It's time to take back our democracy and protect our environment in Virginia from the corporate cronyism that dominates politics in our state. We needn't look any further than to our convicted and disgraced last Governor to know that politics in Virginia are broken.
The No. 1 threat to our democracy and to our environment in Virginia is Dominion Resources (and its subsidiary, Dominion Virginia Power), which is the state's biggest polluter and the largest campaign contributor to both Democrats and Republicans in our General Assembly.
We must limit Dominion's power and influence over Virginia politics.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, March 1. Oh, and check out who won the CPAC straw poll in 2006 -- our old pal George Allen, who was a frontrunner for the Republicans presidential nomination until we stopped him with the "ragtag army" in 2006. :)
Gotta love these "One Percent News" guys (Will Rice and Eric Byler), great satire. Of course, the people at CPAC they're interviewing don't understand it's satire, which makes it even funnier. I love the old guy talking about Ted Cruz being the "next Ronald Reagan," and also about how "we won't stand for" "the bastards" shoving Jeb Bush "down our throats."
A few key quotes from outgoing Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada's appearance on the Kojo Nnamdi Show early this afternoon. I can't really disagree with anything he has to say.
*The demise of the streetcar project "will go down as one of my major disappointments," but "it's not about me," it's about "the countless numbers of people that went into a very legitimate public process, totally vetted, with best practices and having a package that would have required the Columbia Pike area ZERO single-family-home taxpayer dollars to make it happen."
*The streetcar also would have "spurr[ed] economic development" and preserved "not some but all of the affordable housing."
*"Part of the problem...is it takes too darned long for the federal government to process applications for these types of infrastructure projects that will help revitalize an area...you need to find ways to shorten the time that it takes for these types of things," in part so costs don't escalate. These are "strategic investments" that need to be prioritized and moved quickly through the approval process.
*The rejection of the streetcar "was a really bad step backwards" for Arlington County.
*Regarding Bus Rapid Transit, Tejada reiterated that Arlington County couldn't have had the "rapid" part, since Arlington isn't allowed by the state to dedicate a lane specifically for buses on Columbia Pike. So, "it was VERY disingenuous for those who were suggesting" that BRT could happen. That was part of the "choir of negativity that attacked our project with misinformation...How many times have you heard those who opposed the streetcar says BRT since the [streetcar] project was cancelled?"
The Interview In an wide-ranging interview with conservative John Frederick, Virginia State Senator Chap Petersen illustrates how little Democrats have learned about building upon their own values to frame and argue their commentary. Democrats almost endlessly embrace the other side's deceptive frames.
At the outset, let me say clearly that at the moment, we are not in a position to abandon natural gas in this county. But wantonly expanding the use of natural gas with reckless and widespread fracking is not the answer. In doing so, politicians and supporters of a runaway industry deny the very real negative impact on local aquifers and other bodies of water. They also ignore a host of other impacts of gas extraction, transportation,environmental degradation, and disruption. Apparent support for gas extraction has been built on the shoulders of expert industry propagandists. And most Americans, including most of our "leaders" have bought it hook, line and sinker.
Regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, right-wing host John Fredericks said: "Obviously, the extreme left-wing environmental wackos going bananas over it; they go bananas over anything except wind, I would imagine." Fredericks claims the pipelines would bring jobs. Ignoring the false claim of meaningful numbers of permanent new jobs, Chap first responds that perhaps he is one of those "wackos." Note Chap's embrace of this negative frame for environmentalists. Chap tries to briefly align himself with those who are pro-environment and then quickly abandons them. He tries to have it both ways. But this is not before Chap had attempted, earlier in the interview, to carefully align himself with conservatives on several other positions. But that's a separate diary.
To assuage Democrats and those who care about controlling their own property, Chap says "you still have to respect people's rights." "You gotta pay people fair compensation." That should go without saying, but it doesn't in eminent domain cases, particularly in the fracking era. Initially, landowners are enticed to believe they can get rich. A few landowners might make a considerable sum. The rest reduced housing values and even, in numerous cases, suffer ruin. It gets worse. (Please follow below the fold...)
