Intro: Recently, the McAuliffe for Governor campaign graciously provided Blue Virginia editors lowkell and kindler the opportunity to interview Terry for 45 minutes at his campaign HQ in Arlington. The following interview is edited for length and to focus on highlights of our conversation. We posted the first part of the interviewyesterday; this is the second and final installment. Cross-posted at Daily Kos.
"Education...is an investment, not an expense"
lowkell: Ken Cuccinelli likes to say he's "Frugal Ken" and you're supposedly "Union Terry." Two part question: First, I'm wondering what you think of Cuccinelli's claim to be "frugal," especially given his waste of money pursuing climate scientists and all this frivolous litigation he's mostly lost -- and his plan is to have these huge tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations, which would blow a massive hole in Virginia's budget.
Terry: Well, "Frugal Ken" is a cute little slogan. But this election is not about cute slogans -- we've got big issues facing us, many of which we've already discussed. It's not frugal if you're going to go before people and say I'm going to give you a $1.4 billion tax cut per year. I would love to run for governor and promise you billions of dollars in tax cuts. But I won't do that, because I'm realistic and honest. That is fiscally irresponsible.
I thought the debate was pretty clear -- he was asked how he was going to pay for it and he could not answer. Which tax incentives are you going to eliminate? He could not give one. So it's slogans. I'm not going to do that. As you know, Vince Callahan, who was the longest-serving Republican House of Delegates member, former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, came out and said this would blow a gigantic hole in the budget. It would wreak havoc at the local level.
And at the end of the day, it would most likely just take money out of education and public health. At a time we need to be investing in education -- which is an investment, not an expense -- you're going to be taking this money out of education, not saying how you're going to pay for it? What people want in their governor is an honest approach, bipartisan, fiscally responsible, like you had with Warner and Kaine, protecting our AAA bond rating while investing in education.
|kindler :: EXCLUSIVE Blue Virginia Interview with Terry McAuliffe: Part II|
|"I'm tired of the demonizing, the dividing of folks...when I'm governor, I'm going to work with everybody"|
lowkell: As for the "Union Terry" label, I'm wondering what your views are on the best ways to stand up for working people, in contrast to Cuccinelli's union-bashing.
Terry: I get support from union members, and to be very honest with you, I'm proud to have their support. And I've said this over and over: I'm tired of the demonizing, the dividing of folks. This constant diving of people -- it's not helpful, it's not constructive, it's not how I've led my life, and I get tired of hearing it. I get tired of hearing my opponent attack teachers. All I can tell you is when you divide people, you hurt Virginia.
Let me tell you, when I'm governor, I'm going to work with everybody. I'm going to work with business, I'm going to work with labor, I'm going to bring people together, I'm going to do what'll lead to the most efficient, productive government that helps Virginians. People know that I'm very accessible, that I love to work, I love to go round the clock, I'm not a big sleeper, I don't believe in it. This will be an exciting governorship.
"He says that the jobs created by the Federal government are not good jobs. Well you tell that to everybody in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads"
kindler: The Obama campaign proved that Democrats can win Virginia if we get young people and minority communities out to vote. And the Deeds campaign showed what happens when we don't -- losing by 17 points to Bob McDonnell. Speaking directly to these communities, what is your message to them?
Terry: Great question and I think that encapsulates everything I talk about. First of all, if you're a young person, what are you worried about? You're getting out of college, a lot of debt, you want a job first and foremost. So the big things I talk about, diversifying this economy, getting all these new sort of industries -- cyber, nano, bio -- all these new things I get excited about -- big data, analytics, all that great stuff, that's what we have to focus on. So I'm telling young people, I want you to stay in Virginia. It's the same thing I say to my five children: stay here. We've got to have those jobs of the 21st century.
So if I'm a young person out there today, I've got to make the decision. Who's going to make Virginia the place where I'm going to get the job that I want? I get concerned about young people getting out of college today in debt and taking jobs that they don't want to take but have to. I tell young people, I've tried so many different things in my life, taken a lot of risks, a lot of chances, I enjoy doing it. And you learn by all those great experiences. I want to make sure people can make decisions for their quality of life, that they're doing the things they want to do.
I want to make sure that young people have those exciting choices available for their future, but also a great place to live. But not with this anti-women's health, anti-gay, anti-immigrant stuff. So if I'm a young person out there, I'd be saying, let me get this straight: one guy's all for the transportation approaches to ease our congestion, for the Medicaid expansion that would create tremendous economic opportunities, freeing up hundreds of millions of dollars in the general fund budget by taking this money we're spending today that we don't have to and focusing it on education? I think this guy's really going to work his tail off to diversify this economy, and do what he has to do to bring businesses here. That's why I'm running and I think it's a clear choice in this election.
