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Video: Hillary Clinton Says She Will Oppose Offshore Oil Drilling Off the Atlantic Coast

Monday, February 8, 2016

I'm glad to hear this, as an oil spill in the Arctic would be a catastrophe, and an oil spill off Virginia's coast could devastate the environment, not to mention Virginia's billion-dollar fishing and tourism industries. Plus, with oil at $30 per barrel, it doesn't even make any economic sense to drill in the Arctic or along the Atlantic coast. Finally, I find it fascinating that Hillary Clinton has staked out a very different position than her close friend and political ally, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, on this issue. Clinton also is not on the same page on this issue with either Sen. Mark Warner or Sen. Tim Kaine, both of whom have been mentioned as potential Clinton running mates (although I've never thought she would pick Warner).

 

Right-Wingnut Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA4) Announces Move to 2nd CD; Larry Sabato Shifts Ratings for Two Congressional Districts

by Lowell

With the announcement this afternoon by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-4th) that he'll be "leaving behind his 4th Congressional District to seek election next door in the 2nd District," Larry Sabato's "Crystal Ball House Ratings" have shifted, making the new 4th CD a presumed shoo-in for whoever the Democratic nominee is (I'm assuming State Senator Donald McEachin). As for the 2nd CD, which Rep. Scott Rigell (R) is vacating after his current term, Sabato has shifted it from "Toss-up" to "Leans R."

My big question: will Democrats have a candidate against Forbes in the 2nd, and if so, will it be a strong candidate? Among other reasons why we need a candidate, the 2nd leans a bit Republican, but it's certainly winnable in a presidential election year, particularly if Republicans nominate an extremist (Trump, Cruz, and Rubio all qualify) for president. Also, I'd note that although I was no Scott Rigell fan, at least that guy has some sense, sanity, and willingness to "reach across the aisle," as the saying goes. Forbes, in contrast, is a wild-eyed right-wing ideologue. Why do I say that? Check out Right Wing Watch for more, but here are a few highlights on this nut.
Also see Randy Forbes Rants Against Anti-Gay Hate Crimes LegislationThe Climate Zombie Caucus Of The 112th Congress (Forbes is on the list, of course!), Forbes says Army training program listed evangelical Christians and al-Qaida as extremistsDavid Barton's Lies in Action: Randy Forbes Reintroduces 'Spiritual Heritage' ResolutionRep. Randy Forbes Is Unfit to Serve – As Chairman, etc, etc. Again, Democrats badly need to run a strong candidate against this loon.

P.S. How about Forbes resign from his current job, given that he's now running in the 2nd CD???

GOP Immigrant Bashing Continues as Virginia Senate Passes Anti-"Sanctuary Cities" Bill

by Lowell

Looks like more Latino immigrant bashing by Virginia Republicans...sadly not surprising. Definite veto material for Gov. McAuliffe!

P.S. Oh, and we can now add this nasty bill by "Sideshow Bob" Marshall to the list.

UPDATE: ‏@RTDSchapiro just tweeted: "Hmmm? Garrett anti-'sanctuary' city bill that just passed #Va Senate is suddenly up for another vote. Final vote now delayed until Tuesday." Alrighty...

A Much Better Way for Hillary and Bernie to Compete


by Andy Schmookler

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have a great opportunity to advance the Democratic cause, but to seize it they’ll have the think differently about their contest.

A SHADOW OVER THE DEMOCRATIC RACE

This opportunity grows out of a shadow that hangs over the campaign for the Democratic nomination. It is widely recognized that any Democrat who is elected president will be unable to accomplish much of what he or she is calling for.

On the big issues – whether it’s climate change, or guns, or immigration reform, or campaign finance, or widening inequality – legislation is required. But as things now stand, any Democratic president will almost certainly be blocked by the Republicans in Congress. Although we hear talk about the ability “to reach across the aisle,” after the last seven years – with a Democrat downright eager to reach across the aisle -- we should know better.

During these years, we’ve seen the Republicans obstruct President Obama wherever they could, on virtually every front – blocking even Republican ideas and stonewalling the president’s nominations– in order to make him fail. There’s no reason to believe they’d stop their wall-to-wall obstructionism with a President Hillary Clinton or a President Bernie Sanders.

