Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, July 16. By the way, for more on that "pasty and white" photo of Frank Wolf, Barbara Comstock, and Clarke County GOP Chair Andrew Nicholson (photo at the far right, appropriately), see Loudoun Progress.
Does 48th House of Delegates district Republican nominee Dave Foster really believe that police chiefs are "gun grabbers" who shouldn't be listened to? Check out this video of Foster speaking to the Virginia Citizens Defense League (click here for video of Foster talking about how their concerns are his concerns), a gun group more extreme (if that's possible) than the NRA. Here's a transcript of the relevant part, beginning at 5:00.
Audience question: You mentioned taking the advice and counsel...of the law enforcement community, but historically what has happened relative to 2nd Amendment rights is that the upper echelon of police chiefs and sheriffs' association are quite frankly...political forces and therefore are on the other side of the table as most of the folks in this room...If you talk to associations of police chiefs and those kinds of folks, they historically are gun grabbers for lack of a better term...the police chief of Washington DC...would snatch every gun she can get her hands on ...So as the Attorney General, those are the folks you're going to be rubbing elbows with, and if you take too much credence in the advice and counsel you get from those kinds of folks, quite frankly you're working on bad advice...I would suggest that you might want to talk to folks more on the line of the guys in this room than the police chiefs.
Foster (who nods his head in agreement throughout most of the question): You make an excellent point, you really do, and DC is a perfect example of it, that handgun ban...
Foster says something about trigger locks - another commonsense gun safety measure - but I couldn't really understand what he was saying (other than that there was no protest from the VCDL crowd, so I presume they agreed with him). Anyway, the bottom line is that every time Foster is pressed to reveal his true beliefs, it turns out that they are far from the views held in the 48th House of Delegates district. For instance, I doubt you'd find more than a tiny percentage of 48th district residents who would join Foster in his bashing and denigration of police chiefs, or agree with him that when it comes to gun policy, we want our leaders to listen to pro-gun absolutist groups like VCDL rather than said police chiefs.
Chesapeake is concerned. The City Manager indicates that this issue rises from the Dan River spill last February and the city's action to protect the Elizabeth River is not directed at Dominion. But there's history there and Dominion has provided no reason to trust its motives.
This isn't just Chesapeake's concern. The Elizabeth is really only a tidal estuary that runs to the mouth of the James River on the way to the Chesapeake Bay through Portsmouth and Norfolk. It is about six miles long. The Dan River spill created a 70 mile coating of toxic sludge. So this should have the attention of Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore too. But Chesapeake is center stage because it already knows how difficult it is to force Dominion Power to take responsibility for its mess.
Battlefield Golf Club was built using fly ash. Something the coal power industry has been advertising as a "good thing" in an attempt to rid itself of this pesky poisonous residue of energy production. Maybe if they can just spread all of it thin enough over hill and dale, insert it into concrete, and sweep it into wastewater systems no one will notice the damage. The proper cost of disposal has never been calculated into the cost of energy produced from coal. War on coal? How about coal's war on the planet?
Now almost five years into litigation over the damage caused during the Battlefield Golf Club construction, only one thing is clear: once any area is contaminated, you have to wait for a proper class to fall victim to the damage before anything can be recovered. That is essentially what is going on with the lawsuits over the golf course. For now the damage has been "limited" to the ground water under the golf course. And since the local residents have been connected to city water on Dominion's dime, the judge has basically said that they have not been damaged. The Environmental Protection Agency's findings of that limited damage have actually helped the defendants' case(s). Residents will have to wait for cancer, birth defects, or however this eventually manifests to demonstrate they have been harmed.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, July 15. Also, see the video (by the superb citizen journalists, Eric Byler and Annabel Park) of "Day 1 of 273-mile Walk to Washington DC for Rural Healthcare." My understanding is that Bellhaven, NC Mayor Adam O'Neal will be stopping in Richmond to talk with lawmakers about Medicaid expansion, and that most of his walk will be going through Virginia. Maybe time for Virginia legislators and supporters of Medicaid expansion to join him in this walk for justice?
