Top Issue for 2012 Election: The Historically Reactionary, Right-Wing Activist Supreme Court

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The always superb FiveThirtyEight by Nate Silver has an eye-opening analysis of the Supreme Court's ideological lurch to the right, making it "the most conservative since at least the 1930s." Note the spike in the red line towards the far-right portion of the chart since 2005? You think that this trend might, just might, have something to do with the fact that President George W. Bush put John Roberts (2005) and Samuel Alito (2006) on the Court, with the super-conservative Alito replacing the moderate Sandra Day O'Connor? Gee, ya think?Also remember, even before Roberts and Alito joined the Court, it was already solidly conservative (aka, "right wing," as these people are NOT traditional conservatives in almost any sense; more like Republican political hacks), as you can see from Nate Silver's chart, and also considering egregiously right-wing partisan rulings like Bush v. Gore. Since 2005, it's only gotten worse (note: imagine how much better off we'd be if Al Gore had become president in 2001, not George W. Bush?!?), with the horrendous, Democracy-destroying Citizens United ruling, and of course theHeller decision on the 2nd Amendment, which Justice John Paul Stevens correctly said overturned longstanding precedent and "bestowed a dramatic upheaval in the law."
This past week, we saw the Tea Party Supreme Court apparently "ready to engage in some despicable judicial activism on ObamaCare," with far-reaching implications for the country - and the Court itself - if it engages in such an extreme degree of right-wing judicial overreach (in this case, ironically, they'd be overturning a core conservative idea, the "individual mandate,"which "is considered to have originated in 1989 at the conservative Heritage Foundation," and which was included in Republican health care bills in 1993, 2007, and of course in "Romneycare"). It's beyond "ridiculous" into "utter travesty" territory.
lowkell :: Top Issue for 2012 Election: The Historically Reactionary, Right-Wing Activist Supreme Court
Anyway, if you think it's bad now, imagine replacing Bill Clinton appointees Ruth Bader Ginsburg (79 years old) and/or Stephen Breyer (73 years old) with whatever Scalia/Alito/Thomas clones a President Willard "Mitt" Romney might nominate? That would quickly make the court 6-3, even 7-2, against everything Democrats and progressives care about -- the environment, civil liberties, civil rights, women's rights, workers' rights, the power of corporations, freedom of/from religion, etc, etc. And imagine that going on for possibly decades. Our country would be unrecognizable, and not in a good way, that's for sure. Maybe more like this or maybe one of these.The truly scary thing is, we don't need to refer to science fiction dystopias to imagine what life in America would be like under a court with people like this in the majority for decades.
Let's just make sure this never happens. You can start right now by: a) volunteering for Barack Obama's reelection; b) donating to Barack Obama's reelection; c) doing the same for Tim Kaine; d) supporting Democrats and progressives at every level - local, state, Congress, you name it; and e) joining with other progressives to form a powerful movement that the right-wing radicals can't stop, then pushing to move this country in strongly progressive direction (e.g., universal health care, a clean energy economy, equal rights for all, an open and honest government).
Come to think of it, you know how Republicans like to talk about how this is the most important election in our lifetimes? Well, they may very well be right, but (of course) not for the right reasons (as usual, they get everything 180-degrees backwards/wrong). The fact is, when it comes to possibility of the Supreme Court tipping even further to the far-right than it already is, that's a real possibility if Barack Obama is defeated and if the U.S. Senate flips to Republican control. This November, let's make damn well sure that doesn't happen!

Virginia Republicans Delete Angry/Snarky Comments Like Mad from Their FB Pages, But...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

For the past 24 hours or so, Virginia Republicans -- e.g., self-annointed women's health experts (particularly when it comes to "trans-vaginal" types of concerns) Sen. Ryan McDougle and Sen. Jeff McWaters -- have been deleting comments off their Facebook walls like mad (hundreds in the case of McDougle). Unfortunately for them, sometimes they're not fast enough:
Meanwhile, it looks like more and more and more websites are picking up on the story we broke yesterday, both here and at Daily Kos. It appears, in other words, that Virginia Republicans have knocked over a hornet's nest with their state-mandated ultrasound garbage, and are now being chased around (in social media, also on the steps of the Virginia Capitol in Richmond) by (justifiably) outraged "hive members." I'd almost feel sorry for them, if a) it weren't such a serious assault on women's rights; and b) if they hadn't brought it on themselves 100%.
P.S. It looks like Sen. Steve Martin has also been "stung" a bit. See the "flip" for a screen capture of that exchange.
lowkell :: Virginia Republicans Delete Angry/Snarky Comments Like Mad from Their FB Pages, But...
UPDATE: Another commenter adds the following to Steve Martin's page.
Comfort yourselves by saying this is all put on by a professor or a university, but this is a response from women everywhere who are offended by your bills. It seems the truth is that lawmakers everywhere are waging a war, a HOLY war, against women, as they have been for some time. It is about suppression and control. And you're getting "attacked" because something is wrong and YOU ARE A PART OF IT.

