Sierra Club Response to Romney RNC Speech

Friday, August 31, 2012

by Eileen Levandoski

(This quote alone - "President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. MY to help you and your family" - should automatically disqualify Romney from being elected to anything, let alone president. Simply appalling. - promoted by lowkell

In response to Mitt Romney's speech Thursday night at the Republican National Convention, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:"Mitt Romney's speech Thursday night marked an all-new low for the candidate. His comments added insult to injury for the millions of American families and businesses affected by devastating events like this summer's drought and Hurricane Isaac.  Make no mistake - we are witnessing the effects of the climate crisis today. Americans need bold action and solutions to mitigate the threats of climate disruption - not glib mockery and denial of the problem.
"Romney spoke of the need to keep energy jobs in America, but he failed to mention that he opposes vehicle fuel efficiency standards that have resurrected the American auto industry and put thousands of American workers back on the job. Despite paying lip service to renewables, Romney opposes the wind production tax credit and seems unconcerned about losing the 75,000 American jobs supported by the wind energy sector.
"If there were any doubts about Mitt Romney's allegiance to fossil fuel interests, they've now been erased."

Lindsey Graham: GOP Problem Is Not Enough "Angry White Guys"

It's refreshing when a leading Republican admits it for a change: their party is all about appealing to angry white men, stoking their anger (against all those"minororities", as Archie Bunker liked to say). The problem, as Graham points out, is that they're not generating enough "angry white men" to keep the Republicans a viable, national party much longer. such a shame.
On the other hand, take a look at Team Romney (on the "flip"). Does this look like America to you? Maybe if "America" is defined as "Father Knows Best/Mythical 1950s America with all the Black People Removed from the Picture"

Did Paul Ryan Give "The Most Dishonest Convention Speech ... Ever?"

Thursday, August 30, 2012

(UPDATE: The Washington Post Fact Checker demolishes Day #2 of the Republican Big Lie Fest. Bottom line: this whole thing is complete garbage; they're just pulling it out of their hindquarters, making it up out of whole cloth, whatever cliche you want to use. DO NOT LISTEN TO WHAT THESE PEOPLE SAY ABOUT ANYTHING! - promoted by lowkell)

With regard to the question in the headline, the short answer is: It sure looks like it. First, check out this video, which shows Ryan doing the classic Republican thang of blaming Democrats for problems - in this case the closing of a GM plant in his hometown in 2008, when George W. Bush was president - that occurred on THEIR WATCH. For more on that, seeRyan misleads on GM plant closing in hometown.As for Ryan's convention speech in general, check out the following links:
*The Most Dishonest Convention Speech ... Ever? ("At least five times, Ryan misrepresented the facts. And while none of the statements were new, the context was. It's one thing to hear them on a thirty-second television spot or even in a stump speech before a small crowd. It's something else entirely to hear them in prime time address, as a vice presidential nominee is accepting his party's nomination and speaking to the entire country.")
*Paul Ryan's brazen lies ("His Republican National Convention speech was stunning for its dishonesty")
*Top 5 Fibs In Paul Ryan's Convention Speech ("on the merits it was chock full of misstatements of fact that undermine his reputation for brave, big ideas - which has hastened his rise through the ranks of the GOP.")
*Paul Ryan Is the Newest New Nixon, a Moocher Belied ("he left truth far behind and soared into an attack on the current administration that was as fake as blue money, but that wasn't the really wonderfully Nixonian thing about it. It wasn't that Ryan was lying about his opponents. It was that he was able to level out with those big baby-blues, and drop his voice into that kindly voice straight out of the silent confessional, and tell you things that his entire record as a public figure have demonstrated that he does not believe for an instant.")
*The true, the false, and the misleading: grading Paul Ryan's convention speech.
lowkell :: Did Paul Ryan Give "The Most Dishonest Convention Speech ... Ever?"
*Mr. Ryan's misleading speech ("Emblematic of the liberties Mr. Ryan took was his depiction of the hometown auto plant whose shuttering he implicitly blamed on Mr. Obama - even though the plant closed before the president was inaugurated.")
*PolitiFact: "Did Barack Obama break a promise to keep GM plant open?" (Answer: FALSE)This could go on all day - not opinion, but hard, cold facts countering Paul Ryan's brazen lies, one after the other after the other. What astounds me, at this point, is not even political, as much as cultural: namely, what on earth happened to our country? I mean, there's always been nastiness in politics, of course, but that's NOT what we're talking about here. And there's always been exaggeration and dishonesty, but that's not even what we're talking about here. Instead, it's clear at this point that the Romney-Ryan campaign is just saying whatever, even if it bears absolutely no resemblance, not even the vaguest, to anything that could conceivably be considered "true." And the media, until recently - and even now, we get cowardly weasel words from the likes of Wolf Blitzer - has been terrified, or too stupid, or too incompetent, or all of the above, to call the Republicans out on what they're doing here. And no, it's not "both sides" engaging in a completely post-truth campaign.
To be fair, the Obama campaign - like every other campaign in human history - has exaggerated at times. But has it made stuff up out of whole cloth, pulled stuff out of their you-know-wheres, let alone centered their entire campaign on repeated, pathological lying? Not even close. As for Romney-Ryan, that's all they've got, apparently: discredited (by every independent fact checker who's looked at their statements), verifiable lies, huge ones, whoppers -- the racist  and utterly fallacious welfare ad, for instance; their flirtation with "birtherism;" their "Obama apologized for America" and is somehow anti-Israel (despite being praised by President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, etc, etc., for the tremendous military support flowing to Israel) bull****; their "you didn't build that" canard/slander; their lies about their plan to voucherize Medicare and their disastrous budget plan ; their lies about the economic situation (e.g., that Obama, who inherited an economy in freefall, is somehow responsible for what he inherited, but gets no credit for turning it around); ad nauseum.
My question, at this point, is really simple: is there ANYTHING truthful about the Romney-Ryan campaign? Anything at all? If so, what? Heck, Romney's real first name isn't even "Mitt," it's "Willard."  

Is Tom Perriello Being "groomed for statewide office" by the Obama camp?

post by Rick Sincere pointed out something interesting that got me thinking. The post is about President Obama's campaign appearance in Charlottesville yesterday. On stage with Obama was Tim Kaine, who's obviously a close political ally and is running for U.S. Senate (so that one makes complete sense. The other politician on stage with Obama was former Congressman (from the 5th CD) Tom Perriello. That one's more intriguing, or at least it is to Rick Sincere.
It's also possible that the Obama administration wants to boost Perriello's career...I think that Perriello is being groomed for statewide office, perhaps as early as 2013. He's a very attractive candidate in many ways: young, intelligent, talented, with a law degree and foreign-policy experience in war zones like Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. Regardless of what one thinks of his policy positions - and his votes for Obamacare and cap-and-trade likely doomed his re-election chances in 2010 - he would be a strong contender for lieutenant governor or attorney general next year, and for governor in 2017 or later. (Gen-Xer Perriello turns 40 years old in 2014.)
I suspect Perriello, as a lawyer, will first run for Attorney General. That job is being vacated by Ken Cuccinelli, who is seeking the GOP's gubernatorial nomination, and the Democratic nomination may be Perriello's to claim (although Delegate Mark Herring has also indicated interest in the post). And in Virginia, state Attorney General is virtually always a stepping-stone to running for Governor.
This speculation may, of course, be completely off base. But I doubt it. Just yesterday, the Times-Dispatch posted this article, in which Perriello points out that he's "young, so [he's] not making a definitive statement" about when and what he'll run for next.Also, if I know Tom at all - and I feel like I've gotten to know him pretty well the past 5 years - I definitely do NOT think that the political bug has been purged from his system. And for good reason: this guy's one of the most brilliant, articulate, and well-grounded/head-screwed-on-straight politicians out there (and no, that wasn't meant as a backhanded compliment). ;) (Also, with regard to the political bug, note that, despite his "day job" at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Tom's been traveling like a banshee all over the state for Democrats, meeting with various constituent groups, opening offices, speaking in support of Tim Kaine and Barack Obama, fundraising, etc.)

