Rep. Gerry Connolly Issues a Statement on the Death of Virginia Democratic Political Giant George Burke

Saturday, October 31, 2015

by Lowell

The following statement from Rep. Gerry Connolly is on the death last night of Virginia Democratic political giant George Burke after a battle with cancer. For our part, George and I had a contentious relationship in the early years, but that changed, and I ended up both liking and respecting George a great deal for his intelligence, passion, commitment, strategic sense, vast knowledge of politics (and many other things; note the photo of George and former Speaker Tip O'Neill). I will greatly miss our frequent Gchats and other conversations, including his help in sharpening my understanding on a wide variety of topics. Condolences to George's family, (many) friends and colleagues.
Last night, we lost a dear friend and colleague, George Burke. Full of passion and energy, he dedicated his life to fighting for our progressive Democratic values. A trusted, wise and gifted political mind, George's vision and leadership helped build and grow our Democratic Party of Virginia. 
A man of many talents, he was an accomplished journalist, photographer, congressional staffer, senior labor leader with the International Association of Fire Fighters, the Chair of the 11th Congressional District Democratic Committee, and my trusted confidant and Communications Director. 
For more than 30 years I have been fortunate to call George my close friend. We will all miss his stories, his unwavering optimistic approach to life, and his love for his friends and family. His loss will leave a great void in all our lives and I will miss him dearly. My thoughts are with his wife Sharon, and his three children Ian, Caitlin, and Sean.

Time for State Attorneys General - Including Virginia's - to Look Into Using RICO Laws to Prosecute Fossil Fuel Companies Just like Tobacco Industry?

by Lowell

In recent days, there has been a barrage of stories, statements, videos, etc. about the increasingly loud clamor to investigate, and potentially prosecute, ExxonMobil under racketeering ("RICO") statutes (UPDATE: or Sarbanes-O or other securities laws). Why? As today's New York Times explains:
More than 40 of the nation’s leading environmental and social justice groups demanded a federal investigation of Exxon Mobil on Friday, accusing the huge oil and gas company of deceiving the American public about the risks of climate change to protect its profits.
In a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the groups, citing recent news reports, suggested that Exxon Mobil might be guilty of the same kind of fraud that the tobacco companies were found to have perpetrated when they hid the risks of smoking. Those violations ultimately cost the companies tens of billions of dollars in penalties. 
The call for an investigation echoes demands made in recent days by three Democratic presidential candidates, including Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and by several Democrats in Congress.
For a lot more on Exxon's decades-long campaign, despite the company's knowledge as far back, see Exxon: The Road Not Taken, by InsideClimate News. That news organization, by the way, richly deserves any and all relevant awards for its groundbreaking, in-depth, detailed, carefully-researched series on ExxonMobil's corporate strategy of funding climate science denial, just as the tobacco industry spent millions of dollars (and decades) funding efforts to deny the link between smoking and cancer. Except what Exxon did (and continues to do) was arguably worse than the tobacco industry: while cigarettes kill millions, global warming threatens to trash the entire planet, leading to untold death and misery for humanity and nature. In short, what Exxon's been doing arguably constitutes crimes against humanity and nature. More actionable, however, is that what Exxon has done may very well be subject to prosecution under the "Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act - just as the DOJ did to the tobacco industry for knowingly lying about the dangers of cigarette smoking."

I fully support these efforts to have Exxon criminally prosecuted for the aforementioned reasons. I also strongly encourage action NOT just at the federal level, but also at the STATE level, including right here in Virginia. Along those lines, see the "flip" for a press release by Climate Hawks Vote, "calling upon state attorneys general to open probes whether ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) committed any wrongdoing in their states through its decades-long campaign of climate-change denial." Those attorneys general were all from "blue" or "purple" states - CA, CT, DE, HI, IL, IA, ME, MD, MA, NH, NM, NY, OR, RI, VT, WA.

Saturday News: "Springtime for Grifters" in the GOP 2016 Presidential Race; Time to Reform Our Criminal Justice System

by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, October 31. So...have you decided when you're voting on Tuesday? Also, check out President Obama's weekly addresss, on the need to reform our criminal justice system.

GOP: Party of Whiners

Friday, October 30, 2015

By Kindler

Back in the day, Republicans aimed to be as macho as Clint Eastwood – from his “make my day” era, that is, not his less noteworthy “talking to a chair” period. Today, a better symbol of the GOP would be famously whiny comedian Jon Lovitz (an Obama critic, appropriately enough).

While I’m not exactly sure what the Republican platform is these days, I know that it involves a lot of kvetching. The most recent presidential debate was a veritable Whine Festival. The highlight may have been Ted Cruz’s outburst against the media, for having the nerve to ask him a question about the budget. He responded to this outrage by outlining how much reporters have oppressed him and his competitors to be Leader of the Free World.

