Worst Virginia Political TV Ads of 2014 (So Far)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Here are a few nominees for worst (e.g., least effective, most cringe-inducingly lame, etc.) Virginia TV ads of 2014 so far. Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section. Thanks. 1. This one is so mind-bogglingly stupid it defies belief. In short, Eric Cantor had an enormous advantage in terms of name ID, incumbency and money over the almost-completely-unknown Dave Brat. So what did Can'tor and his brilliant consultants do? That's right, spend a s***-ton of money to launch ridiculous, completely non-credible attacks on Brat, effectively spending their own money to raise Brat's name ID and make people look into his candidacy. 2. Lynwood Lewis came within 11 votes of losing a race he was supposed to win easily (at least that's what the so-called "experts" kept saying), after running to the right, dissing/ignoring the "base," etc. This ad epitomizes all that, using Republican framing (e.g., regulations are bad) and emphasizing working with Republicans, when what Lewis needed to do was fire up his district's Democratic "base" voters. Does this lame ad get you fired up in any way, shape or form? Nope, didn't think so. 3. This ad by conservadem Mike Hymes attacking his Republican opponent, Ben Chafin, is on the list mostly because of two things: a) it was a completely ineffective waste of (a lot of) money, as was Hymes' entire ad campaign; and b) attacking defense attorneys for doing their job MIGHT be politically effective at times (obviously not in this special election for Virginia State Senate), but it's pathetic nonetheless. 4. When I first watched this ad, my jaw literally dropped at how bad it was, from the cheesy music to some random people speaking the words "race," "gender" and "orientation"...then finally the point, that these things don't define who we are. Then, how does Euille talking about how his campaign's all about "leadership, passion and know-how" (with a backdrop of Washington, DC monuments, for some reason) relate to anything that came before it in the ad? Got me. And neither did voters, apparently, as Euille received just 8% of the vote in the Democratic primary, and now may have opened himself up to a Mayoral primary challenge from 1 or more opponents. Talk about money NOT well spent!

New Ethics Law: Loophole Piled on Loophole

by Elaine in Roanoke

I thoroughly enjoyed today's column in the Roanoke Times by that curmudgeon, columnist Dan Casey, whose writing is the best thing about the Times these days. Casey discussed something that should be reported by every media outlet in the state as part of the coverage of the gross embarrassment that is the Bob and Maureen McDonnell trial. Casey decided to tackle one simple question: Could another state office holder cause another corrupt mess like this one, while supposedly following the new 2014 Virginia ethics law? His answer, after reading the entire text of the new "ethics law," is a resounding, "Yes." As Casey stated, the new law has so many loopholes that a person could "drive trucks of Rolexes right through them."Item by item, Casey shows how all the stuff that Bob and Maureen McDonnell got as the "quid" part of their quid pro quo would be perfectly legal under the empty law the General Assembly had the gall to pass in the last session. For example:
The $6,500 Rolex watch? While the new law forbids tangible gifts worth more than $250, the limitation applies only to lobbyists or businesspeople doing business with the state. Jonnie Williams was neither at the time. He just wanted McDonnell to use the influence Bob and Maureen were happy to peddle to promote his dubious product, a health supplement made from tobacco.  There's another loophole in the law for unlimited gifts from "personal friends," so all Bob McDonnell would have had to do was to say that Williams was his buddy. (By the way, that was part of the defense at the trial. The catch there was the testimony of Williams that the whole relationship was strictly "business as usual.")
Elaine in Roanoke :: New Ethics Law: Loophole Piled on Loophole
How about all of Maureen's fancy clothes? The same gift-from-friend loophole applies here, one adding up to about $20,000 in her case. What about the $15,000 for wedding catering for daughter Cailin McDonnell? That is an "intangible" gift. Under the new law, there is no limit on such gifts to officials or their immediate family, so there would be no need for Cailin to report it because the law defines immediate family as only a spouse or child under 18 living at home. Cailin is an adult, so the gift is exempted from reporting. Plus, the catering is a legal twofer because Cailin could claim Williams was a "personal friend." Oh, and all those family vacations worth thousands also could be just "personal friend" gifts under the new law.Next come the loopholes in the new ethics law that make those pesky, huge loans to Maureen and Bob still legal.
Under the new law, the loan of $50,000 to Maureen would have to the reported as being from Jonnie Williams, but its value would be listed as $5,001 to $50,000, making it impossible for voters to gauge the importance of it. The $70,000 to McDonnell and his sister could well escape reporting altogether because it was made to a business partnership, not just to the governor.
Finally, we come to the stock that the McDonnells bought and then sold in December of one year, only to repurchase the same stock in January of the next year to avoid reporting ownership. Conveniently, the new law makes people report stock owned at two different times in the same calendar year, thus it would still enable someone like McDonnell to continue to hide a stock purchase by using the same dodge he did.
Casey's conclusion is that the legislature has done nothing to insure that some future office holder couldn't do just what Bob and Maureen McDonnell did. Indeed, I believe the new ethics law is simply another scam perpetrated by politicians who evidently worked very diligently to make sure that none of them would have to give up any of the perks that people shower on them when trying to buy their offices.
It's "still the same old story" in the Old Dominion, but it's not "a fight for love and glory." It's just another way Virginia can claim that we have no political corruption. Nothing that politicians do here if they are careful enough to follow the loopholes built into the ethics law is illegal.  Ipso facto, no matter what you do there is no crime. The status quo remains.

"Embrace GOP positions, snub base...Lose elections anyway"

I think Miles pretty much nails it with this tweet. Here are just a few examples, off the top of my head, who have done what Miles describes (and lost anyway) over the past few years in Virginia.*Creigh Deeds 2005 (ran as a conservative Democrat against Bob McDonnell, only got a few more votes than Leslie Byrne, who ran as a proud, forceful progressive)
*Creigh Deeds 2009 (the whole theory by the so-called "experts" was that a more conservative Democrat from a rural area would have more appeal to independents, "moderates," blah blah blah. So much for THAT theory!)
*Jody Wagner 2009 (although she certainly did everything Miles talks about - she even agreed to meet with progressives, LGBT activists and environmentalists who were dismayed by her campaign - in fairness she had no chance given the wipeout at the top of the ticket)
*Glenn Nye 2010 (ran to the right, ran away from the Democratic Party, lost by 11 points to Scott Rigell, while Tom Perriello - who ran as a strong Democrat, proud of his values - only lost by 4 points in as tough or tougher a district)
*Rick Boucher 2010 (He gave coal companies everything they asked for. He lost anyway.)
*Ward Armstrong 2011 (As Miles wrote on November 9, 2011, "As for me, what I'll remember most about the 2011 election cycle is this ad from House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong trashing just about everything Democrats believe in. The leader of House Democrats - as chosen by his fellow House Democrats - distances himself from President Obama, a woman's right to choose, reasonable gun safety regulations, and limits on air pollution - all in one ad.")
*Paul Hirschbiel 2012 (classic conservadem campaign, classic results, as he lost by 8 points to Scott Rigell while Tim Kaine AND Barack Obama were winning that district)
(Honorable mention: Wayne Powell 2012 would have lost to Eric Can'tor anyway, but running to the right certainly didn't help him any.)
*Mike Hymes 2014 (Classic example; this one wasted something approaching a million bucks to get 9,264 votes - around $100 per Hymes voter, many of whom would have turned out with a simple notice that there was an election, so it's actually a lot worse than that - and lose by 28 percentage points, in addition to running away from Democratic values on issue after issue - woohoo!)
(Honorable mention: Lynwood Lewis 2014 - he came within 11 votes of losing a race he was supposed to win easily, after running to the right, dissing/ignoring the "base," etc.)
Sensing a pattern here?  

