Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, February 10. By the way, perhaps it's time for our own version of these North Carolina "Moral Marches" right here in Virginia? We can start by demanding strong ethics reform and Medicaid expansion, then proceed from there!
For more than a year, since the 2012 election, I have been working to devise a new strategy to help turn America's dangerous political dynamic around. Now I've come up with a plan.
With the talk described below, I'm launching a new "campaign." This one is not for elective office, but it is at least as ambitious.
It's a campaign to have an impact on our national public discourse. More specifically, it is a campaign to bring to the center of our national conversation what I believe to be the central political reality of our times: the rise on the political right of an unprecedentedly destructive and dishonest force, and the weakness of Liberal America in calling out this force for what it is.
America desperately needs an "Emperor's New Clothes" moment, and I believe this new campaign has a chance of helping to bring it about.
With the talk described below in Harrisonburg this coming Wednesday (February 12), and a similar public event I gave in Berkeley on January 29, and another talk to come in Washington, D.C. on March 24, I am launching this new campaign.
I invite you to come to Harrisonburg, if it is within your reach. And I would welcome the opportunity to speak in other venues.
Here is the flyer for the talk, with all the pertinent information about the time and date and nature of the event.
1. The next Representative from the 8th CD should be a strong, rock-solid progressive. Adam Ebbin was elected to the House of Delegates in 2003 and to the State Senate in 2011. Here are highlights from his Project Vote Smart ratings:
*100% from NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia
*73% from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce (I believe this is the lowest score among everyone I've rated so far, which generally - given my negative feelings about the Chamber of Commerce - is a good thing!)
*100% from Equality Virginia
*18% from the far-right-wing Family Foundation of Virginia
*60% from the Virginia Education Association in 2012 (the last year's rating listed).
*100% from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters.
*A solid "F" (good!) from the NRA.
*100% from the AFL-CIO.
On Ebbin's website, he highlights his work "to advance progressive priorities, including incentives for cleaner energy, funding for mass transit improvements, an end to discrimination in state employment, and justice for exploited workers and victims of human trafficking." He says he has "distinguished himself as a voice for the easily exploited," and that he has "won approval of legislation to enable lower interest rates on deferred property taxes for seniors (HB 2635, 2005), to create a solar resource fund to increase production of clean energy (HB 2919, 2011), to create a Public Defender office in Arlington County (HB 1500, 2004), to provide support to victims of human trafficking (SB 259, 2012; HB 2190, 2011) and to provide prenatal care for immigrant mothers (SB 568, 2012)," as well as "a bipartisan effort that provided access to life insurance benefits to domestic partners (HB 865, 2008; HB 352, 2010)." Ebbin also notes that he is "the first openly gay member of the Virginia General Assembly" and that he "co-founded Virginia Partisans Gay & Lesbian Democratic Club in 1992."
2. I want to see a tenacious, indefatigable FIGHTER for progressive values Adam Ebbin is certainly a fighter for progressive values; I don't think anyone can possibly doubt that. Sample bills from the past few years include: "Hybrid electric motor vehicles; repeals annual license tax, refunds;" "Discrimination; prohibited in state employment;" "Tuition, in-state; Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals;" "Firearms; criminal history information check required to sell;" and "Virginia Waterways Clean Up and Consumer Choice Act; paper and plastic bag fee." Ebbin is co-chair (with Del. Patrick Hope) of the Progressive Caucus, which is great except that - as I noted in my writeup of Del. Hope - I'm not sure exactly what this group has done over the years.
UPDATE 2/10/14: It was brought to my attention that, when he was a delegate, Adam Ebbin voted to repeal Virginia's Estate Tax. I checked, and it appears that Ebbin voted against it several times before ultimately voting for it (the final vote was 91-0). Given my strong feelings that repeal of the Estate Tax was the biggest - absolutely outrageous, really - mistake of the Kaine administration, still costing us somewhere in the $120-$140 million/year range to benefit a few hundred super-rich Virginia families, I'm going to lower Adam Ebbin's overall grade by one notch, from A-/A to B+/A-. I understand that a bunch of great progressives, like Donald McEachin, also voted for this under pressure from the Kaine administration, but it's still not acceptable in my view.
