This past week, the Los Angeles Times took a little-noticed step that could have a profound impact on your children's and grandchildren's future: it decided to ban climate change deniers from its pages. If this step catches on and spreads to other media outlets, it could finally lead us away from the distraction of the phony, manufactured "debate" over the existence and causes of the global climate disruption and actually get down to the real work of confronting this challenge.
[W]hen deciding which letters should run among hundreds on such weighty matters as climate change, I must rely on the experts -- in other words, those scientists with advanced degrees who undertake tedious research and rigorous peer review.
And those scientists have provided ample evidence that human activity is indeed linked to climate change. Just last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- a body made up of the world's top climate scientists -- said it was 95% certain that we fossil-fuel-burning humans are driving global warming. The debate right now isn't whether this evidence exists (clearly, it does) but what this evidence means for us.
Simply put, I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published. Saying "there's no sign humans have caused climate change" is not stating an opinion, it's asserting a factual inaccuracy. [Emphasis added]
As I write this, there is a shred of uncertainty about whether President Obama will continue until the end standing firm on his position that there will be no concessions made to hostage-takers. I hope he gives not an inch on that.
Regardless, the unfolding of this crisis proves quite clearly that the best way to disempower the dark spirit that drives these right-wing bullies is to take the right stand and then stand one's ground.
Here once again we see a recapitulation of the drama leading up to the Civil War.
It would be very easy to document, extensively, the proposition that the South of the 1850s, in its conduct toward the North, and the Republican Party of the past fifteen years, in its conduct toward the Democrats, have been bullies.
Arguably, the Northerners of the years before the Civil War were less cowed by the Southern bullies than the Democrats of our times have been by the Republicans. But the Southerners believed that, though the North might complain about the South's breaking up of the Union, when push came to shove they would back down. The Yankee might get upset and sue you, one Southerner said, but he won't fight.
What they hadn't counted on was the extraordinary quality of character of Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln was an unusually humane and conciliatory person. That came through in all his communications to the South prior to the outbreak of the war. But he was also resolute.
Add a racist and anti-Semite who believes Social Security is unconstitutional to the list of Ken Cuccinelli supporters (along with right-wing hate radio host Mark Levin, government shutdown architect Ted Cruz, corrupt/far-right-wing South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, the Duggars freak show, and raging Islamophobe Mike Huckabee. Why do I say these things about Ron Paul? Because, uh, they're facts? Check it out:
*Ron Paul to be keynote speaker at anti-Semitic conference *10 Most Shocking Ideas in the New Ron Paul Newsletters (e.g., "The newsletters, both the Ron Paul Survival Report and the Ron Paul Political Report, defend eugenics advocate Jared Taylor and former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott, infamous for calling her team's players 'million dollar n----s,' saying 'sneaky goddam Jews are all alike' and 'only fruits wear earrings,' and praising Hitler's role in Germany.")
*Paul's also a rabid homophobe, as these quotes make clear (e.g., "A 1993 Survival Report denounces accusations against the Branch Davidian religious sect's leader David Koresh for molesting a young girl, writing, 'How dare the Clinton administration talk about sexual deviance? Its officials could have had their own float in the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Parade.'")
*Paul believes Social Security is unconstitutional and a "giant Ponzi scheme." Paul's fought for years to phase it out.
*Paul advocates nonviolent tax resistance.
*Paul rejects the core American principle of separation of church and state.
*Ron Paul casts lot with extremists, conspiracy theorists ("The advisory board of the outspoken libertarian's new organization is stacked with members of the far right")
*Paul is a conspiracy theorist on a wide range of subjects. For instance, he erroneously claimed that "a secret conspiracy composed of the Security and Prosperity Partnership and a cabal of foreign companies is behind plans to build a NAFTA Superhighway as the first step toward creating a North American Union."
*Paul also claimed that there are "25,000 individuals that have used offices of powers" (including in Congress) who "believe in one world government" and have plans to undermine national "sovereignty" and set up a "dictatorship."
