Blog Roll
Who's My Legislator?

Virginia Blogs
Augusta Free Press
Bacon's Rebellion
Blue Ridge Caucus
Blue Louisa
Coarse Cracked Corn
Crew of 42
Dixie Pig
Equality Loudoun
Greater Greater Washington
Loudoun Progress
Ox Road South Blog
Pilot on Politics" blog
Richmond Sunlight
RTD Virginia Politics blog
Roanoke Times blog
Shad Plank
Vivian Paige
Waldo Jaquith

Find more about Weather in Arlington, VA
Click for weather forecast

Advanced Search

Hundreds Rally at Virginia State Capitol to Support EPA's Clean Power Plan

by: lowkell

Wed Nov 19, 2014 at 17:59:18 PM EST

According to Appalachian Voices: "More than 210,000 Virginians have spoken and they want the commonwealth to lead the new energy economy. Many of them are in Richmond this morning to urge legislators to grow Virginia's economy, improve public health and address the cause of climate change by supporting the EPA's Clean Power Plan." (note: most photos courtesy of the VA Sierra Club)

Faith-Based, Public Health, Student and Environmental Groups Gather to Demand Climate Action

RICHMOND, VA - Today, over 200 Virginians from across the state gathered at the State Capitol to support government action to reduce carbon pollution, the leading cause of climate disruption and demand action to dramatically scale up clean energy in the Commonwealth.  Residents came from Hampton Roads, Williamsburg, Richmond, Blacksburg, Arlington and Manassas.

The rally followed a Joint Legislative Meeting of the Virginia House and Senate Commerce and Labor Committees on the Clean Power Plan. Supporters packed the hearing, carrying "Clean Energy Now" signs, and several made themselves heard during the public comment session before joining the crowd on the Capitol grounds, noting the economic benefits of clean energy as well as the urgency of addressing climate change.

The rally included a Mom's Clean Air Force "Play-in" featuring parachute games and coloring activities, and a moment of silence for those affected by climate disruption followed by a "moment of noise" to sound the alarm on climate and demand action.

Speakers included:  Senator A. Donald McEachin, Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman; Clark Mercer, Chief of Staff to Lieutenant Governor Northam; Freeda Cathcart, Legislative Chair, General Federation of Women's Clubs of Virginia - Blue Ridge Region; and Michael James-Deramo, Vice President of the VCU Environmental Coalition and representative of the Virginia Student Environmental Coalition.

"A comprehensive Clean Energy Plan will reap rewards for our families, for our communities and for the health and well-being of our Commonwealth," said Senator McEachin. "We are very fortunate that instituting a Clean Energy Plan to help the environment will have the added benefit of saving citizens' money and creating jobs. Altogether, it's a win-win for Virginians."

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 161 words in story)

A Few of My "Favorite" Fundraising Emails from the Foust Campaign

by: lowkell

Wed Nov 19, 2014 at 13:36:55 PM EST

Over at Daily Kos, they're mocking DCCC head Steve Israel for claiming, "You can't be going out there and telling people that the sky is falling. It tends to hurt recruiting and fundraising." Why is that mockable? Simple: because "this is the very same committee that sent all those DOOM emails."

Let's look at a local campaign, right here in Virginia - some of the "best" of the DOOOOM emails from the Foust for Congress campaign. While you're reading these, I'd consider a few questions: 1) does any of this make the candidate look in the least bit dignified?; 2) does any of this really raise more money than simply sending out hard-hitting messages, without the doom-and-gloom, over-the-top, cringe-inducing idiocy?; and 3) is there any chance that a constant drumbeat of doom and gloom might - just might - cause Democrats to get depressed, discouraged, and to be less likely to volunteer and/or vote (or, as DCCC Chair Steve Israel said, "hurt recruiting and fundraising")? Hmmmm.

With that, here are some of my "favorite" emails from the Foust campaign. Enjoy?

Date: June 10
Subject: "crushing blow"
Key line: "Everyone from Paul Ryan to the Koch brothers have gone ALL-IN to defeat John and buy this election for Barbara Comstock. That would be a crushing blow for Northern Virginia families."
Comment: Setting a positive tone for the uncounted doom-and-gloom, hysteria-inducing emails to follow.

