How Many Seats Could Virginia Dems Gain in the House of Delegates in 2015?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

I made a graph (broken into two parts because it's so wide; click on each to "embiggen") of the 100 Virginia House of Delegates seats, with their performance in 2013 measured by the percentage that Mark Herring received. Out of these districts, which could be possible pickup opportunities for Democrats this year? By far and away, that would be district 86, held by retiring incumbent Tom Rust and a great pickup opportunty for Democrat Jennifer Boysko, who lost by just 32 votes in 2013. Other than that one, in descending order of Mark Herring 2013 percentages down to 50%, Democratic pickup opportunties would be: David Ramadan (87th), Jim LeMunyon (67th), Tag Greason (32nd), Dave Albo (42nd), Scott Lingamfelter (31st), Bob Marshall (13th), Randy Minchew (10th), Joseph Yost (12th), Ron Villanueva (21st), Jackson Miller (50th) and Rich Anderson (51st). Of course, Democrats would need strong candidates in those districts, with enough resources to compete.A few other districts that COULD potentially be competitive include 49% Herring 2013 performance districts in the 94th (David Yancey) and 100th (Rob Bloxom), and 48% Herring districts in the 28th (Bill Howell) and 68th (Manoli Loupassi). Beyond that, it's really getting to be a longshot in an odd-year, low-turnout election, but the next two would be Tim Hugo (40th) and Glenn Davis (84th), both in 47% Herring 2013 districts.
As for Democratic incumbents' most vulnerable seats, those would be the 34th (a 55% Mark Herring 2013 district held by Kathleen Murphy), the 93rd (a 56% Mark Herring district held by Monty Mason), and possibly the 2nd (a 56% Mark Herring district being vacated by Michael Futrell). Hopefully, we'll be fine in all of those, though. Anything else I missed?
Bottom line: Democrats should certainly pick up one seat in 2015 (Jennifer Boysko in the 86th), with the potential for several more, depending on how strong our recruiting is, how well funded Democratic House candidates are this year, what the national mood is looking like this fall, etc.

The Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines: Chap Petersen BlueDogSplains the GOP Frame

Friday, February 27, 2015

By Kathy in Blacksburg
The Interview
In an wide-ranging interview with conservative John Frederick, Virginia State Senator Chap Petersen illustrates how little Democrats have learned about building upon their own values to frame and argue their commentary. Democrats almost endlessly embrace the other side's deceptive frames.At the outset, let me say clearly that at the moment, we are not in a position to abandon natural gas in this county. But wantonly expanding the use of natural gas with reckless and widespread fracking is not the answer. In doing so, politicians and supporters of a runaway industry deny the very real negative impact on local aquifers and other bodies of water. They also ignore a host of other impacts of gas extraction, transportation,environmental degradation, and disruption. Apparent support for gas extraction has been built on the shoulders of expert industry propagandists. And most Americans, including most of our "leaders" have bought it hook, line and sinker.
Regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, right-wing host John Fredericks said: "Obviously, the extreme left-wing environmental wackos going bananas over it; they go bananas over anything except wind, I would imagine." Fredericks claims the pipelines would bring jobs. Ignoring the false claim of meaningful numbers of permanent new jobs, Chap first responds that perhaps he is one of those "wackos." Note Chap's embrace of this negative frame for environmentalists. Chap tries to briefly align himself with those who are pro-environment and then quickly abandons them.  He tries to have it both ways. But this is not before Chap had attempted, earlier in the interview, to carefully align himself with conservatives on several other positions. But that's a separate diary.
To assuage Democrats and those who care about controlling their own property, Chap says "you still have to respect people's rights." "You gotta pay people fair compensation." That should go without saying, but it doesn't in eminent domain cases, particularly in the fracking era. Initially, landowners are enticed to believe they can get rich. A few landowners might make a considerable sum. The rest reduced housing values and even, in numerous cases, suffer ruin. It gets worse. (Please follow below the fold...)

R.I.P. Leonard Nimoy

I've been a Star Trek fan my whole life, and there have been so many great characters and actors over the years. Still, if I had to pick just one Star Trek character it would have to be Mr. Spock, and the actor who played him, Leonard Nimoy. He lived long and prospered, I just wish the "continuing (orginally 5-year) mission" never had to end for this amazing man. Rest in peace. This loss really makes me sad.P.S. The following is Leonard Nimoy's last tweet, followed by tributes from his fellow Star Trek actors.
P.P.S. I forgot to mention the important point that Nimoy was a strong progressive, a champion for things like civil rights, LGBT equality, environmental protection and animal welfare.

William Shatner: "I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love"
George Takei: "Today, the world lost a great man, and I lost a great friend. We return you now to the stars, Leonard. You taught us to 'Live Long And Prosper,' and you indeed did, friend. I shall miss you in so many, many ways." Yep.
Brent Spiner: "Farewell Leonard. Glad I knew you. Thinking of Susan, Adam, and his entire family. And his vast extended family of Star Trek."
Levar Burton: "God Bless You, Leonard Nimoy... May Angels guide thee to thy rest!"
Jonathan Frakes: "#LLAP RIP to the best First Officer. @TheRealNimoy"
Wil Wheaton: "We stood on your shoulders, and wouldn't have had a galaxy to explore if you hadn't been there, first. Thank you, Leonard, Rest in peace."
Zachary Quinto (current Spock) - My heart is broken. i love you profoundly my dear friend. and i will miss you everyday."
Patrick Stewart: "It is with sadness that I heard of Leonard Nimoy's death. I was lucky to spend many happy, inspiring hours with him. He won't be forgotten."
Nichelle Nichols: "I am deeply saddened by the death of my dear friend Leonard Nimoy.  But, I also want to celebrate his extraordinary life.  He was a true force of strength and his character was that of a champion.  Leonard's integrity and passion as an actor and devotion to his craft helped transport STAR TREK into television history.  His vision and heart are bigger than the universe.  I will miss him very much and send heartfelt wishes to his family."

Video: Arlington County Board Member Walter Tejada Rips "Disingenous" "Choir of Negativity"

A few key quotes from outgoing Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada's appearance on the Kojo Nnamdi Show early this afternoon. I can't really disagree with anything he has to say.*The demise of the streetcar project "will go down as one of my major disappointments," but "it's not about me," it's about "the countless numbers of people that went into a very legitimate public process, totally vetted, with best practices and having a package that would have required the Columbia Pike area ZERO single-family-home taxpayer dollars to make it happen."
*The streetcar also would have "spurr[ed] economic development" and preserved "not some but all of the affordable housing."
*"Part of the it takes too darned long for the federal government to process applications for these types of infrastructure projects that will help revitalize an need to find ways to shorten the time that it takes for these types of things," in part so costs don't escalate. These are "strategic investments" that need to be prioritized and moved quickly through the approval process.
*The rejection of the streetcar "was a really bad step backwards" for Arlington County.
*Regarding Bus Rapid Transit, Tejada reiterated that Arlington County couldn't have had the "rapid" part, since Arlington isn't allowed by the state to dedicate a lane specifically for buses on Columbia Pike. So, "it was VERY disingenuous for those who were suggesting" that BRT could happen. That was part of the "choir of negativity that attacked our project with misinformation...How many times have you heard those who opposed the streetcar says BRT  since the [streetcar] project was cancelled?"

