Monday, April 30, 2012
Saturday, April 28, 2012
|This weekend's |
Now, I could just say something snarky like, "if you believe any of this, I've got a nice bridge in Alaska to sell you," or whatever. But we can do better than that, just utterly demolish Luntz's lies one by one. Here we go.
1. Republicans absolutely DO want to reduce the size of government - and not in a constructive manner, either! Per PollingReport.com, we've got a Newsweek poll with Republicans overwhelmingly (67%-24%) saying they want "a smaller government providing less services." Can't get much clearer than that. We also have aGallup poll which finds that Republicans "in particular are displeased with the size and power of the federal government, with 16% satisfied and 84% dissatisfied." And guess who Republicans vote for? That's right, over and over again, they vote for candidates who call for slashing government programs, who do whatever Grover "drown government in the bathtub" Norquist tells them to do, who pledge never to raise taxes (and therefore government), etc, etc. Then there's that whole "Tea Party" movement, whose rallying cry is basically to "stop the spending" (except on the Social Security and Medicare benefits they receive, plus the military, which of course make up most of the federal budget). In sum, Frank Luntz is full of crap that "conservatives don't want a reduced government so much as one that works better and wastes less." In fact, conservative voters most certainly do want "a reduced government" (except for their own benefits, of course, making them total hypocrites). Shocker, huh?
|lowkell :: Republican Propagandist Frank Luntz Fosters "Myths about conservative voters." Here are the Facts.|
|2. Conservative primary voters most definitely want to get tough on illegal immigration. For instance, in Alabama, Republican primary voters this year overwhelmingly supported that state's harsh, draconian, "round 'em up" new immigration law. Also, per PollingReport.com, polls show that Republicans strongly oppose the Justice Department challenge to Arizona's own "round 'em up" immigration law, with 3 times as many Republicans saying it didn't go "far enough" than that it went "too far." Finally, 42% of Republicans say that illegal immigrants should be deported, with just 23% favoring a path to citizenship (another 23% of Republicans support a "guest worker" program). That's a lot more than the "tiny fraction" of conservatives Frank Luntz claims "would support a shortsighted (and fiscally unfeasible) blanket policy of deporting the illegal immigrants already here." Once again, Luntz=LIAR.3. Conservative voters most definitely have NOT been critical of Wall Street. In fact, a Public Policy Polling poll finds that, among Republicans, 36% blamed Congress for the economic meltdown in 2008/2009, compared to just 25% who blamed "Wall Street/Corporations" (36% of Democrats blamed "Wall Street/Corporations). As for who is "best suited to fix the economy," 34% of Republicans said - you guessed it - "Wall Street/Corporations," compared to just 11% of Democrats. Also, according to PPP, Republicans hate the "Occupy Wall Street" movement, with "very conservative" voters favoring the corporate-funded Tea Party over the Occupy movement by a 12:1 margin (84%-7%). Yeah, those conservatives, they're really critical of Wall Street alright! Ha.|
4. Conservatives want their Medicare and Social Security, but they vote for people who will trash those programs. Here's a case where Luntz may actually be onto something. Here, even Tea Partiers strongly oppose major cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The problem is, they strongly support - and vote for - politicians who DO want to slash Social Security and Medicare. For instance, check out this Gallup poll, which indicates OVERWHELMING Republican support (82%) for the Paul Ryan budget plan, which would destroy Medicare as we know it. And, of course, conservatives are the ones who put the Tea Party in charge of the House of Representatives back in 2010, allowing them to vote almost overwhelmingly as a bloc for the Ryan plan to trash Medicare. So, again, what the heck is Frank Luntz smoking to believe that it's a "myth" that conservatives want to "slash Social Security and Medicare?"
5. Conservatives are schizophrenic on income inequality. I've already referred to polling that shows Republicans as hating the Occupy Wall Street movement and being highly favorable towards Wall Street. On the other hand, polling indicates that "Fifty-three percent of self-identified Republicans back an increase in taxes on households making more than $250,000, a sentiment at odds with the party's presidential candidates." On the other hand, Republican candidates continue to get applause by charging President Obama and Democrats generally with "socialism" for wanting the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. Thus, the GOP bashing of the Buffett Rule. Meanwhile, a recent Faux "News" poll found that Republicans by a nearly 3:1 margin felt that "raising taxes on wealthy Americans will...hurt the economy." Also, 84% of Republicans called the "Buffett Rule" proposal nothing more than "an election-year gimmick to avoid cutting government spending." Sorry, Frank Luntz, but these poll results do NOT indicate that Republicans care deeply about income inequality, certainly not enough to DO anything about it. #FAIL
OK, so Frank Luntz is a lying liar, a Republican propagandist as he's been for decades. Remember Newt's heinous "Contract ON America?" - that was Luntz all the way. For more on Luntz, including his "reframe" of global warming to the less-"threatening" "climate change," his recommendation to describe Democrats and Democratic policies using words such as "corrupt," "devour," "greed," "hypocrisy," "liberal," "sick," and "traitors," etc. - see here. It's utterly appalling, possibly even more so knowing that this is an utterly amoral guy who does it all for $$$$. Yeah, it's disgusting.
Given all that, the question is, why have I actually seen a couple of Democrats comment that they found Luntz's thoughts to be interesting? More accurate are some of the comments on the Post, including the following. Enjoy, and with that, I'm going to watch some NHL playoff hockey, where, unlike in politics, you have referees who can call penalties for flagrant violations of the rules! :)
"Nice try, Frank. I know that you work all day to make excuses for Republicans and conservatives, and you are very good at your job, but that doesn't mean that any of the rest of us have to believe your prevarications.""Judging conservatives by the legislation they actually initiated after their big wins in 2010, their major objectives are to limit reproductive choice, attack Planned Parenthood and get rid of worker's unions. Across the country in states with Republican majorities, legislation was advanced to force women to undergo unnecessary ultrasounds before an abortion. Personhood measures were put on ballots. The cons strove to defund Planned Parenthood which prevents millions of unwanted pregnancies and abortions . None of this was related to the jobs, cons promised. Judge individuals, particularly pols, by what they do not what they say."