Date: June 18
Subject: "doomed"
Key line: "If we don't act fast, John's chances of winning could be doomed from the start"
Comment: That was generally the theme for the entire campaign, that they were "doomed" if we didn't send $5 right away. Kinda like one of those "Nigerian prince" scam emails.

Date: July 16
Subject: "HUGE NEWS:"
Key line: "We OUTRAISED Barbara Comstock!"
Comment: Of course, a lot of that money came from Foust himself, and most of it ended up being wasted on super-expensive, extremely-low-bang-for-the-buck broadcast TV ads. But still...oh forget it.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 638 words in story)

Video: Arlington County Board Member Walter Tejada Sums It Up on Streetcar Cancellation Debacle

by: lowkell

Wed Nov 19, 2014 at 12:07:15 PM EST

Key points and quotes by Arlington County Board member Walter Tejada, who sums up my feelings almost exactly, are as follows.

*Today, we have "failed to continue this tradition" of making smart, strategic investments in Arlington County.
*The question is, "will we now become a timid and stagnant community, or will we dare to be bold and innovative and make the strategic investments...that are required to craft sustainable policies for us and for future generations? Time will tell."
*Apologizes to people who made investments based on Arlington's promises to build the streetcar system.
*Tejada is "incredibly and profoundly disappointed" at the action that four members of the County Board is taking; it is "a step backwards."
*The voters have spoken, and he has "heard you." BUT: "I have convictions and I do not trade them. I do not raise my thumb and see where the political wind is blowing...I value my hometown too much to abandon our carefully-designed strategic plan that will continue to make us competitive in the region. I value and respect having a public process, it means something in Arlington, it means something to me."
*He understands that the Board "came up short" in making the case for the project, but he remains firmly committed to it, "and I continue to believe that it is in the best interest of Arlington County now and into the future."
*He takes responsibility for his part if anyone felt "left out" of the process, as this was "never the intention."
*However, Tejada asserts (correctly) that this has been a "legitimate public process," with "small meetings, medium meetings, large meetings, larger meetings, charrettes, forums, meeting after meeting after meeting...It WAS a legitimate public process in the finest Arlington tradition."
*Thanks everyone who worked so hard on this project.
*Now, there are questions that remain: "How much taxpayer dollar will be wasted by stopping the streetcar from moving forward? How do we quantify what the total cost for not going forward is?"
*The challenge now is "can we come together and unite...return to civil and respectful discussions of all topics confronting our community?"  

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Is Virginia Tech's Coal Center Director Evading Questions to Shield Donors?

by: lowkell

Wed Nov 19, 2014 at 08:40:49 AM EST

Cross posted from The Checks and Balances Project. Written by Scott Peterson, Executive Director of The Checks and Balances Project

Professor Michael Karmis is evading basic questions about whether clean energy experts were consulted in his critical cost-benefit analysis of how Virginia can meet its federal Clean Power Plan (CPP) goals.  This raises the possibility that Dr. Karmis, director of the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research, is shielding donors from legitimate public scrutiny.

The cost-benefit analysis was mandated by the legislature, is relied upon by the Governor, and is included in the Virginia Energy Plan. As we’ve reported before, Karmis is a curious choice to author this foundational document. The Clean Power Plan gives states wide Is Virginia Tech’s Coal Center Director Evading Questions to Shield Donors?flexibility on how to meet standards. Logically, such an analysis should consider a variety of solutions to cut power plant pollution, including fast-growing renewable energy sources that have created 290,000 jobs in neighboring mid-Atlantic states in recent years.

Yet, Karmis’s Coal Center is heavily oriented to only one, highly-polluting energy source – coal. The Center’s website lists a number of significant players in the coal industry as Sponsors that provide “generous financial contributions.” High ranking members of those same companies serve on the Center’s Advisory Board. Of its eight in-house “experts,” seven have strong financial ties to the coal industry – but none to clean energy sources.

