Media Will NOT Do Its Job; Attends "Energy Forum," Won't Analyze Candidates Energy Assertions

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The other day, I attended an energy forum in Arlington, sponsored by overwhelmingly pro-fossil-fuel groups with connections to climate science deniers. I predicted that it would be a travesty, I just didn't realize how much of that travesty would be the result of the media utterly failing to do its job. In short, here's what happened.1. The place was PACKED with reporters - probably a couple dozen. After the event, there were a bunch of articles published on the forum. In all of those articles by "mainstream media" reporters, I saw basically ZERO analysis of the many false statements (see the video here for a few) made by Ken Cuccinelli in his presentation, and during the Q&A session on stage. I mean, there were literally dozens of lies and distortions by Cuccinelli, including some huge/glaring ones. Yet the supposedly "professional" media - people PAID GOOD MONEY TO DO THIS WORK!!! - couldn't even be bothered to go back and check on any of what Cuccinelli said, let alone clue in readers as to what was true (almost nothing, in Cuccinelli's case) and whats was false (almost every word Cuccinelli uttered). In other words, the "professional" media couldn't be bothered to - or simply refused to - DO ITS JOB. Instead, they went for the cowardly, lazy approach - false equivalency (e.g., "the candidates hurled accusations at each other"), focus on the sound and fury (signifying...what?) but not on the substance, failing to do a bit of research to find out whether the statements made were accurate, talking to energy experts (e.g., at the U.S. Energy Information Administration) who might actually know, etc. Nope, that would all be too much like...I dunno, actual JOURNALISM?!?
3. With regard to the press "scrum" for Cuccinelli, which you can watch here, note that it took a blogger - me in this case - to get good video and quickly post it up on YouTube so everyone could see it. Why couldn't the "mainstream" media do that, given that they have about a gazillion times the financial resources that bloggers like I do? Or is informing the public simply not in their job description, as opposed to checking the box by attending the event and filing the obligatory "candidates attacked each other/there was CONFLICT so pay attention to my article!" story? Ugh.
4. Also in that press scrum, note that there were only TWO questions on energy - again, which was the subject of the candidates forum - and neither of those two questions was asked by a "mainstream media" reporter. In fairness, two reporters (Martin di Caro and one other, who I didn't recognize) tried to pin Cuccinelli down on climate change (note that Cuccinelli refused to answer the question), and I COMMEND them for doing so. Still, those were not questions specifically on energy, which again was the subject of the forum. The final question on CONSOL Energy, for instance, the one that caused Cuccinelli to stalk off in a huff, was asked by this guy, director of the Checks and Balances Project, a "government and industry watchdog group." That's right, it took a "government and industry watchdog group" to ask the question the corporate media wouldn't, or couldn't, ask. Hmmmm.
lowkell :: Media Will NOT Do Its Job; Attends "Energy Forum," Won't Analyze Candidates Energy Assertions
5. Another major fail was that most of the media which covers Arlington - the Sun Gazette and ArlNow, in particular - didn't cover the event at all, nor did they link to other coverage, nor did they post video of the event, etc. Even worse, the Sun Gazette's right-wing hack/editor wrote that even though he didn't attend the event (he wrote - apparently without any shame - that he "bail"ed after "arriving and surveying the timetable," deciding it was not interesting enough for him to spend two hours of his precious time at!), that he just KNEW that the candidates "spent most of their time - McAuliffe particularly - blasting the other rather than talking about energy, which supposedly was the topic under discussion." But wait, you say, if he wasn't there, how did he know how the candidates spent their time? Hmmm. For the record, it turns out that both candidates talked a LOT about energy - McAuliffe in the Q&A session; Cuccinelli throughout his presentation (although, as I mentioned earlier, almost every word he said was either outright false or highly misleading/deceptive). In no way, shape, or form is it correct to say that McAuliffe spent more of his time "blasting" Cuccinelli then Cuccinelli spent blasting McAuliffe. I recorded the entire Cuccinelli talk (see Part 1 here and Part 2 here), and as you can see, it's an almost unremitting series of (mostly false) attacks on Terry McAuliffe, on renewable energy, on billionaire/environmental activist Tom Steyer, etc, etc.
6. In fairness, let me just say that Jason Spencer of the Patch actually a) covered the event; and b) did a generally thorough, professional job. Unlike the Sun Gazette or ArlNow, that's for sure (among ArlNow's big news items from the day of the energy forum was "Cupcakes to Return to FatShorty's."Hahahahahaha.).Anyway, the bottom line is that with very few exceptions, the "mainstream media" utterly failed to cover the substance of the energy forum in Arlington this past Thursday. They most certainly DID NOT take Ken Cuccinelli's many false statements and subject them to scrutiny, let alone inform readers as to what was true (almost nothing) and what was a lie (almost everything).  That leaves me, your intrepid blogger (aka, not a "real journalist," according to the arrogant-if-nothing-else media) to do just that. Stay tuned...

Video: Opening Morning at the Clarendon Dog Park in Arlington, Virginia

Here's some video from this morning's opening of the new, revamped dog park in Clarendon/Arlington, Virginia (I was there at 6 am with my dog and 4 or 5 others.  A few key points on the park, from Arlington County:1) "What was a used car lot and dog park is now much more: combination dog park, passive park area and a demonstration garden of native plants."
2) "Scarce open space (¾ acre) in a very dense neighborhood (over 8,000 people live within a 10-min walk + 15,000 workers)."
3) "Model of sustainable design - permeable pavement and recycled materials, stormwater managed on property, solar power for water, lights, irrigation, etc."
4) "After community process, CB adopted the master plan in 2007. Construction contract was approved in 2012. Will be built within $1.7M budget."
Also important to point out is that parks add tremendous value to communities. See this article, for instance, which explains that a $13 million investment in New York's Central Park resulted in a $209 million increase in property values over the next 17 years - a 15 fold increase! Also, "After Centennial Olympic Park was built, adjacent condominium prices rose from $115 to $250 a square foot" (more than double). Yet another example: "Improvements in Chattanooga resulted in an increase in annual combined city and county property tax revenues of $592,000 from 1988 to 1996, an increase of 99 percent." In other words, expenses on parks like these are not really "expenses," but smart investments, as they pay for themselves multiple times over, not even counting the aesthetic, communal, and other benefits.
Finally, from that same article: "A 2001 survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that 57 percent of voters would choose a home close to parks and open space over one that was not. In addition, the NAR survey found that 50 percent of voters would be willing to pay 10 percent more for a house located near a park or protected open space." That's right: great parks, like the Clarendon dog park, are a feature that attract people to communities, thus increasing property values and making the community an even more desirable (and enjoyable) place to live.
The bottom line: "Parks provide intrinsic environmental, aesthetic, and recreation benefits to our cities. They are also a source of positive economic benefits.They enhance property values, increase municipal revenue, bring in homebuyers and workers, and attract retirees." Note, by the way, that the place was packed already this morning with happy humans and canines? Great stuff, nice job by Arlington County, as usual thinking long-term, not short sighted, and with a broad, overarching, smart community vision in mind.

