A Week of Hiding and Bigotry from Senator Dick Black

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The following press release is from DPVA; the clip by homophobic bigot and right wingnut Sen. Dick Black begins at 1:27.

It's been a bad week for Senator Dick Black. First, he is still refusing to say if he agrees with the Governor's actions on Confederate flag license plates. This is notable because Black has previously gone out of his way to support the symbol -- in 2003, Senator Black authored a bill to ensure that the flag could remain on Virginia license plates.

But that's not all:
In the video clip above, Black is not shy about his bigotry and intolerance for Virginians in reacting to the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage nationally. He says "the gay community is quite militant" and vehemently opposes the Court's ruling.
"Senator Dick Black is completely out-of-step with Virginians," said Morgan Finkelstein, press secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia. "In just one week, Dick Black showed a lack of leadership on the Confederate flag issue and a lack of character by insulting thousands of LGBT Virginians. Come November, voters will show him the door."

Audio: David Roberts of Vox Demolishes the Post-Partisan Fallacy

Great stuff from David Roberts of Grist on the "post-partisan fallacy" and the hard-core nature of the right wing in this country. First, though, some positive thoughts from Roberts about clean energy. *"It's going to be the growth of cleantech that ultimately forces the climate policy question, and I sort of think we're seeing the early stages of that happening...clean energy getting so cheap that it's starting to shift the politics, mainly at the state level." Roberts then talks about political polarization in the U.S., which he says "a lot of people still have not really, fully come to grips with." *In Roberts' view, political polarization is not just a "Washington DC phenomenon" or just about "too much money in politics" and that there's "still this mass of sort-of moderate, centrist people out in the country who aren't having their needs met, and I just think that's wrong...the polarization in the capital reflects polarization in the country." *"At this point, the U.S. conservative movement has become an identity movement, and part of that identity is opposing anything that Democrats support that might indicate the need for more government programs..more taxing or spending or regulating." *The "endless quest for the bipartisan or trans-partisan or post-partisan climate message that's going to unite everyone behind sensible policy is, I think, fruitless, has been fruitless, and was always fruitless..." *What's the alternative strategy other than coming together and joining hands?" "The other stratey is to beat the other side; if you can't win them over, you beat them. You know, this is something you don't have to explain to any Republican, but for some reason on the left, Democrats, the whole idea of winning as opposed to sort-of transcending partisan battles is still a little...alien to them." *There are "areas where this wall of Republican opposition has cracks in it," and it's usually in "cities and states," while the fedeeral situation is "just frozen right now." Roberts recommemnds concentrating on those cracks, be "opportunistic and ruthless" in wedging them open wider, gaining momentum from those victories until Republicans are overwhelmed, "scared" so much ("you're not going to persuade them") that they'll finally come around on clean energy and climate policy. *There should be an equivalent of the Sierra Club's "Beyond Coal" campaign for rooftop solar that finds the cracks in the wall, swarms the local fights and spreads them to other conservative areas. *According to Roberts, in theory there's an intellectual basis to right and left positions, but "the actually existing left-right divide in the U.S. is a different thing;" "actually existing U.S. conservatism" doesn't resemble in the least bit the "mythological conservatve" with "consistent intellectual views." Instead, it's a "completely tribal, identity-based movement." *For instance, if conservatives really followed their principles, they'd be "all over" removing regulatory barriers in all cases, but "what they care about is they like their kind of energy and they hate Democrats' kind of energy and anything that's going to help Democrats' kind of energy they're going to oppose -- see, that's not principled, that's tribal." *"That argument between what's the optimal policy...taxing, regulating, spending...that conversation is happening entirely within the left. There is no credible intellectual conversation about that happening on the right; the right has hardened into this sort-of reflexive, knee-jerk opposition to government as such, government doing anything, just the mention of government is bad and wrong...All the interesting intellectual discussions about climate policy...are all happening, practically speaking, within the left in the U.S...addressing this issue at all, having any discussion at all." *"You have to remember it's all about priorities, and today's Republican Party is centrally devoted to reducing taxes on the wealthy, that's their raison d'etre, and everything else is subordinant to that," so even if Republicans came around on the virtues of clean energy, how would that fit into their higher priority of cutting taxes on the wealthy, sharply reducing government spending, and reducing regulations. *"The ideology of the modern-day U.S. right has gotten so hardened and knee-jerk that there's no room left in it for credible policy on clean terms of the sort of massive movement we need, the massive industrial shift we need, you just aren't going to be able to pull that off if you hate government taxing and government spending and government regulating; those are the three things government does." David Roberts nails it as he almost always does. Now, why can't the Chris Cillizzas and other "mainstream" political analysts "get it" like Roberts does? Or are they contractually obligated to regurgitating conventional wisdom and other assorted pablum?

Senators Kaine, Warner Sign Letter on America's Energy Future to 50 Governors

Monday, June 29, 2015

This is good stuff overall, although vague enough that even coal industry shill Sen. Joe Manchin could sign it. Also, sorry, but this "all-of-the-above" approach is simply not going to cut it; with the climate already past the danger point, we need to get off fossil fuels ASAP. I'd further point out that the reference to "low-carbon fossil energy" is pretty much a farce. They're referring, of course, to natural gas, which certainly is lower in carbon content than coal or oil. The problems with natural gas are multifold, however: 1) its production releases the potent greenhouse gas methane; 2) it still contains climate-heating carbon; 3) in the U.S., the main way to produce it is via the dangerous, dirty, water-wasting, earthquake-causing technique called "fracking;" 4) to the extent we subsidize (implicitly and explicitly) natural gas production, we're both pulling money out of true clean energy (efficiency, wind, solar, geothermal, wave, tidal, etc.) and also undercutting true clean energy in terms of the economics; and 5) in sum, natural gas is a "bridge" in only one sense - a bridge to nowhere.Last but not least, I'd point out that many of these Senators - including both Warner and Kaine - support things that are fundamentally incompatible with the goals laid out here: for starters, there's no way to make offshore oil drilling or mountaintop removal coal mining clean, let alone to "[keep] our air and water clean for generations to come". I haven't heard the Obama administration or anyone who supports the so-called "all-of-the-above" strategy explain how that gets us to where the science tells us we need to be. And I know I never will, because the short answer is that continued reliance on fossil fuels is fundamentally incompatible with the future of a habitable planet for humans and other species.
P.S. Also notice the dearth of Republicans on this letter? That's truly pathetic, but sadly not unexpected from these fossil fuel industry tools.

June 29, 2015Dear Governor,
We believe it is time for the U.S. Senate to consider the first update to our nation's energy policies in almost a decade. In particular, we believe the U.S. must establish a framework that helps unleash investment in our infrastructure sufficient to ensure all American citizens and businesses have access to affordable, efficient, reliable and cleaner energy; and that we must do so in a way that cuts carbon emissions, in order to address climate change and the substantial impacts it is already having on communities across the country.
We are writing to ask your support for the following goals. Your feedback will help us collectively craft a path forward on an energy policy that unleashes America's limitless capacity for innovation, rewards middle-class families for making smart energy choices, and keeps our air and water clean for generations to come. In particular we believe in the following principles:
Investing in clean energy: The U.S. should continue on a trajectory that encourages investment, invention and deployment of the clean energy technologies that are creating jobs today, and will continue to do so for decades to come-from renewable energy and low-carbon fossil energy, to storage and advanced grid systems.
Empowering consumers: We must protect consumers, ensure the safety, physical security and cybersecurity of our infrastructure, and empower our citizens and businesses to make their own energy choices.
Modernizing infrastructure: We must modernize our energy infrastructure, to ensure we have reliable and resilient systems in place that can respond to the complex needs of a 21st Century economy.
Cutting pollution and waste: We must cut pollution and end needless waste in both the way we use energy, and in the way in which governments execute our energy policy objectives.
Investing in research and development: Finally, we must continue to make foundational investments in the research and development that ensure U.S. businesses will successfully compete in growing global markets for new energy products and services.
In short, we recognize that the success of our efforts to address today's challenges and tomorrow's opportunities will continue to rely on a foundational partnership between federal policymakers and States. As such, we seek your input on policies consistent with these shared principles, to help guide our consideration of reasonable, commonsense updates to our nation's energy policy.