Why would they stop? Their strategy has worked well for them over the past seven years.  In 2010, their lies and obstructionism on health care reform were rewarded with a big electoral victory. And they swept to still more power in Congress again in 2014, after their obstructionism gave America the least productive Congress in history.

It’s hard to imagine these Republicans working constructively with President Hillary Clinton-- not after they’ve been demonizing her since the 1990s. (Remember the charge that she’d murdered her friend Vince Foster?) The Republican base is so convinced that she’s really evil that they’ll support combat, not cooperation.

Nor will Republicans be interested in working with the “socialist” Bernie Sanders. That word is enough of a cover for them to adopt a policy of total non-cooperation with President Sanders, just as they’ve done with President Obama.

So, for any of the ideas these two strong candidates are proposing to actually move forward, one of two things must happen. Either the Republican Party has to change, or the power of the GOP to obstruct progress has to be taken away.

Monday News: Republican as the "Time-Loop Party"; "Will McAuliffe honor Paris or Dominion?"

by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, February 8.

Everyone's Focused on Rubio Choking and Being a Brain-Dead Robot, but Not on the Absurdity of His Anti-Obama Talking Points

Sunday, February 7, 2016

by Lowell

Since last night's debate meltdown for Marco "Boy in the Bubble" Rubio, I've seen a gazillion tweets, comments, stories, etc. on how he "choked," how he's like a mindless robot, how Chris Christie kicked his butt, yada yada yada. All that's true - and highly revealing of this pathetic lightweight - but what I haven't really seen is any focus on the substance of what Rubio's robotically-repeated anti-Obama attack line actually said, and why it's a huge, fat, stinking pile of wackiness and paranoia. First, here's the memorized 25-or-30-second screed.
And let's dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. Barack Obama is undertaking a systematic effort to change this country, to make America more like the rest of the world.

That's why he passed Obamacare and the stimulus and Dodd-Frank and the deal with Iran. It is a systematic effort to change America. When I'm president of the United States, we are going to re-embrace all the things that made America the greatest nation in the world and we are going to leave our children with what they deserve: the single greatest nation in the history of the world.
My god...where do we even go with this stinking pile of elephant manure? A few points.
  1. Is there really anyone out there, at least outside the right-wing fever swamps, who actually believes the laughable "fiction" of which Rubio speaks, that supposedly Barack Obama - a brilliant man, whatever else you might think of him, and extremely competent - doesn't "know what he's doing?" Is that like the biggest straw man ever to set up and knock down? Of course, there are those on the far right who simultaneously believe that Obama is: a) weak/utterly incompetent AND b) a ruthless, conniving, calculating dictator wannabe. I mean, yeah, obviously those things are utterly contradictory, not to mention bonkers, yet that hasn't stopped the far right from believing them simultaneously -- kinda like they simultaneously believe Obama went to Jeremiah Wright's CHRISTIAN church for years, yet somehow is actually a MUSLIM. Crazy, I know.
  2. Only with a Tea Party exremist like Rubio can it be a BAD thing to know what you're doing. Of course, this is coming from a guy (Rubio) who has accomplished absolutely nothing in his time in the Senate, to the extent that one of his top surrogates (Rick Santorum) couldn't even list a single Rubio accomplishment the other day on tee-vee.
  3. As for this "systematic effort to change the country" and supposedly to "make America more like the rest of the world," it's hard to even know what to say. I mean, why on earth would ANYONE run for president if they didn't want to "change the country" (for the better in their view, obviously) in some way. That's kind of why people run for president on campaign emphasizing "change." On the Republican side, of course, we've got people who want to "take America back" -- to the time before Social Security, Medicare, minimum wages, clean air, clean water, safe food, voting rights, civil rights, and a bunch of other stuff we take for granted. As for Obama, of course he's tried to change things -- for the better. And he's succeeded, thank goodness - from the utter DISASTER he inherited from Bush/Cheney. Thus, today the economy is growing (as opposed to melting down, as it was in January 2009), unemployment is down to 4.9%, the stock market is around double what it was when Obama took over, U.S. energy production (particularly oil, natural gas, wind and solar) has skyrocketed and imports have plummeted, millions more Americans are covered with health insurance, Iran has dismantled its nuclear weapons program, etc, etc. Horrible, huh? Yet Rubio somehow makes this all sound sinister. Bizarro.
  4. I've said this a million times, but "Obamacare" is basically Romneycare and/or the Republican alternative to "Hillarycare" (btw, these nicknames are so stupid...gack) in 1993-1994. "Obamacare" incorporates a lot of conservative ideas, from the individual mandate to keeping a private/for-profit health insurance system to...you name it, basically. And it's mostly working so far, despite reletnless Republican attempts to sabotage it. What's the problem, then? Other than the fact that it's a major Democratic accomplishment, and that it doesn't help Republicans' favorite people - the top 0.1% - nothing, of course.
  5. As for Dodd-Frank, apparently Rubio believes (falsely) that it "cripples innovation and economic growth." Fact checkers have had a field day with this line of attack: see Rubio’s fantasy figure on bank closures due to Dodd-Frank, Marco Rubio slams Dodd-Frank, gets his numbers wrong, etc. As for "crippl[ing] economic grwoth," Rubio can only WISH that the economy performed as well under Republican presidents than under Democratic ones (Bill Clinton and Barack Obama combined saw job creation of around 31 MILLION during their terms in office; Reagan and the two Bushes combined saw around 20 MILLION, far fewer than the Clinton/Obama combination, and I'm even giving the Republians an extra presidential term to be generous! LOL)
Bottom line with Rubio: he's not just a brain-dead robot, a "boy in a bubble" and a big-time choker, he's a big-time liar; according to PolitiFact, only 37% of Rubio's rated statements have been either "true" or "mostly true." The other 63% -- not so much.

