I continue to be baffled by those (mostly "conservatives") who keep wagging their fingers and warning us against any kind of "rush to judgement." What about a rush to shoot?
Your government rushed to use chemical agents, rubber bullets, and technology designed for waging war on foreign enemies- all against peaceful citizen protestors. Tear gas and bullets were not used during the looting, but against peaceful protestors in their own neighborhood.
You go on and on about an oppressive big government violating your freedoms- but when armed agents of the state violate the freedoms of poor black people, you wag your finger and tell us not to "rush to judgement."
You look the other way when it happens in a poor black neighborhood because you're thinking to yourself well, that's a dangerous place full of thugs so they probably deserve it, those people have to know their place.
Here's the point: those are RIGHTS that are being violated, rights that are no less sacred when held by poor people or held by men and women of color.
You allow armed agents of state power to form a domestic army that violates the rights of human beings in an impoverished neighborhood, then I can absolutely and without qualification promise that they're coming to your neighborhood next. It's not a matter of if, but when.
Today it's the parking lot of a convenience store on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson, Missouri. Tomorrow it's the parking lot of a grocery store at Barracks Road Shopping Center in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Here are a few winners and losers from the 2014 Virginia primary election cycle that I believe are worth highlighting. As always, this list isn't meant to be comprehensive - just a few that jumped out at me - so please add winners and losers of your own in the comments section. Thanks.
WINNERS 1. Fairfax County and Arlington County Democratic Committees: Great job by these two committees on the 48th House of Delegates race all around -- including having just 6 days to organize a well-run caucus, with Instant Runoff Voting no less and a debate, followed by a strong general election campaign in the "dog days" of August, when many people are at the beach or getting ready to send their kids back to school. Nice job by everyone involved, including of course ACDC Chair Kip Malinosky, FCDC Chair Sue Langley and Dranesville District Democratic Committee Chair Greg Brandon.
2. Rip Sullivan's campaign team: Or should I say Patrick Hope's former campaign team (in his run for the 8th CD Democratic nomination this past spring, in which he finished second to overwhelming favorite Don Beyer)? Great job by campaign manager Jarrod Nagurka, widely touted as a rising star of Democratic politics; finance director Kate Peterson; and the rest of the team (e.g., the field director, Tucker Cavanagh, whose previous experience was in Maryland, but who learned the Virginia 48th district quickly). Also, I've been critical of the Chadderdon Group's work in the past, but their direct mail program for Rip Sullivan appears to have been effective in this race.
3. House Democratic Caucus: Holding two seats in deep-blue districts shouldn't be particular cause for celebration, but given the weird timing and the nature of special elections, Republicans thought they might have a shot at the
48th. So much for that theory. The House Democratic Caucus leadership - Dave Toscano in particular - has to be smiling right now.
4. Columbia Pike streetcar: Republican candidate Dave Foster basically ran on one issue, his rabid opposition to the Columbia Pike streetcar, and it didn't appear to gain any traction at all. Perhaps this will continue to be a big issue at the County Board level, but based on this election, it appears that passions may have cooled somewhat, that factual information has finally started to get out and counter the reams of misinformation and disinformation spewed out there by streetcar opponents, and that the county's doing a better job of explaining the myriad benefits of this project to Arlington (e.g., the return on investment will far more than pay for the project, providing increased money for schools and other "core services").
5. Arlington Democratic County Board nominee Alan Howze: Item #4 bodes well for Alan Howze this November. It may be that the call for a referendum on the streetcar, while in my view really stupid policywise, has been smart politics in terms of defusing the issue. We'll see in November, but Alan Howze must be feeling a bit better this morning (come to think of it, maybe add Arlington County Board members Walter Tejada and Mary Hynes, both of whom will be on the ballot next year and both of whom support the streetcar, to this list?)
6. Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment: Yep, Tommy Norment will now be Senate Majority leader, potentially for a long while. It's awful for Virginia, of course, but it doesn't change the fact that Norment was a big winner last night.
