A Virginia Polling Day as Bizarre and Wacky as This Bizarre and Wacky Campaign!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

This entire governor's campaign has been bizarre and wacky, and at this point just about NOTHING would surprise me. Still, a spate of polls have been released in the past couple days that are just all over the place in every way: methodology, "top-line" numbers, "internals," trend lines, quality level, you name it. Here's a quick summary.1. Washington Post poll (10/24-10/27): McAuliffe up 12 points (51%-39%) with Sarvis pulling in 8%. This poll basically has Terry running away with it. Hmmm. I mean, I'm not a huge fan of the Post, but I don't know of any particular reason to dismiss its polling either.
2. Quinnipiac poll (10/22-10/28): McAuliffe up 4 points (45%-41%), with Sarvis at 9%. Generally speaking, Q-Polls are pretty good, but this one did some funky things, like made the male-female split 50/50, which is almost certainly not going to happen. They also seriously tweaked the GOP/Dem breakdown - in the direction of the GOP - since their last poll a week ago. Not sure what to make of any of that, but it shows the race tightening a bit, and Cuccinelli's fixating on this poll and trying to make the most of his "Mitt-mentum!" LOL
3. Roanoke College "poll" (10/21-10/27): I put "poll" in quotes because this outfit has a track record of being wildly all over the place, with a strong Republican skew to boot. Yet somehow they have McAuliffe up 15 points (46%-31%), which can't possibly be true. So weird. They've got Sarvis at 9%, which at least makes sense. Remember, Roanoke College "polls" had Kaine and Obama both DOWN five points in Virginia just days before last year's election (which Kaine and Obama both won); showed a 15-point swing towards Romney and Allen in Virginia during October 2012; and was ranked by Nate Silver as the 6th worst "poll" in the entire country (out of about 90 polls), with an "average error" and pro-GOP "bias" of 8.1 points each. So keep all that in mind when considering these "poll" results, whether they show the "blue team" up or down.
4. Hampton University poll (10/26-10/27): Has McAuliffe up 6 points (42%-36%), with Sarvis at 12%. I'm really not sure what to make of Hampton U. polls, but I'm leaning strongly towards "not much." I mean, these top lines just don't make much sense - Northam up only 6 points over E.W. Jackson? No way. Also, last month's Hampton poll had Jackson UP over Northam 39%-38%. That's even LESS likely, bordering on delusional. As a political friend of mine and I were chatting about a little while ago, there are a ton of small colleges and universities out there that like doing polls, as they're fairly inexpensive and reliably get the college's/university's name in the news. As an added bonsu, the college/university can also claim the polls are educational for their students. The problem is, most of them are crap. Like this one, as far as I can tell.
5. Rasmussen Reports poll (10/28-10/29): Speaking of crap, there's always Republican hack "pollster" Rasmussen, which incredibly had McAuliffe up an implausible 17 points in its last poll. Anyway, they now have it at a 7-point lead for T-Mac (McAuliffe 43%, Cuccinelli 36%, Sarvis 12%), thus a 10-point narrowing in a week. Yeah, well, it's Republican Rasmussen Reports, so what else would we expect but weird and wacky?
So where does that leave us? Well, probably the best thing is to stick with an average, like Real Clear Politics, which has McAuliffe up 9.1 points, not counting the Roanoke +15, the Hampton +6, or the Rasmussen +7. Got that? ;)  Oh, and keep in mind that Cuccinelli hasn't led in a poll since late spring/early summer, and that McAuliffe's campaign has supposedly built a superb GOTV operation. Still, the key is who shows up, so make sure you remind everyone you know to vote on Tuesday, for the entire Democratic ticket of course. :)

Top 10 Reasons Why Virginians Shouldn't Even CONSIDER Voting for Mark Obenshain

(UPDATE: Also see Va. AG candidate Mark Obenshain is Cuccinelli's clone - the truth really hurts! - promoted by lowkell)

