for democracy, freedom, the Virginia/American way, blah blah blah - on this one, even though that's utterly ridiculous of course. We'll see how this plays out politically. Also, how's this all going to be resolved in a timely enough manner so that we can hold elections with new districts this year? Good luck on that one! And meanwhile, how does any current or potential candidate for office know what to do exactly? How do they raise money, plan their campaigns, hire staff, etc? Got me.
UPDATE #4: As ArlNow points out, " McDonnell's veto will throw the races for the 30th and 31st state Senate districts into a state of uncertainty - candidates will have no way of knowing the final boundaries of the district they're running for."
UPDATE #5: Another possibility a very smart, plugged-in Democrat raised to me - what if McDonnell is willing to give up some House Republican seats in order to win control of the State Senate for his last two years in office? That would be a great deal from McDonnell's perspective, even if a few NOVA Republicans might be feeling a bit nervous right about now.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
|As part of this site's ongoing effort to learn more about Democratic candidates for office in Virginia, today we publish part two off our 3-interview series with the Democratic candidates in the 30th State Senate District. Those candidates are Del. Adam Ebbin, Arlington County School Board member Libby Garvey, and Alexandria City Council member Rob Krupicka. We presented the same questions to all three candidates, and also requested that they all return them at the same time (to be fair, so none of them knew what the others had answered). Yesterday, we published our interview with Adam Ebbin. Today, we presentRob Krupicka's interview. We hope you find it informative, and would be very interested in your reaction. Thanks.P.S. We will also use these questionnaires as an important part of our consideration into whether we will endorse anyone in this district, and if so, who we will endorse. We will also be watching debates and the overall campaign to determine who we believe will best represent progressive values, and of course the 30th District, in Richmond.|
Question #1. Tell us a bit about yourself, and specifically, what in your background and/or temperament makes you the best qualified of the three Democratic candidates to represent the 30th State Senate district on Richmond.
I'm a husband, father and lifelong Democrat, and this race is deeply personal to me. I grew up in a single-parent home and was born to a teenage mother who often struggled to support my sisters and me. From my earliest years, my mother and my father (who I saw during summers), impressed upon me how important hard work and education are to a person's future. No matter where people start in life, they should have the opportunity to fulfill their potential. I've made this principle the foundation of all of my public service, whether it's my involvement in public education to my work to build a more sustainable, healthier community for all. I believe it is the responsibility of individuals committed to a cause to stand up for it. This passion for progressive ideals is what spurred me to run for office. I was elected to the Alexandria City Council in 2003, and am now serving my third term and am a member of the State Board of Education. It has been a great honor to spend my time working to make our community a better place. I have fought to halt cuts in school spending and have pushed for the expansion of high-quality pre-K, which has led to more preschool slots available to at-risk children. In part because of these efforts, more kids in our city are arriving in kindergarten ready to learn.
|lowkell :: Blue Virginia Interviews with 30th State Senate District Candidates: Rob Krupicka|
Part of ensuring people can fulfill their potential is making sure our communities are healthy. I am a founder and co-chair of the Alexandria Eco-City Green Initiative, which has turned our city into a model of environmental development and earned us numerous awards. I have fought for smart solutions to our transportation problems, including increased use of the Metro and other mass transit, the use of hybrid technology, and expansion of programs designed to encourage more biking and walking to work, which gets cars off our clogged roadways. Since I've been on the Council, transit use has increased and we have doubled the number of people walking and biking to work every day.I am a trained mediator and have helped find resolutions to intractable community problems, such as taxi regulations, by listening carefully and building consensus. So I know when to play hardball and when to find common ground. I think that when you believe in something, you should fight for it.Question #2. On a related note, given the fact that there are only a handful of women in the Virginia General Assembly, and also given that two leading female Senators - Patsy Ticer and Mary Margaret Whipple - have announced their retirements, how important do you believe it is that another woman replace Patsy Ticer in this seat?
