How do you know for sure when your country and state are descending into idiocracy? When your government starts misspelling the street signs.
Leesburg Pike is one of the longest and most prominent streets in Fairfax County. It represents a major stretch of Route 7, which has its own insanely detailed Wikipedia page. And it's named for the largest incorporated town in Virginia - you guessed it, Leesburg.
So, it's not a name that you'd expect our government to muck up. But the photographic evidence above suggests otherwise, on a portion of Route 7 in the Falls Church area near Seven Corners. Now apparently renamed "Leeseburg Pike." A block away from where Fairfax County is locating a new public school.
Several things jump out at me about Republican Dave Foster's campaign sign. First off, note a missing word there? That's right: Unlike Rip Sullivan, who proudly includes the word "Democrat" on his signs, Foster completely omits his Republican Party affiliation -- even though this is a partisan office, and even though Foster would be yet another vote for House Speaker Bill "ALEC" Howell's majority in Richmond. Gee, I can't imagine why Foster would do that in the overwhelmingly Democratic 48th district. Hmmm.
More deception: note the apple in place of the "o" in Foster's last name? That's clearly a universal symbol for education (apple for the teacher), and a not-so-subtle attempt by Foster to get people thinkingnt about his tenure on the non-partisan Arlington School Board, which of course is a COMPLETELY different position than being a (Republican) member of the Virginia House of Delegates. Nice try, though!
Finally, notice the "union bug" in the lower right-hand corner? Is Foster seriously trying to make people think that he's pro-union? What, if he's elected to the House of Delegates, will he oppose Virginia's "right to work be poor" laws? Will he make his new boss, Bill "ALEC" Howell, really angry at him by fighting for working people? Something tells me the answer to that is...uh, no, he won't. But hey, for a few extra bucks (possibly coming from vehemently anti-union Bill "ALEC" Howell), why not try to give off that (false) impression?
How about a better idea: on August 19th, vote for Democrat Rip Sullivan, who's actually proud of his partisan affiliation, not trying to deceive voters about it like phony "moderate" Dave Foster (note: Sen. Barbara Favola utterly demolished that myth a couple weeks ago on ArlNow) is doing.
Late last night, The Daily Progress reported on a draft "'statement of expectations' scheduled for discussion Wednesday would limit public dissent by members of the Board of Visitors at the University of Virginia." The Daily Progress article further notes:
The draft comes after about six months of discussion on a range of issues still hanging over the board in the wake of the 2012 firing and rehiring of President Teresa A. Sullivan. Board members have been looking for a way to ease some of the divisions that may have led a faction of powerful members - led by Helen E. Dragas, who was rector at that time - to oust the popular president...
Several board members have expressed frustration with visitors who publicly criticize board decisions at every turn...
To read the draft "Statement of Expectations," click here. Key points include:
*"Visitors shall not, without the prior consent of the Rector or President, initiate communication with elected or appointed public officials at the local, state, or federal level, on matters related to the University of Virginia."
*"Visitors should not contact staff independently."
*"When a Visitor substantially disagrees with management's proposal or plans to recommend a notably different course of action, the Visitor should provide as much advance notice as possible to the Rector, the relevant committee chair, the President, or senior officer as appropriate."
*"When asked by the press, media, public officials, or citizens at-large to speak on behalf of the Board or the University or to publicly assess Board decisions, whether past, present, or imminent, Visitors should always demur unless specifically authorized by the Rector to be a spokesperson."
*"Once decisions are reached... Visitors shall publicly support, or at the very least not openly oppose, the Board's action."
I contacted the UVA press office for comment, and was told that the "committee today met and discussed this draft," that "[n]o
vote was taken," and that the "committee will gather more revisions and then the revised draft will be presented to the full Board of Visitors for consideration later this year." The UVA spokesperson, Charles McGregor McCance, further notes that recently-passed Virginia legislation "actually requires all public universities in Virginia to develop and approve a code of ethics or code of conduct for Boards of Visitors."
