And that's not even counting the millions of Americans who have gained coverage through expansion of Medicaid (not here in Virginia, due to Republicans' politically-driven idiocy and viciousness), the hundreds of millions of Americans who now have more healthcare benefits and protections (e.g., no exclusions for preexisting conditions), the fact that healthcare costs are rising more slowly under the Affordable Care Act, etc., etc.
The bottom line, according to President Obama, is that "this thing is working." That's why Obama (and a lot of other people) finds it "strange that the Republican position on this law is still stuck in the same place that it has always been; they can't bring themselves to admit hat the Affordable Care Act is working." Thus, Republicans said: "nobody would sign up; they were wrong about that. They said it would be unaffordable for the country; they were wrong about that. They were wrong to keep trying to repeal a law that is working when they have no alternative answer for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions who'd be denied coverage again or every woman who'd be charged more for just being a woman again."
Republicans: wrong, wrong, wrong, and wrong some more. Sensing a pattern here? Meanwhile, let's repeat for emphasis: the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare," is working. And that's in SPITE of relentless Republican efforts to try to sabotage it, slow it down, make it less effective than it could be, you name it. Fortunately for the country, Republicans don't control the White House or the U.S. Senate. Unfortunately for the country, they DO have the power to do quite a bit of damage. Which is about the only thing they're good at, by the way. Remind me again: why does ANYONE vote for people who want Americans to go backwards and be worse off?
An online petition hosted by the American Tradition Institute opposing cap and trade makes the following assertions about climate change: 
"... the claims of carbon-driven anthropogenic global warming (AGW) are unproven and are, in fact, contested by over 31,000 scientists..."
"... global temperatures have not risen since 2000 and data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration demonstrates that the earth has actually been cooling for the last 4 years..."
One of the leaders of ATI is one David Schnare, "a Virginia attorney" who was "involved in the ATI legal action seeking to let him and Horner review thousands of climatologist Michael Mann's University of Virginia emails, including emails deemed exempt from FOIA." (another one who was involved was none other than our friend, the bat****-crazy "Sideshow Bob" Marshall).
Among other things, Schnare has stated that environmental activists are "very sick people" who "quietly rejoice over the potential of millions (billions?) of starving people;" and that "the Scandinavian moose emits 2,100 kg of methane a year, equivalent to the green house gases emitted by an automobile trip of 13,000 km," so "Thank goodness hunters shoot 35,000 of them each year." Yeah, that's the calibre of "argument" we're dealing with here.
It might not be so insidious if ATI were just an isolated bunch of extremists. Instead, unfortunately, they are part of a massive, well-funded, not to mention evil effort to harass climate scientists, waste their time and prevent them from doing their urgently important work, and deny/minimize climate science in service of their fossil fuel industry masters. Not surprisingly, another big-time fossil fool, Ken Cuccinelli, also was a big player in all this, as were numerous right-wing publications and organizations, a few of which Mann is suing for defamation (if he wins, which is quite likely, I sincerely hope he sues a bunch more of them).
Bottom line: we should all celebrate, along with Michael Mann, this "victory for science, public university faculty, and academic freedom." Hopefully, as Mann writes, this ruling "can serve as a precedent in other states confronting this same assault on public universities and their faculty." I'd add the hope that this ruling, along with Mann's likely victory in his defamation case, make these anti-science, anti-environment, fossil fuel tools think twice before they try anything like this again. More importantly, if we can clear out all the trolls in our path, we need to make rapid progress in combating climate change, first and foremost via a rapid transition off of fossil fuels and into a clean energy economy.
This year's version of the annual event just outside of Wakefield accomplished little. Though there was a hint of the lunacy usually present at Shad Planking; what there wasn't was much of a crowd nor interest. The biggest symbol of the times was the state-maintained road to the event.
There really wasn't much in the way of genuine politics going on. It was more of an alumni meeting than a political rally; more of a gathering of cronies practicing the Virginia Way interrupted a couple of times by a couple of hecklers. It seems that the last few seasons of rowdies have driven away the attendees who used to come show some civil revelry on behalf of their candidates. And now, with no one in any race to rally around, the most demonstrative types stayed home; and that would leave a big hole in what had become this Ruritan charity event attendance.
