Video, Photos: Tim Kaine Campaigns for Alan Howze in Arlington

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Here are some photos (on the "flip") and video (here and in the comments section) of Sen. Tim Kaine campaigning for Arlington County Board candidate Alan Howze at the farmer's market next to Ballston Metro around 4 pm today. Go Alan! 
lowkell :: Video, Photos: Tim Kaine Campaigns for Alan Howze in Arlington


Video: 10th CD Dems Chair Charlie Jackson Slams Empty Chair, as Comstock Campaign Ducks Yet Again

The anti-Semitic "joke" dude, 10th CD Republican Party chair John Whitbeck, was supposed to be in that empty chair this morning, but not surprisingly backed out at the last minute, lamely claiming a "client emergency." Actually, come to think of it, maybe that "client" he's referring to is Barbara Comstock, who has avoided answering questions from the media like the plague, and the "emergency" is her extreme anxiety at the prospect that she might be forced to explain and defend her extreme views on issue after issue. As 10th CD Democratic chair Charlie Jackson put it
I'm not surprised...that Delegate Comstock's campaign pulled John Whitbeck back this morning and did not send another surrogate...this is not a new thing...It certainly fits a pattern for Delegate Comstock's campaign...[her] ethics scandal keeps dripping, dripping, dripping...there's a reason why Delegate Comstock and her campaign do not want to send surrogates on this program, or frankly talk to [Virginia 10th CD voters]...They'll talk to Fox and Friends, they'll go on conservative talk shows, they'll talk to the John Fredericks Show...but they won't answer real questions about real issues. And the real issue that's really dragging her campaign down right her ethics scandal, and it's a slow bleed for her campaign... ...Delegate Comstock's campaign doesn't have anything to run on. They're running a campaign on what she learned as a Washington insider. She's a career Washington politician -- she's worked for the Koch brothers, she's worked for Scooter Libby, she's worked for Karl Rove. This is where she learned how to play politics, and she doesn't want to address real issues. So her campaign has been based on gotcha politics and she doesn't want to address real concerns. If she came on this program, talked to other members of Virginia [10th CD] press, she'd have to talk about her record in against bipartisan transportation for things like transvaginal ultrasound...Her campaign doesn't want to reporters like you, doesn't want to have to answer follow-up questions... ...This is the first time this seat has been open in 30+ years, basically my lifetime...and Delegate Comstock wants to represent this region in Congress. And to not be willing to come on programs like this, not be willing to talk to mainstream reporters, that's not somebody who wants to represent this district, that's somebody who wants to avoid talking to the press, avoid the public...

Barbara Comstock Adds "Birther" and All-Around Nut Donald Trump to Her List of Crazy Endorsers

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It's a tough contest who's the most extreme and/or bigoted and/or crazy Barbara Comstock endorser, given that she's already been endorsed by the likes of: 1) right-wing hate radio host Mark "Full Mussolini" Levin; 2) Sean "Cliven Bundy's most strident champion" Hannity; 3) Penny "Age of Enlightenment and Reason lead down a slippery slope (don't ask) to the Holocaust" Nance of the Concerned Women for America (publishers of "Harry Potter: Seduction of the Occult"); 4) John "Jesse Helms protege" Bolton; 5) Brent "President Obama a 'skinny, ghetto crackhead" Bozell; and 6) the anti-Semitic "joke" dude. Now, though, someone who gives these folks a run for their craaaazy money - "The Donald" Trump himself - has weighed in on her behalf. In addition to being a "birther" (questioning whether President Obama was born in the U.S., whether his birth certificate is real, etc.), Trump has said all kinds of bizarre stuff over the years. Just recently, for instance, Dr. Trump claimed that the Centers for Disease Control "should be ashamed of themselves" for opposing strict Ebola quarantines as counterproductive (which the vast majority of actual doctors say they would be). Trump's also a climate science denier (of course!) and anti-vaccination nut. Given all this, you'd think Barbara Comstock would be running as fast as she could to disown and disavow Trump's endorsement. Instead, she just retweeted it. That really says it all. Next Tuesday, vote for John Foust!

Video: Just Remember, 1 Year Ago Today, This Nutjob Was the Virginia GOP Nominee for Lt. Gov.

See Right Wing Watch for more about how good ol' E.W. Jackson "calls upon black and Hispanic Christian voters to leave the Democratic Party, telling them that if they were to dare to talk about their faith, 'you will quickly find out how much they really hate you.'" And just remember, 1 year ago today, this theocratic extremist and all-around nutjob was the Virginia Republican Party's nominee for Lt. Governor of our state. Amazing.

What the Heck is "Virginia Mass Resistance?"

Monday, October 27, 2014

My god, where do these people come from and why are they always right wingers?
Ex-gay activist Linda Wall, who has launched a new Religious Right group called Virginia Mass Resistance, promoted her organization in a Saturday interview with "Mission America" host Linda Harvey.Wall described to Harvey her own experience of being "seduced" into homosexuality, which she said all started with "a glass of wine and marijuana."
"It was as if it was an instant addiction as to a drug," she said.
By the way, I Googled this Linda Wall person, and one of the first articles that appeared was Linda Wall: The anti-gay activist who molested an underage girl("A conservative crusader seeking office in Virginia admits that she had sex with a middle-school girl who was her student in the 1970s"). Why am I not surprised? As a friend of mine put it, "It's always the most virulently anti-gay ones who have this in their background."  

The Toxic Legacy of Ronald Reagan and his "Time for Choosing" Speech 50 Years Ago Today

50 years ago today (October 27, 1964), Ronald Reagan delivered his (in)famous"A Time for Choosing Speech" in support of Republican Presidential nominee Barry Goldwater over President Lyndon Johnson. Soon thereafter, LBJ went on to defeat Goldwater in one of the greatest landslides in U.S. history. So, in that respect at least, Reagan's speech wasn't toxic. But in most other respects, the speech - and Reagan himself - were a dangerous mix of dishonesty, demagoguery, delusion, and divisiveness. Let's start with the speech, since Reagan-worshipping right wingers will undoubtedly be celebrating it today.First off, the speech clearly revealed Reagan's hard heartedness towards the poor, hungry, etc. As part of his assault on the Great Society specifically, and on the very concept that we are all "our brothers' keepers," Reagan joked (seriously, he thought this was very funny): "We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well that was probably true. They were all on a diet." Hahahaha, get it? People aren't really hungry, they're just on a diet. Yeah, not funny. At all. Unless, perhaps, your heart is as cold and empty as Ronald Reagan's was (remember, this was the administration that thought AIDS was hi-larious! and did nothing about it while thousands died).
What's frightening is that it wasn't just Reagan who thought that way back in 1964, nor has this type of thinking gone away in 2014. To the contrary, there are now tens of millions of Americans - Republicans and Tea Partiers mostly - who apparently believe that it's fine (even highly desirable) to lavish taxpayer-funded welfare on corporations and the super-rich, yet not to give a helping hand to those who really need it (or even to mock them for needing that helping hand). If that's not corrosive and dangerous, I don't know what is.
Second, the speech was classic Reagan in its utter dishonesty. For instance, Reagan claimed - without any evidence whatsoever, of course - "No nation in history has ever survived a tax burden that reached a third of its national income." Of course, that's not true in any way. For instance, some of the most prosperous and successful countries on earth today are well above the percentage Reagan tossed out in his speech. A few examples: Denmark (48.2%), Sweden (46.4%), Finland (43.1%), Norway (41.0%), Germany (37.0%), and the UK (34.3%). As for the U.S., we're way down there, below Turkey and South Korea, as one of the LEAST taxed countries (as a percent of national income) in the OECD. So what was Reagan ranting about? Simple: it's the corrosive, Big Lie that the United States' budget problems are not the result of having such low taxes. Nope, in the eyes of right wingers, it's all because we spend too much. Of course, when you ask rank-and-file Republicans and Tea Partiers, program by program, what they'd like to cut, they have no answer: the military (god no, they want to increase it!), "homeland" security (you must be kidding!), Social Security and Medicare (hell no, don't touch that!), roads and other infrastructure (if anything, they claim to want more of that -- they just don't want to pay for it), etc, etc. The bottom line is that Republican philosophy, as summed up by Reagan in his "Time for Choosing" speech, is that they want everything but don't want to pay for anything. The result: as President, Reagan talked tough but actually expanded government big time, cranked up the national debt several fold, pretty much violated everything he claimed to stand for in the "Time for Choosing" speech. Shocker, huh?
Third, on foreign policy, this speech was downright dangerous, advocating for an end to "containment" of the Soviet Union and switching instead to an aggressive posture of rolling back communism, of liberating the people behind the Iron Curtain, etc. Which sounds great, at first glance, until you realize a few things: a) we had absolutely no way to do that using conventional force; b) if we had tried to do that, it almost certainly would have led to war (quite possibly the last mankind would ever wage, as we'd all be a smouldering ruin after it was over) with the nuclear-armed Soviet Union. Today, we see Reagan's crazy legacy in the positions of Republicans like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and many others whose foreign policy basically comes down to "bombs away!" It's extremely dangerous, extremely costly (in both lives and treasure), and we've seen the disastrous results many times now. Thanks Reagan!
I could go on all day critiquing this speech from hell, but I'll just point out one other corrosive, vicious, dangerous aspect that we very much continue to see today: the demonization of government. Namely, according to Reagan and his ilk, any government program aimed at bettering peoples' lives constitutes "socialism" (as Reagan called it in his speech; sound familiar?), the product of an insidious "little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol," (yep, gotta love anti-intellectualism) the "ant heap of totalitarianism" (hyperbole much?), the demise of "freedom" and capitalism (yada yada yada), and stemming in part from the evils of federal "bureaucrats" and the "bureaucracy." Today, we see this attitude reflected in the likes of Grover "drown government in the bathtub" Norquist and everyone who's signed onto his extreme, anti-tax pledge (note: here in Virginia, the list includes Scott Rigell, Randy Forbes, Robert Hurt, Bob Goodlatte, Morgan Griffith, Dave Brat, Barbara Comstock, and Ed Gillespie).
Bottom line: Reagan's "A Time for Choosing Speech," not to mention his two terms as President, epitomizes everything wrong with the Republican Party (and its even worse spawn, the Tea Party). Now, at another "Time for Choosing," I urge everyone who rejects the selfish, every-man-and-woman-for-themselves, we-are-NOT-in-it-together, "I've got mine so f*** you," trickle-down, corporate-welfare-for-the-wealthy, know-nothing philosophy to: a) vote; b) vote Democratic; and c) make sure you encourage all your friends, families and neighbors to do the same. The future of this country, as always, hangs in the balance, and you the voter will decide whether we move "forward, together," or backwards into the ditch.