|It's about freakin' time we see the truth be told in the mainstream media about the nutjob Teapublicans.|
We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.The authors continue, explaining how it's NOT "both sides doing it," how the Democratic Party might have shifted slightly to the left ("from their 40-yard line to their 25"), but the Republican Party has gone completely off the deep end ("from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post"). I mean, hasn't all this been obvious to any sane, sentient observer of American politics the past few years? Why has it taken so long to see an analysis like this, from two major political analysts (one from Democratic-leaning Brookings, one from Republican-leaning AEI), in the corporate/mainstream media? Is that why so many Americans continue believe, erroneously, that we have two normal political parties in this country, one "center left" and one "center right," when in fact we have one "center left" (actually, I'd say today's Democrats are more "center" or even "center right"), and one far, far, far right, basically the John Birch Society combined with the KKnow Nothings and perhaps one of the ultra-nationalist/authoritarian parties of Europe.
|lowkell :: Finally! "Let's just say it: The Republicans are the problem."|
|I've pointed this out many times before, but to illustrate how far the Republican Party has lurched to the extreme right, just look at their vicious opposition toideas they themselves developed and championed for years - "cap and trade," the "individual mandate," marginal tax rates at historic low levels (as we had during the Clinton years, and which now are seen as socialistic by these nutjobs), etc.How did this once-great, optimistic, sane party of Teddy Roosevelt (a Bull Moose Progressive), Dwight Eisenhower (Mr. Moderation personified), Richard Nixon (established the EPA and detente with the Soviet Union), and even Ronald Reagan (raised taxes many times, signed a mass amnesty for "illegal immigrants," grew government big time, etc.) become a collection of rabble rousers, theocrats, warmongers, cranks, tinfoil hat wearerers (e.g., the "birthers"), xenophobes, homophobes, Islamophobes, misogynists, and people who apparently believe that compromise on anything, let alone working with Democrats - as Ronald Reagan did all the time, with liberal lion Tip O'Neill and others - is evil?|
Personally, I blame the toxic effect of Faux "News," far-right-wing hate radio (Rush et al), far-right-wing hate TV (Hannity, Beck, etc.), far-right-wing hate blogs (too many to list, but check out Michele Malkin or The Gateway Pundit - I refuse to link to either - for example). I also blame the toxic effect of hundreds of millions of dollars pouring into the system with zero accountability -- see the Koch brothers, Karl Rove, Richard Mellon Scaife, and many others for the horrible results.
Then there's the corporate media, which has abdicated its duty to tell the truth, to call out lies, to not treat insanity as sane or even as entertainment (see the corporate media's disgraceful coverage of the Tea Party movement back in 2009 and 2010), and not pretend that there are two equivalent "sides" to everything (as Ornstein and Mann put it, "a balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality").
Finally, something's clearly gone wrong with the American education system, as it's apparently churning out masses of people who can't think critically, who don't respect science or empiricism, who don't understand how the economy or our government work, who don't seem to comprehend complexity or nuance, and who generally can't seem to cope with the rapidly changing, globalized, diverse, 21st century world we live in.
Other than that, we're doing great! Anyway, read the article, forward it around to everyone you know, urge them to read it too, then make sure you tell everyone you know to get to the polls in November and vote for anyone but Republicans up and down the ballot.
Friday, April 27, 2012
|(UPDATE: President Obama is going after these scumbags. - promoted by lowkell)|
Based on this new report, and also the voluminous information we already have about APSCU -- the leading for-profit "education" trade association where DPVA chair Brian Moran works as a top lobbyist, strategist, and (recently) acting president -- Moran needs to be fired as DPVA chair immediately. As in, yesterday. As in, this minute. Check this out.
Republic Report has learned that the Washington Post Company's Kaplan for-profit college division, was, last year, a member of the controversial business advocacy group the American Legislative Exchange Council. Other major for-profit education companies also joined ALEC. Republic Report has obtained a July 2011 document showing Kaplan Higher Education and other for-profits as members of ALEC's Education Task Force......APSCU, the for-profit schools trade association, which hires expensive lobbyists like former Senator Trent Lott to pressure Congress, and works hand-in-hand with theHouse Republican leadership on bills to prevent bad actors in the industry from being held accountable for waste, fraud, and abuse. APSCU members include DeVry, ITT, ATI, Education Management Corp., Career Education Corp., and Mitt Romney favorite Full Sail University, as well as Kaplan, Bridgepoint, and Corinthian.Not surprisingly, "Bridgepoint, Corinthian, and APSCU did not respond to our requests for comment."Clearly, it's unacceptable for the head of the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) to simultaneously work as a top officer in the leading lobby group for the for-profit "education" industry. It's even worse that the DPVA is busy denouncing ALEC, at the same time that the head of the DPVA works closely with ALEC. Or, that DPVA is busy attacking George Allen on higher education student loan interest rates - as it did yesterday in a press release - when the head of the DPVA is busy advocating for an industry which saddles veterans, minorities, and many other students with huge student loan debts and degrees of questionable worth. At the minimum, this undercuts the very message DPVA is putting forth on an extremely important, indeed core, issue to the Democratic Party -- EDUCATION
|Here's the thing: it's not like Brian Moran is indispensable to DPVA and can't be replaced. To the contrary, about the best you could possibly say is that Moran has not presided over the Titanic going completely under, although we've now suffered three straight horrendous years at the polls in Virginia, with the only turnaround in sight thanks to President Obama's and Tim Kaine's campaigns this year, neither of which is counting on DPVA for much of anything (because they're smart and they don't want to go down with the Titanic).Meanwhile, the metaphorical Virginia Democratic "decks" remain awash, the metaphorical "iceberg" continues ripping into the state party's hull, and the metaphorical "lifeboats" are full of Democrats desperately fleeing the ship. The question is, when are we going to finally say, "enough is enough" on the moral, ethical and political disaster that is Brian Moran? When are reporters going to start asking Moran about this at every opportunity, and stop throwing him softball after softball, apparently terrified to do their jobs as journalists? Finally, when are Brian Moran's enablers - including the nearly 30% who have indicated in our Blue Virginia poll a lack of willingness to change "captains" - going to stop enabling him and call for him to step aside? Time's a wasting, the "Titanic" is sinking steadily...|
Thursday, April 26, 2012
