I saw this article earlier today and immediately thought of Virginia Republicans. I'll explain in a minute, but first the news.
Alpha Natural Resources Inc. is planning to file for bankruptcy protection in Virginia as soon as Monday as the biggest miner of U.S. coal used in steelmaking struggles amid the worst commodities slump in more than a decade, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter...
Bristol, Virginia-based Alpha Natural would follow rivals Walter Energy Inc., Patriot Coal Corp. and James River Coal Co. in filing for bankruptcy during the past 15 months as met coal prices dropped 72 percent since 2011.
Alpha Natural, despite reporting $1.8 billion in cash and available credit at end of March, hasn't turned in a profit since 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The thing is, it's not just Alpha, but the entire coal industry that's getting pounded by a variety of forces: cheap natural gas, the rise of wind and solar power, and the recognition that coal is cooking the planet to death.
So how does the decline of the coal industry potentially impact Virginia politics? First, as VPAP reports, the energy/natural resources sector has donated around $52 million to Virginia politicians since 1996. Of that, around $14 million has come from "Coal Mining/Processing," with another $16 million from heavily coal-powered utilities. And where has that money gone in terms of partisan distribution? Here are a few examples just to give you a feel for how lopsided it's been in favor of Republicans.
Coal company Alpha Natural Resources: $3.0 million, of which $2.3 million has gone to Republicans.
Coal executive Richard Baxter Gilliam: $2.7 million, of which only $1,000 has gone to Democrats, while $1.6 MILLION has gone to Republicans and $1.1 million to "other" (I believe a lot of this went to right-wing SuperPACs, like American Crossroads, that might not be classified as "Republican" by VPAP, but are clearly pro-Republican).
Coal/natural gas producer Consol Energy: $1.2 million, of which the overwhelming majority - $940k - went to Republicans.
Virginia Coal Association: $1.1 million, of which $740k went to Republicans.
Coal executive Marvin W Gilliam, Jr.: $683k, all but $3k of which went to Republicans.
Coal company United Co.: $519k, of which $324k went to Republicans.
Massey Coal: $466k, of which all but $8.3k went to Republicans.
Coal miner Cumberland Resources: $453k, of which all but $30k went to Republicans.
We could go on, but I think you get the picture: the vast majority of Virginia coal industry $$$ has gone to Virginia Republicans over the years, with only a small share going to Democrats. Which could mean, at least in theory, that as the coal industry goes down the tubes financially, the impact will be disproportionately negative on Virginia Republicans. We'll see, but it's definitely something to keep an eye on...
How about Republicans nominate Jim Gilmore for President in 2016 (not likely, but they can nominate someone just as crazy!) and replicate this electoral map - courtesy of DPVA's "So You Googled Jim Gilmore" microsite - nationally? Just a friendly suggestion from your Democratic pal(s). :)
P.S. The bigger question is why would anyone Google, let alone vote for, Jim Gilmore, who drove Virginia's fiscal truck into a ditch, or any of his fellow Republicans who think the same way he does?!?
From Sen. Donald McEachin's Facebook page, I think these are some interesting questions, in light of what Del. Scott Surovell points out ("Kentucky man shoots down drone hovering over his backyard"). Here are Sen. McEachin's questions. Also, see Del. Surovell's comments after Sen. McEachin's.
Opinions please! I think you should be able to protect your property if someone (not the state assuming it has a lawful order) has a drone hovering over your property. But what legnth of time constitutes a hover? Is it ok for a drone to pass over your back yard (or front yard) on the way to somewhere else? Are there any rules for if it is just passing over how low it may go? Can you imagine a drone buzzing through your back yard during a picnic? At eye level? If a drone is hovering over your property and you destroy it are you liable to your neighbor for any debri that might damage a neighbor's yard. Time to have a conversation with legislative services.
Del. Surovell: "I predicted this last week at the Drone & Space Law Conference in Wise, VA. I said if you fly one of these over private property outside of NOVA, it's likely to get shot down. People laughed but I was serious. We need to clarify this area of the law soon."
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, July 29. Also, interesting infographic from ThinkProgress on Democratic 2016 presidential candidates' climate plans. So far, at least, it looks like Martin O'Malley is in the lead...
From Rep. Don Beyer's office; I really appreciate his leadership on the #1 issue facing humanity.
July 29, 2015 (Washington, DC) – Congressman Don Beyer released the following statement in response to the Department of Defense (DoD) Report on the National Implications of Climate Change:
“Today’s report from the Defense Department is another emphatic statement that climate change is not only real, but is a national security threat," said Rep. Don Beyer. "Sea level rise, drought and severe weather, natural disasters, food insecurity, and competition for scarce resources jeopardize our security, here and abroad. Unless we commit now to addressing this problem, we risk catalyzing conflict and adding to instability around the globe. The DoD recognizes the severity of this crisis - it is time for Congress to do the same.”
