Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, May 23. Also, check out President Obama's weekly address, in which he "commemorate[s] Memorial Day by paying tribute to the men and women in uniform who have given their lives in service to our country."
Over the years, I've written many times (some would no doubt say ad nauseum) about the Washington Post's endorsements in Virginia Democratic primary contests, general elections, etc. Actually, I shouldn't say "the Washington Post," because since I started blogging in 2005, to my knowledge it's basically been one guy, Lee Hockstader. Here's what I wrote last May about the Post's/Hockstader's upcoming endorsement in the 8th CD Democratic primary.
I've been referring to the "Post editorial board," but the reality is that when it comes to Virginia, it's really just one guy who makes the endorsements. That would be Lee Hockstader, a long-time foreign correspondent for whom Virginia politics is apparently a foreign country. I mean, seriously, when was the last time anyone's seen Hockstader at a political event - debate, JJ dinner, whatever - here in Virginia? Personally, I've covered hundreds of events over the years (not to mention meeting with dozens of candidates and elected officials for interviews and informal discussions), and the last time I saw Hockstader was at a Webb rally in Arlington back in 2006 (again, he endorsed Miller in that election, so he clearly wasn't impressed with Webb's grassroots appeal or message). Also, I've heard over the years that the endorsement process for the Post isn't exactly the most thorough or rigorous, but is basically more of "we know who we want to endorse, why spend the effort finding out about the other candidates?"
Finally, as I wrote last October, I'd just add that I have trouble understanding why Virginia Democrats - particularly challengers - like to tout the "Washington Post endorsement." For starters, it's really just one guy (Lee Hockstader) who spends minimal (if any) time or energy covering Virginia politics. Also, there's not much evidence, other than perhaps the Creigh Deeds endorsement in 2009, that the Post has any "juice" in Virginia elections at this point. Regardless, it's likely that Lee Hockstader (er, the Post) will make an endorsement in the 8th CD Democratic primary soon enough...one thing's for sure: if Hockstader et al believe (for whatever reason, correctly or incorrectly) that the person is too "progressive," "liberal," or any other synonym for those you can think of for those deadly (in the Post's center-right worldview) adjectives, it would be a massive shock if Hockstader/the Post endorsed them.
Now, a year later, it's that time of year again, and I'm personally bracing myself to see who (corrupt conservadem) Dick Saslaw et al. instruct Hockstader to endorse this time around. For instance, in the Democratic primary for State Senate in the 29th district (to replace longtime incumbent Chuck Colgan, who is retiring), I'd be STUNNED if Hockstader endorsed anyone but the handpicked candidate of Saslaw and Company -- Jeremy McPike. Which is Hockstader's right to do, of course, but everyone needs to understand a few things about said endorsement: 1) it won't be based on Hockstader having done any serious, sit-down, or at-length interviews with the candidates; 2) it won't be based on Hockstader attending any events - JJ dinners, debates, campaign kickoffs, whatever - in that district (or any other district, for that matter); 3) it won't be based on a careful analysis as to which candidate would be most electable in November; and 4) it won't have anything to do with the candidates' positions on the issues. With regard to point #1, I hear that Hockstader calls around, asks a couple of perfunctory questions, and basically calls it a day. Box having been checked, Lee's work is done; expect the endorsement of whoever Dick Saslaw tells him to endorse (in the case of the 29th, almost certainly Jeremy McPike) any time now. Just don't put any stock in the endorsement whatsoever, particularly given the Post's disdain for progressives, liberals, grassroots activists, or anyone who might buck the powers that be.
P.S. A classic Lee Hockstader move: in 2005, he endorsed Libby Garvey (or Jim Lay) over David Englin for House of Delegates (Englin won), but six years later, he said "The third candidate, Arlington School Board member Libby T. Garvey, is less ready for prime time in Richmond" (so, six years more experience made Garvey LESS ready for prime time in Richmond? ahhhh).
UPDATE Saturday morning: Hockstader has put up his endorsements for Alexandria Mayor, Arlington County Board, and the Mt. Vernon and Mason District Supervisors races. Whether you agree or disagree with these (personally, I am fine with Bill Euille being reelected, given his two opponents really not offering any serious alternative; I've also endorsed Peter Fallon), none - with the possible exception of political newcomer Katie Cristol - are in the last bit surprising. More to the point, has anyone seen Lee Hockstader at any of the Alexandria Mayoral debates, Arlington County Board debates, or Mt. Vernon Magisterial District debates? Uhhhh.
