Here are a few Virginia (and national) news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, May 1. Also check out Terry McAuliffe's first television advertisement of the campaign, "Youngest of Four," a positive ad which will air statewide starting tomorrow. Go Terry!
...the federal government-which means taxpayers-spent $136 billion total from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2013 on disaster relief. This adds up to an average of nearly $400 per household per year.
Nearly all of this disaster spending was for relief and recovery from these and other smaller natural disasters. Most of these disasters are symptomatic of the man-made climate change resulting from massive amounts of carbon emissions and other pollutants in the atmosphere, which warm the oceans and the Earth. As climate change accelerates, so will federal spending on disaster relief and recovery, which will ultimately be paid for by taxpayers.
The nearly $400 per household spent annually over the past three years could be the beginning of a very costly future as climate-related extreme weather multiplies. This issue brief explores federal spending on disaster relief and offers up recommendations for how we can respond to the potential growth in these expenditures.
So, let's get this story straight. The fossil fuel companies make enormous profits and receive huge taxpayer subsidies. At the same time, they spew enormous amounts of pollution that fuels climate change and intensifies storm severity and damage. Then, we the taxpayers get to shell out of our wallets to clean up the disasters the fossil fuel companies helped create. Great deal, huh? No, didn't think so. Instead, how about the fossil fuel companies reimburse taxpayers some or all of the $136 billion spent between 2011 and 2013 on disaster relief? And, going forward, how about the fossil fuel companies pay for the damages their pollution contributes to, especially as long as they continue to wallow at the taxpayer-funded government trough. Deal?
What's the difference between Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, now "serving a 14-year sentence in federal prison following conviction for corruption including the soliciting of bribes for political appointments?" Well, so far at least, Bob McDonnell hasn't been arrested by federal agents and put on trial for bribery and corruption. But based on this Washington Post front-page story, that might just be a matter of time at this point.
FBI agents are conducting interviews about the relationship between Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, his wife, Maureen, and a major campaign donor who paid for the food at the wedding of the governor's daughter, according to four people familiar with the questioning.
The agents have been asking associates of the McDonnells about gifts provided to the family by Star Scientific chief executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr. and actions the Republican governor and his wife have taken that may have boosted the company, the people said.
Among the topics being explored, they said, is the $15,000 catering bill that Williams paid for the 2011 wedding of McDonnell's daughter at Virginia's historic Executive Mansion. But questions have extended to other, previously undisclosed gifts from Williams to Maureen McDonnell as well, they said.
Great stuff, huh? Gotta love these moralistic , holier-than-thou Teapublicans. Also, so much for Bob McDonnell's hopes of ever being President, Vice President, Senator, dog catcher, etc. :)
Here are a few Virginia (and national) news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, April 30. Obviously, the top story BY FAR is FBI looking into relationship between McDonnells, donor by the Washington Post's Rosalind S. Helderman and Jerry Markon. I hope all the organizations giving out journalistic awards are paying attention to Helderman's work on this unfolding, multi-pronged corruption scandal, because she's doing a superb job digging into it (and possibly bringing down both Bob McDonnell (Virginia's Rod Blagojevich, apparently) and Ken Cuccinelli in the process). THAT is what journalism's supposed to be all about!
(Add another one: Cuccinelli endorser the Family Research Council says that"tragedies like Newtown and Boston - as well as the shooting at its headquarters last summer - are the result of 'sexual liberalism' and the lack of Christian influence on society." Does Cuccinelli agree with his endorser's views? If not, we're all ears! - promoted by lowkell)
A bit earlier today, I noticed a "conservative" (whatever that word even means these days) Virginia blog (I'm not linking, but the blog's initials are "BD") had an article arguing that Virginia actually has NOTHING to fear from Ken Cuccinelli, that he isn't really "extreme," and that simply "repeating that someone is extreme over and over doesn't make it so." OK, fine, challenge accepted: I won't just SAY the dude's extreme, I'll provide examples, 25 of them for starters (there are many, many more - these are pretty much the ones off the top of my head!). And yes, I'd say Virginians have a great deal to fear from almost every one of these items...
1. He wants to make it easier for Virginia public universities to discriminate against gay people.
2. He believes that "homosexual acts are...intrinsically wrong...don't comport with natural law...not healthy to an individual and in aggregate is not healthy to society."
3. He strongly supports a so-called "personhood amendment" to the Virginia constitution, that would effectively outlaw abortion as well as several types of birth control (e.g., the "morning after" pill).
