Saturday News: Lyin' Paul Ryan? Seriously? More Like "Memories of Con Jobs Past"

Saturday, October 10, 2015

by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, October 10. Also see President Obama's weekly address, making the case for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The Planned Parenthood Hearings Aren’t About Those Videos ("They are group therapy sessions for pro-lifers.")
Krugman: Memories of Con Jobs Past ("As the Paul Ryan clamor gets louder, a public service reminder: he’s a con man.... his reputation as a serious thinker is based on deception, both about what he has actually proposed and how it has or hasn’t been vetted." The concept that Lyin' Ryan is a "serious thinker" is simply an indication of how braindead the Inside-the-Beltway media is.)
Conservatives cool to Ryan as Speaker (Hahahaha, even freakin' Paul Ryan - an archconservative who would decimate the government - isn't far right wing enough for the extremists in the Republican Party. My god...)
The Real Reason for the Chaos in the House ("It’s not just rebellious GOP lawmakers. It’s what empowers those lawmakers to buck the party leadership.")
Nearly 90 Percent Of Americans Think Political Candidates Should Understand Science (None of those 90% should vote Rpeublican, then, because if these people DID understand science, they'd be pushing urgent action on the #1 threat to humanity and the planet - climate chance.)
Ben Carson defends linking gun control to the Holocaust (Stupidest, craziest brain surgeon in human history? It's quite possible.)
Democratic Senator Tim Kaine: Obama Administration’s Strategy In Syria “A Joke” (“We haven’t come up with a real strategy about what to do in respect to Syria.” Not sure that's true, actually; what are the good options exactly?)
Hard-Liners in House Aim to Weaken Power of the Speaker (Republicans need to purge and/or ostracize these extremists. They are a meance to our nation.)
McAuliffe as U.S. commerce secretary? (Weird that this is a story now; I've heard this scenario discussed for a couple years.)
You’re Walkin’ on the Writin’ Side of Me: James Webb’s Combative Books ("The sad irony is that the more Webb fails to gain political traction in the increasingly absurd presidential news cycle, the more relevant his novels will become." Yeah, I'd stick to his writing.)
Va. Senate races to watch on election day
Hillary Clinton to rally supporters with McAuliffe in Northern Virginia ("The rally coincides with McAuliffe’s efforts to flip control of the state Senate to Democrats.")
McAuliffe will propose limits on ‘abusive’ car-title loans ("The Virginia governor will push legislation to rein in lenders that critics call predatory.")
O’Malley campaign cuts ties with Va. chairman after arrest on child porn charges ("The campaign of the Democratic presidential hopeful says it is ‘horrified’ by the allegations against Richmond-area businessman Michael C. Teegarden.")
California group appeals Virginia tribe's federal recognition ("A California group that favors gambling limits is challenging an Interior Department decision to grant federal recognition to a Virginia Indian tribe.")
Trump to stump in Richmond next week
Former pastor to the Obamas, Jeremiah Wright, to speak at Suffolk church
Is Suffolk still the peanut capital of the world?
Loudoun Board candidates in brusque debate on schools, police and economy
D.C. area forecast: Weekend starts sunny and cool, then gradually warmer through Columbus Day

E.W. Jackson: "Coming Out Day" is "reminiscent of the communist cells established to keep everyone in line"

Friday, October 9, 2015

Another day...more insanity and bigotry from the 2013 Virginia Republican nominee for Lt. Governor.

You may be aware of the fact that this Sunday, October 11 is "Coming Out Day." Of course this is the day when persons with same-sex attractions or who assert their gender is different than the one they were born with, are encouraged to make it public.

We cannot and do not want to control what people do with their private lives. However, this is not a private occasion. It is an attempt to continue the fundamental transformation of American culture. They are not restricting these activities to "gay" bars and other social venues frequented by homosexual activists. Rather they are bringing this activity to public schools, colleges, businesses and events attended by families. Disneyland in Southern California participates in "Gay Days Anaheim" during the first week of October each year, when 35,000 LGBT activists descend on the noted resort and theme park. Disney World celebrates "Gay Days Orlando" in June, declared by President Obama to be Gay Pride Month.

Christians in work places all over America will be confronted by in-your-face, aggressive homosexual activists who are asking them to wear a pink triangle or the color purple to show their solidarity with the "Gay Rights Movement." We have a First Amendment which guarantees the right of free expression to everyone, including those with whom we disagree. The "sexual rights" cabal is the cultural symbol of the kind of society, the left and the Democrat Party want to force on us. As much as I disagree with them, I defend their right to speak freely.

