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So, the Virginia Tobacco Commission Can Actually Help Create Jobs After All?

by: lowkell

Wed Dec 10, 2014 at 19:42:58 PM EST

I point out the following press release from Gov. McAuliffe's office because it demonstrates that the Virginia Tobacco Commission is actually capable of using its resources to - are you sitting down? - create jobs. That is, as opposed to bribing a Democratic State Senator to quit and throw the Senate to Republican control. Also as opposed to doling out insane amounts of taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to a wealthy company that certainly doesn't need the help ("When energy giant Dominion Resources Inc. wanted $30 million in public funds to help build a pipeline that would fuel a new Dominion power plant, the Virginia tobacco commission was happy to oblige."). Now, if we could only get the tobacco commission folks to focus on what they're supposed to be doing (e.g., creating jobs), instead of all the crap they should NOT be doing (e.g., bribing people and doling out corporate welfare), perhaps they might actually do some good for our state?
Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Monogram Food Solutions, LLC, a Memphis-based manufacturer of value-added processed meats, will invest $36.475 million to expand its meat snacks production operation in the Henry County Patriot Centre Industrial Park. Virginia successfully competed against two other states for the project, which will create 200 new jobs.


The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McAuliffe approved a $400,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund to assist Henry County with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $835,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds. ...

..."Slowly but surely, the Tobacco Commission, along with its local partners, is revitalizing our economy here in Southside," said Senator Bill Stanley, member of the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. "This announcement is not just good news for our area, but also demonstrates the faith that industries are placing in the citizens of our region when they choose to invest here."

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Several Virginia GOP Congressmen Apparently Hell-Bent on Shutting Down Government

by: lowkell

Wed Dec 10, 2014 at 17:13:10 PM EST

Loading up a measure to fund the government with all kinds of garbage, whether to water down financial reforms undertaken after the 2008 Wall Street meltdown, or "to defeund Pres. Obama's executive amnesty," as Ken Cuccinelli puts it, is de facto pushing for a government shutdown. By the way, I'd love to know how they plan to "defund" something that doesn't run through Congressional appropriations. I'm sure that great economist and Ayn Rand cult-follower Dave Brat will figure it out. Or not. ;)

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EW Jackson: US Didn't Do Anything to Terrorists Like What "Viet Cong" Did to John McCain

by: lowkell

Wed Dec 10, 2014 at 12:56:16 PM EST

Crazy and stupid as usual from EW Jackson. "Stupid" in several senses: 1) we absolutely DID do horrendous things, if you read that tortured ("enhanced interrogation") report; 2) I'd think John McCain, who was actually tortured, would know better than EW Jackson; and 3) McCain wasn't held by the Viet Cong ("a political organization and army in South Vietnam and Cambodia that fought the United States and South Vietnamese governments during the Vietnam War"), he was tortured in a North Vietnamese prison. Also moronic is the concept that just because Democrats wrote this report, the facts must be wrong in some way. In fact, this report was highly watered down, redacted, etc. from the vast amount of material collected, which means that the full truth is almost certainly far worse even than this horrendous summary. Of course, fanboys of torturing people like EW Jackson don't care, but still. Finally, what about shoving stuff up people's butts, freezing them to death, and all the other horrible s*** revealed in this torture report, makes this "political propaganda" not torture? Or am I spending wayyyy too much time trying to parse the rantings of an extremist lunatic like EW Jackson?

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Virginia News Headlines: Wednesday Morning

by: lowkell

Wed Dec 10, 2014 at 06:35:15 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, December 10.

