According to right-wing extremists (and overall nutjobs) Del. "Sideshow Bob" Marshall and Sen. Dick "Plastic Fetuses and Raging Homophobia" Black, Virginia should use its "police powers..to protect our citizens and residents from exposure to Ebola even if it means a timely court challenge against passenger airlines or the federal government if they continue to permit entry into Virginia of passengers flying from Ebola affected areas." Rather than, say, Republicans funding health authorities like the CDC and NIH, or maybe confirming a Surgeon General, or perhaps providing grants and training to equip hospitals, or...oh forget it, fearmongering is so much easier. By the way, as one high-ranking Virginia Democratic elected official sarcastically messaged me about this, "Does the governor control the FAA now?" Meanwhile, as the Washington Post reported, "In airports in all of the affected regions and across the world, passengers coming from flights from West Africa are [already] being screened for elevated temperatures," and "If a passenger is sick or has a fever, they won't fly." In addition, "More flight restrictions will only make it more difficult for life-saving aid and medical professionals to reach West Africa." As the World Health Organization explains, "Any discontinuation of transport will affect humanitarian aid, doctors, nurses and human resources entering the country, the transfer of biological sampling and equipment for hospitals." Other than all that, "Sideshow Bob" and Dick Black are really onto something here. (snark)
Is Eric Can'tor this crazy and/or stupid? Or is he just an utterly cynical politician who will say or do anything, no matter how laughably nonsensical it is, to keep and enhance his power? I vote for the latter.
The thought that Ken Cuccinelli could have been elected Governor of Virginia last year is a horrifying one, for a whole host of reasons. For one, he's a conspiracy theorist (e.g., he dabbled in "birtherism," also claimed the government used Social Security numbers to "track" us, also believes that thousands of climate scientists are all in some dark conspiracy to impose some U.N. agenda or something, etc, etc.). For another, he's an unabashed theocrat and vehement opponent of women's access to contraception. Evidence for those charges? Listen to Cuckoo on Red State's "Coffee and Markets" radio show. A few highlights...er, lowlights, by Krazy Ken Kookinelli.
*On the Hobby Lobby case (see here for how that case is "About Labor Rights And Religious Extremism, Not Birth Control"), Cooch says the left is actually "against consciences, if they could outlaw them they would, I mean let's face it; it's actually fairly critical to their whole worldview." Hmmm.
*Cooch recommends that listeners "Google 'Humanist Manifesto' and read it...it is the game plan for the vast left-wing conspiracy, and if only the right-wing conspiracy were so vast, we'd be a lot better off...it's part of that playbook."
*If Hobby Lobby wins its case, Cooch claims "it is clearly one of the more poignant stakes in the gut for the left." Why? Because, Cooch claims, the left "cannot tolerate god, they cannot tolerate the acquiescence of government to faith; it clearly has to go the other way in their worldview, and that's a major problem."
*Cooch claims that nobody has a "retort" to his claim that the U.S. is a "natural law country," that we just sit there "dumb and mute" when he spouts his brilliance. Duhhhhhhh.....
*More Crazy Cooch: "The left of course demonizes corporations to begin with...so the notion that a corporation could reflect a moral compass, particularly one grounded in faith, I mean it makes their head explode, which is one of the charms of this case."
*Cooch is "so proud" of Hobby Lobby's owners for its willingness to "risk everything they've built to vanquish [sic] the principle of religious liberty, which maybe more than is under assault in this country today...we should all be so grateful to them...I'm just so impressed." (note to Cooch: "vanquish" is exactly the opposite of the word you presumably intended to use there, but whatever...please continue! LOL)
*More Cooch paranoid, unhinged lunacy (and psychological projection): "People in this country don't realize how tyrannical the left is. It is phenomenally intolerant of any views other than its own. And it must label them as bad, evil, malodorous in some way. It's all they have; they can't really argue against them so they don't...Every liberal position is built on a fallacy. If you give me enough questions honestly answered, I can get you to the hollow core of any liberal position. Of course, normally...they won't answer your questions, because they instinctively know that themselves...truth is our friend."
*Oh, and Cooch says people are going to have to "start going to jail" because they won't "bake a cake" for a gay couple or whatever.
*On the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial campaign, Cooch says he would have won except for "two silver bullets" against him: 1) Bob McDonnell's scandals; 2) the government shutdown.
*I skipped over a bunch of this blithering idiocy and insanity, but at the end Cooch talks about 2016, and how Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are two of the best candidates for the Republicans. Cooch also claims that Barack Obama has "helped destroy this country," and that we don't have someone in the White House who "loves this country." Also, the only reason Obama became president was because of Republicans failing for 6 years and the GOP abandoning "every principle we ever said that we ascribed to."
After listening to this raving lunacy and wild-eyed extremism, I'd venture to thank any deity you believe in, or simply the wisdom of the majority of Virginia voters, that Ken Cuccinelli was not elected governor of our state. Boy, did we ever dodge a bullet (silver or otherwise) on that one. Phew!
The Bieber part starts at 3:45, including Warner's (correct) comment that the Tea Party and "Beliebers" are "about equally informed." I just wish that Sen. Warner would succeed in his efforts on this front. :)
I actually think this is spot on, not sure why Mark Warner deleted it. The fact is, Republicans are utterly (and unhealthfully) obsessed with a) Barack Obama; and b) the Affordable Care Act (which they derisively call "Obamacare," even though it's modeled almost totally on conservative ideas, such as the individual mandate, private/for-profit insurance, and the health care exchanges). If they in any way, shape or form COULD blame the snowstorm on "Obamacare," they would. Oh wait, let's not give them any ideas. Heh.