Audio: E.W. Jackson Says Nobody's Going to Change Ferguson "folks' minds by facts"

Friday, August 29, 2014

A few...uh, "interesting" observations from our old pal, theocratic bigot and all-around extremist nutjob E.W. Jackson from his trip to Ferguson, Missouri.*"Don't let...Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons of the world come in and turn it into something that the people of that community kind of lose control of, and...the New Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam they come in and stoke all of this violence and hatred..."
*"If this police officer is not indicted...and convicted, you're going to see more violence in Ferguson...could spark violence across the country."
*"I don't think anybody who...feels angry and that something unjust happened, I don't think they care what the facts are. I think they know two things. They know he (Michael brown) was shot six times and they know that he was unarmed. And they don't care about the rest, they don't care that it was a 6 foot 4 young man weighing 290 pounds coming up against about a 150-pound officer. They don't care that the police officer may have already been injured in a confrontation. They don't care that he might have been running at the police officer. In other words, it's not going to matter to these folks what facts come out; they know he was shot six times, they know he was unarmed, and as far as they are concerned, there is absolutely no justification for it and the police officer ought to go to jail. So you're not going to change those folks' minds by facts."
*"When you stand up and you create the cry that's been created...'hands up, don't shoot'...This is supposed to be a depiction of what happenedbetween Michael Brown and Officer Wilson, that Michael Brown put his hands up and said 'don't shoot' and Officer Wilson just gunned him down in cold blood. So when you perpetrate that sort of picture of what took place, and then you say, as Al Sharpton said at the funeral, you know, 'America's got a problem'...'no justice no peace' [Jackson snickers/laughs], you know, we're not getting justice so there's not going to be peace. And you get the Nation of Islam in there - which we know has a reputation for being racially divisive, hateful, mean, horrible..."
*"The reality is Ferguson has no military equipment; I mean, that was one of the myths that got debunked. The only think Ferguson has is two non-working helicopters [laughs] that were donated several years ago. Everything else they have is standard police equipment that the police department itself went out and bought..."
*Al Sharpton "implied that millions were being spent to arm the police as if they were a Gestapo, and no money was being spent on education, which we know is also not true..."
In sum, Jackson perpetuates the far-from-proven/heavily-biased Fox News/Rush Limbaugh narrative of what happened in Ferguson all the way (e.g., that Michael Brown was dangerous because he was a big guy, that he might have injured the much-smaller officer, etc.). He denigrates the residents of Ferguson, suggesting that they're not going to listen to any facts and are just riled up (in part, supposedly, by outside agitators like the "Nation of Islam" - natch). He mocks the "hands up don't shoot" chant by protestors. He also strangely claims that all the military equipment we saw with our own eyes on numerous news reports was apparently a figment of everyone's imagination. Of course, no interview with a right-wingnut like Jackson would be complete without a reference to the Gestapo. Anyway, just another day in the life of E.W. Jackson, who a year ago today was coming down the home stretch of his run for Lt. Governor of Virginia as - and this can't be emphasized enough or too often - the Republican Party of Virginia's freakin' nominee! Amazing.

Top Political Analyst: Barbara Comstock "Uniquely Polarizing"

Given how "broken" Congress is, overwhelmingly because the extremist Tea Partiers and Tea Party Republicans have made it that way, the LAST thing we need is yet another Tea Party Republican who one of the top political analysts in America calls - and for VERY good reason, given her history of obsessive persecution of the Clintons, etc. - "uniquely polarizing." Just say "no" to Barbara Comstock and her friends Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Tom DeLay, the Koch brothers, Sean Hannity (see photo below) Willard "Mitt"/"Etch-a-Sketch" Romney (ditto), etc.

Some Reading for Gov. McAuliffe BEFORE Dan Snyder Comes Calling for Corporate Welfare

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It's now crystal clear that billionaire R**skins owner Dan Snyder has kicked off the bidding war von which jurisdiction (Maryland? DC? Virginia?) will offer the most taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to build his super-rich franchise a new stadium. It's also becoming more apparent why Gov. McAuliffe has been so reluctant to weigh in on the racist (or not, if you buy the R**skins' so-called "arguments" that it really isn't racist) team name issue. Anyway, as the process begins to figure out which suckers will cough up the most hard-earned, and much-needed-for-other-uses tax money so that mega-rich Republican Dan Snyder can get even mega-RICHER than he already is, here's some reading material for Gov. McAuliffe to check out -- BEFORE Dannyboy comes a callin'.1. First, some history from the last time (1992) a rich R**skins owner (Jack Kent Cooke in that case) came looking for taxpayer handouts from a Virginia governor (L. Douglas Wilder in that case). In particular, note: "Both Wilder and Cooke have said in recent days that they were surprised by the vehemence of the opposition to Potomac Yard and that they had assumed most Virginians would be excited about the prospect of the Redskins playing in the state. It was a pivotal miscalculation, especially during a time when the state government had gone through two years of budget cuts. Cooke would have built the $160 million stadium himself, but many thought the $130 million state subsidy for site improvements was unjustified." Is history about to repeat itself? Stay tuned!
2. Now, some economics. How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers ("Taxpayers fund the stadiums, antitrust law doesn't apply to broadcast deals, the league enjoys nonprofit status, and Commissioner Roger Goodell makes $30 million a year. It's time to stop the public giveaways to America's richest sports league-and to the feudal lords who own its teams.")
3. More economics. Football: A Waste of Taxpayers' Money: Why are we subsidizing such a hugely profitable sport?  ("...forget about GM and Chrysler, Solyndra, or even cowboy poetry readings. Fact is, nothing is more profitable, more popular, and more on the public teat than good old American football. That's right. You, dear taxpayer, are footing the bill for football through an outrageous series of giveaways to billionaire team owners and public universities that put pigskin before sheepskin."
4. Here's How The NFL Makes A Killing Off Of Taxpayers (see infographic above)
5. If You Build It, They Might Not Come: The Risky Economics of Sports Stadiums ("Time after time, politicians wary of letting a local franchise relocate -- as the NBA's Seattle Supersonics did, to Oklahoma City before the 2008-2009 season -- approve public funds, selling the stadiums as public works projects that will boost the local economy and provide a windfall of growth. However, according to leading sports economists, stadiums and arenas rarely bring about the promised prosperity, and instead leave cities and states mired in debt that they can't pay back before the franchise comes calling for more.")
6. Finally, just to demonstrate that it's not only progressives who oppose taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to wealthy sports owners, it's also the freakin' Koch brothers! ("So we have to ask - is giving handouts to professional sports teams a responsible use of tax dollars or is this money better spent somewhere else?  The answer seems clear. Our elected officials need to stand up for the taxpayers and stop giving out taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to professional sports teams."). Of course, the Koch brothers are wild hypocrites, as they LOVE corporate welfare for themselves, but the point is that this is NOT a left-right issue. To the contrary, this is an issue that everyone who pays taxes or lives in the state should agree on: it's a terrible idea to use our scarce tax dollars (which should be used for education, transportation, cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, retrofitting our buildings for energy efficiency and solar panels, etc.) to subsidize a wealthy, coddled, monopolistic bunch of billionaires, especially when it's almost certain that we won't get any return on our investment and ESPECIALLY at a time when we're running major budget deficits. So, Gov. McAuliffe, when Danny Boy Snyder comes a callin', all you have to do is very simply just say "no." You can slam the door in his face for dramatic effect (and bonus points) if you're so inclined. :)

Erick Erickson: Screw Our Children, I Want Cheap Coal Now

by Miles Grant

Flooding Danube"Let the seas rise. Let the wind blow." That's top Republican commentator Erick Erickson's position on climate change. I would say he's a "conservative" commentator, but there's absolutely nothing conservative about wanting to gas up your SUV cheaply now and while leaving the pollution bill for future generations to pay. It's pure selfishness - "I've got mine so screw you" presented as profound political philosophy.Erickson may just be one blogger, but here he gets to the core motivations of today's Congressional Republican leadership - America isn't worth investing in. Energy? Just give me what's cheapest today - if we need alternatives tomorrow, someone else can spend the money on it. Education? If my family needs that, I can pay to send my children to private school, but I won't volunteer a dime in additional taxes to improve our community. The environment? I can buy home air filters and bottled water - if you can't, too bad for you & yours.
"We are all going to die," Erickson cynically concludes. "Just not today." And by then, it'll be up to our children and grandchildren to build massive hurricane barriers outside every East Coast city to keep out the rising seas and monster storms as the bill comes due for all that cheap coal, oil and fracked gas.