The Republican Party of Virginia has spent most of this century chasing its transformation tail. Now it is mimicking the Organizing for America strategy with VA Victory. There was something of a rollout at Shad Planking, but it was not ubiquitous. No threat to Obama, it does threaten the DPVA. VA Victory is taking an “all of the above” approach including t-shirts and stickers with QR codes and using mobile payment systems with smartphones to take donations. On the face of it, the Republican demographic does not seem poised to embrace all such innovation, though the donation ready smartphones fit. The rubber meets the road energizing social media and that too appears incongruous with the party still mired in the age of Lincoln, only on the opposite side. Whether their intent is to attract followers then use a shotgun approach to contact or to organize leads in the manner Ben Tribbett suggests will determine how much progress they will make this year. Nevertheless, it leaves Republicans a leg up for 2013 as the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) takes a breather year, relieved of responsibility for any substantial grassroots effort. While the Obama campaign has a well established and proven record of using technology and social media to its advantage, it won’t leave any residual, other than a voter list, for the DPVA. Remember 2009. Once Democrats snidely watched the bumbling RPV efforts to master technology, entertained by the results. It may be time to take a look over the shoulder. There is no reason to think that there will be any trace of the Obama infrastructure remaining after this November, but VA Victory is designed to stay, independent of Romney’s fortunes. It seems like a quasi PAC, potentially independent of personality and party, success and failure. Predictably, most Obama supporters will melt back into the anonymous electorate even if he wins; and possibly disappear forever if, heaven forbid, Romney unseats him. That is, unless the DPVA heeds the Tribbett message and sidles up to and works closely with Obama for America this year to organize for the future. As a footnote, it is instructive to review the photographs featured on the VA Victory Shad Planking webpage. Nice, sanitized depiction of the event. Clean cut lads and lasses, patriotic Americans all, and a puppy thrown in for good measure. Nary a star or bar to be seen, on a day when they were a ubiquitous feature of the event. Too bad they missed the kid goat.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
[Norfolk, VA - April 24, 2012] - Virginia environmentalists responded with their opposition to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) call for public comment on a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for offshore seismic studies in the Atlantic. They spoke in favor of an alternative that only allows study to support renewable energy development and stood in opposition to alternatives supporting exploration for oil and gas."This seismic study is completely unnecessary when it comes to supporting Virginia's offshore wind development," said Eileen Levandoski with the Sierra Club. "Such geological and geophysical studies are already covered by the programmatic Environmental Assessment that BOEM has already approved for the mid-Atlantic wind energy areas which includes Virginia."
Secretary of Interior Salazar and others contend that seismic testing will not only reveal how much oil and gas may be on the outer continental shelf, but will also benefit research for the offshore wind industry. However, it's "dynamite vs. a hammer" when comparing the level of seismic study necessary for oil and gas vs. that for offshore wind.
"The oil and gas industry wants to know what is hundreds and thousands of feet below the sea floor; to get information from that far below the ground, they use extremely loud air guns," continued Levandoski. "But the renewables industry only wants to know what's on the seafloor and just below it, so they use echo-sounders and sub-bottom profilers that are generally many orders of magnitude quieter than air guns."
|Eileen Levandoski :: Virginia environmentalists voice opposition to offshore seismic air guns|
|"The type of seismic study used for oil and gas exploration involves huge arrays of air guns blasting repeatedly for months on end," said Becca Glenn with international ocean conservation group Oceana. "It would be like dynamite going off in your neighborhood over and over. Air gun surveys can cause behavioral changes, hearing loss, injury, and death in marine mammals like dolphins, seals, and whales. Just a single air gun array in the North Atlantic caused endangered fin and humpback whales to abandon 100,000 square miles of habitat. It's incredibly destructive to the marine ecosystem.""Air guns have been shown to displace commercial species on a vast scale - over thousands of square kilometers. The result has been to dramatically depress catch rates of species such as cod, haddock, and rockfish," said Deborah Murray with the Southern Environmental Law Center. "This dangerous activity risks Virginia's $1.7 billion fishing industry and the over 24,000 people it employs."|
"Offshore seismic studies for oil and gas are clearly the first step toward drilling, which will only prolong our dependence on fossil fuels and cause more climate pollution," said Hannah Wiegard with Chesapeake Climate Action Network. "To stop global warming and slow sea level rise, we need to develop renewable energy now."
Monday, April 23, 2012
While The Green Miles consumes politics like a grizzly bear consumes salmon, my girlfriend is a normal human being who pays attention to politics only occasionally. When one day she asked why I don't like Mitt Romney, I didn't want to come off as only hating Romney because he's on the Red Team and I'm on the Blue Team. Here's a bit of what I said, and I'd be curious to hear your take - and what you're saying in similar casual conversations - in the comments section.First, the substance, which is pretty straightforward. Romney would raise taxes on the poor, slash taxes on the wealthy, do nothing for the middle class, and dramatically increase the national debt - and claims that would magically create jobs, an underpants gnome scheme if there ever was one. On energy, Romney's plan would be Bush-Cheney on steroids, giving even more control to polluting oil & coal companies and making even lower investments in clean energy. from the poor to give to the rich.
What was harder to convey is just how much Romney & his campaign are built on lies. Steve Benen has been chronicling how often Romney lies and the list runs into the double digits every single week - lies about himself, lies about his past positions, lies about President Obama. "At this point, the pattern here is obvious, and it's clearly not an accident," wrote Greg Sargent. "And Romney and his team will remain secure in the knowledge that most of the media will politely look the other way as the Big Lies keep flowing, and will continue to treat them as just part of the game."
I also shared this Rachel Maddow segment, an in-depth look at Romney's lies and how they define his candidacy:
|TheGreenMiles :: Terrible Ideas & Pathological Lying: Why I Don't Like Mitt Romney|
|(If you don't want to watch the Etch A Sketch intro, skip ahead to 6:25.)|
Sunday, April 22, 2012
McDonnell and the Republicans assassinated it. Jeff Shapiro eulogizes it. Tucker Martin tried to resurrect it in a tweet, hailing Colgan’s surrender. But in the end, Governor McDonnell’s singular focus on self-promotion has turned our legislature into a congressional clone. Governor McDonnell yells rather than leads; just another wannabe bully.
