Here are a few Virginia (and national) news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, August 3. Also, check out President Obama's weekly address, on "securing a better bargain for the middle class."
If there is any lesson to learn from the failed strategy of Governor McDonnell on addressing his recent problems, it goes like this: If you don't get out ahead of the news cycle, you are going to suffer unnecessary political damage. Given how strong the Washington Post and liberals have gone after conservative Republican McDonnell, I can hear the GOP right now: they will be demanding "equal treatment" of Terry's latest issues.
Not that there is equivalency, or duality or anything of the like given the known facts. BUT: This is the nature of the political news in a GUV year, the press is very touchy about being called "in the bag" for one or the other side. They take umbrage at the charge. And my experience is they always react by doing in fact what they claim isn't necessary.
Or put another way: The McDonnell Mess has created a situation where any relatable news about either Terry or Ken is going to put the press in a box. So far, the left has had free reign to attack Cuccinelli. So have the state's major editorial pages. They truly despise Cuccinelli. They want him gone. They have used the McDonnell Mess to tar him. It has been relentless. He hasn't handled it well. Cuccinelli had no comeback at the debate.
Now, the cycle may be shifting. Cuccinelli may now get to charge a double standard. This tends to work for Republicans; it almost cost Doug Wilder his election. My advice: unless there is something criminal here, or hugely bad under SEC law, the only way this really hurts in terms of costing McAuliffe votes in November is if he and his handlers make the McDonnell mistake. That is to say: They don't put on a credible defense to the implied charges.
If McDonnell had followed the right strategy - get out front of the story, be proactive, get all the stuff the public will want out there fast - he would have suffered far less damage to his political image. He takes a hit but manageable. The lawyers always argue against going public, handling the matter behind the scenes. This is always the wrong strategy for a politician in an election year. People are prone to think the worst: so you will not be getting the benefit of the doubt in the court of public opinion.
Bottom line: This supposed SEC investigation, and the like will not hurt in November if it is properly handled in August unless there is real fire as opposed to just smoke.
Republican leaders aren't representing Republican voters on climate action. Poll after poll shows anywhere from 30% to 50% of Republican voters say climate change is happening and we should do something about it, but only a handful of Congressional Republicans advocate climate action. Why aren't Congressional Republicans representing their own voters on climate change? These articles ignore the disparity altogether.
No one likes a carbon tax better than carbon limits. Both articles argue that a revenue-neutral carbon tax is superior to Environmental Protection Agency limits on carbon pollution, citing conservative economists who say that's the most virtuous way to go. The problem is that among non-economists, Americans across party lines agree taxes are bad and Environmental Protection Agency regulations are good. Even if it was popular, as Grist's David Roberts has detailed, a carbon tax is trickier than you think.
Why is inaction untenable? Neither article lays out the scientific urgency of addressing climate change - for example, the number of American communities that inaction will literally put underwater. Neither article lays out the political urgency - for example, that young voters think Republican climate denial is ignorant, out-of-touch and crazy. Both articles focus on economic solutions, which again, is compelling to economists but won't win you many arguments at a neighborhood picnic. A much stronger case was made by a young conservative Congressional staffer ... who wrote under a pen name for fear of losing his job for speaking the truth about the scientific & political urgency of climate action.
Much like with immigration reform, Congressional Republicans have painted themselves into a political corner: They're screwed in the short-term because they've opposed sensible solutions for so long, they'll get none of the political credit for their passage. But that would leave them screwed in the long-term as the ignoramus party. Wouldn't you rather take the short-term hit and move on to topics that you can win on?
I'd rather these articles have dealt with that reality, rather than blaming "gridlock" and pushing plans no one likes. Where does that get us?
Sen. Mark Herring, speaking at the Virginia Commonwealth Attorney's event at the Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach. blasts Mark Obenshain for his endorsement by the VCDL
The weekend after the primary, Senator Obenshain and I had our first debate here in Virginia Beach. And during that debate we reveled some pretty stark differences between him and me:
Senator Obenshain would take a woman's right to choose away. I would defend Virginia's women's right to make their own decisions.
Senator Obenshain would restrict access to common forms of contraception; I believe he has no place in any of those personal health decisions.
And Senator Obenshain voted against the landmark bipartisan Transportation bill, put together by the Governor and Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly. Senator Obenshain joined Attorney General Cuccinellli and opposed it. I joined the Governor, Lt. Govenor Bolling, Democrats, and Republican legislators to support it.
This morning, because of our concern for public safety, I'd like to discuss another fundamental difference between Senator Obenshain and myself.