I attended yesterday's Brigades meeting at Neighbors restaurant in Vienna, at which four candidates (Don Beyer, Charniele Herring, Patrick Hope, Bruce Shuttleworth) for the 8th CD Democratic nomination spoke and answered questions. I'm continuing to upload video, and will post more as they become available. For now...enjoy.
P.S. As is often the case, I didn't see any "traditional media" outlets at this event, let alone providing full videos of the candidates. Why is that?
P.P.S. I also had a chance to speak with Don Beyer for about 15 minutes after his talk, as well as Mark Levine (who I believe will speak at the next Brigades meeting) and folks from the Lavern Chatman campaign. I didn't see any signs of folks from camps Sickles (UPDATE: I hear that Sickles showed towards the end, after I left but when a few people were still there), Euille, Ebbin, or Lopez at this event, but presumably they'll all be speaking at future Brigades meetings.
First, here's Bruce Shuttleworth's speech, which lasts about 10 minutes. He talks about LGBT equality; his background at the Naval Academy, in the military, and Harvard Business School, etc.; his parents' deaths from lung cancer; his vow to be the "hardest-working progressive warrior that the extreme right has ever seen" and to protect "America's vulnerable;" about the crucial importance of universal health care (we need "Medicare for All" and "we need it now" - Obamacare doesn't go "far enough").
1. The next Representative from the 8th CD should be a strong, rock-solid progressive. Patrick Hope has been a member of the House of Delegates since 2010, so he has a voting record of about 4 years now. Here are a few highlights from his Project Vote Smart ratings:
*100% from NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia
*83% from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce (note that almost everyone seems to get high ratings from this group; no idea why)
*100% from Equality Virginia
*0% from the far-right-wing Family Foundation of Virginia
*100% from the League of Conservation Voters
*0% from the NRA
*100% from the Virginia AFL-CIO
*100% from the Virginia Education Association
The bottom line, based on these ratings and on Patrick Hope's votes since 2010, is that he's as close to a rock-solid progressive as you're going to get in this state, or probably any other state. :) Anyway, I give him an "A" on this criterion.
2. I want to see a tenacious, indefatigable FIGHTER for progressive values Patrick Hope has certainly fought for progressive values like LGBT equality (and protection from discrimination), quality/affordable health care for all Virginians, gun safety, women's reproductive freedom, prison reform, and "green buildings." Recently, Del. Hope announced his support "for a proposal recently endorsed by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to replace payday lenders with the U.S. Postal Service." Good stuff all around. The ONLY quibble I have with Del. Hope is that I would have liked to see a lot more emphasis on my #1 priorities: protecting the environment (particularly dealing with climate change), promoting clean energy, and getting us off of dirty energy as fast as possible.
1. The next Representative from the 8th CD should be a strong, rock-solid progressive. Alfonso Lopez has a long track record, including service as Deputy Policy Director for Governor-Elect Tim Kaine's Transition Team; director of Gov. Kaine's Virginia Liaison Office in Washington, DC; director of Congressional and Federal Affairs for the Commonwealth of Virginia; a member of the Democratic National Committee since 2009; and a member of the Virginia House of Delegates (representing parts of Alexandria and Arlington) since 2012. Here are a few of Alfonso Lopez's Project Vote Smart ratings:
*100% from NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia
*83% from the Virginia Chamber of Commerce
*100% from Equality Virginia
*100% from the Virginia League of Conservation Voters
*0% from the NRA
*5% from the right-wingnut Family Foundation of Virginia
Also worth noting: in 2013, Del. Lopez was endorsed for reelection by the Virginia LCV and Sierra Club; Equality Virginia and LGBT Democrats of Virginia; the Democratic Latino Organization of Virginia; NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, Planned Parenthood and the Virginia National Organization for Women; the Virginia AFL-CIO; the Virginia Education Association; the Virginia Association of Realtors; the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Virginia Technology Council.