Video: Falls Church, Virginia Second Grader Far, Far Smarter than Scott Walker

Right-wingnut Gov. Scott Walker is not the brightest bulb on a wide range of issues, including of course energy and the environment. Here, he's asked by Haycock Elementary School (Falls Church, Virginia) second grader Aaron Stark what he'd do about climate change. Walker starts out ok, with the Boy Scout/campfire metaphor, but then Aaron follows up, much more skillfully than the Chuck Todds of the world ever do, by asking Walker point blank, "Do you CARE about climate change?" That's when Walker goes off the rails, as he starts talking to a second grader in Republican talking points about "ultimately" having "all the natural possible to move forward" blah blah blah. I mean, this really isn't complicated: if you're asked this question, certainly by a second grader, the answer is going to be pretty simple, that I care a lot, that this is a huge threat, and that we have to do something about it now! Of course, Walker couldn't do that because: a) he probably doesn't believe it; b) he's bought and paid for by the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel interests; and c) he's busy pandering for support from the crazy, science-denying, environment-trashing Republican base. Anyway, great job by Aaron, who I'd recommend as a replacement for any number of Sunday talk show hosts. :)

Video: 2013 Virginia LG Nominee Says SPLC "No Different" Than "Slave Masters Or Segregationists"

Thursday, February 26, 2015

For more, see Right Wing Watch, but in short, the 2013 Virginia nominee for Lt. Governor, EW Jackson, yesterday attacked the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for briefly listing 2016 Republican Presidential candidate (and an extremist by any definition of the word) Ben Carson in its "extremist files," claiming that SPLC's criticism of Carson was "no different than what maybe slave masters or segregationists would have said." Yes, you could brush it off as, "well, it's typical insanity by EW Jackson," but the problem is that Jackson't not an aberration in today's Republican Party. Remember, this is a party where top leaders, like Rudy Giulani and Scott Walker, routinely question Barack Obama's religion, patriotism, birth status, you name it. They also deny climate science and evolution, whlie routinely making outrageous comments about a whole host of other topics.  The question is, how can an extreme, John Birch Society-style freak show like this be a major political party in this country?

Endorsements Start for 2017 Virginia Governor?!? Talk About WAYYYY Too Early!

On Tuesday, after reading that Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam was essentially announcing his run for Governor of Virginia in 2017, I wrote that it's waaaaaay too early for us to be starting that now. First, let's focus on the 2015 state legislative races. Then, let's focus on making sure the Democratic presidential nominee carries Virginia in 2016 (and hopefully picking up a House of Representatives seat or seats). Then, it seems to me, it will be time to turn our attention to 2017.But certainly not now. Which is why I was happy to read that Northam had "walked that back somewhat Tuesday evening, telling The Richmond Times-Dispatch that he is in the preliminary stages of assessing whether a run is feasible and could be successful before deciding whether to seek the office." OK, cool, I've got absolutely no problem with any of that, particularly since it's 100% expected that, as Larry Sabato notes in the article, "I don't think I've ever met anyone who ran for lieutenant governor because his or her life ambition was to preside over the state Senate." And it's also fully expected that Attorney General Mark Herring will run for governor as well. But again, why on earth do we want to be starting this in February 2015?
Yet, whether we want it or not, here it comes apparently, with the first major endorsement of the election -- 2013 Democratic primary candidate for Attorney General, Justin Fairfax, endorsing Ralph Northam. What makes this one particularly interesting is that Fairfax is clearly running for Attorney General again, which means he hopes to be on the ticket of whoever the Democratic nominee for governor is -- Northam, Herring, or someone else for that matter. Given that we don't know who that nominee will be, I don't think that's a move I would ever have recommended, since it risks alienating any other potential gubernatorial nominees, but to each his own I suppose...
P.S. Just a side note, but I really wish politicians would stop referring to actual or potential political allies as their "dear friend," "great friend," or whatever, when obviously they're not.

Jim Webb Continues to Be Wrong, Horrible on the Environment

This is wrong on almost every level. "Creation of 40,000 jobs?" That's wildly untrue, been debunked over and over again (e.g., see here). In fact, according to a report by Cornell University researchers, ""The construction of KXL will create far fewer jobs in the US than its proponents have claimed and may actually destroy more jobs than it generates." As for having "no serious impact on the environment," to the extent Keystone XL encourages tar sands development (which is kind of the entire point, you know?), it will be very bad environmentally. Want to see what it looks like? Click here and check out what's been called"the most destructive project on earth." And don't forget the health impacts, which are nasty as well. For more, see Bird deaths reported on Alberta oil sands tailing ponds and Federal study says oil sands toxins are leaching into groundwater, Athabasca River. Also see Keystone XL pipeline may threaten aquifer that irrigates much of the central U.S.. We could go on all day, but the bottom line is that Jim Webb is wildly wrong about this, just as he's wildly wrong in ignoring/minimizing the #1 threat to humanity (and to many other species) - anthropogenic global warming. That alone should eliminate him from consideration by anyone who cares about the environment, or really any progressive.

Sens. Markey, Boxer, Whitehouse Query Dominion, Alpha on Climate Science Denial Funding

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

According to a press release I received earlier today, "Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) today sent letters to 100 fossil fuel companies, trade groups, and other organizations to determine whether they are funding scientific studies designed to confuse the public and avoid taking action to cut carbon pollution, and whether the funded scientists fail to disclose the sources of their funding in scientific publications or in testimony to legislators." Among those companies were two based in Virginia: Richmond-based Dominion "Global Warming Starts Here!" Resources and Bristol-based coal company/polluter Alpha Natural Resources. My attitude is that it couldn't have happened to two nicer companies. :) In all seriousness, though, their answers to these questions should be fascinating. Great work by Senators Markey, Boxer and Whitehouse on this!

Jennifer Boysko Statement on Del. Tom Rust's Retirement

The following press release is from Jennifer Boysko, who hopefully will be the next delegate from the 86th House district!
HERNDON- This morning Del. Tom Rust announced his retirement on the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates.  Jennifer Boysko, the Democratic Candidate for the 86th House District, made the following statement regarding Del. Rust's announcement:"I want to thank Tom Rust for his many years of service to our community as a Delegate and as Mayor of Herndon.  When Tom first ran for Delegate, I volunteered for his campaign because I had so much respect for him as Mayor.  While we have disagreed on several issues over the years, he has always been committed to serving his constituents and our community to the best of his ability, working in the harsh political environment, which has become more and more divisive over the years.  His accomplishments especially on transportation and fiscal responsibility are to be celebrated and will be appreciated for decades to come."
"It is always difficult to run against someone you personally respect.  I challenged him because I have been troubled by the Republicans in Richmond who have made it more difficult to govern in a moderate, common-sense manner, as Tom Rust so capably did as our mayor."
"I wish him well in whatever endeavor he pursues next and thank him again for his public service."

