My Two Minds on the Hillary-Bernie Contest

Sunday, January 31, 2016

by Andy Schmookler

Two true statements illustrate how I am of two minds where it comes to the Hillary-Bernie contest:

1) I will be voting for Bernie in the Virginia primary on March 1; and 2) I would be relieved if Hillary quickly wrapped up the nomination.

They are both true because different scenarios seem to me plausible, and my picture is clouded by uncertainties about how our nation’s political dynamics will play out.

I see these as times of enormous peril.

I’ve said it here many times in many ways: An extraordinarily destructive and pathological force has arisen on the right, and the response from Liberal America has been woefully weak, quite inadequate to protect the nation. The strategy that’s required of us now is See the evil. Call it out. Press the Battle.

We have been losing our democracy. Our planet’s health is in grave jeopardy. Something dramatic is necessary to turn this around.

Hillary’s leadership will not impart to our system any dramatic impetus. It’s not her way. And her standing with the American people is such that she will not be able to inspire the American people to give her the power to do anything dramatic to alter the status quo. She would work well with the power structure as it is in Washington to get done what’s possible given that status quo.

But I think Bernie’s right that what is needed now can’t be accomplished without a shake-up of that currently pathological power system in Washington. And I think it is possible that Bernie’s leadership might be able to accomplish that. At least at this point, his moral passion and integrity, his readiness for a real battle, and his intelligent and dogged straight-talking make that scenario plausible.

As Robert Reich has just written:

Sunday News: Narrow Leads in IA for Clinton, Trump with Caucuses Tomorrow; "The NRA Strikes Back in Virginia"

by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, January 31. Also, check out that image of Ted Cruz's disgusting "voting violation" mailer in Iowa. Of course, I'd argue that voting for any of these extremists - Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Carson, etc. - is a "voting violation," of everything this country is supposed to stand for.

VA GOP "Loyalty Oath" - the One Trump Hated - Bites the Dust

Saturday, January 30, 2016

See The Bull Elephant for more.
The party's governing body has voted by acclamation to no longer require a Statement of Affiliation to vote in the March 1 GOP presidential primary

The Republican Party of Virginia’s State Central Committee (“SCC”), meeting in Richmond, today voted to remove the requirement it had adopted in September 2015 to require voters in its March 1 presidential primary to sign a statement indicating they are Republican.

The move comes after outcry from various quarters of the party, notably from Donald Trump, who excoriated the party for what he alleged was a move designed to exclude voters sympathetic to his candidacy. However, this does not seem to have made any impact of the SCC’s decision.
Too bad, I was really enjoying this (e.g., that shouting match between right-wingnut David Ramadan and Trumpista John Fredericks is classic!) and hoping to see a bunch of pissed-off Trump supporters storming out of the polls here in Virginia on March 1. :)

Video: Packed House, Energy and Enthusiasm as Democrat Erik Gutshall Kicks Off Race for Arlington County Board

by Lowell

Unlike in many Virginia counties, Arlington's 5-member County Board is elected not in one fell swoop, but in pieces. Last year, two County Board seats were up, with Democrats Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey easily winning their elections. This year, one seat is up -- that of Board Chair Libby Garvey (D) -- and you might think that would be a slam-dunk for the Democratic incumbent in a presidential year, when Arlington's Democratic turnout is at its hightest point (e.g., in 2012, Arlington went 69%-29% for Barack Obama, with around 83% turnout).

However, to get to November, Garvey must first get past June 14, when Arlington Democrats will hold a primary for their 2016 County Board nomination. And based on the packed (and highly enthusiastic) house last night (150+ people on a cold Friday  night, with snow still blocking many sidewalks and parking spots) for Garvey's Democratic primary opponent, Erik Gutshall, that could be far from a sure thing for the incumbent.

If you don't follow Arlington politics closely, you might be puzzled as to why there would be a strong Democratic primary challenge to the Arlington County Board Chair, who happens to be a Democrat. It's pretty simple, though: just as we saw in the (successful) primary challenge of then-Delegate Donald McEachin (D) to then-Senator Benjamin Lambert (D) in 2007, following Lambert's outrageous endorsement of George Allen over Jim Webb in the 2006 U.S. Senate election, many Arlington Democrats are not pleased with Libby Garvey over her endorsement, fundraising and campaigning for Republican John Vihstadt over the Democratic County Board nominee, Alan Howze. Ultimately, this led to Garvey's May 2014 resignation from the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC), an action which pre-empted her expected expulsion from ACDC for flagrantly violating the Democratic Party's bylaws. Note that ACDC allowed Garvey back into the committee in late 2015, but from everything I've heard, it was done more because ACDC feared drawn-out litigation and other problems, not because they were enthused in any way to have Garvey back.