Rep. Don Beyer Statement on SCOTUS EPA Ruling

Personally, I'd characterize this decision as far worse than "disappointing." Perhaps it's the diplomat in Don Beyer speaking there, because I suspect he must be highly displeased, just as anyone who cares about protecting our environment should be.
June 29, 2015 (Washington, DC) - Congressman Don Beyer expressed disappointment in the Supreme Court's decision today in Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency that rolled back Obama Administration environmental regulations for power plants:"Today's Supreme Court's decision in Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency is disappointing.  This ruling undermines President Obama's work to strengthen public health and the environment by limiting the discharge of hazardous pollutants from power plants," said Rep. Beyer.  "Our environment is the lasting legacy we will leave to the generations who follow.  I look forward to working with my colleagues and EPA Administrator McCarthy to craft a rule in line with today's decision that protects the air we breathe."
UPDATEDavid Roberts of Vox says "The Supreme Court's mercury decision is pointless." Let's hope he's right!

Video: At "Meet and Greet," Virginia State Senate Candidate April Moore Takes it to Mark Obenshain

Sunday, June 28, 2015

This afternoon, April Moore - running for Virginia State Senate against incumbent right-wingnut Sen. Mark "Criminalize Miscarriages" Obenshain - spoke to several dozen supporters at the home of Arlington County School Board Member Barbara Kanninen, host of the event. Among the attendees were State Senators Dave Marsden, Adam Ebbin and Barbara Favola; Delegates Patrick Hope and Alfonso Lopez; Arlington Clerk of the Court Paul Ferguson; Chesapeake Climate Action Network Founder Mike Tidwell; and former Democratic nominee for Congress Andy Schmookler (or as he called himself jokingly, Mr. April Moore). Also check out the video (on the "flip") of Barbara Kanninen, who blasted Mark Obenshain for his extreme record on...well, pretty much everything (e.g., education, health care, a woman's right to choose, the environment). Highlights of April Moore's remarks included: *She explained why people who don't live in her district should care about helping her beat Mark Obenshain. According to Moore, Obenshain is Virginia's version of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker - the "Koch brothers' guy" who has "divided that state terribly," "has gone after environment...all the while working to cut taxes for the wealthiest corporations." *Here in Virginia, "Mark Obenshain is the Koch brothers' guy," as the Koch brothers know that Obenshain will "advance their anti-democracy, anti-environment agenda." *It's also "widely believed that Obenshain is planning to run for governor in 2017, and we have got to stop him!" *"I'm running to win, but even if I can't win, if I can make a good showing...a better showing than Democrats typically make in our very red district, then that too will help weaken Mark Obenshain and weaken his chances of becoming governor." *She noted that she'd never run for public office, but she's running because of her passion for the environment and for fighting against climate change. She noted the "pernicious influence of Dominion Power," which she quipped "really puts the fossil in fossil fuels." *Mark Obenshain "has been with Dominion Power" all the way - to block climate legislation, to pass whatever legislation "greedy" Dominion wants - even if it hurts people in his own district. *More broadly, Moore argued that Dominion's power is a classic example of big corporations' "corruption" and power, "banding together basically to steal...our democracy...and the peoples' voices are being drowned out." *Moore is trying to reach out to conservatives in her district "by trying to use language that is meaningful to them...patriotism...Christian morality" and the "Golden Rule" (that includes future generations). The "first duty of a patriot" is to "protect the gift our Founders gave us - the gift of democracy." *"In speaking this way, I'm also talking about what's most sacred to me -- to protect our endangered democracy, to protect our endangered planet, and to protect our endangered children and grandchildren." *Finally, her goal is "to make sure that Mark Obenshain doesn't have the chance to do to Virginia what Scott Walker has been doing to Wisconsin." Great stuff, go April! :) P.S. I also had a chance to speak with April Moore prior to the event. She emphasized many of the themes that were in her talk, including how she plans to try to reach conservative voters in the district, particularly the Golden Rule. She stated bluntly, "I'm the candidate a real patriot should choose." She also talked about her grassroots strategy to get her supporters to the polls in this low-low-turnout year. She argued that Obenshain is "with the big money every time; I can't think of a single instance where he's voted for the people against what Dominion Power wanted;" also that Obenshain has been willing to "sacrifice his own constituents" on things like Medicaid expansion (just to "stick it to the President"). We discussed the rural hospitals in her district that are being severely harmed by Mark Obenshain and his party's opposition to Medicaid expansion. Finally, Moore argued that "progressive people around the state should take an interest [in this race]...It's in everybody's interest that I be able to run a strong campaign against Mark Obenshain."

Two Graphs on Crime Illustrate the Wild Disconnect Between Fact and Opinion in America

I was talking to someone at a party last night (yes, I occasionally go to parties, not just political events! LOL) and I was talking to them about how when we were growing up back in the 1970s, our parents let us wander around the neighborhood, bicycle across town, etc., and that somehow we survived it all. Today, of course, if a parent does that they're liable to get nailed for the horror of "free-range parenting".Why have things changed in that direction? Is it because things have gotten so much more dangerous in recent years/decades? Or is it more because the media deluges us with "if it bleeds it leads" coverage, making people THINK that crime and mayhem are out of control. Like the person I was talking to last night, who when I mentioned that the crime rate today had plummeted in recent decades and was now lower than in the 1970s, when we were busy being "free-range parented" and somehow surviving it, simply looked incredulous/disbelieving, like I was making it up or something, couldn't possibly be right, etc.
I told him just go online and you can find the statistics, that it's not like there haven't been articles like Violent Crime Drops to Lowest Level Since 1978US violent crime is lowest in 44 years and half the rate in 1991, so why have we become the United States of SWAT?US crime rate at lowest point in decades. Why America is safer now.FBI: Violent crime rates in the US drop, approach historic lows, etc, etc.
Yet really, there's no reason to single out the person I was talking to last night, since I see this phenomenon all the time on a wide range of issues (also, see the graph below which shows widespread ignorance of the plunging U.S. crime rate): people simply aren't aware of the data/empirical evidence, and hold whatever beliefs they do for whatever reasons, regardless of the fact that they are not factually based in any way.
Harmless, you might think, except that these wrong/warped beliefs adversely impact public policy. For instance, to the extent that people believe crime is rampant, they might favor super-tough sentencing guidelines, militarized police forces, restrictions on civil liberties, etc. Another example: to the extent that people believe "Islamist terrorism" is a huge threat to America, even when More Killed by White Extremists Than Jihadists Since 9/11, it certainly has public policy implications. Finally, when people complete ignore decades of climate science, 99%+ consensus among scientists, and reams of evidence that the world is warming dangerously, that obviously leads to horrendous public policy consequences.
Sure, the corporate media bears a great deal of blame here, as do interest groups (e.g., the fossil fuel industry) who actually spend money trying to deceive the public. But in the end, I also believe that individuals have a responsibility as well. I mean, finding the articles I linked to above on crime in America, or the graphs in this blog post, took me about 5 minutes (max) of Googling. This really isn't that hard, which means there's really no excuse for people to be ignorant about stuff like ths.

