Now, here are a few highlights from my notes and tweets of the conference.
ACORE President and CEO Dennis McGinn, who ran a smooth and information-packed forum yesterday, repeatedly emphasized that point that renewable energy is the answer on several important fronts: national security, the economy and jobs, health and the environment. Vice Admiral McGinn also stressed the need for "federal and state policies that unlock new sources of capital from the private sector and create market certainty."
Forum co-chair Roger Ballentine of Green Strategies noted that there has been "more than $500 billion in private sector investment in renewable energy technology in the past two years," and that "the cost of solar, wind and other renewable energy sources continues to decline."
Just watch this video and judge for yourself: is Rep. Randy Forbes (R-4th, VA) a rude, ridiculous, xenophobic jerk or what? I mean, seriously, this guy's really a member of Congress, yet he wastes everyone's time (and taxpayer money) asking absurd hypothetical questions, such as whether we should be able to deport someone who MIGHT commit a violent crime in the future? Huh?!? How on earth do we know if someone MIGHT commit a violent crime in the future, let alone judge them guilty without any evidence? What, is Forbes a member of the "Pre-Crime" unit, or has he just been watching the movie "Minority Report" over and over again? My god...
Good job by Mike Signer demanding that Ken Cuccinelli provide records that would support Cuccinelli's repeated claim that his gubernatorial campaign is not detracting from the time or resources he devotes to doing the work of his office.
February 7, 2013
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli
Office of the Attorney General
900 E. Broad St.
Richmond, VA 23219
Dear General Cuccinelli:
For nearly three decades, Attorneys General of both political parties in Virginia have stepped down from the office to run for Governor. The reason for this tradition is simple: Virginians elect their Attorneys General to serve the public, not to run for Governor. In fact, you stated last month: "I ran to be Attorney General, not to run for Governor." Yet, in recent months, you have been directing the Office of Attorney General while running for Governor.
This has naturally created a question in the public mind about whether the resources of the Office of the Attorney General are being invested in the public interest or in a political campaign. This concern can be readily dispelled with open information about your office.
Is the contest between Bolling, Cuccinelli, and McAuliffe just beginning? Or, is it about to be over by the time the General Assembly adjourns in a few weeks?
As predicted right here, Governor McDonnell's historic transportation plan, based on changing the financial equation at the heart of Virginia's road policy for roughly a century, is now the definer of the 2013 election. When first suggesting this, I got plenty of email all saying I was crazy. That being the case, then surely it will not surprise when I do the following:
Double down on the prediction. By the end of this month, certainly by the end of the General Assembly Session, one of four 2013 gubernatorial scenarios is going to be set in motion.
1. Lt. Governor Bill Bolling will be the first legitimate third-party candidate for governor in the state's modern history, running as the pro-McDonnell transportation guy against anti-McConnell plan Republican Ken Cuccinelli and anti-McDonnell plan Terry McAuliffe. The latter two will have their own plans, and everyone but the media will know they helped kill the McDonnell plan and that their plans have no chance of being enacted in 2014.
Under this scenario, Mr. Bolling actually has a real reason to run. His top guy, Boyd Marcus, knows how to shape a winning strategy. Assuming Boyd is still up to the task, his man Bolling will get a lot more votes than anyone thinks at this point. If Bolling has $30 million, he might actually have a chance of winning if a few other dominoes fall into place. But since these things will not happen, in the end, his presence in the race will elect Terry McAuliffe, and the entire Democratic ticket, the first D-sweep since Wilder led the party to such a win roughly 25 years ago.
But Bolling will not be seen as a spoiler. Why? Because under this scenario, the GOP will surely nominate an anti-McDonnell plan ticket. How crazy is that in an election year, the GOP nominating a ticket that is recommending itself to the people in part because they fought the transportation plan of their own incumbent governor? About as crazy as it gets. [Lowell's note: how about "Cuccinelli Crazy?"]
Here are a few Virginia (and national) news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, February 7. Also, check out the video of Vice President Joe Biden swearing in John Kerry as Secretary of State.
Please don't view the new House of Delegates-passed bill for Virginia to study creating its own currency as a sign that this state is governed by ignorant, wacko, redneck, conspiracy-theory driven morons who just crawled out of some godforsaken Hillbilly Hell.
No -- view it as an opportunity. Because what could be more fun than designing your own money?
In the spirit -- as always -- of aiming to assist our Republican overlords, I am initiating this brainstorming session on what our new Commonwealth Cash should look like. Come on and add your own ideas. The only rule is that this currency must be limited to right-wing figures and themes, since Democrats of course lack the wisdom and foresight to protect us from UN conspiracies and stuff. So, here goes:
- The Ken Cuccinelli $397 bill: Because round numbers are a liberal conspiracy. The front of the bill would depict His Cucciness on a throne holding a scepter while scientists around him are being whipped and beaten. The back would depict the goddess Virtus -- whose left breast Cuccinelli ordered covered up as one of his first acts as Attorney General. This time, she'd be wearing a chador.