Virginia has received quite a few headlines these last few months. And it’s not been about the best state to do business; it’s not been about the best place to raise a child. It’s been about ultrasound and the socially conservative overreach agenda that the Republicans pursued in the General Assembly session. –ToscanoTwo things have become characteristic of Virginia Republicans. They confuse power with leadership and they are more interested in their own ambitions than the welfare of the Commonwealth. This is distinct and different than the Democrats who have been in power and that is clear in both the Jeff Shapiro piece and the descriptions of this session by state Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25th) and Democratic Minority Whip, Delegate David Toscano (D-57th). Contrast the eras of Gilmore and McDonnell with that of Warner and Kaine.
We have a bill that requires a medically unnecessary procedure; that requires doctors to listen to us who have the great ability to be doctors, and prescribe for them how they should treat their patients by requiring them to have this procedure. It totally unmasks the ultrasound bill for what it was: an effort to intimidate women and nothing else. – ToscanoAs Delegate Toscano points out, McDonnell warned his colleagues against overreach before the session, but overreach is all we got in a variety of areas. The ultrasound bill is only the tip of the iceberg. It is indicative of the way business is being done in Richmond. Deliberation is a lost art; Republicans have drunk the kool-aid; Democrats have little leverage. The McDonnell budget presented at the beginning of the session reveals his disdain for the role of government and an effort to score fiscal conservative points. The cuts he proposed affected the most vulnerable citizens and underfunded education to redirect revenues to transportation. In Toscano’s estimation, despite the way the battle ended, the budget we got was much better than the one that McDonnell originally presented and could have been forced upon us. However, McDonnell’s desperation for success and his lack of leadership is clearly demonstrated by Toscano’s description of McDonnell’s reaction to the defeat of a pet bill. The Virginia Way is not the McDonnell way, no way: my way or the highway. A footnote: Before this final week of deliberations, state Senator Jeff McWaters (R-8th) told a Republican audience that there was a Democrat who would cross the aisle. So while the Democrats may have exacted concessions successfully prior to this past week, if it is true that Senator Colgan had already tipped that he would concede, this left Democrats with no leverage during the last three votes. The evidence is in the final outcome.
Friday, April 20, 2012
|Man, do we ever need a change in "leadership" at the Democratic Party of Virginia. Check this out:|
In one life, Brian Moran leads the Democratic Party of Virginia, and will be at the DPVA State Convention in June. Two weeks later, he will flip to his other life as an executive for the for-profit college industry at their convention- and check out who he will be hanging out with there...Not a big surprise given the Politico article that said Brian was taking instructions on legislative strategy from Eric Cantor's office.That's right, Brian Moran will be hanging out with George W. Bush, whose "Administration's deliberate actions made it easier for bad actors among for-profit schools to engage in a decade of waste, fraud, and abuse that has earned them billions in profits but has left many former students deep in debt and without job prospects." As I've said before, just imagine the head of the Republican Party of Virginia simultaneously leading the AFL-CIO, Greenpeace, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, or NARAL? Right, it's impossible to imagine, because it would never happen. But Democrats? Sure, we're fine with our chair simultaneously heading up - now he's back to being "only" Executive Vice President, Government Relations and General Counsel - a group that systematically scams the taxpayer, rips off the government, and harms the lives of veterans, minorities and poor people. Yeah, sure, it works for me! (snark) How about you?
Thursday, April 19, 2012
|The graphic is by Think Progress, the numbers are from Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, and the conclusion is clear: not only is the media NOT - in any way, shape or form - "liberal" (which the teahadists' tshirts and signs tell you not to believe, it's actually biased heavily to the right, at least on the influential Sunday talk shows. Even when the networks DO have Democrats on their shows, FAIR points out that they "tend to be of a more moderate variety than the Republicans" (people like conservadem Harold Ford and whatever-he-is Juan Williams). What about progressive voices to balance out the deluge of (far)right-wing voices on the Sunday talk shows? Ha, you MUST be kidding!Meanwhile, as if the wild ideological imbalance towards the (far) right isn't bad enough, the major networks also don't seem to like having women or non-white faces (unless they're super entertaining, "controversial" and conservative like Herman Cain) on their shows.|
In sum, FAIR concludes: "It's likely that the other networks would never say that they aim to provide a very narrow, very white and male, overwhelmingly conservative view of the world to their viewers every Sunday morning. But that's precisely what they do."
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
|Sick and tired of hearing about Willard "Mitt" Romney and the 2012 presidential race? Can't wait until 2016 rolls around? Well, then, Public Policy Polling has just the poll for you! :)|
The Democratic nomination at this point is Hillary Clinton's for the taking if she wants it. She has an amazing 86/10 favorability rating with Democratic voters. In a dream field Clinton gets 57% to 14 for Joe Biden, 6% for Elizabeth Warren, 5% for Andrew Cuomo, 3% for Russ Feingold, 2% for Mark Warner, and 1% each for Martin O'Malley and Brian Schweitzer.[...]As a Virginia political blogger, what jumped out at me here is the numbers for Mark Warner. First of all, nobody knows who he is, with the vast majority of Democrats having no opinion of him whatsoever (the rest split 11% favorable, 18% unfavorable for Warner). Second, in a field with Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, our former governor gets just 2% support. Third, without Hillary in the field, Joe Biden and Andrew Cuomo jump up the rankings, but Warner stays put at 2% support. Finally, with neither Clinton nor Biden in the running, Andrew Cuomo jumps up, as does "someone else/undecided" (to 46%), while Warner barely moves up to 4% support.Now, obviously, a lot can (and will) change in 4 years, but Mark Warner certainly doesn't start off in a strong position for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. I wonder if polls like this one might make Warner think again about running for governor of Virginia in 2013?
Monday, April 16, 2012
On the eve of the five-year anniversary of the worst mass shooting in United States modern day history, I am asking for your help.I am the mother of one of the students who, by a miracle of less than ½ an inch, survived gunshots wounds to the back of her head. My daughter told me that with head wounds bleeding, she played "dead" by consciously going limp, face down on the floor while her Virginia Tech classmates were killed all around her as the gunman visited her classroom in Norris Hall three times and eventually killed himself there.