Ralph Northam: "I'm planning for the next step - planning to run for governor"

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It's late, but just a few quick thoughts on this news. First, it's waaaaaaaayyyy too early to start a race for 2017, when we're just two months into 2015, and just over a year after Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam and Mark Herring were sworn in as Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General, respectively. I mean, I agree with Northam that "if you're gonna run for governor, you can't do it at the last minute," but February 2015 is far from the "last minute" for a Democratic primary in June 2017.Second, our focus this year, now that the General Assembly session is winding down, needs to be on taking back the State Senate, with a secondary goal of picking up seats in the House of Delegates, not on starting a contest between Northam and Herring (and whoever else) for 2017.
Third, after 2015 we need to focus on making sure the Democratic nominee for President carries Virginia in 2016, and also on hopefully beating Barbara Comstock, maybe Scott Rigell and others as well. Again, we should NOT be focusing on the 2017 governor's race when we have other, more pressing things to worry about.
Fourth, it seems to me that the AG's office is a much stronger platform to get stuff done than the LG position, unless perhaps the Senate is evenly divided and the LG gets to break a lot of ties (which hasn't been the case this year). Thus, over the past year, we've seen AG Herring in high-profile cases dealing with immigration (e.g., Virginia attorney general declares 'dreamers' eligible for in-state tuition) andmarriage equality -- issues with great appeal to the "base." Perhaps that factored into why Northam felt the need to jumpstart this race so soon?
Finally, I'm not sure it bodes well for a unified Democratic Party heading into 2017 that Northam hadn't "discussed my next step" with Herring. I don't get that one at all.

Shocker: Teapublican House of Delegates Does Something Right, Nixes Secret Execution Drugs Bill

Good riddance this horrible bill (would have made the contents of execution drugs secret - seriously!), which just went down to defeat in the Teapublican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates by a 56-42 vote (I hear all Dems voted to kill it). I also hear that Del. Rick Morris (R) basically argued government of/by/for the people, and that government shouldn't do anything in secret. Del. Charniele Herring (D) correctly argued that killing human beings shouldn't be done under a veil of secrecy. In contrast, our old pal Del. Dave Albo (R), infamous for this embarrassing performance (among many many others) said it wasn't a big deal. Finally, Dick Saslaw deserves condemnation for sponsoring this horrible bill, as does any Democrat - or Republican, but you kinda expect it from them - who voted for this.

Death Panel: Virginia's Republican General Assembly

By Dan Sullivan
Virginia Capitol photo StateCapitol_zpsed333520.jpgTurns out they were right. There is a self-anointed death panel and it meets in this building. Recall they said that healthcare would be rationed? Now that they've managed it, they are quite proud of their accomplishment. What Republicans really relish is the surreptitious method: don't decide, just deny.Millions and millions and millions of your federal tax dollars have been flushed down the Potomac only to be harvested by wiser state legislatures. What could have been a catalyst for not only broad medical service sector growth but also the survival of rural medical clinics and hospitals was set aside for base political posturing. This should have been a simple financial decision. Instead it was a cynical sacrifice of their voiceless, powerless constituents for the protection of their own political hides.
Let's consider the costs because they are not limited to those dollars passed on to other states. Some number amounting to just under 5% of Virginians are without healthcare coverage because Medicaid expansion has been denied. That doesn't mean they go without healthcare. In many cases it means they go without healthcare until there is a crisis and then an emergency room visit and expensive procedure are required. Who pays for that? You can make up all kinds of voodoo financial and economic formulas but the costs get passed to those who are covered in increased insurance premiums and/or copays and/or deductibles. And maybe more importantly, in scarcer medical service resources. Visit an emergency room for the Republican version of healthcare delivery in the unregulated free market. They simply don't understand that the risk pool is the risk pool. No one in America is denied care in an emergency and those emergencies are exponentially more costly than preventive care. Republican denial of coverage poisons the well that feeds the pool. Welcome to the Teapublican Utopia.
On the other hand, some number amounting to just under 5% of Virginians now have healthcare insurance through the Federal Marketplace established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That hasn't solved every problem but it goes a long way in that direction. While some are subsidized, these policies are not some government giveaway. They are a way Americans can take responsibility for their financial exposure. Republicans talk about individual responsibility in a vacuum. They like to preach about it but don't want to facilitate it. The fact is that 60% of bankruptcies in the United States involve medical indebtedness. Healthcare insurance builds a firewall between personal financial survival and insolvency leading to financial disaster.

President Obama to Veto Keystone Bill; Activism Beats Conventional Wisdom

As President Obama prepares to veto a bill trying to force through approval of the filthy, dangerous, environment-trashing, very-few-jobs-creating Canadian tar sands export pipeline, I agree with what Miles Grant has to say: this is a great example of how activism can beat conventional wisdom.

Del. Rasoul's Bill Promotes Renewable Energy

Monday, February 23, 2015

By Elaine in Roanoke

Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke City), who was elected to fill the vacated seat of former Del. Onzlee Ware, authored a bill, HB 1297, to give localities the option to lower local taxes on machinery and tools for businesses producing or generating renewable energy or making equipment that will produce energy from renewable sources. The bill has passed both the House of Delegates and the State Senate and is being sent to Gov. McAuliffe for his signature.
"Every single Virginian benefits from a better environment and more energy independence," Rasoul told the Roanoke Free Press.  "We must look at the big picture and do what's right for the environment and for future generations.  Continuing to invest primarily in fossil fuels is both untenable and harmful to the planet, so we've got to start shifting our focus to clean and renewable forms of energy."
The bill was supported by the League of Conservation Voters and the Virginia Sierra Club and gives municipalities the option to lower the machinery and tools tax rate for businesses such as solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources.
Voting against lowering business tax rates to attract companies of the future were: Senate: Black, Chafin, Garrett, Martin, McWaters, Obenshain, Reeves, Smith, Stanley, Stuart. House: Adams, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Berg, Cline, Gilbert, Landes, Morris, Peace, Poindexter, Webert. And I thought all GOPers never missed a chance to lower a business tax!
Sam Rasoul is a new breed of representative in Richmond, and I hope he is joined by more like him after November. He stays in touch with his constituents, he is always approachable, and he looks to the future, not the past.

Video: Protesting Dominion Resources at Their HQ in Richmond This Morning

The Virginia Sierra Club reports: "Historic Event Today in Dominion Resources Accountability. Several protesters were arrested after blocking access to Dominon's Corp HQ and energy futures trading floor. While Sierra Club did not participate in the civil disobedience, [Richmond Conservation Program Coordinator] Kendyl Crawford spoke at the demonstration." Here's some of what the speakers had to say."Today, this is about civil disobedience opposition to the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline...this is not the way to a sustainable future...Dominion basically has a monopoly in Virginia, and it actually recently pushed through legislation to make themselves have even more of a monopoly; they're the largest non-party contributor to the Democratic and the Republican Party. Right now, pipelines are very much the front lines of climate justice. We're out here saying that we don't more entrenched fossil fuel infrastracture, we want renewable energy...this pipeline is the wrong way to go...we're trying to encourage our legislators and our leaders to make the right decision and to not build this pipeline, [but instead] to invest in renewable energy for a sustainable future. The future is not about...all of the many risks associated with natural gas -- pipeline explosions, toxic fracking, which is a huge threat to both air quality and water quality..."
"We have a moral obligation to act...Climate impacts are already being felt here in the Richmond area...The National Climate Assessment released last year announced that children, the elderly, the sick, the poor and some communities of color are the most at risk of the negative health impacts of climate change...the impacts of climate change are here today and they will intensify existing threats to health...We can not afford to let climate change amplify our health risks...African Americans are three times more likely to die from asthma-related causes than Caucasians...Approximately 78% of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. Although coal is often hailed as being one of the most cost-effective energy solutions, this does not take into account all of the burdens that weigh down on the communities closest to the plants.  Unfortunately, African Americans...end up suffering from increased rates of asthma, lost school and work days, not to mention lead exposure...Surely these expenses should be calculated as the true cost of our energy production. Which is why I am thrilled that just last year, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the Clean Power Plan...the first-ever national limit on carbon pollution from our power plants...cutting carbon pollution will not only protect our public health, but our public safety as well."

