Some Tuewsday afternoon gibberish and idiocy from an interview in the Washington Post with new RPV Chair, anti-Semitic "joke" dude John Whitbeck. Note that in the first quote, Whitbeck first says that Virginia's "changed a lot" demographically, then a breath later says "although things haven't changed much." Translation? Then, in the second quote, he basically says the Republican Party of Virginia is NOT going to change from the disastrous convention nominating process which in 2013 brought us the "Extreme Team" (Ken Kookinelli, EW Jackson, Mark "Criminalize Miscarriages" Obenshain). Hey, as a Democrat, that works great for me -- keep nominating unlectable extremists, and keep losing more statewide elections in Virginia. In other words, to put it a way John Whitbeck might (or might not) understand: Virginia Republicans, please don't ever CHANGE! Hahaha.
“This bill is really one step forward and two steps back,” said ProgressVA executive director Anna Scholl. “On the surface a new, lower gift limit is progress but the devil is in the details and the details of HB2070 allow for multiple exemptions and loopholes from gift rules.”
According to ProgressVA Education Fund’s analysis, 79% of gifts reported by legislators in 2014 would not be impacted by the bill, including 69% of gifts from lobbyists. ProgressVA Education Fund could not determine the legality of approximately 10% of lobbyist gifts without additional information.
The report identifies a significant new loophole that would exclude some travel, such as to conferences hosted by the American Legislative Exchange Council, from regulation and disclosure. “This loophole essentially allows the Speaker and Senate Rules Committee to exempt gifts from regulation or disclosure by approving attendance at a conference,” said Scholl. “The public's business should be conducted in the light of day.”
From Virginia House Minority Leader David Toscano:
The General Assembly adjourned on Friday, February 27, 2015, at approximately 9:00 p.m.In most sessions, the last minute negotiations surround the budget. This year, it involved ethics reform. As you may have noticed from numerous news reports, Senate Republicans threatened to block any ethics bill from being passed. At the last moment, however, they relented, and we were able to pass modest ethics reform that improves the law somewhat on what had previously been in place. While this law goes farther than previous efforts, it does not tackle the critical issues related to campaign finance reform, including the role of major contributions in election campaigns. That being said, the bill lowers from $250 to $100 the value of gifts, meals, and travel that an elected official can receive from a lobbyist or a person seeking a contract with the state. It also includes any dependents living in the official’s home, such as a spouse, child, or other relative. The bill clearly could have gone farther; the Ethics Advisory Council does not have much enforcement power and there are certain exemptions to the gift ban for legislators’ travel to “widely attended” events such as conferences. I voted for the bill because it is better than our laws were two years ago, but I believe there is still much to be done.
The last days of the session saw a number of measures passed that I had proposed and strongly supported. Included in these were the expansion of the DNA database, a campus sexual assault reporting bill that protects survivors while providing increased encouragement to them to report perpetrators of these crimes, and a bill that requires notations be placed on college transcripts when students are discharged for violations of the codes of conduct. These measures were proposed as a result of The Rolling Stone article on UVa and the Hannah Graham case, and I believe that they will bring a higher level of protection for our citizens while encouraging more reporting of sexual assault on campuses.
I've now seen Terry McAuliffe use the same messaging too many times to write it off as a mistake, a fluke, a slip of the tongue, whatever. What messaging is that, you ask? See here and here, for instance. The key messaging points:
*"'It's a lovefest here in Richmond,' McAuliffe declared during his "Ask the Governor" segment Thursday morning on WRVA-AM."
*"'We all put Virginia first,' McAuliffe said, praising Del. S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee; and Sens. Walter A. Stosch, R-Henrico and Charles J. Colgan, D-Prince Williams, the chairmen of the Senate Finance Committee."
*"I enjoy working with the legislature."
*"Gov. Terry McAuliffe praised lawmakers for working with him in a bipartisan fashion to produce a budget that safeguarded mutual priorities and serves the best interests of the commonwealth."
*"McAuliffe also said he was satisfied with the last-minute agreement on ethics reform and reiterated his position that the $100 cap on all gifts 'is a big deal.'"
*"'It's been a great session,' the governor said Friday night to a delegation of House and Senate members that included eight retiring lawmakers.
'We've all worked together. We put the partisan politics aside. ... It was great teamwork,; he added."
*"This is the model - we can work together."
Does this not-at-all-subtle happy talk of bipartisanship and how (supposedly) great it is to work across the aisle by a Democrat, coming after said Democrat got his (political) butt seriously kicked last year on Medicaid expansion and other issues, remind you of anything? How about McAuliffe's BFF Bill Clinton, following the 1994 "Republican Revolution"/"Gingrich Revolution," in which Republicans saw a net gain of 54 seats in the House of Representatives and eight seats in the Senate? Before that, Bill Clinton had governed basically as a strong progressive, pushing for universal health care (aka, "Hillarycare"); a tax package that, among other things, helped balance the budget by raising tax rates on the wealthy; signing the Brady Bill into law; implementing the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, which at the time was considered progressive (believe it or not); etc. No, it wasn't all progressive prior to the Gingrich Revolution (e.g., NAFTA anyone?), but for the most part Clinton pushed for progressive policies in 1993 and 1994, until...cue scary music!
