Senate Dem Report Confirms Everything We've Been Saying About the For-Profit "Education" Industry

Monday, July 30, 2012

Not to pat ourselves on the backs too much, but we would note that we've been pointing out for a couple years now that the for-profit "education" industry is a scam and a sham. Now, a major new report by Senate Democrats confirms everything we've been saying, with the possible exception of DPVA Chair Brian Moran's role in this fiasco. A few highlights, or should I say lowlights, from the study include:*This industry is sucking $32 billion per year in our tax money to operate their "colleges"(using the word loosely), yet "more than half of the students who enrolled in in those colleges in 2008-9 left without a degree or diploma within a median of 4 months."
*These for-profit "colleges" are "owned and operated by businesses" (heavily subsidized by the government, of course - no, they did NOT "build that" on their own, not even close!) with the prime concern not being the education of students, but of "the returns they produce for shareholders."
*Basically, Congress has let these "colleges" get away with murder, failing to hold these "companies accountable to taxpayers for providing quality education, support, and outcomes."
*Among the most egregious practices of these "colleges" is that they "left [students] with high monthly payments but without a commensurate increase in earning power from new training and skills," resulting in "student loan debt that may follow them throughout their lives, and can create a financial burden that is extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible, to escape."
*How do these schools convince so many people to plunk down their hard-earned money on the product they're selling? Simple: the companies spend billions of dollars on marketing and recruiting, not to mention "more than two and a half recruiters for each support services employees."
*One of the main targets of these "schools" is, perhaps most egregiously, is the brave people who've risked their lives to defend our country -- "[s]ervicemembers, veterans, spouses, and family members," with the for-profits even "recruiting at wounded warrior centers and veterans hospitals," and with recruiters sometimes being found to have "misled or lied to service members as to whether their tuition would be fully covered by military benefits." No, they have no shame.
On and on it goes, in all its gory, abysmal, anger-inducing detail. The Virginia angle on this is even more anger-inducing: that two prominent Virginia Democrats, 2006 Senate candidate Harris Miller and DPVA Chair Brian Moran, have served in top capacities at the for-profit "colleges" top lobby shop, while simultaneously - and hypocritically - claiming to support strong public education in this country.
I mean, look, you expect Republicans - Eric Can'tor and company - to do crap like this. But for Democrats to do it is incredibly disappointing, makes me extremely angry to be honest. True, Brian Moran is leaving the for-profit "college" lobby at the end of July, but the damage is already done, both to all the people he helped rip off, as well as to the image of the Democratic Party of Virginia. The question is, why have more Virginia Democrats not been outraged by and spoken out about this situation? As the saying goes, "evil flourishes when good people do nothing." This, sadly, is a classic example of what that's talking about. Ugh.
P.S. I must say, I'm disappointed to see Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley scheduled to appear at a fundraising reception with Brian Moran on August 2 in Alexandria. From what I've seen, I like Gov. O'Malley, but let's just say, this is the type of thing I'll be weighing in my mind when deciding which Democrat to support for the presidential nomination in 2016...

Audio: Talking Politics, Social Media, etc. on Coffee Party's Blog Talk Radio Show

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Thanks to my friend Eric Byler - former member of Jim Webb's "ragtag army," director of the film 9500 Liberty, co-founder of the Coffee Party, etc. - for inviting me on the show late this afternoon, and thanks to Jessica English for hosting the show. Among the topics covered: blogging and social media, Corey Stewart and 9500 Liberty, the presidential campaign, the "you didn't build that" controversy, how best to promote positive/progressive change in this country, etc.

If Fracking is Safe, Why Then Has One Major Company Refused to Cover Related Damage?

by Kathy in Blacksburg

Two weeks ago, Nationwide Insurance became the first major company to exclude damage to homes from fracking. The decision applies to companies which frack as well as to homeowners who allow fracking below their property. It is unclear how this will affect those who refuse to lease but live surrounded by those who sign.  There are several significant ramifications of this decision by Nationwide.
1) Should other companies follow suit (and they likely will), homeowners in or near fracking areas (remember horizontal drilling reaches out one to two miles from the original well site) might not be able to insure their homes.  
2) 2) If one cannot insure a home, then mortgages will be void.  
3) This is because lenders require homeowners to carry insurance. So, mortgages could be called back, that is to say, cancelled.  
4) If other insurers join in, no new mortgages could be written for the property.  
5) And no one is likely to buy an uninsurable home.
6) If a home cannot be sold, it's market value is zero, thus obliterating the value of the homeowner's investment and putting the homeowner seriously "under water."
KathyinBlacksburg :: If Fracking is Safe, Why Then Has One Major Company Refused to Cover Related Damage?
Given the above, I am wondering why some of us would want to impose such a price on any homeowners in the Marcellus shale or other areas drillers covet. And I wonder why others would partake in their own economic undoing.Someone purporting "objectivity" (LOL) happened along on these pages to uttter the words, the "truth is somewhere in the middle." As Lowkell pointed out, that is lazy thinking. It is also, what am I trying to say, WRONG, also as Lowkell points out here.
What will you all say then the rest of the insurers follow suit? Or will it be one more example of NIMBY?
But here is the thing. Watersheds are just that. The are not fixed or closed systems. They are open, interactive systems covering wide areas and affecting others far beyond. From an environmental perspective, we are all in this together. And it is not something to split the difference on.  The ability to secure drinkable water is central to our existence. The ability to buy or sell a home, considered one of the main aspirations of the those of us in the Middle Class, will be in jeopardy. If that doesn't potentially redesign the "American way of life" in one brushstroke, then I do not know what does.  
Here is the recent debate on fracking aired on North Carolina's National Public Radio Station. The motion is that fracking does more harm than good.
For the proposition (against fracking) are Debora Goldbert (Managing Attorney for Earth Justice) and Watershed Program Director at Riverkeeper).
Against the Proposition that fracking does more harm than good (but for fracking) are NY Times Op-Ed Columnist Joe Nocera and Sue Tierney (Managing Principal at Analysis Group).

Bob's Bad Egg That Dwight Must Scramble

Saturday, July 28, 2012

by: Dan Sullivan

Sat Jul 28, 2012 at 10:39:06 AM EDT

The financial fiasco that is the 'Redskins training camp goes to Richmond' is laid at Mayor Jones's doorstep. Bob McDonnell has turned economic incentive on its head. He handed out $4 million to the private sector while doubling down with Richmond's unfunded mandate. Bob has a future in banking.Mayor Jones has to wonder exactly how this political derivative pays off. He has appointed a panel to discover the obvious: Richmond cannot get there from here. It will take more prayers than even McDonnell's pal Pat Robertson can muster to deliver this miracle; better phone the Pope.
Although moving the camp to a spot within the city limits has been taken for a given, Redskins general manager Bruce Allen, interviewed Thursday at the team's headquarters in Ashburn, would only say a site in the city is "preferable." - Richmond Times Dispatch

It really doesn't matter where in Richmond the panel settles upon. There is no existing facility in the city limits. The best nearby is already spoken for. So, wherever in Richmond this burden lands, Dwight Jones knows it will cost dearly. That is even before the annual payment to the team of $500,000. Imagine that! Richmond will pay the Redskins for the honor of having spent millions in infrastructure that might have gone to schools or some other urban luxury. It's a new kind of fiscal chokehold that allows passing a state deficit of $9.6 million to the city of Richmond.