But wait, there's more! As if endorsing and campaigning for a life-long Republican (and major GOP donor) over the Democratic County Board nominee weren't bad enough, I also heard a great deal of frustration and anger against Garvey last night, for a wide range of reasons. As this campaign proceeds, it's likely that those reasons will be discussed in depth, but of course one of them was Garvey's (and Vihstadt's) dishonest, demagogic campaign against the Columbia Pike streetcar.

Here's the thing: whether you supported the streetcar, as I did, or opposed it, as many good Democrats did (many had perfectly legitimate reasons for doing so, and that's fine!), there's no excuse for Garvey's repeated claims that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) was possible on the Pike (it absolutely is not); that she was really FOR "sensible transit" (note that the group "Arlingtonians for Sensible Transit" essentially shut down operations the minute they killed the streetcar, proving beyond a doubt that they never were "FOR" anything, other than something negative and destructive); that there were easy, quick, cheap alternatives to the streetcar (there absolutely were not, as evidenced by the utter lack of progress on that front over the past 1 1/2 years); the absurd, false claim that money to fund the streetcar was interchangeable/fungible with money that goes to Arlington "core services" -- again, blatantly, demonstrably untrue (in fact the exact opposite of the truth, as dedicated money to build the streetcar would have spurred Columbia Pike development and enormous tax revenues that could have been used...yes, for those very "core services" that Vihstadt, Garvey et al claimed would be hurt by funding the streetcar). Truly Orwellian.

Anyway, thankfully we now have a serious Democratic primary challenger to Garvey (and, de facto, to her Republican ally Vihstadt) in business owner and community leader Erik Gutshall. Check out the video from last night's kickoff, and you'll hear Gutshall's main themes: 1) a passion for environmental protection; 2) a commitment to "think globally and act locally" (sound familiar? yep, that's almost identical to the unofficial the slogan of Blue Virginia - "think globally, blog locally"); 3) a passion for the "progressive values of equality, fairness and economic justice...discrimination of any kind must never be tolerated;" and perhaps most centrally 4) the "very clear choice for the future of make sure that Arlington will always face hard challenges with bold ideas and never shrink from our conviction with short-sighted expediency, we must make long-term, strategic investments in our future!" As Gutshall put it, pointedly contrasting himself with Garvey:
I respect our long-term plans that protect our neighborhoods and create vibrant and prosperous mixed-use urban districts and will not conveniently dismiss these neighborhood plans as simply advisories; I support smart growth and oppose immediate widening of I-66 in Arlington...I would never have voted against Governor McAuliffe's plan to invest in bicycles, transit and other multi-modal improvements in Arlington; I will prioritize real solutions for housing affordability and would not have proposed to cut $8 million from our affordable housing investment fund...I know that a truly sustainable community is not just better for the planet, but makes long-term economic sense and provides for greater energy and food security.
Great stuff -- a broad, progressive vision for Arlington, combined with a commitment to good, responsive, transparent, accountable and effective government; to helping the most vulnerable in our community;  to a strong partnership with the schools and to closing the achievement gap. No wonder why so many Arlington community leaders, current and former elected officials (e.g., School Board member Reid Goldstein; County Board member Jay Fisette; former Delegate Karner Darner and former State Senator Mary Margaret Whipple), and citizens were there last night to support Erik Gutshall for County Board. I expect many others to endorse Gutshall, or support him behind the scenes, as this campaign progresses. For my part, I'll be strongly supporting Erik Gutshall for the Democratic nomination. I hope you'll all join me, and help elect a Democratic County Board member who actually has a strong, bold, progressive vision for our future!

Saturday News: Trump is "simply incorrect;" "A bold step in gun control in Virginia - backward"

by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, January 30. Also check out President Obama's weekly address, on "his plan to give all students across the country the chance to learn computer science (CS) in school."

