Demolishing Ken Cuccinelli's Brain-Dead "War on Coal" Graphic

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A few points on the graphic by Ken Cuccinelli's campaign is putting out, pushing their false/ginned up "war on coal" meme against Terry McAuliffe.1. As I demonstrated the other day, Virginia coal mining employment is UP - repeat, UP! - under President Obama. It went DOWN - repeat, DOWN! - under President Bush. So, should we conclude by these statistics that Republicans are waging a "war on coal?" I mean, that's just as brain dead as Cuccinelli's idiotic attack line.
2. As I also pointed out, Cuccinelli's ally Randy Forbes got it exactly backwards when he (hysterically) warns of job losses at the Port of Virginia. In fact, any reduction in Virginia coal consumption at U.S. power plants, while Virginia coal production remains constant, will result in HIGHER net exports of Virginia coal. Nice try by Rep. Forbes, but no cigar.
3. So...Cuccinelli claims that "Virginia coal is 19,260 jobs." Sound like a lot? Well, it certainly is to the 19,260 people who have those jobs, and that matters. But in context, out of a Virginia civilian labor force of 4.2 million jobs, Cuccinelli is talking about 0.46% of Virginia jobs. And remember, per point #1, those jobs are UP under President Obama. But the main point is that 99.54% of Virginia employment is NOT in coal, and Ken Cuccinelli's backwards, regressive, trickle-down policies would be disastrous for that 99.54%. They also wouldn't help the 0.46% of Virginians employed in the coal industry, just as George W. Bush's policies didn't help (again, coal mining employment in Virginia was DOWN under Bush).
4. As for economic activity, Cuccinelli claims that coal accounts for $2.5 billion Virginia economic activity. First of all, that's unlikely. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis' statistics, economic output for ALL mining activities in Virginia (oil and gas, coal, etc.) was $2.3 billion, which is obviously less than $2.5 billion. But let's even say that Cuccinelli's numbers were right; we're talking about $2.5 billion out of total Virginia economic activity of $446 billion in 2012. That means mining (coal, natural gas, etc.) makes up 0.56% of Virginia's economy, while 99.44% is made up of everything else. And again, Ken Cuccinelli's rob-from-the-middle-class-and-give-to-the-rich economic policies would hurt that 99.44%, while not helping the 0.56% in any way either.
5. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis' statistics, Virginia wages in 2011 were $204 billion. Cuccinelli claims $1.4 billion of that's in coal mining,. which would amount to 0.69% of total Virginia wages. That means that 99.31% of Virginia wages are NOT coal mining related. And again, Cuccinelli's right-wingnut economic and social policies would seriously harm those 99.31% of Virginia wages, while doing NOTHING to boost the 0.69% related to coal mining.
So much for THAT line of attack. Next?
P.S. Meanwhile, Cuccinelli continues to deny climate science, and the existential threat posed by global warming, while offering ZERO ideas to deal with this crisis. That will do wonders for places like Hampton Roads, when it's under water, or the rest of Virginia, when we face increasingly severe droughts and storms, etc.
P.P.S. I forgot to mention the first claim in this graphic, that "every dollar raised at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner is a dollar that will go to funding the McAuliffe/Biden/Obama war on coal." Actually, every dollar raised at the JJ goes to funding the Democratic Party of Virginia, which helps elect Democrats in Virginia. That enables us to promote economic fairness and social justice, a clean energy economy, LGBT equality, a woman's right to choose, everyone's right to vote, and many other important policy goals, while blocking Teapublicans' extremist agenda. If you're interested in helping achieve those goals, I urge you to give to your favorite Virginia Democratic candidate - for gov, LG, AG, or House of Delegates - today!  Thanks.

Examples of the Voting Rights Act Blocking Discriminatory Voting Laws in Virginia

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Virginia Democratic staffer emailed me the other day with some interesting information I thought worth passing on.  What prompted the email was the Supreme Court striking down a key part of the Voting Rights Act, as well as this quote in the Richmond Times Dispatch by the Executive Director of the Virginia ACLU:
Claire Guthrie GastaƱaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, called the court’s decision a potential “death blow” to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
"By doing so, the Court has blocked the single most effective instrument of fairness in place since 1965,” she said.GastaƱaga said that the preclearance process blocked 15 discriminatory voting laws in Virginia between 1982 and 2006, including a $45 fee that the Republican Party proposed to impose on convention delegates in 1994 – a practice overturned as a poll tax.
What were those 15 discriminatory voting laws blocked by "preclearance?" A March 2006 report report lists instances where Section 5 of the VRA prevented voter disenfranchisement in Virginia. Note that much of the intervention stemmed from Republican plans to pack black voters into districts, much in the same way that they tried during the last session of the Virginia General Assembly.Also note that most of Virginia’s Section 5 objections since 1982 have involved redistricting. Officials have consistently attempted to limit African-American voters’ political influence by “packing” them into a few districts or dispersing them among several majority-white districts to limit their ability to elect candidates of choice. This form of “vote dilution” is designed to cabin minority voting power, and is indeed “old poison in new bottles.” Moreover, changes made during redistricting usually have an impact for a decade or even beyond. Section 5’s role in ensuring that the political opportunities of African Americans are not further limited during redistricting has likely protected the rights of innumerable African-American voters.

A "War on Coal?" Three Graphs That Tell a TOTALLY Different Story

Thursday, June 27, 2013

For anyone claiming there's been a "war on coal" in the Obama administration, I refer you to the following three graphs. Graph #1 (click to "embiggen") shows coal mining employment in Virginia is actually UP a bit from the George W. Bush years. Graph #2 (on the "flip") shows an even bigger increase in coal mining employment in West Virginia during the Obama administration, compared to the George W. Bush administration. Finally, Graph #3 shows the long decline of coal mining employment in Central Appalachia, a large chunk of which occurred under Presidents Reagan and George HW Bush (the trend continued under Bill Clinton, then reversed a bit under George W. Bush and Barack Obama).Regardless, the reasons for the decline in coal mining employment have essentially nothing to do with a "war on coal." What HAS caused a decline in coal mining employment over the years: 1) mechanization, which has made the industry far more capital intensive and far less labor intensive than it used to be; 2) a migration of coal mining from places where it used to be mined by humans, operating in coal mines, to highly-mechanized Western and/or mountaintop removal operations; and 3) cheap and abundant natural gas, as well as much cheaper (and inexhaustible) wind and solar power. Put that all together, and what do you get? A decline in coal mining employment in the U.S. over many, many decades. For the true believers in a "war on coal," I guess what they're arguing is that this "war" has been waged all those decades, by both Republican and Democratic presidents and Congresses, etc. Is that plausible? Well, no, but many of these are the same people who deny climate science, after all, so were you expecting logic or something?
lowkell :: A "War on Coal?" Three Graphs That Tell a TOTALLY Different Story

For VA House of Delegates Races, What a Difference Two Years Makes; Now We Need to Capitalize

