Here are a few winners and losers from the the McDonnells' trial and conviction that I believe are worth highlighting. As always, this list isn't meant to be comprehensive - just a few that jumped out at me - so please add winners and losers of your own in the comments section. Thanks.
WINNERS 1. Sen. Chap Petersen: In early July 2013, Petersen called for Bob McDonnell to "come clean" regarding Star Scientific, Jonnie Williams, etc. Petersen added, "If you are unable to explain (or deny) these reports or return the items, then I humbly suggest that you should step down as Governor..." Bingo, Chap nailed it, at a time when almost nobody else was willing to go that far, and when high-ranking Democrats were angry at him for saying this. Good for Chap for standing his ground!
2. Del. Scott Surovell: In mid-July 2013, Del. Surovell also called for McDonnell to step down, stating that "silence implies acquiescence, and I cannot continue to stand silently." Exactly right: evil flourishes while good people do nothing!
3. Sen. Barbara Favola: Also in mid-July 2013, Sen. Favola said that she saw "no point" in McDonnell remaining as governor given the reports of his dealings with Jonnie Williams.
4. Mark Herring: In April 2013, Herring called for "U.S. Department of Justice Thursday to launch an investigation into ties between a food supplement company that is suing the state and Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli." Nice.
5. Washington Post reporter Rosalind Helderman: Her reporting on the sordid case of Bob McDonnell, Jonnie Williams, "Anatabloc," Star Scientific, Todd Schneider, etc. played a huge role in leading to what happened yesterday. Nice job exposing corruption, malfeasance, etc., although obviously with a HUGE assist from former Governor's Mansion Chef Todd Schneider, who clearly helped "feed" (pun intended) them the story.
6. U.S. Justice Department Public Integrity section/Prosecution: Great job all around -- very tight case, thorough presentation, well-conceived prosecution, and an overwhelming win (in just 2+ days of deliberation).
7. The jury; common sense, American system of justice: The jury did a great job, used common sense, didn't buy the McDonnells' b.s. claims about a "broken marriage" and a "crazy wife," and simply looked at the overwhelming evidence of quid pro quo corruption. Nice job. Also a winner is the American system of justice, which did a great job here, even with very powerful people, in making sure they didn't "get away with it."
There's a lot of other news right now, but I was at this rally earlier today and shot some video. Plus, this is another great example of corruption in Virginia, just that in this case it's appallingly legal! Anyway, the point of the rally was to demand that Dominion Power get out of ALEC (located in the building behind the rally in Crystal City/Arlington). Speaker after speaker (videos in the comments section) explained why. One surprise (or maybe it wasn't a surprise, on second thought, given that Dominion owns our state legislature, and that people like Dick Saslaw are 100% in their pocket): other than Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille, there were ZERO other elected officials there today, despite many of them having been invited to attend. Hmmmm.
The verdict is in, and... (note: photo to the right is by 13 News Now)
3:48 pm: @AmyEGardner of the WaPo tweets, "Bob McDonnell defense attorney Hank Asbill said he 'didn't expect' the verdict. I'm obviously very disappointed. We will appeal."
3:39 pm: @juliantwalker1 tweets, ".@SpeakerHowell statement on #mcdonnelltrial verdict: sad day for Virginia. Won't 2nd guess jury, but 'proud' to call @BobMcDonnell 'friend'"
3:34 pm: @juliantwalker1 tweets, "#mcdonnelltrial verdict statement from @GovernorVA: "deeply saddened" by trial and impact on VA. @FirstLadyVA & governor pray for McDonnells"
3:33 pm: Former Virginia Dem blogger @KentonNgo tweets, "Phil Hamilton, Bob McDonnell....are Terry Kilgore and Phil Puckett next?" Good question!
3:27 pm: @MoElleithee of the DNC tweets, "Glad courts showed no one above the law. But still, no one wants to see a Gov guilty of corruption. Sad end to a sad chapter of VA history."
3:23 pm: So, Bob McDonnell, who spent his life telling everyone else what NOT to do with their bodies/in their bedrooms, also how to have the perfect marriage (not to mention the evils of feminism and so many other idiocies) is shown to be just ANOTHER example of right-wing, theocratic, moralistic hypocricy. Should Bob's mentor, Pat Robertson, get any credit for inculcating such fine moral values in his former student? Heh. Bottom line: Why are none of us surprised, given the long line of these types of people?
3:21 pm: U.S. Attorney EDVA (@EDVAnews) tweets, "#McDonnellTrial Verdict: Former Gov. Robert McDonnell found guilty on counts 1-11; Maureen McDonnell guilty on counts 1-3, 5-8, 10, 14."
3:17 pm: @shearm of the NY Times tweets, "Back in Aug of 2012, Bob McDonnell told Huff Post that he had been on VP short list for Romney."