My opponent continually attacks the Federal government. I'll remind you that 50% of the economic activity in Hampton Roads and a third of our economic activity in Northern Virginia is directly related to the Federal government. He says that the jobs created by the Federal government are not good jobs. Well you tell that to everybody in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. I want to work with the Federal government. Now if we have an issue where there's something coming out that would affect Virginia adversely, of course I'm going to fight that. But most importantly, you want me working with the Feds to get to the next level.
As for minority communities: very important for turnout. As I said in the debate, one of my proudest moments as governor will be when I can stand with Alfonso Lopez signing the Dream Act. We got it further than it's ever gone before, and while I hope the Federal government gets immigration done, we need to do our part here in Virginia. Also, a tremendous issue for the African-American community, when I visit with them as I just did in Richmond, is the quality of education, especially pre-k, early childhood education. That's what they tell me they're worried about.
"I'd put together an independent ethics commission: people who are being investigated should not investigate themselves"
kindler:The State Integrity Project ranks Virginia 47th among the 50 states in its state corruption index. Our system seems outdated from the lack of campaign finance laws and gift bans to many other issues. Will you be a reform governor, and what would you do to reform the state?
Terry: There are a lot of things I'd love to reform. The first thing I'd propose, on day one, is a $100 gift ban. We will take no gifts over $100. The same guy who's been giving gifts to the governor has done it to Ken Cuccinelli -- it's the New York trips, it's the Smith Mountain Lake, the many times in his Richmond home, it's the $1500 Thanksgiving dinner, it's also buying stock in his company and not disclosing it, and then, as the New York Times reported last week, selling the stock after he spent a weekend with him.
Let's get rid of that -- so I'm very clear: when I'm governor, nobody can give me anything over $100. I'd make it zero but you've got to get some commemorative items, keys to cities and things like that. And for my whole family -- this idea that I'm not giving it to the governor, but they're giving it to my daughter -- sorry, I don't buy it.
I'd also put together an independent ethics commission: people who are being investigated should not investigate themselves. I've laid it out on my website how they all get picked.
Another big thing I'd like to get done -- I don't like this partisan redistricting. I would love if I could get something done with real teeth -- it won't be until I leave, obviously, it would be the next governor -- but if we could get something done where we have non-partisan re-districting, that would be the most important thing we could do, because I really do believe that this has been a core problem with democracy.
"There are no silo campaigns this time around, we're all working with each other"
lowkell: What do you see as the prospects for increasing the share of Democrats in the General Assembly?
Terry: Well, we've got a great campaign running, we've got a lot of folks on the ground, and we've been very active in the House of Delegates financially, more than any other candidate -- we are all in. We've made a very substantial financial commitment to them, we've told the House of Delegates members they can use our offices, we're sharing data. Mark Herring, Ralph Northam and I are appearing together every week, running as a true ticket. There are no silo campaigns this time around, we're all working with each other. So I think we can pick up some seats in the House of Delegates, and I tell folks, we need to look at this as the beginning of a ten year plan of what we need to do.
They've done a very good job of recruiting, we've got a lot of candidates on the field, so it's all about turnout, which is what we work very hard at, but the [district] lines are the lines at the end of the day.
People are fired up -- last week we were in Sterling and Loudoun for our office opening -- more couldn't get in, there were so many people there. People are fired up this year.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
|We all know that Ken Cuccinelli is a climate science denier, persecutor of climate scientists, clean energy basher, and major recipient of fossil fuel industry largesse. So I wasn't surprised when I saw this headline in the Fredericksburg Patch, quoting Cuccinelli that "The war on coal in Virginia is a war on the poor" and that the coal industry is supposedly "vital to the [Appalachian Power Company service] area's economic stability."In fact, as we've discussed previously, the whole "war on coal" argument is utter bull****. In fact, Virginia coal mining employment is UP - repeat, UP! - under President Obama. That's not a LOT of jobs (0.46% of the Virginia total), but still, it's nice to get the facts straight once in a while - even if you're a right-wing ideologue (aka, "liar") like Ken Cuccinelli. In addition, asthis post explained, there's been a decades-long decline of coal mining employment in Central Appalachia, a large chunk of which occurred under Presidents Reagan and George HW Bush (the trend continued under Bill Clinton, then reversed a bit under George W. Bush and Barack Obama).|
The reasons for this decline? First, mechanization (e.g., mountaintop removal coal mining), which has made the coal industry far more capital intensive and far less labor intensive than it used to be. Second, a migration of coal mining from places (e.g., Virginia) where it used to be mined by humans, operating in coal mines, to highly-mechanized Western and/or mountaintop removal operations. And third, the move away from coal and towards cheap and abundant natural gas, as well as much cheaper (and inexhaustible) wind and solar power. Put that all together, and what do you get? A decline in coal mining employment in the U.S. over many, many decades. Nothing to do with a "war," unless you consider the impersonal forces of capitalism, technology and economics to be conscious beings capable of initiating hostilities against coal miners. (rolls eyes)
Anyway, I was curious what an actual, you know, EXPERT in this subject thought, as opposed to a bought-and-paid-for "useful idiot" like Ken Cuccinelli. So, I contacted Professor Michael Hendryx of West Virginia University, who has done a great deal of work on the health and economic impacts of coal mining in Appalachia (e.g., "Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal" and "The association between mountaintop mining and birth defects among live births in central Appalachia, 1996-2003."). The first paper, for instance, found that "the life cycle of coal-extraction, transport, processing, and combustion-generates a waste stream and carries multiple hazards for health and the environment," adding up to massive externalities that are "costing the U.S. public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually" and that, "[a]ccounting for the damages conservatively doubles to triples the price of electricity from coal per kWh generated."
