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Rating the Virginia 8th CD Democratic Candidates' Website Issues Sections

by: lowkell

Sat Mar 22, 2014 at 11:31:37 AM EDT

I'm rating the 8th CD Democratic candidates' website issues sections by three main criteria: 1) how comprehensive they are (e.g., how many issues they cover); 2) how detailed they are; and  3) how progressive they are. Note that several of the candidates get "incomplete" grades. In my mind, this is far less a problem with elected officials with a long record of votes and statements on important issues, than for people who have never held elective office, been a candidate before, or have had a long history of statements and actions on various issues. In the latter category of candidates (e.g., Satish Korpe, Nancy Najarian, Lavern Chatman, Derek Hyra), it's crucial that the candidate spell out in as much detail as possible their positions on a wide range of issues. I'll revisit this in a few weeks, and if I don't see any more information added, I'll almost certainly be changing an "incomplete" or two to a low grade ("D" or "F").

Patrick Hope: Website has separate sections on a wide variety of issues - "Criminal Justice," "Disability," "Education," Energy/ Environment," "Federal Workforce," "Gun Safety," "Health Care," "Immigration," "Income Inequality," "LGBTQA," "Military and Veterans," "Transit," "Women's Issues." There's a good amount of detail on each, and all are strongly progressive (e.g., "supporter of a single-payer system," setting "limits on industrial carbon pollution," "strong gun safety laws"). Grade: A

UPDATE 6:45 pm Saturday: The Levine campaign emailed me to say that they've now updated their website with issues descriptions on: "Making College Affordable," "Expanding Social Security," "Expanding Medicare," "Supporting veterans and federal employees," and "Protecting the environment." Accordingly, I'm changing Levine's rating from "incomplete" to an "A" grade.
Mark Levine currently has a simple "splash page," rather than a full website, which means there's no "issues" page as of yet. Based on his writings, actions on Rep. Barney Frank's staff and elsewhere, activism, lengthy discussions I've had with him, etc. there's absolutely no question that Levine is highly progressive, it's just not reflected at the moment on this website (note: the Levine campaign emailed me his detailed positions on the issues, and they would get an "A" or "A+" if he just put them on his website). For now, though...Grade: Incomplete Grade: A

Bruce Shuttleworth: Strongly progressive on the issues he covers (e.g., "Universal healthcare should be a basic right in the United States;" "investment in technologies that will deliver a sustainable future is required to save us from the scourge of Climate Change, foreign oil dependence and dirty domestic energy production;" "I support the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act and the regulation of the financial industry;" "I stand as an ally to my fellow Americans and will lead the way towards racial, gender & LBGT equality for ALL"). I'd love to get more detail on a wider range of issues. Grade: B

Don Beyer: Covers a decent number of issues - from climate change to marriage equality to comprehensive immigration reform to raising the minimum wage - but not in much detail. Given the lack of detail, it's hard to rate several of these in terms of their progressivity. For instance, on climate change, Beyer's website simply says, "The United States should be a leader on this critical energy issue." On this issue, it's worth noting that Beyer recently held an event in which he stated that "the "most effective way of reducing carbon emissions is to put a tax on carbon pollution." At that same event, Beyer also spoke out against fracking in the GW National Forest, another important environmental issue. This is far beyond (and better than!) what's on his website's issues section (although there IS a press release about this event on his campaign website). So, perhaps it's more that Beyer's campaign has decided to keep its issues page short than a lack of detailed policy positions. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the issues listed on Beyer's website, as well as the many others not listed. Grade: B-

Bill Euille: His website touches on a wide variety of issues - "An Economy That Works For Everyone," "Helping Small Businesses Grow," "Making Our Neighborhoods Safer," "Defending Women's Rights," "Health Care For Every American," "Taking Care Of Our Environment," "Fighting For Marriage Equality," etc. - and what information he has there is generally progressive. My main question is, how would Euille's local experience translate to the national level, as his website mostly talks about his accomplishments as Mayor. Grade: B-