New PPP Poll Shows the Insanity and Bigotry of Today's Republican Party

Monday, March 12, 2012

The level of insanity and bigotry evidenced in the new PPP poll of Mississippi and Alabama Republican voters goes beyond "astounding" into "horrifying," "despicable," insanity," "bigotry," words like that. Check it out:*"In Mississippi only 12% of voters think Obama's a Christian to 52% who think he's a Muslim and 36% who are not sure. In Alabama just 14% think Obama's a Christian to 45% who think he's a Muslimand 41% who aren't sure." Oh, and not only are they factually incorrect, but of course it goes without saying that they think being a Muslim is a bad thing. Blech.
*In Alabama, 21% of Republican voters say that interracial marriage should be illegal. In Mississippi,29% of Republican voters say it should be illegal, while just a bare majority (54%) say it should be legal. Ee gads.
*"In Alabama only 26% of voters believe in [evolution], while 60% do not. In Mississippi just 22% believe in it, while 66% do not."
I mean, this goes beyond "differences on the issues" into something else entirely. When people - large pluralities or even majorities of Mississippi and Alabama Republicans, in this case - don't "believe" in evolution (as if scientific/empirical evidence is a matter of "belief" at all), when they don't "believe" a lifelong Christian is really a Christian, when they're bigoted against Muslims, when they're not sure that blacks should be able to marry whites, I'm not sure how you even have a conversation, let alone a constructive, rational, sane one. It's just so depressing that there are significant numbers of people in this country, in the year 2012, who still think like this. And, of course, guess which party they're in? Shocker, huh?

Kaplan Post Off by Factor of 10 on "$50 Light Bulb" Story; Fails to Correct Massive Error

Saturday, March 10, 2012

We know the Washington Kaplan Post practices all the sins of the corporate hack media in abundance: constant use of false equivalencies ("one side says there is global warming, the other side says there isn't"); failure to point out factually incorrect assertions (e.g., Republicans claiming that the Affordable Care Act will increase the deficit, when it fact the CBO says it will reduce it, etc., etc.) to readers; frequent plagiarism of/failure to properly credit stories from other media outlets, including blogs like this one; superficial and shallow "analysis" of events; thin coverage in general; sloppiness and lack of sufficient copy editing; too much "horse race" and not enough substance; utter lack of understanding of complex subjects like the economy, energy, the environment, etc; allowing complete nutjob stuff (e.g., climate science denial, wild warmongering) on their editorial page; etc., etc.Now we have one of the Post's most egregious screwups in a long time (ever?), with its Friday, front-page story on how (supposedly) a Government-subsidized green light bulb carries costly price tag. The story concluded, among other things, that the lifetime cost of a $50 LED bulb turned out to be $5 higher than an incandescent bulb ($53 vs. $48). Only one problem, as ThinkProgress Green points out: their math was completely, wildly wrong -- not even close (believe it or not, the idiots at the Post assumed that people pay 1 cent per kWh for electricity; uh, guys, try 12 cents per kWh!). In fact, it turns out that when you do the math correctly, with the actual price of electricity (NOT 1 cent per kWh!), the LED is actually $130 cheaper than the incandescent ($80 vs. $210) during its lifetime. Here's the correct graphic, courtesy of ThinkProgress Green.

The other problem, almost more egregious than the fact that the Post published this completely FUBAR article in the first place, is that they have not retracted it, written an equivalent front-page story explaining their massive screwup, etc. This failure to own up to their mistake(s) harms the Post's spiraling-down-the-toilet-bowl credibility even further. Do they even care? Based on their lack of retraction/correction, it doesn't seem they do. Remind me again, why do any of us still subscribe to this once-great, now increasingly embarrassing, "newspaper?" (Note: in my case, my wife likes doing the hard-copy crossword puzzle; I also like getting the coupons, which some weeks pay for the "newspaper.")
P.S. Also see WashPost Triple Fail... by energy expert Adam Siegel.

As the Media and Politicians Focus Obsessively on "Gas Prices," What About Natural Gas Prices?