"Widespread Benefits" to North Carolina, but Not Virginia, from Booming Solar Economy

Duke University is out with a new study, The Solar Economy: Widespread Benefits for North Carolina, that illustrates what our neighbor to the south has been accomplishing with "solar-friendly policies," while Virginia languishes due to fossil-fuel-driven, backward-looking obstacles to clean energy development. Among the benefits to North Carolina (but not to Virginia) cited by the Duke report include: "North Carolina is home to over 450 companies involved in the solar industry, and they support approximately 4,307 jobs and represent at least $2 billion of direct investment in the state;" "providing jobs and economic development opportunities to all parts of the state, including rural areas that have struggled historically to create jobs and businesses;" "tax revenue that goes to local counties in very rural, poor parts of the state." Keep in mind that North Carolina's climate and sunshine are not much different than Virginia's, so there's absolutely no good reason that Virginia can't be reaping these benefits as well.

Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) Blasts Rand Paul as "unworthy of the office he holds" & of "higher office"

Sunday, February 22, 2015

For once I agree with Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA-02). Rand Paul is horrible. Of course, so is Scott Walker. And Jeb Bush. And Chris Christie. And... 

Why Won't Tea Partiers Allow Their Candidates to Be Recorded?

Gotta love it, the "freedom"/"don't tread on me" crowd won't allow citizens of this country, exercising their First Amendment rights under the U.S. constitution, to videotape their candidates. In this case, it's the Sully district (Fairfax County) forum put on by the Northern Virginia Tea Party. Candidates who have filed for this seat include Democrat Kathy Smith and two Republicans, John Litzenberger and Brian Schoeneman. The question is, why won't the Tea Partiers allow their candidates to be recorded? Afraid they might say something extreme? crazy? Hmmmm.

I realized yesterday that I hadn't really written anything here on the turmoil at the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV), including the departure (aka, housecleaning) of pretty much the entire RPV staff. I thought it might be helpful to provide a summary to what I've read, and what I'm hearing from my own sources. Enjoy -- with or without butter on your popcorn! :)*Earlier today, Lynn Mitchell reported that we should expect a complete housecleaning at RPV, which she calls "the St. Valentine's Day massacre," with pretty much everyone heading out the door. According to Mitchell, the end result of this will be that the RPV is going to be left with only "a state chairman and two staffers." Mitchell adds, intriguingly, "The interesting part is going to be the names Whitbeck comes up with for replacements." Note: Whitbeck, of course, is the anti-Semitic "joke" guy, now chair of the RPV. Charming, eh?
*In its story this past Sunday, the Washington Post emphasized that all of this adds more turmoil to "a party beset by infighting and financial trouble since then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's defeat," as "the party continues to try to cope with a schism between business-centric Republicans, including Cantor, and a tea-party influenced coalition of conservatives who currently run the party's governing board." I know, I know, it couldn't happen to a better bunch. Heh.
*Also swirling around the past few months has been Tea Partier Susan Stimpson's primary of House Speaker Bill Howell, including Stimpson's accusation that "residents of [Howell's] Fredericksburg-area district recently received a four-page glossy mailer that gives the incorrect impression that the party has endorsed him." Not surprisingly, these accusations did not make powerful people like Howell happy. More broadly, what I'm hearing is that the House and Senate Republican caucuses (aka, the "establishment") are in no mood to give money to a party they see as controlled by the same Tea Partiers who are busy primarying their incumbents, and who apparently are more concerned with (far-right-wing) ideological purity than about winning elections. Hey, that works for me. :)
*As Norm Leahy of Bearing Drift wrote recently, "one thing is clear: this is now Ken Cuccinelli's party." Leahy even alluded to "the whole thing from evolving into a kind of French Directory," referring to a less-than-bright (not to mention bloody) period following the French revolution. Again, all I have to say is, "Republicans, please don't ever change!" LOL

Cooch Cited Fossil-Fuel-Funded Climate Science Denier Willie Soon in Witchhunt vs. Michael Mann

In case you missed the big story this weekend, the New York Times reported that climate science denier and right-wing favorite "Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics," "accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers." As a result, as the Washington Post puts it this morning, "Things just got very hot for climate deniers' favorite scientist." Of course, Soon is just the tip of the iceberg, as there's a veritable industry of fossil-fuel-funded climate science deniers running around out there, befouling our public discourse, just as the dirty energy companies they've sold their souls to are befouling our air and water.Anyway, as it turns out, our old pal Ken Cuccinelli, when he was (appallingly) Attorney General of Virginia and waging a witch-hunt against climate science (and specifically against leading climate scientist Michael Mann), was busy citing some of those fossil-fuel-funded climate science deniers. That includes, as you can see below (from Cooch's "Civil Investigative Demand" against the University of Virginia, none other than...that's right, Willie Soon, who was falsely smearing the meticulous research of Michael Mann and many other scientists on the famous "hockey stick" graph. Not that Cuccinelli acting like this comes as a big surprise, but still, it's yet more evidence of how "in bed" with fossil fuel interests Cuccinelli was when he was Attorney General of Virginia. Now, can someone please explain to me why THAT is legal, even as Bob and Maureen McDonnell face possible jail time for their corrupt (but arguably, FAR less severe and damaging than Cooch's) behavior?

Must Virginia Play the Victim of EPA's Clean Power Plan Rule?

Dominion, and the Virginia politicians who worship it, have an explanation for their support of the utility's bill to deregulate itself.  Our state, they say, is being unfairly targeted by EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan rulebecause Virginia was assigned higher carbon dioxide reduction targets than some neighboring states.  It's one of those claims that, while superficially true, conceals many more important truths - like the following three:
1) The EPA rule is still only a proposal.  Legally speaking, there is no EPA rule yet, so why on Earth would we need to defend ourselves against something the details of which are almost certain to change?
The way Federal regulatory processes work, the proposal goes out for comment, EPA has to review and respond to every comment and revise the final rule accordingly.  And considering that EPA received over 2 million comments, nobody knows what the heck the final rule will look like.  Much of the current bellyaching, then, is really about working the referee - to get EPA to change the final rule, rather than responding in any serious way to it.
2) Numerous states have more aggressive proposed goals than Virginia - yet the ones with the lowest goals are complaining the most. The Georgetown Climate Center has superb resources on EPA's Clean Power Plan, including a factsheet showing all the state CO2 goals and how they were derived.  Bottom line per this analysis of the proposal is that 15 states have percentage CO2 reductions that are either more stringent than or equal to Virginia's.  So no, we are not the scapegoat here.
But here's the funny part - some of the states with the toughest goals proposed by EPA, like Oregon, Washington and California, are among those who'vewritten letters to EPA in support of the plan. Meanwhile, some of the states with the weakest proposed goals, like Alabama, Wyoming and Kentucky, are among those suing EPA to stop the rule.