*A grim portrait of CIA tactics ("Report details brutality, pattern of deception")
*The 10 most harrowing excerpts from the CIA interrogation report (Appalling on every level. People need to be prosecuted for this crap.)
*This is not how Americans should behave. Ever. ("The Senate's CIA report tells of inhumanity that should never be condoned - or repeated.")
*Horror and shame ("Exposing the CIA's stain on America")
*Senate Torture Report: No, Bin Laden Was Not Found Because of CIA Torture ("The CIA disagrees-and in a footnote, the Senate intelligence committee says the agency is still wrong.")
*"Rectal Feeding," Threats to Children, and More: 16 Awful Abuses From the CIA Torture Report
*Why Dick Cheney Is Really Freaking Out About The New Torture Report
*David Ignatius: The Senate's CIA report is a necessary public accounting (Yes, although not sufficient. For that, we need justice.)
*The Jonathan Gruber hearing was a zany coda to Darrell Issa's tumultuous tenure (Speaking of "appalling" in a different way -- Darrell Issa is a disgrace to America.)
*Fox melts down after torture report: 'The United States of America is awesome, we are awesome!' (Fox is just a cringe-inducing embarrassment.)
*Budget bill shows GOP's new muscle (Elections have consequences, and when Democrats stay home, we hand power to the Republicans. Not good.)
*Senators, Gilmore, VCU expert weigh in on CIA actions (Mark Warner -- "We must demonstrate to the world that, as Americans, we're willing to look squarely at our actions, and always look for ways to do better")
*Schapiro: Republicans fight among themselves - again ("In Augusta County, tea party and libertarian Republicans are so determined to take out Sen. Emmett Hanger in 2015 - for twice supporting raising taxes since 2004 and pushing this year for a Medicaid-financed expansion of Obamacare - that they are attempting to rig the nominating process against him.")
*Public-private road deals could face more oversight ("The proposal by Gov. Terry McAuliffe seeks to increase oversight and transparency amid anger over a deal that Bob McDonnell struck under his administration: the Midtown-Downtown Tunnel toll project.")
*Tim Kaine: 'Weak argument' to justify campaign against Islamic State with past authorizations
*Pillion wins 4th District election for Virginia House of Delegates seat (Another cookie-cutter right winger for a Virginia General Assembly already drowning in them.)
*Warming watershed harms bay, river life ("There is no mistaking the trend: Air and water in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have been getting warmer for the past 50 years. Climate scientists, unfortunately, predict it will get worse.")

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New Fact Sheet Illustrates Virginia's Enormous Wind Power Potential

by: lowkell

Tue Dec 09, 2014 at 13:49:42 PM EST

In 2012, Virginia consumed 108 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity. Currently, most of that is generated using health-and-environment-trashing coal and natural gas, plus super-expensive nuclear plants. Yet, according to this new fact sheet from the Southeastern Wind Coalition (data sources: Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, US Energy Information Administration, American Wind Energy Association), Virginia has the potential within just 5-10 years to produce 258.4 TWh/year -- more than twice the entire amount of electricity Virginia consumed in 2012.

Amazing, huh? Along those same lines, also note:

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), just four states (VA, NC, SC, and GA) have about 63% of the total East Coast offshore wind resource in less than 30 meters of water.  If we look at resource greater than 12 miles offshore and in less than 30 meters of water, those same four states have 82% of the East Coast resource.

NREL estimates the technical potential within 50 miles of the coast of VA, NC, SC, and GA to be about 583 gigawatts, which which is equal to about two times the electricity demand of every coastal state from Maine to Florida. This region has the potential to be a significant exporter of offshore wind energy.

That's right; not only could we produce ALL our power from wind, but we could produce enough to export, potentially earning billions of dollars for Virginia's economy. Of course, offshore wind power is more expensive than onshore wind power, but as with everything else, costs will come down sharply once we start building in this country "to scale" (see this study for some thoughts on that topic). Also keep in mind that wind power emits no health-and-environment-damaging pollution, whether we're talking about greenhouses gases, toxix substances of various kinds, particulates, whatever. Offshore wind power doesn't blow up mountains. It doesn't "spill." It doesn't contaminate our water supplies or require massive amounts of water to produce it, as "fracked" natural gas does (in fact, wind power requires ZERO water to produce). It's not even an "eyesore" (assuming you find wind turbines less attractive than, let's say, a coal-fired power plant), since it would be located well offshore.

So what's the holdup? Basically, it's two major things: 1) counterproductive, dysfunctional, nonsensical, or to be nice "suboptimal" public policy, which massively subsidizes fossil fuels, while tilting the playing field in a myriad of other ways (e.g., not correcting for market failure by imposing a sizable tax on fossil fuel's pollution) against clean energy and in favor of dirty energy; and 2) the fact that offshore wind power currently costs somewhat more than heavily-subsidized, non-internalized fossil fuels (although see the graph on the "flip" regarding cost trends for onshore wind vs. natural gas).

