UPDATE 7:52 pm: Warner's closing statement emphasizes that he took a deficit and turned it into a surplus; Gillespie worked for an administration that did the exact opposite. Enron Ed basically repeats his b.s. talking points. I have no patience to listen to this liar anymore. Utterly insufferable.
UPDATE 7:44 pm: Question on sequestration. Gillespie says the House passed a replacement for sequestration, but of course doesn't mention the horrendous details of that bill (see The Hill, which says: "Democrats blasted the proposal as one that would spare defense programs but apply deeper cuts to needed social programs, and avoided ending tax breaks for oil companies. Democrats proposed a motion to take up their proposals, but the GOP House rejected them.") Warner says we didn't hear anything from Gillespie about making hard choices. Says he got the Navy's highest civilian award for fighting sequestration cuts. Says the way to get rid of sequestration is to stop "punting." Says you need BOTH tax reform and entitlement reform, "both sides of the balance sheet." Gillespie laughs, says just because Warner keeps saying he's signed a pledge by Grover Norquist doesn't make it true. Uh....here's the letter (June 4, 2014), in which Norquist says: "I will share with taxpayers in Virginia and the nation your statement and commitment to oppose and vote against any and all tax increases. You go further and commit to making the reduction of wasteful, inefficient, and duplicative federal government spending a priority once in office."
UPDATE 7:40 pm: Question about Ebola and should Virginians be concerned. Warner says he's concerned like all Americans are, says the administration should have acted quicker to increase screaning ("which they've finally started to do"), spot signs of Ebola, etc. May be time to consider in countries like Liberia to restrict flights. Warner says that cuts to public health and sequestration, not to mention "stupid pledges," hurt our ability to fight diseases like Ebola. Gillespie says it's time to impose a flight ban from Ebola-affected places in Africa. Of course he doesn't address the fact that his party has cut funding to NIH, CDC, etc. Warner says Gillespie's last charge "really takes the cake." Says sequestration is "stupidity on steroids," but the alternative was for the nation to default, so he assumes Gillespie supports our nation defaulting. Says he advocated the Simpson-Bowles plan, but "too many people had taken pledges."
UPDATE 7:38 pm: Warner says Gillespie has taken "extreme positions." Says Warner is "factually inaccurate" about Norquist pledge. Gillespie says he won't be a blank check for the president, which is laughable -- did anyone think that Ed Gillespie would be a blank check for Barack Obama?!? LOL
UPDATE 7:35 pm: Question on Medicare. Gillespie claims we need to save it, but that is NOT what his party would do. See for instance the Ryan plan, which would be an absolute disaster. Gillespie also keeps throwing out the Big Lie from the 2012 campaign about the supposed money taken out of Medicare. Warner correctly states that Gillespie's claim is "totally false." Don't believe him? See FactCheck.org, which states: "The GOP talking point is misleading for several reasons: The Affordable Care Act doesn't slash $700 billion from the current Medicare budget; instead, this is a cut in the future growth of spending over a decade. Furthermore, the reductions apply to payments made to hospitals and other non-physician providers, and it remains to be seen whether those would translate into reduced services. Finally - and most ironic - that same $700 billion in 'cuts' is part of the Ryan budget plan that McConnell voted to consider." Yep, "ironic" is one word for it.
UPDATE 7:30 pm: Question on energy policy. To summarize, I disagree with both Warner and Gillespie on this one, but I disagree a lot more with Gillespie. At least Warner is supportive of renewable energy and believes in the science of climate change. Gillespie? Who knows. Oh, now Gillespie's throwing out the wildly misleading comment about gasoline prices increasing since the depths of the Bush Great Recession. What a jerk. Warner says Gillespie lobbied against increasing fuel efficiency standards and was the largest lobbyist for Enron, where 20,000 folks lost their jobs and pensions. Gillespie says Enron was a client 13 years ago, was considered one of the best companies in America, and Warner was an investor. Gillespie and Warner really going at it on this, Gillespie says this is a "personal attack." Gillespie says he had no idea of the fraudulent practices of Enron, noone did.