Anyway, I wanted to see what Professor Hendryx thought specifically about Ken Cuccinelli's comments that "The war on coal in Virginia is a war on the poor." His response was very revealing:
The evidence is overwhelming that a coal-dependent mining economy perpetuates poverty and offers increasingly fewer economic opportunities, but the industry and the politicians that cater to it can still play the jobs card it seems. Pretty sad.In other words, Cuccinelli has it completely backwards: far from his (non-existent) "war on coal" constituting a (non-existent) "war on the poor," in fact "a coal-dependent mining economy perpetuates poverty and offers increasingly fewer economic opportunities." So much for that "Big Lie" by Ken Cuccinelli.By the way, in the same talk, Cuccinelli also attacked Terry McAuliffe for supporting a "Renewable Portfolio Standard of 25% renewable sources of electricity by 2025" which Cuccinelli says is "bordering on California-style energy policy." Of course, in Cuccinelli's warped worldview, that's a bad thing. In stark contrast, in the world of sanity and fact, that's actually a very good thing.
Recently, the American Council on Renewable Energy's (ACORE's) "Fact Check" utterly demolished the claim that "State Renewable Portfolio Standards are job-killing government mandates that offer no economic benefits and cause skyrocketing electricity rates." In fact, according to ACORE, "RPS policies are currently driving over 1/3 of new renewable energy development across America in a cost-competitive manner that protects American consumers." Across the country, ACORE explains, Renewable Portfolio Standards are working to "drive in-state economic growth" while dramatically boosting the amount of renewable energy on the grid.
For instance, in deep "red" Texas, the state's RPS "has been so successful that its 10-year goal was met in just over six years." In our neighbor to the south,"renewable energy has decreased electricity rates and rates are lower than they would be without renewable energy, according to a 2013 study conducted by RTI International." And in California, which Cuccinelli singles out as some sort of bogeyman, "[e]lectricity costs are dropping...making renewable energy more competitive with fossil fuels."
The bottom line is that Ken Cuccinelli either a) has absolutely no idea what he's talking about when it comes to energy issues; b) is simply spouting the false, "Big Lie"-style propaganda of his big fossil fuel donors and pals; or c) knows exactly what the facts are but has decided to lie through his teeth anyway (to pander for votes, to please his corporate masters, etc.). Actually, come to think of it, it's probably "a," "b" and "c" - the triple whammy of lies, disinformation, and ignorance all rolled into one noxious package. What a nightmare.
Monday, July 29, 2013
|Intro: Recently, the McAuliffe for Governor campaign graciously provided Blue Virginia editors lowkell and kindler the opportunity to interview Terry for 45 minutes at his campaign HQ in Arlington. Terry was energetic and enthusiastic as always, even as he noted that the campaign is keeping him going regularly from 6 am to midnight. The following interview is edited for length and to focus on highlights of our conversation. This is the first installment; the second will be posted tomorrow. Cross-posted atDaily Kos"I want other people to have those same experiences that Terry McAuliffe had."|
kindler: I recently went canvassing for your campaign, and while I found many Democrats motivated to get out and vote, many of them still don't know you well. To help introduce yourself to these voters, can you please tell us the 2-3 things Virginia Democrats most need to know about you as a person?
Terry: Listen, I'm a kid who grew up in a middle class family, started his first business at fourteen, paid for college because I either got to work or I wasn't sure I was going to go. I've always been involved in business and politics. I feel like I'm the luckiest guy in the world, I've had so many great experiences, I want other people to have those same experiences that Terry McAuliffe had.
There are a lot of things I could do in my life. This is not the easiest business in the world, but you need to have folks willing to step up to the plate. I'm going to fight for families, fight for jobs. So for me it's personal. I like to get things done, I love to be in the arena. I have Teddy Roosevelt's quote behind my desk [reprinted here]:
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.I will never be that poor timid soul -- I'm going to be in that arena fighting for people, because I'm passionate about helping them.
"You cannot grow an economy if you're putting walls up around Virginia"
kindler: So as governor, you get four years, and understanding the limits to what you can do, what are the 3 or 4 things you most want to be accomplish?
