See Right Wing Watch for more about how good ol' E.W. Jackson "calls upon black and Hispanic Christian voters to leave the Democratic Party, telling them that if they were to dare to talk about their faith, 'you will quickly find out how much they really hate you.'" And just remember, 1 year ago today, this theocratic extremist and all-around nutjob was the Virginia Republican Party's nominee for Lt. Governor of our state. Amazing.
Student debt is currently about $1.2 trillion. Even more staggering is that, according to Brookings Institution figures, the amount increased by 20% in just the past 2 years. And though Brookings' research plays down the consequences, the analysis is flawed. Warner has recognized what could become a significant crisis.
There were stories about student debt on the Wall Street Journal This Morning today and in the Journal's newspaper yesterday mentioning initiatives by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and others. Unfortunately and maybe intentionally, our Senator's initiatives went unheralded.
During a swing through Virginia last month, Senator Warner stopped at a number of campuses to discuss his concerns. The commercial media has not given Warner's ideas the attention they deserve and his opponent hasn't been challenged on the issues.
Studies like the one done at Brookings that downplay the impact of student loan debt rely on data from 2010 and before; not recent enough to capture the changes to the economic landscape precipitating from the financial crisis. They also fail to account for the debt generated from loans that paid for "educations" from predatory for-profit colleges and universities and the waste of veterans benefits squandered at those same institutions.
Plus there is an intangible factor bearing on the psyche of graduates that the Senator lays out after explaining that his own first two ventures in entrepreneurship and capitalism ended in failure and financial loss:
"The point of the story is: if I had come out with, the way many students are now, with forty, fifty, sixty, seventy thousand dollars' worth of debt, I'm not sure I would have had the courage or ability to try to take those multiple chances."
College debt may be an obstacle to the kind of freedom necessary for the creativity and invention that made America the leader in innovation. Warner offers a number of ideas to mitigate the challenge that student loan debt presents.
My god, where do these people come from and why are they always right wingers?
Ex-gay activist Linda Wall, who has launched a new Religious Right group called Virginia Mass Resistance, promoted her organization in a Saturday interview with "Mission America" host Linda Harvey.
Wall described to Harvey her own experience of being "seduced" into homosexuality, which she said all started with "a glass of wine and marijuana."
"It was as if it was an instant addiction as to a drug," she said.
By the way, I Googled this Linda Wall person, and one of the first articles that appeared was Linda Wall: The anti-gay activist who molested an underage girl ("A conservative crusader seeking office in Virginia admits that she had sex with a middle-school girl who was her student in the 1970s"). Why am I not surprised? As a friend of mine put it, "It's always the most virulently anti-gay ones who have this in their background."
Mark Twain once said, "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." Well, apparently, 8th CD Republican candidates Micah Edmond either never heard that expression or has decided that Mark Twain didn't know what he was talking about, because he's just done exactly that: opened his mouth and removed all doubt that he's a fool. Why do I say this? Check out Edmond's bizarre interview with right-wing radio host Andy Parks of the Washington Times (but of course!). A few "highlights?
1. Edmond agrees with the right-wing host that Democratic nominee Don Beyer "disrespecting minorities simply assuming as an example the African American vote is an automatic vote." Edmond responds:
Well, I will tell you I think that he's done that in a number of ways...One is, when the minority community holds forums, Don Beyer never shows up. I've attended a number of them by...the Urban League...What I thought was the biggest insult was, he couldn't make the time, so he just thought, 'I will just send, you know, a black surrogate'...When I went to go debate at the Jewish forum, hosted by Olam Tikvah just recently, he chose not to show up and then he said well, you know, 'I'll just send a Jewish surrogate.' And then also with the League of Women Voters in Fairfax, he chose not to show up, but then he says, 'I'll just send some woman.'... For a very diverse district, Don Beyer doesn't seem to show up...he just [believes if he?] sends someone else that looks like them is good enough, and it's not representation.
Seriously? This is what Edmond's going to close out the final week of his losing bid for Congress talking about? That Don Beyer supposedly doesn't care about minorities because he sends highly qualified surrogates (like Sen. Adam Ebbin) to a couple forums? Note that Beyer has been involved in this community for decades (e.g., see here about Beyer courting the NAACP back in 1997), while Micah Edmond...well, give him a few decades and we'll see, but I'd wager that 99% of 8th CD voters had never heard of him prior to this election. Anyhoo...