It's revealing that this very weekend, in Blacksburg Virginia, the Virginia Citizens Defense League is holding an event just a few minutes from the location of the Virginia Tech gun massacre that claimed the lives of 33 students and faculty. It's almost impossible to imagine the insensitivity and arrogance of this group, which prides itself on being more radical than the National Rifle Association. But there's more. They're going to hold a gun raffle. And not just any gun, but a Glock 19, the very same make and model of the gun used in the Virginia Tech shooting.
The members of this group wear stickers that say: guns save lives.
(Note by Lowell: Obenshain wears the same sticker - see photo above. More on the "flip".)
From ProgressVA, this is utterly appalling...but not surprising coming from this ultra-extreme group, the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL).
Gun Violence Prevention Advocates Condemn Giveaway At Blacksburg “Stepping Out” Festival
Silent Vigil to be held 1-4pm today in protest
Blacksburg, VA - The Virginia Citizens Defense League, an extreme gun group self-described as “a gun-rights organization that makes the NRA look moderate” will raffle off a Glock handgun this weekend at the Stepping Out festival in downtown Blacksburg. The move is especially traumatizing and insensitive considering a Glock handgun was one of two weapons used by Seung-Hui Cho to shoot and kill 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007.
Members of the Virginia Tech community and advocates for gun violence prevention criticized the giveaway. Lori Haas, whose daughter was shot at Virginia Tech, said, “The senseless act of violence at Virginia Tech, committed by a mentally ill gunman armed with a Glock handgun, produced a deep wound on the citizens of Blacksburg and the entire Virginia Tech community that has yet to heal. The VCDL’s thoughtless and offensive raffle of an identical weapon simply throws acid on that wound rather than show empathy for this community.”
“Raffling off this particular weapon at a simple celebration of the Blacksburg community is entirely disrespectful of the people who were injured and killed at Virginia Tech and the trauma this community has experienced,” said Andy Goddard, president of the Virginia Center for Public Safety. Goddard’s son, Colin, was also shot at Virginia Tech. “The VCDL should cancel this giveaway out of respect for the families that were destroyed by a weapon identical to the one they plan to give away.”
In silent protest of the VCDL's raffle, members of the Virginia Tech and Blacksburg communities will hold silent vigil from 1pm - 4pm Friday, August 2nd next to VCDL booth in the Community Connections section of Steppin' Out, Farmer's Market at corner of Draper and Roanoke St to remember those whose lives have been destroyed by senseless gun violence.
This is not the first time the VCDL has engendered controversy and accusations insensitivity to the effects of gun violence.In 2007, the organization held a gun raffle in Fairfax County amid criticism for ties to the Virginia Tech controversy.
Here are a few Virginia (and national) news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, August 2. And yes, if you think Rep. Rigell is crazy to be pushing oil drilling when Greenland's hitting record high temperatures, almost certainly due to global warming, then you're absolutely right!
"I'm a person who appeals to women with a variety of issues... I've worked to improve mental health and worked to help the mentally ill for over a decade-and-a-half, including when I was in the legislature. Women's issues are everything women care about and I have an awful lot of issues that I appeal to women on, just as a natural course" (Ken Cuccinelli)
This story broke here on Blue Virginia in March and was picked up by Think Progress. This story is very relevant today and bears repeating. On top of everything else, Ken Cuccinelli equated women and their issues with mental health or lack thereof. But although we should not equate a lack of mental health with all of womankind, or mankind for that matter, mental health is nothing to take lightly. And it is long past time to remove the stigma of mental illness. But let's be real. With his dubious footing in the real world, Ken Cuccinelli shouldn't be talking about anyone else's mental health.
Ironically, though, there is evidence that draconian GOP policies, of which Cuccinelli is one of the harshest and most severe perpetrators of all, are taking their toll on the US population. Indeed, as Thom Hartmann reveals, in the past decade, the suicide rate in America is up.
Sen. Ebbin is absolutely correct that it's not a "question of whether marriage equality will come to Virginia, it is a question of when." Let's just hope that "when" comes very soon, and that this dark stain of intolerance is removed from our constitution ASAP.
STATEMENT FROM VIRGINIA STATE SENATOR ADAM P. EBBIN
ON LAWSUIT SEEKING TO OVERTURN SAME-GENDER MARRIAGE BAN AND REFUSAL TO GRANT RECOGNITION TO OUT OF STATE MARRIAGES
I commend the ACLU, Lambda Legal and Jenner and Block for filing a federal class action suit today to strike down Virginia's ban on same gender marriage and refusal to grant recognition to such out of state marriages.
The plaintiffs and thousands of other gay and lesbian couples deserve the same protections as all those Virginians whose marriages are recognized today. They seek equal treatment under the law, nothing more and nothing less.