Video: Cuccinelli's Creepy Video Coopts March on Washington for His School Privatization Agenda

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

This bizarre video by Ken Cuccinelli leaves me almost speechless at how totally f***ed up it is. Still, I'll do my best:1. The thing's just creepy, from the bizarre/fake expression on Cuckoo's face (blinking occasionally might help?), to the mawkish music, to the weird camera angles, to the length of this monstrosity (3 1/2 minutes of this crap?!?)...just the whole thing is FUBAR. Whoever was responsible for this should seriously be fired immediately. Wait! On second thought, as a Democrat who badly wants to see extremist nutjob Cuccinelli defeated, please KEEP whoever produced this video and have them do a bunch more! Yeah, that's the ticket... :)
2. To paraphrase a Virginia Democratic friend, the fact that Cuccinelli is trying to hide his radical, public school privatization plan in some kind of civil rights struggle is extremely obnoxious. Of course, there are a lot of education reform views on both sides of the aisle, but Cuccinelli's push to put money into religious schools is totally crazy. Heck, Cuccinelli can't even get his party to agree with him on this stuff, it's so extreme. Bottom line: We can't have a governor who's going to spend four years tilting at windmills and trying to turn us into North Carolina.
3. How bad is Cuccinelli's education plan? See Del. Rob Krupicka's demolition of it, also teacher/Democratic activist superstar Kip Malinosky's. It's not a pretty picture, particularly repealing the Blaine Amendment to allow public funding of religious schools, along with several other disastrous components which all justifiably earn "F" grades from Del. Krupicka.
3. To quote my friend Josh Israel, "Video by @KenCuccinelli actually tries to tie MLK legacy his school voucher scheme."
4. Does Cuccinelli have ANY clue whatsoever what the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was all about? First off, the march was organized by a number of civil rights, labor, and religious organizations, led by Bayard Rustin, "a homosexual, a Communist, and a war resistor." I'm sure Cooch would fit right in. Heh. Also, the March on Washington's goals included, among other things, a "program of public works, including job training, for the unemployed;" a "$2-an-hour minimum wage nationwide;" and "enforcement of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution by reducing congressional representation from States that disenfranchise citizens." None of those things, of course, are compatible with the agenda of Ken Cuccinelli and his Tea Party allies Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, etc. To the contrary, what we see in Republican-controlled state after Republican-controlled state are: efforts to block minimum wage increases; opposition to public works, job training and aid to the unemployed; and legislation aimed at taking the right to vote away from people who tend to vote Democratic (e.g., African Americans, poor people).
5. This video's just a huge #FAIL any way you look at it. I can't even believe this creep could have ever been elected to anything, let alone be a "major party" candidate for Governor of Virginia. SERIOUSLY?!?

Right-Wing Hack/GOP Flack Jennifer Rubin Continues to Make Mockery of Washington Post

I'm not going to waste my time, not to mention valuable brain cells, detailing the shameless hackery, dutiful GOP party line stenography, breathtaking dishonesty, vicious nastiness, rotten-eggplant-level idiocy, extreme internal/self contradiction, sniveling sycophancy, and utter lack of journalistic ethics that comprise the Washington/Kaplan Post blogger Jennifer Rubin. I'll just provide you with a few links to get a taste of what I'm talking about, if you're so inclined:*The Right's Jennifer Rubin Problem: A Case Study in Info Disadvantage (Sample passage: "At every opportunity, Rubin wrote favorably about Romney and his campaign. And she didn't just get things wrong, sometimes absurdly, she always got them wrong in a way that redounded to Team Romney's benefit. If her goal was striving to inform her right-leaning audience with the truth, she was an abject failure.")
*Why the Washington Post won't fire Jennifer Rubin ("The paper's ombudsman admits Jennifer Rubin would be fired if she promoted anti-Israeli rather than anti-Arab bile.")
*Post Roast: Jennifer Rubin's retweet (Post Ombudsman: "in agreeing with the sentiment, and in spreading it to her 7,000 Twitter followers who know her as a Washington Post blogger, Rubin did damage to The Post and the credibility that keeps it afloat.")
*The 8 Worst Responses To The Boston Marathon Bombings (Yes, one of them was Jennifer Rubin's)
*Washington Post Columnist Launches Sexist Diatribe Against Hillary Clinton On Twitter (Yep, Rubin again.)
*WaPo's Jennifer Rubin Admits She Misled Her Readers ("Let's take what she's written here, in the cold reality of a Romney loss, and compare it to what she wrote when the Romney campaign was still in full swing.")
*Jennifer Rubin, Mitt Romney's top media shill ("The Romney campaign's communications office has its own platform at the Washington Post, thanks to Jennifer Rubin")
On and on it goes; it's really endless how bad, unprofessional, insane, etc. Jennifer Rubin is. Yet Washington Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt keeps paying her salary (while the Post cuts loose its Ombudsman, by the way - fascinating priorities!), so he obviously approves of what she's doing. Or, more to the point, he like that: a) Rubin brings "eyeballs" - whatever their political stripe, they still count in terms of "hits" or whatever metric they're using - to the Post, which remains desperately in need of a business model, any business model, to stay afloat in the internet age; b) she provides faux "balance" to the Post; and c) she at least gives the Post an argument that they let right-wing voices be heard, that they're not totally "liberal" (in reality, the Post is overwhelmingly corporate in orientation, definitely NOT "liberal" on most issues).  

Utter #FAIL: Kaplan/Amazon Post Hits New Low in Virginia Political "Reporting"

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

You know, there truly are days when I think perhaps there still might be SOME hope for theWashington Kaplan Amazon Post. Then I see "reporting" like this mound of reeking excretory secretions. So, let's get the story straight:a) Ken Cuccinelli for years has supported a "Personhood Amendment;" b) The Washington Post's own "Fact-Checker" gave Cuccinelli "Three Pinocchios" for claiming that he never tried to make contraception illegal; c) Ken Cuccinelli voted AGAINST legislation aimed at clarifying that birth control is NOT equivalent to abortion; d) it goes on and on, endlessly pretty much (see the "flip" for all the sordid details of Cuccinelli's "long record of fighting common forms of contraception," courtesy of American Bridge).
Now, here's the way the Washington Kaplan Amazon Post handles the story.
1. Has a wildly false, misleading headline. In fact, Cuccinelli dodged the question on personhood, lied to the people at the Ashby Ponds retirement community in Ashburn, and lied to reporters afterwards. Hello Post? THAT should be the headline!
2. Adds an even worse subheading, which tries to claim that it's Democrats who are "painting" Cooch as an "extremist on such issues," not the FACT that he really IS an "extremist on such issues" (aka, far outside the mainstream of where the vast majority of Virginians, and Americans, are on contraception).
3. Waits 9 paragraphs to point out that Cuccinelli's lying.
4. Totally BURIES his OWN newspaper's OWN "fact checker"'s "Three Pinnochios" conclusion that "while Cuccinelli 'might not have specifically sought to ban contraception, that likely would have been the practical effect of the bill he co-sponsored.'"
In sum, this article basically violates every tenet of good journalism. It buries/destroys the lede, which in this case is Cuccinelli's breathaking lies. It epitomizes mindless, cowardly "both sides" "reporting." It refuses to clearly tell the reader what is accurate, what is a blatant lie, etc. It downplays and/or ignores the fact that Cuccinelli has extremely strong views on this issue, which he's repeated a gazillion times over the years, and also a clear-as-can-be voting record, also of many, many years. (UPDATE: Almost forgot to mention Video: Cuccinelli Again Urges Bishops to Go to Jail Over "contraceptive, abortifacient mandate")
And no, this isn't Jennifer Rubin we're talking about; we expect this crap from her, as she's not a real reporter, nor does she have the slightest bit of integrity. But when a serious journalist does it? At that point, you've really got to question whether this newspaper's even worth saving. Are you watching this, Mr. Bezos?!? Can you still take your money and run?!?