To put it mildly, the "debate" over energy policy, "gas prices," etc. in this country is not exactly at the highest levels. To the stark contrary, it's mostly demagoguery, misinformation, ignorance, fossil fuel industry talking points (aka, "lies"), and utter lack of understanding of Econ 101. For instance, on "gas" (aka, "gasoline," or as we called it at the Energy Information Administration, "motor gasoline"), we have the Newt Gingriches of the world "promising" to get us back to a specific price ($2.50 per gallon, apparently). How would he do that? Pretty much by "drill baby drill"ing here in the United States. Of course, noone who knows anything about oil markets believes that has even a remote chance of working, but so be it, this is the Republican presidential primary we're talking about, basically a fact-free (or at least fact-optional) zone.Then, of course, the "rise" in "gas prices" is all "Obama's fault," even though pretty much none of that is even close to being on point. For starters, "gas prices" have only "risen" in relation to their Great Recession low point reached in late 2008/early 2009. As Econ 101 tells us - unless we were asleep or flunked the class - when the economy's collapsing, demand for goods and services like...uh, gasoline, will plummet as well. And, ceteris parabis ("all else being equal," as economists like to say), that will mean plummeting prices as well. Which is exactly what happened. Then, when the economy starts recovering - as it's going now - demand and prices will bounce back as well. Exactly as is happening now. Add in concerns over Iran (exacerbated by irresponsible, loose talk of warwarwar by Republican presidential candidates), some degree of "speculation" by commodities traders, and a slim margin of "spare production capacity" worldwide, and prices soar. Which, again, is exactly what's happening now.
Meanwhile, in the alternative universe known as the "Republican Party," "gas prices" apparently are a function of one thing and one thing only: U.S. oil production. Despite the fact that the oil prices are set on the world market, and that any increments in U.S. oil production we could possibly see in the next few years would make up only a tiny percentage of that world oil market. In other words, what they're saying is utter nonsense. As is the part about President Obama having much, if anything, to do with any of this. But don't worry, that won't stop them; remember, they live in a fact-and-reality-free zone -- must be comforting.
Just for sake of argument, though, let's say President Obama's responsible for higher "gas prices" (which, again, he isn't, but let's just run with this for a minute). If that's the case, then shouldn't he also be responsible for the fact that U.S. oil productiondrilling, etc. are booming? And shouldn't he ALSO be responsible for the fact that natural gas production is exploding (not literally, let's hope - lol) and prices plummeting?  
lowkell :: As the Media and Politicians Focus Obsessively on "Gas Prices," What About Natural Gas Prices?
Oh wait, I forgot, for Republicans, if President Obama announced tomorrow that he had personally cured cancer and the common cold, the Republican't response would be something like: 1) Socialism!!!; 2) why didn't he cure them EARLIER?!?; 3) why didn't he cure all the OTHER diseases too?!?; 4) this is a dark conspiracy, part of the government takeover of health care, probably death panels, almost certainly need to check his birth certificate again because we know he's a secret Kenyan anti-colonialist blah blah blah.In sum, Republicans are full of it, as usual, when it comes to "gas prices," oil markets, Econ 101, and pretty much everything else they blabber about (contraception is bad, sex is evil, women are sluts, education is elitist, there's a "war on religion" raging, other assorted Bircher lunacy). The only question I have is simple: why does anyone listen to these loons? How about we just tune 'em out, mock their tinfoil hats and ignorance, and go along with our lives?
P.S. Also worth noting: the U.S. consumes more natural gas than it does motor gasoline (aka, "gas"), so the plummeting prices of natural gas arguably have a comparable impact on the U.S. economy as higher "gas prices" do. Yet you'll never hear a word of this from politicians or the corporate media. Why is that?

