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New Ethics Law: Loophole Piled on Loophole

by: Elaine in Roanoke

Sun Aug 31, 2014 at 20:58:15 PM EDT

I thoroughly enjoyed today's column in the Roanoke Times by that curmudgeon, columnist Dan Casey, whose writing is the best thing about the Times these days. Casey discussed something that should be reported by every media outlet in the state as part of the coverage of the gross embarrassment that is the Bob and Maureen McDonnell trial. Casey decided to tackle one simple question: Could another state office holder cause another corrupt mess like this one, while supposedly following the new 2014 Virginia ethics law? His answer, after reading the entire text of the new "ethics law," is a resounding, "Yes." As Casey stated, the new law has so many loopholes that a person could "drive trucks of Rolexes right through them."

Item by item, Casey shows how all the stuff that Bob and Maureen McDonnell got as the "quid" part of their quid pro quo would be perfectly legal under the empty law the General Assembly had the gall to pass in the last session. For example:

The $6,500 Rolex watch? While the new law forbids tangible gifts worth more than $250, the limitation applies only to lobbyists or businesspeople doing business with the state. Jonnie Williams was neither at the time. He just wanted McDonnell to use the influence Bob and Maureen were happy to peddle to promote his dubious product, a health supplement made from tobacco.  There's another loophole in the law for unlimited gifts from "personal friends," so all Bob McDonnell would have had to do was to say that Williams was his buddy. (By the way, that was part of the defense at the trial. The catch there was the testimony of Williams that the whole relationship was strictly "business as usual.")

How about all of Maureen's fancy clothes? The same gift-from-friend loophole applies here, one adding up to about $20,000 in her case. What about the $15,000 for wedding catering for daughter Cailin McDonnell? That is an "intangible" gift. Under the new law, there is no limit on such gifts to officials or their immediate family, so there would be no need for Cailin to report it because the law defines immediate family as only a spouse or child under 18 living at home. Cailin is an adult, so the gift is exempted from reporting. Plus, the catering is a legal twofer because Cailin could claim Williams was a "personal friend." Oh, and all those family vacations worth thousands also could be just "personal friend" gifts under the new law.

Next come the loopholes in the new ethics law that make those pesky, huge loans to Maureen and Bob still legal.

There's More... :: (7 Comments, 275 words in story)

Virginia News Headlines: Monday Morning (Labor Day)

by: lowkell

Mon Sep 01, 2014 at 06:55:00 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, September 1 (Labor Day 2014). Also, check out that photo of how things used to be in this country, before progressives and unions changed it with much tougher regulations -- you know, those pesky things that Republicans always say we need to roll back because they're "job killing?" Yep, THOSE regulations, like ones prohibiting kids from work in dangerous, dirty sweatshops for 12 hours a day or whatever.

*The Medicare Miracle ("Covering the uninsured was supposed to be unaffordable; Medicare as we know it was supposed to be unsustainable. But it turns out that incremental steps to improve incentives and reduce costs can achieve a lot, and covering the uninsured isn't hard at all.")
*Workers are at the mercy of markets
*Putin suggests 'statehood' for eastern Ukraine
*Feinstein says Obama may be 'too cautious'
*Israel Claims Nearly 1,000 Acres of West Bank Land Near Bethlehem ("The land appropriation has quickly turned attention back to the Israeli-occupied West Bank and exposed the contradictory visions in the Israeli government that hamper the prospects of any broader Israeli-Palestinian peace process.")
*For Gov. Terry McAuliffe, question is whether to be bold or cautious on Medicaid expansion
*Warner: Obama's 'no strategy' remark was 'a very unfortunate choice of words'
*In Virginia, U.S. Senate race unusually low key
*Medicaid expansion holdouts are ideological
*Dorm deportment ("Common sense may be in short supply when hormones are raging, but it shouldn't be too much to require one human being to respect the wishes of another when intimate relations are in the offing. And there must be serious consequences when that most basic decency is absent.")
*GRTC studies Northern Va. rapid transit model ("New system sheds light on Richmond's future for bus service")
*Pr. William announces $5.9 million shortfall for fiscal 2014
*Nationals' power surge continues, but they drop series finale vs. Seattle, 5-3
*Scattered strong storms possible through this evening

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

A Tale of Two Warriors: Part I-- The Problem of Power

by: Andy Schmookler

Sun Aug 31, 2014 at 12:40:33 PM EDT

the parable of the tribesIt is just over thirty years since my book, The Parable of the Tribes, was first published by the University of California Press. My editor there and I searched for months for the right cover art for the book, and ultimately it was he (Jack Miles, who would later make a very big splash with his own book, God: A Biography) who came up with the winning idea: a most ancient rock painting from the Sahara in Algeria.

