From the DCCC: Earlier this evening, protestors greeted "Congressman Paul Ryan and congressional candidate Barbara Comstock outside their joint fundraiser in Washington, D.C." The protesters highlighted "how Comstock and Congressman Ryan are pushing the same right-wing agenda that is out of touch with Northern Virginia's values - including supporting an end to the Medicare guarantee and voting to drastically restrict women's healthcare choices." Here are a few photos. Also, for more on ol' Lyin' Ryan, see here and here and here and here and...we could go on all night, but we'll spare you.
Already, the group has seized far more of Iraq and Syria than is compatible with the safety and human rights of the people living there, and its sights are set on further destabilization in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kurdistan, as well as terror attacks in Europe and, if it's capable of them, the United States. The two Americans butchered by the Islamic State will not be the last if the group's leaders have their way. This murderous terrorist army, whose scarily effective global recruitment matches its global ambitions, can be neither contained nor "managed," as the president implied in some of his more hesitant previous comments. [...]
In seeking their support for what may be the first long-term overseas war to begin entirely on his watch, the president should be utterly forthright about the risks of inaction but also about the potential costs of action. Only a clear-eyed president, backed by an informed people and their representatives, can lead the world in this crucial mission.
It doesn't matter than John McCain was palling around with ISIS just last year. It doesn't matter that the last war the Washington Post pushed caused the destabilization that ushered in ISIS. And no mention of the 100,000+ Iraqi civilians killed in that war - gee, do you think that might have something to do with why ISIS is having no trouble recruiting a new generation of terrorists? Never mind, bomb more! If only you damn peaceniks had let us bomb more and get more kids killed for no good reason last time, we wouldn't have to bomb and kill kids again now!
Since World War II, we've gone to war in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan, and only in Afghanistan could I give you a very good reason why. Otherwise, this seems like yet another case of the Very Serious People inside the Beltway warning us that we face an Imminent Threat that only Clear-Eyed People can see, and if you can't see it, clearly you are not Clear-Eyed and cannot be trusted to discuss national security.
As Dave Weigel writes at Slate, ISIS' beheading videos were "surely meant to sow fear and breed over-reaction, [and] succeeded magnificently." There are always Very Serious People ready to play war games with someone else's kids, and war profiteers ready to cash in.
Joe Biden sums up my feelings on this. The only thing I'd add is more about the NFL, which is filled with violence, glorification of violence, powerful people who coddle and protect violent players, and a lot of other problems. Of course, violence in general - and violence against women specifically - is a much broader problem in our society, and frighteningly, most of it is NEVER exposed, as with Ray Rice. With that, here's VP Biden, who demonstrates why in spite of his occasional faux pas, 99% of the time he gets it exactly right - including in this case.
It's never, never, never the woman's fault. No man has a right to raise a hand to a woman. No means no. [...] The one regret I have is we call it domestic violence as if it's a domesticated cat. It is the most vicious form of violence there is, because not only the physical scars are left, the psychological scars that are left. This whole culture for so long has put the onus on the woman. What were you wearing? What did you say? What did you do to provoke? That is never the appropriate question.
The next challenge is making sure, ironically, we get college presidents and colleges to understand that they have a responsibility for the safety of women on their campus. They have a responsibility to do what we know from great experience works. Bringing the experts. Provide people, give the young woman the support that she needs. Psychological support. the medical support, and if need be, the legal support. Societal changes taking place. It takes time. But I really believe it's taking root, and we have an obligation to just keep pushing it.
This article is the first in a series, titled "Press the Battle," whose purpose is to get our national conversation to focus on the central realities of the crisis in today's America.
In America right now there's a battle that needs to be fought and won in our political arena. It's a battle over what kind of country, and what kind of planet, our children and grandchildren will live in.
Although some people like waging battle - some even insist on it - most liberals I've known are capable of living richer, more balanced and fulfilling lives. Most of us liberals would rather lead those better lives than focus on political combat.