Of course, complaining about the media is now a standard GOP tactic, from Rand Paul fighting with female reporters who ask questions he doesn’t like to Donald Trump grousing about "gotcha" questions, e.g., about the names of key foreign leaders.

Trump, of course, has made a career of bitching and moaning and attacking and bad-mouthing others. Anytime anyone says a bad word about him, the man wails like a banshee against his accuser. As Trump himself admitted, "I am the most fabulous whiner."

A Few Quick Thoughts on "Tolls vs. Guns"

by Lowell

I've been chatting with people about this subject for days now, whether "tolls" or "guns" will prove to be a more potent political issue in Tuesday's Virginia General Assembly elections. Almost everyone I've chatted with about this has agreed that "tolls" could be a much more potent issue, politically, than "guns." It's not because "tolls" are more important than "guns" - far from it; the toll issue is wildly overblown, and regardless infinitely less important than thousands of people per year losing their lives to gun violence in this country.

It's also worth noting, as the Washington Post correctly pointed out this morning, that Virginia Republicans have concocted an almost completely false "horror story" about tolls, Unfortunately, that doesn't mean it won't work as a political issue, especially given the hundreds of thousands of dollars Republicans are spending to bludgeon voter with their dishonest, demagogic message.

Meanwhile, when it comes to guns, everyone I've chatted with has agreed that, although huge majorities (80%+) of the public agree on commonsense, gun safety measures like universal background checks, not letting domestic abusers have access to guns, etc., the PASSION has always been - and continues to be - with the small minority who really really loooooooove guns. So, we'll see what happens on Tuesday, given the $1 million+ in TV ads Michael Bloomberg's gun control group is running in Northern Virginia and Richmond, but if past patterns hold true, it sadly could be the case that those ads don't achieve the desired result. In fact, they COULD theoretically have the perverse effect of riling up the "gun nuts" even more than they're usually riled up (I know, seems impossible...).

Finally, I know it's borderline shocking (lol), but I find myself strongly agreeing with something Arlington Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey of the wrote this morning:

Virginia regulators rain on Dominion’s solar parade; 76 MW in doubt

by Ivy Main (cross posted from Power for the People VA)

Last week Virginia’s State Corporation Commission rejected Dominion Virginia Power’s proposed 20-MW solar facility in Remington, Virginia, citing the company’s failure to evaluate third-party market alternatives. Although the solar industry had urged this result, the ruling throws the Remington project into limbo—and with it, three other solar projects Dominion has in the works. Moreover, the language in the order has many advocates concerned the SCC may be setting a higher bar for solar projects than for fossil fuel projects.

The ruling that utilities must consider market alternatives to a self-build project is a win for Virginia’s solar industry, which argued that ratepayers would be better served if Dominion let the industry build and operate the Remington project through a third-party power purchase agreement (PPA). That approach would take advantage of third-party developers’ access to more favorable treatment under the federal tax code. Ratepayers would also benefit from the slimmer profit margins of private sector companies compared to the 10% return-on-investment guaranteed to Virginia utilities.

Friday News: Brat*** Crazy; Republicans Fallacious "Highway Horror Story About I-66 Tolls"

by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, October 30. And yes, that flier really does say that you should vote Republican to "preserve our Christian heritage." You know who else talks this way? Hint: it's got three of the same initials, all consonants, 11th letter in the alphabet.

Karen Tumulty's WaPo Article on Marco Rubio Illustrates Much That's Wrong with Corporate Media

Thursday, October 29, 2015

by Lowell

People sometimes make fun of Politico as nothing better than "Tiger Beat on the Potomac" - all personalities, gossip, scandal, who's up and who's down, politics as entertainment/horse race, etc. No substance, in other words. But unfortunately, it's not just Politico, it's vast swaths of the corporate media that's really no better than "Tiger Beat."

Take this mindless drivel by Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post on how Marco Rubio had a "strong showing" at last night's debate, mainly because of a silly, schoolyard-style back-and-forth with "JEB" Bush over Rubio's frequent absences from the U.S. Senate. Of course, Rubio didn't directly address that perfectly valid criticism, but instead used his abundant rhetorical skills to turn the tables on tongue-tied, pathetic "JEB."

So here's the problem: nothing in Tumulty's inspid article makes the case as to why Rubio had a "strong showing" last night, other than that the corporate media proclaimed him to have had a "strong showing." On substance, the reality is that Rubio was basically total bull****, distortions, and outright lies. To quote a top-rated comment on Tumulty's article:
[N]ever mind that he was lying about Hillary's testimony, lied when he denied that the moderator was correct about his finances, and lied when he denied that the moderator was correct about his tax plan.
A few more whoppers by Rubio jump out at me from the debate transcript as either a) wild lies; b) massive distortions; c) "a" and "b" combined. Yet Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post tells us that Rubio had a "strong" debate last night? My god. Even crazier, THIS is the media the right wingers bash as "liberal?" The fact is, there's absolutely nothing "liberal" about it.