Reps. Connolly, Scott, Beyer "deeply troubled" Over Potential Offshore Oil, Gas Drilling

Friday, February 20, 2015

From Rep. Gerry Connolly's office:

Reps. Connolly, Scott, Beyer Cite Concerns about Oil & Gas Drilling Off Virginia Coast in Joint Letter to Interior Secretary Jewell

“We are deeply troubled that the Department of the Interior has reversed its moratorium on offshore drilling off the Atlantic Coast”

WASHINGTON – Congressmen Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-3), and Don Beyer (VA-8) today wrote Interior Secretary Sally Jewell citing their serious concerns that Virginia and neighboring states are included in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s draft five-year plan for offshore oil and gas development.

The Virginia congressmen asked Jewell to reconsider the decision to include portions of the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf in the offshore leasing program for 2017-2022. Instead, they suggested that the Interior Department “build on opportunities to expand renewable energy production, such as wind energy,” which has the potential to generate nearly as much energy as offshore drilling and create 50 percent more jobs.

“While we recognize the tremendous strides you and the Administration have made toward American energy independence and appreciate there must be a balanced approach between conservation and oil and gas development to meet our energy needs, we are deeply troubled that the Department has reversed its moratorium on offshore drilling off the Atlantic Coast, specifically in waters off of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia,” Connolly, Scott, and Beyer said in their letter.

Innocent Until PROVEN Guilty? Virginia Senate Finance Committee Kills Asset Forfeiture Bill.

Hat tip to Coy Barefoot on this one, which occurred earlier this week. Coy writes the following (bolding added by me for emphasis):
Members of the Virginia Senate Finance Committee killed a bill that would have made it illegal for police to seize your property UNLESS you've been found guilty of committing a crime. That's right, currently it's LEGAL. It's called "civil forfeiture" - which is quite Orwellian- it's more properly described as government theft. The police can seize your property if you're simply suspected of committing a crime, not even proven guilty- and then good luck getting it back. Conservatives are split on the issue: some, following their own principles, see this as government power run amok- while others see it as a way of empowering law enforcement (police make BIG BIG profits off of taking the privately owned property of citizens). Anyway, here in Virginia at least, right now "civil forfeiture" is alive and well.
The bill, HB 1287, passed the House of Delegates by an overwhelming, 92-6 vote. It then was reported from the Senate Courts of Justice committee on an 11-2 vote. Last but not least, it was "passed by indefinitely," on a 9-5 vote, in the Senate Finance committee. Huh? Can anyone explain to me how it's possibly constitutional for the government to seize your property when you're still "innocent until PROVEN guilty" of a crime? I really don't get it.P.S. This article explains: "Police and prosecutors opposed the bill, while several conservative and liberal groups backed it. A letter in support of the bill on Monday was signed by Claire Guthrie Gastanaga of the Virginia American Civil Liberties Union, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and two officials with the Institute for Justice, a civil liberties law firm."

Apply This Cartoon to Pretty Much ANY Subject, and It's Still Accurate

Name one subject where this cartoon would NOT be applicable. Uhhhhh. But nope, no racism or double standards or Obama Derangement Syndrome or anything here. Oh no, most definitely not! (snark)

Why Did Virginia Republicans Ditch Their "Ninja" Bill?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

You might have heard about SB 1130, a Republican bill that would have "eliminate[d] the crime of selling, transferring, or possessing with the intent to sell or transfer blackjacks, brass or metal knucks, throwing stars or oriental darts, switchblade knives, ballistic knives, or other similar weapons." Throwing stars? Oriental darts? How about we just call this one the "ninja" bill for short? Ha.Anyway, believe it or not, this bill passed both the State Senate (25-13, with mostly Republican support but also a few "ninja"-loving Dems) and the House of Delegates (56-42, with only one "Democrat" - Johnny Joannou, who is de facto a Republican - supporting it). But then a 100% predictable thing happened: the media heard about this crazy bill and started writing about it. And writing about it. And writing about it some more. Clearly, it wasn't going to be much longer until this story was all over the comedy shows and national news as well, yet again mocking Virginia Republicans for their embarrassing/crazy/extreme antics.
And then, suddenly (no coincidence here I'm sure! heh), House Republican leadership decided to hold a revote, at which point the "ninja bill" got crushed, 83-17. What on earth happened? Did someone use the "brass knuckles" on our "ninja" or something?  Or was it more "brass knuckle politics" at work?
Based on what I'm hearing from my House Democratic sources, it's most definitely the latter -- politics, not policy. The background is that House Republicans have been doing whatever they can to keep things quiet this session, the political strategy being not to play into House Democrats' intent of creating "dilemmas" for Republicans, and instead to head into the 2015 elections (for the entire General Assembly) without anything to rile up the Democratic "base." For the most part, this strategy appears to have been working pretty well for Republicans, with a nice assist from the corporate media (e.g., this egregiously awful excuse for a "news" article). And then, creeping like a black-clad ninja, suddenly the "ninja bill" threatened to provide Virginia Dems, not to mention national comedians, for some great material that wouldn't, let's just say, play into the image Virginia Republican leaders want to portray. Thus, the "ninja bill" vanished -- poof! -- barely having left a trace that it was ever there in the first place. Meanwhile, we can all feel safe and secure, knowing that in Virginia, there are at least a FEW (very few) limits when it comes to lethal weaponry. I know, what a relief that we can now "only" be maimed/killed by pretty much any OTHER form of weaponry, but (hopefully) not blackjacks, brass or metal knucks, throwing stars or oriental darts, switchblade knives, or ballistic knives! Feeling better now?

#TBT Photo: Tim Kaine in 1980 Teaching Carpentry in Honduras

For "Throwback Thursday," here's a photo from Tim Kaine's Facebook page of him teaching a carpentry class at the Instituto Tecnico Loyola in Honduras in 1980. Pretty cool. Also, click here for Sen. Kaine's report on his three-day visit to Honduras, which he just completed.

Gov. McAuliffe: Veto or Radically Re-Write SB1349 by Sen. Frank Wagner (R-Dominion Power)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

( - promoted by lowkell)

Governor McAuliffe: If you sign this bill, SB1349, Dominion Virginia Power and Appalachian Power will be exempt from public scrutiny of their rates. This is occuring just at the time that the utilities will be making decisions about generation planning in response to the EPA Clean Power Plant rule -- when public oversight is critical.Instead, please veto this bill and show your independence from Dominion Power and their vast campaign treasure chest. Do this because it's the right thing to do, because it will save Virginians money on their electric bills, and because it will stand up against public corruption. I'd point out that the solar provisions added to the bill are initiatives that Dominion was taking anyway, and that the energy efficiency provisions are limited and have no required minimum implementation standards, so these are not arguments in favor of signing this bill.
I hope you will amend this bill to include MANDATORY renewable energy portfolio standards for Virginia-only solar energy generation as you promised during your campaign, and provisions authorizing community solar projects and power purchase agreements through third-party financing of rooftop solar, then send the bill back with those provisions. That would be best of all.
Last week, Virginia's two largest electric power companies demonstrated absolute power over the Virginia General Assembly. Dominion Virginia Power wrote the bill, which later included Appalachian Power. SB1349 removes these supposed "public service" utilities from rate regulation by the State Corporation Commission for up to five years. Yet, these utilities maintain their state-sanctioned monopolies, forbidding competition. As an added "bonus," Dominion has worked to kill all meaningful legislation this session that would promote rooftop solar in Virginia.