DPVA Pushes Decision on Current Chairs Terms to Committee; RPV Chooses '16 Primary, '17 Convention

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Quite a contrast between the two Virginia political parties today, with a deeply divided Virginia GOP fighting and fighting...and fighting...and fighting over whether to hold a convention or primary for president in 2016, and also whether to hold a convention or primary in 2017 statewide elections. For more on the RPV meeting, being held in Staunton, see The Bull Elephant liveblogLynn Mitchell's live blog, and/or Bearing Drift's liveblog (note: yep, that's right, there are THREE conservative blogs covering today's RPV meeting live from the event; none covering today's DPVA meeting from the event itself). Anyway, here are few highlights from the two meetings.DPVA: I'm told that the Steering and Central committees decided to push off the question of whether current chairs terms should be extened to three years (from the current two years), with an ad-hoc committee of Chairs and Steering members to be formed to study the issue and report back in September. Hopefully, that kills this truly lame idea (I've heard from a couple sources that it almost certainly does), but we'll see. Other than that, I hear that DPVA Chair Susan Swecker talked about changes she's made, including new hires (e.g., a Communications Director) to staff up/strengthen DPVA, as well as the successful "JJ" dinner.
RPV: As of 5:19 pm, according to The Bull Elephant's Steve Albertson, "Secret balloting on the 'Primary and a Promise' motion has begun." Many hours were spent today debating the relative merits (or lack thereof) of holding a primary or convention for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, as well as a primary or convention for statewide elections in 2017. Sounds like the party is deeply divided, with Republican Brian Schoeneman tweeting earlier, "41-39 vote against a roll call vote for primary vs convention. Pandemonium erupts." Discord and even "pandemonium" among Virginia Republicans? Works for me! :)  In the end, it may very well be that a compromise passes, in which the 2016 nominating process is by primary, the 2017 process by convention. To my way of thinking, a Republican convention is more likely to produce an "extreme team," which is far more likely to lose in the general election than a more sane/moderate ticket, so that's fine with me. Still, would have been great to see Virginia Republicans screw up their 2016 presidential process as well (although some of them apparently fear - with the usual paranoia seen on the right wing- that Democrats might come out to vote for Donald Trump, or whoever the least electable Republican candidate might be).
P.S. Daily Press reporter Travis Fain has been covering the RPV meeting and has had some entertaining tweets. For instance: "You know that phrase 'herding cats?' Pretty sure that's easy by comparison to this RPV meeting." Also: "Whitbeck: Before you yell or blog 'think about... one thing ... Is what I'm about to do going to help us win Virginia in 2016?'"  I also like this tweet by ultra-conservative Republican Del. Greg Habeeb: "FWIW, I feel like I'm usually a pretty good decision maker. I'm thinking the decision to attend this SCC meeting wasn't my best one."
UPDATE 5:46 pm: Steve Albertson of The Bull Elephant reports, "The motion to bind Virginia's Republican delegation by primary has carried. Vote was 42 to 39 and 1 abstention." That's for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. For 2017, it looks like another convention, and possibly another "extreme team." LOL. Also, Markus Schmidt (@MSchmidtRTD) of the RTD tweets, "BREAKING: @VA_GOP will hold a statewide primary on Super Tuesday March 1, 2016 to back a presidential nominee."

Video, Transcript: Hillary Clinton Speaks to Virginia Democrats

Hillary Clinton speaks to around 2,000 Virginia Democrats at the "JJ" Dinner last night in Fairfax. Video courtesy of the Clinton for President campaign; transcript on the flip.

Video: Virginia AG Mark Herring Press Conference on SCOTUS Marriage Decision

Friday, June 26, 2015

The following video is from Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring's press conference, held a bit earlier this afternoon in Arlington, on the Supreme Court's historic marriage quality decision. Also in attendance were Laura Herring; Delegates Patrick Hope, Marcus Simon and Rip Sullivan; Arlington County Board member Jay Fisette; Arlington County Clerk of the Court Paul Ferguson; Arlington County School Board member Abby Raphael; Virginia Solicitor General Stuart Raphael; Commonwealth's Attorney Theo Stamos; Arlington Democratic County Board nominees Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey. AG Herring called today's decision "truly an historic and extraordinary moment in our nation's recognition that Americans cannot and will not be denied dignity, rights and responsibilities including those of marriage, simply because of who they love." Herring added that the work to achieve "equality and a level playing field for every Virginian is not done yet." See the "flip" for more video, of AG Herring answering a few questions from reporters. P.S. Just imagine if arch-reactionary and homophobe Mark Obenshain (R) had been elected AG instead of Mark Herring, how this all might have played out differently, with an AG potentially fighting tooth and nail to maintain anti-LGBT discrimination instead of being the "tip of the spear" in the path to today's historic Supreme Court ruling. Yes, elections really do matter, as does your vote!

SCOTUS Affirms Right of Gays to Marry, Virginians React

Two days in a row, two - or three, if you count the fair housing case - excellent decisions by the Supreme Court (and no, I can't believe I'm actually saying those words!). Yesterday, it was the Affordable Care Act and Fair Housing, today it's gay marriage (in a 5-4 decision which should have been wider). Great stuff, and a rebuke to the Ken Cuccinellis, E.W. Jacksons, and others (e.g., a lot of the people who showed up at last night's Fairfax County School Board meeting) who continue to live in the intolerant past, while the country moves ahead despite of them. Also, congratulations to Virginia AG Mark Herring, who has done superb work on this issue, in spite of brain-dead attacks by homophobes/right wingnuts against him. Here's a key phrase from the SCOTUS ruling:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
Also, here's Sen Tim Kaine's statement. I'll post more statements in the comments section when I see them.
By recognizing the constitutional right of all people to marry the person they love, the Supreme Court has guaranteed that, across the country, same-sex couples will have their relationships treated with the full legal dignity and respect that they deserve. With our country's fundamental ideal that 'all men are created equal' in mind, I welcome the end of discriminatory bans that have, until today, denied same-sex couples the privileges, responsibilities, and joys of marriage. This is an important step on our continuing quest to create a more perfect union.

Video: More Craziness in Fairfax County as "Family Life Education" Curriculum Debated, Voted On

Another fun night at the Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) Board Thursday night, this time as the Board debated "Family Life Education" (FLE) curriculum changes. As with the May 7 School Board meeting on transgender protections, it appears that many of the same organized, right-wing, anti-LGBT folks came out to (loudly) express their point of view. See video from the meeting to the right, and let your jaw drop as you listen to some of this insanity, bigotry, ignorance, fearmongering, etc. Fortunately, as Josh Israel reports, it all turned out well in the end:
Thrilled to report that the Fairfax County School Board voted 10-2 to add age-appropriate, science-based Family Life Education curriculum changes that include the vital message that there are LGBT people in the world and that that is okay. Thanks to them, LGBT kids, questioning kids, and kids from atraditional families will be safer and our community will be stronger.
As for the video, a few highlights include strong presentations in support of Family Life Education from 43:37 to 52:07 and from 59:19 to 1:05:40); craziness starting at 52:28 (by Laura Hanford, who claims "this vote is not about bullying or hatred," that there's been "outright deceit" on this by the School Board, and that the curriculum presented is "so extreme on gender and sexaulity that it offended families and people of faith all over the county"); continuing at 56:00 (by Thomas Valentine, who complains about "radical policy changes," falsely compares being transgender identity to anorexoia and that it's a mental illness, and claims this is all about "ideologues who want to force their beliefs onto the children of the county"); predictable craziness from long-time anti-LGBT activist Steven Hunt starting at 1:05:55, from a representative from the "Traditional Values Coalition" starting at 1:09:28, and from 1:12:58 (absurdly claims that protecting LGBT students constitutes discrimination against people of faith). Then there are the bat**** crazy videos -- oh my god, the videos (starting at 1:16:34). It's hard to even know what to say about a lot of this stuff, including the 15-year-old boy reciting the Boy Scout's oath; the guy who says "mankind cannot change sex chromosomes," that transgender identity is a dangerous "belief," and then goes all "violate Godwin's Law" on us by managing to mention Sodom and Gomorrah, Nazi Germany and Martin Niemöller's "First they came for..." quote); etc. Craaazy.Finally there's the debate itself, with the crowd getting more and more upset, and with the Board majority (other than the two right wingnuts on the Board) struggling to figure out some sort of way to move forward. I hear that they were in disarray leading up to the meeting, but finally came together just minutes before the meeting started. Of course, nothing the Board majority could ever do on this topic would have satisfied the anti-LGBT activists in the crowd, even though the fact is that parents can opt their children out of FLE if they feel strongly about it. So what's the problem then? Why do these people want to tell every other parent what to do, when they already have the right to do what they want with their own kids? Hmmmm.