Cuccinelli Has A Long Record Of Fighting Common Forms of ContraceptionThe Washington Post Fact-Checker Gave Cuccinelli "Three Pinocchios" For Claiming That He Never Tried To Make Contraception Illegal. According to the Washington Post, during a gubernatorial debate, Cuccinelli was asked "And on contraception, would you again seek to make several forms, common forms, of contraception illegal, as you did several years ago?" Cuccinelli responded, ", I certainly didn't do that several years ago. My focus in this race is on growing jobs for the middle class, and supporting them and not the well-connected. There are people, like me, who sincerely hold beliefs about protecting life, and I certainly bring those with me into the governor's race." The Washington Post gave Cuccinelli "Three Pinocchios." [Washington Post, 7/23/13]
Cuccinelli Co-Sponsored A Bill That Would Have Added Language To The Virginia Constitution Stating That "Life Begins At The Moment Of Fertilization" And Granting Full Protection Of The Law To "Each Born And Preborn Human Being From The Moment Of Fertilization." According to the Washington Post, "In 2007, when he was a member of the Virginia Senate, Cuccinelli was co-sponsor of House Bill 2797, which would have added this line to the Virginia constitution: 'That life begins at the moment of fertilization and the right to enjoyment of life guaranteed by Article 1, § 1 of the Constitution of Virginia is vested in each born and preborn human being from the moment of fertilization.'" [Washington Post, 7/23/13]
The Washington Post Fact Checker Wrote That A Ban On Contraception "Likely Would Have Been The Practical Effect Of The Bill" That Cuccinelli Co-Sponsored. According to the Washington Post, "We were told we would receive a response from the Cuccinelli campaign, but never got one. Cuccinelli's answer was too cute by half, perhaps an effort to soften some of his conservatism. While he might not have specifically sought to ban contraception, that likely would have been the practical effect of the bill he co-sponsored." [Washington Post, 7/23/13]
PolitiFact Agreed That Personhood Laws "Could Limit Some Forms Of Birth Control." According to PolitiFact, "Romney supports laws that define life as beginning at conception, but we have not found that these laws bar the use of contraceptives -- at least, certainly not the most common forms. Personhood laws could limit some forms of birth control, but Romney has not supported those measures. And Romney has repeatedly said he supports the use of contraceptives." [Politifact, 11/2/12]
Cuccinelli Pushed Passage of Radical "Personhood" Bill Which Jeopardized Contraception Access And Risked Criminal Prosecutions For Miscarriages
Cuccinelli Pushed for Passage of 2012 Fetal Personhood Bill. According to the News Advance, "This personhood bill recognizes a scientific reality. Life begins at conception. Make sure you talk to your senators. Advocate for this issue." [News Advance, 2/16/12]
Legislation That Defines A Fertilized Egg As A Human Being Would Ban All Abortions, Including Those Resulting From Rape And Incest, And Would Declare Common Forms Of Birth Control, Like The IUD, As Murder. According to New York Times, "A constitutional amendment facing voters in Mississippi on Nov. 8, and similar initiatives brewing in half a dozen other states including Florida and Ohio, would declare a fertilized human egg to be a legal person, effectively branding abortion and some forms of birth control as murder. [...]The amendment in Mississippi would ban virtually all abortions, including those resulting from rape or incest. It would bar some birth control methods, including IUDs and 'morning-after pills,' which prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. It would also outlaw the destruction of embryos created in laboratories." [New York Times, 10/26/11]
Virginia Bill Would Open Families and Doctors to Lawsuits over Miscarriages. According to the Washington Post, "'This bill requires every single code section in Virginia that uses the word 'person' to apply to a fetus,' Del. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) said. 'That opens families and doctors to a wide variety of criminal and civil lawsuits for health-care decisions not only in cases of unwanted pregnancies, but every pregnancy and even miscarriage.'" [Washington Post, 2/13/12]
Cuccinelli Cosponsored Personhood Legislation That Would Criminalize Common Forms Of Birth Control As Well As Abortions Resulting From Rape Or Incest
In 2007 Cuccinelli Cosponsored A So-Called "Personhood" Bill. On January 10, 2007, Sen. Cuccinelli cosponsored legislation that would expand "the right to enjoyment of life" protected by Article 1, § 1 of the Virginia Constitution to "preborn human beings from the moment of fertilization." The bill was rejected by a 43-53 vote in the Virginia House of Delegates on February 2, 2007. [HB 2797, 2/5/07]
Legislation That Defines A Fertilized Egg As A Human Being Would Ban All Abortions, Including Those Resulting From Rape And Incest, And Would Declare Common Forms Of Birth Control, Like The IUD, As Murder. According to New York Times, "A constitutional amendment facing voters in Mississippi on Nov. 8, and similar initiatives brewing in half a dozen other states including Florida and Ohio, would declare a fertilized human egg to be a legal person, effectively branding abortion and some forms of birth control as murder. [...]The amendment in Mississippi would ban virtually all abortions, including those resulting from rape or incest. It would bar some birth control methods, including IUDs and 'morning-after pills,' which prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. It would also outlaw the destruction of embryos created in laboratories." [New York Times, 10/26/11]
American Congress Of Obstetricians And Gynecologists: So Called "Personhood" Legislation Would Abolish Regular Forms Of Birth Control Like The IUD And The Common, Everyday Birth Control Pill. According to a statement from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, "Although the individual wording in these proposed measures varies from state to state, they all attempt to give full legal rights to a fertilized egg by defining 'personhood' from the moment of fertilization, before conception (ie, pregnancy/ implantation) has occurred. This would have wide-reaching harmful implications for the practice of medicine and on women's access to contraception, fertility treatments, pregnancy termination, and other essential medical procedures. These 'personhood' proposals, as acknowledged by proponents, would make condoms, natural family planning, and spermicides the only legally allowed forms of birth control. Thus, some of the most effective and reliable forms of contraception, such as oral contraceptives, intrauterine devices (IUDs), and other forms of FDA-approved hormonal contraceptives could be banned in states that adopt 'personhood' measures. Women's very lives would be jeopardized if physicians were prohibited from terminating life-threatening ectopic and molar pregnancies. Women who experience pregnancy loss or other negative pregnancy outcomes could be prosecuted in some cases." [ACOG, 2/10/12]
Personhood Amendments, Which Aimed To Define A Fertilized Embryo As A Person, Would Make Forms Of Birth Control, Like The Common, Everyday Birth Control Pill, Illegal Because They Prevent Implantation Of A Fertilized Egg. According to Salon, "But [Mississippi's] Initiative 26, which would change the definition of 'person' in the Mississippi state Constitution to 'include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the equivalent thereof,' is more than just an absolute ban on abortion and a barely veiled shot at Roe v. Wade - although it is both. By its own logic, the initiative would almost certainly ban common forms of birth control like the IUD and the morning-after pill, call into question the legality of the common birth-control pill, and even open the door to investigating women who have suffered miscarriages. ... [T]he Personhood movement hopes to do nothing less than reclassify everyday, routine birth control as abortion. The medical definition of pregnancy is when a fertilized egg successfully implants in the uterine wall. If this initiative passes, and fertilized eggs on their own have full legal rights, anything that could potentially block that implantation - something a woman's body does naturally all the time - could be considered murder. Scientists say hormonal birth-control pills and the morning-after pill work primarily by preventing fertilization in the first place, but the outside possibility, never documented, that an egg could be fertilized anyway and blocked is enough for some pro-lifers." [Salon, 10/26/11]
Cuccinelli Voted Against Legislation To Clarify Birth Control Is Not Abortion

Cuccinelli Voted Against Senate Bill 1104, Which Established That "Contraception Is Not A Form Of Abortion."
 According to the Virginian-Pilot, "A bill stating that contraception is not a form of abortion may be in trouble in the House of Delegates. The House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions declined to vote on SB1104. Instead, it sent the measure to the Courts of Justice Committee. The author of the legislation - Sen. Mary M. Whipple, D-Arlington - said it will be hard to win approval from the Courts panel. Whipple said she has been concerned by the avalanche of bills that have sought to restrict abortion. She said she was especially troubled by HB1741, which is pending in the Senate. It would allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense any prescription they believe would cause an abortion. Birth control could fall under that category, Whipple said." [Virginian-Pilot, 2/12/03; Senate Bill 1104, 2003]
Cuccinelli Voted To Send Senate Bill 456, Which Established That "Contraception Is Not Abortion," Back To Committee.According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, "The Senate rejected a 'contraception is not abortion' bill by voting 24-14-1 to send the measure back to committee to consider next session." [Richmond Times Dispatch, 2/17/04; Senate Bill 456, 2004]

Thursday Energy Forum at GMU Law School: Fossil Fuel-Funded, Climate-Science-Denying Travesty

