Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, August 24. Oh, and click to "embiggen" that image to see what Ed Gillespie's extreme views against gun safety legislation are...
There are a variety of indications in recent days that the Obama administration is gearing up to mount a war of sorts against ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). Here's one more indication that, so far as I know, has not elsewhere been interpreted in this way.
Ben Rhodes, the White House's Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications & Speechwriting, said that journalist James Foley's execution at the hands of the Islamic State, the militant group formerly known as ISIS, constituted a terrorist attack.
The spokesman goes on to make a reasonably plausible case for regarding that killing as "a terrorist attack" against the United States. Rhodes notes that ISIS committed this "brutal execution" explicitly because Foley was an American, and declared that this constitutes "an attack on our country, when one of our own is killed like that."
While it is not unreasonable, then, to regard it as a terrorist attack, the important point to note is that this spokesman of the administration has gone out of his way to make that case.
The only explanation I can think of representing the murder of one journalist in this expansive way is that he is making the case -- to the American public, and to Congress -- for regarding this killing as a provocation to which the suitable response is to revive the "war on terror," at least to a degree and with suitable authorization, with ISIS as the enemy.
Cross-posted from Scaling Green; Blue Virginia readers should particularly focus on how pathetically far behind Virginia is when it comes to energy efficiency improvements. For that, we can thank our old pals at Dominion "Global Warming Starts Here" Power, which continues to resist any serious attempts at cleaning up its dirty act. #FAIL as usual for those guys, as well as for the General Assembly that lets them pollute at will.
The release in late May of EPA's draft rules on carbon pollution at existing power plants gave individual states a tremendous amount of flexibility in how they meet the proposed targets. For instance, a state rich in potential solar power resources might choose to focus on increasing the percentage of its electricity generated from the sun. Same thing with wind power. And, of course, all states can use energy efficiency gains as a key part of their plans. As the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions explains:
Through energy efficiency programs, states can drive down their total consumption, including consumption of electricity generated by fossil fuels. This in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions, bringing states closer to their emission rate target. EPA projects that each state is capable of eventually reducing electricity demand by 1.5 percent each year, in line with the rate leading states have achieved. States are projected to meet this figure in varying years, taking into account how advanced each state was in 2012. This 1.5 percent projection is incremental, meaning EPA expects an additional 1.5 percent savings each year, for a much larger cumulative savings by 2030. Projections for states that currently reduce demand by less than 1.5 percent per year are designed in a way that allow a ramp-up period before reaching this level, but EPA has determined that all states have the capacity to meet this projection by 2025 at the latest. Note that under the proposal, states are not obligated to meet EPA's efficiency projections in demonstrating compliance; provided the ultimate target emission rate is met, states could use any combination of measures they see fit.
The map above shows each state's 2012 incremental efficiency savings as a percentage of the 1.5 percent projection. States colored with a darker shade of blue are closer to meeting this projection. Two states, Arizona and Maine, reported savings above 1.5 percent in 2012.
As we know, energy efficiency is generally considered to be the biggest "bang for the buck" when it comes to reducing energy consumption and carbon pollution, which means that this EPA goal makes a great deal of sense. Yet, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, only 21 states have mandatory Energy Efficiency Resource Standards, while 17 states have no energy efficiency standards at all. That's unfortunate, particularly given that Rocky Mountain Institute Chairman and Chief Scientist Amory Lovins has found that"adopting efficiency technologies aggressively yet cost-effectively, yield[s] at least a 12% annual real rate of return." As states formulate their plans aimed at meeting their EPA CO2 pollution reduction goals, it seems like pushing ahead on energy efficiency improvements should constitute an easy, "no brainer" option.
Fascinating interview with Jim Webb by Iowa Press (yes, Webb's in Iowa...hmmm) a bit earlier today; here are a few key quotes:
*Asked if he's running for President in 2016, Webb says we're in a "transitional period in the country," that we "need to have a strong debate inside the Democratic Party and between the two parties" about where we need to go, and that "I'm curious about the political future of the Democratic Party and of our country."
*Asked how he feels about Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, Webb says "I think there's time to have that discussion later." When pressed by a reporter, "Why not now?", Webb responds, "It would probably take up the whole show."
*Webb reiterates his three themes from 2006, emphasizes "economic fairness and social justice" and how "the stock market has almost tripled since March 2009" but "real income for workers actually has decreased in the same period." Webb says things are not going well for working people in this country, and the "solution for that is only going to come from the Democratic Party."