Andy Parker, Colin Goddard, etc. Blast Gov. McAuliffe as a "leader who has shown the greatest courage...until today"

Friday, January 29, 2016

The following letter is from the Everytown Survivor Network; bolding added by me for emphasis. - Lowell
Dear Governor McAuliffe,

We are members of a club we hope no one else has to join. We were brought together because all of us either have had loved ones killed or injured with guns or we have been injured ourselves in a shooting, and all of us have resolved to do whatever is in our power to prevent our club from expanding. You have been a leader who has shown the greatest courage on this issue and been an inspiration to so many of us.

Until today.

In what you are billing as a "compromise" with the NRA, you've decided to gut the action that Attorney General Herring recently took to strengthen enforcement of existing Virginia law by caving to the gun lobby's demands on the issue of out-of-state permit recognition.

This deal is a dangerous rollback that puts public safety at risk.

Video: Del. Patrick Hope Calls Gov. McAuliffe's Gun Deal "an exciting bipartisan bill" that "will keep us safer"

by Lowell

I just received the following video, which I've partially transcribed (see below), from Del. Patrick Hope (D-Arlington). I thought the part where he talks about Gov. McAuliffe's concealed carry reciprocity compromise was worth highlighting, mainly because I find it surprising to hear a progressive (and strong advocate of gun safety measures) like Del. Hope praise it.

Personally, I'm not sure I see how this deal keeps anyone safer. As one gun safety advocate explained to me, the problem is that the part about someone under a protective order being prohibited from possessing a firearm "doesn't include temporary orders, [and] that's the period of maximum vulnerability." If true, that seriously weakens this compromise, as does the voluntary nature of background checks at gun shows. The whole thing also seems to undercut what AG Mark Herring just did the other day on this front. Thoughts?
Speaking of guns, the governor announced an exciting bipartisan bill today that would keep guns away from domestic abusers and people who cannot pass background checks. Democrats' top priority is to keep Virginians safe, and this bipartisan deal will keep us safer. Everyone knows that compromise is important in divided government. 
The balance of this deal struck with the National Rifle Association and Republicans, the deal would not be possible without the efforts of our Attorney General Mark Herring, a real leader on this issue. I'm pleased to report that the terms of the compromise is we will now have voluntary background checks at all Virginian gun shows. While I prefer to have mandatory background checks and will continue to support this, this is an important first step. 
Secondly, we changed the law to prohibit someone under a protective order from possessing a firearm. Last year, four women died due to domestic violence; their killer, their husband, was under a protective order, and the law allowed him to possess the gun that ultimately killed their spouse. In exchange, the governor agrees to sign a bill to grant reciprocity for all states with a concealed carry permitting process. I will vehemently oppose this portion of the deal, because I don't think Virginia should allow someone from a state with a weaker concealed handgun law to carry the gun in our Commonwealth.

Friday News: Trump-Less, "Shockingly Uninformed" Republicans Debate, T-Mac Cuts Gun Deal

by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, January 29. Also check out the video of last night's freak, GOP debate, with commentary by Sam Seder and the "Majority Report."

Livid Gun Safety Advocates to Gov. McAuliffe: "backroom [gun] deal...totally unacceptable"

Thursday, January 28, 2016

by Lowell

The following Facebook post by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) is in response to this breaking story ("Va. will once again recognize concealed carry permits from other states") in the Washington Post. In short, "Gov. Terry McAuliffe plans to announce Friday that Virginia will restore handgun reciprocity agreements with nearly all states, in a stunning reversal of firearms policy that angered Republicans and gun rights advocates across the nation." 

The reaction from the CSGV is typical of what I'm hearing from progressive Virginia legislators and gun safety advocates. Angry words like "betrayal," "deal stinks" and "there is no explaining this" are flying around, as well as multiple sources (Virginia gun safety advocates, Democratic legislators, etc.) telling me they weren't consulted on this beforehand at all. Also, can we say "Mark Herring, meet underside of bus?" Ugh.

I'm going to continue monitoring Facebook and emailing folks for their comment and perspective. Please let me know what you're hearing as well. But the bottom line with Terry McAuliffe, yet again, is that he doesn't appear to give a crap what progressive, environmentalists, and others who helped elect him think. Instead, it appears he's calculated that he can get away with it, and that somehow this is good politically for him (why, who knows?!?). The question is, will Virginians who care about gun safety (and other progressives) let him know this type of behavior is unacceptable? Note his contact info below if you'd like to give him a piece of your mind.