After the 1994 wipeout, of course, Clinton was forced to work with a Republican Congress for the rest of his term in office. That meant scaling back...well, pretty much anything and everthing remotely progressive, and instead turning to advisors like Republican strategist (and all-around right wingnut, as it turns out) Dick Morris to figure out how to "triangulate" himself back to relevance. Here's what I'm talking about.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, March 3. Also, check out Jon Stewart mocking the "unstoppable tag team" of "turtle and carrot" (McConnell and Boehner).
I made a graph (broken into two parts because it's so wide; click on each to "embiggen") of the 100 Virginia House of Delegates seats, with their performance in 2013 measured by the percentage that Mark Herring received. Out of these districts, which could be possible pickup opportunities for Democrats this year? By far and away, that would be district 86, held by retiring incumbent Tom Rust and a great pickup opportunty for Democrat Jennifer Boysko, who lost by just 32 votes in 2013. Other than that one, in descending order of Mark Herring 2013 percentages down to 50%, Democratic pickup opportunties would be: David Ramadan (87th), Jim LeMunyon (67th), Tag Greason (32nd), Dave Albo (42nd), Scott Lingamfelter (31st), Bob Marshall (13th), Randy Minchew (10th), Joseph Yost (12th), Ron Villanueva (21st), Jackson Miller (50th) and Rich Anderson (51st). Of course, Democrats would need strong candidates in those districts, with enough resources to compete.
A few other districts that COULD potentially be competitive include 49% Herring 2013 performance districts in the 94th (David Yancey) and 100th (Rob Bloxom), and 48% Herring districts in the 28th (Bill Howell) and 68th (Manoli Loupassi). Beyond that, it's really getting to be a longshot in an odd-year, low-turnout election, but the next two would be Tim Hugo (40th) and Glenn Davis (84th), both in 47% Herring 2013 districts.
As for Democratic incumbents' most vulnerable seats, those would be the 34th (a 55% Mark Herring 2013 district held by Kathleen Murphy), the 93rd (a 56% Mark Herring district held by Monty Mason), and possibly the 2nd (a 56% Mark Herring district being vacated by Michael Futrell). Hopefully, we'll be fine in all of those, though. Anything else I missed?
Bottom line: Democrats should certainly pick up one seat in 2015 (Jennifer Boysko in the 86th), with the potential for several more, depending on how strong our recruiting is, how well funded Democratic House candidates are this year, what the national mood is looking like this fall, etc.
It's time to take back our democracy and protect our environment in Virginia from the corporate cronyism that dominates politics in our state. We needn't look any further than to our convicted and disgraced last Governor to know that politics in Virginia are broken.
The No. 1 threat to our democracy and to our environment in Virginia is Dominion Resources (and its subsidiary, Dominion Virginia Power), which is the state's biggest polluter and the largest campaign contributor to both Democrats and Republicans in our General Assembly.
We must limit Dominion's power and influence over Virginia politics.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, March 1. Oh, and check out who won the CPAC straw poll in 2006 -- our old pal George Allen, who was a frontrunner for the Republicans presidential nomination until we stopped him with the "ragtag army" in 2006. :)
Gotta love these "One Percent News" guys (Will Rice and Eric Byler), great satire. Of course, the people at CPAC they're interviewing don't understand it's satire, which makes it even funnier. I love the old guy talking about Ted Cruz being the "next Ronald Reagan," and also about how "we won't stand for" "the bastards" shoving Jeb Bush "down our throats."
A few key quotes from outgoing Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada's appearance on the Kojo Nnamdi Show early this afternoon. I can't really disagree with anything he has to say.
*The demise of the streetcar project "will go down as one of my major disappointments," but "it's not about me," it's about "the countless numbers of people that went into a very legitimate public process, totally vetted, with best practices and having a package that would have required the Columbia Pike area ZERO single-family-home taxpayer dollars to make it happen."
*The streetcar also would have "spurr[ed] economic development" and preserved "not some but all of the affordable housing."
*"Part of the problem...is it takes too darned long for the federal government to process applications for these types of infrastructure projects that will help revitalize an area...you need to find ways to shorten the time that it takes for these types of things," in part so costs don't escalate. These are "strategic investments" that need to be prioritized and moved quickly through the approval process.
*The rejection of the streetcar "was a really bad step backwards" for Arlington County.
*Regarding Bus Rapid Transit, Tejada reiterated that Arlington County couldn't have had the "rapid" part, since Arlington isn't allowed by the state to dedicate a lane specifically for buses on Columbia Pike. So, "it was VERY disingenuous for those who were suggesting" that BRT could happen. That was part of the "choir of negativity that attacked our project with misinformation...How many times have you heard those who opposed the streetcar says BRT since the [streetcar] project was cancelled?"