What I know of Richmond comes from having actually lived in the city; not in the suburbs or a city mansion on the public dole like our Governor. It's got to be wonderful enjoying the city, writing checks out of someone else's account and being escorted around limo style. It is a wonderful city with so much to offer...almost anything but an appropriate venue for a professional football summer camp.But it is not just the money for the facility and the half million dollar a year bounty. Anyone who has suffered through August traffic in Richmond around either of the two obvious locations for the training facility knows that not another vehicle is welcome. It simply won't work no matter how many traffic cops assigned. Local businesses will suffer because their regular clients will no longer have ready access during these three weeks and may not return after finding alternatives. No silk purse can be sewn from this sow's ear.
Back in the day when Bruce Allen lived in the Richmond area, there was no real call for him to become too familiar with the city. His trip to City Stadium was along tree lined avenues with almost no stop lights. He crossed the newly constructed inner beltway probably without a thought that it was designed with halting urban blight in mind. And when he drove home from college, he did not even have to deal with the once and apparently now future toll booths that congested traffic on and along I-95. He could reach home in the DC suburbs in 75 minutes or so. There was almost no good reason to travel up the Boulevard unless he wanted to get some of that canned New England clam chowder at the then spanking new Howard Johnson at I-95. And I'd almost bet he never made it out to the Virginia State Fair or Richmond Raceway.
Anyone who travels to Richmond to attend the camp as an observer will do it only once even with RGIII as a draw. Frank Sinatra, as Grand Marshal, attended the Tobacco Bowl shown in the City Stadium photograph from 1949...and never came again.
With that in mind, let's run just Richmond's numbers. Forget that Bob paid a private sector entity millions to continue what it was already doing; that is come home after playing and consistently losing games. Richmond must pay the Redskins an additional $4,000,000 over the years it is obligated to host for the privilege of spending another $1,000,000 a year for infrastructure and public safety expenses. That is $12,000,000. The Governor's team estimates the economic impact at $6,000,000 a year. Being generous and optimistic, the city will realize a meager $300,000 a year in tax revenues from that "impact." (And if the old State Fair grounds or Richmond Raceway or anywhere outside central Richmond is used, nowhere near that amount will be realized.) That leaves at the minimum a $9,600,000 hole that will come out of the Richmond budget. There's how you balance a state budget.
So sad to be you Dwight. There is no way this omelet turns out well.

Video: Raging Homophobe Eugene Delgaudio Sings Against Gays in Boy Scouts!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thanks a lot to Loudoun County's Sterling district for electing this raging homophobe (and closet case?) as their supervisor. Great choice, guys!
Delgaudio’s full-time job is agitating against gay people with his group Public Advocate of the United States. Presumably the 2,836 people who voted for him in the Sterling district in November know this. That was nearly 53 percent of the vote in a three-candidate race, and was his fourth time winning the seat. The Loudoun Times-Mirror endorsed him and said his “strong constituent service and unabashed push for additional resources have improved life in the Sterling District.”
P.S. The full video, including Delgaudio's bizarre "explanation" of what he and his fellow loons are doing out there.

Video: Corey Stewart Channels Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama on Need for Infrastructure Investment

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'll tell you, politics never cease to amaze me. Here we have a conservative Republican and anti-"illegal"-immigrant firebrand, Prince William County Board Chair Corey Stewart, channeling Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama on the crucial need for government investment in infrastructure for business and the economy to thrive. Check it out:
[The veterans of World War II -- the "greatest generation"]...rebuilt American infrastructure, and as a result of that investment that that generation made in the 1950s, that has resulted in the interstate system -- the importance of the interstate system to the prosperity of the United States cannot be overstated. If that hadn't been built, America would not be nearly as possible or as wealthy or as successful as it is today... ...The future prosperity of this county lies in two things we have to get right. Every single society or government gets two things've got to be able to allocate your resources efficiently...But, to move forward in the future, we cannot leave our children...with a deficit of infrastructure. We have got to invest in infrastructure; that is the mother's milk of future prosperity. It means more parks, it means more libraries, and it means more roads. And if we don't invest in those things, our kids are going to be starting behind. It's no better to leave our children with a deficit of infrastructure than to leave them with a large deficit on their shoulders like the federal government has done...[the "inspiring" investment in the interstate highway system by the generation of the 1950s was] the largest infrastructure project ever in world history, a half trillion dollars, 35 years worth of investment so that we can live better today. We must do the same, but we have to be honest with our citizens and our residents... I know this isn't going to play very well in a Republican convention next year on a statewide basis. I know that. But we need to be up front with people, and we need to let them know that you can't get something for nothing, We have to pay for infrastructure. We can't just promise the citizens that their tax bills are going to stay flat but yet we're going to be build roads and schools and parks and libraries. It doesn't work like that. We have to pay for them, and we're going to have to pay for them now. I feel very strongly about this...if we're going to remain the 9th wealthiest county in the United States...we have to make those investments...It's absolutely essential to our the future that we make those investments and not shy away from them and not shy away from the cost of them.
Brilliant. Can I just say right now that, other than his egregious "illegal immigrant" bashing, Corey Stewart is now BY FAR my new favorite Virginia Republican? No, I realize that's not saying much, but still, this speech truly rocks! Go Corey! :)

Sen. Mark Herring Announces Run for Virginia Attorney General

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The following press release is from Mark Herring for Attorney General. Over the past couple weeks, I've had the chance to talk extensively to Senator Herring, and have been very impressed. I'm not ready to endorse, but I certainly think that Herring would make a strong candidate for Virginia AG. For one thing, he's a proven winner in a "purple"/"swing" area politically, and that's absolutely crucial for Democrats. In addition, Herring's Project Vote Smart ratings are generally strong, although clearly he's not the most progressive Democrat around. Anyway, I'll look forward to hearing more from Senator Herring, and also from his primary opponents (assuming he has any - Mike Signer? Ward Armstrong? Others?), before deciding who to support. Plus, we've got a bunch of races to win first in 2012 before we really focus on 2013. So...back to helping reelect President Obama, defeat George Allen, and all the other work we've got to do over the next few months!
HERRING ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR ATTORNEY GENERALLeesburg- Declaring, "It's time to get politics out of the Attorney General's office and return its focus to doing what's right for the people of Virginia," State Senator Mark Herring (D-Loudoun & Fairfax Counties) announced today that he has filed paperwork and will seek the office of Attorney General in 2013. Herring released the following statement:
"Over the last three years, we've watched Attorney General Cuccinelli pursue an ideological crusade that is out of step with the mainstream.  Time after time, the Attorney General has abused the powers of his office and twisted the law to advance his personal political agenda, which has been costly to taxpayers and costly to the credibility of the office. It's hurt Virginians and damaged our state's reputation.
"It's time to get politics out of the Attorney General's office and return its focus to doing what's right for the people of Virginia.
"Virginia cannot afford another Attorney General like Ken Cuccinelli.  Unfortunately, that's exactly what those on the Republican side jockeying to take his place are offering.  But what Virginians are looking for is an Attorney General who will restore the people's trust in the office.  