Here's the cover of the book (image on the right).

The subtitle of the book, as you can see, is "The Problem of Power in Social Evolution." And the core idea of the book is that the inevitable lack of regulation of the interactions among human societies, after the breakthrough to civilization, led inevitably to the spread of "the ways of power" (i.e. whatever cultural forms give a society an advantage in the intersocietal struggle for power) throughout the human system.

Here, in that ancient rock painting, we see clearly illustrated that problem of the struggle for power, with the landscape divided between the bold and more numerous pursuers and the harried and fewer pursued. It serves as a good illustration of the point I make at a pivotal juncture in the presentation of this "problem of power": "Imagine a group of tribes," I wrote, "living within reach of one another. If all choose the way of peace, then all may live in peace. But what if all but one choose peace?"

The book designer then made the excellent decision to take one of the attacking group of warriors, rotate him slightly, and put him on the spine of the book as the book's emblematic figure.

This warrior, even by himself, stood as a fitting emblem of the problem I was writing about, the problem of power facing humankind over the millennia of the troubled evolution of civilization.  

There's More... :: (4 Comments, 247 words in story)

Barbarians At...and Inside the Gates

by: va_lady2008

Sun Aug 31, 2014 at 09:23:15 AM EDT

As the GOP (more on just what exactly, the "party stands for" in a moment) becomes ever more strident, doctrinaire, and enforcing of its orthodoxy not just on itself, but on the rest of us, it sees, somehow, that its power just might be slipping away.

Is it any wonder they're afraid?

A long time ago, someone explained to me that progressives and liberals are always open to doubt, which conservatives exploit, because they are certain they are right. Conservatives harbor no doubt, and deny that anyone else has a right to a different opinion.

All opinions that are not theirs are wrong. Diverging from this group think is treated not just as treason, but as a kind of religious apostasy. I'm surprised they don't physically crucify the transgressors, although anyone who's been at the wrong end of the lashing foul tongue of Rush Limbaugh might have preferred that.

When challenged, even from the inside, the tendency is to circle the wagons and shoot first, without asking any inconvenient questions. Their problem is that they're so busy pointing their "open carry" iron at one another, they're disgusting the mostly silent majority in this country.

We now see the full stinking bloom of their attitude, on the racist side in Ferguson MO but in many other places, mostly undocumented; on the misogynist side, pretty much everywhere; on the side of the poor absolutely everywhere; and are properly appalled.

Some progressives, of the live and let live variety, of which I truly wish to be a part, bear at least a small share of the blame, because we refused to return unfriendly fire with even more unfriendly fire, allowing things like "false equivalency" to bloom, as if some made up notions with no demonstrable basis in fact is equivalent to real facts, faced squarely.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 755 words in story)

Virginia News Headlines: Sunday Morning

by: lowkell

Sun Aug 31, 2014 at 07:17:34 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, August 31. Also, I watched most of this great discussion yesterday with historian Doris Kearns Goodwin at the 2014 National Book Festival. This woman is truly a national treasure; a fascinating conversation on Teddy Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, FDR, LBJ, JFK and...Barack Obama.

