Thanks to Raving Homophobe Eugene Delgaudio for Some Serious LMAO Laughs as 2014 Winds to a Close

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

For those of you not familiar with Loudoun County Supervisor and raving, far-right-wing, homophobic wacko Eugene Delgaudio (R-Of course), see Delgaudio Rants About "The Homosexual Classrooms Act"Eugene Delgaudio on "Thousands of men in bright neon bikinis" Eugene Delgaudio: Radical Homosexual Pirates Invade Tampa; Loudoun County Next? Eugene Delgaudio and His "Gay TSA Conspiracy" Theory; and Vote Delgaudio or We'll Get "Tyranny and Socialism," "rationed fuel" and "rationed butter!". That's just a VERY small sampling of this guy's craziness. For more, just Google it. Anyway, for this guy to be bragging that he opposes Steve Scalise because...I guess because he's not far-right-wing and/or bigoted enough (I know, seriously?) is just LMAO HI-larious, especially after it turns out Scalise spoke to anti-gay white supremacists! Anyway, hahahahahahappy New Year - or something! :)

Dozen Virginia Voters File Suit Over House of Delegates Districts They Call "racial gerrymanders"

Check out this lawsuit, filed by a dozen Virginia voters in the U.S. District Court (Eastern District; Richmond Division). Key points:*"Plaintiffs bring this action to challenge the constitutionality of Virginia House ofDelegates Districts 63, 69, 70, 71, 74, 75, 77, 80, 89, 90,92, and 95 (the "Challenged Districts") as racial gerrymanders in violation ofthe Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."
*"During the2010-2011 redistricting cycle, the Virginia General Assembly adopted a House of Delegates Redistricting Plan (the "2011 Plan") pursuant towhich each ofthe Challenged Districts was purposefully drawn to have an African-American voting age population that met or exceeded a pre-determined 55% threshold. As a result, African American voters were illegally packed into the Challenged Districts, thereby diminishing their influence in the surrounding districts."
*"The General Assembly adopted the 55% racial threshold without justification, including any determination that the threshold was reasonably necessary to avoid retrogression ineach ofthe Challenged Districts orotherwise comply with the Voting Rights Act of 1965."
*"Drawn with race as their predominant purpose, without compelling justification or narrow tailoring, the Challenged Districts cannot pass constitutional muster."
*"Plaintiffs seek a declaration that the Challenged Districts are invalid and an injunction prohibiting the Defendants from calling, holding, supervising, or taking any action with respect to House of Delegates elections based on the Challenged Districts as they currently stand."
Note that this lawsuit is for the Virginia House of Delegates, and comes following the October 2014 federal court decision that "Virginia's congressional maps unconstitutional because they concentrate African American voters into a single district at the expense of their influence elsewhere."
Yet again, these lawsuits point to the need for reform in the way districts are drawn, such as by a neutral, nonpartisan redistricting commission. What are the chances of that happening through the political process? Not good, to put it mildly. We'll see whether the judicial system turns out to be a more effective option.
P.S. What's truly sad is that  most Dems (Del. Patrick Hope being one notable exception) voted for this monstrosity. WHY?

Mayor Jones's New Church Mouse Losing Its House

by Dan Sullivan

Mayor Dwight Jones photo 140311MayorJones_zps3245b2ae.jpgTis the season for miraculous financial initiatives. The man who didn't clearly outline Richmond's obligations for his NFL football summer training facility or find backing for burying hallowed historical ground under a minor league stadium is now preparing to make the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) homeless.All the get rich land development schemes that characterize Richmond City high finance remind one of the common flights of fancy on The Honeymooners. One difference, though: Mayor Jones is banking with other people's money and trust. After making an effort to gain clarity on the DPVA's financial health, there is nothing to show but despair. Appropriate since Jones and his recent predecessors as Chair have all left the political party borrowing against time while concealing the bottom line. Requests for financial statements have been ignored, so the depth of the hole remains closely held. Miraculously, during six years with a Democrat in the White House and in a state with two Democratic United States Senators plus the election of Democrats to all three statewide executive offices in the past year, time has run out on the Party's mortgage.
A big portion of the DPVA party leadership's responsibility is to provide the hired staff with sufficient resources to run a statewide political party. But Jones, who fought through charges that he doesn't represent the party's principles of equality and equal rights to gain the position of Chair, has been an absentee landlord. The infrastructure, physical and fiscal, has continued to decay since his ascension to the post. He has consistently missed meetings and party conference calls. E-mails go unanswered. The excuse is always that his responsibilities as a pastor and Mayor consume his time. Those responsibilities did not preclude him from interfering in an intra-party state Senate primary race (his influence proved ineffective). Now he's on the verge of missing the payment on the DPVA's "digs" on Franklin Street in Richmond.

Virginia's amazing year in energy: gas rises, coal falls, and solar shines

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

by Ivy Main

Nobody laughed a few years ago when former governor Bob McDonnell dubbed Virginia the "Energy Capital of the East Coast"; we were all too astounded. And today, even "Energy Suburb" still seems like a stretch. Yet, if you measure achievement by the sheer level of activity, Virginia is making a play for importance. The year's top energy stories show us fully engaged in the worldwide battle between fossil fuels and renewable energy. Of course, while the smart money says renewables will dominate by mid-century, Virginia seems determined to drown rather than give up its fossil fuel addiction.Coal falls hard; observers disagree on whether it bounces or goes splat. Nationwide, 2014 was a bad year for the coal industry. Coal stocks fell precipitously; mining jobs continued to decline; and the one thing electric utilities and the public found to agree on is that no one likes coal. Even in Virginia, with its long history of mining, coal had to play defense for what may have been the first time ever. So when Governor McAuliffe released the state's latest energy plan in October, what was otherwise a paean to "All of the Above" omitted the stanza on coal. And this month, the governor proposed a rollback of the subsidies coal companies pocket by mining Virginia coal.
Of course, coal is not going quietly; Senator Charles Carrico (himself heavily subsidized by Alpha Natural Resources) has already responded with a bill to extend the subsidies to 2022.
EPA opens a door to a cleaner future, and Republicans try to brick it up. Speaking of hard times for coal, in June the EPA unveiled its proposal to lower carbon emissions from existing power plants 30% nationwide by 2030. Instead of targeting plants one-by-one, EPA proposed a systemic approach, offering a suite of options for states to reach their individualized targets.
The proposal drew widespread support from the public, but Virginia's 38% reduction target set off howls of protest from defenders of the status quo. The staff of the State Corporation Commission claimed the rule was illegal and would cost ratepayers $6 billion. Republicans convened a special meeting of the House and Senate Energy and Commerce Committees, where they tried out a number of arguments, not all of which proved ready for prime time. The rule, they said, threatens Virginia with a loss of business to more favored states like-and I am not making this up-West Virginia. Also, Virginia should have received more credit for lowering its carbon emissions by building nuclear plants back in the 1970s when no one was thinking about carbon emissions.    

How Does a Dem Get Only 9% in a 3-Way Race with Two "R"s in a District Where Mark Herring Got 45%?

Monday, December 29, 2014

The following results (see below) from the recent Brentsville district (PW County) supervisor race just boggle my mind. Now, just to be clear, I'm not saying the Democratic candidate was favored to win this race or anything. On the other hand, I would note that there were two Republicans (Jeanine Lawson and Scott Jacobs) running, so theoretically they could have split the Republican vote and given the Democratic candidate (Eric Young) a chance to pull off an upset.Keep in mind that this district, while certainly a "red" one, still saw Democrat Mark Herring getting 45% of the vote in 2013 (14,418 votes for Herring). That's not a win, but obviously it's a whole lot better (five times better to be exact) than 9%!
Also in that same November 2013 general election, the Democratic House of Delegates candidates (Atif Qarni, Reed Heddleston, Richard Cabellos) with precincts in Brentsville received a combined 43% of the vote (14,414 total votes for the Democratic candidates). So, again, how does a Democrat only get 346 votes (9% of the vote) in a special election in those same precincts, 13 months later? I mean, I "get it" that Democrats have more trouble than Republicans do in getting out their voters for these types of non-presidential, non-gubernatorial, special elections, but still.
Any thoughts? Was it the Democratic candidate (who I'd never heard of prior to these results) or something else going on?  Keep in mind that the winner, Jeanine Lawson, is a Tea Partier extraordinaire, so it seems like we could have at least motivated our "base" to come out and vote against her. Or am I missing something here?