Dave Brat Touts Endorsement from "Harry Potter: Seduction of the Occult" Group

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What is this "Concerned Women for America" (CWA) group, whose endorsement Dave Brat is touting? Here are a few "highlights," courtesy of Right Wing Watch:*"Founded by Beverly LaHaye, wife of Religious Right activist Tim LaHaye, as a counter to the progressive National Organization of Women...CWA opposes gay rights, comprehensive sex education, drug and alcohol education, and feminism, while advocating what it calls 'pro-life' and 'pro-family' values."
*Has "been active in supporting the teaching of Creationism and 'Intelligent Design theory' in science classrooms."
*"CWA has been active in opposing any and all gay and lesbian civil rights measures, including supporting the right to discriminate against gays and lesbians in employment...established the Culture and Family Institute (CFI) to combat gay and lesbian civil rights."
*"CWA vehemently opposed ratification of CEDAW (the United Nation's Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women), claiming its pro-women empowerment and equality sections comprised a 'leftist utopian wish list.'"
*"CWA has been active in the fight against using Harry Potter books in schools. Publications such as 'Harry Potter: Seduction of the Occult' claim that the books promote the practice of witchcraft among children. CWA offers books and videos such as, 'Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged: Making Evil Look Innocent.'"
*"CWA fights against sex education curricula that is not completely abstinence based and opposes anti-drug and alcohol abuse programs that emphasize self-esteem."
As for Concerned Women PAC CEO Penny Nance, she recently cheered "the closure of [the University of South Carolina-Upstate's] Center for Women's and Gender Studies following several attacks from Republican politicians who threatened to cut funding from the school over an LGBT comedy event." Last year, Nance claimed "that legal abortion 'is the seminal human rights issue of our time' and a 'heart-breaking atrocity against mankind' that is worse than the Holocaust." Nance also blamed the "Age of Enlightenment and Reason" for leading down a slippery slope (don't ask) to the Holocaust. More idiocy and buffoonery: Nance likened President Obama to "Tarzan" and essentially argued that "if Obama doesn't defend women like Palin, Coulter and Bachmann, it is sexist, and if he speaks out on behalf of a Democratic official like Rice, it is sexist and a sign that liberal women are weak."
Anyway, just thought you'd all be interested to know that Dave Brat thinks an endorsement from a bunch of crazy people is worth touting.

Grading the Democratic Campaigns' Excuses You'll Be Hearing After Election Day

Friday, October 24, 2014

With just 11 days to go until Election Day 2014, and the near certainty that Democrats will lose at least a few seats in the Senate and House, I can just here them now. No, not the cheers of victory or the cries of defeat - although I can certainly imagine what those will sound like - but the excuses, torrents of excuses, that will be flowing from Democratic campaign operatives of all types, trying desperately to shift the blame for their losses to others. For instance, as this article in Bloomberg yesterday put it, "Years of disappointment and tension between Democrats and their president are now on open display as politicians, party leaders and strategists worried about their chances in the midterm elections begin casting about for someone to blame." That's the kind of thing I'm talking about. With that, here are some of the top excuses you'll probably be hearing from losing campaigns after November 4, graded from "A" (makes a great deal of sense) to "F" (makes no sense whatsoever, utter b.s.).1. "It's President Obama's fault". This one gets a "C-/D+" grade at best. Why so low? Because the history is clear: since World War II, the party holding the White House tends to lose around 26 seats in the House and around six seats in the Senate during the "6-year itch" mid-terms (the second mid-terms of a two-term president's eight years in office). The biggest losses occurred under Eisenhower, Ford, Bush and Truman, with somewhat lower losses under Reagan (at least in the House; Republicans lost eight seats in the Senate in 1986). So, basically, this is just what happens in mid-terms to the party in power, Republican or Democratic. On the other hand, Barack Obama's approval ratings are anemic at best, in the lost 40s, so that's why I gave this one a "C-/D+" not an "F" grade. On yet ANOTHER hand (how many hands do we have, anyway? LOL), though, Obama's approval rating hasn't really changed throughout 2014, so the same campaigns that were claiming all year that they could win - and asking for money to do so - can't now honestly turn around and claim that Obama's 40%-45% approval ratings constitute some sort of new factor in their calculations.
2. "The national political/economic climate": I'd give this one a "C-/D+" for similar reasons as in #1 -- the political/economic climate hasn't really changed all year, plus it's Democrats' own fault to a large extent if they couldn't figure out a way to turn whatever anger's out there against Republicans, whose obstructionism, sequestration, shutting down the government, austerity policies, refusal to invest in our nation's infrastructure, refusal to kickstart a more rapid transition to a clean energy economy, etc., etc. have contributed so much to the problems we have.
lowkell :: Grading the Democratic Campaigns' Excuses You'll Be Hearing After Election Day
3. "The DCCC/DSCC/DNC/whoever abandoned us." I'd give this one a "C-/D+" as well, as it's basically just whining. The fact is, candidates aren't entitled to money from national Democrats, who have dozens (hundreds?) of races they are dealing with. If they got a bunch of money from national Democrats, great, but to claim that they didn't get enough (I can just hear it now, "if we only had another [fill in the blank] dollars to run TV ads we could have won!") is just lame. It's particularly lame since most of that money was wasted on extremely low "bang-for-the-buck" TV ads (I'll have some more thoughts on that at some point in the next couple weeks) in expensive media markets where most of the people reached by the ads: a) don't live in the district; b) aren't likely voters in the district; and c) aren't truly "persuadable" likely voters in the district. So spare us all the whining.4. Grab bag: Ebola, stock market gyrations, ISIS, whatever. This one gets an "F" grade hands down. Look, let's face it, s*** happens in the world, including in the final months of election years. That's just reality. If Democrats can't get their messaging act together on this stuff, that's overwhelmingly on them.
5. "The media didn't do its job.": I'd give this one a bit higher grade, maybe a "B-/C+," as it's true that the corporate media truly is abysmal. And it's only gotten worse in recent years as the media has continued its decline. I mean, when was the last time the corporate media really covered a Congressional race, let alone covered it well? Other than superficiality (e.g., who's more "exciting," a "better speaker," blah blah blah) and "horse race" (who's up, who's down, ad nauseum), media coverage of our elections is shallow, thin, "both sides" false equivalency bull****, and just plain lame. So why not give this one an "A" grade then? Because, again, none of this is really a surprise -- the media's political coverage has sucked for years now -- and it's up to campaigns to figure out how to deal with that (e.g., by getting their message out via social media channels, by investing more heavily in field, by use of well-crafted and well-targeted direct mail, by not embarrassing themselves with cringe-inducing email fundraising campaigns).
6. "Our voters didn't turn out." Yes, there's some truth to the fact that Democratic voters tend to turn out in proportionally lower numbers than Republicans in off-year elections. But Democrats also need to figure out ways to fix this problem (Terry McAuliffe's campaign did it pretty effectively, as far as I can determine, in 2013). Also, this should have been largely built into assumptions of campaigns from the beginning. Finally, perhaps voters would have been more likely to turn out if the candidates had given them something to get excited, inspired, passionate about? Just a thought. :) Anyway, since blaming the customer is never a good strategy, whether in business or in politics, I'd give this one a "D" grade.
So, that's what I've got for now. Any others that should be on this list? Please add them in the comments section if you think of them. Thanks.
P.S. A really smart national Dem asked me, " if you rate all of the answers as fizzles, what do you pin this on? Longer-term underlying factors such as candidate recruitment and pipeline development, a lack of focus on state races, a short attention span for building progressive infrastructure, etc.? My answer: yes, all of those, plus the natural mid-term, second-term losses expected for the party in power.