Video: More Than 11 Million Americans Are Now Covered Thanks to "Obamacare"

Great news; yet more evidence that hysterical opponents of the Affordable Care Act were, and continue to be, dead wrong. Also, just imagine how many more people - beyond the eyepopping 11.4 million number - would be covered if "red" states, and states with Teapublican-controlled legislatures like Virginia, would stop sending our tax money to other states while denying people affordable health care coverage by allowing for Medicaid expansion, as provided in the Affordable Care Act (but as the right-wing SCOTUS foolishly/nonsensically made optional for states)? In short, what Republicans like Bill "ALEC" Howell and Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy "No Ethics for Me" Norment are doing is just plain nastiness, for no good reason other than to save them from an even crazier right wingnut possibly primarying them. This November, we need to vote as many of these extremists out of office.

Here Are the Virginia Legislators Who Voted for Brass Knuckles, "Throwing Stars," etc.

Just what we need. Not surprisingly, almost every Democrat (but amazingly not all Democrats) voted against this, as did a few Republicans from "Obama/Kaine districts."

Rep. Bob Goodlatte HATES "activist judges" -- Except When He LOVES 'Em

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

So, Bob Goodlatte and his right-wingnut ilk hatehatehate (!!!!) "activist judges" when they enforce environmental laws, or let LGBT people have equal rights, or anyone else have equal rights, or interfere with their voter suppression schemes, or if they believe the lawsuit is for whatever reason "frivolous" or against THEIR (bizarre, warped) reading of the Constitution, or whatever.  But Bob Goodlatte and his right-wingnut ilk lovelovelove (!!!!) it when judges strike down or weaken duly passed laws (e.g., the Affordable Care Act) or prevent the President from exercising his Executive Branch authorities as granted under the Constitution and the law. A bit of hypocrisy here? Nah, because they are right wingnuts, they just make up their own version of "truth" and "reality" as they go long.

Dominion gets what it wants, but Virginia doesn't get what it needs

Monday, February 16, 2015

By Ivy Main

No, you can't always get what you want.
You can't always get what you want.
You can't always get what you want.
But if you try sometime you find,
You get what Dominion Power wants.
--With apologies to the Rolling Stones
I guess there's a reason I never made it as a songwriter. That last line is a disaster. But that, in a nutshell, is what happened to SB 1349, known as the rate-freeze bill, the ratepayer rip-off, or the Dominion bill, depending on whether you were pro, con, or still trying to figure it out.
The bill began and ended as a way for Dominion Virginia Power to shield excess profits from the possibility of regulators ordering refunds to customers. Along the way, Appalachian Power jumped on board, even though its president had already admitted the company had been earning more than it should.
When we last looked, SB 1349 was undergoing radical rewriting on the floor of the Senate, in real time. Conflicting amendments were being passed around. Outside the chamber, lawmakers from both parties were huddled in hallways with Dominion lobbyists. The coal caucus had already tacked on language making it harder to close coal-fired power plants. Now the Governor, progressive leaders and clean energy supporters were pushing amendments guaranteeing more solar and energy efficiency programs.
To get a sense of how impossible it was for the rank and file to follow, check out the bill history with its amendments offered and rejected, and the readings of the amendments waived.
With cameras rolling and the clock ticking, senators made speeches about provisions other people told them were now in the bill, but without anyone having the time to read the language they were expected to vote on.  That being normal, they voted on the strength of promises made and assurances given.  

Does Dominion Need Our Help? Ask Wall Street.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

By Kindler

Dominion and the politicians on their payroll give one justification for the power play bill that exempts the monopoly from govenrment audits until the year 2022 -- that EPA climate regulations will increase the company's costs, forcing it to raise its rates.When companies face a financial threat, no one is more attuned to this situation than investors. If Dominion is truly in trouble, the alarm bells should be ringing on Wall Street. But are they?
Quite the contrary. In a superb piece on Dominion's endless drive to deregulate itself, Jeff Schapiro drops this bombshell:

As momentum built for Virginia's latest accommodation of the utilities, the investment adviser UBS - in an alert to the markets - labeled Dominion the "king of the hill."Citing the company's spin to stock pickers at a private meeting in Manhattan last week, UBS said the latest legislation "removes one of the largest single risks" to higher earnings: That the SCC, if only temporarily, would be blocked from determining whether Dominion makes too much money.
Now, hold your horses -- we keep being told this legislation is needed to protect the poor consumer. Yet behind closed doors, Wall Street analysts are admitting that this legislation is really about letting Dominion profit -- at ratepayers' expense?
But wait, there's more. Here's what UBS had to say about Dominion last month:

Many analysts on Wall Street think that the EPA bill signed last year may actually provide a tailwind for this top utility.
kindler :: Does Dominion Need Our Help? Ask Wall Street.

Translating the Weekly Virginia GOP Address from Orwellian "Newspeak" to English

Another week, another Virginia Republican weekly address that is delivered in what appears to be Big Lie, Orwellian "Newspeak" (e.g., war is peace, hot is cold, up is down). Here, I'll attempt to translate into plain English what Del. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle, Fluvanna, Rockhingham, Greene) is really saying.1. Bell: "First, I am glad to report that the House of Delegates has passed a responsible budget that spends nearly $1.1 billion less in general fund dollars than last year's budget."
Translation from Newspeak: Actually, there's almost nothing "responsible" about this budget, nor is it a good thing that it spends $1.1 billion less than last year's budget. In fact, as House Minority Leader Del. David Toscano (D) explained recently, this budget badly underfunds education, while continuing "massive transfers of Virginia taxpayer dollars to a small number of companies," and not accepting "billions of dollars in federal money [in Medicaid expansion that could provide health care coverage to] 400,000 Virginians...30,000 jobs," and money that could have been freed up to spend on education, public safety, mental health, etc. Meanwhile, as Del. Kaye Kory noted, this Republican budget also "imposes new restrictions on a woman's right to choose." Great stuff, huh? No, but it's apparently something to brag about in the Orwellian Virginia GOP weekly address!
2. Bell: "We rejected Gov. McAuliffe's latest proposal for an Obamacare Medicaid expansion."
Translation: Virginia Republicans, unlike their fellow Republicans in many other states, to - as the Washington Post put it the other day - continue "insisting on a policy that targets its least advantaged citizens," for no good reasons other than rigid, right-wing ideology combined with utter terror by Republican incumbents at the thought of being primaried from their far right. And, believe it or not, they actually appear to be PROUD of denying health care coverage to 400,000 Virginians, while watching Virginia hospitals struggle and Virginians' hard-earned tax dollars flow to other states. No shame.