Another Losing Season Notched in that "Tradition"

Capitol Hill High School photo 141229CapitolHillHighSchool_zps09094c13.jpgby Dan Sullivan

Among the dumbest arguments against changing the Washington team's mascot has been that that would mean Oklahoma would have to change its name. Idiots. But a simple epiphany revealed on a Harrisonburg radio talk show captures the kind of lightbulb moments that will lead to the inevitable outcome.One morning a fellow on WSVA 550 who had been on the fence about the controversy announced he had changed his opinion about the team name. The conversion came while watching a rerun of an old Daniel Boone television series episode. The story centered on a Native American child that was being enrolled in the frontier school. The telling scene was when the youth approached and was peppered by his classmates with clearly derogatorily intended pejoratives including the "R" word. In context and told by a series that originally aired in an era when we were much more embarrassed by our prejudices, the true message and meanness of the term rang out.

" has ties to a time when bounties were paid for the scalps of American is a racial slur like any other racial slur that we wouldn't print in the pages of a family newspaper." - The Oklahoman Online
At about the same time, those "insensitive" Oklahomans in one school district were deciding to remove that nickname from the teams at Capitol Hill High School in Oklahoma City despite "tradition." You see Oklahomans, in a state named for the red people, can distinguish the difference.

Will Nonpartisan Redistricting Ever Happen?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

by Dan Sullivan

One Virginia 2021 photo OneVirginia2021_zps9a508953.jpgAbout a year ago a small group convened to investigate the possibility of revitalizing the issue of redistricting. They believe that the in-state legislative districts belong to the citizens of the Commonwealth; not to any legislator, political party, or special interest. They are fighting for an independent commission on redistricting.The core issue that underlies the dysfunction, gridlock, and disrespect in Richmond is the current redistricting process where the Party in power, Democratic or Republican, goes behind closed doors, chooses its own criteria, and draws maps where they actually choose their voters rather than allowing citizens to choose their elected officials. It is the deliberate manipulation of district lines for political power. As a result, we live the fifth most gerrymandered state in the Union.

"Look at the last General Election. The difference separating Ed Gillespie and Senator Warner was less than one percentage point. We arguably live in a purple state. But the closest Congressional District in the state was 16 points. There is no doubt to the outcomes. At the local level that means there is a disincentive for state legislators to debate ideas to find solutions and work together on the issues." - former Delegate Shannon Valentine
81 seats in the House of Delegates are completely safe; the remaining 19 are considered somewhat competitive but rarely feature an opposing major party candidate. There might be 10 races where there is a doubt about the outcome and maybe two seats change out each election.
59 localities in the House districts are divided. 46 of 40 in the state Senate are divided meaning they are divided more than once. Culpepper residents, for instance, are represented by three different Senators. In Lynchburg there are 72,000 households and there are four different ballots required.
Since the February 2014 launch of One Virginia 2021; Virginians for Fair Redistricting the group has built an organization with a foundation and a public policy council. They are committed to being multi-partisan. 40% of Virginians consider themselves independent. There is a member of the Tea Party Executive Committee on the policy council. All of them know what is at stake with redistricting. Shannon Valentine is one of many disciples crisscrossing the state encouraging redistricting reform.

Virginia Politics 2015: A Dozen Things to Keep an Eye On

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Instead of making predictions for 2015 (still not pushing my luck from the mostly accurate predictions I made for 2012, I'm simply going to list a dozen things to keep an eye on next year in Virginia politics. Please feel free to add your own items in the comments section. Thanks.

1. Arlington County Board elections: Following the two victories in 2014 (in a special election last spring and in the November general election) by Republican/faux-"Independent" John Vihstadt over Democrat Alan Howze for Arlington County Board, who knows what 2015 will bring, with two sitting board members - Democrats Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes - up for reelection. That is, assuming Tejada and/or Hynes decide to run for reelection, which is the first thing to keep an eye on early in 2015. Then, we'll see if any Democrats Andrew Schneider? Cord Thomas? Peter Fallon? Christian Dorsey? others?) decide to primary one or both incumbents. Finally, we'll see how the general election goes: whether the Vihstadt/Garvey/Rousselot alliance can come up with another plausible/electable "independent" candidate; whether the issues that people were so passionate about in 2014 (particularly the streetcar, which Hynes and Jay Fisette decided to "deep six" after the Howze loss in November) will continue to drive Arlington voters. Through all this, how will the Arlington County Democratic Committee hold together (or not) in 2015? Stay tuned, things could be VERY interesting in Arlington County politics in 2015 (whatever happened to the many years when Arlington County Board races were a snoozefest?).