Sunday, August 25, 2013

This morning, I stumbled upon this article, "Cuccinelli, McAuliffe to Talk Energy at George Mason's Arlington Campus." As someone who worked for 17 years at the U.S. Energy Information Administration, who has consulted for several years to clean energy PR firm Tigercomm, and who cares passionately about moving as rapidly as possible from a carbon-based-energy to a clean-energy economy, I was curious to find out more. Especially since both Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli will be speaking there, and since one of those guys will be the next governor of Virginia.So, I clicked on the link for the event's registration page. What I found was eye opening, and not in a good way. Why not? Because it turns out that the four listed "hosts" and "sponsors" are all fossil fuel shills and/or climate science deniers and/or both. It's not a pretty picture.
1. The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy: I wrote about this group yesterday, noting that it is a libertarian/right-wing think tank committed to "free markets, limited government and individual responsibility." I also pointed out that the group is funded heavily by the Roe Foundation, a South Carolina-based which provides "financial support to free-market policy groups across the country" and which gives out its annual Roe Award to the likes of Grover Norquist and to others from right-wing groups like the Independence Institute (proud global warming deniers), the Reason Foundation (for years, global warming denierswho received funding from ExxonMobil), and the big-time climate science/global warming deniers at the Heartland Institute. In sum, the Thomas Jefferson Institute is a far-far-far-right-wing, rabidly-anti-government, pro-fossil-fuels, anti-environment group with diehard Republican faux-"scholars" who have given generously to Ken Cuccinelli and other Virginia GOP politicians. No wonder why Cuccinelli agreed to appear at this (to paraphrase Cooch, who claimed that the AARP and League of Women Voters' debate was "left wing" and "stacked") "right-wing, stacked" forum!
2. NOIA: While this group does support offshore wind power development, which is good, it is overwhelmingly dominated by fossil fuel interests. Its "national officers", for instance, include Key Energy Services (an oilfield services company); Hercules Offshore, Inc. (a provider of "services to the oil and gas industry"); and NOIA itself (described above; also note that this group gives overwhelmingly to Republicans). As if that's not pro-fossil-fuel enough for ya, NOIA's Excutive Committee includes representatives from Marathon Oil Company, Anadarko Petroleum, and ExxonMobil ('nuff said). Can we say "DRILL BABY DRILL?!?"
3. Consumer Energy Alliance: To quote DeSmogBlog's page on this group, this is a "fossil fuel industry front group" which has "to thwart government efforts to favor relatively cleaner conventional fuels over the dirtiest forms of extreme unconventional energy like the Alberta tar sands," and is financially backed by "oil industry power players, including BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Marathon, Shell and Norway's Statoil."  Any further questions on this one?
4. Virginia Manufacturers Association: This group's Energy Resources Policy Statement says it all, and is worth quoting at length (note, though, that most of what they say is either outright lies or serious distortions - see how many you can find!).

...Sustainable economic growth in manufacturing is contingent upon reliable and affordable energy and fuels, therefore, these needs may also necessitate improved states' rights...Virginia should also reject renewable portfolio mandates and similar energy regulation mandates on the basis that they are inconsistent with Virginia's energy plan, create economic inefficiencies, and result in higher costs for consumers......The Commonwealth's Congressional delegation should develop, support, and enact federal legislation, and petition for appropriate federal executive action, that will (i) provide an exemption to the moratorium that prevents any surveying, exploration, development, or production of potential natural gas or oil deposits in areas off the Commonwealth's Atlantic shore that are
under federal jurisdiction...
...The Commonwealth should promote clean coal development. Coal is the most abundant energy resource in the Commonwealth. It is essential to our economy and can be developed and used to produce energy in an environmentally responsible manner. Government actions that unreasonably increase the cost of developing and using coal are detrimental to Virginians...
...Federal and state-administered EPA programs and policies to regulate the economy in order to slow or stop global warming should carefully balance these competing necessities through rigorous scientific and economic standards. Any regulation that would impair the economy or lacks empirical and transparent measurement leading to broad scientifically validated reductions in global temperatures should be opposed... 
In sum, the upcoming energy forum in Arlington later this week is an almost 100% "stacked" (again, to use Ken Cuccinelli's own word) affair, wildly in favor of fossil fuel development while lukewarm at best towards clean energy and in favor of weak/ineffectual environmental protection (at best). I'd also point out who is NOT hosting or sponsoring this event: the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Virginia Sierra Club, the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, theAmerican Wind Energy Association, the Solar Energy Industries Association, the American Council on Renewable Energy, etc, etc. Getting the drift here? Again, it's no wonder that climate-science-denying, climate-scientist-persecuting, fossil-fuel-loving Ken "CONSOL" Cuccinelli feels totally comfortable at an event like this (as he most certainly does NOT at an even sponsored by AARP and the League of Women Voters). That really says it all about this guy, and about this event: a travesty in every conceivable way.P.S. As an added bonus the event is being held at GMU, which is heavily funded by the Koch brothers.

Cuccinelli Campaign Cites Far-Right-Wing Radical Group as Backing for Its Economic/Tax "Plan"

Saturday, August 24, 2013

In today's Washington Post, the "Policy Director" for Ken Cuccinelli's campaign o' lies, Sandy Liddy Bourne (see the link, or at the end of this article, for more on her - she's a real doozy!), desperately tries to defend the indefensible - "Ken Cuccinelli's plan for Virginia economic future." Here's Bourne:
Mr. Cuccinelli's plan was developed based on the impact of the sequester. The commonwealth no longer can depend on the same amount of federal spending as in the past. Our tax code has become more complicated, with billions in exemptions and an increasing burden on taxpayers. Government layoffs and furloughs mean job losses in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, critical regions for our economy.Given these realities, Mr. Cuccinelli determined that the best course is to index the tax code to inflation, cap spending at inflation plus population growth and decrease the personal and business income tax rates. The Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy said the plan would generate approximately 58,000 jobs, increase investment by $650 million and increase real disposable income by $3.6 billion.
Big Lie #1: "Cuccinelli's plan was developed based on the impact of the sequester." We know that's not true because sequestration started earlier this year, while Cuccinelli and his party have been calling for slashing tax rates for the wealthiest since...forever, pretty much - long before the "sequester," regardless. Economy in the doldrums? Tax cuts for the wealthy and the corporations are the answer! Economy booming? Same answer! Budget deficit? Same answer! Budget surplus? Same answer! Feeling under the weather? Same answer! Termite infestation? Same answer! The point is, it's always the same answer with these people - supply side, "trickle down," screw the middle class while enriching the already rich. What else is new?Anyway, let's move on to

Big Lie #2, which is actually a much bigger lie than Big Lie #1: citing the "Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy"  as a legitimate source. Why do I say this? Because, as I wrote back in 2009 (yes, I've been doing this far too long!):
lowkell :: Cuccinelli Campaign Cites Far-Right-Wing Radical Group as Backing for Its Economic/Tax "Plan"
The Thomas Jefferson Institute is a libertarian/right-wing think tank committed to "free markets, limited government and individual responsibility." It is funded heavily by the Roe Foundation, a South Carolina-based which provides "financial support to free-market policy groups across the country" and which gives out its annual Roe Award to the likes of Grover Norquist and to others from right-wing groups like the Independence Institute (proud global warming deniers), the Reason Foundation (for years, global warming deniers who received funding from ExxonMobil), and the big-time global warming deniers at the Heartland Institute. Sensing a pattern here? :)

Also, as I pointed out then, one of the Thomas Jefferson Institute's "scholars" is David Schnare, who for years ran a blog (now deleted, but living on forever in the Internet Archive) where he has some interesting things to say. For instance:
*Environmental activists are "very sick people" who "quietly rejoice over the potential of millions (billions?) of starving people."*On global warming, he constantly belittles concerns over it and questions the science. For instance, in August 2007 he wrote, "In a paper soon to be published, Scott Barrett explains why we are not facing a global emergency, why we need not act precipitously and without sufficient regard to the economic consequences, and why we will never reach, nor need to reach an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases."Schnare also claims that "the Scandinavian moose emits 2,100 kg of methane a year, equivalent to the green house gases emitted by an automobile trip of 13,000 km" and concludes, "Thank goodness hunters shoot 35,000 of them each year."