Craaaaazy: Top Virginia GOP Advisor Shares His, er, Views on Homosexuality

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ben "NLS" Tribbett breaks the news on his Facebook page about a rabidly anti-gay bigot who's a leading Virginia GOP operative (e.g., he lists himself as a "Senior Advisor" to Dave Brat in 2014) named Steve Waters. Shocker that he's a Republican political operative (Keith Fimian, E.W. Jackson, George Allen, and the others Ben lists) huh? By the way, one of this guy's Facebook posts rants about a "rainbow flag flying over the U.S. Embassy in Israel." Here's what Waters thinks of that:
Would Obama fly the Christian Flag? I doubt not! Purely evil and utterly disgusting as to what Presidential Leadership is in 2014 in the United States of America. George Washington and other GREAT Presidents are rolling in their graves in disgust!... Would Obama fly the Christian Flag? I doubt not! Purely evil and utterly disgusting as to what Presidential Leadership is in 2014 in the United States of America. George Washington and other GREAT Presidents are rolling in their graves in disgust!

Now, he's back on his favorite theme, the supposed evils of homosexuality, with his latest: "Is it normal for adult males to have to wear diapers because their rectal muscles have been abused so badly they can no longer control or tighten them to avoid pooping in their pants?" Also: "I will say this, if homosexuality is so normal, how come the diseases, illnesses and cancers connected with it are so abnormal. Even the CDC recognizes this."UPDATE: This is great, the guy actually goes on Ben's Facebook page to try and defend himself. He claims: "I've got history, natural law and biology on my side on this one. What do you guys have, emotion. You should know emotion doesn't work well in public policy." Also hilarious: "I love seeing mean-spirited liberals lose their cool in a debate and all they can do is show people the huge gaps in their tolerance, or lack there of." He then adds: "I don't have a problem with homosexuals, I have an issue with them wanting to pervert marriage and tell pastors what they can preach. The good thing is y'all have over stepped on this one with the bi-sexual/transgender side. The American people aren't ready for that, nor kissing cousins wanting to marry." Also: "Logic, good one. A man putting part of his anatomy where 'poop' comes out of. Yep, that's love alright." And this: "Anything I say is going to be regarded as "hate" by you guys so I won't even try. I'll say this, you guys use the hate word so often it loses its effectiveness. Like I said, you want to get screwed up the rear as a man, that's your business, but don't try and force society to have to accept it. There's no precedent for your claim. Natural law buddies, have a good one. I'm so glad we had this opportunity to discuss this. If you are on this thread and happen to be a lesbian or gay guy, I wish you well and please take care of yourself and don't dismiss this stuff without consulting your physician. This is pretty serious stuff. I love you all! Goodnight and God Bless!"

Lyme Disease Spreads as Humans Unravel the Web of Life?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

by April Moore

(Add in other diseases too, like Ebola, which has almost certainly spread due to deforestation and other human depradations on the environment. When (if ever) will we learn? - promoted by lowkell)

A few days ago I received a shocking email from Mike Tidwell, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN).  Subject line:  "Mike diagnosed with Lyme Disease."Oh no!  As a CCAN board member, I knew that Mike had been dealing with miserable, flu-like symptoms, joint pain, and muscle stiffness for sometime.  I felt terrible to learn this news.  Lyme Disease is a frightening illness that is hard to cure and sometimes leaves lasting damage.
I felt sad to think of this prospect for Mike.  In addition to being a great guy, Mike is an inspiration to climate activists in the mid-Atlantic region, where CCAN operates, and beyond.  One of the most dedicated climate warriors I know, Mike is also an effective organizer, writer, speaker, and fundraiser.  He is a mentor to a great many of us, and we need him to be healthy!
Mike noted in his email that he knows many people in the mid-Atlantic region who have had Lyme Disease.  I have to admit that I can say the same.  Just in the last year or so, the number of people I know with Lyme Disease has increased dramatically.
Yes, I know that a warming world means many diseases are on the move.   For example, tropical diseases, never before seen in the United States, are expected to move northward from the tropics into the American south. When I first heard about Lyme Disease 25 years ago, it was in places north of us, places like New England and northern Minnesota.
If climate change is pushing diseases toward the poles, then it would seem that the explanation for the increased incidence in our region must lie elsewhere.  So I wondered, what might the answer be?  Clearly, something is going on that is making the mid-Atlantic region hospitable to the tick that transmits the disease.

 Then I came upon a very interesting analysis by Cindy Parker, a physician and member of the CCAN board.  She maintains that the increased prevalence of the disease in its existing range [including the mid-Atlantic region] has more to do with land use policy than with climate change.   "The main carrier of Lyme Disease is the white-footed mouse," she says.  And while mice don't require much land, their predators do.  Ideally, these predators would keep the mouse population in check, Dr. Parker explains, and, consequently, also the ticks that feed on the white-footed mouse.
But as we humans expand into fields and forest, she explains, we destroy and fragment the habitat of many species.  In doing so, we are creating ideal situations for mice, but not their predators.  "A workable solution," Cindy Parker says,  "would be to increase habitat for predators, perhaps by connecting [existing habitat] fragments with 'wildlife corridors.'"  Connecting the fragments would help reconstitute the complex web of life.
Dr. Parker's diagnosis of what underlies the intensification of Lyme Disease in our region serves to underscore what happens when we humans thoughtlessly tamper with the web of life, with the interplay of multiple species and their habitats.  As we thoughtlessly 'seize' the habitats of other species for our own uses, we unwittingly set in motion changes that harm us humans-Mike Tidwell and so many others-as well as the species we are displacing.-by April Moore,

Pew Analysis Yet Again Demolishes the Media's False Equivalence Between Liberals and Conservatives

