"But There is No Global Warming" (Not!): Look in on Neighbors, Then Share Your Storm Stories

Saturday, June 30, 2012

by KathyinBlacksburg

[Note: Blue Virginia, other Soapblox blogs, and many other sites, were down throughout the day today. Netflix, Pinterest and other sites were down as well. Most of all our thoughts are with those who remain without power on a day when new heat records are expected to be broken. Please make sure to check in on each other.]Even in the wake of profound evidence to contradict them, science deniers abound. Yet there is little doubt that historic storms such as the one sweeping into the Mid Atlantic last night, are the result climate change.
Millions lost power as the 600-mile wall of rain and strong winds swept into the region from the Midwest. Experiencing winds gusting between 80 and 100 miles an hour, many haven't seen winds like that--ever.
The storm-exfoliation and toppling of trees will itself have an impact on global warming. That is to say, it will make it worse in a spiral of violent storms of which last night's was a foreshadowing.
If you live in NOVA, and have power you will want to check on others who do not.  Similarly, a half a million in Southwest Virginia have no power on a day predicted to be 98 degrees. Please help them get through the outage. The story is the same throughout the path of the storm from Illinois to Virginia and Maryland.
Where I am, in NC where heat was predicted to top 108 today, we are well, having only gotten the tail end of last night's storm and none of its punch. Chapel Hill, however had numerous downed trees and some power outages.
Here is a list of warnings and advisories for today.
What have you seen where you are? (Discuss)

UPDATE: Supreme Court Upholds "Obamacare": America Wins, Ken Cuccinelli Big-Time LOSER!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

UPDATE 10:17 am@SCOTUSblog says - "...entire ACA is upheld, with the exception that the federal government's power to terminate states' Medicaid funds..."UPDATE 10:19 amSCOTUSblog tweets: "From the Court: The mandate max be regarded as a tax. 'That is sufficient to sustain it.'" Also, "CJ Roberts' fifth #SCOTUS vote saved the #ACA" and "#SCOTUS upholds #ACA individual mandate."
UPDATE 10:24 am: ‏@AmandaMarcotte tweets: "Wait, it's 5-4? That means Kennedy broke to the right and Roberts to the left?" Yep, that seems to be what happened. Craaaaazy, did NOT expect that!
UPDATE 10:27 amShoq tweets, "BREAKING: Millions of Americans with serious pre-existing health conditions just exhaled."
UPDATE 10:28 am: According to SCOTUSblog, "The Court holds that the mandate violates the Commerce Clause, but that doesn't matter b/c there are five votes for the mandate to be constitutional under the taxing power." Also, "Justice Ginsburg makes clear that the vote is 5-4 on sustaining the mandate as a form of tax. Her opinion, for herself and Sotomayor, Breyer and Kagan, joins the key section of Roberts opinion on that point. She would go further and uphold the mandate under the Commerce Clause, which Roberts wouldn't. Her opinion on Commerce does not control."
UPDATE 10:29 am: According to SCOTUSblog, "In opening his statement in dissent, Kennedy says: 'In our view, the entire Act before us is invalid in its entirety.'"
UPDATE 10:31 am‏@SCOTUSblog tweets "Bottom line from #SCOTUS, Obama Administration wins. Challenge to #ACA fails."
UPDATE 10:33 am: According to SCOTUSblog, "In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding."
UPDATE 10:39 amHere is the electronic version  (PDF) of the Supreme Court decision. Read it and weep, Kookinelli!!! LOL
UPDATE 10:43 am: By the way, I need to add that as much as I'm impressed (and pleasantly surprised!) with the overall ruling by the Roberts Court, I strongly disagree with Chief Justice Roberts' reasoning on the Commerce Clause. As do many leading conservative judges and scholars. Yet another reason to reelect President Obama, to hopefully replace a couple of the radical right-wing, confederalist justices (Scalia, in particular) with sane, sober constitutionalists.
UPDATE 10:52 am: Our fanatic, wildly misguided Attorney General calls the Supreme Court ruling "a dark day for the American people, the Constitution, and the rule of law...a dark day for American liberty." As usual, with Ken Kookinelli, take the EXACT OPPOSITE of what he says and it's very close to the truth.
UPDATE 10:55 amBob McDonnell says "Today's Supreme Court ruling is extremely disappointing for Virginia and for America." Uh, no.

That's right, back in 2006 (ancient history, apparently), Willard "Mitt" Romney said:
With regards to the mandate, the individual responsibility program which I proposed, I was very pleased to see that the compromise from the two houses includes the personal responsibility principle, that is essential for bringing health care costs down for everyone, and for getting everybody the health insurance they deserve and need. So I was very pleased with that development.

So, remind me again why 6 years later, Romney and his fellow Teapublican'ts are suddenly against the individual mandate that they came up with, and which has been a cornerstone of their "personal responsibility" view of health care reform for decades?Also, please feel free to use this as an open thread on the ExxonMobil/Koch Industries Supreme Court's@copy decision on the Affordable Care Act, including the conservative "individual mandate," around 10 am. The big question: will the Supreme Court definitely prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are a bunch of radical right-wing political activists in robes, or will they shock us and actually do their jobs? I'm guessing the former, how about you?
Tags: (All Tags) :: Add/Edit Tags on this Post

Tom Perriello Argues the Real "Obamacare" Battle is "Constitutionalists vs. Confederates"

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

With the ExxonMobil/Koch Industries Supreme Court© set to rule tomorrow morning on the constitutionality of what has come to be known, ridiculously if you ask me, as "Obamacare" (as if this is about any particular individual, as opposed to whether we start revamping our flawed, for-profit health insurance system), it's a great time to take a broader, historical view of what's really at stake here. Fortunately, we've got former Rep. Tom Perriello's brilliant article in The Atlantic to do that for us. Here's an excerpt (bolding added by me for emphasis):
...As our country anxiously awaits the Supreme Court's verdict on health-care reform, the media has reduced the case to the narrow terms of a political horserace. This characterization ignores the enormous significance of this case -- a shift from the modern fight between liberal and conservative Constitutionalists back to an older and more nationally divisive debate between Constitutionalists and Confederates.From the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution of the Confederate States of America to the Lochner-era Supreme Court, confederationists have long believed in a United States consisting of states loosely united by a small, weak central government, and they have fought for more than 230 years to prevent, undermine, and erode the Constitution. While the term "Confederate" rightly conjures up America's sin of slavery and the racially charged movements for states' rights and state nullification,the present-day confederationists include conservative libertarians and corporatists who support a central government too weak to regulate or tax commerce.
This vision of a tiny, powerless central government has always been at odds with the U.S. Constitution, a document our nation's founders wrote explicitly to reject and replace the Articles of Confederation...
Coincidentally, I'm currently about 3/4 finished reading Ron Chernow's magisterial, definitive biography of Alexander Hamilton, which goes into great depth bringing these very same arguments to life. As the book explains, the fight between "federalists" like Hamilton, Washington and Adams on the one hand; and anti-federalists/"Republicans" like Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe  -- and, bizarrely, "Federalist Papers" co-author James Madison! -- were incredibly heated back in the late 1790s, with accusations flying around about treason, monarchy, you name it. Back then, the core of the differences resolved around no less than diametrically different visions for America: 1) the Jefferson/Madison vision of a primarily agrarian (aka, slave-based) nation, with a relatively weak executive branch and federal government vis-a-vis the states, and few if any modern financial instruments like banks, credit, etc. (also, the U.S. was to be allied with France, whose bloody revolution Jefferson admired, believe it or not); and 2) the Washington/Hamilton/Adams vision of a vibrant economy of both manufacturing and agriculture, plus modern methods of finance and trade (including a strong economic relationship with Great Britain), a relatively strong federal government promoting national economic, political, diplomatic and military strength, etc. (basically, this is the vision of America that won out, although it took the bloody Civil War to settle it once and for all, or so we were taught in school...).Today, however, those same old arguments, which many had thought long settled (certainly since FDR's, if not since TR or earlier) have flared up again, led by radical anti-constitutionalists (as much as they like to say they are "strict constructionists" relying on "first principles," in fact they are nothing of the sort, but are violently opposed to those very principles they falsely claim to support!) like Ken Cuccinelli, Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia, who clearly want to roll back most of history since the Civil War (including the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Great Society, and many/most Supreme Court rulings on federal power over the past century).
Tomorrow, as Tom Perriello explains, we will see whether the Supreme Court is willing to rule in a way that some of the top conservative legal minds in the country have described as "in either the text of the Constitution or Supreme Court precedent." Instead, we may find out tomorrow that Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Roberts have essentially taken our Constitution and ripped it to shreds, sending us lurching backwards to the Articles of Confederation. Stay tuned...

Ken Cuccinelli: Loser

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

by Kindler

Not since the Chicago Cubs has anyone assembled as impressive a losing streak as Ken Cuccinelli.  With his reverse Midas Touch, every major case that Virginia's chief legal officer champions just ends up swirling down the judicial toilet.  The latest flush came today, as the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit rejected his baseless challenge of the US EPA's scientific finding that greenhouse gases represent a threat to human health.  If the man were capable of embarrassment, now would be a good time to show it.
This, of course, is not the first time he's been thrown out of court on a climate change case. No, actually it's the THIRD time.  First, Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. ruled in August 2010 that Cuccy didn't have any "objective basis" for his witch hunt against former U-VA climate scientist Michael Mann.  Bravely, our Ayatollah General then took his case to the Virginia Supreme Court -- which in March of this year ruled that he had read the law wrong and didn't even have jurisdiction to challenge U-VA in the case.
This of course is on top of the smackdowns that Cuccinelli received from the courts in his challenge to President Obama's health care law.  After somehow winning his first round on the issue, he lost his next two. In September 2011, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously found that he lacked standing to even bring the suit, derisively commenting that allowing standing in such cases would "convert the federal judiciary into a forum for the vindication of a state's generalized grievances about the conduct of government."
kindler :: Ken Cuccinelli: Loser
The next month, the Supreme Court left Cuccinelli's health care appeal off its docket, even as it took on other state attorneys general's cases on the matter.  One of the striking things about Cuccy's loss record is how often his position is struck down on basic, threshold issues that you would expect a wet-behind-the-ears legal intern to get right.  Basic issues of who has standing to sue, what sorts of entities are subject to the laws in question, etc. are matters that you'd think a man with a position as important as his might spend a few minutes on Wikipedia to double-check.
You may say that none of this matters to Cuccinelli or his rabid supporters -- it's not about winning, it's about going down fighting!  Well, fine and dandy, but a habitual loser is generally not what Americans admire.  The man has lost so many times because he takes positions that make no sense legally, logically or morally -- and then fights them, unbending, to the death.
Perhaps that's the rebel spirit of the Confederacy, but what does it get you? Just another reason to be pissed off and blame the commie socialist pinkos who nefariously run the world, I guess.  (Never mind that many of the judges who've laughed Cuccinelli out of court have been Republican appointees.)
Meanwhile, the hero of the tea party courageously continues his quixotic quest, proclaiming, like the Black Knight of Monty Python fame: "It's just a flesh wound!"