State law mandated that Karmis’s Center be consulted, but not be the lead author of the analysis – a big difference in the level of power a coal-centric perspective would have in driving the process.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 409 words in story)

Virginia News Headlines: Wednesday Morning

by: lowkell

Wed Nov 19, 2014 at 06:38:45 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, November 19.

*Senate narrowly rejects Keystone energy pipeline
*The moral issue of climate change ("Is this a moral issue? After reading Mitchell's stark novel, and imagining the world of 2043, I am beginning to think the answer is yes. If the future quality of life around the world is at stake, people who resist action are not just misguided, they're wrong." Worse than "wrong," actually.)
*Why Democrats need rich people, too (Dana Milbank goes from probably his stupidest column ever back to his usual high standards.)
*Obama order could protect 525,000 illegal immigrants in Maryland, Virginia, Pew report says
*The New Republican Plan To Rig The 2016 Presidential Election
*Virginia's Republican House speaker stands accused of insufficient conservatism ("... in pushing the GOP further to the right, ideological purists like Ms. Stimpson may do their party no favors")
*The Virginia Way, Part 4: Working for voters - and for clients
*Schapiro: Va's salesman-in-chief ("Flashing a toothy, knowing grin, McAuliffe appreciates the political perils for Republicans in attempting to foil him on the economy.")
*Kaine, Warner praise George Washington forest fracking decision ("Officials are pleased that most of the George Washington National Forest is off-limits.")
*Belleville: Trail guardians worried about pipelines
*Five steps to doom for Arlington streetcars (Those were actually not the "five steps," but whatever.)
*Arlington officials pull the plug on Columbia Pike, Crystal City streetcars (Huge mistake for the future of Arlington.)
*McAuliffe wants risks shared for future rocket launches at Wallops Island
*Sessoms takes heat, and praise, at crowded, lively council meeting
*In pursuit of progress, Beach harms its identity
*Less punishing winds today, but temperatures almost as cold

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Apologies to Matt Stoller. You Were Right About Mark Warner; I Should Have Listened.

by: lowkell

Tue Nov 18, 2014 at 20:19:08 PM EST

Back in September 2007, after gearing up (and then quickly shutting down) a presidential campaign, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner opted instead to run for U.S. Senate following Senator John Warner's retirement announcement. At the time, most Virginia Democrats (myself included) loved Mark Warner and were excited about his candidacy, in large part because we figured he was a shoo-in to win the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by John Warner.

In addition, Mark Warner had generally been a strong governor from a progressive perspective, for example vetoing repeal of Virginia's estate tax and signing an executive order (albeit when he was on the way out the door, in December 2005) protecting gays from discrimination in state hiring. So, when people like me saw national progressive blogger Matt Stoller attacking Mark Warner for his "disgusting Lieberman-esque [campaign announcement]" video," as well as for being a "centrist, not a partisan," we were offended. In response, I went after Stoller, writing what is in hindsight a cringe-inducingly rah-rah post defending Mark Warner's honor. Barf.

Well, now, seven years later, I'm read to come groveling to Matt Stoller with profuse apologies. Let me state it as bluntly as possible. Matt, you were right and I was an idiot: Mark Warner turned out to be everything you were worried he'd be, and worse. A few examples.

*Today's disgraceful vote for the Keystone XL Canadian tar sands export pipeline, which is utterly inexcusable any way you want to look at it.
*Warner's long history of pandering to coal, including his appalling speech to a coal "astroturf" rally on the Mall, at which he declared (among other idiocies), "we outta have this driven by the market not by government policy." My god, as if the government hasn't been subsidizing coal and letting that industry get away with murder for decades now?!?
*Warner's constant "dissing" of his progressive and environmentalist "base," something you'd never see a Republican do to his or her "base," yet which Warner appears to take glee in doing as a key part of his "schtick" as a "radical centrist" (whatever the heck THAT means).
*Warner's miserable Progressive Punch rating -- #47 out of 100 in the Senate, less progressive than all other Democrats other than conservadems Joe Manchin, Mary Landrieu (on her way out the door), Mark Pryor (ditto), Kay Hagan (ditto), Claire McCaskill, Joe Donnelly and Tom Carper.
*Warner's obsessive focus on the debt, rather than on job creation, infrastructure investment, and income inequality.
*Warner's incessant false equivalencies, "both sides" nonsense, Republican "framing," all of which are very damaging to the Democratic "brand."
*Warner's blind obedience to the NRA. As teacherken wrote in April 2013: "Mark Warner voted against the assault weapons ban. Mark Warner voted against limiting the size of magazines...It matters not to me whether Mark Warner believes the baloney of the gun lobby or merely lacks the guts to stand up for what is right.  What is right is to stop the slaughter. If you are unwilling to step up to that, I am unwilling to offer you my support, my money or my vote."