Additionally the candidates themselves, apparently led by the Republicans, declared a tacit truce on the sign war; they realized surrender was the better part of valor in that battle. There were a few signs along the road, but not the plastering to which we've become accustomed; maybe a dozen on 460 coming in from Richmond.
And then there was that road. We've discussed here the slow strangling that the McDonnell administration orchestrated during his four years in office in the name of balancing the budget. Well, now it is manifest here. What has been a well-maintained macadam rural route has deteriorated. In fact, the last half mile or more to the event parking area entrance and everything beyond is now feathered with gravel to cover the potholes. It really is symbolic of the treatment of Virginia's infrastructure, from schools and social programs to health care and public safety; not to mention the fraud perpetrated on the Virginia Retirement System when McDonnell announced that the unfunded obligations had been resolved.
There is more to discuss about what was less and that will come in a subsequent post. But if this level of enthusiasm is any indication of the turnout for this fall's election, the margin will come down to the grassroots get-out-the-vote effort. Problem is, for both sides, yesterday showed the grassroots really haven't been fertilized.
Ms. Comstock also supported legislation that would have required women seeking abortions to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds. She backed a measure intended to outlaw abortion by granting individual rights to an embryo from the moment of conception. She voted to repeal a law limiting handgun purchases to one per month. And she opposes expanding Medicaid, which would provide health coverage for up to 400,000 uninsured Virginians.
Being a sycophant to Mr. Limbaugh is bad enough; it's even worse when the sycophancy is based on a fabrication...
Ms. Comstock's past primary votes are her business. But by jockeying to appeal to the most extreme fringe of the electorate, Republicans run the risk of alienating centrist, level-headed and educated voters in the 10th District.
Of course, Trump is just the latest in a long line of extremists, warmongers, bigots, and right-wing hate radio hosts to endorse Comstock. The question is, will 10th CD voters lurch to the right, as the Post warned this morning, or will it elect the sane, sensible, capable John Foust in November? Is this like THE easiest rhetorical question ever? LOL
U.S. Senate Sen. Mark Warner: $4,528,330 in receipts, $7,161,950 cash on hand.
Ed Gillespie: $2.2 million in receipts according to press reports.
2nd CD Rep. Scott Rigell: $994,478 in receipts, $665,310 cash on hand (also $549,500 in debt)
Suzanne Patrick: $301,587 in receipts, $195,832 cash on hand.
8th CD Dems Don Beyer: $672,104 in receipts, $449,637 cash on hand.
Bruce Shuttleworth: $57,188 in receipts, MINUS $23,258 cash on hand. The initial report on the FEC website was incorrect. The Shuttleworth campaign has submitted an amended report indicating receipts of $332,188 (including $275,000 in loans to himself), and cash on hand of $252,276.
Mark Levine: $322,808 in receipts (of which $250,000 was a loan to himself), $299,278 cash on hand.
Lavern Chatman: $298,697 in receipts (including a $20,000 loan and a $100,000 donation to herself), $213,468 cash on hand.
Bill Euille: $214,572 in receipts, $173,509 cash on hand.
Patrick Hope: $186,534 in receipts (including a $10,000 loan to himself), $138,733 cash on hand
Adam Ebbin: $178,800 in receipts, $114,879 cash on hand.
Charniele Herring: $121,315 in receipts, $89,675 cash on hand
Derek Hyra: $26,049 in receipts, $14,470 cash on hand.
P.S. Mark Sickles, who withdrew from the race, ended with $15,360 cash on hand. Alfonso Lopez, who also withdrew from the race, had receipts of $79,904 (including an $8,000 loan to himself) and cash on hand of $63,630.
10th CD John Foust: $775,761 in receipts (including $250,000 loaned to himself), $626,544 cash on hand
Barbara Comstock: $761,354 in receipts (including $93,632 apparently loaned to herself), $520,030 cash on hand.
Howard Lind: $140,838 in receipts (including an apparent $120,000 loan to himself), $38,313 cash on hand.
Robert Wasinger: $82,742 in receipts, $9,302 cash on hand.
Bob Marshall: $55,240 in receipts, $40,862 cash on hand.
The shad are running and Virginia politicians will swim with them today. Last year Democratic candidates gave the Wakefield Ruritan event a cold shoulder. The event's organizers made an insincere attempt to dampen the tea party spirit, discouraging stars and bars. This is a charity event, they cried, after all.