What Good is Compassion If...?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

by Lori Haas

(Lori Haas' daughter was shot at Virginia Tech. She is now an activist working to prevent gun violence in Virginia and beyond. - promoted by lowkell)

Friday morning America woke up to the news of another tragedy -- another disturbed young man purchased military grade weapons of mass destruction, went into a crowded movie theater, injured dozens and killed twelve innocent Americans. Seventy plus families have been plunged into the painful abyss gun violence leaves behind.  Sadly, no one is surprised.  We no longer live in a civilized society if anyone can walk into a sporting goods shop and buy an AR15 and amass thousands of rounds of ammunition including 100 round clips in order to kill fellow human beings.   While the investigation continues, will anyone be surprised to learn that this man is mentally disturbed, as many assume he is?
In the last ten years, we have lost approximately 6,000 soldiers in war - a devastating number. In that same time period, 300,000 American citizens have been killed by guns right here at home. As Jesse Jackson pointed out on Friday, 50 times more American citizens died from guns here on American soil than our self sacrificing soldiers at war!
Americans do not lack compassion and are of course upset by the events in Aurora. But what good is this compassion if we allow these massacres to continue, not to mention the daily death toll (32 per day) that our lax gun laws force on our communities. Compassion serves no purpose if we allow our lawmakers to do nothing time and time again despite the never ending mass shootings that occur in this country.
Our representatives have been corrupted to the point of ignoring their convictions and the reality of the catastrophe happening every day in America. The easy access of firearms, not to mention the types of firepower available is the issue staring them in the face every day yet they do nothing. When we continue to elect them without demanding they do all they can to save innocent American lives, we all have blood on our hands. 

Allen-Kaine Debate at The Homestead; Blacked Out. Lucky for Allen as Kaine Crushes Him!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

UPDATE 12:18 pm: @MikeSigner tweets, "@timkaine's closing: 'This election fundamentally is about tomorrow...not smashmouth politics... We can't go back to...fighting innovation'" Amazingly, no sports reference in Allen's closing. Allen reads closing statement directly from notes (what, no teleprompter available, George?). @MikeSigner tweets, "@timkaine the clear winner of the debate." Yes, Signer's a Democrat, as am I, but there's no doubt that Allen was rattled, didn't have any answers, and got manhandled by an articulate, well-informed, far superior opponent. I'd almost feel sorry for Felix, except that he's a thug who likes calling young Asian-American trackers "macacas," bullying women (and GLBT people, etc.)...
UPDATE 12:13 pm: ‏@scontorno tweets, "Kaine notes GOP guvs who held party jobs. Kaine: McDonnell RGA leader, Gilmore RNC chairman" Also from @scontorno: "Kaine also notes that Allen was chairman of the NRSC and said 'my number one job is to elect Republicans.' Clearly, it wasn't to be a Senator (a job Allen hated, by the way), that's for sure!
UPDATE 12:10 pm: @scontorno tweets, "Kaine: Allen was guv during Clinton-supported economic boom. I was guv during recession. 'I have some scar tissue governing in tough times.'" Yep, Democrats clean up the messes Republicans create, then Republicans blame Democrats for doing so. These people are shameless and insufferable.
UPDATE 12:10 pm: Another howler is Allen claiming he's running to create jobs. This, from the guy who voted 96% of the time with Bush to GET US INTO THIS MESS!!! What's the saying? "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on ME!"
UPDATE 12:09 pm:  ‏@scontorno tweets, "Allen says he traveled the state and personhood doesnt come up. 'What comes up is not issues like this. It's jobs.'" @timkaine tweets, "VA women can't afford 6 more yrs of Allen. Wants federal personhood laws and opposes equal pay bills."  @MoElleithee tweets, "@georgeallenva complains that @timkaine asked about support for personhood. Says ppl don't ask him about that. Then why is he PROPOSING it?"
UPDATE 12:05 pm: Kaine says he wants to build things again, invest in America, that will help economy and create jobs. Kaine asks Allen, "why would you claime to be a small government guy and propose what would be such a dramatic reach into peoples' personal lives and moral issues" with the "personhood amendment?" Allen just says he doesn't want to ban contraceptives. #FAIL!!! Even more amazing, does Allen not know what the personhood amendment actually means, given that he f'd up the same question at the last debate?!? Couldn't he even make the least effort to get his facts straight for this one? Unbelievable.
UPDATE 12:03 pm: ‏@timkaine tweets, "Allen's push for ACA repeal would leave millions uninsured while he accepts taxpayer funded Congressional health care."  ‏@brandihoffine tweets, "@georgeallenva's contradiction - says he can work w/other side but slams POTUS at every turn & can't name 1 thing he would break w/Romney on"
UPDATE 12:00 pm: Allen continues to get his a** handed to him by an infinitely better informed Tim Kaine. @MoElleithee tweets, "@georgeallenva struggling in this debate straddling with 2 messages. Says he's not obstructionist. But attacks POTUS every answer." So typical, Allen's got nothing but nastiness and appealing to fear and ignorance. Typical Teapublican. Ugh.