Finally, in response to a source of mine who asserted that "this lands squarely in George Martin's lap, and is all about efforts to raise tuition beyond the reach of lower and middle-class income kids," Mr. McCance responded:
I can tell you that none of this is tied to tuition increases, tuition prices or any specific policy. It relates to improved governance at U.Va. and other public colleges, and is why this is emerging from the Special Committee on Governance here. The comments provided to you regarding George Martin and tuition are simply off target and incorrect assumptions or claims.
So, bottom line, I'm not sure what's really going on here, but it's certainly an interesting turn of events. What are you hearing?
I feel like a broken record on this, but I keep hearing offhand comments about how this is really a "center-right country," or how most Americans are not progressives, or how today's Democratic Party (centrist or even center-right by historical standards, let alone by the standards of other developed countries) is "super liberal," "socialist," blah blah blah.
In reality, of course, America today has a centrist party (the Democrats), a hard-right party (the Republicans), and an right-wing extremist rump "party" (the "Tea Party"). In stark contrast, European countries generally have a wide political spectrum from far left (Communist) to left (Socialist) to center-left (Social Democrats) to center-right (Christian Democrats) to right-wing extremist (the National Front, UKIP). Of course, even the center-right parties in Europe generally favor clean energy, unions, universal health care, strict gun control, etc. - totally different than here in the U.S. With that, let's take a look at the most recent polling, courtesy of PollingReport.com, to demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the American people support a long line of progressive policies, and pretty much no conservative policies to speak of.
It's also worth noting that those of us who write at this blog - including "Teddy Roosevelt Progressives" like me, who grew up basically a progressive Republican in the Jacob Javits/Lowell Weicker/John Chaffee mode - are in the (strong) majority on basically everything. No, it doesn't fit the stereotype of right wingers out there, or the corporate media which loves its "both sides" false equivalencies. But it nonetheless remains a factual statement.
*Global Warming: By a 58%-30% margin, Americans believe that "the federal government should limit the release of greenhouse gases from existing power plants."
*EPA Carbon Rules: By a 67%-29% margin, Americans support the EPA setting "strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants with a goal to reduce emissions significantly by the year 2030."
*Clean Energy/Dirty Energy: By a 59%-31% margin, Americans support "alternative energy" over "oil, gas and coal." By a 41%-31% margin, Americans believe we should put LESS emphasis on coal, compared to 76%-10% who believe we should put MORE emphasis on solar and 71%-12% who say we should put MORE emphasis on wind.
*Gun Laws: By a 92%-7% margin, Americans support "requiring background checks for all gun buyers." By a 54%-9% margin, Americans believe that "laws covering the sale of guns should be made more strict" as opposed to "less strict." By a 63%-34% margin, Americans OPPOSE more "teachers and school officials having guns in schools." By a 54%-42% margin, Americans support a "ban on assault-style weapons." Etc, etc.
*Obamacare: 40% favor it and 17% oppose it because it's not liberal enough, for a combined 57% who support Obamacare or want it to go (much) further. Only 38% oppose it because it's "too liberal."
*Same-Sex Marriage: By a 56%-38% margin, Americans support "allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally."
*Abortion: 40% say abortion should be legal "always" or "in most circumstances," with another 38% saying it should be legal in "a few circumstances." Just 20% say it should be "always illegal."
*Contraception: Americans overwhelmingly support contraception access, including a 53%-41% margin saying that "employers who object to birth control and other contraceptives on religious grounds...should not be exempt from the requirement that their health plans cover prescription birth control."
*Immigration: Only 22% of Americans favor deportation of "immigrants who are currently living in the U.S. illegally." In contrast, 58% of Americans support "allow[ing] them a way to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements." By a 65%-31% margin, Americans support the bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill passed by the Senate and being held up by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives that "llowed foreigners staying illegally in the United States the opportunity to eventually become legal American citizens if they pay a fine, any back taxes, pass a security background check, and take other required steps."