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Two years ago, almost to the day, I posted a diary on Blue Virginia bemoaning the fact that there were only 15 "R" vs. "D" House of Delegates races listed by VPAP. That's right: in June 2011, only 15% of the 100 House of Delegates seats were being contested between a Democrat and a Republican. And today?Well, let's just say, what a difference 2 years makes! As of today, by my count, there are 43 "R" vs. "D" House of Delegates races listed on VPAP. That's nearly three times as many as what we had two years ago. Of those 43 races, I count 28 districts where Democrats are challenging incumbent Republicans. I count only 6 districts where Republicans are challenging incumbent Democrats.
Also of interest, the 28 districts where Democrats are challenging incumbent Republicans include 14 districts (2nd, 12th, 13th, 21st, 31st, 32nd, 42nd, 50th, 51st, 67th, 86th, 87th, 93rd, 94th) won by Barack Obama in 2012. Of course, that doesn't guarantee - or even make it likely - that the Democratic challenger will defeat the Republican incumbent in November. However, it DOES mean that if Democrats can get out as many "Obama voters" as possible, we've got a good chance of picking up at least a few of these.
Anyway, the bottom line is that we're doing a lot better in 2013 in terms of fielding Democratic candidates for Virginia House of Delegates compared to 2011. That's a testament, in part, to the strong recruiting efforts by Democratic House leadership. Now, the key will be adequately funding the Democratic candidates with the most realistic shots of winning. How much money are we talking about? Looking back at 2011 statistics, we're generally talking in the range of $100,000-$500,000 for victorious candidates of the seriously contested races. That means we could fund all 14 "Obama district" Democratic challengers for $7 million, assuming $500,000 per candidate.
That may seem like a great deal of money, but it's not a lot when you consider how much money's floating around out there, how much is spent on federal elections, and also what's at stake here. For a billionaire like Michael Bloomberg, for instance, to fund candidates at the state level who support common sense gun safety measures would seem to be a much smarter investment of his money (e.g., more "bang for the buck") than attempting to "play" at the federal level, where Congress is hopelessly gridlocked anyway. At the state level, in contrast, it's a much more conceivable prospect that we could take back the state legislature, then start churning out strong bills on energy, voting rights, health care, gun safety, you name the topic. Clearly, the right wing (e.g., the Koch brothers, ALEC) "gets" this, which is why they have put so much effort into winning elections - and passing legislation - at the state level. The question is, when are wealthy progressives going to slap their foreheads and realize what a huge opportunity they've been squandering? Perhaps that might start in Virginia 2013? Let's hope.

339th Straight Warmer-Than-20th-Century Avg Month Shows Urgency of Action to Avert Climate Disaster

Monday, June 24, 2013

From the National Climatic Data Center:
According to NOAA scientists, the globally averaged temperature for May 2013 tied with 1998 and 2005 as the third warmest May since record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 37th consecutive May and 339th consecutive month (more than 28 years) with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average May temperature was May 1976 and the last below-average temperature for any month was February 1985.
I sure hope that President Obama has something really good to offer tomorrow. I also hope that all the climate science deniers out there would pull their heads out of their butts and start caring more about our planet than about fossil fuel company profits. That starts, first and foremost, with Republicans in Congress and in state governments all over the country. In Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli is a puppet of the fossil fuel industry and a long-time science denier, so I wouldn't recommend holding your breath. Much better choice: defeat him, and every other climate science-denying freak, this November at the polls.P.S. A far better option is discussed here - a rapid transition to clean energy ASAP!

Fairfax Republicans Nominate Homophobic "Ex-Gay" Proponent to Board of Elections

Just when you think Republicans can't get any crazier, they go ahead and do just that. See the image at the far right (appropriately enough; click to "embiggen"), which announces that "with great pleasure" the Fairfax County Republican Committee's endorsements for the Fairfax County Board of Elections. Note the first name on the list, Stephen Hunt? Sound familiar? Does this article ring a bell from back in 2005?
The Fairfax County School Board issued a public reprimand last night to a member who sent a letter to high school principals urging them to ensure that students hear the views of people who believe homosexuality is a choice and a "destructive lifestyle."After a unanimous vote and a nearly two-hour closed session that ended about 11, Board Chairman Phillip A. Niedzielski-Eichner (Providence) released a board statement criticizing the actions of Stephen M. Hunt (At Large).
This week, Hunt sent a letter to the district's 24 high school principals in which he expressed concerns over the way homosexuality is taught in the school system and encouraged the addition of speakers with an "ex-gay perspective."
Yep, the guy's yet another raving, sex-obsessed (in a really, really unhealthy way) Republican. What's amazing is that the party keeps nominating these freaks - Hunt, EW Jackson, Ken Cuccinelli, Mark Obenshain, etc. - for public office. What's wrong, they couldn't find any better candidates on street corners ranting and raving about the end of the world or whatever? Apparently not.By the way, if you're interested in more on Stephen Hunt, see Is Stephen Hunt Another "Sideshow Bob" (Marshall)?Mary Lee Cerillo on Steve Hunt's Anti-Gay Obsession, and Are The Republicans Dumb Enough To Nominate Steve Hunt? As to that last question, the answer is clearly "yes." Now here's a suggestion for Stephen Hunt: instead of seeking public office, how about joining "ex-gay" group Exodus International in shutting down and apologizing for promoting "years of undue suffering and judgment" toward LGBT people?!? Just a thought...

PolitiFact Virginia Fails Miserably Yet Again, Descends Into Self Parody

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Over the past few years, corporate news media "fact checkers" have sprung up and spread like kudzu. The problem is, like kudzu, while the initial intention may have been good (in kudzu's case, the goal was to use it as "a high-protein content cattle fodder and as a cover plant to prevent soil erosion"), in both case I'd argue that they've gone almost completely haywire, ended up doing more harm than good, and now have come to pose a major problem that needs to be solved.Latest case in point when it comes to the increasing failure of the "fact checkers?" Try this bizarre, convoluted drivel by PolitiFact Virginia, in which they assign Terry McAuliffe a "false" rating for asserting, correctly, that "The Tea Party ticket says their top priority is a career-long mission to outlaw abortion in all cases and ban some common forms of birth control." Let's summarize the "reasoning" (using the word extremely loosely) here:
1. PolitiFact admits right up front that "There's no doubt that the members of the GOP slate -- gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, lieutenant governor candidate E.W. Jackson and attorney general candidate Mark Obenshain -- are strongly opposed to abortion." Right, and it would be helpful if PolitiFact detailed the years and years of rhetoric and, more importantly, actions, by Cuccinelli et al. to put in place draconian anti-abortion laws, constitutional amendments, etc. For instance, all of these guys support a "Personhood Amendment" to the Virginia constitution, which would effectively ban abortion and many (most?) forms of contraception. In addition, Obenshain proposed legislation that would have criminalized miscarriages. Cuccinelli bullied Virginia health authorities to essentially shut down women's health clinics, which provide a wide variety of services, a small percentage of which involve abortion. Etc, etc. In short, this has been a multi-year, concerted, even relentless campaign by Cuccinelli et al. to restrict and/or ban abortion. More than any other single issue, this one has dominated these guys' efforts as politicians. That's an objective fact; check it out for yourself. But apparently that's too difficult (or take a backbone?) for the paid (e.g., they do this for a LIVING!) "fact checkers" at PolitiFact to handle. #FAIL
lowkell :: PolitiFact Virginia Fails Miserably Yet Again, Descends Into Self Parody