UPDATE: A Virginia Democratic legislator just told me, "This is a bad deal. House Republicans will 'let' us pass two measures that are already incredibly popular, even among most gun owners. In exchange, the AG who went out an a limb is about to have that limb cut out from under him and we go to universal reciprocity."

Why I Respectfully Disagree with My Friend Atif Qarni on Sanders vs. Clinton

by Lowell

Yesterday, my friend Atif Qarni - teacher, Iraq War veteran, Democratic nominee for House of Delegates in 2013 and candidate for the State Senate in 2015 - posted a column here at Blue Virginia, entitled Sanders or Clinton: Shoot for the Stars or Better Safe than Sorry? In it, Atif made a strong case for why Bernie Sanders isn't just the more progressive candidate -- "a positive and inspirational figure who can transform our society in ways that only a true visionary can imagine," as Atif puts it -- but also the most electable Democrat in 2016 (Sanders, "with his message of hope and political revolution, will be able to inspire the masses and accomplish an Obama-like turnout.").  I respectfully disagree with Atif; here's why.

Attention Gov. McAuliffe: New Study Demolishes Arguments for New Virginia Natural Gas Pipelines

by Lowell

The following press release from the Virginia Sierra Club, and the study it references, are pretty much the killer arguments against the proposed Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley natural gas pipelines. If Gov. McAuliffe cares about averting climate catastrophe, he will kill these pipelines now, both for environmental and economic reasons (e.g., that clean energy is by far and away the economic opportunity of the 21st century, and that fossil fuels are at serious risk of becoming "stranded assets").
Climate Disrupting Pollution from Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines nearly twice that of Virginia power plants and other stationary sources

A new report by the Sierra Club finds that greenhouse gas pollution from the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines would be almost twice the total climate-changing emissions from existing power plants and other stationary sources in Virginia.

The report, prepared by Richard Ball, PhD., a retired US EPA and DOE scientist who served as a lead author on the First and Second Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments and is the Energy Chair for the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, estimates total carbon dioxide gas equivalent from each of the two pipelines over the natural gas fuel cycle, including fugitive emissions of methane from fracking in the gas fields, leakage during transmission and storage, and combustion of the delivered gas. It also shows the estimated planetary heating from all four proposed pipelines for Virginia.

Last week, the US EPA urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to require applicants for new pipelines to assess a project’s indirect impacts, including potential increases in gas production and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions[1]. “Our report provides an assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines as the EPA suggests,” said Dr. Ball. “We urge FERC to consider this report and to require the pipeline developers to address climate concerns in a programmatic environmental impact statement that takes a comprehensive look at impacts from all proposed new or expanded pipelines.”

“Statements made by gas industry executives and public officials, including Governor McAuliffe, that natural gas is a clean fuel ignore the significant climate impact of increased reliance on gas,” said Kirk Bowers, an organizer for the Sierra Club working with communities opposing the new natural gas pipelines in Virginia and West Virginia.

Thursday News: Trump-Less GOP Debate Tonight; "End of the GOP as We Know It?"

by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, January 28. Also see President Obama speaking at the "Righteous Among Nations Award Ceremony" yesterday.

Across Virginia, Broad Community, Business Support for COPN Reforms that Preserve Vital Health Care Program