I could probably list 100 reasons why Virginians shouldn't vote for a right-wing extremist like Mark Obenshain for ANY elective office, let alone one of the Commonwealth's most powerful positions - Attorney General. From LGBT equality to women's reproductive freedom to health care to voting rights to animal welfare to guns to energy and the environment to the economy - the list is endless - Obenshain is not just out of the Virginia mainstream, he's completely off the deep end. But don't worry, I'm not going to list 100 reasons not to vote for this Cuccinelli clone, just the top 10. Read them, spread them around, and make sure you tell everyone you know to vote for Mark Herring on November 5!  Thanks.1. He's a Cuccinelli clone: Obenshain said in 2011 that he and Ken Cuccinelli are "two peas in a pod, philosophically." Obenshain has called Cuccinelli "'a principled and effective attorney general' who has earned the admiration of friends and foes alike." He's said that Cuccinelli has "done a great job" as Attorney General, and that he (Obenshain) would "build on his work, without missing a step," if elected to the position. Shudddderrrr.
2. He's a raging homophobe: In 2010, Obenshain voted against adding sexual orientation to current anti-discrimination policies in Virginia state government hiring. In 2013, Obenshain voted against prohibiting state agencies from discriminating against job applicants or employees based on their sexual orientation. In January 2013, he walked out of the Virginia Senate chamber rather than voting on the judicial nomination of an openly gay former prosecutor. In 2004, he voted in committee (along with - guess who? - Ken Cuccinelli) against overturning Virginia's "ban on
sodomy between consenting adults." We could go on all day, but you get the picture. In today's world, being a homophobe should be an automatic disqualifier, of course, for anyone seeking public office. End of story.
3. He's an anti-choice extremist when it comes to women's reproductive freedom. In 2009, he sponsored a bill to require women to report miscarriages to police within 24 hours or risk going to prison. In 2012, he voted for the infamous "transvaginal ultrasound" mandate. In 2009, 2010, and 2011, he introduced amendments to prohibit state funding for "any organization providing abortion or abortion counseling services." In 2007 and 2011, he sponsored "personhood" bills to "extend constitutionally guaranteed rights to the unborn from the moment of conception." That would effectively criminalize all abortions, as well as many forms of contraception, embryonic stem cell research, and possibly in vitro fertilization. Crazy stuff.
4. He's against open, transparent government. In 2006, he voted in committee against prohibiting "gifts from lobbyists and other persons to General Assembly members during regular legislative sessions." In 2012, he voted in committee to kill a bill to "require that the state budget be available to the public for at least 72 hours prior to a vote on it." In February 2013, he voted in committee to allow state legislators to continue to be compensated "for attending conferences for which the agenda and materials are not available to the public." And last but not least, in 2011, he voted in support of allowing Virginia's attorney general to use subpoena power "to investigate areas of academic inquiry and research."

5. He's extremely weak when it comes to child abuse. In 2011, Obenshain was one of three state legislators who voted against extending from two years to "20 years the period in which a victim of childhood sexual abuse may file a lawsuit against an abuser." Obenshain at the time called the proposed time extension unfair and "truly mind-boggling." Seriously, he did. Also, in 2004, Obenshain voted against requiring "clergy to report suspected instances of child abuse," and in 2006, he voted against adding "clergy to the list of professionals required to report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect." As if all that's not bad/crazy enough, in 2008 Obenshain voted against a budget that included funding $1.5 million for Alicia's Law, which creates task forces aimed at catching online child-sex predators. My god; with a record like this, Obenshain is basically the LAST person on earth we'd want as our state's AG!6. He's weak on crime. For instance, in 2007, he voted (along with...yep, Ken Cuccinelli) in committee against making it illegal to defraud by filling out a credit card application in another person's name. In 2008, Obenshain (again with Ken Cuccinelli) voted in committee to kill legislation to increase penalties for drunk driving and vehicle-related felonies. In 2009, Obenshain (along with...yep, Ken Cuccinelli yet again) voted in committee against enhanced penalties for "recruiting another to participate in a gang" and "gang-related offenses occurring on or within 1,000 feet of school property or on a school bus." And in 2011, Obenshain voted in committee to kill Mark Herring's bill to make it a felony to use "deception, intimidation, undue influence, coercion, harassment, duress, or misrepresentation" to steal from the elderly or other vulnerable adults, with "enhanced penalties when the offender is a caregiver or a person in a position of trust." Again, this is the LAST person we'd want as our Attorney General!
7. He's a gun extremist. Obenshain said that opposition to his bill allowing guns in bars was "nonsensical." He voted for the repeal of Virginia's one-handgun-a-month law. He voted to allow guns in child day care centers. He voted against closing the gun show loophole. In this campaign, he posed proudly with NRA leader Wayne LaPierre and also with right-wing hate radio host Mark Levin, while sporting a "Guns Save Lives" sticker (see photo above). It's endless, pretty much.
8. He's against working people. In 2006, Obenshain said that advocates for "raising the minimum wage...[are] asking government to
substitute its judgment for that of the marketplace." In 2007, he voted (along with Ken Cuccinelli, of course) against raising Virginia's minimum wage. In 2005, he was one of two state senators and six state legislators who voted against making it a felony to intentionally and fraudulently refuse to pay wages for work performed. In 2004, he voted against a bill to allow "parents or guardians to take up to four hours leave from their jobs each year to attend their children's school activities." In 2009, he criticized a proposal to make part-time workers eligible for unemployment benefits, calling it a "boondoggle" and "unnecessary." And in 2004, he voted against a budget that included significant funding for economic development initiatives, including funding "to market distressed areas of the state." Charming, huh?
9. He is against your right to vote. As the Washington Post pointed out, Obenshain "has been a champion of the GOP push for more restrictive voter ID laws, which would reduce access for poor and minority voters," despite "zero evidence of voters misrepresenting their identity at the Virginia polls, the ostensible justification for such laws." In 2012, Obenshain sponsored legislation to require identification to cast an official ballot. he followed that up by voting, in 2013, to eliminate "several forms of ID currently acceptable at the polls," moving Virginia "a step closer on Friday to joining the few states that require voters to present photo ID at the polls." And in 2013, he voted against amending the state constitution to automatically
restore voting rights to nonviolent felons.
10. If you care about animal welfare, you should NOT vote for Mark Obenshain. In 2005, Obenshain (and Ken Cuccinelli, of course!) were two of five Senators who voted against legislation to regulate "puppy mills." In 2007, he (and Ken Cuccinelli) voted in committee against requiring veterinarians and employees at shelters to report to law enforcement "injuries to a dog when the injury is consistent with fighting of dogs." In 2007, Obenshain and Ken Cuccinelli were the ONLY two Senators to vote against increasing penalties for engaging in cockfighting. Obenshain's abysmal record on animal welfare also includes voting "against a bill to end competitive fox penning, an action so heinous that opponents call it 'barbaric.'" No wonder why the Humane Society has endorsed Mark Herring for Attorney General.
OK, so those are my top 10 reasons why you shouldn't even CONSIDER voting for Mark Obenshain, although honestly you could probably dive into his record and pick out your own top 10 pretty easily. For instance, he's awful on education, with a ZERO rating from the Virginia Education Association. So add that one to the list right away, bringing us to ELEVEN reasons you should definitely not vote for Mark Obenshain. And he's terrible on energy and environmental issues, it almost goes without saying with someone who's taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from coal companies and other fossil fuel interests (e.g., the Koch brothers). Any other issues you care about? He's almost certainly awful on those too. So why don't you know about this? Probably because he keeps it quiet, and because Virginia Democrats have only just recently has had enough money to let voters know about Obenshain's record. But now you know, just in time to vote against this guy on Tuesday. Thanks.