  • "We can't afford to have another four years like the last eight years."  (In fact, things have gotten MUCH better - despite constant obstructionism and wild irresponsibility from Rubio's party - since the Bush/Cheney/Republican Great Recession which started in 2007/2008)
  • "You have small businesses in America that are struggling. For the first time in 35 years, we have more businesses closing than starting. We have a world that's out of control and has grown dangerous and a president that is weakening our military and making our foreign policy unstable and unreliable in the eyes of our allies. And our adversaries continue to grow stronger."  
  • "[M]y tax plan is a pro- family tax plan."  ( it's not. In any way/shape/form.)
  • "I know the Democrats have the ultimate SuperPac. It's called the mainstream media who every single day..."  (Hahahahaha.)
  • "[N]umerically, it's gonna be higher. But the greatest gains, percentage-wise, for people, are gonna be at the lower end of our plan." (Exact opposite, actually.)
  • "I think that Dr. Carson's ideas are good ideas." (Name on "idea" of Carson's that's a good one. I dare you.)
  • "But this is what you're seeing in the Republican debate that you didn't see in that Democrat debate. You didn't see it for a minute. You didn't see these kind of ideas being batted around, and being batted around in a way that's civil and smart and that's trying to help to inform the voter out there.What you saw was a parade of, 'I'll give you this for free; I'll give you that for free.'" (No, Rubio just doesn't want to see the top 1% pay any more.)
  • "The Republican Party is blessed to have 11 good candidates, (inaudible) 10 good candidates. The Democrats can't even come up with one."  (Seriously? Is this supposed to be a bad joke?)
  • "The fact that it's happened for so many people here throughout our history, that's what makes us special. But, now for millions of Americans, it's slipping away." (To the extent this is true, it's thanks to Rubio's own party)

Audio: Parkers Rip "Gutless Coward" Virginia Legislators Like Scott Lingamfelter in "Pockets of the Gun Lobby"

In a conference call yesterday, Andy and Barbara Parker - the parents of murdered Roanoke TV journalist Alison Parker - ripped Virginia legislators like Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R) as "gutless cowards" who are in the "pockets of the gun lobby." The Parkers urged voters to elect Democrat Sara Townsend on November 3. Here's a partial transcript of the Parkers' powerful remarks.
Andy Parker: ...After my daughter Alison was murdered on live television, I pledged to do whatever it takes to reduce gun violence in this country and in the Commonwealth. And that includes electing political leaders who will support commonsense gun legislation. And that's why Barbara and I support Sara Townsend; she's not afraid to take on the gun lobby and save lives. And another thing I'm sure you've seen, over the past few weeks I've [called out] several politicians for being gutless cowards. Unfortunately, the General Assembly has more than its share, but I think that Scott Lingamfelter is in a league of his own. In fact, I think you'll find his picture next to the definition of 'coward' in the dictionary. By preventing these [life-saving?] bills from even reachiung the main body for a vote as he does time and again just shows how deeply he is in the pockets of the gun lobby. He puts NRA money ahead of the safety of families and law enforcement in the Commonwealth, and for us that's unconscionable and it just doesn't cut it. And that's why we want to do whatever we can do to get Sara [Townsend] elected.
Barbara Parker: ...I believe that our legislators are elected to serve and protect us. Del. Lingamfelter is Chairman of the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee. To me, that says 'serve and protect,' and he's doing neither. He's been an opponent of any gun violence prevention legislation as long as he's been there. [Linfamgfelter] recently said he opposes laws to disarm domestic abusers, saying there's always the potential that someone could file a restraining order out of harassment and these people are vindictive. So he's accusing these women who are victims of domestic abuse of lying in order to be vindictive. And women are killed with guns by intimate partners 21% higher than the national average here in Virginia. And for him to say that - these women are just trying to get away and protect their children and protect themselves - it's just unconscionable. We have learned so much in the past two months about the state of affairs in the legislature in Virginia, and I find it frankly condescending and horrifying that they can say these things and that people accept it. I don't accept that.
Andy Parker: Another thing I found is that guys like Lingamfelter...they run from it, they don't even acknowledge that we're here. We never even got any kind of message from any of the legislators here, other than Robert Hurt. They know that they have blood on their hands, that they're taking blood money from the NRA, and they don't even have the decency to reach out to us or look us in the eye. And I guarantee you if Lingamfelter, if he were here, he'd be running just like the rest of these cowards.