2. Fairfax County Board elections: I'm hearing from numerous politicos that Democrats are a bit concerned about the potential for losing seats on (or in a worst-case scenario, control of) the Fairfax County Board. Currently, there are three Republicans (John Cook - Braddock district, Pat Herrity - Springfield district , Michael Frey - Sully district) and seven Democrats (Chair Sharon Bulova - at large, John Foust - Dranesville, Catherine Hudgins - Hunter Mill, Jeff McKay - Lee, Penelope Gross - Mason, Gerald Hyland - Mt. Vernon, Linda Smyth - Providence) on the Board. Which means Republicans would have to pick up three seats to take control. Which might those be? I'm hearing the most vulnerable districts for Dems are Dranesville and Mt. Vernon if Gerry Hyland retires (which he supposedly is leaning towards doing; personally I think that should be a safe Dem district, but after what happened in Arlington in 2014...who knows?!?). On the other hand, perhaps John Cook might be vulnerable to a strong challenger, given that Democrat Janet Oleszek almost beat him four years ago?
3. Democratic Primary, General Election in Senate District 29: The race to succeed long-time State Senator Chuck Colgan (D) in Prince William County should be a fascinating and important one in 2015. First, there will be a hotly-contest, three-way Democratic primary between Del. Michael Futrell and 2013 House of Delegates candidates Atif Qarni and Jeremy McPike. Then, whoever wins the Democratic nomination will probably face a strong Republican nominee (e.g., Manassas City Mayor Harry J. "Hal" Parrish), even though this is a district that went 57%-39% for Terry McAuliffe over Ken Cuccinelli. Still, you never know what can happen in a low-turnout, "off-off" election year like 2015.
4. Race to succeed State Senator John Watkins (R) in District 10: This one is almost certainly the Democrats' best shot for a pickup in the State Senate in 2015, one that would bring them back to a 20-20 tie (with Lt. Gov. Northam breaking that tie in their favor, thus giving them effective control of the chamber) if they don't lose any seats currently held by Democrats. This district went for Terry McAuliffe narrowly (46%-42%) over Ken Cuccinell in 2013, so it should be competitive. But first, Democrats will need a strong candidate, and so far I haven't heard of one who is ready/willing/able to throw his or her hat in the ring. As for Republicans, they would be smart to nominate a moderate for this "purple" district, but personally I'm hoping they go for as wingnutty a Tea Partier as possible (since that would give Dems a much better shot at taking this seat).
5. Speaker Bill "ALEC" Howell (R) vs. Susan Stimpson (Tea Party) in House District 28: This one will require me to order pounds of popcorn, as I sit back and enjoy watching these two go after each other. And while this district is a tough one for Democrats (e.g., Cooch won it 49%-45%; Gillespie won it 53%-44%), it will be great to see Howell bogged down (and spending his money) in a primary than being able to focus 100% on going after House Democratic candidates.
6. How far right will Virginia General Assembly Republicans go?: Given that the only thing these folks seem to care about is avoiding a primary from their right, and given that they've seen multiple examples of this in recent years (see #5 above, for instance), the question is how far right will Virginia General Assembly Republicans feel compelled to push in 2015? Obviously, they won't be approving Medicaid expansion. Nor is it likely we'll see any increases in taxes. We'll see if they do anything serious on ethics and/or redistricting reform (I'm certainly not holding my breath). But how crazy will they get on social issues and other wackiness in 2015? Speaking from a Democratic perspective, I hope they go frothing-at-the-mouth wild, as that should make it easier for Dems to run against them (and hopefully beat a bunch of them) in November. Fortunately, we have Gov. McAuliffe to veto whatever lunacy reaches his desk, allowing Republicans to be as crazy as they wanna be in 2015! LOL
7. Right wingnut vs. right wingnut in Senate District 24: Not that Democrats have any chance in this overwhelmingly "red" district, but watching the crazies go after each other should be highly entertaining! :)
8. Can Senate Democrats hold all their incumbents?: Based on these statistics, I'd say the incumbent Senate Democrats who are potentially most vulnerable in 2015 include John Edwards, Lynwood Lewis and John Miller. So far, Edwards has drawn a challenger ("Roanoke civic leader and retired surgeon Nancy Dye"), so we'll need to keep an eye on that one. We'll see if either Lewis or Miller draw strong challengers as well. It will also be interesting to see ifSen. George Barker is correct in his "guarantee" that Democrats take control of the State Senate. Seems pretty optimistic, but certainly not impossible by any means, to me.
9. Can Democrats pick up some House of Delegates seats?: Given that there something like 18 House of Delegates district currently held by Republicans that went for Barack Obama and Tim Kaine, you'd think that Democrats should be able to pick up a few? Of course, we thought that in 2013 as well, so what's that saying about "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me?" If Dems are going to pick up seats, we should look at the closest races in 2013, such as: District 13 (Del. "Sideshow Bob" Marshall, almost lost to Democrat Atif Qarni last time and is facing Democrat Don Shaw this time around); District 31 (where Republican Del. Scott Lingamfelter barely beat Democrat Jeremy McPike last time around); District 32 (close race last time between Democrats Elizabeth Miller and Republican Del. Tag Greason; rematch this time around); District 86 (where Democrat Jennifer Boysko lost by just 54 votes to Republican Del. Tom Rust; rematch this time around); District 87 (where Democrat John Bell lost by under 1 percentage point to Republican Del. David Ramadan last time around); and District 94 (Republican David Yancey beat Democrat Robert Farinholt by just 2.5 percentage points last time around). Also, let's not forget District 34, where Democrat Kathleen Murphy came within 1 percentage point of knocking off incumbent Republican Del. Barbara Comstock, who was elected in November to Congress. But first, of course, Murphy has to win a special election on January 6, 2015...see below for more on that one.
10. Special election in the 34th House of Delegates district: Democrat Kathleen Murphy, who as I just noted almost beat Republican Del. Barbara Comstock in 2013, is running against Republian Craig Parisot in a special election to replace Comstock. The question in this one is largely which side has the better GOTV ("get out the vote") operation in what will probably be a looooow-turnout election. Right now, I'd say this one could go either way, especially given that so few people are paying attention, and that so little is known about Parisot (who apparently isn't doing interviews or responding to questionnaires).
11. The Joe Morrissey soap opera continues...: And when/how it ends, nobody knows. First, there's a special election on January 13, 2015, in which Morrissey's running as an independent. We'll see how "loved" he really is in his district, but I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he wins that race. I know - ugh!!! If Joe does hang on (or even win by a wide margin), then the question will be whether he's expelled from the House of Delegates (I'd assume he would be). Then...what? Another special election? Another Morrissey run (and possible victory?) as an independent? Rinse and repeat? Who knows, but remember, this IS a bad soap opera (are there any GOOD soap operas?) after all...
12. Sneaking in two more to keep an eye on: OK, I guess this will be a "baker's dozen," as I sneak in two here. First, it will be fascinating to watch how Virginia complies with the EPA's Clean Power Plan (CPP). I'm hoping that Gov. McAuliffe really takes a leadership role here in pushing as aggressively as possible for energy efficiency, rooftop solar and offshore wind. So far, I've heard him whine about how "unfair" the CPP is, which is utter bull****, also just repeating Dominion Power/coal industry talking points. We'll see. The other one to keep an eye on is Congressional redistricting, given this development in October ("A federal court has ruled Virginia's congressional map violated the 14th Amendment and instructed the legislature to redraw the state's congressional boundaries by April 1, 2015."). On redistricting, Gov. McAuliffe needs to be tough, stick to his guns, and really push for something good -- or it's not going to happen.  

Top 25 Most-Read Blue Virginia Stories of 2014

Friday, December 26, 2014

Courtesy of Google Analytics, here are the top 25 most-read Blue Virginia stories of 2014. The only thing I'm a bit skeptical about on these statistics is that "live blogging" of election results always results in very high traffic, yet those posts didn't make it into the top 25, according to Google Analytics. So, I'm not sure what to make of that, but c'est la vie I guess. By the way, all stories are by yours truly, unless otherwise indicated. Thanks to everyone who contributed diaries and/or comments (ok, no thanks to the trolls - lol) to Blue Virginia in 2014, and also thanks to all our readers. By the way, just a reminder that this blog takes time and money to keep up. If you'd like to support it (hint hint) you can do so by donating at this link. :) Thanks.1. Our Corrupt Supreme Court - Andy Schmookler (4/14/14)
2. VA Republican Senator Who Called Women a Child's "Host" Now Pushing Denial of Evolution(3/5/14)
3. Meet the (Gay) Priest that Homophobic Hypocrite Bob McDonnell is Now Living With (8/24/14)
4. Governor-Elect McAuliffe Announces Administration Appointments (1/6/14)
5. Video: Progressive Democrats of America Debate for Virginia 8th CD Gets Fiery! (5/22/14)
6. Virginia Republicans Ram through Unconstitutional Redistricting Bill on Party-Line Vote (1/20/14)
7. Chatman for Congress Campaign Issues Statement on "Fraudulent Conveyance" Appeal She Lost in 2003 (3/18/14)
8. How Democrats Almost Blew a Crucial State Senate Race (1/10/14)
9. Exclusive BV Poll of the 8th CD Democratic Primary. Part 4: Patrick Hope's HoD District (5/2/14)
10. Virginia Senate Votes to Repeal Mandatory Ultrasounds (2/11/14)
11. Special Election Date for Virginia 48th, 90th HoD Vacancies Set for 8/19; Caucuses This Weekend(6/30/14)
12. "Huge loss for Eric Cantor...his top lieutenant Linwood Cobb is toppled" (5/10/14)
13. Video: This Interview of UVA Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo is Deeply Disturbing (11/24/14)
14. BREAKING: Virginia Gov. McAuliffe to Expand Health Care Coverage in Face of GOP Demagoguery (6/20/14)
15. Arlington County Board Candidate Cord Thomas on His Voting Record, Ron Paul, Views on the Streetcar (1/2/14)
16. Video: Creigh Deeds on "60 Minutes" (1/26/14)
17. Benedict Puckett - Kindler (6/8/14)
18. 9 Ways the Fisette/Hynes Decision to Ditch the Streetcar Seriously Harmed Arlington (11/28/14)
19. Appalling Even by Ken Cuccinelli "Standards" (9/11/14)
20. Del. Bob Brink Resigning, Will Join McAuliffe Administration (6/27/14)
21. Straw Poll at 7th CD GOP Convention Shows Cantor Losing Badly to Dave Brat (5/12/14)
22. Could Cantor's Tea Party Challenger be Good News for Democrats? - Eric Steigleider (1/8/14)
23. Grading the 48th House of Delegates Candidates' Blue Virginia Questionnaires (6/4/14)
24. Applying My 8 Criteria to the 8th CD Candidates: Don Beyer (2/5/14)
25. Bruce Shuttleworth's Final Poll Results of the 8th CD Democratic Primary Race (5/1-5/5) (5/28/14)