Video: Bill Clinton Rallies Several Hundred for Virginia Democratic Ticket in Dale City

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I attended this afternoon's rally for the Virginia Democratic ticket in Dale City. It was crowded, with around 450 people jammed into VFW Post 1503 on Minnieville Road, and people seemed to be fired up. I'm uploading my videos to YouTube now, and will post them here and in the comments section as they're ready. First, here's a short clip of Democratic Party of Virginia Chair Charniele Herring starting to speak about why she got into public service and why it's so important to elect the Virginia Democratic ticket. Check out the "flip" for video of the crowd cheering for Terry McAuliffe, and then Terry starting to introduce former President (and Governor, as repeatedly noted) Bill Clinton. Also check out the comments section for more videos.

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Reply ]
Video: Rep Gerry Connolly Speaks at Rally in Dale City (10/27/13) (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Video: Mark Herring speaks at rally in Dale City (10/27/13) (0.00 / 0[delete comment]
And now presenting...Virginia's next Attorney General! :)

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Video - McAuliffe: Cuccinelli Sponsored Bill to Allow Emergency Rooms to Fingerprint People (0.00 / 0[delete comment]
At a rally in Dale City, Virginia with Bill Clinton, Terry McAuliffe points out that Ken Cuccinelli has called Medicaid "outright welfare," and has said that Social Security and Medicare were "created by bad politicians to make people dependent on the government." McAuliffe also noted that Cuccinelli has complained about Virginians "clog up emergency rooms," and was the "sole sponsor of legislation...that would allow emergency rooms to fingerprint individuals who were not able to pay their bill immediately" (crowd gasps in horror).

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Video: Bill Clinton Speaks at Rally in Dale City, Virginia (0.00 / 0[delete comment]
Former President Bill Clinton speaks at a rally of several hundred people for Terry McAuliffe in Dale City, Virginia on 10/27/13. He urges everyone in Virginia to vote next Tuesday, November 5, for Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam, and Mark Herring, and to reject the politics of rigid ideology exemplified by the Republican ticket of Ken Cuccinelli, EW Jackson and Mark Obenshain.

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Did you notice . . . (0.00 / 0[delete comment]
IP Address:
Check out the crowds in the videos . . . old, young, white, black, brown, women, men . . .

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Yeah, nobody who happened to wander in randomly (0.00 / 0[delete comment]
certainly would have mistaken this for a Republican rally. :)

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Video: McAuliffe Hits Cuccinelli for Mocking Moderation, Failing to Stand Up to Ted Cruz (0.00 / 0[delete comment]
At a rally in Dale City, Virginia with Bill Clinton on 10/27/13, Terry McAuliffe talks about the government shutdown's "devastating" impact on Virginia's economy, and how it was a "national disgrace." Yet, McAuliffe points out, Ken Cuccinelli was recently campaigning with Ted Cruz, the "architect of the shutdown," and has refused to stand up for Virginia jobs, because he's more concerned about his reputation with the Tea Party. In addition to the shutdown, McAuliffe notes that Cuccinelli is extreme on many other issues as well, while he is focused on "issues that bring Virginians together - improving education and creating good paying jobs." McAuliffe says "our mainstream ticket thinks that the budget should be based on common sense fiscal responsibility and investing in our shared priorities like the best education system," while "their Tea Party ticket...views bipartisanship as betrayal," and has proposed an education plan that would "divert money away from public schools." Finally, McAuliffe reminded people that Cuccinelli has mocked moderation, and has said that "this election is about showing that conservatism isn't dead."

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Photos: Virginia's next Lt .Governor and next Atty. General with Bill Clinton (0.00 / 0[delete comment]
BTW, Bill Clinton was Attorney General of Arkansas before he was elected Governor.