Thursday News: The "Brawl in Boulder in 50 Seconds;" McAuliffe to Barnstorm Virginia on Sunday with State Senate on Line

by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, October 29. Also check out the "Brawl in Boulder in 50 Seconds." What a s*** show.

Crazy/Extreme Ted Cruz Coming to Richmond with Even Crazier/More Extreme Father

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Nope, it doesn't get much more extreme, bigoted, and downright crazy than this. I just hope that Democrats get it all on film. Also, check out the BuzzFeed article (by Judy Feder's son Lester Feder) about Rafael Cruz's latest lunacy. In this case, the (rotten) "apple" -- Ted Cruz -- really didn't fall far from the "tree" -- his father, Rafael Cruz.

Gov. McAuliffe on WTOP Rips Hal Parrish as Liar, Defends I-66 Toll Plan, Praises Budget Deal, Says He'd Be Happy to See Donald Trump as GOP Nominee vs. Hillary Clinton

by Lowell

Gov. McAuliffe appeared on WTOP's "Ask the Governor" this morning, and he was even feistier than usual. Here are a few highlights from reporters' and Gov. McAuliffe's Twitter feeds...among other things he defends the I-66 tolling plan, calls Republican Hal Parrish a liar, praised the federal budget deal, lauds Hillary Clinton's performance in front of the Benghazi committee, says he'd love to see Donald Trump as the Republican nominee against Hillary Clinton, and suggests that either of Virginia's two U.S. Senators would be excellent picks as Hillary Clinton's running mate.
  • @GovernorVA Gov: EO50 is a common sense approach to stronger enforcement of VA gun laws - as elected officials it is time to step up on this issue.
  • ‏@GovernorVA Gov: My job is to get things done. That is why VA's economy is growing. We have the lowest unemployment rate in southeast region at 4.3%.
  • @gmoomaw .@GovernorVA says he's told Hillary: "I've got two great U.S. senators in Virginia. Both of them would be great choices for vice president"
  • @juliantwalker1 .@GovernorVA McAuliffe would be "fine" w/ a @HillaryClinton vs. @realDonaldTrump POTUS matchup, calls GOP debates so far a "circus"
  • ‏@jennaportnoy McAuiliffe on testimony: "11-hour campaign commercial for why Hillary Clinton should be commander in chief of the United State of America"
  • @GovernorVA Gov: The education of our children, our future, should be a top priority as government. My upcoming budget will reflect that.
  • ‏@gmoomaw After lengthy answer saying Republicans are lying about I-66 tolls, @GovernorVA finishes: "Was that clear enough for you?"
  • @gmoomaw .@GovernorVA on federal budget deal: "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I love it."
  • @alana_austin "This is a great deal for Virginia." - @GovernorVA says federal budget plan spares the commonwealth from debilitating cuts in recent years.
  • @GovernorVA Gov on I-66: Vital that we open up the most congested road to ensure that VAians are able to travel - I was elected to be a problem solver."
  • @GovernorVA Gov on I-66: Plan increases options for single drivers w/out requiring people to pay tolls who don’t pay today. Other claims are false.
  • @alana_austin .@GovernorVA says forgoing Medicaid expansion & losing federal dollars in defense sector make Virginia vulnerable.
  • ‏@AlanSuderman .@governorva on WTOP hammers GOP candidate in key Senate race ahead of Election Day. "Hal Parrish is lying to you."
  • @patrickmwilson .@GovernorVA begins WTOP radio show with attack on Manassas Mayor Hal Parrish, saying he's a liar and "horrible on women's issues."

Video: Representatives Joaquin Castro, Gerry Connolly, Don Beyer; AG Mark Herring; Del. Alfonso Lopez Speak to 200+ Fairfax Democrats

by Lowell

It's late, so I'm just going to post the videos from tonight's Fairfax Democrats event. Hopefully more commentary tomorrow. Enjoy watching Rep. Joaquin Castro (as he says, the better-looking Castro brother, who got a bunch of laughs suggesting a trade of Ted Cruz for Tim Kaine); Rep. Gerry Connolly (among other things, he compared Trey Gowdy to Draco Malfoy of the "House of Slytherin"); Rep. Don Beyer; AG Mark Herring; Del. Alfonso Lopez.  More videos after the "flip."

Wednesday News: Arlington Republican Mike McMenamin Employs "central figure in the New Hampshire phone-jamming case"

by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, October 28. Also, check out who Republican Mike McMenamin, a candidate for Arlington County Board, is caught up with -- a right winger (his firm, CMS Connects, supports "liberty-minded, pro-family candidates and organizations") who was "a central figure in the New Hampshire phone-jamming case, an attempt by Republicans to block Democratic phoning centers on Election Day." By the way, among McMenamin's many lies and distortions is that he's some sort of "Independent," when in fact he's a hard-core Republican, just like his buddy (and fellow Big Liar) John Vihstadt.