2. So what is it that PolitiFact needs to verify McAuliffe's (objectively correct) assertion? Apparently, not actions, but words - and specifically the wording that PolitiFact deems, in  its infinite wisdom (actually, unbridled arrogance and intellectual shoddiness/laziness), to be required to prove McAuliffe's statement accurate. Thus, in PolitiFact's view, since Cuccinelli et al. have not literally said that their #1 priority going forward is to ban abortion, then McAuliffe's statement must be false. Of course, that fails Logic 101, Logic 102, and every other Logic course known to humanity. It's also just brain dead stupid. But whatever, these guys aren't rocket scientists.3. So what IS Ken Cuccinelli's #1 goal if he's elected governor? According to PolitiFact, we should all just take his claim at face value that "when it comes to identifying the most important issue facing voters this fall, Cuccinelli has said it's the economy." In other words, ignore everything Cuccinelli (and EW Jackson and Mark Obenshain) has said and done for his entire career, which you'd think would be the most accurate predictor of his future behavior, and instead take what he says during the heat of a campaign in which he's trying to present a more "moderate" image to voters in order to try to win an election.
I mean, anyone with half a brain would quickly discount the latter and focus almost 100% on the former. But not PolitiFact, oh no. They do the exact opposite.  This is either stone-cold stupid or fundamentally dishonest. Or both? Either way, in no way, shape or form should anyone take PolitiFact (at least not the Virginia division) seriously ever again on anything, as they descend into driveling incoherence and pitiful self parody. I know I won't.

Getting to Know Your 2013 Virginia Republican Ticket: Mark Obenshain (Part 1)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Of the three Virginia Republican 2013 statewide candidates, probably the least known at this point is Attorney General candidate Mark Obenshain. That's not because he's any less extreme than the other two - Ken Cuccinelli and EW Jackson - but he tends to be quieter about his far-right-wing views. Thus, Democratic AG candidate Mark Herring's line about how Obenshain votes like Cuccinelli and EW Jackson talk.Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to focus on Obenshain a bit more, just to get a feel for who this guy is (behind the relatively quiet exterior). Something tells me this will be a multi-part series o' crazy, but for now, we'll focus mainly on Obenshain's extreme views regarding restricting contraception and banning abortion.
*A 2008 Washington Post article explained that Mark Obenshain is the sone of "the late Richard D. of the architects of the modern-day GOP in Virginia." Given how tinfoil-hat crazy the "modern-day GOP in Virginia" has become, that's a frightening thought in and of itself. But wait, it gets worse.
*That same Washington Post article noted that, "In the Senate, Obenshain often teams with Cuccinelli and other conservatives to battle moderate GOP leaders behind the scenes on social and economic issues." Greeeeeeaaat, huh? Just what we need in the Virginia Attorney General's office, another hard-right-winger who is so extreme, he can't even get along with "moderate GOP leaders" like, I dunno, Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling? Gack.
*A 2011 Richmond Times-Dispatch article said that Obenshain and Cuccinelli "are kindred conservative spirits who often voted alike on issues like abortion and school choice," with Obenshain calling Cuccinelli "a principled and effective attorney general." Riiiiight, if you define "effective" as being corrupt, as fighting for oil and gas companies against Virginia taxpayers and landowners, as being a puppet of extremist forces like theKoch brothers, of abusing the powers of his office to pursue a witch hunt against a UVA scientist (because Cuckoo's a climate science denier - note that in a sane world, this ALONE would disqualify him from holding public office of any kind), of wasting Virginians' hard-earned tax dollars in managing to lose case after case in court, etc. As for "principled," I guess Cuccinelli has principles (e.g., discriminating against LGBT Virginians, waging war on Planned Parenthood, supporting the criminalization of abortion and common forms of contraception), they're just completely wrong.
*In 2007, Obenshain was a patron of legislation by "Sideshow Bob" Marshall that would amended the Virginia constitution to give "each born and preborn human being from the moment of fertilization" the "right to enjoyment of life." From the "moment of fertilization?!?"  That's right, this "personhood amendment" would criminalize: abortion at any stage and for ANY reason (e.g., rape, incest, the life and/or health of the mother); many forms of birth control; embryonic stem cell research. This is about as far out as you can get in American politics, and Mark Obenshain was right there cheering it on.
*As much as Obenshain tries to deny it, the fact is that in 2009, he introduced legislation which "Requires that when a fetal death occurs without medical attendance upon the mother at or after the delivery or abortion, the mother or someone acting on her behalf, within 24 hours, report the fetal death, location of the remains, and identity of the mother to the local or state police or sheriff's department of the city or county where the fetal death occurred." In addition, "The bill...specifies that no one shall remove, destroy, or otherwise dispose of any remains without the express authorization of law-enforcement officials or the medical examiner, and that a violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor." That's right, Obenshain pushed to criminalize miscarriages. Crazy AND dangerous, a wonderful combination, huh?
*A 2003 Washington Times article discussed how JMU board member "Mark D. Obenshain moved that JMU stop selling levonorgestre" ("a synthetic hormone that is a contraceptive"). Obenshain's "reasoning" (using the word loosely)? "'One of the effects of the pill is to cause the destruction of a fertilized egg,' he said. 'Do people categorize that as having an abortion effect? Yes. Do I? Yes.'"
Since Mark Obenshain appears to like rhetorical questions, how about this one: "Do Virginia voters agree with Obenshain's out-of-the-mainstream views on contraception and abortion? No. Do we want this guy to be our next Attorney General? Certainly not!"