Dominion makes a play for utility-scale solar, but Amazon steals the show

Thursday, June 25, 2015

This winter Dominion Virginia Power promised Governor Terry McAuliffe it would build 400-500 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale solar power in Virginia by 2020, part of the deal it cut to gain the governor's support for a bill shielding it from rate reviews through the end of the decade. The company also took a welcome first step by announcing a proposed 20-MW solar farm near Remington, Virginia.The applause had hardly died down, though, when Amazon Web Services announced it would be building a solar project in Accomack County, Virginia, that will be four times the size of Dominion's, at a per-megawatt cost that's 25% less.
Why such a big difference in cost? The way Dominion chose to structure the Remington project, building and owning it directly, makes it cost more than it would if a third party developed the project, as will be he case for the Accomack project. That means Dominion is leaving money on the table-ratepayers' money.
There is nothing wrong with the Remington project otherwise. The site seems to be good, local leaders are happy, and solar as a technology has now reached the point where it makes sense both economically and as a complement to Dominion's other generation. But by insisting on building the project itself, and incurring unnecessary costs, Dominion risks having the State Corporation Commission (SCC) reject what would otherwise be a great first step into solar.
And that's a crying shame, because solar really is a great deal for consumers these days. Utilities now regularly sign contracts to buy solar for between 4.5 and 7.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Compare that to the 9.3 cents/kWh cost of electricity produced by Dominion's newest coal plant in Virginia City, and it's no wonder that solar is the fastest growing energy source in the country.
Utilities get those rates by buying solar energy from solar developers, not by playing developer themselves. From the ratepayer's point of view, developers have three advantages over utilities: they are experts at what they're doing, they work on slimmer profit margins, and they get better tax treatment. Dominion loses all three advantages if it builds the Remington solar farm itself.  
ivymain :: Dominion makes a play for utility-scale solar, but Amazon steals the show
Dominion has already demonstrated its lack of solar knowhow. In a May 7, 2015 filing with the SCC (case PUE-2011-0017), it admitted its "Solar Partnership Program," which puts solar on commercial rooftops, is a year behind schedule and will total less than 20 MW of the 30 MW legislators wanted.  Previously the company had told stakeholders it would likely hit its $80 million budget limit with only 13-14 MW installed.As for profit margins, Dominion gets a guaranteed 10% return on its investments. This explains its desire to build solar itself, but it's hard to justify charging ratepayers a 10% premium when there are cheaper alternatives courtesy of the free market. Unlike Dominion, solar developers have to compete against each other, so they accept much slimmer profit margins.
And then there are the tax implications. A third-party developer can claim the federal 30% tax credit immediately, and can take accelerated depreciation on the cost of the facility over five years. A utility has to take both the tax credit and the depreciation over the expected life of the facility, 20 years or more.
These three factors-knowhow, free-market cost competition, and tax implications-add up to huge savings for consumers when a project is put out to bid by third-party developers.
Just how big the savings could be is clear from a comparison of Dominion's solar farm with Amazon's project, to be built by a third-party developer. Dominion says Remington will cost $47 million for 20 MW, or $2.35 million/MW. Amazon's project is reported to cost $150 million for 80 MW, or $1.875 million/MW. That is a difference of about 25%.
Obviously, then, the better way to finance Remington is for Dominion to put the project out for competitive bid among solar developers. Dominion won't make as much money for its shareholders, but it will save money for ratepayers. And really, as a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Dominion ought to jump at the chance to live up to ALEC's "free markets" mantra.
More to the point, keeping costs down this way will make it possible for the project to get SCC approval, opening the way to many more like it. With hundreds of megawatts still to go, Dominion needs to show it can do solar right.
In fact, Dominion should put out a request for proposals for the full 400 MW it says it plans to build. This could include revisiting its refusal to buy power from another proposed solar farm that went nowhere. That solar facility in Clarke County, proposed by OCI Solar Power six months ago, would have added another 20 MW to the grid. With only a year and a half to go before the 30% federal tax credit drops to 10%, Virginia ratepayers have a right to expect many more solar farms, and soon.
Frustration over Dominion's slow pace is widespread among solar advocates. Cale Jaffe, Director of the Southern Environmental Law Center's Virginia office, noted, "Last General Assembly session, Dominion committed to building 400 megawatts of utility-scale solar projects in Virginia by 2020.  The General Assembly then passed, at Dominion's urging, legislation declaring up to 500 megawatts of new solar projects to be in the public interest. But, unfortunately, Dominion appears to be getting out of the blocks very slowly when it comes to solar power.  I'm concerned that the company is not currently on pace to live up to its pledge." SELC has intervened in the Remington case on behalf of environmental groups Appalachian Voices and Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
Of course, we also need solar from all sources, not just our utilities. Homeowners, small businesses, nonprofits, and big industrial customers-all should be encouraged to build solar as a matter of the public interest. Solar diversifies our energy base, creates local jobs, strengthens the electricity grid, and will help Virginia meet the EPA's Clean Power Plan.
Even 500 MW of solar pales compared to the 4,300 MW of new natural gas plants Dominion expects to have built by 2020. When you adjust for capacity factors, in 2020 solar will make up less than five percent of Dominion's power generation from new projects, and barely a blip on the radar screen of total generation.
While sad, this is hardly news. Virginia famously lags behind neighboring states in developing solar resources. Maryland had 242 MW of solar installed at the end of 2014 and expects to meet its goal of 1,250 MW by the end of 2015. North Carolina has over 1,000 MW and counting. The same source puts Virginia at a grand total of 14 MW.
(In fairness I think our total has to be a little better than that, but when your state's total looks like some other state's rounding error, who really stops to crunch the numbers?)
Getting serious about solar means opening our market to competition. 
Attracting more projects like Amazon's will require the General Assembly to pass legislation removing all barriers to third-party power purchase agreements. Amazon's solar farm has the advantage of being located on the Maryland border. It will feed into power lines owned by Delmarva Power, and then into the PJM transmission grid serving the multistate region that includes Virginia. It will not serve Amazon's data centers in Virginia directly, but will simply offset their power demand. If Amazon or anyone else wanted to put in a similar solar farm elsewhere in Virginia, they would run into restrictions on third-party power purchase agreements and the absurd terms and conditions imposed by our utilities even on large corporate customers.
Tearing down the barriers that prevent the private market from building solar is critical to closing this gap. Dominion made a half-hearted effort to serve big customers, in the form of its cumbersome "RG tariff." The fact that no one has used it, and Amazon has done an end-run around it, proves how worthless it is. Virginia should put an end to utility red tape, open the market to competition, and let the sunshine in.
The State Corporation Commission will hear arguments on the Remington proposal starting at 10 a.m. on July 16, 2015 at its offices in Richmond. The case is PUE-2015-00006.
Citations can be found at