Ethically and factually-challenged Republican 10th CD nominee Barbara Comstock is known for her struggles with the truth. She's so truth-challenge that one of her Republican opponents last spring point blank said, "Barbara, YOU LIE!" for her ever-changing story about why she voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 Virginia Democratic primary. To put it mildly, she's a real piece of work when it comes to facts, accuracy, honesty, and even the internal consistency of her lies.
Well, now Comstock's at it again, this time criticizing 10th CD Democratic nominee John Foust for being - are you sitting down? - a "tax raising Obama Democrat!" Yeah, the same Obama who Comstock voted for in 2008. But we'll leave that aside for now. The question is whether Comstock's in any way, shape or form telling the truth on this one. Hint: the answer has two letters, the first of which is an "n" and the second of which is an "o." Heh.
OK, so how about a few facts, those crazy things that Barbara Comstock doesn't seem to have any familiarity with?
1. According to CBS News' "What's Obama Doing to Your Taxes?" (April 2010), which reported on the fact that the 2009 Recovery Act (supported pretty much exclusively by Democrats, I'd point out) CUT TAXES for 98 percent of Americans. The CBS News report added that as of April 2010, "taxes are at their lowest levels in 60 years, according to William Gale, co-director of the Tax Policy Center and director of the Retirement Security Project at the Brookings Institution."
3. What about since 2009/2010? Well, you may have noticed that since 2010, Republicans have controlled the U.S. House of Representatives, so keep that in mind when you hear loose-with-the-truth people like Barbara Comstock criticize President Obama for raising taxes. Last I checked, Congress was the branch of government that voted on tax rates and the like. But whatever, details details.
From the Foust campaign: "The spot highlights Barbara Comstock's abuse of her role as a delegate in Richmond by pushing the agenda of her clients, while hiding it from Virginians. Previously, the Washington Post reported that Comstock also failed to disclose $85,000 in payments from clients, 'an apparent breach of congressional ethics rules.' While Comstock's right-wing agenda fits in with the Republican Congress, it's out of touch with Northern Virginia's values."
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines for Monday, October 13. As for today's holiday, I'd far prefer that we remember, recognize and celebrate Native American culture prior to the disastrous (e.g., 90% of Native Americans dead due to disease alone) European invasion.
There's not doubt that Republicans Mike Huckabee, Thom Tillis and Scott Brown are fear-mongering nutjobs, preying on the absolute worst in human nature for political purposes. But still, claiming that some poor person from Africa, dying of Ebola, is going to a) have enough money to buy a plane ticket to Mexico; b) even think about doing that while they're poor, sick and possibly dying of Ebola; c) walk from Mexico, while sick with/dying from Ebola, into the U.S., after implausibly flying from Africa; d) go around intentionally smearing their bodily fluids on people in order to infect them with Ebola; is beyond stupid, beyond insane, into truly evil, loony-tunes territory.
Sad to say, we're getting some of this rhetoric here in Virginia, and I have yet to see a SINGLE editorial board call it out. For instance, just a few days ago, Republican (of course) U.S. Senate nominee Ed Gillespie stated made the insane (if he actually believes it) comment that "the fact that we have a porous southern border today is not just an immigration concern, it is a...public health threat...with the growing concerns about Ebola." Frankly, that statement right there should eliminate Gillespie from ever being considered for public office of any kind, as it shows him to be a wildly irresponsible demagogue who should not be taken in any way, shape or form seriously by anyone (just like Huckabee, Tillis, etc.). It's truly maddening that the corporate/"both sides" media DOES take them seriously, treats them as reasonable players in the "game," and almost NEVER calls them out. Argh.
Anyway, that's why I was pleasantly surprised (shocked actually) to see Chuck Todd and his panelists on Meet the Press this morning nail this fear-mongering bull**** for what it is: "irresponsible" and "wrong." Good to see, now we need a LOT more of this from the corporate media.
But there's something about all the objections I don't get. My critique of Obama rests on a handful of points. Many of the criticisms directed my way seem to me irrelevant to these points, as if they are attacking an argument different from the one I'm making.
For example, some people seem to think I don't realize just how bad -- how determined to thwart Obama -- these Republicans have been.