*Webb says he doesn't believe the phrase "don't do stupid stuff" is a fair characterization of the Obama Administration foreign policy, that "it's a very complicated world right now," that the "pivot" to Asia for instance was "healthy" and "good." Webb also praises the Obama Administration for the "careful way" it's approached the Ukraine situation.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, August 23. Also see President Obama's weekly address, in which he emphasizes the importance of increasing U.S. exports, including by supporting the U.S. Export-Import Bank. He's right. Congress needs to do its job and reauthorize/fund the Bank.
So, let's get this straight. According to conservative Republican Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell, Virginia's fiscal problems are the result of repeated tax cuts. Seriously, check out his Facebook post below, which claims that Virginia's $2.4 billion revenue shortfall is the result of: a) "Obama's tax policies" (e.g., extending most of the Bush tax cuts, repeatedly CUTTING taxes for the overwhelming majority of Americans (even right-leaning PolitiFact says that Obama has "pursued broad-based tax cuts for the middle class and small businesses"); and b) "declining federal spending" (which is party overwhelmingly supports).
Meanwhile, Howell refuses to take around $3.5-$4.5 million a DAY in federal funding that comes with expanding Medicaid in Virginia. He also supported cutting Virginia's estate tax, which has cost us around $140 million a year for the past 8 years or so, for a loss to the budget (in order to benefit a few hundred super-rich families) of around $1 billion (and counting).
Instead, you know what Howell means by his Orwellian Newspeak garbage about "setting priorities and making tough decisions": slashing funding for those who need it most, for education, for transportation, for environmental protection, you name it, all while continuing to coddle wealthy and powerful Virginia individuals and (of course) the corporations that have bought and paid for Howell et al's loyal service.
Message to Gov. McAuliffe: GET YOUR VETO PEN READY! (actually, get a few dozen of them, because you are going to have to use them a lot in 2015, 2016 and 2017).
P.S. Of course, it always makes me smile to see a supposed conservative Republican repudiate his party's "supply side" (aka "voodoo economics") mantra that tax cuts don't lead to deficits (because they supposedly stimulate SO much economic activity that it more than makes up from the lost revenues due to lower rates). I wonder if Howell even realizes he just did that.
While accurate, "appalling" barely scratches the surface of this cess pit of deceit and embarrassment when it comes to former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.
The Gov. Rolex "failed marriage made me do it" defense goes beyond the pale. He clearly believes that the voters, or in this case the jurors, are morons. He has such a galactic sense of entitlement, he apparently believes that any fraud committed, any lie told, and any action taken to protect himself - no matter who else gets hurt - in pursuit of his Regent's thesis is not just forgivable, but permissible.
This is an embarrassment to the state of Virginia, made far worse by the fact that we have effectively been forced to contract out law enforcement to the federal government. So much for the "Virginia Way."
The former governor is a convincing, compelling, and accomplished golden-tongued, bald-faced liar. I campaigned for Creigh Deeds, who could not make a dent against what spewed so glibly, and so dishonestly, from this liar's mouth. McDonnell claimed, when his Regent's thesis was unearthed, that it represented no more than boyish musings.
Bob McDonnell's thesis was no such thing: in fact, it was written in 1989, when McDonnell was 35, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. I am unable to say what his final Military Occupational Specialty was. He started out as a clerk. He proceeded, as soon as he was elected, to impose those beliefs on the rest of us. So much for boyish musings, truth or integrity as well.
We already know that Bob McDonnell is a serial liar. It remains to be seen whether that was then, now, or all the time. Like the people he resembles, the C Street brotherhood, Gov. Rolex seems to believe that he can commit no sin, and do nothing unforgivable, in the pursuit of his right-wing religious agenda.
He is now campaigning in front of a jury of voters in Richmond, and based on past performance, obviously believes he can lie his way out of this one as well. It remains to be seen whether he will succeed.
Just what, exactly, will Maureen McD's defense be?She pleaded not guilty, so she must have one. Based on what I've read so far, which doesn't come close total transcript, I would be inclined to acquit Mrs. McD of everything, should she have the good sense to change her plea to "not guilty by reason of insanity." Except that being a spurned wife ruse doesn't rise to that level, even though Gov. Rolex's $600-an-hour legal team is trying to suggest it. And even if true and admissible, the "she's nuts" defense applies only to her.