In a way, it's strange speculating like this about Tom Perriello, as he's not a typical politician in many ways. For instance, unlike the Mark Warners of the world - who apparently don't believe in much of anything, other than their own ambition - I firmly believe that Perriello, while of course being ambitious (what super-talented person isn't at least somewhat ambitious?), is truly a "conviction politician," someone who is driven to by his strong progressive faith tradition. This is a tradition that's an old (I'd argue that it started with Jesus himself) and powerful one. It's the tradition that says we are all our brothers' and sisters' keepers; that our duty is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger into our land, heal the world. That's the faith tradition I was raised in (as a Jew), and that's the faith tradition I believe Tom Perriello is deeply rooted in as well (as a Roman Catholic).Still, like the rest of us, Tom lives in the real world, and is a real politician, so that brings us to real-world political considerations and speculation. Such as: the question Rick Sincere raised, whether Tom Perriello is being groomed by Camp Obama for future office, and if so, for which office and when?
In addition to the possibilities Rick Sincere raises, such as a run for AG in 2013 (note to Rick: Mark Herring's a Senator not a Delegate, and Mike Signer's running as well; Ward Armstrong's name keeps getting floated around as well), here are several others I've thought of and/or heard bandied about.
1. He's being groomed not to run in 2013, but potentially to be appointed by Mark Warner to Warner's vacated Senate seat. Why would Warner's seat be vacated, you ask? In this scenario, it would be after Warner runs for governor in 2013 and crushes Ken Cuccinelli, then is sworn in once again as "his excellency" in January 2013. The only problem with this scenario is that I've also heard, pretty convincingly, that Warner's definitely NOT running for governor in 2013, which means that Terry McAuliffe WILL be the Democratic nominee, barring some really weird development.
2. He's being positioned to run for U.S. Senate in 2014, when Mark Warner's first term expires. Of course, this would assume that Warner vacates the seat. Why would Warner do that? Perhaps to run for president in 2016, which lots of people assume Warner wants to do?
3. Perriello could certainly wait until 2017 to run for AG (or governor), given that - as he himself points out - he's young. That would certainly be consistent with him being "groomed," although 2017 is pretty far into the future, and I'm not sure why running around Virginia in 2012 would particularly help Tom 5 years from now.
4. One final thought: perhaps Perriello would be up for a top Obama administration post next year? Although for that, I'm not sure why he needs to be dashing around Virginia this year, other than the highly important reason of helping elect Obama and Kaine. What I guess I don't understand, though, is why Tom - as much as I love the guy! - would be considered a political asset by the Obama (or Kaine) campaigns outside the 5th CD, as his name ID is very low in most parts of Virginia, according to all the polling I've seen.
Anyway, that's enough idle speculation for one day. Maybe all this is total nonsense. Maybe we )(the author and the readers) all really need to get lives. ;) Or maybe, some of us are just weird political junkie types and can't help ourselves from playing "Fantasy Virginia Politics?" How about you, any interest in playing along?

President Obama speaks to a cheering crowd of 7,500 in Charlottesville

by Pontoon

Last night, I watched the Republican National Convention and thought to myself, "Is there an African-American, Latino, Asian or, for that matter, any minority in this audience? It has to be a 99% white." Should I be surprised by that fact?  No. But it is still startling to realize how small the constituency of the Republican Party has become. They have alienated immigrants, and African Americans, and gays, and women. There aren't too many more groups to alienate.I was excited to have tickets to the Obama Rally in Charlottesville today.  My 15 year-old son, his friend Zach and I headed off to Charlottesville at 10:30 this morning for a projected 3:00 pm speech by the President.  One of the first things I noticed was the make up of the crowd.  There is no question that the President has the support of many, many people from all walks of life....young, old, white, black, Latino, Asian.   It was an audience filled with diversity, but more than diversity, the audience was friendly, humble and helpful.
We went early enough and were therefore lucky enough to be on the front row with two other Dems from Nelson.  I said to the boys, "You are going to shake the President's hand today."  Of course, they looked at me as though I had two heads and had lost my mind.  We talked to our neighbors, listened, danced to the music and had a great experience.  When someone needed help, folks surrounding them responded.  If someone was walking with a cane, folks created a path, offered an arm.

Day #1 of GOP Convention: "Four Pinocchios" False According to Independent Fact Checker

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Of course, Republicans will immediately reject the Washington Post fact checker's findings that Day #1 of their convention was "Four Pinocchios" false. Why will they reject it? Not because the fact checker, Glenn Kessler, got it wrong, that's for sure. Here are the two Big Lies from last night, with a few of Kessler's comments.1. The utterly fallacious "you didn't built that" line of attack. Kessler asks, "Can an entire convention be built around a grammatical error?" It's a good question, because that's exactly what this is: total distortion, taken to the nth degree, of what Obama was actually saying. As Kessler explains it, Obama was "making the unremarkable point that companies and entrepreneurs often benefit in some way from taxpayer support for roads, education and so forth...trying to make the case for higher taxes, and for why he believes the rich should pay more, which as we noted is part of a long Democratic tradition."
2. The "President Obama waived the work requirement for welfare" Big Lie line of attack (it's also despicable for another reason, namely that it's taken from the Lee Atwater/Jesse Helms "southern strategy", appealing to/stoking racial resentment).According to Kessler, this one's "a gross simplification of a complex issue," with "PolitiFact awarding the claim 'Pants on Fire' and FactCheck.Org also saying it was incorrect." In addition, I'd point out that welfare wasn't even in the top 10 (20?) issues anyone cared about, prior to millions of dollars of these disgusting, pandering-to-racism ads going up on TV. So why are Republicans spending those tens of millions of dollars on this? Ezra Klein explains that one ("Race and the 2012 election") extremely well.
And that's pretty much the GOP convention recap for last night: two attacks on Obama, both utterly fallacious according to every independent fact checker who's looked at them, one of them at the minimum appealing to racial resentment. I mean, can you get any more appalling than this? Oh yeah, I almost forgot Todd Akin, Paul Ryan's plan to voucherize Medicare, Mitt Romney's comments about wanting the U.S. auto industry to go bankrupt, etc., etc. Unfortunately, that's today's Republican Party - most definitely NOT the party I joined as a Teenage Republican back in the late 1970s in Connecticut, back when the party was dominated by moderates and even progressives, people like...George Romney, just to pick one randomly. Heh.
By the way, Kessler also notes that Republicans themselves have cited the same exact fact checkers when it suits their interests, so take their predictable, automatic, kneejerk rejection of Kessler's finding that Day #1 of the GOP convention was based on two "Four Pinocchios" lies with a huge grain of salt.
P.S. Check out the exclusive video, above, from behind the scenes at the GOP convention last night. Fascinating, huh? :)

Virginia Consumers Fleeced by Peabody's Expensive, Dirty Coal Power

by TheGreenMiles

Prairie State Energy CampusSome Virginia communities like Danville bought into Peabody Energy's promise of cheap coal-fired power - and now as the project's pricetag balloons to $5 billion they're paying for it big time:
Coal giant Peabody Energy promoted the controversial Prairie State Energy Campus to public officials in Virginia and seven other states as a cheap, long-term source of "clean coal" power.But a new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) charges that the troubled coal-fired power plant and coal mine operation will end up costing cities and towns in Virginia up to 100 percent more for that power than what was promised.
The Prairie State Energy Campus is a 1,600-megawatt, coal-fired electrical power station and coal mine under construction near Marissa, Illinois, less than 50 miles from St. Louis. About 95 percent of the project is being financed by more than 200 local government units in eight states: Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and West Virginia.
"Clean coal" was always a myth and its death sealed the coal industry's fate. But just as it was with tobacco, Virginia remains filled with apologists who know it's easier to say what people want to hear and cash industry checks than to speak the truth. And Democrats like Tim Kaine and Mark Warner are just as much a part of the problem as Republicans - they may vote the right way sometimes, but their pro-industry rhetoric supports the bipartisan smokescreen that hides the truth that cigarettes cause cancer coal-fired power plants are deadly, expensive, and outdated.

