I feel like I've been having a similar discussion, over and over again, the past few months, about the Virginia 2015 elections, and specifically what it will take for Democrats to make gains in a low, low, LOW-turnout year. For instance, the other day I was "Gchatting" with one of the smartest Virginia Democratic political observers (SVDPO) I know, and we were discussing this very subject. Here's a rough transcript of the conversation, which started off with us ripping Dick Saslaw for being (as my smart Dem political friend put it), "both an embarrassment and very ineffective."
Me: Saslaw's utterly ineffective as a strategist and tactician...wasted $1 million trying to hold Phil Puckett's seat in a 2:1 Republican district. Poor judgment after poor judgment.
SVDPO: Yes, he is completely ineffective at strategy at this point. That's because he's still living in the past, when there was a "Virginia Way" and Democrats were powerful so Republicans were their friends. Once they took power, theyve been kicking Dems like him who used to be their allies to the curb. It's a whole new ball game in Richmond and he hasn't a clue.
Me: Like, they think (conservadem/Independent who wanted to impeach/convict Bill Clinton and mused publicly about not voting to reelect President Obama in 2012) Dan Gecker is the best choice for the John Watkins open seat. That's nuts. Also, they think that they need a white guy to run against Hal Parrish. They tried recruiting two other white guys (David Brickley, who joined the Gilmore administration and effectively threw the House of Delegates to Republican control in 1998, being one of them), finally got Jeremy McPike (apparently anyone but the black guy or brown guy). Just like they said Jaime Areizaga-Soto couldn't win a deep-blue Senate district, which of course was utterly absurd...Jeremy will get trounced by Parrish if he's the nominee. Gecker will lose to Sturtevant. Their "theory of the case" is totally wrong. This is a low-turnout election in which it's all about motivating/firing up the BASE to turn out. Gecker won't do that, nor will McPike. If those two are the nominees, I think it's quite possible we end this election with 16 or 17 Senate seats. John Edwards is in trouble, as is the Colgan seat potentially. We'll see about Lynwood Lewis, hopefully he's ok. Let's also hope Jill McCabe runs a strong campaign against Dick Black.
SVDPO: Hopefully, McCabe will run a strong enough campaign. As for the rest, you are right.
Me: So under Dick's leadership, we've lost the Senate, thrown the House Dems under the bus (because that was supposed to guarantee the Senate, which we lost anyway), and got the worst of all worlds.
This article in today's Forward ("the most influential nationwide Jewish media outlet today") sums up what many of us who strongly support Israel, but who think the right wing is leading it to disaster, have been thinking. A few highlights.
*First, the headline: "What Israel's Chief of Staff Is Worried About - No, It's Not Iran." That's right, Iran isn't even on the list (!) "of the main strategic threats facing Israel in the foreseeable future and its plans to meet them," as seen by Israel's military General Staff and intelligence services.
*Instead, what the Israeli intelligence and military services believe is exactly what President Obama, and most pro-Israel progressives like myself, believe: "the likelihood that the emerging nuclear agreement between Iran and the major powers could minimize the Iranian threat for an extended period, allowing the military to redirect budgets and resources toward areas of more immediate concern."
*What most concerns the Israeli military? Hezbollah and Hamas, of course; also "the growing threat from global jihad movements, led by Al Qaeda and ISIS;" and the growing threat of cyber attacks."
*Now here's the best part for those of us who think that right wingnuts claiming to be pro-Israel are actually a serious menace to Israel's future:
Looming above all the border concerns is a clear but unstated nervousness within the military and the intelligence community over the yawning gap between their professional assessments of Israel's strategic posture and the agenda of the country's elected political leadership. It emerges in the nervous snickers of ranking IDF strategists in response congressional efforts, like the New York lawmakers' bunker-buster proposal, to bolster what the military command considers the fantasy of an Israeli attack on Iran. It emerges, too, in a growing curiosity tinged with alarm among current and retired military commanders over the influence in Washington of American Jewish conservatives who claim to be defending Israeli security but have little grasp of Israeli strategic thinking.
So yeah, I find myself in full agreement with the Israeli military and intelligence services (also with President Obama and most Democrats), and in full disagreement with the likes of Lindsey Graham, John McCain, John Bolton, and many other right wingers here and in Israel. Which would you believe?
A crowd of over 300 gathered at Staunton's Gypsy Hill Park today to honor our fallen, captured, or missing servicemen and servicewomen. The keynote address was delivered by the Commandant of Cadets, Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership, Brigadier General Terry Djuric who also paid tribute the families of the fallen.
"There are lots of reminders that memorial Day is about more than a day of barbeque. Congress officially set Memorial Day as the last day in May to mark the start of our summer season of fun with the day devoted to the memory of those who perished in the fight for our principles of freedom. On this day of remembrance, the members of VFWs across our nation lead the way in honoring those who gave the last full measure of service." - Brigadier General Djuric
General Djuric paid homage to the present families of the fallen, telling the crowd that to the spouses, sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers, every day is Memorial Day.
(These seem like serious and fair questions to me, so I'm promoting the diary... - promoted by lowkell)
On June 9th, Arlington Democrats will nominate two candidates for the County Board seats being vacated by Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada. Though there have been many debates and candidate forums, there still are some unanswered questions about the candidates that I have been hearing through the grapevine. With two weeks left in the campaign, it's important that the candidates have an opportunity to address some of the harder-hitting questions that many Arlington Democrats have been asking behind-the-scenes but that have not come up in debates or forums. Therefore, below I have posed questions to each candidate, and I invite them to respond in the comments section. Questions are posed to the candidates in alphabetical order.