Derek Hyra: His issues section is broken into the following headings - "Strong Communities. Strong Country," "Economy: Growth for All," "Education: Quality Programs for Lifelong Learning," "Environment: Protecting Green Spaces, Improving Quality of Life," and "Equity: Social and Economic Equality." There's a decent amount of detail, and what I see is good overall (e.g., "Strengthening the Clean Water and Air Acts, reducing our carbon footprint, and fighting against any efforts to gut the Environmental Protection Agency;" "Supporting women's rights and LGBTQ rights;" "Implementing universal pre-K for all" and "Raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment insurance benefits"). Given that Hyra has no voting record, I'd love to hear more from him on a wider range of issues. Grade: B-

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 486 words in story)

Congress Can Control College Costs

by: MarkLevine

Sat Mar 22, 2014 at 09:36:20 AM EDT

(I am promoting this because I think it's an intriguing idea. I welcome op-eds by other 8th CD Democratic candidates on important issues facing our district (and America) today, and will promote those that I think deserve to be shared more widely. This is one of those. Thanks. - promoted by lowkell)

The millennials may be the first generation in American history to be worse off than their parents. Despite ever-growing improvements in technology and worker productivity, increasing numbers of college graduates in their 20's and 30's are returning home to live with mom and dad. They are drowning in a sea of red ink. The problem, of course, is college affordability.

Although the surest ticket out of poverty remains higher education, higher education itself is placing too many Americans back in poverty. In the last 30 years, the cost of a college education has astoundingly almost tripled even after taking account of inflation. Meanwhile the public subsidy to students has remained stagnant. That means, after taking account of inflation, subsidies to students have been cut in half. Do the math. When I went to college, the Government subsidized almost six times as much of college costs. No wonder today's generation is feeling the pain.

And it's not just tuition. Room and board are skyrocketing, as colleges use these items, plus fees, to pad their payments to administrators. And we have to be clear that's where the money is going. Why a college with the same number of students as 30 years ago needs twice the number of administrators to handle them now is beyond me.

To add insult to injury, the Federal Government profits off the backs of students by charging them an additional 3% to 6% more for student loans than we charge banks. That's a hiked rate of interest on an overcharged principal, amounting to an astonishing $21 billion a year the Government makes off of strapped and vulnerable individuals struggling to live the American Dream. Private industry charges even more.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 609 words in story)

Barbara Comstock to Attend Fundraiser With "Age of Reason Led to Holocaust" Extremist

by: lowkell

Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 16:29:50 PM EDT

Given the fact that 10th CD Republican candidate Barbara Comstock has previously touted endorsements by the likes of right-wing hate radio host Mark Levin, I suppose it's not surprising that she'd attend a fundraiser with this extremist wacko. Apparently, Comstock is calculating that she needs to do whatever it takes to ensure that "Sideshow Bob" Marshall doesn't outflank her to the right, and that her lurch into loony land today won't hurt her in the general election in a few months. We'll see. In the meantime, here's some video of Comstock's BFF Penny Nance of the virulently homophobic, Islamophobic, theocratic "Concerned Women for America." Here, Nance rants about how the "Age of Reason" let to "moral relativism" which led to...yep, you guessed it, major Godwin's Law violation!

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Saturday Morning

by: lowkell

Sat Mar 22, 2014 at 06:32:12 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, March 22. Also see President Obama's weekly address, in which he "highlights the importance of making sure our economy rewards the hard work of every American -- including America's women."