2. Edmond says Don Beyer's "top three stated policies" -- climate change, women's reproductive rights, and gun control -- are not voters' priorities, but are "incredibly ideological issues in a district where the average person here cares about...having a new vision and new voice on how to grow the economy and create jobs." WTF? Where to even begin. First, there's nothing "ideological" about climate change -- it's basic science, and the only reason it's even political at all is because of Edmond's party and the fossil fuel interests who fund them. As for women's reproductive rights and gun issues, many people care deeply about these issues, for one simple reason: they're really important to people's lives. Again, if they're "ideological," that's largely because Edmond's party has made them ideological, instead of for instance simply acknowledging that 80%, 90% of the American people support things like universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole, etc.
Finally, as for growing the economy and creating jobs, all the evidence is that the economy performs better under Democratic leadership than with Republican bungling. So, no, we don't need Micah Edmond's "new vision," as it's clearly the same old vision that got us into this mess in the first place. No. Thanks.
50 years ago today (October 27, 1964), Ronald Reagan delivered his (in)famous "A Time for Choosing Speech" in support of Republican Presidential nominee Barry Goldwater over President Lyndon Johnson. Soon thereafter, LBJ went on to defeat Goldwater in one of the greatest landslides in U.S. history. So, in that respect at least, Reagan's speech wasn't toxic. But in most other respects, the speech - and Reagan himself - were a dangerous mix of dishonesty, demagoguery, delusion, and divisiveness. Let's start with the speech, since Reagan-worshipping right wingers will undoubtedly be celebrating it today.
First off, the speech clearly revealed Reagan's hard heartedness towards the poor, hungry, etc. As part of his assault on the Great Society specifically, and on the very concept that we are all "our brothers' keepers," Reagan joked (seriously, he thought this was very funny): "We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well that was probably true. They were all on a diet." Hahahaha, get it? People aren't really hungry, they're just on a diet. Yeah, not funny. At all. Unless, perhaps, your heart is as cold and empty as Ronald Reagan's was (remember, this was the administration that thought AIDS was hi-larious! and did nothing about it while thousands died).
What's frightening is that it wasn't just Reagan who thought that way back in 1964, nor has this type of thinking gone away in 2014. To the contrary, there are now tens of millions of Americans - Republicans and Tea Partiers mostly - who apparently believe that it's fine (even highly desirable) to lavish taxpayer-funded welfare on corporations and the super-rich, yet not to give a helping hand to those who really need it (or even to mock them for needing that helping hand). If that's not corrosive and dangerous, I don't know what is.
Second, the speech was classic Reagan in its utter dishonesty. For instance, Reagan claimed - without any evidence whatsoever, of course - "No nation in history has ever survived a tax burden that reached a third of its national income." Of course, that's not true in any way. For instance, some of the most prosperous and successful countries on earth today are well above the percentage Reagan tossed out in his speech. A few examples: Denmark (48.2%), Sweden (46.4%), Finland (43.1%), Norway (41.0%), Germany (37.0%), and the UK (34.3%). As for the U.S., we're way down there, below Turkey and South Korea, as one of the LEAST taxed countries (as a percent of national income) in the OECD. So what was Reagan ranting about? Simple: it's the corrosive, Big Lie that the United States' budget problems are not the result of having such low taxes. Nope, in the eyes of right wingers, it's all because we spend too much. Of course, when you ask rank-and-file Republicans and Tea Partiers, program by program, what they'd like to cut, they have no answer: the military (god no, they want to increase it!), "homeland" security (you must be kidding!), Social Security and Medicare (hell no, don't touch that!), roads and other infrastructure (if anything, they claim to want more of that -- they just don't want to pay for it), etc, etc. The bottom line is that Republican philosophy, as summed up by Reagan in his "Time for Choosing" speech, is that they want everything but don't want to pay for anything. The result: as President, Reagan talked tough but actually expanded government big time, cranked up the national debt several fold, pretty much violated everything he claimed to stand for in the "Time for Choosing" speech. Shocker, huh?
Third, on foreign policy, this speech was downright dangerous, advocating for an end to "containment" of the Soviet Union and switching instead to an aggressive posture of rolling back communism, of liberating the people behind the Iron Curtain, etc. Which sounds great, at first glance, until you realize a few things: a) we had absolutely no way to do that using conventional force; b) if we had tried to do that, it almost certainly would have led to war (quite possibly the last mankind would ever wage, as we'd all be a smouldering ruin after it was over) with the nuclear-armed Soviet Union. Today, we see Reagan's crazy legacy in the positions of Republicans like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and many others whose foreign policy basically comes down to "bombs away!" It's extremely dangerous, extremely costly (in both lives and treasure), and we've seen the disastrous results many times now. Thanks Reagan!