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, February 28. Also, see President Obama's weekly address, in which he reiterates "his commitment to middle-class economics, and to ensuring that all hard-working Americans get the secure and dignified retirement they deserve."
I've been a Star Trek fan my whole life, and there have been so many great characters and actors over the years. Still, if I had to pick just one Star Trek character it would have to be Mr. Spock, and the actor who played him, Leonard Nimoy. He lived long and prospered, I just wish the "continuing (orginally 5-year) mission" never had to end for this amazing man. Rest in peace. This loss really makes me sad.
P.S. The following is Leonard Nimoy's last tweet, followed by tributes from his fellow Star Trek actors.
P.P.S. I forgot to mention the important point that Nimoy was a strong progressive, a champion for things like civil rights, LGBT equality, environmental protection and animal welfare.
William Shatner: "I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love"
George Takei: "Today, the world lost a great man, and I lost a great friend. We return you now to the stars, Leonard. You taught us to 'Live Long And Prosper,' and you indeed did, friend. I shall miss you in so many, many ways." Yep.
Brent Spiner: "Farewell Leonard. Glad I knew you. Thinking of Susan, Adam, and his entire family. And his vast extended family of Star Trek."
Levar Burton: "God Bless You, Leonard Nimoy... May Angels guide thee to thy rest!"
Jonathan Frakes: "#LLAP RIP to the best First Officer. @TheRealNimoy"
Wil Wheaton: "We stood on your shoulders, and wouldn't have had a galaxy to explore if you hadn't been there, first. Thank you, Leonard, Rest in peace."
Zachary Quinto (current Spock) - My heart is broken. i love you profoundly my dear friend. and i will miss you everyday."
Patrick Stewart: "It is with sadness that I heard of Leonard Nimoy's death. I was lucky to spend many happy, inspiring hours with him. He won't be forgotten."
Nichelle Nichols: "I am deeply saddened by the death of my dear friend Leonard Nimoy. But, I also want to celebrate his extraordinary life. He was a true force of strength and his character was that of a champion. Leonard's integrity and passion as an actor and devotion to his craft helped transport STAR TREK into television history. His vision and heart are bigger than the universe. I will miss him very much and send heartfelt wishes to his family."
Right-wingnut Gov. Scott Walker is not the brightest bulb on a wide range of issues, including of course energy and the environment. Here, he's asked by Haycock Elementary School (Falls Church, Virginia) second grader Aaron Stark what he'd do about climate change. Walker starts out ok, with the Boy Scout/campfire metaphor, but then Aaron follows up, much more skillfully than the Chuck Todds of the world ever do, by asking Walker point blank, "Do you CARE about climate change?" That's when Walker goes off the rails, as he starts talking to a second grader in Republican talking points about "ultimately" having "all the natural resources...as possible to move forward" blah blah blah. I mean, this really isn't complicated: if you're asked this question, certainly by a second grader, the answer is going to be pretty simple, that I care a lot, that this is a huge threat, and that we have to do something about it now! Of course, Walker couldn't do that because: a) he probably doesn't believe it; b) he's bought and paid for by the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel interests; and c) he's busy pandering for support from the crazy, science-denying, environment-trashing Republican base. Anyway, great job by Aaron, who I'd recommend as a replacement for any number of Sunday talk show hosts. :)
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, February 27. Also, check out the loop of John Boehner making kissy sounds at a reporter. Yep, that's the Republican Party's leader in the US House of Representatives.
RICHMOND -- Kissing the ring of the nation's most notorious loser Eric Cantor has become a rite of passage for 2016 GOP hopefuls, and Chris Christie wants in on the action too. Fresh off a day of riling up right-wing extremists at CPAC, where he reminded participants that he voted to defund Planned Parenthood five times, Christie is once again not in New Jersey. While Christie is in town convincing Virginia Republicans that he's a viable presidential candidate, take a look at how his time in New Jersey stacks up with the Commonwealth.