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Yet more evidence that right wingers are in their own far-out universe, in this case from a fascinating new study by Pew ("Political Polarization & Media Habits"). You know how the corporate media and others like to always claim that there are two equivalent "sides" in every debate, that there's a "left" and a "right" that are equally "extreme," blah blah blah? Well, of course that's complete bull**** in every way, with no factual evidence at all to back it up, yet still they persist. Take media viewing habits, for instance. I don't know how many times I've heard that Fox is just the right-wing version of MSNBC, or some such idiocy. Well, in fact, right wingers are WILDLY different than liberals in where they get their news: basically, right wingnuts only believe Fox, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and a few others. In stark contrast, liberals get their news from a wide variety of sources, and - perhaps to a fault - are more trusting of news sources (28 of 36 surveyed) compared to the "consistently conservative" crowd, who only trust Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Drudge, the Blaze - also a Glenn Beck project - Fox, the Wall Street Journal and freakin' Breitbart - hahahaha. Think about that: right wingers only trust extremist nutjobs like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. I mean, it's not surprising to most of us, I'm sure, but still...WTF?!?By the way, I must say that I find it disheartening to see how many liberals watch trash networks like CNN, which basically traffics in triviality, superficiality, "if it bleeds it leads," extreme weather, shark attacks and other assorted garbage. I mean, seriously, if you get your news from CNN, you have no clue what's going on the world. Same thing, frankly, if you get your news from the major networks' evening newscasts - same basic crap as CNN (weather, fires, idiocy, triviality, etc.). My recommendations out of Pew's list for where anyone who's not a right wingnut should be getting their news? How about any/all of the following: NPR, PBS, the BBC, the Economist, the Guardian, Mother Jones and the New York Times? As for Politico, I'd just take that as "Tiger Beat on the Potomac" infotainment and faux-narrative creation for the most part.
Anyway, the bottom line is not that liberals are  necessarily super-well-informed people. Again, if you get most of your news from CNN or comedy shows or whatever, you're not going to be. However, the right wing simply lives in a bizarre, freakish alternate universe that bears zero resemblance to that thing we call "reality." What it DOES do very well, however, is to stoke fear, anger, ignorance, outrage, and other manifestations of the "worse angels of our nature." For the folks stuck in that echo chamber, all I can say is: run, don't walk, as fast as you can away from it! The brain cells (not to mention sanity) you save may be your own. :)
P.S. It's funny and appropriate that nobody trusts BuzzFeed. Unless you like cute dog and cat "listicles" and other assorted cotton candy for the brain.

Ranking Virginia's Elections, 2005-2014

Sunday, October 19, 2014

This is an update to - and a bit different from - my post of December 29, 2013, in which I ranked my nearly 11 years as a political blogger at the time. In this post, I'm going to rank  Virginia's elections from 2005 (when I started blogging about Virginia, so these are the Virginia elections I know the best) through 2014, from the perspective of a Democrat and progressive, but also from that of a political junkie who likes to follow exciting, hotly-contested political races. Which Virginia elections from 2005 were the most exciting, inspiring, interesting, entertaining and successful (a combination of all those factors) for Democrats? Here they are, in descending order.10. 2009: Just a godawful year in every way; do we even have to talk about it? In brief, we got wiped out in the Tea Party madness, resulting in the loss of great Democrats in the House of Delegates, not to mention the election of far-right-wing extremist Ken Cuccinelli as Attorney General, Jonnie Williams' BFF Bob McDonnell, etc., etc. Plus, the Democratic primary between Terry McAuliffe, Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds was one of the most unpleasant experiences most of us who were involved in it have ever experienced. Good riddance 2009, may you forever rot in hell.
9. 2010: Not quite as bad as 2009, but not good either. I mean, any year when a superb Representative like Tom Perriello is defeated by an utter loser and right wingnut like Robert Hurt can't be good. Throw in the loss of Rep. Rick Boucher (to the climate-science-denying wacko Morgan Griffith) and the defeat of Rep. Glenn Nye by Scott Rigell, and there's really nothing good to say about 2010. Miserable.
8. 2011: The first election after the 2010 census and redistricting was no fun at all. As if losing two Senate seats (and control of the Senate, despite pro-Democratic gerrymandering) wasn't bad enough, we also got our butts handed to us in the House of Delegates, falling from 39 to 32 Democrats. Oh, and as an added "bonus," we had an extremely nasty/godawful Democratic primary between Barbara Favola and Jaime Areizaga-Soto. Definitely not a fun year in any way.
lowkell :: Ranking Virginia's Elections, 2005-2014
7. 2014: With just over two weeks to go in this year's election cycle, it's hard to remember a less inspiring, let alone exciting, set of Virginia elections than this one. For U.S. Senate, no serious analyst has ever put the Warner-Gillespie race on its radar screen as seriously competitive, but it's not a total blowout either, and the Gillespie campaign apparently is determined to end it on an ugly note. In the end, it will probably be just a slogging-to-reelection victory by Sen. Mark Warner, over a dishonest, slimy corporate lobbyist/insider/partisan hack ("Enron Ed"). As for the U.S. House races, right now it's not looking good for any Democratic pickups, although there's still some hope in the 10th CD - although apparently not at the DCCC - for a late Democratic surge that might prevent the egregious Barbara Comstock from becoming "Congresswoman Comstock" (shuddderrrr). The other House races in Virginia? There are other House races in Virginia? LOL Seriously, they've been verrrry quiet, in part because the corporate media doesn't do much of anything to cover them, combined with little social media (or "paid media" or "earned media") activity by the campaigns, plus the fact that Republican incumbents figure (probably correctly) that it's to their advantage to lie low (same for Democratic incumbents, like Gerry Connolly and Bobby Scott, for that matter). In sum, this could end up being known as the gerrymandered, incumbent-protection snoozer election. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
6. 2007: Not a bad year, overall, as Virginia Democrats took back the State Senate, flipping it from 23-17 Republican to 21-19 Democratic. We also picked up 4 House of Delegates seats, which sounds good but was actually a disappointment, as pre-election predictions by top Democrats like Tim Kaine had us expecting as many as 15 House seats (and 7-9 Senate seats). On a personal note, I spent a significant amount of time this year co-authoring the bookNetroots Rising with Nate Wilcox. That was a great experience, no doubt about it.
5. 2012: Not a super-exciting year for me personally, and not nearly as fun as 2008 politically, but still a fairly successful year for Virginia Democrats, as Tim Kaine was elected to the U.S. Senate and Barack Obama once again carried Virginia in the presidential election. Of course, it's was fun to be able to participate not once but twice in driving a stake through George Allen's political career. Unfortunately, we weren't able to win back any U.S. House of Representatives seats we lost in the 2010 Tea Party insanity, so that definitely lowers this one in the rankings.
4. 2013: This wasn't the most inspirational campaign for governor (to put it mildly), but the bottom line is that Democrats swept the three statewide offices (over a bunch of crazy people, basically - appropriately known as the "extreme team"). I also had the privilege of consulting to Mark Herring, who won a tougher-than-expected primary over Justin Fairfax, and then went on to narrowly defeat Mark Obenshain for AG after a recount. The main disappointment of 2013? The House of Delegates, where numerous top Democrats were hoping to pick up as many as 10 seats, just a week or two before the election. In the end, we netted just one seat (or zero, depending on when you're counting it), which of course was disappointing and, frankly, unacceptable (and lowers this year in the rankings a couple notches). We've certainly got to do better in the General Assembly races in 2015 (we can't do any worse, right?), and hopefully we will with Del. Scott Surovell moving up in the State House Democratic caucus' leadership ranks.
3. 2005: This one was a lot of fun for me personally, and I think for a lot of Virginia grassroots activists on both left and right. The political blogosphere was really taking off, and the corporate media was still in the relatively early stages of its decline, so coverage was excellent. Of course, this was in the era (just 9 years ago - ancient history?!?) before YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, ubiquitous mobile technology, live streaming, etc, etc., which meant we had to actually show up physically at events in order to cover them (what a concept - heh). But again, it was a lot of fun. In the broader picture, this was after George W. Bush had been (very) narrowly reelected in November 2004, and Democrats were starting to get fired up. Then, Hurricane Katrina hit in late August 2005, with the totally botched response by the Bush Administration causing Democrats to get even more fired up. We also had a tight, exciting race for governor between Tim Kaine (running as "Mark Warner Part II") and Jerry Kilgore, with the latter running the bizarre "Hitler ad" that ended up backfiring big time. In the end, Kaine ended up winning by 6 points over Kilgore, with independent candidate "WE WANT POTTS" (Russ Potts) getting just 2%, but providing some definite entertainment value. We also had an extremely close Attorney General's race, with Bob McDonnell eking it out by just 360 votes over Creigh Deeds in a recount (how would history have changed if Deeds could have won 361 more votes that year?). In the LG's race, Democrat Leslie Byrne lost by just 1 percentage point to Republican Bill Bolling (again, imagine the difference if Byrne had won). Finally, Democrats picked up 4 seats in the House of Delegates, taking Republicans down to 57 seats. Anyway, it was a fun, interesting election, with mixed results for Democrats (at least we "raised Kaine" to the Governor's Mansion; would have been far better if we had won the AG's race and possibly the LG's race).
2. 2006: I'm biased, as I was heavily involved in this one (e.g., I worked on Jim Webb's Senate campaign), but the Jim Webb vs. George Allen race was clearly one for the ages. It started with a true grassroots movement ("Draft James Webb") in a race that the so-called "experts" said was unwinnable against Sen. George Allen, with millions in the bank and all the advantage of incumbency at his disposal. Heck, Allen was barely even running for reelection to the U.S. Senate, but was more focused on a potential candidacy for President in 2008. We started 2006 with a wild Democratic primary between Webb and Harris Miller, in many ways the Virginia "establishment"'s pick, against what Jim Webb himself affectionately called a "rag-tag army." We had the first major use of YouTube to help sway a major U.S. political contest, with George Allen's racist "macaca" gaffe/tirade/meltdown. We also had a lively Virginia political blogosphere chronicling every move, breaking stories (e.g., "macaca" on NLS) and not letting them fade out (e.g., on Raising Kaine), and fighting it out between "leftosphere" and "rightosphere." We had "army boots vs. cowboy boots," George Allen's secret Jewish heritage (to which he took umbrage at first, when it was raised by Peggy Fox in a debate). We had "Real Virginians for Webb" and other great grassroots efforts by folks like Annabel Park, Eric Byler and many others. And in the end, we had about as narrow a victory as you can get, with Jim Webb finally pulling ahead around midnight on election night, tipping the U.S. Senate to Democratic control as part of a nationwide, anti-Bush/anti-Republican "wave" election. Amazing. As for other races, the House races weren't particularly successful (e.g., Phil Kellam lost a race many thought he'd win against Thelma Drake; Judy Feder got crushed by Frank Wolf; Tom Davis easily defeated Andy Hurst), but there was the heated anti-marriage-equality "hate amendment" on the ballot, which sadly passed. Anyway, a fascinating year no matter how you look at it. Also a successful one, in that the Webb victory made it possible for Democrats to regain control of the U.S. Senate. Not bad.
1. 2008: By far and away, this was the greatest year in Virginia politics since I've been involved. To recap: Barack Obama became the first Democrat to carry Virginia since LBJ in 1964, not to mention the first African American president, in an exciting, grassroots "movement" race which saw Obama campaigning heavily in Virginia (including the last rally of the entire campaign, at 10:30 pm in Manassas the night before the election). Virginia also was part of the exciting Democratic primary campaign between Obama, and Hillary Clinton (Obama won the primary 64%-35%, helping him take another step towards the nomination). In closing weeks, volunteers from all over the country converged on Virginia to help Obama carry the state against John "GET OFF MY LAWN!" McCain and his extremist, freakazoid running mate Sarah Palin. Oh yeah, as if all that wasn't enough, 2006 also saw Democrat Mark Warner crushing Republican Jim Gilmore by 30+ points, and Democrats winning back the 2nd district (Glenn Nye over Thelma Drake), 5th district (Tom Perriello in a stunning upset over Virgil Goode, who several Democratic "experts" had said was unbeatable - ha!); and the 11th district (Gerry Connolly over Keith Fimian, after first winning a super-heated primary with former Rep. Leslie Byrne). Bottom line: I'm not sure you can get any more fun, exciting, and successful for Virginia Democrats than 2008.  