Notes from the President's C'ville Rally: "It all depends on you"

President Obama brought his college town mini-tour to Charlottesville this afternoon. He was in fine form speaking to a fired-up crowd of about 8,000 at the nTelos Pavillion on the Downtown Mall.According to local weekly The Hook, the line to get into today's rally was longer than the Downtown Mall itself, which runs for 10-12 city blocks.
I'm not here to write a news story for Blue Virginia covering the rally. There will be plenty of newspaper articles that will do that. But I did want to present a few highlights and takeaways of the rally for me, and, of course, provide some pictures.
Main Takeaway: "It all depends on you"
These days, it is easy to become discouraged with politics. Mitt Romney is running the most despicable, racist, dishonest campaign in modern American history.  It is a campaign fueled by hatred and fear. It is the kind of campaign I would expect from a fringe candidate, not from the nominee of a major political party.
Even worse, it is a campaign that is secure in the knowledge that the national political press in this country will, with a few lonely exceptions here and there, likely prove either incapable of or unwilling to challenge its lies and the immoral underpinnings implicit in its strategy.
In the face of this, it is easy to become cynical and lose hope.
Today, President Obama reminded me that this is what Mitt Romney is counting on. That is his strategy. If he cannot win your vote, he wants to make you fed up with the entire system so that you don't vote at all.
For America to be the country we want it to be, a country of true freedom, a country where people are free to control their own health care decisions, where people are free to choose whom they will love, where people know that when they hit hard times their fellow citizens will look out for them - if we want THAT country, we're going to have to fight for it.
(more on the flip)

Rep. Scott Rigell (R) Says Ryan Budget "indefensible mathematically;" We Need to Raise Revenues

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I can't say I ever thought I'd hear the following from a Republican politician, let alone one running for reelection on the same ticket as: 1) Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, both of whom have called for massive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans while defunding the government; and 2) George Allen, who is basically in line with Ryan's budget blueprint -- tax cuts for the rich, starve the government and drown it in the bathtub. Yet here's Rep. Scott Rigell (R-2nd district VA), basically agreeing with everything we've been saying here at Blue Virginia for a long time now, and strongly disagreeing with Romney, Ryan and Allen.1. Rigell pointed out, as we have many times, that "federal revenues are at an 11-year average of 16.9 percent of GDP, which he said was the lowest level since 1959." Actually, as far as I can determine from government statistics, we're currently closer to 15.8 percent of GDP (e.g., LOWER under Obama than under Bush, because Obama HAS CUT TAXES. Let me repeat: OBAMA HAS CUT TAXES). That means we're actually at the lowest levels in terms of federal revenues since 1950, not 1959, but Rigell's basically correct if you look at the 11-year average (not sure why he does that, though).
2. Rigell "said federal spending stands between 23 percent and 24 percent of GDP." That's also approximately correct, based on government statistics. Is this high historically? Not particularly. For instance, federal spending as a percent of GDP was at about 23 percent for much of Republican demigod Ronald Reagan's presidency.
3. The gap between federal revenues, which are at a 62-year low, and federal spending, which is similar to what Reagan spent (as a share of GDP) in the mid 1980s, is huge; hence, the big deficits. Thank you, Bush tax cuts and Republican Great Recession!
4. As for the Ryan plan, it would make matters much, MUCH worse. According to Rep. Rigell, "the Ryan budget plan, which he has voted for, is 'indefensible mathematically' without 'revenue enhancements.'" I'm almost tempted to say "No s*** Sherlock," except that there are tens of millions of Faux "News" zombies out there - not to mention almost everybody attending the Teapublican Convention in the taxpayer-funded arena in Tampa - who actually believe that we can have massive NEW tax cuts, balance the budget, and not have disastrous cuts to Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, and every other federal program (so much for homeland security, education, roads and bridges, technological R&D, environmental protection, the national parks, you name it).
Of course, the question that jumps out at me here is why Rigell is talking truth and making sense - not to mention totally undercutting the positions of Romney, Ryan, Allen, etc. - during a heated political campaign, but when he's in Washington, DC, he votes completely opposite to all that? For instance, as a spokeperson for Rigell's Democratic challenger (Paul Hirschbiel) says, "You can't say you are serious about a bipartisan approach when you have voted seven times to protect subsidies for big oil companies."
So what's the deal, Rep. Rigell? Are you just pretending to be sane, reasonable, moderate, etc. for your tough reelection campaign, or is this a real conversion on the road to...ruin?  Bottom line: actions speak louder than words, and we'll all believe it when we see it. For now, extreme skepticism to Rigell's burts of sanity appears to be the wise approach.

Four Ways Climate Reality Looms Over the GOP Convention

by TheGreenMiles

Edges of IsaacWith reality denial dominating the Republican Party platform, how will Republican National Convention delegates reconcile that the start of their 2012 gathering in Tampa was delayed by climate-fueled extreme weather?First, let's be clear: It's Big Oil-funded GOP leadership that's the problem, not rank-and-file Republicans. While virtually every Republican member of Congress and national party leader rejects climate science, 43% of rank-and-file Republicans see "solid evidence of global warming" according to the Pew Research Center.
Dig a little deeper and those numbers should be even more eye-catching for GOP leadership.  
TheGreenMiles :: Four Ways Climate Reality Looms Over the GOP Convention
Among moderate Republicans, 63% see evidence our climate is changing. And what about Republicans who say they still haven't made up their minds in the presidential race? Cooperative Campaign Analysis Project polling shows they're only half as likely to deny the scientific reality of global warmingas Republicans on the whole. Polls show Republican voters support solutions, from a revenue-neutral carbon tax to giving Americans more low-carbon transit options.But Mitt Romney's website doesn't even mention climate change. While Romney himself once advocated for clean energy & carbon pollution cuts, he now rejects climate science. Romney's energy plan unveiled last week contains mostly giveaways to the oil industry and polls show it hasn't helped him with voters- no surprise considering Big Oil remains the most hated industry in America by a wide margin.
At a time when global warming & extreme weather are dominating the headlines, Republican Party leadership is increasingly step with the American mainstream:
  1. Isaac bears down on the Gulf Coast. The Republican Party was forced to cancel the convention's first day in Tampa as Isaac sent tropical storm warnings up along the Gulf Coast. Isaac is now forecast to make landfall as a hurricane near New Orleans late Tuesday. Global warming is making storms more intense by adding the fuel of warmer air & water to their fire, while rising sea levels raise the launching pad for storm surges. 
  2. Bracing for a storm surge at the pump. The threat of Isaac is already shutting down oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, threatening to raise gas prices. It's one of many ways that global warming threatens America's energy infrastructure, and a problem that won't be solved by relying more on offshore oil drilling.
  3. Arctic Sea ice melt scorches previous record. This summer's Arctic Sea ice has already receded past the previous record - and there are still weeks of melting time to go. That's bad news for the polar bears and other wildlife who depend on sea ice for survival. There's also increasing evidence that a warming Arctic means more weird weather here in America.
  4. America's sweltering summer. This year has been the hottest on record in the United States, with July 2012 going into the record books asAmerica's hottest month ever. Globally, 2012 has been the 10th-hottest on record, nearly 1 degree F above the 20th-century average. That it's only 10th speaks to how much & how quickly our climate is changing - up until 1998, 2012 would've been the hottest year on record.
From a strictly political perspective, here's the real problem for Republicans: Advocating inaction isn't just stupid, it makes Republicans look weak. Reasonable people can disagree on the best way to respond to climate change, but who gets excited about a candidate who denies we have a problem and bad mouths America's ability to solve it? Mitt Romney's clean energy opposition is already costing him votes in farm states that have seen the economic windfall that harvesting clean energy can bring.Cross-posted from