Of course, to correct #2, we need to fix #1. But given that policy is set by a bunch of people, like Virginia House Speaker Bill "ALEC" Howell, who are really not much more than bought-and-paid-for puppets of the fossil fuel industry, this problem isn't going to be easy to fix. The clear answer: vote all these guys out of office, while simultaneously imposing strict campaign finance and lobbying limits. Then we'll see what happens...

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Video: US Senator Dianne Feinstein Unveils CIA Torture Report on Capitol Hill

by: lowkell

Tue Dec 09, 2014 at 12:51:04 PM EST

To read the report, click here. Key findings include: 1) "Torture didn't stop a single terrorist attack;" 2) "The CIA lied about the success of torture in obtaining intelligence;" 3) "Not everyone approved of the torture policy;" 4) "The torture methods were far more brutal than originally reported;" 5) "Water-boarding caused physical harm." In other words, everything Dick Cheney and other torture apologists/cheerleaders said wasn't just wrong, it was an out-and-out lie. Remind me again, why haven't there been prosecutions of these people?

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What Intimate Partner Fatality Reviews Reveal

by: Dan Sullivan

Mon Dec 08, 2014 at 13:25:02 PM EST

No more dark secrets photo Nomoredarksecrets_zpse71c5f4a.jpgWe often view others as reflections of ourselves; casting the world we perceive using a mold shaped by limited experience. We shake our heads at outcomes that make no sense in our personal universe and carry on. This perspective arms those, like Jesse Matthew, who, unlike most, would do harm.

In 1999, then Delegate Toddy Puller (D) patroned a bill that established the authority for local jurisdiction review boards empowered to look into fatalities arising from what was then termed domestic violence but is now more broadly designated Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). And while the acts of which Jesse Matthew are accused would not fall under the authority of these boards, the revelations about the circumstances surrounding and those involved in cases like these shed light on how serial offenders are enabled. They speak to the nature of human behavior. One such board, the Monticello Area Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, recently released its first report.

The product of the review, a fuller context of circumstances leading to fatalities, serves a completely different purpose than that of the justice system. The purpose of fatality review is to determine where in the system something may have gone wrong or whether there is some deficiency that can be remedied to improve services. And instead of shaking heads, this should lead to slapping foreheads, better public policy, and broader perspective.

"...the review reinforces the actually is when she leaves the relationship that those resources really need to be put in place to keep her safe. It was really an eye-opening time for me, even though I work in this every day...our goal out of having the report is to start generating talk...this is in our community, here is the raw data, here's numbers and this is what we can work from." - Robin Hoover, Co-Chair, Monticello Area Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team and Legal Advocate and Outreach Counselor at Shelter.

There is no fine method of painting the landscape of abusive relationships. The rough outline will begin here with those that result in death; the extreme, you may conclude. In my view, that is inaccurate. Tortuous relationships that carry on indeterminately have far greater collateral damage and are more likely to perpetuate.  

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Virginia News Headlines: Tuesday Morning

by: lowkell

Tue Dec 09, 2014 at 06:34:55 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, December 9.

*Spending bill hits snag as deadline looms
*The New Republic is dead, thanks to its owner, Chris Hughes (What is Hughes trying to be, the Dan Snyder of media? Ugh.)
*Bush Officials Step Up To Blast Torture Report Before It's Out (These torturers and torture enablers should be prosecuted.)
*Why the upcoming battle over the Senate torture report is such a big deal
*Paul Krugman destroys conservatives' favorite myths about the Obama economy
*Frank Luntz Repeatedly Touted Koch Group Ads Without Disclosing His Koch Brothers Backing (Yep, that's our Frankie!)
*The Democratic Party's long term problem is worse than you think (They should have done what I did back in 2005, and what Republicans have done for a long time -- decided to focus their efforts on the state level. But noooooo.)
*Sharp Racial Divisions in Reactions to Brown, Garner Decisions (Many whites continue to be utterly oblivious.)
*The secret GOP tech summit to plot 2016 (What are Dems doing on this front?)
*Surgeon general nominee likely to get vote (Basically, he was blocked by Republicans who are in lockstep with/terrified of the NRA.)
*Why are subsidies wrong for renewable energy, but OK for fossil fuels? (In fact, fossil fuels get orders of magnitude more in subsidies, both explicit and implicit, then renewable energy gets. Fossil fuels have also gotten those subsidies for many decades, while clean energy hasn't. So just ignore the fossil fuel corporate welfare bums and their incessant whining.)
*Our view: Virginia's not really into us (Talk to your Republican delegates and senators about it!)
*Mountain Valley Pipeline eyes Roanoke County as site for compressor station
*For women's health ("When Republican leaders in Virginia ushered through strict regulations targeting women clinics during the administration of former Gov. Bob McDonnell, they fully intended to stop abortion in the commonwealth.")
*JLARC blasts Virginia's workforce training efforts ("General Assembly researchers presented a withering analysis of Virginia's workforce development system Monday, describing a clunky collection of players that often fail to meet the needs of local businesses.")
*Virginia rocket-maker Orbital moves forward on $4.5 billion merger
*Suddenly, It's Raining Gas Projects and Tax Breaks (The fossil fuel, taxpayer-funded corporate welfare gravy train continues.)
*University of Virginia outlines campus safety plans
*U-Va. Greek system suspension to remain until Jan. 9
*A rush to publish on rape at U.Va.
*Virginia's licensing requirements hurt a Loudoun County charter school
*Misery index rises as rain, wind, and cold sweep into the area

