Last night, Judge James R. Spencer, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, dismissed on the merits - or lack thereof, in this case (see the "flip" for the decision) - the King v. Sebelius case, yet another ridiculous challenge to the Affordable Care Act. The practical effect of the Plaintiffs' challenge, which was supported by - guess who? - Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (worst lawyer ever?) with an amicus brief, would have been to deny tax credits to low-income Virginians who are otherwise eligible if they sign up for healthcare through the federally operated exchange available to Virginians. The judge rejected the plaintiffs' arguments in the opinion (see the "flip" of this post).
Attorney General Cuccinelli announced his support for the case in early November 2013, as well as for a similar case, Halbig v. Sebelius, which was decided in favor of the ACA in January 2014. His office filed a brief in support of the plaintiffs in King in late November (see Cuccinelli press releases on the "flip").
Needless to say, Ken Cuccinelli's record in cases like these does not suggest a commitment to the law - or a record of success. In contrast, Cuccinelli's infinitely superior successor - Attorney General Mark Herring - is batting 1 for 1 in his constitutional analysis so far. :)
1. The next Representative from the 8th CD should be a strong, rock-solid progressive. On his campaign website, Hyra discusses his views on several issues.
*Environment: He supports "[s]trengthening the Clean Water and Air Acts, reducing our carbon footprint, and fighting against any efforts to gut the Environmental Protection Agency;" "[s]upporting public transportation options to help solve Northern Virginia's traffic congestion challenges;" and "[e]nsuring underserved communities do not disproportionately suffer environmental risks."
*Education: He supports "universal pre-K for all," ensuring that "college is more affordable" and "reducing student loan burdens," expanding "technical education, ongoing job training, and adult education programs."
*Economy: Supports raising the minimum wage, "[s]trengthening our social safety net," "extending unemployment insurance benefits," and taking measures to " create quality jobs in our communities, especially for women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses."
*Social and Economic Equality: He supports "women's rights and LGBTQ rights," "innovative healthcare policies," "[e]qual pay for equal work, and family-leave policies that provide real flexibility for working parents;" and "[e]quitable access to opportunities, skills enhancement and career development initiatives for underserved communities."
These are certainly all solid, progressive policies. The question is, would Hyra fight effectively for these things in Congress? His track record (see below) and professed values certainly would indicate that, but given that I'd never heard of Derek Hyra prior to his announcement for Congress, I'd like to hear a lot more about him before coming to any conclusions.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, February 19. Also, check out the "Inside Scoop" segment from Monday evening with 8th CD Democratic candidates Mark Levine and Del. Patrick Hope.
Seriously, where do Republicans find these people? The weekly Virginia Republican address is usually fact challenged and a bit crazed, but this week's speaker - Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) - seriously needs a few napkins to catch the spittle and foam coming out of his mouth. A few "highlights": 1) Reeves rants about Democrats taking charge of the States Senate following the election of Lt. Governor Ralph Northam, acting like it's an unprecedented partisan abuse of power, but fails to mention that Virginia Republicans have repeatedly done the exact same thing for years now (e.g., manipulating the rules, rushing through a partisan gerrymandering scheme while Democratic Senator and 70-year-old civil rights leader Henry Marsh was attending President Obama's inauguration on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; 2) his voice dripping with scorn, he states that "our Democrats are Obama Democrats" (red alert! red alert! severe possibly fatal case of Obama Derangement Syndrome! somebody call an ambulance!), yet again confusing our centrist (to a fault) president with whatever Reeves' fevered Teahadist brain falsely believes Barack Obama to be (it's very revealing about Reeves, that's for sure); 3) Reeves "proves" that Virginia Democrats are a bunch of crazed liberalliberalliberals because...wait for it...they want to raise the minimum wage (!!!) - the horror, the horror (snark)...thus ruining Virginia, basically; 4) Reeves repeats crazed (not to mention totally false) Faux "News" talking points that President Obama has ignored the "rule of law" and acted "unilaterally" blah blah blah, and suggests that Virginia Democrats are doing the same thing (you know, the thing that Obama DID NOT DO!). Anyway, this has been your weekly installment of Virginia Republian Fever Dreams and Frothing at the Mouth. I watch (and report) so you don't have to! You're welcome. ;)
Environment Virginia launched a new online video campaign featuring interviews with Congressmen Gerry Connolly and Jim Moran to encourage Virginians concerned about global warming to tell the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act on climate.
Washington, DC –Environment Virginia launched a new online video campaign to encourage Virginians concerned about global warming to tell the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act on climate. The video features exclusive interviews with U.S. Congressmen Gerry Connolly (VA-11) and Jim Moran (VA-8), who say they’re prioritizing tackling climate change and Virginia would benefit from implementing climate solutions, like cutting carbon pollution and investing in clean energy.
The video comes in the midst of the EPA’s public comment period for the proposed standard to limit the carbon pollution fueling global warming from new power plants. Congressmen Gerry Connolly and Jim Moran explain why they support the EPA’s proposed new rule and ask citizens to make a supportive comment before the public comment period closes on March10.