Warner Being Warner: Pandering, False Equivalence.

by KathyinBlacksburg

Please take a look at Mark Warner being Warner in a way that is just so hurtful to Dems this year.  Says he:
I think it's going to  be very close.  I know he's got problems in SW Virginia He's doing better in Eastern and Northern Virginia.And I'll tell you this much, I'm supporting President Obama, but I also am awful tired of all the negative ads. I wish we wouldn't be spending  2 billion dollars on tv tearing each other down. That money could be used for interstate 81 and scholarships.  Hopefully, we'll get through this election like we've gotten through all the others and get back to solving our country's problems, especially the debt and deficit.
He just cannot seem to help himself.  He can't endorse the president without trying to distance himself at the same time. He can't talk about health care reform without saying there's a lot that needs to be fixed (in the Affordable Care Act).
His effort to create out of nothing a false equivalence between the two parties regarding negative ads is appalling. The GOP lie machine spins the lies faster than we can rebut them. But Warner pretends both parties are doing it. He also implies that it's "negative" to refute a pile of lies. I call it necessary. And there is nothing wrong with that. Such a false equivalence is cowardly, shameful, and self-serving. Lying down and playing dead will not work. And putting up only "positive" ads won't work either.
Along the way, Warner panders to Bristol Motor Speedway fans, coal, enemies of "ObamaCare," and Peter Peterson's "deficit" hawkeroos. (Hawkeroos are two-faced show-offs who like to prattle away at how spending conscious they are. But they won't make the rich pay their fair share. No, sir.)
What is really disconcerting is his self-adulating self-absorption. He is posturing every minute. Warner's myth of the "radical center" is really all about such posturing and it's also about trying to reinvent as virtuous all those things he doesn't stand for, but should, like enabling the EPA to keep our air and water clean. Or helping the 99% as opposed to the wealthy who don't need more tax cuts. It is as if he's out there saying, "Look at me.  I'm better than all of you. I am especially better than President Obama." (No, you are not, Mark.)

Additionally, in this video, he throws a bone to Medicare supporters, never mind that, because he supports a variation of the Simpson-Bowles budget, he has, through his earlier proposal, in mind to wreck havoc on Social Security, rendering it a program primarily for the poor and leaving the Middle Class high and dry.I'm glad for his support of Medicare and that he doesn't plan to privatize Medicare.  But that's not enough. Far from it. Much earlier (than this video) his Gang of Six "plan," while raising some revenue still follows the absurd (at this point) tax-cut notion of "fixing" the economy by reducing revenue. Worst, by targeting Social Security, he pretends that Social Security has something to do with the deficit. He knows it does not. What he won't tell you is pols have borrowed from us seniors and they do not want to pay it back. Not to is theft from the American people (all of them, not just today's seniors.) All he needs to do leave the future fix to Social Security out of the 'deficit reduction effort.  Recommend that separately the ceiling on FICA taxes be removed. That alone would fix it. But, no....
Warner has been a crusader for conservative financial ideology, ignoring that serious deficit reduction in the coming year or two would push us into a greater recession. He also won't admit that stopping the Bush tax cuts would go a long way to fixing our deficit problems. So would scrubbing programs our military doesn't even want.
BTW, Mark knows that the money spent on the ads cannot literally be diverted to fix I81.  And no doubt he'd be spending lots of money on ads himself were he to run. He is so running in 2016. Even in a year when President Obama's race is far, far more important than his prospects some future year, he can't help but dig into the President.  

