Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, April 29. Also, see Sen. Harry Reid's speech on the situation in Baltimore, and how "we must not ignore the despair felt by many communities in America."
So much for Hal Parrish being in any way, shape or form a "moderate" Republican. Or, for that matter, a truth teller. I mean, seriously, does he think we are all idiots? As ProgressVA put it, "Mayor Parrish attempted to tell reporters and a large crowd of people on both sides of the [abortion] issue that it wasn't a vote about abortion." So...what were all these people doing there, if it's just about relatively snooze-inducing "land use?" Answer: Parrish is full of it. Unfortunately, Parrish is also going to be a tough Republican contender for the State Senate seat currently held by Sen. Chuck Colgan (D), who is retiring after many years of service. Democrats absolutely need to hold this seat, which is one of the main reasons I'm supporting Atif Qarni, as I believe he'd be by far the strongest candidate to face Parrish this fall.
On April 8, I sent Blue Virginia interview questions to all five Democratic candidates running for the 45th House of Delegates district (Alexandria, south Arlington) seat being vacated by Del. Rob Krupicka. The candidates are Larry Altenburg, Craig Fifer, Julie Jakopic, Mark Levine and Clarence Tong. I told the candidates that I'd post their interviews in the order I received them. The first one I received back, on April 13, was from Larry Altenburg. On April 16, I received responses from Clarence Tong, and on April 21 from Julie Jakopic. Today, I received responses from Mark Levine - thank you. As soon as I receive answers from the remaining candidate (Craig Fifer), I'll post them (note: I originally asked the candidates to get me their responses, if at all possible, within a couple weeks). In the meantime, check out the ones that I've already posted, including Mark Levine's, below. Finally, please note that the primary for this nomination will take place on June 9, so if you're a Democrat who lives in the 45th, make sure you vote!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, and specifically, what in your background and/or temperament makes you the best qualified of the Democratic candidates to represent the 45th House of Delegates district in Richmond. I have spent much of my life transforming progressive principles into law, as both a citizen activist and Legislative Counsel to Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA).
As a gay Jewish kid growing up in Nashville, Tennessee, I learned from an early age that even if most people have a different view, it doesn't mean they are necessarily right. My aunt had registered Black Mississippians in Freedom Summer 1964, and my great grandfather had opposed the Russian Czar. As for me, I grew up having to defend the fact that I didn't celebrate Christmas, and by age eight, I was demanding to leave a friend's country club that did not accept Jews or Blacks as members. In high school, my first bill in Student Congress was to register guns (where I learned to my shock that most of the other student representatives packed their own). At Yale Law School, I formed the Committee Against Bigotry to protest against prejudice. I also had brief stints during law school as an inner-city school teacher and a Nazi-hunter for the US Department of Justice.
In my twenties, I thought that coming out as gay would be my most difficult life decision, and having resolved that, I settled in to a lucrative career at a prestigious law firm. Then, in the 1990's, two personal tragedies profoundly altered my life's direction.
Interestingly, on the map above the most concentrated cluster of racist searches happened not in the South, but rather along the spine of the Appalachians running from Georgia all the way up to New York and southern Vermont.
Other hotbeds of racist searches appear in areas of the Gulf Coast, Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and a large portion of Ohio. But the searches get rarer the further West you go. West of Texas, no region falls into the "much more than average" category. This map follows the general contours of a map of racist Tweets made by researchers at Humboldt State University.
Note that in Virginia, the northern and eastern portions are much LESS racist than average. The further southwest you go, it transitions rapidly to "more [racist] than average" and then "much more [racist] than average." It's also interesting that this map largely aligns with the partisan divide in Virginia, with the "bluest" parts of the state - the "urban crescent" from Northern Virginia to Richmond to Hampton Roads - being the least racist, and the "reddest" parts of the state being the most racist. It would be fascinating to do this study for other forms of bigotry, such as anti-Latino, anti-LGBT, etc. I wonder if anti-black racists also tend to be bigoted in other ways (that would be my guess, a priori).
First, the short answer to the question I ask in the headline is "yes." Actually, it's "HELL YES!!!" Why do I say that? First, check out Lazard's "Levelized Cost of Energy" report, and particularly note the tables "Unsubsidized Levelized Cost of Energy Comparison" and "Cost of Carbon Abatement Comparison". On the first chart, note that the cheapest form of energy (by far) is energy efficiency, at $0-$50/megawatthour (MWh), followed by onshore wind at $37-$81/MWh (and falling!), followed by utility-scale solar PV at $60-$86/MWh (and falling fast!), gas combined cycle at $61-$87/MWh, with nuclear far more expensive at around $124-$132/MWh (and NOT falling!) for current new U.S. nuclear construction. In short, nuclear power is super expensive compared to several other currently-available, non-or-low-carbon-emitting options. That's how you end up with massive costs for building a new nuclear plant, such as the estimated "far north of ten billion dollars" for Domininion's proposed North Anna 3 reactor.