Yeah, seriously, he wrote that insanity. In addition to Schnare, the Thomas Jefferson Institute also features its chairman and President Michael W. Thompson,"an active leader in the Virginia Republican Party" who has given $15,260 to Virginia Republicans over the years, including to Ken Cuccinelli and corrupt, raging homophobe Eugene Delgaudio; as well as $500 to Herman Cain, $1,200 to George Allen, etc.There's also Leonard Gilroy, "Senior Fellow on Government Reform, and Director of Government Reform at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets." Perhaps most interesting, "Since early 2009, Mr. Gilroy has led Reason's partnership with the administration of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to research and develop a range of privatization opportunities within the Louisiana Division of Administration and develop a statewide privatization program." In other words, Gilroy has worked on this debacle, which has contributed to Jindal becoming "the most unpopular Republican Governor of any state - and the second most unpopular Governor in the country overall." Wonderful, eh?
Finally, it's important to point out that the Thomas Jefferson Institute is a member of the far-far-far-right-wing State Policy Network:
The State Policy Network (SPN) has franchised, funded, and fostered a growing number of "mini Heritage Foundations" at the state level since the early 1990s. It describes itself as a network and service organization for the "state-based free market think tank movement," and its stated mission is "to provide strategic assistance to independent research organizations devoted to discovering and developing market-oriented solutions to state and local public policy issues."...The founding chairman of the board and a major funder was Thomas A. Roe (1927-2000), and the founding executive director was Byron S. Lamm. In the mid-1980s, Roe allegedly told fellow wealthy conservative donor and Heritage Foundation trustee Robert Krieble, "You capture the Soviet Union -- I'm going to capture the states."...Fueled by robust funding from right-wing funders including the Koch brothers, the Bradley Foundation, the anonymous wealthy donors to the donor-advised funds of DonorsTrust, and others

In sum, the Thomas Jefferson Institute, which Ken Cuccinelli's Policy Director cites, is a far-far-far-right-wing, rabidly-anti-government group with diehard Republicans faux-"scholars" who have given generously to Ken Cuccinelli and other Virginia GOP politicians. THAT is the groups which the Cuccinelli campaign cites as backing for their "rob from the 99%, give to the top 1%" (while totally demolishing education, transportation, health care, and other vital services in Virginia) "economic plan." And that, my friends, really tells you everything you need to know about the Cuccinelli campaign.P.S. Oh yeah, who is the Cuccinelli campaign's policy director, Sandy Liddy Bourne? Check this's a nightmare:
Alexandra "Sandy" Liddy Bourne is the Heartland Institute's vice-president for policy strategy. She is the daughter of former Nixon aide and convicted Watergate criminal G. Gordon Liddy, who spent more than 52 months in prison for his part in the Watergate burglary...She serves as the conservative think tank's Washington, D.C. media spokesperson and liaison to elected officials, donors, and allies. "She authors media statements and commissions and edits original research on the major issues of the day, particularly those concerning energy and environmental regulation," according to Heartland...Bourne's speech at the Heartland Institute's 2008 International Conference on Climate Change was titled, "The Kyoto Legacy; The Progeny of a Carbon Cartel in the States."...Bourne has been a Visiting Fellow at the anti-feminist Independent Women's Forum (IWF)...Bourne worked for the American Legislative Exchange Council and was credited with increasing enactment of ALEC's model legislation in states throughout the country....She was named chair of ALEC's Energy, Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Task Force in October 1999...In 2004, after five years in that role, she became ALEC's Director of Legislation and Policy.

Virginia 2009 vs. Virginia 2013: Where Have All the Polls Gone?

Friday, August 23, 2013

I've noticed for a while that it seems like there have been very few polls of the Virginia governor's race this cycle, but I had't really looked into it. Until this morning, when I decided to check Real Clear Politics and see if my gut feeling was correct. Well, yes, it was. So far this summer (since June 1), these are the polls of the Virginia governor's race.*Quinnipiac (8/14-8/19) 48%-42% McAuliffe +6
*Quinnipiac (7/11-7/15) 43%-39% McAuliffe +4
*Roanoke College (7/8-7/14) 33%-39% Cuccinelli +6
*PPP (7/11 - 7/14) 41%-37% McAuliffe +4
*Rasmussen Reports (6/5-6/6) 44%-41% McAuliffe +3
That's five polls of the Virginia governor's race since the end of May 2013, with four showing McAuliffe ahead, and one not being a serious poll (NOT because it has Cuccinelli ahead, but because it's been a piece of crap for years now).
In comparison, here are the polls from 2009:
*Washington Post (8/11-8/14) 54%-39% McDonnell +15
*Rasmussen (8/10-8/10) 49%-41% McDonnell +8
*Daily Kos/R2000 (8/3-8/5) 51%-43% McDonnell +8
*PPP (7/31-8/3) 51%-37% McDonnell +14
*SurveyUSA (7/27-7/28) 55%-40% McDonnell +15
*Rasmussen (7/14-7/14) 44%-41% McDonnell +3
*PPP (6/30-7/2) 49%-43% McDonnell +6
*Daily Kos/R2000 (6/15-6/17) 45%-44% McDonnell +1
*Rasmussen (6/10-6/10) 41%-47% Deeds +6
*SurveyUSA (6/5 - 6/7) 47%-43% McDonnell +4
*Daily Kos/R2000 (6/1-6/3) 46%-34% McDonnell +12
That makes 11 polls in 2009 from June 1 through August 23 (McDonnell led all of them except for, ironically, the most pro-Republican one, Rasmussen). 2009 there were twice as many Virginia Governor polls from June 1 until now as in 2013. It's weird, because if anything you'd think it would be the opposite, as 2009 was a blowout and 2013 is a much closer, more interesting race. What happened?
I'm not totally sure, but a few things jump out:

 1) the Daily Kos/"Research 2000" polling partnership died a nasty death (lawsuit settled in 2011); 2) SurveyUSA seems to have largely disappeared, for whatever reason; and 3) Rasmussen has been less active this year (note that Scott Rasmussen just left Rasmusssen Research to become a GOP pundit, which is what he should have been all along!). In addition, this year isn't a "Tea Party wave" year, and I've always felt that the media drove the Tea Party phenomenon. This year, maybe the media's bored, even with a Tea Party candidate (Ken Cuccinelli) at the top of the Virginia Republican ticket, and two just-as-extreme-if-not-more-extreme candidates (EW Jackson and Mark Obenshain) down ballot from him? Also, I wonder if the polling industry in general has pulled back a bit after 2012, when there was so much controversy over likely voter models, supposedly "skewed" polls (there was never any evidence of "skewing" against Republicans; that was all another right-wingnut fever dream)? Hard to say.Whatever the reason, we've had less than half the polls of the Virginia governor's race from June 1 to August 23, 2013 compared to the same period in 2009. Of the polls we HAVE had, the trends in the two cycles are wildly different: in 2009, consistent leads for McDonnell from start to finish (with that one weird outlier of Rasmussen on 6/10/09, right after Deeds secured the Democratic nomination); in 2013, every reputable poll (and again - nope, Roanoke College polls are not reputable) has had McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli, albeit not by large margins.
Anyway, we'll see if there's a flood of polls after Labor Day. Last cycle, there were a whopping 29(!) public polls from 9/1/09 until the election.  I'd be shocked if we match that this cycle, but we'll see soon enough...

