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: IncompleteGrade: 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-
(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.
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!
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."
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?
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.
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, Inc.in Arlington.
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."
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!).
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!
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.
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.
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
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."
The purpose of Blue Virginia is to cover Virginia politics from a progressive and Democratic perspective. This is a group blog and a community blog. We invite everyone to comment here, but please be aware that profanity, personal attacks, bigotry, insults, rudeness, frequent unsupported or off-point statements, "trolling" (NOTE: that includes outright lies, whether about climate science, or what other people said, or whatever), and "troll ratings abuse" (e.g., "troll" rating someone simply because you disagree with their argument) are not permitted and, if continued, will lead to banning. For more on trolling, see the Daily Kos FAQs. Also note that diaries may be deleted if they do not contain at least 2 solid paragraphs of original text; if not, please use the comments section of a relevant diary. For more on writing diaries, click here. Thanks, and enjoy!