*Ukrainian port city fears it's next in rebels' sights
*Ferguson isn't about black rage against cops. It's white rage against progress.
*When Whites Just Don't Get It ("After Ferguson, Race Deserves More Attention, Not Less")
*Democrats Seek to Rally Blacks in Bid to Retain Senate Control ("Democrats are trying to mobilize African-Americans outraged by the shooting in Ferguson, Mo., to help them retain control of at least one chamber of Congress")
*America's real ice bucket challenge ("85 percent of the federal government's spending increases between now and 2024 will be consumed by just three items: Social Security (which will claim 28 percent of the increase), Medicare and other health-care programs (32 percent) and interest on the debt (25 percent). Spending on everything else - military and domestic programs alike - would fall to the lowest proportion of the economy since at least 1940" That's not acceptable.)
*Schapiro: Conviction or not, McDonnell scandal alters Virginia politics ("The historic five-week trial will lay waste to the notion of the 'Virginia way,' a quaint concept that elections and governance are conducted with mannered dignity by men and women who - because they have an agonizing sense of public mission - know what's best for the rest of us." Good riddance to a ridiculous notion.)
*Whose 'truth' will McDonnell jurors believe?
*In Virginia, thousands of day cares operate without government oversight (But wait, I thought Republicans always say that the answer to everything is LESS regulation. Hmmmm.)
*Oil train wrecks prompt scrutiny (Yet again, Republicans want LESS regulation when we actually need much tighter regulation in this case.)
*A river of cash, and much of it legal ("The McDonnells received huge sums in legal gifts, thanks to loose campaign-giving laws in Virginia." Again, more regulation - not less, as Republicans argue - is needed here.)
*Broken plastic DVD case may have killed whale (We've got to stop spewing pollution into our air and water ASAP.)
*Elect Norfolk's School Board
*Nats' ace delivers a superb outing ("Stephen Strasburg submits one of his best starts of the season as the Nationals turn back Seattle, 3-1.")
*Warm and sticky heading into Labor Day. Stormy too?

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

"Embrace GOP positions, snub base...Lose elections anyway"

by: lowkell

Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 11:52:11 AM EDT

I think Miles pretty much nails it with this tweet. Here are just a few examples, off the top of my head, who have done what Miles describes (and lost anyway) over the past few years in Virginia.

*Creigh Deeds 2005 (ran as a conservative Democrat against Bob McDonnell, only got a few more votes than Leslie Byrne, who ran as a proud, forceful progressive)
*Creigh Deeds 2009 (the whole theory by the so-called "experts" was that a more conservative Democrat from a rural area would have more appeal to independents, "moderates," blah blah blah. So much for THAT theory!)
*Jody Wagner 2009 (although she certainly did everything Miles talks about - she even agreed to meet with progressives, LGBT activists and environmentalists who were dismayed by her campaign - in fairness she had no chance given the wipeout at the top of the ticket)
*Glenn Nye 2010 (ran to the right, ran away from the Democratic Party, lost by 11 points to Scott Rigell, while Tom Perriello - who ran as a strong Democrat, proud of his values - only lost by 4 points in as tough or tougher a district)
*Rick Boucher 2010 (He gave coal companies everything they asked for. He lost anyway.)
*Ward Armstrong 2011 (As Miles wrote on November 9, 2011, "As for me, what I'll remember most about the 2011 election cycle is this ad from House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong trashing just about everything Democrats believe in. The leader of House Democrats - as chosen by his fellow House Democrats - distances himself from President Obama, a woman's right to choose, reasonable gun safety regulations, and limits on air pollution - all in one ad.")
*Paul Hirschbiel 2012 (classic conservadem campaign, classic results, as he lost by 8 points to Scott Rigell while Tim Kaine AND Barack Obama were winning that district)
(Honorable mention: Wayne Powell 2012 would have lost to Eric Can'tor anyway, but running to the right certainly didn't help him any.)
*Mike Hymes 2014 (Classic example; this one wasted something approaching a million bucks to get 9,264 votes - around $100 per Hymes voter, many of whom would have turned out with a simple notice that there was an election, so it's actually a lot worse than that - and lose by 28 percentage points, in addition to running away from Democratic values on issue after issue - woohoo!)
(Honorable mention: Lynwood Lewis 2014 - he came within 11 votes of losing a race he was supposed to win easily, after running to the right, dissing/ignoring the "base," etc.)

Sensing a pattern here?  

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Saturday Morning

by: lowkell

Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 06:52:31 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, August 30.