*Russia Begins to Feel Pressure on Economy From Sanctions (In other words, President Obama is handling this situation well, despite the howlings of deranged right wingnuts like Charles Krauthammer.)
*Federal judge strikes down Michigan's ban on gay marriage
*Creationists Demand Airtime On 'Cosmos' For The Sake Of Balance (Yes, there really are people like this in our country. Ugh.)
*Can the Sunday shows get better? (Short answer: theoretically yes, but in reality zero chance. As someone who used to watch these shows all the time, I must say: They. Are. Worthless.)
*Democrats Plan Ads in Challenge to Koch Brothers (I urge everyone to boycott anything made by Koch companies - Georgia Pacific products, Dixie cups, etc.)
*Dan River coal-ash pollution angers and worries Virginians
*Virginia Republican Party is cash-strapped (Couldn't have happened to a nicer party! LOL)
*Isn't that special: The General Assembly reassembles ("...the Assembly's recent list of accomplishments is slight indeed." And that's being generous!)
*Lend me your eyes: Planned toll road has met its fate ("I come to bury a new U.S. 460, not to praise it.")
*McAuliffe's new PAC distracts attention from where it belongs - on Medicaid ("Today everyone in politics does it, and no one is shocked - except when there is the opportunity for political gain by feigning shock, as the GOP is doing with Mr. McAuliffe." Right, so what is this silly editorial blabbering about exactly then?)
*House to work from McDonnell's proposed budget
*Staff cuts in Fairfax schools could be broader than thought
*As Richmond considers a slavery heritage site, Wilder speaks up (Doug Wilder involved? Can anything good come from that? Hmmm.)
*Gov. McAuliffe Signs Extradition Order for 'Person of Interest' in Alexandria Killings
*Lawmakers: Aim for a smart budget ("House Republicans are appealing for 'a clean budget' that never existed. Worse, however, is that their position prevents approval of what ought to be the objective of every person across the commonwealth: a smart budget.")
*Va. Beach Sheriff urges McAuliffe to pass budget (Why does Ken Stolle favor sending our hard-earned tax money to other states?)
*Newest Virginia Beach arena plans: a study in contrasts
*Virginia dodges infamy, 16-seed Chanticleers, to advance in NCAAs
*D.C. area forecast: A sensational Saturday, but colder air returns thereafter

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Dems Vote in Favor of Koch Brothers' Economic Interests While Koch Brothers Work to Defeat Them

by: lowkell

Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 09:05:29 AM EDT

Guess who stands to gain from development of Canada's tar sands oil, which will be accelerated by approval of the Keystone XL Canadian tar sands exports pipeline?  That's right, our friends the Koch brothers.
New research from the International Forum on Globalization (IFG) confirms that Koch Industries has a huge financial interest at stake in KXL's approval, which could become "stranded assets" if KXL is not approved. The Koch Brothers' combined net worth ($100 billion) is far more than Bill Gates' ($78 billion), allowing Koch to outspend all other oil companies-even Exxon-in blocking climate change policies. Koch has repeatedly denied any interest in KXL, but we now see that the very opposite is true.

Alberta's government land sales database (left) shows Koch with over one million acres in Alberta, Canada (yellowish splotches inside purple area of Athabasca tar sands). Official records reveal Koch Oil Sands Operating ULC (KOSO) purchased 1.1 million acres of land that likely contain enough carbon-rich oil to profit the world's two wealthiest men tens of billions of dollars. But without KXL, the Kochs' remote carbon reserves could be too costly to develop and transport from the middle of the continent, saddling Koch with potentially billions of dollars in unexploited carbon they can't get to market profitably if KXL is rejected.

Which means, of course, that any Democrat who supports development of the Keystone XL pipeline may be giving the Koch brothers the rope to hang them with. Those Democrats include several Senators up for election this year, such as Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mary Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Begich of Alaska, and our own Mark Warner. Meanwhile, the Koch brothers - who stand to benefit from this very project - have already spent $25 million (or more) "in crucial 2014 House and Senate races, according to Democratic media-buying sources." And they're likely to ramp that up a lot further as the year goes by, including against the Democrats who've voted in favor of the Koch's interests regarding the Canadian tar sands. Perhaps it's time for Democrats up for reelection in "purple" states in 2014 to rethink that approach?
Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Video: Alan Howze Delivers Opening, Closing Statements at Arlington County Board Debate Last Night

by: lowkell

Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 06:49:23 AM EDT

The debate was held last night at the Aurora Hills Community Center. Alan Howze is the Democratic candidate in the race. His opponent is life-long Republican John Vihstadt, who has donated thousands of dollars to the likes of George W. Bush, McCain/Palin, and Romney/Ryan.