I could go on all day critiquing this speech from hell, but I'll just point out one other corrosive, vicious, dangerous aspect that we very much continue to see today: the demonization of government. Namely, according to Reagan and his ilk, any government program aimed at bettering peoples' lives constitutes "socialism" (as Reagan called it in his speech; sound familiar?), the product of an insidious "little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol," (yep, gotta love anti-intellectualism) the "ant heap of totalitarianism" (hyperbole much?), the demise of "freedom" and capitalism (yada yada yada), and stemming in part from the evils of federal "bureaucrats" and the "bureaucracy." Today, we see this attitude reflected in the likes of Grover "drown government in the bathtub" Norquist and everyone who's signed onto his extreme, anti-tax pledge (note: here in Virginia, the list includes Scott Rigell, Randy Forbes, Robert Hurt, Bob Goodlatte, Morgan Griffith, Dave Brat, Barbara Comstock, and Ed Gillespie).
Bottom line: Reagan's "A Time for Choosing Speech," not to mention his two terms as President, epitomizes everything wrong with the Republican Party (and its even worse spawn, the Tea Party). Now, at another "Time for Choosing," I urge everyone who rejects the selfish, every-man-and-woman-for-themselves, we-are-NOT-in-it-together, "I've got mine so f*** you," trickle-down, corporate-welfare-for-the-wealthy, know-nothing philosophy to: a) vote; b) vote Democratic; and c) make sure you encourage all your friends, families and neighbors to do the same. The future of this country, as always, hangs in the balance, and you the voter will decide whether we move "forward, together," or backwards into the ditch.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, October 27. Also, check out the photo of Sen. Mark Warner and Fairfax County Dems Chair Sue Langley, from a "meet-and-greet" yesterday.
A look through publicly available tax records shows over a hundred thousand dollars spent on payments classified as consulting "Staff." Less was spent on payroll or salary payments. By classifying staffers as consultants, Comstock can avoid paying tens of thousands of dollars in payroll taxes and contributions to Medicare and Social Security.
According to the IRS, independent contractors are self-employed - like pollsters and marketing companies. Staff that perform services that are controlled by the employer - like staff knocking doors on a campaign - are employees, and should be treated as such:"If you classify an employee as an independent contractor and you have no reasonable basis for doing so, you may be held liable for employment taxes for that worker."
"Given Comstock's reluctance to do the right thing when it comes to financial dealings, it's unsurprising that she'd jump from ignoring legislative conflicts of interest to skimping out on thousands of dollars in payroll taxes and Medicare and Social Security contributions," said Morgan Finkelstein, press secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia. "We're seeing time and again that Comstock says one thing and does another. It is pretty ironic that Comstock tries to campaign on taxes when she clearly has her own tax issues at hand."
What is this "Concerned Women for America" (CWA) group, whose endorsement Dave Brat is touting? Here are a few "highlights," courtesy of Right Wing Watch:
*"Founded by Beverly LaHaye, wife of Religious Right activist Tim LaHaye, as a counter to the progressive National Organization of Women...CWA opposes gay rights, comprehensive sex education, drug and alcohol education, and feminism, while advocating what it calls 'pro-life' and 'pro-family' values."
*Has "been active in supporting the teaching of Creationism and 'Intelligent Design theory' in science classrooms."
*"CWA has been active in opposing any and all gay and lesbian civil rights measures, including supporting the right to discriminate against gays and lesbians in employment...established the Culture and Family Institute (CFI) to combat gay and lesbian civil rights."
*"CWA vehemently opposed ratification of CEDAW (the United Nation's Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women), claiming its pro-women empowerment and equality sections comprised a 'leftist utopian wish list.'"
*"CWA has been active in the fight against using Harry Potter books in schools. Publications such as 'Harry Potter: Seduction of the Occult' claim that the books promote the practice of witchcraft among children. CWA offers books and videos such as, 'Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged: Making Evil Look Innocent.'" *"CWA fights against sex education curricula that is not completely abstinence based and opposes anti-drug and alcohol abuse programs that emphasize self-esteem."
As for Concerned Women PAC CEO Penny Nance, she recently cheered "the closure of [the University of South Carolina-Upstate's] Center for Women's and Gender Studies following several attacks from Republican politicians who threatened to cut funding from the school over an LGBT comedy event." Last year, Nance claimed "that legal abortion 'is the seminal human rights issue of our time' and a 'heart-breaking atrocity against mankind' that is worse than the Holocaust." Nance also blamed the "Age of Enlightenment and Reason" for leading down a slippery slope (don't ask) to the Holocaust. More idiocy and buffoonery: Nance likened President Obama to "Tarzan" and essentially argued that "if Obama doesn't defend women like Palin, Coulter and Bachmann, it is sexist, and if he speaks out on behalf of a Democratic official like Rice, it is sexist and a sign that liberal women are weak."