I grew up in a household with a mom and two sisters. And I live in a home with a great wife and two daughters. My oldest daughter is already talking about running for office. So this is personal for me. I think having women in government at all levels is important, but I also think it's more important to have leaders, no matter what gender, who are reliable advocates for policies that support women and families. I want to make sure Senator Ticer leaves a legacy of tireless and effective work on behalf of gender equality, reproductive rights, equal pay, and against the anti-woman agenda of Governor McDonnell and Attorney General Cuccinelli. I will continue to fight for those values.Question #3. What three issues are you most passionate about and why? Also, what specifically have you done to further those issues?
Education, the environment, and progressive tax reform.I'm the only candidate in this race with kids in public school. I think that it's important that there are people in public life who are, every night, experiencing what parents today are dealing with in their children's schooling. I walk my daughters Janelle and Gillian to Mount Vernon Community School, and my wife Lisa and I have been members of the PTA since before we had children. I have fought for the expansion of pre-K programs in my professional and public life because the evidence is crystal clear: the first few years of a child's life are critical in ensuring they have opportunities later in life. I was proud to help Governor Kaine expand access to high-quality preschool. I have been proud to participate in national policy work on the alignment of early education and K-12. I believe strongly that Virginia should be the best state in the country for education. We should have the strongest content standards, high expectations, quality teachers and a strong partnership between the state and local governments to ensure this happens. This is the most important social justice, economic development and jobs issue in our state and country.Question #4. How would you describe yourself ideologically - "progressive," "moderate," "liberal," or something else? How does your record of votes, endorsements, and other activities reflect your political ideology?
I am a proud Progressive. I have a record of championing investments in public education and pre-K, fighting for clean water and air, and working for a tax system where everyone pays his or her fair share. I have been a strong supporter of marriage equality and pro-choice policies, and a persistent advocate for our working men and women. Alexandria's annual legislative package is among the most progressive in the State. I am proud of our community's efforts to support diversity, to promote equality and to push for laws that make this a place where people have the greatest opportunities to enjoy their lives and fulfill their potential.My endorsements reflect my work fighting for our progressive values. I expect all three Democrats in the race will arrive at Election Day with a healthy roster of official endorsements. However, the endorsements that matter most to me are the people who show up to my office everyday to knock doors and make phone calls and who will vote for me on August 23rd.Question #5. Who is your favorite and who is your least favorite Virginia politicians and why?
My favorite Virginia politician is Tom Perriello, not just because we share a fervent belief in progressive, people-centric politics, but because of his unabashed willingness to stand up for what's right. Although he may have lost his reelection campaign last year, at no point did he compromise his principles - and he outperformed his district and other Democrats by being relentlessly honest, principled, smart, and willing to communicate to his constituents how his positions on the issues well-represented them.My least favorite politician is Ken Cuccinelli because he is using taxpayer money to pursue a right-wing agenda that hurts our families, attempts to deny healthcare to those who need it most and takes Virginia back to another centuryQuestion #6. This year, Virginia politicians have been busy dividing up the Commonwealth into new legislative districts, with the clear #1 goal being incumbent protection. With that in mind, do you support nonpartisan redistricting as opposed to the system we have now? Also, if you had been a member of the State Senate this year, would you have voted to approve the plans drawn up behind closed doors by the politicians, or would you instead have fought to incorporate the bipartisan redistricting commission's recommendations and/or the redistricting maps drawn up by university students?
I strongly support nonpartisan redistricting. The Senate has passed nonpartisan redistricting for the past 5 years, and I think it is a shame that the Republican-controlled House of Delegates has killed it each time and that Governor McDonnell failed to give the bi-partisan commission any teeth. While I understand the importance of bolstering our Democratic representatives, I believe that the process by which state and federal legislative maps districts are drawn needs to be more transparent and more fair.Question #7. On the subject of transportation, three questions. First, if you had been in the State Senate this past session, would you have voted for HB 1998, a bill strongly opposed by "smart growth" and environmental group as encouraging sprawl and highway construction over public transit? Second, how do you propose paying for the tens of billions of dollars in transportation maintenance and improvements Virginia is estimated to require in coming years Finally, what are your thoughts on the BRAC relocation to the Mark Center in Alexandria, and most importantly, what should be done at this point about that impending transportation mess?