Live Stream: UVA Board of Visitors Meeting [UPDATE: Board Unanimously Reinstates Pres. Sullivan]

"There will be a special meeting of the Board of Visitors on Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. in the Board Room of the Rotunda, to discuss possible changes in the terms of employment of the President."FYI, a good Twitter feed to follow is #UVA. Here's an interesting tweet by Washington Post reporter Anita Kumar, for instance: "#UVA Rector Dragas called President Sullivan at 2 and offered to walk her to BOV meeting from Carr's Hill."
UPDATE 3:05 pm: As the meeting is about to get underway, over 9,000 people are watching on the live stream.
UPDATE 3:07 pm: ‏@UVA tweets: "#UVa Pres. Sullivan and Rector Dragas just entered Rotunda together, we are hearing from the Lower West Oval Rm"
UPDATE 3:09 pm: @scontorno tweets: "Dragas: "The buck stops right here with us. What we do today will indeed be the final word on the subject." #BOV #UVA"
UPDATE 3:15 pm: @amasays tweets: "#Fralin: "The process was flawed." #UVA" @UVA tweets: "Fralin: We can't question integrity of those who supported decision to have Sullivan resign. #uva" @amasays tweets: "#Fralin: "No one knows what the vote would have been... I apologize to the University community that I did not think of this sooner." #UVA"
UPDATE 3:17 pm: Fralin offers resolution to reinstate Teresa Sullivan as President of UVA. It is seconded.
UPDATE 3:19 pm: Dragas says UVA had a "near-death experience to get here." References "a mob mentality," "vitriolic" communications the board has been subject to. "The garden of my inbox also has a lot of fertilizer in it as well." Dragas says she met with Sullivan and concluded it was time to bring UVA family back together. "We've always respected each other on a personal level." "It is clear this board wants to come together." "We look forward to working with President rebuild a sense of mutual trust." Therefore, "I support the resolution."
UPDATE 3:25 pm: Roll call vote. Dragas and the rest of the board unanimously (15-0) vote to reinstate President Sullivan. The board now moves to support Dragas and affirm her integrity. The board approves that resolution unanimously (again, 15-0). Can we say "one big happy family?" ;)
UPDATE 3:30 pm: President Sullivan thanks board, asks for everyone's support to "help us move forward together," says she's grateful to have "this renewed opportunity." Says nothing should be swept under the rug, but that issues should be discussed candidly/frankly. ‏@cvillenewscom (Waldo Jaquith) tweets: "The crowd is thrilled. Cheering, I see people crying."
UPDATE 4:26 pm: Coy Barefoot/WINA has a podcast of the meeting.

ExxonMobil/Koch Industries Supreme Court Rules: Democracy for Sale to Highest Corporate Bidder

Monday, June 25, 2012

This morning's Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling striking down Montana's 100-year-old limits on corporate political spending and upholding the Court's disgraceful "Citizens United" decision demonstrates three important things.First, that this court's "conservative" majority is anything but "conservative;" in fact, the four wingnuts on the court - Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, Alito - are activist, right-wing, radical judges (so much for stare decisis!) running amok. Second, those four wingnuts clearly believe that our Democracy is, and should be, for sale to the highest (corporate and/or billionaire) bidder. Third, that the Supreme Court should be a huge issue in the 2012 election cycle; just imagine a President Romney (shudder) having the ability to appoint 1, 2, or more Justices in the mold of Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts? If that happens, you can kiss a lot of things goodbye in this country, first and foremost being our democracy. You can also welcome our new corporate overlords, because that's exactly who will be in charge.
P.S. I strongly agree with the dissent by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan, which correctly states that "Montana's experience, like considerable experience elsewhere since the Court's decision in Citizens United, casts grave doubt on the Court's supposition that independent expenditures do not corrupt or appear to do so."
UPDATE: With regard to the Arizona case, 5 Justices "struck down criminal restrictions that would have barred those in the U.S. illegally from seeking work or being in Arizona without proper documentation" and "said the final answer on the centerpiece of the law -- a requirement that local police officers check the immigration status of people they suspect might be in the country illegally -- will depend on how the provision is enforced." Of course, the three hardest-core right-wing radical judges (Scalia, Alito, Thomas) disagreed, which once again demonstrates the crucial importance of having a Democratic president fill the next few vacancies on the Court.
UPDATE #2: Justice Scalia utterly contradicts himself on these two rulings, while demonstrating that he's nothing more than an enraged, "GET OFF MY LAWN!!!" Teabagger at heart. On the one hand, Scalia wrote that "If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign State." On the other hand, Scalia voted to prevent the supposedly "sovereign state" of Montana from writing its own campaign finance laws. So which is it, Justice Scalia?

Del. Englin Announces Resignation, Endorses Karen Gautney to Replace Him

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A bit earlier this morning, Del. David Englin (D-45th; Alexandria/Arlington) sent out an email (see the "flip") in which he announced that, "earlier today, I submitted to the House Clerk, the Speaker, and Governor McDonnell my resignation from the House of Delegates, effective August 31." This move follows Englin's April announcement that he "would not seek another term in elected office in order to focus on rebuilding my marriage and my family." In addition, in a move that came as somewhat of a surprise (certainly to me), Englin announced this morning that he was supporting Karen Gautney  - former "chairwoman of the Alexandria Commission on Human Rights, president of the Alexandria Gay & Lesbian Community Association, and diversity trainer for the domestic violence and sexual assault programs" - for his seat.Why is Englin's endorsement of Gautney surprising? Because most observers had expected Englin to supportRob Krupicka, who Englin strongly endorsed for State Senate last year (Krupicka finished second, a bit behind Adam Ebbin in the three-way primary; the other candidate was Libby Garvey, who is now serving on the Arlington County Board).
I spoke with Rob Krupicka a few minutes ago, and he told me his focus in this race will not be on personalities, but 100% on serving the community, on the direction of the district and the state, and on the issues he cares about. Krupicka added that his campaign will stress three things:
1. The need for experienced leadership in Richmond, people who have done the work on education, transportation and a range of issues.
2. A particular focus on education, including the UVA situation, but more generally about his concerns over how privatization is a threat to high-quality public education. As Krupicka said, "The UVA case is a specific one, but it points to a larger issue."
3. Sustainability issues - environment and transit - which are crucial to our state and to our planet.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out, and Karen Gautney certainly is impressive, but my strong inclination right now is to support Rob Krupicka for this seat, given his strong experience, his tremendous knowledge of transit and environmental issues, and the fact that he's a big-time policy wonk (that's a major compliment, in my view). I'll certainly be following this race closely, and hope that it stays on the high road - focused on the candidates' respective visions for the district and the Commonwealth - to the greatest extent possible. We'll see...
P.S. Arlington School Board member James Lander is also a candidate for this seat.
UPDATE: The Alexandria Times calls this an "abrupt reversal," writing that "Englin initially told supporters he would serve out the remainder of his term in Richmond, which expires in 2013."

President Sullivan to be Reinstated? Rally for Honor on Sunday!

If you care about the future of the University of Virginia, one of the greatest institutions of higher learning in the country, let alone in Virginia, I strongly encourage you to attend the rally on Sunday, from 2 to 4 pm, on The Lawn at UVA. Meanwhile, in encouraging news, The University of Virginia board of visitors announced a little while ago that it "will meet Tuesday to reconsider its forced resignation of President Teresa Sullivan." I would think that Sullivan supporters would only have called such a meeting if they knew they had the votes to win, especially given that the board of visitors' announcement "came shortly after the deans of U.Va.'s colleges urged the board to reinstate Sullivan, joining the faculty senate in opposition to her ouster." Great stuff, let's get this situation straightened out and stop messing with this great university and justifiable lauded Virginia institution!