Having a front row seat to the devastation and pain suffered by so many families and communities inflicted that day by a person who should not have passed a background check, has propelled me head first into the fight to prevent gun violence. I break down still when I allow myself to imagine what almost happened to my daughter . . . . and what so many face every day in this country.
How sad that five years later and after countless additional tragedies - Northern Illinois, Tuscon, Chardon High School, to name a few - and daily carnage that doesn't make the media reports, we are still debating whether we need background checks on all gun purchasers. How can a civilized society with the technological means to easily implement background checks on all public firearms transactions continue to ignore the day to day killings, the multiple and mass shootings that add up to more than 30,000 annual gun deaths.
While I am often met with disbelief and resistance when I suggest that the gun lobby's goal is an armed society - any gun, anywhere, to any one, after the Trayvon Martin shooting many are now becoming aware that this is in fact the gun lobby's goal. Consider:
|LoriHankyHaas :: Virginia Tech Five Year Anniversary Reflections|
|1) the many places the gun lobby is trying to normalize carrying of firearms: colleges, churches, schools, businesses, coffee shops, government buildings, parks, trains, emergency shelters - to name just a few 2) the many persons the gun lobby is attempting to arm: There are no background checks on firearms transactions by individual sellers to the general public at gunshows, flea markets, and through classified ads in the papers and on-line. It is a cold fact that 40% of firearm transactions are not regulated, allowing many dangerous persons (felons, terrorists, mentally ill) to purchase whatever weapons they so desire|
3) the many circumstances where deadly gun use is no longer a crime, for instance, stand your ground laws that promote killing a person instead of safely retreating; expanded Castle doctrine and immunity bills that prevent meaningful judicial review in both the criminal and civil justice systems.
4) the easy access to high capacity magazines, used by both Cho at Virginia Tech and Loughner in Tuscon and other high powered weaponry once exclusively limited to highly trained military and law enforcement
5) the fact that law enforcement officers are being shot in record numbers
The national reaction to the latest wave of shootings is, hopefully, the beginning of society's demands for improved, responsible gun laws that will put a stop to the gun lobby's agenda and push for background checks on all firearms purchasers. In Virginia, even in the conservative districts of southwestern Virginia, polling shows that 92% of gun owners (and almost everybody else for that matter) support background checks on all sales - an astounding number that reflects a cosmic shift in attitudes.
Most people now understand that while possessing a gun in the home is a right, once firearm proliferation threatens the freedom to be safe in ones own community something must be done . . . my fight is about the responsibility to ensure the right to life and liberty for all of us.
Let our representatives and legislators beware . . . your allegiance to the gun lobby is injuring and killing our children, neighbors, friends, colleagues, coworkers and law enforcement. Voters will no longer stand for the thoughtless support of the gun lobby's agenda.
Today, I ask for your thoughts and prayers for those whose family members were killed or injured five years ago at Virginia Tech and from today forward, I ask for your commitment and support for responsible gun laws.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
|I just got back a little while ago from the opening of the Obama for President campaign headquarters in Arlington. There were about 200 people there, including Obama campaign deputy political director Yohannes Abraham, Rep. Jim Moran, and former DNC chair (and presumed future Virginia gubernatorial candidate) Terry McAuliffe. A few others in the crowd were State Senator Adam Ebbin, Arlington County Revenue Commissioner Ingrid Morroy, Arlington County Board members Chris Zimmerman and Mary Hynes, Arlington Precinct Operations Chair Kip Malinosky, ACDC Deputy Chair Maureen Markham, former DPVA Executive Director Levar Stoney, former House of Delegates candidate Stephanie Clifford, and many others, including Brad Doggett on guitar.Substantively speaking, this was the 13th Obama for President field office opening in Virginia, as compared to a grand total of ZERO for Willard "Mitt" Romney. Clearly, the Obama campaign is emphasizing the "ground game," aka the grassroots, while the Romney campaign is almost exclusively a top-down, super-rich-donor, "SuperPAC" smear campaign. Right there, that should tell you all you need to know about these two candidates and their campaigns. If that's not enough for you, though, imagine - as Jim Moran explained at length and in detail - how horrendous a Ryan/Romney/Republican budget would devastate America's middle class and working people generally. If you think income inequality is bad now, and that the recovery from the Bush/Republican Recession has been bad enough, imagine how awful it would be if we handed Republicans control in Washington, DC? Not to mention their hostility towards women, towards the 99% of Americans who aren't super-rich, towards Latinos, towards African Americans, towards separation of church and state, towards clean energy, towards the environment, towards government, etc. Like one of those horror movies, the message here should be: do NOT even THINK of going in there!|
In stark contrast, President Obama has a long, long list of accomplishments, including turning the economy around, devastating Al Qaeda, courageously going after (and getting) Osama bin Laden, ending "Don't Ask Don't Tell," putting strong fuel economy standards in place to help wean us off of our "oil addiction" (as Bush called it, but did nothing about of course), signed historic health care reform into law, etc, etc.
I mean, seriously, why is this even a contest? Well, one reason is that Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, and others on the right will throw hundreds of millions of dollars in coming months to lie, distort, and smear. Sadly, many Americans will fall for this. Which is why the Obama campaign needs to beat them with people power. So, if you haven't done so already, sign up to volunteer with your nearest Obama field office (and again, there are 13 in Virginia, so you should be able to find one), and get involved! Thanks, and go Obama!
P.S. I'll be uploading video of Terry McAuliffe, Jim Moran, and Yohannes Abraham shortly.