If You Can't Defend McDonnell, Attack the Messenger

Monday, August 25, 2014

090601 Bob McDonnell photo 090601BobMcDonnell.jpgWhat we have here, is the failure of circumspection so common among neo-conservatives. The "here" are the personal attacks resulting from yesterday's post about former Governor McDonnell's accumulating and compounding hypocrisy. Somehow facts and evidence are irrelevant in the neo-conservative world unless they support your position.It must be painful to have fallen for the original McDonnell shtick hook, line and sinker. Accepting this new fiction of a defense with all its twists, turns, and subplots as relief for the cognitive dissonance caused by recent revelations provides relief. Then someone points out the concurrent serial hypocrisy of McDonnell embracing a priest who casually violated his vow of celibacy with another man; behaviors McDonnell has blatantly condemned as antithetical to his core conservatism. This resonates and echoes hypocrisy. There is no argument that can refute the blatant self-serving behavior of their fallen hero, so resort to personal attacks.
Suddenly the raw truth of the McDonnell formula for defense being revealed is turned on its head and becomes an attack by the left on homosexuals. That is some desperation. This is just another brick in the wall McDonnell is building to defend himself. And we are cautioned that if we want to sway public opinion we need to make nice. Part of one rant is not only unintelligible but also contains utter nonsense:

"But it does show you an insight into the liberal extremist mind. Democrat (sic) bloggers, especially Lowly (sic), must not really like gay people. They need their votes, and the fact that they don't like religion makes gay people social "brothers in arms" with hatemongers like Lowly (sic), but in reality they only use gay people to shore up their own power."
Where to start?  
Dan Sullivan :: If You Can't Defend McDonnell, Attack the Messenger
Liberal extremist mind...if he is pointing that at Lowell, he doesn't know Lowell at all. Lowell and I disagree from time to time, but never because he is so far left. Lowell, unlike the neos, is a reluctant pragmatist... Lowell must not like gay people? Really? Let's see some evidence other than Brian Kirwin's desperate circular critique... "(Democratic bloggers) need their votes?" Looking for where those get cast for bloggers... "(Gays) don't like religion?" Oh...I get it! In Brian's world, gays are all soulless heathens and have that in common with all their social "brothers in arms." Now I have to wonder about the Republican gay community with whom Brian associates. In my experience, there are more religions that reject gays than gays that reject religion.I have spent the better part of the last six months trying to better understand the dynamics of power and the use of sex to enforce it as part of a project that addresses the issues in the military. Part of what I have observed during this journey is that the third rail of neo-conservatism is sexual identity. It is imperative that these fellows walk tall and wield a big "stick" or, sans that, open carry. When either of those two tools is used with a woman, the neos are confident they are real men. Women who accept that subservience are allowed to believe they are peers and to pretend such. That gives you a measure of neo-conservative women.
Frankly it appears that the neos simply lose their minds in any discussion that involves non-traditional gender and sex roles. All of what I've read from the right in response to Lowell's post has been defensive and angry. But his critics can't bring themselves to address the McDonnell reality directly. Cowardice and fear. Fear about who they are, who they are among, and who they've fallen for. These aren't true conservatives; these are reactionaries. I long for actual conservative intellectuals who will call out their own malfeasants. 

Video: Jim Webb Interview in Iowa Fuels 2016 Presidential Talk

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fascinating interview with Jim Webb by Iowa Press (yes, Webb's in Iowa...hmmm) a bit earlier today; here are a few key quotes: *Asked if he's running for President in 2016, Webb says we're in a "transitional period in the country," that we "need to have a strong debate inside the Democratic Party and between the two parties" about where we need to go, and that "I'm curious about the political future of the Democratic Party and of our country." *Asked how he feels about Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, Webb says "I think there’s time to have that discussion later." When pressed by a reporter, "Why not now?", Webb responds, "It would probably take up the whole show.” *Webb reiterates his three themes from 2006, emphasizes "economic fairness and social justice" and how "the stock market has almost tripled since March 2009" but "real income for workers actually has decreased in the same period." Webb says things are not going well for working people in this country, and the "solution for that is only going to come from the Democratic Party." *Webb says he doesn't believe the phrase "don't do stupid stuff" is a fair characterization of the Obama Administration foreign policy, that "it's a very complicated world right now," that the "pivot" to Asia for instance was "healthy" and "good." Webb also praises the Obama Administration for the "careful way" it's approached the Ukraine situation. *Webb isn't a fan of the administration's Middle East policy and points his finger at Hillary Clinton. “I can’t understand why people would have supported the notion of arming certain groups inside Syria a couple of years ago...I say that not only as someone who has spent a lot of time working on foreign policy, but as a journalist in Beirut in 1983 when the word I got from Marines on the ground was: 'Never get involved in a five-sided argument.'" *On Iraq, Webb says "we do not belong as an occupying power in that part of the world...We opened up Pandora's Box when we invaded Iraq...[going into Iraq] unleashed this sectarian violence." Webb says we should be extremely careful in differentiating between terrorism and Sunni animosities towards the government in Iraq. *"We need to realign our military based on the articulation of national strategy...where our strategic needs are." *Asked about not running for reelection in 2012 but putting his name out there for president in 2016, Webb says "I was raised to lead," and that stepping away from a paralyzed Senate "doesn't mean that I'm stepping away from public service." *On Ferguson, Webb says it's very difficult to have an "open and frank discussion." He adds that Democrats should be "very careful about making judgements right now," that we first need to get "all the facts on the table" about what exactly happened. Webb adds that it's "unfortunate that the appearance anyway of sort of a militaristic presence among our members of the police is not a good signal to be sending at an emotional time." *When asked if he could see himself running in the Iowa caucuses, Webb responded, "I really have enjoyed the past few days I've been here" and laughed. He says he hopes that he'll be coming back to Iowa frequently.

Meet the (Gay) Priest that Homophobic Hypocrite Bob McDonnell is Now Living With

The following story most definitely falls into the "you can't make this s*** up" category. So, you know how Bob McDonnell, now on trial for corruption as governor (and busy throwing his wife under the bus while rolling back and forth over her a few times, proving he's a complete cad as well as a sleazeball), has moved out of his home with Maureen and moved in with a priest (Rev. Wayne Ball of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Richmond)? Well, how about we meet the good Reverend (note: thanks to Ben "Not Larry Sabato" Tribbett for the tip on this one, since he really broke the story).Yeah, it's this same guy.
The Rev. Wayne L. Ball, a Norfolk priest who pleaded guilty late last year to a misdemeanor sex offense, has been reassigned to St. John's Catholic Church in Highland Springs, according to The Catholic Virginian, a biweekly diocesan newspaper. The move is effective June 2.Ball, 42, has served as pastor of Norfolk's Holy Trinity Catholic Church since 2000. The current pastor at St. John's, the Rev. David V. McGuire, will replace Ball at Holy Trinity.
In December, Ball pleaded guilty in Norfolk General District Court to the misdemeanor charge of frequenting a bawdy place. Norfolk police arrested Ball and a 41-year-old Richmond man on the night before Thanksgiving in a parked car in a Norfolk park. The judge continued Ball's case until July 8 and will dismiss the charge if the priest has no further criminal problems and completes 80 hours of community service by June 3. The man in the car with Ball received a similar deal.
Ball will be the second Catholic priest who recently pleaded guilty to a sex crime to serve at St. John's in Highland Springs.
In February, the Rev. John P. Blankenship, who served at St. John's from 1973 to 1977, pleaded guilty in Prince George County to four counts of sodomy. The charges stemmed from incidents that occurred after Blankenship's time at St. John's.
Look, it should go without saying that I have no problem with priests -- or any other religious officials, or anyone else -- being gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, etc. What I DO have a problem with is massive hypocrisy among politicians, such as a guy who richly earned the nickname "Taliban Bob" for his viciously anti-gay rhetoric and actions hounding/harassing LGBT people (not to mention his right-wingnut, theocratic, holier-than-thou, Pat Robertson-trained moralizing about what we all should or should not be doing in the privacy of our own bedrooms; not to mention the fact that when McDonnell himself wasasked by reporters if HE had ever violated Virginia's "crimes against nature" laws, he said "not that I can recall").  Anyway, this is the priest - Wayne Ball - who "Homophobe Bob" McDonnell is now living with in a rectory in Richmond. Just when you thought this trial couldn't any more soap opera-ish or bizarre...
P.S. Again, let me just emphasize that I don't have any problem whatsoever with Rev. Ball being gay. I DO have a problem with Bob McDonnell spending his career telling everybody what's right and wrong sexually as well as who they can and can't marry; voting for anti-gay legislation; and generally being a homophobic jerk; and then moving in with a gay priest after moving out with his wife Maureen. Holy hypocrisy alert, Batman!