Jobs and economic development: That is our challenge. We have been blessed -- we've been the number one recipient of DOD dollars. That's not going to change, but with $500 billion baked into the Department of Defense cuts, and sequestration going into next year, it's going to be traumatic for us because we are the number one recipient. So the next governor's got a big, big challenge.
|kindler :: EXCLUSIVE Blue Virginia Interview with Terry McAuliffe: Part I|
|For me as governor, for jobs and economic development, I've got to fix transportation. Now the current governor's plan, I was all for it, while my opponent tried to stop this mainstream compromise. I'm all for the Silver Line while he would kill the Silver Line even if it's halfway completed. Let's get people out of cars, let's get them into mass transit. Let's get to Dulles Airport, let's go out into Loudon County.It's a quality of life issue on transportation: Northern Virginia, we're stuck in traffic 67 hours a year, 43 hours a year in Hampton Roads. It's debilitating. Dorothy and I just went with our kids to see a ball game in the afternoon -- it's a 2-3 hour deal.|
And if we don't have a great education system, I cannot convince that CEO to move an advanced manufacturing facility to Virginia. As we know, if you take average Virginia teacher pay and compare it to average wages in the state, we rank 50th in the country. We are dead last. Virginia is one of the wealthiest states in America, and we should never be 50th in any category.
Now, I want accountability for teachers, we need to get the best teachers, and we've got to stop eroding their retirement benefits, we've got to pay them what they're worth. I've called for total reform of the SOLs -- they do not work. These high-stakes, multiple choice tests at the end of the year are forcing teachers to teach to the tests. Why do we give a test at the end of the year? If you really want to help a student, why don't you give it at the beginning of the year so the teacher can assess what that student needs and help him or her throughout the year?
One of my core messages is on community colleges. I'm going to all 23, I think I'm the first candidate for governor to do that. These are our real workforce engines. Three out of five of our higher ed students go to community colleges, within an hours drive of everybody. But whereas in 2008, funding was about $4400 a student, now we're down to around $2500.
One of the biggest issues for us is the Medicaid expansion -- my opponent's against it, I'm all for it. Whatever you think about health care, it is now the law of the land. So, we can cover 400,000 Virginians with quality, life-saving care. We will bring, over the next seven years, $21 billion back into the Virginia economy, we can create up to 33,000 new jobs. I want to use the money to reform the entire health care delivery system, make it more efficient and cost effective.
But here's a very important point that I don't think a lot of folks realize: in the near future, the Federal DSH payments -- for when you've got a disproportionate share of low income individuals who come into your hospital -- will go away. Indigent care in emergency rooms, gone. Our hospitals will incur up to $190 million in expenses today that they're not presently paying. So there's a cost to us. This is a big deal.
The last thing I'll say -- you cannot grow our economy when you consistently attack women on health issues. I've told women that I trust them to make their own decisions. I will be a brick wall, I will not tolerate any discrimination on any issue. I'll do like Tim Kaine did, Executive Order #1 will be to make sure we have protections against any forms of discrimination, including as it relates to sexual orientation.
When you say being gay leads to 'self destruction not only physically but of their soul', when you lead the effort to shut women's health services down, when you sponsor personhood legislation, which would outlaw most forms of contraception including the pill, I've got to tell you, you cannot grow an economy if you're putting walls up around Virginia. It's as stark a difference as you can have between two candidates.
"People will go where they don't have to be stuck in traffic for 67 hours a year, where they and their daughters have access to women's health centers"
lowkell: In the Homestead Debate on Saturday, Ken Cuccinelli said that his views on what he called the "personal challenge of homosexuality" haven't changed. He also has reiterated his support for making sodomy - even, apparently, between consenting adults - a crime in Virginia. I'm wondering what you think these types of views, expressed by powerful political figures in a state, do to that state's image, particularly among businesses thinking about locating here.
I think that encapsulates the difference in this race -- I'm trying to make the state non-discriminatory, open to everyone, but there are consequences to actions, as I said in the debate. As one of his first actions as attorney general, he sent a letter to every college and university in Virginia rolling back protections on discrimination related to sexual orientation for professors and students. Northrop Grumman, which was about to pick us for their national headquarters, with 300 very high paying jobs, sent word to Governor McDonnell that the deal was now in question -- because Northrop Grumman is very pro-gay rights, very pro-woman. Gov. McDonnell had to intervene to save that deal. So there are real consequences to this type of mean spirited, hurtful rhetoric and actions.
We've got to really diversify and figure out what is it that replaces the military money that is likely to be cut. I always talk about cyber-security -- it's one area where the Federal government is going to plus up over the next few years. Cyber, nano, bio-life sciences -- but let's take cyber-security for a second. Maryland is working at warp speed today to make themselves the top state in the country for cyber-security. Fort Meade just got named the command center for cyber-security. This is a big area for us -- we've got to be the leader. We've got the universities, we've got the colleges, we've got the military installations -- we've got to really do it.