Jim Webb's Presidential Exploratory Campaign Finally Gets Some Attention, Just Not the Good Kind

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Just days after the murder of nine African Americans attending church by a Confederacy-loving white supremacist, the Confederate flag is coming down fast across the United States, even in places like Alabama and possibly South Carolina. It's also coming off shelves at America's leading merchants and the internet. Heck, it's even gotten at least some 2016 Republican presidential candidates to call for the flag to come down. On the 2016 Democratic presidential side, you'd think this would not be a tough call, and indeed it hasn't been for Martin O'Malley, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Lincoln Chafee. The one exception on the Democratic side, of course, is our own Jim Webb, who many of us strongly supported for U.S. Senate in 2006. That's not particularly surprising, of course, given Webb's long history of "contrarian stances on the Confederacy." It's also not surprising given that the person who is de facto running his campaign, Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, happens toi be "an even more ardent fan and defender of the Confederacy" who "sleeps under a Rebel-flag quilt, and when challenged on such matters he has invited his inquisitors to 'kiss my Rebel ass.'" Given all that, we certainly shouldn't be surprised by Webb's position on the Confederate flag, even if we strongly disagree with it (which I most certainly do). The big question for Webb, though, is how his statement is playing among potential Democratic primary voters, and also more broadly. One thing's for sure; it's certainly getting him a great deal of attention for the first time in his exploratory "campaign" for president. For instance, I checked Twitter not too long ago, and Jim Webb was the #4 "trending topic." Webb's also the top subject at Memeorandum, a widely-read political news aggregator. Finally, on Webb's Facebook page, we're now up to 1,090 "likes," 506 comments and 472 "shares." Not bad for a page that has been relatively quiet unti now. Except for one problem: the comments on Webb's Facebook post are generally scathing, as are the comments on Twitter, as are most Democratic-leaning blog posts. Here's a short sampler. *The top-rated comment on Webb's FB page: "Honorable people fight on the both sides of every war. It's the casus belli that matters. Honoring the "white man's flag" (their words, not mine) excludes millions of black slaves who lived in the antebellum south and would have opposed war and slavery if they'd been asked. Their humanity was ignored then, and honoring confederates ignores their humanity today." *The second-highest-rated comment on Webb's FB page: "...Let the flags of the confederacy be displayed in museums, CSA burial grounds, battlefields, and private homes and businesses; but not alongside the American flag at a capitol that is supposed to represent all Americans and citizens of those states." *The third-highest-rated comment on Webb's FB page: "Mr. Webb, as an active duty Marine I'd love to support you. But as many others have pointed out here, the complicated history and honor that may have been carried in the hearts of individual soldiers does not excuse the wrongness of the white supremacist society that they fought for and that their battle flag came to symbolize. I am deeply disappointed in your position on this matter." *Progressive blog Hulabaloo: "It's not really complicated at all. People like Webb just want to pretend it is. The flag is, and always has been, a 'political symbol that divides us.' It has no place in public in a decent society in 2015 --- it is a historical artifact that should be studied for what it has represented --- and not a damn bit of it was good." *Popular satirical blog Wonkette writes sarcastically: "‘Democrat’ Jim Webb Fondly Remembers Slave Holders, Still Won’t Be President." *Raw Story reports, "Dem presidential hopeful Jim Webb hammered for defending Confederate flag in bizarre Facebook post." That's just a sample of what I'm seeing online. I also heard from several 2006 Webb campaign alums today. One of them said this is a "huge problem" for Webb and just seemed utterly disgusted. Another said, "so pig headed...hasn't changed a bit!" And a strong Webb supporter from 2006 told me, "Mudcat is not the best adviser any more for these things, if he ever really was. To me, it's pretty unequivocal that the flag is racist." Bottom line: In the end, Webb's 2016 presidential "exploratory" campaign finally get a bunch of attention today, just not in any way that will help him have the slightest shot at winning the Democratic nomination.

Fairfax County School Board Dems About to Make Huge Mistake?

(UPDATE 6:36 pm: I hear that School Board members still haven't figured out what they're doing to do tomorrow. I also hear that there's some confusion/consternation over which specific items should be included in the FLE (which parents can opt their kids out of) and which specific items are in health education mandated by the state (which can't be opted out of). - promoted by lowkell)

If you live in Fairfax County and somehow missed the heated debate on May 7 over transgender rights in the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) system, it was basically a couple hours of bigotry, rage, vitriol, disrespect, ignorance and lunacy by a howling mob of parents opposed to...god knows. But if you listen to them, allowing a few kids to pee in the relevant bathroom apparently constitutes The End Of All That Is Good and Sacred/America As We Know It.Fortunately, the School Board did not back down to the bullies, but instead voted overwhelmingly (all Democrats in favor) to protect FCPS teachers and udents and teachers from being discriminated against on the basis of their gender identity. The only "no" vote was, predictably, by rabid right-winger Elizabeth Schultz, and the only abstention by Republican Patricia Reed. So...issue settled, right? Well, no. Actually, this Thursday, another FCPS Board meeting is scheduled, at which the Board will debate and vote on "Family Life Education Annual Curriculum Recommendations and Lesson Objectives." Sounds innocuous enough - you can read an FLE fact sheet here - but of course it probably won't be, sad to say. Instead, it's likely that the meeting will be packed yet again with the same folks who disrupted and disrespected the May 7 meeting. So it's not surprise that Board members (other than Schultz) might not exactly be looking forward to this.
In addition, I've heard concerns expressed the past couple months that this if this issue riles up right wingers into the fall, they could turn out in droves and possibly defeat Democratic School Board members and even Democratic County Board members/candidates (e.g., Dan Storck, who as a School Board member voted yes on transgender protections at the May 7 meeting). So it's not surprise, in a way, that School Board member Ted Velkoff, a Democrat, would be thinking about trying to kick this proverbial can down the road until after November's elections. The problem is - aside from the policy failure this would represent - such a strategy won't work even on purely political grounds. Why not? Because, very simply, it won't assuage anger on the right. Instead, it's far more likely those folks will - like sharks - smell blood in the water, become even more frenzied, and head in for the kill. I ran this past a few Fairfax County Dems, and their reaction was unanimous agreement with that analysis.
Bottom line: Ted Velkoff and other Democrats have reason to be concerned about right wingers turning out in droves this November, but the answer isn't to show weakness. Instead, it's to proceed with doing the right thing, and in persuading Democrats to turn out in droves as well this November to counter the feared right-wing surge. As Joshua Israel, who presented powerful testimony at the May 7 meeting in support of transgender protections, wrote on Ben Tribbett's Facebook wall: "After months of study by the FLE committee and plenty of time public comment, I hope you will not delay lifesaving information for LGBT and questioning kids based on a small and loud minority of our community." I couldn't agree more.

Remember When Dick Black Introduced a Bill to Get the Confederate Flag Back On Virginia Plates?

Good point from DPVA:
That happened:
"In 2003, another state lawmaker from Loudoun penned legislation on the issue, taking a different stance from May. Then-Del. Dick Black (R) introduced legislation removing 'the prohibition on display of the organization's logo on Sons of Confederate Veterans special license plates.'"
Dick Black went above and beyond to make sure that the Sons of Confederate Veterans had extra-special permission to slap their flag on Virginia license plates. A federal court ruling had already made the practice legal, but Black needed a specific allowance for the Confederate flag to be enshrined in the Code of Virginia. Yet, strangely, he's been silent on the matter now that the stars and bars are no longer in vogue.
"Since Dick Black was so eager to go out on a limb for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, how does he feel about their cause now?" said Morgan Finkelstein, press secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia. "He went above and beyond to ensure the Confederate flag would be on Virginia license plates, so it's curious that he's still not said anything on the current issue." 