“If we want a safer climate and future for our kids, we can’t keep letting dirty power plants pollute,” said Madison Poche of Environment Virginia. “This video is a call for thousands of Virginians to come together and say: No new dirty power plants.”
President Obama was born in 1961, so I was thinking it might be fun on Presidents Day to rank the U.S. presidents since 1961 from worst to best. I'll also explain my reasoning.
10. George W. Bush (2001-2009) - No doubt, one of the worst U.S. presidents in our history, a disaster on almost every front (starting with massive tax cuts to the wealthy and failures to heed major warnings about a potential terrorist attack on the U.S. in the months leading up to 9/11). The only saving grace, really, was his reaction to the financial meltdown in the fall of 2008. For once, instead of just doing the right-wing ideological thing, he actually did what was necessary to save the U.S. (and world) economy from total meltdown. Other than that, he was horrible: turning budget surpluses into deficits for no good reason, misleading the country on the reasons for war with Iraq, failing to take action on climate change, allowing freakin' torture to take place on his watch, the Katrina debacle/disaster, letting Dick Cheney and others corrupt/buy the government for their cronies, screwing up the North Korea situation big time, on and on and on...near-total #FAIL.
9. Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) - The Iran-Contra scandal alone puts Reagan down towards the bottom of the list. Then add to that the Lebanon fiasco, in which 241 American servicemen were killed after the Reagan Administration pretty much did everything wrong -- mission creep, no clue what we were doing there, an indefensible position, inadequate security, "cutting and running" as the right-wing would say if it were a Democrat in office, etc, etc. (also note that the Lebanon disaster was a gazillion times worse than the Benghazi tragedy, yet Democrats did NOT pile on Reagan for it). Then add to that Reagan's disastrous economic, environmental, and many other policies. Plus, he raised tensions with the Soviet Union to dangerous levels; invaded Grenada for no good reason; helped lay the groundwork for the rise of Al Qaeda by heavily funding and supplying the Afghan mujahadeen; putting the horrendous Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court; etc. The saving grace of Reagan, ironically, was that despite the worshipful attitude towards him by many on the right, he committed a series of heresies: raising taxes multiple times, increasing government spending and the size of government, offering to get rid of all nuclear weapons, granting "amnesty" to 3 million undocumented immigrants, etc.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, February 18. By the way, I hear that several 8th CD candidates (Hope, Levine, Chatman, Euille) were at Alexandria's President's Day parade yesterday, and that Patrick Hope had the largest group of supporters with around 25.
In short, according to VPAP, they're not particularly representative of Virginia's highly diverse population. A few differences: a) they're much older; b) they're overwhelmingly white (e.g., "far less likely to be persons of color"), c) they're far less likely to be female (17% of the General Assembly vs. 51% of Virginia's 8 million people); and d) they're wealthier (e.g., 73 of the 140 members have stock portfolios above $100,000). By the way, I'd love to see this broken down by party.
It's no surprise that the House version of the budget did not include Medicaid expansion. House Republicans have shown that they are unwilling to extend health care to an estimated 270,000-400,000 currently uninsured Virginians who stand to benefit. But just months after voters rejected the extreme, anti-women's health agenda of Ken Cuccinelli and his running mates, House Republicans have tucked three budget amendments in their version of the biennial budget that undermine women's reproductive health and rights.
The first amendment they proposed would defund Planned Parenthood health centers in Virginia - cutting off the more than 24,000 Virginians who rely on Planned Parenthood for access to quality, affordable care. The second amendment they proposed would undermine the Governor's ability to roll back the targeted restrictions on abortion providers (TRAP) by Executive order. And the third amendment they proposed would repeal abortion funding for low-income women when a doctor certifies that the fetus has an incapacitating physical or mental anomaly.
These measures would chip away at Virginia women's access to comprehensive health care. Voters have made it clear they don't want politicians in Richmond interfering in our personal and private medical decisions. It's time House Republicans put Virginia women ahead of their extreme and dangerous agenda.
The only thing I'd add to the following brilliant essay, by Charles P. Pierce of Esquire, is that nobody - Bill Nye or anybody else - should be lending legitimacy to climate science deniers -- or evolution science deniers or 9/11 deniers or Holocaust deniers -- or any other ignorant/evil a**holes by "debating" them. Oh yeah, and I guess I'd also add that normal, sane people - let alone the President of the United States - shouldn't be giving right-wing nutjobs and trolls like Bill O'Reilly legitimacy either by agreeing to be "interviewed" (actually yelled at) by them. Why, why, why, why, why, a thousands times why, does anyone do this?!? (note: bolding added by me for emphasis)
This week, a Very Special Episode of How We're Fked As A Species.