Dissecting Virginia Republicans' Logic 101 #FAIL

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Can someone help me out with a Logic 101 problem? Yeah, I know, I shouldn't have been dozing off during that class, but too late now to fix that. ;) So, let's see if I can lay out the logical chain Virginia Republicans like Ed Gillespie are using to attack Mark Warner right now.1. A slew of emails, among other evidence, indicates that Virginia Republicans like Del. Terry Kilgore (chairman of the slimy state tobacco commission) offered jobs to then-Sen. Phil Puckett (D) and his daughter in exchange for Puckett quitting the State Senate and throwing that body to the Republicans.
2. Republicans have argued variously for months that they a) did absolutely nothing wrong, or b) that even if what wend down was a bit slimy, it certainly wasn't illegal, or...whatever. The bottom line is they argue they did nothing wrong in offering what many of us would consider a "quid" (jobs for Phil Puckett and his daughter) in exchange for a "quo" (Puckett resigning and throwing the State Senate to the Republicans' control).
3. Meanwhile, god knows how many Democrats called the Pucketts to urge, encourage, or possibly also offer everything but the kitchen sink in order for Sen. Puckett to NOT resign from the State Senate and throw that body to Republican control. Cue up the false equivalency and IOKIYAR ("it's ok if you're a Republican") "logic" - see, "both sides" did it, ergo what Republicans did was no worse, if it was even wrong at all. Except that, according to Republicans, what they did was fine but what Democrats (e.g., McAuliffe Chief of Staff Paul Reagan, he of the infamous voice mail saying "we would basically do anything" to keep Puckett on board) did in trying to KEEP Sen. Puckett from resigning, was bad bad BAD! Again, even as what REPUBLICANS did, in trying to essentially bribe Puckett to resign and throw the State Senate to Republican control (a classic quid pro quo) was fine. Or something.
4. Now, Republicans are busy bashing Mark Warner, who admittedly spoke to Sen. Puckett's son Joe - exactly what was said is not known, but Warner says it was a "brainstorming" session with/about an old family friend - for a "breach of ethics," while simultaenously ignoring (and/or actively arguing) that Terry Kilgore et al. did nothing wrong in offering Phil Puckett and his daughter jobs if Puckett resigned and threw the Senate to Republican control.
5. Of course, Terry Kilgore would have literally had ZERO motivation other than to get control of the State Senate to help convince Phil Puckett to resign.
6. It's worth reiterating that what started this whole chain of events was Republicans attempting to, essentially, bribe (use the word "entice" or "convince" if "bribe" is too strong for your sensitive stomach) Phil Puckett to resign and throw the State Senate to their control. It's also worth reminding everyone that one of the main things at stake in all this was getting hundreds of thousands of Virginians covered under expanded Medicaid, as well as recouping billions of our own tax dollars that are currently not coming back to Virginia, as they should be. So, on top of their slimy (possibly illegal; FBI is investigating) quid pro quo offer to Phil Puckett to get him to resign from the State Senate, Republicans also were working hard to screw poor Virginians - and all Virginians - out of health care coverage and their own money. If that's not unethical, I'm not sure what is.
7. Finally, now we have slimeball "Enron Ed" Gillespie of all people, sanctimoniously shaking his head about how "Washington" supposedly "changed Mark Warner" and turned him into an unethical monster (for talking to Joe Puckett), while completely ignoring what his OWN PARTY did to kick this whole fiasco off in the first place. Barf inducing.
So...can anyone help me out with the glaring, internal flaw in the Republicans' internal "logic" (using the world loosely) here? Anyone who didn't doze off during Logic 101 class, perhaps? :)

Virginia's SCC staff goes rogue, attacks EPA over the Clean Power Plan

Friday, October 17, 2014

(That's a photo of SCC headquarters, by the way. I wonder if it's LEED certified. Heh. ;) - promoted by lowkell)