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I strongly agree with the following press release from the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association. Bottom line: Virginia's General Assembly absolutely should not weaken, let alone repeal, the state's Certificate of Public Need (COPN) program "that protects health care access, controls costs, and offsets unfunded charity care mandates on hospitals." Also consider: "Health care is not a free market. Federal law requires hospitals to provide emergency care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. Also, many patients who need hospital care are uninsured, underinsured, or are covered by federal or state health programs that do not cover hospitals’ full costs for delivering care." Of course, for-profit actors would love to come in and cherry pick the profitable stuff from hospitals, leaving them with everything that loses money, sending the hospitals into a financial death spiral. The question is, why on earth would our General Assembly enable that disastrous outcome?!? - Lowell
Chambers of Commerce from Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, Roanoke, and Bristol Favor Keeping Intact Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need Process to Protect Health Care Access, Control Costs, and Offset Charity Care Mandates
RICHMOND, VA – Chambers of Commerce, business leaders, health care advocates, and other stakeholders are joining together to urge the Virginia General Assembly to enhance and protect Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need (COPN) program. The groundswell of voices continues to grow as the legislature considers proposals to alter the longstanding COPN process that protects health care access, controls costs, and offsets unfunded charity care mandates on hospitals. Local hospitals and health systems throughout the Commonwealth support appropriate reforms that enhance the program and establish guidelines for future refinement. There is widespread opposition to COPN repeal among Virginia’s local hospitals and health systems because of the serious threat that would pose to our health care system. Support for COPN exists among many business and community organizations including the Bristol Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. The Virginia Rural Health Association and the Virginia Nurses Association also are supportive of reforms to enhance the existing COPN process.  
The position taken by the chambers is in line with the recommendations of a state work group created last year at the direction of the General Assembly. After spending much of 2015 thoroughly studying how COPN works, the work group concluded that the program should be modernized but remain in place. The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association similarly supports reform of the COPN program.  
Bi-partisan legislation sponsored by Delegate Chris Stolle (R-Virginia Beach) and Senator William Stanley Jr. (R-Franklin County) embodies the recommendations of the work group. Their proposals provide a mechanism for meaningful reforms to the COPN program now and in the future. Delegate Stolle’s HB 1083 has many co-patrons from both sides of the aisle and both chambers of the General Assembly, including roughly one-fourth of all House of Delegates’ members. Senator Stanley’s SB 641 likewise has gained bi-partisan support in the House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate.  

Sanders or Clinton: Shoot for the Stars or Better Safe than Sorry?

by Atif Qarni

On March 1, Virginians will be voting in the 2016 Presidential Primary. This election in November could be the most pivotal election of our generation. Since the Republicans gained control of the House, they have made it increasingly difficult for President Obama to govern. Despite all of the protests and rancor in Congress over the Administration’s policies, President Obama has made significant strides on issues like affordable health care coverage, marriage equality, and repairing relations with foreign nations like Cuba and Iran.

However, on the domestic front, there are several issues that the current Administration has not fully recognized or addressed, including income inequality, inner city violence, and institutionalized racism. Turning a blind eye to racial and socio-economic inequalities is creating an environment in this country that is ripe for discontent, which if left unaddressed, will lead to civil unrest.

I support Bernie Sanders because his message of economic justice will expand the Democratic coalition to include more support from working class voters. We need a nominee who will inspire the youth and disenfranchised to come out and vote in November. Sanders has demonstrated courage in demanding significant change in fixing our rigged economy, cleaning up our corrupt political system, and giving the younger generation a better fighting chance to shoot for the stars. There is very little upward mobility if a person comes out of college with over $100,000  in debt. This is not the American dream, it is the American nightmare.

Let us not forget that Democratic socialism is the same set of ideas that created the New Deal coalition that gave us Social Security, Medicare, the GI Bill, and the great public works projects of the 20th century -- all policies that led to a steady rise in the middle class standard of living.

I support Sanders because he has a long record of being on the right side of issues and on the front lines for civil rights and social justice for women and minorities. His view on marriage equality did not evolve over the years, but remained steadfast over the years. In this regard, Sanders has proven himself to be a true leader and visionary, as opposed to a follower of popular sentiment.

Wednesday News: Trump Trolls GOP; "Vindication for Planned Parenthood;" VA GOP Continues Crusade to Ditch Highly Qualified Justice

by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, January 27. Also, gotta love anti-gay extremists Del. "Sideshow Bob" Marshall and Del. Dave LaRock voting against a bill "Commending religious liberty and freedom from political persecution." The vote was 95-2 in favor.

Virginia legislators look to tax breaks and barrier-busting to boost renewable energy

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cross posted from the excellent Power for the People VA, by the Virginia Sierra Club's Ivy Main. 

Let's get these projects moo-ving. Photo credit NREL
Let’s get these projects moo-ving. Photo credit NREL
The orchestrated mayhem of the Virginia General Assembly session is well underway. Thirteen days are gone and only twenty-one days remain until what’s known as “Crossover,” after which any bill that hasn’t passed its own chamber is effectively dead. This year Crossover falls on February 16. After that, each chamber considers only bills already passed by the other.
By that measure, yours truly is one lazy blogger, because I’m only just getting to the renewable energy bills. On the other hand, bills were still being filed until Friday, and some bills are undergoing revisions before they are heard in committee. These are moving targets; advocates beware.
Removing barriers to investment 
Readers of this blog know that Virginia law is riddled with barriers that restrain the market for wind and solar in Virginia. This year several bills take aim at the policies holding us back.