Sierra Club: Proposed Natural Gas Pipelines Across Virginia "Appalling"

Thursday, December 25, 2014

I just read this article by Virginia Sierra Club Pipeline Committee Chair Kirk Bowers, and thought it deserved as much attention as possible. Here are a few highlights, but definitely read the whole thing(and send it to Gov. Terry McAuliffe while you're at it, telling him what you think of this crazy course of action).*"Three large-diameter, 42-inch Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) lines are proposed in Central and Southwest Virginia. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), 550 miles long, would originate in Harrison County, WV and run to southeastern North Carolina. The 330-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) would extend from Wetzel County, WV and travel south to compressor station 165 in  Pittsylvania County, VA. TheWestern Marcellus Pipeline (WMP) extends from the Rockies Express pipeline near Clarington, OH and Williams Oak Grove processing plant in Marshall County, WV to compressor Station 165 in Pittsylvania County, VA."
*"There is no precedent in Virginia for 42-inch pipeline construction across steep forested terrain like the Alleghenies, Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains...These are highly sensitive environmental areas at the headwaters of many of our rivers in Virginia. The pipelines will permanently fragment the truly special forests around Signal Corps Knob, Shenandoah Mountain and Laurel Fork, among others. This region contains some of the most intact, late-successional forest habitat and is an important reservoir of biodiversity for rare species."
*"The Shenandoah and Roanoke Valley are riddled by porous, unstable karst formations, which would be subject to contamination of groundwater by pipeline leakage and rupture of pipelines due to unstable soil structure."
*"Since 1986, there have been 7,940 incidents, 512 fatalities, 2,359 injuries and more than $6.8 billion in property damages due to pipeline explosions in the United States. The blast radius is 1,100 feet for a 42-inch diameter pipeline. "
*"Landowners will see a significant decrease in property values due to the restricted use of land on the easements as well as the visual impacts of a 125-foot wide clear-cut"
*"The proposal to build the pipelines through some of the most beautiful and preserved wilderness in the East is appalling. It poses a serious threat to the environment and to the broader communities along the route. The negative impacts of the Pipelines far outweigh any positive outcomes. Natural gas pipelines accelerate the impacts of climate change. The pipelines will impede the development and use of renewable energy, as well as energy conservation. It will encourage fracking and increase methane emissions more harmful than CO2."
*"If the pipeline is built, our forests and local communities will bear the full brunt of environmental costs, the harm to hunting, fishing, outdoor recreation, and their economies, and the disruption of the rural character of western Virginia while not sharing in any of the purported benefits. "

Scaling Green's Ten Top Cleantech Stories of 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Cross posted from Scaling Green
The following are ten top cleantech stories we followed closely in 2014. Of course, this is not a comprehensive list, as there's so much happening in the vast world of cleantech. Still, we think the following are fascinating, important stories well worth noting as 2014 comes to a close.
First, courtesy of Greentech Media's "The Energy Gang" podcast (with "energy futurist Jigar Shah, energy policy expert Katherine Hamilton and Greentech Media Editor Stephen Lacey"):
1. According to Katherine Hamilton, the EPA's Clean Power Plan - "the draft 111(d) greenhouse gas rule that came out last absolutely the biggest story of the year...I think it's going to have enormous ramifications for years and years to come." We agree, as the Clean Power Plan will stimulate innovation at the state level in energy efficiency, wind and solar power, energy policy, and more. It also will make it even less likely that new coal-fired power capacity will come online, although that was already the case due to competition from renewables, natural gas, and energy efficiency.
2. According to Jigar Shah, "dirt cheap solar" is the top story of 2014, complentary to the EPA Clean Power Plan story. In Shah's view, Austin Energy switching to solar power, because it cost less than 5 cents per kilowatthour, "sent shockwaves throughout the industry," with "a lot of utility executives, as well as Lazard and others" concluded that "solar is here, it is finally deserving of your respect and you must pay attention to it," and the Austin Energy story was a "bellwether." Shah further argues that the drop in solar prices - along with other good, cleantech news - will make 111(d) much easier to achieve and a "lot less costly than people think it's going to be to implement." Synergy, anyone?

Twas the Night Before Christmas, and All Through Virginia...

by FreeDem

Even though I swore off doing another series of diaries at Blue Virginia on past, present, and future trends in politics, I've been thinking a lot about where our Commonwealth stands. Governor McAuliffee is ready to keep up the fight on Medicaid expansion in Virginia, while also laying down the foundation for a fight with the General Assembly over redistricting. As we prepare to enter into 2015, here are some random, at times disjointed thoughts on Virginia's present and future.1. On the expansion of Medicaid, the issue isn't just about what the Commonwealth will do for the least fortune among us. Thinking about a practical blank check from the federal government to do more today for struggling Virginians is a timely issue on the eve of Christmas. There is also an argument for asking why Virginia should be paying for the Affordable Care Act without receiving its full benefits.
But after the Supreme Court's ruling, Republican governors and legislatures in state after state rejected the expansion. Rejecting the Medicaid expansion, however, doesn't exempt a state from the taxes and spending cuts Obamacare uses to fund the Medicaid expansion. A September analysis from McClatchy estimated that "if the 23 states that have rejected expanding Medicaid under the 2010 health care law continue to do so for the next eight years, they'll pay $152 billion to extend the program in other states - while receiving nothing in return." That's a helluva gift from (mostly) red states to (mostly) blue ones.
In the next term, the Supreme Court will rule on the claim that the law does not allow for subsidies for health insurance plans purchased on the federal exchange. Depending on the ruling, the Republican Party's opposition to participating in the health care law will mean even fewer dollars going to Virginian families.
2.  I haven't seen a detailed analysis of the Medicaid eligible population by House or Senate district, but the numbers I've seen based on localities indicate that this is not just a moral issue in 2015, but a political winner in areas like Prince William County.
3. Medicaid expansion links well to redistricting reform. While usually such insider baseball is not the stuff of political campaigns, it bolsters the imagine of the Republican Party standing opposed to progress and reform.
But if that's where we are in 2015, where are we going? Virginia is changing rapidly, and I think the great Yogi Berra's observations ring true. "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there."
What's the vision for Virginia Democrats not just in 2015, but long term?