Republican Virginia House Speaker Howell Argues Tax Cuts, Reduced Federal Spending Are...Bad?!?

Friday, August 22, 2014

So, let's get this straight. According to conservative Republican Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell, Virginia's fiscal problems are the result of repeated tax cuts. Seriously, check out his Facebook post below, which claims that Virginia's $2.4 billion revenue shortfall is the result of: a) "Obama's tax policies" (e.g., extending most of the Bush tax cuts, repeatedly CUTTING taxes for the overwhelming majority of Americans (even right-leaning PolitiFact says that Obama has "pursued broad-based tax cuts for the middle class and small businesses"); and b) "declining federal spending" (which is party overwhelmingly supports).Meanwhile, Howell refuses to take around $3.5-$4.5 million a DAY in federal funding that comes with expanding Medicaid in Virginia. He also supported cutting Virginia's estate tax, which has cost us around $140 million a year for the past 8 years or so, for a loss to the budget (in order to benefit a few hundred super-rich families) of around $1 billion (and counting).
Instead, you know what Howell means by his Orwellian Newspeak garbage about "setting priorities and making tough decisions": slashing funding for those who need it most, for education, for transportation, for environmental protection, you name it, all while continuing to coddle wealthy and powerful Virginia individuals and (of course) the corporations that have bought and paid for Howell et al's loyal service.
Message to Gov. McAuliffe: GET YOUR VETO PEN READY! (actually, get a few dozen of them, because you are going to have to use them a lot in 2015, 2016 and 2017).
P.S. Of course, it always makes me smile to see a supposed conservative Republican repudiate his party's "supply side" (aka "voodoo economics") mantra that tax cuts don't lead to deficits (because they supposedly stimulate SO much economic activity that it more than makes up from the lost revenues due to lower rates). I wonder if Howell even realizes he just did that.  

Can Virginia Democrats Take Back the State Senate in 2015?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

With the loss, as most of us (at least those of us not named "Dick Saslaw") had fully expected, of former Sen. Phil Puckett's seat in the special election Tuesday, Democrats are now left in a 21-18 hole (should be 21-19 after former Sen. Henry Marsh's seat is filled in November). I've been trying to figure out what our chances are for picking up a seat or two next year and retaking control of the Senate. I put together the following graph (click to "embiggen"), which lists all 40 seats by descending order of Mark Herring's percentage in the 2013 Attorney General election. The reason I went with Herring and not McAuliffe or Northam is that McAuliffe was in a three-way race, so that messes up the percentages; and of course Northam's percentage was artificially inflated (upwards) by the presence of bat****-crazy, theocratic bigot E.W. Jackson on the Republican side in the LG race. Anyway, check out the graph, followed by a few thoughts by yours truly.First off, notice that most Republican Senators should be safe for 2015, as all of them except for Sen. John Watkins are in districts won by Mark Obenshain in 2013. In Watkins' case, it's a theoretically competitive district, but Watkins is an incumbent and will presumably be tough to beat. As for Jackson-level-crazy Dick Black, he's in a district that Mark Herring almost won, so that's one we should definitely target. We might want to take shots at Bryce Reeves and Frank Wagner as well, although those will be tough.
Of course, to do any of these things we're going to need big-time financial resources, which means that Gov. McAuliffe will have to kick into all-out fundraising mode shortly. Is he up for that? Based on what I've been hearing, the answer is "not particularly," but hopefully that will change, especially when the reality hits home that without Democratic control of either the Senate or House of Delegates, it will be extremely difficult for Gov. McAuliffe to accomplish anything major the rest of his term (at least anything major that requires the General Assembly's cooperation).
Another possibility is that there are strong Tea Party challenges to incumbent Republican Senators like John Watkins, who sponsored the "Marketplace Virginia" Medicaid expansion compromise (the two other Republican Senators who supported "Marketplace Virginia" were Walter Stosch and Emmett Hanger, but those districts are very "red"). If Republicans are stupid enough to nominate a Tea Partier over Watkins, we should most definitely have a chance of picking up Watkins' district (the 10th).
Of course, Democrats will also have to defend all of OUR vulnerable seats, including potentially the 29th (Chuck Colgan will be retiring) and the 6th (a 53% Herring district, won by Lynwood Lewis in a 1/7/14 special election by just 11 votes), and possibly others depending on retirements, Republican recruitment, etc.
Bottom line: YES, it's possible we can take back the State Senate next year, but it won't be easy, especially given that 2015 will mark the lowest voter turnout of the four-year cycle in Virginia, and the one in which Democratic turnout will probably be at its rock bottom both in absolute and relative terms.

Winners and Losers: Virginia Special Elections, August 2014 Edition

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Here are a few winners and losers from the 2014 Virginia primary election cycle that I believe are worth highlighting. As always, this list isn't meant to be comprehensive - just a few that jumped out at me - so please add winners and losers of your own in the comments section. Thanks.WINNERS
1. Fairfax County and Arlington County Democratic Committees: Great job by these two committees on the 48th House of Delegates race all around -- including having just 6 days to organize a well-run caucus, with Instant Runoff Voting no less and a debate, followed by a strong general election campaign in the "dog days" of August, when many people are at the beach or getting ready to send their kids back to school. Nice job by everyone involved, including of course ACDC Chair Kip Malinosky, FCDC Chair Sue Langley and  Dranesville District Democratic Committee Chair Greg Brandon.
2. Rip Sullivan's campaign team: Or should I say Patrick Hope's former campaign team (in his run for the 8th CD Democratic nomination this past spring, in which he finished second to overwhelming favorite Don Beyer)? Great job by campaign manager Jarrod Nagurka, widely touted as a rising star of Democratic politics; finance director Kate Peterson; and the rest of the team (e.g., the field director, Tucker Cavanagh, whose previous experience was in Maryland, but who learned the Virginia 48th district quickly). Also, I've been critical of the Chadderdon Group's work in the past, but their direct mail program for Rip Sullivan appears to have been effective in this race.
3. House Democratic Caucus: Holding two seats in deep-blue districts shouldn't be particular cause for celebration, but given the weird timing and the nature of special elections, Republicans thought they might have a shot at the
48th. So much for that theory. The House Democratic Caucus leadership - Dave Toscano in particular - has to be smiling right now.
4. Columbia Pike streetcar: Republican candidate Dave Foster basically ran on one issue, his rabid opposition to the Columbia Pike streetcar, and it didn't appear to gain any traction at all. Perhaps this will continue to be a big issue at the County Board level, but based on this election, it appears that passions may have cooled somewhat, that factual information has finally started to get out and counter the reams of misinformation and disinformation spewed out there by streetcar opponents, and that the county's doing a better job of explaining the myriad benefits of this project to Arlington (e.g., the return on investment will far more than pay for the project, providing increased money for schools and other "core services").
5. Arlington Democratic County Board nominee Alan Howze: Item #4 bodes well for Alan Howze this November. It may be that the call for a referendum on the streetcar, while in my view really stupid policywise, has been smart politics in terms of defusing the issue. We'll see in November, but Alan Howze must be feeling a bit better this morning (come to think of it, maybe add Arlington County Board members Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes, both of whom will be on the ballot next year and both of whom support the streetcar, to this list?)
6. Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment: Yep, Tommy Norment will now be Senate Majority leader, potentially for a long while. It's awful for Virginia, of course, but it doesn't change the fact that Norment was a big winner last night.
7. The Democrats' urban/suburban/exurban strategy: While Democrats continue to flounder in rural Virginia, for whatever reason(s) - and after the loss of the 38th Senate District last night, we're just about a pure urban/suburban/exurban party at this point - the strategy of Democrats focusing on where the population is growing, the NOVA-Richmond-Hampton Roads "triangle - seems to be more applicable than ever. Given that there are something like 17 or 18 House of Delegates districts won by Obama and/or Kaine, but currently held by Republicans, and that these are overwhelmingly in suburban/exurban areas, how about we focus on getting our voters out THERE in 2015 and beyond, and stop wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to win districts that, at this point, are simply unwinnable? On the positive side, the path back to a majority in the House of Delegates runs through districts like Barbara Comstock's, Tom Rust's, Dave Albo's, Scott Lingamfelter's, Tag Greason's, David Yancey's, David Ramadan's, Bob Marshall's, Rich Anderson's, Jackson Miller's, and other suburban/exurban districts. Let's get to work on those and stop screwing around with Romney/Cuccinelli districts.
8. VPAP: Great job last night reporting election results in a timely and highly informative (maps included) way. As far as I can determine, VPAP is the best site in the country for election results, hands down. The only glitch, and it probably wasn't VPAP's fault, was misreporting from the Kirby precinct in Fairfax County, which apparently flipped its numbers between Dave Foster (who actually lost that precinct, along with every other precinct), and Rip Sullivan (who won every precinct).  