Put it this way: you don't have to be a nuclear scientist to figure out that you could get wayyyyyyy more "bang for the buck" from energy efficiency, onshore wind, utility-scale solar, natural gas combined cycle, and several other options compared to nuclear power. No wonder why nobody's been building new nuclear power plants in the U.S. in decades, and no wonder why these things take enormous taxpayer subsidies to make them even marginally economical. Hmmmm.
Now, let's look at this another way: to replace dirty coal-fired power, how much would different power-generation options cost (or save) compared to nuclear? For an answer to that question, see this graph by Lazard. The answer: not considering energy efficiency, which remains BY FAR the cheapest way to slash carbon emissions, Lazard says "an analysis of such implicit costs suggests that policies designed to promote wind and utility-scale solar development could be a particularly cost effective way of limiting carbon emissions." As for nuclear, note that its cost is four times greater than utility-scale solar power to "abate" carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. Also note that, other than energy efficiency, onshore wind power is a super-inexpensive way to "abate" carbon emission from coal-fired power plants.
All of which brings us to Gov. McAuliffe's wildly, breathtakingly incorrect response to the moderator's question, "is the contention that if the state just ramped up renewables and ramped up energy efficiency some more, it wouldn't need more nuclear energy...is that a valid proposition?" McAuliffe's response:
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, April 28. As for Gov. McAuliffe, he's absolutely wrong that a wealthy, professional football franchise should be showered with taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to come here. Massive taxpayer ripoff.
ASHBURN - Yesterday, accomplished pediatrician Dr. Jill McCabe officially launched her campaign for State Senate District 13 surrounded by a large crowd of supporters and community leaders. Notables in attendance included First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe; Laura Herring; Senators Jennifer Wexton, David Marsden, Barbara Favola; Delegates Kathleen Murphy and Ken Plum; Leesburg Vice Mayor Kelly Burk; Leesburg Town Councilmember David Butler; and Purcellville Town Councilmember Karen Jimmerson.
Set against the backdrop of a lush Loudoun County landscape, Dorothy McAuliffe, the event's keynote speaker, told guests that "We really need Jill in the Senate." She highlighted Jill's strong background in business and health. "As a doctor, a small business owner, and a mom, she knows exactly what it will take in Richmond to give her constituents the best opportunities possible. She'll bring a common sense approach to government that will continue to grow Loudoun and Prince William counties into some of the best places to live and raise a family in the country."
McCabe told the standing-room only crowd that what sets her apart is her focus on the Commonwealth and what's important to 13th District residents. "As a pediatrician, I am constantly focused on my patients and what is most important to them. With the work I do for my kids' school, I focus on the students and what is most important to them. And as State Senator, I will be completely focused on the people who live in my district and what their needs are in order to create the greatest opportunities here in Loudoun and Prince William counties."
When the neocons planned out the Bush Iraqi adventure the wave of popular sentiment toward the military arising from the first Gulf War had crested and begun to ebb. The undertow was Viet Nam. Somehow they had to make their war invulnerable to criticism. They found a shield: the troops.
Psychological operations directed against the people of the United States are not lawful. But the propaganda was so subtly crafted that the constant mantra, "Support the Troops," was never recognized for the actual message being delivered. The Iraq War was unassailable because to criticize the war was to criticize the troops. Then an unlikely propaganda ally gave the neocons 9/11. Politicians feared airing questions that begged to be asked. The military and veteran bandwagon took on a life of its own. There was no support for mass demonstrations against the war. Senior officers could take bribes and give girlfriends classified documents without indignation from our elected representatives. Support the Troops. What a contrast to the Viet Nam era. But in the end, how much support is there: compare the spending on veterans' programs to that on the continuing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The following statement is from Democratic State Senate candidate Atif Qarni, who is showing strong leadership on this important issue. For more on what's going on, see the speech by Brian Devine of Progress Virginia to the Manassas City Council a few weeks ago, as well as the video I've embedded here, in which anti-choice extremist Del. Bob Marshall speaks, followed by Atif Qarni supporting a woman's right to choose.
Qarni Questions Parrish Vote, Calls For Greater Protection Of Women's Health Services
MANASSAS, VA - Atif Qarni released the following statement in response to Mayor Hal Parrish's vote to implement new zoning laws that restrict the creation of new health centers in Manassas:
"Attacks on women's health should have no place in our community," said Atif Qarni, candidate for Senate in the 29th District. "These ideologically-motivated zoning updates will place excessive burdens on local health centers, preventing residents from getting the medical care they need. Zoning laws should help drive economic growth and development, and should not be a platform for ideological grandstanding. This district deserves a representative that prioritizes education, transportation, and jobs, not a radical anti-woman agenda. I will continue to fight for access to crucial health services for all Virginians."