7. The Democrats' urban/suburban/exurban strategy: While Democrats continue to flounder in rural Virginia, for whatever reason(s) - and after the loss of the 38th Senate District last night, we're just about a pure urban/suburban/exurban party at this point - the strategy of Democrats focusing on where the population is growing, the NOVA-Richmond-Hampton Roads "triangle - seems to be more applicable than ever. Given that there are something like 17 or 18 House of Delegates districts won by Obama and/or Kaine, but currently held by Republicans, and that these are overwhelmingly in suburban/exurban areas, how about we focus on getting our voters out THERE in 2015 and beyond, and stop wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to win districts that, at this point, are simply unwinnable? On the positive side, the path back to a majority in the House of Delegates runs through districts like Barbara Comstock's, Tom Rust's, Dave Albo's, Scott Lingamfelter's, Tag Greason's, David Yancey's, David Ramadan's, Bob Marshall's, Rich Anderson's, Jackson Miller's, and other suburban/exurban districts. Let's get to work on those and stop screwing around with Romney/Cuccinelli districts.
8. VPAP: Great job last night reporting election results in a timely and highly informative (maps included) way. As far as I can determine, VPAP is the best site in the country for election results, hands down. The only glitch, and it probably wasn't VPAP's fault, was misreporting from the Kirby precinct in Fairfax County, which apparently flipped its numbers between Dave Foster (who actually lost that precinct, along with every other precinct), and Rip Sullivan (who won every precinct).
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, August 20. Also, I really like that photo by Tom Greeson of Rip Sullivan campaign HQ last night...tallying up the big victory. :)
UPDATE 9:25 pm: Just got back from Rip Sullivan's victory party, where he bought everyone a round of beer. Is Rip going to be a great delegate or what? :) Meanwhile, it turns out that there was an error on VPAP earlier, and Rip Sullivan actually won every single precinct in the 48th districdt, romping over Dave Foster by a 62%-38% blowout margin. Hopefully, that marks the end of Foster trying to make the argument that he can win in blue areas of the state, but we'll see...
UPDATE 8:03 pm: With 86% of the precincts counted, it's Chafin 61%-Hymes 33%. With 72% of precincts counted, it's Sullivan 59%-Foster 41% (still only 1 precinct won by Foster...one too many if you ask me, but what the heck, I'll take it). And with 73% of precincts counted, it's Lindsey 84%-Calabrese 16%. in addition to Delegate-elect Lindsey, congratulations to Delegate-elect Sullivan!
UPDATE 7:49 pm: With 64% of precincts reporting in the 48th, Dave Foster has unfortunately won one - Kirby precinct in Fairfax County. Still, I'll take a 60%-40% lead any day. :) Again, congratulations to Delegate-elect Joe Lindsey in the 80th, who has over 84% of the vote. As for the Virginia Democratic Senate caucus' gamble on the 38th Senate district, to put it mildly it didn't pay off, with Senator-elect Chafin up by 29 percentage points with 76% of precincts reporting. As I said a million times, we should focus our time, energy and resources on 2015...
UPDATE 7:38 pm: By the way, I asked Ben "Not Larry Sabato" Tribbett late this afternoon for his predictions. He said 61%-39% Sullivan and 62%-38% Chafin. Right now it's 62%-38% Sullivan (with 44% of precincts counted) and 62%-32% Chafin (with 74% of precincts counted). Not too shabby!
UPDATE 7:35 pm: A few more from the Arlington elections office -- Cherrydale: @DaveFosterVA 139 @RipSullivan48 302, Madison: @DaveFosterVA 371 @RipSullivan48 406; Rosslyn: @DaveFosterVA 59 @RipSullivan48 126; Dawson Terrace: @DaveFosterVA 49 @RipSullivan48 103; Arlington Absentee: @DaveFosterVA 312 @RipSullivan48 678.
UPDATE 7:32 pm: Looking good for Democrat Rip Sullivan in the 48th House of Delegates district and for Democrat Joe Lindsey in the 90th House of Delegates district. With 7 of 25 precincts reporting, Sullivan's ahead 60%-40%. With 27% of precincts reporting, Lindsey's ahead 89%-11%. Congratulations to Delegate-elect Lindsey! As for Foster, he hasn't won a precinct yet; hopefully that trend will continue and Sullivan will hold his 20-point margin or increase it.