Republican propaganda masquerades as Washington Post Virginia politics coverage

Is this the worst article ever written by the Washington Post about Virginia politics? I mean, where to even start? How about the phrase "bewildering calm prevails?" Face is, there's nothing "bewildering" about a situation in which both chambers of the Gen. Assembly are controlled by the same party, and in which almost all progressive legislation is killed in subcommittees (where there's almost no sunlight/media attention), that is seems "calm." But it's not "bewildering" in the least bit if you think about it for 2 seconeds. As for "quietly doing the people's business," that's only true if you think that doing the business of...well, BUSINESS is the same as working for "the people." Bottom line: it's pathetic when the media simply parrots the establishment's talking points, doesn't dig for the real story, doesn't ask tough questions, has no clue what it's even talking about, etc. Yet this article fits into all those categories. #FAIL on all levels.

Video: "Sideshow Bob" Says Board of Health Can Only Spend Money on Abortion Regs He Likes

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Yes, our old friend Del. "Sideshow Bob" Marshall (R-Extremesville) is at it again. This time, he introduced legislation which "aimed at halting Gov. Terry McAuliffe's (D) push to ease existing regulations on abortion clinics." Nothing new there. What's "amusing" (in a dark, warped way) is Marshall's justification for his "reasoning" on this (e.g., his claim that his motives are really all about protecting "the safety of the woman" from "retained products" and other complications of abortions), and specifically his exchange with Del. Dave Albo (R). Check it out.
Del. Albo: "So your amendment says 'No expenditures may be made to implement any changes in regulations for abortion clinics.' What if some changes were changes that were ones that you liked? Like, say, pro-life oriented. Wouldn't your amendment bar that?"Del. Marshall: "If the McAuliffe administration is gonna start putting pro-life amendments on abortion clinics regulations, I will go to church every day and kneel for six hours, Mr. Speaker."
Del. Albo: "Well that's kind of not the question I asked you..."
Zing! Of course, Marshall doesn't care that Del. Albo nailed him, just goes on bloviating, including his opinion that the State Board of Health supposedly doesn't have the "competence" to be doing, well...exactly what it's supposed to be doing, which is prescribing standards for health clinics in Virginia. Amazingly, this amendment actually passed the House of Delegates, 52-47, thus becoming part of the budget bill, which itself ultimately passed with just 17 Democrats, plus Independent Del. Joe Morrissey, voting "nay."P.S. For all the Democrats - David Bulova, Michael Futrell, Eileen Filler-Corn, Johnny Joannou (if he can even be considered a Democrat), Luke Torian, Mark Sickles, etc. - who voted for the budget bill in the end, it seems to me that the inclusion of "Sideshow Bob"'s poison pill should have been more than sufficient for you to have voted "nay" on this. Of course, the failure to include Medicaid expansion should have been sufficient, in and of itself, to oppose this budget strongly, but that's a subject for another blog post.  

Video: Democratic Leader Toscano Explains Why Republican Budget "Doesn't Go Far Enough"

Friday, February 13, 2015

1. Education, including teacher salaries, is badly underfunded, and that lack of investment is hurting Virginia's education quality; 2) Tax preferences, which represent "massive transfers of Virginia taxpayer dollars to a small number of companies" and don't "work for their intended purpose"; 3) Medicaid is the biggest piece of why this budget "doesn't go far enough" - "billions of dollars in federal money...400,000 Virginians...30,000 jobs," money that could have been freed up to spend on education, public safety, mental health, etc.

Video: Delegates Hope, Surovell, Krupicka Explain Their Opposition to Weak Ethics Bill

Delegates Hope, Surovell and Krupicka nail it. Republicans, as usual, are totally clueless, in denial, want to keep the corrupt gravy train going, etc.

Do Barbara Comstock and Virginia Republicans Agree With New Party Leader's Insane Twitter Rants?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

In case you missed the Republican Party of Virginia's latest controversy today, Barbara Comstock's own 10th Congressional District Chair, Jo Thoburn, got caught penning a stunning collection of insulting tweets, often aimed at at members of her own party. While many people have been quick to denounce these hateful writings, one person has been eerily quiet on the matter: Barbara Comstock. While she's never been a fan of the media, one would think she'd take this opportunity to denounce the terrible, horrible things Thoburn said. After all, not only is Thoburn the top Republican Party leader for Comstock's district, she actually hosted a fundraiser for Comstock just a few months ago.
"This is yet another example of how the Republican Party of Virginia is out of touch with not only Virginians, but the concept of basic decency," said Morgan Finkelstein, spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of Virginia. "Of course, we've heard nothing on this from the party standard-bearer, Barbara Comstock. We know she doesn't care about John Whitbeck's anti-Semitic jokes, but will she stand by her spiteful fundraiser too?"

Apples don't fall far from the tree in the RPV's 10th District -- replacing Jew-Joke John with Insulting-Everyone Jo speaks volumes as to how the Virginia GOP cannot be taken seriously. A key GOP leader, Thoburn is charged with spearheading the party's effort to re-elect 10th District Republicans like Delegate David Ramadan, Senator Dick Black, and of course, Comstock herself. With friends like these running the show, Barbara Comstock is certainly earning her spot as a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee "One Term Wonder

VA House of Delegates Foolishly Wades into Arab-Israeli Conflict, Contradicts Decades-Old US Policy

First, let me just make it clear that I've been pro-Israel my entire life, in the sense that I support a strong, secure Jewish state, living in peace with its neighbors, and guaranteeing a place for Jews to live in safety. I'd add that I studied in Israel for a semester and have traveled all over the country, which is an amazing place, and one which I strongly encourage everyone to visit at some point in their lives! It's also an essential country, as the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps soberly, horribly reminds us.Having said all that, I most certainly am not supportive of the right wing (let alone the far right wing) in Israel, just as I'm not supportive of the right wing (let alone the far right wing) in this country. As far as I can determine, both countries' (far) right wingers advocate policies which are/would be harmful to their own countries. In the case of Israel, it's even worse, in that the (far) right wing in Israel and the (far) right wing in the United States appear to have teamed up, in the process potentially alienating Democrats and many liberal Jews (note that the vast majority of American Jews are Democrats and that most of them are liberal).  For more on that topic, seeNetanyahu to American Jews: Get LostHow dare Netanyahu speak in the name of America's Jews?, and Netanyahu's real victim? The American Jewish establishment. Also, as my friend Karen Duncan explains on her Facebook page:
If you are offended by Benjamin Netanyahu accepting John Boehner's invitation to address Congress, you are not anti-Israel and certainly not an anti-Semite. Many leaders in the Jewish community, including Abraham Foxman, head of the Anti Defamation League, and the Jewish Labor Committee are also opposed to it.So are many Israelis who do not want partisan politics to drive a wedge between Israel's and America's historical friendship. Even those in Netanyahu's own party, who support his policies, think this is a mistake.
Indeed, it is a cynical ploy by both Boehner and Netanyahu and it is all about driving a political wedge to win an election.
By the way: It's not good for the Jews.
I totally agree. I also could go on about this subject for hours, but I'll spare you. :) But wait, you ask, why are you bringing this up on Blue Virginia, a blog focused on the State of Virginia, not the State of Israel? See the "flip" of this post for more on that.