Anyway, just thought you'd all be interested to know that Dave Brat thinks an endorsement from a bunch of crazy people is worth touting.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, October 26. Also check out Bill Clinton's speech at last night's Human Rights Campaign National Dinner. This country has certainly come a long way on LGBT equality since the days of "don't ask don't tell."
This piece has appeared this week in several of the newspapers in my conservative congressional District (VA-06).
Recently my wife and I attended a reunion of her first cousins (and their spouses). These cousins are the children of the children of a couple of Swedish immigrants who settled in Iowa to farm in the late 19th century.
What a wonderful family event! Just enough people to fill all the seats around a table not so big we couldn't all converse together. In all our time together, there wasn't a single hurtful word. Even the spouses, like me, were embraced in the family feeling, all glad to be together.
All these cousins -- except for the two children of those Iowa farmers' youngest child (which includes my wife) -- are Republicans.
We know each other's political orientations, and like a lot of other families in recent years, we know not to talk politics. (Even so, at a previous reunion two years ago, when I was running for Congress as the Democratic nominee, I was touched at how excited, even supportive, about my run they all seemed to be - family feeling seemingly trumping politics.)
But as we drove off afterwards, I thought of the troubling contrast I saw.
In the gathering of the cousins, our togetherness was imbued with a spirit of cooperation. There was a "barn-raising" spirit, as everyone just naturally pitched in together to get things done--things like feeding us all and cleaning things up.
But has there ever been a political party in America that was so little imbued with a cooperative spirit as the party they support? Never has "compromise" been treated as such a dirty word as by today's Republican Party. Never has a party been less interested in working together to do the people's business.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, October 25. Also see President Obama's weekly address, in which he "discusses the measures we are taking to respond to Ebola cases at home, while containing the epidemic at its source in West Africa."
With just 11 days to go until Election Day 2014, and the near certainty that Democrats will lose at least a few seats in the Senate and House, I can just here them now. No, not the cheers of victory or the cries of defeat - although I can certainly imagine what those will sound like - but the excuses, torrents of excuses, that will be flowing from Democratic campaign operatives of all types, trying desperately to shift the blame for their losses to others. For instance, as this article in Bloomberg yesterday put it, "Years of disappointment and tension between Democrats and their president are now on open display as politicians, party leaders and strategists worried about their chances in the midterm elections begin casting about for someone to blame." That's the kind of thing I'm talking about. With that, here are some of the top excuses you'll probably be hearing from losing campaigns after November 4, graded from "A" (makes a great deal of sense) to "F" (makes no sense whatsoever, utter b.s.).
1. "It's President Obama's fault". This one gets a "C-/D+" grade at best. Why so low? Because the history is clear: since World War II, the party holding the White House tends to lose around 26 seats in the House and around six seats in the Senate during the "6-year itch" mid-terms (the second mid-terms of a two-term president's eight years in office). The biggest losses occurred under Eisenhower, Ford, Bush and Truman, with somewhat lower losses under Reagan (at least in the House; Republicans lost eight seats in the Senate in 1986). So, basically, this is just what happens in mid-terms to the party in power, Republican or Democratic. On the other hand, Barack Obama's approval ratings are anemic at best, in the lost 40s, so that's why I gave this one a "C-/D+" not an "F" grade. On yet ANOTHER hand (how many hands do we have, anyway? LOL), though, Obama's approval rating hasn't really changed throughout 2014, so the same campaigns that were claiming all year that they could win - and asking for money to do so - can't now honestly turn around and claim that Obama's 40%-45% approval ratings constitute some sort of new factor in their calculations.
2. "The national political/economic climate": I'd give this one a "C-/D+" for similar reasons as in #1 -- the political/economic climate hasn't really changed all year, plus it's Democrats' own fault to a large extent if they couldn't figure out a way to turn whatever anger's out there against Republicans, whose obstructionism, sequestration, shutting down the government, austerity policies, refusal to invest in our nation's infrastructure, refusal to kickstart a more rapid transition to a clean energy economy, etc., etc. have contributed so much to the problems we have.
Yes, this is the same Virginia State Senator Steve Martin who was roundly ridiculed and blasted in February for saying to women: "once a child exists in your womb, I'm not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child's' host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn't want it...why did you write all the rest of that bologna about raising healthy children (by killing the unhealthy ones), having access to healthcare (which you do), and preventing unwanted pregnancies (don't have unprotected sex)? Such nonsense, supposed adults have written, to celebrate love, on Valentines. These folks are really sick people!"
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, October 24. As for the map, obviously Virginia has a lot of room to improve when it comes to energy efficiency.
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!