There's More... :: (13 Comments, 14 words in story)

Virginia News Headlines: Friday Morning

by: lowkell

Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 06:40:47 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, March 21. Also check out the video by Catherine Read of Gov. Terry McAuliffe conducting a roundtable on health care and Medicaid expansion at Alexandria Neighborhood Health Services, Arlington.

*Renewed hunt for Indian Ocean debris
*The biggest land owner in Canada's oil sands isn't Exxon Mobil or Conoco Phillips. It's the Koch brothers (Which means that any Democrat who supports the Keystone XL pipeline is indirectly encouraging their own demise, by boosting the Koch brothers. Hmmm.)
*The Logic Behind Obama's Step-by-Step Approach To Russia ("As the days go on, the White House's approach to punish Russia for invading Ukraine appear to be making more and more sense." You'd never know it from raving lunatics like Charles Krauthammer, though.)
*Wind Industry's New Technologies Are Helping It Compete on Price
*A Note to Our Legislators: Fix This Mess ("The money for Medicaid expansion is tax money Virginians are already sending to Washington ... if Virginia doesn't accept it, it simply goes to states that already expanded Medicaid. In Virginia, we're talking about $2 billion per year.")
*Star Scientific to change name within 60 days (Whatever it's called, it's still a slimy company.)
*Feathers remain ruffled after 'tar baby' comment ("One of those offended accused the lawmaker who made the remark of subconscious racism.")
*Ethics reform is a half-measure ("Under a proposal approved this month by the General Assembly, Virginia's ethics and financial-disclosure rules would get stronger. That is as much a positive outcome of legislative negotiations as it is an indictment of the inadequate system already in place.")
*Governor's legal pay-to-play plan is tacky and tasteless
*Gillespie two ways: his portrayal and Dems' version
*McAuliffe hauled in $2M for inaugural
*Samaritans need protection in Virginia
*Spring tease lingers through Saturday before cold weather blows back in

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Video: Gov. McAuliffe Promises to Pass Medicaid Expansion; Says "Major Announcement" Coming Monday

by: lowkell

Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 16:30:32 PM EDT

Video by Catherine S. Read (note: I re-recorded it, hence the degradation in video quality). "Gov. Terry McAuliffe sat down at Alexandria Neighborhood Health Services, Inc. to hear from patients, doctors and clinic administrators about the importance of healthcare coverage."

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

GOP-Controlled Virginia House of Delegates: Where Many Good Bills Go to Die

by: lowkell

Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 15:58:05 PM EDT

In a nutshell, this graphic by the Virginia Public Access Project demonstrates why Democrats desperately need to take back the Virginia House of Delegates from the far-right-wing, ALEC-controlled Republicans. Notice where legislation (including many good bills dealing with every issue we care about) goes to die? That's right, not just the Teapublican-controlled House of Delegates, but to subcommittees of the House of Delegates, where you there are usually no recorded votes or recorded proceedings. That means, in short, that these ALEC/corporate tools can work their will out of the sunshine, with no public oversight, and basically unbeknownst to anyone but their corporate masters. Ah, "democracy" Teapublican style -- gotta love it (or, actually, not!).
Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Video: Bettina Lawton's St. Patrick's Day Interviews with Foust, Beyer, Euille, Lopez, etc.

by: lowkell

Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 15:34:52 PM EDT

In order, the interviews from Gerry Connolly's St. Patrick's Day Party Monday evening are with host Bettina Lawton and...Del. Ken Plum, Herndon Town Council member Sheila Olem, Sen. Chap Petersen, 10th CD Democratic nominee John Foust, former Virginia Lt. Governor Don Beyer, Herndon Town Council candidate Rick Nagel, Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, Del. Alfonso Lopez, and Del. Bob Brink. Enjoy!