Sen. McEachin, Del. Herring Rip EW Jackson for Saying Great Society Programs Worse than Slavery

Friday, June 21, 2013

According to EW Jackson, "slavery did not destroy the black family," but "the programs that began in the 60s...that's when the black family began to was government that did that, trying to solve problems that only god can solve and that only we as human beings can solve."Other than being completely nonsensical (e.g., only god can solve AND only human beings can solve? pick one!), Jackson's comments have been widely ridiculed for being both wildly insensitive and...well, completely nuts. Just a few minutes ago on a conference call, Senator Donald McEachin and DPVA Chair Charniele Herring yet again denounced Jackson for his lunacy. According to Sen. McEachin, "comparing welfare to slavery irrational comparison," and to "exploit" the struggle against slavery "in the name of an extreme ideological agenda" has "no place in Virginia politics."
Unfortunately, as Del. Herring pointed out, it's not just EW Jackson: "earlier this year, Ken Cuccinelli drew widespread condemnation for comparing a woman's constitutional right to an abortion to slavery, a comparison that Jackson publicly defended after he joined the ticket..." More broadly, in Herring's view, what Jackson and Cuccinelli are doing is "smack[ing] everybody in the face who's had a difficult time in suggest that anybody who takes welfare to put food on their child's compare that to slavery...I'm sorry, I'm beyond words...those government programs have actually helped children, they saved lives, they made sure that children had  a fighting's a government program that allowed me to get to college."
Finally, Del. Herring made an important point, that this isn't just about African Americans: "it's not a matter of race, it's a matter of economic circumstance...we are giving [people of all races] a hand up so they can live free, be able to prosper, have jobs and get their children educated." Well said by Charniele Herring; are you listening, Bishop Jackson?!?
Meanwhile, I'm curious which of the Great Society programs EW Jackson thinks are comparable to slavery. The Civil Rights Act of 1964? The Voting Rights Act of 1965? Head Start (1965)? Medicare and Medicaid (1965)? The Higher Education Act of 1965? The Child Nutrition Act of 1966? The National School Lunch Act of 1968? Which of these programs, specifically, were worse than slavery, and why?
Another question for EW Jackson: given that the Atlantic slave trade resulted in the deaths of millions of Africans, as well as the tearing apart of innumerable African families (and entire villages, for that matter), how specifically was the National School Lunch Act of 1968 worse than that? And given that African slaves could be (and were!) bought and sold at the whim of their "masters," tearing families apart on a daily basis, how specifically was Head Start worse than that?!? We're all ears...can't wait to hear EW Jackson's response (yeah, right)!

Videos: Meet 14 of Your 2013 Northern Virginia Democratic House of Delegates Candidates

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Earlier today, I attended an event at the Clarendon Metro station in Arlington, in which Del. Mark Sickles (D) introduced many of the Democratic Virginia House of Delegates candidates from Northern Virginia for 2013. In order of introduction, the candidates were: Kathleen Murphy (running against Del. Barbara Comstock in the 34th), Jeremy McPike (running against Del. Scott Lingamfelter in the 31st), John Bell (running against Del. David Ramadan in the 87th), Mike Futrell (running against Del. Mark Dudenhefer in the 2nd), Monte Johnson (running against Del. Randy Minchew in the 10th), Jennifer Boysko (running against Del. Tom Rust in the 86th), Reed Heddleston (running against Del. Rich Anderson in the 51st), Jerry Foltz (running against Del. Tim Hugo in the 40th), Richard Cabellos (running against Del. Jackson Miller in the 50th), Ed Deitsch (running against Del. Dave Albo in the 42nd), Traci Dippert (running against Del. Ed Scott in the 30th), Hung Nguyen (running against Del. Jim LeMunyon in the 67th), Kathleen O'Halloran (running against Del. Mark Cole in the 88th), and Marcus Simon (running against Republican Brad Tidwell in the 53rd). In the Q&A session after the candidate introductions (see videos of that, as well as of Del. Sickles' introduction to the event, on the "flip"). Sickles said that there are a number of districts where Democrats can win this November, that "absolutely we're doing to win seats." Also, here's a statement from the Democratic Party of Virginia on this morning's event.
ARLINGTON -- Today, the Virgina Democratic House Caucus held a press conference rolling out the Northern Virginia slate of Democratic House candidates. "Our ticket is mainstream and earning support across the aisle while the Tea Party ticket is driving Republicans away with their extreme ideological agenda," said Virginia Democratic House Caucus Chair Mark Sickles. "Virginians have had enough with divisive politics and now the Democratic House Caucus is poised to pick up seats this November and lead the state forward by focusing on job creation, strengthening our transportation system and infrastructure, and ensuring Virginians have access to affordable education." "This recruitment class of candidates is one of the largest we’ve had in years," said Delegate Alfonso Lopez. "We look forward to running with mainstream Virginians while Virginia Republicans run in lockstep with one of the most extreme tickets in Virginia history."

Audio: Yours Truly Talks Virginia Politics on the Kudzu Vine Radio Show

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Listen to internet radio with Southern Politics on BlogTalkRadio

I was on the Kudzu Vine Blog Talk Radio show earlier this evening talking Virginia politics, just thought I'd share it with Blue Virginia readers in case you're interested.P.S. My segment starts a bit after 20 minutes in...

Former RPV Chair Kate Obenshain: Planned Parenthood "Barbarians;" Colleges "Indoctrination Camps"

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Young America Foundation VP Kate Obenshain - formerly an "appointee of Governors George Allen and Jim Gilmore on the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia,"also "chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia from 2002 to 2006" and "Senator George Allen's Chief of Staff for the remainder of his term in the U.S. Senate following the Senator's loss" - speaks at the far-right-wing "Faith and Freedom Coalition" conference yesterday in Washington DC. In this clip, Obenshain calls Planned Parenthood "barbarians" who are "promoting a barbaric philosophy." She also claims that everythying on college campuses is "oriented towards promoting the billion dollar abortion's not about the right of women to control their bodies, it's about the right of Planned Parenthood to make billions and billions." She concludes that "our college campuses are indoctrination camps for the abortion industry...that's what it is." Of course, that's not what college is about at all, nor is that what "sensitivity training" and everything else Obenshain's ranting and raving about. But, like so many right wingnuts, Obenshain never lets facts and reality get in the way of her loony-tunes narrative.

Kooky GOP Fanatic Calls ME "Kooky?"