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Messaging for Democrats: YOU need a raise!

by: Jameson

Mon Dec 08, 2014 at 09:09:20 AM EST

( - promoted by lowkell)

If Democrats have been getting clobbered by the working class voting Republican totally against their economic interest, we have been doing it wrong. How about a simple message that can appeal to almost everyone who works in America? It is: YOU need a raise! Lowell encouraged me to cross-post my blog article on this here; I hope that this stimulates some conversation. 
A few days before the last election, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled, “Democrats lose their grip on voters with keys to the House.” The article began:
AITKIN, Minn.—The plumbers, drillers and truck drivers who arrive at the Birchwood Cafe before sunrise pour their own coffee, tuck away eggs and air gripes that help explain why some longtime Democrats now lean Republican. They are skeptical of President Barack Obama and don’t care much for his party’s support of federal safety-net programs. ‘You take a look at all the giveaway programs the Democrats have. Nobody wants to work anymore,’ said Dale Lundquist, a 69-year-old excavation contractor.
The incomes of plumbers, drillers, truck drivers, and most other working class workers (not to mention most other Americans) have stagnated or declined over the last several decades. Workers’ productivity has continued to increase since the end of World War II, but their compensation became untethered from productivity in around 1979 and has not kept up since. 
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Washington Post Article on Virginia Senate Gets Just About Everything Wrong

by: lowkell

Mon Dec 08, 2014 at 12:43:09 PM EST

The Washington Post these days is busy blasting away at Rolling Stone for its screwups in the UVA "gang rape" story. Which is fine, except for one problem: the Post has its own accuracy problems in its own glass house, ones it might want to address before it starts casting stones at others. Exhibit A is this story by Laura Vozzella on the Virginia State Senate. A few glaring problems that jumped right out at me include.

1. "Colgan has held on in his increasingly red Prince William County district."
Uhhhh...nice try? Or not. In fact, according to VPAP, District 29 went from a 60% Cuccinelli district in 2009 to a 57% McAuliffe/60% Northam/59% Herring district in 2013. So yeah, not only has Colgan's district not become "increasingly red," it's gone in the exact opposite direction, one that President Obama won 63%-35% in 2012. Does the Washington Post have any editors? fact checkers? quality control? anything? Note that  Josh Israel of ThinkProgress pointed out this error to Laura Vozzella at 9:11 this morning, and nearly 4 hours later, has received no response, let alone a correction. I'd say "amazing," except I've seen this kind of thing so many times at the Post, it's not in the least bit surprising by now...sigh. Even worse, what I think Vozzella was doing here was something that drives me nuts about the media: deciding on a narrative BEFORE writing the story, than forcing the "facts" to fit that narrative. In this case, the narrative was that "moderates" are endangered in the Virginia State Senate. More on that in the next item.