Stupor Tuesday Results: Open Thread

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Please feel free to use this as an open thread to discuss today's Republican't primaries in Virginia (yawn) and elsewhere. Are you feeling the Mitt-mentum? How about some "surging Santorum?" Newt Gingrich's gigantic exploding head? Or, perhaps you're in a stupor just thinking about how crazy, clueless, reckless, and pathetic this Republican't field is (and how badly President Obama is going to maul them in November)?  That's about where I'm at right now.UPDATE 7:00 pm: NBC reports that Newt Gingrich has won his home state of Georgia, as expected. Also, NBC says Virginia's too early to call, which is somewhat surprising (Romney was supposed to win easily).
UPDATE 7:06 pmDaily Kos Elections says "Virginia exit polls back out to 63 Romney, 37 Paul." If so, that's really pathetic for Romney, especially given the extremely low turnout today. Can we say "no enthusiasm?"
UPDATE 7:12 pm: Per CNN, looks like a weak showing for Romney in Vermont, with exit polls showing "Romney received 38% support, followed by Paul with 27%, Santorum with 23% and Gingrich with 8%." Another way to look at it: 62% of Vermont Republicans want anyone BUT Romney!
UPDATE 7:18 pm: Results from the Virginia State Board of Elections with 12.5% of precincts reporting, it's Romney 14,605 (59%)-Paul 9,947 (41%). Turnout is miniscule. FAIL.
UPDATE 7:20 pmMSNBC calls Virginia for Romney. That was never the question, of course -- the margin of victory and the turnout both were. On those counts, Romney "won" Virginia, but certainly not in an impressive manner. Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling can't be too happy (although they'll pretend it was a smashing victory for Willard, of course - whatever).
UPDATE 7:38 pm: According to CNN Elections, exit polls in OH show "Romney 40%, Santorum 36%, Gingrich 12%, Paul 11%."
UPDATE 7:39 pm: With 57% of Virginia precincts reporting, Romney's leading Paul 59%-41%, with just 2.8% of active voters participating. Pitiful.
UPDATE 7:48 pm: The AP has projected that Willard will win Vermont.
UPDATE 7:54 pm: Four years ago in Virginia, turnout was 986,203 for Democrats; 487,478 for Republicans (McCain won with 243,981 votes). Currently, with 76% of precincts reporting, a total of 181,043 Republicans have voted in the 2012 primary, with 107,022 votes for Romney and 74,021 votes for Paul. FAIL.
UPDATE 8:00 pmCBS News "projects Romney to win Mass.; in TN Santorum has a small lead; in OK Santorum leads."
UPDATE 8:17 pmCNN exit polls have Rick Santorum winning Oklahoma, with about 38% of the vote, with Willard and Newton Leroy trailing with about 25% of the vote each.
UPDATE 8:27 pm: It appears that Ron Paul will win the 3rd CD of Virginia. Paul also has won Charlottesville (388-355), Floyd County (260-208), Montgomery County (993-979), Patrick County (255-241), Pulaski County (334-326), Surry County (129-112), Warren County (754-528), Lynchburg City (1,643-1,578), Manassas Park City (110-96), Portsmouth City (1,144-1,077), and possibly a few more before the night's out. Also, with 91% of precincts reporting, Republican turnout is at 235,327 (5.1% of active voters).
UPDATE 9:04 pm: With 98.56% of precincts reporting in Virginia, turnout is just 260,671 (5.5%), sharply down from 487,478 turnout in 2008.  Astounding, embarrassingly bad. FAIL FAIL FAIL!
UPDATE 9:28 pm: With 33% of the vote counted in OH, Santorum leads Willard 39%-36%.
UPDATE 9:58 pm: With 55% reporting in OH, Santorum leads Willard by about 11,500 votes, 38%-36%.
UPDATE 10:12 pm: Santorum has won North Dakota easily over Ron Paul and Willard. Santorum leading Willard by 12,500 votes in OH with 64% reporting. Santorum also has won Oklahoma and Tennessee. Not a bad night for Santorum so far, will be a great night if he wins Ohio!

Warner Reads"Green Eggs and Ham," Pitches "Radical Centrism"

by KathyinBlacksburg

Parents, and  Virginians who remember Dr. Suess from your youth, I'll bet you thought Green Eggs and Ham was mostly about eating things that are good for you. But, proving the politicians sometimes let no opportunity go unused, US Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)wants you to believe it is really about trying his radical centrism. "It's good for you!" (Not!)Take a look.
"Do you know what this story is about?" he asked the preschoolers, one of whom responded, matter of factly, "Green eggs and ham.""Well, yes, it's about green eggs and ham. It's also about the fact that sometimes when your mom or your dad gives you some food, and you say, I don't want to like that, I don't want to try that, you should try it, because sometimes it might be good," Warner said.
And now the message for the rest of us.
"Green Eggs and Ham meant that sometimes you've got to try stuff that at first you think you might not like. Maybe I can take Green Eggs and Ham back with me to Washington and try to see if we can get the Democrats to try some of the Republican ideas, and the Republicans to try some of the Democrat ideas, and just like Dr. Seuss wrote in Green Eggs and Ham, they might actually find that they like the other guys' ideas," Warner said. 
Nice try. Does he even know that Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) was a liberal FDR Democrat? Reading to kids is good. But this was a little forced, juvenile, embarrassing, insulting, and a lot WRONG.
KathyinBlacksburg :: Warner Reads"Green Eggs and Ham," Pitches "Radical Centrism"
So, I won't join Mark in "compromising" with (some would say caving to) Republican ideas in the era of radical Republicanism, Obsructionism, Do-Nothingness and Know-Nothingness. Not even close. If Mark Wants someone to compromise for a change, he should go tell the Republicans. After all, Dems have been compromising/caving with Republicans for years now and it has gotten them nowhere and Americans next to nothing except corporate feudalism. But when Democrats are Democrats, America is better served.