UPDATE 11:58 am: Now debating health care. Allen, of course, wants to repeal "Obamacare," even though his party's presidential nominee signed "Romneycare," which is basically the model. Whatever, logic doesn't have any relevance to Republican politicians. Kaine points out all the benefits of Affordable Care Act - children under 26, no more preexisting condition exclusions, contraception coverage for women, etc, etc. Allen would ditch all of that in the Senate. Kaine says he'd fight to make it better, with more cost savings. Meanwhile, when George was in the Senate, health insurance premiums climbed by 70%!UPDATE 11:56 am:  ‏@scontorno tweets, "Kaine stops Allen calling him Obama's handpicked senator: For you to say I'm handpicked by somebody else...proves the point that I just made." That Allen is nasty, smash mouth, etc. Yep. @MoElleithee tweets, "@timkaine makes a pledge: I will be a partner with the POTUS regardless of party, not running to be an obstructionist."
UPDATE 11:55 am: ‏@scontorno tweets, "Kaine hits Allen for saying he worked with Clinton. Quotes Allen saying Clinton is 'so contrary to all of our values.'" @timkaine tweets, "Kaine worked with the Bush Administration to secure $900 million in federal investment for Rail to Dulles"
UPDATE 11:54 am: Kaine is pummeling Allen, no wonder why Felix doesn't want these debates televised or live streamed!!! (I'm told Allen is rattled, sweating...)
UPDATE 11:52 am: Missed a good one by @MoElleithee - "@georgeallenva says his top priority would not be disagreeing with anyone. Not true. His entire campaign is anti-Obama." @MoElleithee also tweets, "@timkaine on bipartisanship: my father-in-law is a former republican governor of Virginia. It starts at home for me!"
UPDATE 11:50 am: @MoElleithee tweets, "Did @georgeallenva say his "kick soft teeth down their whining throat" comment was a sports analogy? What sport????" (Yeah, and "macaca" was a made-up nonsense word. Are all Republican politicians pathological liars or what?!? Another Willard Romney here...)
UPDATE 11:46 am: Kaine calls out Allen for divisive, nasty rhetoric - specifically notes "soft teeth whining throat" comments by Allen. Kaine hitting Allen's name calling, smash-mouth politics hard. Allen tries to claim he's worked in a bipartisan fashion, which is just utterly laughable. Allen also claims to be a leader on cyber security. What next, he invented the internet? LOL @MichaelSluss tweets, "Asked where he differs with @MittRomney, @georgeallenva cites nothing specific. @timkaine cites difference w/ @BarackObama on Bush tax cuts."
UPDATE 11:42 am: Kaine says "George your record is a big spending record" You voted to turn surpluses into deficits, voted 4 times to you raise own pay, 6 times against pay cuts, for 52,000 earmarks, over $160 billion in spending Kaine just slammed Allen big time. There can be no real response to this from Allen, because it's all true. @MoElleithee tweets, "@georgeallenva says when he left office we were on trajectory towards balanced budget. Actually he came in with 1, left with deficit." @scontorno tweets, "Kaine: 'you planted time bombs in the budget.' I think he used that line last debate too." Good line, also true!
UPDATE 11:40 am: @scontorno tweets, "Kaine: Would support 2-3 dollars of cuts for every dollar of revenue." @MoElleithee tweets, "Next topic: Bush tax cuts. @timkaine has middle ground compromise of rolling back on those over $500k. @georgeallenva says keep them all." So much for Allen being a fiscal conservative; no way to balance budget like that, unless (wink wink) he plans to trash Medicare and Social Security. Hmmmm, ya think? (can we say "Ryan Budget?") @brandihoffine tweets, "@georgeallenva rejects even 10:1 cuts to revenues. would hammer VA's economy." Remember, Virginia relies more heavily on Federal spending and civilian/military/contractor employment than basically any other state. Allen's massive cuts would be devastating to Virginia!
UPDASTE 11:37 am: Kaine says Allen talks like a fiscal conservative, but has never actually done it. Allen says he will if we give him a third chance, but that's tough to believe... @timkaine tweets, "Despite rhetoric, George Allen has always grown gov't: budget grew over 40% as Gov & voted to add $3T to debt as Sen." @scontorno tweets, "Crowley: Why doesn't anyone say lets get rid of all the Bush tax cuts?" Good question!
UPDATE 11:35 am: @MikeSigner tweets, "Wow, I can't believe @georgeallenva won't answer @timkaine's tough question about not paying for Medicare Part D. Just didn't answer!!" @scontorno tweets, "Why not pay for Medicaid Part D? Allen: after 9/11 no one wanted to raise taxes." Wow, that is really low, taking a national tragedy and blaming THAT for his piss-poor policy judgment. #FAIL!!!
UPDATE 11:31 am: ‏@scontorno tweets, "Allen: unmanned aerial vehicles can help reduce cost of military." Also, 30 minutes in and Allen FINALLY drops his first (inevitable) football reference ("throw a flag". Kaine asks Allen about Medicare Part D - program costs 400 billion in first 10 years, a trillion in next 10 - George, why didn't you pay for it? Allen advocates health savings account, also blames not paying for Medicare Part D on the war. WTF?!?!?!? @MikeSigner tweets, "@timkaine drills @georgeallenva on failing to pay for 400 billion cost of Medicare drug benefit." As well he should!
UPDATE 11:28 am: @MikeSigner tweets, "@georgeallenva extremely defensive, even panicky in explaining his opposition to the budget deal McDonnell, Cantor, and Kaine supported." @scontorno tweets, "Allen: I could never envision myself voting for something that would be so horrible for Virginia. (on military cuts)" Hahahaha, whatever dude, talk to Eric Can'tor and the rest of your party that was responsible for that! Duhhhhhhh. @timkaine tweets, "Allen urged GOP to use debt ceiling crisis as 'leverage' while Gov. McDonnell & other R's urged compromise" Yes, the Republicans held the nation hostage for months, then complain about the results. Wildly irresponsible.
UPDATE 11:25 am: @scontorno tweets, "Kaine is quickly turning this against Allen to hit him on spending, not backing paygo." Rightly so! Allen voted to raise his own pay 4 times; voted against paygo; he's like a teenager with a credit card just running it up! @MikeSigner tweets, "@timkaine on fire in debate-calls @georgeallenva on carpet for increasing federal spending, debt ceiling, own pay. #rhetoricvsreality"
UPDATE 11:24 am: ‏@MoElleithee tweets, "@timkaine calls for a balanced approach to deficit. 1st main difference with @georgeallenva in #vasen debate." @MichaelSlussRT tweets, "@georgeallenva , @timkaine now sparring on taxes in #vasen debate. Kaine would let Bush tax cuts expire in income $500K and greater."
UPDATE 11:22 am: @scontorno tweets, "Crowley asks Allen if he would take 10 to 1 spending cuts to revenue increases. Allen's answer: raising taxes will only create more job loss...Crowley presses him to answer the question: So that's a no? Allen: yea, i think that's pretty obvious."
UPDATE 11:20 am: Q: Would you vote for a tax increase if you were ensured it was accompanied by budget cuts?  Allen says lower flatter tax will increase jobs, raising taxes only increases jobs at the IRS. What bull****. Kaine - I cut a lot of taxes as Mayor, and I've done a lot of expense cuts. Tut we need more revenue to fix this debt issue, most of it occured while George Allen was in the Senate -- unfunded Medicare Part D, two wars not funded, "temporary" tax cuts that they now want to make permanent. We need to grow the economy for small businesses
UPDATE 11:18 am:  ‏@scontorno tweets, "Allen clarifies: 'I do think there out to criminal records checks from licensed firearms dealers.' So maybe not gun shows?"
UPDATE 11:15 am:  ‏@scontorno tweets, "Kaine: 'I for one believe we need to do background record checks when guns are purchased at gunshows.'" ‏@brandihoffine
.@timkaine reflects on leading VA through terrible tragedy at #Tech, talked abt work with @BobMcDonnell to implement bipartisan reforms @scontorno tweets, "Allen: 'I am for criminal records checks.' also mental checks. but said should wait to see what comes out of #aurora investigation."
UPDATE 11:12 am: @scontorno tweets, "Kaine: Let's play nice. Allen: 'Virginia is hurting because of the failed policies in Washington that my opponent has advocated.'" @AllenVA_Press tweets, "@GeorgeAllenVA: 'It's time to bring the Voices of hardworking taxpayers to Washington for a more efficient, effective & accountable gov't'" @MikeSigner tweets, "@georgeallenva attacks Pentagon job losses (resulting from Rep intransigence on budget)-one area where he believes in stimulus spending." @scontorno: "Crowley's first questions is, of course, about gun control in wake of #Aurora shooting."
UPDATE 11:09 am: @scontorno tweets that Kaine "Brings up tragedy at Colorado & links it to VaTech. Kaine guv during that crisis" @MikeSigner tweets that @timkaine says "We have huge issues...but somehow we've let our politics get very small." Lily Adams (@adamslily) tweets, "In opening - @timkaine discusses his visit to volunteer at the RAM clinic yesterday in Wise County." Brandi Hoffine (@brandihoffine) tweets, "@timkaine reflects on yesterday's shooting in CO: 'we've let our politics get very small, divisive, petty, & personal.'"
UPDATE 11:07 am: Tim Kaine making his opening statement. Wes Hester tweets, "Allen wearing a red tie, Kaine blue. Makes sense." Also, Steve Contorno(@scontorno) of the Washington Examiner tweets, "Candy Crowley of CNN is the moderator. Just in case no one realized how big a deal this race is."
UPDATE 10:50 am: Click on that photo to "embiggen," it's pretty cool! (no Allen supporters in sight, gotta love it)
UPDATE 10:37 amWes Hester of the RTD tweets, "Ahead of US Sen debate @TheHomestead college-aged kids screaming & waving @timkaine signs. Also, the coffee here is tremendous." Wes Hester adds, "#VASEN debate attendees trickling in, @RobertHurt and @CreighDeeds among them. Moderator @crowleyCNN is also here."
I'm not physically present at The Homestead for the first Kaine-Allen general election debate, and there's no TV, radio, or intertubes livestream for some idiotic reason (more on that below). Still, I'm going to do my best to cover this thing regardless.  I'll be following twitter and other updates from deep inside the hallowed halls of The Homestead.
By the way, you're probably wondering why this extremely important debate isn't being televised, radio broadcast, and/or livestreamed online. It's truly astounding, and really makes you wonder who's responsible for this travesty to democracy (and no, I don't buy the "tradition" argument; the world advances, and so should the Virginia Bar Association debates!).
Let's just put it this way; it's highly unlikely, bordering on impossible, that this blackout was demanded by Tim Kaine. That's simply not the way Kaine is about these types of things; in fact, it's totally out of character for Kaine in general.
Now George Allen, on the other hand; well he's a totally different story. In 2006, we saw how thin skinned he could be, how hypersensitive, and how worried about making a gaffe (or more likely, multiple gaffes). For good reason, too, for all of us who remember not just "macaca," but everything after "macaca," including Allen's absurd explanation for what that meant and why he said it, his vicious lashing out at reporter Peggy Fox for the audacity of asking him about his Jewish background (which turned out to be 100% correct, by the way), and other assorted idiocies. We also know that Allen hates to talk to the non-right-wingnut press, and avoids doing so at all costs. For instance, Allen refused to talk to the press after the Republican primary debates this past spring.
In sum, Allen's the classic coward/bully combination, someone who tries desperately to cultivate an image of geniality, but is actually as nasty as they come ("shove their soft teeth down their whiny throats," anyone? yep, that's our Felix!), and it would certainly be in character for him to be a d*** about not allowing the first general election debate with Tim Kaine to be broadcast. That's my theory, and I'm sticking with it, although I'm certainly open to other ideas...
P.S. Also remember, George Allen has a lot to hide, starting with his miserable record in the U.S. Senate, where he voted 96% of the time with George W. Bush in the disastrous policies that turned record surpluses into massive deficits; that burdened us with two unpaid-for wars and an unpaid-for new entitlement program; etc. Allen also wants everyone to forget about his disgraceful reelection campaign in 2006, as well as what he's done since 2006 (whoring for dirty energy interests for wads of cash). And, of course, Allen's divisive, extremist agenda isn't exactly one that's going to play well with most Virginians if they truly understand what it's all about. Other than that, I'm sure Allen's VERY eager to have these debates seen by as many Virginians as possible. (snark)