Katie Cristol Many people have questions about your professional background. You work for Education First Consulting, which seems to advocate on behalf of, among other things, charter schools. For example, one of the clients listed is the SEED Foundation, which supports charter schools across the country. Furthermore, many of the high-ranking Education First staff listed on the firm's website come from charter school backgrounds and have either founded or lobbied for charter schools across the United States. What is your position on charter schools, and would you support them as a member of the County Board? Furthermore, over the weekend the Arlington Education Association's PAC endorsed Christian Dorsey and Peter Fallon. This seems odd given the fact that you work as an education consultant. How do you explain the AEA not supporting your candidacy?
Christian Dorsey At two different debates, candidates were asked if they would support Libby Garvey or John Vihstadt for Board Chair. Traditionally the chair rotates among board members, and so it is likely that Garvey, and possibly Vihstadt, will become chair during their tenure. However, a more important question is whether or not you will commit to not supporting John Vihstadt for County Board in 2018. One of your top supporters, Peter Rousselot, was instrumental in John Vihstadt's win last year, and your campaign manager was on Vihstadt's campaign staff. Assuming Libby Garvey wins re-election next year, she will likely again support Vihstadt's re-election. Given the close ties between your top supporters/staff and John Vihstadt's, will you commit now to supporting a Democrat for County Board in 2018?
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Memorial Day 2015. Also, later this morning, President Obama will deliver remarks at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day 2015.
No, I'm still not a fan of Lee Hockstader's, but he certainly got this one right!
State Senate District 29: Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. The Democratic incumbent, Charles J. Colgan, who has held the seat since 1976, is the longest serving state senator in Virginia's history. His retirement after 10 terms touched off a primary race featuring three plausible candidates, each of whom ran for the House of Delegates two years ago.
The strongest of them is Atif M.Qarni, who served eight years in the U.S. Marines, including a tour in Iraq, before becoming a school teacher in Prince William County.
Mr. Qarni, widely admired for his energy, determination and commitment to service, would be the only active teacher in the Senate. He'd also be an effective advocate for schools who could speak to the real-world impact of legislation and policy from the perspective of someone working in one of the most diverse school districts anywhere.
Nailed it; this shouldn't even be a close call.
Also of interest, the Post endorsed Paul Krizek in the 44th House of Delegates district, correctly calling him "abundantly qualified to serve in Richmond, having been heavily involved in local civic groups for more than two decades." Also nailed it.
Finally, Craig Fifer continues his endorsement momentum, picking up the Washington Post, which says his "background, combining policy savvy and on-the-ground experience, is excellent preparation for a legislator."
Now, we'll see how the candidates take advantage of the "Washington Post endorsed" label, and how much clout said endorsement carries.
In light of the news that Josh Duggar - member of the Duggars' dangerous cult of purity (not to mention the bizarre, warped "Quiverfull" movement) - "repeatedly molested young girls when he was 14," I've seen numerous blog posts and news stories connecting Josh Duggar to various Republican politicans (e.g., see What do Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Jeb Bush Have In Common? Josh Duggar). However, I haven't seen any noting that the Duggars - including Josh Duggar - actively campaigned for the 2013 Virginia Republican "extreme team" ticket of Ken Cuccinelli, E.W. Jackson, and Mark "Criminalize Miscarriages" Obesnhain. Here's Josh Duggar speaking at a rally for the Extreme Team in October 2013: "FRC Action, our goal is to encourage faith, family and freedom, and these men - Ken Cuccinelli, E.W. Jackson, and Mark Obenshain - really are exemplary of our values." Any further questions about the Republican Party of Virginia? (note: that same party is now headed by a guy who likes to make anti-Semitic "jokes"; also includes extremists like "Sidehow Bob" Marshall, Dick Black, Steve Martin and many others)
P.S. This remains relevant because all three members of the "Extreme Team" are active public figures and potential future candidates for office (e.g., it is certainly possible that Mark Obenshain will run for Virginia Attorney General in 2017).
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, May 24. Also, check out that story in which "police body camera videos show a Fredericksburg police officer use his Taser and pepper spray on a motionless, silent driver who was having a medical emergency." Would this have ever happened to a white person? Doubtful. Should this happen to ANYONE? No!
Good for Janet Oleszek, standing up to John Cook's continued attacks on her. This time, as you can see on the "flip," Cook is actually implying that Janet Oleszek doesn't care - as Oleszek points out on Twitter - "sex trafficking, sexual assault awareness or domestic violence." Of course, the exact opposite is true: Oleszek cares DEEPLY about all those things, and would be a strong advocate in all those areas on the Fairfax County Board. So why would John Cook say such obnoxious things? Because, obviously, he's trying to raise money from his right-wingnut base, and this is the type of red-meat, moronic rhetoric they love to hear about evileviltaxandspendblahblahblahliberals™ So here's Cook's "reasoning" in a nutshell: if someone doens't attend HIS meetings and events on whatever topics, that means they don't care about those topics. Logic 101 #FAIL Or, as Janet Oleszek puts it: "The 99.99% of Braddock residents (including me) who did not attend your meetings doesn't indicate a lack of interest in topic. It actually just indicates a lack of interest in listening to you." ZING!!! ;)
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, it seems, 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 the needs and rights of the American people. One more 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."
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