"If Virginia Republicans want to seriously compete in 2016, they should stay far away from Chris Christie's horrible economic ideas," said Morgan Finkelstein, spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of Virginia. "Christie's record reads like a step-by-step guide of how not to run a state. Virginia Republicans couldn't have picked a more polar opposite to the progress made by Governor McAuliffe here in the Commonwealth."
For more, see Right Wing Watch, but in short, the 2013 Virginia nominee for Lt. Governor, EW Jackson, yesterday attacked the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for briefly listing 2016 Republican Presidential candidate (and an extremist by any definition of the word) Ben Carson in its "extremist files," claiming that SPLC's criticism of Carson was "no different than what maybe slave masters or segregationists would have said." Yes, you could brush it off as, "well, it's typical insanity by EW Jackson," but the problem is that Jackson't not an aberration in today's Republican Party. Remember, this is a party where top leaders, like Rudy Giulani and Scott Walker, routinely question Barack Obama's religion, patriotism, birth status, you name it. They also deny climate science and evolution, whlie routinely making outrageous comments about a whole host of other topics. The question is, how can an extreme, John Birch Society-style freak show like this be a major political party in this country?
On Tuesday, after reading that Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam was essentially announcing his run for Governor of Virginia in 2017, I wrote that it's waaaaaay too early for us to be starting that now. First, let's focus on the 2015 state legislative races. Then, let's focus on making sure the Democratic presidential nominee carries Virginia in 2016 (and hopefully picking up a House of Representatives seat or seats). Then, it seems to me, it will be time to turn our attention to 2017.
But certainly not now. Which is why I was happy to read that Northam had "walked that back somewhat Tuesday evening, telling The Richmond Times-Dispatch that he is in the preliminary stages of assessing whether a run is feasible and could be successful before deciding whether to seek the office." OK, cool, I've got absolutely no problem with any of that, particularly since it's 100% expected that, as Larry Sabato notes in the article, "I don't think I've ever met anyone who ran for lieutenant governor because his or her life ambition was to preside over the state Senate." And it's also fully expected that Attorney General Mark Herring will run for governor as well. But again, why on earth do we want to be starting this in February 2015?
Yet, whether we want it or not, here it comes apparently, with the first major endorsement of the election -- 2013 Democratic primary candidate for Attorney General, Justin Fairfax, endorsing Ralph Northam. What makes this one particularly interesting is that Fairfax is clearly running for Attorney General again, which means he hopes to be on the ticket of whoever the Democratic nominee for governor is -- Northam, Herring, or someone else for that matter. Given that we don't know who that nominee will be, I don't think that's a move I would ever have recommended, since it risks alienating any other potential gubernatorial nominees, but to each his own I suppose...
P.S. Just a side note, but I really wish politicians would stop referring to actual or potential political allies as their "dear friend," "great friend," or whatever, when obviously they're not.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, February 26. Also check out Jon Stewart brilliantly skewering Faux "News" and dissecting the right-wing modus operandus (hint: lots of lies, deflection, projection, anger, insanity, etc.).
According to a press release I received earlier today, "Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) today sent letters to 100 fossil fuel companies, trade groups, and other organizations to determine whether they are funding scientific studies designed to confuse the public and avoid taking action to cut carbon pollution, and whether the funded scientists fail to disclose the sources of their funding in scientific publications or in testimony to legislators." Among those companies were two based in Virginia: Richmond-based Dominion "Global Warming Starts Here!" Resources and Bristol-based coal company/polluter Alpha Natural Resources. My attitude is that it couldn't have happened to two nicer companies. :) In all seriousness, though, their answers to these questions should be fascinating. Great work by Senators Markey, Boxer and Whitehouse on this!
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