Breaking: Gov. Terry McAuliffe Says Virginia Will Remove Confederate Flags from License Plates

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

From Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, speaking earlier this morning "in response to the tragic shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC and the U.S. Supreme Court's decision declaring that states can restrict license plate designs."
Before I address some very positive developments regarding my administration's continuing efforts to restore the voting rights of Virginians who were former offenders, I wanted to say a couple of words about last week's horrific tragedy at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.First and foremost, I want to express, on behalf of all Virginians, our heartfelt sympathies to all members of the Emanuel Church Community, as well as the larger community in the City of Charleston.
In the days since last week's tragic shooting, the people of Charleston have displayed unparalleled unity and courage, and they have made all Americans proud.
I also want to commend my colleague, Governor Nikki Haley, for her leadership yesterday in calling for the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from the state Capitol grounds in Columbia.
As Governor Haley said yesterday, her state can ill afford to let this symbol continue to divide the people of South Carolina.
I believe the same is true here in Virginia.
Although the battle flag is not flown here on Capitol Square, it has been the subject of considerable controversy, and it divides many of our people.
Even its display on state issued license tags is, in my view, unnecessarily divisive and hurtful to too many of our people.
As you all know, I have spent the past 17 months working to build a new Virginia economy that is more open and welcoming to everyone. Removing this symbol from our state-issued license plates will be another step toward realizing that goal.
lowkell :: Breaking: Gov. Terry McAuliffe Says Virginia Will Remove Confederate Flags from License Plates
While it is true that legislation passed by the General Assembly in 1999 requires specialty license plates for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the legislation specifically attempted to prevent the Confederate emblem from being part of the design. Federal court decisions, however, required DMV to allow the emblem in the design.Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could indeed prevent the confederate emblem from being placed on their license plates, directly contradicting the prior court rulings in Virginia. Accordingly, I have directed the following actions to remove the Confederate emblem from state-issued license plates.
First, this morning I asked the Attorney General's office to take steps to reverse the prior Court ruling that requires the Confederate flag be placed on state license plates.
Second, I have directed Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne to develop a plan for replacing the currently-issued plates as quickly as possible.
These steps will, I hope, make clear that this Commonwealth does not support the display of the Confederate battle flag or the message it sends to the rest of the worl

Loudoun Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio More Off His Meds Than Usual?

Monday, June 22, 2015

It's hard to even guess what Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio's raving about now (see below and click to "embiggen"). It makes very little sense (maybe he's referring to this?), but then again, this is the same guy who...well, it's hard to even explain what this guy has said and done over the years (and why he's been elected and reelected to public office - shudddderrrr). For a few examples, see herehereherehereherehere, and here. Enjoy?

Head of Racist "Council Of Conservative Citizens" Gave to Republicans George Allen, Ken Cuccinelli

Why am I not surprised at any of this?
The leader of a rightwing group that Dylann Roof allegedly credits with helping to radicalise him against black people before the Charleston church massacre has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republicans such as presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum.Earl Holt has given $65,000 to Republican campaign funds in recent years while inflammatory remarks - including that black people were "the laziest, stupidest and most criminally-inclined race in the history of the world" - were posted online in his name. 
And yes, this racist scumbag has donated to Virginia Republicans. That includes $1,000 to George Allen, who as you will recall was a big fan of the racist "CCC." Also, check out VPAP for Holt's $1,000 contribution to 2013 Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli. Lovely, eh?By the way, if you have the stomach for it, you can check out the CCC's Statement of Principles here. A few "highlights" include:
lowkell :: Head of Racist "Council Of Conservative Citizens" Gave to Republicans George Allen, Ken Cuccinelli
*"...the United States of America is a Christian country, that its people are a Christian people, and that its government and public leaders at all levels must reflect Christian beliefs and values."
*" We believe that the United States derives from and is an integral part of European civilization and the European people and that the American people and government should remain European in their composition and character. We therefore oppose the massive immigration of non-European and non-Western peoples into the United States that threatens to transform our nation into a non-European majority in our lifetime..."
*"We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called "affirmative action" and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races."
*"We believe in the traditional family as the basic unit of human society and morality, and we oppose all efforts by the state and other powers to weaken the structure of the American family through toleration of sexual licentiousness, homosexuality and other perversions, mixture of the races, pornography in all forms, and subversion of the authority of parents."
*"We believe tax laws should encourage private charity rather than public support for the poor, the disabled, and the sick and elderly who are unable to care for themselves."
*"We oppose the presence of homosexuals and women in the military services and especially of women in combat roles."
*"We therefore oppose all "sex education" as well as so-called 'multiculturalist' and 'Afrocentric' curricula, 'Outcome-Based Education,' and similar radical indoctrination in the schools."
Again, keep in mind that the head of this extremist, racist group has donated heavily to Republican candidates for many years now. It's only after the mass shooting in Charleston by a CCC follower that (some) Republican candidates are responding by donating or otherwise getting rid of that money. What took them so long? Hmmmm.

It's Time To Change the Name of the JJ Dinner

Sunday, June 21, 2015

by Virginia Robinson

With another successful Arlington County Democratic Committee Jefferson-Jackson (“JJ”) Dinner in the books and the Democratic Party of Virginia JJ with Hilary Clinton right around the corner, it’s time to have a hard discussion about why we here in Virginia haven’t done away with this event’s terrible, reproachable name.  For those not in the know, “Jefferson-Jackson Day” is the traditional name for the annual fundraising dinner held by state and local Democratic Party organizations throughout the United States, usually in the springtime.  The name of the JJ Dinner honors Presidents Thomas Jefferson, who established the original Democratic-Republican Party, and Andrew Jackson, who founded the modern day Democratic Party and was the first Democrat elected President.  Neither, however, embodied modern Democratic values. 

Jefferson’s mixed feelings about slavery, which included a failure to liberate his own slaves and a belief that slaves were too primitive to handle full manumission, are well-documented.  Jackson has a far more reprehensible history as an overtly pro-slavery racist.  Jackson’s first major legislative initiative after being elected President was to effectuate the mass removal of Native Americans from their ancestral lands through forced marches that resulted in thousands of deaths—a genocide we now know as the Trail of Tears.  And, Jackson not only owned hundreds of slaves, but he sought to prohibit abolitionists from mailing informative tracts opposing slavery, tabled abolitionist activity in Congress, and was himself a slave trader.  A more detailed rundown of Jackson’s shameful legacy can be found in Steve Inskeep’s new book, Jacksonland, and in this Salon piece from 2013.  Indeed, Jackson’s disgusting legacy has been all over the news lately with the introduction in Congress of the “Put a Woman on the Twenty Act” and the corresponding “Women on $20s” campaign.  Any way you slice it, Jackson is no one we as Democrats should praise. 

Virginia Democrats have long-celebrated our Commonwealth’s move away from its racist past as a stronghold of slavery and the capitol of the Confederacy.  The day after President Barack Obama became the first Democratic Presidential candidate to carry Virginia in forty years, then-Governor Tim Kaine declared proudly that “Old Virginny is dead.”  Kaine’s promise of a new Virginia is even more relevant and important in 2015, as recent terrible events remind us that we are not a post-racial America, but rather are struggling to ensure safety and respect for all our people.  It is even more important now that Virginia Democrats renounce any celebration of racism and violence in our official events.  Changing the name of the JJ Dinner would symbolize our renewed commitment as Virginia Democrats to fulfill Tim Kaine's promise and reject Virginia's racist past. 