UPDATE 7:30 pm: With 72 of 120 precincts counted in the 38th Senate district, Republican Ben Chafin leads by a huge margin, 10,739 (61.2%) to just 5,638 (32.1%) for Democrat Mike Hymes. So why did Democrats pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into this 2:1 Cooch/Jackson/Obenshain district? I couldn't figure it out then, and I sure can't figure it out now.
UPDATE 7:23 pm: In Senate District 38, VPAP has it at Chafin 6,905 (62.12%)-Hymes 3,337 (30.02%)-Mullins 868 (7.81%) with 45 of 120 precincts counted. Pretty much over, barring a miraculous comeback by Hymes.
UPDATE 7:22 pm: According to the Arlington County Elections Board Twitter feed, Rip Sullivan beat Dave Foster in Thrifton precinct 415-315, in Marshall precinct 337-211, in Wilson precinct 129-86, and in Crystal Plaza precinct 48-37. Looking good for Rip (especially when you consider that his home base is in Dranesville/McLean, while Foster's is in Arlington.
UPDATE 7:16 pm: Del. Greg Habeeb (@GregHabeeb) tweets, "First precinct reports I'm hearing from the Senate Special Election sound VERY promising." Habeeb's a Republican, by the way, so that's not good news if you're on the "blue team."
The following press release is from the Virginia 10th CD Democratic Committee. Pathetic as always by Barbara Comstock.
PUBLIC MEETING: Northern Virginia Daily: Foust talks education, immigration, job creation [Northern Virginia Daily, 8/18/14]
HIDES FROM PUBLIC, PRESS: Washington Post: Barbara Comstock Tried to Hold A Secret Tea Party Meeting [Washington Post, 8/7/14]
From Alex Parker, Communications Director, Virginia 10th District Democratic Committee:
“Here’s a perfect example of the contrast in this race: while John Foust is talking with residents in public, Barbara Comstock is hiding from the public and trying to meet in secret with the Tea Party so she doesn’t have to answer questions about her right-wing agenda. Whether she’s hiding from the public, trying to overturn Roe v. Wade or lobbying for the Koch Brothers, Comstock keeps proving how out of touch she is with the values of our community.”
Today is special elections day in Virginia (polls are open from 6 am to 7 pm; vote at your regular polling location), including elections in Senate District 38 to replace former Senator Phil Puckett (candidates: Democrat Mike Hymes, Independent Rick Mullins, Republican Ben Chafin); House District 48 to replace former Delegate Bob Brink (candidates: Democrat Rip Sullivan vs. Republican Dave Foster); and House District 90 to replace former Delegate Algie Howell (candidates: Democrat Joe Lindsey vs. Republican Marcus Calabrese).
So...what are you seeing and hearing out there? What's turnout like in your neck of the woods? Who did you vote for and why? Feel free to add your observations in the comments section.
P.S. I'm guessing turnout of around 7,000 voters in the 48th district today. Just for comparison purposes, in the June 2009 Democratic primary for the 47th district, turnout was 8,051 (out of 55,613 active voters). Turnout in the 48th district in November 2013 was 23,350.
UPDATE 8:29 am: I hear that faux "moderate" Republican Dave Foster has a robocall out asking voters if they are "pro-life" (e.g., against a woman's right to choose). If the voter answers "yes," the call then says make sure you vote for Dave Foster today. Why on earth would the overwhelmingly pro-choice 48th district elect someone with Foster's views to the House of Delegates?
I received an email earlier today from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, commenting on a report that Dominion Virginia Power "is considering building 220 megawatts of solar energy in Virginia over five years starting in 2017." According to CCAN, "If pursued, this welcome announcement would likely represent a change in course from Dominion's latest 15-year energy plan proposed to Virginia's State Corporation Commission, which committed the company to increasing the proportion of clean energy in its mix by less than one percent over 15 years." Here's the rest of CCAN's statement, from Virginia Policy Director Dawone Robinson, followed by a few thoughts from yours truly.
This is Dominion's first-ever announced plan for building utility-scale solar power in Virginia, and we fully welcome it. After spending years pressing Dominion to make serious investments in solar energy here in Virginia, we're excited that Virginians could see the benefits of substantial amounts of clean energy from the state's largest carbon polluter.