But over the past decade or two, while we've been living our fuller, more rounded lives, we with the more humane set of values have been out-organized, out-fought, out-messaged by a relentless force that has taken over the right, and that has
• Turned our politics into a kind of war,
• hollowed out the middle class,
• debased our public discourse,
• brought out the worst in our decent conservative neighbors,
• undermined the rule of law,
• placed our descendants in greater peril of ecological catastrophe,
• embroiled us in needless wars,
• besmirched America's good name in the world,
• driven our economy into a pit,
• and magnified the ability of corporate power to steal our democracy.
The response from Liberal America to this ugly destructive force on the right has been woefully inadequate to protect the nation.
The combination of a destructive force and weak response has created one of the most profound crises in American history. If our nation is going to stop its descent, and to regain the ability to deal constructively with the challenges we face, this dangerous political dynamic must be turned around.
From Gov. McAuliffe's office...not sure what to make of this exactly. Also see "A Healthy Virginia" for more. Meanwhile, the Washington Post is reporting that the plan will "insure an additional 25,000 Virginians, a measure that falls far short of his vow to defy the Republican-controlled legislature and find a way to expand coverage to 400,000." I'm confused, is it 200,000 or 25,000 or what? Oh, and the Richmond Times Dispatch say sthe plan "would provide coverage to only about 20,000." Sounds like the key word is "touches" (e.g., "touches oer 200,000 Virginians") and how you define that word. Regardless, the bottom line is that Virginia Republicans - unlike their brethren in an increasing number of states around the country - have been fiscally irresponsible, not to mention cold-hearted, in refusing time and again to expand Medicaid in Virginia. It's truly outrageous, and we should all remember it in November 2015!
Launches 10-step plan that will reach Virginia’s most vulnerable citizens
Today Governor McAuliffe launched A Healthy Virginia, a 10-step plan to expand healthcare services to over 200,000 Virginians. This plan is an unprecedented action by any governor in Virginia history and includes authorizations of four emergency regulations, one executive order, and innovative and creative solutions to expand healthcare to Virginia veterans, children, and families.
“As governor, there is no greater responsibility than ensuring the health and safety of the citizens you serve. That is why I am so proud to stand here today and unveil ‘A Healthy Virginia’ – a plan that will improve the lives of more than 200,000 citizens throughout the Commonwealth,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Through my plan, I am taking action by authorizing 4 emergency regulations and issuing 1 executive order that will address urgent health needs and put us on a pathway toward Building a New Virginia Economy. However, these steps are just the beginning, and we must continue to press forward together to achieve better health for all of our citizens.”
"Critics of such legislation" may reveal more than they intend when they question lawmakers' "real-world wisdom." It is that conventional "wisdom" that poisoned the well of justice in Sarah Butters' case. It comes down to this: rape is not about midnight wrestling matches between hormonal lovers. It's about violence.
Those quoted phrases are from a dismissive opinion piece in The Free Lance-Star that diminishes the importance of the work undertaken by Governor McAuliffe's task force to combat sexual violence at Virginia's colleges and universities. It is symptomatic of a prevailing cultural attitude toward the value of women and ignores a significantly greater social disease for which there is currently no innoculation.
In "civil" conversation involving sexual relations we usually pussyfoot and that plays into avoiding a substantive discussion about the violence. The violence has a sexual manifestation but it is actually a complete disregard for the victim; usually female (but sometimes male, by the way). It is about dominance and misogyny.
There are a number of "realities" that we want to pretend away. That one in five women on campus are the victims of sexual violence is easier to accept if, as that opinion piece does, we frame these as "misunderstandings." While there are cases of remorse after acquiescence in a relationship, we shouldn't count them in that 20%. Nor should the task force pretend that is an explanation for the alarmingly high, and likely under-reported percentage. Next, accepting that 20% figure does not indict 20% of the males on campus as perpetrators. Research shows that sexually violent perpetrators commit serially. While that may help some feel better about our culture and men in general, what it should also do is emphasize the imperative to get anybody who commits any single act of this sort off campus immediately and permanently. Plus, the number of violent acts against women that involve more than one perpetrator, often referred to as gang rape, is uncomfortably greater than we want to know...so we pretend; and women, shamed by the experience, shutter it, setting up the next target of group "affection." Not finally, but I will pause here, the abuse of authority (i.e. professors) to impose one's will on another (aka seduction) is no less a betrayal, act of violence, and rape than a forceful, physical subjugation (and serial).