WaPo's Virginia Editorial Writer Fails Yet Again

Saturday, October 26, 2013

(UPDATE: Ha, they must have read this, as they just updated with endorsements in the two districts they'd missed earlier. Bizarre, nonsensical endorsement in the 50th; good endorsement in the 51st. - promoted by lowkell)

I've written repeatedly that the Washington Post's Virginia editorial writer, long-time international correspondent Lee Hockstader, has little if any knowledge of Virginia politics (e.g., lives in DC to my knowledge and almost never - ever? - crosses the Potomac Ocean River to check it out, let alone attend political events). For instance, in January 2010 I pointed out Hockstader's editorial to the effect that since Democrats won a crucial victory, increasing their majority to 22-18 in the state Senate, so obviously now Democrats are "in deep trouble" (according to Hockstader, the margin was "wafer-thin," hence his absurd conclusion). He claimed in the same editorial that all 40 Virginia Senate seats would be up THAT November (of 2010), which of course was off by a year. Details details.Anyway, I bring all this up today because Hockstader's been a busy beaver, churning out the Post's endorsements for Northern Virginia House of Delegates races. There are just a few problems with them you might want to be aware of.
1. For some strange reason, Hockstader completely missed two important districts with contested races - the   50th (Democrat Richard Cabellos vs. Republican Jackson Miller) and the 51st (Democrat Reed Heddleston vs. Republican Rich Anderson)- even though he claimed to be doing "endorsements in Northern Virginia's contested House races." Well, those two are most certainly contested, and they're both certainly in Northern Virginia (Prince William County to be exact; wonder if Hockstader's ever been there). Also note that Tim Kaine won the 50th last year by 9 points over George Allen (as did Barack Obama over Mitt Romney), so this is definitely a competitive district. Kaine also won the 51st last year (as did President Obama), making this district competitive as well. Meanwhile, Democrat Reed Heddleston has nearly matched Anderson in fundraising, and Jeff Schapiro report that Anderson is being targeted by Democrats for a possible pickup in 10 days. Yet for whatever reason (cluelessness?), neither the 50th nor the 51st district merits Hockstader's fine "analysis."
2. As Catherine S. Read writes in the comments section to Hockstader's final endorsements, the "over-the-top" endorsement of Republican Tom Rust, "while relegating his challenger {Democrat Jennifer Boysko} to not even a full sentence - a label actually - shows a glaring bias in favor of the status quo." Read adds that Hockstader's "slanted and dismissive endorsement [of Rust] is so reflective of exactly what is wrong in Virginia...back-slapping backroom old boy BS," and that it completely ignores Rust's vote for anti-women's-health-clinic legislation "that is closing clinics around Virginia." Great, huh?
3. As commenter "terje1" writes, the Post/Hockstader "seems to have decided that the only test they have for Republican incumbents is having supported the transportation bill - as if backing one piece of reasonable legislation overrides every other extremist bill pursued by the Republicans in the legislature." This commenter adds:
lowkell :: WaPo's Virginia Editorial Writer Fails Yet Again
Virtually every one of the Republicans being endorsed for re-election by the Post also voted in lockstep for every far right Republican social and economic proposal. They do not deserve to be rewarded for supporting transvaginal probes, closing women's health clinics or blocking a qualified gay judge. This history is too important to overlook in making endorsements and voters' decisions...Republicans don't deserve to be rewarded for their extremism. Voting Democratic for House of Delegates is the only way to send a clear message about the direction the Commonwealth should head in.
So true. Yet over and over again, Lee Hockstader breezily dismisses examples of that "extremism." For instance, Hockstader argues that right-wingnut Mark Dudenhefer "was one of a handful of lawmakers to speak out against an otherwise highly qualified judicial nominee who happened to be gay," which should alone disqualify him from an endorsement. Yet Hockstader waves his hand and blows that one off, claiming that it's overridden by - wait for it - Dudenhefer's "pragmatic" and even "courag[ous]" "vote in favor of the transportation funding bill." Seriously? So it's ok to be a bigot, as long as you vote for a (flawed) transportation bill? Gotcha.Likewise, Hockstader endorses right wingnut Jim LeMunyon, again based on his vote for the transportation bill (which Hockstader says "bucked right-wing orthodoxy"), even though LeMunyon is a Tea Partier through and through, voting for - among other things - the infamous "trans-vaginal ultrasound" mandate. Yeah, that one really "bucked right-wing orthodoxy!" Heh.
It basically goes on and on like this, where Republicans are given a pass on all their other sins, as long as they voted for the transportation bill. Whether you like the transportation bill, dislike it, or have mixed feelings about it (as I do), I simply don't see how it's a well-thought-out endorsement when all you're doing is repeatedly citing that one bill as significant enough to override everything else.
Yet that's exactly what Hockstader does, again and again. Of course, this guy has a long history of weird endorsements. One of my first disagreements with him wasn't so much THAT he endorsed Harris Miller over Jim Webb, but the mush-brained thinking as to WHY he did - because supposedly Webb's "somewhat strident populism on trade policy tends toward xenophobic sloganeering and business-bashing," and that Webb supposedly had "given scant time and attention to issues ranging from education to tax policy to immigration." WTF? I'm sorry, but I know Jim Webb, and whatever else you think about him, he doesn't give "scant time and attention" to issues. Hockstader also completely overlooked the fact that Webb was a stronger candidate, purely from an electoral point of view, to go up against George Allen. Why is it that a bunch of grassroots activists, who I'm sure Hockstader holds in utter contempt, were able to figure that one out, but that he wasn't? Uhhhh.
Finally, I'd just add that although I understand why Democrats - particularly challengers - like to tout the "Washington Post endorsement" (even though there's not much evidence, other than perhaps Creigh Deeds in 2009, that it has any "juice" in general elections), I really wish that at least Democratic incumbents would stop giving any credence to Lee Hockstader's uninformed, clueless drivel. All you're doing is encouraging him, when we all should be doing the exact opposite.