The report finds that climate change is a security risk, Pentagon officials said, because it degrades living conditions, human security and the ability of governments to meet the basic needs of their populations. The DoD found that “global climate change will have wide ranging implications for U.S. national security interests over the foreseeable future because it will aggravate existing problems.” Communities and states that already are fragile and have limited resources are significantly more vulnerable to disruption and far less likely to respond effectively and be resilient to new challenges, they added.
“The Department of Defense's primary responsibility is to protect national security interests around the world,” officials said in a news release announcing the report’s submission. “This involves considering all aspects of the global security environment and planning appropriately for potential contingencies and the possibility of unexpected developments both in the near and the longer terms.”
Find more information on the DoD’s report on the security implications of climate changehereandhere.
From DPVA. I'd say we know what they're afraid of.
House Speaker Bill Howell and Majority Leader Tommy Norment rejected a meeting with Governor Terry McAuliffe yesterday to compromise on a deal to set the state’s congressional elections map.
The congressional map needs significant changes to alleviate the Supreme Court's issues and to better comply with the principles of equal representation and geographic balance that are essential to democracy. Forging a map early, as Governor McAuliffe suggested, would save taxpayers money and increase transparency in the process.
But Howell and Norment decided to play politics instead of doing what's best for Virginians.
"Hiding under the bed isn't going to fix Virginia's racially-gerrymandered congressional map -- but bipartisan leadership will. Good things happen when leaders get together to make public policy decisions in good faith and we can do that with congressional redistricting," said Morgan Finkelstein, Press Secretary at the Democratic Party of Virginia. "We can only assume that Howell and Norment are simply hoping to stall until the last minute in order to preserve as much of their gerrymandered map as possible."
The headline refers to a great line by Janet Oleszek at a fundraiser last night in McLean (see video below), regarding just one of the reasons why current Fairfax County (Braddock District) Supervisor John Cook (R) needs to be shown the exit door this November. Janet added that John Cook is a seriously "flawed public official" who, "time and again...has benefited personally...by taking cases in which he has a clear conflict of interest...This is unacceptable for a public servant and I will introduce ethics legislation at once to ban this practice." Finally, Janet noted that John Cook had done a poll to find out if voters wanted their Supervisor to work with the School Board or "act as a check on it." Need any more reasons to vote John Cook out of office this November? Go Janet! :)
P.S. For video of Tim Kaine speaking last night, click here.
Today's Republican Party is a disgrace like nothing ever seen before at center stage of American politics. From 2001 to 2009, it gave us the most lawless presidency in the history of the nation, and then from 2009 till now, it has given us the most obstructionist opposition party the nation has seen. Unprecedented, for a major American political party, in how consistently it is damaging the nation.
For well over a decade, this should have been the main topic of our national conversation.
No, let me correct that: Had the Democrats made it the main topic of our national conversation earlier, the dark force that has taken over the Republican Party would not still need to be brought to the attention of the American people. Calling it out forcefully enough would have either driven out this dark force from the one-time "Grand Old Party," or have driven that Party into oblivion.
But the Democrats have been weak, and have never pressed the battle. And the combination of Republican destructiveness and Democratic weakness has been a disaster for America.
Today's rise of Donald Trump gives the Democrats, and Liberal America generally, an unusually good opportunity to launch the long-needed attack on the Republican Party for the morally degraded force that it has become.
That opportunity arises from two factors.
First, Trump has thrown the Republican Party into disarray. Most of the time - largely because of the weakness and passivity of the Democratic Party - the Republicans have been able to control their narrative. But, with Trump lobbing his attention-getting rhetorical bombs and dominating virtually every news cycle, the Republicans are caught up in a story beyond their control. This leaves them weakened, distracted, disjointed -- generally less able to fight back in a cohesive way.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, July 29. Also see the video of Sen. Tim Kaine speaking last night at an event for Janet Oleszek's Fairfax County Board campaign against Republican John Cook. According to Kaine, "you will make people happier or madder in local government than anywhere else...you get measured by your results, not your slogans." On the other hand, you have the ability to counter voter cynicism by "being a good listener and trying to solve [people's] problems" while "helping your community." Finally, Kaine said there's a "night-and-day difference" between Janet Oleszek and John Cook when it comes to support for schools, teachers, education.
Seriously, is Ken Cuccinelli ever right about anything? Apparently not. Even worse are the ugliness he attracts, and brings out, to his extremist demagoguery. For instance, the top comments on Cooch's Facebook page to this post are as follows.
*23 likes: "Why would a deal like this include money being given to Iran? Logically, a deal should say that they will not do so and so, period. Money being given to foreign nations, borrowed from China, is the true death of our nation."
*14 likes: "KILL THE DEAL AND THEN KILL IRAN,,, BOMB THE HELL OUT OF THEM..."
*13 likes: "Some well placed nukes will make for a short war. Sounds harsh but I would rather that than waste our men in the sand over there fighting these lunatics."