Virginia Leaders Urge Gov. McAuliffe: Reject Dominion Efforts to Increase Climate Change Pollution

I strongly agree with the following from the Virginia Sierra Club. It is time for Gov. McAuliffe to stand up to Dominion Power, tell them where to shove it, and fight for a sustainable, clean energy future for our state!

Dominion’s approach to federal Clean Power Plan would harm Virginia’s future

RICHMOND – A wide array of Virginia civic, health, faith, and environmental leaders today released a letter asking Governor Terry McAuliffe to reject all efforts by Dominion Virginia Power to push for implementation of historic federal clean power rules in a way that would increase carbon pollution in the Commonwealth.

Leaders representing 50 organizations reminded McAuliffe that only he, as governor, is authorized to make the final decision on how to implement the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan” in Virginia. It is therefore his explicit responsibility to reduce carbon emissions while strengthening Virginia’s economy and helping improve public health. Anything less will support more pollution, which is “fundamentally contrary” to existing U.S. policy and the interests of Virginia residents, the groups write.

“I cannot remember such a diverse range of groups weighing in on a pollution issue in Virginia before,” said Tram Nguyen, co-executive director of the group New Virginia Majority. “This letter calls for action on what we hope will be the governor’s greatest legacy. The governor can adopt a plan that will strengthen our economy while protecting people’s health now and for generations to come.”

The letter states that Virginia should reduce its total carbon pollution from power plants at least 30% by the year 2030, by applying the same standards to both existing and new power plants, and increasing our use of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

But Virginia utilities, led by Dominion CEO Tom Farrell, want a plan that would apply the federal rule only to old, existing power plants – not new fossil fuel power plants. This would allow Dominion to increase carbon pollution for decades more. 

“This will be the governor’s most significant environmental decision,” said Claire Wyatt with the Virginia Student Power Network. “Virginia needs to do its part to cut carbon pollution which is fueling climate change, and threatening our health and infrastructure.”

Video: Ted Cruz Surrogate Ken Cuccinelli Lies; Turns out Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump Favorability Gains FAR Greater than Cruz's

by Lowell

I posted this video in the comments section of the daily news clips, noting that Ted Cruz surrogate Ken Cuccinelli tried, but failed miserably, to spin Cruz's imminent loss to Donald Trump in Iowa, where basically Cruz has to win, since the Republican electorate there is dominated by hard-right fundamentalists who should be his natural supporters. Among other problems with Cooch's argument is the following statement, at the start of the interview with Chris Hayes:

"Where Ted Cruz was at the beginning of this race in March when he got in and his favorability ratings then compared to now, nobody has moved as favorably among ordinary Americans as they've gotten to know him as Ted Cruz."

Let's check that audacious claim out at HuffPost Pollster, which has favorability ratings graphs for all the candidates.

Turns out that since March 23, 2015, when Ted Cruz announced his candidacy at the Orwellian-named "Liberty" "University," his favorable/unfavorable rating has gone from 30%-37% (-7 points net unfavorable) to a whopping...uh, 38%-42% (-4 points net unfavorable) on January 19, 2016. That's a gain of 3 paltry points for Cruz, who remains in net unfavorable territory among "ordinary Americans."

So how about Donald Trump, who's about to destroy any delusionss Crazy Calgary Cruz had about being president of the United States? Turns out Trump's gone from a hideous 21%-68% (-47 points net unfavorable!) back in May 2015 to a still-bad, but much-improved, 40%-54% (-14 points net unfavorable) now. That's a "yuge" gain of 33 points for Trump, totally contradicting Cooch's claim that "nobody has moved as favorably among ordinary Americans as they've gotten to know him as Ted Cruz." #FAIL

Finally, let's take a look at Bernie Sanders' favorability ratings. Turns out, Sanders has gone from 9%-10% (-1 points net unfavorable; basically almost nobody knew who he was) back in March 2015 to 47%-37% (+10 points net FAVORABLE) now. That's a gross gain of 38 points in terms of favorable ratings for Sanders, compared to a gross gain of just 8 points for Cruz. In short, as "ordinary Americans" have gotten to know the candidates, the favorability ratings have shot sharply for Bernie Sanders, and to an extent Donald Trump, but most certainly NOT for Cooch's candidate, Ted Cruz. So hoo hoo.  LOL

In short...Cooch is lying about Cruz's favorability ratings no matter how you look at it.