The First Skirmish in the War on Women - in Capitol Square, Richmond, Virginia March 3, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

by ewplaw I had no idea when I awoke on March 3, 2012, that by that evening, I would be witness to our Constitution being tested in the parking lot of the Richmond Police Department at 9th and Leigh Streets. After arriving home around 6:00 PM, I received a call that 31 women and men had been arrested while sitting on the steps of the capitol. Since I knew some of the protesters, I rushed downtown to find that 17 women were detained on a bus. The Capitol Police had first taken the men into the back of the police station through a garage door. By that time the women had been on the bus for more than three hours without water. It was hard to imagine what would lead the Capitol police to arrest these people for peaceably assembling at a place designed by Thomas Jefferson? The irony was self-evident. I arrived at the detention site at about 6:30 PM, after the 14 men had been taken through the garage in the rear of the police station. I informed the officer in charge that I wanted to speak to my new “clients,” but was denied that opportunity, but I was given the number of the Captain supervising the operation. I called him, left a message which was not returned. I insisted to the officer in charge that the women remaining in the second bus should be brought water. This request was also denied. The police were obviously concerned that I stood by the bus where the women were kept, and after waiting there about 45 minutes, the police took the women off the bus in groups of 5 or more. Although I requested permission to speak to the women, I was not afforded that opportunity as they were taken off the bus in plastic cuffs. Now that I have seen the video on the Richmonder, I am convinced that the entire incident needs to be investigated by the Attorney General’s office. This is not a partisan issue, as was pointed out, even in the conservative blog, “Mason Conservative." The writer of this right-wing blog said yesterday: “I hope this post in some small way prods folks on the right to speak up because the government, and its power, seems to be getting in the way of the rights of the people to assemble and protest.” I would go further: anyone who believes in the Constitution, regardless of political affiliation, knows that every American is entitled to assemble and protest peaceably in this country. We are great because we are the country with more freedom than in the rest of the world. Many have fought and died to preserve our freedom. In this case, it is important not to lose the ultimate goal of the protest in the actions of the police, the people gathered to protest against what they considered unjust laws. The officers have much to answer in any investigation of their actions: why were the detained not given summonses instead of being arrested? why were they detained in close quarters on buses, without water, unable to freely use the bathroom, without being able to consult with counsel? I will represent all the arrestees, pro bono public, if they choose to retain me. These questions and others will need to be answered in the coming weeks, and months. One photo I saw shows a riot policeman standing beside a sign which had fallen to the left of him. It said, simply: “Stop the War on Women.” There certainly seemed to be a war on at least 17 women (and 14 men) when I visited the parking lot of the Richmond Police Department on March 3, 2012. From where I stand, they won the first battle.
About my campaign to unseat Eric Cantor: check me out for yourselves. Read my biography, see where I stand on the issues, and "like" my campaign's Facebook page.  You can also make a donation if you feel so inclined.

LG Bill Bolling: Dems Should Apologize for Speaking Up for Women's Rights, Against Excessive Force

No joke: this is the response from Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling (R, of course) to heavily armed police crushing a peaceful women's rights protestthis past weekend in Richmond, and to several statements by Democrats (in support of the women) since then.Here are some powerful photos from that fiasco, courtesy of Patience Selgado. As you can see, the demonstrators were completely peaceful, most definitely not a threat to anyone, yet the deployment of force to confront these folks was overwhelming. What was that all about, exactly, and where were Virginia's Governor and Lieutenant Governor when all this was going down? Maybe they were both chilling out on the weekend?
Well, now the weekend's over, and it appears that Lieutenant Governor Bolling is not at all pleased with people pushing back against his party's war on women's rights in Virginia (and around the country, for that matter), including the heavy police crackdown this weekend. Obviously, based on the above tweet, Bolling didn't take kindly to this statement by the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) earlier today. That statement said, in part:

Watching riot police with helmets and shields march through peaceful protesters on the steps of Mr. Jefferson's Capitol is a particularly vivid reminder of how far this Commonwealth has fallen in just the few short weeks since Bob McDonnell and his party took total control over Virginia's state government....This should not be about the Capitol and State Police who responded to the protesters, it should be about the Republican politicians whose radical agenda created the environment for this unfortunate situation to arise.
Bolling also was clearly not pleased by two Democratic Senators - Chap Petersen and Janet Howell, both of Fairfax - speaking out on the floor of the State Senate this morning. A few choice quotes from those speeches that might have gotten under Bolling's (apparently very thin) skin? First, Sen. Petersen:
That's why I've been so shocked & amazed over the past few weeks to see the reaction of certain state agencies to the presence of protestors in Capitol Square.  On February 27, there was a peaceful gathering by several concerned women in front of the Governor's mansion. That is publicly-owned property and part of Capitol Square.  There was no indication that anyone was in any harm.
Regardless, there were State Police running around in flak jackets and an armored car parked at the mansion.
This past Saturday, March 3, there was another gathering of approximately 1,000 people, again mostly women.
They were met by squads of State Police wearing riot gear, more appropriate for a bar brawl than a civil protest.
Men of Virginia -
Would we permit our wives, our sisters, our mothers and daughters to be treated this way in our homes?  In our communities?
I speak not as a State Senator, but as a man who is the son of a Virginian, married to a Virginian and the father of Virginians.
It's not right to see our Virginia women treated this way.
We are a free society.  This is a public square.  People have a right to protest, without harassment or intimidation.