1. Arlington and Fairfax Republicans: If they ever had a chance to pick up a Democratic seat in the House of Delegates, it would have been in a special election in the middle of August with a supposed "moderate" Republican and former Arlington School Board member (ergo, higher name ID than Rip Sullivan) like Dave Foster. In the end, it wasn't even close, as Sullivan romped 62%-38%, with about 9,600 votes cast.2. Dick Saslaw/Senate Democratic Caucus: Where to even begin on this one? How about back in June, when I first pointed out that the 38th State Senate district was a 2:1 Cooch/Jackson/Obenshain district, and that perhaps Democrats might be wiser to save their resources for 2015, when the entire State Senate will be on the ballot, and when Democrats will need an all-out effort to a) hold what we've got; and b) pick up a seat (or two?) to take back control of the upper chamber? I  was basically told that I was wrong, that we had a decent chance (I even heard numerous rumors from various sources of "polls" that supposedly showed Hymes down just 5 points or whatever; I never believed them for a minute), and that regardless we "had to" fight for this seat. Of course, nobody had a serious response to my point about the district's hard-"red" character, nor did they have a serious response to the fact that just last year, Democrats didn't contest this State Senate special election. So why did we "have to" contest this one exactly if we didn't contest that one? Who the heck knows (other than Dick Saslaw's desperation to be Majority Leader again)? Even worse, Senate Democrats poured half a MILLION dollars into this hopeless cause, for god knows what reason (note: the DPVA chipped in another $326k - ugh). Then the race itself was a fiasco, fighting a doomed battle on Republican turf -- who was more pro-gun and pro-coal -- that, regardless of the merits, Democrats could never win. Instead, Democrats should have quickly moved the debate to broader issues affecting the district - education, health care, the economy, transportation, etc. But they didn't. Just a #FAIL in every way, from beginning to end, top to bottom. As several of us were discussing last night at Rip Sullivan's victory party, Dick Saslaw has now managed to lose the State Senate despite the fact that these are the districts he wanted and he drew. Saslaw's also been continually out-maneuvered, in fight after fight, by the Republicans. Seriously, why hasn't this guy retired yet or been forced out of leadership by his colleagues for complete incompetence (not to mention that when he opens his mouth, you never know what cringe-inducing embarrassment will spew forth).
3. Gov. Terry McAuliffe: Talking to a bunch of people last night at Rip Sullivan's victory party, none of us could figure out how McAuliffe would get anything done without the State Senate, the House of Delegates, or any serious prospect of regaining them in the near future. The feeling seemed to be that McAuliffe needs to go into fundraising and campaign mode, big time, but that he doesn't want to do that. In my view, that's the only way to go, as McAuliffe needs help in the legislature if he wants to be a consequential governor on a whole host of issues. Right now, he doesn't have it.
4. Former Sen. Phil Puckett: Just wanted to put his name on here so I could bash him again. In sum, he handed Republicans the Senate majority on a silver platter in exchange for promises of jobs for himself and his daughter, but ended up (at least so far) with nothing but ignominy. Heckuva job.
5. 38th State Senate District: The people of this district were a huge loser last night, yet again voting strongly against their own self interest - first and foremost, Medicaid expansion, but really on a whole host of issues. It's just mind boggling that people would vote AGAINST getting their own money back to pay for expanded health care that they desperately need, but there you have it - democracy at its finest. Ugh.
6. Mike Hymes' Campaign: Just pathetic on every level. Like, who the hell did the polling for this race? Whoever it was, they apparently had no clue whatsoever what they are doing, and/or they were just flat-out lying that the race was within reach for Hymes. Remember, this is a race that Hymes ended up losing by 27 POINTS (!!!), even though he was everything we're told we "needed" in that district: a rabidly pro-coal, pro-gun, conservative Democrat in Name Only (DINO). Yeah, that strategy worked out just greeeeeaaaaat, really motivated Democrats to turn out in droves...NOT!!! Meanwhile, whose brilliant idea was it to spend much of the race arguing about what exactly Hymes said - or didn't say - about guns? Did anyone seriously think that would be a winner in this campaign? How about a crisp response immediately following the Republican attack on Hymes in the first place, instead of...basically no response at all for weeks? Did I mention how pathetic this campaign was?
7. The Democratic Party in Rural Virginia: It wasn't looking good before last night, and it's really not looking good after last night. See item #7 in the "Winners" list above for more on what to do about this situation.
8. Turnout in the 90th district: Only 2,100 voters managed to drag themselves to the polls in the 90th House of Delegates district yesterday, less than one-fourth the 9,600 voters (still a pitifully low number, but a lot better than 2,100!) who cast ballots in the 48th district, which is about the same population as the 90th. Sure, the race was a foregone conclusion in an overwhelmingly Democratic district, but still, call me old fashioned, but my belief is that voting is a precious right and obligation of all Americans, and I'm a firm believer we should never fail to exercise that right.
9. Dave Foster's statewide political future. There goes this "shape shifter"'s argument that he's a "moderate" who can win in blue parts of Virginia. And no way in hell are Republicans ever going to believe him that he's a hard-core right wingnut (even though in many ways he is). The only other thing I can think of for Foster would be to try and run in 2015 as an "independent" candidate for County Board. But after last night's abysmal performance, it's hard to believe that Arlington Republicans will be beating a path to his door...

Virginia Election Results Thread: SD-38; HD-48; HD-90

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Polls are now closed (although anyone waiting in line can vote). As usual, see VPAPand the State Board of Elections page for election results.UPDATE 9:25 pm: Just got back from Rip Sullivan's victory party, where he bought everyone a round of beer. Is Rip going to be a great delegate or what? :) Meanwhile, it turns out that there was an error on VPAP earlier, and Rip Sullivan actually won every single precinct in the 48th districdt, romping over Dave Foster by a 62%-38% blowout margin. Hopefully, that marks the end of Foster trying to make the argument that he can win in blue areas of the state, but we'll see...
UPDATE 8:03 pm: With 86% of the precincts counted, it's Chafin 61%-Hymes 33%. With 72% of precincts counted, it's Sullivan 59%-Foster 41% (still only 1 precinct won by too many if you ask me, but what the heck, I'll take it). And with 73% of precincts counted, it's Lindsey 84%-Calabrese 16%. in addition to Delegate-elect Lindsey, congratulations to Delegate-elect Sullivan!
UPDATE 7:49 pm: With 64% of precincts reporting in the 48th, Dave Foster has unfortunately won one - Kirby precinct in Fairfax County. Still, I'll take a 60%-40% lead any day. :) Again, congratulations to Delegate-elect Joe Lindsey in the 80th, who has over 84% of the vote. As for the Virginia Democratic Senate caucus' gamble on the 38th Senate district, to put it mildly it didn't pay off, with Senator-elect Chafin up by 29 percentage points with 76% of precincts reporting. As I said a million times, we should focus our time, energy and resources on 2015...
UPDATE 7:38 pm: By the way, I asked Ben "Not Larry Sabato" Tribbett late this afternoon for his predictions. He said 61%-39% Sullivan and 62%-38% Chafin. Right now it's 62%-38% Sullivan (with 44% of precincts counted) and 62%-32% Chafin (with 74% of precincts counted). Not too shabby!
UPDATE 7:35 pm: A few more from the Arlington elections office -- Cherrydale: @DaveFosterVA 139 @RipSullivan48 302, Madison: @DaveFosterVA  371 @RipSullivan48  406; Rosslyn: @DaveFosterVA 59 @RipSullivan48 126; Dawson Terrace: @DaveFosterVA 49 @RipSullivan48 103; Arlington Absentee: @DaveFosterVA 312 @RipSullivan48 678.
UPDATE 7:32 pm: Looking good for Democrat Rip Sullivan in the 48th House of Delegates district and for Democrat Joe Lindsey in the 90th House of Delegates district. With 7 of 25 precincts reporting, Sullivan's ahead 60%-40%. With 27% of precincts reporting, Lindsey's ahead 89%-11%. Congratulations to Delegate-elect Lindsey! As for Foster, he hasn't won a precinct yet; hopefully that trend will continue and Sullivan will hold his 20-point margin or increase it.
UPDATE 7:30 pm: With 72 of 120 precincts counted in the 38th Senate district, Republican Ben Chafin leads by a huge margin, 10,739 (61.2%) to just 5,638 (32.1%) for Democrat Mike Hymes. So why did Democrats pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into this 2:1 Cooch/Jackson/Obenshain district? I couldn't figure it out then, and I sure can't figure it out now.
UPDATE 7:23 pm: In Senate District 38, VPAP has it at Chafin 6,905 (62.12%)-Hymes 3,337 (30.02%)-Mullins 868 (7.81%) with 45 of 120 precincts counted. Pretty much over, barring a miraculous comeback by Hymes.
UPDATE 7:22 pm: According to the Arlington County Elections Board Twitter feed, Rip Sullivan beat Dave Foster in Thrifton precinct 415-315, in Marshall precinct 337-211, in Wilson precinct 129-86, and in Crystal Plaza precinct 48-37. Looking good for Rip (especially when you consider that his home base is in Dranesville/McLean, while Foster's is in Arlington.
UPDATE 7:16 pm: Del. Greg Habeeb (@GregHabeeb) tweets, "First precinct reports I'm hearing from the Senate Special Election sound VERY promising." Habeeb's a Republican, by the way, so that's not good news if you're on the "blue team."