In recent years paleontologists have come to believe that the dinosaurs did not go extinct; they evolved into today's chickens and other birds. It turns out, however, that some of them did not evolve. Instead, they took jobs at Virginia's State Corporation Commission.Now they've put their DNA on full display with comments they filed on the EPA's Clean Power Plan. The proposed EPA rules, under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, would require states to reduce the power plant CO2 emissions driving climate change. The staffers assert primly that they "take no position on the broad policy issues," but that they feel "compelled" to point out all the ways the plan is "arbitrary, capricious, unsupported, and unlawful." These mostly boil down to their claims that the plan will force coal plant closures, raise rates significantly and threaten service reliability-claims experts say are badly off-base.
Note that the commissioners themselves didn't sign onto these comments. They come from the career staff at the Energy Regulatory Division, led by Bill Stevens, the Director, and Bill Chambliss, the General Counsel. This is pretty peculiar. I can't think of a single other agency of government where the staff would file comments on a federal rulemaking without the oversight of their bosses.
Bill and Bill acknowledge in a footnote that the staff comments represent only their own views and not those of the commissioners. But that distinction has already been lost on at least one lawmaker. Today Speaker of the House William J. Howell released a statement declaring, "The independent, nonpartisan analysis of the State Corporation Commission confirms that President Obama's environmental policies could devastate Virginia's economy."
And really, "devastate"? But that's the kind of hysteria you hear from opponents of the Clean Power Plan. While the rest of us see healthier air, huge opportunities for job growth in the clean energy sector, and the chance to avoid the worst effects of climate disruption, the Friends of Coal see only devastation. And no wonder: according to the Virginia Public Access Project, Howell accepted $14,000 from the coal industry just this year alone.
ivymain :: Virginia's SCC staff goes rogue, attacks EPA over the Clean Power Plan
But back to what the Bills over at the SCC think about the Clean Power Plan. How did they arrive at their conclusion that it would raise rates? According to Cale Jaffe, a lawyer with the Southern Environmental Law Center who practices extensively before the SCC, "Staff never did an analysis of an actual plan to comply with the Clean Power Plan, which has a lot of flexibility built into it. Instead, the Staff simply took Dominion Virginia Power's last Integrated Resource Plan from 2013 and used it as a proxy for a compliance plan. That's a significant flaw that skews the Staff's analysis.  The Dominion plan, after all, was released nearly a year before the EPA even announced its rule."Compounding the error, says Jaffe, the staff "artificially inflated the cost by assuming that the only compliance strategy would be for Dominion to build a new nuclear reactor: the most expensive resource, which is not a required compliance option."
We can all agree with the staff that nuclear plants are appallingly expensive. That may be why the EPA doesn't assume most states will build them as part of their compliance strategy. To the contrary, the expectation is that states will respond with energy efficiency, wind and solar-all resources that are plentiful in Virginia but largely untapped so far.
As Jaffe notes, "an independent analysis of the actual Clean Power Plan itself shows that Virginia can achieve its goals at a fraction of the cost while lowering Virginians' bills by 8%."
We have seen time and again that the SCC staff has never been friendly to either renewable energy or energy efficiency, so it's no surprise that their comments dismiss them as unworkable. Indeed, it is clear from the comments they filed that their real interest is promoting an anti-EPA, pro-coal agenda. Otherwise it would be hard to understand why they would stray so far from their own area of practice to attack the very legality of the Clean Power Plan.
Jaffe lists a number of other ways the SCC staff screwed up, but you get the picture: careful, reasoned analysis wasn't the point. Still, you'd think that if agency staffers decide to go rogue like this, they would be careful to get the facts right.  

Virginia Sierra Club: Climate Science Deniers Apparently in Charge of State Corporation Commission

This morning, one of the most powerful entities in Virginia (that almost nobody has ever heard of) said something so stupid, so seemingly crazy, so contrary to verifiable facts, that at first it almost seemed like an "Onion" parody. But no, apparently it was real, if you believe thenews reports. The question is, why did the SCC do it? Are they really a bunch of climate science deniers, as the Virginia Sierra Club says? Or are they "playing politics with climate change science...bringing discredit on the commission," as Virginia Sierra Club Director Glen Besa believes?Actually, I'd say this goes way beyond climate science denial or playing politics (although certainly both of those are possibilities, maybe even likelihoods) into another seriously problematic area: namely, that the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) simply does the bidding of...yep, corporations, as its name might indicate. More to the point, the SCC does NOT serve the interest of the public, unless perhaps you believe that "corporations are people, my friend," as Willard "Mitt" Romney infamously claimed. Meanwhile, there's yet another huge problem with the SCC: as a Virginia Democratic elected official explained to me,the SCC is "totally unaccountable," with "zero oversight or sunshine," and that's absolutely "crazy."
Just to demonstrate what a bunch of control freaks these people are, see Battle for Transparency at State Corporation Commission Moves Online. As the article correctly points out, SCC deliberations "take place behind closed doors," and "when commissioners meet to consider guidelines for utility companies or payday lenders, the meetings are closed," but the SCC doesn't want anyone to know that. Believe it or not, the SCC isn't even subject to the Freedom of Information Act. This is, in short, the exact opposite of good, honest, open, transparent government, and we should all demand that it change.
But back to the subject at hand: the SCC's utterly laughable "analysis," which basically consists of a bizarre, outrageously false trashing of renewable energy and perversion of economics. The reality is that, outside of the secretive bunch of corporate tools that make up the SCC, basically every other serious analyst out there sees the exact opposite of what the SCC claims to be seeing here when it comes to energy efficiency, solar and wind power. Let's throw out a few facts, not that they will get in the way of the SCC's slavish shilling for its corporate masters, climate science denial, or whatever else they're up to.
1. In fact, the price of renewable energy, particularly solar power, is plummeting. See, for instance, this recent article at Greentech Media, which reports: "After a second round of bidding from developers seeking to build hundreds of megawatts' worth of solar plants in the state, Georgia Power reported that the average price of electricity came in at 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. That's 2 cents cheaper than last year's bids."

Guess Which State is Almost Completely Missing Out on the Solar Power Boom?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Yes, you guessed it: our state, Virginia, is the one missing out on the national solar power boom that's well underway (note: click on the map to "embiggen"). For more, check out the Solar Means Business Report, released this morning. Among other things, the report finds that the "average price of a completed commercial [solar] PV project in Q2 2014 has dropped by 14 percent year over year and by more than 45 percent since 2012." A few more factoids:*"Since 2010, U.S. businesses have installed solar systems at their facilities more than 32,000 times."
*"For the second straight year, U.S. businesses, non-profits and government organizations added more than 1,000 MW of new PV solar installations. As of mid-2014, there were 4,531 MW of commercial solar PV installed on 41,803 business, non-profit and government locations throughout the U.S."
*"American businesses are turning to solar because it's good for their bottom line. For many companies, electricity costs represent a significant operating expense, and solar provides the means to reduce costs and hedge against electricity price increases."
*"While retailers have installed the most capacity, auto manufacturers, pharmaceuticals and food servicers, as well as companies in many other industries,have all looked to solar to lower operating costs."
*"The rest of the U.S. is catching up to the likes of California and New Jersey, the first and second largest state markets for commercial solar. Leaders in those states and others like them have put in place smart, effective policies that have enabled businesses to invest in solar." (note: thanks in large part to the strongly negative influence of Dominion "Global Warming Starts Here" Power, Virginia has NOT put in place "smart, effective policies that have enabled businesses to invest in solar")
*"In total, 129 million people in 33 states and Puerto Rico live within 20 miles of at least one of the 1,110 commercial solar installations that were analyzed in this report." (again, Virginia is missing out)
Oh, and if that's not enough to make you really angry that Virginia has not seized this opportunity, see an article which just came out a few minutes ago,Georgia Is the Latest State to Procure Dirt-Cheap Solar Power, which reported: "After a second round of bidding from developers seeking to build hundreds of megawatts' worth of solar plants in the state, Georgia Power reported that the average price of electricity came in at 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. That's 2 cents cheaper than last year's bids."
How cheap is that? According to the U.S. Energy Information Administrationthe Average Retail Price of Electricity to Virginia residential users as of July 2014 was 11.98 cents per kilowatt-hour, while the average cost to all Virginia power users was 9.79 cents per kilowatt-hour. Again, the new solar power bidding in Georgia came in at 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Remind me again, why aren't we going solar big-time in Virginia (not to mention energy efficiency, which is even cheaper than 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour in most cases)? Oh yeah, our pals at Dominion Power...