"Congress is now debating fast track legislation that will pave the way for the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) unfettered free trade agreement. At a time when our middle class is disappearing and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider, this anti-worker legislation must be defeated. Here are four reasons why."
I think Sanders has chosen wisely in making himself the champion of the anti-Trade Pact sentiment in the Democratic Party, and beyond that in the country more broadly. This is a fine battlefield for him to fight his fight, which is our fight as well: for the TPP appears to be one more place where the Big Money Power is working its will at the expense of the people.
This "trade" agreement seems to be less about bringing down trade barriers than about shifting power away from governments and onto the corporate system. From various reliable witnesses, it seems that TPP would allow corporations to by-pass the court system and to have a system largely of its own creation adjudicate matters that rightly should be decided by the judicial component of our American democracy.
The TPP would give corporations new ways of fighting against efforts by governments to protect the greater good against the "unfettered" global corporate system. Corporations would be able to enforce, as their "right," being compensated for whatever they might lose by being regulated in the public interest.
The TPP appears to be one more way Big Money is attempting to control government rather than be limited by government's efforts to take into account to take to the needs and rights of the American people.
From what is known about the agreement, for the majority of the American people this agreement takes away far more than it gives.
The TPP appears to be another step in the ongoing hostile corporate takeover of our nation and its destiny.
Thanks to Josh Israel for the following, excellent report from last night's Fairfax County Public School Board meeting.
While there were likely 100+ opponents of LGBT equality at last night's Fairfax County School Board meeting, led by Andrea Lafferty of the SPLC-designated hate group the Traditional Values Coalition and far-right former Fairfax School Board Member Mychele Brickner (R), wearing "Respect Parental Choice" stickers, this meeting was significantly calmer than the one a couple of weeks ago. Many of the opponents seemed confused about the fact that, under the proposed curriculum changes, parents will still be able to opt-out their kids from the portions of Family Life Education and that the topics being moved from the Family Life Education curriculum to the health curriculum are topics unrelated to sexual orientation and gender identity.
There were about 25 of us supporters of equality there to show our support and Robert Rigby Jr., Alexandra Dixon, Metro DC PFLAG dad Phil Hicks, and (via video) a current out FCPS high school student each gave eloquently and heartfelt testimony about why this curriculum is a matter of life and death for LGBT and questioning kids.
Here's video of last night's Arlington County Board Democratic debate (candidates attending were Peter Fallon, Christian Dorsey, Bruce Wiljanen, Katie Cristol and Andrew Schneider; James Lander was at a School Board meeting so did not participate in the debate). We'll start with the candidates criticizing the County Board for its decision to sell the historic Reeves farmhouse property. See the comments section for more video, including a question on widening I-66 inside the Beltway (all candidates said that was a very bad idea); one on the qualities the County Manager should have (basically, perfect in every way - lol), another on County Board transparency (yes!), opening and closing statements. Worth noting: Andrew Schneider was endorsed by 2014 Demoratic County Board nominee Alan Howze. Schneider also made a very strong statement about why he's a liberal Democrat, and why "I don't think you can be an elected Democratic leader and not support our party and our nominees." I strongly agree with Schneider, simply would change the word "can be" to "should not be."
P.S. I asked Christian Dorsey after the debate what he thought about the Arlington County Board resolution urging the Washington NFL team to change its (racist) name. Dorsey said he thought that passing resolutions was a break in precedent for the Board, and that if they're doing to do that, it should be on something urgent/pressing. I asked him how he would have voted: yes, no, or abstain, and he basically didn't like any of the options, said he might have been "not present" or something like that. I'd be interested in what other County Board candidates think on the question of: a) whether the Arlington County Board should be in the business of passing resolutions; and b) what they think of this specific resolution and how they would have voted.
UPDATE: Andrew Schneider says he "didn't support the resolution - even if I have personal qualms about the name...I would have voted with John [Vihstadt] and Libby [Garvey] and abstained."
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, May 22. Also, check out the video by Catherine Read from last night's Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) meeting. Here's her description: "Phil Hicks of Metro DC PFLAG. A graduate of FCPS public schools and the father of two gay sons who also went through the Fairfax County Public Schools. This is the reality of the times we live in."