Qarni has a long record of supporting women's health institutions, and opposing radical agendas that seek to limit a woman's ability to make her own health choices. He was an outspoken champion against radical conservatism in his 2013 campaign, and he will continue to be a strong voice against hyper-conservative agendas intended on taking Virginia backwards.
Atif Qarni was a Marine for eight years, including a tour in Iraq in which he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and was among the first American troops to enter Baghdad. He is currently an eighth grade math teacher at nearby Beville Middle School, as well as a member of Governor McAuliffe's Small Business Commission. He lives in Manassas with his wife and two young sons.
Atif Qarni is running for the Senate of Virginia because he believes our district needs a committed leader to continue the legacy of Senator Colgan- one who will fight for important issues like improving our schools by reducing class sizes, bringing more jobs to Manassas and Prince William County, and reducing the burden of traffic and congestion. He will be a strong voice for the values of the 29th District. The Democratic primary will be held on Tuesday, June 9th. For more information, please visit qarniforsenate.com.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, April 27. Also, that photo is from Ayn Rand-worshipping, right-wing extremist Rep. Dave Brat's Facebook page. According to what he calls the "Brat pack," Trump was "in Richmond Friday to offer his support of Dave's great work in Congress," such as "standing up to Obama's destructive policies on illegal immigration, corporate cronyism, and the endless war on the American middle class worker." WTF are they ranting and raving about? Who the heck knows, but it gets super weird and super wacky when you get Dave Brat and Donald Trump together!
In our continuing series on Gov. McAuliffe's flawed, false, flat-out-wrong comments at the recent "The Next Frontier of Climate Change" conference," we now present an anti-fracking activist getting into a heated argument with Gov. McAuliffe - and ultimately getting escorted out of the room for not knowing when to stop talking and let the governor dig his own hole deeper. In brief, here's what happened and why I say McAuliffe dug himself into a deep hole.
*The activist asked McAuliffe about Dominion Power's gigantic, proposed Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline, and how McAuliffe's support for this monstrosity squares with what she asserted was McAuliffe "campaign[ing] against fracking." Actually, as far as I can determine, McAuliffe only stated outright opposition to fracking in the GW National Forest, not in general. Still, the anti-fracking activist is correct that the natural gas for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP will come mostly from "fracked" natural gas in West Virginia. In addition, it IS worth pointing out that the U.S. Forest Service just approved "a permit to survey part of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia for a proposed natural gas pipeline," and that the ACP also would run "through the George Washington National Forest - as well as the Allegheny Mountains, Blue Ridge mountains and the Shenandoah Valley."
*McAuliffe's response was basically a bunch of nonsensical and/or distorted arguments. Argument #1: Virginia has a bunch of pipelines already, ergo there's no reason to be concerned about this gigantic new pipeline. That's like saying, since there already is bad stuff happening in the world, we shouldn't be concerned about far worse stuff happening in the world. It's just a ridiculous, non-argument "argument." The fact is, this pipeline is seriously flawed in its underlying conception, economics, environmental impact, etc. Gov. McAuliffe should respond, on point, specifically on the merits - or in this case, lack thereof - of the ACP, not throw out red herrings and non sequiturs in an attempt to avoid doing so.
McAuliffe touts gas and nuclear, says it's not his job to worry about risks
A forum on climate change held last Wednesday in Richmond was supposed to be about moving to clean energy, but it sometimes seemed to be more of a platform for Governor Terry McAuliffe to tout plans for more natural gas and nuclear energy in the Commonwealth. It wasn't that he neglected energy efficiency, wind and solar-he had plenty of good things to say about these, and even a few initiatives to boast of. It was just that they paled against the backdrop of massive new natural gas and nuclear projects, to which he seems even more firmly committed.
The event was a conference called "The Next Frontier of Climate Change," organized by The New Republic magazine and the College of William and Mary. Moderator Jeffrey Ball of Stanford University shaped the conference as a series of interviews, beginning with Governor McAuliffe.
Ball started out asking about the politics of climate change, which gave McAuliffe a chance to reiterate his convictions that climate change is real, that we can see it happening today in Hampton Roads, and that part of meeting the challenge involves supporting the kind of 21st century technologies that will also make Virginia an exciting and attractive place to live. That includes offshore wind and solar.