Letter Urges Support for "Second Amendment Sister," Loudoun Republican Suzanne Volpe; Hunting in Small Park Next to Middle School, High School

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Recently, I wrote about a bizarre mailer by Loudoun County Board of Supervisors member (from the Algonkian District) and staunch, right-wing Republican Suzanne Volpe, basically attacking her fellow Republicans. Now, here are two more from Volpe's campaign that are, uh, odd.

First, check out the email (click to "embiggen" dealing with guns and mentioning Volpe's plans to open Algonkian Regional Park to hunting. Note that Algonkian Regional Park is relatively small, contains a golf course and sportsplex, and is adjacent to a middle school and a high school. Also note her pride in eliminating "the ban on pneumatic firearms within the County" (yay! we can now discharge "air rifles throughout the County" - lol!).

I also love the fact that Volpe's called our "Second Amendment Sister," a "courageous woman" who "will not cower from the popular anti-gun agenda" (I think they mean the one supported by a majority of NRA members and police chiefs, the one that wants universal background checks for gun purchasers).  Yet somehow, Suzanne Volpe is "courageous" for standing up against background checks, and for hunting in a small park next to a middle school and high school. Hmmm.

Next, check out the "flip" for a letter from a Volpe supporter informing people about Volpe's strong anti-choice positions and includes the letter writer mentioning she doesn't know anything about her Democratic opponent, Andrew Resnick, before attacking him as (supposedly) supporting "unrestricted abortion" since he's a "member of the Board of Directors (sic) of the Democratic Party of Virginia." Now, what a Loudoun County Supervisor can do about abortion exactly, other than perhaps zoning issues related to women's health clinics, I'm not sure, given that we live in a strong "Dillon Rule" state. But clearly, Loudoun Republicans are pandering to hot-button issues they think their base cares about, even if those issues make no sense and/or are not within the purview of local-level officials. Finally, perhaps what's driving this is Volpe and her supporters are getting nervous that she might lose to Andrew Resnick next Tuesday, and are resorting to any attacks they can scrape together to throw out there, hoping something will stick, regardless of relevance or accuracy.

Virginia's Rural Hospitals in Serious Jeopardy Without Prompt State Policy Action

by Lowell

Recently, a New York Times article highlighted the impacts on rural communities of hospitals being forced to close due to financial difficulties. As the article noted, these hospitals are "mainstays of small communities, providing not just close-to-home care but also jobs and economic stability," which is why "the economic cost of losing the hospital could be stark."

Here in Virginia - as was discussed several weeks ago during the kickoff of the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association's statewide public awareness campaign - rural hospitals are a top employer in 82 percent of Virginia’s rural counties, employing around 18,000 people in good-paying jobs. Those numbers, of course, only touch on these hospitals' economic footprint, as each hospital job in rural communities supports two jobs in the local economy. In addition, many rural health care providers have contractual relationships with local businesses whose operations are at least partly dependent on contracts with hospitals. Overall, health care supports one in nine Virginia jobs (11 percent of the state workforce), with a combined payroll of $8 billion. And the industry was one of the few job growth sectors in Virginia last year.

Now, all those positive benefits are threatened by funding cuts, sequestration, and lack of state and federal policy actions that could relieve some of the financial pressures imperiling long-term hospital stability. Medicaid and Medicare reimburse hospitals at levels below hospitals’ actual cost for providing care, which means that here in, inpatient Medicaid reimbursement rates now sit at just 66 percent of the cost of hospital care. Also, more than half the patients on average at Virginia hospitals receive discounted care as a result of a longstanding government mandates, such as the 30-year-old federal requirement to treat people in the emergency room regardless of ability to pay.

How Wasteful is Broadcast TV Advertising for a State Senate or Even House of Delegates Campaign?

by Lowell

Short answer to the question posed in the headline: broadcast TV advertising for a State Senate or House of Delegates race is extremely wasteful, to the point that it basically can't be explained in terms of rationality, logic, or just plain commonsense.

Check out that graphic (courtesy of Targeted Victory) on how incredibly wasteful broadcast TV advertising is in Virginia's super-expensive (D.C-media-market) 10th Congressional district. It's almost completely wasted, as I discussed in detail here.  Note that I had estimated "86% of a DC Metro market broadcast TV ad buy is essentially “bleed” — not reaching the targeted audience at all, ergo wasted," which is extremely close to the 89% waste estimate by Targeted Victory. The question is, why would any campaign in its right mind do this?