I would have opposed HB 1998. Bridging the massive funding gap for our transportation infrastructure requires new revenue. We shouldn't take money from schools or other critical priorities to pay for roads, so we can't take it from the General Fund. I will make working for a sustainable and fair revenue source for transportation infrastructure a top priority. On the Council I have supported an increase in the gas tax to bring us in line with our neighboring states along with other proposals that bolstered transportation funding. Building a consensus for a solution is going to take significant political cooperation and must be fair to Virginia consumers. I am committed to working to develop sustainable revenue sources for our transportation system. Like everyone in our community, I'm opposed to and upset by the Mark Center BRAC location and think it should have been located near a Metro. The next State Senator has to be focused on what's next. I have been working for the last three years to bring forward-looking solutions to this problem and many of our regional transportation issues. The solution starts with the development of a system of transit corridors with dedicated lanes that can enable convenient, non-car commuting between Fairfax, Alexandria and Arlington. We have to expand the capacity of our region's bus system. All of this requires us to fight for transportation funding that emphasizes mass transit as well as sustainable funding for our overall transportation system. We also have to support "complete streets" efforts that expand options for people to walk and bike. This is a big part of the reason I'm running for Senate. Richmond needs more people who have on-the-ground, local experience in developing and implementing transit plans. I'm looking forward to working with colleagues from around the region for better policy and funding solutions.Question #8. If you had been in the State Senate this past session, would you have voted "yea" or "nay" on Majority Leader Dick Saslaw's bill, SB 1367 (motor vehicle title loans to nonresidents)? In general, if elected, would you always do what you believe is right or would you follow your leadership, even if you don't agree with it?
I would have voted no. I have been working at the local level to curtail predatory lending. We need to develop fair financial services that are available to all people; locking people in a cycle of debt is not the way to do it.My commitment is first to the people of my district, whom I represent. I believe in standing up for their interests, regardless of the position of party leadership.Question #9. What is your vision for Virginia's energy future? For instance, if you are elected to the State Senate, will you push for legislation like Chap Petersen's Clean Energy Future Act? Will you support any of the following: offshore oil drilling, natural gas "fracking," uranium mining, new coal-fired power plants, mountaintop removal coal mining? If not, what will you do to fight against these things?
Virginia needs to make the necessary investment in renewable energy resources across the Commonwealth. We must place an emphasis on meeting the type of renewable resource standards that are addressed in proposals like the Clean Energy Future Act. I support net metering and renewable energy standards. I intend to focus on developing a clean energy strategy for Virginia that can align the various interests of the state towards a healthier and more strategic energy future. We need to create a marketplace that encourages clean energy innovation and takes advantage of -- and encourages -- the great work going on at Virginia colleges and universities. Just as I have fought to see that the Mirant Plant in Alexandria be closed, I would continue to push for an end to our dependence on old, dirty fuels like coal.Offshore drilling presents yet another excuse to defer investment in truly renewable resources, and we haven't seen anything close to safe technology to make drilling an option.Question #10. Given that the 30th State Senate district is a solid "blue" district, and thus a "safe seat," it is crucial that whoever is elected has a plan to help elect Democrats - preferably progressives - across Virginia. That includes fundraising, organizing volunteers, and maximizing turnout in the 30th for statewide and congressional elections. Do you agree with this vision for the State Senator from the 30th district, and if so, what exactly is your plan to accomplish it?