An Ugly Intrusion of Republicanness into My 50th High School Reunion

by Andy Schmookler

The main event of our Reunion was a big banquet, which consisted mostly of wonderful schmooze time and dining time. Then came the program time, which I found less wonderful because of what our MC threw in.The MC was our class president. He'd been our class's most outstanding athlete, and he stood out also back in the day for driving a fancy Chrysler 300 to school. He has a reputation for being a pretty good guy.  And he's also a Republican.
That Republican bit should be irrelevant.  Had I been the MC, it surely would have been irrelevant to the job I'd have done that I've spent my last nine years alarmed and disgusted by what the Republican Party has become.  I'd have figured that that had nothing to do with what brought us classmates together, a half century after graduation.  I'd have thought it contrary to our feel-good purposes to intrude any views of mine on matters that divide us.
But as it turned out, it wasn't irrelevant.  For whatever reason, our star quarterback thought himself entitled to compel us all to join him in his brand of patriotism. It's a brand I recognize, and it's not one I like.
He did it in three distinct moves, over about a fifteen minute period, mixed in with thanks to the rest of the reunion committee, a bit of reminiscence, and a series of jokes (with a misogynistic theme running through them).
Andy Schmookler :: An Ugly Intrusion of Republicanness into My 50th High School Reunion
The first move was to make the declaration, with no particular context, that "we live in the greatest country in the history of the world."  It's a statement that was truer the day we marched out of the gymnasium to "Pomp and Circumstance" than it is now. But one then less frequently announced.  Since then, while we continue to lead the world in military spending and power, and have surged to a lead in percentage of our people behind bars, our nation has fallen well back in the standings in various measures of human well-being-like in health, life expectancy, infant mortality, educational achievement, and social mobility.
The kicker is this:  the same Republican force that's pumped up the "We're # 1" mentality has been key to making our country notably less great by the values both of our founders and our religious traditions.
Our class president's remark connected into all that chest-thumping, jingoistic sense of national superiority that our most recent Republican president used in order to get and maintain support for the kinds of aggressive American policies that made our traditional friends abroad fear and distrust us.
His next move, a while later, was to ask for all our classmates who'd served in the American armed forces to stand up and to tell the rest of us to applaud them.  I appreciate people's service in the military, and I know that some of these guys from the class of '63 put their lives on the line forty-some years ago.  But did this gesture toward the military have a place in our event?
And, so many years later, and with people now at the age of retirement from long careers, is the service and sacrifice of soldiers the only kind worthy of appreciation?  
What about the teachers in the room, who worked long hours for not much pay out of devotion to their students?  And doctors and nurses, working hard to cure the sick?  And what about my friend Marv, sitting at our table, who'd brought integrity and sagacity to a domain of the law, helping thereby to make our society a bit more just and more sane?
This extraneous call for us to applaud our soldiers, and only our soldiers, also rang a familiar note:  the militarization of virtue, promoted by that same Republican presidency, as a way of making our raw power the definition of our national greatness, as well as putting the misguided wars of choice beyond challenge by tying them to "our heroes" in uniform.
Finally, as our MC was about to wrap things up, he called upon us all to stand and recite -- as I do not recall our doing during our years together in high school - the "Pledge of Allegiance" to the flag.  I used to have fond feelings for the American flag, but in our times it's become so completely connected with the kind of patriotism that's been called "the last refuge of scoundrels" that it'll be quite a while before I can see it again as standing for the Republic that offers "liberty and justice for all."
As a candidate for Congress, I refused to be one of those politicians who have been intimidated by this ugly form of patriotism into wearing a flag pin, or using the flag in my campaign hand-outs.  I preferred to talk about the values that animated our Founders.  Not the tarnished symbol, but the living substance.
Any one of these gestures, I might have overlooked.  But together, they form a pattern.  At some level our master of ceremonies must have known that he was pushing onto all of us a position on a matter of political controversy in our country. This pattern, after all, takes clear sides in what was one of the chief recent political battle lines in America.
This is a pattern we've seen before at important moments of the history of the past century:  the sense of superiority, the militarism, and the idolatry over the flag.  We've seen it in our own recent history, and we've seen it in chapters of the history of other nations.
They are always dark chapters.
Our reunion did not need that ugly bit of contemporary Republicanness intruding into our event.

Top Virginia GOP Donor: Having African-American President Fomenting "Black-on-White Violence"

According to top Virginia GOP donor - and, based on these comments, a clear victim of severe, probably terminal, "Obama Derangement Syndrome" - Marion "Pat" Robertson:
We are having a tremendous amount of this black-on-white violence and I have a feeling that instead of bringing racial harmony, having an African-American president has exacerbated the problem...He seems to be wanting to bring division among people instead of bringing them together; he is one of the most divisive leaders this country has ever had. And, it just seems he wants to rub the edges raw every chance he gets to talk about the rich, or talk about the privileged, or talk about the impoverished middle class, blacks and whites and so forth. There's always something there to stir up controversy.
Translation: a) Obama is "divisive" because he's black; b) Obama is rubbing things raw by talking about the same things (rich people, the poor, the privileged) that Jesus did. Hmmmm.Of course, this is the same top Virginia GOP donor who has said: Gays Destroy Society, Want Christians in Jail; that gays are really straights with "chromosomal damage", thatPlanned Parenthood backs genocide and inspired Hitler, that "Wild" Liberals Support "Society of Death" , that...well, you get the idea. And meanwhile, I haven't heard Robertson's "dear friend" "Bobby" McDonnell condemning his continued spewing of hateful remarks, nor have I heard Ken Cuccinelli uttering a peep about them either (by Cuccinelli's own reasoning, he needs to denounce Robertson immediately or else he must condone his remarks!), nor have I seen Virginia Republicans returning all the money they've received from Robertson over the years. To paraphrase Ken Cuccinelli's own language, "Will Cuccinelli speak out against Pat Robertson now?" I'm not holding my breath waiting for him to do so, that's for sure.

Republican Leader Boyd Marcus Endorses Terry McAuliffe

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

One thing I find interesting about all these Republicans endorsing Terry McAuliffe is that not a single Democrat, to my knowledge, has gone the other way and endorsed Cuccinelli. Gee, I wonder why that is...hmmm. By the way, the video is of a wrap-up session on the 2012 Tim Kaine vs. George Allen Senate race, with Boyd Marcus - the guy who's now endorsed Terry McAuliffe - the former Allen campaign's senior strategist facing off against Kaine strategist (and now DNC Communications Director) Mo Elleithee. It's also important to emphasize that Marcus was/is very tight with Bill Bolling, so it makes you wonder to what extent this endorsement reflects Bolling's thinking...
Today, Terry McAuliffe for Governor announced that Boyd Marcus, who served as Governor Jim Gilmore's Chief of Staff and has worked with Virginia Republicans for about 40 years, will join "Virginians for McAuliffe" as a supporter and the McAuliffe Campaign as a consultant."I am enthusiastically supporting Terry McAuliffe for Governor because I believe he will work with both parties to advance an agenda that prioritizes economic growth. Virginia needs an experienced businessman who will put the practical needs of our people ahead of political ideology," said Marcus. "I've never before supported any Democrat, but this election Terry is the clear choice for mainstream conservatives. I am excited to work with him to grow the already-long list of prominent Republican leaders who are supporting his campaign. Virginia is facing tremendous economic headwinds and we need a Governor who is going to work with both parties."
As a member of "Virginians for McAuliffe," Marcus joins prominent Republicans supporting McAuliffe including Dwight Schar, Judy Ford Wason, Sen. John Chichester, Del. Vince Callahan, Sen. Russ Potts, Del. Jim Dillard, John Sherman and Del. Katherine Waddell.
"Boyd is a great addition to our campaign team that is focused on bringing together Virginians of both parties," said McAuliffe. "Leadership means working with both parties towards compromises that move Virginia's economy forward."

Is Virginia a "Tin Horn Dictatorship?"