I need to go to Silicon Valley to recruit the "cyber warriors" who do this. Many of them are women. They're not going to come to Virginia when they're questioning whether you can have access to the pill, whether our 20 women's health centers will close -- and it's already started. The first one's come up for renewal in Norfolk, Virginia, and they've shut down, they're gone forever. Many of these women's health centers provide cancer screening, affordable birth control.
So this is happening and I always try to make the point that people can move around the globe today. This is a global economy and people will go where they don't have to be stuck in traffic for 67 hours a year, where they and their daughters have access to women's health centers if that's what they choose, the best education system.
We really have big challenges. And I think everyone realizes this but we've been blessed because of advantages like the Pentagon. That's why you need a governor with a lot of entrepreneurial experience, who's willing to work in a bipartisan way. I get asked all the time, "Well, Terry, how are you going to do it when you've only got 32 Democrats in the House of Delegates?" At the end of the day, I talk about jobs and economic development -- who's not going to work with me on that?
But I will be a brick wall on these social issues. I will veto any of those pieces of legislation. It's not the right thing to do, morally and socially, and it cripples our ability to grow our economy.
"Are you going to go to the only state where the attorney general is threatening your work product?"
lowkell: We were excited to see you campaigning with Prof. Michael Mann, the target of Attorney General Cuccinelli's infamous witch hunt against climate scientists. What will you do, as governor, to promote science, research and innovation, and science-based policy? And what are your specific plans to promote a clean energy economy and confront climate disruption?
Terry: I talk about this a lot on the trail -- obviously, clean air, clean water, critical for us, but also for our tourism industry, our fisheries, all of it. This weekend, I went to see one of the leaders on wind energy -- we ought to have some turbines out in the water. One of the things I'd be most excited about as governor would be going out there on a boat to put the first pole in the water.
We're the only state in the mid-Atlantic region without a mandatory renewable energy standard. We need to work it in a way that makes sense, but if you're an investor in renewable energy, you're not going to come to the only state that isn't required to buy the product. It goes to job creation as well. We should be the leader on carbon capture and storage, now being worked on at Virginia Tech -- these are jobs of the future.
One thing we need to do a better job on is the commercialization of our great research at our higher ed institutions. George Mason's done a little -- I just toured them, they've got two great new nano-scientists from NIH. The work's going on at Tech, ODU has a lot of great renewables -- our universities are doing great work, but the state has to help incentivize them to take that research out to the private sector. We need private-public partnerships to do that.
On the Michael Mann case, let's be clear -- besides the $600,000 it cost the University of Virginia, the idea that the attorney general attacked our flagship university, even though 800 professors and scientists sent him a letter asking him to stop, until he was slapped down by the Supreme Court. So here's the end result of this -- these scientists and technologists, they will go wherever they want in the world, they're heavily recruited. Are you going to go to the only state where the attorney general is threatening your work product? No, I don't think so, not going to happen. So there are consequences to these types of actions.
As governor, I would personally engage myself in helping recruit the best and the brightest to Virginia. I would visit, I would make calls, I would do what I need to do to recruit. That's what you need to do to grow.
Check this space for Part II tomorrow.
|So sayeth the dean of the Virginia political press corps on "Morning Joe":|
This is a problem for Ken for two reasons. One is, Ken accepted $18,000 worth of gifts from the same guy who has been such a benefactor to the governor, a guy named Jonnie Williams who has a company called Star Scientific, which makes nutritional supplements. And another problem for Ken is, that as long as this scandal with the governor is basically eating up the work product of the press corps, it's hard for Ken's message to punch through.Bob Lewis is right as usual. That's probably why the Cuccinelli campaign is flailing around, putting out idiotic and off-base videos like this one, and generally just spending 100% of its time trying to come up with some way to attack Terry McAuliffe. Notice: Cuccinelli has no positive vision for Virginia. Of course, how could he when he hates government, opposed much (most?) of what Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell tried to do, is despised by many in the Virginia GOP - McDonnell and Bill Bolling, for instance - and is basically a rabid, right-wing ideologue who takes orders from the Koch brothers, coal companies, etc? That's right, he can't.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
|At the top of this page, you can see Blue Virginia's motto: "think globally, blog locally." What that means, mostly, is that we believe strongly that while we should remain informed and engaged on national and world issues, the primary focus of our political activism should be at the state and local level. Why is that? Several reasons.1. Your impact is far, far greater at the state and local level than at the national level. For instance, let's say you give a $100 donation to a presidential campaign which raises $1 billion. Your donation makes up one TEN MILLIONTH of the total money raised by said presidential campaign. In other words, it's nice of you to give, but your donation is essentially meaningless in the broader picture. Now, let's say you give a $100 donation to a Virginia House of Delegates campaign, which let's say raises a total of $100,000. That means your contribution makes up one THOUSANDTH of the total money raised by said HoD campaign. Proportionally speaking, your $100 contribution to the HoD campaign has 10 THOUSAND times the "bang for the buck" as your $100 contribution to the presidential campaign (one thousandth of the money raised vs. one ten millionth of the money raised). To put it another way, you'd have to give $1 million to the presidential campaign to equal the proportional impact your $100 has to the HoD campaign. Good luck with that.|
2. Same thing with your vote. In a presidential election, in the vast majority of states, your vote is utterly meaningless, as your state is likely non-competitive, either "red" or "blue," and given that it's generally "winner take all" for the state's electoral votes. Even in states where your vote DOES matter, we're talking about millions of votes cast (around 3.9 million cast in 2012 for Obama or Romney), which means your 1 vote is a tiny fraction of that. In a House of Delegates election, in stark contrast, we're usually talking 25,000-40,000 votes total, with the winning margin in competitive races often just a few hundred, or possibly a few thousand, votes. Thus, your vote - and as many of your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, etc. as you can persuade to vote - makes a proportionately enormous difference compared to your vote at the presidential level. Your vote also matters tremendously in party primaries, where frequently elections are decided by just a handful of votes. Yet turnout is much higher in "presidential" and "federal" elections than state and local ones. That's insane.