Now, in fairness, Warner DID vote for the Affordable Care Act. But, of course there's always a caveat with this guy. In this case, not only did Warner oppose a public option, but he did so for the wildly false reason that "it could prove a budget-buster." In fact, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, "Creating a public option that all Americans could choose would save $68 billion through 2020." That's right, SAVE $68 billion, yet the guy who is obsessed with the budget deficit opposed it anyway? It makes no sense whatsoever, just as Warner's support for Keystone XL - a project that would create the whopping total of fifty (50) permanent jobs, none of which would be in Virginia, while encouraging development of the environment-destroying Canadian tar sands. Brilliant.

Bottom line: If Tom Perriello, Bobby Scott, or any other serious, strong progressive chooses to primary Mark Warner in 6 years, I will support that person wholeheartedly. I also, of course, would never support Warner for President or Vice President. It's not as if Warner's "radical centrism" b.s. guarantees him reelection anymore anyway, as Ed Gillespie's near upset victory a few weeks ago demonstrated. So why put up with Warner's Republican Lite garbage anymore? I just wish I had realized this back in 2007, instead of attacking Matt Stoller for hitting the nail on the head. Live and learn, I guess.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Video: Sen. Kaine's Speech in Opposition to Mandating Approval of Keystone XL

by: lowkell

Tue Nov 18, 2014 at 18:05:15 PM EST

(UPDATE 6:20 pm: It looks like this boondoggle, polluting monstrosity/project from hell has gone down to defeat in the U.S. Senate. Great work by everyone who cares about our planet; shame on everyone who doesn't! - promoted by lowkell)

I'll post video when it's done uploading. It's great to see real leadership on this issue from Sen. Kaine. As for Virginia's other Senator...not so much, it would appear.
Mr. President, I rise in opposition to the bill mandating approval of the Keystone Pipeline. I oppose the project because accelerating the development of tar sands oil is contrary to our national interests, our economic interests, national security interests and environmental interests.

I believe there is no way to fully analyze this question without grappling with another question-is carbon pollution from human activity affecting the world's climate in a negative way? Because, if carbon pollution doesn't affect the climate, then tar sands would not be a significant issue for me. But, if we accept the general scientific consensus-and Virginians do-that carbon pollution does cause negative changes in climate, stopping or even slowing the development of tar sands oil is good for the United States and good for the world.

Some who have encouraged me to support this project, duck when I ask this question: Do you think manmade carbon pollution affects our climate? One Virginia CEO, whose company is filled with scientists, basically told me, "I don't know, I'm not a scientist," and a representative of the United States Chamber of Commerce testified similarly before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this year. But those of us who take an oath to serve here have a responsibility to consider the scientific evidence.

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 1006 words in story)

Video: Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette Pulls Plug on Streetcar Project

by: lowkell

Tue Nov 18, 2014 at 12:22:09 PM EST

As a strong supporter of smart growth and transit-oriented development, I find this announcement to be very disappointing. Beyond that, I hate to say "I told you so," but I've been warning for a LONG time now that the pro-streetcar folks needed to get their act together, that the opposition to the streetcar was a serious threat, and that there needed to be a seriously ramped-up effort to fight for the streetcar (a la "") and against the anti-streetcar arguments.