Bill Bolling Called Out by Fellow Republican, Issues Non-Apology "Apology"

Thursday, July 19, 2012

First Bill Bolling says that over half of Virginian voters - the percentage who voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 election, and most likely will vote for him again this November, are mentally ill. Now, he's coming under fire for his insensitive remark by a fellow Republican, Del. Joseph Yost (R-Blacksburg).
On Wednesday, Del. Joseph Yost, R-Blacksburg, issued a statement calling on Bolling to apologize. Yost is the jail diversion coordinator for the nonprofit Mental Health Association of the New River Valley."I am disappointed in the Lieutenant Governor's comments and I call on him to issue an apology not only to the citizens of this Commonwealth but to all individuals who suffer from a mental health issue and their friends and family," Yost said. "The comments were not only a disappointment and distasteful but continue the stigmatization of individuals with mental illness.

Of course, Bolling couldn't just admit that he screwed up and issue a straight apology. Instead, he issued the classic non-apology "apology," that he "did not intend to offend anyone, and if anyone was offended by his comment he would certainly apologize for that." Notice, he WOULD apologize IF he did anything wrong. But, apparently, he doesn't believe that he did. #FAILCompounding his mistake, Bolling then basically reaffirmed the gist of what he was getting at the other day, claiming that "he just doesn't understand how anyone could objectively conclude that President Obama has done a good job and deserves a second term." Well, isn't that a coincidence, because I just don't understand how anyone could objectively conclude that Willard "Mitt" Romney, or any Republican't for that matter - the people who got us into this mess, and who have absolutely no plan to get us out of it except to repeat the same mistakes they made the last time around - deserve to be elected to anything, let alone the White House! Do I think that Bill Bolling is mentally ill for being so wildly misguided? No, I just think he's a total corporate tool, as well as a severely misguided true believer in his party's disastrous, supply-side/trickle-down, failed economic philosophy. That's more than enough reason not to support him or his Teapublican pals, wouldn't you say?  

President Obama's Recent Visit to Roanoke and the Road We've Traveled

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

by Kathy in Blacksburg

As it became clear that President Obama would visit SW Virginia last week, I thought I might be able to see and hear our President. But it was not to be.  Though we had planned to visit SW Virginia for a wedding this past weekend (some of you will recall that my husband and I  moved to NC this past spring), we would not be there for ticket distribution on Wednesday. Later we learned also that the rally would be during the time we would be at the rehearsal dinner. Even should a ticket become available, my priority was clear.  I was in town for the wedding of my dear friend.Incidentally, the bride has been very active in Democratic Party politics and previously served as Vice-Chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee. And, so, not surprisingly, a number of fellow Democrats attended the wedding this past Saturday, the day after the President's visit. And a number of them had been to see the President.
I watched on my iPhone as the photos rolled out. It made me smile to see my friends in theRoanoke Times, on FB and in other friends' photos. At the wedding, you could still see it on their faces.  You could almost tell who gotten to shake the President's hand.  When Elaine's diary appeared on my iPhone I put on my glasses to read the mouse print and delighted in the fact that she was one of them. And I thought, "What a difference four years makes."  
KathyinBlacksburg :: President Obama's Recent Visit to Roanoke and the Road We've Traveled
The opposition have stonewalled much of the Obama agenda and yet, as the Washington Monthly illustrates here, President Obama's accomplishments are more than significant.  In the face of so much stonewalling, they are amazing. Here we are with a compassionate, strong leader who knows and articulates what it takes to make and keep the US economically strong.  He knows it because he has done it, is doing it and will do it--the right way. Oh, what a difference four years makes! Part of that difference is called experience. Another difference four years makes is the pitch-perfect campaign the President is waging. He knows what is important (jobs,especially) and he knows what barriers to economic health must be removed for America's citizens to flourish  economically. He knows (as surely as Mitt refused to admit) that trickle-down economics won't work and never has.  He knows that health care costs underlie many (around half of) personal bankruptcies. And he has set out to assure that threat to the Middle Class is ameliorated.Virginia is still in play.  That much has not changed. NC may not be, though we here in the Tar Heel state will not assume that, you can be sure.
I have not seen President Obama this election cycle. I hope I have the opportunity to do so.  2008 brought me to Lebanon, VA, with a press pass for Raising Kaine. Aside from key family milestones, it was the highlight of my life. I would see and hear our president up close. Though much of the press was quite a distance from the president at the Lebanon rally, we were rotated in closer to get photos.  I have mentioned before that through the camera lens, President Obama seemed as flawless as he was to that live audience.  He never missed a beat.  His warm response to those asking questions his knowledge of the issues and his proposals resonated.  He was in early fall of 2008, well, already presidential.
By the time he came back to SW Virginia, to the Roanoke Civic Center, that fall, where I attended a larger rally with my husband, you could feel victory in the air.  It was as though the 8,000-plus supporters there knew this was an historic moment.  In a few short weeks, the man we saw before us would be our president.
When I got my tickets for the President Obama's  inauguration, I could not have imagined I would spend it in the "Purple Tunnel," where legitimate holders of Purple tickets were herded and left, denied the chance to get in because of poor planning by the Inaugural Committee, the inept gate crew, lack of staffing, and the unfortunate location of our gate within a block of an overcrowded Metro stop. At least  ten thousand people with tickets never got in that day.
But this past weekend, despite my disappointment in not being able to attend, I took vicarious pleasure in the smiles on the faces of those who did go.  (Besides, it was the best wedding ever.) And their contagious energy, hope and excitement are now my own.  