It does nothing to explain the lies on the loan forms (mail fraud); the no-paper, no-payback "loans" (which benefitted Bob McDonnell, his sister and ex-brother-in-law); accepting all the loans from Jonnie Williams (Hobbs Act violation); the joint vacations; golf fees, games, proceeds, and club apparel, beverages and food, the latter of which benefitted him and his sons exclusively; or the wedding, dress, wedding rings, and reception, which benefitted him indirectly and likely will figure, and the exposure in the likely
coming, and tawdry, divorce proceedings.
Bob McDonnell doesn't care how many lives he ruins, as long as he stays out of jail. He ought to be ashamed that he isn't even ashamed.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, August 22. Also, check out ABC's coverage of the bizarre story of the woman who stalked and assaulted Virginia House Democratic leader David Toscano's wife. There's a lot of strange stuff here, including why the stalker's attorney didn't ask for bond for his client. As the ABC News reporter says, "you can't help but think there's a lot more going on with this." Not sure exactly what that "lot more" would be, though (although there are lots of rumors flying around, even including potential ramifications for House Democratic leadership)...stay tuned.
With the loss, as most of us (at least those of us not named "Dick Saslaw") had fully expected, of former Sen. Phil Puckett's seat in the special election Tuesday, Democrats are now left in a 21-18 hole (should be 21-19 after former Sen. Henry Marsh's seat is filled in November). I've been trying to figure out what our chances are for picking up a seat or two next year and retaking control of the Senate. I put together the following graph (click to "embiggen"), which lists all 40 seats by descending order of Mark Herring's percentage in the 2013 Attorney General election. The reason I went with Herring and not McAuliffe or Northam is that McAuliffe was in a three-way race, so that messes up the percentages; and of course Northam's percentage was artificially inflated (upwards) by the presence of bat****-crazy, theocratic bigot E.W. Jackson on the Republican side in the LG race. Anyway, check out the graph, followed by a few thoughts by yours truly.
First off, notice that most Republican Senators should be safe for 2015, as all of them except for Sen. John Watkins are in districts won by Mark Obenshain in 2013. In Watkins' case, it's a theoretically competitive district, but Watkins is an incumbent and will presumably be tough to beat. As for Jackson-level-crazy Dick Black, he's in a district that Mark Herring almost won, so that's one we should definitely target. We might want to take shots at Bryce Reeves and Frank Wagner as well, although those will be tough.
Of course, to do any of these things we're going to need big-time financial resources, which means that Gov. McAuliffe will have to kick into all-out fundraising mode shortly. Is he up for that? Based on what I've been hearing, the answer is "not particularly," but hopefully that will change, especially when the reality hits home that without Democratic control of either the Senate or House of Delegates, it will be extremely difficult for Gov. McAuliffe to accomplish anything major the rest of his term (at least anything major that requires the General Assembly's cooperation).
Another possibility is that there are strong Tea Party challenges to incumbent Republican Senators like John Watkins, who sponsored the "Marketplace Virginia" Medicaid expansion compromise (the two other Republican Senators who supported "Marketplace Virginia" were Walter Stosch and Emmett Hanger, but those districts are very "red"). If Republicans are stupid enough to nominate a Tea Partier over Watkins, we should most definitely have a chance of picking up Watkins' district (the 10th).
Of course, Democrats will also have to defend all of OUR vulnerable seats, including potentially the 29th (Chuck Colgan will be retiring) and the 6th (a 53% Herring district, won by Lynwood Lewis in a 1/7/14 special election by just 11 votes), and possibly others depending on retirements, Republican recruitment, etc.
Bottom line: YES, it's possible we can take back the State Senate next year, but it won't be easy, especially given that 2015 will mark the lowest voter turnout of the four-year cycle in Virginia, and the one in which Democratic turnout will probably be at its rock bottom both in absolute and relative terms.
(Given Tuesday's debacle by Dick Saslaw and Company, I thought this piece by Peter Rousselot from 2011 was worth rerunning, as it's still (sadly) applicable. Also see this March 2011 post by NLS, which correctly predicted: " I don't think Democrats can hold the Senate under these lines this November, and this alignment of precincts has absolutely zero chance of holding for the entire 10 year cycle (2011, 2015, 2019) it was drawn for." - promoted by lowkell)
Six keys to a devastating defeat Introduction On November 8, 2011, Virginia Democrats lost control of the Virginia State Senate. Their numbers will drop from 22 to 20 (out of 40), allowing Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling to cast the deciding vote in the case of ties. Moreover, Virginia Democrats lost a lot more ground in the Virginia House of Delegates (HOD), where their numbers will drop from 39 to no more than 33, and perhaps to as few as 30 (out of 100). This means that HOD Republicans will have a majority of 2/3rds or more.