Other Utilities, States Start to Adapt; Dominion Power Clings to Dying, Top-Down Business Model

Monday, August 18, 2014

Mon Aug 18, 2014 at 16:45:35 PM EDT

I received an email earlier today from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, commenting on a report that Dominion Virginia Power "is considering building 220 megawatts of solar energy in Virginia over five years starting in 2017." According to CCAN, "If pursued, this welcome announcement would likely represent a change in course from Dominion's latest 15-year energy plan proposed to Virginia's State Corporation Commission, which committed the company to increasing the proportion of clean energy in its mix by less than one percent over 15 years." Here's the rest of CCAN's statement, from Virginia Policy Director Dawone Robinson, followed by a few thoughts from yours truly.
This is Dominion's first-ever announced plan for building utility-scale solar power in Virginia, and we fully welcome it. After spending years pressing Dominion to make serious investments in solar energy here in Virginia, we're excited that Virginians could see the benefits of substantial amounts of clean energy from the state's largest carbon polluter.Virginia's solar potential is substantial, and we urge Dominion to build these solar facilities as quickly as possible, especially given our state is playing catch up with our neighbors. Even if Dominion's newly announced 220 megawatts of solar power are fully developed by 2021, it will be little more than one third of North Carolina's current installed solar capacity of 592 megawatts.
Today's news serves as an important first step towards what should be a long-term commitment by Dominion to increase development of fossil-free energy technologies. As rising seas increasingly flood our coastal communities due to climate change and Richmond's asthma rates continue to lead the nation, the health and safety of Virginia's families depends on replacing toxic fossil fuels like coal and fracked natural gas with abundant, clean and cost-effective energy sources like solar power.
So, sure, praise Dominion Power for doing something positive, even if this is - as another environmental leader in Virginia put it to me - a "very modest baby step." At the same time, be super skeptical. Because, as that same environmental leader noted, while Dominion supposedly moves ahead with this "modest baby step" on utility-scale solar (e.g., NOT on people's rooftops, aka not "distributed" or "bottom up"), the concerns is that the company will simultaneously "be seeking to stifle competition from independent solar installers with a 'standby charge' or 'tax on the sun'." As another Virginia environmental leader told me, "the devil is in the details with these guys," and right now we have very few details on what Dominion's proposing to do exactly - when, where, etc.The bottom line is, we need to be skeptical, VERY skeptical, about anything this company says it's going to do when it comes to energy efficiency or clean energy. But one thing seems certain: unlike many other utilities around the country that realize the top-down utility business model is dying and that they need to adapt to a world of cheap distributed energy (e.g., rooftop solar, batter storage that's increasingly affordable), Dominion seems to be clinging desperately to what they're used to: namely, controlling everything.

Last April, Greentech Media published an article entitled, "Adapt or Die? Private Utilities and the Distributed Energy Juggernaut." The problem, as Greentech Media explained, is that many investor-owned utilities (IOUs) - like Dominion Power - are "intransigent, obstinate, and unwilling": "Faced with the prospect of having their revenue streams from generation, transmission and distribution slowly leak away as more distributed renewable power joins the grid, it appears most of the IOUs would rather fight than switch." Of course, given the plummeting price and increasing efficiency of distributed, rooftop solar power and battery storage, this strategy is doomed to failure.Some power executives understand that stark reality. For instance, former Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers has stated that IOUs "need a new model to be viable and to be able to deliver electricity in the future and to optimize the use of electricity among the different supply sources" or they every well could"wake up five years from now and look back and say 'Oh, my God!'"
Around the country, at least some states and utilities are starting to wake up. In New York, for instance, the state "is proposing to turn its electric utilities into a new kind of entity that would buy electricity from hundreds or thousands of small generators and set prices for that electricity and for the costs of running the power grid." This would amount to "a radically different electric system, dominated by decentralized production, much of it of renewable, intermittent energy sources like solar or wind power" -- something potentially amazing, but also something we're not even discussing here in Virginia.
Then there's Minnesota, where "Throughout the next year, more than two dozen organizations, utilities and public officials in the state will be meeting to discuss new approaches to utility regulation that will create the framework for the concept of 'utility 2.0.'" In doing so, "Minnesota now joins California, Hawaii, New York and Massachusetts in the quest to build an entirely new electricity system to boost solar, storage, demand response and other forms of distributed generation." But again, not here in Virginia.
In other news: just a few days ago, "NRG Energy, one of the country's largest independent power producers," announced that it "is getting into the mobile solar business with the acquisition of a start-up called Goal Zero." NRG Energy chief executive David Crane noted that he had recently reorganized the company into three main units, one of which, "NRG Home, will focus on residential customers, offering solar and home energy products and services."
Why is NRG doing this? Because, as Lux Research analyst Aditya Ranade explained"utilities have to change their business model and become more customer-oriented or actually get into distributed generation or microgrids themselves." Ranade added that "{c}ompetitors like Duke have so far stayed away because it's too far out of their comfort zone," leaving "that field open to smaller, more nimble competitors like NRG."
One could say the same thing regarding the inability to get out of its "comfort zone" about Dominion Power, which has steadfastly resisted letting the distributed energy revolution that's happening across the country take root in Virginia. For instance, in February 2014, Dominion blocked "a solar net-metering bill from moving forward in the Special Subcommittee on Energy in the House of Delegates Commerce & Labor Committee," after "Days earlier...attempt[ing] to hijack a bill meant to boost the installation of solar on multi-family housing communities." Dominion has also opposed a serious, mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard for Virginia, despite the fact that such standards are working extremely well across the country. Example after example, case after case: Dominion Power has a well-deserved reputation for failing to lead, and for instead using its lobbying and other muscle to bully our legislature into stymying progress in the state. It's crony capitalism - the capture of our government by powerful, incumbent industries, who use that capture to benefit themselves - at its most egregious.
Which brings us back to Dominion Power's touting of a relatively tiny amount of solar power that it FINALLY plans to move forward on. Wow, I'm just bowled over, how about you? No, didn't think so. Also, notice something: it appears that Dominion Power's solar proposal would be 100% controlled not by YOU but by...wait for it...yep, Dominion itself. Shocker, huh?
Thus, yet again, far from adapting to rapidly changing circumstances, as other utilities are starting to do, Dominion Power instead is doubling down, clinging to the top-down, dying/doomed model it knows and loves. Even if that model is simultaneously bad for: a) customers, b) the environment, c) Virginia's economy, and d) ultimately bad for Dominion Power itself. Other than that, it's brilliant, huh? Heh.