3. Unlike at the national level, where even if the system wasn't almost totally gridlocked thanks to Republicans' nihilistic obstructionism, your chances of having any sizable impact on national policy decisions is not large. At the local level, your chances of making a difference are VERY large.For instance, I was told recently by a Virginia city council official that a handful of vocal citizens at the local level frequently make a huge difference in what the council decides. At the state level, consider what a few dozen (or hundred) passionate voters calling a Virginia Delegate could do to his or her thinking on an issue? And consider how much impact state legislatures have on issues ranging from women's health to LGBT anti-discrimination to energy and environmental issues to education, taxation, voting rights, you name it. Don't believe that? Just look at the disaster happening in North Carolina right now, since that legislature was turned over to Republican control in January 2011. How many votes were cast in the November 2010 elections in North Carolina? We're talking 20k or 30k votes in many of the NC House of Representatives elections that year, with winning margins of just a few hundred or a few thousand votes in many cases. And that has had enormous implications - almost all negative - for North Carolina.
That's why when I read articles like this one in Politico ("Obama's states of despair: 2010 losses still haunt"), it utterly infuriated me. A few key takeaways that should get YOUR blood boiling too.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
|Yep, THIS Steve King (see flip for the video of his recent comments claiming undocumented immigrants mostly '130-pound' drug runners. Also note that King has been condemned for these remarks by Republican leaders like John Boehner, Eric Cantor (who called the remarks "inexcusable"), etc. Yet he's one of Ken Cuccinelli's favorite congressmen.By the way, it's not just on immigration that Steve King is actually one of the most egregious members of Congress. This is a guy who's said things like "Unicorns, leprechauns, gay marriages in Iowa - these are all things you will never find because they don't exist;" "It turns out to be the best vote that I cast, was my 'no' vote to the $51.5 billion to Hurricane Katrina;" "The argument that diversity is our strength has really never been backed up by logic;" "Well, I just haven't heard of [ child getting pregnant from statutory rape or incest] being a circumstance that's been brought to me in any personal way;" President Obama is a "Marxist" who "surely understands the Muslim culture" and "doesn't have an American experience;" and of course that "the notion of manmade climate change 'not rational' but 'a religion" like "the modern version of the rain dance.'"|
In short, Steve King is one of the biggest embarrassments in Congress, really just an evil/racist/homophobic/xenophobic man when it comes down to it, yet Ken Cuccinelli says he's one of his favorite Congressmen. That really says it all about Kookinelli, huh?
P.S. Oh yeah, Steve King is also horrendous when it comes to animal welfare and protection: for instance, he defended the horrendous practice of dogfighting. He's also " a longtime advocate for legalizing dogfighting, cockfighting, and other forms of animal torture. Most recently, he fought legislationthat would make it illegal to bring a child to an animal fight. He has also set aside his love for states’ rights in order to forbid localities from enacting anti-animal torture standards."
P.P.S. McAuliffe spokesperson Josh Schwerin says: "There is simply no place where this kind of hurtful and offensive rhetoric is okay. Ken Cuccinelli's favorite Congressman is so extreme that even his own party leadership is publicly denouncing him. This is just another example of Ken Cuccinelli and his allies being far outside the mainstream and wrong for Virginia."
