I've been a Star Trek fan my whole life, and there have been so many great characters and actors over the years. Still, if I had to pick just one Star Trek character it would have to be Mr. Spock, and the actor who played him, Leonard Nimoy. He lived long and prospered, I just wish the "continuing (orginally 5-year) mission" never had to end for this amazing man. Rest in peace. This loss really makes me sad.
P.S. The following is Leonard Nimoy's last tweet, followed by tributes from his fellow Star Trek actors.
P.P.S. I forgot to mention the important point that Nimoy was a strong progressive, a champion for things like civil rights, LGBT equality, environmental protection and animal welfare.
William Shatner: "I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love"
George Takei: "Today, the world lost a great man, and I lost a great friend. We return you now to the stars, Leonard. You taught us to 'Live Long And Prosper,' and you indeed did, friend. I shall miss you in so many, many ways." Yep.
Brent Spiner: "Farewell Leonard. Glad I knew you. Thinking of Susan, Adam, and his entire family. And his vast extended family of Star Trek."
Levar Burton: "God Bless You, Leonard Nimoy... May Angels guide thee to thy rest!"
Jonathan Frakes: "#LLAP RIP to the best First Officer. @TheRealNimoy"
Wil Wheaton: "We stood on your shoulders, and wouldn't have had a galaxy to explore if you hadn't been there, first. Thank you, Leonard, Rest in peace."
Zachary Quinto (current Spock) - My heart is broken. i love you profoundly my dear friend. and i will miss you everyday."
Patrick Stewart: "It is with sadness that I heard of Leonard Nimoy's death. I was lucky to spend many happy, inspiring hours with him. He won't be forgotten."
Nichelle Nichols: "I am deeply saddened by the death of my dear friend Leonard Nimoy. But, I also want to celebrate his extraordinary life. He was a true force of strength and his character was that of a champion. Leonard's integrity and passion as an actor and devotion to his craft helped transport STAR TREK into television history. His vision and heart are bigger than the universe. I will miss him very much and send heartfelt wishes to his family."
Right-wingnut Gov. Scott Walker is not the brightest bulb on a wide range of issues, including of course energy and the environment. Here, he's asked by Haycock Elementary School (Falls Church, Virginia) second grader Aaron Stark what he'd do about climate change. Walker starts out ok, with the Boy Scout/campfire metaphor, but then Aaron follows up, much more skillfully than the Chuck Todds of the world ever do, by asking Walker point blank, "Do you CARE about climate change?" That's when Walker goes off the rails, as he starts talking to a second grader in Republican talking points about "ultimately" having "all the natural resources...as possible to move forward" blah blah blah. I mean, this really isn't complicated: if you're asked this question, certainly by a second grader, the answer is going to be pretty simple, that I care a lot, that this is a huge threat, and that we have to do something about it now! Of course, Walker couldn't do that because: a) he probably doesn't believe it; b) he's bought and paid for by the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel interests; and c) he's busy pandering for support from the crazy, science-denying, environment-trashing Republican base. Anyway, great job by Aaron, who I'd recommend as a replacement for any number of Sunday talk show hosts. :)
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, February 27. Also, check out the loop of John Boehner making kissy sounds at a reporter. Yep, that's the Republican Party's leader in the US House of Representatives.
RICHMOND -- Kissing the ring of the nation's most notorious loser Eric Cantor has become a rite of passage for 2016 GOP hopefuls, and Chris Christie wants in on the action too. Fresh off a day of riling up right-wing extremists at CPAC, where he reminded participants that he voted to defund Planned Parenthood five times, Christie is once again not in New Jersey. While Christie is in town convincing Virginia Republicans that he's a viable presidential candidate, take a look at how his time in New Jersey stacks up with the Commonwealth.
"If Virginia Republicans want to seriously compete in 2016, they should stay far away from Chris Christie's horrible economic ideas," said Morgan Finkelstein, spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of Virginia. "Christie's record reads like a step-by-step guide of how not to run a state. Virginia Republicans couldn't have picked a more polar opposite to the progress made by Governor McAuliffe here in the Commonwealth."
For more, see Right Wing Watch, but in short, the 2013 Virginia nominee for Lt. Governor, EW Jackson, yesterday attacked the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for briefly listing 2016 Republican Presidential candidate (and an extremist by any definition of the word) Ben Carson in its "extremist files," claiming that SPLC's criticism of Carson was "no different than what maybe slave masters or segregationists would have said." Yes, you could brush it off as, "well, it's typical insanity by EW Jackson," but the problem is that Jackson't not an aberration in today's Republican Party. Remember, this is a party where top leaders, like Rudy Giulani and Scott Walker, routinely question Barack Obama's religion, patriotism, birth status, you name it. They also deny climate science and evolution, whlie routinely making outrageous comments about a whole host of other topics. The question is, how can an extreme, John Birch Society-style freak show like this be a major political party in this country?