So NOW Will Republicans Admit They Were Wrong...About Basically Everything?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Well, well, check this out: six years into the presidency of Barack Obama, it turns out the U.S. economy is booming, the stock market is in record territory, wages are rising...etc. Or, as a headline today in the Washington Post put it: The boom is here: the economy just grew 5 percent, and it's not going to stop. Oh yeah, and let's not forget that we're in the midst of an energy boom, with falling gasoline prices, plummeting crude oil imports and booming wind and solar output. All this, by the way, just six years since the economy collapsed under President George W. Bush, and not even six years since President Obama inherited one of the worst economic situations since FDR took over from Herbert Hoover in 1932.For any observer not blinded by partisanship, right-wing ideology and/or animosity towards our nation's first African-American president, this is beyond impressive. It's also striking to consider the contrast between what Republicans predicted would happen and what actuallyhappened. A few examples of the many ways in which Republicans have been (wildly) wrong the past 6 years include:
*Republicans and Tea Partiers asserted, over and over and over again, that the Recovery Act of 2009 would not work. They were completely wrong. In fact, as it turns out, the Recovery Act ended up doing almost exactly what it was intended to do: provide classic Keynesian, counter-cyclical "stimulus" to an economy in desperate need of it. The only problem, frankly, was that it wasn't big enough, particularly in terms of aid to the states, and for that we have Republicans and a few conservadems to blame. If it weren't for them, we almost certainly would have come out of the recession earlier and stronger than we did. In short, the current economic recovery has come about in SPITE of Republicans (and a few conservadems).
*Republicans and Tea Partiers called President Obama every name in the book, with "socialist" and even "communist" or "Marxist" being several of their favorites. Yet, just as in the case of Bill Clinton, the economy has boomed under this supposed "socialist," with the stock market - not exactly a bastion of "to each according to his need" types - now at record-high levels. Does this sound anything like "socialism" to you? If so, then please, let's have more "socialism," please! ;) Certainly, we've done better under this "socialism" then we did under the "capitalism" (actually, corrupt "crony capitalism") of the Bush/Cheney years.
*Repblicans and Tea Partiers claimed that the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare," would be a disaster, the ruination of America, blah blah blah. In fact, it's been nothing of the sort. Instead, we're getting constant headlines like US uninsured rate heads toward new low and O-Care premiums stable nationwideand U.S. Experiences Unprecedented Slowdown In Health Care Spending. So much for Republicans predictions of doom on all those fronts. As for "Obamacare" being a "job killer," which we heard about a gazillion times from right wingnuts the past few years, let me simply refer you to the headlines and first couple paragraphs of this post, about the booming economy, soaring stock market, plummeting unemployment rate, etc.

Dominion Power/Tobacco Commission Scandal Highlights Need for Much Stronger Virginia Ethics Laws

by Scott Peterson

For years, Virginians had confidence that their state government was run efficiently and well - at least compared to other states. "The Virginia Way" set us apart from other states with seemingly incorrigible corruption in their capitols.
All that has changed recently with a series of events that is deeply shaking public confidence.
It is not just the dramatic corruption conviction of once-popular former Gov. Bob McDonnell, but a series of ugly disclosures that have changed how we think business is done in Richmond.
There was the CONSOL Energy scandal in which an assistant attorney general provided legal advice to help an out-of-state energy company to fight Virginia landowners who were owed millions for gas extraction. There was the federal probe into offers of jobs to then-Sen. Phil Puckett and his daughter if the senator resigned his seat - thus changing partisan control of the Senate.
The State Integrity Investigation ranked Virginia 47th out of 50 states on its Corruption Risk Report Card.
This month's scandal is news that the Virginia Tobacco Commission gave $30 million to a partner of Dominion Resources Inc., to construct a natural gas pipeline to a new $1.3 billion natural gas-fired power plant Dominion is building in Brunswick County. The commission's staff recommended $6.5 million. Dominion is listed as a beneficiary on the Tobacco Commission grant application and is co-signer of the contract.
How was the grant increased by $23.5 million to benefit Dominion - one of the richest and most politically well-connected corporations in Richmond?

"Fundamental reforms are needed in how General Assembly delegates are elected"

Excellent points by Ben Tribbett and other commenters on last night's Democratic nomination process in the 74th House of Delegates district. Astoundingly, just 43 votes were cast, 40 on the final ballot, to select the person who will almost certainly be the next delegate in that district. Even if you believe that this process was forced on Democrats, that's about as far away from "democracy" as you can get and not acceptable in my opinion. Anyway, first here's Ben's comment, followed by a few other interesting points by other commenters.
First of all, congratulations to Kevin J Sullivan on his nomination tonight, I'm glad to see someone from organized labor heading to the General Assembly.That having been said, the process used to select a nominee was disgusting. Voting was limited to those who had joined a Democratic committee and all other voters were shut out of the process. This type of undemocratic way of selecting a nominee is completely unacceptable. Unfortunately as I said many times in 2012 when I was running for DNC- the DPVA officials keep these rules as fluid as possible to allow for committees to make rules to influence the outcome of the process. I don't believe in that, never have and never will. These seats are for the public to decide, and we shouldn't be putting people forward in them who are not selected by the public to run.
Yep, I largely agree with that. Next, former Fairfax Dems Chair Rex Simmons argues:  
lowkell :: "Fundamental reforms are needed in how General Assembly delegates are elected"

Winners and Losers: Virginia Politics 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