Now, Sen. Howell:
This past Saturday, 850 demonstrators came on the Capitol Grounds. They were chanting, "Tell me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!"And it was! Peaceful demonstrators going to the seat of government to express their views. In this case, they were marching and chanting for women's rights.
And what did they force? SWAT teams, state police in full riot gear, police armed with semi-automatic guns, and dogs, dogs!
Not since the massive resistance days in the 60s have I seen such a disgraceful display of excessive police presence in my state.

Lieutenant Governor Bolling's response to all this? Try to change the subject, of course, from his party's war on women, and demand that Democrats apologies to the police for "calling them out on the Senate floor." In reality, of course, Democrats were mostly calling out Gov. Bob McDonnell and his sidekick Bill Bolling for allowing the situation to get to this point.Remember, Governor McDonnell and his majority of radical-social-issues Republicans are the ones who led us down this path in the first place. It's also Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling who have caused Virginia to lurch away from its long tradition of being a well-managed state with a reputation of being open for business. Now, somehow, this party which ran in 2009 and 2011 on supposedly all about "jobs" and the "economy" have shown themselves to be obsessed with controlling women's wombs, turning Virginia into a national laughingstock as the transvaginal ultrasound state, where peaceful protesters wind up in showdowns with heavily-armed riot police for peacefully demanding their rights to control their own bodies.
Did Gov. McDonnell and LG Bolling not have any idea what was happening at the Capitol this past weekend, steps from where they and their staffers work? Presuming they knew what was going on, did they not have any power to intervene in the situation once it started to spiral out of control? Are McDonnell and Bolling utterly oblivious, completely incompetent, and/or are they perfectly comfortable with the response that we witnessed this past weekend?
Based on Bolling's statement demanding that Democrats speaking out in support of the peaceful women protestors apologize, it appears that he and his patron, Bob McDonnell, are doubling down on their arrogance, heavy-handedness, and utter unwillingness to listen to anyone else's views. Basically, with McDonnell, Bolling, and Virginia Republicans in general, it's "my way or the highway," "we're right and you're wrong," "if you don't like it you can take a long hike off a short pier," that kind of thing. And they wonder why people don't take kindly to that? Duhhhh.
P.S. Check out the video from The Richmonder (JC Wilmore) entitled, "Bob McDonnell's Virginia: Aftermath."

A Contrast in Responses

Sunday, March 4, 2012

by Andy G

Picture the scene, a cold January day in Richmond, Virginia and a group of about 120 people are gathered for a solemn vigil on the grounds of the Capitol building, to commemorate the lives of the more than 800 Virginians killed by gunfire in the previous year.  The group listens in complete silence as one of the speakers, a mother whose child was shot dead in his own bed by a stray bullet passing through the wall of his home, hold up his photograph.  As she speaks, a large group of armed men surround the crowd, their coats removed even on this cold day, to reveal the handguns they carry on their belts or the assault rifles slung over their shoulders.  Some of them push so far forward that those on the fringes of the crowd can feel the weapons pushed up against their backs.  As the woman describes her harrowing loss in a faltering voice, one of the intruders yells out "Guns Save Lives" and the others laugh cruelly.
Meanwhile, a small number of armed Capitol Police stand idly by, yet, despite direct pleas to move the gun wielders back from our lawfully permitted event, they simply reply that "These folks have a basic 1st. amendment right to gather and speak".
Now fast forward a few years to the same place, but with a different, larger, crowd.  
AndyG :: A Contrast in Responses
Imagine this time a group, mostly of women, a few pregnant, some with children in strollers or hand in hand. Older women, some with husbands and groups of college age women, all standing on the grounds of the same Virginia Capitol, but there this time because of the recent barrage of legislative attacks on women's health and a woman's right to choose.  Nobody armed, nobody behaving badly, just a large, well-behaved crowd, fired up by righteous indignation over the actions of some of their elected officials.  The big difference this time is that the armed Capitol police are now more numerous and they are backed up by riot police and a fully armored SWAT team - "to ensure that the protest is conducted safely," they say. Admittedly, the crowd is now standing near the front steps of the magnificent Capitol building, that signifies the location of the oldest democratic institution in the country, in the state that gave us so many of the Founding Fathers and early Presidents. The place built by Thomas Jefferson, the man without whom it was said "there would have been no Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom, and no basis for the most precious clause of our most prized element of our imperishable Bill of Rights - the First Amendment to the United States Constitution."
A clause which clearly states "Congress shall make no law ......abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Yet, this peaceable assembly of people, gathered to petition the State Government for a redress of grievances, has discovered something quite unexpected, they have found themselves in a "Constitution Free Zone," a place where the 1st Amendment clearly does not apply, a place where armed riot police, standing just feet away from Jefferson's shrine to democracy and freedom, are ready to arrest people for "unlawful assembly."
So what is it that makes these two events so different? What is it that causes such alarm for the authorities? How can armed men intimidate gun violence victims with impunity and yet unarmed women cannot gather peacefully to preserve their dignity? Those questions are what we all need to ponder and when we come up with answers we should remember them in November, when we all have the right to assemble at our polling stations and exercise our most precious right - the right to vote these hypocrites out of office!