*His newsletter wrote reams of bigoted stuff like, "If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be;" that "gays 'enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick,' referring to AIDS;" and "The criminals who terrorized our cities - in riots and on every non-riot day - are not exclusively young black males, but they largely are." And no, it's "implausible" that Paul could allow "so many derogatory statements...into his publications, [while] insisting he knew nothing about them."
Anyway, this is just a small sampling of the bigotry, extremism, and lunacy spewing from Ron Paul. Believe me, there is TONS more where that came from (just use "teh Google" and see for yourself). Now, Ken Cuccinelli says he's "thrilled" to have Paul's support. Does that mean Cuccinelli is "thrilled" with Paul's extremist positions on pretty much every issue over the years? If not, which issues does Cuccinelli disagree with Paul on exactly? Inquiring minds want to know!
UPDATE: Paul argued this past Thursday that the government "shutdown is not a real problem... As far as default goes, we're always going to pay the interest. That's just a fake argument."
Here's yet another example of how low you can go if you capitulate to the Tea Party and their benefactors in Virginia this November. North Carolina just reversed a despicable position that had meant North Carolina's WIC recipients wouldn't have help during the partial government shutdown. But it shouldn't gone gone "there" in the first place. It's a disgrace.
In the face of a partial government shutdown, those receiving food under the Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) were left hung out to dry, or rather starve. Every other state in the nation gave their WIC recipients vouchers to buy food, but not North Carolina. And in true Tea Party form, Aldona Wos, the righteous radical wrong-wing horror that is the head of our state DHHS (who has crippled our state Medicaid program both by policy and incompetence) blamed guess whom? Why the President of course.
Here are a few Virginia and national news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, October 12. Also see President Obama's weekly address, in which he urgesd Congress to "pass a budget, put people back to work, and end this shutdown." He adds that a default would impose a "Republican default tax" on all of us.
It's really amazing; House Republicans are so hell bent on stopping the EVIL EVIL EVIL "Obamacare" (note: the Afffordable Care Act is actually based heavily on conservative, Republican ideas like the "individual mandate," but whatever...roll with it Republicans!) that they're willing to destroy the country AND their own party in the process. Latest case in point? Rep. Frank Wolf (VA-10), who masquerades as a "moderate" when he's voted for just about every Teahadist bill the past few years. That includes, yes, shutting down the government. What has this accomplished, other than hurting a lot of people in his district? Check out this new PPP poll to see how Wolf's faring politically.
*Wolf's approval/disapproval rating is not good, at just 42% approve vs. 38% disapprove. That's seriously bad news for a long-time incumbent like Wolf.
*If the election were held today, Wolf is TIED with a generic Democratic opponent, 45%-45%.
*Actually, it's even worse than that: once voters know that Wolf supported the government shutdown, he TRAILS a generic Democratic opponent by 4 points (42%-46%). Ouch!
*Voters in Wolf's district are not fans of the Tea Party, to put it mildly, with just 32% viewing the Tea Party favorably vs. 58% who view it unfavorably.
*Voters in Wolf's district also overwhelmingly (2:1 margins) OPPOSE shutting down the government and/or threatening to not increase the nation's debt ceiling.
What's really amazing to me, as someone who's tried to inform people of Wolf's districts for years about what a wingnut he's become, is that voters' eyes now FINALLY seem to be opening to what Wolf has morphed into. Previously, it was just about impossible to convince 10th CD voters that Wolf wasn't the "good guy"/"moderate" they thought he was (and that he used to be, long long ago). Now, though, that may have all changed. Nice job, Republicans - in addition to trashing the United States, you're also hell bent on losing control of the House of Representatives next November (not to mention having no chance of winning the White House in 2016).
P.S. The Republican self-immolation strategy could claim its first victims in just over 3 weeks, right here in Virginia, if the "extreme team" of Cuccinelli/Jackson/Obenshain go down to defeat. Let's make it happen!
There is apparently a human aversion to accepting the certainty of a loss, and that aversion helps illuminate the behavior of the Republicans in their present quandary.