Surrogate Fail: Cuccinelli's Obama Attack Backfires, Damages Romney

Monday, July 16, 2012

by The Green Miles

Ken CuccinelliWhile we already know Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is a terrible lawyer, today we also learned he's aterrible campaign surrogate:
Mitt Romney's campaign kicked off a new effort on Monday accusing President Obama of engaging in "crony capitalism" that rewards people who donated to his campaign. But when asked to name one single policy reform Romney would implement that would prevent such corruption, a top surrogate demurred."I don't think you can do this with one overarching rule," Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) told TPM on a conference call organized by the Romney campaign. "It hasn't worked with prior administrations. You really need to elect someone who is committed to weeding it out and not making political bundling the top requirement for a job application."
Cuccinelli repeatedly attacked Obama for appointing "bundlers," or top campaign fundraisers, to his administration, but offered no assurance at all that Romney would institute a policy restricting their appointments. Even if Romney did insist on keeping bundlers out of his administration, it would be impossible to tell. Romney, unlike Obama, John McCain and President George W. Bush, won't release a list of his bundlers, according to campaign finance advocates. The only ones publicly disclosed so far are bundlers who are also registered lobbyists, since they're governed by disclosure requirements. Obama, by contrast, does not allow lobbyists to raise money for his campaign.
Cuccinelli also wasn't able to say whether Romney had a position on the DISCLOSE Act, though it wasn't clear if Cuccinelli was caught off-guard, if Romney doesn't have a position on it, or if the Etch-a-Sketch is still shaking. With surrogates like these, who needs enemies? No wonder Democratic Party spokesman Brad Woodhouse offered to buy satellite time so Romney could spend more time on TV doing bumbling interviews.  

The Role of ALEC in Writing Our Laws [VIDEO]

by: ProgressVA

Just last week ProgressVA, along with some great progressive allies, participated in a forum on the corporate front group the American Legislative Exchange Council and their role in writing our laws. It was a great event with a fully packed room and we appreciate everyone who was able to attend and watch online. Additionally, the entire event is now available on YouTube. Some quotes and highlights after the jump.
  • Tom Perriello, Former Congressman (VA-5), "When I went to Congress, I had a staff of about 16 or 17 people. Several of whom could work just on policy. If we were writing a piece of legislation, there are support systems within the staff to help - legislative writing committees, there's staff to do that. There's a budget office that can help run numbers on exactly how much this might cost. You can have impact statements done by nonpartisan experts, all to support the impact of this legislation. What Delegate Hope and others in state legislatures across the country have is none of that. In many cases no staff, in many cases almost no salaries therefore you're carrying a full time job. There's not an independent set of institutions to analyze these bills. So what it means to write legislation at the state level is that it's done in a very different way. And when you have an organization, a corporate organization, that is sitting there ready to hand these right-wing legislators a ready-to-go bill, a ready-to-go budget analysis (that's often totally made-up), talking points--ways to communicate this, you have created an enormous in-kind contribution where  essentially the corporations are writing the laws."

  • Doug Clopp, Deputy Program Director, Common Cause"I come from Maine. And I could never figure out, on the third floor of the Maine state legislature, how a freshman legislator, from rural Maine, who owned a variety store, could drop a 74-page bill, completely dovetailed to Maine statute, that could deregulate Maine's utility industry and hand it over to corporate for 50 cents on the dollar. I could never figure out, how again in a citizens' legislature, Patrick has talked about this, that has a really limited staff, that how we could see bills to eliminate collective bargaining, how we could see bills to severe consumer rights to the courts for corporate products that kill that are poison. So finally I went over to one of my conservative corporate lobbyists and I said, hey, where does this stuff come from? And he said, well Doug it comes from ALEC - its an ALEC bill."
Additionally, the event was moderated by Del. Patrick Hope, and other speakers included ProgressVA's Anna Scholl and:
  • Kim Anderson, Director, Center for Advocacy, National Education Association
  • Diallo K. Brooks, Director, Field Mobilization, People for the American Way
  • Naomi Walker, Director, State Government Affairs, AFL-CIO
In addition to great presentations from all the speakers, the night also included an information Question & Answer session which begins at 59 minutes in. From the event's description:
More than 50 bills drawn from ALEC sources have been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly. ALEC is driving the recent surge in state voter ID laws, which erect new barriers to voting and disproportionately hinder minority and elderly voters. ALEC promoted as one of its models the infamous "Stand Your Ground" laws, which confer civil immunity on perpetrators who avoid arrest and prosecution under this law.  ALEC's Civil Justice Task Force is devoted to preventing injured people from holding wrongdoers accountable in court. On top of this, ALEC does not operate in a transparent manner.  Its model laws are adopted in closed meetings and require approval by a majority vote of its corporate members to be adopted. The event is sponsored by: the Fairfax County Democratic Committee National Affairs Committee, AFL-CIO Virginia; NOVA Labor; ProgressVA; People for the American Way, National Education Association, Progressive Democrats of America--Virginia; NOVA Council of MoveOn; Primary Matters Coalition; NAACP Alexandria, Arlington and Prince William Branches; Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church City, Manassas, and Manassas Park Democratic Committees; and the 8th Congressional District Democratic Committee.

President Obama in Richmond

Saturday, July 14, 2012

From the pool report by Wesley Hester of the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Air Force 1 touched down in Richmond at 10:56 a.m., a few minutes behind schedule.A group of about 75 guests await POTUS on the tarmac at Richmond International Airport, including Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones.
POTUS disembarked at 11:10 wearing tan slacks, a dress shirt and a blue blazer. He was greeted by a line of 14 guests, led by Mayor Dwight C. Jones. After posing for a group photo, he removed his blazer and greeted guests in a pen on the tarmac.
"How's it going, everybody," he said as he approached to cheers from the crowd. "It's good to be back in Richmond."
POTUS shook hands with adults and high-fived a few kids.
Motorcade left at 11:20. Next stop a mystery.

UPDATE 11:50 am: Ryan Nobles (@ryanobles) tweets, "Everyone bracing.. It's about to the #Obama event.. Get ready.." @ryanobles adds, "Crowd at #Obama event remains enthusastic despite rain.. it actually probably cooled them off."UPDATE 11:59 am: Washington Examiner reporter ‏@scontorno (Steve Contorno) tweets, "It is really coming down now as Rep. Bobby Scott is speaking. Thunder in the distance."
UPDATE 12:05 pm: @ryanobles tweets, "At the podium now, Sen. @DonMcEachinVA... giving a firey [sic] speech to the crowd being covered by rain."
UPDATE 12:16 pm: President Obama speaking now in the pouring rain. #DEDICATION!
UPDATE 12:30 pm: President Obama reminding everyone that we tried Republican economic policies - deregulation and tax cuts for the rich - over the past decade and THEY DID NOT WORK. Why would we want to go back to top-down economics? Obama says he supports middle-up/bottom-up economics.