Peaceful Rally for Women's Health Dispersed by SWAT Team in Richmond

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Thanks to my friend JR Tolbert for the images from Richmond, the first of which he annotated, "#waronwomen rally in Richmond for women's health," and the second "SWAT team dispersed the peaceful crowd." Also, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, "Thirty women's-rights demonstrators were arrested this afternoon in a protest at the state Capitol that drew hundreds of protesters and Virginia State Police in riot gear." Why? "Capt. Raymond Goodloe of the Virginia Division of Capitol Police...said those arrested were likely accused of either trespassing or unalawful assembly." Uh huh. UPDATE: JC Wilmore of The Richmonder just posted video. I'm bumping that to the top, photos now after the "fold." JC writes, "A group of peaceful protesters opposed to the Republican Party's War on Women are surrounded by riot police and dragged away under the guns of a SWAT team." UPDATE #2: The Washington Post reports: "The group had a permit to rally at the Bell Tower on Capitol Square earlier in the day, but Goodloe said rallies are not allowed on the Capitol steps. The group had planned to march to the Executive Mansion where Gov. Bob McDonnell lives after the rally." UPDATE #3: Washington Kaplan Post #FAIL!!! Uh guys, this was NOT an "anti-abortion rally". Unbelievable. UPDATE #4: Now the Kaplan Post dumb***es are calling it an "abortion rally." WTF is an "abortion rally?" UPDATE #5: Richmond's Style Weekly ("Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion") has more, including "Some of the State Police officers wore green camouflage and carried rifles and canisters of tear gas (no tear gas was used, however)."