In terms of his voting record, Lopez has (like Del. Charniele Herring and many other Democrats) tended to vote for "tough-on-crime" (translation: more focused on punishment than on rehabilitation and use of discretion) types of bills. Other than that, Lopez's voting record has been strongly progressive as far as I can determine. Among other subjects, Lopez has been passionate about immigration issues, voting rights, protecting the environment, curbing gun violence, promoting "green buildings" and clean energy, etc. All great stuff we could certainly use in Congress.
2. I want to see a tenacious, indefatigable FIGHTER for progressive values. My main question with Alfonso Lopez is whether, as Congressman, we'd get more of the progressive and environmental champion we've seen the past couple years as a delegate, or more of the guy who tirelessly defended (and promoted) Kaine administration initiatives - including several (e.g., the non-tunnel Metrorail option in Tysons Corner, Kaine's inexcusable repeal of the estate tax, "abuser fees") which progressives like me strongly disagreed with - when he was working for Gov. Kaine. If we get the former, then Lopez could make a superb Congressman. If we get the latter, then...I'm not as sure. Having said that, my feeling is that we'd get more of the former than the latter if Lopez were elected to Congress, if for no other reason that that his "boss" at that point would be the (generally progressive, pro-environment) voters of the 8th CD, and his goal would be to make them happy so that he got reelected.
1. The next Representative from the 8th CD should be a strong, rock-solid progressive. Chatman has never held elective office, so it's a bit hard to judge. However, she did serve as President and CEO of the Northern Virginia Urban League (NOVAUL) from 2004 to 2011, where she focused on "addressing issues of youth empowerment, financial literacy, affordable housing, closing the education achievement gap, and social justice." Those are all important progressive issues, and I look forward to hearing a lot more from Lavern Chatman on a wide range of additional issues (e.g., foreign affairs, LGBT equality, women's health and reproductive freedom, environmental and energy issues, civil liberties...) as this campaign proceeds. For now, I'm going to give Chatman an "incomplete" on this one, although the areas she was involved with certainly indicate strong progressive values.
2. I want to see a tenacious, indefatigable FIGHTER for progressive values. Ditto to item #1. I'd add that Chatman has donated nearly $9,000 over the years to Virginia candidates, all Democrats with the one exception of $250 to Republican (although she ran as an "Independent") Alicia Hughes for Alexandria City Council. For a bit more on the, er, "interesting" Hughes, see here and here. I'd be very interested to hear why Chatman donated to her.
This time around, Shuttleworth's campaign announcement begins: "As a straight white married father, it may come as a surprise that I am considered a diversity candidate. I'm a Fighter Pilot and a Feminist and I believe that it is the behavior of men more than women that will determine the quickest path to equal rights." Shuttleworth argues that we "need to save our people...need to commit to cure cancer," and that "greed is not good and that effective government oversight is a critical check to Wall Street and Big Business."
Does that add up to a strong progressive candidate? I'll let you all decide that for yourselves, but for my part, I'm a bit puzzled by all of this (e.g., he concludes his announcement with a focus on curing cancer and "other pernicious diseases"). I'd give this one an "incomplete."
2. I want to see a tenacious, indefatigable FIGHTER for progressive values Shuttleworth pledges to "marshal all of his energy as a progressive warrior for peace, fairness, honesty and justice across our great country." Again, that sounds good, but there's not really any track record to decide how credible it is. I guess we'll just have to hear what Shuttleworth has to say, and how he says it, during this campaign. For now, I'd say this one gets an "incomplete."
Hey look, another Republican who wants more big government regulation to protect polluting special interests! Kristi Swartz of E&E News reports this time it's an anti-wind state senator in Alabama:
Industry and federal government officials say advances in turbine technology could transform wind development in the Southeast, adding another renewable fuel option to an area once dominated by coal. But as outside developers are eyeing places to build taller towers and longer blades, emerging lawsuits and legislation could drive them away. [...]