Virginia Del. Joseph Preston is running an almost certainly losing campaign against incumbent State Senator Rosalyn Dance in the Democratic primary for the 16th State Senate District. Preston recently filled out a questionnaire from the Virginia Christian Alliance, and as you can see below and on the "flip," hilarity (presumably unintended) soon ensued. Believe it or not, Preston answered "undecided" to a slew of questions, including ones on important/hot-button issues like whether or not to support a "personhood" amendment (that would, effectively, ban abortion, as well as many forms of contraception, embryonic stem cell research, etc.), what he thinks about "physician-assisted suicide," "Common Core" educational standards, and a constitutional amendment requiring a 2/3 majority to impose new or increased taxes/fees. I mean, how on earth can you be running for State Senate and be undecided on these important matters? The hell? I mean, I've never been a huge Rosalyn Dance fan, but this guy's clearly not a serious challenger...
A few weeks ago, Terry McAuliffe was actually arguing that he has no leadership role to play on whether "the state of Virginia and its retirement fund and other relevant funds should divest from fossil fuel companies." McAuliffe's pathetically weak answer:
No! I think they have to make the decision what is in the best interest of whatever they're making their investments; they have a fiduciary duty to make those investments. And clearly as governor I am not going to sit here and tell the people who manage these funds what to do -- not my role. And I clearly understand my role...Jeff, it is not my job to come in and tell our businesses what to do. I am a fiscally conservative, pro-business Democrat; I am socially very progressive...
As I said at the time, that was wrong on almost any level you consider it, not to mention a pathetic abdication of leadership. Now, the largest (by far) state Democratic Party has shown what its state's governor has shown -- real leadership on the most important issue facing humanity, that being climate change. Check this out.
At the California Democratic Party convention this weekend, state party officials voted to adopt an official resolution endorsing fossil fuel divestment.Citing the growing threat posed by climate change, the resolution urges the state's public universities and pension funds to divest their financial holdings from the top 200 fossil fuel companies as part of a comprehensive solution to the climate crisis. The resolution marks the first endorsement for fossil fuel divestment from a state political party, and adds major momentum to the legislative push for S.B. 185, a coal divestment bill. The news also builds pressure on statewide institutions like the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the University of California endowment, who have long faced calls for divestment.
The adopted resolution reads, in part: "[t]he California Democratic Party calls upon the University of California and California State University endowments, the University of California Retirement Plan, and the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) institutional pension funds, to immediately stop new investments in fossil fuel companies, to take steps, without risking any financial loss to its members, to divest all holdings from the top 200 fossil fuel companies as determined by the Carbon Underground list within five years, and to release periodic updates to the public, detailing progress made toward full divestment."
Exactly, the California Democratic Party nails it, as did Gov. Jerry Brown in his powerful "State of the State" address back in January. Now, what about the Democratic Party of Virginia? Gov. McAuliffe? Lt. Governor Northam? Attorney General Herring? Other leaders in our state? When are they going to call for divestment by state pension funds, colleges and universities, etc. from planet-killing fossil fuels? The crisis is urgent, action is required immediately, so what on earth (other than fear of the fossil fuel companies, fossil-fuel-allied utilities, etc.) is stopping them?
P.S. No reason for local parties to wait for DPVA; I also call on Dem committees in Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Prince William, Stafford, Henrico, Loudoun, Virginia Beach, Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Charlottesville, etc, etc. to pass divestment resolutions.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, May 21. And of course, farewell to David Letterman, who I never stay up late enough to watch live, but snippets of whom I get to watch on YouTube. :)
Some thoughts about the press release that my wife, April Moore, put out earlier this week. In it, she challenged her opponent - Virginia State Senator (and apparent would-be-Virginia's Scott Walker), Mark Obenshain - to condemn the suit threatened by corporate powerhouse ALEC against the League of Conservation Voters.
ALEC's attempt to intimidate the LCV represents should be understood as part of the larger picture of how the Big Money Power is subverting American democracy.
This particular abuse of money power is not directly connected with the electoral process. Rather it is an attempt of Big Money to strangle the public discourse on which a healthy democracy depends, the flow of information and ideas that helps the American people give informed consent to their government.
Bringing such a suit - or even just threatening it - represents a serious abuse of the legal system to silence those people who are doing for the nation precisely what our founders had in mind when they constructed the American system of liberty: telling the public the truth about what's going on.