For these and other reasons, I have little confidence that the Governor's task force will accomplish much, if anything. Maybe the discussion about Combatting Campus Sexual Violence today on HearSay with Cathy Lewis will provide a glimmer of hope.
The latest fashion among right-wing trolls? Attempt to halt all criticism of the Koch Brothers by bringing up the name of environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer. We have our billionaire political donors, you have yours - what's the difference?
Ah, false equivalency, the last refuge of the simple mind. Well, in case you need some troll repellent, here are four fun facts demonstrating the enormous differences between Steyer & the Kochs:
1) Making money vs. losing it: As Steyer puts it, the Kochs' priorities "line up perfectly with their pocketbooks - and that's not true for us."
If you want to know why the Koch brothers went to the bother of spending hundreds of millions of dollars to create a vast infrastructure for casting doubt on climate science, well, it's not too hard to find a motive. Just check out their stake in oil and petrochemicals, investments whose value is likely to go down the moment we put a price on carbon dioxide emissions.
They've clearly leveraged that investment with the millions they've spent indoctrinating rubes through their multitudinous Tea Party organizations such as Americans for Plutocracy (er, I mean "Prosperity"). Convince an army of ignorants that climate change is a Vast Conspiracy of Evil Scientists and you can spend more time relaxing at the golf course knowing that your oil and coal investments are safe and sound.
Per Media Matters: "Romney kicked off the Benghazi hoax when he said on the day of the attacks that Obama sympathized with the attackers. Now, he's pushing debunked lies for Fox." And he's coming in to raise money (one thing he's good at, at least!) for his pal Barbara Comstock (also supported by extremists like Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, John Bolton, Brent Bozell, and many others). 'Nuff said; vote for John Foust!
In 2010, the Democrats made what I felt was a great blunder in keeping the issue of the Bush tax cuts out of the off-year election campaigns.
The Democrats' position was that the tax cuts for the 98% should be kept, because the economy was still trying to get up off the mat, but that the tax cuts for the richest 2% should be allowed to expire.
The Republicans' position was that all the Bush tax cuts should be preserved, and they were willing to hold the middle class tax cuts hostage unless they got their way.
Opinion polls showed that the American people overwhelmingly favored the Democrats' position.
But the Democrats avoided the confrontation, waiting until the lame duck session. (At which point, lamentably, Obama caved, not taking a strong stand until later.)
I thought that this issue was a perfect battlefield for the Democrats: 1) the people were on their side, and 2) the Republicans' willingness to sacrifice the middle class to serve the rich brought into sharp relief the Republicans' real allegiance to the big money.
But the Democrats were scared. They didn't seem to believe that they could win the argument. So out of fear of losing the elections, they shrunk from the confrontation and lo and behold, they got slaughtered at the polls.
Caution and prudence are good. Being ruled by fear is often a disaster.
Now, President Obama has apparently been persuaded/pressured by Democrats -- specifically, it is said, by vulnerable Democratic candidates for Senate -- to put off taking the presidential action he promised on immigration reform.
Barbara Comstock, and many on the right in general, for some bizarre reason(s) seem obsessed with pushing the Keystone XL Canadian tar sands export project. For instance, according to Comstock: "I have one position on the Keystone Pipeline - let's get these shovel ready jobs going! This is one of the best stimulus programs with no cost to the taxpayers." Just one problem: none of this bears any resemblance to reality whatsoever. In fact:
*According to an independent study by researchers at Cornell University, not only is TransCanada's "claim that KXL will create 20,000 direct construction and manufacturing jobs in the U.S...not substantiated," to the contrary the "project will create no more than 2,500-4,650 temporary direct construction jobs for two years, according to TransCanada's own data supplied to the State Department."