- The Bob McDonnell's hair $100: Have we ever had a governor with such newscaster-worthy hair? The front of the bill would pay tribute to Gov. Bob's hair. The back would be devoted to depicting all of the governor's accomplishments during his term. It would be blank.
- The Transvaginal Probe $50: The wondrous wand that keeps women pure by penetrating them surely deserves its own bill! Perhaps women could even use this bill when paying for this medically unnecessary procedure. The back would show a proudly barefoot, pregnant Virginia woman cooking food for her husband while holding two wailing infants.
Regarding House Bill 259, the massive voting district redraw bill crossing over from the Virginia Senate, Del Mark Cole moved to accept the Senate amendment.
Speaker Howell invoked the single object rule (no law shall embrace more than one object), but said it doesn't apply. This amendment is to the same purpose. So it doesn't violate the single object rule. Senate districts were added that were not in the title, but we have done that many times before, he said.
But the germaneness issue is much more problematic. It means that the issue is in close relationship, appropriate, and relative. It's a parliamentary principle used since 1789 and in the Va House for centuries to produce orderly legislation. It prevents legislation not reasonably anticipated and for which legislators were not properly prepared, he said.
House Bill 259 was introduced to make certain technical amendments, but not to completely re-do, the redistricting plan. It strays dramatically. This vast rewrite goes well beyond the usual precinct tweaks and the usual purpose of 259. Some think germaneness is in the eyes of the beholder. I think it is much more important for the integrity of the speaker's chair. And with that, Speaker Howell declared the vast, expansive redraw not germane.
The Congressional Budget Office has spoken. Starvation politics and policies hurt the economy. But the starve-the-beast partisans (and Blue Dogs) are still at it trying to carve out greater austerity, which will be costly and hurtful to most Americans.
Slow growth reflects a combination of ongoing improvement in underlying economic factors and fiscal tightening that has already begun or is scheduled to occur -- including the expiration of a 2 percentage-point cut in the Social Security payroll tax, an increase in tax rates on income above certain thresholds, and scheduled automatic reductions in federal spending. That subdued economic growth will limit businesses' need to hire additional workers, thereby causing the unemployment rate to stay near 8 percent this year, CBO projects.
Economists such as Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman, and Robert Reich have been warning that this was the case. So too have 350 others last fall.
US Rep Eric Cantor was everywhere yesterday trying to put a new face on the obstructionist, 99%-hating, xenophobic, "let-them-eat-cake" wrecking crew (aka the US Majority House Leadership). All it cared about in the past four years was thwarting Obama at every turn and making sure the economy didn't heal too well to enable the President's re-election. Guess what?
He (and his fellow members of the GOP leadership) may have gerrymandered their way into continued presence in the nation's capitol for now, but the electoral handwriting is own the wall for the future. The GOP will have to either cheat their way into continued domination of one House of Congress, change or fool Americans into thinking it has changed. Unwilling to actually change, Can't-or will try to put a pretty face on himself and itself. But messaging won't solve what is systemically wrong with today's Republican Party.
Cantor and the GOP leadership don't actually listen to the American people anymore, only the Tea Party. They doesn't even listen to those who used to be masters of packaging the nasty GOP and turning it into "sunshine." Yep, even Karl Rove is in exile. Instead the re-packager of vermin, Frank Luntz keeps keeping on. And he's fed Can't-or a mouth full.
Here are a few Virginia (and national) news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, February 6. Also, check out the video of Jon Stewart ripping "Ferret News" and "Republican Batman" Frank Luntz, "well known for changing language in order to make conservative policies sound better to the public."
RICHMOND, VA — Today, Senate Democrats rejected transportation plans that took significant money away from education and public safety and did not raise enough revenue to solve Virginia's transportation crisis. Senator Newman's plan to transfer money from the general fund was defeated on a vote of 22-18. Senator Wagner's plan to raise the gas tax was defeated 27-8. The Governor's plan was sent back to committee, taking it out of consideration for the session.
Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) said, "I go home deeply disappointed tonight. Although we saw three different transportation plans on the Floor, all were woefully inadequate to the transportation challenges Virginia faces. I cannot vote for a plan that does not raise sufficient revenue to repair Virginia's roads, bridges and tunnels; start long-delayed, needed new construction; and invest in mass transit. I also cannot vote for a plan that raids hundreds of millions of dollars from education and public safety."
Senator Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said, "I wish we could have reached agreement tonight, but none of the transportation proposals we saw tonight were anything close to the long-term comprehensive solution Virginia needs. The Governor's bill has been fatally flawed since day one."