Now, that's for a full Congressional district, which has about 700,000 people living in it. How about for a State Senate district, such as the 29th (the McPike vs. Parrish race), where there's $1.5 million being put into broadcast TV by Mike Bloomberg's "Everytown for Gun Safety" group? Or how about for a single House of Delegate district, such as the 34th (Kathleen Murphy vs. Craig Parisot) or the 86th (Jennifer Boysko vs. Danny Vargas)? Keep in mind that a single State Senate district in Virginia has about 1/40th the state's population, or around 200,000 people. And a single House of Delegates district has about 1/100th of the state's population, or about 80,000 people.

Both of those, you might note, are far smaller numbers than that 700,000 or so in a U.S. House of Representatives district. Which means, of course, that the wastage rate for broadcast TV ads will be far, far worse for a single State Senate or House of Delegates race than for a Congressional race, such as the 86%-89% waste seen in VA-10. I mean, we're talking upwards of 95%+ wastage on this stuff.

Which again raises the question as to why anyone (other than the folks who make the TV ads, buy the TV ads, see the ad revenue flowing to their TV stations, etc. -- they LOVE this!) would throw their money away like this, instead of investing in things you can target: phones, door knocking, digital advertising, mailers to an extent, maybe even old-fashioned newspaper ads or even radio. One theory with the "Everytown" folks is that their spending now is more message testing for next year than anything else. I suppose that COULD make sense, but at least use the money on a medium where it has a fighting chance of being effective, getting SOME bang for the buck, not the flamboyantly wasteful (hey, let's throw our money away advertising to Maryland, DC, and the vast majority of places in Virginia that are NOT the targeted race!).

Even more bizarre are the Republicans spending tons of money on D.C.-media-market broadcast TV ads targeted at individual House of Delegates races -- each one comprising 1% of Virginia's population. Brilliant, eh? I mean, again, there are many other ways for them to get their message (a wildly dishonest one on Gov. McAuliffe's plan for congestion tolling on I-66,, but whatever...) out there. Of course, if Republicans feel like wasting tons of money, that's fine with me, and I hope they keep doing it, but again, why? Can anyone explain this seeming idiocy to me? Thanks.

Tuesday News:"Joyful Tortoise" JEB Not So "Joyful" Anymore; Trump Got "Small Loan" of $1 Million from Daddy

by  Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, October 27. Also check out Sen. Tim Kaine speaking to the Virginia Latino Leaders Council. According to Federico Cura, Sen. Kaine said "that Latino issues tend to be life-and-death issues...such as Medicaid expansion and a fair chance to compete through comprehensive immigration reform, raising the minimum wage, investing in education, making it simpler--NOT harder--to vote in elections, or addressing catastrophic climate change. THESE ARE DEEPLY MORAL ISSUES that affect us all in one way or another!!"

A Message of Optimism from a Veteran Raiser of the Alarm (Parts 3 and 4)

Monday, October 26, 2015

by Andy Schmookler

We Need a Democratic President Who is a Fighter

It has been clear since W was president that something has gone seriously wrong in the United States. The central ingredients of this crisis can be summarized in this way:
  • a coherent and destructive force has taken over the political right, and
  • the response from Liberal America has been woefully weak.
(These points are extensively developed in my book, WHAT WE’RE UP AGAINST, and will not be substantiated here.)

The power of that destructive force has already grown so large that it will take all we’ve got to defeat it. But there are two important grounds for hope. First, we see before our eyes that the Republican Party is in the process of destroying themselves. Such self-destruction seems to be a pattern for people who get caught up in such a force. (For three previous examples of this, see my essay, “Those Whom the Gods Would Destroy, They First Drive Mad” that title being a line from Euripides.)

Second, no one can be better placed to fight and defeat this force than a Democratic president who is able and willing to do so. And, as I suggested in Part 2 of this series, Hillary Clinton’s performance before the Benghazi committee gives us reason for optimism that she might have what it takes to do the job. But I have had such hopes dashed before, the one previous time that the Republicans could have been compelled to choose between coming back from the dark side or being driven into oblivion. That, of course, was with the election of Barack Obama.

Hal Parrish Paid $30k for August 2012 Romney-Ryan Rally Out of Manassas City Funds, Never Got Paid Back, Was Forced to Raid City's General Fund

Manassas City Mayor Hal Parrish (R) likes to tout himself as some sort of moderate, reasonable Republican who has been an effective manager of his city and will be the same in the Virginia State Senate if he's elected on November 3. Yet the sequence of events starting on August 11, 2012, the day the Romney-Ryan ticket was unveiled in Virginia - including at a rally in Manassas City - tells a different story.