Monday, August 19, 2013

I've been meaning to write about this for a couple days now, but have been finding it difficult to motivate myself. Perhaps it's just that I'm feeling a bit burned out right now, with this seemingly endless governor's race from hell and the 24/7 lies/nastiness/idiocy from Ken Cuccinelli. At times, it's truly enough to make me want to turn off my TV (which I rarely watch anyway, but the other night during the Nats game, I saw Cuccinelli's absurd attack ad against Terry McAuliffe three times - ugh!), radio, and internet connection. It also could be that the subject of DJ Rippert's comment at Bacon's Rebellion is so...I dunno, depressing? Is Virginia a "tin horn dictatorship?" Are we at the point where we're seriously even asking that question?Well, yes. We are. Let's face it, this state's political system is one of legalized corruption, pretty much from top to bottom. It really hit me a couple years ago, when Virginia Uranium - a company that, no matter what you think of it, most  certainly stands to gain or lose a LOT based on actions (or inaction) by the Virginia General Assembly - unabashedly, and more to the point legally, offered to fly any and all members of the Virginia General Assembly to France, at a cost of $10k per legislator, to inspect a closed uranium mining operation hang out at Parisian cafes for three (free) days. At the time, I checked into ethics laws in other statesto see whether this type of thing would be kosher there. The bottom line: in many (most?) other states, this trip would be blatantly illegal. In many others it would be less-than-blatantly illegal, but certainly unethical. Here in the Old Dominion? It's of course wildly unethical by any standard of good government, but it's also 100% legal. And that, my friends, is FUBAR.
lowkell :: Is Virginia a "Tin Horn Dictatorship?"
Now, fast forward to 2013, and we've got a potential indictment against Governor McDonnell for Blagojevich-level corruption involving lavish gifts to the McDonnells by slimeball/grifter Jonnie Williams, owner of the comically absurd company known as "Star Scientific" (among other things, this outfit made celebrity "tobacco candy"). As if that's not bad enough, there's also the whole Governor's Mansion/Chef scandal, in which "Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell repeatedly used state assets for personal and political purposes, including directing state employees to work at private and political events, according to new allegations from McDonnell's former chef."
Oh, and as an added bonus, the guy running to succeed McDonnell as governor, Ken Cuccinelli, is also up to his neck in the chef/mansion scandal, while taking gifts - including a lavish Thanksgiving dinner, $7k in dietary supplements, etc. - from their mutual friend Jonnie Williams. Plus, Cuccinelli also bought stock in Williams' comically absurd company, "Star Scientific."
So alright, you say, the state's Governor and Attorney General are both corrupt as sin, but that doesn't necessarily mean the entire state is a "tin horn dictatorship," right? Perhaps not, but here's the problem: this situation is not an aberration, nor is it limited to a couple of bad actors (in this case, McDonnell and Cuccinelli -- both clearly - in a moral, if not legal, sense - corrupt). Instead, it's systemic and pervasive -- essentially legalized corruption, in which corporations and wealthy individuals get to run amok, wine and dine (and fly to Paris, treat to a Homestead weekend, etc.) our legislators, give unlimited campaign donations to them (even if - ESPECIALLY if - those legislators are in positions to help or hurt the corporate/wealthy individual bottom line), etc, etc.
Of course, there's a thin veneer of respectability and even "democracy" laid on top of this stinking cesspool. But that doesn't make it any better, simply more insidious and difficult to root out. As DJ Rippert puts it over at Bacon's Rebellion"Instead of a single 'strong man' or 'strong woman' we have an inbred cadre of state legislators and crony capitalists operating in a symbiotic effort to loot the commonwealth." Not with bags of cash in the freezer, perhaps, but instead with boatloads of 100% legal "gifts" and contributions (as long as you "disclose" them - what a joke; as if that's a sufficient "check and balance" in the system!)
Making matters even worse, that "cadre of state legislators" are paid almost nothing, have almost no staff resources, are in Richmond for just a few weeks each year (not nearly enough time to master one or two complicated issues, let alone dozens or hundreds of 'em), and yet are expected to legislate on any and every issue affecting the Commonwealth.
Given that these are part-time legislators with barely any resources to independently scrutinize/analyze legislation, guess who's really in charge of making the laws in our fine Commonwealth? That's right, the corporations, wealthy individuals, and lobbyists who represent their interests(plus groups they put together, like ALEC), are deliriously happy to fill the vacuum. And into that vacuum they rush, writing and promoting legislation that advances their selfish interests while screwing the rest of us over.
So why would any sane individual want to be a member of the Virginia General Assembly? The following paragraphs by DJ Rippert are classic, and well worth quoting:
Being a politician in Virginia is a lot more lucrative that the salary you draw from the state. There are countless big companies looking for favors who will fund your jet setting lifestyle. There are plenty of crony capitalists around to give you a taste of the high life. Drop a hint to your friendly Dominion lobbyist that you are a Redskins fan. Bada-bing, you're watching the next game from a suite.But don't lose that office! All of the perks of being a politician go away if you ever leave politics....
If you want to preserve the lifestyle, you must continue to hand out the political favors in return for big campaign contributions. God knows,nothing crushes the competition like a big war chest. And make sure you get into a gerrymandered district. The only thing better than money is to set up political boundaries dominated by your political friends. Keep the off-year elections! The last thing you need is a high rate of voter turnout. Make sure Virginia remains the most difficult state for getting onto the ballot. You certainly don't need some independent challenging you.
But most of all - for God's sake - do NOT agree to a special session of the General Assembly to discuss ethics directly ahead of an election. God forbid. The political pressure might actually require that the session do something concrete about lax ethics laws. And then what? Live your life like an average Virginian without all expense paid first class trips to Paris and tickets to NHL playoff games? Perish the thought.
So, is Virginia a "tin horn dictatorship?" Or do you prefer "Third-World despotism?" Whatever it is, it most certainly ain't pretty, it most certainly ain't progressive (in the early 20th century Progressive movement sense), and it most certainly ain't the type of government (or governance) any of us should expect (demand!) as Americans.P.S. I should also emphasize that we should have a special session of our General Assembly on ethics reform IMMEDIATELY, not next year when McDonnell (and hopefully Cuckoo) are gone and things have quieted down. NOW, when the public is paying at least SOME attention. Oh wait, I almost forgot - that is EXACTLY when our legislators LEAST want to hold such a session, because then they might be pressured to actually enact real reforms, not just window dressing as they'll do in 2014 (if they even do that!).
P.P.S. To put it mildly, I disagree with my friend Paul Goldman that the McDonnells shouldn't be indicted. To the contrary, our laws should be changed so that anyone who engages in the type of crap we've seen the past few months does the "perp walk," and possibly shares a jail cell with Rod Blagojevich.

Sen. Herring, Public Safety Advocate Lori Haas Call Out GOP Ticket's Dangerous Public Safety Record

I just got off a conference call with Virginia's next Attorney General, Sen. Mark Herring and Lori Haas of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, calling out the Virginia GOP ticket's "dangerous public safety record." Here are a few highlights from the call, starting with Sen. Herring's remarks:
Throughout his career in the State Senate and as AG, Ken Cuccinelli has a long record of putting his extreme agenda and personal interests ahead of what is best for Virginians' safety. Mark Obenshain, who has said he and Ken Cuccinelli are "peas in a pod" philosophically, is just as if not further out of the mainstream as Cuccinelli when it comes to commonsense bills that would enact gun safety measures keep our communities safe...The two both wanted to expand the list of people who could bring firearms onto public school campuses...while in the State Senate both Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Obenshain even voted to allow guns and missiles in airport terminals...Obenshain voted against forbidding people with a protective order issued against them from carrying a firearm in the home of their alleged victim, then voted in committee against increasing the penalty for a person who is under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs to carry a loaded firearm in a public place. These are positions that are completely out of the mainstream...Cuccinelli's and Obenshain's records speak for themselves. They have clearly put their own extreme agenda ahead of what is best for the safety of our children...If Ken Cuccinelli and Mark Obenshain's records are any indication of how they would act as Governor and Attorney General, Virginians should beware...their positions are dangerous for our communities and will put public safety on the back burner.
Lori Haas of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence reiterated what Sen. Herring had to say. Haas added that "we need leaders who will find commonsense solutions to keep guns out of the hands of those who will do us harm...we need to keep guns off of school grounds and away from our children and out of the hands of...dangerous people." Sadly, Haas noted that Cuccinelli and Obenshain "want to make it harder for our law enforcement officials to protect us." The bottom line, in Haas' view, is that Cuccinelli's and Obenshain's "extreme positions just endangers our communities, endangers our children, and endangers our families...[but instead] only promotes the sale of more guns."  No argument here. Let's make sure that Cuccinelli and Obenshain come nowhere near victory this November.