Video: Sen. Tim Kaine Campaigns for Rip Sullivan in Arlington

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Here's some video of a great event with Sen. Tim Kaine for Rip Sullivan's 48th House of Delegates district campaign at Arlington County Board member Mary Hynes' house earlier this afternoon. Sullivan said this election is all about turnout, and how he views this race as "one big voter suppression effort out of Richmond; there's just no question that the Speaker of the House...[was] hoping that a combination of a one-week primary and some...election fatigue in well as the timing, the dead of designed to keep vote turnout low, because that is their strategy for hoping to snatch this election from us in the dead of summer." With that in mind, everyone needs to remind every 48th district Democrat they know to vote on Tuesday. Don't assume anyone else will do that, just do it yourself. "We need everyone to vote on Tuesday."

Kaine talked about meeting Rip when he was running for Lt. Governor in 2001 when Rip was a "young lawyer" (Rip joked that he's STILL a "young lawyer"). Kaine said he has a very short list of people he hopes will be in elective office some day, and he's always had Rip on that list.  Kaine said Rip will be a great representative of the district and advocate for progressive values, which he said (correctly) are majority values in Virginia but not in the gerrymandered House of Delegates. For that reason, Kaine said, the majority of Virginians depend on this small minority in the House of Delegates. Rip will advocate majority values persuasively, which is one reason why it's so important to send him to do that job. 
Kaine then spoke about how Republican voter suppression is "really really serious." Kaine talked about his father-in-law (Linwood Holton) came back from WWII fighting for democracy and was appalled that here in Virginia, there weren't competitive elections and there was a tremendous amount of voter suppression. So "he made his passion trying to promote participation, which for him meant building a two-party system so there would be competition." But now, "how times have changed," as his proud Republican father in law, former Gov. Holton, now only votes for Democrats, in large part because "he knows we care about participation...maximizing involvement and engagement" while the Republican Party "cares about precisely the opposite - minimizing turnout, minimizing participation - whether it's voter suppression or scheduling elections at weird times; that's what they do." Kaine: "Democrats are always trying to maximize participation of people in elections, and Republicans are always trying to minimize the participation of people in elections" across the country. "So that's why you have an election on August 19" instead of November, which should have been obvious. This is the "worst kind of political corruption to do this...I'm serious...doing things intentionally to try to minimize people's participation in the choice of their leaders is the worst kind of political corruption."  Now, we have to beat the other guys' games, show them that they can't get away with this.

Video: Don Beyer Kicks Off General Election Campaign with 80 Days to Go

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I got back a little while ago from the kickoff of Don Beyer's general election campaign. According to a press release, Beyer's campaign is "taking a page from Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days," but instead calling his sprint to the finish line "Around the 8th in 80 Days." Other than Don Beyer, speakers included Iraq War veteran and Democratic activist Terron Sims, a member of the Beyer Advisory Group on veterans' issues; Del. Charniele Herring; State Senator Barbara Favola; Megan Beyer; and Animal Welfare League of Arlington spokeswoman Keelee Wrenn (who announced a Sept. 3 "Doggy Happy Hour" at Hotel Monaco in Alexandria with Don Beyer to benefit the Humane Society shelter). One more quote from the press release, then to the videos (starting with the Beyer theme song - the "Blue Cup Song"): "'From Rip Sullivan to John Foust to Mark Warner, this is a campaign of teamwork,' said Beyer, as he urged his supporters to join Sullivan's GOTV canvass ahead of Tuesday's special election for state delegate."

Video: Megan Beyer introduces Charniele Herring (0.00 / 0[delete comment]
*Megan Beyer noted that people "can get a little complacent," which is why at campaign HQ, they have "that's what Eric Cantor said" on the wall. Bottom line: you've got to be vigilant and run the campaign hard, not take anything for granted.*Charniele Herring emphasized that Don Beyer will "stand strong for Virginia women," which is why over "1,000 women have signed up for Women for Beyer." Herring said she has "no doubt that Don will protect a woman's reproductive healthcare  when it comes under attack by the extreme Republicans in Congress...I have no doubt that Don will fight for equal pay for women..."

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Video: Terron Sims speaks about fellow "military brat" Don Beyer (0.00 / 0[delete comment]
Sims talked about a series of Beyer idea forums on Monday nights this fall, covering policy ideas on different issues (education, environment, healthcare, veterans, poverty/housing/welfare). The first forum in Sept. 8 in Alexandria featuring economist Jarred Bernstein.

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Video: Barbara Favola introduces Don Beyer; Beyer speaks about his campaign (0.00 / 0[delete comment]
Favola notes several people in the crowd: Alexandria Vice Mayor Kerry Donley, Alexandria City Council member Justin Wilson, Del. Alfonso Lopez, former Del. Bob Brink, and 8th CD Dem Chair Margo Horner. Favola said "you could not have selected a better candidate to represent us in Congress than Don Beyer...We have no worries about Don's character and his integrity...[plus] Don really understands who we are, he understands our values," including LGBT equality, women's reproductive freedom, gun safety issues, action on climate change and environmental protection.Beyer talked about taking back our country and building a stronger America. He said "just because the primary's over doesn't mean any change" in his principles (or his slogan: "proven, principled, progressive"). "We're going to continue to talk strongly about the need for a national carbon in infrastructure, teachers and in academic rigor to create the jobs of a renewed middle class...important gun safety measures...that will make our community safer...expand women's health care options...make Obamacare even better...find a path first to security and then to citizenship for the many new Americans who are the energy of our proud of our marriage equality and work towards racial healing." Beyer also asked everyone to be "relentlessly optimistic," despite all the problems in the world, that "pessimists never change the world for the better," and that we "must never allow our energy and enthusiasm and commitment to wane." "Every challenge that provokes our anger or our tears, must also provoke our determination to do something about it; please be optimistic with me every day." "We want to be deeply connected to to all that happens in the 8th district, true partners with every one of you..."  And of course, "hey, let's campaign," as this race is NOT a "forgone conclusion" (remember Eric Cantor). There are lots of examples of politicians with 30-point leads on July 4th that ended up losing in November. Finally, of course, we need to elect Rip Sullivan on Tuesday, also Alan Howze and Mark Warner this November.

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Video: Animal Welfare League of Arlington spokeswoman Keelee Wren speaks (0.00 / 0[delete comment]
I strongly support this organization, and am VERY happy to see that Rep. Jim Moran's superb work on behalf of animal welfare will be continued by Don Beyer!

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Video: Barbara Favola asks everyone to attend rally tomorrow with Tim Kaine for Rip Sullivan (0.00 / 0[delete comment]

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Top Virginia Republican slams own party: "They're acting more like the Muslim Brotherhood"