What we have here, however, is not free speech. It is bullying and intimidation. When a school principal or teacher "invites" children to participate in "Coming Out Day" by wearing a pink triangle or a certain color, they are singling out those who don't participate as bigots. The idea here is, "If you want to fit in, join in. Even your teacher says so." These are insidious activities and public schools should not be participating in such. This is one of the reasons why many public schools are not producing quality education. Left wing unions, in concert with gay rights activists, are using the schools as tools of social indoctrination rather than quality education.

Video: Gov. Terry McAuliffe Says He Doesn't Find House GOP Dysfunction Amusing, That It's "Crippling Our Area"

I stronly agree with Gov. McAuliffe's take on Republican dysfunction in the House of Representatives. Like him, I don't find this situation amusing and I'm not looking at it from a Democratic perspective for the most part, but as a concerned American. And from that perspective, I believe what Republicans are (not) doing in Congress is harmful to our nation, which has a lot of pressing problems to deal with and a bunch of opportunities we could grab if Republicans would stop standing in the way. But again, we're not doing it, thanks to Republicans' utter unwillingness and inability to govern. To quote Gov. McAuliffe:
I gotta tell you...I'm disgusted. Forget being a Democrat, I'm talking about being Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia with all of these assets that we have. Sequestration.  These guys cannot make a decision, so they've kicked the can down the road 'til December 11 on sequestration. We now have the debt ceiling coming up on November 5. We have a highway trust fund...that they cannot put permanent financing towards. If this highway trust fund doesn't get done, in Virginia  I stop 300+ project, a billion dollars I lose.  These guys have got to get their act together. I'm competing on a global basis every single day...and by the inaction in's the same thing as a slow-motion sequestration...This is crippling our area....really inhibiting our ability to be competitive on a global basis.
P.S. On another topic, Gov. McAuliffe had some strong words: "They all ask about gun control, so they immediately come back to us and say it's not gun control, it's mental illness. Well let me be clear; the same people who have thwarted my efforts to get commonsense gun restrictions are the same people who thwart me on putting more money into mental illness. You can't have it both ways."

Former Virginia Partisans' President Questions Equality Virginia's Strange Endorsements (and NON-Endorsements)

Former Virginia Partisans Gay & Lesbian Democratic Club President Josh Israel forwarded me the latest endorsements (and non-endorsements) by Equality Virginia. Needless to say, Israel is puzzled - as am I - at many of these. I'll go through those in a second, but first, here's what Josh Israel has to say.
I don't know how they made these determinations, but it sure appears that a bunch of Democrats who responded to their questionnaires indicating the strongest possible support were not given the seal of approval against Republicans with consistent records of opposing LGBT equality at every turn. These questionnaires make it clear once again that when it comes to protecting the equal rights of all Virginians, party matters. The Democrats are becoming more and more vocal in their support -- while the Republicans remain a huge obstacle to progress.
Now, on to the  strange endorsements and non-endorsements by Equality Virginia.
  • Despite a stellar questionnaire from Democrat Laurie Buchwald, no endorsement over Del.Joseph Yost (R), who is occasionally pro-LGBT but didn't even bother to fill in Equality Virginia's questionnaire.
  • Ditto for Democrat Susan Hippen against Del. Ron Villanueva (R). 
  • Perhaps one of the weirdest - no endorsement of Democrat Chuck Hedges, whose questionnaire is superb, over far-far-far-right-wing Republican Dave LaRock?!? Seriously?!?
  • Also, no endorsement of Democrat Ellen Arthur (again, super-strong questionnaire) against... Republican Del. Ben Cline (and his miserable LGBT ratings according to Project Vote Smart). 
  • Also, no endorsement of Democrat Angela Lynn (again, very strong questionnaire) against Del. Steve Landes (refused to fill out questionnaire; also abysmal Project Vote Smart LGBT ratings); 
  • No endorsement of Democrat Jerry Foltz (again, super-strong questionnaire) against right-wingnut Republican Tim Hugo (ZERO ratings, according to Project Vote Smart, on LGBT issues)
  • No endorsement of strong-on-LGBT-equality Del. Charniele Herring (D) - although perhaps because she didn't fill out the questionnaire?
  • No endorsement of 100%-rated LGBT champion House Democratic Leader David Toscano (again, the only explanation is that he didn't fill out the questionnaire)?!?
  • Also, there are some weird non-endorsements for State Senate, such as no endorsement of Democrat and super-strong LGBT ally April Moore against anti-gay extremist Mark Obenshain.. Same thing with the non-endorsement of Democrat Wayne Powell (super-strong questionnaire) over right-wing/Tea Party Republican Amanda Chase. As for the non-endorsement of Sen. John Edwards (D), Josh Israel points out that he's been a "huge LGBT ally for years," although for whatever reason he didn't fill out the Equality Virginia questionnaire, so maybe that's it.
Anyway, as Josh Israel noted, it's hard to figure out "how they made these determinations, but it sure appears that a bunch of Democrats who responded to their questionnaires indicating the strongest possible support were not given the seal of approval against Republicans with consistent records of opposing LGBT equality at every turn." Weird.