Tuesday News: GOP Leaders "Vexation Grows" as Time Running Out to Stop Trump; Dems Hold Town Hall with IA Caucuses 6 Days Away

by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, January 26.

Time for Hillary’s Silent Majority to Speak Up

Monday, January 25, 2016

By Kindler

 Cross-posted at Daily Kos

Donald Trump has revived an old Nixonian term in claiming that his supporters constitute a “silent majority”.  Of course, like most of what Trump says, this is bunk: no poll has ever shown him with a majority (as opposed to a plurality) of Republican voters, and if there’s anything of which he and his supporters are incapable, it’s silence.

But on the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has an actual claim to the title.  She has held a majority of Democratic voters in nearly all the polls to date.  And many of her supporters frankly have been pretty quiet.

I know because I’m one of them.  I’ve been generally unobtrusive in my support for Hillary for a number of reasons.

First, I’ve frankly enjoyed watching Bernie’s challenge to her, and have found it beneficial in many ways.  Democracy thrives on competition, and Democrats in particular – for good reason – don’t like coronations.  Every candidate should have competitors holding his or her feet to the fire.  That Bernie has been an articulate advocate for progressive causes makes that challenge all the more worthwhile.

Second, as many have pointed out, Hillary is not necessarily the type of candidate that drives you to want to set up flaming barricades in the street.  She’s a smart, competent, experienced, articulate progressive whose campaign style has much improved from the past.  I think she will be a formidable standard bearer for the Democratic party.  But so far, she’s led a campaign, not a movement – or, well, revolution – and so, many of her supporters have not felt the need to scream just yet.

Finally, I’ve been confident that she will prevail in the battle for the nomination, and so haven’t felt a necessity to raise my voice.

That is, until this moment.  As Bernie-mania grips the press and social media, it is now time for Hillary supporters like me to speak up and provide a reality check.  No, I don’t mean that it’s time for more petty sniping and name-calling between supporters on both sides – that does no one any good.  But it is time to stand up and support our candidate, and explain why.

How Today’s Ugly GOP Presidential Race Provides a Teachable Moment

by Andy Schmookler

For years, there’s something that we Americans have urgently needed to see. If now isn’t a teachable moment – what with the spectacle of the Republican presidential race before us – I don’t know what would be.

We can begin with Trump as a flagrant piece of a much bigger picture.

Consider what it means that the British parliament lately debated the question of whether Donald Trump should be banned from Great Britain. Britain-- perhaps the United States’ greatest friend, our “special relationship” for the better part of a century. And Donald Trump-- the front-runner of one of America’s two major political parties.

That such a debate would occur sends an inescapable message: Something has gone seriously wrong with the Republican Party.

How should we understand what’s gone wrong?

That Trump is the frontrunner tells us we must look past Trump as an individual, for if he weren’t getting massive support from the Republican base, his candidacy – however distasteful – would be of no importance.

The support Trump gets from the base demonstrates that he is expressing what they feel and how they think. So, in excavating what’s gone wrong, the next level down lies in the thoughts and feelings of the base.

Democrat Ericke Cage Exits Race for Congress in Virginia's Fifth District

by Lowell

Back  in December, I had long conversations with the two Democrats running for the 5th Congressional District seat currently held by Rep. Robert Hurt, who is retiring after his term (mercifully) ends in November. I was impressed with both Ericke Cage and Jane Dittmar and thought that either would make  a potentially strong Democratic nominee against whatever far right winger the Republicans end up nominating (e.g., the Dick Black-endorsed Tom Garrett; - loonytunes, in other words).

Now, with former Tom Perriello staffer Ericke Cage's announcement that he's withdrawing from the race (see below, after the "flip"), it appears that Jane Dittmar -- immediate past Chair of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors and representative of the Scottsville District -- will be the Democratic nominee in the 5th CD this year. I wish her the best of luck and look forward to doing what I can to help her win this race!

Monday News: "Cleanup could stretch for days;" Dem Town Hall Tonight in Iowa; "Traffic hypocrisy in Richmond"

by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, January 25.