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

In Any Language, Ed Gillespie's Right-Wing Republican Policies Still #FAIL Miserably

by: lowkell

Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 11:26:13 AM EDT

Look, it's smart that Ed Gillespie is reaching out to non-English-speaking communities. I commend him for that, even if the dubbing is a bit awkward at times. There's just one (big) problem: in whatever language, the right-wing Republican policies he's pushing are nothing more than snake oil - proven failures on issue after issue. On immigration reform, for instance, I'd love to hear why Gillespie removed a clip from his website touting immigration reform.

While he's at it, I'd also love to hear Ed Gillespie explain how he has anything to offer other than discredited, failed Republican policies (e.g., "trickle-down," "supply-side") which favor the wealthy and the corporations over the middle class, which widen income inequality and make upward mobility more difficult, which keep us addicted to oil, which harm the environment, etc. While he's at it, he can also explain his enormous flip flop from supporting key elements of "Obamacare" in 2007 as a Washington lobbyist for the Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform, to his opposition now. He can also try to explain his meeting with a group (the "Virginia Christian Alliance") which refutes "foreign cultures, legal precedents, languages and religions in opposition to Christianity," as well as "adultery, fornication, heterosexual oral sex, pornography...and homosexuality." It should be fun listening to Gillespie try to explain any (or all) of these this, but something tells me it won't make any sense -- whatever language he dubs it into.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Thursday Morning

by: lowkell

Thu Mar 20, 2014 at 06:41:39 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, March 20.

*Ukraine prepares to evacuate its troops in Crimea
*Australia spots objects possibly tied to missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner
*First Climate Article On Nate Silver's Data Website Uses 'Deeply Misleading' Data, Top Climatologists Say (I have pretty much had it with Nate Silver at this point.)
*The Emptiness of Data Journalism ("Nate Silver could learn a lot from those op-ed columnists he maligns")
*Deal seems distant on McAuliffe budget due Monday ("Virginia Senate and House of Delegates budget negotiators at loggerheads on Medicaid expansion -- the key stumbling block to budget peace -- emerged Wednesday afternoon from separate closed-door meetings with the governor saying the talks had been cordial, but sounding no closer to compromise.")
*Congressman Moran's News Commentary: Ryan's Wrong on Anti-Poverty Programs
*Herring hears concerns of localities
*How much for a real ethics policy? ("If federal prosecutors are now trying to prove a quid pro quo in the influence-peddling criminal case against former Gov. Bob McDonnell, Terry McAuliffe has just provided a menu of the way quids are traded legally in the Governor's Mansion.")
*Our view: A leisurely path to repentance ("Virginians hoping that Gov. Terry McAuliffe will add some heft to the bantamweight ethics bill passed by legislators were instead greeted this week by - what else? - a fundraising appeal from the chief executive.")
*Warner seeks to counter Russia's grip on Europe's energy (The problem with LNG exports, putting all environmental issues aside for the moment, is that it makes no sense from an economics point of view. It would also take many years to build the export facilities, which means zero impact on the Russia-Ukraine situation for a loooong time - if ever - to come.)
*Warner names Eva Teig Hardy to chair campaign
*State plans voter ID law campaign (How about a campaign to get rid of this monstrosity?)
*Beyer changed position on same-sex marriage (As did Barack Obama, Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Terry McAuliffe, Bill Clinton, and a gazillion other politicians in America. What's the story here?)
*Western Bypass reaches end of the road (Good riddance to yet another road boondoggle.)
*John Edwards, Sam Rasoul make Medicaid pitch in Roanoke
*Silver Line's delays are worsened by bad speakers, wrong cable
*VDOT sees spike in this year's snow costs
*A mild, sunny welcome to spring today ("Today is a fine day. Tomorrow is just as nice. Saturday is even better.")

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

New Study: Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax Would BOOST the Economy While Slashing CO2 Emissions

by: lowkell

Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 18:50:20 PM EDT

Cross posted from Scaling Green. Is there any good reason why we can't do this in Virginia?