That's one of the things I've learned from a quite brilliant book I'm reading. Titled Thinking, Fast and Slow, it is written by Daniel Kahneman, an Israeli-American psychologist, who won the Nobel Prize for Economics for work he's done on the non-rational aspects of human decision-making.
One piece of this book deals with how, contrary to much previous thinking of economists, humans do not make their decisions in a straight-forward rational fashion based on calculations of probabilities times magnitudes of possible gains and losses. People place an inordinately high weight on small possibilities, and they place a great value on the move from highly probable to certain. Add to that the fact that people feel more painful impact from losses than they feel pleasure from gains of the same magnitude, and one ends up with a two-by-two matrix that is relevant to the explanation of the Republicans' recklessness in the current crisis. (The Republicans also have some other craziness problems, but I'm setting that aside for now.)
In this two-by-two matrix, there is either a high or a low probability of a gain or a loss of either a large or a small magnitude. In each of the four cases, people are given the option of taking a deal that gives certainty of a smaller gain/loss, or taking their chances of getting the whole thing.
What studies find is that people will take their chances on getting a big gain with a small probability (like buying a lottery ticket), and they'll also gamble when it comes to the possibility a large loss for which there is a large probability. When there's a large probability for a large gain, they'll take a smaller gain to make it a sure thing. (People will take $900,000 for certain, for example, in preference to a 95% chance of winning a million.)
The quadrant the Republicans are in is the one where there's a very high probability of a very large loss. When people are in that situation, will they accept a somewhat smaller loss for sure, or will they take their chances that somehow they can come out of the situation unscathed?
Tea Party AG candidate Obenshain’s egregious record on humane treatment of animals exposed
Today, the Mark Herring for Attorney General campaign highlighted an endorsement from the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the nation’s leading political advocacy organization for animal welfare, for his support of legislation in the Virginia General Assembly to advance the humane treatment of animals, while exposing Mark Obenshain’s egregious record on animal welfare.
Mark Herring is the only candidate in Virginia to receive an endorsement by the national Humane Society Legislative Fund. The full announcement by can be found here.
“The Attorney General has an important role to play in enforcing the Commonwealth’s animal protection laws, and sending a message to the General Assembly and the public when gaps in the legal framework need to be addressed,” said Sara Amundson, executive director of the Humane Society Legislative Fund. “We urge Virginia voters who care about animal protection to reject Mark Obenshain’s extreme record, and to support Mark Herring for Attorney General.”
Mark Obenshain’s voting record includes:
Being one of three Senators to voteagainst regulating puppy mills
Votingagainst a bill to end competitive fox penning, an action so heinous that opponents call it “barbaric"
Being one of two Senators who votedagainst increasing penalties for cockfighting
Votingagainst requiring veterinarians and shelter employees to notify law enforcement officials if a dog showed signs of being forced into a fight
Just when you think there aren't any more extremist freaks left to campaign for Ken Cuccinelli - Mark Levin, Ted Cruz, Nikki Haley, the Duggars, etc. - another one pops up. Now, it's Mike Huckabee. Why do I call Mike Huckabee an extremist freak? Let us count the ways.
*"Mike Huckabee is strongly opposed to abortion, including in cases of rape or incest. He has stated that abortion should be legal only when the life of the mother is at risk. He believes that it would 'most certainly' be a good day for America if Roe v. Wade were repealed...He stated the Supreme Court ruling, Roe v Wade, had created a 'holocaust of liberalized abortion.'"
*"Huckabee has said that embryonic stem cell research creates life only to end a life."
*"Huckabee has voiced his support for self-defense and the Castle Doctrine, and has generally taken an anti-gun control stance."
*"Huckabee stated in 1992, 'I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk'...Huckabee said that legalizing same-sex marriage would 'be like saying, well, there are a lot of people who like to use drugs so let's go ahead and accommodate those who want to use drugs. There are some people who believe in incest, so we should accommodate them. There are people who believe in polygamy, should we accommodate them?'"
*"Huckabee has voiced his support of intelligent design and he has stated that he does not accept the validity of Darwin's theory of evolution."