This morning's Washington Post has a superb, must-read article (if you care in any way/shape/form about Virginia politics) by Post Virginia political reporter Jenna Portnoy. Among other things, it explains very clearly what the bitter, even vicious, divisions are within the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV), and how that party continues its lurch off the right-wing-extremist cliff. Today, as Portnoy writes, the party's vicious infighting between the Tea Party/Ron Paul/ultra-conservative wing and the more traditional, "establishment" Republicans "could come to a head Saturday when Republicans from both camps - insurgents and establishment - gather in Richmond for a meeting of the party's governing body, the State Central Committee."Popcorn time? Yes, but it's not just entertainment, it's also highly significant for the future of the RPV. Specifically: will the party continue purging anyone to the left of Attila the Hun, lurching so far to the right that it loses any and all appeal to independents and even more moderate/sane Republicans?  According to Ron Butler, who "served for five years as Political Director for the Republican Party of Virginia and worked as Field Director for the Republican National Committee," and also "has been working full-time on behalf of Republican candidates since 1985," it's not looking good for the red team.
Ron Butler, president of a ­direct-mail firm with ties to Cantor, was pessimistic that momentum would swing back to the establishment."They're acting more like the Muslim Brotherhood than the Republican Party in this country," he said of the conservative wing of the GOP. "They scream about Eric Holder and President Obama upholding the Constitution. They're attempting to throw their own constitution out."
Ouch. The truth hurts.The question is, assuming Butler is right (and I believe that he is), whether Virginia Republicans continue a process which last year resulted in arguably one of the most extreme political conventions in U.S. history, in which the RPV nominated three bat****-crazy extremists, theocrats, climate science deniers, gun nuts, raging homophobes, conspiracy theorists, and just all-around loons (Ken Cuccinelli, EW Jackson, Mark Obenshain) as their statewide ticket. The result of that extremist ticket was, as we all know, to smooth the way for a far-from-inevitable Democratic sweep of the top three statewide offices (Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General) in November 2013. If Republicans had nominated a more traditionally conservative ticket, perhaps one headed by Bill Bolling, it's quite possible, even likely, that they might have won in 2013. But instead, they threw it away in exchange for right-wing ideological "purity." Such a shame, huh? ;)
And that's exactly why, at today's RPV convention, I'm rooting for the Tea Party, Ron Paul supporters, people like RPV Treasurer/Bigot-in-Chief Bob FitzSimmonds, and other who are "acting more like the Muslim Brotherhood than the Republican Party." Why? Simple: because the more those folks are in charge, the more it increases the chances for Virginia Democrats to win in 2015, 2017 and well beyond. Sure, it's sad (and scary) that Virginia (and national) Republicans have gotten so John Birch Society-style extreme, and ultimately we'd all be better off with not just one but TWO sane parties in this state and this country. But on the other hand, if Republicans want to go stark raving mad for years and hand Virginia (and the country?) over to the Democrats for a generation or two to come, that works just fine for me. :)
P.S. Tea Party Republican blog The Bull Elephant promises coverage of all the festivities today. Should be fun.

Not a Word from Ken Cuccinelli and Other Supposed Lovers of "Liberty" on Ferguson, MO

Thursday, August 14, 2014

You know how Ken Cuccinelli and other hard-right Republicans are always going on and on about how much they (supposedly) love "liberty?" Of course, most of us know that's utter bull****, that the only "liberty" they actually care about is: a) the right of corporations and the super-rich to do whatever the hell they want to do regarding workers, the environment, whatever; b) the ability of big government to tell people what they can and can NOT do in their bedrooms; and c) the efforts of fundamentalists to move America towards a religious theocracy. Other than that, it's obvious that Cuccinelli et al. don't in any way, shape or form care about "liberty," at least not how the Founding Fathers envisioned it, or how you and I understand it.Ferguson, Missouri proves this once and for all: with all the frightening, horrifying, disturbing, disgraceful, and intolerable things we've seen go down in Ferguson, Missouri the past few days, with clear violations of ACTUAL liberty by police, including blatant trampling on First Amendment rights (e.g., the rights of the press to report on events), you'd think that all these "liberty"-loving right wingnuts like Ken Cuccinelli would be screaming from the rooftops about this situation.  You just KNOW that if the races were reversed, and it was a majority BLACK police department putting down WHITE protestors (and killing a WHITE man) that they - Cliven Bundy types, etc. - would be going NUTS (on Fox, Rush, etc.)!
Instead, what have we gotten? See below for two screenshots from TRUE libertarian Doug Mataconis' Facebook page and you'll have your answer. I also checked Ken Cuccinelli's Facebook and Twitter feeds, and saw absolutely NOTHING about the Ferguson situation (lots of ranting and raving about Barack Obama). So yeah, as Doug Mataconis says, "If you have been spending the last 5 years talking about 'Liberty' and aren't outraged by what's happening in #Ferguson you're a hypocrite." I'm talking to YOU Ken Cuccinelli - and others of your ilk (Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, Mitch McConnell, Eric Can'tor, John Boehner, E.W. Jackson, Mark Obenshain, etc.). Where's your outrage not just at Ferguson, but at the same stuff (militarized police forces suppressing people's actual liberties) going on all over the country? Crickets.

Hilarious: Most Politicized AG in History Calls Mark Herring "Most Politicized" AG in Country

Not that Ken Cuccinelli has any sense of irony, but to hear the guy who wildly misused/abused his office "by using it as a blatantly partisan bully pulpit to attack Obamacare, illegal immigrants, homosexuals and climate-change scientists" and "to bully Virginia's Board of Health into a stance - unprecedented in state history - that could force most of the commonwealth's 20 or soabortion clinics to close" call current Virginia AG Mark Herring the "most politicized" Attorney General in the country is certainly the height of irony. To listen to that howler, check out 3:20 of the audio. In reality, of course, Cooch is just pissed because he's a raging homophobe and doesn't want to see LGBT Virginians treated equally to all other Virginians.For his part, Mark Herring came to the same conclusion as many other state Attorneys General, that to keep defending a constitutional amendment that court after court has found blatantly violates the U.S. constitution's equal protection provisions is a complete waste of time, resources, and taxpayer money. Of course, AG Cuccinelli's entire four years in office was a case study in wasting time, resources, and taxpayer money, so there's a bit more irony for you, if you have a sense of irony of course (unlike Cuccinelli). ;)
P.S. Cuccinelli also claims says that Herring was "lying to voters to get elected;" "had to lie to become the Attorney General and then he turned on his clients." Seriously? On second thought, don't try to figure it out, just laugh derisively, sarcastically...or ironically? Heh.

Mark Obenshain's Facebook Rant on Supposed "Voter Fraud" Hypocrisy Makes Zero Sense

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Who even knows what Republican State Senator Mark Obenshain is babbling about here. So many logical flaws and internal contradictions, so little time to mock them. First, here's Obenshain's "argument," using the word very loosely, in a nutshell:1. Obenshain asserts that in last weekend's "Democratic Party-run firehouse primary to choose the party's state senate nominee in the 16th District special election, Democrats -- free to adopt any voter identification standard they wished, or none at all -- opted for requirements considerably more stringent than those contained in the state law they denounce, actually going so far as to require that IDs show the address at which the individual is registered."
2. Obenshain adds, "When the party establishment's candidate lost, the cries of massive voter fraud started rising from the most unlikely of places, with the local Democratic committee refusing to certify the election results, citing possible voter fraud." But, he adds sarcastically, "as the DPVA always tells us, voter fraud doesn't exist."
In short, Obenshain is claiming that Democrats are hypocrites for fighting voter ID laws, but then requiring voter ID in their own "firehouse primary" (for former Senator Henry Marsh's seat) this past weekend.
Just a few problems here. First, Obenshain outright admits that he "[doesn't] know what happened in the 16th District -- whether this is just sour grapes from party leaders who didn't get their way, or if there were in fact irregularities." That's right, he has no idea what exactly took place this past weekend (and from what I've heard, it was a mess in many ways - just not because of anything to do with voter ID), but he's talking about it anyway. LOL
Second, Obenshain then undercuts his entire case to tighten up Virginia's voter ID laws, admitting (for the first time publicly?) that he does NOT "believe that voter fraud is widespread" (actually, its statistically nonexistent). So, then, why go to such lengths to make it harder for Virginians to vote, for no good reason other than to address a supposed problem that Obenshain himself doesn't even believe exists?!? Is this the same sort of "logic" Obenshain used to first push to criminalize women for having miscarriages, then deny that he did just that? Craaaaaaazy.
Meanwhile, an astute commenter on Obenshain's tirade note that the "firehouse primary discussed above is a different issue - not a general election, not run by the Virginia State Board of Elections, etc." This same commenter also astutely notes that "[b]oth parties have been disconcerted about the possibility of cross-over voting and more in elections over the last year (especially since the Cantor-Brat race); some have advocated party registration, and more."
Finally, the same astute, reality-based commenter points out that Obenshain has "pushed for a costly law, addressing a problem that does not exist (in-person voter fraud), and likely increasing one that does (absentee voter fraud.)" Brilliant, no?
P.S. Just remember, this guy - Mark "Criminalize Miscarriages" Obenshain - came within 166 votes (out of 2.2 million cast) of becoming Attorney General of Virginia last November. Instead of this right wingnut, fortunately we have Democrat Mark Herring doing a superb job on a wide number of fronts - LGBT equality the one in the news today. So, to anyone who claims that "my vote doesn't matter," or "why bother getting involved," just refer them to the enormous, glaring difference in people's lives due to the razor-thin victory of Herring over Obenshain in 2013. As they might say in the Attorney General's office, "case closed!"
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