First, check out the photo of Mayor Parrish standing with Mitt Romney, George Allen, and other right-wing Republicans. Note that Parrish was one of the speakers at the rally, and clearly an enthusiastic supporter of Romney, Ryan, and their slash-and-burn economic policies that would have devastated the middle class and working people in America.

Second, note that the City of Manassas, at Mayor Parrish's direction, approved $30,000 in expenditures for this rally. Even worse, the minutes from the City of Manassas' September 9, 2013 meeting, discuss how to deal with the fact that the Romney campaign never reimbursed the city for that $30,000. To make up this shortfall, Mayor Parrish et al decided on "appropriating General Fund" money and transferring it to, among other things, to pay for that Romney-Ryan rally.
Item 17 of the Agenda: Consideration of Resolution 2013- 62-R Amending the FY 2013 Budget by Budgeting and Appropriating Fund Balance for FY 2013 Detention Expenditures and Transferring Contingencies and Allocating the Labor Vacancy Rate to Departments. 
Mr. Hughes discussed the various FY 2013 budget deficits, including Juvenile Detention, the Adult Detention Center, the Commissioner of the Revenue, and the Voter Registrar. Additionally, the Romney campaign did not reimburse the City for $30,000 in expenses following his stop in Old Town in 2012. Staff recommends budgeting and appropriating General Fund Fund Balance and transferring General Fund Contingency and Wage Contingency to the Detention, Commissioner of the Revenue, Voter Registrar and Romney campaign budgets. Staff anticipates FY 2013 revenues will exceed expenditures to adequately replenish the Fund Balance usage. Resolution 2013- 62-R will budget and appropriate $946,660 of Fund Balance and transfer $139,340 of Contingency, $91,000 of Wage Contingency and $(585,600) of Labor Vacancy in the General Fund. 
Third, note that in the FY 2011 Manassas City budget, there were sharp cuts of nearly $10 million, including nearly $2.9 million in reduced spending on schools (a 3.1 percent decrease from the previous year). Yet here Parrish is, in 2012, throwing $30,000 (see more documentation after the "flip") of scarce city funds at a Republican political rally? Priorities, priorities, I guess, and $30,000 might not seem like a lot of money to waste, but when you cut $2.9 million the year before and have overcrowded classrooms, it doesn't seem like Romney-Ryan, or any presidential campaign for that matter, is entitled to a handout of taxpayer funds.

It's even worse given that the Romney-Ryan rally featured Parrish lending his strong, vocal support to a Republican agenda that wants to cut Medicare, stop Medicaid expansion, slash taxes for the top 0.1% (while screwing over everyone else), keep us addicted to fossil fuels as the planet burns up, let the Koch brothers and other big corporate interests trash our democracy, impose their religious beliefs on the rest of us (note: Parrish voted to effectively shut down women's health clinics in Manassas City), do whatever the gun manufacturers want (note that Parrish has an "A-" rating from the NRA for his strong support of guns); etc. Bottom line: if this is the type of "leadership" you think we need in Richmond, by all means vote for Hal Parrish on November 3. If not, then vote Democratic. This shouldn't be a difficult choice.

Far-Right-Wing "Middle Resolution PAC" Sends Out "'head fake' flier for independent Senate candidate Donald Caldwell"

Yes, politics can be a dirty business, but this crap is really gross.
Commonwealth Attorney Don Caldwell, Democrat turned independent, running for the 21st Virginia senate district is unfazed by the conservative Middle Resolution, PAC flier distributed and targeted at Democratic voters. 
Former Roanoke City Democratic Chair, Charles Withers, sent out a phone message at the behest of the Democratic Party of Virginia to counter the flier. 
The flier was targeted to Democrats praising independent Caldwell as the “Progressive Democrat” in the race and Democrat incumbent Sen. John Edwards as a conservative.
...The DPVA paid for recorded message said that the flier lied about Caldwell’s record to “fool you into voting for him and John Edwards will stand for our Democratic values in Richmond. So when you go vote on November 3rd remember to vote for John Edwards and that a vote for Caldwell is a vote for the Tea Party.”
...The objective of the flier was to fool the low-information Democratic voters into thinking Caldwell was more progressive than his Democratic opponent, Sen. Edwards. The hope is that just enough votes would be siphoned off from Edwards to Caldwell to give Dye the win.
Clever, eh?  Oh, and for a quick reminder of who these "Middle Resolution PAC" guys are, click here. A few highlights include:
So yeah, as the Roanoke Free Press explained very well, the flier pictured above (see the "Authorized by Middle Resolution PAC" line in small print at the bottom right of the flier) is a "head fake" by a far-right-wing PAC (and possibly the Republican Party of Virginia as well), aimed at enticing Democrats to vote for Democrat-turned-Independent Donald Caldwell, thereby helping boost right-wing Republican Nancy Dye, endorsed by no less than our pal Ken Kookinelli, to victory on November 3. So, bottom line, if you live in the 21st State Senate District (Roanoke City, Roanoke County, Montgomery County, Giles County), DO NOT FALL FOR THIS DECEPTIVE GARBAGE. On November 3, vote to reelect Sen. John Edwards, and tell "Middle Resolution" where to shove their deceptive, dishonest flier.