*Huckabee has also stated "comparing his weight loss to the experience of a concentration camp, for which the National Jewish Democratic Council chastised Huckabee;" "joking about suicide while speaking of fundraising efforts by himself and his opponents in the Republican primaries, for which he was criticized by various suicide awareness groups;" and in 2012 provoking "controversy by claiming that the Newtown shooting was because 'we systematically removed God from our schools.'" Oh, and he also "compare[d] Muslims to 'uncorked animals' because Islam "promotes the most murderous mayhem'."
*Last but not least, Huckabee is climate science denier, for instance falsely (and bizarrely) claiming that "[t]he volcano that erupted over in Northern Europe actually poured more CO2 into the air in that single act of nature than all of humans have in something like the past 100 years."
In sum, Mike Huckabee is a right-wing extremist and stark-raving mad. Which, come to think of it, means he will get along superbly well with Ken Cuccinelli, E.W. Jackson and Mark Obenshain. Party on, boys!
Tonight's gubernatorial "forum" (not a "debate") at the University of Richmond is being live streamed here. I'll live blog anything interesting.
UPDATE 8:12 pm: I'd say Terry did very well - knowledgeable, informed, detailed, focused, authoritative, gubernatorial, answered the questions (unlike Cuccinelli), bipartisan, get things done, focus on growing the economy, making sure Virginia is open and welcoming to everyone, etc. As for Cuccinelli? Kind of all over the place - dodged the questions, denied/glossed over a lot of what he's stood for his entire life, outright lied, personally attacked Terry...just don't really get this guy, but I guess the word is "flailing." Or #FAIL, as we say on Twitter.
UPDATE 8:08 pm: Have to move Virginia forward in a mainstream, bipartisan way. Endorsements have been extraordinary - Will Sessoms, first time ever has endorsed a Dem for governor. Fairfax Chamber of Commerce. The credit unions. Etc, etc. We are facing major challenges - sequestration, shutdown - and cannot let this rigid ideological agenda hurt our economy. How is paying people to sit at home a productive economy? Want to bring broadband to rural areas, necessary to bring business there. Exciting challenges ahead, but also tremendous opportunities. There are real differences in this race.
UPDATE 8:04 pm: Question #7, on social issues. We've become a laughing stock on late night TV due to what's been proposed in Richmond. Executive Order #1 - no discrimination in state employment based on sexual orientation. Cuccinelli referred to LGBT people as "self destructive and soulless human beings." We need to have a DREAM Act in Virginia, would do that very early in a McAuliffe administration. It's bipartisan legislation. "I trust women" to make their own health care decisions, legislators shouldn't be doing that. Cuccinelli sponsored "personhood" legislation, would make the pill illegal in Virginia - I'd veto that. Women are 50% of the workforce. Women's health centers being closed, that needs to stop. Put more teeth into equal pay laws. If you work the same job, you should get the same pay. Make Virginia open to everyone. Would be a brick wall against anything that would take away a woman's right to choose.
UPDATE 7:59 pm: Question #6, on renewable energy and reducing Virginia's carbon footprint. We need an "all of the above approach." Huge opportunity to create 21st century energy jobs, we can be a global leader on this. Could power 700,000 homes with offshore wind energy. We should make rotors, blades, etc. in Virginia. We need a mandatory renewable energy standard like other surrounding states. Need to be on cutting edge of 21st century technologies. Meanwhile, Cuccinelli went on a "witch hunt" against climate scientist Michael Mann and UVA. The broader cost is what 21st century innovator would come to a state where your Attorney General is suing scientists? We need to be open and welcoming, bring scientists here from around the globe.
In quick succession, four polls have shown the race for governor is slipping away from Ken Cuccinelli. Yesterday Quenton Kidd, Director of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University (CNU) discussed recent poll results with Cathy Lewis on Norfolk's WHRV. Not all the news was great.
After about a month or so with a McAuliffe lead of around five percent and margins of error around three and four percent, there had been an argument that the gubernatorial race could be closer than the numbers indicate. Two days ago, Politico published a poll showing McAuliffe holding a 10 point lead and soon afterwards CNU released the results of a poll with him up by nine percent. Roanoke College had McAuliffe up by seven and today the Quinnipiac University poll has him with a lead of eight.