As always, the following list isn't meant to be comprehensive, so feel free to add your suggestions in comments section. Thanks, and here's hoping for a better 2015 for Virginia Democrats!Winners
1. Rep. Dave Brat (R): The guy's nuttier than a port-o-potty at a peanut festival, as the saying goes, but he's now CONGRESSMAN crazy, having pulled the upset victory of the year, over none other than the Republican Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, Eric Cantor.
2. Ed Gillespie (R): He lost the U.S. Senate election to Mark Warner, but by a tiny margin in a race that wasn't even supposed to be close, proving you CAN win by losing sometimes. Now, Gillespie has turned himself into a serious power in Virginia politics, the only question being what he will do with that power.
3. Rep. Scott Rigell (R): After a crushing victory in November, Rigell's starting to look entrenched in the 2nd CD. That's very unfortunate for the 2nd CD, but good for Scott Rigell!
4. Barbara Comstock (R): Right-wing and hyperpartisan as they come; nonetheless, she managed to not just win, but utterly TROUNCE her Democratic opponent, John Foust. The only questions now are: a) can Democrats beat her in 2016, possibly their last chance to do so before she is totally entrenched; b) when will she be seriously talked about for national office (e.g., U.S. Senate, VP)?
5. Sen. Tim Kaine (D): It seems to me that the "junior" partner in the relationship with Mark Warner has now moved to the top of the heap. Kaine has handled himself very well in the U.S. Senate, really come into his own, and set himself up for...I dunno, running mate to Hillary Clinton in 2016 perhaps?
6. Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R): He's got the majority, not that he'll do anything good with it. Now, let's see if he can keep it.
7. Don Beyer (D): Came back from Switzerland to run for the seat of retiring Rep. Jim Moran, and won in a landslide (both in the primary and the general election). I'd also note that 8th CD Democrats arguably get someone with all the strong qualities of Jim Moran, without Moran's numerous (ethical and other) downsides.
8. AG Mark Herring (D): A great year for him on the policy and political fronts (marriage equality, in-state tuition for "dreamers," etc.), no matter how you look at it. The only question is, can he match (or top) his 2014 accomplishments in 2015 (hint: time to take on environmental issues, the corrupt State Corportation Commission, and pay-to-play politics as exemplified by Dominion Power!), and how much of a leg up does this give him for the 2017 Virginia governor's race?
9. John Vihstadt (R), Libby Garvey (D): They didn't lead Arlington in a positive direction in 2014, nor were their claims about the streetcar (and other issues) correct in most cases, but they won big time in 2014. Highly unfortunate for Arlington's future...sigh.
10. Dominion Virginia Power: This company has used its capture of Virginia's government to benefit...well, itself of course. To the tune of tens of millions of $$$$$ in taxpayer-funded corporate welfare, a "study" by the State Corporation Commission that might as well have been by Dominion (was it?), and continued efforts to hold back the transition to a clean energy economy for Virginia. Yeah, the rest of us all lose, but Dominion keeps on keepin' I guess that makes them a "winner," in an utterly warped sense.
lowkell :: Winners and Losers: Virginia Politics 2014
1. Sen. Mark Warner (D): I mean, he won the election, so I guess he wasn't a "loser" in 2014 per se. Other than that, however...Warner's "both sides"/"radical centrism" shtick lost its effectiveness, Warner himself lost his aura of invincibility, his ignoring/dissing the "base" while courting "red" Virginia didn't win over "red" Virginia while failing to inspire the "base," etc. And the campaign's post-election "analysis" (using that word loosely) indicates they don't have a clue what happened. So...yeah, Warner's in the "mixed" category because he didn't lose the election, but other than that he was a big-time loser in 2014.
2. State Sen. Mark Obenshain (R): With the rise of Ed Gillespie, his path to the 2017 Republican gubernatorial nomination may be more complicated than it was prior to 2014. On the other hand, I could see him better off running on, let's say an Ed Gillespie/Pete Snyder/Mark Obenshain ticket in 2017, than with himself at the top of the ticket (and god knows what right-wing nuts for LG and AG).
3. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D): Vowed to expand Medicaid one way or the other by the end of the summer. Did not do so, in large part because he lost control of the Virginia State Senate following Phil Puckett's resignation. Chances of getting anything major (beyond luring companies to Virginia by dangling various forms of corporate welfare in their faces) accomplished in his final three years, barring Democrats taking back the Senate? Not good. On the other hand, as a national Democratic friend pointed out to me, T-Mac's kind of a winner, because he "still gets to party in the governor's mansion," which is "everything he wants." LOL. Seriously, though, McAuliffe does deserve credit for fighting on Medicaid expansion and gun safety. Now, let's see him do what he does best - raise s*** tons of money! - in 2015, when the entire Virginia General Assembly is on the ballot.
4. McAuliffe Chief of Staff Paul Reagan (D): On the one hand, he was in the news - and not in a good way - for leaving a voicemail message for Phil Puckett promising that "we would basically do anything" to keep him in the State Senate. Reagan was then thrown under the bus by his boss, Terry McAuliffe, who claimed Reagan had made a mistake (even though, clearly, Reagan was doing exactly what McAuliffe would have wanted him to do, other than leaving it in a voicemail message). On the other hand...well, he wasn't indicted or anything (nor were Terry Kilgore or Phil Puckett or anyone else for their roles in this fiasco).
5. University of Virginia: On the one hand, they went through hell due to Rolling Stone's article on a supposed gang rape at a campus fraternity. On the other hand, they've mostly been vindicated in terms of that specific incident. On yet another hand...lots of issues remain at UVA, and really at campuses across America, about sexual assault and harassment against female students (and a related problem: excessive consumption of alcohol, whether at frat parties or not). This is a serious problem that isn't going away.
6. John Whitbeck (R): The anti-Semitic "joke" dude lost by a whopping 15 points to Democrat Jennifer Wexton in the January 2014 special election for Mark Herring's State Senate seat. So he's a loser right? Yeah, except that Virginia Republicans are now going to make this loser their Party Chair. So...if you consider that a good thing, then I guess Whitbeck is in the "mixed" category. If not, then he's just a loser.Losers
1. Former Gov. Bob McDonnell (R): It's hard to imagine a worse year than the one McDonnell just had. Indicted on January 21 on federal corruption charges; went through a trial in which a lot of dirty laundry about him, his wife, his family, etc. were aired out; convicted on September 4; recommended sentence of 10-12 years in prison; lost his Liberty University teaching position; son arrested for DUI; marriage in shambles...on and on it goes. What's amazing is that just a few years ago, McDonnell was seen as a rising star in the national GOP, possible VP or even presidential material some day. A nightmarish "loser" of a year, in large part of his own making...
2. Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R): One of the most powerful people in the country lost an election to...who? Dave Brat? Despite outspending Brat by a gazillion to one? Add Cantor's consultants, pollsters, ad makers, etc. to this list as well. My god. On the other hand, I'm tempted to move Cantor to the "mixed" category, because: a) he escaped the dysfunctional, FUBAR House of Representatives; and b) he's now cashing in, big time, making far more money than he ever would have as an elected official. Still, it's hard to conclude that 2014 wasn't an utter debacle for Eric Cantor.
3. State Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw (D): Went from Minority Leader to Majority Leader back to Minority Leader. Unfortunately for Saslaw, that latter status is likely to remain for a while. Meanwhile, he continued to make a buffoon out of himself pretty much every time he opened his mouth, while being pressured/forced to fire his Senate Democratic Caucus staff. He was outmaneuvered repeatedly by Senate Republicans. He apparently was completely clueless about Phil Puckett's pending resignation. Oh, and he also blew hundreds of thousands of dollars in a kamikaze mission to try and hold Puckett's 2:1 Cuccinelli district. Of course, that failed too, as many of us told them it would, just like almost everything else Saslaw tried in 2014. Why is this guy still Senate Democratic Leader? Even if he raises a lot of money, he just turns around and wastes most of it anyway, all while tarnishing the Democratic "brand." Get this guy outta here!
4. Del. Joe Morrissey (D): Hardly anyone had heard of Morrissey prior to events of the past few weeks. Now that everyone has, Morrissey's almost certainly on his way out the door of the Virginia House of Delegates (either via election or expulsion by a vote that's likely to be near unanimous). Other than that, his reputation is in ruins, if he cares about stuff like that (doubtful).
5. Arlington County's credibility, future, etc.: Just a debacle of a year in every way for Arlington County, in terms of its credibility, its future, its economic competitiveness, you name it. Abandoning the streetcar project, particularly in the kneejerk, panicked way that it was done (following a campaign of lies and demagoguery by John Vihstadt et al), means that the "Arlington Way" is now toast (see Walter Tejada's speech on that subject), while partners at the state and regional level have to wonder if they ever want to work with Arlington County again -- on anything. As an added "bonus," Arlington forfeited billions of dollars in development, hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues, and tens of millions of dollars from Virginia, all for...what? The impossible, mythical unicorn of "bus rapid transit" (not possible on, or appropriate for, Columbia Pike). Other? Nope and nope. #FAIL all around.
6. John Foust (D)/Foust campaign: I wrote about this one here. In short, Foust lost by 16 points despite spending somewhere over $2 million, in a basically tossup, "purple" district, against an out-of-the-mainstream (can we say "transvaginal ultrasounds?") candidate in an open-seat election. His campaign's emails were an embarrassment; his TV ads were lame; and he ended up doing no better than Judy Feder did against incumbent Frank Wolf in 2006. I mean, sure, it wasn't a great year for Democrats, but this takes "talent." Oh, and as an added bonus, Foust's County Board seat could be in jeopardy in 2015. Ugh.
7. Alan Howze (D): In overwhelmingly Democratic Arlington County, Democrat Alan Howze lost not one but two - count'em, two! - elections this year to a Republican masquerading as an "independent." That really takes some doing. Alan's a good guy, very smart and serious, but it's really hard to see a political future for him at this point.
8. Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC): Lost all credibility with its bizarre, warped, wildly biased (towards the coal industry) "analysis," using that word as loosely as is humanly possible, of the EPA's Clean Power Plan. What, was this thing written by the coal companies, Dominion Power, etc? And no, that was NOT a rhetorical question, I'm seriously asking. Time for a serious housecleaning at this cesspool of an agency. As for the media who published the SCC's coal industry propaganda without pointing out that it was complete crap, they are in another, possibly even lower, category of "loser."
9. Hundreds of thousands of Virginians who need expanded Medicaid; local hospitals; Virginia taxpayers: Thanks a lot, Virginia Republicans, for not allowing billions of dollars of our own tax dollars to come back to Virginia to expand Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of Virginians, boost the economy, help with the budget deficit, keep local hospitals solvent; etc. Meanwhile, other states with Republican governors are moving ahead, with 27 states plus D.C. doing so to date, and others (Utah? Tennessee?) likely on the way. But nooooo...not Virginia. Again, thanks a LOT Republicans!
10. Virginia's economic future: Although the national economy is recovering -- adding jobs like gangbusters, etc. - Virginia, a state that's heavily reliant for its prosperity on federal (civilian, defense, contractor) spending, faces major headwinds in the era of sequestration and government downsizing. How do we get out of this mess? Invest in our future, in such things as a clean energy economy. Unfortunately, Republicans and corporate interests (e.g., Dominion, fossil fuel companies) are largely blocking that, just as they're blocking badly needed tax reform and other important items on the agenda.
11. Suzanne Patrick (D) campaign: How you manage to take a strong resume like Patrick's and turn it into a 17.8-point loss in a "plus 2" Republican district is beyond me. But they did it, so as Chris Cillizza likes to say, "Congrats...or something." Heh.
12. Virginia/All of us: In the US House of Representatives, our delegation is filled with a bunch of conspiracy theorists, climate science deniers, Ayn Rand true believers, corporate puppets etc. Same thing with the General Assembly, with both chambers now controlled by those same types of people. Not good.
13. Ralph Northam (D): In losing most of his ability to preside over (and cast important tiebreaking votes in) a 20-20 State Senate, Northam lost much of his platform to try and set himself up for a potential 2017 Democratic primary for governor. Meanwhile, his potential 2017 rival, AG Mark Herring (see above in the "winners" column) spent 2014 becoming a hero to the progressives who tend to vote in Democratic primaries.
14. "Sideshow Bob" Marshall (R): He ranted. He raved. He fulminated. But most importantly, he lost badly. First and foremost, so much for the infamous, anti-gay-marriage "Marshall-Newman amendment" - and good riddance to bad garbage! In other news, "Sideshow Bob" as so frustrated with his utter lack of effectiveness in the Republican-controlled House of Delegate, that he dared Speaker Howell to kick him out of the Republican caucus. More likely, Howell et al. will just laugh at him behind his back, and make sure that he remains utterly irrelevant.
15. Jack Trammell (D)/Trammell campaign: Not that he was ever expected to win in a solidly "red" district, but he could have at least made a strong case against Dave Brat and for Democratic/progressive values. Instead, he did neither. I can't even tell you how many negative things I heard about his campaign from people in the district. For instance, one person wrote me and cited "lack of any visible social media campaign;" "any notices from his staff about upcoming events, nor seeing much on his Facebook page which might capture the interests of the casual viewers;" and "a lack of information about well...everything from campaign coordination, to GOTV, all the way down to nuts-and-bolt issues like having enough signs." Other than that, great job! LOL
16. DPVA Chair Dwight Jones (D): People keep telling me this guy's completely AWOL, and you can observe it for yourself even if you don't have sources constantly telling you "Dwight Jones stories" (e.g., nowhere to be found on important conference calls, puts out a statement praising Joe Morrissey for resigning and never retracts it, reportedly raises no money, does nothing to build the party, shows no leadership whatsoever, put out a bizarre press release after election day 2014 claiming it was "a good day for Virginia Democrats"...). Remind me again, why is this guy chair?
17. 8th CD Democratic primary losers: Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille seems to have bought himself a mayoral primary in losing badly (8.4% of the vote) in this race. Lavern Chatman got better known in the district, spent a lot of money...and got crushed (she received just over 5% of the vote). Chatman also was exposed as...well, see Chatman for Congress Campaign Issues Statement on "Fraudulent Conveyance" Appeal She Lost in 2003 and Video: Lavern Chatman Spoke Positively About, Donated to NC Gov. Pat McCrory (R). Mark Levine spent a lot of money but won just 6.7% of the vote. Charniele Herring ran one of the worst campaigns I think I've ever seen in my 10 years covering Virginia politics and ended up dropping out of the race in mid-May. Amazing.  