The Education of Famed UVA Professor Larry Sabato

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

by Paul Goldman

by Paul GoldmanThe UVA Board of Visitors has just given the school's most famed political scientist - Dr. Larry Sabato - a real education. UVA rector Helen Dragas is a businesswoman who has never written a word on politics. But she has now "put on a clinic" for a guy who has written dozen of books on politics, whose "Crystal Ball" publication is widely quoted around the country, and who has been confidentially giving thumbs up or thumbs down to candidates and campaigns for several decades.
On paper, Ms. Dragas, who runs her father's business building homes in Tidewater, is no match politically for Professor Sabato, who I first met on the sands of Virginia Beach during a discussion of his idol, famed civil rights advocate and anti-Byrd politician Henry Howell.
As I have said many times, I couldn't think of a better person in the world to teach my son's introductory course in politics, or guide him through an academic career. If there is a more dedicated fully tenured professor with Larry's credentials to high school students or college frosh who like politics, that individual has been in hiding for some many years. Larry Sabato embodies what is great about the world of academics and UVA.
But he, his students, indeed all the professors of political science at UVA and around Virginia, just had their Demi Moore moment. In the great movie A Few Good Men (taken from the Broadway play), Ms. Moore plays a lawyer who makes a rookie mistake during a court-martial proceeding. This is her first time in the high-stakes world where you either lose or win: there is no middle ground. Ms. Moore's character doesn't understand the mistake.
"It's the difference between paper law and trial law" explains a co-counsel.
Goldmanusa :: The Education of Famed UVA Professor Larry Sabato
Professor Sabato has written millions of words on politics, had his views over these many decades repeated hundreds of thousands of times,  taught tens of thousands of students, and opined on what it takes to make real change in Virginia countless times. He even publishes his "Crystal Ball" on politics.But he and the other academic experts, along with their students and ex-students, proved no match for Ms. Dragas. The same for the other alleged savvy politicians on the UVA Board of Visitors - I will save them the embarrassment of naming them - who were telling the media anonymously they had not been part of Ms. Dragas' efforts to oust Teresa Sullivan.
When push came to shove, they proved to be all Talk and no Walk.              
Those of us who have actually been in the arena, - not the John Paul Jones Arena at UVA to cheer from the stands or play kid games on the field but on the field of real politics trying to make real change for generations to come - understand that anyone can Talk The Talk. But to make real change, you have to play in the real world and overcome the real forces out there pushing back against you.
It looks easy from the bleachers, but no one ever changed anything on paper. It is all about WALK, not TALK.
We remember the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence the way we do because they had WALK, NOT TALK. Change the outcome, and it is likely no signed copy of  Mr. Jefferson's handiwork might even exist.  
"All men are created equal" are very likely the five most powerful words ever streamed together in the English language. Yet not because the phrase stated a truth believed at the time by most of those who risked their lives, fortunes, and honor to achieve freedom from the British.
But we won for this reason: We were led by individuals who were "all in." They weren't engaged in some parlor room "battle" over academic concepts, a grand game of trivial pursuit. They couldn't look at their watches and say: "We talked a good game. But it is late, time to go home, we can pick it up at another time." As Benjamin Franklin said: We either hang together or we hang separately.
That is the difference between paper law and real law; the difference between paper politics and real politics.
Helen Dragas was "all in." So were those backing her play.  She had a vision for her university, and was willing to be seen as the "Dragon Lady" - even give up her seat on the board - to be cast into UVA academic "purgatory" for all time as the price for getting her way.
Whatever you want to say about Ms. Dragas and her posse, they came to the OK Corral prepared to die with their spurs on.
The Dragas forces wanted Teresa Sullivan out. They never offered a cogent reason; it is possible they never had one.  Dragas' posse - backed by some very powerful people who have hidden in the shadows - adopted an ABS posture - Anybody but Sullivan.
This is not unusual: indeed, the next President of the United States will be elected by either the ABR voters - Anybody But Romney - or ABO partisans - Anybody But Obama.
Bottom line: Dragas and crew were ready to win or leave. Teresa Sullivan was not.
That's is actually the first lesson in politics, the one that should be taught on the first day of the first class of the frosh year.
One thing I always admired about Henry Howell - and we had some bitter arguments - is that he was an "all in" guy. He gave everything he had to get African-Americans, women, Jews, Catholics, you name it equal rights in Virginia. He took more personal abuse than you can imagine. In retrospect, I never quite appreciated that and probably - no definitely - didn't give him the respect he had EARNED from me.
I can't change that now. In a small way, I do hope some of the work I did to help Doug Wilder break the color line in state politics redeems me some. But if not, it's my fault.
Henry and Doug did teach a valuable lesson which allows me to say this without fear of being proven wrong: Teresa Sullivan is not the person of UVA mythology being created. Not even close.
Read her speech yesterday; it is all there if you want to see it. As the saying goes, it isn't the size of the dog in the fight that matters, it is the size of the fight in the dog.
At the moment of truth, Teresa Sullivan was ALL TALK, but NO WALK.
Think about it: Sullivan claims to have been shocked by Dragas blind siding her with the famed "Godfather" option -- it can either be your signature or your blood in the resignation letter, your choice, the Board wants you out, but I will give you the chance to resign and save face. Sullivan in her speech suggests this is a battle between two fundamentally different visions of higher education in the future, the choice critical not unique to UVA as she knows.
Sullivan postures herself as the true agent of positive change, and Dragas et al as actually the enemy of such change.
In sum, Sullivan spends a long time making the case why she is right about the future of UVA, and  why her detractors are wrong.
The Faculty Senate backs Sullivan big time, demanding Dragas resign. A mass of students, wildly supportive and presumed to speak for most of the UVA population, likewise see her as the champion of the University against the usurpers.
Professor Sabato and others are willing to put their reputations on the line to back her, to join a great showdown over the future of a great University. They are willing to draw a line in the sand.
In the real world of politics, this is often how it goes: change isn't an academic treatise or Moot Court discussion, it is done in real time with real people who "bring it", warts and all, to moment of truth.
"Truth crushed to Earth will rise" said Dr. King. But someone has to have the guts to plant that truth. Otherwise it can't rise.
As I say: Whatever you think about Ms. Dragas, she has the courage of her convictions. Can we really say that about the other side? For now, this is what we do know: Teresa Sullivan refused to fight for her job. There was plenty of TALK, but no WALK.
That's the thing about politics. The Teresa Sullivans of the world are articulate when it comes to the plight of so many beaten down by the system. They can say all the right words, back all the right causes, contribute all the right amounts of money. And then they wonder why nothing changes like they think it should.
Teresa Sullivan doesn't need the money she will get from UVA in whatever settlement she knows they will have to make for breaking her contract. Her husband doesn't need the money. She has a tenured position on the faculty of UVA, he is lion at the law school.
So they have all the money, all the support, all the reputation few get in a lifetime. Moreover, they have the type of public support to be an agent of change that even fewer get in a century.
There is absolutely nothing Ms. Dragas and posse can possibly do to hurt Ms. Sullivan on any of these fronts.
Based on Ms. Sullivan's own speech, the future of UVA, and the future of higher education in America, is at a cross-roads. Yet she refuses to fight for what she claims is right.
The reason Larry Sabato idolized Henry Howell wasn't because Henry had the telegenic look, the pleasing personality, the super wealth, the ability to do little things and make it seem like something big, all the attributes glorified by today's politics. None of that. Rather, the reason Larry loved Henry Howell is the same reason the segregationists and others hated him: because Henry Howell was the real deal.
This isn't to say that Howell was a perfect guy, far from it. He could be exasperating, he could be personally mean at times, he was hardly the liberal claimed by his detractors.
No, he wasn't a lot of things, but he was this: When it came to fighting for Virginia's future, Henry Howell was "all in." He couldn't be bought, he couldn't be bullied, he couldn't be sold a bill of goods, and he was there in the foxhole in the morning no matter the forces aligned against you as the sun rose over the battlefield. He was all WALK.
I am not an expert on what is happening at UVA. But I am an expert on what is not happening.
Sullivan, Sabato and others have made this a seminal moment for the state's flagship University. Even former President John Casteen has suggested as much in terms of state education policy. So they have drawn that line in the sand made famous by Colonel Travis or I suppose the legend of The Alamo. No one is suggesting that Sullivan, Sabato, et. al  walk the plank. But at the same time: IF ALL THERE IS IS TALK, BUT NOT WALK, then what are we to make of it?
Just what we always have: If you really want to make change, if you are really willing to fight the forces of racism or sexism or whatever, you can only count on the people who are on the field with you. This is not to suggest you are better than anyone else, far from it. It is just a statement of real Politics 101.
Give Dragas and company their due for understanding politics at the gut level. Dragas knew she could have lost the fight. But she read her opponents perfectly.
Teresa Sullivan may have had a million reasons not to fight for her job. But if she wasn't going to fight for it, then she owed her supporters the truth from jump street. If the privileged - with nothing to lose except money they don't need - aren't willing to risk it, then what hope is there for those who can't afford to lose what little they have?
Teresa Sullivan had her chance to be a real leader: but that would have required giving something up apparently. She had her Demi Moore moment. So did many at UVA these past days.
Whatever you want to say about Ms. Dragas, she is the one you want on your side in the foxhole when the game gets serious.
All the dominoes have yet to fall. So the winners and losers could look differently soon enough. Just not at this moment.

House Minority Leader David Toscano: Sullivan Firing Was "fundamentally flawed"

Monday, June 18, 2012

The following statement is from Virginia House Minority Leader David Toscano, who represents Charlottesville in the Virginia House of Delegates.  This situation is becoming more and more troubling every day. Where is Gov. McDonnell's leadership, exactly? Completely AWOL so far, as he's been in so many other areas since he took office in January 2010. #FAIL Also, see Sen. Donald McEachin's thoughts in the comments section.


"I have spent significant time over the last week attempting to discover as many facts as I can involving the forced resignation of President Teresa Sullivan from the University of Virginia. My discussions have been with faculty members; members of the University community, including former administrators and Visitors; alumni; donors; students; members of the General Assembly; and current members of the Board of Visitors, including Rector Helen E. Dragas, who graciously agreed to meet with me and Senator Creigh Deeds, in my office last week. I have not spoken with Teresa Sullivan.

The more information I have gathered, the more troubling the action has become. Among my concerns are:
  • The forced resignation seems to have been engineered by a small number of people who arguably love the University, but who so misunderstand how change occurs within large complex institutions of higher education that their leadership is now questionable.
  • The so-called 'urgency' and 'existential threats' to the University that have served as justification by Rector Dragas and Vice Rector Mark J. Kington for their action is simply not borne out by the facts. Admittedly, the University has challenges, and they have clearly been indentified by President Sullivan in her May 3, 2012 memo to the Rector and Vice Rector (a memo that was not shared with all Board members). But these challenges were known at the time of her appointment, and President Sullivan had been implementing changes to address them.
  • The expression of 'no confidence" in the Board of Visitors passed by the Faculty Senate and statements expressing concern issued by numerous schools within the University.
My conclusion is simple and straight-forward -- the process by which President Sullivan was forced to resign was fundamentally flawed, dramatically at odds with our history as the flagship University in the Commonwealth, and inconsistent with a transparent decision-making process required of a public University.

The action places the University at substantial peril, in the short and long term...[See the "flip" for the conclusion]

Bruce Shuttleworth Writes Funny, Classy Concession Email to Jim Moran

Thursday, June 14, 2012

I certainly had my criticisms of  Bruce Shuttleworth's campaign, but I most definitely don't have any criticisms of the following concession/congratulations email he sent to Rep. Jim Moran yesterday morning. Funny, classy...nice job by Bruce Shuttleworth on this one!
Dear Jim (and Mary),With my apologies for my concession call coming in too late to catch you last night, congratulations on your hard-fought victory yesterday. And, certainly, congratulations in advance on your victory to come in November!
I enjoyed our frequent meetings on the campaign trail and would be delighted to congratulate you on the phone or in person at your convenience.
More than an aside, I was impressed on the campaign trail with your terrific son Patrick.  This has nothing to do with the fact that he could bench press our entire family.
Congratulations to all your supporters and certainly to you, Mary, as well.
Your former opponent,

Congratulations to New Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland!

Remember the May 15 fiasco in the Virginia General Assembly, when a bunch of homophobic bigots rejected the nomination of the eminently qualified Tracy Thorne-Begland to the Richmond District Court, simply because Thorne-Begland's an openly gay man? Well, now, it appears that sanity and decency have regained the upper hand in Virginia, at least for the time being. Heck, even Governor Bob McDonnell's spokesman has showed class on this one, commenting that "The governor believes Mr. Thorne-Begland is well-qualified to serve on the bench" and that
[Governor McDonnell] congratulates him on the appointment." Wow, is hell about to freeze over or what? Here's the order by Richmond Circuit Court Chief Judge Richard D. Taylor.

P.S. Also, see the "flip" for Sen. McEachin's statement regarding the reversal by Del. Richard Morris (R-Isle of Wight) on this matter. Good for Del. Morris, now if he could only convince a few of his Republican colleagues...