4. He wants to ban abortion even in cases of rape or incest!
5. He has pushed to defund Planned Parenthood.
6. He has pushed to defund embryonic stem cell research, which is crucial for curing diseases from diabetes to Parkinsons to Alzheimers to...you name it, pretty much (note: the blastocysts would be discarded anyway).
7. He not only pushed for draconian, and completely unnecessary/arbitrary/absurd new regulations at Virginia women's health clinics, he went beyond that by "refus[ing] to certify that version of the regulations [which "grandfathered" existing clinics], telling [Virginia Board of Health] members that adopting such an amendment was outside their scope of power...[and threatening] to withhold state legal counsel from them if they did not pass his original version of the regulations."
8. He denies climate science (that alone should disqualify him from ever holding ANY public office, let alone governor!)
9. He launched a vicious witch hunt against one of the world's leading climate scientists, Dr. Michael Mann, something that AG candidate Mark Herring called "Un-American" (Herring added, correctly, that "that kind of attack on science went out with Galileo.")
10. He claims that Virginia can disobey federal laws it disagrees with. Uhhhh...didn't we fight the Civil War over that?
A PAC affiliated with the Susan B. Anthony List says in an ad that McAuliffe opposed new regulations that would "require women's health clinics to provide the same sanitary environment we expect of dental offices."
McAuliffe did oppose new regulations that were approved for abortion clinics earlier this month. But it is ridiculous to imply that these rules elevate the sanitary standards for clinics to those of dental offices.
Abortion clinics will be held to hospital building codes, must comply with with federal guidelines for infection prevention and will be inspected at least once every two years. Dental offices do not have to meet any of these guidelines and will continue to be inspected only in response to a complaint.
Without any evidence, the PAC has launched a misleading ad that trivializes very significant and polarizing changes Virginia has made to the way it regulates abortion clinics.
We rate this claim Pants on Fire.
What is the Susan B. Anthony list? Well, for starters, it "has a long history of waging war on women's rights and healthcare, from their support of radical 'personhood' legislation to their fight to ban access to abortion in all cases - including rape, incest, and danger to the life of the mother." They also defended (e.g., ran a TV ad) Indiana Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Mourdock after his comments about pregnancies resulting from rape being a "gift from god," and stood by Missouri Republican U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin after his "legitimate rape" comments. Now, this extremist group - which has also been labeled "Pants on Fire" liars for their "ridiculous" claims about right-wing efforts to close down Virginia women's health clinics - has enthusiastically endorsed Ken Cuccinelli for governor of Virginia, in large part because of his "leadership in defending the unborn" (translation: his efforts to outlaw abortion altogether). How much does the extremist Susan B. Anthony List love Ken Cuccinelli? Enough to pledge $1.5 million to help elect him. That pretty much says it all.
Workers should be able to go to work and return home safely. Unions fight for this promise every day. When working people have the ability to collectively bargain, they have a say in health and safety conditions on the job. Collective bargaining means workers can insist on protections without fear of retaliation. When working people speak out for better working conditions, it benefits everyone, not just union members.
Still too many workers remain in danger. The tragedy in West, TX is a painful reminder of the consequences of lax safety regulations combined with weak enforcement. Fourteen people including 10 first responders lost their lives and 200 people were injured when a fertilizer plant exploded.
According to reports, the West fertilizer plant had 270 tons of ammonium nitrate (1,350x the legal amount) and no sprinklers or fire barriers. The plant went 28 years without a safety inspection by OSHA. During that investigation, OSHA found 5 "serious" violations and fined the company $30.
No worker should have to sacrifice life, limbs or health to earn a day's pay. In 2011, 127 Virginians left for work one day and didn't come home to their families. That's 127 too many.
Every year on April 28, Workers Memorial Day, we pay tribute to those who lost their lives on the job, as well as those who've been injured or made sick due to workplace violations. We also renew our struggle for safe workplaces and the rights of workers to basic protections that keep them safe.
I'm not going to waste my time, not to mention valuable brain cells, detailing the shameless hackery, dutiful GOP party line stenography, breathtaking dishonesty, vicious nastiness, rotten-eggplant-level idiocy, extreme internal/self contradiction, sniveling sycophancy, and utter lack of journalistic ethics that comprise the Washington/Kaplan Post blogger Jennifer Rubin. I'll just provide you with a few links to get a taste of what I'm talking about, if you're so inclined:
On and on it goes; it's really endless how bad, unprofessional, insane, etc. Jennifer Rubin is. Yet Washington Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt keeps paying her salary (while the Post cuts loose its Ombudsman, by the way - fascinating priorities!), so he obviously approves of what she's doing. Or, more to the point, he like that: a) Rubin brings "eyeballs" - whatever their political stripe, they still count in terms of "hits" or whatever metric they're using - to the Post, which remains desperately in need of a business model, any business model, to stay afloat in the internet age; b) she provides faux "balance" to the Post; and c) she at least gives the Post an argument that they let right-wing voices be heard, that they're not totally "liberal" (in reality, the Post is overwhelmingly corporate in orientation, definitely NOT "liberal" on most issues).