Friday News: Can "dysfunctional to the core" GOP "still function as a party?"

by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, October 9.

When it Comes to Science, You Can't Get Crazier or "More Stupider" than Cooch

Thursday, October 8, 2015

by Lowell

I mean, we all know that Ken Cuccinelli has been a climate science denier and - not coincidentally - tool of the fossil fuel industry, basically forever. And we also know that Cooch's willful ignorance when it comes to climate science, even persecution against great climate scientists like former UVA Professor Michael Mann, knows no bounds. But this latest line of "reasoning" (using that word extremely loosely) -- arguing that since there are new indications regarding the possible health impacts of milk fat in our diet, that this clearly means NO science is ever "settled" and that we can ignore whatever we want to ignore, apparently - really hits a new low in terms of dishonesty and/or just plain stupidity.

I mean, by this utterly brain-dead "reasoning" (again, using that word extremely loosely), I guess if a few scientists argue that the world is actually flat, or that the earth doesn't really revolve around the sun, or that they don't "believe" in evolution (one of the greatest scientific theories ever, with voluminous evidence supporting it), etc., then we can all just throw up our hands and say, "oh well, I guess we can't know ANYTHING at all. That includes the massively well-supported scientific evidence behind: a) the greenhouse effect; b) the impact of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere on said greenhouse effect; and c) the absolutely clear, definitive case that human burning of fossil fuels has increased greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmsophere and driven rapid global warming. But no, go ahead ignore all that and point to something about milk fat, mock the whole concept of "settled science" and spew CO2 into the atmosphere and oceans forever, trashing the only home we have in the process. Sounds like a great plan, huh?

P.S. Sure, in searching the internet, I see that only the most diehard of the climate science deniers - basically all on the far right and/or paid by the fossil fuel folks - are pushing this crap. But still ,given that THEIR PARTY is in control of the U.S. Congress (note: with the current disarray among House Republicans, "in control" might be somewhat of an overstatement, but they certainly are causing huge problems for our country and our entire planet) and many state legislatures, I find that highly disturbing.

Toward a More Prosperous Virginia

by April Moore

This is running as an op/ed in the Northern Virginia Daily. It is one of a series of op/eds to convey my message to the voters in the 26th Senatorial District in my campaign to unseat the incumbent, Senator Mark Obenshain.
The other day I was asked what I thought our state government could do to increase our prosperity and bring jobs to our area.

My first response was stated simply: “Expand Medicaid.”

The failure of our General Assembly to take advantage of the federal offer to expand Medicaid coverage has a major economic cost as well as a human cost. Besides depriving some 400,000 Virginians of the kind of health care security that the citizens of every other advanced nation enjoy as a right, the refusal of the Republicans in our state legislature to seize this opportunity drains the Virginia economy of billions of dollars.

Expanding Medicaid would be funded by federal dollars that we Virginians are already sending to Washington. But because the expansion of Medicaid has been blocked in our state, the money we send to Washington is NOT coming back to Virginia but rather is going to other states.

Sen. Chap Petersen Calls Atif Qarni's Charges of Islamophobia "complete crap;" Qarni Responds

by Lowell

Interesting Facebook exchange the past couple days between Sen. Chap Petersen and Atif Qarni, who ran for the Democratic nomination for State Senate earlier this year and who published an op-ed in the Washington Post this past weekend (NOT a "Washington Post editorial" as Chap Petersen erroenously states; huge difference). Highlighting added by me for emphasis.
You missed the point of the op-ed. We have an issue in our country on how Muslims are treated. This is not a Republican or Democratic problem, it is an American problem.