Chuck Todd Exemplifies Political Press' Utter Intellectual, Moral Bankruptcy

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

So let's get this straight: if you won't reveal who you voted for in a past presidential election, then you have "disqualified" yourself with voters, according to Meet the Press host Chuck Todd(about Kentucky Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. Now, let's list a few things you CAN say, according to the idiot inside-the-Beltway political press, and still be qualified for election.*You can repeatedly lie, as Barbara Comstock did, about your reasons for voting for Barack Obama in the 2008 Virginia Democratic presidential primary, and still be "qualified."
*You can, as uncounted Republican candidates have done, deny climate science (or claim that you're "not a scientist" and not answer the question) and still be "qualified." Denial of climate science (or gravity, or evolution, or the fact that the earth is round, etc.) of course, should be an automatic disqualifier for ANY public office, let alone high public office.
*You can, as Paul Waldman notes in this piece, flirt with the "'Agenda 21' conspiracy theory - in which the U.S. government and the United Nations are supposedly conspiring to force rural people in Iowa and elsewhere to leave their homes and be relocated to urban centers," and still be "qualified."
*You can suggest, as Republican Tom Cotton in Arkansas has done, that "ISIS is now working with Mexican drug cartels to infiltrate America over our southern border," and still be "qualified."
*You can suggest, as Virginia Republican Ed Gillespie recently did, that  "the fact that we have a porous southern border today is not just an immigration concern, it is a...public health threat...with the growing concerns about Ebola," and still be "qualified."
*You can lie and claim the "Personhood" bill you sponsored, legislation that would ban all abortions, as well as numerous forms of contraception, embryonic stem cell research, etc., doesn't exist, yet somehow still be "qualified."
*You can constantly make offensive, extremist, bigoted, insane comments - like "perennial wingnut powerhouses...Iowa Rep. Steve King and Texas' resident wacko Rep. Louie Gohmert," yet still be "qualified."
*You can vote to shut down the U.S. government, after threatening the financial stability of the world economy over the debt ceiling, as Mitch McConnell and many other Republicans did, and still be "qualified."
*You can, as god-knows-how-many Republicans (including Barbara Comstock and Ed Gillespie) have done, take anti-government extremist Grover Norquist's crazy pledge, and still be "qualified."
We could go on all day, but you get the picture. As Paul Waldman writes:

What on Earth is a "Tax Raising Obama Democrat?"

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ethically and factually-challenged Republican 10th CD nominee Barbara Comstock is known for her struggles with the truth. She's so truth-challenge that one of her Republican opponents last spring point blank said, "Barbara, YOU LIE!" for her ever-changing story about why she voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 Virginia Democratic primary. To put it mildly, she's a real piece of work when it comes to facts, accuracy, honesty, and even the internal consistency of her lies.Well, now Comstock's at it again, this time criticizing 10th CD Democratic nominee John Foust for being - are you sitting down? - a "tax raising Obama Democrat!" Yeah, the same Obama who Comstock voted for in 2008. But we'll leave that aside for now. The question is whether Comstock's in any way, shape or form telling the truth on this one. Hint: the answer has two letters, the first of which is an "n" and the second of which is an "o." Heh.
OK, so how about a few facts, those crazy things that Barbara Comstock doesn't seem to have any familiarity with?
1. According to CBS News' "What's Obama Doing to Your Taxes?" (April 2010), which reported on the fact that the 2009 Recovery Act (supported pretty much exclusively by Democrats, I'd point out) CUT TAXES for 98 percent of Americans. The CBS News report added that as of April 2010, "taxes are at their lowest levels in 60 years, according to William Gale, co-director of the Tax Policy Center and director of the Retirement Security Project at the Brookings Institution."
2. Just to reiterate that previous point, see President Obama Cut Taxes for 98%
of Working Families in 2009
3. What about since 2009/2010? Well, you may have noticed that since 2010, Republicans have controlled the U.S. House of Representatives, so keep that in mind when you hear loose-with-the-truth people like Barbara Comstock criticize President Obama for raising taxes. Last I checked, Congress was the branch of government that voted on tax rates and the like. But whatever, details details.

Climate Change Activists to Greet McAuliffe

Safe natural gas photo 141013RichmondResistance_R_zpscf1911be.jpgby Dan Sullivan

Like his discredited predecessor and kowtowing to the fossil fuel sector, Governor McAuliffe has embraced an "all of the above" energy plan that begrudgingly mentions renewable energy. Tomorrow he'll foist it at the Science Museum of Virginia. Some of the people he avoided in Charlottesville will be inside to greet him.Climate change activists, including Richmond Resistance have organized an assembly that is drawing participants from across Virginia. While access to the event inside the museum is at capacity, some activists who oppose the Dominion natural gas pipeline did obtain entry and will be there. They do not intend to disrupt the event, but will wear shirts that show solidarity with those picketing outside.

The Sierra Club commended the McAuliffe plan for promoting renewables "to jump start our lagging clean energy business sector."On the other hand, the club's Virginia director, Glen Besa, said in a statement that McAuliffe's support "for offshore drilling, and expanding gas pipelines and coal technology exports seriously undercuts his intentions to address climate change."  --Associated Press via
Talk about faint praise.
And the Sierra Club understates the main objection. This plan egregiously ignores the impact of the "strategy" on climate change. Between the lines is a pragmatic acceptance of fracking and the resulting threat to aquifers and the atmosphere; just to mention a couple of things vital to the environment.
There appears no serious investment in wind and solar energy contained in the 461 page plan. The Governor's continued pragmatism on climate change and other issues may do more to suppress Virginia's Democratic vote in 2016 than any Republican scheme, much to the chagrin of a close and personal friend.

Video: Meet the Press Panel Rips Candidates, Media for Irresponsible Fear Mongering on Ebola

Sunday, October 12, 2014

There's not doubt that Republicans Mike Huckabee, Thom Tillis and Scott Brown are fear-mongering nutjobs, preying on the absolute worst in human nature for political purposes. But still, claiming that some poor person from Africa, dying of Ebola, is going to a) have enough money to buy a plane ticket to Mexico; b) even think about doing that while they're poor, sick and possibly dying of Ebola; c) walk from Mexico, while sick with/dying from Ebola, into the U.S., after implausibly flying from Africa; d) go around intentionally smearing their bodily fluids on people in order to infect them with Ebola; is beyond stupid, beyond insane, into truly evil, loony-tunes territory.Sad to say, we're getting some of this rhetoric here in Virginia, and I have yet to see a SINGLE editorial board call it out. For instance, just a few days ago, Republican (of course) U.S. Senate nominee Ed Gillespie stated made the insane (if he actually believes it) comment that "the fact that we have a porous southern border today is not just an immigration concern, it is a...public health threat...with the growing concerns about Ebola." Frankly, that statement right there should eliminate Gillespie from ever being considered for public office of any kind, as it shows him to be a wildly irresponsible demagogue who should not be taken in any way, shape or form seriously by anyone (just like Huckabee, Tillis, etc.). It's truly maddening that the corporate/"both sides" media DOES take them seriously, treats them as reasonable players in the "game," and almost NEVER calls them out. Argh.
Anyway, that's why I was pleasantly surprised (shocked actually) to see Chuck Todd and his panelists on Meet the Press this morning nail this fear-mongering bull**** for what it is: "irresponsible" and "wrong." Good to see, now we need a LOT more of this from the corporate media.

I Ask Bill "ALEC" Howell a Simple Question. Of Course He Has No Answer.

Friday, October 10, 2014

This is definitely shaping up as Virginia Republicans' Big Lie of 2014: that supposedly President Obama is responsible for 250,000 health insurance policies being canceled in Virginia. In fact, asMark Warner spokesperson Kevin Hall correctly points out, "Federal policy allows states to continue to give consumers the option of keeping their existing plans, so this is now a state issue." Hall adds, "Thirty-seven states, including North Carolina, have already done that, and the Virginia General Assembly can and should do the same."The question, then, is why hasn't the Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly acted to fix this, since those same Republicans claim it's such a big problem? (My exact question to Howell was: "So why didn't you pass legislation to prevent that? This is 100% a state issue at this point, and many other states have taken action - but not Virginia.") It's not like there wasn't a bill introduced (see SB 5012 Health benefit plans; renewal of nonconforming policies by Sen. George Barker) in the recent special session.
So what did Republicans DO with this bill, given that they are supposedly SO concerned (note: they're really not concerned at all, but are simply using this to score cheap political points) about those 250,000 Virginians (even as they are NOT concerned with hundreds of thousands more Virginians who desperately need Medicaid expansion)? Why, of course, they acted on it right awayseriously considered it shunted it off to the Committee on Commerce and Labor, where it's currently languishing.
So, bottom line: next time you hear Bill "ALEC" Howell, ethically challenged Barbara Comstock, or any other Republican cry crocodile tears on this issue, just hand them a Kleenex and give them a hug. Either that, or tell them where to shove their Big Lie.
P.S. Also see Virginia GOP Proves Its "250k Losing Healthcare Due to Obamacare" Talking Point is Bull****