For whatever crazy reason, none of that happened. Instead, as Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette stated a few minutes ago, pro-streetcar Democrats (Fisette, Mary Hynes, Walter Tejada, Alan Howze, etc.) were caught "flat footed." To me, that's just mind boggling, as many of us in the community were NOT caught "flat footed" at all. So what about pro-streetcar members of the Board, who are in the community all the time? Is this about arrogance? insularity? incompetence? overconfidence? all of the above? I'm just beyond frustrated with these people. Now, the question is whether this is not just bad policy but also "too little too late" politically for Mary Hynes and/or Walter Tejada. We'll see in the next few months...

P.S. Miles Grant and I were just chatting, and were both looking forward to the anti-streetcar folks pushing for the "BRT" option they've been pushing, even though BRT is not feasible on Columbia Pike, as there's no chance for a dedicated lane. Details, details. Anyway, let's see how serious they were about what they kept referring to as BRT.

Discuss :: (36 Comments)

New George Washington National Forest Plan Released; Fracking Allowed?

by: lowkell

Tue Nov 18, 2014 at 07:30:00 AM EST

This doesn't look good to me, but let's hope the details are better than the "top line" appears. Bottom line: of course there should be no "fracking" in the GW National Forest, that's just crazy. Why do I say that? See the presentations by Earthworks and DC Water and I think you'll quickly get the picture.

New George Washington National Forest Plan Balances Multiple Uses

Provides for Recreation, Wildlife and Water Quality, Sets Oil and Gas Availability

ROANOKE, Va., November 18, 2014 - Today, the U.S. Forest Service's Southern Regional Forester released the Final Forest Plan that will direct management of the George Washington National Forest. The plan revises the 1993 plan, as required by the National Forest Management Act, and contains guidance for managing nearly 1.1 million acres of national forests in Virginia and West Virginia.

"This forest plan provides a balance of management direction that addresses both the long-term ecological sustainability of the George Washington National Forest, as well as the long-term social and economic needs of those that depend on or are impacted by the Forest," said Southern Regional Forester Ken Arney.

The plan works to fulfill the Forest Service's mission of managing national forests for multiple uses and reflects extensive input from many deeply committed individuals, organizations, and communities representing diverse interests and uses, who have worked closely together over six years. As a result of this collaborative input, implementation of this plan will:

There's More... :: (8 Comments, 383 words in story)

Virginia News Headlines: Tuesday Morning

by: lowkell

Tue Nov 18, 2014 at 06:47:16 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, November 18. As for the video, gotta love the stark contrast between Ronald Reagan, who granted mass "amnesty" to "illegal immigrants," and today's "illegals"-bashing Republicans.

*Boehner's immigration inertia forces Obama to act ("The only reason President Obama has to act on immigration reform is that House Speaker John Boehner won't. I repeat: That's the only reason. The issue could have been settled a year ago. It could be settled in an afternoon. The problem is that Boehner refuses to do his job, preferring instead to spend his time huffing and puffing in simulated indignation")
*D.C.'s mayor rejected plea deal in federal probe (First Virginia, now DC, next...???)
*Japan recession, Europe stagnation cast pall over global economic outlook
*GOP seeks creative ways to avert a shutdown ("Republican leaders are trying to redirect their members' immigration rage." How about allow a vote in the House right now on the bipartisan Senate immigration bill?!?)
*The greening of Barack Obama ("He didn't set out to be an environmental president. He is now." There's no serious choice but to confront global warming.)
*Here's What's Happening With the Big Keystone Pipeline Vote
*Backstabbing in Hillaryland: Here We Go Again (It's time for "no drama Clinton" in 2016; we can't afford this kind of crap.)
*The worst two paragraphs about American politics you'll read today (Ron Fournier is a right-wing hack, nothing more.)
*Virginia's senators differ over Keystone pipeline
*The Virginia Way, Part 3: The big money in running - even unopposed ("'Campaign contributions certainly buy access,' said ODU's Richman. 'Sometimes they seem to buy more, though it is often very difficult to tell just how much more.'")
*Our view: Ethics are coming! (We'll see if they crack down on stuff like in the previous item.)
*State agriculture chief says Virginia farmers need wider market
*Kerr: National Republicans neglect Virginia at their own peril
*Va. woman accused of attempting to support Islamic State militants
*New U.S. Forest Service plan retreats from ban on fracking in national forest in Virginia (Crazy if that's the case.)
*Judge: Life in prison is too good for child porn maker (100% agree, this guy is evil.)
*Virginia day cares anxious over local zoning laws
*Prelude to winter? Biting winds. Bitter cold. Wind chill in the teens. ("Today will be 20 degrees colder than normal, with temperatures around freezing.")