Top 10 Logical Fallacies of the Romney Campaign

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Take a look through this list of "informal fallacies" -- logical flaws based on arguments whose stated premises fail to support their proposed conclusion. As you can see, there are a lot of them, ranging from the classic "slippery slope" argument; to various appeals to emotion (fear, ridicule, etc.); to ad hominem attacks; to arguments based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position; to one of my favorites, "post hoc ergo propter hoc" ("after this, therefore because of this"). On and on they go, and where they stop...actually, that would be at the Romney campaign and its corporate and right-wingnut allies, where they have poured tends of millions of dollars into a campaign based almost completely on various logical fallacies. It's really endless, but for now, here are my Top 10, with a quick example for each.1. Fallacy of quoting out of context. "You didn't built THAT" is the best example of this logical fallacy I've seen in many years. Of course, what President Obama was referring to was that one individual, or even several individuals, didn't build - indeed, couldn't possibly build - the U.S. education system, our roads and bridges and railroads, our military, our first responder systems, our power grids, our financial system, etc, etc. In the "you didn't build that" case, Obama's meaning was 100% obvious from the context of what he was saying, and only a willful quoting out of context could possibly twist it into anything else. Romney et al. managed to do it, though. Ugh.
2. Appeal to fear ("a specific type of appeal to emotion where an argument is made by increasing fear and prejudice towards the opposing side"). I probably should have put this one first, because it's been behind many if not most Romney and Republican attacks on President Obama since 2008. Thus, somehow a guy who's essentially a Dwight Eisenhower Republican in many ways is transformed into a "socialist," "communist," "Kenyan anti-colonialist," "redistributionist," "Muslim" (as if there's something wrong with that anyway), blah blah blah. Yes, it's all a disgusting appeal to the worst angels of our natures (fear, ignorance, bigotry, etc.), but Republicans are masters at this, and have been for years (remember the "Southern Strategy?" Lee Atwater? Jesse Helms? Willie Horton ads? Swift Boating?). And it tends to work.
lowkell :: Top 10 Logical Fallacies of the Romney Campaign
3. Wishful thinking ("a specific type of appeal to emotion where a decision is made according to what might be pleasing to imagine, rather than according to evidence or reason"). This is another classic of Republicans, and certainly the Romney campaign. For instance, they claim that if we just remove "burdensome regulations" (there's zero evidence that this supposed "burden" has increased under President Obama, of course) and cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans ("supply side"/"trickle down" economics), then happy days will be here again. There's no evidence for any of this, of course, and tons of evidence against it, but in Republican la-la land, wishing apparently DOES make it so. In their own minds, that is.4. Post hoc ergo propter hoc ("after this, therefore because of this"). There are many examples of this, but perhaps the biggest one used by Romney and Company is that the economy's not very good right now, ergo the guy currently sitting in the White House is not just to blame, but apparently 100% to blame. This one is so absurd it should just be laughed at. In reality, the recession started in December 2007, over a year before Barack Obama took office. Also, the Wall Street and housing bubble busts occurred...wait for it...yes, when George W. Bush, NOT Barack Obama, was president. And, of course, the U.S. economy has added private sector jobs for 29 straight months now, compared to losses of around 800,000 a month towards the end of the Bush presidency, with the unemployment rate down almost 2 percentage points from its peak (a few months after Obama took office; remember, it takes time to turn a gigantic supertanker like the U.S. economy around; Romney himself basically argued this). Yet, somehow, Republicans twist this all to say "the economy's bad, ergo the guy currently sitting in the White House is 100% responsible for causing it." Crazy, yet when people are hurting, they sometimes are willing to believe things that make no sense whatsoever.
5. Thought-terminating cliché ("a commonly used phrase, sometimes passing as folk wisdom, used to quell cognitive dissonance, conceal lack of thought, [provide] entertainment, move onto other topics etc. but in any case, end the debate with a cliche-not a point"). This sums up a great deal of the Romney campaign, and Republican campaigns more broadly. Who even knows what they're talking about much of the time, but they love couching it as what "the American people want," or "common sense," or just meaningless/embarrassing drivel (e.g., Romney blathering about how in Michigan, the trees are the right height).
6. Argumentum ad populum ("where a proposition is claimed to be true or good solely because many people believe it to be so"). Closely related to fallacy #5, whenever you hear a Republican use phrases like "the American people believe" or "what the American people want," it's almost certain that this is a) not the case; and b) not a real argument for why a proposition is true or good.
7. Slippery slope ("asserting that a relatively small first step inevitably leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant impact"). Another classic non-argument by Republicans, in which they claim, for instance, that an idea - let's say the "individual mandate" or "cap and trade," both of which originated with and were promoted (for many years) by conservative Republicans - will inevitably lead to ruination, socialism (like in EVIL Canada or England!), "a government takeover of [fill in the blank]," blah blah blah. Just remember: they ALWAYS say this crap, and it's NEVER true.
8. Straw man ("an argument based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position"). Very similar to #1 ("Fallacy of quoting out of context", but broader and more insidious. For instance, Romney has claimed that Obama has "apologized" for America (yeah, tell that to Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, and others on the receiving end of U.S. drone attacks), or that somehow "Obamacare," which is essentially identical to Republican health care proposals including "Romneycare," is an indication of Obama's desire that the U.S. health care industry be "taken over" by the government, yadda yadda. If only this straw man had a brain!
9. Appeal to wealth ("supporting a conclusion because the arguer is wealthy...or refuting because the arguer is poor"). Another classic Romney/Republican argument, which can be summed up as "I'm rich, therefore I deserved it due to my hard work, ingenuity, etc. (forget about that huge inheritance and all the other advantages that were handed to me on a silver platter); you're poor, therefore you deserved it because you're lazy, shiftless, etc."
10. (shifting the) Burden of proof..."I need not prove my claim, you must prove it is false". The Republicans have thrown the kitchen sink of outrageous and utterly false accusations - he wasn't really born in Hawaii, he really "palled around with terrorist," he's really a commie/pinko in disguise, he really hates America, he's not really a Christian as he claims he is, etc., etc. - against Barack Obama, and basically arguing that he's the one who must prove them false. Yes, it's completely crazy, but there's a method to their madness: namely, that a lie, if repeated often enough (e.g., in ads funded by tens of millions in right-wing billionaires' money), can start to be believed.

Why Virginia Lags on Solar

by Ivy Main

Sunflower Solar PV InstallationSolar energy is one of the fastest-growing industries in the country. Solar PV installations grew 109% in 2011, and the industry now employs over 100,000 Americans. Yet it is almost invisible in Virginia. The installed total in the commonwealth is about 5 megawatts (MW), a pittance compared to the 1,200 MW in California and over 800 in New Jersey. Maryland and North Carolina each have more than ten times as much solar PV as we do.Part of the reason is our lack of incentives. Unlike many other states in the northeast and mid-Atlantic, Virginia offers no tax credits or rebates on solar systems to supplement the federal tax credit. And our voluntary renewable portfolio standard is so flabby that our utilities will never need solar to meet it.
Virginia also isn't known for getting out ahead of the curve on energy. Instead of embracing the promise of clean power, the state clings to an old energy model dominated by fossil fuels. Just this year, the General Assembly renewed a subsidy that takes about $45 million every year out of the pockets of taxpayers to support coal mining.
But as a recent article in the New York Times Magazine described, the future has come knocking.  
ivymain :: Why Virginia Lags on Solar
With the price of solar energy tumbling, solar now makes economic sense across much of the country. New financing models make it possible to install solar with no upfront capital cost to the customer, who may see immediate savings over grid-delivered "brown" energy.Among these new models, leases have become especially popular for homeowners and businesses, but only power purchase agreements (PPAs) allow non-profits to take advantage of tax credits. Under a PPA, the solar installer retains ownership of the solar system and uses the tax credits to offset profits, passing along the savings as it sells the power to the nonprofit.
PPAs could permit the solar market in Virginia to blossom in a big way. Colleges and universities, private schools, churches, charities and local governments are now looking at solar systems as a way to meet carbon-reduction targets and reduce energy costs over the long haul.
Unfortunately, this new enthusiasm has run headlong into the immovable force known as Dominion Power. Dominion blocked a PPA at Washington & Lee University last fall, and its threat of legal action has kept other non-profits from moving forward with plans for solar installations.
Dominion is a regulated monopoly in Virginia, a status that gives it the sole right to sell power in its territory, with a few exceptions. One of the exceptions gives sellers of 100% renewable electricity the right to sell to Dominion's customers if the company itself doesn't offer that option-which, indisputably, it does not. (Its Green Power Program relies on certificates, not actual green electricity.)
So Dominion's interpretation of the statute appears to be wrong on its face, but one of the nice things about being a giant monopoly is that you have more lawyers and more money than the people you threaten.
Unable to fund a lawsuit, the solar industry tried last year to get relief from the General Assembly in the form of HB 129, a bill that would have made explicit the right of renewable energy companies to sell power to their customers through PPAs. Delegate Jerry Kilgore (R-Gate City) shepherded the bill through the House, where it passed without a single dissenting vote. Once in the Senate, though, it was "carried over" (effectively, killed) by a Senate committee stacked with Dominion allies like Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) and Chairman John Watkins (R-Midlothian).
Quick quiz, but not a toughie: according to the Virginia Public Access Project, who is the top donor to the campaign chests of Dick Saslaw and John Watkins?
The failure of HB 129 leaves a lot of would-be solar and wind customers in limbo, keeps Virginia companies from growing and adding jobs, and prevents churches, colleges and universities from benefiting from the federal tax credits that are available to residents of other states where PPAs are common.
It has also given Dominion a black eye with the public and local officials. Critics say the heavy-handed effort to squash small solar companies shows the utility giant has grown overly complacent about its status as the most powerful force in Richmond.
Dominion should back down from its unreasonable opposition to PPAs. It has little to lose by allowing private companies the space to compete and innovate in a market Dominion itself doesn't serve. And if it won't back off, then the public needs to remind its legislators who they serve. Hint: it's not supposed to be Dominion.

Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, Paul "Akin's BFF" Ryan, and the GOP Platform All Wage the War on Women

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

If you think that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin's comments about their being "legitimate" rape, and that womens' bodies have some sort of magical powers to prevent themselves from getting pregnant when raped, were just some sort of wild aberrations, exclusive to him but having nothing to do with others in the Republican Party, well think again. In fact, it turns out that presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan (pictured at righ with Todd Akin), has worked with Akin (andnumerous Virginia Republicans) for years on measures restricting a woman's right to make her own reproductive decisions. In addition, the Republican Party's 2012 platform - the one that Romney and Ryan will be running on - is about as hostile to women's reproductive freedom and women's reproductive health as it can possibly be. You want details? Well, you've come to the right place, cuz boy do I have details!1. Romney and Ryan have both supported banning abortion in all instances and Ryan even tried to narrow the definition of rape ("to cases of 'forcible rape' and, for incest, cases involving minors").
1a. More on #1 here.
2. Mitt Romney touted the endorsement of Dr. Jack C. Willke in 2007 - the same doctor behind Akin's original claim that women can't get pregnant from "legitimate" rape.
3. Ryan and Akin wrote a letter  asking Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to withdraw from all future cases having to do with abortion because of her affiliation with the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund.
4. Ryan and Akin cosponsored legislation called the "Sanctity of Human Life Act," defining life as beginning at conception, thus effectively outlawing abortion (including in cases of rape and incest), as well as embryonic stem cell research and many types of contraception.
5. Ryan and Akin cosponsored legislation to amend title X of the Public Health Service Act to "prohibit family planning grants from being awarded to any entity that performs abortions."
6. Akin praised Ryan's selection as Romney's running mate as "a fantastic choice."
7. The 2012 Republican Party platform "is once again set to enshrine into its official platform support for 'a human life amendment' to the Constitution that would outlaw abortion without making explicit exemptions for rape or incest, according to draft language of the platform obtained exclusively by CNN late Monday." The question, of course, is whether Romney and Ryan will demand that their party's platform explicitly include exceptions for rape and incest, or will they go merrily along with the Republican War on Women, as enshrined in their party's official platform? This should be fascinating.
Meanwhile, although Romney and Ryan have said they find Todd Akin's remarks about "legitimate rape" to be objectionable, what they have NOT said is that they find his entire worldview when it comes to women's reproductive freedom to be objectionable, or in fact that they disagree with it in any way. Again, though, given that Paul Ryan cosponsored numerous, draconian - not to mention extreme! - pieces of legislation with Akin on this issue, it's going to be pretty hard, barring outright lies (but they would NEVER do THAT, right? heh), to put any serious daylight between Akin and them on this issue. Meanwhile, the Republican Party continues to wage a relentless war on women's health and reproductive freedom, while pretending they're not doing so (and, in fact, expressing outrage - OUTRAGE I tell you! - that anyone would even suggest such a thing; can we say "doth protest too much?").

Virginia to Communities on Climate-Fueled Sea Level Rise: You're on Your Own

by The Green Miles

Bubba's Seafood Restaurant - Flooded in the Great Nov 09 Nor-easter_2009_1112Whether you're anti-science crusader Ken Cuccinelli, solution-rejecting Bob McDonnell, or any of Virginia's "centrist" Democrats who know global warming means we're screwed but remain too cowardly to advocate aggressive action, aside from a couple of dozen lonely progressive voices, Richmond is united in telling climate change to go away. Lo and behold, climate change has stubbornly refused to stop accelerating, and nowcommunities like Norfolk are struggling to deal with climate impacts with no help from the state:
City and county leaders, already burdened with typical tasks of local governance  - zoning, construction permits, liquor licenses, school board appointments - are also weighing multi-million-dollar flood control projects to keep the ocean at a livable distance.While they struggle to pull together know-how and funding, those with the broader view and resources - state agencies - are absent from the discussions: In a study released earlier this year, the Natural Resources Defense Council ranked Virginia as one of 29 states that were "largely unprepared and lagging behind" on planning for climate change at the state level.
In many ways the problem is already upon Norfolk. The Atlantic Ocean off Virginia's coast is rising a quarter of an inch annually, equivalent to two feet in 100 years - faster than anywhere else in the United States except for coastal Louisiana. The ocean at Sewells Point, site of the Norfolk Naval Station, rose 14.5 inches between 1930 and 2010. And that's likely to accelerate. Last month the U.S. Geological Survey reported that sea levels are rising more quickly along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Massachusetts than globally, possibly as a result of slowing Atlantic Ocean circulation patterns.
The inaction of Virginia's elected officials is actually hurting the state twice - not just paying the price of climate inaction through extreme weather and sea level rise, but hurting Virginia's economy by losing out on clean energy jobs. But hey, who has time to confront looming disaster when there's women's bodies that need regulating, amirite?

Virginia Republicans Join Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin and Paul Ryan in War on Women Legislation

Monday, August 20, 2012

To anyone who seriously thinks that Republicans aren't waging a war against women's rights, and women in general, first of all what are you smoking exactly? Second, I encourage you to watch this video, of theocratic nutjob Todd Akin, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Virginia, as he drags his knuckles on the ground, drools, and rants about how supposedly in a "legitimate rape," the "female body" will "shut down that whole thing." Third, for anyone who thinks that was just a "gaffe," I encourage you to review Akin's legislative history, including the short list of anti-abortion and anti-contraception bills listed below. Note that numerous Virginia Republicans have signed on as cosponsors of "personhood" and other heinously anti-women legislation with this Akin freakazoid. Also note that the first piece of legislation listed, the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," uses the phrase "forcible rape," apparently to distinguish it from...non-forcible rape?" Well, alrighty then. Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, THIS is today's Republican Party, as much as Republicans may try to deny it. More evidence: the Republican VP nominee, Paul Ryan, is a cosponsor on several of the following, including the "Sanctity of Human Life Act" and the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." Any further questions?No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act: Note that this legislation uses the phrase "forcible rape". Also note that there were 227 cosponsors, including (in addition to Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin) the following anti-women warriors from Virginia: Eric Can'tor, Randy Forbes, Bob Goodlatte, Morgan Griffith, Robert Hurt, Scott Rigell, Robert Wittman, and Frank Wolf.
Sanctity of Human Life Act ("Declares that: (1) the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human and is the person's paramount and most fundamental right; (2) each human life begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, at which time every human has all legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood; and (3) Congress, each state, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories have the authority to protect all human lives."). This bill would effectively outlaw all abortions, as well as embryonic stem cell research and many forms of contraception. In addition to Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, Virginia anti-women warriors who cosponsored this bill include Randy Forbes and Rob Wittman.
Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act ("Amends the Public Health Service Act to prohibit the Secretary of Health and Human Service (HHS) from providing any federal family planning assistance to an entity unless the entity certifies that, during the period of such assistance, the entity will not perform, and will not provide any funds to any other entity that performs, an abortion."). In addition to Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, Virginia cosponsors on this heinous piece of anti-women legislation include Randy Forbes, Bob Goodlatte, Robert Hurt, Scott Rigell, and Rob Wittman.
Protect Life Act ("prohibit[s] federal funds from being to used to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion services."). In addition to Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, Virginia cosponsors of this monstrosity include Randy Forbes and Scott Rigell.
Abortion Non-Discrimination Act of 2011 ("prohibit[s] the federal government and any state or local government that receives federal financial assistance from subjecting any health professional, a hospital, a provider sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, an accountable care organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan to discrimination on the basis that the entity refuses to participate in abortion-related activities."). In addition to Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, Virginia cosponsors include Randy Forbes, Bob Goodlatte, Morgan Griffith, and Scott Rigell.
Life at Conception Act ("Declares that the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution is vested in each human being beginning at the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual comes into being."). Along with Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, Virginia cosponsors include Randy Forbes, Bob Goodlatte, Robert Hurt, Scott Rigell, and Robert Wittman.