*Minimum Wage: By a 71%-28% margin, Americans overwhelmingly support raising the minimum wage.
*Social Security: By a 73%-21% margin, Americans "think the benefits from Social Security are worth the cost of the program for taxpayers." And by a 51%-37% margin, Americans OPPOSE "hanging the way Social Security benefits are calculated so that benefits increase at a slower rate than they do now."
*Labor Unions: By a 54%-39% margin, Americans approve of labor unions.
*Campaign Financing: By huge margins, Americans support " limiting the amount of money individuals can contribute to political campaigns" (71%-25%), and limiting spending by "groups not affiliated with a candidate" (76%-22%).
*"69 percent of Americans oppose any cuts to Social Security or Medicare, even in order to cut the deficit, while only 23 percent support such cuts.
*"Between 60 percent and 80 percent of Americans support increasing taxes on the wealthy."
*"58 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana, while only 39 percent support continued criminalization."
*"62 percent of Americans support the Paycheck Fairness Act - which seeks to close the gender-based wage gap - while only 29 percent of Americans oppose the act."
*" 66 percent of Americans support stronger EPA air regulations, 72 percent support stronger carbon-emission."
Bottom line: on issue after issue after issue, progressives aren't just in the majority, but the LARGE majority in most cases. Conservatives, on issue after issue after issue, are not just in the minority, but in the small minority in most cases. Which raises the question yet again, how do conservatives ever win elections? For that, see books like "What's the Matter with Kansas?" and movies like Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story. In short, it's about the Republicans relentlessly (and skillfully, and with huge amounts of money) preying on resentment, fear, anger, ignorance, and intolerance. Also note that the corporate media has, for years, completely failed to do its job of reporting the truth. Instead, they have been bullied by loud and belligerent right wingers into "reporting" false equivalency nonsense on issue after issue (e.g., there are NOT "two sides" to climate science). Other than that, it seems to me, we would have had all the policies listed above, supported by strong majorities of the American people, a long time ago.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, July 30. Also, any suggested captions for the photo, other than "horrifying," "scary," "disturbing," and "extreme?"
The following remarks were delivered by Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington/Fairfax) to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality at a hearing in south Alexandria a couple days ago, as well as earlier today at the EPA public comments hearing on Constitution Ave. in Washington, DC. Thanks to Del. Lopez for speaking up for our environment, and for urging action on what is arguably the most pressing problem facing mankind in the 21st century - climate change. I would hope that all Virginia Democrats - and Republicans, if they'll come to their senses on this and stop treating it as a partisan issue - would weigh in as Del. Lopez has done, in strong support of climate action and a rapid transition from dirty to clean energy. It's also crucial to counter garbage like this ("Fossil Fuel-Funded Groups Organizing Public Rallies Against New EPA Climate Rule").
Despite the best efforts in some quarters to ignore it - climate change is a problem that threatens the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Whether it's the economic repercussions of sea-level rise on Virginia's coast-line, the health consequences of breathing polluted air, or the threat of more extreme weather conditions, climate change is having an impact on the day-to-day lives of the citizens of the Commonwealth.
At this time, Virginia's coastal region is experiencing the highest rates of sea-level rise along the entire East Coast of the U.S. In fact, the Hampton Roads area is second only to New Orleans in its vulnerability to sea level impacts. The Norfolk-Virginia Beach Metropolitan Area is ranked 10th in flooding from sea-level rise.
We cannot afford to wait any longer to take action on climate change in VA - our economy, health, and long-term quality of life rest in the balance.
According to the most recent estimates by the CDC, 8.7 percent of Virginia's adult population suffers from asthma. In the past three decades, the percentage of Americans with asthma has more than doubled, and climate change is putting those Americans at greater risk of landing in the hospital.
In 2012, 25 million metric tons of carbon pollution were emitted from power plants in Virginia - equal to the yearly pollution from over 5 million cars. This is unacceptable.