Negative Reaction Pours in to AP's Firing of Bob Lewis, Dean of the Virginia Political Press Corps

Monday, October 21, 2013

The reaction to the AP's absurd firing of Bob Lewis, a great reporter and the super-respected dean of the Virginia political press corps, pours in. And none of it is supportive of the AP, from what I can tell. My reaction: this is a ridiculous, wild overreaction by a "news" organization that makes mistakes - including egregious ones - all the time, yet doesn't fire the reporters involved. Also, I'd point out that it's not just the AP; the media makes tons of mistakes and almost NEVER fires a reporter because of them, even though many richly deserve to be fired for incompetence, ineptitude, false equivalence laziness/cowardice, etc. (e.g., see this guy, who should have been fired years ago!). So now the AP fires Bob Lewis over one bad mistake? You must be freakin' kidding me!!!*Former Rep. Tom Perriello: "Big loss to fire @APBobLewis. Few know VA politics as well. We respect/fear him b/c he knows his stuff. Everyone has a bad day."
*DNC Communications Director Mo Elleithee: "As someone who has known & worked with @APBobLewis for 13 years, I can say he's 1 of the best in the biz. BIG loss for Virginia... & the AP."
*Sen. Mark Warner: "AP's Bob Lewis has been a fixture at the Va Capitol and his reporting will be missed by Virginians. Best wishes at a tough moment, Bob."
*Bob McDonnell's Communications Director Tucker Martin"If journalism had a draft @APBobLewis and @DenaPotterAP would be early 1st round picks. Huge talent now available media outlets: AP's loss"
*Washington Examiner reporter Steve Contorno: "Hard to imagine that @APBobLewis' error was worse than the AP reporters that botched Boston reports and got to keep their jobs."
*NY Times/former Wash. Post Virginia political reporter Michael Shear: "I'm all for accuracy. But I'm damn hard pressed to see how AP did the right thing firing @APBobLewis, who has long championed that value."
*Tim Kaine Chief of Staff Mike Henry: "Fire @APBobLewis !?  Over a mistake that was pulled back & apologized 4 That's BS. Bob u r a champion.  AP's loss. Move on with head up BL"
*Virginian Pilot political reporter Julian Walker: "At a loss for words on @APBobLewis & @DenaPotterAP. Quality people & journalists."
*Gov. Bob McDonnell: "@apboblewis and @denapotter have always been fair, tough and smart. Virginians deserve dedicated reporters like them."
*Washington Post Metro columnist Robert McCartney: "@benpershing I agree. Suspension and reprimand should have been sufficient. Bob Lewis's record over many years should have counted for more"
*Sen. Tim Kaine: Big loss for Virginia. @APBobLewis is an even-handed, talented reporter & a class act.
*McAuliffe campaign says: "We've consistently said this story is water under the bridge and did not ask for any actions to be taken against those involved...We have had a professional relationship with Bob Lewis, Dena Potter and the rest of AP's Virginia team during this campaign."
*Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling: "Sorry to see the AP fire Bob Lewis. Bob is one of the most respected reporters in Richmond. We all make mistakes. Bob did not deserve this."
*Head of Sorensen Institute Bob Gibson: "I've known and worked with Bob Lewis for decades.  AP decision was wrong.  Bob is one of the best journalists in Virginia, deserves better."

The Dog that Refuses to Bark: A Stunning Clue about the Problem with American Media

Sunday, October 20, 2013

by Andy Schmookler

You probably have heard about the book from a little while back, It's Even Worse Than It Looks. It was written by two very centrist, perhaps even conservative, interpreters of the Washington scene: Norm Ornstein (of the American Enterprise Institute) and Thomas Mann (of the Brookings Institution).One of the main quotations from that book describes the Republican Party as "an insurgent outlier...ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."
When I heard first heard that passage, back in 2012, my thought was: it's about time you noticed that. To me, that's been blatantly, disturbingly obvious for years.
But here's the kicker. When Ornstein and Mann came out with their book --belatedly in my view, as I said-- they were subject to a kind of ostracism, a loss of their high media status. Here's how Raw Story put it:  
Andy Schmookler :: The Dog that Refuses to Bark: A Stunning Clue about the Problem with American Media
The authors of It's Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism, who have found themselves ostracized by the Sunday morning shows where they had always previously been welcome...