Having said that, there is much more of an Islamophobia/bigotry problem in the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. But, we can't look the other way when this happens in our party. We have a responsibility to stand up if something is not right. I see an issue that plagues our party. And if I have to be the bad guy and state it openly, so be it.

You state that I am "claiming that the Senate Democratic Caucus had sabotaged the primary campaign of a particular candidate because he was Middle Eastern and Muslim". Where exactly is that in the op-ed? I suggest you read the op-ed again.

Also, I am of South Asian background, not Middle Eastern. This in itself is a problem that you can't distinguish between the two, given that you are an elected official from Northern Virginia from a District that is very diverse.

In the op-ed there was no discussion of the result of the primary. I discussed the process and how it can be challenging for Muslims running for office.

You have a valid point in that I did not bring out enough voters to win. That could be because I did not knock on as many doors as I should have, or I did not raise enough money to get my message out, or I did not utilize other means of communication like social media, because I was relying on a good showing from non-traditional primary voters.

A mistake you make is that this is an op-ed not an editorial. The Washington post gives us a 800 word limit, and my piece is exactly 799 words. If the Post gives me an opportunity, I would be happy to point out every single detail of the primary.

There was bias in this race. Religion was brought up. The claims I make in the op-ed are accurate. I brought up these concerns with several people--including some people you know well, but the typical response, was "this is politics". People are too afraid to stand up to people like Dick Saslaw. I teach my students that being a bystander is as bad being a bully.

You supported Michael because you know him well. Adam supported me because he knows me well. Jeremy was supported by people who he knows well. However, the scales were tipped by the "unofficial" support from certain State Senators and their donors. In the primary vast majority of the money for Jeremy came from donors who he did not know prior to the primary. During call time I called a lot of big donors in Northern Virginia. The typical response I got was that they would stay out of the primary or they will talk to Dick Saslaw. If you look at where Jeremy received most of his money was from these donors. These are donors who give to the Senate Caucus. You can deny that caucus is not playing favorites, but the proof is in the pudding.

Very few in our party have way too much influence and power. And if they are close minded then it has impacts on a lot of people.

You should not be surprised by this op-ed-- given that similar things like this have happened to others in the past. Others just have lacked the courage to say something because they would get a lot of blow back. Just like the knee-jerk reaction you are displaying.

Since this op-ed I have received emails, messages and calls from many Democrats who feel they same way as me. We have a problem and you can push it under the rug, or you can acknowledge it and try to resolve it.

Thursday News: With Today's Republican Party, the "Centre Cannot Hold?"

by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, October 8. Also, check out those photos from McLean last night by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

Republican candidates’ dangerous incoherence on guns (And sick as well.)
It’s time to hold America’s gunmakers accountable
Solar and Wind Just Passed Another Big Turning Point ("It has never made less sense to build fossil fuel power plants.")
House conservatives flex muscle, spurn McCarthy ahead of speaker vote (The lines, "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world" come to mind with today's Republican Party)
California Governor Signs Ambitious Renewable Energy Bill Into Law (Every state, including Virginia, should be doing's a no brainer.)
With Ben Carson, the Doctor Is Always Out (It's hard to decide whether Trump, Carson, or Fiorina are more appalling. Right now, I'd give the slight edge to Carson for utter lunacy.)
Carly Fiorina’s war on math: Her pixie-dust plan to balance the budget and make America perfect ("When even 'Morning Joe' is laughing at you, you know you've gone wrong")
Why Kevin McCarthy needs to watch his back ("You think John Boehner had a rocky time as speaker of the House? Just wait until you see how his successor fares this fall.")
Hillary Clinton says she does not support Trans-Pacific Partnership (You can't get any more blatantly, transparently political than this.)
Biden: Republicans 'beating' on Hispanics
Congress agrees on defense plan that would raise Navy pay, fund projects in Hampton Roads
Shut Down the Benghazi Committee (Yep, it should have never been started up in the first place.)
McAuliffe says his redistricting plan deserves 'special deference'
Court orders secrecy in redrawing of 3rd District
Virginia unveils new school accreditation ratings (I'm generally not a fan of this, as I think it penalizes lower-income and ESL-intensive schools.)
Advocacy group calls for 'real change' in Virginia's juvenile justice system policy
Virginia state employees kick off annual charity drive
Attorneys ask appeals court to put Maureen McDonnell case on hold
Challenger takes aim at Frank Wagner's travel, gifts record (Wagner richly deserves that criticism.)
State Sen. Martin adds new job as Uber driver (A much better job for this nut than State Senator, although I certainly wouldn't want to share a car with him and listen to his noxious, bigoted spewings.)
D.C. area forecast: Abundant sun today, showers late Friday; superb holiday weekend