Winners, Losers, and Others from Yesterday's Primary

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

by Dan Sullivan

Briefly, a few winners and losers from yesterday. In general, the day belonged to the Republican Party of Virginia since most of the focus was on its contests. Generally not that much unusual to note, but if you have anything to contribute or simply disagree, please jump in.Winners
1. Democrats in Alexandria. Imagine, left to their own devices and without a slate, they managed to choose six diverse and capable candidates for city council.
2. Republican conventions. Formalize incumbent protection over there, will you? The RPV really should get out of these embarrassing and unnecessary primaries when they already know who they want to run. Let's see what they decide come Friday. (Though a 3:1 beat down by Ken Cuccinelli in a primary might be something to behold.)
3. Jim Moran.  A solid and well-deserved victory only surprising by his opponent's meager showing. "Not the incumbent" usually can gather 30% on that distinction alone. (See Bob Goodlatte)
4. Incumbency.  Always a good bet and better now than ever.
5. George Allen.  This man of solidly adequate accomplishment and famous lineage stands a fumble away from the goal line. Virginia may become the first state ever one of just a handful of states to elect a Senator who was unable to win re-election to the United State Senate as an incumbent.  
Dan Sullivan :: Winners, Losers, and Others from Yesterday's Primary
Mixed1. Tim Kaine.  George Allen has demonstrated the power of being there and he's been there longer than Governor Kaine. Any of the tea party three would have been much more fun and almost no contest, but then again, that is why they lost. Allen owes no debt to the craziest of crazies, so he can run up the middle clutching the ball behind a solid line of PACs as though he's a reasonable alternative.  This may end up a very predictable (except for the outcome) and highly managed contest with so many "debates" they might as well compile the "best of" DVD and play it at each venue after the third meeting.
2. Ella Ward. She won the opportunity to be shellacked by incumbent Congressman Randy Forbes in the 4th District. Nothing against Ms. Ward, she is a dedicated local Democratic icon, but barring a meltdown by Forbes, no one much to the left of center is going to come close in that District.
3. Jamie Radtke.  It wasn't ever even a game but she had a good run riding around the state in a snazzy RV. Or, maybe it really was only a game.
1. Bill Bolling. He endorses George Allen, then in his own home county Allen can't muster a majority while winning handedly statewide and by significant margins in neighboring counties. Is Bill an albatross to the macaca man? It is clear no one is listening and that those in the red camp looking at a run for Lieutenant Governor or Attorney General are nervous about him at the head of the ticket in 2013.
2. Teapublicans. Let's measure their influence. Allowing them to claim every vote against George Allen, that fired up base turned out 1.88% of the active voters in Virginia. Without a statewide candidate to draw them to the polls in November, they might not even swing that much punch then.
3. Chris S. Perkins. Who? The guy who is wasting his time and some people's money running against Congressman Gerry Connolly. With a 10:1 financial advantage in the primary, he scored a 3:2 margin at the polls. You know you don't have a prayer when the talk is about who's going to run in 2014 against your general election opponent before you're even the 2012 nominee. At least his wife contributed to him and not an attack PAC.
4. Sean Holihan. Speaking of a financial and organizational advantage being wasted, this candidacy was on the road to victory until the incredible story of a Nixon-like maneuver by his partner. Time and financial statements should tell the tale, but a curious prosecutor would be scratching his head not only in the arrangements but also that state (and federal) law doesn't protect against such tawdry PACs.

Virginia Election Results Open Thread/Live Blog

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's 7 pm, and polls are now closed. Which races are you watching? On the Republican side, I'm curious how big a victory George Allen will have over multiple opponents (as Paul Goldman wrote the other day, it's all about expectations, with anything under 50% a #FAIL and anything over 60% a successful evening for "Felix"). I'm also interested in which Republican will be selected to lose to Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11th) in November. On theDemocratic side, I'm curious whether Rep. Jim Moran will surpass 80% of the vote against Bruce Shuttleworth. Finally, there are local races, like the Alexandria City Council Democratic primary. Anyway, stay tuned...results are coming shortly.UPDATE 9:26 pm: With 25 of 27 precincts counted in Alexandria, it's Lovain, Wilson, Silberberg, Pepper, Smedberg, and Chapman for the Top 6. That's looking like it will probably be the final results, barring a late charge by Menjivar. In other news, George Allen is winning with 65% of the vote; Goodlatte, Cantor, and Perkins all won big time, as did Randy Forbes. Oh, and Jim Moran is winning big, 74%-26%.
UPDATE 9:20 pm: With 23 precincts reporting in Alexandria, it's now Lovain, Wilson, Silberberg, Pepper, Smedberg and Chapman for the Top 6, with Menjivar trailing by 123 votes in 7th place.
UPDATE 9:03 pm: Sean Holihan has conceded in the Alexandria City Council race, saying "we worked our butts off but we came up short."
UPDATE 9:00 pm: With 19 precincts counted, Lovain, Silberberg, Pepper, Wilson, Smedberg, and Chapman for the Top 6. Increasingly, those look like the winners, but we'll see...still votes to count.
UPDATE 8:44 pm: With 15 precincts counted, it's now Pepper, Wilson, Lovain, Silberberg, Smedberg, and Chapman for the Top 6. After that, it's Menjivar in 7th, then Moshenberg and Holihan tied for 8th.
UPDATE 8:34 pm: With 12 precincts reporting in Alexandria, it's now Pepper, Wilson, Smedberg, Silberberg, Lovain, and Menjivar in the Top 6. Then, it's Chapman, Moshenberg, Holihan, and Peabody.
UPDATE 8:24 pm: With 9 precincts reporting in Alexandria (out of 27), the top 6 are Justin M. Wilson (9.0%), Paul C. Smedberg (8.9%), Timothy B. Lovain (8.49%), Redella S. "Del" Pepper (8.45%), Allison Silberberg (8.1%), and Victoria A. Menjivar (7.9%). After that, it's Sammie Moshenberg (7.4%), John Chapman (7.4%), Sean Holihan (7.0%), and Arthur Peabody, Jr. (6.6%).
UPDATE 8:12 pm: Goodlatte's going to end up winning by nearly a 2:1 margin in the 6th CD. Can'tor's at about 80% of the vote with 94% counted in the 7th. Perkins is beating Vaughn 63%-37% with 35% counted in the 11th CD. And Allen's holding at 65%, with Radtke at 24% and the other two well under 10%.

The Fireman and the Arsonist: Brilliant Cartoon Sums It All Up in One Image

This basically nails the entire situation we're facing right now. Let's run through it briefly.Step 1. Republicans set the fire in the first place -- racking up enormous debt on two unpaid-for wars and an unpaid-for Medicare Part D program (not to mention the massive debts accumulated under Saint Ronald Reagan); slashing taxes for rich people, at a cost of $400 billion per year (also unpaid-for); loosening regulations on the banking sector, practicing crony capitalism, contributing to/exacerbating the financial crisis and burst housing bubble; failing to invest in clean energy and getting us off our oil addiction; failing to invest in the country's infrastructure; etc, etc.
Step 2. Republicans interfere with the firefighters (the Democrats) when they come to put out the fire they, the Republicans, started.Metaphorically speaking, Republicans turn off the fire hydrant, cut the water hoses, put nails in the road to give the fire engine flat tires, advocate letting the buildings all burn down (take the whole city along with it, what the hell), then whine/complain/carp about why the fire wasn't put out faster and more effectively!
Step 3. Republicans run hundreds of millions of dollars in ads lying to people about what happened, claiming Democrats actually started the fire they set, that Democratic policies - not their own party-over-country, my-way-or-the-highway attitude - actually kept the fire burning longer than it had to, leading to more damage then if we had all just let everything burn down (or something). Maybe they even deny the science and claim that setting a fire and pouring gasoline on it doesn't cause a fire to burn and grow. They also advocate we set more fires in more buildings, basically repeat the same mistakes on an even wider scale, as their brilliant policy prescription to fix things.
Yes, I know, it's completely crazy, but it's an almost perfect, metaphorical description of today's John Birch Society/Teapublican Party. The only question is, why would anyone with any sense at all vote for these nuts?

Why I'm Voting for Jim Moran Tomorrow: Because He Packs a "Progressive Punch"

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tomorrow, 8th CD Democrats will go to the polls to select their nominee for U.S. House of Representatives. The choices are either incumbent Rep. Jim Moran or newcomer Bruce Shuttleworth. As for Mr. Shuttleworth, I believe we've adequately discussed him here ("Video: Bruce Shuttleworth Urges Republicans to Cross Over and Vote in Democratic Primary"), here("Shuttleworth for Congress Strategist Quits, Citing 'Unsubstantiated, False Allegations'"),here ("Shuttleworth Campaign FAIL: No Union Bug, No Recycled Logo, No "Paid for by" Statement"), here ("Fan of Fidel Castro, Louis Farrakhan Makes Robocall on Behalf of Bruce Shuttleworth in 8th CD"), and here ("Bruce Shuttleworth Robocall Falsely Claims Joint Conference Call with DNC Chairwoman"). Needless to say, given all those stories, I certainly won't be supporting Bruce Shuttleworth tomorrow.As for Jim Moran's concerned, my main reason for supporting - and endorsing him as well - is simple: he packs a "progressive punch." Specifically, I'm talking about his voting record in Congress, combined with his feisty, fiery defense of progressive and Democratic principles against an unrelenting and vicious assault by right-wing/reactionary forces in this country. Whether on the floor of the House of Representatives, on TV, radio, or in public speeches, you know Jim Moran's going to be there to fight back, both hard and effectively, when our rights, and even our very Democracy, is under assault. These days, with the Koch brothers, Karl Rove, and others pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into corrupting our political system, it's more important than ever that we have someone like Jim Moran in our corner.
Other than fighting back against right-wing reactionaries, and fighting FOR progressive ideals, Jim Moran also just flat-out votes the right way.According to Progressive Punch, Moran has racked up a strong lifetime 84.6% "Progressive Score," one that's been getting even stronger in recent years. For instance, in 2011-2012, Moran scored an impressive 91.4% overall, and 85.7% on "Crucial Votes." 
Don't believe Progressive Punch? Well then, how about Project Vote Smart, which lists Moran's 2011 ratings at 100% from NARAL, 100% from Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, 93% from the Humane Society's Legislative Fund, 100% from the ACLU, 100% from the League of Conservation Voters, 100% from the Children's Health Fund, 100% from the American Nurse's Association, 90% from the AFL-CIO, 90% from the Alliance for Retired Americans, 100% from the Human Rights Campaign (latest rating: 2009-2010), 0% from the rabidly homophobic Family Research Council, etc. Given this voting record, why would we want to replace this man as our representative in Congress, exactly?

Now, having endorsed Jim Moran and explained why I'm supporting him, I do have misgivings, mostly related to his political ties to his younger brother, Brian "For Profit" Moran. True, those two guys are family, and as the saying goes, "blood is thicker than water," but I must say it's a challenge at times to keep these two guys separate in my mind, especially since they're clearly not just brothers, but close political allies. I guess my answer to this one is that life's complicated, there's a lot of "gray" and not much "black and white" in this world, that nobody's perfect, that we're all human, and that politics is less often (if ever) about seeking perfection than about selecting among all the imperfect options available - the "art of the possible," so to speak.Having said that, I'd definitely like to see Rep. Moran speaking out forcefully against the for-profit "education" industry, as it violates basically every progressive principle (public education, good government, caring for our veterans, helping give a leg up to the least fortunate among us, etc.) there is. In addition, although it's certainly possible that Jim Moran could be the 8th CD's representative for many years to come, I don't want to ever see Brian Moran handed this seat on a silver platter (I'd add that I don't want to see Brian Moran representing this district under any circumstances).
So, with those caveats about Jim Moran's brother -- and yes, the Biblical question, "Am I my brother's keeper?" does spring to mind ;) - I strongly endorse Jim Moran for the Democratic nomination for another term in Congress. Go Jim!