*Obama Weighing Delay in Action on Immigration
*Rebels besiege trapped Ukrainian volunteer soldiers
*Ellis Island in reverse: What happens to Guatemalans deported from U.S. (Shameful.)
*Mitch McConnell's campaign manager resigns after Iowa bribery scandal deepens
*California lawmakers pass first U.S. plastic bag ban (Virginia should do the same, or at least slap a fee on plastic bags, bottles, etc. They are a menace to creatures of all types, including the whale that died the other day from having plastic blocking its stomach. Horrible stuff when not recycled and/or disposed of properly.)
*Federal judge blocks Texas abortion clinic law
*McDonnell trial: Arguments done, case goes to jury Tuesday ("The prosecutor ended his rebuttal by lambasting former Gov. Bob McDonnell in front of his family. The jury will hear the judge's instructions after Labor Day, then start deliberating.")
*The Most Bizarre Bits To Come Out Of The Trial Of Virginia's Ex-Governor (#1: that Virginians ever elected this guy!)
*Dominion high-voltage line gives Pr. William jitters ("The company says it's to serve a customer who will add to local growth but declines to say who that is." WTF?)
*McDonnell prosecutor to jury: 'This is corruption. The real thing.' ("As closing arguments ended, lawyers for the ex-Va. governor said the government's star witness lied.")
*The whole Rolex thing
*Former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell should be held accountable, like others are ("Mr. McDonnell insinuated pay-to-play ethics in a state previously known for good government. He preached public austerity while enjoying the fruits of private luxury. He behaved as though the privileges of office provided carte blanche authority to play by special rules. Whether he is a criminal or not, he certainly is guilty.")
*In Virginia, US Senate race unusually low key
*Coal or air? It's a balancing act for Warner (Filthy, impoverishing coal or the planet? Tough choice - not!)
*Selvage: From Southwest Virginia, a path for less pollution (Nailed it!)
*Nats topple Seattle's King Felix with a 10-hit, four-home run barrage
*Summer stages a comeback, just in time for its unofficial departure

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Audio: E.W. Jackson Says Nobody's Going to Change Ferguson "folks' minds by facts"

by: lowkell

Fri Aug 29, 2014 at 14:29:57 PM EDT

A few...uh, "interesting" observations from our old pal, theocratic bigot and all-around extremist nutjob E.W. Jackson from his trip to Ferguson, Missouri.

*"Don't let...Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons of the world come in and turn it into something that the people of that community kind of lose control of, and...the New Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam they come in and stoke all of this violence and hatred..."
*"If this police officer is not indicted...and convicted, you're going to see more violence in Ferguson...could spark violence across the country."
*"I don't think anybody who...feels angry and that something unjust happened, I don't think they care what the facts are. I think they know two things. They know he (Michael brown) was shot six times and they know that he was unarmed. And they don't care about the rest, they don't care that it was a 6 foot 4 young man weighing 290 pounds coming up against about a 150-pound officer. They don't care that the police officer may have already been injured in a confrontation. They don't care that he might have been running at the police officer. In other words, it's not going to matter to these folks what facts come out; they know he was shot six times, they know he was unarmed, and as far as they are concerned, there is absolutely no justification for it and the police officer ought to go to jail. So you're not going to change those folks' minds by facts."
*"When you stand up and you create the cry that's been created...'hands up, don't shoot'...This is supposed to be a depiction of what happened between Michael Brown and Officer Wilson, that Michael Brown put his hands up and said 'don't shoot' and Officer Wilson just gunned him down in cold blood. So when you perpetrate that sort of picture of what took place, and then you say, as Al Sharpton said at the funeral, you know, 'America's got a problem'...'no justice no peace' [Jackson snickers/laughs], you know, we're not getting justice so there's not going to be peace. And you get the Nation of Islam in there - which we know has a reputation for being racially divisive, hateful, mean, horrible..."
*"The reality is Ferguson has no military equipment; I mean, that was one of the myths that got debunked. The only think Ferguson has is two non-working helicopters [laughs] that were donated several years ago. Everything else they have is standard police equipment that the police department itself went out and bought..."
*Al Sharpton "implied that millions were being spent to arm the police as if they were a Gestapo, and no money was being spent on education, which we know is also not true..."

In sum, Jackson perpetuates the far-from-proven/heavily-biased Fox News/Rush Limbaugh narrative of what happened in Ferguson all the way (e.g., that Michael Brown was dangerous because he was a big guy, that he might have injured the much-smaller officer, etc.). He denigrates the residents of Ferguson, suggesting that they're not going to listen to any facts and are just riled up (in part, supposedly, by outside agitators like the "Nation of Islam" - natch). He mocks the "hands up don't shoot" chant by protestors. He also strangely claims that all the military equipment we saw with our own eyes on numerous news reports was apparently a figment of everyone's imagination. Of course, no interview with a right-wingnut like Jackson would be complete without a reference to the Gestapo. Anyway, just another day in the life of E.W. Jackson, who a year ago today was coming down the home stretch of his run for Lt. Governor of Virginia as - and this can't be emphasized enough or too often - the Republican Party of Virginia's freakin' nominee! Amazing.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Top Political Analyst: Barbara Comstock "Uniquely Polarizing"