These losses cannot be explained away as the result of "unique local circumstances", election cycles, the Tea Party, the "Republican money machine", or President Obama's current poll numbers. To the contrary, these losses were caused by a series of very avoidable strategic mistakes that certain Virginia Democratic leaders made.
One year ago, because of my concerns about the defeats Virginia Democrats suffered in 2010 and 2009, I ran for Chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA). I am not interested in running again for that job, but I am much more concerned about the state of the Democratic Party in Virginia today than I was one year ago. In order to help us get to where we need to be, I present this analysis of what has gone wrong and what should be done to fix it.
The biggest strategic mistakes Virginia Democratic leaders made in 2011 were their adoption of a flawed, hyper-partisan Senate redistricting plan combined with very poor candidate recruitment for both the Senate and HOD.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, August 21. Also, click on that image and tell Gov. McAuliffe: "Virginia should be a leader in curbing climate change. Now is the time to take bold action. "
(This is an example of corporate overreach that has the ire of all Virginians of any political bent. - promoted by Dan Sullivan)
In May, property owners along a 550-mile route, beginning near Clarksburg, WV and traversing Virginia to Lumberton, NC, received letters from Dominion Transmission stating their properties would be "studied" for a 42" natural gas pipeline. In Nelson & Augusta Counties, the 400' corridor affects 225 Nelson and 201 Augusta landowners.
The letter was part of a formal request required under VA Code Section 56-49.01 in support of Dominion's Southeast Reliability Project. Dominion Transmission "asked" landowners to sign and return the letter which would allow Dominion to enter their properties for these studies. Only 24% of Nelson landowners receiving these letters signed and returned the letter to Dominion. Like that matters.
Nelsonians believed they had the right, as property owners, to refuse access. However, Nelsonians quickly learned that VA Code Section 56-49.01, passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2004, essentially gives away the property rights of every Virginian to any natural gas company. The section reads:
§ 56-49.01. Natural gas companies; right of entry upon property.
A. Any firm, corporation, company, or partnership, organized for the bona fide purpose of operating as a natural gas company as defined in 15 U.S.C. § 717a, as amended, may make such examinations, tests, hand auger borings, appraisals, and surveys for its proposed line or location of its works as are necessary (i) to satisfy any regulatory requirements and (ii) for the selection of the most advantageous location or route, the improvement or straightening of its line or works, changes of location or construction, or providing additional facilities, and for such purposes, by its duly authorized officers, agents, or employees, may enter upon any property without the written permission of its owner if (a) the natural gas company has requested the owner's permission to inspect the property as provided in subsection B, (b) the owner's written permission is not received prior to the date entry is proposed, and (c) the natural gas company has given the owner notice of intent to enter as provided in subsection C. A natural gas company may use motor vehicles, self-propelled machinery, and power equipment on property only after receiving the permission of the landowner or his agent.
B. A request for permission to inspect shall (i) be sent to the owner by certified mail, (ii) set forth the date such inspection is proposed to be made, and (iii) be made not less than 15 days prior to the date of the proposed inspection.
C. Notice of intent to enter shall (i) be sent to the owner by certified mail, (ii) set forth the date of the intended entry, and (iii) be made not less than 15 days prior to the date of mailing of the notice of intent to enter.
D. Any entry authorized by this section shall not be deemed a trespass. The natural gas company shall make reimbursement for any actual damages resulting from such entry. Nothing in this section shall impair or limit any right of a natural gas company obtained by (i) the power of eminent domain, (ii) any easement granted by the landowner or his predecessor in title, or (iii) any right-of-way agreement, lease or other agreement by and between a natural gas company and a landowner or their predecessors in title or interest.
I continue to be baffled by those (mostly "conservatives") who keep wagging their fingers and warning us against any kind of "rush to judgement." What about a rush to shoot?
Your government rushed to use chemical agents, rubber bullets, and technology designed for waging war on foreign enemies- all against peaceful citizen protestors. Tear gas and bullets were not used during the looting, but against peaceful protestors in their own neighborhood.
You go on and on about an oppressive big government violating your freedoms- but when armed agents of the state violate the freedoms of poor black people, you wag your finger and tell us not to "rush to judgement."
You look the other way when it happens in a poor black neighborhood because you're thinking to yourself well, that's a dangerous place full of thugs so they probably deserve it, those people have to know their place.
Here's the point: those are RIGHTS that are being violated, rights that are no less sacred when held by poor people or held by men and women of color.