Thursday, June 13, 2013

by Paul Goldman

by Paul GoldmanI see where the usual GOP fanatics are starting to call me "kooky" (for the sin of predicting a November Dem sweep). As Anne Hathaway said in her breakthrough role: "Is that your best pick-up line? Is that all you got?" Jake Gyllenhaal's comeback a moment later is very funny, but I will let you see the movie.
It all reminds me of the lyric from a Billy Joel song: "You may be right, I may be crazy, but it just might be a lunatic that you're looking for." Let's assume I am "kooky." That should scare the GOP, since if I were on their ticket this year, I would be the least kooky of them all. Okay, maybe not the least, but surely not the most kooky. Close, but "no cigar," as my father liked to say.
Indeed, if  you know the history of VA politics, it is hardly a surprise that this is another gubernatorial election year and a rabid Republican hack is calling me "kooky." The only surprise: the term was previously used by the conservative Democratic establishment. When I first got involved in VA politics, there weren't too many folks with my accent and southern upbringing - southern New York, that is - who were allowed in the "Main House" of VA politics. When I stood up for women, African-Americans and indeed Northern Virginians, there weren't a lot of people in my forward position, as they say in the military. Warner, Kaine, everyone was happy to let me have the "point," as the saying goes. In World War II, the life span of a Lieutenant on the front lines was 12 days; less in Vietnam.
Things were such that when I once named an African American as deputy campaign manager, I was told it wasn't done in Virginia. "He is the right guy for job" I said. They said, "we don't do things this way in Virginia." "Now we do," I responded.
Goldmanusa :: Kooky GOP Fanatic Calls ME "Kooky?"
Indeed, I never took the title of campaign manager for Doug Wilder, because I figured a white Jewish guy with my accent had the wrong image. In hindsight, maybe we were kooky to think like that. The people were ready for change. President Obama said what we did inspired him. So maybe we didn't quite appreciate what was really happening.  That was only a generation ago! So yeah, I am no doubt kooky, strange, whatever, coming to Virginia when Wilder was under attack from left and right, being called a sure loser, a disaster for the ticket. My first act: putting a gun to Dr. Sabato's and the Dem establishment's heads and threatening to shoot if they didn't get their boot off my guy's neck and give him a fair shot at being nominated. Kooky wasn't the half of it. And yes; My confrontational approach was widely attacked from the left and the right, Democrat to Republican, editorials from conservative to liberal.
They said there was no need to be kooky. But with Justin Fairfax's loss, I say this: Kooky as chronicled in the book, "When Hell Froze Over," isn't looking so kooky anymore. Wilder got 50% twice statewide, and he scared every other Democratic challenger and their conservative establishment backers to the sidelines. Since then, no African-American, indeed no non-white Virginian running for even a Democratic nomination, has been able to get 50% once, and that doesn't include all those who decided against running. Wilder's political strategy dared someone to challenge him in the Democratic party: and none did. Truth be known, we would have not gotten nominated in probably 1985 or 1989 if they had called our bluff.
Donald McEachin did manage to narrowly win a 4-way nomination race: he got less than 40% in the general election. I was Warner's strategy guy at the time and wondered when Donald was going to put a gun to our heads. He didn't do it.
So yes: it was monumentally "kooky" to do what we did a generation ago. But it worked. Truth is, we stood on the shoulders of giants. They get the credit. Hopefully we have proven a little worthy of what they did. We could have done better. But we did what we could do.
The 200-proof bottom line: There is good kooky and there is bad kooky. I just got through reading a book on how Hitler could have won WW 2. I enjoy reading strategy books. Truth is, this one not only made sense, apparently his generals saw it back in 1941-42, but Hitler rejected their ideas. Meaning: There is a way for Cuccinelli to win, and for Jackson to win, which would mean Obenshain would win. As Billy Joel pointed out "sometimes you feel like a nut, other times you don't." Oops, that was a slogan for one of the Mars Bar.
Advice to GOP (bad) kooks and fanatics: Calling me "kooky" is cool; personally I preferred the epithets from the 1980s, as they had a better historical content. But to paraphrase Anne Hathaway: if that is all you got, then that's all you got.

Progressive Blogs Win it for Herring

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

by Paul Goldman

by Paul Goldman
If you back out the results from Loudoun County, the primary contest between Senator Mark Herring and former prosecutor Justin Fairfax was essentially a dead heat. In the view of 200-proof politics, strong support from the progressive blogs made the difference for Herring. As a purely technical matter, Fairfax had the better general election "message." Thus, it wasn't quite as attractive to the progressive blogs as Herring's candidacy, whose pitch seemed designed to get their support.
The blogs did for Herring what his campaign did not: provide a certain energy, a certain edge, a certain image of the guy which is not his normal MO. Of the two candidates, Herring comes across as the more laid back. This can be a problem in a low-vote situation against a young, aggressive challenger.
Fairfax did an amazing job of coming from nowhere to near victory in a very short span of political time. Moreover he did it in the face of a solid Herring campaign with a very good direct mail effort. But the Fairfax support demonstrates a certain hunger on the part of Democratic primary voters for a more youthful, forceful style, more in the "prosecutorial" mode which fit Fairfax.
Bottom line here at 200-proof politics: Had the blogs gone for Fairfax, he wins. As 200-proof wrote at the time, Herring's smartest technical play was getting out front on the so-called "gay rights" issues. He also ran more against Cuccinelli than anyone else in the primaries this year. Again, a smart technical play.
In my view, given their resources, I don't think the blogs made much difference in the LG's race when all is said and done. Both candidates had the money to make their case. This was not true in the AG's race in my view. Herring overcame the Post endorsement. But had he lost the blogs, I think he would have lost.
In the general election, the blogs' influence will likely be far, far less, as they will tend to "preach" to the choir on each side of the aisle. But in a low-vote primary dominated by high-information political voters, the blogs must be seen as important players.

Ken Cuccinell's Slimepit of Corruption: Oil & Gas Edition

From his quid pro quo with the slimeball/phony "U.S. Navy Veterans Association" run by "Bobby Thompson" (or is it fugitive Harvard lawyer John Donald Cody?), to the Star Scientific scandal, Ken Cuccinelli's corruption knows few bounds. The latest scandal? Check this out.
A Southwest Virginia legislator Monday called for an state Inspector Generalinvestigation into Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's office after a federal judge rebuked a lawyer on his staff for assisting two energy companies as they defend against lawsuits from citizens over natural gas royalties.State Sen. Phillip Puckett, D-Russell County, publicly made that request after theAssociated Press last week reported on the shock U.S. Magistrate Judge Pamela Meade Sargent conveyed in a recent court document upon learning one of Cuccineli's staff attorneys had offered advice to the corporate litigants.
E-mails provided to the court show that assistant attorney general Sharon Pigeon gave advice to attorneys for the companiesEQT Production Co. and CNX Gas Co., both from the Pittsburgh area.
As part of her duties, Pigeon represents the Virginia Gas and Oil Board, which has an interest in the case but isn't a party to the long-running dispute between the energy companies and private landowners over compensation for gas harvested from their properties.
"With this much at stake, it was positively outrageous to learn last week that Ken Cuccinelli’s office has been acting not as a neutral observer in this case, but as an active adviser to the companies who are seeking to avoid paying Virginians millions in royalties," Puckett said on on a conference call organized by Virginia Democrats.o;s report on whether any laws or ethics rules have been broken in this disturbing matter," he added.
Serious stuff, and it's unlikely there's any good answer (the "I forgot" excuse probably won't work here, as it didn't work when Cuccinelli tried it in the Star Scientific scandal case). So now, Del. Terry Kilgore - the brother of Ken Cuccinelli's attorney, Jerry Kilgore - is desperately trying to defend Cuccinelli politically at least, flailing around for something to get him off the hook, or at least distract the press for a while. Thus, according to Terry Kilgore, "Any suggestion that Attorney General Cuccinelli or his office was involved in any impropriety should be dismissed for the Democrat talking points they so clearly are." Uh huh. So it's all a made up, partisan witch hunt. Why is everyone always picking on poor, poor Ken Cuccinelli, anyway?  Boo-hoo-hoo. In reality, of course, Cuccinelli has been sloshing around in contributions and gifts from the very companies his office has been improperly advising and otherwise "assisting." As has his pal Terry Kilgore. A few examples of the oil and gas companies' favors to Kilgore include:*$250 in Pennsylvania Football tickets from Consol
*$200 in Football tickets from Consol
*$250 in Race tickets from EQT
*$14,500 in Contributions from Consol
*$10,300 in Contributions from EQT
*$3000 in Contributions from CNX (Consol Subsidiary)
So...$700 in gifts and over $27,000 in campaign cash to Terry Kilgore. And lots LOTS more to Ken Cuccinelli ($111k from Consol alone). And then, in a TOTAL coincidence I'm sure, Cuccinelli's office "gave advice to attorneys for the companies" which just happen to be "seeking to avoid paying Virginians millions in royalties." Sure, happens all the time, right? Nothing to see here, move right along. At least that's what Ken Cuccinelli and Company would like us to believe. But last I checked, Virginians were not as gullible as the cynical, smarmy Cuccinelli (and his cynical, smarmy defenders like the Kilgore brothers) likes to think we are.
P.S. For more on all this slime, see Cuccinelli, Penguins and Natural Gas by Peter Galuszka.