In 2002, Plame recommended her husband, former diplomat Joseph C. Wilson, to the CIA for a mission to Niger to investigate claims that Iraq had arranged to purchase and import uranium from the country. Wilson initially bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts, but after President George W. Bush made the same claim during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Wilson denied his initial pre-war assessment.
In response, Wilson published a July 2003 op-ed in The New York Times detailing the negative results of his investigation. A week later, Novak published a column which mentioned claims from "two senior administration officials" that Plame had been the one to suggest sending her husband. Novak had learned of Plame's employment, which was classified information, from State Department official Richard Armitage. Many...alleged that Armitage and other officials had leaked the information as political retribution for Wilson's article.
The scandal led to a criminal investigation; no one was charged for the leak itself. Scooter Libby was convicted of lying to investigators. His prison sentence was ultimately commuted by President Bush.
So, other than it being the 11-year anniversary of Plame's "outing" by Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby et al, why am I bringing this up now? Simply to remind everyone what a right-wing hack Barbara Comstock is. As you may recall, Comstock would later serve as the"opposition researcher, crisis manager, and chairwoman" of the defense fund for Scooter Libby - the individual who leaked Plame's name and status to Novak, and who would be "convicted in 2007 of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements" in the Plame case.
In the end, as we know, George W. Bush - aka, Worst President Ever - commuted Libby's sentence, no doubt with Dick Cheney breathing heavily down nape of his neck about it. For her part, Comstock and Company would end up being threatened with a gag order for refusing to follow the Judge's orders not to leak confidential information to the media during the trial.
The bottom line: 1) Barbara Comstock was a right-wing partisan political hack before she took the job defending the execrable Scooter Libby; 2) Barbara Comstock continued to be a right-wing partisan political hack while defending Scooter Libby; 3) Barbara Comstock is a right-wing partisan political hack today. Why would voters of the 10th district want to send someone like this to Congress? It's the absolute LAST thing we need in Washington, DC right now - or ever, come to think of it.
I wrote about 48th House of Delegates district GOP nominee Dave Foster's extreme views on guns the other day. Now, I'm glad to see Democratic nominee Rip Sullivan, well, ripping Foster for this. How on earth can anyone, let alone someone running from a liberal district like the 48th, say the the concerns of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which is by all accounts even more extreme than the NRA, are his concerns? And how can anyone oppose commonsense gun safety measures like making sure everyone goes through a serious background check, especially when 80%-90% of Americans support such checks? Clearly, Foster has very different priorities than voters in the 48th House of Delegates district. On August 19, he will find that out - the hard way. :)
It was good news a few months ago when the Los Angeles Times decreed that it would no longer print material advancing the denial of climate change. Good news in itself, and good news in signaling that at least a piece of our big-time media world is recognizing that balance does not mean treating truth and falsehood the same.
The L.A. Times rule should become general in the American media.
Let me propose another rule that would mark an improvement of the press's coverage of the political scene in our benighted times: The media should stop treating "GOP disapproves of what Obama just did" as news worth reporting.
After all, what have they not disapproved of? Who would ever bet money that something that President Obama does would get praise, or even acceptance, or even a refraining from attack, from the congressional Republicans? Indeed, from the evidence it seems reasonable to suppose that frequently, when the president has faced a decision in which he must choose between course A and course B, the Republicans simply wait to see which way he goes and then announce to the world that he should have gone the other way.
So there's no news value whatsoever in a report of Republican attacks on anything the president does-- any more than a person wanting to know the time would look to get it from a stopped clock.
The press would do the nation a service to stop reporting the stopped-clock attacks on the president. The message, "We've got your number, and we're not interested anymore" -- to the reflexive Republican critics of the president, like to the oil companies' lackeys with their climate change denial -- could have a salutary effect on our political process.