Yes. I think that whoever wins the Democratic nomination in the 30th District must use this seat as a source of strength for Democrats across the commonwealth. In addition to being a strong progressive voice in the Senate, taking the lead on important issues, the Senator from the 30th must also be able to raise and distribute money to Progressives up and down the ticket.Question #11. Do you agree or disagree that Richmond is broken in many ways - for instance, the tremendous influence of money and lobbyists on legislation - and needs major reform? If elected to the State Senate, would your general attitude be more "go along, get along" or "shake things up?" Please be as specific as possible in your answer. For instance, would you support campaign finance reform that sharply curtails the power of corporations and powerful special interests?
Richmond is broken. I have a reputation for pushing for new ideas and pushing for innovative, transparent policies that take our community in new positive directions. On City Council, I developed and successfully pushed for new campaign finance rules, more transparency throughout the annual budget process, and greater use of online technology to interact with residents, including the use of Facebook, public forums and online messages to staff. As a Senator, I will support campaign finance reforms, strict ethics rules, and increased transparency, including recorded votes at every level - including in sub-committees - and publicly available streaming video of as much of the legislative proceedings as is technologically possible.
Posted by Lowell at 1:04 PM
Monday, April 11, 2011
|As part of this site's ongoing effort to learn more about Democratic candidates for office in Virginia, today we kick off a 3-interview series with the Democratic candidates in the 30th State Senate District. Those candidates are Del. Adam Ebbin, Arlington County School Board member Libby Garvey, and Alexandria City Council member Rob Krupicka. We presented the same questions to all three candidates, and also requested that they all return them at the same time (to be fair, so none of them knew what the others had answered). Today, we present Adam Ebbin's interview. We hope you find it informative, and would be very interested in your reaction. Thanks.P.S. We will also use these questionnaires as an important part of our consideration into whether we will endorse anyone in this district, and if so, who we will endorse. We will also be watching debates and the overall campaign to determine who we believe will best represent progressive values, and of course the 30th District, in Richmond.|
Question #1. Tell us a bit about yourself, and specifically, what in your background and/or temperament makes you the best qualified of the three Democratic candidates to represent the 30th State Senate district on Richmond.
For eight years, I have represented Alexandria, Fairfax and Arlington in the House of Delegates, where I've proven myself effective and won progressive victories even while being part of the Democratic minority. I have worked within the legislative system, and established the relationships needed to be successful in the Senate. I've been recognized as a progressive leader by Equality Virginia and the League of Conservation Voters, and have consistently received 100% ratings from the AFL-CIO. Prior to my service in the House, I worked alongside local Democrats to advance our shared values. I was a founder of the Virginia Partisans Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club, and served as Chief Deputy Commissioner of Labor and Industry under Governor Mark Warner. I have been a tenacious fighter for progressive values, and will continue to be in the Senate.
|lowkell :: Blue Virginia Interviews with 30th State Senate District Candidates: Adam Ebbin|
|Question #2. On a related note, given the fact that there are only a handful of women in the Virginia General Assembly, and also given that two leading female Senators - Patsy Ticer and Mary Margaret Whipple - have announced their retirements, how important do you believe it is that another woman replace Patsy Ticer in this seat?|
There is no question that members of minority groups serve as significant voices for the groups from which they come. We need more diversity in our General Assembly, including more women, Hispanics, African Americans, Asian Americans and GLBT Virginians. Most importantly, the 30th District needs a Senator with a proven record of effectiveness on issues especially important to women and other groups. As the first openly gay member of the House of Delegates (and hopefully the first openly gay State Senator), I certainly recognize the value of having a legislative body composed of members with varied backgrounds and perspectives. I believe that my background has enabled me to be a voice forthose who are underrepresented in the General Assembly. I have earned a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, and have led the fight against human trafficking in Virginia, a crime that disproportionately impacts immigrants and women. I also have worked with the Speaker and other senior Republicans on prenatal care for immigrant women. I will continue to represent the needs and interests of all of my diverse constituency in the Senate.Question #3: What three issues are you most passionate about and why? Also, what specifically have you done to further those issues?