As a long-time aficionado of the detective story, I know a potential case-breaking clue when I see it. (The image of "the dog that didn't bark" comes from one of Sherlock Holmes's cases, by the way.)What does it mean that the media would shun the authors of a book that points to the obvious devolution of the Republican Party into something extreme, something that breaks the usual mold for a major American Party?
Does it show that the media are actively and willingly collaborating with this destructive force? Does it show that the media are intimidated by that force? Is there any other possible explanation besides those two?
(In the Sherlock Holmes story, "Silver Blaze," the fact that the dog didn't bark showed that the killer was someone with whom the dog had a friendly relationship.)
In any event, it is stunning. And it deserves to be placed on a plate in front of the media, like a pile of dog excrement, with a demand that they explain themselves.
* Note:  In time, Ornstein and Mann did get an appearance on Chris Hayes's show. Chris Hayes's show, on MSNBC, is clearly a different color of horse from the MEET THE PRESS, and FACE THE NATION kinds of show.
Andy Schmookler, recently the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District, is an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher.  His books include The Parable of the Tribes:  The Problem of Power in Social Evolution.   His website is at .

Photos, Video: Packed House Cheers Terry McAuliffe, Hillary Clinton

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I just got back from the "Women for Terry McAuliffe" event this afternoon at the historic State Theater in Falls Church, Virginia. I'll be posting more photos and videos as I process them (note, the photo to the right is by Del. Scott Surovell), but let's just say for now that it was a great event before a packed house, with people fired up for the Democratic ticket and of course for former Senator and Secretary of State (and possibly future president, speaking of "historic"!) Hillary Clinton. The former First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State made her first political appearance in several years, on behalf of her good friend Terry McAuliffe, who she showered with praise as a father, as one of the most big-hearted and hard-working people she knows, and as someone who will work 24/7 for the people of Virginia as their governor.A major theme of the speeches this afternoon was protecting women's rights, which would come under serious attack if (god forbid) Ken Cuccinelli and his "extreme team" ticket were ever elected. As Terry McAuliffe put it, he will stand as a "brick wall" between any extreme legislation coming out of the Virginia General Assembly when it comes to women's health and reproductive freedom. He pledged to make Virginia an opening and welcoming place for everyone, one which again is in stark contrast to Cuccinelli and his Tea Party ticketmates.
Also speaking of "historic," Virginia Democrats are on the verge of making history in just over 2 weeks, with the possibility of sweeping all three statewide offices. Let's do it!
P.S. See the comments section of this post for more photos and video.

Virginia Women Leaders Rip Mark Obenshain's Deceitful New TV Ad

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I just got off a conference call - with State Senator Barbara Favola, former Delegate Katherine Waddell, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia's Executive Director Tarina Keene, and Planned Parenthood's Cianti Stewart-Reid - responding to Mark Obenshain's latest deceitful television ad (in Orwellian fashion, Obenshain's Big Lie is entitled "Truth"; also note who Marsha Garst is - ee gads). In this case, Obenshain is deliberately attempting to mislead Virginians when it comes to his deplorable record on women's health issues. He's pretending that stating the FACTS of the bills HE has sponsored and the votes HE has taken to make miscarriage a crime, to shut down women's health clinics across Virginia, to ban abortion and many forms of contraception, etc, etc., are somehow an "attack" on him. But here's the total flaw in his "logic": it can't be an "attack" to point out things that he himself did, and was very proud to do, unless he's changed his mind and now opposes those things (which he hasn't). I know, details details. :) With that, here are highlights from the call.*Sen. Favola emphasized the importance of setting the record straight when it comes to Mark Obenshain's anti-women's-health legislation (e.g., the "personhood" bill, which would ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest; legislation to criminalize miscarriages; and many others).
*Favola noted that "Mark Obenshain votes the way E.W. Jackson speaks and Ken Cuccinelli has acted as Attorney General." They are all Tea Party folks, and have all been "flat-out terrible"when it comes to women's health and reproductive freedom.
*The bottom line, in Favola's view, is that Mark Obenshain as AG would be "devastating."
*Former Delegate Katherine Waddell said if we've learned anything the past 4 years, it's "the importance of the Attorney General of Virginia and the impact the Attorney General has on public policy in Virginia."
*Waddell added, "We've seen what Ken Cuccinelli has done at Attorney General related to women's reproductive health care," and Obenshain has said he'd be just like Cuccinelli.
*Waddell reviewed Obenshain's record, including "transvaginal ultrasound" legislation, a bill to criminalize miscarriages, fetal pain legislation, regulating women's health clinics as hospitals, opposing the HPV vaccine, leading the charge to ban emergency contraception in JMU campus dispensaries, etc., etc.
*Waddell concluded: "As a Republican woman who believes in limited government, individual freedom, and the right to privacy, I could never ever support Mark Obenshain." In contrast, Mark Herring "is the only candidate for Attorney General who will support and protect women and children."
*Tarina Keene said that "Mark Obenshain has been going around the Commonwealth intentionally misleading women about his record. He seems to be offended by his own offensive legislation, his own voting record, and just the plain truth."
*Keene added that Obenshain is simply not telling the truth on the miscarriage bill, on closing down women's health clinics across the state, etc. Obenshain has "an abysmal and proven record when it comes to attacking women's health and rights during his time in the State Senate...He can't run from the truth and Virginians just can't trust him."
*Cianti Stewart-Reid said that "this extreme ticket really represents three peas in a pod."
*Stewart-Reid concluded that Obenshain is clearly "not for women's health...has not been working to protect women, and we've really had enough; Virginia women deserve better than that in our Attorney General."