Delegates Lopez, Sullivan, Rasoul; Senator Favola Speak Out on Combatting Climate Change

Thank you to everyone fighting for climate action in Virginia. The forces of inaction are strong and well funded, but their position is completely untenable, certainly in the long run but hopefully in the short-to-medium run as well. That is, if we want to have a habitable planet to live on. Sadly, a lot of fossil fuel folks and their political allies care more about profit and greed than about current and future generations. Also note that moving to clean energy is a "win-win-win," in that it's good for the environment AND for the economy AND for electricity consumers (aka, all of us). So don't buy the false environment/economy tradeoff meme; it's utter bull****, just like most other words you hear coming out of the fossil fuel folks' mouths.

Embarrassing Video Shows GOP Senators Doubling-Down on "Blame the Media" Strategy

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

From the Democratic Party of Virginia:
A video out today, edited by the Columbia Journalism Review, shows Senate Republican after Senate Republican blaming the media for Virginia's desperate need for ethics reform. Rather than denounce Majority Leader Tommy Norment's original remarks, senators doubled-down on passing the buck to the press.Real ethics reform will never happen if Republicans don't take this issue seriously. Blaming the media for real ethics problems, problems that matter to Virginians across the Commonwealth, is the opposite of productive. Virginians deserve responsibility and accountability from their lawmakers, not bizarre finger-pointing at the press.
The only thing I'd add is that there are a few Democrats who don't take this issue seriously either, first and foremost Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-Dominion). And no, it's not "the media," it's the overwhelming majority of Virginians who want honest, clean, transparent government that does the people's business, not just the corporations and/or the super rich. Is that really too much to ask?

"They were afraid to have recorded votes in favor of their big dollar contributor, Dominion"

by Pontoon

 photo 150211CitizenLobyists_zps50ed2252.jpgThe Virginia Senate's Commerce and Labor Committee is Exhibit A in a case which exemplifies the influence of Dominion on the Virginia General Assembly. In its Committee hearing Monday, lawmakers first questioned whether Dominion Transmission is a "public service corporation" under Virginia law, during a brief discussion regarding SB 1166, which would have required Dominion to open its books if they used eminent domain in its projects.Friends of Nelson President Joanna Salidis, during her remarks, held up Code Section 56-49, even offered copies to the Senators, and said if Dominion Transmission is not a public service corporation, then why are we here, why are they getting these special carve outs only utilities receive? Attorney Henry "Hank" Howell 111 told the Committee during his remarks that these companies are not public service corporations. SB1166 was referred to a committee studying the FOIA statute.
About 50 landowners and community activists (some who brought teenage children) from Nelson, Buckingham, and Augusta Counties made the trek to Richmond Monday morning to lobby all 40 senators regarding SB 1338, which would repeal a law Senator Frank Wagner introduced in 2004, known as the Wagner Act. Code Section 56-49.01 purportedly allows natural gas companies to send "survey" crews onto private property to complete surveys, borings, etc. without landowner permission. There is no time limit for these "surveys," nor notification of a specific date to be given the landowner for when these teams of contractors will appear on their private property. This special exception is allowed only to natural gas companies and no other "public service companies" in Virginia.
The citizen lobbyists had previously set up morning  appointments with legislators. When they arrived, they broke up into eight groups to ensure contact and discussion with each Senator. They ate lunch and then made their way to Senate Room B where the hearing was scheduled to begin at 1 pm.
After a lengthy two-plus-hour delay because the Senators were in session in the Capitol, the hearing finally began. Senators continued to saunter in after the hearing had been gaveled into session by Chair Senator John Watkins.  Watkins, when meeting with one citizen lobbying group Monday morning said, "We need electricity, this isn't going to happen," referring to the repeal of SB 1338.

Meet the New Virginia 10th CD Republican Chair and Her, Uh, "Interesting" Tweets

Yesterday, The Bull Elephant reported that Virginia 10th CD Republicans had selected their new Chair (replacing John "Anti-Semitic 'Joke' Dude" Whitbeck, who is now RPV Chair believe it or not!), Jo Thoburn. I'd never heard of Thoburn previously, so I checked her Twitter feeds and fired up the ol' search engines. Here's a small sampling of "teh crazy" that I found. Note that "false flag" refers to Ron Paul's insane accusations that the chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government that killed hundreds of civilians was a "false flag" (entering conspiracy theory cuckoo land here), while the "Endorsing Evil" tweet refers to Rand Paul endorsing Mitt Romney for president. Also note that Thoburn is from the Ron Paul wing of the Republican Party. Keep in mind that Ron Paul is a long-time conspiracy theorist, racist, anti-Semite, homophobe, etc., etc.1. Thoburn says that "Jean Marie" (it's actually spelled "Jeannemarie," but as you'll see, Thoburn's command of the English language leaves much to be desired) as "slut."

2. She repeats the bizarre, completely false charge that Planned Parenthood is somehow "racist" for the great work it does.

3. Here she seems to be agreeing that E.W. Jackson never would have been nominated for Lt. Governor if he weren't African American.

4. Here she calls on Republicans to purge anyone she considers a "RINO" from the party, starting with then-Gov. McDonnell (who, based on many other tweets, she clearly despises, finds to be utterly corrupt, etc.).

5. Here Thoburn advocates that Christians not join the U.S. military.

(LOTS more crazy on the "flip")

Utility Execs See Need to Adapt to Fundamental Change...Except for the "Geniuses" at Dominion Power

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I've written about this previously, including back in January:
On the upside, policy is something we can change, at least in theory. Of course, the "powers that be" could decide not to change policy, but that won't help their pals at Dominion Power in the long run. For more on that, see David Roberts' superb article,Rooftop solar is just the beginning; utilities must innovate or go extinct. So,Dominion (and Virginia more broadly) has a stark choice: 1) continue to fight inevitable change, saddle Virginians with dirty energy for years to come, yet eventually see the entire business model collapse anyway (what Roberts calls the "death spiral"); or 2) adapt to a changing world, one in which even oil-rich Middle Eastern countries are moving heavily into solar power for purely economic reasons -- because its price is low and heading lower. It seems like an easy call to make, but as we saw just this morning, with the defeat of a Virginia renewable energy tax credit bill (by Del. Rip Sullivan) in a House of Delegates committee, there are a lot of politicians who still don't "get it."
Yesterday, Greentech Media (a must-read publication if you want to understand the world of energy) reported (from the DistribuTECH Power Transmission Conference in San Diego) that utility executives are increasingly realizing they need to adapt to the lightning-fast change occurring in their industry...or deny and resist it (and probably commit suicide by doing so). The former course of action is obviously the correct one, from the utilities' own long-term self-interest perspective, but that doesn't mean that all of them will "get it."As Greentech Media points out: "The threat is real. According to new research from Accenture, utilities face $48 billion in revenue losses by 2025 due to customer-sited distributed energy technologies."  Also note: "Michio Kaku, a renowned theoretical physicist, author and futurist, implored the audience to embrace technological innovation, or else get left behind."
In the case of Dominion Virginia Power, it appears that they are hell-bent on using their political clout (e.g., their bought-and-paid for state legislature and State Corporation Commission) to dig in their heels, resist change, and...eventually get run over by it. I'd almost say "good luck with THAT strategy," except in the meantime, they're hurting 8 million Virginians, the economy, the environment, you name it. So, instead, I'm hoping that Dominion's bought-and-paid for "allies" wake up and take a message of "tough love" to this arrogant (they seriously appear to think they're geniuses, but in fact they're close to the polar opposite), head-in-the-sand reactionary monopoly.