3:15 pm: @omeola of the RTD tweets, "Bob #McDonnell found guilty on 11 of the 14 counts, Maureen McDonnell found guilty on 9 counts. Sentencing set for Jan. 6 at 10 am"
3:14 pm: So, Bill Howell, Dick Saslaw et al, can we FINALLY get some freakin' serious ethics laws in this state?!?
3:13 pm: Attorney and blogger @dmataconis tweets, "Attn Law Students: The "My Wife Is A Crazy B**tch" Defense does not work (See McDonnell, Bob)"
3:11 pm: @ryanjreilly of HuffPo tweets, "Holder says McDonnell case was 'well tried' and appropriate."
3:08 pm: @shearm of the NY Times tweets, "If I remember @PostRoz's reporting right, McDonnell could have pleaded guilty to one felony charge with no jail time and turned it down."
3:07 pm: @AmyEGardner tweets, "The family is sobbing in court, per @postroz"
3:06 pm: @AmyEGardner tweets, "Bob McDonnell and Maureen McDonnell are not guilty of bank fraud." Weird, if anything I'd have thought they'd be found guilty on that one.
3:05 pm: As @Lis_Smith tweets, "Why you take the plea deal..." Amazing they didn't.
3:02 pm: Roz Helderman of the Post tweets: "Bob McDonnell guilty of 11 counts--all corruption counts" and "Maureen McDonnell guilty on 8 corruption counts and obstruction of justice."
3:01 pm: Marcus Schmidt of the RTD tweets, "Bob and Maureen #McDonnell guilty on at least the first three charges"
3:00 pm: Rachel Weiner of the Wash Post tweets: "Bob and Maureen McDonnell found guilty on at least one corruption charge"
Comstock Claims Her Support For Overturning Roe v. Wade Won’t Matter Because… Congress Doesn’t Deal with Women’s Healthcare?
LOUDOUN, Va. – At yesterday's Fairfax Chamber Town Hall, Barbara Comstock actually claimed her support for overturning Roe v. Wade wouldn’t matter if she were elected because Congress doesn’t address women’s healthcare issues.
“[…] Comstock said, adding that her desire to see Roe v. Wade overturned would not come into play in Congress. ‘I’m not running for the Supreme Court, I’m running to be your congressman.’”
But Comstock’s own right-wing record as a in Richmond – including her votes for mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds and for TRAP laws that close women’s health clinics – shows just how misleading her statement really is.
“Barbara Comstock couldn’t defend her right-wing record when it comes to attacking women’s healthcare choices, so she’s resorted to a bizarre, misleading and insulting claim that Congress doesn’t deal with women’s healthcare,” said 10th District Chair Charlie Jackson. “From supporting an overturn of Roe v. Wade to voting for mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds, Comstock has focused relentlessly in Richmond on pushing her right-wing agenda that’s out of touch with Virginia’s women and families, and she’d do exactly the same in Washington.”
According to an editorial in this morning's Daily Press, the proposed new natural gas pipeline from West Virginia through Virginia and North Carolina is "the type of project Virginia should embrace." In contrast, the Daily Press falsely disparages opponents of the pipeline as "the NIMBY crowd" (utterly absurd, as I'm confident that most environmentalists would be happy to see solar panels in their "backyards" - on their roofs, etc.). Yet, oddly and illogically, in the same editorial the Daily Press acknowledges that environmentalists are "understandably worried about the potential impact of a natural gas pipeline running across Virginia," and that their "concern for the environment is well placed." The Daily Press further acknowledges that private property owners will "worry will be about fair market value for their land and protecting themselves from unwanted or unfair encroachment." Gee, ya think?!? Yet, somehow, despite all that, the Daily Press still concludes that we should "embrace" this project? Uh...WTF?
Meanwhile, in its own internally illogical editorial, the Virginian Pilot acknowledges that this pipeline will NOT be the "game changer" Gov. McAuliffe claims it will be (remember, McAuliffe's the same guy who introduces everyone as "the greatest [fill in the blank] in the history of [fill in the blank]," so take ALL his claims with a huge grain of salt). The Virginia Pilot also admits that "fracking fouls groundwater and pollutes the air," but claims that it's not "worse than for coal or oil," so...yippee(?).
So much illogic, red herrings, and ignorance, so little time to address it all. Let's just list a few facts (yes, they are empirically verifiable, just do some research) here:
5. There is no doubt whatsoever that energy efficiency is a far better option than increased fossil fuel production, in terms of "bang for the buck," "low-hanging fruit," "Econ 101," whatever you want to say.