When the issue of Democratic Party strategy comes up, one of the biggest questions often is: does the Democratic Party finally dig its trench and swollen the bitter pill of sequestration in order to force the GOP into an unshakable political hole? Of course, there are as many opinions and answers as there are individuals answering this question. But two of the main answers are as follows.
One is that refusing to cave to Republican Party pressure to cut a raw deal on the sequester is an essential policy move that will make Republicans think twice about waiting the Democratic Party out to give in to GOP demands. And there's a lot of truth to this. If the Democratic Party continuously 'caves' during the worst effects of poor policy decisions (like the sequester), then the Democratic Party has no real leverage to extract any significant policy demands from the Republican Party, like Ezra Klein points out. Yes, the Democratic Party may be saving their constituents pain in the short run, but when you give in to the demands of a mad man holding hostages, you better make sure you've neutralized the mad man (i.e., the Republican Party) in the process. Otherwise, the mad man will keep holding hostages!
Here are a few Virginia (and national) news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, April 28. Also check out the video from last night's White House Correspondents Dinner, Steven Spielberg's "Obama." LOL
Terry does a great job of laying out the campaign, emphasizing the stark contrast of his common sense solutions with Cuccinelli's extreme crackpot agenda. He announced we will be opening 35 field offices all over Virginia so we can talk to our voters on-on-one and get them out to vote this year. Meet your organizer in Fairfax on the flip.
Last fall, before a crowd of 350 people, I made a campaign speech about "a sick and broken spirit." At the end of the speech, people sprang to their feet as if they had heard something meaningful. A video of the speech went viral . But what did people think I meant by that word, "spirit"?
Spirit is something that one cannot see but that one can discern from the way things move. We see the spirit as we "see" the wind when trees bow before it
So it is with the sick and destructive spirit that now animates the Republican Party.
We cannot see that spirit directly. What we see are the actions of politicians like Bush and Rove and Cheney, and the words of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and the minions of Rupert Murdoch, and the way of doing politics practiced by the NRA, and by Liberty University and by the Republicans in Congress who made it their top priority, in a time of national crisis, to make our president fail.
Those things show us the force of the invisible wind that compels trees to bend in the direction the wind is heading.
And we see the sick and destructive spirit whose portrait, in that viral video, I painted like this:
• A spirit that makes a fight over everything
• A spirit for which there is no such thing as "Enough" of wealth or power
• A spirit that appeals continually to the worst in people, their hatreds and fears
• A spirit that lies about everything
When we see a force that acts coherently and that consistently inflicts damage, we infer that there's something operating that we do not see.
As often happens in gubernatorial races, the difference between winning or losing doesn't rest on substantive positions, TV ads, big-time endorsements, turnout organization, candidate charisma, etc. Rather, it comes down to a basic "process" issue. That is to say: the fatal problem starts with a fundamental mistake on how one organizes one's campaign.
A textbook case in point is the 2013 Ken Cuccinelli for Governor campaign. The more I study it, the more convinced I am of the following: there is a fundamental flaw at the heart of the campaign, one which no TV ad, no issue position, no fundraising, no nothin' of the sort, can fix. Mr. Cuccinelli created it.
The problem: Cuccinelli forget to the read the Bible. Specifically, Mathew 6: 24, wisely addressing the age-old problem of whether a man can serve two masters. Since the campaign year officially began on January 1, there have been two people running for the GOP nomination for Governor: Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and Governor guy wannabe Ken Cuccinelli.
As a matter of law and substantive work as regards the office of Attorney General, it is possible for these two Ken Cuccinellis to serve the same master: that is to say, the god of gubernatorial campaigning. With all due respect to the AG and his staff, it ain't that hard being the AG. It ain't that hard as regards the substance of running for governor. So as a legal matter, as a substance matter, it is easy to be AG and run for governor at the same time. The gods accept that, no big deal.
Here are a few Virginia (and national) news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, April 27. Also, check out President Obama's weekly address, in which he says " it's time for a balanced approach to deficit reduction that makes smarter cuts and reforms in the tax code while creating jobs and strengthening the middle class." The problem is, as always, Teapublicans are not interested in a "balanced approach," and no matter how many times President Obama calls for one, they're not going to give in. So...now what?
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