Video: The Duggars Say Cuccinelli, Jackson, Obenshain "really are exemplary of our values"

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I think the video speaks for itself, but just a few quick points. 1. It's important to realize what the Family Research Council is - a hate group. That's right, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the FRC's "real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians," with the goals being "to denigrate LGBT people in its battles against same-sex marriage, hate crimes laws, anti-bullying programs and the repeal of the military’s 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' policy. Charming, eh? 2. Jim Bob Duggar is a right-wing extremist who just recently compared the United States to Nazi Germany at the far-right-wing loony "convention" called the "Values Voter Summit" (see video in the comments section). 3. C'mon, a bunchy of reality show freakazoids, famous for breeding like rabbits? Is this the best Ken Cuccinelli can do? Wow. 4. Finally, the fact that the Duggars believe that Ken Cuccinelli, EW Jackson, and Mark Obenshain are "exemplary" of their "values" really says it all. Needless to say, it's urgent that you vote in 21 days, and of course that you vote Democratic!

Mann, Petersen, McEachin Rip Obenshain for Supporting Cuccinelli Climate Science "Witch Hunt"

Monday, October 14, 2013

I just got off a press call with former UVA Professor and world-renowned climate change scientist Michael E. Mann, along with Virginia State Senators Donald McEachin and Chap Petersen. The point of the call was to highlight Tea Party candidate Mark Obenshain's continued efforts to cover up his extreme record, in this case specifically about his stance on Ken Cuccinelli's personal crusade against Dr. Mann's climate science work.*Dr. Mann kicked of the call and made a few key points about Ken Cuccinelli's attacks on him, on climate science, and on the the University of Virginia. He noted that Mark Obenshain supported Cuccinelli on the anti-climate-science witch hunt, but is now trying (misleadingly) to claim otherwise.
*Mann argued that what Cuccinelli did was "completely unacceptable," a "witch hunt," an "inquisition," a "crusade," all of which "threatened me and my family all to advance his political career," "simply because he finds the science of climate change inconvenient to the special interests which fund his campaign."  
*In fact, Mann explained, Cuccinelli was completely wrong on the science of climate change, which has only become stronger and more certain over time.
*"It was Mark Herring who was the first...Virginia politician who was willing to stand up and say this attack was completely unjustified, back in 2010." Others, like Senators Petersen and McEachin, introduced legislation that would have prevented another Attorney General like Ken Cuccinelli from doing this type of thing again. This was also about whether you think the office of Attorney General should be hyperpartisan and allow you to attack people you disagree with.
*According to Mann, "The ONE person who stood up to oppose the bill [aimed at preventing another anti-climate-science witch hunt] was Mark Obenshain, and that speaks volumes...about what sort of person he is, what sort of Attorney General he would be. Now he's claiming...that he would have done things differently, but when this was happening he stood firmly behind Ken Cuccinelli's attack on me and the University of Virginia.
*It appears, in Mann's view, that Obenshain "will say or do anything to get elected, based on his sudden...denial of what he had originally said and done with respect to the Ken Cuccinelli attack."
*"This Cuccinelli-Obenshain approach to governing is to put politics first and then try to tell the voters something different...That same approach means denying climate change and denying any scientific findings that are inconvenient to the special interests that fund your campaign...that's extremely dangerous for Virginia."
*"Obenshain has said that he wants to take the baton from Ken [Cuccinelli] and build on his work without missing a step, those are his words. And clearly the vote to continue giving Cuccinelli carte blanche to investigate whoever he wants and then pretend it didn't happen shows that Obenshain in fact will be just like Ken Cuccinelli, somebody who puts extreme ideology ahead of the interests of the people he's supposed to represent.

Ken Cuccinelli #FAILs Yet Again

Monday, October 7, 2013

Another day, another Ken Cuccinelli (aka, Ted Cruz's best friend) #FAIL, as he continues to waste Virginian taxpayers' money and the Attorney General office's time on ridiculous lawsuites, not to mention providing endless fodder for late-night comedians. That's our Cooch - worst Attorney General ever in the history of Virginia? Ugh.
UPDATEJosh Israel of ThinkProgress weighs in, noting: "This is not Cuccinelli’s first high-profile legal defeat as attorney general. His legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, his attempt to block EPA regulation of greenhouse gases, and his fishing expedition into a former University of Virginia climate scientist have all been defeated by the courts." Bottom line: the guy's not just corrupt and an extremist, he's utterly incompetent at his job. Great combination, huh?