Regarding Senator Wagner's proposal, Senator Saslaw continued, "The average price of a gallon of gas last night was probably close to $3.15. That would have likely only raised about 25 cents per gallon. That's nothing — not enough. And he gambles the other half of his plan on the Marketplace Equity Act passing Congress? This bill was poorly conceived."
Regarding Senator Wagner's proposal,Senator Chap Petersen(D-Fairfax) said, "This is a 53-page proposal that was put on our desks today. This is the biggest issue of the Session, and maybe of the last ten years. We haven’t been at the table. This has a lot of good parts to it, but this process is not the process that you go through if you’re serious about passing statewide law."
Build a useful road and you'll find that space on the road at peak times is a valuable commodity. And yet it's also a commodity that's generally either available for free or else available for a price that's unrelated to the demand for space on the road. Naturally an underpriced valuable commodity leads to overconsumption. Traffic jams, in other words.
Every once in a while Ben & Jerry's holds a "Free Cone Day" that invariably leads to long lines. Roadways in dynamic metro areas are basically holding Free Cone Day five days a week. Charge people enough money to eliminate routine congestion and you'll find yourself with fewer traffic jams and an enormous pool of revenue that can be used to maintain your basic infrastructure and upgrade your bus service.
Virginia is experimenting with congestion-priced HOT lanes, but only as additions to free congested roads. And instead of looking for solutions that would actually cut traffic and raise desperately-needed transportation revenue, Gov. Bob McDonnell is instead playing political games (read much more from Jim Bacon here and here).
Watch Jonas Eliasson, Director of the Centre for Transport Studies at Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology, explain how congestion pricing can improve traffic patterns - and drivers may not even realize they've been nudged out of their congested routine:
Yep, it's "Bobby" McDonnell's "dear friend" Pat Robertson (that's what Pat Robertson calls our governor) at it once again. In this installment, our favorite ignoramus and raging homophobic bigot (and misogynist) claims hysterically that the Boy Scouts letting LGBT people to be members, they're essentially letting in "predators" and "pedophiles." I'm sure he has all kinds of evidence to back up that assertion, too. Wait, he's just pulling it out of his a**? Ahhhh.
3 new voter ID laws in 3 years only makes it harder for Virginians to vote
Richmond, VA - The Virginia General Assembly this morning passed new voting restrictions that will make it harder for Virginians to cast a ballot. SB719, passed by the State Senate, and HB1337, passed by the House of Delegates, would eliminate several currently valid forms of voter ID. Together with SB1256, which will face a Senate vote later this afternoon, the newly advanced legislation could subject Virginians to three new voter ID requirements in three years. Constantly changing rules, along with conservative assertions that no voter education on the new requirements is necessary, would ensure confusion at polling places.
"If Virginians needed any more examples of conservatives' disregard for voters, it's the passage of these new restrictions," said Anna Scholl, Executive Director of ProgressVA. "Not only are these new voting restrictions the latest in the line at attempts to change the election rules in their favor, but three new voter ID requirements in three years ensures few voters will be confident they have the necessary ID to cast a ballot."
Both SB719 now contains a so-called "contingency clause" which would condition implementation of the legislation on an appropriation from the General Assembly. Conservatives this session have repeated refused to consider the cost of educating voters on new ID requirements. Delegate Mark Cole, sponsor of HB1337, called such efforts a waste of taxpayer dollars when the legislation was heard in committee. Both bills are now likely headed to conference committee to iron out the discrepencies.
As the gun lobby says, only a small percentage of the gun deaths in America are inflicted by semi-automatic weapons. But the importance of fighting to ban these weapons goes beyond the number of lives that can be saved.
Theologians say the most dangerous heresies are those that take a sacred text and distort it by making it absolute. Such absolutes are dangerous because achieving the good always requires balancing competing values.
Americans have been pretty good at understanding that. We hold "freedom of speech" as essential, but we agree with Justice Holmes that it does not include a right to falsely shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater. We hold "freedom of religion" to be sacred, but we draw a line at human sacrifice.
No right is absolute-not when the basic security of a society and its people are at stake.
But the NRA refuses to weigh other values. Rejecting attempts to arrive at some wise balance, the NRA has worked for years to inflame their followers with the fear that any limitation on gun rights is an intolerable assault on their freedoms.
With a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, we could turn the gun issue toward political sanity by drawing a line between weapons that serve legitimate civilian purposes, like hunting or personal protection, and weapons with no legitimate purpose, like those that enable a shooter to kill many people in a short time.
These are weapons of war and, to legitimate these weapons, war is what the gun lobby has worked to get its followers to envision. But war against whom? Against their own government if/when that government threatens them with tyranny.
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