I know of too many couples who have left the state due to a lack of the protections now offered to our neighbors in the District of Columbia and Maryland. With a total of thirteen states and DC offering equality to couples, Virginia is at a competitive and economic disadvantage. After all, forward thinking companies of all sizes locate where their diverse workforces will enjoy a high quality of life
It is not a question of whether marriage equality will come to Virginia, it is a question of when. The suit is in keeping with the tradition of Virginians fighting for, and winning, civil liberties; we are both the birthplace of the Bill of Rights and of the Loving vs. Virginia lawsuit that struck down anti-miscegenation laws across the United States.
This is the time for Virginia to wake up from history--as Jefferson said, 'laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times.'"
HERRING CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION INTO VRS INVESTMENT IN STAR SCIENTIFIC
Following a July 20th article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch revealing that the Virginia Retirement System invested in Star Scientific, later selling the stock at an $87,000 loss, Democratic nominee for Attorney General Mark Herring today sent a letter to Delegate John O’Bannon and State Senator John Watkins, the Chair and Vice Chair of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, requesting an investigation:
“The Star Scientific scandal grows more disturbing by the day and I am asking for this review because Virginians, particularly our state employees and their families, deserve a straight answer as to whether or not the Governor’s, or and Attorney General’s, involvement with Star Scientific affected state policy. If our system is broken, we need to know so we can fix it,” Herring stated.
In his letter, Herring calls on the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to exercise their oversight authority:
“The Virginia Retirement System Oversight Act…makes the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commissions responsible for the continuing oversight of the Virginia Retirement System,” Herring states. “I ask that you initiate a review…to determine who communicated at all with anyone connected with VRS about this stock, company, or Mr. Williams.”
“The public should know if anyone, anyone at all, from the Governor’s office, or the Governor’s family, ever communicated with the members of the board or the staff about Star Scientific,” Herring continues. “In addition, the public should know if anyone connected with the Attorney General or the Attorney General’s office ever communicated with the VRS board or staff about Star Scientific.”
“Additionally, the Commission should look into whether or not officials at VRS were aware of the promotional efforts of Governor McDonnell and the First Lady on behalf of Star Scientific at, or prior to, consideration of the investment,” Herring states.
So, back in April this was Ken Cuccinelli, talking about how he's supposedly a "big believer in transparency," and making a big joke about the gifts he received from Star Scientific's Jonnie Williams (Cuccinelli flippantly says, "if anyone wants $6,700 worth of food supplements, you know, I'm your man!"). Now, fast forward 3+ months, and Cuccinelli's not so big on transparency after all, stating yesterday that "he has no plans to repay the more than $18,000 in gifts" from Jonnie Williams, and claiming that "There are some bells you can't unring." Well, actually, Cuccinelli COULD "unring" the gifts from Jonnie Williams by...wait for it...writing a check for the value of those gifts. I know, what a concept. Not too difficult for most of us to understand, but apparently it is FAR too difficult for this "big believer in transparency" to grasp.
I've said it a million times, but I'll say it again and again: anyone who denies climate science should be marginalized, laughed at, treated as a pariah, and certainly not considered for political office, let alone governor of Virginia! In addition, regardless of the specific topic of climate science, Ken Cuccinelli's "monomaniacal witch hunt of intimidation, persecution and bullying" (in Chris Hayes' words) against UVA Professor Michael Mann, represents a clear case of (massive) abuse of government power, and should also, in and of itself, automatically rule out Ken Cuccinelli for public - let alone higher - office.
As for Michael Mann, we should all be profoundly grateful to him for his courage and perseverance in fighting back against Cuccinelli's (and others') thuggish attacks on science, on climate scientists, and on him personally. And we should listen to this great scientist as he lays out the "stark choice" facing Virginians when they vote for governor this November: 1) Terry McAuliffe, who "embraces science and technology" and who "recognizes that technological innovation is what's going to help Virginia compete in the world economy in the 21st century"; and 2) Ken Cuccinelli, "who views science as something to attack if it doesn't comport with his ideological views or the views of the special interests who fund his campaigns."
That's about as stark a choice as you can get, and it's not a difficult one. That is, if you believe in science, reason, the Enlightment, freedom of thought and from persecution by corrupt, bullying government officials like Ken Cuccinelli. Tough one, huh? (not)
Ken Cuccinelli confirms he's not just a right-wing extremist, he's also got absolutely ZERO ethical or moral compass.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says he's glad Gov. Bob McDonnell is returning all the gifts he received from a major political donor. But he has no plans to repay the more than $18,000 in gifts he received from the same benefactor.
Cuccinelli told reporters Wednesday that Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams didn't give him the kind of gifts that can be returned. Among the gifts from Williams listed in Cuccinelli's financial disclosure statements are a $1,500 catered Thanksgiving dinner, private jet trips and vacation lodging. Cuccinelli said, "There are some bells you can't unring.''