Friday, April 13, 2012
|The hallmark of a good leader is one who analyzes serious problems, prioritizes them, and then has the ability to focus resources on solving them in the order of priority. Most people in Virginia agree that the most difficult problem facing the Commonwealth right now is the mess caused by inadequate funding for transportation needs. Bob McDonnell told citizens in 2009 that he had a great plan to solve the transportation woes of the state. Sheila Johnson, CEO of Salamander Hospitality, even endorsed him in the Washington Post, saying, "He is the only candidate for governor with a transportation plan."Well, McDonnell has been in office more than two years now. His "plan" consists mainly of borrowing money against future federal transportation money, money that will conveniently expire on January 2014 as he leaves office. Plus, people in Hampton Roads must come up with outrageous tolls for years to pay for transportation improvement they may get who knows how long in the future, and then they will never know how huge those tolls may become.|
It was Bob Marshall, of all people, who described problems with the whole Hampton tunnel fiasco. Marshallnoted that requiring tolls to raise revenue for future projects may not be constitutional, based on the Virginia Supreme Court 2008 ruling against the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. Tolls anticipating future construction equal a tax requiring a vote by the legislature since imposing fees on existing roads and tunnels to pay for construction of other bridges or roads is a tax.
The final action on transportation before the end of the recent "war on women" legislative session was to pass yet another unfunded McDonnell "transportation plan" component, compliments of local government money.
|Elaine in Roanoke :: McDonnell's a Fraudulent Leader|
|The bill takes up to $500 million in transportation money from the regular spending formulas and also requires localities to get state approval for transportation projects in their local comprehensive plans, with the threat of losing funding if they don't make their plans match the state six-year road plan.Enough is enough. McDonnell got into office by fraudulently claiming he had a plan to fix the mess that is Virginia's transportation crisis. His plan boils down to borrowed money that runs out in 2014, tolls that hit commuting middle class workers hardest, and the shift of responsibility for roads to local governments.|
McDonnell's no leader. He's a fraud, a wimp who faked his way into the governor's office.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Per Washington Post reporter Anita Kumar, it appears that Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell (R) has valiantly leaped to the defense of far-right-wing corporate front group ALEC (the "American Legislative Exchange Council"), after ProgressVA ripped ALEC's laughable "report card" " marking Virginia’s progress in instituting pro-corporate economic policies." Great, huh? Nice to see which side Howell's on, although it's not surprising. As Anita Kumar notes, Howell actually used to chair ALEC, the source for reams of horrendous legislation (including, as ProgressVA notes, "'Kill at Will' laws like the one at the center of the Trayvon Martin shooting"). No wonder Howell leaps to ALEC's defense. Plus, the guy's a corporate tool in general (here's a listing of the contributions he's received over the years from corporate America). Go figure.
UPDATE 1:19 pm: I just added video of Speaker Howell insulting ProgressVA Executive Director Anna Scholl for apparently not being smart enough to understand anything but "little enough words." Anna retorts, "I'm a smart girl actually, I went to the University of Virginia...I think words with multiple syllables would be just fine for me!"
Also, great job by DPVA and its tracker for getting this video - thank you!!
ALEC Releases Report Card Marking VA’s Success Instituting Anti-Middle Class Policies
Meanwhile, corporations flee organization designed to increase their bottom lines
Richmond, VA—Under fire for pushing national campaigns make it harder for millions of Americans to vote and institute “Kill at Will” laws like the one at the center of the Trayvon Martin shooting, multiple corporations have fled the American Legislative Exchange Council. Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Intuit, Kraft Foods and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation determined membership in the corporate front group and bill factory was no longer good for their bottom lines. That exodus did not stop Speaker William Howell, a member of ALEC’s Board of Directors, from joining the organization this morning to tout a report marking Virginia’s progress in instituting pro-corporate economic policies.
“It’s not surprising that a corporate front group that has carelessly pushed legislation to make it harder for millions of Virginians to vote and establish “Kill at Will” laws across the country would completely disregard policies to secure the middle class,” said Anna Scholl, Executive Director of ProgressVA. “These rankings are nothing more than a report card for ALEC’s anti-middle class agenda. Now even corporate members are backing away from ALEC’s agenda of low minimum wages, fewer high paying jobs and millionaires not paying their fair share. Its too bad Speaker Howell won’t do the same.”
Contrary to the criteria assembled for ALEC by infamous trickle-down economist Arthur Laffer,economists have noted that state policies like a fair minimum wage, progressive tax systems, and the right of private businesses to enter into a contract with their employees do not hinder, but rather help state economies become more prosperous for all.
ALEC’s “Rich States, Poor States” report is riddled with inconsistencies and methodological errors. For example:
- ALEC lionizes Texas’ economic policies, encouraging states to “be more like Texas.” The report fails to note that from 2007-2011, 100% of Texas' job growth was in the public sector, with the private sector shrinking. This evidence contradicts ALEC’s claim that Texas’ economic policies are spurring private sector growth.
- ALEC’s measures are contradictory. “Rich States, Poor States” celebrates Nevada’s population growth and attributes it to a low income tax and right-to-work status. However, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, Nevada had the country’s highest unemployment rate in 2011.
- In a massive methodological oversight, ALEC emphasizes population growth as an indication of economic success while failing to control for factors that affect migration patterns, including weather and cost of living, making any corollaries drawn between population growth and economic policies useless.
- “Rich States, Poor States” makes no effort to evaluate the quality of a state’s public services. While good schools, adequate police protection, and an efficient transportation network are universally acknowledged as key factors in determining a desirable place to live, none of these items is considered to make a state more or less competitive according to ALEC.
A January report by ProgressVA revealed that over 50 bills drawn from ALEC sources have been introduced in the Virginia General Assembly. Virginia taxpayers have spent over $230,000 to subsidize legislators’ participation. Last week, ProgressVA called on Virginia ALEC members to join major corporations in quitting the organization. Virginia legislative ALEC members include:
- Speaker William Howell, Member, ALEC Board of Directors
- Senator Stephen Martin, State Co-Chairman
- Delegate John Cosgrove, State Co-Chairman
- Senator Tommy Norment, Member, ALEC Telecommunications and Technology Task Force
- Delegate Barbara Comstock, Alternate, ALEC Telecommunications and Technology Task Force
- Delegate David Albo, Member, ALEC Public Safety and Elections Task Force
For more information:
- ALEC Exposed: Who is writing Virginia's laws? - www.progressva.org/alec
- PRESS RELEASE: Corporate sponsors quit ALEC; ProgressVA urges Virginia legislators to do the same - http://www.progressva.org/news/corporate_sponsors_quit_alec_progressva_urges_virginia_legislators_to_do_the_same.html
- PRESS RELEASE: Advocacy groups launch petition drive urging companies to quit ALEC - http://www.progressva.org/news/advocacy_groups_launch_petition_drive_urging_companies_to_quit_alec.html
|The Republican races for governor, LG and AG are off and running. Among Democrats? Not so much.Considering what a disaster the last Democratic contest for governor turned out to be, you may think it a good thing for our primary race to be postponed a bit. So let me tell you why it isn't. |
What Virginia Democrats desperately need right now is leadership. We haven't and won't get much of it from leaders in the General Assembly. Legislative leaders tend not to be particularly visionary or inspiring while they're busy trading votes, getting feted by lobbyists and trying to supplement their measly salaries of $18,000 a year.