Monday News: Carson Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs; Here Comes "very hostile to federal employees" Paul Ryan

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, August 26.

A Message of Optimism from a Veteran Raiser of the Alarm (Part 2)

Sunday, October 25, 2015

by Andy Schmookler

The Democratic Race: A Prescription 

Bernie Sanders’ candidacy has brought something important into the Democratic race—let’s call it “The Spirit of Bernie.” It is a spirit of moral passion, and of a willingness to speak the plain truth, and press the battle in fighting for justice. Bernie has embodied that in his issues and in his person, and millions of Americans have responded with passionate enthusiasm to that spirit.

That is a spirit that the Democratic Party – and the nation—need. And it would be a great thing if the Spirit of Bernie could be kept alive even as the mantle of the Democratic nomination is placed – as I argued in the first installment it is now almost inevitable that it will -- upon the shoulders of Hillary Clinton.

Here’s how that might be done.

When the time comes for Bernie to acknowledge Hillary as the victor in their contest, he should precede that acknowledgment with a challenge to Hillary:
Will you pledge to fight the battles that I would have fought, had I become president? And in fighting those battles, will you enlist the help of the American people, as I have said is necessary for us to do if our democracy is to be rescued?
Presumably, Bernie Sanders could couch those battles that he would have fought in terms both sufficiently strong as to represent a meaningful agenda on his central issues and sufficiently broad to allow a president room for maneuver.

And presumably Hillary Clinton could respond to that challenge in terms sufficiently strong to satisfy the important constituency backing Bernie Sanders. (Indeed, she has already substantially coopted those issues.) And she could respond in terms well enough crafted not to give her Republican foes ammunition against her in the general election.

By this means, the Spirit of Bernie can be passed on to the Democratic leader, which is about going after the force that’s risen on the right in defense of our democracy, of the battered middle class, and of a livable planet. And that spirit can in this way be separated from such vulnerabilities – think “socialist” – that came with Bernie himself.

And by this means, Hillary can be given a gift along the lines of what FDR said to labor leaders in 1932: "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it."

It will be a gift because the public is likely to respect such a conversation, publicly conducted, between Bernie and Hillary, and respect a pledge – to address issues on which a majority of Americans substantially agree with Bernie – given by Hillary in uniting the Party behind her.

When elected president, Hillary would have a mandate – even the moral duty that is conferred by a pledge -- to wage those battles. That publicly assumed duty and electorally conferred mandate will strengthen her hand in those difficult fights. Those battles will be cast, by these means, in a light that will inspire more public support.

My optimism, about such a scenario, is premised on the idea that Hillary has both the ability and the will to go after that right-wing force, to win over the public against that force, and by that means drain away from that force the power with which it has been damaging the nation.

The question of whether that premise is correct I will take up in the next installment.

A Message of Optimism from a Veteran Raiser of the Alarm (Part 1)

by Andy Schmookler

Recent developments bearing upon the contest for the Democratic nomination for President have revealed to me a possible political scenario by which the ongoing battle over America’s destiny – against the destructive force that has taken over the political right -- might just possibly -- be won.

This scenario begins with a prediction of what will happen in the coming months in the Democratic race, and continues (in the next installment) with a prescription for what should happen between our two major candidates – Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders – at a point that will predictably arise in the early months of next year.

The Democratic Race: A Prediction
From now on, the question of what the leadership of the Democratic Party will be like will be focused on Hillary Clinton, because – with her two recent bravura performances -- she is now nearly certain to be the Democratic nominee.
  • In the first Democratic debate, she demonstrated an ability to be both commanding and appealing. This is a combination that will make her highly electable.
  • In the Benghazi hearings, she showed that not only can she stand up to Republican assaults, but also that she knows how to make them look bad in the public eye. This is of vital importance, because getting the American people to see clearly what an atrocity the Republican Party has become is, as it has been for some time, Job One for rescuing America from that destructive force.

Sunday News: With 2015 Endorsements, Virginia Newspapers Prove They Are Most Certainly NOT "Liberal Media"

by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, October 25. Also, check out the video of "JEB" Bush talking about how he has a "lot of really cool things that I could do other than sit around being miserable, listening to people demonize me and me feeling compelled to demonize them; that is a joke, elect Trump if you want that." So much for the "joyful" campaign and all that. #FAIL