We have a moral obligation to address this crisis now so that we do not leave our children an environment that is polluted and damaged beyond repair.
For these reasons, I strongly urge the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to adopt the guidelines of the President's Clean Power Plan to address climate change in the U.S.
Public comments part of review of burdensome and medically unnecessary health center restrictions
Richmond, VA – Women’s health advocates delivered 4844 public comments opposing the burdensome and medically unnecessary women’s health center restrictions to the Health Commissioner on Tuesday. As part of a review of the Targeted Restrictions of Abortion Providers (TRAP), the Health Commissioner and Board of Health are collecting public comments through July 31st. Included in the comments were letters from medical professionals that see the regulations as medically unnecessary and a barrier to women receiving comprehensive care.
“As a physician, I am committed to patient health and safety. Throughout my career, I have treated thousands of women and believe all patients deserve safe, high quality care,” said Dr. Wendy Klein, a Richmond internist, professor emeritus and national expert in Women’s Health. “Three years ago, Virginia appointed medical experts to recommend regulations based on sound and safe medical practice. However, the Board of Health ignored those recommendations and instead approved arbitrary restrictions designed to shut down women’s health centers that perform abortions. No other outpatient facility has been targeted in this manner. Physicians and the majority of Virginians agree: regulations must be based on the best medical standards and practices, not political maneuvering. We ask Dr. Levine to rescind and rewrite the TRAP restrictions, and to allow health decisions to be made in private by patients with their doctors. Politicians should not be making medical decisions.”
Advocates are asking for the restrictions to be rescinded and rewritten in a process that relies on medical evidence and best practices, not politics and ideology. The current restrictions are designed to shut down women’s health centers, which provide comprehensive reproductive health care, like cancer screenings and birth control, as well as safe, legal first-trimester abortion, to women across the Commonwealth.
*"More than seven in ten (71%) women voters object to the idea of for-profit corporations being allowed to exempt themselves from a law they feel goes against their religious beliefs; in fact, this sentiment is so overwhelming that it is shared by a majority of every demographic and attitudinal audience, including Democrats (82%), independents (73%), and Republicans (52%)."
*"Not only do a solid majority of women voters in this cohort oppose the Supreme Court's ruling on Hobby Lobby, but these women voters also say they are paying attention to news about the decision and say the issue is important to them personally."
*"Women voters identify an array of reasons for opposing the Hobby Lobby decision-including women's right to make these personal decisions for themselves without interference from their employers, as well as basic fairness concerns that certain forms of women's birth control would be singled out, while coverage for vasectomies and Viagra are not flagged for debate."
*"Finally, women voters overwhelmingly describe the current accommodation for religious organizations under the ACA (the basis for the Wheaton College v. Burwell case) as acceptable and reasonable."
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, July 29. The photo is of former Raising Kaine/RK and Blue Virginia blogger Teddy Goodson, who passed away over the weekend, doing what she did best: taking the Democratic battle right to Republicans (which, as a Republican for many decades of her life, she was certainly qualified to do). RIP Teddy (although knowing Teddy, she probably took her fight for progressive values to the afterlife - if there is one - with her, and not rest for a minute!).
I'm posting this super late because the Soapblox network of progressive state blogs - of which Blue Virginia is a part - has been down most of the day, but great news for human equality today in Virginia (and in other states as well)! Del. "Sideshow Bob" Marshall (R-Homophobia), author of the anti-gay-marriage amendment befouling our constitution, must be crying right now; such a shame, huh? :) Also, of course, great work by Attorney General Mark Herring's office on this issue, yet again proving that elections have huge consequences -- can you imagine where we'd be if Mark "Criminalize Miscarriages" Obenshain, who said that Ken Cuccinelli was his model Attorney General, had won that election?!?
With that, here's Gov. McAuliffe's statement on the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in Bostic v. Rainey striking down Virginia's ban on gay marriage:
"I am overjoyed by the news that, as a result of today's ruling, Virginia will become a state where two people who love each other can get married regardless of their sexual orientation. This is a historic ruling for our Commonwealth, and its effect will affirm once again that Virginia is a state that is open and welcoming to all.