E.W. Jackson Spouts Off Hatred Dressed Up as Religion

by Elaine in Roanoke

I had to pull out my red-letter edition of the Bible today after I read that failed Republican senate candidate and self-proclaimed bishop of his own church, E.W. Jackson, stated in an interview that Christians should disavow the Democratic Party because there well may be a plank in the upcoming platform of the party that supports the rights of all Americans to be married and be recognized as a family. He called the party "anti-Christian, anti-God, anti-Bible."Red-letter Bibles put the words that Christ spoke in red type, to differentiate them from the words of others. Nowhere there did I find that Christ ever mentioned homosexuality or same-sex marriage. He did have much to say about how we should treat each other, however. And, he directly ordered us to refrain from judging others because that is the purview of God. I suppose E.W. Jackson selectively reads his Bible in order to make it fit his preconceived, far right theology.
I'm sure Jackson will point to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah as proof that God loathes homosexuality. What, then, will he make of Ezekiel 16: 49-50 that states that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was "pride, fulness of bread [wealth], and abundance of idleness...neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty...therefore I took them away." That sounds like punishment for right-wing Republican  beliefs, not homosexuality.
After all, a group of 60 Catholic leaders recently criticized Tea Party favorite Republican Paul Ryan for a budget that is "morally indefensible and betrays Catholic principles of solidarity, just taxation and a commitment to the common good...A budget that turns its back on the hungry, the elderly and the sick while giving more tax breaks to the wealthiest few can't be justified in Christian terms."  Those words reflect the gospel of Jesus Christ, not Jackson's blind hatred and bigotry all gussied up in biblical language. I, and many other Christians like me, are sick and tired of having our faith hijacked to justify a right-wing assault on the weak, the poor, the different, the outcast, and the left behind. Those are the very people Jesus spoke for and to.
It would do E.W. Jackson good to re-read Matthew 25:31-46.

There, Jesus tells his followers how they will be judged at the end of their lives. Those who earn the glory of God are those who fed the hungry, gave a drink to the thirsty, clothed the naked, invited the stranger in and visited the sick and imprisoned. When asked when they did these things, Christ answered, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me."I don't see a word there about homosexuality. There's not a mention of abortion. There's no right to carry a concealed gun there. There's no disdain there for those who accept help from others. I can't see a plea there for conservative government or the Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand. I do see the altriusm, the concern for our fellow citizens, that led past leaders of this country - Democrats, that is - to establish a safety net for the poor, the hungry, the sick, the least among us. That altruism and love sure isn't reflected in the views of E.W. Jackson or the present Republican Party. They get off on "pride, fulness of bread, abundance of idleness," and not strengthening the hand of the poor and the needy, just what Ezekiel warned about.  

GOP Senate Candidate: In a "legitimate rape," the "female body" will "shut that whole thing down"

Sunday, August 19, 2012

For more on the latest in the Republican war on women (and general insanity, cluelessness, viciousness, etc.), see here. The question is, why would any woman, or any man who finds these types of beliefs (and remarks) repulsive, vote Republican? Remember, here in Virginia, we have a U.S. Senate candidate named George Allen, who goes around telling Asian Americans "welcome to America," who supports a "personhood amendment" which would outlaw most forms of contraception, and is generally a right-wing nutjob on every other issue. Again, why would any woman, or any man who finds Allen's attitudes repulsive, vote for him? I'm stumped.

In-Depth Analysis Proves: Purely In Terms of Your Bottom Line, Dems Outperform Republicans By Far!

There are many reasons why Democrats are better than Republicans on a wide range of issues. Whether you're a woman who believes you should have control over your own body; a working person who believes you should have some power vis-a-vis big corporations; a member of the middle class who doesn't want your taxes raised to pay for huge tax cuts to multi-millionaires; an intelligent, educated person who believes that scientific research should be respected, supported and listened to, not scorned and persecuted; anyone who wants to cure diseases like Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Type 1 Diabetes, etc. through techniques like embryonic stem cell research; or simply an American who believes in strengthening our nation through a balanced approach in which the wealthiest are asked to pay more and in which we invest in our nation's infrastructure, hence its future; you should strongly prefer the Democratic Party over the Republican Party. Not even close.But one area that's not often mentioned as a strength of Democrats vis-a-vis Republicans is strictly on financial matters. In other words, there's the (utterly erroneous but widespread) belief among many Americans is that if you're just a greedy SOB, if you only care about your personal financial situation, then you should vote Republican, because you'll certainly do better under their leadership. Well, guess what: according to a brand-new, in-depth analysis (Bulls Bears and the Ballot Box: How the Performance of OUR Presidents Has Impacted YOUR Wallet") by two highly-qualified people -- Bob Deitrick, "co-owner of Polaris Financial Partners and a native of Northern Virginia," and Lew Goldfarb, "professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where he serves as Director of the College's Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic" -- that is absolutely NOT the case.
Check out the chart above, and the ones after the "fold," and see for yourself -- it's not even close. The first chart, for instance, shows that, over the past 80 years, if you had invested $100,000 of your money during the 40 years Republicans held the White House (this analysis uses the Dow and an Average Annual Compound Return -- AACR), you'd now have a pitiful $126,027. Whoopee. In stark contrast, if you had invested $100,000 of your money during the 40 years Democrats held the White House, you'd have multiplied your money more than 24 times over, with $2.4 million to your name. Yep, that's right,under FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ, Carter and Clinton, you'd be rockin' and rollin'. Under the Republicans, your wallet would be extremely thin indeed.
Don't like doing this analysis with the Dow? That's fine, the authors also use a "blended rate."In that case, Advantage Blue Team is even more pronounced, as your initial $100,000 investment would now be worth $3.9 million (thank you Democrats!), butjust $126,000 under Republicans (boo! hiss! fail!).
Finally, how do the presidents stack up in a ranking of purely financial criteria (forget about winning World War II, establishing Social Security and Medicare, and other "minor" stuff like that - heh - in other words)? Again, huge advantage to the Democrats. On the "Overall" rankings, note that #6-#11 (the worst ones) are overwhelmingly filled with Republican names (in reverse order of suckitude: Hoover, Dubya, Nixon/FordCarter, and Reagan. #FAIL for Republicans, in other words.  

At the top of the list, in glaring contrast, are overwhelmingly Democrats (note: although Ike was nominally a Republican, by today's standards he'd be a moderate or even progressive Democrat) (in descending order of greatness: JFK/LBJ, Clinton, FDREisenhower, and Truman. It's a similar deal on the other rankings, as you can see for yourself from the chart on the "flip."Finally, with regard to President Obama, the authors write that "his first term and his economic legacy is yet to be concluded," but point out that Obama's "had to work with the most dysfunctional and vitriolic Congress and political climate in modern history" (thanks Teapublicans!).
I'd remind everyone that on a wide variety of indicators, we are far, far better off than we were 4 years ago at this time. Today, thanks in large part to Democratic policies (and certainly no thanks to Republicans, who have tried to slow things down and stop every possible move in the right direction, all with the hyper-partisan goal of making Barack Obama a one-term president), the housing market's turning around, the auto industry's doing well, the stock market's booming, we're gaining jobs as opposed to losing 800,000 jobs per month as in Bush's last month in office, etc, etc. In short, we're well on the way towards digging ourselves out of the complete mess Republicans left the country in after 8 years if misrule. Check your 401k, IRA, etc, and chances are you'll see it there too, just as you would have if you had invested $100,000 at any time over the past 80 years under Democratic presidents, but certainly not under Republican ones. Does that clarify your thinking about this election at all? :)