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
|Will wonders never cease? After months of revelations in the media about gifts/loans/etc. from Jonnie Williams to Gov. Bob McDonnell and his family, as well as other improprieties, McDonnell has finally fessed up AND paid up - at least in part (click on statement to "embiggen" and note that he's only repaid LOANS, not GIFTS like the infamous Rolex or the Bergdorf Goodman shopping spree or the $15,000 wedding gift, etc. Also, WHO paid off those loans for him? I strongly doubt he had the money to do so. Lots of questions.). Of course, none of these actions would ever have been necessary if McDonnell hadn't behaved in such a wildly unethical way in the first place (for the first 3+ years of his governorship, basically until he was caught).Meanwhile, Ken Cuccinelli has a LOT of questions of his own still to answer, for which he's provided essentially nothing but lame excuses like "I forgot" or "I was 'walled off' by my staff" or whatever. The fact is, Cuccinelli was buddies with the same slimeball, Jonnie Williams, as Bob McDonnell was. In addition, as Terry McAuliffe pointed out in the debate Saturday - and as Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling paraphrased it yesterday - Cuccinelli "had a fiduciary duty to the people of Virginia to prosecute the tax claim against Star Scientific," yet "at a time when [Cuccinelli] should have been taking them to court, they were taking [Cuccinelli] to New York City on their private jet." How about some answers on that front?|
Finally, this entire incident - far from over, I'd point out, as legal proceedings and investigations continue - has demonstrated the utter inadequacy of Virginia's current laws governing the ethical behavior of politicians, and the lobbyists who love (to bribe) them. That desperately needs to change...but will it? Only if Virginians make it clear that they DEMAND such changes and won't take "no" for an answer. The call for ethics reform should not be a partisan issue, by the way, but something that all of us who care about good, honest government can agree on. Seems pretty basic, I'd say, for any of us who believe in the American system of government...
UPDATE: See the statement from Progress Virginia, which asserts (correctly) that "If Bob McDonnell Can Pay Back Jonnie Williams, Ken Cuccinelli Should, Too" - on the "flip."
UPDATE #2: As Josh Israel of ThinkProgress points out, "McDonnell had long insisted his actions were entirely on the up-and-up, saying in April, 'No one, during my administration, has been giving any special consideration because of their friendships, because of their donations to my campaigns, because of any gifts they've been giving - not Mr. Williams or his company or any other individual or any other company.'" In addition, McDonnell "long criticized media reports on his relationship with Williams as inaccurate." Looks like they were VERY accurate, as it turns out. Apology forthcoming? Hmmmm.
UPDATE #3: I'm sure this was a coincidence (yeah right), but McDonnell's non-apology "apology" came shortly after this ("A government watchdog group called on the Internal Revenue Service Tuesday to investigate whether Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, first lady Maureen McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II had failed to report and pay taxes on gifts received from Star Scientific and its chief executive.").
Friday, July 19, 2013
Thursday, July 18, 2013
|First, here's the good news on a newly-released survey by the Center for Climate Change Communication George Mason University, "Perceptions of Extreme Weather and Climate Change in Virginia."The Good News|
*Virginians overwhelmingly (by a 50%-12% margin) say that they notice "extremely hot days becoming more or less frequent in Virginia compared to the past." Correct answer!
*Virginians overwhelming (by a 53%-12% margin) say that intense storms in Virginia have become "much more frequent" or "somewhat more frequent." Again, correct answer!
*Best of all, an overwhelming 85% of Virginians believe (not that it's a matter of "belief," but whatever...) that climate change is happening. Only 5% are "extremely sure" or "very sure" that it isn't happening. Yet again, correct answer!
*Among young people, it's 94%-5%, and among Democrats, it's 95%-4%. The older and more Republican you get, the higher the number of people who don't "believe" in climate science. Can we say "brainwashed by Fox News?"
The Not-So-Good News
*Only 31% of Virginians get the correct answer, which is that human emissions of greenhouse gases are causing climate change. Although, in fairness, another 36% say it's a combination of human and natural causes, which is certainly possible (although the role of natural causes is doubtful, at least not to any significant extent).
*22% of Virginians give the blatantly, hilariously wrong answer that climate change is "caused mostly by natural changes in the environment."
*Just 49% of Virginians say they are worried about climate change. The correct answer should be 100%, as it's already affecting all of us, and it's only going to get (much) worse every year that goes by.
*Incredibly, 57% of Virginians somehow have convinced themselves that climate change won't harm them personally. That's just blatantly wrong, unless of course those Virginians don't eat, breathe, get rained or snowed on, have insurance, hunt or fish, farm, etc, etc.
*Only 26% of Virginians say they've thought about this existential problem "a lot," with 32% saying they've thought about it "some." And only 19% say they know "a lot" about this subject, with 51% saying they know "some" and 31% saying they know "not too much" or "nothing at all." Ugh.