Finally, it's important to understand why this pipeline has gotten as far as it has. It's very simple, really: just go to VPAP and check out where the $9 million (!!!) Dominion Power has donated to Virginia politicians over the years has gone. Basically, Dominion controls Virginia's government when it comes to energy policy, and it's used that control to lock its current business model into place, whereby all their incentives are AGAINST conservation and energy efficiency, and FOR producing more fossil-fuel-generated power. Oh, and those incentives are all FOR continuing the dying, top-down, command-and-control, centralized model and AGAINST the distributed energy revolution that's sweeping increasing parts of America and the world.
In short, Dominion is a negative, reactionary force that has worked for years to block any progress on Virginia energy policy and to entrench themselves in their position as an incumbent industry, theoretically-but-not-really-regulated monopoly, and major polluter. The question is, why would anyone who cares about Virginia's economic future -- in a 21st century where clean energy, not fossil fuels, will be a key to success -- support this pipeline to nowhere? I hate to be cynical, but the short answer is simple: just follow the money, keeping in mind that the "Virginia Way" is basically a system of legalized corruption, lobbyists and corporations making a mockery of democracy, and other fine features like that. Great stuff, huh?
They (including all of us) also serve who sit and wait. That would include the intrepid reporters from all media who have covered this thing like hawks, and are now sitting. This likely will take a while. I think the first Blago jury spent close to two weeks before being hung. Close to that amount of time before they convicted him.
Others have other views and opinions, including my husband of 42 years, who once was sequestered in Alexandria on a drug case, because persons operating, apparently, on behalf of the "defendant" had called up another juror and made threats. Sadly, they didn't sequester the family left behind: I got a couple of creepy "heavy-breather" and "hang up" calls.
My point is that jurors, even in simple cases, make sacrifices. In long, complicated cases, the sacrifices are much greater, both for them, and their families. The McDonnell case is long, complex, with considerable conflicting testimony spread out over five weeks, much of it on points of law that no person who isn't an attorney, a crook or grifting politician in the Old Dominion has any knowledge of.
This could take a while. They had to listen, get the instructions, retire to the jury room, get to know one another, at least a little, so they could pick a foreperson, whose main jobs are to send out messages, referee, call for votes, and I believe, sign off on the verdicts.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, September 4. Also, check out the "ad" for Exxon. You can substitute the name of another fossil fuel company if you want -- it still works fine.
"This is wrong," Warren said in regard to Cantor's new role as vice chairman and managing director at Moelis & Co. "People work in Washington and, man, they hit that revolving door with a speed that would blind you." She went on to claim that banks hire politicians like Cantor "not because they bring great expertise and insight, but because they're selling access back into their former colleagues who are still writing policy...We've got a Washington now that works for anyone who can hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers, and it doesn't work for regular families."
The other day, I sat down with a book with the title The Power of Kindness. The book had been given to April and me by a young man to thank us for the kindness we had extended to him recently when he was in difficulty.
The book quickly put me in a sweeter and more tender frame of mind and soul. That, in turn, reminded me of how much it has cost me, over the past ten years, to have taken on this force from the dark side of things that's taken over the political right.
How much more I would like to be in that place where what I focus on is the warmth of goodwill and love and compassion where we take care of each other's hearts.
But focusing on that better space is not an option for me.
For starters, I cannot help but pay attention to what's happening in the world around me. At various times over the past nearly 50 years when the pain of what I saw seemed more than I wanted to bear, I've tried to turn my head away. But I could never do it.
For another, I apparently also cannot see what I hold dear being destroyed and not be moved to act to protect it.
So, even as I enjoyed the sweetness of the space that book on kindness brought me to, and recognized the loss that girding myself for battle imposes on me, I understood that I the choice I'm making is the one I simply must make.
Following the latest atrocity by the Islamic State/ISIL terrorist group, Virginia's two U.S. Senators have issued statements this morning and early afternoon. First, here's Sen. Kaine:
My prayers go out to the family and friends of Steven Sotloff. His murder was a barbaric act by members of ISIL who yet again proved that what the terrorist group represents has no place in humanity. This tragedy reinforces what I have long said - that this Administration should come to Congress with clear objectives and scope of mission to combat the ISIL threat, and Congress should immediately debate an authorization to use military force.
I just finished conversations in Tunisia and Morocco -- two longtime partners in our fight against terrorism -- about the ISIL threat and the possibility of foreign fighters returning home. Over the next few days I will be speaking with servicemembers at U.S. Naval Station Rota, Spain, and our Spanish counterparts, about addressing the ISIL threat. Now is the time for Congress to hear the Administration's rationale for military action against ISIL, and vote up or down on an authorization.
Now, here's Sen. Warner:
We are repulsed yet again by the barbaric tactics of the terrorist group ISIL, and our thoughts today are with the families of American journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley.