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Cool photo by Michael Shear of the NY Times (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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President Obama Comes to Centreville

UPDATE 4:24 pm: President Obama is now speaking at Centreville High School. Click on the image above for the CSPAN video feed.
UPDATE 3:58 pm: Pool report by Sean Lengell of the Washington Times - "AF1 landed at Dulles at 3:19 pm. Motorcade rolling to campaign stop Clifton, Va."
lowkell :: President Obama Comes to Centreville

Photo courtesy of Rep. Connolly's Chief of Staff James Walkinshaw, who writes "Racist for Romney here to protest." So, let's get this straight, the guy who went to France to dodge the Vietnam War, who is richer than 99.99% of Americans, who keeps much (most?) of his money overseas (in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, etc.) is the REAL American, but the quintessentially American Barack Obama is not?  Gotcha!
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Photo: Centreville, VA Hearts Obama! (0.00 / 0[delete comment]
Courtesy of Jonathan Marrero, Virginia Digital Director - Obama for America.

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Another excellent photo by Jonathan Marrero (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Rep. Connolly warms up crowd (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Meanwhile, does Bob McDonnell agree with Bill Bolling that 50%+ (0.00 / 0[delete comment]
of Virginians should "check into a mental hospital?"
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who took the role of GOP "greeter" before the Obama's event, said Saturday that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney understands the importance of Virginia.Romney made a two-day, two-event visit to the state two weeks ago with stops in Salem and Sterling.
Bolling, who serves as state chairman for the Romney campaign, said in an interview withy the Daily Press that Obama "fundamentally doesn't understand how the economy works," calling the president's focus on the middle- and working-class "divisive politics."
"Take a look at what the president has done the past four years and then do exactly the opposite if you want to get the economy moving again," Bolling added.
Bolling said that if people think Obama has done a good job over the past three years , they should vote for him - then "check themselves into a mental hospital."
Yeah, and WE are the ones who are divisive?!?!?!?!?

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Obama Rallies the Grassroots in Roanoke

Friday, July 13, 2012

by Elaine in Roanoke

Today, Sen. Mark Warner and Gov. Tim Kaine joined President Barack Obama for a Grassroots Rally in Roanoke at the historic Firehouse 1. An overflow crowd of more than 2,000 filled the street to hear the President give a speech filled with optimism for the future combined with a promise to work throughout a second term to regain for the middle class the American dream that seemed to vanish during the Bush years.
The President reminded us that the change we hoped for four years ago hasn't been as fast as we wanted or as complete as we hoped for, but if we remain true to the vision that the way to grow the economy is not from the top down, but from the middle out and the bottom up, all the nation can prosper once again, not just the top 2% of Americans.
President Obama remarked that in 2008 when he visited Roanoke, political pundits said he was not serious in the visit but just covering all bases, However, he stated he intends to show the pundits again that, "I'm going to get some votes down here." He also promised us that if he wins Virginia, "I'm going to get four more years." He's absolutely correct.

President Obama Campaigns in Virginia

Courtesy of Obama for America - Virginia, this photo is of "a huge crowd in Virginia Beach at Green Run High School waiting for President Obama to take the stage." According to the press pool report by Christi Parsons of the LA Times:
The motorcade wound along some residential streets to Green Run High School, home of the Stallions. The streets were largely lined with people cheering, including one lady jumping up and down, waving her hands and screaming something like "Aiiiiii!" Some of the boulevard was lined with Romney yard signs.At the high school, Obama addressed an overflow crowd gathered in the "Stallion Cafe." The president walked in and shouted a sharp, "Hey," and the crowd of roughly 300 (my count) went wild cheering.
He won in 2008 because of their efforts, he told them, and he needs them now even more. "This is going to be a close one. We're going to have to work hard ... When we win Virginia, we're going to have won the election."
There was a reference to "men and women in uniform," check transcript to come.
He worked the rope line. Lots of teenagers. There was more screaming.
President Obama (accompanied by Tim Kaine and Mark Warner) landed in Norfolk at 10:45 am, was greeted by elected officials on the tarmac, and worked a rope line. Obama, Kaine and Warner then traveled to Rick's Cafe, a couple miles from Oceana Naval Air Station, spent some time there before heading over to Green Run High School. More to come...UPDATE 3:07 pm: The Virginian Pilot has coverage, including photos, as does the Daily Press.

Right-wing Nonprofit Masquerades as News Wire Service in Virginia

Thursday, July 12, 2012

If you're aware of them at all, you can't help but immediately notice the right-wing tilt and highly suspect funding of Virginia Statehouse News, but this great piece from Media Matters  highlights the conservative ideological nonprofit that's supporting organizations like this one and biasing their news coverage.
The Franklin Center is a multimillion-dollar organization whose websites and affiliates provide free statehouse reporting to local newspapers and other media across the country. Funded by major conservative donors, staffed by veterans of groups affiliated with the Koch brothers, and maintaining a regular presence hosting right-wing events, the organization boasts of its ability to fill the void created by state newsroom layoffs.The group's editors claim that their "professional journalism" work is walled off from the organization's more nakedly political operations and say that their "pro-taxpayer, pro-liberty, free market perspective" doesn't compromise their accuracy or independence. But many journalism professionals - even newspaper editors who reprint the work of Franklin Center affiliates in their own pages - speak warily of the group's ideological bent.
Unfortunately, more and more small-town newspapers, strapped for resources to cover stories themselves, are using sites like Statehouse News essentially as a wire service for their state capitol coverage. For instance, here in Virginia:
lowkell :: Right-wing Nonprofit Masquerades as News Wire Service in Virginia

Cort Kirkwood, managing editor of the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg, Virginia, said he uses the Franklin-affiliated Virginia Statehouse News because it is in the state capital and he cannot staff the legislative beat completely.For "a lot of these small papers around Virginia, it is very, very difficult to station someone down in Richmond for the entire session, it does require a substantial financial commitment," Kirkwood said.
This means, of course, that folks in small communities around Virginia are getting incredibly slanted coverage with no disclosure about the agenda of the organization. So where's the progressive pushback against the right wing's efforts at spreading misinformation and distortions around Virginia? Where's the funding for progressive outlets to report the truth, uncover the right wing's lies, etc? So far, mostly what I've been hearing is the quiet sound of crickets chirping. Major, major #FAIL!

ALEC Ties to Virginia Voter ID Law

by Elaine in Roanoke

The voter ID laws passed in Virginia and other states this year and designed to limit the right of citizens to vote, especially groups that traditionally vote Democratic, have a common origin, the now-notorious American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC. A task force of ALEC, the Public Safety and Elections Task Force, promoted a model law to limit voting through ID requirements. In Virginia, quite a few Republican legislators are a part of ALEC, including the ones who introduced the legislation.Republicans Dave Albo, Beverly Sherwood, and Ben Cline were all members of the Public Safety and Elections Task Force. However, the legislation that ultimately passed and was signed by Bob McDonnell (who also has ties to ALEC) was introduced in the General Assembly by two other members of ALEC, Del. Mark Cole of Fredericksburg (Education Task Force) and Sen, Steve Martin of Chesterfield (Health and Human Services Task Force, which Martin chairs).
Several groups have begun working to insure the right to vote for some groups of Americans, especially minorities, the elderly, and young adults. One such group, VoteRiders, a non-partisan and non-profit organization, has launched a nationwide program, "Take a Friend to the DMV," to help citizens get their voter IDs. The NAACP has also pledged to have a robust program to insure people's right to vote. Programs are needed most in state like Texas and Pennsylvania, where citizens can only vote if they have a government-issued photo ID, a document that requires a person to also present a birth certificate.
There's no question as to the motive behind the Pennsylvania law. The state Republican majority leader told a meeting of the Republican State Committee: "Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done."
In Virginia the law is far less draconian.
Elaine in Roanoke :: ALEC Ties to Virginia Voter ID Law
The Virginia law requires a person to present one of several forms of identification, including a Virginia Voter ID card, driver's license, Social Security card, government-issued ID, photo ID from a place of employment, utility bill, paycheck, bank statement, government check or current Virginia college ID. McDonnell also directed state registrars to mail out new voter ID cards to all registered voters. (I haven't received mine yet.)Our job in Virginia is to be sure people understand the types of ID they must present at the polls. It's hard to see how anyone could not have one of the acceptable forms of ID, but people need to be reminded over and over to bring documentation to the polls.