On the contrary, my whole "Press the Battle" campaign is an attempt to convey that what's animating these Republicans is much worse than too many people in Liberal America recognize. If there is one point I want to convey in my whole enterprise, it is this: "That the Republican Party has become the instrument of a destructive -- I would say "evil" -- force.
What Obama has been up against is not just an "extreme" party, not just the unscrupulous plutocrats who bankroll their scandalous political strategies, not just some rogues who got elected to office. Obama -- and the rest of us -- are up against a rather pure case of the kind of thing that creates historical nightmares.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, October 12. Also, check out that photo of right-wing craziness. From the far, far right, there's the anti-Semitic "joke" guy (John Whitbeck); Mark "Criminalize Miscarriages" Obenshain; soon-to-be-overwhelmingly-defeated 8th CD Republican nominee Micah Edmond, who's buddies with these guys; "Agenda 21" conspiracy theorist and all-around extremist nutjob Del. Scott Lingamfelter; and Frank Luntz protege Pete Snyder. Yep, that sums up today's Virginia Republican Party! LOL
Summary: We all know how to respond to evil. Again and again, our popular stories and mythology take us vicariously and gratifyingly through the process -- e.g. in films like "Avatar," "Star Wars," "Lord of the Rings," where our heroes put themselves on the line to defeat an evil force in defense of sacred values. Why is it, then, that as we face that same essential situation in America's contemporary reality, we fail to respond as our heroes do?
The the destructive force that has arisen on the right is only one side of America's present national crisis. The other side is the weakness of the response from Liberal America to this profound threat to our nation's well-being.
I've described President Obama's failure to wage the battle that must be waged. But the problem of liberal weakness - and of its blindness - is not confined to the president. These defects were evident among Democratic leaders before Mr. Obama assumed the presidency, and they are manifested, I would assert, by Liberal America taken as a whole.
It is important that we understand the sources of this weakness.
It's not that we don't know how to respond to an "evil force," for this is something our society's culture (popular and otherwise) has taught us well.
Consider how three of the most salient narratives of modern American popular culture put us through our paces-- evoking the pain and outrage of seeing injustice done and sacred things destroyed, and instilling in our hearts the will to fight the necessary battle to prevail over evil and set things right.
Probably not. Yesterday a 17 year old girl, Malala Yousafzai, shared the Nobel Peace Prize; the winners cited "for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education." How many girls in America struggle? Far too many.
"Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights" - United Nations Resolution 66/170
A simple truth is that gender inequality begins at conception. Is it simply culture? No, I don't believe so...it is rooted in physiological differences and procreation roles; these are natural facts that have influenced the paths of social Darwinism. Where there has been philosophical advancement, social enlightenment has neglected the value and role of women for the sole purpose of maintaining a dominance that serves the interests of the "haves." Somehow, somewhere, long, long ago, women became chattel. And the luster of that property is diminished by the exercise of "ownership rights" by men.
Women are diminished by patriarchal attempts to protect that ownership. These are clearly manifest in laws restricting women's sovereignty over their own bodies. This would be comical if it were not so tragic. While those who would protect the status quo focus on the emotional issue of abortion, they refuse to effectively ameliorate the more pervasive crimes and trespasses against girls and women, most of which create the circumstances that force the tragic choice they would not allow.
That the abuses of girls and women in other cultures and countries are often far worse than the general condition in America does not excuse their social position and condition here.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, October 11. Also, check out President Obama's weekly address, in which he "makes the case for why it's past time to raise the minimum wage. Increasing the national minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would benefit 28 million Americans, and make our economy stronger."
A coalition of governors along the Gulf Coast and Southeast who support offshore drilling is chaired by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory. McCrory said besides the prospect of good jobs and business profits, more states should contribute to building American energy independence from foreign imports by allowing drilling.
"We are hypocrites in North Carolina if we expect to get all our energy from somewhere else and just expect that our hands are clean in this whole thing," he said.
If McCrory is defining "somewhere else" as North Dakota, then he's right. Under President Barack Obama, U.S. oil production is nearing all-time highs. In fact, oil prices have been falling thanks in part to "oversupply from the U.S. because of increasing shale oil production." So why do we need offshore oil drilling, or the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to bring in oil from Canada, or any of the American Petroleum Institute's other demands? We don't.