I urge the Administration to come to Congress with a clear strategy and political and military options for eliminating the ISIL threat. The United States should not take any military options off the table, because stopping ISIL is in the national security and foreign policy interests of the U.S. and our European allies. We need to see the Iraqis, other partners across the region, and our European allies in NATO stand up and stand together against the ISIL threat.
I agree that "stopping ISIL is in the national security and foreign policy interests of the U.S. and our European allies" and also that "this Administration should come to Congress with clear objectives and scope of mission to combat the ISIL threat." I'm just not sure how we go after ISIL without getting dragged into a quagmire, helping other unsavory characters (e.g., Syrian President Assad; Iran). What a mess.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, September 3. Oh, and for anyone who thinks natural gas "fracking" is a good idea, check out the movie "Gasland," or just do some reading about this destructive, dangerous practice.
Do you feel like this summer went by fast? If so, can you imagine how quickly it must have flown by for Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe? As Gov. McAuliffe's summer began (ust 73 days ago, on June 20), recall that he held a fiery press conference in which he blasted Virginia Republicans' "unconscionable" refusal to expand Medicaid. Recall that he also vowed that, in spite of Republican obstructionism, we was "moving forward," and specifically that Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel would "have a plan on my desk no later than September 1 of this year" to "move forward with healthcare."
Well, September 1st has come and gone, and presumably Gov. McAuliffe has that plan on his desk now. So, should we expect a big, exciting announcement sometime soon (this week or next week perhaps)? Or, will the confident vows made as the summer began be quietly forgotten now that kids are going back to school, days are getting shorter, and tempers - if not temperatures - have cooled off a bit? More to the point, were those vows ever realistic in the first place? Was there anything Gov. McAuliffe really could do unilaterally, with the Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly firmly opposed? According to an excellent article by Dave Ress of the Daily Press, it sure isn't looking promising. A few key points:
*"With an overwhelming majority in the House of Delegates resolutely opposed to Medicaid expansion -- or anything that looks like it and that clears the way for Affordable Care Act dollars to flow through state coffers -- the governor doesn't have a lot of choices."
*"[T]he policy wonks and state government grunts who he'd normally ask for ideas aren't hearing many requests...'The screaming silence has been deafening.'"
*"[S]ignals emerging from the governor's office point to a fairly modest proposal to whittle down the number of low-income Virginians who don't have insurance."
(See comments for related story on natural gas pipeline; huge Gov. McAuliffe #FAIL - promoted by lowkell)
Recent William & Mary grad Priscilla Lin, wrote this piece. Priscilla is concerned about climate change and in particular ocean issues. She volunteers with Oceana, which is a co-sponsor of the Sept. 4 Dominion-Dump-ALEC rally in Arlington County.
It's time for Virginians to call on Dominion Resources, Inc. to leave the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Join me for a Dominion-Dump-ALEC rally at ALEC Headquarters in the Crystal City area of Arlington County on September 4 at noon.
As a native Virginian and 2014 college graduate interested in protecting the environment, it comes as no surprise to me that Dominion Virginia Power, Virginia's largest electric utility, is dirty. Dirty fossil fuel energy, which contributes to climate change and ocean acidification, is not the way towards a better, cleaner future. I learned recently that Dominion belongs to ALEC, an organization with a pro-polluter agenda. Dominion publicly touts its supposed environmental awareness, but it doesn't explain what it does behind closed doors with the shady anti-climate and anti-democracy group ALEC.
You won't find any mention on Dominion's website or in its public pronouncements of its work to undermine environmental protections through its participation in ALEC, which has been described as "a corporate bill mill." It brings together corporations and state legislators and comes up with "model legislation" for the legislators to introduce back home.
ALEC has consistently pushed anti-climate and anti-environment legislation. Dominion's association with the group directly conflicts with its claims to support clean energy. You can learn more about ALEC at alecexposed.org.
I was astounded by what my local Republicans wrote on the subject of Labor Day. These days I guess I shouldn't be surprised (after all, they did invite us to join the Tea Party's "Boycott Labor Day" event in 2012), but this time their message was so full of contempt for working Americans, so disdainful of the tradition of the holiday, and so deliberately misleading -- that I felt compelled to respond.
First of all, today isn't a day of rest and relaxation for everyone. If you go to the grocery store or the gas station today, the folks working there are struggling like you and me. And they have to work nights, weekends and holidays if they want to earn a living. Having worked in various industries such as foodservice and retail, even digging ditches for minimum wage, I understand that sometimes you have to do whatever you can to get by. This is something the Republicans don't seem to understand.
In the Republicans' world, the President doesn't actually have "respect for the value of work" - despite the fact that he is fighting for an increase in the minimum wage, in other words, paying people for the value of their work, which Republicans oppose. They believe we want a society where "a growing underclass lives on the government dole" and that we would deny people the self-respect of knowing they're pulling their own weight.
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