Bill O'LIElly Appallingly Claims Virginia AG Herring doesn't "care if little girls are raped"

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Nothing that the far-right wing says can possibly surprise us at this point. So, mostly, I try to focus on the craziest stuff, and also material that's the most relevant to Virginia politics. The case of O'Reilly Pushes Fact-Free Smear That VA Attorney General Doesn't Care About Statutory Rape appears to fit both categories: bat**** crazy and relevant to Virginia politics. First, here's what O'Reilly had to say:
The attorney general is Mark Herring - very liberal man - who is now saying to the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia, 'I will not enforce the statutory rape laws for girls 13 to 15,' is that correct?...Right, so just to be clear here, just to be very clear: statutory rape is of a minor, and then when an abortion clinic or a doctor or a nurse or whatever finds that that has happened they have to report it by law to state authorities. [CROSSTALK] But Herring says no, we in the Commonwealth of Virginia don't care if little girls are raped. We don't care because, I the Attorney General, am too damn lazy, or an ideological zealot, or both, to enforce this law. Do I have it wrong? you have it wrong, Bill? Seriously, do you even need to ASK that question?!? I  mean, does Bill O'Reilly ever get ANYTHING right? Isn't this one of the main reasons he's the target of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and other late-night comics several times a week? Anyway, yeah, O'Reilly's beyond "wrong" in this case, heading far into the realm of "they're coming to take me away to the funny farm" territory. A few retorts to this offensive craziness.1. First, here's a link to the actual opinion, which states: "a VDH licensing inspector who is a nurse and who, during the course of a hospital inspection, learns from the review of a medical record that a fourteen-year-old girl received services related to her pregnancy is not required to make a report of child abuse and neglect pursuant to Virginia Code § 63.2-1509 unless there is reason to suspect that a parent or other person responsible for the child's care committed, or allowed to be committed, the unlawful sexual act upon the child."
2. As Media Matters explains, "Herring simply told health officials that teen pregnancy alone is not evidence of child abuse." That's right, it's possible for a teenager to get pregnant without child abuse, such as...let's think about this one for a another teenager perhaps?
3. Even the right-leaning Richmond Times Dispatch understands this, writing that the "outrage and fury" by the Family Foundation and other right wingers is "misplaced":

Koch Brothers-Funded Group Issues "Study," Gets it Wildly Wrong on EPA's Clean Power Plan

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Not that we should expect any better from a group funded by the Koch brothers (read the Rolling Stone demolition of these truly heinous individuals and their "toxic empire") and other fossil fuel interests, but the  bizarre "60 Plus Association" ("the conservative alternative to the American Association of Retired Persons" -- seriously!) has really outdone itself on this one. Check out the Citizen Vox takedown of this propagandistic drivel.
The group relies on a sleight-of-hand to make its claim: It cites only the EPA's projection that electricityprices will increase under its rule (Clean Power Plan Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) Table 3-21) while ignoring the projection, just a few pages later in the very same document, that electricity billswill actually decline. The rule includes efficiency measures that will result in consumers using significantly less power. (RIA Table 3-24). So raw electricity prices will go up a bit, but we will use less power-and pay less overall.Also, 60 Plus looks only at the agency's analysis for 2020, rather than its longer-term projections. What happens in the long term is obviously more important. It's also much more favorable.
60 Plus points out that electricity prices will rise 6.5 percent in 2020, but it ignores that actual bills will rise by less than half that (3.2 percent) in 2020 and will decline 5.3 percent by 2025 and 8.4 percent by 2030. The numbers are even more favorable under the EPA's other major scenario, in which states band together and comply in regional groups rather than comply separately. There, bills would fall by 8.7 percent by 2030...
It will be interesting to see if any corporate media outlet is gullible enough to pick up this "study." If they do, let's see if they properly identify this group as bought and paid for by fossil fuel interests...

"Sideshow Bob" Marshall Completely Unhinged Over Demise of His Anti-Gay Hate Amendment

My god.
Today I requested an official opinion from Attorney General Mark Herring on the Constitutitionality of Virginia's Bigamy laws in light of the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear Virginia's Marriage Amendment case.The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals said in their decison that, "Accordingly, we decline the Proponents' invitation to characterize the right at issue in this case as the right to same-sex marriage rather than simply the right to marry."
If the Virginia Marriage Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman has been overturned on the basis of the "right to marry" that that right surely extends to "throuples", those who identify as polyamourous, polygamists and any individual who whishes to marry who or what he/she "loves."
If it is the "right" of all people to marry who they love then I would like to know if it is the Attorney General's legal opinion that Virginia's bigamy and perhaps other laws realted to marriage are also Unconstitutional.
Attorney General Herring said in a speech yesterday, October 6, 2014, at the Arlington Court House that, "Today we celebrate a moment when we move closer to fulfilling the promise of equality..." I would like to know what further steps he believes are legally necessary to fulfill this promise.
The question is, who votes for this bigoted lunatic?P.S. Click on the image to "embiggen."

Virginia's Racially Gerrymandered Congressional 3rd District Struck Down by District Court!

The reason I'd say this tweet by Marc Elias is credible is that Elias is the attorney "for the National Democratic Redistricting Trust, represent[ing] two Virginia voters in a lawsuit that accuses the General Assembly of 'racial gerrymandering' by improperly packing African-Americans into the state's only black-majority congressional district to make adjacent districts safer for GOP incumbents." If true, this is potentially excellent news, but stay tuned for more news from the Eastern District Court of Virginia.UPDATE 3:51 pm: RTD reporter Graham Moomaw tweets:  "Court opinion on 3rd Congressional District: 'constitutional rights have been injured by improper racial gerrymandering'." Also: "Racial gerrymandering, even for remedial purposes, may balkanize us into competing racial factions" and " threatens to carry us further from the goal of a political system in which race no longer matters."
UPDATE 3:58 pmHere's a link to the decision. Also see BREAKING: Federal Court Strikes Down One Of The Most Aggressive Gerrymanders In The Country.
UPDATE 4:02 pm: Apparently, all three judges (Liam O'GradyAllison Kay Duncan and Robert E. Payne) were Republican appointees. The George HW Bush appointee (Payne) dissented, but the other two judges (O'Grady and Duncan) - both George W. Bush appointtes - held that "the maps that produced this result are unconstitutional and the legislature must 'act within the next legislative session to draw a new congressional district plan.'"
UPDATE 4:06 pm: The Richmond Times Dispatch is up with its story, which notes, "Changes to the 3rd will trigger revisions elsewhere, possibly jeopardizing the GOP's 8-3 advantage in the state's House delegation." Good!
UPDATE 4:29 pm:  ‏@KentonNgo tweets, "Note that judge ruling forces the VA maps back to General Assembly. Post-Puckett, the only hope for Dems is McAuliffe vetoes EVERYTHING." Which he should. I also agree with Kenton on the following:
"Only reason McAuliffe would play ball and sign is flimsy incumbent protection. Literally any court map is better" and "Forbes retirement is most geographically convenient, of course"

Barbara Comstock: Endorsed by Extremists, Silent on Marriage Equality, Attacks Daily Kos Instead

Gotta love it: a) Barbara Comstock has been endorsed by some of the rabid, hateful, bigoted, extreme individuals in the entire country -- people like Mark Levin, Sean  Hannity, the anti-Semitic "joke" guy, etc.; b) Comstock has supported extreme legislation herself, such as mandatory, state-enforced, transvaginal ultrasounds on women; c) Comstock has spent much of her career as a Republican attack dog and witch hunter, obsessed with the Clintons among others; and d) most recently, she's had no comment whatsoever on yesterday's momentous, historic events regarding marriage equality, but she has plenty of time to attack a progressive blog (and John Foust's utterly innocuous/standard Democratic responses to their survey, which you can read here). I remember back in 2006 when the George Allen folks attacked Jim Webb for raising hundreds of thousands of dollars on Daily Kos, and how that "attack" had zero impact on Allen's electoral prospects a few weeks later. Let's hope the same thing applies this year in the Comstock-Foust race.