2. "Two of the Virginia Senate's most senior members, who are among the chamber's last remaining centrists, are calling it quits... Colgan and Watkins hail from a time when moderates ruled Richmond's upper chamber. Now they are a rare breed."
How do I put this delicately? Yeah, this is utter bull****. Oh, sorry, that wasn't delicate - my bad! LOL But seriously, is this supposed to be "journalism" or just "making s*** up?" Because, of course, this is the classic "both sides"/"false equivalency" style of "reporting," taken to its nadir. In reality, it's the Republican Party that's seen the rise of a far-right-wing, populist movement (the Tea Party) in recent years, forcing its members to scramble to cover their right political "flanks." In the Democratic Party, there is absolutely no such thing. In fact, I was talking to a senior Virginia Dem this morning and asked him when the last time an incumbent Virginia Senate Democrat had been primaried, let alone from their "left." He couldn't remember a single case. Nor could I (UPDATE: OK, one example I somehow forgot -- seven years ago, back in 2007, Donald McEachin primaried State Senator "Benedict" Lambert after Lambert endorsed freakin' George Allen for US Senate over Jim Webb). Which is probably why Virginia Senate Democrats are about as "centrist" as you can get;  on issue after issue, they are in the majority of U.S. and Virginia public opinion. In stark contrast, Virginia Senate Republicans like Mark "Criminalize Miscarriages" Obenshain, raving homophobe Dick Black, and many others are on the hard, hard right. A (very) short list of Virginia Senate "centrist" Democrats includes: John Miller, John Edwards, Creigh Deeds, Lynwood Lewis, Kenny Alexander, Dick Saslaw, Dave Marsden, George Barker, Chap Petersen, etc, etc. Yet according to Laura Vozella, the retirement of Chuck Colgan at  age 88 somehow puts "centrists" among Virginia State Senate Democrats in jeopardy of disappearing? Alrighty...

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Review of "Wicked Northern Virginia" by Michael Lee Pope

by: rockdove

Mon Dec 08, 2014 at 10:28:50 AM EST

( - promoted by lowkell)

The photos and political cartoons in the cover's collage and interspersed throughout the book's 131 pages in Wicked Northern Virginia caught my attention. I was intrigued and spooked by some of the photo subjects: portraits, paintings, grave-markers, and "wicked" places of time gone-by, such as a bordello houseboat, a tobacco barn, and turn of the 20th century barrooms. In one photo, five men sit or stand on the steps of a house porch under a banner bearing slogans of the American Nazi Party; the house that once served as headquarters was on a street near where I live now. In another, a row of low-slung buildings and telegraph poles line a dirt road in a place I didn't recognize called "Hells Bottom."

Thus primed, I started chapter one, and found the book hard to put down. Morbidly engrossed in the death scene of a stoic George Washington, I felt the horror of modern hindsight as I read of the extent of bloodletting used by the doctors at Mount Vernon in their well-meaning attempts to save him. Only one of the three doctors knew enough of the latest medical practices to even question repeating the treatment.

Pope begins his book with a promise to divulge events buried in Northern Virginia's history, events that are wicked because they involve "murder, mayhem, sex, violence and politics." Each chapter details a different episode, and the first chapter turned out to be one of my favorites, even though I thought it marginally wicked, compared with the activities of other chapters. Each chapter also has a unique voice conveying a flavor of the language of the times. I imagine this could be a natural outcome of the research for the book, which references court proceedings, quotes Colonial Council minutes, and includes excerpts from the accounts of old newspapers and gazettes. The Bibliography includes collections of stories, historic narrative accounts, and an 1894 volume by Teddy Roosevelt, The Winning of the West. All of these sources would be written in the vernacular of the time. In fact, on an Acknowledgements page, Pope thanks Julie Downie for "helping me translate Victorian euphemisms." Even with these hints of unfamiliar, old-fashioned turns of phrase, the narrative flows, helped along by Pope's use of dialog. My favorite chapters are based on my personal interests and preferences for topics and patterns of speech.

The book can be read straight through or by skipping, aided by informative chapter titles. I sometimes privately bemoan the currently common practice of entitling books with the "Title: After-Colon-Insert-Elevator-Speech" formulation, for want of the opportunity to treat a title like a morsel of poetry. But these chapter headings gave me my desired morsel, while also telling me the locale and form of wickedness, and hinting at the time period when I recognized a historic name.  