This kind of abuse of the legal system has a name: SLAPP, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.
Although America's founders set up the court system as a means for achieving justice, in suits like this, that purpose is turned on its head. "Justice for all" is what is implied by the blindfold that Lady Justice wears. When Justice weighs the facts and the law in its scales, it is blind to who is powerful and who is weak. Thus the Courts are supposed to be the one place - besides also the ballot box - where the weak have equal standing.
I strongly support Atif Qarni for this nomination (the primary is on June 9; don't forget to vote!), but I honestly think that all three candidates did fine in this debate. The main differences between the candidates, I'd say, are on: 1) electability (I'd argue that the teacher and former U.S. Marine - Atif Qarni - who lives in Manassas would be the best Democratic candidate/best bio of these three to take on Republican Hal Parrish in the general election); and 2) their main areas of emphasis (Qarni's is clearly education and on putting a teacher in the State Senate). Finally, great job by Potomac Local in hosting this debate and making the video available for all of us to watch - thanks!
P.S. I'd add that on ethics reform, Atif Qarni had the strongest answer (no gifts whatsoever for members of the General Assembly), Jeremy McPike second (the problem being his own ethics "issues" that Hal Parrish and the Republicans will certainly remind voters about if McPike is the nominee), and Michael Futrell third (not even sure he answered the question the first shot at it).
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, May 20. Also, check out the video of this past weekend's debate for the Democratic nomination in the Mt. Vernon (Fairfax) Magisterial District Supervisor's race. The candidates are Jack Dobbyn, Tim Sargeant, Dan Storck and Candice Bennett.
I knew the Republicans would make a strong effort to unseat State Sen. John Edwards of Roanoke this year, mainly because he and Del. Sam Rasoul are the only Democrats remaining in the General Assembly from southwest Virginia. That part of the state is so Republican now that Edwards' seat, in a district that still leans Democratic, was one of their best shots at unseating a Democratic incumbent. However, the greatest threat to Edwards now is coming from a completely unexpected source, Don Caldwell, commonwealth's attorney for Roanoke City. Don has always run as a Democrat and even chaired the city Democratic committee until a few years ago. Now, he has filed papers to run in November as an independent against Edwards and his Republican opponent, Nancy Dye.
Dye is well-funded and is certain to welcome Caldwell's entry into the race if he does go through with his plans to run. As Carter Turner, chair of the Roanoke County Democratic Committee said recently in the Roanoke Times, "I think John's got his hands full even if Don doesn't run. Dye's got literally some of the best people in the industry doing stuff for her. I think she's formidable."
All I can figure is that Caldwell, who has been commonwealth's attorney for more than 30 years as a Democratic office holder, was hoping that John Edwards would retire this year. When Edwards didn't, Caldwell decided to morph into an independent. He's bidding to become the spoiler in a three-way race, someone who is willing to turn his back on the party that supported him all those years.
Caldwell's justification to the Roanoke Times was that he wanted to "get away from the dogma of both parties and get back to serving the reasonable people on both sides." He didn't elaborate on exactly what Democratic "dogma" has driven him to become an independent after decades of being quite happy to run on that same dogma as a Democrat in a city that is a Democratic stronghold. Since about 40% of the district is the city of Roanoke, Caldwell could simply think he can somehow corral 33% plus 1 and win. The probable outcome of his independent candidacy, however, is that he might peel off just enough votes from Edwards to throw the election to Dye.
Rep. Gerry Connolly nails it. The bottom line: we need to be massively REforesting, not burning forest for fuel!
May 19, 2015
The Honorable Gina McCarthy
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W
Washington, D.C. 20460
Dear Administrator McCarthy,
Thank you for your leadership and continued efforts to finalize the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan. As a strong supporter of this plan, I believe you have laid forth a forward-thinking, flexible, and attainable approach to reducing our nation's carbon footprint. I appreciate your willingness throughout this process to consider public feedback on the draft plan and trust the final plan you develop will establish our country as a global leader on climate change.
I write to share my concern with the EPA's draft proposal to treat waste-derived feedstocks and non-waste biogenic feedstocks derived from sustainable forest or agricultural practices as having zero emissions. As you know, following EPA Assistant Administrator McCabe's November 2014 memorandum, there has been considerable debate regarding this decision, including questions surrounding the science behind it, and the perception that this decision will result in the unsustainable promotion of forest harvesting for energy production.
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!