This year Virginia's senior Senator Mark Warner will deliver the keynote and his almost certain Republican opponent will make one of his rare public appearances. It will be informative seeing if Team Warner laid the groundwork for a more civil and less homogeneous atmosphere than this annual carnival for reactionaries nourishes. Earlier this year, they stumbled out of the block when, despite refusing to commit to Democratic events closer in than 60 days, they accepted the Shad Planking appearance well in advance. Maybe, tied to an old playbook, they failed to notice that last year's Democratic statewide success demonstrated the irrelevance of the event. One would hope that the acceptance came with some assurance that the event would be more civil, sane, and inclusive.
The impact of the "traditional" sign war has diminished considerably since the Kaine and Webb surprises during the past decade. When this became a war of paid "volunteers" it was no longer a genuine indicator of anything more than a campaign bankroll. And if the intent is to make this event relevant, where is the outreach from the Ruritan Club or encouragement from more progressive constituents to draw in displays and support from the Democratic Party, the NAACP, or the LGBT community?
So what will today provide? Boney fish, cold beer, and the themes that Senator Warner will employ to shore up and broaden his own constituency, an impressive coalition of common interests. This could also provide the national bellwether for the Democratic strategy that will be used to counter this year's onslaught by Republican reactionaries against the Affordable Care Act. There couldn't be a more promising petri dish.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, April 16. Also check out Krystal Ball as she rips violent extremist Cliven Bundy, his gang of thugs, and the right wingnuts who back him as a so-called "patriot" (which he is absolutely NOT!).
Here's an excellent live version of the Don Beyer "blue cup song," from earlier this evening in Arlington. Around 200 people attended the event with Howard Dean; more video to come - including speeches by Beyer and Dean - when it uploads to YouTube. Meanwhile, enjoy the song!
What issue is your issue? What drives your passion for politics?
I’m a relatively new transplant to the Northern Virginia community, but I understood from the start how fortunate this place is to be filled with such strongly progressive voices. Battling climate change, expanding access to affordable health care, pushing for compassionate immigration reform – the residents of Virginia’s 8th congressional district are guided by staunchly progressive values.
But as Professor Lawrence Lessig of Harvard often says – while each of these issues is deeply important, they cannot be the first issue. The first issue is tackling the systemic corruption that has engulfed the American political system. Special interests and the power of money in our political system have rewritten the rules.
I have been following the race to succeed Jim Moran with interest. This is a field of remarkably qualified candidates, each ready to profess their progressive credentials. But from the very start, I have been shocked at how rarely political reform issues have been raised.
Virginia needs to be ground zero of this debate. The values instilled in the 8th district bleed into the perspective of the greater Washington community. On a state-wide level, the desire for real ethics and campaign reform are on the rise. In many respects, this state will come to represent the challenges in framing these issues across the nation leading up to the midterm elections this year.
Let’s stand up and make these reform issues our issues. Let’s actively shape the debate.
Virginia 10th CD Republican candidate Rob Wasinger rips Barbara Comstock. Definitely time for more popcorn - hot buttered, at that! :)
It's no surprise, at least not to my fellow candidates up here, that there's someone missing today. Barbara Comstock has skipped virtually all Tea Party and conservative events, and she hasn't been telling you the truth about who she is. Last week, as Howie mentioned, it was revealed that she voted for President Barack Obama during the 2008 primary. At the time, she explained it away, saying it was part of Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos."
The only problem with that explanation is, it's not true. In reality, Rush Limbaugh's plan was to vote for Hillary and he launched it after Virginia's primary. Comstock got both the intent and the date wrong in her coverup to explain why she'd support one of the most liberal presidents in history. In the immortal words of Congressman Joe Wilson, Barbara, you lie!