*According to that same study: "KXL will divert Tar Sands oil now supplying Midwest refineries, so it can be sold at higher prices to the Gulf Coast and export markets. As a result, consumers in the Midwest could be paying 10 to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline and diesel fuel. These additional costs (estimated to total $2-4 billion) will suppress other spending and will therefore cost jobs." That's right: "Put simply, KXL's job creation potential is relatively small, and could be completely outweighed by the project's potential to destroy jobs through rising fuel costs, spill damage and clean up operations, air pollution and increased GHG emissions."
*Regardless, none of those jobs will be located in Virginia, let alone the 10th CD of Virginia, which Comstock hopes to (mis)represent in Congress.
*According to another independent study of Keystone XL, this time by econometrics firm REMI ("Regional Economic Models, Inc"), "No research that we have identified can substantiate" claims that Keystone will create tens of thousands of jobs.
*Also, there's no evidence that any jobs will be created in states outside the path of the pipeline, which is not anywhere close to Virginia. As a commenter on another Virginia blog put it, "the pipeline isn't in Virginia, won't employ Virginians, won't serve Virginia, and has nothing to do with Virginia." That pretty much sums it up.
*Finally, it's important to remind the Barbara Comstocks of the world that the oil passing through Keystone XL is Canadian, and that most of it would "likely be exported as refined products by U.S. companies" to places like China.
*Finally, it's also important to remind everyone who the investors in the Canadian tar sands include: the Koch brothers and China. Of course, we all know why Republicans love the Koch brothers (lots of $$$, they all hate the environment, etc.), but since when do right wingnuts like Comstock have a warm spot for Communist China, with its massive human rights violations (e.g., forced abortions, persecution of Christians)? Weird.
One possible explanation for Comstock's strange comments about Keystone is that she is simply a witting (or unwitting) tool of the fossil fuel industry. Another is that she is utterly ignorant of the facts. Finally, she might just be cynically calculating that this is an issue that resonates politically with the Republican "base," and that it's therefore a good one for her to demagogue about. But that doesn't make it right, nor does it necessarily make it politically effective -- especially if the sordid facts about this misbegotten Canadian tar sands export project get out to more people in the 10th CD. Such as the fact that the pipeline will create a grand total of ZERO jobs in the district.
Watch the video from the Comstock-Foust debate earlier this week for one of the most ridiculous, disingenuous answers you've heard in a long time. Either Comstock's just flat-out lying, or she has a fundamental misunderstanding of what her job would be if she (god forbid) is elected to Congress. In reality, of course, the House of Representatives votes all the time on issues related to women's reproductive health and freedom, access to contraception, you name it. That's why John Foust just wrote Comstock the following (bolding added by me):
September 4, 2014
Dear Delegate Comstock,
This campaign has already exposed some clear differences between our views when it comes to women's healthcare choices.
While I believe that women should be able to make their own decisions, you've made it clear that you are in full support of overturning Roe v. Wade, and your record of voting for mandatory trans-vaginal ultra-sounds and for crippling restrictions on women's healthcare facilities speaks for itself.
You are entitled to your opinions - even if they are out of touch with Northern Virginia's values. But at yesterday's debate you defended your support for overturning Roe v. Wade by claiming it would not come into play in Congress. It absolutely comes into play in Congress. Not only is that sentiment patently false, it's insulting to women and families who have watched the Republican Congress lead repeated attacks against women's rights to make their own healthcare decisions.
Not being a member of the Supreme Court did not stop you and the right-wing Republicans in Richmond from voting for mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasounds, the personhood amendment, or the TRAP regulations aimed at shutting down abortion providers. I have included 23 pages of at least 105 votes that the US House of Representatives has taken on issues of reproductive freedom.
It's important that we have an honest conversation about the issues that matter to our community and the role of our Representative in Washington. As we continue this conversation throughout the campaign, I urge you to be straightforward about your beliefs.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, September 6. Also, see this week's White House address, in which VP Biden "discusses our continued economic recovery, with 10 million private sector jobs created over the past 54 months, and the work to be done to continue to bolster our economy."
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