The Interview In an wide-ranging interview with conservative John Frederick, Virginia State Senator Chap Petersen illustrates how little Democrats have learned about building upon their own values to frame and argue their commentary. Democrats almost endlessly embrace the other side's deceptive frames.
At the outset, let me say clearly that at the moment, we are not in a position to abandon natural gas in this county. But wantonly expanding the use of natural gas with reckless and widespread fracking is not the answer. In doing so, politicians and supporters of a runaway industry deny the very real negative impact on local aquifers and other bodies of water. They also ignore a host of other impacts of gas extraction, transportation,environmental degradation, and disruption. Apparent support for gas extraction has been built on the shoulders of expert industry propagandists. And most Americans, including most of our "leaders" have bought it hook, line and sinker.
Regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, right-wing host John Fredericks said: "Obviously, the extreme left-wing environmental wackos going bananas over it; they go bananas over anything except wind, I would imagine." Fredericks claims the pipelines would bring jobs. Ignoring the false claim of meaningful numbers of permanent new jobs, Chap first responds that perhaps he is one of those "wackos." Note Chap's embrace of this negative frame for environmentalists. Chap tries to briefly align himself with those who are pro-environment and then quickly abandons them. He tries to have it both ways. But this is not before Chap had attempted, earlier in the interview, to carefully align himself with conservatives on several other positions. But that's a separate diary.
To assuage Democrats and those who care about controlling their own property, Chap says "you still have to respect people's rights." "You gotta pay people fair compensation." That should go without saying, but it doesn't in eminent domain cases, particularly in the fracking era. Initially, landowners are enticed to believe they can get rich. A few landowners might make a considerable sum. The rest reduced housing values and even, in numerous cases, suffer ruin. It gets worse. (Please follow below the fold...)
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, February 28. Also, see President Obama's weekly address, in which he reiterates "his commitment to middle-class economics, and to ensuring that all hard-working Americans get the secure and dignified retirement they deserve."
I've been a Star Trek fan my whole life, and there have been so many great characters and actors over the years. Still, if I had to pick just one Star Trek character it would have to be Mr. Spock, and the actor who played him, Leonard Nimoy. He lived long and prospered, I just wish the "continuing (orginally 5-year) mission" never had to end for this amazing man. Rest in peace. This loss really makes me sad.
P.S. The following is Leonard Nimoy's last tweet, followed by tributes from his fellow Star Trek actors.
P.P.S. I forgot to mention the important point that Nimoy was a strong progressive, a champion for things like civil rights, LGBT equality, environmental protection and animal welfare.
William Shatner: "I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love"
George Takei: "Today, the world lost a great man, and I lost a great friend. We return you now to the stars, Leonard. You taught us to 'Live Long And Prosper,' and you indeed did, friend. I shall miss you in so many, many ways." Yep.
Brent Spiner: "Farewell Leonard. Glad I knew you. Thinking of Susan, Adam, and his entire family. And his vast extended family of Star Trek."
Levar Burton: "God Bless You, Leonard Nimoy... May Angels guide thee to thy rest!"
Jonathan Frakes: "#LLAP RIP to the best First Officer. @TheRealNimoy"
Wil Wheaton: "We stood on your shoulders, and wouldn't have had a galaxy to explore if you hadn't been there, first. Thank you, Leonard, Rest in peace."
Zachary Quinto (current Spock) - My heart is broken. i love you profoundly my dear friend. and i will miss you everyday."
Patrick Stewart: "It is with sadness that I heard of Leonard Nimoy's death. I was lucky to spend many happy, inspiring hours with him. He won't be forgotten."
Nichelle Nichols: "I am deeply saddened by the death of my dear friend Leonard Nimoy. But, I also want to celebrate his extraordinary life. He was a true force of strength and his character was that of a champion. Leonard's integrity and passion as an actor and devotion to his craft helped transport STAR TREK into television history. His vision and heart are bigger than the universe. I will miss him very much and send heartfelt wishes to his family."
Right-wingnut Gov. Scott Walker is not the brightest bulb on a wide range of issues, including of course energy and the environment. Here, he's asked by Haycock Elementary School (Falls Church, Virginia) second grader Aaron Stark what he'd do about climate change. Walker starts out ok, with the Boy Scout/campfire metaphor, but then Aaron follows up, much more skillfully than the Chuck Todds of the world ever do, by asking Walker point blank, "Do you CARE about climate change?" That's when Walker goes off the rails, as he starts talking to a second grader in Republican talking points about "ultimately" having "all the natural resources...as possible to move forward" blah blah blah. I mean, this really isn't complicated: if you're asked this question, certainly by a second grader, the answer is going to be pretty simple, that I care a lot, that this is a huge threat, and that we have to do something about it now! Of course, Walker couldn't do that because: a) he probably doesn't believe it; b) he's bought and paid for by the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel interests; and c) he's busy pandering for support from the crazy, science-denying, environment-trashing Republican base. Anyway, great job by Aaron, who I'd recommend as a replacement for any number of Sunday talk show hosts. :)
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