On Tuesday, after reading that Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam was essentially announcing his run for Governor of Virginia in 2017, I wrote that it's waaaaaay too early for us to be starting that now. First, let's focus on the 2015 state legislative races. Then, let's focus on making sure the Democratic presidential nominee carries Virginia in 2016 (and hopefully picking up a House of Representatives seat or seats). Then, it seems to me, it will be time to turn our attention to 2017.
But certainly not now. Which is why I was happy to read that Northam had "walked that back somewhat Tuesday evening, telling The Richmond Times-Dispatch that he is in the preliminary stages of assessing whether a run is feasible and could be successful before deciding whether to seek the office." OK, cool, I've got absolutely no problem with any of that, particularly since it's 100% expected that, as Larry Sabato notes in the article, "I don't think I've ever met anyone who ran for lieutenant governor because his or her life ambition was to preside over the state Senate." And it's also fully expected that Attorney General Mark Herring will run for governor as well. But again, why on earth do we want to be starting this in February 2015?
Yet, whether we want it or not, here it comes apparently, with the first major endorsement of the election -- 2013 Democratic primary candidate for Attorney General, Justin Fairfax, endorsing Ralph Northam. What makes this one particularly interesting is that Fairfax is clearly running for Attorney General again, which means he hopes to be on the ticket of whoever the Democratic nominee for governor is -- Northam, Herring, or someone else for that matter. Given that we don't know who that nominee will be, I don't think that's a move I would ever have recommended, since it risks alienating any other potential gubernatorial nominees, but to each his own I suppose...
P.S. Just a side note, but I really wish politicians would stop referring to actual or potential political allies as their "dear friend," "great friend," or whatever, when obviously they're not.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, February 26. Also check out Jon Stewart brilliantly skewering Faux "News" and dissecting the right-wing modus operandus (hint: lots of lies, deflection, projection, anger, insanity, etc.).
According to a press release I received earlier today, "Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) today sent letters to 100 fossil fuel companies, trade groups, and other organizations to determine whether they are funding scientific studies designed to confuse the public and avoid taking action to cut carbon pollution, and whether the funded scientists fail to disclose the sources of their funding in scientific publications or in testimony to legislators." Among those companies were two based in Virginia: Richmond-based Dominion "Global Warming Starts Here!" Resources and Bristol-based coal company/polluter Alpha Natural Resources. My attitude is that it couldn't have happened to two nicer companies. :) In all seriousness, though, their answers to these questions should be fascinating. Great work by Senators Markey, Boxer and Whitehouse on this!
The following press release is from Jennifer Boysko, who hopefully will be the next delegate from the 86th House district!
HERNDON- This morning Del. Tom Rust announced his retirement on the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates. Jennifer Boysko, the Democratic Candidate for the 86th House District, made the following statement regarding Del. Rust's announcement:
"I want to thank Tom Rust for his many years of service to our community as a Delegate and as Mayor of Herndon. When Tom first ran for Delegate, I volunteered for his campaign because I had so much respect for him as Mayor. While we have disagreed on several issues over the years, he has always been committed to serving his constituents and our community to the best of his ability, working in the harsh political environment, which has become more and more divisive over the years. His accomplishments especially on transportation and fiscal responsibility are to be celebrated and will be appreciated for decades to come."
"It is always difficult to run against someone you personally respect. I challenged him because I have been troubled by the Republicans in Richmond who have made it more difficult to govern in a moderate, common-sense manner, as Tom Rust so capably did as our mayor."
"I wish him well in whatever endeavor he pursues next and thank him again for his public service."
(This is highly relevant to Virignia, where the State Corporation Commission has been "captured" by Dominion Power and fossil fuel interests, and is essentially regulated by the corporations, not the other way around. - promoted by lowkell)
Influence pedaling in America is a $9 billion a year industry. It's as big as Major League Baseball or NASA's Mars spacecraft program, changing from direct meetings with lawmakers to a vertically integrated set of businesses that work every stage of government decision making - including the shaping of public opinion.
The point is that as a growth industry, influence peddling needs to find new ways to grow to accommodate the ever-expanding ranks for former staff and public officials who want to make big money after their public "service."