During my time in the House of Delegates, I have worked to advance many progressive causes, including the rights of Virginia workers, protections for senior citizens and disabled Virginians, and equal opportunity for GLBT state employees. In the Senate, I hope to work to improve our environment, address our growing transit needs, and to continue to be a voice for those often left out of our political process.Cleaning up Virginia's environment and moving our state in the direction of renewable energy is a key investment our future.Question #4. How would you describe yourself ideologically - "progressive," "moderate," "liberal," or something else? How does your record of votes, endorsements, and other activities reflect your political ideology?
I consider myself to be a liberal, and have a solid record of supporting progressive causes. My values are reflected in my voting record in the House of Delegates, where I have been honored five times as a Legislative Hero by the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, and where I've earned perfect legislative scorecard ratings from NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, Equality Virginia and theAFL-CIO. I'm a founding member of the Progressive Caucus in the General Assembly, and am proud to have the endorsement of progressive leaders including former Congresswoman Leslie Byrne and Progressive Caucus founder Patrick Hope.Question #5. Who is your favorite and who is your least favorite Virginia politicians and why?
My favorite politician from Virginia's history is Thomas Jefferson, for reasons beyond his obvious role as a great statesman. Jefferson once said, "I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and Constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times." To me, he was speaking to the future, and the eventual expansion of American freedoms to include the descendants of slaves, Native Americans, Suffragettes, GLBT people and those who are different.Harry Flood Byrd's embrace and defense of segregation makes him my least favorite political figure from Virginia's history.Question #6. This year, Virginia politicians have been busy dividing up the Commonwealth into new legislative districts, with the clear #1 goal being incumbent protection. With that in mind, do you support nonpartisan redistricting as opposed to the system we have now? Also, if you had been a member of the State Senate this year, would you have voted to approve the plans drawn up behind closed doors by the politicians, or would you instead have fought to incorporate the bipartisan redistricting commission's recommendations and/or the redistricting maps drawn up by university students?
I have long been an advocate for open, non-partisan redistricting. I co-sponsored HB 5002, a redistricting plan that was based on nonpartisan criteria designed by students from the University of Richmond. I have cosponsored measures in the past to require non-partisan redistricting. I voted against this year's gerrymandered House map.Question #7. On the subject of transportation, three questions. First, if you had been in the State Senate this past session, would you have voted for HB 1998, a bill strongly opposed by "smart growth" and environmental group as encouraging sprawl and highway construction over public transit? Second, how do you propose paying for the tens of billions of dollars in transportation maintenance and improvements Virginia is estimated to require in coming years? Finally, what are your thoughts on the BRAC relocation to the Mark Center in Alexandria, and most importantly, what should be done at this point about that impending transportation mess?
I was proud to vote against HB 1998, and encouraged my fellow Democratic House members to do the same. We need to expand our transit system, particularly in Northern Virginia, to combat the impact of sprawl-related traffic on our environment. The BRAC building at Mark Center poses particular challenges to our local infrastructure and will create enormous traffic. I withheld my support fromthis year's transportation bill until funds were promised to provide a ramp off of 395 to partially address the coming congestion. Helping our community address the issues related to BRAC will be among my priority concerns as a Senator. Workers at BRAC should be given extra inducements to carpool, such as cash incentives.Question #8. If you had been in the State Senate this past session, would you have voted "yea" or "nay" on Majority Leader Dick Saslaw's bill, SB 1367 (motor vehicle title loans to nonresidents)? In general, if elected, would you always do what you believe is right or would you follow your leadership, even if you don't agree with it?
I believe that elected officials should do what they believe is right. We areelected to represent our communities and we owe our first allegiance to thevoters who sent us to Richmond. Regarding procedural votes, there are some instances where members need to follow their caucus leadership in a narrowly divided chamber such as the Senate. As a member of the House, I have learned how to balance my role as a partisan member of the General Assembly and my responsibility to put my district's needs first.I voted "nay" on SB 1367, and have consistently voted to curb payday and car title lending. I co-patroned measures to reign in car title lending.Question #9. What is your vision for Virginia's energy future? For instance, if you are elected to the State Senate, will you push for legislation like Chap Petersen's Clean Energy Future Act? Will you support any of the following: offshore oil drilling, natural gas "fracking," uranium mining, new coal-fired power plants, mountaintop removal coal mining? If not, what will you do to fight against these things?