Virginia's 20 Craziest Politicians

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The following list is inspired by GQ's just-published "America's 20 Craziest Politicians" (Steve King, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Joe Barton, etc.). For my list, I'm sticking to Virginia elected officials, people who have been Virginia elected officials, or current/past candidates for elective office in Virginia. Obviously, this list is subjective, but what it is NOT intended to be is a measure of how far to the right (or left, for that matter) the politician is, per se. I mean, I could easily fill up the list with people who deny climate science, as in my view that's definitive proof that you're either a fossil fuel industry tool, an imbecile, or nuts. Instead, this list is comprised of people who are just "crazy," in the colloquial sense, regardless of what party they're in (although note that the vast majority are Republicans - shocker, huh? - and it's not for lack of trying to come up with Democrats to make it more "even" - the fact is that today's GOP attracts "teh crazy" like....well, crazy!).  Anyway, enjoy!(?)1. E.W. Jackson (R): Has anyone ever heard anything come out of his mouth that wasn't at least a bit "out there?" OK, need specific examples of this guy's insanity?  For starters, he's obsessed with Barack Obama (e.g., how Obama's supposedly not a Christian, how he's supposedly an anti-Semite, blah blah blah); how "Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was;" how gays are "frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally," who are attempting to "poison our children, divide them from their parents and the teaching of the church and basically turn them into pawns for that movement so that they can sexualize them at the earliest possible age." What's truly shocking about this guy isn't so much that he's an extremist and an all-around lunatic, but that the Virginia GOP nominated him for Lt. Governor of our state in 2013! What does that say about them? Anyway, E.W. Jackson has the "honor" of being #1 on this list. As Chris Cillizza likes to say, "Congrats...or something!" LOL
2. Ken Cuccinelli (R): Again, where do you even start with this guy?  I mean, this is someone who - in addition to the de-rigeur-among-wingnuts climate science denial - also tried to make it easier for people to discriminate against gay people, claimed that Virginia can disobey federal laws it disagrees with, believes the government is tracking his kids via Social Security numbers, and talks to a toy elephant named "Ron", is a "birther," rants about a "vast left-wing conspiracy" and the "Humanist Manifesto," claims that liberals "cannot tolerate god" and that Barack Obama has "helped destroy this country," comparedimmigrants to rat families, etc, etc. Most appallingly, "the Cooch" actually was elected to be Virginia's Attorney General, where he spent four years on a bunch of crazy, mostly failed, crusades. He also was, appallingly yet again, the Virginia Republican Party's 2013 nominee for governor of our state. It says a great deal about said party that they'd nominate such a lunatic, not to mention extremist, as Ken Cuccinelli. Come to think of it, maybe Cooch should have been #1, and E.W. Jackson #2, on this list?
3. Sen. Steve Martin (R): What more do you need to know than this ("Child's Host" State Senator: Torture Justified "no matter what body parts are lost in the process")? Basically, Martin makes the stereotypical "cave man"/Genghis Khan look like enlightened, sensitive people.
4. Del. Bob Marshall (R):  We nicknamed him "Sideshow Bob" for good reason. Seirously, the list of his lunacy is endless. Check out, for example:"Sideshow Bob" Marshall Completely Unhinged Over Demise of His Anti-Gay Hate AmendmentVideo: "Sideshow Bob" Elaborates On His Vicious Homophobia(That's right, according to "Sideshow Bob," it's all about "blood transfusions," "sodomy," and being "worried about this guy whose got eyes on me." Can we say "he's got issues?" Uh huh.); Does Bob Marshall Agree w/ Rev. Ellison that Haitian Earthquake Was God's Punishment for Voodoo?Virginia lawmaker: Children with disabilities are God's punishment to women who previously had abortions.Chief Sponsor of Virginia 'Personhood' Bill Calls The Affordable Care Act 'Rape'Robert Marshall, Virginia Delegate, Pushes Bill To Study Whether State Should Have Alternative Currency; etc. Seriously, with Bob Marshall, the "Sideshow" truly never ends!