Virginia's solar potential is substantial, and we urge Dominion to build these solar facilities as quickly as possible, especially given our state is playing catch up with our neighbors. Even if Dominion's newly announced 220 megawatts of solar power are fully developed by 2021, it will be little more than one third of North Carolina's current installed solar capacity of 592 megawatts.
Today's news serves as an important first step towards what should be a long-term commitment by Dominion to increase development of fossil-free energy technologies. As rising seas increasingly flood our coastal communities due to climate change and Richmond's asthma rates continue to lead the nation, the health and safety of Virginia's families depends on replacing toxic fossil fuels like coal and fracked natural gas with abundant, clean and cost-effective energy sources like solar power.
So, sure, praise Dominion Power for doing something positive, even if this is - as another environmental leader in Virginia put it to me - a "very modest baby step." At the same time, be super skeptical. Because, as that same environmental leader noted, while Dominion supposedly moves ahead with this "modest baby step" on utility-scale solar (e.g., NOT on people's rooftops, aka not "distributed" or "bottom up"), the concerns is that the company will simultaneously "be seeking to stifle competition from independent solar installers with a 'standby charge' or 'tax on the sun'." As another Virginia environmental leader told me, "the devil is in the details with these guys," and right now we have very few details on what Dominion's proposing to do exactly - when, where, etc.
The bottom line is, we need to be skeptical, VERY skeptical, about anything this company says it's going to do when it comes to energy efficiency or clean energy. But one thing seems certain: unlike many other utilities around the country that realize the top-down utility business model is dying and that they need to adapt to a world of cheap distributed energy (e.g., rooftop solar, batter storage that's increasingly affordable), Dominion seems to be clinging desperately to what they're used to: namely, controlling everything.
The question for Virginia 10th CD voters is whether they want this type of person - Travelgate, Filegate, "almost unhinged in her passion to bring down the Clintons," "very committed" to continuing her "obsession" even more if she gets elected this November - as their next U.S. Representative. Or, would they rather have someone who will focus on the things that actually matter to people who live in the 10th CD, from the economy to federal workers' issues to transportation to the environment? If the former, then by all means vote for Barbara Comstock. If the latter, then the choice is easy: vote John Foust for Congress!
Today's Washington Post lead editorial was about a smart phone app that will allow consumers to determine how corporations producing products they're thinking about buying make political donations.
The Washington Post suggests that this will "increase partisanship" in America and that somehow the sky will be falling.
In what alternate universe, exactly, does the WaPo editorial board live?
This small time business investor and consumer member of the REAL "we the people" thinks this is a wonderful idea.
The business of business ought to be BUSINESS, not politics. Our investment dollars ought to be plowed into developing new products and services and improving current products and services. Corporations are failing to deal with the services issue because they see labor as an expense, not an asset. Some of that money ought to go to hiring, training and retaining good employees with living wages and benefits; and paying our fair share or the tax load for the public services our corporations consume. The "bottom line" appears to be healthy, but it is done by refusing to pay the costs of the business, not by producing and selling a better product.
There is a huge difference between those two strategies, and the long-term results of the choice many have made has been to poison America, which is choking from the toxic waste, falling off collapsing bridges, and dying from lack of real investment, seeing the former middle class evaporate by sliding into poverty, all imposed by corporations that are more interested in the bottom line - achieved on the cheap by any means possible - than by earning a dollar by working for it.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, August 18. Also check out Missouri State High Patrol Captain Ron Johnson's powerful speech at a rally in Ferguson last night.
Here's some video of a great event with Sen. Tim Kaine for Rip Sullivan's 48th House of Delegates district campaign at Arlington County Board member Mary Hynes' house earlier this afternoon. Sullivan said this election is all about turnout, and how he views this race as "one big voter suppression effort out of Richmond; there's just no question that the Speaker of the House...[was] hoping that a combination of a one-week primary and some...election fatigue in Arlington...as well as the timing, the dead of August...is designed to keep vote turnout low, because that is their strategy for hoping to snatch this election from us in the dead of summer." With that in mind, everyone needs to remind every 48th district Democrat they know to vote on Tuesday. Don't assume anyone else will do that, just do it yourself. "We need everyone to vote on Tuesday."