Fight Over Gov. McAuliffe's Gun Deal with the NRA Escalates in Virginia

by Lowell

I've been communicating with Gun Violence Prevention (GVP) folks, Virginia Democratic elected officials and Democratic politicos about Gov. McAuliffe's deal with the NRA, and if anything I'd say that anger and confusion about what's going on here is increasing, not decreasing in intensity.

For their part, the McAuliffe folks are resorting to smearing their former allies (how close allies? see the video from January 18, 2016 where McAuliffe agrees with the GVP folks, heaps praise on them, and warns about the many bad gun bills in the General Assembly this year) and admired figures like Lori Haas, Andy Parker, etc. It's truly an astounding state of affairs, and one that should be highly troubling both for likely and potential Virginia Democratic candidates in 2017, but also for Hillary Clinton - who has campaigned to the "left" of Bernie Sanders on guns - this year.

First, though, let's just briefly recap the main points the GVP folks are making against McAuliffe's "ugly" (as they call it) deal with the NRA.
  • On the voluntary background checks and gun shows, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) notes in its point-by-point rebuttal of this deal that "no private seller would ever actually be REQUIRED to run such a check on their buyers."
  • On the protective orders/domestic violence piece, CSGV, argues: "This would apply only to permanent protective orders in cases of family abuse. The bill establishes no mechanism for the removal of these firearms by law enforcement, however, so if abusers don't voluntarily relinquish them, they aren't going anywhere."
  • On concealed carry reciprocity, CSGV argues that "Virginia would extend concealed carry reciprocity to all 49 other states, which would EXCEED the # of states Virginia was granting reciprocity to before Attorney General Herring revoked reciprocity agreements with 25 states that did not meet Virginia's permitting standards."
  • Everytown for Gun Safety argues that Gov. McAuliffe's gun deal will "make it legal for out-of-state criminals and domestic abusers to carry concealed, loaded guns in Virginia."
  • GVP activist Andy Parker, whose daughter was killed on live TV, asks, "if it is a meaningful deal, then why is it that the NRA and their local minions are the only ones who are celebrating it?"
  • The GVP folks are further arguing that this deal puts more Virginians in jeopardy than it protects, that it doesn't enhance public safety, that much of it is weak and/or unenforceable, that it undercuts AG Mark Herring, etc, etc. And they're implying political retribution if this deal isn't killed.
So...no, it doesn't appear that the anger by GVP folks is subsidizing. To the contrary, it seems to be increasing. Meanwhile, for their part, the McAuliffe folks have basically gone on a rampage, lashing out against their former "friends" and supposed allies in the GVP community. Among other things, the Washington Post story  has the McAuliffe folks falsely claiming that they don't even know who to call at Michael Bloomberg's "Everytown," even though "McAuliffe told reporters in the fall that he had personally called Bloomberg’s 'people' to arrange for the ad buy," and even though "Everytown" spent an enormous $2.4 million in support of McAuliffe's hand-picked State Senate candidates (Jeremy McPike, Dan Gecker, etc.) in 2015. Riiiight...never heard of these guys from New York, uh huh! McAuliffe also recently agreed with a right-wing talk show host's characterization of GVP advoates like Lori Haas and Andy Parker as "extremists." WTF?