Sarvis Refuses to Answer Questions About His Far-Right-Wing Positions on the Issues; Lies Instead

Sunday, October 6, 2013

So, the other day, I got into a Twitter exchange with Robert Sarvis over his positions on the issues. Note that these positions - right wing ones from energy and the environment to guns, education, health care, the budget, you name it - Sarvis tweeted, "too bad most if them are remarkably incorrect." WTF? The positions are his OWN WORDS from hisOWN WEBSITE and from his OWN RESPONSES to Project Vote Smart! So I tweeted back, "Uh, they're from YOUR website & from the answers YOU gave to Project Vote Smart. If they're incorrect, that's on you." Sarvis' response was for me to send him an email with my questions and he'd respond.Well, I did, and he hasn't. But he HAS responded - sort of - on his Facebook page and his blog (see screen shot to the right; click to "embiggen"), with yet ANOTHER falsehood. Now, I'm not saying I would have any problem being a Ralph Northam operative - I do, after all, strongly support him over the nutjob extremist E.W. Jackson - but it's just factually wrong to say I'm an Northam operative, as I've never worked for him in any capacity. But more to the point, why isn't Sarvis just answering the questions? Here they are:
1. Do you support regulation of greenhouse gas emissions? How about a mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard?
2. Do you support ANY limits to the amount of money Virginia politicians can receive from corporations, lobbyists, etc?
3. Do you support closing the "gun show loophole?" Do you support ANY restrictions on guns at all?
4. Do you favor "returning health-care regulation to the states?" Do you oppose Medicaid expansion?
5. Do you continue to support mandatory Voter ID? Do you believe there's really widespread "voter fraud?"
6. How would your massive tax cuts, combined with your support for private school vouchers, NOT effectively defund public education in Virginia?
Perhaps because Sarvis knows that if he DID answer these questions honestly, that no Democrat and/or progressive and/or environmentalist in their right mind would ever vote for him? Hmmmm.
P.S. Also note that Sarvis works for the Mercatus Center, which a Washington Post columnist (correctly) called a "staunchly anti-regulatory center funded largely by Koch Industries Inc." Also, Sourcewatch points out that Mercatus, in addition to being "founded and...funded by the Koch Family Foundations...also has ties to several prominent right-wing gropus, including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)." Also of interest: "Fourteen of the 23 regulations that George W Bush put on his hitlist were, according to the Wall Street Journal, first suggested by academics working at the Mercatus Centre." That's who Robert Sarvis works for.

Dominion VA Power Dir. of Media Relations on Gov. Shutdown: "Lock the door and throw away the key"

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Just FYI, David Botkins is Director of Media Relations at Dominion Virginia Power, with "[s]pecial focus on leveraging earned media campaigns in tandem with corporate philanthropy, community affairs, and government relations." Apparently, part of that "special focus" is hating government and wanting to destroy it. I suppose this shouldn't be surprising, coming from a guy who was: "Director of Communications & Press Secretary, Mark Earley for Governor of Virginia Campaign"; "Assistant Press Secretary, Office of Virginia Governor George Allen"; and "Director of Communications" for Jerry Kilgore. Still, though, it's a wee bit jarring coming from a top spokesperson for a company - Dominion Virginia Power - which serves hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal workers, which has given MILLIONS OF DOLLARS over the years to Virginia politicians in order to maintain a stranglehold over Virginia's energy policy (e.g., to prevent the rapid scaling of clean energy, a mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard, net metering, offshore wind power, etc, etc.). What do they do with the influence they buy over our government? Here's an example (written by our own "kindler"):
lowkell :: Dominion VA Power Dir. of Media Relations on Gov. Shutdown: "Lock the door and throw away the key"

You're already (rightly) focused on the lousy transportation bill, but there's an equally egregious bill now landing on your desk - HB 3068/SB1416.  This bill, mostly written by Dominion Virginia Power, replaces the state's failed deregulation experiment (also written by Dominion) with a joke of a "regulatory" system, in which a neutered watchdog agency is required to reward Dominion with enormous profits, at the expense of consumers and the environment.[...]
Sen. Whipple had introduced a bill to require Dominion to use a small percentage of renewable energy sources, as half the states in the U.S. now mandate.  Of course, Dominion wouldn't go for that - instead, the Dominion bill only allows the company to increase rates if it increases renewables use.
And what about energy efficiency to reduce our surging demand?  California figured it out 30 years ago - "Since 1974, California has held its per capita energy consumption essentially constant, while energy use per person for the United States overall has jumped 50 percent." (Washington Post, 2/17/07)  If California can do it, why can't Virginia even try?
Why? Because our legislature is owned by a powerful corporation that has given $3.8 million to state lawmakers over the past decade.  And therefore, the environment has been forced to take a back seat to the interests of Dominion.
In short, Dominion Virginia Power is the classic example of crony capitalism, in which corporations snuggle up tight to the government that ostensibly is supposed to be keeping them in line. The result is that they get everything they want from a compliant, bought-and-paid-for government (most certainly not of/by/for the people, that's for sure). But even then, they STILL hate the government, as evidenced by the comments by Dominion's "Director of Media Relations." Next year, when Virginia's General Assembly takes up ethics reform legislation, crap like this should be Priority #1 to remedy. More broadly, the legislature should tell Dominion to take their money, shove it far up their hindquarters, and then proceed to completely change their business model going forward. Even better, how about we "lock the door and throw away the key" on Dominion Virginia Power itself, given that they're probably doomed anyway?