An Ant's Grassroots View of the DPVA Convention in Fairfax

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

by Teddy Goodson

Being a lowly worker ant, crawling around the roots and looking up long (often untrimmed) blades of grass while struggling through the weeds, I hereby offer my observations and parse out a lesson or two of the 2012 DPVA Convention. Keep in mind, please, I was not privy to the thoughts or intentions of the leadership or any candidate, nor did I personally see everything that happened, only overt actions and results, which I used to produce the following political analysis. Before you crucify me, read the whole thing, eh?VENUE, ADMINISTRATION, CONDUCT OF MEETING:  I've been told the convention was held in Northern Virginia at the urging of at least one prominent Congressional staff person with extensive roots in NoVa, and was originally planned for the Patriot Center at George Mason University. When it became evident that DPVA could not fill the Center, the event was moved to the University's Center for the Arts, because no one wanted DPVA's convention to look like the Romney rally in an empty stadium. This cost the DPVA a massive cancellation fee, which still resides in the hands of GMU and can supposedly be used as a "credit" by DPVA for some future event; rather than, say, cash on hand for candidate recruitment and campaigns.
The Center for the Arts was about the right size, and has good sound, but suffers from not having a center aisle for ease of getting to one's seat, distributing such things as ballots, or even evacuating at intermissions or during emergencies. The Center was made available to the DPVA only until 2 PM, which meant that the Convention had to marshal and conduct its business in 5 hours, 9 AM to 2 PM. This included organizing itself from scratch and voting - not only on resolutions but also on presidential electors and delegates to the national convention. In addition, those 5 hours included eating lunch and listening to speeches by a long list of prominent officials and other persons of repute, not to mention necessary repeated roll calls and personal potty breaks.  Obviously, the Chair of the meeting, who is the Chair of DPVA, had to run a taut ship and everything had to go expeditiously for this to work. Unfortunately, the Chair called us to order 15 minutes late, so we were behind the power curve from minute one.
Teddy Goodson :: An Ant's Grassroots View of the DPVA Convention in Fairfax
The long list of speakers included (but "not limited to") Terry McAuliffe, Gerry Connolly, Jim Moran, Tim Kaine... and I ask you, how could anyone expect such a stable of Irish politicians to be, er, short-winded?  Most of the morning was consumed with getting organized. That included the pro-forma election of standing committees (something of a joke IMO, since it was all pre-ordained and presented without discussion to the otherwise clueless average delegate to be rubber-stamped). We also listened to welcomes from local jurisdictions like the Democratic Chair of the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County and the Democratic but non-partisan mayor-elect of Fairfax City, and remarks from the Legislative Black Caucus, the House Democratic Caucus, and the Senate Democratic Caucus, followed by Terry McAuliffe, who was greeted with shouts of "Run, Terry Run!" from the audience, many of whom sported stickers with the same message.Meanwhile, because of some unexplained glitch, the election of Presidential Electors and DNC members was delayed, as were any short campaign speeches by the DNC candidates, so the elected officials, who were piling up in the wings, ready to make their remarks, were moved up to the speaker's rostrum in a long line. Now, I am not saying these venerable war horses did not make good, even inspiring speeches that were well received, but time was a-wastin' and it was well past noon. At that point, we had yet to get to the meaty purpose of the whole convocation.
By now it was clear to me, having run plenty of meetings myself, that the Chair had little or no control over his meeting, and was simply winging it. Delegates wandered in and out of the hall, crawling politely over those still in their seats in order to visit rest rooms or line up to collect their previously paid-for box lunches from the Black Caucus (it was good chow, by the way).
Finally, before voting on the DNC members, another roll call was conducted, the manner of which was for the Chair of each Congressional District to walk up the outside aisle and count down each row ("the last member of the 11th CD please raise your hand!") and then report the totals. These totals determined how many ballots were laboriously counted out to each Chair, who then distributed them one by one to be passed down the rows to the delegates.  Remember, there was no middle aisle; delegates from one CD melted into those from another CD in some areas. Frankly, it was a colossal, time-consuming mess, and several delegates from the 1st CD, sitting up in the balcony, never received ballots at all, their complaints ignored by the Chair. Question: does this actually invalidate the entire vote? Sounds rather like voter suppression out in Republican-land, doesn't it?
We had just heard from the candidates, all except George Wallace, who chose not to speak but was on "the slate" with Frank Leone. The system requires that DPVA choose two women and two men. Since there were only two women running, the contest was really among six men, but one withdrew before voting began, leaving Shawn O'DConnell, Frank Leone (slate), Lionell Spruill, George Wallace (slate), and Ben Tribbett. You could vote for "the slate" or for two individuals, and any ballot which showed a vote for more than two (such as "the slate" plus another name) would be thrown out. Tribbett was the wild card, i.e., a young insurgent who was running, he said, in order to introduce 21st century media and methods (think internet and cyber technology) to the DPVA, bringing into the Party the young Obama voters. Tribbett has enormous expertise and a brilliant command of political statistics as well as being a blogger, aka "Not Larry Sabato."
As it happens, Ben has a long and contentious history with old-line Fairfax Democrats, including a couple of fallings-out with well-entrenched Powers That Be (PTB), so a notably vicious campaign against him was conducted by the PTB prior to the Convention and right up to the moment voting began. It reminded me of, but was even more personal and nasty than, the Establishment's hatred of Jim Webb during Jim Webb's 2006 primary with Harris Miller, and the same group was involved this time around as well. The rationale of the PTB, as I heard it, was that Ben was unstable and would be an embarrassment to Virginia if turned loose on the DNC; just look at how he savaged people who disagreed with him (never mind this went both ways, of course). My observation was that the PTB would do anything necessary to defeat him and elect the slate of safe (but no doubt competent) two men, one white (Leone) and one black (Wallace).
The ballots were collected and vanished behind the scenes to be counted, and we waited. And waited. And waited some more. It was decided at some point in all this (I no longer am sure just when) that we would vote for the 23 Virginia delegates to the National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, so another count of delegates ensued before they passed out "the booklet" with the names of those running; only, it turned out, one name had been inadvertently left out, and this utterly confused many delegates who kept hearing convoluted directions on how to vote for delegates, alternates, and PLEOS (this was never explained but seemed to be elected officials and other political officers?). I heard one delegate after another complain that they had no idea who these people were, and they kept counting and recounting how many they had voted for, and "who was it that was left off the printed list?" and even "Hey, members of (x) CD, don't vote for me for PLEO."
Truthfully, I was shocked: when I receive notice of a shareholders' meeting from a company in which I own stock, and there is to be an election to the company's board of directors, there is always a brief biography of each candidate included. Why could not DPVA do likewise? And who proof-read "the booklet" and failed to notice one name was left off?  I trust it was only sloppy staff work, but responsibility for that always lands on the chief's shoulders, IMO.
Word was tweeted to a neighboring delegate that, first, a challenge had been made against one Chair of a local CD because he was refusing to certify any delegate who did not promise to vote for "the slate;" and next, that Frank Leone had won DNC delegate with something like 55% of the vote.  This meant we would have a second ballot (and possibly even a third) to select the second male from among Wallace, Spruill, and Tribbett.  I have since been told that the result of the first ballot was received about 12:45 PM, but that the Chair did not announce this fact until 1:15 PM. By that time stage crews were beginning to dismantle the set in order to prepare for the next event due at 3 PM in the Hall, and buses were arriving to collect delegates and return them to distant parts of Virginia. Another roll call was taken before they would pass out ballots for the second election.
Here are the delegate counts I noted for each CD, first and second roll call: 1st CD: 113/125; 2d CD: 51/48; 3rd CD 100/98; 4th CD 110/111; 5th CD 152/152; 6th CD: 61/55; 7th CD: 141/154; 8th CD: 249/217; 9th CD 79/99; 10th CD: 184/182; and 11th CD: 244/232; resulting in totals of voting delegates of 1,484/1,453 (at least as announced). There was some confusion on the second roll call about whether or not certified delegates who were absent from their seats but present and acting as observers of the tallying, could be included and receive a ballot. The Chair, uncertain how to handle this, decided to wait until the missing delegates returned to their seats from the tallying, which irritated other CDs who had delegates who were in the rest rooms and had not yet returned. And so it went.
Suddenly, a clearly distraught Lionell Spruill surged to the microphone, and in a strained voice announced that he did "not like" what was going on, but that he was a "good Democrat" and was withdrawing from the race, adding something about there wasn't any time for a second and probably even a third ballot. Many delegates booed and cried "No!", but the Chair quickly accepted his withdrawal. It seemed to me that the Chair was conflicted, he kept looking to the side as if for direction from one or two members of the PTB. He was anxious to do the job he had been sent to do, IMO, which seemed to be to ensure the election of "the slate," but he was afraid he could not control things and still be, or appear to be, even-handed. Moreover, there were the stage hands running around behind him and along the outside aisles dismantling his convention before his eyes.
This left George Wallace (who had never spoken to the convention at all) and Ben Tribbett, the outlier. That is to say, when Spruill (an African-American) withdrew, that left one black (Wallace) and one white (Tribbett) male for the remaining DNC slot. Did the PTB, fearing that two African-Americans might split the black vote, leaving Ben Tribbett a winner and no black Democrat in the Virginia DNC delegation, decide to force Spruill to withdraw? Which prospect worried them more, no blacks or Ben on the DNC? Or am I being inappropriate even to wonder about such things?
At that point the Chair announced that we must clear the Hall, adjourn and reconvene an hour later at the Mason inn in order to comnplete the balloting. Chaos erupted on the floor. The Chair of the 8th CD demanded a "suspension of the rules" and a voice vote. More chaos ensued and the Chair finally recognized the past Chair of the Fairfax County Committee, who requested a "division of the house" instead of a voice vote. The Chair agreed and told delegates to stand if they wanted to vote "aye." He then announced a clear majority had voted "aye," despite many complaints, and construed that vote to mean a suspension of the rules.
Then, with delegates streaming out of the hall and boarding their busses to depart, Ben Tribbett, the supposedly wild and unstable young guy, showed real class, stepped forward, and withdrew his name from the ballot, leaving George Wallace, the other member of "the slate" - who never spoke on his own behalf to the convention delegates - the winner by default. The Chair declared the convention over, and later was heard commenting that "it all ended up very well" in the end.
This all happened on Saturday in the Center for the Arts. The action really began Friday at the Mason Inn, with early registration, several receptions, such as one for Asian-American Democrats.I also attended a luncheon meeting with DPVA staff and a few delegates about future plans for the Party organization, a thank you party for Jim Webb, and so on. After the closing of the Convention there were additional meetings and parties at the Mason Inn. What they did not have were such things as I have seen at other conventions (like Realtors' meetings), including training sessions, documentaries, seminars or brain-storming meetings. This was a missed opportunity in my mind; since the festivities ran over two days anyway, the time could have been better used, and the networking made even more productive.
CONCLUSIONS: The Convention was poorly designed and poorly run, almost embarrassingly so. As I left the Hall, I kept overhearing the comment "What a fiasco!" Anyone with experience in such matters, especially when you include Democrats in the mix, should never have considered the Patriot Center as a venue. If they hoped to get President Obama to speak, and thereby fill the Center, shouldn't they have at least ensured his availability and willingness beforesigning the contract? Falling back to the Mason Inn and the Center for the Arts might have worked if they had full control of the venue for the entire day. I am still stunned by the ineptitude. Heads should roll, but within the DPVA there seems to be NO accountability.
As I have commented elsewhere on Blue Virginia, what I observed in the final analysis looked very much like a classic example of an entrenched clique that confused its own personal position of power with the good of the overall organization. Strip away the personality conflicts and all the frou-frou, and the clique/PTB responded defensively and ruthlessly, refusing to admit to its coveted ranks an insurgent who represented the rising generation. This is the manner in which a privileged clique historically responds, despite clear evidence that dismissal of outsiders knocking at the gates only ends up in the long run destroying the organization itself.
The maneuvers at the end of the convention can thus be seen as a successful tactical move ("the slate won!") but a strategic mistake. I say this regretfully, even while acknowledging that the PTB no doubt have some reason for believing that the insurgent might be a loose cannon (like, say, Doug Wilder, or even former Republican Jim Webb). But one must ask, is it not more prudent to have such a possible problem where one can use him for what he has to offer, and where one can keep an eye on him (aka, "inside the tent")?  Entrenched cliques, if they want to survive and prosper, must sometimes deal with prickly personalities they regard as uncouth, people who carry baggage of their own, and are not, unfortunately, knights in shining armor.
The DPVA is dangerously ingrown. Whether its Powers That Be (many of whom are completely outside the formal table of organization) have no real idea of how to reach out to new blood or insurgents, or whether they simply have contempt for any "outsiders" including their own grassroots, the result is the same: an atrophied, sclerotic party, where the PTB defend their turf, little understanding that turf is shrinking around them every day. Consider how their Maginot Line mentality keeps doing the same thing over and over, defending fewer and fewer incumbents, leaving 80 percent of Assembly seats uncontested, and losing election after election, but by golly they still control the party apparatus!
The solution, IMO, is for that (increasingly large) part of the reform-minded grassroots to buckle down and begin a reform from the bottom up, and that means getting their rear in gear, doing the grunt labor of attending meetings and volunteering for the dull but essential groundwork, knowing the ins and outs of procedure and bylaws...and taking over the party for the 21st century.