by: lowkell

Fri Aug 29, 2014 at 09:10:58 AM EDT

Given how "broken" Congress is, overwhelmingly because the extremist Tea Partiers and Tea Party Republicans have made it that way, the LAST thing we need is yet another Tea Party Republican who one of the top political analysts in America calls - and for VERY good reason, given her history of obsessive persecution of the Clintons, etc. - "uniquely polarizing." Just say "no" to Barbara Comstock and her friends Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Tom DeLay, the Koch brothers, Sean Hannity (see photo below0< Willard "Mitt"/"Etch-a-Sketch" Romney (ditto), etc.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Friday Morning

by: lowkell

Fri Aug 29, 2014 at 06:40:24 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, August 29. Also, gotta love Ken Cuccinelli, demonstrating yet again how extreme the Tea Party is, when even far-right-wing Rick Perry is considered "anti-conservative!"

*A climate for change: The U.S. can help drive a new round of global carbon cuts (I'm glad the Post did this series of editorials on global warming the past few days, but more importantly they need to stop: a) giving a platform to science deniers; and b) doing "false equivalency" journalism. If not, then the benefit of these editorials is negated.)
*Hillary Clinton on Ferguson: 'We Are Better Than That'
*Islamic State waterboarded Foley, others (It's evil if they do it, and it's evil if we do it. Why has no U.S. official - Cheney, etc. - been prosecuted for authorizing torture?!?)
*Obama accuses Russia of sending troops into Ukraine ("President rules out military action, but says Moscow's actions will bring 'more consequences'")
*Obama on the Islamic State: 'We don't have a strategy yet' (Right wingers are going nuts about this comment, but the fact is there aren't a lot of great options here.)
*Chuck Todd Pushes RNC Chair: 'Too Many Crazy White Guys'? (Ya think?)
*Another big boost for Obamacare ("In another sign that the politics of Obamacare continue to shift, the Medicaid expansion is now all but certain to come to another big state whose Republican governor had previously resisted it: Pennsylvania." Hello Bill Howell?)
*The Koch Brothers And Republican Party Have Just Joined Forces To Track Voters (I presume the Tea Party will go nuts about this, right? Oh wait...)
*Kaine, Warner speak on threat of ISIS
*Medicaid plan from House GOP ("Virginians have waited all year for House Republicans to offer a plan. Rust and Davis have stepped up and done so. Party leaders would be wise to give it a full hearing, and to recognize it for what it is: a way for them to do what's right for Virginia.")
*Closing arguments set to begin as McDonnells' trial nears its endgame ("The judge's instructions to jurors, including the definition of an 'official' act, could shape deliberations.")
*What's America's No. 1 Problem? A surprising answer from Rep. Scott Rigell (No, just hypocrisy given that he refuses to point the finger at the source of the problem: the Tea Party and Teapublicans blocking everything and pushing for harmful policies.)
*Officials confirm F15 pilot's death
*Tax exemption off table in baseball negotiations
*Voters may have crossed Va.-Md. line to cast ballots twice ("'The GOP has been on a witch hunt for voter fraud for 15 years to make it harder for people to exercise their constitutional rights,' said Del. Scott A. Surovell")
*Our view: Election skullduggery ("Critics, at least in this quarter, do not say voter fraud is myth, but that it has taken on mythic proportions unwarranted by the evidence - especially in regard to voter impersonation.")
*A refreshing Friday as summer recharges for the holiday weekend

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Erick Erickson: Screw Our Children, I Want Cheap Coal Now

by: TheGreenMiles

Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 10:00:00 AM EDT

Flooding Danube"Let the seas rise. Let the wind blow." That's top Republican commentator Erick Erickson's position on climate change. I would say he's a "conservative" commentator, but there's absolutely nothing conservative about wanting to gas up your SUV cheaply now and while leaving the pollution bill for future generations to pay. It's pure selfishness - "I've got mine so screw you" presented as profound political philosophy.

Erickson may just be one blogger, but here he gets to the core motivations of today's Congressional Republican leadership - America isn't worth investing in. Energy? Just give me what's cheapest today - if we need alternatives tomorrow, someone else can spend the money on it. Education? If my family needs that, I can pay to send my children to private school, but I won't volunteer a dime in additional taxes to improve our community. The environment? I can buy home air filters and bottled water - if you can't, too bad for you & yours.