My vision for Virginia's energy future calls for clean, renewable energy, and a lessened reliance on dirty energy sources. I have been a leader in the House in supporting the use of green energy. This year, Senator Mary Margaret Whipple and I created the Solar Loan Fund, which will provide low-interest loans to Virginians who wish to generate clean solar power at their homes. The environmental harm done by "fracking" is only now becoming evident, and we must prevent the widespread use of this practice in Virginia. The damage done by mountaintop removal, whichdumps thousands of tons of dirt, rock and pollutants into our waterways, and forever scars the natural beauty of our state, is plainly evident. I will be a vigorous champion for our environment in the Senate to draw the line against the further use of this damaging, shortsighted practice.Question #10. Given that the 30th State Senate district is a solid "blue" district, and thus a "safe seat," it is crucial that whoever is elected has a plan to help elect Democrats - preferably progressives - across Virginia. That includes fundraising, organizing volunteers, and maximizing turnout in the 30th for statewide and Congressional elections. Do you agree with this vision for the State Senator from the 30th district, and if so, what exactly is your plan to accomplish it?
I will use my position as the Democratic nominee in the 30th District to support the candidacies of Democrats in more challenging districts, just as I have from my position in the House of Delegates. Since taking office, I have raised and contributed more than $400,000 for General Assembly candidates. I forewent any general election mailings for my own campaign in 2003, and instead contributed to Mark Sickles and Steve Shannon's first elections to the House. I also contributed $20,000 to David Poisson's campaign against Dick Black. In past elections, I have funded postcards in support of Tim Kaine and our statewide ticket, and made robocalls to turnout Democratic voters in my district.Prior to my first election to the House, I spent years as a progressive activist. I organized, authored and raised funds for ads encouraging the GLBT community to support Democrats. Part of this effort included founding the Virginia Partisans Gay & Lesbian Democratic Club, which contributed more than $25,000 to Democratic candidates. As early as 1992, I recruited and organized volunteers, including more than 25 for Chuck Robb and Leslie Byrne. I wrote and targeted special mailings to the GLBT community for Senator Patsy Ticer andSenator Mary Margaret Whipple in their first elections in 1995.Question #11. Do you agree or disagree that Richmond is broken in many ways - for instance, the tremendous influence of money and lobbyists on legislation - and needs major reform? If elected to the State Senate, would your general attitude be more "go along, get along" or "shake things up?" Please be as specific as possible in your answer. For instance, would you support campaign finance reform that sharply curtails the power of corporations and powerful special interests?
I believe that our system does have some problems and my style is more to shake things up. The compressed legislative sessions causes subcommittee hearings to be held at times that are challenging for many members of the public, particularly those from outside of central Virginia, to attend and testify. Subcommittee rooms are small, often without enough seating and space for all members of the public to attend and follow what is going on. Subcommittee votes are not on the Internet for thepublic to see. In some cases, members have two committees that meet at the exact same time (as I do on Thursday mornings). Full committees often rush through subcommittee reports, causing some bills to receive only cursory consideration, and other bills are not heard at all. Alonger legislative session would ameliorate many of these problems, but many members of the House and Senate would have a hard time staying in Richmond longer, given the personal costs incurred and low pay received by General Assembly members.My voting record has shown that I have never been one to "go along, get along." For example, I have often voted with former Delegate Kenny Melvin, former Delegate Al Eisenberg, Delegates David Englin, Scott Surovell and Patrick Hope on lopsided votes that were matters of fairness and principal. I have consistently supported prison reform with Delegate Patrick Hope. We held a town meeting dedicated to prison reform and have visited one correctional facility. I have consistently opposed thedeath penalty.