Video: Brian Moran, "A Lobbyist For Predatory For-Profit Schools, Says He Can't Cut Ties To ALEC"

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wow. Just wow. (note: bolding added by me for emphasis)
As first reported by Republic Report, APSCU is also a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate bill-writing front used by industry to lobby state lawmakers. On Saturday, Moran’s own Virginia Democratic party adopted a resolution to denounce ALEC, which has passed dozens of bills in Virginia to curb worker rights, deregulate pollution, and privatize government services. The resolution pits Moran’s business interests as a lobbyist against those of his own party. Since we have covered both for-profit college lobbying and the influence of ALEC, we decided to travel to Fairfax last weekend to ask Moran about the conflict. Moran refused to take responsibility; at one point, he evasively described himself only as APSCU’s general counsel, when his actual title, as indicated on APSCU’s own website, is “Executive Vice President for Government Relations and General Counsel,” and Moran is frequently seen on Capitol Hill and in other corridors of power arguing for APSCU, which is charged with aggressively lobbying for the industry. In any case, Moran, placing business over party, refused to disassociate his lobbying firm APSCU with ALEC, telling us that he would not or could not take a position:
Believe it or not, a "Moran aide" (I wonder who that was) actually said "We’ll have to call security" on the reporter who was simply asking Moran reasonable, fair questions about his double role as a) DPVA Chair and b) Executive Vice President for Government Relations and General Counsel at ALEC member APSCU. Security? Seriously? Instead, how about DPVA calling security and removing Brian Moran from his office at DPVA headquarters in Richmond? The bottom line is that Brian Moran has become an embarrassment and disgrace to all Virginia Democrats, certainly anyone who invites this guy to their events, appears on stage with him, etc. There's simply no excuse anymore, and the people who do so need to be called out for it. P.S. Absolutely superb reporting by Lee Fang and the Republic Report. This is exactly the type of reporting that the corporate media SHOULD be doing, but apparently is too cowardly, lazy, or inept to do. Thank goodness for citizen journalism, that's all I have to say, because we'd be utterly screwed if we just relied on the decrepit/dying corporate media.

Thoughts From a First-timer on the DPVA Convention

Sunday, June 3, 2012

(Excellent diary, I strongly encourage others to post their thoughts here at Blue Virginia on the DPVA convention yesterday. - promoted by lowkell)

I was honored to join my fellow Virginia Democrats at the State Convention in Fairfax yesterday. I was equally honored to be counted as a member of the overwhelming majority who were first time attendees. We are the party of diversity and inclusion and it is wonderful to see old hands and newcomers alike, uniting to help make our Commonwealth and our country a better place. I personally feel that part of making this community better is effectively and efficiently promoting the Democratic agenda, and that is why I feel compelled to write this letter.My wife and I are residents of Abingdon, Virginia. Abingdon, as some may recall, is further west than Cleveland, Ohio. Despite the miles, we were happy to make the journey this year to unite with other Virginia Democrats and conduct the business of our party.
We made our trip to NoVa, the land of our youth, on Friday and spent the evening with family. We got a late start saturday, and arrived at GMU about 20 minutes before delegates were scheduled to be seated. We received our credentials and took our seats on time, but were surprised to hear along our way that the party had reserved a hall that would only be available for 5 hours. Our convention in the 9th district was scheduled for 3 hours and took 3.5. How can a convention that expected a crowd 10 times as large expect to finish in 5 hours, including lunch?
Calling the meeting to order 15 minutes late didn't help the situation. Efforts were made to keep to the timeline by rearranging some speakers, but the event was destined to run late. 30 minutes for a roll call is unacceptable. Forgetting to make provisions for delegates who were counting ballots to vote on the next ballot is unacceptable. The most unacceptable aspect however was that it took more than 3 hours to hear the result of the first ballot for DNC member.
jeremym :: Thoughts From a First-timer on the DPVA Convention
Hearing our elected officials speak is always invigorating. It's half of why we attend these meetings. It seems however that the other half, the completion of party business, was thrown to the wayside.It wasn't until after 2 o'clock, when we were required to leave the hall, that we were given the results of the first ballot for DNC committeeman. I know that wasn't the intention of the chairman, but it is something we could have planned for. It's pretty embarrassing to watch a statesman like Brian Moran trying to run a meeting while his dais is disassembled around him.
It was suggested that we reconvene in the nearby Mason Inn to conduct the second ballot. Before we could though, a motion was made to suspend the rules and vote by acclimation. I didn't spend the time and money that I have, to be part of a shouting match to elect my representatives to the DNC. We should conduct our affairs with a little more dignity, especially when it comes to entertaining motions and conducting a vote.
At this point, I feel it is important to state that I supported Ben Tribbett. Despite what some of the literature at the convention said, Ben is a good Democrat who works hard to promote the ideals of our party and retire people who stand in the way of unity and progress. Would Ben have won if the vote were conducted properly? Unfortunately, no, probably not. But failing to give this vote the time it deserved only helps to underline why he was running. We need better leadership and management of our party. My wife and I drove more than 6 hours from our home in Washington County to be a part of this convention, and to have our votes counted. There are few people as stubborn and persistent as I am. Will less persistent people make this trek again if they feel that their time will be wasted? Will they drive if they feel that their vote won't count?
Suspending the rules is a tool reserved for expediency, not to assist people who can't keep an eye on their watch. Would reconvening in the Mason Inn have been convenient? No, but neither was driving 345 miles to participate. The greater inconvenience will come next year, when we commission the same processes to select our gubernatorial candidate, lieutenant governor, and attorney general; positions of considerably more consequence than 1/447 of our Democratic National Committee.
At the time of this writing, I am still unsure of who my presidential electors will be.Those results may have been announced at one of the receptions at the inn.  The same inn that no one wanted to go to and conduct a proper vote..  I, like many others, simply didn't stick around.  I didn't feel like reveling and celebrating an event like this.
On our way out, we overheard more than one young Democrat say that this was their first, and would be their last state convention. Who won the vote didn't matter so much as being heard and being valued. Did our convention value every member in attendance? Did it value their opinion? I want to believe so, but then again, there are few people as stubborn and persistent as me.

Thank You For Your Support Blue Virginia

(Thanks to Ben not just for running, but for fighting for progressive values, for Howard Dean's 50-state strategy, for the importance of the Democratic Party embracing and fully utilizing social media, and for running a positive campaign focused on the issues. As far as I'm concerned, Ben has a lot to be proud of from the way he conducted himself in this race, no matter what the "powers that be" want to say about him (as if they're paragons of virtue or something - ha!). - promoted by lowkell)

There's a lot to talk about from yesterday's convention.  Before we all dive into the details, I just wanted to write a quick note of thanks to the entire Blue Virginia family for their support of my campaign for the DNC.  Look, I know that I was a seriously flawed candidate.  For people out there that couldn't understand the bigger issues of why I was running to fix the party it was very easy to just latch onto something provocative I wrote on NLS over the last seven years and deem me unfit for any position.  I knew that going in.
I was surprised though at how much further the attacks went beyond that.  Emails that circulated the week before the convention included all sorts of allegations- far too many to every have any hope of responding.
Why was there such a negative campaign run against such an obviously flawed candidate?  Because the establishment candidates literally had nothing positive to report for their time in office.  People weren't supporting me so much as they were supporting the issues I was running on.
In short, I'm taking these results as a huge victory.  At every other state convention I've ever attended (back to 1996) ballots are counted by putting them into 2 piles- slate and no slate.  Every time the slate pile is bigger and the ballots are never even counted, the slate is declared the winner.  This time, together with Del. Lionell Spruill we forced the slate to almost exactly 20% (297 of 1480) of the vote.  That meant the ballots had to be counted, and if Frank or George came in under 50% then we would force a runoff for the first time.  And when the votes were counted our incumbent DNC member Frank only got 55% of Virginia Democrats to re-elect him, and his ticket mate fell short, meaning we had forced the run off!
Thanks for sticking with me and helping us make a little bit of history.  I'm sorry the runoff vote that we earned never took place. I'm sure there will be a lot more discussion about that and other things that happened this weekend in the future, but don't let that overshadow what we did accomplish together.