"We are all going to die," Erickson cynically concludes. "Just not today." And by then, it'll be up to our children and grandchildren to build massive hurricane barriers outside every East Coast city to keep out the rising seas and monster storms as the bill comes due for all that cheap coal, oil and fracked gas.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Some Reading for Gov. McAuliffe BEFORE Dan Snyder Comes Calling for Corporate Welfare

by: lowkell

Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 11:41:19 AM EDT

It's now crystal clear that billionaire R**skins owner Dan Snyder has kicked off the bidding war von which jurisdiction (Maryland? DC? Virginia?) will offer the most taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to build his super-rich franchise a new stadium. It's also becoming more apparent why Gov. McAuliffe has been so reluctant to weigh in on the racist (or not, if you buy the R**skins' so-called "arguments" that it really isn't racist) team name issue. Anyway, as the process begins to figure out which suckers will cough up the most hard-earned, and much-needed-for-other-uses tax money so that mega-rich Republican Dan Snyder can get even mega-RICHER than he already is, here's some reading material for Gov. McAuliffe to check out -- BEFORE Dannyboy comes a callin'.

1. First, some history from the last time (1992) a rich R**skins owner (Jack Kent Cooke in that case) came looking for taxpayer handouts from a Virginia governor (L. Douglas Wilder in that case). In particular, note: "Both Wilder and Cooke have said in recent days that they were surprised by the vehemence of the opposition to Potomac Yard and that they had assumed most Virginians would be excited about the prospect of the Redskins playing in the state. It was a pivotal miscalculation, especially during a time when the state government had gone through two years of budget cuts. Cooke would have built the $160 million stadium himself, but many thought the $130 million state subsidy for site improvements was unjustified." Is history about to repeat itself? Stay tuned!

2. Now, some economics. How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers ("Taxpayers fund the stadiums, antitrust law doesn't apply to broadcast deals, the league enjoys nonprofit status, and Commissioner Roger Goodell makes $30 million a year. It's time to stop the public giveaways to America's richest sports league-and to the feudal lords who own its teams.")

3. More economics. Football: A Waste of Taxpayers' Money: Why are we subsidizing such a hugely profitable sport?  ("...forget about GM and Chrysler, Solyndra, or even cowboy poetry readings. Fact is, nothing is more profitable, more popular, and more on the public teat than good old American football. That's right. You, dear taxpayer, are footing the bill for football through an outrageous series of giveaways to billionaire team owners and public universities that put pigskin before sheepskin."

4. Here's How The NFL Makes A Killing Off Of Taxpayers (see infographic above)

5. If You Build It, They Might Not Come: The Risky Economics of Sports Stadiums ("Time after time, politicians wary of letting a local franchise relocate -- as the NBA's Seattle Supersonics did, to Oklahoma City before the 2008-2009 season -- approve public funds, selling the stadiums as public works projects that will boost the local economy and provide a windfall of growth. However, according to leading sports economists, stadiums and arenas rarely bring about the promised prosperity, and instead leave cities and states mired in debt that they can't pay back before the franchise comes calling for more.")

6. Finally, just to demonstrate that it's not only progressives who oppose taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to wealthy sports owners, it's also the freakin' Koch brothers! ("So we have to ask - is giving handouts to professional sports teams a responsible use of tax dollars or is this money better spent somewhere else?  The answer seems clear. Our elected officials need to stand up for the taxpayers and stop giving out taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to professional sports teams."). Of course, the Koch brothers are wild hypocrites, as they LOVE corporate welfare for themselves, but the point is that this is NOT a left-right issue. To the contrary, this is an issue that everyone who pays taxes or lives in the state should agree on: it's a terrible idea to use our scarce tax dollars (which should be used for education, transportation, cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, retrofitting our buildings for energy efficiency and solar panels, etc.) to subsidize a wealthy, coddled, monopolistic bunch of billionaires, especially when it's almost certain that we won't get any return on our investment and ESPECIALLY at a time when we're running major budget deficits. So, Gov. McAuliffe, when Danny Boy Snyder comes a callin', all you have to do is very simply just say "no." You can slam the door in his face for dramatic effect (and bonus points) if you're so inclined. :)

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Thursday Morning

by: lowkell

Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 06:46:28 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, August 28.