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Tim Kaine Nails It on the Keystone Dirty Tar Sands Boondoggle; Mark Warner Totally Out to Lunch

by: lowkell

Mon Nov 17, 2014 at 20:15:52 PM EST

At least one of Virginia's U.S. Senators gets it on the Keystone XL dirty Canadian tar sands export boondoggle.
Sen. Tim Kaine sent an e-mail to supporters Monday morning, telling them he opposes Keystone and urging them to show their opposition.

"As a nation, we need to take a stand to support clean energy, create green jobs, and reduce pollution. That's why I hope you'll join me in opposing the Keystone project.

The main issue isn't the pipeline itself. The problem is that the pipeline would transport tar sands oil, fuel that is 15-20% dirtier than conventional petroleum."

Exactly right, and very much in line with what Kaine talked about two years ago at Tigercomm:
*It's time for opponents of clean energy to stop acting like the reign of fossil fuels as our dominant energy source constitutes some sort of inviolable theology.

*Even for those who don't "believe" in climate science, or who think clean energy is a science project, it's still common sense to move ahead aggressively with energy efficiency and clean energy. Unless, of course, they want America assigned permanent international follower status on the technologies other counties want to lead.

*If we find out in 50 years that the climate science was wrong, we're still ahead by getting off the dirty stuff. If the 98% of practicing climate scientists were right and we let clean energy pass us by, we'll deeply regret it.

As for Virginia's other Senator, the one who loves to blame "both sides" for everything and pretend to be what he calls a "radical centrist" (reward to anyone who can get a clear answer out of Warner about what that means?), he's just completely wrong when it comes to Keystone XL, making the bizarre claim that somehow Keystone's spur to tar sands development is needed "to make sure we decouple Europe's dependence on Russian oil and gas so they can become more independent." WTF?  I mean, I worked on international oil markets for 17 years, and I really have no idea what he's blathering about on this. Regardless, any spur to development of the Canadian tar sands would be a huge mistake if we care about, ya know, the planet not burning up and stuff? Apparently, Warner's more concerned with more important things, like...uh....
Discuss :: (4 Comments)

My Two Cents: Nov 4 There Were No Winners; Everyone Lost (Part I)

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Mon Nov 17, 2014 at 22:44:11 PM EST

(Note: I began this last week but have a problem with my hand that makes typing difficult and painful. Apologies for posting this late.)

Election Day is two weeks behind us, but the conversation and finger pointing will go on for quite a while, if, that is, it is still acceptable to finger point in today's absurd world (snark--you know finger pointing is still OK, but they don't know that at FAUX or in  Minneapolis).

It's safe to say that if the national Democratic leadership, by which I mean the DNC, DSCC and DCCC, along with the major campaigns, don't understand what actually happened on Nov 4th, nothing will change. And the leadership has no clue. So we will have more of the the debacles we had last week. It is clear that they don't get it. And if they persist in their cluelessness, then rank-and-file Democrats need to figure out how to function around them.

It is safe to say that Nov 4th:

1. Everyone lost. But we the citizens lost big time. The 1% has gerrymandered and vote-suppressed us in numerous ways. If only they turned their creativity into solving real problems. But this is a post-Citizens United world and the GOP and their voters are too obtuse to know they lost too. More on this in a moment.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1981 words in story)