DPVA Convention, 2012: Live Blog [UPDATED with photos]

Saturday, June 2, 2012

(UPDATE: I've added some excellent photos courtesy of Catherine S. Read. Thanks! - promoted by lowkell)

I'm at the Democratic Party of Virginia's 2012 convention at George Mason University in Fairfax. It looks like a big crowd, hundreds of people from all over the Commonwealth.  Right now, it's 9:18 am and the roll call's about to start (DPVA  Chair and for-profit "education" lobbyist Brian Moran presiding). As long as the WiFi holds up, I'll attempt to update throughout the morning...9:30 am: Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova welcomes delegates to Fairfax County, says it's historic. Fairfax City Mayor-elect Scott Silverthorne delegates.
9:35 am: Sen. Mamie Locke (Virginia Legislative Black Caucus chair) asks for prayer for the city of Hampton, which was hit by a tornado last night. Rips Tea Party/Republican agenda - attacks on right to vote, women's choice, individual rights, etc. Democrats must fight back and stand up for our principles. Need to reelect President Obama, elect Tim Kaine to US Senate, reelect Democratic Congressmen, etc. Let's show that 2008 was NOT a fluke, Virginia will be blue again in 2012.
9:38 am: Del. Mark Sickles (D-43) speaks for House Democratic caucus, says we fought "extremism of the worst kind," that we're "winning in the  court of public opinion."
9:42 am: Sen. Donald McEachin speaks for the Virginia Senate Democratic caucus. "What a session we just came out of..."  That budget we passed was as close to a Dem budget as we could make it. Virginia now knows what happens when you have too many Republicans - you get new words like "transvaginal ultrasound," the end of one-handgun-a-month, etc. Need to elect Tim Kaine, reelect Barack Obama.  We will win not because of the foolishness of Republicans, but because of who we are.  Democrats protect working men and women, fix problems, lift all boats up in this great country.
9:45 am: Terry McAuliffe gets standing ovation. "My name is Terry McAuliffe, and I'm a proud Virginia Democrat!" Virginia will make the big difference this year. I'm a Dem because I believe in the values in this party. Every single individual should have shot at American dream. Democrats should never lose any elections based on our track record.  You see how Democrats govern (Bill Clinton and his long list of successes), and you see how Republicans govern (George W. Bush). Now, Barack Obama inherited a horrible situation, but is turning things around (auto industry, health care for 35 million Americans, turning the jobs situation around). Barack Obama did what Bush couldn't do, get Osama bin Laden. Obama has been directly responsible for Virginia's economic prosperity, despite Republicans' fallacious denials. Elections matter. We can't go to sleep like we did after 2008. We got crushed in 2009 and 2010, then Republicans took control of the General Assembly in 2011 because we stayed home. "Shame on us for allowing that to happen." "But those days are over because we know what happens when they get control" - socially divisive, attacks on working people, etc. If you're embarrassed about the name of a bill in Richmond, you shouldn't be able to vote for it. Lots of hot air coming out of AG's office on climate change. We know the world is warming. 2013 is going to be important, we've got to win governor's mansion, LG, AG. Let me just say, IF I were to be your nominee for governor - I "apologize" (he says sarcastically) for being enthusiastic, having a big personality, etc. We need someone who's loud and fights. Big ideas. Renewable energy - moved electric car company from China to America. Virginia didn't bid on it - big mistake, we need manufacturing jobs here in Virginia. We need a mandatory renewable energy standard. Bob McDonnell's big plan is to name bridges? Is he kidding? What, a bridge in Danville "brought to you by the Koch brothers?" We will have the resources to run everywhere in 2013. (standing ovation, lots of enthusiasm for Terry - big difference from 2009!)
lowkell :: DPVA Convention, 2012: Live Blog [UPDATED with photos]
Here's a count of delegates by district.125 delegates - 1st District
48 - 2nd District
98 - 3rd District
111 - 4th District
152 - 5th District
55 - 6th District
154 - 7th District
217 - 8th District
79 - 9th District
182 - 10th District
232 - 11th District
1,453 - Total
10:30 am: Report from Rules Committee, Election of Permanent Officers
10:31 am: Candidates for DNC member (6 males, 2 females; Shaun Broy has withdrawn so there are now just 5 male candidates)
Shawn O'Donnell: Was candidate for 1st CD in 2006. Running for DNC because of experience in campaigning and "real world." Can still get my book on Amazon. Modernizing, use of social media. Bring Lionell Spruill along with me.
Frank Leone: Yields time to George Wallace.
Lionell Spruill: Running for reelection to DNC. Being a good Dem will cost you sometime, but I don't mind paying the price. I was removed from Labor and Commerce because I voted for labor 100%. We need to take back this country. I am fired up. Sick and tired of Republicans who disrespected our women, trying to turn back the clock.
George Wallace: Yields time to Sen. Mamie Locke. Locke says elections have consequences. Need Dems who walk the walk not just talk the talk, uphold values and principles of party, support Dems on all issues that matter, support women, labor, LGBT, minorities, the elderly and poor not just when it's convenient. Dems support Dem candidates and Dem-endorsed positions ALL THE TIME. Not just when it's convenient or profitable. Need to elect a team that stands up for us, will fight for working Americans and personal liberties for all. Need a team to do that - endorse and nominate the Unity Team for DNC.
Frank Leone: Been a Dem volunteer at grassroots level for 30 years. On DNC, set up a website to provide information on how to get involved in party, what DNC is doing, what state party is doing. Need to work on making things fair and open, protecting the vote, carry forth momentum from 2012 through 2013 and beyond.
Ben Tribbett: I'm the guy you've gotten negative emails about, but I'm not going to waste my time on that, this should be about positive ideas. DNC is important position. We are one of the states that has the most problems turning out young voters in off year elections. We have to reach these voters where they're getting their information, online, where they are. We need them to vote next year or we're going to have another disaster the way we've had the last 3 years. My campaign is about making the Dem Party accessible to all voters, strong support for primaries, pledged to restore Howard Dean's 50-state candidate, I'm the grassroots candidate and progressive candidate. Vote for any 2 you want, not just for a slate.
10:45 am: Doris Crouse-Mays and Mame Reiley elected by acclamation, as they're unopposed.
Distribution of ballots - can vote for up to 2 candidates for DNC man (Shaun Broy has withdrawn).
11:25 am: Taking a loooooooooong time to get the ballots for DNC member turned in, make sure each delegation's head count is correct, etc. Ah, political conventions, gotta love 'em. Or not.
11:51 am: While the ballots are STILL being counted for DNC member, Rep. Connolly and Rep. Moran speak.
Connolly: Standing ovation. Welcome to Fairfax County, "where we hope you'll spend a lot of money while you're here today." We're in for a close election this year, but we have intelligence on our side. (tells joke about firing squad, Romney yells "fire!"). Our base more energized than their base. Two very different world views, two very different sets of values, two very different plans for what we need to do. Republicans are pretty open about what they stand for. Dems believe we're in it together, we live in a community, we're diminished if we don't reach out our hand to those less fortunate. Republicans want to voucherize/end Medicare as we know it. They call Social Security a "ponzi scheme." We don't share that philosophy. We believe it's a societal obligation to stand with our seniors for security in their golden years. On the other side, many believe education is a privilege best left for the few. We believe education should be available to everyone regardless of their socioeconomic condition. We don't believe student loan rates should double on July 1.
One area we REALLY disagree - conservatives say they want government off our necks, unless you're a woman, in which case time and again, Republicans have attempted to rule women's rights to reproductive health and take away their freedom. We Dems don't think that's  a good idea. Dems actually believe this is about freedom, an essential American value. What they're doing about women's reproductive freedom is unAmerican and not a conservative value. If you're gonna be a phony, at least be sincere about it.
Bobby Scott: Look forward to serving with our next Senator Tim Kaine. Priorities - opportunities and needs of middle class, universal access to health care, protecting Medicare, investing in education, environment, civil rights, jobs are #1 priority (in stark contrast to what Republicans are doing - they took credit for stimulus but didn't provide any votes to make it happen). Republicans are threatening economic collapse with games over debt ceiling. They're not hiding their priorities these years regarding women, contraception, Lily Ledbetter, shift Medicare expenses onto the family. Their priorities are tax cuts for the wealthy and repeal of health care. Millionaires over Medicare for Republicans. Virginia will decide our future in November, this is a true battleground state, Republicans can't win without Virginia.
Jim Moran: Deep affection and admiration for Bobby Scott and Gerry Connolly, they make a tremendous difference for our country. We are here to determine the outcome of the presidential race, this is battleground zero, this is where we're going to decide the future of our great country.
We're here not just because we're Dems, but because we're patriots. Make this an even better nation, lead world to more peaceful, sustainable, just future. People around the world look to America for leadership. We can't let that dream die, not while we're alive. We're at war again, among ourselves, but not the kind of war meant to be won with military might. Need enough good people to stand up for what's right.
Conflict of world views - Republican Party today determined to impose a Darwinian view of human nature, turning America into survival of fittest society, winner take all economy. We have a different view, inherent value of each and every individual, diversity enhances our lives, equal opportunity for all.
This vision of America is under threat by those who don't share our embrace of each other, of investing in our futures, close their minds to scientific knowledge if it threatens corporate power and profit. Those corporations have the means and intent, thanks to a partisan Supreme Court, to buy a President and Congress to do their bidding.  You are ready to do battle for what you believe in. You are the Comnmonwealth of Virginia's frontline troops for the battle for the soul of our nation.
Barack Obama is the right commander in chief to lead our nation, he has his priorities right. Our own Tim Kaine will stand along side President Obama. Personal decency, intellectual integrity - Kaine will make us all proud to be Virginians and Americans.
This state can't be won without you. We all have a common spiritual bond that defines us, that teaches us the importance of charity to others, golden rule. The Torah says we will be judged by how we treat the "other" - those who are different from us. Christian Gospel of Matthew, when I was hungry you fed me, a stranger you welcomed me in... That is the heritage of our nation, must be legacy of our political party. We all know what's at stake.
The Tea Party and House Republicans have made it crystal clear what they're all about. Their vision of America is not the vision we know and love. Punishing the poor. Cheering when unemployment goes up. Rooting for our economy to fail so their politics can win. Congress has been driven to a standstill with their dangerous and radical notions that even Ronald Reagan wouldn't recognize. They are determined to bring about massive redistribution of wealth to the richest Americans, while slashing funding for the safety net that millions of Americans rely on, to invest in our nation's future, fund schools, build roads, protect the environment.
Gov. Romney would come to White House dedicated to ensuring that he pays lower tax rates than most middle class families, giving Wall St. free reign to repeat mistakes of financial crisis, appointing "severely conservative" justices to Supreme Court. We cannot allow that to happen, you will NOT allow that to happen. Need to work from now until November to reelect President Obama, elect Tim Kaine, move America forward as only Democratic Party can and will.
1:05 pm: Mark Warner heaps praise on Tim Kaine. People with conscience, commitment to social justice, to getting stuff done, "We need Tim Kaine as our next Senator!" Finding common ground, have you ever heard the word "common grond," "bipartisan" and Tim Kaine's opponent in the same sentence? That's the LAST thing we need in Congress - another person to gum up the works. How broken Congress is by a crowd that would say no to anything Barack Obama would propose - except their tax cuts. Top priority of these people isn't to put forward their views, but to defeat our president.