Just another day on Ken Cuccinelli's Facebook page, basically. Recall that a few weeks ago, we wrote about the top comment on his post on immigration stating, "illegal immigrant families deserve a ride to the border and if they come back they deserve a bullet." Again,why is it that Cooch attracts despicable people like this? And why is it that Cooch isn't atypical of many Republicans these days, from Mike Huckabee to Ted Cruz to E.W. Jackson to...we could go on all day? As Andy Schmookler writes in his new book, the "political right - and its political arm, the Republican Party - has become an extraordinarly destructive force in the American body politics," one that's "more consistently destructive and dishonest than anything seen before at center state of American politics (except perhaps for the decade leading up to the Civil War." No argument here; the question is what's the rest of America doing to stop this lunacy?
I'm kinda curious, was E.W. Jackson angry at President Reagan when he spoke in Ireland in 1984 and said, "I'm certainly proud to be part of that great Irish American tradition...My roots in Ballyporeen, County Tipperary, are little different than millions of other Americans who find their roots in towns and counties all over the Isle of Erin?" Did Jackson think that Reagan was a "divider" not a "uniter?" Was he offended at Reagan's frequent references to being Irish-American? Somehow, I doubt it.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, July 27. Also, as Hillary Clinton says: "Climate change is an urgent challenge that threatens all of us. The United States is already taking steps to invest in our clean energy future, but we need to do more. We need to take bold action to combat climate change, create jobs, protect the health of American families and communities, and make the United States the world's clean energy superpower."
Blue Virginia readers are, presumably highly familiar with Andy Schmookler's fundamental thesis about America today: 1) that the "political right - and its political arm, the Republican Party - has become an extraordinarly destructive force in the American body politic"; and 2) that "the political left...and its political arm, the Democratic Party, has shown extraodinary weakness in the face of the threat posed to the nation by that destructive force." Andy has also written extensively on this subject at The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and elsewhere. Now, Andy skillfully pulls it all together into highly readable paperback book form, in What We're Up Against: The Destructive Force at Work in Our World - And How We Can Defeat It. Andy sent me an advance, review copy, which I've just finished reading. Other than strongly recommending that people read it, here are a few thoughts and questions in no particular order.
*I'm not a huge fan of the word "evil," as I believe it's has far too much baggage - religious, etc. - and can be offputting (although Andy does a strong job or arguing why it's an important and necessary word to use, not in a religious but in a secular context). Personally, perhaps given my background in social psychology and the broader social sciences, I prefer Andy's discussion of the right in America as a force for "brokenness" - dishonesty, environmental destruction, inequality, conflict, hostility to knowledge and empiricism, an increasingly unrestrained corporate takeover of our (soon-to-be-former?) democracy, etc.
*Andy's approach is highly intellectual (he contrasts it with the emotional approach embodied in the book, "Uncle Tom's Cabin," which can be argued stirred Northerners to increased anti-slavery activism and even helped trigger the Civil War), although well written and suffused with passionate intensity, yet I do wonder if this book will find an audience in liberal America (I hope it does; it certainly will NOT be read by those on the right). I went back and looked through Andy's postings at The Huffington Post and Daily Kos, in particular, and found very little discussion stimulated. Perhaps even worse, as Andy himself notes in his book, what discussion DID occur wasn't really on point, "almost always ignored the larger assertions within each piece and focused instead on the most immediate and concrete points," simply didn't light the "fire" Andy was aiming to ignite. The questions are: a) why was that; and b) is there any chance of this situation changing? I don't really have the answers to either of those questions.
*Andy certainly takes a shot at what he calls the "abdication of the press," arguing that the media has ignored "one of the biggest stories in American history" - "the rise to power of a force more consistently destructive and dishonest than anything seen before at center state of American politics (except perhaps for the decade leading up to the Civil War)." I wish Andy had delved more into this issue, for instance looking at why the media has abdicated its role, resorting instead to mindless, cowardly, and ultimately flat-out false "both sides" "reporting" - because I think it's extremely important as well as a continuing, serious problem (e.g., just this morning Chuck Todd allowed vicious racist, anti-Semite and homophobe Pat Buchanan on his show --for the "conservative" point of view, presumably? Still, WTF?).
*Instead, Andy spends a great deal of time and effort in this book laying out the concepts of "wholeness," "brokenness," "evil as a force," the Republican Party as a "pure case" of that "evil," the "weakening of the cultural 'immune system' that has allowed evil to advance," the "failure of the rest of the American body politics...to respond appropriately," etc.
*While Andy believes to his core that the Republican Party and the "evil force" it represents must be firmly and relentlessly confronted, he argues that he does not - and the rest of us should not - have any "malice" towards the "broken" individuals in that party, but more a feeling of "compassion" towards them, a spirit of "with malice towards none," quoting President Lincoln from his second inaugural address.
*As for America's liberals, the people who Andy aims his book at, I sense a combination of frustration, exasperation and a bit of hope that with the right message, presumably delivered by the right messenger in an effective way, liberal Americans can be roused to action against the "evil force." For now, though, Andy laments that liberal Americans simply are "blind" (willfully or otherwise) to the evil; the problem being, of course, that "can't hit what you can't (or won't) see," as Andy puts it.
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