Coal Executive Who AG Cooch Refused to Crack Down On Faces Up to 31 Years in Jail

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

by Lowell

According to Grist:
The autocratic, micro-managing, bludgeoning style that won throwback Appalachian coal baron Don Blankenship the ire of environmentalists, the fear of underlings, and the title “Dark Lord of Coal Country” from Rolling Stone may finally have caught up with him. 
The opening arguments began today in Blankenship’s federal criminal trial. He faces charges of conspiring to avoid safety laws and lying to regulators that could put him behind bars for up to 31 years.
Blankenship’s downfall was triggered by the April 5, 2010, explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine, which killed 29 men and was the worst coal disaster in 40 years. Four separate investigations found that poor safety practices in the mine allowed for the explosion, which occurred when a spark from a longwall machine, which cuts huge slices of coal, ignited a pocket of methane, creating a fireball and triggering a bigger explosion when it hit piles of coal dust.
So yeah, this guy richly deserves jail time. It also reminds me of a post Ben Tribbett wrote on Not Larry Sabato - and that we linked to on Blue Virginia - right after that coal mine disaster. Ben's key points at the time were spot-on: 1) Massey Energy [was at the time] based in Richmond; 2) Massey's Knox Creek site in Tazewell County "was one of ten sites in the country to be cited for major health and safety violations last October"; 3) our fine Attorney General at the time not only was NOT cracking down on Massey, he was "actually working with Massey Energy on his lawsuit against the EPA;" and 4) Massey hearts Virginia Republicans, having donated $61,000 to Virginia Republicans in 2009 ("and $0 to the Dems"), not to mention $441,463 to Virginia Republicans since 1997 (just $8,250 to Democrats), including $40,000 to Bob McDonnell for Governor and $10,000 to Ken Cuccinelli for Attorney General. Ben concluded:
Now Ken Cuccinelli has a choice to make. Will he open up an investigation and ensure that the Massey mining site in Tazewell that has had so many violations of health and safety will comply with the law and ensure its workers safety? Or is he going to ignore safety warnings even after yesterday's tragedy and hope by 2013 that Massey continues to reward him with large political contributions for his efforts to help in their legal actions against the EPA?We're waiting for an answer Mr. Attorney General.
I think we all knew the answers to those questions in 2010, and we obviously know them now: of course corporate-worshipping Cooch ignored the safety warnings; of course he didn't open up an investigation into Massey; of course he didn't give us any answers. And of course, none of this is the least bit surprising, given that Ken Cuccinelli and others in Virginia government - overwhelmingly Republican back in 2010 - were deeply in the pocket of fossil fuel companies like Massey Energy and Don Blankenship, far more concerned with doing their bidding than in protecting workers, the environment, etc.

More broadly, as I wrote at the time, the question is why, in the year 2010, we were still stuck in a 19th-century energy economy (coal and other fossil fuels) instead of a sustainable/prosperous 21st-century one based on clean energy (energy efficiency, wind, solar, geothermal, etc.)? Also, why do we let scumbags like Massey Chairman/CEO Don Blankenship get away with murder - repeated, serious safety violations leading to the deaths of miners? On both of those questions, there's a very simple answer: follow the money...

By the way, I recall that the reaction at the time by Virginia Republicans was: a) defensiveness; b) engaging in the time-honored strategy of "shoot the messenger;" c) their usual bull**** about how it was "too early" to talk about this stuff.  On that last point, note that for Republicans, it's ALWAYS "too early" to talk about stuff - coal mine disasters, oil spills, gun violence, you name it - that they actually don't EVER want to talk about; or more to the point, that they don't ever want anyone but right wingers to talk about in the way THEY want to talk about it. Well, screw that. As for Don Blankenship, assuming he's convicted (it would be a travesty if he isn't), I hope he enjoys his well-deserved time in jail.