"Child's Host" State Senator: Torture Justified "no matter what body parts are lost in the process"

Friday, December 19, 2014

Just keep in mind when reading the following that this same guy, Virginia State Senator Steve Martin (R-of course!), is the same guy who referred to pregnant women as a "child's host" ("some refer to them as mothers"), and who said that the majority of Americans who support a woman's right to choose are "really sick people." Also interesting is how Martin uses his religion to justify whatever extreme views he holds, even if nothing whatsoever in said religion conforms to those views (e.g., where in the Gospels does Jesus preach that torture is justified? where in the Gospels does Jesus preach that abortion is murder? uhhhh.).  Anyway, no matter how you look at it, this is some seriously warped, demented s***, unworthy of any American (or human being), let alone a State Senator. Ugh.
Steve Martin Beth: First, I've not acknowledged or represented interrogation techniques which are not intended to cause physical harm as being "torture." The techniques others keep raising as used by the Japanese, Vietnamese, etc. were intended to cause physical harm without concern for it causing death. The techniques being discussed as part of the US CIA arsenal do not fit that description. As a matter of fact, our special forces go through it and more in training because we know it will not cause them physical harm. I'm not prepared to quote chapter and verse on this, but as you know there are scriptures speaking to loving your neighbors as ourselves, coming to their defense at our own expense, defense of a country and its people, etc.. Do you believe Christ would have us know that 3000 innocent people were about to be killed by a particular person and not do what was within our means to prevent it? What if preventing it involved shooting the person who was about to push a detonation button? If so, why would shooting him be okay but not making him think for a few moments that he might drown? What about the issue of shooting someone who has been shooting at you and those in your home? Even if we were in fact taking the threat's life (we're not, not even putting it at risk) it would be no different than ending the life that is threatening ours. An argument to the contrary would make sense only if you believe that you are never to defend yourself, your family, neighbors, or nation.
P.S. Note that if you go Martin's Facebook page, you'll find a lot of support for his position on torture. For instance, one person writes, "Gonads in a vice? I have no problem with that.....whatever it takes to protect/save loved ones." And another fine fan of Martin's writes, "On board to water board and more if that's what it takes ( and apparently it does )... urghhhhh. Idiots. .. " It's also fun, in a weird kind of way, watching Martin tie himself into logical knots attempting to explain why it's ok to give the government, which he generally seems to believe is evil and should have very limited powers, the power to torture and even kill people, even if it's illegal (which it is), immoral (which it is), unChristian (which it is), etc. With that, check out the screen shot of what Martin posted, and also the following comment he left in the discussion thread.
P.P.S. Martin also claims in another Facebook thread that "those among the 31% [of Americans who oppose the CIA's methods] should not be operating heavy equipment or have access to scissors."

Koch Brothers Launch Crusade Against Clean Energy, For Pollution in Virginia

These people are truly heinous. Needless to say, Gov. McAuliffe needs to veto any energy legislation sponsored by the Koch brothers' - or other fossil fuels' - front groups, like the Orwellian-named "Americans for Prosperity" (a more apt name would be "The Top 0.1% for Prosperity ONLY of the Top 0.1%, Screw the Other 99.9%"). As for the following "Memorandum," pretty much every word of it is either a lie, distortion, and/or assault on the environment. For starters, the EPA's carbon pollution goals are modest and long overdue (not "overreaching" by a long shot); this will CREATE jobs and BOOST our economy (not "threaten" it in any way); etc. Did I mention how heinous these people are? 

To:              Members of the Virginia General Assembly
From:         Sean Lansing, State Director of Americans for Prosperity-Virginia
Date:          Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dear Members of the General Assembly:
On behalf of more than 70,000 Americans for Prosperity activists living in Virginia, I encourage you to support efforts to push back against the overreaching Environmental Protection Agency. The new proposed carbon emissions rule from President Obama's EPA will amount to a federal takeover of the electricity system. EPA proposes that Virginia cut power sector CO2 emissions by 43 percent from 2012 levels by 2030, which will threaten jobs and energy affordability here in our state. 
That's why I'm writing to urge you to support the Reliable, Affordable, and Safe Power (RASP) Act. This legislation takes a number of common sense steps to protect families and businesses in Virginia from harm brought on by the regulations.
First, this legislation prohibits our state from submitting or implementing a State Implementation Plan until the legal questions surrounding the new rules are resolved. This will prevent Virginia from wasting precious resources until EPA’s legal authority is clear. Second, it would empower state legislatures, who are accountable to the people, to approve or deny the state implementation plan before it is submitted to the EPA. Lastly, it includes several provisions that instruct the state agencies developing the plans to ensure that it will protect the affordability and reliability of the state electricity system for its citizens.
This legislation also enjoys broad support from conservative organizations. AFP is proud to lead a large coalition of organizations in supporting the the RASP Act, which is online here
I urge you and your colleagues to support this important legislation and protect Virginia families from the harmful impact of these new proposed EPA rules. I look forward to working with you over this upcoming session. 
Sean Lansing
State Director

The EPA's Clean Power Plan: The 2015 Virginia General Assembly's "ObamaCare?"

It's looking like debate and legislation on the EPA's Clean Power Plan could be the 2015 Virginia General Assembly session's "ObamaCare" for Republicans and Tea Partiers. Turns out the Koch-brothers' front group Americans for Prosperity is weighing in big time, and GOP gubernatorial hopeful, Sen. Frank Wagner, has jumped on the bandwagon big time.  Note that Sen. Wagner is Co-chair of Joint Senate/House subcommittee formed to deal with legislation on the EPA's Clean Power Plan.  That Subcommittee's first meeting was held on Wednesday, with Sen Wagner running the meeting and only one invited speaker. Who was that speaker, you ask? That's right, none other than our old friend David W. Schnare, General Counsel at the Energy & Environment Legal Institute., there to provide "analysis" (hahahaha) of the "Proposed Clean Power Plan Rule Issued Under § 111(d) of the Clean Air Act."  First, a bit of background on Mr. Schnare:
The author of the report, David Schnare, [was] a a Senior Fellow of the Thomas Jefferson Institute. Schnare runs a blog where he has some interesting things to say. For instance:*Environmental activists are "very sick people" who "quietly rejoice over the potential of millions (billions?) of starving people."
*On global warming, he constantly belittles concerns over it and questions the science. For instance, in August 2007 he wrote, "In a paper soon to be published, Scott Barrett explains why we are not facing a global emergency, why we need not act precipitously and without sufficient regard to the economic consequences, and why we will never reach, nor need to reach an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases." Schnare also claims that "the Scandinavian moose emits 2,100 kg of methane a year, equivalent to the green house gases emitted by an automobile trip of 13,000 km" and concludes, "Thank goodness hunters shoot 35,000 of them each year."
*Also on global warming, Barrett writes, "When it comes to global warming, I'm a skeptic because the conclusions about the cause of the apparent warming stand on the shoulders of incredibly uncertain data and models." Regardless, he writes, "a strategy of relying exclusively on reduction of greenhouse gases is doomed to failure."
*Barrett also claims that "reliance on, and vigorous implementation of greenhouse gas reduction is basically a racist approachwith progressive tax-like implications that will further divide the rich from the poor."

AG Mark Herring to Bob Marshall: Bigamy Illegal, Bisexuals and Transgenders Can Marry in VA

Thursday, December 18, 2014

My god, Virginia's Attorney General has to waste his time on crap like this? On the other hand, I suppose in a warped way that "Sideshow Bob" Marshall continues to provide invaluable entertainment, in a freak show sorta way, for Virginia. And that's gotta be worth something, ya know? :)

Loudoun Times Political Reporter Basically Calls HoD Candidate Craig Parisot (R) a Liar

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Note that on November 6, the Loudoun Times reported  that Craig Parisot, who's running against Democrat Kathleen Murphy to succeed Congresswoman-elect Barbara Comstock (R) in the Virginia House of Delegates had "said he's making his first run with the forthcoming special." To the contrary, it turns out that Parisot ran for mayor in Maryland town. Also note that Parisot received just four (4) votes in that election. Seriously, that is NOT a typo! The DPVA pounced on this story, as well they should have, asking: "Wonder why Craig conveniently failed to mention that he's run before -- maybe because it was in Maryland? What else will we find he hasn't been truthful about?"  Good questions; any answers?