What a bizarre quote. Of course Cuccinelli could "unring" those "bells," simply by writing a check for the value of all that stuff and - wait for it, cuz this is apparently difficult for Cuckoo to understand - pay for what he got from his pal Jonnie Williams. As usual with "the Cooch," the rules don't apply to him, only to everyone else.
P.S. In addition, it may be that Cuccinelli doesn't have the money to repay this stuff. Which raises the question, where on earth is Bob McDonnell getting all this money to repay the loans and gifts his family and he received?!? Verrrry suspicious.
The following press release is from the McAuliffe for Governor campaign. Note that while you see a lot of independents and Republicans endorsing Terry McAuliffe, you don't see many (any?) Democrats endorsing Ken Cuccinelli. Gee, I wonder why that might be (hint: maybe because Cuccinelli's an extremist nutjob heading up a ticket of extremist nutjobs?).
Former Independent Delegate Watkins Abbitt endorsed Terry McAuliffe for governor on Wednesday during a tour of White Oak Springs Dairy Farm in Evington, Virginia. Abbitt, who served in the General Assembly from 1986 to 2012, cited McAuliffe's mainstream focus on issues that will improve Virginia's communities and economy as to why he is supporting McAuliffe.
"Having worked with members of both parties in the Virginia House of Delegates, I know how important it is that we have a governor who will bring everyone to the table and find common ground on the issues that will keep Virginia moving in the right direction," said Abbitt. "Terry McAuliffe is committed to finding mainstream ways to grow Virginia's economy, support our small businesses, and protect Virginia's natural resources and has shown that he will work with Republicans and Democrats alike to do so."
Abbitt lives in Appomattox and represented the 59th District during his tenure in the House of Delegates. He originally served as a Democrat, but switched to an Independent in 2001 and caucused with Republicans until his retirement in 2012. Throughout his career, he has been a leading advocate for conservation as well as Virginia's hunting and fishing traditions.
Abbitt is the latest of a series of Republicans and business leaders across Virginia who have joined in support for McAuliffe for governor -- below is a roundup of others who have recently endorsed McAuliffe.
So far, the commentary I've seen regarding the death of former Senator Harry F. Byrd, Jr. has ranged from bland to boilerplate to bizarre. Sen. Mark Warner fell mostly into the first two categories, issuing a VERY short statement praising Byrd's "commitment to fiscal accountability," and noting that "when Sen. Byrd and I occasionally agreed to disagree, he always was a gentleman about it." Uh huh. Ditto for Sen. Tim Kaine, who also issued a short statement, praising Byrd's "civil manner and commitment to public service," but not getting into any substance regarding Byrd's record. And Gov. Bob McDonnell issued a statement that's a bit longer, but still manages to not say much, other than biographical information (ignoring the bad stuff) and how "we've lost a good and decent person and a dedicated public servant," one "rightly known for his civility, candor and wit." In fairness, the Warner, Kaine and McDonnell statements appear to be nothing more than attempts to say something - anything - nice about someone who just passed away. That's fine, for the most part.
Then there was this bizarre statement from former Sen. George Allen, who somehow managed to call the underachieving, segregationist Byrd, Jr. "one of the most influential, respected and principled leaders of the 20th Century" (I bet we could quickly come up with a list of several hundred - thousand? - more "influential...leaders of the 20th Century" in America) lauding his "consistent, sound and unflinching leadership in working to achieve the ideal of a wise and frugal government."
None of those statements by Allen, of course, come even remotely close to the truth of the Byrd, Jr. (and Byrd family in general) legacy, including his never-renounced support for segregation and "Massive Resistance" (to school integration). Who knows what Allen's thinking, exactly, but consider who we're talking about here: a man who used a racist slur towards an Asian-American in the 2006 campaign; who habitually used the "n word" and even shoved a severed deer head in a black man's mailbox as a sick "prank" of some sort, who claimed that mentioning his Jewish heritage was casting "aspersions" on him (as if there's something bad about having a Jewish heritage), etc, etc. Should we, therefore, be surprised that Allen would feel the way he does about Harry F. Byrd, Jr? Obviously not.
So, that's three bland/boilerplate statements (from Senators Warner and Kaine and Gov. McDonnell), plus one (predictably) loony one (from former Senator George Allen), and a lot of silence from most other Virginia elected officials. How about something intelligent? For that, we've got to turn to the straight news articles, which noted Byrd, Jr.'s strong support for segregation, and to Bacon's Rebellion blogger Peter Galuszka, who has some choice words for Byrd, Jr. specifically, and for the Byrd machine in general.
One of the most important figures who defined much of what was wrong with Virginia in the 20th century has died at age 98.
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