As for Virginia Tech mom and GVP activist Lori Haas, the McAuliffe folks basically are saying she's a liar, claiming that Haas "was fully briefed and apprised of the discussion [over the gun deal with the NRA, negotiated over an "oyster dinner" with "Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran and Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney...with two NRA lobbyists and Sen. Bryce E. Reeves...one of the legislature’s strongest gun rights voices"] and even "provided input." Yet for her part, and according other Virginia GVP activists, they were absolutely NOT part of the discussion, were NOT fully briefed, were blindsided after this was a "done deal," etc. As Haas puts it: "I was told about the deal less than 48 hours before The Washington Post broke the story. I was not brought in. I was told about the deal.”

So, that's the sorry state of affairs we now find ourselves in. And why was this deal negotiated in the first place? Nobody can seem to figure that out, as it's now clear there was NOT a veto-proof majority in the State Senate to ditch AG Mark Herring's actions on concealed carry reciprocity, a big victory that had come at no cost. So what was the sudden need to throw that away and negotiate with the extremists at the NRA all about? That's what so many Democrats and others I've talked to in recent days are just baffled (and worried) about.

Video: Mt. Vernon Democratic Committee Straw Poll Goes Overwhelmingly for Clinton-Kaine 2016

Results from tonight's straw poll at the Mt. Vernon (Fairfax County) Democratic Committee's Mardi Gras party straw poll for president and VP. For President: Hillary Clinton 69 - Bernie Sanders 20 For VP: Tim Kaine 54 - Julian Castro 15 - Cory Booker 10

Sunday News: "Marco Rubio Was a Disaster;" Virginia Senate GOP's "premeditated, punitive" on Reporters

by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, February 7. Also check out the full video of last night's Republican debate, starting with the botched entry and continuing to Marco Rubio's utter meltdown.

Del. Mark Levine Has Some Pointed Questions for Dominion Power on Its Possible Oil Spill Into the Potomac River

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Del. Mark Levine (D-Alexandria/Arlington) has some excellent questions on this oil spill, including some pointed ones for our pals at Dominion Power.
The oil sheen is now largely dissipated, except unfortunately at Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary in Arlington. (For those that don't think they know where that is, it's actually in a prominent place you drive by all the time. That's the pool of water between the airport and the 14th street bridge and between Route 1 and the GW parkway.)

I'm glad the sheen has dissipated. The real question is why it took so long for the public to be informed that Dominion leaked 13,500 gallons of mineral oil from its transformer substation. Whether or not this was the cause of the oil sheen -- and 13,500 gallons seems like a heckuva lot to me! -- shouldn't we have known about the spill when it happened more than a week ago? Before it killed fish and geese? Before it became eight miles long? Why was I the first to even report the oil in the Potomac and the first to point the probable finger at Dominion? Shouldn't Dominion and the officials who knew about this in January and the media have notified us sooner? I mean I'm in Richmond during the week. I shouldn't have been the first to report to the public on this.

As it happens the spill was contained the day after I reported it. And I'm glad the authorities took quick action after I pressed them hard to do this. But if the public had known about the Dominion spill in late January when it happened, wouldn't the oil sheen have been contained sooner with less environmental damage? And what really did happen with the Dominion transformer? Was it a broken pipe? Do these leaks happen all the time with little reporting?

We still have many questions that need to be answered on this. And I will continue to press for answers.