Things are so wacky in Washington, it even makes Richmond look sane - can't say that anymore. Republicans in Richmond put forward an agenda that had nothing to do with moving Virginia forward. Now, thanks to them, Virginia's the brunt of jokes, not the Virginia we have fought for so many years. We may have been defeated at the ballot box the last time around, but the tide is turning, we are seeing that elections do matter. As Egyptians fight for their Democracy, Gov. McDonnell tried to restrict right to vote. General Assembly tried to restrict right of gay families to adopt foster children. Republicans passed personhood bill even folks in Mississippi rejected. And I don't even want to "go there" on the question of ultrasounds.
After that kind of sorry record, you'd think they would have learned. But it was almost like, if you didn't get the message what their agenda is in Congress or in Richmond, it was reinforced when we had the veto session recently, when Virginia once again made headlines for rejecting a judge, put forward by a Republican, a judge nobody questioned his qualifications, in the dark of night with half the Republicans simply being absent, simply because he's gay. That is not the Virginia that for the last 2 decades we have fought to make.
Elections matter. The stakes have never been clearer. We're going to see an onslaught from other side like nothing we've seen before, thanks to one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever ("Citizens United"). We cannot allow the other side to get away with rewriting history. We all remember the final months of the Bush administration, when our economy was in total freefall. We turned this house from burning down to rebuilding solid foundations. We turned things around on jobs. Of course, those numbers don't mean much if you're unemployed, and we're all disappointed by the jobs numbers we saw yesterday.
The Romney/Republican/Trickle Down/I've got mine the heck with you approach will not create jobs or get the economy moving. You've got to have a growth plan, have to be willing to invest - we have that kind of approach - but the other side has tried to restart the entire debate over debt ceiling roulette that could bring us to brink of economic collapse. That kind of irresponsible action will not lead America or the world out of economic challenge.
If America is going to maintain and grow its economic opportunity, we've got to invest. With no help from other sides, we've started investing again in clean energy, R&D, etc.  Need to have a manufacturing economy, we've got to make stuff again in this country. Right now, the American auto industry is once again leading the world thanks to the actions of Pres. Obama and Dems in Congress.
We've got to let folks know who made the right choices (Democrats) and who wanted Detroit to fail (Romney). Every child has the right to a great education no matter where they live. I was astonished what happened in our financial sector. It was this president, Barack Obama, who put in place new rules of the road, so we won't have a repeat of 2008. It was this president who took the first real step to say it's just not right to have 30 million Americans without health care.  We've come a long way, we can't turn back. The face of this country is changing. Our country is best when everyone has a seat at the table. Many of those people have a different accent (switches into Spanish).
In 2008, we showed who can elect a president, it was Virginia. All the eyes of the nation will be on Virginia for the next 5 months. We in Virginia will determine who controls US Senate, who elects next president of the United States. In 2008 we changed the guard, in 2012 we need to guard the change. (standing ovation)
1:23 PM - Jim Webb. Chance for me to say a couple things. How much I appreciate how much you all did to help me get elected in 2006. My legacy will be the people who worked with me. Thanks Brigades - thank you thank you thank you!  Everything we were able to do was made possible by work of people on the ground in the 2006 campaign. People won that campaign. I started with no money, no staff, and a set of issues I thought were important for our country. People began to believe in what we were saying. We were outspent 2:1 but we won.
This year, we're gonna face the same types of financial situations - Citizens United, anonymous negative expenditures, air campaign. I'm a former Marine infantryman, I believe in ground campaigns.  We have the message, we have the candidates, we're doing to win.
We did what we said we were going to do in 2006. I gave the rebuttal to president's SOTU address, but economic fairness and social justice in front of American people. GI Bill passed despite, believe it or not, strong opposition from the Republicans. Criminal justice reform - I was told it was political suicide to talk about it, but I thought we HAD to talk about it. We've pushed hard for legislation on the criminal justice system. We made it acceptable to talk about it. That is a victory, we will get the legislation before I leave, Sen. Reid says he'll get me another vote before I leave. Reorienting US relationship with northeast and southeast Asia. Absolutely crucial region of the world. Made historic visit to Burma. None of those things would have been possible without the support of the people here.
Bob Kerrey is a great friend, helped persuade me to run for Senate. I had the opportunity to go to Nebraska and campaign for Bob Kerrey. I graduated from High School in Nebraska, fought golden gloves in Omaha.  Anniversary of when my father graduated from Univ. of Omaha when I was a High School senior.  The Great Santini.
My father stuck his diploma in my face and said you can get anything you want in this country and don't you ever forget it. That's only true if our leaders protect the ability of every one of us to have access to all the benefits this society offers. I love this country. I will never forget that only if we have leaders that understand the necessity to give people who don't have a voice in the corridors of power will we preserve our system of government.
Andrew Jackson - measure health of a nation not at the apex but at the base, not on Wall Street but on Main Street. The rich and powerful can take care of themselves, the poor and powerless need the arm and the shield of the law, and that arm and shield has always come from the Dem Party. The opponents of our people may want to do the right thing, but they don't carry that same premise inside them when they run. I predict if we all do our jobs, Tim Kaine is going to be my successor in the Senate by 5 points or maybe more, and Barack Obama will win Virginia.
1:38 pm: Anne Holton. You are the heart of the Virginia Democratic Party, I applaud you and I thank you. Thrilled to share stage with some remarkable Virginia women. We have come a long way baby here in Virginia. We need more women at the table. It's in our genes to care about others. I've had some success in life, it's in large part due to the wonderful partnership I've forged with the love of my life, Tim Kaine. Lots I could tell you about Tim, why he'd make a great US Senator for women in Virginia, for all Virginians.
1:48 pm: Tim Kaine. Isn't it great that Virginia's a battleground state? It's because of you! Anne has been my rock and my supporter, my best friend, public service role model. Now that Anne's out on the stump for me, I know I'm not losing now!  We define family a lot broader than those other guys (the Republicans) do.  I pledge to do everything to increase the # of women in elected office.  Tonight you'll hear from Debbie Wasserman-Shultz.  There had only been 2 women who had ever served as DNC chair, in a short-term and interim capacity. I vowed that a strong woman leader would follow me as DNC chair.
Jim Webb is a tough act to follow on stage and in the Senate. 2006 was one of the most magnificent campaigns. It was a hard decision to run in this race after Webb announced he would be retiring.  After a lot of prayer and discussion with Anne and my kids, I decided to run out of a sense of duty, we've come too far to move backwards.
The choices might be clearer in this election might be clearer, states might be higher, degree of extremism/violent language/over-the-top nuttiness might be sharper than they've been for a very very long time. Which means we've got to do our best work in 2012. We believe in supporting teachers not bashing them. We believe in expanding economic opportunity. Republicans opposed Obama Administration's effort to expand Pell Grants. They're all about divesting, privatizing; we're not going to privatize minds, that's what's at stake in this election.
One way to get economy going is to invest in infrastructure, we Democrats get that. You employ people on Day 1 and leave legacy behind that will pay dividends for years to come. Republicans don't get that. Social Security - there's not been a time in my life that there hasn't been more news about Soc. Sec. and Medicare. My opponent voted to privatize Soc. Sec, and that would have been an unmitigated disaster. I will fight against anyone who tries to do that. Medicare - the Ryan budget (which George Allen supports) is not a cost reducing plan, it's a cost shift.
Issues of equal opportunity, in this campaign by the dozens. Shouldn't be limited by gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, or anything else. I never thought that I would have talked so much about contraception because of the issues the other side is pushing. We're fighting for women to have equal pay for equal work, whether a gay man who is eminently qualified can sit on a circuit court bench in VA.  Allen has championed federal "personhood" legislation, vote to undue hate crimes protection for LGBT Americans.
These are battles that the other side has decided to put front and center and to fight about. These are NOT on the table because Dems have decided to make these issues, but because Republicans have revealed their cards. They're wrong on the issues, also wrong to focus on most divisive wedge issues that push Americans apart when we need to be coming together to focus on the economy. We need to deal with our fiscal challenges in a balanced way. No pledges of allegiance to Grover Norquist. Not "cut cap and balance" or other gimmicks. Need to find revenues by letting TEMPORARY tax cuts expire on wealthiest Americans. The other guys talk a good game, but when they get the reins, they always do the wrong thing.
My opponent was part of the fiscal wrecking crew that turned surplus into massive deficit, voted to add $3 trillion to national debt, blocked paygo, but now he has the nerve to say put him back in so he can deal with the deficit. We need to move forward not backwards.  I was governor in a very tough time. No government, noone has ever cut their way to prosperity, the math doesn't work, anyone who tells you it's possible is wrong. I want to get thinner, but I don't want to get weaker, that's the all-austerity diet. We've got to make cuts, find revenues, make investments in infrastructure.
The choices are clear, the stakes are high, Virginia will be right on center stage with the spotlights on. We've got to win these races, reelect President Obama with Virginia. It's not just about winning elections. Citizens United - avalanche of secret money - has led to a situation where an oligarchy is trying to consume a democracy. Those who can write big checks, when guaranteed secrecy, will write even bigger checks. They believe if they just add enough zeroes to the checks they write, that they can wrest elections away from the people.
What's at stake in this election is nothing less than the form of government we have. Can grassroots beat money? While the other side has the superPACs, we have the grassroots energy.  Money or grassroots: I'm picking grassroots every time. You win by going directly to people, you serve by going directly to people.
Nobody cares how much time you spend in your office. When I went from city council to Mayor, I took those lessons with me. Any good political skill I have today is because I started at local level where money wasn't what mattered, but doing what you said you were going to do. We believe passionately in the grassroots. We need to show, in a post-Citizens United world, that it's still the grassroots who will come out on top of Karl Rove, etc.
I have never seen such a bunch of doom and gloomers as modern day Republican Party. It's absolutely corrosive, negative, and not what the Republican Party has always been.  They define their success not on jobs or prestige abroad, but on defeating President Obama. It is doom and gloom nonstop with George Allen, suggesting that our best days our in the rear view mirror, I don't buy that for a minute, and neither should any of us. That Democratic "happy days are here again" tradition - work hard, acknowledge challenges, face them head on, be optimistic, positive Democratic Party. America needs us right now. I'm proud to be on the ballot, proud to fight with you. Come November we will celebrate victories in Virginia and America (standing ovation).
Leone 806 - winner, other top 3 go to runoff
Spruill 542
Tribbett 470
Wallace 668
O'Donnell 145
2:17 pm Spruill withdraws, says he's a good Democrat. We need to leave here united.
Second ballot - Brian Moran says we will reconvene at 3:30 pm at Mason Inn.
Motion for suspension of rules for balloted vote and have a voice vote on two remaining candidates. Voice vote seems split, but Brian says the motion carries. Objection. Move to "division," method of voting to decide on a counted vote later at the Mason Inn or a voice vote now.
Vote by people standing: 1) for George Wallace; 2) for Ben Tribbett.
Ben Tribbett moves to elect George Wallace by acclamation so he can appeal later, because we shouldn't be doing it this way.