"I want to thank Attorney General Mark Herring for his leadership in this case, and all of the men and women who fought for years to make this day a reality. Progress does not always come as quickly as we hope it will, but today is yet another example of how justice, equality and the people who fight for those values will always persevere in the end."
I just wanted to pass along the news I received a little while ago from Del. David Bulova (D-Fairfax) that our friend Teddy Goodson passed away yesterday after a long illness (she had moved to Texas in September 2013, I believe for health reasons and to be closer to her family). According to Del. Bulova, there will be a service in late August. Here's some video of Teddy from March 6, 2011, as she accepts the Fred Silverthorne Community Service Award at the 11th Congressional District Awards Luncheon at Vespucci's in Fairfax City, Virginia. A well-deserved honor. As Teddy wrote at the time:
I didn't become a Democrat because I like stuffing envelopes or phone banking. In 2004 I left the Republicans and became a Democrat because of ideas and values---- I despised what the Republican Party was becoming, and felt the Democrats generally had better ideas and values.
As it happens, though, I also have found that elected Democrats do not always honor those ideas and values once they are in office and engaging in the give-and-take of politics, nor do they always listen to the ideas from their "base," (which tends to cling to those Democratic values and ideas). We, the so-called base, or grassroots, is too often taken for granted by our Establishment leaders...Time for that to change, folks.
For those of us who knew Teddy Goodson well (I first met her in 2005, during the Kaine-Kilgore race, when I was told - by Sam Penney, if I recall correctly - that someone named "Teddy Goodson" - a woman, not a man, I'd soon find out - would be a great addition to the blog!), that's vintage Teddy Goodson right there. If you're interested in reading a lot more of what Teddy had to say, here's a link to her Blue Virginia diaries, and here's one to her comments. Also, click here for Teddy's posts on Raising Kaine/RK. The first time she posted it was On Limousine Liberals, Cadillac Conservatives, and Four-Letter Words, which began: "Oh joy. As a former, long-time Republican, I have received yet another campaign letter from Jerry Kilgore, begging for my financial support in the race for Governor of Virginia. Of course, since I am no longer a Republican (by the way, the party left me, I didn't leave the party!), I'm not interested. But even if I were still a Republican, this letter would be a turnoff. What a nonsensical mishmash!" Again, that's Teddy to a "T," who morphed from a Republican, hopefully of the progressive variety (yes, there used to be such a thing as a "Progressive Republican," including my hero - and Teddy's - President Teddy Roosevelt) to a progressive warrior. And no, you didn't want to get on the wrong side of that warrior, but you most certainly DID want to be on her side of any battle!
Another classic Teddy Goodson post was Ex-Republican at Democratic Boot Camp, about which she wrote: "I knew instantly I was NOT in a staid Republican gathering, as I did not see even one coiffed and manicured, mascara-tipped lady; even one self-important stuffed shirt of any kind, sucking up to more important stuffed shirts. In contrast, I saw a magnificent cross section of today's America -- all colors, all ages, all kinds of dress (except no buttoned-down shirts)."
Anyway, there's a lot more to say about Teddy Goodson, and I'm sure that many of us will say it, but for now, I mostly just wanted to pass on the sad, albeit not unexpected, news.
On Tuesday, July 22, Glenn Beck spoke from some 700 movie screens to Americans who paid admission to hear him attack the "Common Core." The "Common Core" consists of standards, offered to the states, defining the knowledge and skills that American school-children should learn at each stage of their education.
Beck's move here reminded me of "The Music Man," the con man in the musical of that name who comes to an Iowa town to fleece the good people there. What Beck and the con artist in "The Music Man" have in common is that to accomplish their own hidden aims they tap into the anxieties that parents have regarding their children.