P.S. In other Comstock-related news, earlier today, she announced that she'd raised $761,354 in the first quarter of 2014. Sounds pretty good, except for a couple things. First, she spent a good chunk of that money, ending up with just $520,000 cash on hand. Second, it's even more underwhelming when you consider that Comstock is backed by the likes of Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Karl Rove, Tom Delay, John Bolton, and a whole host of old, rich GOP men (plus hate radio hosts like Mark Levin and extremist organizations like "Americans for Propserity" - yes, that's how Comstock's campaign misspelled it on her website - with apparently nothing better to do than raise money for her. This is going to be a fun campaign. :)
Del. Patrick Hope, who is running for Congress in Virginia's 8th District, spoke in front of the IRS Building earlier this afternoon to express his support for the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) "People's Budget," which would among other things create a Millionaire's Tax requiring millionaires and giant corporations to pay their fair share in taxes. According to Del. Hope, federal programs are under attack by people who say we need to cut those programs to balance the budget. Hope says, "I reject that premise entirely," and notes that the CPC budget brings in more revenue by restoring Clinton-era tax rates for those earning $250,000-$1 million per year, and establishing new rates for those earning more than $1 million per year. The CPC budget also closes the loophole that allowed Mitt Romney to pay less than a 15% tax rate. According to Hope, we need to fight to keep our social safety net fully intact, and we can do that in part by closing tax loopholes that disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Americans.
Hope also announces that he's releasing his tax returns, and calls on every candidate for Congress from the 8th CD to do the same thing. And, in response to a question by yours truly, he says he "absolutely" supports a carbon tax as the "linchpin of any proposal on climate change."
P.S. Editorial note: now that I've narrowed my possible picks in this race down to 4 candidates, I'm going to start posting about them more on the Blue Virginia "front page." It's time to really start focusing the mind here...
The Democratic primary for Congress in Virginia's 8th Congressional District will be held on June 10, just 57 days from now. I've been closely observing the candidates, including this past weekend's "forum" at Mt. Vernon High School. At this point, I feel confident in narrowing down the candidates I'm considering from 10 to 4. Here's my reasoning on the candidates I've included in my "Final Four," and the ones I haven't.
Candidates Eliminated from Contention 1. Derek Hyra: I explained my reasoning in detail here, but the short answer is that Hyra's top policy advisor is: a) a flack/shill for the fossil fuel industry that's destroying our planet; b) someone who spends his time in court fighting efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions; c) someone who opposes pretty much EVERY progressive policy there is, based on his Twitter feed and other crap he's written, whether on health care or economic policy or anything else (the guy's a Cuccinelli supporter to top it all off). Hyra's response to my concerns was even lamer, claiming he's all about bipartisanship, diverse ideas, blah blah blah. Look, if Hyra were running in the 2nd CD or 5th CD, I could understand him talking this (although I'd still dislike it intensively) "both sides" false equivalency bull****. But in the deep-blue 8th CD? No thanks, I want a rock-solid progressive and environmentalist, end of story.
2. Bill Euille: His absurd answer at the debate Saturday on the Keystone Pipeline would almost singlehandedly disqualify him from contention. But then there's his big backer Sheila Johnson, who not only endorsed Bob McDonnell over Creigh Deeds in the 2009 governor's race, cut an ad for McDonnell and donated a huge wad of dough to McDonnell's campaign; she also mocked - on camera, no less - Creigh Deeds' speech impediment. I'm sorry, but Bill Euille's embrace of Sheila Johnson is a killer for me. Just appalling.
3. Lavern Chatman: There are two automatic disqualifiers for Chatman. First was the fraudulent conveyance judgement against her, about which the judge wrote:
The Supreme Court in our times is troubled with more that an "appearance of corruption." With its recent decisions gutting the regulation of campaign finance, the majority on the Roberts Court has shown itself a partisan combatant on the side of a most dangerously corrupt form of injustice. Justice should be understood as the antidote to the rule of power. When there is no justice, then we fall into the kind of world described by the ancient Athenians as they sought to compel a weaker people to do their bidding-- or else:
"[Y]ou know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must"
Our founders' great contribution to human history was to devise a government to solve that problem. Saying that "all men are created equal," they established a system to equalize power among the citizens. With each citizen given an equal voice in deciding the nation's destiny through the election process- that equality would eliminate the dichotomy between the strong and the weak.
That's the justice of our democracy.
But here comes John Roberts and his majority - Republican appointees every one of them - telling us with a straight face that there is no problem of corruption (or even its appearance) unless there's outright bribery. That kind of quid pro quo of selling favors is, of course, already against the law. But anyone with half a brain can see that government can be bought without such blatant transactions. And these justices are not stupid.
Can anyone honestly say, when we see presidential hopefuls trooping to Las Vegas to kiss the ring of a billionaire, that there is no appearance of corruption?
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