Virginia Primary Election Results Live Blog

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

It's 7 pm, and polls in Virginia are now closed. Which races are you watching? Obviously, I'm curious to know who won the Democratic primaries for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General. I'm also interested in the Democratic and Republican House of Delegates primaries. I'll be listening to the John Fredericks Show, as well as checking results at VPAP and the State Board of Elections website. On the LG and AG races, it will be interesting to see if they can be called early, or whether they are too close to call for a while. Should be interesting...stay tuned!UPDATE 9:43 pm: Looks like turnout in the Democratic primary was around 140,000, which is better than 2005 by about 25,000 votes. Still pitifully low, but at least it wasn't a historic low as many of us thought it might be this afternoon.
UPDATE 9:23 pm: @ryanobles tweets, "AP Calls it: BULLETIN (AP) - Mark Herring, Dem, nominated Attorney General, Virginia."
UPDATE 9:11 pm: Huge upset by Tea Partier Mark J Berg over Del. Beverly Sherwood in the 29th HoD district. And Del. Joe May loses to Tea Partier Dave LaRock in the 33rd HoD district. These upsets are all about the transportation bill vote. Wow. On the other hand, Republican Scott Taylor wins the 85th HoD primary, despite his support for the transportation bill, over Gary Byler and Jeremy Waters.
UPDATE 9:08 pmVPAP is finally back up. With 95.8% of precincts reporting, it's Mark  Herring 51.78% (69,058 votes)-Justin Fairfax 48.22% (64,315 votes). In theHouse of Delegates, congratulations to Del. Rosalyn Dance (53%-47%), Jennifer Boysko (76%-24%), and Del. Algie Howell (68%-32%).
UPDATE 9:01 pm: @aneeshchopra tweets, "Congratulations to Senator @RalphNortham on his victory tonight. I'm looking forward to working together to win in November. #Unity"
UPDATE 8:59 pm: This is nuts! @DenaPotterAP  tweets, "Senior Va. GOP Del. Joe May, roads package backer, loses primary to conservative challenger."
UPDATE 8:58 pm: ‏@vpapupdates tweets, "House District 63 - 29 of 30 precincts - Dance 52.88% Thompson 47.11%." Looks like that one's over.
UPDATE 8:57 pm: NLS just called the AG race for Mark Herring.
UPDATE 8:55 pm: ‏@vpapupdates tweets, "SBE says 92.3% of precincts reporting - Herring 51.65% Fairfax 48.34%"
UPDATE 8:53 pm: @DenaPotterAP tweets, "Longtime Va. GOP Del. Beverly Sherwood loses primary to conservative challenger Mark Berg."
lowkell :: Virginia Primary Election Results Live Blog
UPDATE 8:52 pm: @ArlingtonVotes tweets, "Corrections: Arlington totals for Lt. Gov: @RalphNortham 3938, @aneeshchopra 4525." What on earth?!?UPDATE 8:47 pm: According to @vpapupdates, "SBE reporting with 90.8 % precincts reporting, Northam 54%, Chopra 46%" and "SBE reporting with 90.6 % precincts reporting, Herring 51.5%, Fairfax 48.5%"
UPDATE 8:37 pm: @vpapupdates tweets, "83% of precincts reporting. Northam lead has widened slightly - 53.55 % of vote vs. Chopra 46.45" and "83% percent of vote. AG races appears to narrow. Herring 51% Fairfax 49%"
UPDATE 8:36 pm: @notlarrysabato has called the LG race for Ralph Northam. Congratulations to Sen. Northam on his victory; now please kick EW Jackson's butt! :)
UPDATE 8:33 pm: @ArlingtonVotes tweets, "Arlington unofficial results, Atty General: @SenMarkHerring 4951, @FairfaxJustin 3244" and "Arlington unofficial results, Lt Governor: @RalphNortham 4951, @aneeshchopra 4525." Very bad news for Aneesh Chopra (I'm right on the edge of calling it for Northam). Good news for Mark Herring.
UPDATE 8:31 pm: @chelyendavis tweets, "The @AP officially calls the 28th House race for @SpeakerHowell." No surprise there.
UPDATE 8:18 pm: It looks like both VPAP and SBE are hosed right now. #FAIL (why does this crap happen every election, seemingly?)
UPDATE 8:06 pm: According to VPAP, with 1,762 precincts reporting (69.5%), it's Northam 44,538-Chopra 41,013. With 1,741 precincts reporting (68.7%), it's Herring 44,267-Fairfax 40,370.
UPDATE 8:00 pm: With 1,491 precincts of 2,543 reporting (57.9%), it's now Northam 36,122-Chopra 33,258; Herring 35,711-Fairfax 31,612. Also interesting, with 50% of precincts reporting, Del. Rosalyn Dance is beating Evandra Thompson 1,509-1,256.
UPDATE 7:56 pm: It's now Northam 3,284-Chopra 1,141 and Fairfax 2,215-Herring 1,786 in Norfolk.
UPDATE 7:41 pm: According to VPAP, with 783 precincts reporting out of 2,534, it's Northam 16,604-Chopra 15,795; Herring 16,890-Fairfax 14,919.
UPDATE 7:39 pm: In Fairfax County, with 4 of 237 precincts reporting, it's Chopra 203-Northam 167; Herring 222-Fairfax 146. Also, Jennifer Boysko is beating Herb Kemp 113-32.
UPDATE 7:33 pm: In Norfolk, it's currently Herring 764- Fairfax 664; Northam 1,316-Chopra 368.
UPDATE 7:32 pm: @LTMnews tweets, "First local returns starting to come in. In 33rd House District, Dave LaRock has a more than 200 vote lead with nearly 1,500 votes counted."
UPDATE 7:27 pm: From Chesterfield County, with 64 of 73 precincts reporting, it's Chopra 2,607-Northam 1,898, Fairfax 2,546-Herring 1,896, and Dance 381-Thompson 265.
UPDATE 7:21: @AdamEbbin tweets, Arlington's Fairlington Precinct Results: LG: Chopra 145, Northam 104. AG: Herring 150, Fairfax 95  