Posted by Lowell at 1:01 PM
Sunday, April 10, 2011
|According to the |
2. Something McDonnell doesn't mention, but which is absolutely factual and absolutely important, is that he used "$2.91 billion in transfers and bookkeeping maneuver" to "balance" the budget. For instance:
...Lawmakers helped support general services by diverting $850 million in scheduled contributions to the state pension. They withdrew $783 million from Virginia's rainy day fund. They also found savings by using debt to finance some construction projects they had planned to pay for in cash, raising a variety of fees, moving up the monthly deadline for businesses to submit sales tax receipts to create an extra collection in 2010, and moving money from self-supporting programs into the state's general fund to help pay for education, health programs and public safety.Basically, that's all "smoke and mirrors" -- $2.91 billion worth of "smoke and mirrors," to be exact. Nice job, Bob!3. Added to the $2.91 billion in "smoke and mirrors," we also have $1.9 billion in one-time federal stimulus money received by Virginia (thank you, President Obama and the Democratic Congress of 2009!) -- money that was used to "[defray] rising Medicaid costs" and to help "[bolster] public schools." Again, that had absolutely nothing to do with anything Bob McDonnell did. In fact, McDonnell and Company were busy bashing the federal stimulus, the same stimulus that bailed him out and allowed him to run around the state claiming he "balanced the budget without raising taxes." Yet that stimulus money, combined with the "smoke and mirrors" budgetary gimmicks and pension fund raids, add up to $4.8 billion (80%) out of the $6 billion McDonnell claims to have "cut." So, we're down to a maximum of 20% truthfulness to McDonnell's claims.
|lowkell :: PolitiFact: McDonnell "Balanced Budget" Largely on "transfers...bookkeeping moves and stimulus"|
|4. Now, finally we get to the actual budget cuts portion (20%) of McDonnell's "Barely True" claims. On this one, PolitiFact concludes that "McDonnell is accurate in saying spending was cut, but he greatly exaggerates how much." In fact, PolitiFact concludes - with help from "Robert Vaughn, staff director of the House Appropriations Committee, [who] helped us compile the numbers and [who] did not dispute our conclusions" - that there were total cuts of $2.34 billion." However, PolitiFact also points out, "the financial problems began at least 18 months before McDonnell took office. And McDonnell's predecessor -- Democrat Tim Kaine -- announced budget actions to close a $2.5 billion shortfall in October 2008." In the end, according to PolitiFact, "It's impossible to determine exactly how much of the shortfall was solved under McDonnell and how much under Kaine."In other words, even of the 20% part of the budget deficit that McDonnell can somewhat claim credit for, some part of that credit has to be given to Tim Kaine and some to the General Assembly. And that's not even looking at whether these cuts were wise, good public policy, etc. But let's put that aside for now and just stick to the fact that McDonnell gets credit for AT MOST 20% of what he's claiming, and actually much less (how about we just divide that number by three, giving 1/3 credit each to Kaine, the General Assembly, and McDonnell).|
The bottom line is this: Bob McDonnell has been going around the state, and also the country (as part of his continuing audition - not to mention ambition! - to be the Republican presidential nominee's running mate in 2012) claiming that he closed a $6 billion budget deficit through his own brilliance and perseverance and courage, without (god forbid) raising taxes. Being very generous, that's "Barely True," as in fact McDonnell realistically can be given 1/3 of 20% (about 7%) of the "credit" for balancing Virginia's budget. The remaining 93% is attributable either to "smoke and mirrors" (nearly 50%), to federal stimulus money (about 30%), to Tim Kaine (about 7%), and/or to the General Assembly (about 7%). Let's hear Bob McDonnell brag about how he's 7% responsible for closing Virginia's budget gap; it's the truth, but you'll sure as heck never hear those words exit this smarmy, ambitious politicians' lying lips.
Posted by Lowell at 1:03 PM