*Possibly the worst answer of all, demonstrating how FUBAR the media coverage of this issue has been (and also how effective the gazillions of dollars in disinformation the fossil fuel companies have pushed out has been), only 43% (!) of Virginians give the correct answer, which is that "[m]ost scientists think climate change is happening." 34% of Virginians give the completely, wildly incorrect answer that "There is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not climate change is happening." And yes, there's a big partisan divide on this, with a majority of Democrats giving the correct answer, and 43% of Republicans giving the wrong answer. Again, Fox News brainwashing - combined with outrageously false statements by Republican Congresscritters like Morgan Griffith and Attorney General Ken Kookinelli, as well as horrendously bad reporting (lacking in almost every way - not enough, false equivalency, you name it) - by the corporate media are a big cause of this problem.
So, let's review the correct answers: 1) global warming/climate change IS happening; 2) global warming/climate change IS being caused by humans; 3) global warming/climate change IS affecting all of us, and WILL continue to affect all of us, in a negative way; 4) there IS overwhelming (97% or so) consensus among climate scientists on all of this; and 5) anyone who tells you differently IS either ignorant (willfully or not) or lying through their teeth.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
At around 3:26, there's a presentation on the Columbia Pike Streetcar Project Agreement, including the County Manager's recommendation to approve and execute it, as well as the authority to receive reimbursement payments from Fairfax County, the governance structure of the partnership between Arlington and Fairfax counties, etc.
Starting at 3:37, the board members discuss the streetcar and specifically the governance agreement which "advances the technical planning, environmental and conceptual design work for the Columbia Pike streetcar" project. Board Chair Walter Tejada emphasizes that this is NOT a vote on the streetcar project per se; those votes, he points out, have already been taken by both the Arlington County and Fairfax County boards in 2006 and again in 2012. Tejada also point out that both counties continue to be committed to the project. At 3:39:40, Board Member Libby Garvey moves to defer a vote on the Project Agreement, but this motion receives no seconds and dies, accordingly. Garvey then offers her reasons for opposing the project, most of which have been articulated previously (as have the arguments in favor). Garvey states that this is "not the Arlington I know" or "the board I know," urges that the board "take a deep breath and pause," and that it get an independent cost-benefit analysis that can be shared with the public before it moves ahead on the project. For Arlington County Board members Walter Tejada's and Chris Zimmerman's responses, see the "flip" Walter Tejada says he "respectfully disagree[s] with many of the points" Garvey just made, notes yet again that this project has been "long in the making," extensively and exhaustively discussed by the community. Tejada adds that this will be a "terrific asset" for the southern part of Arlington, and that "we've been through this conversation many times before...so there's no reason to rehash all of these subjects again."
Chris Zimmerman says that this vote is simply a "routine matter" to carry out a policy that's already been established, even if some people want to "re-argue" it every time it comes up. Zimmerman concludes (and it's well worth quoting, in my opinion):
This is something that people have spent a lot of time and process on....Just saying we didn't have a full discussion doesn't make it true...Just saying the cost-benefit analysis hasn't been done doesn't make it true; I suspect if we did another one and they still didn't like the result, they'd still be saying we hadn't done one. Just saying that we don't know where the money's coming from doesn't make it true. We actually in fact have a more specific plan to fund this - more well established on the basis of the transportation funds we know we're going to have - than I've seen in many of the projects going forward. Certainly, if this approach were taken, the Dulles rail project that's being constructed right now would not have ever gone forward, it would have been derailed...and in fact people tried that.The board then votes 4-1 to approve the Columbia Pike Streetcar Project agreement.
|Let's just say, having our governor named one of the most corrupt in America is not an "honor" your state wants to have. It's also, I'd point out, not something we ever had to worry about when Governors Warner and Kaine were in office. Oh, for those days again...Anyway, here are the gory details on the corruption rankings by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).|
*The governors were rated on the following criteria: corruption, transparency (or lack thereof), partisan politics, pressuring public officials, cronyism, self enrichment, scandal, and mismanagement.
*McDonnell made the worst-of-the-worst "Ringmasters" list - along with luminaries such as wildly unethical Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia, village idiot Rick Perry of Texas, Koch brothers' favorite Scott Walker of Wisconsin, slimeball Rick Scott of Florida, and the lunatic Paul LePage of Maine.
*McDonnell achieved his fine ranking due to: "(1) investigations into whether he improperly accepted gifts in exchange for official action; (2) using his position to enrich himself and his family members; (3) awarding state money to a professional sports team after receiving gifts and campaign contributions; (4) failing to report his wife's paid position as a consultant on his statement of economic interests; and (5) signing a controversial voter ID bill."
*CREW provides pages of details for each of the above items (most of which we're all familiar with when it comes to McDonnell), which you can read in their report. I'd say "enjoy," except it's too sickening.
P.S. It wasn't just Republicans making the list, although not surprisingly they are the worst offenders when it comes to sweetheart deals with corporations, wealthy individuals, etc. Sadly, this type of corruption isn't an aberration, it's intrinsic to their entire crony capitalist "governing" (using that word very loosely) philosophy. Want more of this? Vote for Ken Cuccinelli, EW Jackson, and Mark Obenshain in November! Nope, didn't think so...