Lewis asked Kidd about the libertarian candidate. Kidd responded that Sarvis continues to perform well with about eight per cent of the vote (according to CNU). Sarvis's support, by Kidd's assessment, is coming out of what would naturally be Cuccinelli's voters; he's a protest vote for Republicans and independents who would normally go with the Republican. So the real question is: What do they do on election day? Do they stay home, do they go back to their natural base and vote Republican, or do they stick with Sarvis? Kidd believes that is the real unknown right now.
Kidd told Lewis CNU is currently conducting a poll asking about the shutdown and who is to blame; he expected the Quinnipiac poll to address the shutdown (it did). This he said, would begin to give a clearer picture about whether the race opening up for McAuliffe is directly or indirectly attributable to the "larger politics" around the shutdown and Ken Cuccinelli's connection to those "larger politics."
Seemingly a political eternity ago (these campaigns are long), I wrote that a candidate like GOP presumptive nominee Ken Cuccinelli might no longer be electable in Virginia. I based that observation on exit poll data (see below) from the 2009 Deeds vs. McDonnell race. I got the expected yada, yada, yada in email, texts, and conversations over the next few weeks. Moreover, at the time, some of us were trying to get AG Cuccinelli to back certain changes in the state election laws removing constitutionally flawed denials of certain political rights to candidates and voters.
So people thought I was being...well...a little too provocative. But my analysis had not the hint of anything personal, and I knew the AG's staff reads my stuff, so they would see the analysis as being what we do at 200-proof, on TV regularly in Richmond, for national web sites and newspapers.
We don't judge right or wrong, issue wise or personal traits: we leave that to the "gurus" - the really smart people. We just call it like we see it. And if you studied the 2009 exit poll, something seemed self-evident if you made A FEW REASONABLE ASSUMPTIONS.
1. Logic suggested that the 2009 exit poll should have caught the GOP wave AT THE CREST. The McDonnell-Bolling-Cuccinelli, three-way landslide set the record; there had never been such a complete up-and-down-the-ballot wipeout in the modern two-party era in Virginia. So at 200-proof, we figured: this has to be, as Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt might say, "as good as it gets."
Renewable energy advocates in Virginia were astonished to learn a few weeks ago that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given Dominion Virginia Power an award for its Green Power Program.
Dominion's program is not, to put it mildly, a good one. Half of the money its customers contribute is siphoned off for overhead and "education." The rest goes to buy renewable energy certificates from out of state. Over the years Dominion has collected millions of dollars in these voluntary contributions without building a single wind or solar facility to supply the program. Surely, the only green award this merits is one for greenwashing.
So I called the EPA to find out what criteria they use in determining who gets an award. It turns out the agency only measures the growth of a green power program, and Dominion has signed up more customers than other utility programs have.
I had to laugh. Customers of utilities in most other states have real options to buy wind and solar. If you can buy wind energy from an alternative supplier or participate in a community solar project, or if your utility is aggressively incorporating renewables into its power supply, you don't need a green power program.
But Dominion has never built more than token amounts of renewable energy, and it continues to use its monopoly position to erect barriers to competition from others. The utility has signed up 19,000 Green Power participants only because it has effectively denied its Virginia customers any meaningful way of participating in the renewable energy market.
Good for you, Mr. President, for standing your ground. I hope you've noticed how useful, for the overall political picture, it has been for you to hold firm and leave this Republican Party exposed as the reckless, anti-democratic, warlike force it has become.
Helping the American people see clearly the nature of the force that's taken over that Party is and remains Job One, because none of the other important tasks that confront us as a nation can be tackled successfully so long as they retain the power to prevent good things from being accomplished.
If you're going to be able to accomplish anything with what remains of your presidency, therefore, it is essential that after the 2014 elections, either the Republican hold on the House has been broken or the Republicans have been compelled to become a normal political party again.
Your top priority, therefore, must be to continue to press the attack on the destructive and dishonest spirit that now drives the Republicans.
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