"As a conservative Republican, I am typically for less regulation, but I also recognize that the absence of regulation can create anarchy," [State Sen. Phil] Williams [R-AL] said.
Just last month, the Virginia state senate narrowly defeated a bill by Sen. Tom Garrett (R-Louisa) to put up new hurdles to wind energy in Virginia was narrowly defeated.
Again: Republicans aren't pro-business, or anti-government, anti-regulation, or anti-subsidies. Some have principles, sure. But many support what their big business patrons want them to support, and are willing to do whatever it takes to stop clean energy from infringing the slightest bit on their supporters' government-protected polluting monopoly.
Sailing a couple of ships into the Black Sea accomplishes what? One is there to protect the other. The other is there to command and control...nothing. This is grandstanding. If tragedy occurs and Americans are involved, this self-licking ice cream cone will be revealed. What to really watch for?
The Russian "ring of steel" illustrates the dilemma faced when confronting an asymmetrical threat. The choice to harden a target is the choice to uncover others. There is only so much mass to go around and Russia's focus has been around the main venues and Sochi itself. But the greatest vulnerabilities are the routes to the venues on the slopes miles from Sochi. These are perfect targets for remotely detonated improvised explosive devices, the types of which Americans leaned to counter in Iraq and Afghanistan. But for pragmatic reasons, the United States has not shared that technology with Russia. To compensate, thousands of Russian soldiers guard those routes; a miserable assignment with many distractions.
That lack of cooperation has not been lost on the Russians and the situation in the Ukraine has washed over this event. If it comes time to react (and that is all we would be able to do since we are not integrated into the force end of the security plan) we can only wait for clearance from the Russians to respond. Sadly, that may be too late. We have observed the "lack of finesse" by Russian forces in hostage situations involving insurgents. Their doctrine is more focused on killing the perpetrators than saving the victims.
Are we are supposed to be reassured by the staging of military airlift aircraft in Europe? They are hours away and would compete with aircraft from any and every other nation for clearance and space at the airhead(s) in Sochi. A real capability in the Black Sea would include air and landing craft that are truly expeditionary with forces to conduct an evacuation to ships with hospitals at the ready. Instead, after waiting to gain access to Sochi, American aircraft will serve victims that may or may not be Americans (we always have protocols with other nations in these situations) and who may or may not have been properly triaged. These aircraft will not all immediately have access to medical personnel and equipment for care during transit. Hard choices could be forced on the tarmac in Sochi. Do you evacuate victims who may not survive the long journey leaving persons who would survive vulnerable to further violence while waiting for later evacuation?
1. The next Representative from the 8th CD should be a strong, rock-solid progressive. Charniele Herring has been in the House of Delegates for a relatively short time (since January 2009), so we have 4+ years of voting to look at. In that time, according to Project Vote Smart, Herring has had strong ratings from progressive and environmental interest groups (e.g., 100% from NARAL, 75% from Equality Virginia, 94% lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, and zero from the NRA). The reason Herring got 75% and not 100% from Equality Virginia is for her "no" vote on HB1617, which Equality Virginia says "requires public universities to fund and recognize student groups that choose to discriminate in their membership based on religious or political beliefs" and which "offers no protection for the students subject to discrimination."). I'm not sure why she voted "no" on that one. She also voted for the infamous "Mark of the Beast" bill, for phone company deregulation, and for a bunch of "tough on crime" (translation: more focused on punishment than on rehabilitation and use of discretion) types of bills. Other than that, Charniele Herring has generally been a strong progressive. If you check YouTube, you'll see Del. Herring standing up for immigrants, the homeless, women's healthcare and reproductive rights. Also, as DPVA Chair, Del. Herring stumped across Virginia for the Democratic 2013 ticket. So, yes, I'd say she's basically a strong progressive -- give her an A-/B+ on this one.
2. I want to see a tenacious, indefatigable FIGHTER for progressive values. From what I've observed, Del. Herring has been a fighter for the progressive values she believes in. I would expect her to carry this same spirit to Congress is she's elected.
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