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Following Up on Mark Warner's 2014 Performance

by: FreeDem

Mon Dec 08, 2014 at 08:02:57 AM EST

Before the 2014 election I wrote about specific areas to watch for sorting out ongoing political trends in Virginia. After Mark Warner's nail-biting reelection night, I tore apart the Warner campaign's claim that they ran significantly ahead of other Democrats in Virginia's rural areas, with a follow-up diary comparing Mark Warner to Tom Perriello. Today, I want to take the time to follow up on some of the areas I picked as canaries in the coal mine of Virginia politics. While dissecting Election 2014 by House of Delegates and State Senate district is still being finalized by the good people at VPAP, here are some preliminary findings.

9th House of Delegates District (Franklin, Henry, Patrick Counties): The 9th had been at the center of Warner's crossover support in 2008, and featured a lively fight by Ward Armstrong after Republicans targeted him in their gerrymandering. The result in 2015? Mark Warner received 36% of the vote, just marginally above Obama's 34% in 2012.

12th House of Delegates District (Montgomery and Giles Counties, Radford City): Warner received 52% of the vote here, higher than Obama's 50% but behind Kaine's 54%. This is a unique district, the influence of Virginia Tech makes it very different than other Southwest districts. It also remained one of the best districts for Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis.

6th House of Delegates District (Wythe, Carroll, Smyth Counties): Warner's 34% of the vote is behind Democrat McGrady's 37% from his 2013 delegates race, which somehow House Democrats convinced themselves was in the bag. About the same as Tim Kaine's 34% in 2012, but not an impressive showing based on prior Warner claims about Southwest popularity.

14th (Danville City; Pittsylvania and Henry Counties) & 16th (Pittsylvania and Henry Counties; Martinsville City) House of Delegates Districts: Warner received 48% of the vote in the Danville based 14th, marginally better than expected given his near defeat statewide. His 43% in the 16th was similar; better than normal Democrats, but only by a few points.  

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Virginia News Headlines: Monday Morning

by: lowkell

Mon Dec 08, 2014 at 06:23:10 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, November 8. Also, check out President Obama speaking at the Kennedy Center Honors Reception. It's actually very funny, particularly the part with Lily Tomlin.

*Lobbyists for fossil fuels target climate rules (These people are working to destroy the planet, all to keep their profits rolling in. If that's not evil, what is?)
*GOP pins hopes of dismantling ObamaCare on the courts (That would be those "activist judges" Republicans claim to hate?)
*Rush Limbaugh Visits Fox News Sunday To Push For A Government Shutdown (Of course Fox has a hatemongering extremist on, and of course he pushes to shut down the government, and of course...)
*In politics, does evidence matter? ("Insisting that politicians base their claims on facts and evidence ought to be the least we expect of them." Example #1: climate science.)
*More than 3,800 state workers paid under federal poverty level
*Gilmore hints at another presidential run in 2016 (Hahahahaha.)
*Today's Top Opinion: Shorter leash ("There's controversy brewing around Virginia's tobacco commission - again.")
*Our view: The unvarnished Jim Webb ("Webb is often categorized as a centrist. That's not true. Webb simply does not fit neatly into the conventional, two-dimensional left-to-right universe." Bingo.)
*General Assembly bill would require civics test for high schoolers
*Lawmakers: Do the math on Medicaid expansion (It's not "lawmakers" in general, it's only Republicans who are the problem on this, as every General Assembly Democrat supports Medicaid expansion. Why is it so hard for newspapers to just say that?)
*For some, natural gas pipeline through Va. carries concerns (Should be "everyone" not "some.")
*Prince William on track to convert to paper ballots ("The move is one of several changes the county is making to reduce long waits at the polls on Election Day.")
*Two of the Virginia Senate's last remaining centrists are retiring (I pretty much stopped reading after the absurd headline. In fact, every Democrat in the State Senate is a "centrist," if "centrist" is defined as in the majority on issue after issue. It's Republicans who are clearly not "centrist.")
*The epic Rolling Stone-rape fallout: How publications get it wrong
*Fraternity advocates call on U-Va. to end suspension of Greek system
*John Geer case moves to Justice Dept. civil rights division, Fairfax County remains silent
*Treating disability, not criminality ("Virginia mishandles the case of an autisitic young man who should be treated, not endlessly punished.")
*Arlington school officials look for ways to squeeze in more students (The obvious answer, given the scarcity of land in Arlington, is to go "vertical.")
*Cool and cloudy today; another
round of cold rain on its way

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Reform Virginia's Taxes, But How?

by: FreeDem

Sun Dec 07, 2014 at 12:46:51 PM EST

( - promoted by lowkell)

Former Lt. Governor Bill Bolling has taken to the GOP establishment's paper of record to make the case for "pro-growth" tax reform. Remember, tax cuts as an economic agenda is never about making life easier for the rich and affluent in Virginia. It's never about boosting profits for businesses. It is in no way a selfish, cynical policy proposal. It's a serious idea (TM) to promote growth, because we cannot talk about other ways of encouraging growth (investing in education, expanding middle class incomes, or anything else that acknowledges government's role in sustaining economic growth).