Former Washington Post Ombdusman: Fire Jennifer Rubin, "she's just plain bad"

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Washington Post's former Ombudsman, Patrick Pexton, has a long letter in the Washington City Paper giving Jeff Bezos some "free advice" on his new acquisition. My favorite part is the following - awesome!
The Ugly
Jennifer Rubin. Have Fred Hiatt, your editorial page editor-who I like, admire, and respect-fire opinion blogger Jennifer Rubin. Not because she's conservative, but because she's just plain bad. She doesn't travel within a hundred miles of Post standards. She parrots and peddles every silly right-wing theory to come down the pike in transparent attempts to get Web hits. Her analysis of the conservative movement, which is a worthwhile and important beat that the Post should treat more seriously on its national pages, is shallow and predictable. Her columns, at best, are political pornography; they get a quick but sure rise out of the right, but you feel bad afterward.And she is often wrong, and rarely acknowledges it. She was oh-so-wrong about Mitt Romney, week after week writing embarrassing flattery about his 2012 campaign, calling almost every move he made brilliant, and guaranteeing that he would trounce Barack Obama. When he lost, the next day she savaged him and his campaign with treachery, saying he was the worst candidate with the worst staff, ever. She was wrong about the Norway shootings being acts of al-Qaida. She was wrong about Chuck Hagel being an anti-Semite. And does she apologize? Nope.
Rubin was the No. 1 source of complaint mail about any single Post staffer while I was ombudsman, and I'm leaving out the organized email campaigns against her by leftie groups like Media Matters. Thinking conservatives didn't like her, thinking moderates didn't like her, government workers who knew her arguments to be unfair didn't like her. Dump her like a dull tome on the Amazon Bargain Books page.
Now, let's just hope that Jeff Bezos takes this excellent advice.  

Video: Democrat Hung Nguyen Takes on Radical Tea Partier Jim LeMunyon in the 67th

I met Hung Nguyen a few weeks ago, have perused his website, watched his Inside Scoop interview, as well as the video from his campaign kickoff (embedded to the right in this post). I've also had the chance to speak with him on the phone (excellent conversation; he's definitely impressive) for an hour or so. Although I disagree with him on one issue (widening I-66), I agree with him on many others, including good government - including strong ethics reform - in Virginia. Compared to the current, ALEC-friendly delegate (Jim LeMunyon)'s misrepresentation of his constituents, Hung Nguyen would be a huge improvement if he's elected to the House of Delegates from the 67th district (a 55%+ "Kaine district").Again, Nguyen's opponent is incumbent Republican Del. Jim LeMunyon, a real piece of work to put it mildly. For more information on him, see Virginia GOP Delegate Makes National Fool Of HimselfMcDougle and LeMunyon's 27% Repeal Plan ("If State Senator Ryan McDougle and Delegate Jim LeMunyon have their way, states representing only 27% of America's population can nullify federal laws."),LeMunyon's Lemon ("I thought it worth commenting on Jim LeMunyon's bill to shift the responsibility for toll increases on the Dulles toll road to the Loudoun and Fairfax County Boards."), Apparently Anti-"Smart Growth" Bill Makes Its Way Through the Virginia House of DelegatesDel. Jim LeMunyon Tries Desperately to Hide His Crystal Clear Tea Party Ties. FailsTea Partier Jim LeMunyon Called Out on Money from Extremist Group, Promptly Returns ItTea Party Works Hard for Jim LeMunyon and Tea Party Takeover of VirginiaMaybe LeMunyon Should Write for The Onion?, andLeMunyon Attacks His Own Position on Transportation Taxes?. Then, if you can help out Hung Nguyen - donations, volunteering, whatever - please do so. Thanks.
P.S. I'm not an identity politics person, but an interesting side note is that if Hung Nguyen is elected, he'll apparently be the first Vietnamese American elected to a state legislature on the entire east coast. That would be historic.

Roanoke Times Online Poll Shows 80% Against Fracking GW National Forest

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I saw this online poll on the Roanoke Times website, and was pleasantly surprised to see that 80% OPPOSE fossil fuel "fracking" in the George Washington National Forest. True, it's not a "scientific" poll, but still, it's encouraging as far as it goes. The fact is, this should not be a difficult call, given that the GW and Jefferson National Forests contain 230,000 acres of old-growth forest, "over 50 species of trees and over 2,000 species of shrubs and herbaceous plants," and "are popular hiking, mountain biking, and hunting destinations." In addition, asthis website explains, "More than 4.5 million Virginians rely on drinking water from the Potomac and the James River, which originate on the GWNF," and "fracking would put those "critical drinking water resources at risk."Given all that, nobody in their right mind would actually support fracking in the GW National Forest, right? Think again. That's right, guess which idiot supports fracking up the GW National Forest? You got it, our old fossil fuel friend Ken Cuccinelli, who never met a forest, stream, river, ecosystem, or planet he didn't want to trash (in service of his paymasters - the Koch brothers, CONSOL Energy, Big Coal, etc.). In contrast, Terry McAuliffe opposes fracking the GW National Forest, as does the Virginia Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Potomac and Shenandoah Riverkeepers, theVirginia Conservation Network, and pretty much anyone else with any sense. The bottom line is this, as Progress Virginia explains:
The best way to lower energy prices is by developing clean, safe resources that will create permanent Virginia jobs while preserving our unique environment. Clean energy is the fastest growing industry in the U.S. today. Virginia should be leading the country in creating renewable energy jobs. Fracking risks our natural heritage for the benefit of a few campaign donors.
Clearly, it's not worth risking the amazing GW National Forest for the profits of the oil and gas companies. Yet Ken Cuccinelli would do just that - clearly prioritizing his fossil fuel donors over the interests of millions of Virginians, while Terry McAuliffe opposes it. As if you needed yet another great reason not just to vote for McAuliffe on November 5, but to actively campaign for him, and against the Koch brothers' best friend forever - the Cooch - you've now got one.P.S. For more information on fracking, see Cornell Professor: Natural Gas Fracking a "Gangplank to more warming and away from clean energy investments",Rep. Upton: Taxpayers Paid to Develop Fracking Technology, Now Should Have No Say in Its Use, and Video: "Frackalypse Now".

Ken Cuccinelli's Big Lie Campaign, Brought to You by Chris LaSwiftboatvita

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The sad thing is, a Big Lie campaign like the one being run by Ken Cuccinelli (see the graphic at the right for the latest, glaring example, from yesterday's forum in Manassas) isn't at all surprising, it's exactly what one would expect from Cuccinelli's senior strategist Chris "Swift Boat" LaCivita. Let's not forget, "During the 2004 US Presidential campaign, LaCivita served as consultant and principal media advisor to the Swift Boat Veterans, writing and producing the group's memorable (and controversial) commercials..." I would use different words than "memorable" and "controversial" to describe the Swift Boat smear of John Kerry. In fact, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ranks (down) there with some of the most disgusting, scum-sucking Republican operations of the past few decades, along with the racist Willie Horton attacks on Michael Dukakis ("credit" for those go to "Southern Strategy" master Lee Atwater) and the Arkansas Project against Bill Clinton.In addition, in 2008, LaCivita's group [American Issues Project - AIG] ran "ads in battleground states seeking to raise questions about Democratic Party presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama's ties to former student radical William Ayers." It is also worth noting that LaCivita "was the direct supervisor of James Tobin, another former employee of the DCI Group...sentenced [in 2005] to 10 months in federal prison for his role in the 2002 NH phone jamming scandal...LaCivita was on Tobin's witness list but never called."
So, that's who and what we're dealing with here - Chris LaSwiftboatvita, a master of the Big Lie who has no sense of morality, ethics, or shame apparently. In this case, you can see how they completely twisted what Terry McAuliffe said - which was perfectly inoffensive, innocuous, even admirable (who wants a governor who makes decisions without all the facts?) - into something completely different - and much, much worse of course. It's sort of like what Romney et al. tried to do last year with Barack Obama's "you didn't build that" comment, which anyone with half a brain cell understood meant this. But don't let the facts get in the way of your story, when you're a Republican operative with no sense of shame or ethics. Just keep Swift Boatin' along.