Centuries from now, when the several remaining humans are huddled around a dwindling fire and pondering how each of them will kill the others and eat their still-warm flesh, the most boring among the remnant will pose the question, "Who is to blame for all of this?" Someone will mention the Koch Brothers. Someone else will bring up BP, and maybe our old friend, the Keystone XL pipeline will get a moan-out while the silent one in the corner sizes up the available rocks and studies the heads of his companions. If I'm not around, I hope at least one of them will summon up his last remaining breath and say, "The noodlebrained bag of useless flesh named David Gregory," before collapsing in a heap in the corner, whence he will awaken an hour later to find one of his companions sizing up his quadriceps for a light snack.
Yesterday, and I am not exaggerating a bit here, David Gregory and the Meet The Press gang presented the definitive argument not only for their mutual expulsion from the company of sentient primates, but also the single best example of why the entire elite political class of this country is one day going to be subject to a massive class-action negligence suit on the part of whatever rodents are left. Let us stipulate from the outset -- among the people who actually know what they're talking about, there is no debate about climate change. None. It is occurring. Humans are exacerbating it at an unacceptable rate and, if something isn't done, beachfront property in Indianapolis one day is going to be at a premium. Neither political party has shown itself overly willing to confront this reality, but only one of them mocks the science and slanders the scientists. Having largely ignored the primary environmental issue of the past millennium, the Dancin' Master decides to take the bull by the ass and stage a "debate" between Bill Nye, a mechanical engineer turned television science guy, and Marsha Blackburn, a congresswoman from Tennessee with a BS from Mississippi State. The rodents are going to have a helluva case, I'm thinking.
Yep, the rodents. And the cockroaches too, who will be one of the few varieties of fauna left after our fine species (exemplified by imbeciles like Marsha Blackburn - who, it should be noted, has received over $300,000 from the oil and gas industry - the egregious David Gregory, and the utterly inarticulate/airheaded Chuck Todd) finishes wiping out most of the species on Earth, quite possibly including our own. Heckuva job...
If you've ever checked out the comments section on just about any newspaper or blog, you'll quickly notice that it's a nightmare. Wackos. Vicious a**holes. Liars. Science deniers. Bigots. You name it. And no, it's not just on politics; it's on any and every subject under the sun, from the weather to sports to dating advice to...anything, basically. The question is, who are these crazy, nasty, horrible human beings trolls and why are they allowed to pollute newspapers and blogs? A new study helps answer that question, but also raises another one: should comments sections be eliminated altogether? First, some background:
In the past few years, the science of internet trollology has made some strides. Last year, for instance, we learned that by hurling insults and inciting discord in online comment sections, so-called internet "trolls" (who are frequently anonymous) have a polarizing effect on audiences, leading to politicization, rather than deeper understanding of scientific topics.
That's bad, but it's nothing compared with what a new psychology paper has to say about the personalities of so-called trolls themselves. The research, conducted by Erin Buckels of the University of Manitoba and two colleagues, sought to directly investigate whether people who engage in trolling are characterized by personality traits that fall in the so-called "Dark Tetrad": Machiavellianism (willingness to manipulate and deceive others), narcissism (egotism and self-obsession), psychopathy (the lack of remorse and empathy), and sadism (pleasure in the suffering of others).
It is hard to underplay the results: The study found correlations, sometimes quite significant, between these traits and trolling behavior. What's more, it also found a relationship between all Dark Tetrad traits (except for narcissism) and the overall time that an individual spent, per day, commenting on the internet.
To be sure, only 5.6 percent of survey respondents actually specified that they enjoy "trolling." By contrast, 41.3 percent of internet users were "non-commenters," meaning they didn't like engaging online at all. So trolls are, as has often been suspected, a minority of online commenters, and an even smaller minority of overall internet users.
Fascinating, horrifying and hilarious all at the same time...check out Del. "Sideshow" Bob Marshall's Facebook page for more, including comments by a "staffer" posting as "Bob Marshall" for some strange reason. I've captured it, just in case either Del. Bob Marshall or "Bob Marshall" try to delete it.
Once upon a time, back in the long-ago days of 2005, the Virginia political blogosphere was just getting going. Believe it or not, progressive and conservative bloggers would actually sit down with each other occasionally, including at events like the August 2005, Sorensen Institute "Summit on Blogging and Democracy in the Commonwealth." Among other things at that summit, we discussed "Blog Ethics and Regulation: Towards Developing a Blogging Code of Conduct." Among others, Will Vehrs of Bacon's Rebellion developed a proposal. Part of rule #1 - "I do not seek nor will I accept any payment for expressing opinions without advance notification to my readers." - jumps out at me, as it's exactly what the Virginia right-wing blogosphere is vehemently arguing (note: excellent article by conservative blogger Justin Higgins) about right now (note: one righty blogger - Brian Schoeneman - apparently threatening to sue another - Greg Letiecq - for defamation). My version of that rule? As I wrote at the time:
Fully disclose. Unless there is some overriding ethical or legal reason why you shouldn't, let your readers know the following information: your true name, your political affiliations and personal agendas wherever applicable, your weblog's purpose and mission, your personal connections to partisan elected officials (if relevant), and any payments you receive related to what you write on your blog.
How has the Virginia blogosphere done on that front since 2005?
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!