So it was only a matter of time before previously sleepy public offices, such state assembly offices, state public utility commissions, and writers of obscure cost-benefit analyses became part of the influence peddling playbook. That's particularly true now that the big shifts in the energy industry are under way. Rooftop solar on people's homes has been declared a "mortal threat" by the lobbying arm of the utility industry, which has launched a very concerted effort to penalize their customers for buying less of their product.
Regulatory Capture in State Agencies In many states, commissioners have been lured to ally themselves with the industries they are charged with regulating. There is a term for this, created by Nobel Prize winner Economist George J. Stigler over 50 years ago: "Regulatory capture."
It's late, but just a few quick thoughts on this news. First, it's waaaaaaaayyyy too early to start a race for 2017, when we're just two months into 2015, and just over a year after Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam and Mark Herring were sworn in as Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General, respectively. I mean, I agree with Northam that "if you're gonna run for governor, you can't do it at the last minute," but February 2015 is far from the "last minute" for a Democratic primary in June 2017.
Second, our focus this year, now that the General Assembly session is winding down, needs to be on taking back the State Senate, with a secondary goal of picking up seats in the House of Delegates, not on starting a contest between Northam and Herring (and whoever else) for 2017.
Third, after 2015 we need to focus on making sure the Democratic nominee for President carries Virginia in 2016, and also on hopefully beating Barbara Comstock, maybe Scott Rigell and others as well. Again, we should NOT be focusing on the 2017 governor's race when we have other, more pressing things to worry about.
Fourth, it seems to me that the AG's office is a much stronger platform to get stuff done than the LG position, unless perhaps the Senate is evenly divided and the LG gets to break a lot of ties (which hasn't been the case this year). Thus, over the past year, we've seen AG Herring in high-profile cases dealing with immigration (e.g., Virginia attorney general declares 'dreamers' eligible for in-state tuition) and marriage equality -- issues with great appeal to the "base." Perhaps that factored into why Northam felt the need to jumpstart this race so soon?
Finally, I'm not sure it bodes well for a unified Democratic Party heading into 2017 that Northam hadn't "discussed my next step" with Herring. I don't get that one at all.
Good riddance this horrible bill (would have made the contents of execution drugs secret - seriously!), which just went down to defeat in the Teapublican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates by a 56-42 vote (I hear all Dems voted to kill it). I also hear that Del. Rick Morris (R) basically argued government of/by/for the people, and that government shouldn't do anything in secret. Del. Charniele Herring (D) correctly argued that killing human beings shouldn't be done under a veil of secrecy. In contrast, our old pal Del. Dave Albo (R), infamous for this embarrassing performance (among many many others) said it wasn't a big deal. Finally, Dick Saslaw deserves condemnation for sponsoring this horrible bill, as does any Democrat - or Republican, but you kinda expect it from them - who voted for this.
Turns out they were right. There is a self-anointed death panel and it meets in this building. Recall they said that healthcare would be rationed? Now that they've managed it, they are quite proud of their accomplishment. What Republicans really relish is the surreptitious method: don't decide, just deny.
Millions and millions and millions of your federal tax dollars have been flushed down the Potomac only to be harvested by wiser state legislatures. What could have been a catalyst for not only broad medical service sector growth but also the survival of rural medical clinics and hospitals was set aside for base political posturing. This should have been a simple financial decision. Instead it was a cynical sacrifice of their voiceless, powerless constituents for the protection of their own political hides.
Let's consider the costs because they are not limited to those dollars passed on to other states. Some number amounting to just under 5% of Virginians are without healthcare coverage because Medicaid expansion has been denied. That doesn't mean they go without healthcare. In many cases it means they go without healthcare until there is a crisis and then an emergency room visit and expensive procedure are required. Who pays for that? You can make up all kinds of voodoo financial and economic formulas but the costs get passed to those who are covered in increased insurance premiums and/or copays and/or deductibles. And maybe more importantly, in scarcer medical service resources. Visit an emergency room for the Republican version of healthcare delivery in the unregulated free market. They simply don't understand that the risk pool is the risk pool. No one in America is denied care in an emergency and those emergencies are exponentially more costly than preventive care. Republican denial of coverage poisons the well that feeds the pool. Welcome to the Teapublican Utopia.
On the other hand, some number amounting to just under 5% of Virginians now have healthcare insurance through the Federal Marketplace established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. That hasn't solved every problem but it goes a long way in that direction. While some are subsidized, these policies are not some government giveaway. They are a way Americans can take responsibility for their financial exposure. Republicans talk about individual responsibility in a vacuum. They like to preach about it but don't want to facilitate it. The fact is that 60% of bankruptcies in the United States involve medical indebtedness. Healthcare insurance builds a firewall between personal financial survival and insolvency leading to financial disaster.
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