What the Music Man was selling were fictitious musical instruments and band uniforms, and he did it by playing on parental fears of corrupting influences on their children (fears aroused by the arrival in town of a Pool Hall, which starts with 'P' which rhymes with 'T' which stands for 'trouble').
Beck's pitch against the Common Core is selling a different fear: that the federal government is seeking to take control of their children away from their parents for purposes of indoctrination.
I do not know enough to judge whether or not the Common Core would improve our national educational performance. (Despite being the son of teachers, and having myself taught at both college and high school levels, I do not claim to know what is required to greatly improve the education of America's children.) But I do know enough to feel sure that there is nothing nefarious about the proposed national standards. The Common Core seems to be a good-faith effort -- wise or not -- to address a genuine national problem of educational attainment that lags behind that of many other advanced democracies.
But I suspect Beck's campaign is not really about the Common Core, or about the education of our children, any more than the Music Man was offended by a pool table. I suspect there's another reason altogether why he's working on American parents with this particular paranoid pitch.
It's not enough to tell people that Barbara Comstock is too extreme to be the 10th District's next US Representative. Better to cite some examples -- of which few are as devastating as her support for giving fertilized eggs the legal status of people.
This past legislative session, Comstock voted for Delegate Bob Marshall's fetal personhood bill -- giving it crucial cover as one of only 5 Republican women in the House of Delegates. But this was not just another bill about which reasonable people might disagree -- more like the legislative version of a hand grenade.
Of the 30,826 laws in the Code of Virginia, 11,482 of them-37%-contain the word "person." And there are 118 different things that "person" means in those 11,482 laws, because there are very specific things that they need to mean. Under Virginia law, a business cannot be guilty of murder[...]
It is through this lens that I was alarmed to read Del. Bob Marshall's HB 1: [...] "A bill to construe the word 'person' under Virginia law, including but not limited to § 8.01-50 of the Code of Virginia, to include unborn children."
Wow. All 118 definitions of the word "person" would suddenly be amended to include "fetus." This bill would serve as a wrecking ball against the Code of Virginia. Dozens and dozens of carefully constructed definitions would suddenly be rendered syntactically and legally ridiculous.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, July 28. Also, see the video by Catherine S. Read of Dorothy and Terry McAuliffe speaking about the importance of women running for office in Virginia in 2015 and beyond...
Mayor Adam O'Neal of Bellhaven, NC, a Republican who has been walking to Washington, DC in support of Medicaid expansion and health care for rural residents, arrives at an event on health care and Medicaid expansion at the Greater Prince William Community Health Center in Woodbridge, Virginia on Saturday, July 26, 2014. Attendees at the event included State Senator George Barker, Delegate Michael Futrell, Virginia New Majority, civil rights legend Bob Zellner, filmmakers Eric Byler and Annabel Park, and numerous others. I'll post more video tomorrow, as well as more discussion about this event, but for now, here's the moment when Mayor O'Neal and Bob Zellner arrived at the Health Center in Woodbridge.
P.S. I checked Sunday morning and there was not a single article on this important event in Woodbridge yesterday, other than right here at Blue Virginia. That's right: for coverage of this, it's all "citizen journalists" like Eric Byler, Annabel Park, and yours truly - so much for the folks who are PAID to do this as their full-time "day jobs." I know, what else is new, but still...total #FAIL
The purpose of Blue Virginia is to cover Virginia politics from a progressive and Democratic perspective. This is a group blog and a community blog. We invite everyone to comment here, but please be aware that profanity, personal attacks, bigotry, insults, rudeness, frequent unsupported or off-point statements, "trolling" (NOTE: that includes outright lies, whether about climate science, or what other people said, or whatever), and "troll ratings abuse" (e.g., "troll" rating someone simply because you disagree with their argument) are not permitted and, if continued, will lead to banning. For more on trolling, see the Daily Kos FAQs. Also note that diaries may be deleted if they do not contain at least 2 solid paragraphs of original text; if not, please use the comments section of a relevant diary. For more on writing diaries, click here. Thanks, and enjoy!