Allen's New TV Ad Stars Figure Tied to "Hate Groups," ALEC, Regent, Bush Era Corruption...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

{UPDATE April 25, 2013: James has endorsed Pete Snyder for Lt. Governor of Virginia}Wow, George Allen really outdid himself on this one. A few factoids on the star of his new ad, Kay Coles James, include:
*According to Sourcewatch, she's "listed as a 'scholar' for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)."
*ALEC, of course, is a corporate front group through which "corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line." For more on ALEC, see ALEC Exposed. Also, if you're in Arlington tomorrow evening, check out "Purchasing Democracy: The Role of ALEC in Writing Our Laws". Among other things, "ALEC promoted as one of its models the infamous 'Stand Your Ground' laws, which confer civil immunity on perpetrators who avoid arrest and prosecution under this law." In short, ALEC's as bad as it gets; no surprise that it's tied in closely with corporate stooge George Allen. And Kay Coles James, who stars in this ad for George Allen, is a "scholar" for ALEC. Ee gads.
*As Paul Krugman wrote in 2007, James was George W. Bush's "chief personnel officer from 2001 to 2005," during which time she used her "extensive connections to the religious right," including former "dean of Regent's government school," to hire "unqualified people" "seeking to impose a religious agenda," people such as Monica Goodling, "the former top aide to Alberto Gonzales who appears central to the scandal of the fired U.S. attorneys and has declared that she will take the Fifth rather than testify to Congress on the matter." James "then took a job with Mitchell Wade, the businessman who bribed Representative Randy 'Duke' Cunningham." Yep, it's as slimy as you can possibly get. Again, no wonder why she's in an ad for someone as unsavory as George "Felix Macacawitz" Allen.
*James worked for the virulently homophobic Family Research Councillabeled a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, along with groups like the KKK and the Nation of Islam.
*James also worked for "Focus on the Family," another organization SPLC labeled as a "hate group" for its vicious homophobia (e.g., "the homosexual agenda is a beast. It wants our kids.")
*In her book, What I Wish I'd Known Before I Got Married, James says that George Allen "shared my basic principles." She also opines on her belief that women "should not engage in sexual relations before marriage," among other things. I wonder if George Allen shares that "basic principle" with Kay Cole James, not to mention all the other "basic principles" James learned at Regent University, and that she practiced in the Bush Administration.
I'm sure there's a lot more out there about Ms. James, but I don't have all day to research her sordid doings over the years. If you're interested, I encourage you to use Google, and to share what you find in the comments section, or in your own diary here at Blue Virginia. Meanwhile, when you see her ad for George Allen on your TV screen, just keep in mind her ties to "hate groups," ALEC, Regent, corruption in the Bush administration, etc, etc. Also keep in mind what George Allen said in 2006, that "You can tell a lot about someone by those they keep company with." For once, I agree with "Felix."
UPDATE: The Richmond Times Dispatch reports, "As 1994 graduation speaker at Hampton University, her alma mater, James said the United States was 'experiencing cultural AIDS,' using the incurable disease of the immune system as a metaphor for widespread social ills." Blech.

Are We Better Off Than We Were 4 Years Ago? Let Us Count the Ways!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Gasoline Prices: Over $4 per gallon in June and July 2008; today about $3.40 per gallon. BETTER OFF
U.S. Crude Oil Production: Up 1 million barrels per day (bbl/d) from April 2008 (5.1 million bbl/d) to 6.1 million bbl/d in April 2012. BETTER OFF
Net Oil Imports: About 8.3 million bbl/d in in June 2012, waayyyy down from around 11.8 million bbl/d in July 2008.BETTER OFF
Natural Gas Production: Up sharply, to around 2 trillion cubic feet per month in early 2012, compared to about 1.6-1.7 trillion cubic feet per month in early 2008. BETTER OFF
Natural Gas Wellhead Price: Just $1.89 per thousand cubic feet in April 2012, compared to $8.87 per thousand cubic feet in April 2008 (and rising; it hit $10.79 in July 2008). BETTER OFF
Wind and Solar Power Production: Huge increases -- more than double - since 2008 for both wind and solar. And growing fast! BETTER OFF
Private Sector Jobs: Losing private sector jobs at more than 200,000 per month in the summer of 2008, accelerating to losses of more than 800,000 jobs per month in January 2009 (Bush's last month in office). Today, we've been gaining private sector jobs since April 2010. BETTER OFF
Stock Market:  2008 was "the third worst since the Dow was inaugurated in 1896," with the Dow down 33.8% (en route to a low of about 6,500). Today, the Dow has bounced almost all the way back to pre-collapse levels. BETTER OFF
Economic Growth: In July 2008, we were in the midst of the Great Recession, with GDP actually falling for the year. Today, we're in a recovery, albeit not fast enough (thanks Republicans for obstructing many measures that could have helped matters!), with GDP growth for 11 straight quarters. BETTER OFF
U.S. Housing Market: Housing prices "started to decline in 2006 and 2007," with "the Case-Shiller home price index report[ing] its largest price drop in its history" on December 30, 2008. Today, the U.S. housing market has stabilized and is slowly recovering from the burst "bubble." BETTER OFF
Health Care: In July 2008, your kids couldn't stay on your policy through the age of 26, the donut hole was wide open, pre-existing condition exclusions were alive and well, we still had to pay for many preventive services that are now free, and we were most definitely NOT on our way to providing all Americans with health care coverage. Today, that's all changed/changing for the better. BETTER OFF
Auto industry: In deep trouble in the summer of 2008, on the way towards disastrous bankruptcy (which Mitt Romney advocated, by the way). Today, the U.S. auto industry is thriving, profitable, creating jobs, etc. BETTER OFF
Osama bin Laden/Al Qaeda: Bin Laden and other key Al Qaeda leaders who were alive in July 2008 are no longer with us today. Today, as a result of relentless U.S. military and other actions against it under President Obama, Al Qaeda has been decimated. BETTER OFF
Iraq War: The war was ongoing, U.S. troops were still there, in July 2008. Today, the war's over and we're outta there. BETTER OFF
Anti-LGBT Discrimination: Don't Ask Don't Tell was alive and well in July 2008. Same-sex partners of federal employees did NOT receive key benefits that other employees got. The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act had NOT been signed into law. Etc., etc. Today, LGBT Americans are far better off than they were under Bush, Cheney et al. Not even close. BETTER OFFFeel free to add your "better off" items in the comments section below. Honestly, it's hard to think of any areas where we're worse off than we were 4 years ago, and in many of those cases, it's the result of Republican obstructionism and desire for President Obama to "fail."