Tuesday, 14 October is a critical date for Virginia voters. It is the last day to register to vote November 4 if not yet registered. The 14th is also the "cut-off" date for obtaining the actual new state Voter ID; a temporary is available afterwards. And there're other wild cards.
One of the problems arising out of tea party style activism, aka active and passive resistance to good order and conduct of legitimate government functions, is that application of the law may very well be inconsistent jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The guidance being passed by Voter ID activists seems based on single or limited jurisdictional experience and ignores an issue created by the Department of Elections when it mailed erroneous letters to voters telling them they may no longer be eligible to vote.
Activists have been told that the new voter ID cards will be issued "right up until Election Day." Yes and no. The devil is in the details and it depends upon what you mean by "issued" and "until." What may be true is that registered voters, even those registering for the first time, who apply for the Voter ID card through 14 October enjoy a very good assurance that they will be issued and receive the shiny new, wasteful in terms of government spending, and otherwise useless card at the residence where they are registered in time to use it to vote on November 4. However, after that date the receipt of an "issued" Voter ID diminishes exponentially to zero by Election Day.
What applicants can receive after 14 October is a "temporary Voter ID" in the form of a full sheet, printed facsimile of the ID that will later be issued and mailed to their address. A specific written policy to Registrars concerning provision of that "temporary Voter ID" would be risky. Persons applying after the 14th should request one if it is not offered and carry it with them from the Registrar's office. If the application is being made at a remote location and printing is not available, the voter is risking being unable to vote on 4 November.
This is definitely shaping up as Virginia Republicans' Big Lie of 2014: that supposedly President Obama is responsible for 250,000 health insurance policies being canceled in Virginia. In fact, as Mark Warner spokesperson Kevin Hall correctly points out, "Federal policy allows states to continue to give consumers the option of keeping their existing plans, so this is now a state issue." Hall adds, "Thirty-seven states, including North Carolina, have already done that, and the Virginia General Assembly can and should do the same."
The question, then, is why hasn't the Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly acted to fix this, since those same Republicans claim it's such a big problem? (My exact question to Howell was: "So why didn't you pass legislation to prevent that? This is 100% a state issue at this point, and many other states have taken action - but not Virginia.") It's not like there wasn't a bill introduced (see SB 5012 Health benefit plans; renewal of nonconforming policies by Sen. George Barker) in the recent special session.
So what did Republicans DO with this bill, given that they are supposedly SO concerned (note: they're really not concerned at all, but are simply using this to score cheap political points) about those 250,000 Virginians (even as they are NOT concerned with hundreds of thousands more Virginians who desperately need Medicaid expansion)? Why, of course, they acted on it right awayseriously considered it shunted it off to the Committee on Commerce and Labor, where it's currently languishing.
So, bottom line: next time you hear Bill "ALEC" Howell, ethically challenged Barbara Comstock, or any other Republican cry crocodile tears on this issue, just hand them a Kleenex and give them a hug. Either that, or tell them where to shove their Big Lie.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, October 10. Happy birthday mom! Also, click to "embiggen" on the winning map (by a team of William and Mary Law School students) in the 2011 Virginia College Redistricting Competition. To see all the winners, click here.
Paul Krugman is a hero of mine . Because of his brilliance, his integrity, his batting average at being right, and the choice piece of journalistic real estate he occupies, Krugman has my vote for MVP among all the pundits of our times.
But regarding the piece Professor Krugman just published in Rolling Stone, arguing that "Obama has emerged as "one of the most ... successful presidents in American history," I must - regretfully, but strongly--disagree.
Our differences here are matters of how we weigh different parts of the picture. Krugman goes through a list of Obama's achievements - such as health care reform, financial reform, and others - and I largely agree about those.
At the same time, Krugman acknowledges that failure of Obama's that's salient for me, when he writes: "He faced scorched-earth Republican opposition from Day One, and it took him years to start dealing with that opposition realistically."
So which should be weighed more heavily, the achievements or that failure to deal rightly with this "scorched-earth Republican opposition"?
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