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, August 17. Also, click on that image to "embiggen" and check out Senator Kaine rallying volunteers and voters for Rip Sullivan. The special election for the 48th House of Delegates district (see here for a map) is Tuesday; make sure you vote for Rip!
I got back a little while ago from the kickoff of Don Beyer's general election campaign. According to a press release, Beyer's campaign is "taking a page from Jules Verne's "Around the World in 80 Days," but instead calling his sprint to the finish line "Around the 8th in 80 Days." Other than Don Beyer, speakers included Iraq War veteran and Democratic activist Terron Sims, a member of the Beyer Advisory Group on veterans' issues; Del. Charniele Herring; State Senator Barbara Favola; Megan Beyer; and Animal Welfare League of Arlington spokeswoman Keelee Wrenn (who announced a Sept. 3 "Doggy Happy Hour" at Hotel Monaco in Alexandria with Don Beyer to benefit the Humane Society shelter). One more quote from the press release, then to the videos (starting with the Beyer theme song - the "Blue Cup Song"): "'From Rip Sullivan to John Foust to Mark Warner, this is a campaign of teamwork,' said Beyer, as he urged his supporters to join Sullivan's GOTV canvass ahead of Tuesday's special election for state delegate."
This morning's Washington Post has a superb, must-read article (if you care in any way/shape/form about Virginia politics) by Post Virginia political reporter Jenna Portnoy. Among other things, it explains very clearly what the bitter, even vicious, divisions are within the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV), and how that party continues its lurch off the right-wing-extremist cliff. Today, as Portnoy writes, the party's vicious infighting between the Tea Party/Ron Paul/ultra-conservative wing and the more traditional, "establishment" Republicans "could come to a head Saturday when Republicans from both camps - insurgents and establishment - gather in Richmond for a meeting of the party's governing body, the State Central Committee."
Popcorn time? Yes, but it's not just entertainment, it's also highly significant for the future of the RPV. Specifically: will the party continue purging anyone to the left of Attila the Hun, lurching so far to the right that it loses any and all appeal to independents and even more moderate/sane Republicans? According to Ron Butler, who "served for five years as Political Director for the Republican Party of Virginia and worked as Field Director for the Republican National Committee," and also "has been working full-time on behalf of Republican candidates since 1985," it's not looking good for the red team.
Ron Butler, president of a direct-mail firm with ties to Cantor, was pessimistic that momentum would swing back to the establishment.
"They're acting more like the Muslim Brotherhood than the Republican Party in this country," he said of the conservative wing of the GOP. "They scream about Eric Holder and President Obama upholding the Constitution. They're attempting to throw their own constitution out."
Ouch. The truth hurts.
The question is, assuming Butler is right (and I believe that he is), whether Virginia Republicans continue a process which last year resulted in arguably one of the most extreme political conventions in U.S. history, in which the RPV nominated three bat****-crazy extremists, theocrats, climate science deniers, gun nuts, raging homophobes, conspiracy theorists, and just all-around loons (Ken Cuccinelli, EW Jackson, Mark Obenshain) as their statewide ticket. The result of that extremist ticket was, as we all know, to smooth the way for a far-from-inevitable Democratic sweep of the top three statewide offices (Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General) in November 2013. If Republicans had nominated a more traditionally conservative ticket, perhaps one headed by Bill Bolling, it's quite possible, even likely, that they might have won in 2013. But instead, they threw it away in exchange for right-wing ideological "purity." Such a shame, huh? ;)
And that's exactly why, at today's RPV convention, I'm rooting for the Tea Party, Ron Paul supporters, people like RPV Treasurer/Bigot-in-Chief Bob FitzSimmonds, and other who are "acting more like the Muslim Brotherhood than the Republican Party." Why? Simple: because the more those folks are in charge, the more it increases the chances for Virginia Democrats to win in 2015, 2017 and well beyond. Sure, it's sad (and scary) that Virginia (and national) Republicans have gotten so John Birch Society-style extreme, and ultimately we'd all be better off with not just one but TWO sane parties in this state and this country. But on the other hand, if Republicans want to go stark raving mad for years and hand Virginia (and the country?) over to the Democrats for a generation or two to come, that works just fine for me. :)
P.S. Tea Party Republican blog The Bull Elephant promises coverage of all the festivities today. Should be fun.
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