Beyond that, DPVA is generally hurting for leadership. Brian Moran's tenure has been uninspiring and compromised by his day job as a lobbyist for a questionable industry. Dick Saslaw can certainly be a tough leader, but sadly one who seems to spend as much time fighting for Republican priorities (like pro-industry energy policies) as Democratic ones.
|kindler :: Attention T-Mac and M-War: The Clock is Ticking|
|To be sure, a number of state Senators and Delegates found their voice and stood strong and articulate against the right wing orgy that has been this year's legislative session. A few of the most outrageous bills, like personhood for embryos, were halted. But that's not nearly enough. At a time when the right-wing, Koch-funded, ALEC-fueled, Limbaugh-inspired reactionary machine is in overdrive, VA Dems are politely suggesting that someone tap on the brake. Sorry -- that won't do. You don't pack a butter knife to fight a nuclear war. |
The only way that a new set of Democratic leaders for the Commonwealth emerge is if they step up and run for statewide office. (And most certainly we need to elevate a whole new generation of leaders in the party machinery itself, but that's another topic for another day.)
Our leadership crisis is what makes me anxious for the Dems to get engaged in the 2013 contest. But that race is stalled by two people who have not yet stated their intentions. Terry McAuliffe, after being very active in the 2011 mid-term elections, has recently gone MIA, saying barely a word as the Republicans in Richmond do their best to build a bridge to the 13th century. And Mark Warner has not responded one way or another to the rumors that he might leave the Senate to run for governor.
As long as these two keep quiet, this race will remain stalled and Republicans will continue to have free rein in the state. M-War in particular would clear the field for governor; T-Mac may not completely clear the field, but his decision would have a big impact. In both cases, other potential candidates for any of the three statewide offices will have to adjust what they do based on what the Big Two do. Which explains why we don't have any outright declared candidacies yet.
For this reason, we should all be grateful to Chap Peterson and Mark Herring for starting to float trial balloons about potential candidacies. Such efforts will hopefully force Mark and Terry to stop playing Hamlet and get either in or out of the ring so this race can begin in earnest.
And this will be a hugely important race, one that right now includes the two worst demagogues in modern Virginia history -- Ken Cuccinelli and Corey Stewart. Want them as your state leaders? If not, then please nag Terry and Mark to get off their duffs and make up their minds.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
|If there was any question that Bob McDonnell's a wingnut and a not-ready-for-prime-time lightweight, how about the fact that his office is actually bragging - and sending around "high resolution photos" - about the fact that he held a glitzy event with leading "birther," racist, and all-around buffoon Donald Trump last night at Trump Tower in New York City. Here are a few classic Trump quotes to illustrate what I'm talking about:*"I have people that have been studying [Obama's birth certificate] and they cannot believe what they're finding...if he wasn't born in this country, which is a real possibility...then he has pulled one of the great cons in the history of politics."|
*"I have a great relationship with the blacks."
*"The beauty of me is that I'm very rich."
*"I heard [Obama] was a terrible student, terrible...How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard? I'm thinking about it, I'm certainly looking into it. Let him show his records."
On that last quote, I think Bob Schieffer sums it up well when he says, "That's just code for saying he got into law school because he's black...This is an ugly strain of racism that's running through this whole thing."
What's truly astounding is how brazen McDonnell is, no shame whatsover in partying with Trump, despite Trump's long history of being...well, fill in the appropriate, derogatory adjective.
P.S. Here's another recent Trump quote that's up there on the loony meter: "It will be my great honour to testify about the impact that these atrocious industrial wind turbines will have on Scotland, which are ruining the landscapes and environments all over the world...I look forward to testifying and helping Scotland save itself from this madness." Sorry, Mr. Trump, but the only "madness" is yours. So what's our fine governor doing hanging out with a raving, tinfoil-hat nutjob like this?
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
According to EIA, "Non-hydroelectric renewable generation has increased in many states over the past decade." Those states include "blue" states (e.g., the west coast, the northeast) and "red" states (e.g., Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Idaho). Then there's a state you might be familiar with, where its governor likes to talk about turning it into the "energy capital of the east coast." Yes, that would be Virginia, and no, we are not moving in the least bit towards becoming the "energy capital of the east coast."Why not? Bad/stupid policies, basically, like our absurd failure to enact a strong, mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), as many other states have done. Also, how about net metering? Strong tax incentives for homeowners and businesses to install renewable energy, energy efficiency, etc? At this point, we're lagging way, wayyyy behind many other states, let alone many other countries.
|The result of these bad/stupid policies? According to EIA, total renewable energy production in Virginia actually has fallen over the past 15 years or so, from 136.4 trillion Btu in 1996 to 115.1 trillion Btu in 2009. At the same time, coal production plummeted as well, from 946.7 trillion Btu in 1996 to 535.6 Trillion Btu in 2009 (oil production stayed at essentially zero, while natural gas production grew, largely as a result of hydraulic fracturing technology).|
In sum, we're getting nowhere fast in our goal of becoming the energy capital of anything, let alone in transitioning to a 21st century clean energy economy. It's not because it can't be done, as many, many other states - again, both "red" and "blue" politically - have been showing.
Another result of Virginia's bad/stupid policies towards encouraging a clean energy economy: we're missing out on the rapid jobs growth in solar power and most other renewable energy sources. As Andrea Luecke of the Solar Foundation explains, "the states that are doing well in terms of solar job creation are the states that have those integral policies like [Renewable Portfolio Standards -- RPS], net metering...local rebate programs...third-party purchase agreements." Unfortunately, as Luecke adds, "It seems like some states are taking a pass on one of the fastest growing industries in America...they're not making the policy investments to create an environment in which this industry can take root within their state's borders."