There are countless praiseworthy Democrats featured in the history of Virginia and the United States from whom we can draw inspiration while honoring their achievements.  Renaming the JJ Dinner is both the right thing to do and a great opportunity for DPVA and local parties to create their own branding around the event.  For positive role models in this endeavor, we need look no further than the 8th District Democratic Committee, which chose the inspiring figures of Senator Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. as the honorees of their annual fundraising dinner.  And, in 2014, after multiple local parties renamed their events, the Florida state Democratic Party also renamed their JJ Dinner.  Making such a change would send the right message about what our Party represents and help generate excitement among all Democrats who care about the future of our Commonwealth and our nation.

When I call on DPVA and local parties throughout the Commonwealth to make this change, I know full well what I’m asking:  I chaired the Arlington County JJ Dinner for five years.  Let’s make this the last year that we, as Virginia Democrats, honor the shameful legacy of slavery and oppression.

Since the Racist CCC is in the News, Here's a Flashback to George Allen's Ties to That Hate Group

Given the white supremacist murderer in the news these days, and especially given that his website "reflects the strong influence of a white nationalist group called the Council of Conservative Citizens" (CCC), I thought it would be timely to recall that former U.S. Senator George Allen (R) was also a big fan of the CCC. When this news came out in late August 2006, I wrote about it on Raising Kaine, and the reaction from right wingnuts was...let's just say, not exactly simpatico (let alone condemnatory of Allen's deeply longstanding, deeply-ingrained racism). To the contrary, at least one of these folks ginnned up the faux "outrage" and demanded that I be fired from the Webb for Senate campaign for calling out Allen for being a racist (as it turned out, not only wasn't I fired, but Webb for Senate senior strategist told me I should wear the attacks "as a badge of honor"). We soon learned that Allen's love for the Confederacy,"habitual use of the 'n word," etc. went back many years, as more and more of his former teammates, classmates, etc. began to tell the media. There was also the story about how Allen "stuffed a deer's head into the mailbox of one of the [black families'] homes." Plus, of course, there was the 'macaca' incident you might have heard of, in which Allen angrily used a racial slur on a Webb staffer whose family hailed from India. But racism there, according to Allen's defenders on the right. Just like E.W. Jackson and many others on the (far) right today won't acknowledge racism as the prime motive in the Charleston shootings. Sadly, when it comes to the right wing in this country, the more things change when it comes to America's demographics and race relations, the more they stay the same with many conservatives in this country.Is anybody out there still seriously arguing that George Allen isn't an outright racist?  Well, read  this, just published by The Nation magazine:
Only a decade ago, as governor of Virginia, Allen personally initiated an association with the Council of Conservative Citizens, the successor organization to the segregationist White Citizens Council and among the largest white supremacist groups....After speaking with CCC founder and former White Citizens Council organizer Gordon Lee Baum and two of his cohorts, Allen suggested that they pose for a photograph with then-National Rifle Association spokesman and actor Charlton Heston. The photo appeared in the Summer 1996 issue of the CCC's newsletter, the Citizens Informer.
According to Baum, Allen had not naively stumbled into a chance meeting with unfamiliar people. He knew exactly who and what the CCC was about and, from Baum's point of view, was engaged in a straightforward political transaction. "It helped us as much as it helped him," Baum told me. "We got our bona fides." And so did Allen.
Descended from the White Citizens' Councils...the CCC is designated a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In its"Statement of Principles," the CCC declares, "We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind, to promote non-white races over the European-American people through so-called "affirmative action" and similar measures, to destroy or denigrate the European-American heritage, including the heritage of the Southern people, and to force the integration of the races."
So how's Allen going to explain THIS one?  What, he thought the "CCC" stood for "Civilian Conservation Corps" or something?  And if you believe THAT one, I've got some good "caca" to sell you.{UPDATE:  Here are some classic quotes from the CCC...courtesy of Wikipedia.
*"Each of the three major races plays a distinct role in history. . . . The whites were the creators of civilization, the yellows its sustainers and copyists, the blacks its destroyers." (, 12/98)
*Abraham Lincoln was "surely the most evil American in history," and Martin Luther King was a "depraved miscreant.+óGé¼-¥ (, 12/98)
*"The Jews' motto is 'never forget, and never forgive.' One can't agree with the way they've turned spite into welfare billions for themselves, but the 'never forget' part is very sound." (Citizens Informer, Winter/97)
*"The presence {in Congress} of even one white person with our interests foremost in his mind is simply unacceptable to the issues-obsessed conservative race traitors. Texas Governor George Bush and his brother Jeb in Florida have manifested their self-hatred by embracing Hispanics ahead of whites. Somehow we must find a way to relieve whites of their self-hatred." ("Open Letter to White People,+óGé¼-¥, 12/98)}

The WaPo Jumps the Shark on Climate Change Reporting

By Kindler

If Bill Euille Runs a Write-In Campaign for Alexandria Mayor, Would He Be Likely to Win?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

I was chatting with an Alexandria Democratic politico yesterday, and he strongly recommended that I read this Alexandria News article, "Euille Moves Forward With City Business; Alexandrians Plan Write-in Campaign." The gist of the article is: 1) Euille, who lost a three-way Democratic primary to Allison Silberberg on June 9th, is sounding increasingly likely to run a write-in campaign as an Independent this fall (I was particularly struck by Euille's "It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings" comment); 2) Euille seems to believe that he would have won if not for the presence of former Mayor Kerry Donley in the race, since "Kerry and I agree on many issues and we split our base vote;" and 3) there have been successful write-in and independent campaigns in the past in Alexandria, so this would not be unprecedented by any means.

So, if Euille does run as a write-in candidate for mayor this fall, would he be likely to win? I tend to agree with the Alexandria Democratic politico I spoke with yesterday, that Euille would benefit from two important factors:
1) Eulle would probably get most of Donley's support, since the two of them are closer in approach, ideology, etc. than Silberberg is; 2) Euille would likely outpace Silberberg in fundraising by a wide margin (in the primary, Euille raised over $150k vs. Silberberg's $37k+) from developers, etc. That doesn't make Euille a lock to beat Silberberg, but it certainly does give him some serious advantages.
This morning, I ran all this by another Alexandria Democratic politico I respect. In their view, Euille "could win, and could win easily, but he would have to get all in behind a write in campaign, which would cost...a ton." Working against Euille would be reluctance of Democrats to openly support him, the "sore loser syndrome," the "name-is-hard-to-spell syndrome" (although as the Alexandria News article notes, the Electoral Board mostly needs to judge the intent of the voter, so maybe "Bill" or whatever would be sufficient in a two-person race against "Allison Silberberg"?). Finally, this politico pointed to what they called the "x factor" - what would Sen. Adam Ebbin do, given that "most of the votes this November are going to come from the east end of the city," and "Adam brings out Democratic voters who would likely go Democratic all the way down the ballot unless Ebbin tells them otherwise." Would Sen. Ebbin endorse Euille? Silberberg? Stay neutral? Stay tuned! :)
Finally, there's the issue of what this might do to the Alexandria Democratic Committee (ADC). Yet another Alexandria Dem politico I spoke with worried that a Euille independent bid could "irreparably damage the ADC," leaving a "broken party" in its wake. On the other hand, as the Alexandria News article points out, when Jim Moran ran successfully as an independent for mayor in 1985 against the Democratic nominee, he "was thrown out of ADC and, according to those who were present, took at least one third of the Committee with him." However, once Moran was elected Mayor, "he was welcomed back into the Democratic fold with open arms because he was no longer running against the Party's nominee." Would history repeat itself, or at least "rhyme" in this case? I don't know, but it will be fascinating to watch.