*A strong answer to climate change
*Exclusive: GOP poll of women: Party 'stuck in past' (Of course, women are right about this. Given that, the question is, why would any woman vote Republican these days?)
*Ukraine fears Russian invasion is now underway ("Fighting between Russian troops and the Ukrainian military worsened Thursday on a new, southern front as NATO promises to deploy forces to eastern Europe.")
*U.S. Budget Gap Narrows to Smallest Since 2007, CBO Says (And it would be a LOT lower if we had gotten rid of the Bush tax cuts.)
*Immigration plan could shake up 2014 election
*Iowa politician says 2012 Ron Paul campaign paid him for endorsement
*An anti-immigration group's imaginary scapegoats
*2014 and the limits of rage ("The question to ask: Do voters begin to push back against the tea party tide that swept governorships and legislatures into Republican hands four years ago and produced the most radical changes in policy at the state level in at least a generation?")
*The cold calculus of global warming ("Peddling doubt has helped protect lucrative, if unsustainable, livelihoods.")
*Virginia Senate candidates to talk tech
*Foust Defends Comments Against Comstock's Work Experience
*Ask the Governor: McAuliffe talks budget, ethics and Clinton '16 in radio interview
*Separate arrivals and exits drive home a point at former Va. governor's trial
*McDonnell defense rests with details of a sad and troubled marriage
*A different former Governor's thoughts on ethics: Sen. Kaine says Va laws too lax
*They're baaaack ... big outsider ad buys in Gillespie-Warner race
*Fighter jet pilot missing after Virginia crash
*Va. reading scores remain stagnant on harder state tests
*In coal country, the jobs are vanishing. Even so, workers find it hard to leave.
*Fister's vulnerabilities appear as Phillies show Nats the broom
*Humidity drops as storms hold off

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Video: Blast-From-The-Past as "TEA Party merges with anti-immigrant lobby in PW County, Virginia"

by: lowkell

Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 17:34:45 PM EDT

Eric Byler, director of the superb film 9500 Liberty (a must see!) -- about the anti-immigrant movement in Prince William County, Virginia, and the courageous people who stood up to it -- just posted this video (from July 4, 2009) on his Facebook page. Here's Eric's description:
A hate watch organization had asked me to film it. I had no intention of going, but I did at their request. I posted the video for their edification only, and never shared the link with anyone else until now. Prince William County, of course, had been the scene of an ugly but effective politicization of anti-immigrant sentiment for the 2007 election, and the battle had continued into 2008 as the film 9500 Liberty shows.

I haven't re-watched the video. But my recollection 5 years later is that several anti-immigrant activists recognized me early on and some of them tried to stop me from filming by standing in front of the camera. I think you will see this in the video. I had to go hand-held so that I could get out of their way. And when I did so, I stood right next to the largest of the men. He didn't touch me. He just said, "Well isn't that nice," or something to that effect.

The reason why the hate watch org. was interested was that a representative from FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) was scheduled to speak, and on conservative entertainment channels and websites, this was being touted as the long-awaited merger of the anti-tax TEA Party with the anti-immigrant FAIR (and likeminded organizations).

The event was held at the Prince William County government center in Woodbridge, VA where many of the most memorable scenes from 9500 Liberty take place.

Chilling. Disturbing. Totally f'ed up. Any other descriptions you'd care to add to this video? Oh, and thanks to Eric Byler for his tireless, courageous work exposing extremism and bigotry like this.
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Gov. McAuliffe Signs Bill Addressing Notary Fraud Aimed At Members of the Latino Community

by: lowkell

Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 16:11:38 PM EDT

Photo and description of the event earlier today, courtesy of Virginia State Senator Jennifer Wexton:
I was proud to stand with Senator Adam Ebbin, Delegate Alfonso Lopez, Delegate-elect Rip Sullivan, and other important members of the Northern Virginia community as Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe signed SB 503, which I co-patroned, and HB 492 into law. They address the growing problem of notary fraud perpetrated towards members of the Latino community, as well as other minority communities. There are many cases of notaries fraudulently charging thousands of dollars for misleading advice. This legislation prohibits non-attorney notaries from offering legal or immigration advice, as well as imposes civil penalties and possible revocation of notary license for repeat offenders.
Also present in the photo are Del. Alfonso Lopez, Del.-elect Rip Sullivan, Arlington County Board Members Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada, State Senator Adam Ebbin, and of course Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Great job by everyone involved in this, including co-patrons Adam Ebbin and Jennifer Wexton, and House Chief Co-patron Alfonso Lopez.

P.S. I don't recognize the other two people in the photo. Also note that the other House Chief Co-patron, Del. Dave Albo (R), is not in the photo. Hmmmm.

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