One of those states "taking a pass" is, sadly, our own state of Virginia. Clearly, that needs to change, or we're going to miss out on one of the most important industries of the next few decades. The question is, will we ever come to our senses on this, or will we continue to behave in an utterly irrational, counterproductive fashion? As long as Republicans, and also Democrats in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry, stay in charge, I'm not optimistic. How about you?
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Last couple of minutes is the 4th CD race, Randy Forbes is running...and I got a call from a constituent about, will I come out and support [Democratic nominee Wynne] LeGrow...I say to you sir, that in the House of Delegates I got in trouble, I said "I love Jesus," and this man is an atheist. Now, I'm not going to hell behind politics, I'll tell you right now. I love Jesus, Randy Forbes loves Jesus, and I asked the man himself; he is an atheist and I will not take him to any Christian church... [...] I will not endorse a Democrat just because they're a Democrat...others who are Jews, people who are Muslims, I have taken them to church, but they believe in a higher being. You know, we say Jesus, some say Allah some say whatever you want to call it. But when you get there, how can you justify taking him to church and you let him speak on the pulpit and that man's an atheist that doesn't believe in God, that's all I'm saying...3. Sadly, this was not an isolated incident. Spruill's also the guy who said "on the House floor...that he doesn't like to hear prayers of different religions, 'especially those of the Muslim faith that I don't care too much about.'" Lovely. Just what we need in the Democratic Party's "leadership" ranks. 4. Spruill is not a loyal Democrat. Evidence, in addition to his refusal to endorse the Democratic nominee against Republican incumbent Randy Forbes in 2010? Check this out, in which Spruill pledges to vote with Republicans "every time" on redistricting, claims that his "favorite delegate is [far-right-wing Republican] John Cosgrove." Yes, the same John Cosgrove who sponsored legislation that "would have required mothers who had failed to report fetal deaths to the police within 12 hours of the delivery to face a possible misdemeanor sentence." Not surprisingly, Cosgrove scored a 0% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia in 2010, in addition to abysmal ratings on pretty much everything else Democrats are supposed to care about. So why on earth is John Cosgrove the "favorite delegate" of DNC member Lionell Spruill? Hmmmmm. 5. Spruill is an embarrassment. Evidence? How about this?
State Del. Lionel Spruill introduced a bill Tuesday to ban displaying replicas of human genitalia on vehicles, calling it a safety issue because it could distract other drivers. Under his measure, displaying the ornamentation on a motor vehicle would be a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $250. …He said he won’t hesitate to bring a set of $24.95 trailer testicles with him for a legislative show-and-tell.Bottom line: this guy absolutely, positively should NOT - repeat NOT!!! - be on the Democratic National Committee. At the DPVA convention in early June, I urge you to support anyone else but Spruill for this position, and by doing so to remove a disloyal embarrassment and bigot from our party's leadership ranks. Thank you.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
|I'm just back from a Tim Kaine rally in downtown Charlottesville. Some photos follow at the bottom, but a few quick words about the rally.Looked like about 250-300 people were there, and the crowd was pretty enthusiastic. In other words, a pretty good turnout for April, seven months before the election.|
Tim was joined by his wife, Anne Holton, and Sen. Mark Warner. The three, together, made a pretty entertaining trio, with Ms. Holton playing straight woman to the long-time pals and professional colleagues Kaine and Warner. They had a pretty easy banter going that the crowd enjoyed. It was fun watching two guys who have done so much for our state teaming up to do more good works, and having a good time in the process.
I'm not going to go into a lot of detail on the various stump speeches, but just a few observations about how Tim and Sen. Warner set up the contrast and the stakes in the coming election:
* The McDonnell/Bolling/Cooch freak show in Richmond has really cost the Commonwealth a lot in terms of our national reputation, and the team of Tim and Mark Warner in the Senate can help reverse this. "I want Virginia again to be one of those states that is a leader of the pack," Warner said, "Not the butt of late night jokes."
* The Kaine campaign is one of optimism, while the GOP is trying to sell us on a "doom and gloom," pessimistic view of our state and our country. Tim: Because ours is the campaign of optimism, "We are going to win."
* The Republicans want to take us backwards. Tim: "I don't want to go back. I want to go forward."
(more on the flip)
|aznew :: Kaine in Charlottesville: Our optimism will beat GOP "gloom and doom" message|
| * Key to prosperity is winning the talent race. Years ago, when Virginia was lagging economically, we closed our schools rather than integrate them, we kept women out of UVA and we didn't have community colleges that could tap the talent in our rural areas. Our turnaround as a commonwealth came when we "broke down barriers" and cultivated the intelligence and talent in our Commonwealth. * Tap our talent pool, and we can do anything. Fail to tap our talent, and no policy in the world will make much of a difference in the long run.|
* The Virginia senate race will be a key race - it could very well decide who will control the Senate. And we don't have to speculate about what Republican governance will look like. As Mark Warner put it, Republicans want to cut education, research and development, decent law enforcement, building roads and bridges - "anything about how we grow our country."
* Tim notes the obvious truism (to everyone except the GOP) that we can't just cut our way to properity. We don't need to be giving tax breaks to Exxon and Mobile. We need to let the Bush tax cuts - "Which were intended to be temporary" - to expire for the top brackets.
* Beyond policy, Tim said that in order to accomplish things, "You need to be willing to work together with anyone..." -- At first I thought he was talking about Republicans, but then he added, "...who is willing to be serious," and I realized he had someone else in mind.
* Tim could remember when Virginia was solidly Republican and no one paid too much attention to us in Presidential elections, but thanks to Omaba in 2008, we are now a battleground state that gets plenty of attention from the candidates and the media. The hard part of that attention, however, is that now that expectations have been raised, we have to deliver. With that in mind, Tim is optimistic about the state of the race, both for him and for President Obama.
Pictures from the rally follow:
Gov. Tim Kaine
Tim, Anne Holton, Sen. Mark Warner