A conversation with Tim Kaine

Thursday, March 1, 2012

by Teacherken

note - this was written for Daily Kos, which explains some of the phrasing.  As a Virginia story, it also belongs here.  I wrote it for Daily Kos because this race is and should be of national importance.over dinner last night.  His campaign reached out to a group of us, bloggers from Northern Virginia and the head of Virginia Partisans, the most important LGBT political organization in the Commonwealth.
Most of us got to know Tim when he was running for Governor, back in 2005.  In fact, a good number of us were involved with a blog called Raising Kaine, which passed on a few years ago.  We were also joined by several of his campaign staff:  Mike Henry, his campaign manager; Brandi Hoffine, his communications director, Nickie Titus, his new media director;  and Eli Kaplan, who had organized similar get-togethers for the gubernatorial campaign of  Terry McAuliffe back in 2009.
The entire conversation, over a pleasant dinner in an Arlington restaurant for two hours, was on the record.
Kaine began by talking about the three key issues on which he will contrast himself from George Allen - or should I say, on which he has already contrasted himself from Allen, since they have already debated.  First is the economy, where Allen is committed to "drill, baby, drill" (more in a bit); second is the budget; and finally is Common Ground, where Kaine focused on his record of getting things done.
Please keep reading. . .
teacherken :: A conversation with Tim Kaine
During the 8 years of the governorships of Mark Warner (for whom Kaine was Lt. Governor) and Kaine, Virginia built a record of accomplishment, including of being the best managed state and being the best place to raise a child.   Yet Kaine accomplished this without control of the General Assemblhy (state legislature), having two years when the Republicans controlled both chambers and one year while they still controlled the House of Delegates.  Virginia changed in part because of an emphasis on education, because it swa income improve significantly, changing from a state heavily dependent upon agriculture to one with high tech.  It saw immigration, it emphasized talent and the institutions (K-12 schools, higher education) that contributed to the improved economic situation.  By contrast, Allen had a record on spending that contradicts his typical Republican message of small government and low taxes:  state spending increased by 45% during his tenure as governor, and in his previous tenure as Senator (ended through being defeated by Jim Webb in 2006) h supported all of the Bush excesses:  tax cuts that were not paid for, the unpaid for war, a record of turning the surpluses inherited from the Clinton administration into deficits.  He supported these actions while opposing "paygo" - no offsets were provided.  By constrast, except for the stimulus the Obama administration has paid for all of its initiatives.  As Kaine said, "you can't just cut your way to prosperity."  He also noted that further cuts to federal government spending would have a significant negative effect especially in Northern Virginia.
On Common Ground, he noted his experience of working with the Republican speaker of the House of Delegates, with whom he actually agrees on very little, but with whom he was able to get some positive things done, by returning again and again to the things on which there was agreement, such as finally banning smoking in public places.
Kaine also remarked on the recent Republican focus on social issues, calling the general thrust not only bad but insulting and patriarchal.
Each of the invited guests got a chance to ask at least one question.  Because Kaine is a serious Catholic (he served as a missionary in Honduras) and he was attacked in his gubernatorial campaign for the church's position on Capital Punishment, the first question dealt with his faith, how it informs him and his decisions, and how the church's positions on issues might impact them.   He made clear that he does not leave his faith at the door of his office, but it does not dictate his response.   His task is not to legislate theology.  He talked specifically about the church's approach to immigration, but framed his approach through his belief in our desire to attract talent and the recognition that we were not about to deport 13 million or more people.  As he put it, we want to be the most talented nation on earth, not the nation with the highest fences.  He specifically referenced part of the Declaration of Independence, specifically where Jefferson offers this complaint against King George"
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
 Kaine believes that we should fine or tax those who came illegally as part of regularizing their status, and use those funds as one way to pay for better border security, which is not merely building higher fences.As might be expected given the presence of an officer of Partisans, gay issue came up.    He is for repeal of DOMA, but is not yet fully ready to support gay marriage.  As governor he used his executive power for better rights for gay state employees and their partners, although his successor abandoned that.  He notes that on adoption the Virginia law allows married couples and individuals to adopt, and he would like to see adoption issues be based on the best interest of the child.
We had a discussion on corporate personhood.  He noted that the original intent of the 14th Amendment was that it was to apply to flesh and blood human beings, but that one cannot argue a corporation has no rights - if accused of a crime, is it not entitled to a trial by jury?    He believes that even within the framework of Citizens United it might be possible for the Congress to set up a system of limits on political contributions, and that it should be no problem to require complete disclosure (which we have in Virginia).  He pointed out that it might be possible to require a vote of shareholders for political contributions, but if so that requirement would apply for members of unions as well.
There was some discussion of the nature of Democratic Party of Virginia that is very much inside baseball for those of us there.  He acknowledged some problems, but also noted that he is running for a federal office which gives him little influence over the party's operation.  He did note that in his travels around the state he is hearing a lot of  people being turned off by the Virginia Republicans focus on social issues.
Kaine would like to see a real reexamination of corporate taxation.   He thinks it unfair that a small business pays a rate of 35% when GE pays little or nothing.   He similar thinks it unfair a local business has to collect sales taxes while Amazon does not.  On national security issues, he disagreed with the President in part on Libya.  He thinks other than immediate crises (such as an imminent attack on the US) the President should always get the approval of Congress before committing our men and women to situations of conflict and combat.  When asked about the administration's use of the Espionage Act to go after whistle blowers and similar issues, Kaine was forthright in his answer:  he does not believe we should be making national security exceptions rather than depending upon the institutions (including our civilian courts) that have stood the test of time.
A couple of observations about Tim Kaine.  He is very smart - like the President, he and his wife Anne Holton are graduates of Harvard Law.  His father-in-law, Linwood Holton, was the first Republican governor of Virginia since Reconstruction, but his Republican party was something far different than what we have now in the Old Dominion and nationally.   When Holton was governor his kids went to Richmond public schools.  Tim Kaine began in politics on Richmond City Council - in a city that is majority black he then became the mayor, before becoming Lt. Governor under Warner and then Governor, and chair of the DNC.
Tim speaks clearly on issues.   He listens.  He is willing to learn.  He is committed to service.
I am honored to know him.  He and I disagree on some issues - I pointed out that for most gays civil union is still not the same as marriage, and for most progressives they would want to see a commitment to marriage equality.  He acknowledged our difference, even as I pointed him at Loving v Virginia, a case he knows well.
He is committed to the process of governance, that government has a role, unlike his opponent, who in 6 years in the US Senate got exactly one piece of (very minor) legislation enacted into law.
This may well be the most competitive Senate race in the nation.  If the Democrats are going to hold the Senate, we will need to hold this seat.   He is already being attacked by the likes of the US Chamber of Commerce.   It is a race which could use your support.
I invite you to visit his campaign website to learn more about Tim and his campaign.
Six years ago I actively promoted the candidacy of Jim Webb here.  Jim is not a progressive, but he was a clear improvement on George Allen.   With the help of many hear we narrowly won that race - 9,000 votes, a bit more than the margin in Montana but percentage-wise the closest Senate race, one which gave the Democrats the 51st seat they needed to control the US Senate.
I will continue from time to time to advocate here for Tim Kaine.  This seat is just as important this time around, if for no other reason than that we are again running against George Allen.
I thank you for reading.