Bob McDonnell Touts His Smoke-and-Mirrors "Surplus"

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Another year, and Bob McDonnell is once again touting a Virginia budget "surplus" (see his "wrench arm out of socket patting self on back" press release on the "flip").  He's done this before. For instance, as we explained in April 2011, McDonnell's "surplus" then was based largely on transfers, bookkeeping maneuvers, "stimulus" money, and generally "smoke and mirrors." Same deal this time around. A few points worth keeping in mind as Bob McDonnell touts this supposed $448.5 million "surplus."
1. That $448.5 million has already been appropriated. How in any ways is that a "surplus," in the sense that it means more receipts than disbursements? Maybe in Republican "math," but other than that...
2. As the Commonwealth Institute has pointed out in April 2011, "the Commonwealth has reduced state support for K-12 education by $2.6 billion across this year and next year." How would McDonnell's "surplus" look if that money was taken into account? Hmmm.
3. Virginia has $3 billion worth of transportation bonds it needs to pay off. That would eat up this "surplus" 7 times over. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted! Heh.
4. Thanks to McDonnell's and Republicans' irresponsibilityl, we have a massive shortfall in transportation infrastructure and maintenance, so bad that in a few years, we probably won't be able to do any at all. So, Bob McDonnell's faux "surplus" is only a "surplus" if you don't care that our bridges and roads are falling apart.
Other than that, congratulations to Bob McDonnell on his amazing, wondrous "surplus!!!!" I'm 100% sure that it was a result of one man, and one man alone - the Great Bob McDonnell, focusing 100% of his energies on Virginia (that is, on the rare occasions when he wasn't running the Republican Governors Assocation, campaigning for pathological liar Willard Romney, galavanting around the world, hanging out with "birther" Donald Trump, etc.). Heckuva job, Bob! ;)

Governor McDonnell Announces $448.5 Million Budget Surplus for Fiscal Year 2012
– Commonwealth Posts Third Straight Fiscal Year Surplus for a Total of Nearly $1.4 Billion –
Governor Had Previously Announced $129 million Revenue Surplus; Today’s Announcement is Final, Cumulative Surplus Amount Including Agency Savings
Governor Announces Additional $78.3 Million to Rainy Day Fund to Create Nearly $700 Million Balance; $77.2 Million to State Employee Performance Bonus; $30 Million to "Federal Action Contingency Trust" Fund (FACT Fund) To Prepare Commonwealth for Likely Future Federal Spending Reductions; Returns $132.3 Million to Higher Education and Non-General Fund Accounts

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell announced today during his annual remarks to the annual meeting of the General Assembly Joint Money Committees that Virginia has posted a total revenue and savings surplus of $448.5 million dollars for FY 2012. The surplus follows the Commonwealth's $544.8 million surplus in FY 2011 and $403.3 million surplus for FY 2010. The total FY 2012 surplus consists of the previously announced revenue surplus of $129.2 million along with $187.0 million in state agency savings and agency balances, and $132.3 million in higher education and other unexpended non-general funds.

The governor’s full remarks to the Joint Money Committees can be read here.

Speaking about the surpluses, the governor remarked, "This is the third time that I have appeared before you to review the year-end financial position of the Commonwealth. In these three years, I have now announced revenue surpluses and budget savings totaling nearly $1.4 billion. That’s not bad for any state in this economy, and it stands in stark contrast to the difficult economic times facing most other states and our national finances. While we are all, to a great extent, captive to the same domestic and global economic trends, there are many areas that remain within our control. One of those is how we handle our annual state budgets. I am pleased to report today that, through bipartisan cooperation, we have ended the 2012 Fiscal Year with a cumulative surplus of $448.5 million. We have done this by budgeting conservatively, keeping taxes low, reforming how state government works, and investing wisely in core functions of government crucial to private-sector job creation and economic development. Simply put: Over the past 3 years we have brought in more revenue than forecasted, and spent less than budgeted. That is responsible fiscal management. It is the Virginia way and I congratulate all the members of the General Assembly for helping us achieve this positive result for our taxpayers."

For fiscal year 2012, total general fund collections, including revenues and transfers, exceeded the official forecast by $129.2 million. General fund revenues rose 5.4 percent in FY 2012 compared with the budget forecast of 4.5 percent. At the same time, Virginia’s efforts to reform state government and make it function more efficiently have also produced savings. The administration directed managers to innovate, be frugal, and not spend all their appropriations at the end of the fiscal year just because they had the money. Thus, on the savings side, there was $319.3 million in unspent general fund appropriations, recoveries and non-general fund balances at the end of June. This compares favorably to the $234.1 million savings at the end of fiscal year 2011.

“Together we are proving that, unlike Washington, we can regularly balance a budget, actually spend less and deliver good customer service for our people,” Governor McDonnell said. “The revenue surplus is concrete evidence of the Commonwealth’s improving jobs picture and overall economic condition. Virginia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has declined from 7.2 percent in February 2010 to 5.7 percent today. That’s a drop of over 20 percent. We have the lowest unemployment rate in the Southeast and our lowest in 3 years. While Virginia’s unemployment rate stands at 5.7 percent the next closest state in the region to us is Alabama, at 7.8 percent.”

The Constitution, the Appropriation Act, and the Code of Virginia specify how most of these additional resources must be assigned. An additional $78.3 million must be set aside for deposit to the Revenue Stabilization Fund for FY 2014 bringing the Rainy Day Fund balance to approximately $689.0 million at the end of the biennium, the highest balance since FY 2008. Another $30.0 million is designated for deposit to the Federal Action Contingency Trust Fund as a reserve to help Virginia mitigate the consequences of potential sequestration and other negative federal actions that could adversely affect Virginia’s economy and future revenue collections.

In addition, Virginia will be able to meet several other contingent requirements in statute and in the Appropriation Act. The Commonwealth will return $132.3 million to higher education and non-general fund accounts where it properly belongs. Another $16.9 million will be allocated to the Virginia Water Quality Fund to meet Virginia’s obligations under the Watershed Improvement Plan to accelerate efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. Virginia will also return $20.9 million to the Transportation Trust Fund to properly account for transportation’s share of the accelerated sales tax collections received in June. An additional $17.2 million will be set aside to cover the state’s share of obligations resulting from several natural disasters occurring over the course of FY 2012.

“I am pleased to say that one of the most significant items that we will be able to address as a result of the surplus is the 3 percent performance bonus to state employees payable on Dec. 1 included in the Appropriation Act,” the governor added. “In the budget bill I introduced to the 2012 General Assembly, I recommended a bonus of up to 3 percent for state employees if agency savings and unspent appropriations at the end of the fiscal year were sufficient to pay it. My idea was simply to offer state employees a performance bonus if they were able to achieve sufficient savings in their agencies such as those incentives provided by the private sector. Our employees proved the merit of this idea by exhibiting their innovation and frugality while providing good customer service, making this performance bonus a reality. State employees have proven that if given control over earning a bonus, they will rise to the occasion.”

Allocation of FY 2012 Surplus

Revenue Stabilization Fund: $78.3 million
'Federal Action Contingency Trust' Fund (FACT Fund): $30 million
Virginia Water Quality Improvement Fund: $16.9 million
Higher Education and Non-General Fund Accounts: Return $132.3 million to where it properly belongs
Accelerated Sales Tax to Transportation Trust Fund: $20.9 million
Natural Disaster Reserve: $17.2 million
State Employee Performance Bonus: $77.2 million (All state employees, except for the governor/lieutenant governor/attorney general and legislators, will receive the 3 percent bonus.)