You allow armed agents of state power to form a domestic army that violates the rights of human beings in an impoverished neighborhood, then I can absolutely and without qualification promise that they're coming to your neighborhood next. It's not a matter of if, but when.
Today it's the parking lot of a convenience store on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri. Tomorrow it's the parking lot of a grocery store at Barracks Road Shopping Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Here are a few winners and losers from the 2014 Virginia primary election cycle that I believe are worth highlighting. As always, this list isn't meant to be comprehensive - just a few that jumped out at me - so please add winners and losers of your own in the comments section. Thanks.
WINNERS 1. Fairfax County and Arlington County Democratic Committees: Great job by these two committees on the 48th House of Delegates race all around -- including having just 6 days to organize a well-run caucus, with Instant Runoff Voting no less and a debate, followed by a strong general election campaign in the "dog days" of August, when many people are at the beach or getting ready to send their kids back to school. Nice job by everyone involved, including of course ACDC Chair Kip Malinosky, FCDC Chair Sue Langley and Dranesville District Democratic Committee Chair Greg Brandon.
2. Rip Sullivan's campaign team: Or should I say Patrick Hope's former campaign team (in his run for the 8th CD Democratic nomination this past spring, in which he finished second to overwhelming favorite Don Beyer)? Great job by campaign manager Jarrod Nagurka, widely touted as a rising star of Democratic politics; finance director Kate Peterson; and the rest of the team (e.g., the field director, Tucker Cavanagh, whose previous experience was in Maryland, but who learned the Virginia 48th district quickly). Also, I've been critical of the Chadderdon Group's work in the past, but their direct mail program for Rip Sullivan appears to have been effective in this race.
3. House Democratic Caucus: Holding two seats in deep-blue districts shouldn't be particular cause for celebration, but given the weird timing and the nature of special elections, Republicans thought they might have a shot at the
48th. So much for that theory. The House Democratic Caucus leadership - Dave Toscano in particular - has to be smiling right now.
4. Columbia Pike streetcar: Republican candidate Dave Foster basically ran on one issue, his rabid opposition to the Columbia Pike streetcar, and it didn't appear to gain any traction at all. Perhaps this will continue to be a big issue at the County Board level, but based on this election, it appears that passions may have cooled somewhat, that factual information has finally started to get out and counter the reams of misinformation and disinformation spewed out there by streetcar opponents, and that the county's doing a better job of explaining the myriad benefits of this project to Arlington (e.g., the return on investment will far more than pay for the project, providing increased money for schools and other "core services").
5. Arlington Democratic County Board nominee Alan Howze: Item #4 bodes well for Alan Howze this November. It may be that the call for a referendum on the streetcar, while in my view really stupid policywise, has been smart politics in terms of defusing the issue. We'll see in November, but Alan Howze must be feeling a bit better this morning (come to think of it, maybe add Arlington County Board members Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes, both of whom will be on the ballot next year and both of whom support the streetcar, to this list?)
6. Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment: Yep, Tommy Norment will now be Senate Majority leader, potentially for a long while. It's awful for Virginia, of course, but it doesn't change the fact that Norment was a big winner last night.
7. The Democrats' urban/suburban/exurban strategy: While Democrats continue to flounder in rural Virginia, for whatever reason(s) - and after the loss of the 38th Senate District last night, we're just about a pure urban/suburban/exurban party at this point - the strategy of Democrats focusing on where the population is growing, the NOVA-Richmond-Hampton Roads "triangle - seems to be more applicable than ever. Given that there are something like 17 or 18 House of Delegates districts won by Obama and/or Kaine, but currently held by Republicans, and that these are overwhelmingly in suburban/exurban areas, how about we focus on getting our voters out THERE in 2015 and beyond, and stop wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to win districts that, at this point, are simply unwinnable? On the positive side, the path back to a majority in the House of Delegates runs through districts like Barbara Comstock's, Tom Rust's, Dave Albo's, Scott Lingamfelter's, Tag Greason's, David Yancey's, David Ramadan's, Bob Marshall's, Rich Anderson's, Jackson Miller's, and other suburban/exurban districts. Let's get to work on those and stop screwing around with Romney/Cuccinelli districts.
8. VPAP: Great job last night reporting election results in a timely and highly informative (maps included) way. As far as I can determine, VPAP is the best site in the country for election results, hands down. The only glitch, and it probably wasn't VPAP's fault, was misreporting from the Kirby precinct in Fairfax County, which apparently flipped its numbers between Dave Foster (who actually lost that precinct, along with every other precinct), and Rip Sullivan (who won every precinct).
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