Virginia's current tax code is full of exemptions, exceptions and credits that lower state revenue by billions of dollars every year. In 2011, the General Assembly's Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) estimated that current loopholes in Virginia's tax code reduced state revenues by $12.5 billion.


The question then becomes, what do we do with this additional money?

Some of it could be used to help support existing programs that are under extreme budget pressure, such as K-12 and higher education, but the primary focus should be on providing tax relief in areas that would help support economic development and enable working families to keep more of their hard-earned money.

Don't reform taxes to invest in government services. Reform taxes so we can cut taxes elsewhere. The list that Bolling provides mentions almost every tax in Virginia, from the corporate income tax to the BPOL tax to the individual income tax. It's far from a specific policy proposal, ironic given that Bolling also talks about how challenging tax reform can be because politicians aren't courageous enough to work for ideas that can create winners and losers.

Last year the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy put out an idea to increase the state sales tax by expanding the goods and services covered, while cutting local taxes that Virginia's business community has long complained about. Expanding the sales tax to cover services is not necessarily a Democratic or Republican idea, DC recently adopted this as part of the so-called "yoga tax."  

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Former Virginia AG Andrew P. Miller Fought Voting Rights Act, Now Fighting for Keystone XL Pipeline

by: lowkell

Sat Dec 06, 2014 at 20:58:51 PM EST

Believe it or not, the same Virginia Attorney General, Andrew P. Miller (D-ixiecrat), who filed suit agains the Voting Rights Act back in 1973, is still going strong (at 82 years old, no less). That is, if by "strong" we mean "slimy," "awful," "corrupt," "working to destroy the environment," "selling whatever soul he has for money," etc. (note: Miller also sprung into action last year in defense of Ken Cuccinelli regarding Star Scientific; and earlier this year to the defense of Bob McDonnell). For more details on this blatant attempt by the fossil fuel industry to purchase our government in order to free them up to continue trashing the environment with impunity, check out the blockbuster New York Times story, "A Window Into a Secret Alliance: Attorneys General and the Energy Industry." Here are a few highlights, focused on Virginia. As you read through this, also ask yourself WTF is the deal with George Mason University, which as the NY Times article points out is a "state institution?" How can they get away with this crap? Are all our state legislators asleep at the switch or what?

*"Andrew P. Miller, a former attorney general of Virginia, has in the years since he left office built a practice representing major energy companies before state attorneys general, including Southern Company and TransCanada, the entity behind the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The New York Times collected emails Mr. Miller sent to attorneys general in several states."

*"Mr. Miller approached Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma in April 2012, with the goal of helping to encourage Mr. Pruitt, who then had been in office about 18 months, to take an even greater role in serving as a national leader of the effort to block Obama administration environmental regulations."

*"Mr. Miller worked closely with Mr. Pruitt, and representatives from an industry-funded program at George Mason, to organize a summit meeting in Oklahoma City that would assemble energy industry lobbyists, lawyers and executives to have closed-door discussions with attorneys general. The companies that were invited, such as Devon Energy, were in most cases also major campaign donors to the Republican Attorneys General Association."

*"Mr. Miller asked [West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey] to help push legislation opposing an Obama administration plan to regulate carbon emissions from existing coal-burning power plants. Legislation nearly identical to what Mr. Miller proposed was introduced in the West Virginia Legislature and then passed. Mr. Morrisey disputed any suggestion that he played a role."

*Click here for a PDF file of emails, etc., illustrating how Miller, "the lawyer and lobbyist for the coal industry," went about fighting environmental legislation on behalf of his fossil fuel clients, "behind closed doors." It's truly appalling, nauseating stuff which makes a mockery of any concept that this is government of/by/for the people.

*A few more documents that give a feel for this slimy effort include:  

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 571 words in story)
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