Interview with Former Diaspora CEO Yosem Companys; Featured in "More Awesome than Money" (Part 2)

by: lowkell

Mon Nov 17, 2014 at 08:11:37 AM EST

I just finished reading the fascinating new book More Awesome Than Money: Four Boys and Their Heroic Quest to Save Your Privacy from Facebook by Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer. The Wall Street Journal describes the book as the efforts of "four idealists frustrated with Facebook's control over our personal create an alternative," and why they didn't ultimately succeed. Other than being a fascinating story, with drama and even tragedy (specifically, the suicide of brilliant, charismatic co-founder Ilya Zhitomirskiy), the book covers important issues facing all of us in the age of social media, the "cloud," etc.: privacy, the digital "Panopticon," the profit motive vs. creating something socially beneficial, how promising technologies do or don't end up getting funding to move forward, implications for society, even human identity itself. I make absolutely no pretensions to being an expert on any of this, just someone interested in the subject. So, I asked my friend Yosem Companys -- who teaches high-technology entrepreneurship at Stanford University, runs social media for Stanford's Program on Liberation Technology, and previously worked as consiglieri and CEO of Diaspora (with a crucial role to play in "More Awesome than Money") - whether he would be willing to answer a few questions. He graciously agreed. Here's the interview, edited for conciseness and clarity. Note: I've decided, due to the interview's length (16 questions and answers), to break it up into four parts. The first four questions and answers are available here. Now, here are #5-#8.

Question #5: So how did Diaspora ever think they could get masses of Facebook users to switch over to Diaspora, despite the fact that all their friends, family, and other contacts were at Facebook, not on Diaspora?
Yosem Companys: To the guys' credit, they spent long hours trying to create their own network effect, spending time trying to build "killer apps." Some of these apps, like, were extremely popular among our user base and did significantly increase engagement. But the guys initially spent little time thinking about how to overcome Facebook's network effect. I did the opposite, by asking our users about what would make them stay on Diaspora. The market research suggested  a dual strategy that I persuaded the guys to pursue.

First, Diaspora would be like Hootsuite, allowing you to post and receive messages from "public" networks such as Twitter and Facebook, while still affording you the possibility of posting and receiving "private" messages through Diaspora.

Second, Diaspora would present itself as a network for discovering people you don't know, something that made sense because the network effect is rendered irrelevant if your user base consists of people who want to meet interesting alters rather than hanging out with their friends. The first allowed Diaspora users to remain connected with their friends so they felt comfortable enough to do the second, i.e., make new friends.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1123 words in story)

Virginia News Headlines: Monday Morning

by: lowkell

Mon Nov 17, 2014 at 06:49:54 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, November 17.

*Why the Democrats are stupid to allow a Senate vote on Keystone
*Obama pursues a can-do approach ("In truth, he is paying close attention to the feelings of a very important group of voters - the tens of millions who supported him two years ago but were so dispirited that they stayed away from the polls on Nov. 4. They are hoping Obama will show them that political engagement is worth the effort.")
*More climate evidence doesn't move the GOP (Republicans: Destroying the planet for profit and greed since...well, a long time now.)
*Peter Kassig's family call for restraint after beheading video
*Obama turns to McConnell to secure his legacy ("A lame-duck president looks to deal with the very man who vowed to make him a one-termer.")
*Still reeling, Democrats debate big-money strategy (Start by helping Virginia Democrats win a bunch of state legislative seats in 2015!)
*Thomas Frank on Ronald Reagan's secret tragedy: How '70s and '80s cynicism poisoned Democrats and America (I'm reading The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan right now, and I'm reminded how godawful Reagan really was.)
*U.Va. professors push McAuliffe on climate change action ("Six university professors sign onto state-wide letter calling for change")
*ABC remains state's cash cow as board considers markup of liquor prices
*Part-time career, full-time retirement ("In part two, the Daily Press continues its eight-part special investigation into a system awash in money, with lax oversight and rife with the potential for abuse.")
*State health plan a full time benefit for part time legislators
*Lawmaker, father benefit from film tax credit (More legalized corruption in Virginia, and utterly not surprisingly, Dominion is involved.)

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 144 words in story)

Video: Atif Qarni for State Senate Kickoff in Manassas

by: lowkell

Sun Nov 16, 2014 at 20:31:19 PM EST

This afternoon, I made a road trip out to Manassas for the Atif Qarni for State Senate campaign's kickoff. Last year, Qarni ran for House of Delegates again one of our "favorite" Republicans of all time, "Sideshow Bob" Marshall, and almost beat him, losing by just 498 votes out of 17,429 cast. This cycle, "Sideshow Bob" will be opposed by Democrat Don Shaw, who I had a chance to meet in person today at the Qarni event, while Qarni runs for the State Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Chuck Colgan -- Virginia's longest-serving senator.