Unanimous Blue Virginia Endorsement: Mark Herring for Attorney General

Sunday, June 9, 2013

In the past, in our various iterations ("Raising Kaine," "RK," "Blue Commonwealth," "Blue Virginia"), we've made group blog endorsements of Democratic candidates in contested primaries. Sometimes those are unanimous. Sometimes it's been a big majority in favor of one candidate or the other. And sometimes, it's been more evenly split, or perhaps just a small majority, and/or a highly contentious/divisive process, in which cases we don't make an endorsement. That's just some context to today's Blue Virginia endorsement of Mark Herring, which was strong, unanimous, and completely without division or contention of any kind. Bottom line: on this one, there wasn't even any back and forth, as there often is, but a crystal clear choice: Mark Herring for Attorney General of Virginia. We will explain our decision in a minute, but first a note about the LG race. In discussions among the Blue Virginia front pagers, we found majority support for Aneesh Chopra, but we also found one person not comfortable making an endorsement in that race, and a couple (e.g., Teddy Goodson) supporting Ralph Northam. Given that, we've decided not to make a Blue Virginia group endorsement in the LG race. Individual members of the "front page" have endorsed Aneesh Chopra separately, including Elaine in Roanoke and Lowell Feld's (full disclosure: Lowell has been consulting to the Herring campaign on social media since January 2013; both Herring and his opponent have run paid ads on this site; nobody else on the Blue Virginia editorial board is consulting to Mark Herring). Now, back to our unanimous endorsement of Mark Herring. First off, we refer you to the Blue Virginia interview with Herring, as well as to Lowell's endorsement of Herring back in January. The interview discusses Herring's background and experience, his reasons for running, his vision for the AG's office, as well as his positions on a number of issues (e.g., pro-choice, pro-LGBT equality, pro-environment, pro-science, pro-consumer protection). For its part, the endorsement lays out the positive argument for Herring in detail, and we recommend that you read it. Also, see below for why we believe every Virginia Democrat and progressive should enthusiastically, and proudly, cast their vote for Mark Herring on Tuesday. *Herring is superbly qualified for this job. He's not just a highly experienced attorney, he's also served on the front lines both at the local and state levels, giving him a tremendous, deep, detailed knowledge of all the issues facing Virginia. This experience is far and away the best - deepest, broadest, you name it - of the candidates in the race for AG. *Herring has proven that he can win elections, not in deep-blue Arlington or Charlottesville or Richmond City, but in the "purplish" areas of Loudoun County and western Fairfax County (although note that this district went overwhelmingly for both Barack Obama and Tim Kaine in 2012, so things seem to be looking up from a Democratic perspective). *Herring has a strong, progressive voting record. According to Project Vote Smart, Herring has consistently received 100% ratings from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia; a 100% rating from Equality Virginia; and 100% ratings from the AFL-CIO. In addition, Herring was recently named a "Legislative Hero" by the Virginia League of Conservation Voters. That's a record we can all applaud. *During this election campaign, Herring has received strong endorsements from people and organizations we greatly respect: climate scientist/hero Michael Mann (victim of Ken Cuccinelli's out-of-control, outrageous, anti-science witch hunt and abuse of power); NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia PAC; the Virginia Education Association; several big labor organizations; elected officials ranging from Senators Donald McEachin and Adam Ebbin to Delegates Rob Krupicka, Patrick Hope, Alfonso Lopez, Charniele Herring, David Toscano, Delores McQuinn, and Mamye BaCote; Mayors Molly Ward, Paul Fraim, and David Bowers; Arlington Revenue Commissioner Ingrid Morroy; and many many more. *Herring rolled out a strong "Equality Agenda" for LGBT - and all! - Virginians. In it, Herring pledged to use the power of the Attorney General to push for "anti-bullying policies" and "to support initiatives to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Virginians from discrimination and disparate treatment in state and local agencies and programs." This is great stuff, and will mark a profund shift from the bigotry and intolerance of Ken Cuccinelli. *Herring also unveiled his agenda on women's issues, stressing that "equal opportunities and rights for women and men are critical to the well being and progress of everyone - individuals, families and communities." On a conference call, State Senator Barbara Favola heaped praise on Mark Herring, asserting that "Virginia's women can trust Mark Herring because he's...always been there for us," and adding, "Mark is the only candidate for Attorney General who's been an outspoken opponent of the TRAP regulations." The bottom line, in Sen. Barbara Favola's view, is that "I fully support Mark Herring for Attorney General, because I know he has our backs, I know we can trust him." We agree. *The powerful endorsement by climate scientist Michael Mann of Mark Herring was certainly one of the highlights of this campaign. According to Professor Mann, "it's a real honor to be endorsing and supporting Senator Herring, because of the brave stance that he took very early on, when my colleagues and I at the University of Virginia were subject to what the Washington Post called a witch hunt by the Attorney General." For his part, Mark Herring has called Ken Cuccinelli's actions in pursuing his anti-science vendetta against Michael Mann an "absolutely outrageous and an abuse of power and downright unAmerican," so bad that "Thomas Jefferson would be spinning in his grave." That about sums it up, and we strongly appreciate Mark Herring's leadership in this crucial area. *We'd also point to Herring's endorsement by Mary Sue Terry, the only woman ever elected to statewide office in Virginia, and the last Democrat to hold the office of Attorney General of Virginia. That really says a great deal, and we encourage everyone to read that endorsement! *Over and over again, Herring has emphasized that when he's Attorney General, he will return that office to one that serves ALL Virginians, that puts the law first, that stands up for mainstream Virginia values, and that works to make Virginia a welcoming place for individuals, businesses, and families to call home. In the end, we just want to reiterate that this choice was not difficult in any way. In fact, it was one of the easiest endorsements we've ever made. On Tuesday, we urge you to vote for Mark Herring. And before then, please tell everyone you know to do the same. Thanks.

Videos: "Ready for Hillary" Co-Founder Speaks in Arlington About Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton

Saturday, June 8, 2013

This afternoon at Arlington County Central Library, author and "Ready for Hillary" co-founder Allida Black spoke to several dozen people about Eleanor Roosevelt - and specifically her book, Tomorrow Is Now - and Hillary Clinton. The event was organized by my delegate, Patrick Hope. In the first video, Allida Black (an amazing woman in her own right, by the way) good-naturedly ribs Delegate Hope, then talks about her years of research into Eleanor Roosevelt. Here, Allida Black talks about the last sentence Eleanor Roosevelt ever wrote, just before she died (of tuberculosis): "Staying aloof is not a solution." So, so true! In this video, Allida Black pushes back against a question about the book "Game Change," which portrayed Hillary Clinton in a less-than-favorable light in many ways. In this video, Allida Black responds to a question about Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign, and about learning from past experience. In this video, Allida Black discusses the purposes of "Ready for Hillary" - laying the political groundwork for a possible Hillary Clinton presidential run in 2016 - and mentions her cofounder, former Arlingtonian (and former House of Delegates Democratic primary candidate) Adam Parkhomenko. Black also talks about some of the big names supporting the "Ready for Hillary" effort...