The conventional wisdom to date has generally been that a carbon tax would help the environment but would hurt the economy. For instance, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) - not exactly an unbiased source, to put it mildly - found a parade of horrors from a carbon tax. For instance, NAM claimed that "any revenue raised by the carbon tax would be far outweighed by the negative impact to the overall economy" and that "increased costs of coal, natural gas and petroleum products due to a carbon tax would ripple through the economy and result in higher production costs and less spending on non-energy goods."  The question is, should we take anything NAM says on this subject seriously? A few facts to consider in making that judgment include:

In sum, NAM is dominated by fossil fuel companies and fossil-fuel-intensive manufacturers, making it about the last group around you'd want to take advice from - or trust - when it comes to energy policy. Fortunately, it turns out that the conclusions of NAM's carbon tax "study" have been completely contradicted by economic modeling firm REMI. The study, entitled "Environmental Tax Reform in California: Economic and Climate Impact of a Carbon Tax Swap," is available at this link. Here are the key points.
There's More... :: (2 Comments, 369 words in story)

Video: Got the 8th Congressional District Blues? Ingrid Morroy Sure Does!

by: lowkell

Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 14:32:33 PM EDT

Hahaha, this is a great one by Arlington County Revenue Commissioner Ingrid Morroy and her sister Judith - the 8th Congressional District blues. One caveat: Ingrid's supporting Patrick Hope, while I'm neutral/undecided among several candidates, but it's still worth sharing. Enjoy! :)

P.S. Ingrid had me at "rolled out of bed to read my favorite blog." LOL

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Sen. McEachin Assails Sen. Ruff's "Tar Baby" Remarks as "Insensitive, Inaccurate and Inappropriate"

by: lowkell

Wed Mar 19, 2014 at 13:53:34 PM EDT

See below for a statement by Virginia State Sen. Donald McEachin (D), in which he denounces Sen. Frank Ruff's comments (at the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce's legislative breakfast) likening Medicaid expansion to a "tar baby." According to Julian Walker's Virginian Pilot scoop, "John Gilstrap, a member of the Danville City Council, denounced the comment as 'not a correct statement to make' and 'offensive to a couple African Americans in the audience." In addition, "Gilstrap told the Pilot that Danville Mayor Sherman Saunders had walked out of the meeting after Ruff's comparison." Following up on the Virginian Pilot story, Think Progress reports that Ruff emailed to say "Never have I ever heard this as a racial term." Well, I guess now he has! Anyway, here's Sen. McEachin's statement. Never a dull moment...
Henrico - Senator A. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) today assailed the remarks of his colleague Senator Frank Ruff  in referring to Marketplace Virginia, the private insurance bipartisan plan to offer health care for low income Virginians, as a "tar baby."  

Senator McEachin said, "For Senator Ruff to use an expression widely known as a racial slur was shocking, insensitive and extremely disappointing. Instead of contributing to the merits of this discussion, he resorts to old time racial epithets and dog whistles.  However, every bit as dismaying is his lack of concern for the up to 400,000 low income working Virginians who would finally have the opportunity to access healthcare for themselves and their families.  Instead of engaging and trying to find solutions, he has simply demonstrated his complete lack of concern for their very real needs.

"Moreover, Senator Ruff has been completely inaccurate about the Marketplace Virginia proposal. The plan contains a kill switch that will ensure that Virginia will not have to over pay and that the program's costs will not simply escalate. For him to ignore this critical piece either demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge of the legislation which is alarming or an intentional ignorance which is truly unacceptable.

"Senator Ruff owes Virginians an apology and, as importantly, a commitment to actually read the legislation, to speak the truth about what it contains and to engage in a serious, merit and fact based dialogue to improve the lives of Virginians, the very thing he was elected to do, instead of resorting to antiquated and offensive insults."

Discuss :: (7 Comments)
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8th CD Dem Candidates
*Don Beyer *Lavern Chatman *Adam Ebbin *Bill Euille *Charniele Herring *Patrick Hope *Derek Hyra *Mark Levine *Alfonso Lopez *Bruce Shuttleworth *Mark Sickles *Nancy Najarian *Satish Korpe


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