But McAuliffe also made it clear he sees everything through the lens of economic growth, and his top priority is attracting new business to fill the gap left by shrinking federal spending in the state. "When I ran for governor," he explained, "I tried to put everything in an economic issue: what is good for the Commonwealth, how do you grow and diversify. I preside over a commonwealth that, we are the number one recipient of Department of Defense dollars, number one. Now, that's great when they're spending, but when they're cutting like they're cutting today, it has a dramatic impact."
He is also persuaded that renewable energy, even with all its job benefits, won't get him as much economic growth as cheaper fossil energy can, and his friends at Dominion Resources and its subsidiary, Dominion Virginia Power, have convinced him that means backing their plans for natural gas and nuclear.
Yesterday, I wrote about Ivy Main's excellent post on Gov. Terry McAuliffe's interview at "The Next Frontier of Climate Change" conference. The main conclusions of that post: 1) McAuliffe clearly doesn't know a great deal about energy issues, from what distributed power is (e.g., rooftop solar); to how much it costs to transmit electricity from a nuclear plant vs. a renewable energy facility; to the Virginia power mix, both today and in coming years; to the "levelized cost of energy" for different sources of power (perhaps someone can stick this report on his desk and make sure he's read it?); etc. and 2) what McAuliffe DOES know appears to come disproprortionally from a wildly biased, pro-fossil-fuel, pro-nuclear, anti-energy-efficiency, anti-distributed power source -- Dominion Power -- with which he spends an inordinate amount of time (question: could a small business, or an ordinary citizen, get the level of access Dominion Power - $13 million in donations and counting! - has to the governor's office?), and which he alternately claims he has no control over/can tell what to do.
Anyway, there were so many misstatements, flat-our errors, etc. in Gov. McAuliffe's 38-minutes-but-felt-like-an-eternity interview at the "The Next Frontier of Climate Change" conference, this is going to require a multi-part series to tackle them. We'll start with McAuliffe's comments on fossil fuel divestment, which were flat-out wrong on several points.
First, the question was specifically about whether "the state of Virginia and its retirement fund and other relevant funds should divest from fossil fuel companies. McAuliffe's answer?
(UPDATE: See results (Tea Partier John Guevara won; Brian Schoeneman finished third behind yet another Tea Partier) and press release from the Kathy Smith (D) campaign in the comments section. - promoted by lowkell)
This is amusing on multiple levels, starting with the very concept that Ben Tribbett, a consultant to Fairfax County Board/Sully District Democratic candidate Kathy Smith, would be "with Brian Schoeneman," one of three Republicans vying to run against, and hopefully lose to, Smith this fall. Of course, Schoeneman is the least right wingnut of the three candidates in this race, with the cardinal sin (in Teapublican eyes) of working for a union, but given how far right the Republican Party is these days, that's not saying much. Still, on those grounds alone, one could argue that Schoeneman might be the toughest candidate against Smith in November. Or, one could argue that since this year will be a super-low-turnout, nearly-100% "base" election, that the key for Republicans will be to fire up their right-wing/Tea Party activists, and that Schoeneman would be the LEAST likely to do that. So...would Schoeneman be the strongest Republican candidate, the weakest, or something in between? Got me, but Ben's having fun with it, and who can blame him? :)
Even more fun is watching right-wing bloggers fight over What It All Means. For instance, at leading right-wing Virginia blog "The Bull Elephant", the top post right now asserts that since Ben Tribbett posted an "I'm with Brian" graphic on his Facebook page, Schoeneman must be the Republican candidate Kathy Smith and Sully Dems most want to face. "The Bull Elelphant" blogger Jeanine Martin even writes: "This is part of the group, 'Democrats for Brian Schoeneman'. I hear their numbers are growing because so many of them identify with Brian...Ben's telling them to vote for Brian because he considers Brian to be the easiest to beat." Hahahaha.
Then there's the comment thread on Ben's Facebook post, which hilariously has Schoeneman implausibly claiming, "I haven't talked to a single Democrat this primary. Not even Ben." In response, Democratic nominee Kathy Smith writes, "Brian, it was nice to talk with you at my town hall in March." Zing! And Ben adds, "Well, there goes 'I haven't talked to a single Democrat this primary.'" Former Fairfax Dems' chair Rex Simmons then chimes in, "Why am I not surprised that [Schoeneman] lies?" Schoeneman then says he didn't mean it "literally," while Ben notes: "There are pictures of Brian talking to me at the Sully debate. Not sure why he says things that are so obviously untrue." On and on it goes, when it stops...well, maybe tomorrow at 4 pm, when Schoeneman will either win (I'm personally hoping he does, just so this fun can continue another few months! LOL) or loses (in which case Ben can take up a new hobby? haha). Stay tuned, but meanwhile sit back and enjoy watching Ben masterfully mess with Republican minds. :)
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