P.S. If "Instant Runoff Voting" (IRV) had been allowed (and in place) for the Democratic primary, and if it's true that Euille and Donley mostly would have been the second choices of their respective voters, then presumably either Euille or Donley would have won easily on June 9 and this wouldn't even be an issue. So, remind me again, why won't the Virginia General Assembly allow localities to run primaries using IRV?

Virginia Dems to Vote 6/27 on Changing Current Term for Chairs from 2 to 3 Years

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I was chatting with Virginia Democratic Party insider earlier this week, and out of the blue the person asked me, "Are you hearing about the pending DPVA fight over local committees?" I hadn't heard a word about it, actually, so I started asking around (as we bloggers are wont to do - lol). Here's what I've found out so far.*There's a proposal to give local Virginia Democratic Party chairs a third year and not reorganize until after the presidential election in November 2016, instead of the end of this year, which is what the current plan calls for.
*I haven't nailed down where this is coming from exactly, but it sounds like it's probably from the local chairs (one source specifically mentioned "Chair of Chairs" Gene Magruder) In other words, it does NOT appear to be coming from the Clinton campaign, Gov. McAuliffe, DPVA Chair Susan Swecker (who I hear opposes this) or new DPVA Executive Directly Rebecca Slutzky (ditto).
*What is this all about? I'm not sure exactly, but one source told me, "I hear it's about chairs, particularly in Northern Virginia, wanting to keep their positions for another year, expecting 'bennies' from the Hillary Clinton run." I also heard an argument made that it's better to have "experienced leaders in place for the presidential race."
*Apparently, for this rule change to pass, it would need to get an "absolute majority" of the Central Committee [update: someone else tells me that it might only require a simple majority of those present).
*I've heard from several party folks who oppose this idea. One told me they just don't think it makes any sense, that "the harder years for most local chairs are the odd years," not the federal election/even-numbered years.
*One person responded, tartly: "Canceling elections? These chairs were not elected for next year... changing the rules midstream and making it effect old elections is highly questionable."
*Another counterargument I heard was that this change "could create problems for larger committees [Lowell's note: actually all committees have would to amend their bylaws to allow for this change]," such as in Northern Virignia, Richmond and Hampton Roads, since they "would need to change bylaws and their schedules."
*I hear from multiple sources that there are folks in the Fairfax County Democratic Committee who are opposed to this because they don't want current chair Sue Langley to get a third year.
*Another local party official told me, "Any DPVA member who cares about their local committee's finances should vote it down."
*Finally, I received the following statement from a Democratic local committee person who wanted to remain anonymous, but was concerned about the potential loss of income to their committee.
I'm a local Democratic Committee member, but not a voting DPVA member, and I'm not happy about this proposal.  For one thing, our members hardly know that the proposal exists and they haven't been given much of an opportunity to weigh in on something that will greatly affect our local organization.  We elected our Chairs to serve a two-year term in early 2014.  The terms of office will be extended not only for our Chair, but for the rest of the leadership and full membership as well. Some will welcome this change, and there are others who never intended to serve that long and will resign.Additionally, a large portion of our revenue comes from membership dues. We actually budgeted for the thousands of dollars we expected to take in at the end of this year in the form of two-year memberships. Without that income, we'd have to cut back on our voter outreach programs. You can "assess" members for a year's worth of their membership dues but that would have to be optional, and we might only get half of the membership participating (not to mention a lot of confusion).  So we would recover roughly a quarter of the budgeted income in membership dues, and wait another year for the remainder.
Given all those arguments, my view is that the terms shouldn't be changed unless there's some overriding reason to do so, and I can't think of any (and haven't heard of any). Also, I see no reason for a divisive issue to come up when we have such important elections this year (for control of the State Senate) and next (for President and Congress). If I were a Central Committee member, personally I'd vote "no."By the way, DPVA will be meeting at 10 am at Woodson High School in Fairfax City the day after the Hillary Clinton event to vote on this. Supposedly it's open to the public; should be interesting.  

Family Feud Grows in Roanoke

By Elaine in Roanoke

The latest kerfluffle making news in the 21st state senate district, now represented by Democrat John Edwards, is the recent cancellation of a fundraiser for Attorney General Mark Herring's One Commonwealth PAC. The fundraiser was to take place at the law offices of Ray Ferris, a Roanoke city councilman who ran the last time as an independent after serving on council as a Democrat.  There are conflicting stories about just how the fundraiser, at which John Edwards was scheduled to appear, got pulled.

According to Tommy Jordan, a long-time Democratic campaign activist who has helped Ferris in previous elections, the Edwards campaign wanted the event canceled because they said Ferris was going to use it to announce his support for Don Caldwell, 35-year veteran commonwealth's attorney for Roanoke City, who bolted the party he used to chair to run as an independent against Edwards and his Republican opponent, Dr. Nancy Dye. Jordan adamantly denied that was going to happen.  Meanwhile, Sam Barrett, campaign manager for Edwards, said that Edwards wasn't involved in the decision to pull the plug on the fundraiser.

The statement from Adam Zuckerman, the director of Herring's PAC said, "This particular event was becoming a bit of distraction for local Democrats, but Attorney General Herring strongly supports Senator Edwards's re-election."

This newest pothole in the road to Edwards retaining his seat makes me wonder if he can pull off re-election or not.  Jordan's disavowal notwithstanding, I believe that Ferris WAS going to sabotage Edwards with a Caldwell endorsement. Why? First, after he graduated from law school in the late 1980's, Ferris' first job was in Don Caldwell's office as an assistant prosecutor, staying there until he opened his own firm. They have remained fast friends. Plus, Ferris evidently has not gotten over the fact that in the last council election in May 2014 two other Democrats filed to run against the three Democratic incumbents up for re-election for the three available nominations. Thus, there would have been a primary. To avoid that, Ferris broke with the party and ran as an independent. He was joined by fellow incumbent Bill Bestpitch, who also had been elected as a Democrat.
Elaine in Roanoke :: Family Feud Grows in Roanoke
Since getting a Democratic nod is usually tantamount to being elected in Roanoke City, Ferris, I think, still has a pretty big grudge against the city Democratic Party committee. I'm also sure that the fact both he and Bestpitch won their seats as independents reinforced that grudge. That incident also showed splits within the city Democratic committee as Mayor David Bowers and David Trinkle, the one incumbent who ran as a Democrat, backed Ferris and Bestpitch, instead of the other Democratic candidates, Freeda Cathcart and Linda Wyatt. That whole election was a clash of egos that evidently is still poisoning city politics.In 2011 Edwards won re-election against Republican Del. Dave Nutter by capturing 56% of the district vote.  Roanoke City comprises about 45% of the votes in the 21st. This time around, Edwards may well not get anywhere near the 63% of the city vote he did in 2011 because of Don Caldwell's independent bid. Last time out, Edwards carried the city and Montgomery County, but lost in Giles County and the small portion of Republican Roanoke County that's in the district. He has little or no room to make up big losses of votes in the city. Besides, his Republican opponent will have a huge war chest to spend this time around, while Caldwell will probably act as a spoiler at best.
Edwards had been lagging in fundraising, but he did better in May, finally outraising his Republican opponent. The keys to his winning against these two opponents are going to boil down to aggressive campaigning and identifying his voters and getting them to the polls. John Edwards hasn't had to fight this hard before, and the implications of this election are huge. Control of the state senate may hinge on the outcome in the 21st district. Is Edwards up to the task before him? I really don't know. If I had to rate it, I would say a sure Democratic seat is now a "slightly leans Democratic" one.