This series is about the role of Liberal America in creating America's current dangerous political dynamic. The thesis is that it is the weakness of Liberal America that has allowed a destructive force to become to powerful, and that this weakness is due to a disconnection from the power of "the spirit."
The previous installment ended with this statement: "One side is serving the dark spirit. The other side is impotent to rise to the defense of all that's sacred that's being destroyed." The essay now continues thus:
But the sacred is something that Liberal America, by and large, has not been tapping into. That was not always true.
One can sense the sacred in the words of FDR, for example, engraved in the granite in that memorial on the National Mall. (And FDR was not shy about going toe to toe against his enemies, whether it be to help make the nation a better place or to stop the predations of the fascist powers against much of the world.)
That was then. But if one listens to the voice of Liberal America in these times, one does not get that same sense of being on not just a constructive effort but a sacred mission.
Lacking connection with the spirit and the power it confers, Liberal America has been consistently weak as this crisis has grown. For the spirit not only gives hope, but strength as well.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, July 13. Also, check out the video, in which "Senator Warner had the immense honor of presenting 95-year-old World War II veteran Ralph Kuethe with a Silver Star, the third highest military decoration awarded for gallantry in action."
Had enough of the brain-dead "debate" over government in Washington? Well, Aneesh Chopra -- President Obama's former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and a 2013 candidate for Virginia Lieutenant Governor -- has some actual new ideas to offer.
In his new book, Innovative State, Chopra paints a picture of government on the model of a sleek, high tech startup, engaging citizens and solving problems by opening access to information and finding innovative new ways to meet our highest goals.
Progressives recognize the need for government to help citizens build and maintain a civilized society. But to be effective, we have to push our governments to keep up with the speed, efficiency and challenges of the Internet Era. As Chopra puts it:
Americans have always understood that government is not some sacred entity with which the people should not tamper. It is a tool. Like other tools, it needs to be revised and upgraded to remain useful.
As he notes, America's founders junked their first attempt at self-government -- the Articles of Confederation -- after only 8 years when it proved inadequate. Why cling to outdated and inadequate government models today?
Though intended to serve at least two purposes, the $450 million spent on anti-Affordable Care Act (ACA) ads have failed their purpose(s) and may have unintentionally informed the uninsured that they have a path to healthcare coverage. The other intent, to support Republican candidates by inference, may also backfire.
The correlation of negative ad spending to enrollment is not direct and is affected by demographics, but research prepared by Brookings Institution fellow Niam Yaraghi provides some very interesting data. The chart for the television markets that encompass Virginia shows raw spending data from 2013 (national TV market map and data). This is not per capita data, so cannot be used for an accurate correlation, but it is informative. And Yaraghi does point out that the market where the highest per capita spending occurred, Washington, D.C., had the highest Obamacare enrollment rate, 11%.
In the states where more anti-ACA ads are aired, residents were on average more likely to believe that Congress will repeal the ACA in the near future. People who believe that subsidized health insurance may soon disappear could have a greater willingness to take advantage of this one time opportunity.
What is also clear from the spending data is that this advertising is aimed at assisting Republicans in states with the most competitive mid-term Senate races: Kentucky, Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina. The aim is probably as much voter suppression as it is support for the Republican candidates. In Virginia, these ads may influence the outcome of two Congressional races (7th and 10th) more than the U.S. Senate race not only because Senator Warner has a nuanced position on the ACA but also because his opponent is a cold fish.
Oh, gotta love this as well: the Virginia GOP tried to deny having anything to do with this, but "Carole Donoghue, a retired journalist, said she found [a stack of] the bumper stickers at Fairfax County Republican Committee headquarters in Fairfax, Va." LOL
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, July 12. Also see President Obama's weekly address, in which he explains that while "Congressional Republicans are blocking meaningful measures that would strengthen the middle class, [he] continues looking for ways to grow the economy and expand opportunity for more hardworking Americans."
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