Others in attendance at the Qarni event today included Democrat Rick Smith, who is planning to run against Prince William County Board Chair (and xenophobic-demagogue-in-chief) Corey Stewart; Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke); former Democratic candidate for Prince William County Board chair Babur Lateef; Alexandria Democratic Committee Chair Clarence Tong; Democratic Asian Americans of Virginia President Dewita Soeharjono; Democratic Asian Americans of Virginia Treasurer Rose Chu; etc.

In his speech, Atif Qarni talked about his service in the Marines, including his deployment to Iraq in 2003. Qarni said that he had a lot of time to reflect in Iraq, "especially in the evenings or at nighttime with only scorpions to keep me company in the desert." He decided he "wanted to do something meaningful with my life," which is why he left his job in DC to become a teacher in the Prince William County schools. As a math teacher, Qarni said he teaches his students to think critically and to solve problems, which contrasts sharply with what we see in Richmond with Republican politicians "creating a lot of problems."

Qarni said he's been doing a lot of listening, and he's been hearing from teachers and parents a great deal about overcrowded classrooms, about low teacher pay, about lack of support for public education. Qarni says if he's elected, he will make it his top priority to increase funding and support for public school education and teachers.

Other than education, Qarni pointed to traffic as a major problem that adversely impacts people's daily lives -- "we spend time in our cars and less time with our families; that's unacceptable." Qarni proposes making smart investments in infrastructure, as well as things like telework and other ways to get cars off the roads, which he notes is better for the environment as well.

Qarni also spoke about the struggles small business owners have in finding skilled workers. Qarni believes that "the state needs to compensate small businesses for training individuals and creating a larger skilled work force."

Qarni concluded with the Marine Corps motto, "Semper Fidelis" ("always faithful"). He noted that this is "what and who I am." He further pledged that he will be "always faithful to the people of Prince William County."

For more video, check out the "flip." Also note that this is likely to be a hotly-contested, three-way contest for the Democratic nomination, the other two likely candidates being Jeremy McPike and Del. Michael Futrell. Last but not least, I'd point out that this district, which stretches from Dale City and Woodbridge on the east to Manassas and west, went for Terry McAuliffe by 18 points over Ken Cuccinelli last year, and for Barack Obama by 29 points over Mitt Romney in 2012. So, the bottom line is that this is a district Democrats should win and must win if we're going to have any chance of taking back the State Senate. Let's do it.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 28 words in story)
<< Previous Next >>

Make a New Account



Forget your username or password?



Donate to Blue Virginia

Recommended Diaries

Recent Diaries

Recent Comments

The purpose of Blue Virginia is to cover Virginia politics from a progressive and Democratic perspective. This is a group blog and a community blog. We invite everyone to comment here, but please be aware that profanity, personal attacks, bigotry, insults, rudeness, frequent unsupported or off-point statements, "trolling" (NOTE: that includes outright lies, whether about climate science, or what other people said, or whatever), and "troll ratings abuse" (e.g., "troll" rating someone simply because you disagree with their argument) are not permitted and, if continued, will lead to banning. For more on trolling, see the Daily Kos FAQs. Also note that diaries may be deleted if they do not contain at least 2 solid paragraphs of original text; if not, please use the comments section of a relevant diary. For more on writing diaries, click here. Thanks, and enjoy!

P.S. You can contact us at and you can subscribe to Lowell's Twitter feed here. If you'd like to subscribe to Miles Grant's Twitter feed, click here. For Teacherken, click here. For Kindler, click here.

P.P.S. To see the Blue Virginia archive, please click here. To see the Raising Kaine archive, please click here. To see the Blue Commonwealth archive, please click here.

RSS Feed

Subscribe to Blue Virginia - Front Page

Real Time Web Analytics
Powered by: SoapBlox