E.W. Jackson on Yoga and Satan

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

by Kindler

Cross-posted at Daily KosAs the campaigns gear up for November, the two parties unroll their top priorities.  The Democrats highlight such issues as jobs, transportation, education and energy.
And the Republicans?  Well, according to GOP Lt. Gov. nominee E.W. Jackson, one of the great threats of our time, against which we must protect ourselves,

When one hears the word meditation, it conjures an image of Maharishi Yoga talking about finding a mantra and striving for nirvana. . . . The purpose of such meditation is to empty oneself. . . . [Satan] is happy to invade the empty vacuum of your soul and possess it. That is why people serve Satan without ever knowing it or deciding to, but no one can be a child of God without making a decision to surrender to him. Beware of systems of spirituality which tell you to empty yourself. You will end up filled with something you probably do not want.
Um, okay.
Republican hostility to yoga may not make much sense, but it does reflect a certain consistency.  Yoga is particularly popular with the ladies, and the GOP has already declared war on most of the rest of women's life and health.  (What's next, a ban on chick flicks?)
A GOP War on Yoga also fits well with their messaging.  The whole Limbaugh-Beck-Fox News schtick is all about what Thomas Frank has called "backlash populism" -- getting lower class whites to vote against their economic interests by getting them all hot under the collar over some imaginary liberal cultural elite.
kindler :: E.W. Jackson on Yoga and Satan
As Tea Party yokels gain greater control over the GOP, their party is more and more led by people who actually believe their own fairy tales.  And so, increasingly, we see the party not just pursuing policies that can in any way be described as rational, but going after symbols of perceived liberal elitism out of a kind of confused vindictiveness.  We've seen it here in Virginia, where AG Cuccinelli used the power of his office to attack the University of Virginia for conducting research on climate change -- no policy benefits to anyone there, just a symbol and a scapegoat created by the Koch brothers and their cronies.  We saw it more recently when Gov. McDonnell and the Republican-led General Assembly slapped an irrational tax on hybrid cars -- another symbol of those evil liberal elitists!
We've seen it in the Tea Party War on Efficient Light-Bulbs, in the NC legislature's banning of any mention of sea level rise, in the hullabaloo over Obama once mentioning arugula farmers, and in many other irrational obsessions of the Republican rabble.
Still, yoga is a new one on me.  I must confess that  as a card-carrying member of the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy (c), I do practice yoga when I get the chance.  I've even tried to "empty my mind" as part of meditation -- but to fair, that takes a lot more effort for us than it does for our Tea Party friends, since, y'know -- we have actual stuff in there.
I look forward to hearing the Republicans identify what specific steps they plan to take against this nefarious threat invading our homes and health clubs.
Will it win them any votes?  Nah.  That downward dog won't hunt.  

Best Wishes to Jesse Ferguson

Monday, June 3, 2013

For those who don't know him, Jesse Ferguson (photo by Sen. Adam Ebbin) is Deputy Executive Director and Communications Director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Before that, he worked at the  Brian Moran for Governor campaign and in the Office of the Virginia House Democratic Caucus Chairman. The 2009 primary was rough, with the two of us finding ourselves supporting different candidates (Jesse worked for Brian Moran; I supported Terry McAuliffe). Let's just say, that didn't exactly do wonders for our friendship, but sadly that type of thing happens sometimes in politics (or business, for that matter). Still, Jesse's a smart guy, talented, dedicated, very good at what he does (fighting for progressive values and Democratic candidates). I also can honestly say that I still like and respect Jesse as a person, despite the 2009 unpleasantness...So why am I writing about Jesse Ferguson this morning?  Because of this blog post.
This hasn't been my favorite month. It started about 8 weeks ago when I saw myself on camera and noticed my face looked fat. I thought it was nothing - just some weight gain. A month ago, I was home with my mother and she asked, "What's the swelling on your face for?" (Imagine it said with a hint of leftover New York accent.) Oh shit this could be "a thing." I went to a doctor - he told me it was nothing. Probably just an infection, but 3 weeks of Advil and antibiotics didn't help.I kept the swelling covered up pretty well by letting my beard grow. I could tell though - especially if I saw a picture of myself.
The second doctor got a CAT scan to look at it and it showed something. She sent me to a specialist. We thought it was a stone in the salivary gland - no one had even mentioned cancer. They did an ultrasound of my face, and running the scanner over my face the doctor saw several masses in my cheek and neck. I could see them too. He looked concerned.
There was a team of doctors hovering over this device. The only times I had ever seen an ultrasound before was on TV and it usually involved pregnant women - this was decidedly not that. He told me he wanted a biopsy. Gulp. I know what that means.
We did the biopsy and a few days later I went back to get the results. That's the day the AC was broken - May 21, 2013.
Ugh. So, Jesse Ferguson has cancer at the age of 32, and to be blunt about it, that sucks. (continued on the "flip")

Despite our political differences in 2009, of course I'm very sorry to hear this news, and I wish Jesse all the best as he fights - and beats - this disease. As Jesse wrote last night on his Facebook page, he'll "be taking some time off from work at some point in the next few weeks and out-of-pocket for most of the summer and into the fall." He has also started up a blog, in order "to keep friends and family up to date on my health in summer and fall of 2013." Great idea - also courageous to share his personal story with the world. Thanks to Jesse for doing that; I'm looking forward to following his progress as he achieves a complete - and hopefully fast! - recovery.

Racist Republicans Strike Again, This Time in Isle of Wight County

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Republicans forwarding racist emails? Haven't we seen this movie before? Well, yes we have (in 2010 in the Virginia Beach Republican Committee). And now, we're seeing it again, yet again involving...yes, Republicans (of course).
Racially tinged emails forwarded by two officials in this rural county have led to turmoil on the Board of Supervisors and the School Board, calls for the officials' resignations, and may contribute to the departure of the schools superintendent. Byron "Buzz" Bailey, vice chairman of the Board of Supervisors, and School Board member Herbert DeGroft are being asked to resign by county, school and NAACP leaders. They're being criticized for sending to county officials copies of emails that community leaders have called disrespectful to African Americans. Bailey and DeGroft are white.
See to the right and below for videos about all this (plus, as an added bonus, a "joke" about the Confederacy rising again - hahahaha...not), including descriptions of the racist emails targeting First Lady Michele Obama (let's just say, these racists are NOT subtle). Also click here for citizens' comments starting at around 5:55, and click here for a 5/23 Daily Press article about Vice Chairman Bailey refusing to resign. Finally, note that Del. Rick Morris (R-Isle of Wight), who represents Isle of Wight in the House of Delegates, hasn't uttered a peep about any of this -- even though Morris used to be chair of the Isle of Wight County Republican Committee, which means he (obviously) knows all these individuals, maybe even shares a similar sense of "humor" (which would explain why he hasn't said anything)? Hmmmmm.