P.S. After deleting the following tweet, the Warner folks tweeted "Oops. Staff #fail on a snow day. Removed as quickly as possible. Enjoy the rest of your snow day." Now THAT is a #FAIL!
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were indicted today by a federal grand jury on 14 counts stemming from the first couple's acceptance and solicitation of thousands in gifts and loans from a wealthy businessman during McDonnell's term.
Taken together, the charges, if they resulted in convictions and maximum sentences, could produce fines in excess of $1 million and put the McDonnells behind bars for decades.
By the way, my article almost a year ago on how both Rod Blagojevich and Bob McDonnell were both corrupt, but at least Blagojevich did some good things for his state, seems more true today than ever.
UPDATE: @omeola of the Richmond Times Dispatch tweets, "Frmr Gov @bobMcDonnell sez "emphatically" that he "did nothing illegal" for Williams in exchange for what he thought was personal friendship." Also, "McDonnell says he will use 'every available resource and advocate I have for as long as it takes to fight these false allegations.'"
UPDATE #3: Speaking of corrupt slimeballs, Speaker Bill "ALEC" Howell weighs in. (per tweet by @chelyendavis) as "'very disappointed' by news of McDonnell indictment, calls McD friend who 'made mistakes in judgement'."
UPDATE #4: Sen. Donald McEachin says, "Today is a sad day for the Commonwealth of Virginia. If nothing else, this speaks to the urgent need for comprehensive ethics reform."
UPDATE #5: I hear the word "sad" being thrown around a lot today. What's really sad? I'd say first and foremost, that the McDonnells did what they are alleged to have done, betraying the trust that Virginians placed in them (and lying about it, minimizing it, excusing it, etc, etc.). Second, it's sad (and anger inducing) that Virginia has such a pathetically lax system of legalized corruption, and that this system hasn't been reformed from top to bottom by now. That's what I'm really "sad"/angry about.
UPDATE #6: Josh Israel of ThinkProgress points out that "While this marks the first time the former Virginia Attorney General has been on the receiving end of a criminal indictment, this is not McDonnell's first time under ethical fire: in 2005, he exploited a loophole to evade disclosure requirements, hiding corporate contributors to his AG campaign."
Just one problem, Bishop Jackson: we wouldn't have called you a "nutcase" or "completely outside of the mainstream of American thinking" if it weren't 100% true. And thank goodness you ARE "completely outside the mainstream of American thinking," because if your belief system ever really took hold in this country (god forbid), we'd essentially be Salafism: Western Hemisphere Edition. No thanks!
As I'm sure everyone's well aware, often times politicians say things that they don't really believe. In recent weeks, we've had a prime example of that with the announced retirement of Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10th, VA), and the praise heaped upon him by Democrats and Republicans alike. For instance, Senator Kaine praised Wolf has having "exemplified the best in public service," while Gov. Bob McDonnell claimed that Wolf has "sought out common ground...has worked across the aisle...has represented the people of this Commonwealth with distinction and with grace."
Common ground? Working across the aisle? The "best in public service?" Really? Well, actually...not so much. First off, if you look at Wolf's voting record, he ranks a dismal 390th out of 433 in terms of "progressive score vs. district tilt." In other words, Wolf has been one of the most right-wing members, relative to his district (the 10th CD is a "purple," swing district) in Congress. How far-right is this guy? Well, Wolf's lifetime 7.19% progressive score on "crucial votes" places him further to the right than some of the most extreme members of Congress (e.g., rabid Paul Broun of Georgia, Dana Rohrabacher of California) and on just slightly less right wing than this maniac. It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, that Wolf has earned horrendous ratings on women's reproductive health and freedom (e.g., ZEROES by NARAL and Planned Parenthood; 100% rating by the National Right to Life Committee); on civil liberties (e.g., ZEROES by the American Civil Liberties Union); on LGBT equality (e.g., a string of ZERO ratings by groups like PFLAG and the Human Rights Campaign; and a 100% rating by the Christian Coalition); the environment (e.g., a pathetic 17% from the League of Conservation Voters in 2012). For good measure, Wolf also received a 100% rating from the fossil fuel/far-right-wing-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute, which pushes climate science denial and opposes almost any government regulation - for health, safety, whatever).
So much for Frank Wolf being in any way, shape, or form a representative who has sought out "common ground" or has "worked across the aisle." In fact, behind his generally quiet, reserved demeanor, the guy's about as far right/wingnutty as they come.
But it's not just that Wolf holds hard-right positions on almost all the issues. It's also that he's a big-time conspiracy theorist and a corrosive, negative force in Congress. Exhibit A has been Wolf's obsession with the 2012 tragedy at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. For instance, Wolf has called for a select committee to "get to the truth once and for all so we can find out what happened" in Benghazi. In that statement, note that Wolf referenced Fox "News" in his assertion that "the direct ties to the Al Qaeda senior leadership undercut early characterizations by the Obama administration that the attackers in Benghazi were isolated 'extremists' - not Al Qaeda terrorists - with no organizational structure or affiliation.'" Wolf also referenced the completely discredited 60 Minutes piece by Lara Logan, which according to Wolf "confirmed what Wolf had detailed on the House floor this past July: 'a quick reaction force from the CIA Annex ignored orders to wait and raced to the compound, at time running and shooting their way through the streets just to get there.'"
Well guess what? You guessed it: Frank Wolf was wildly, outrageously wrong on basically everything he was hysterically raving about regarding Benghazi. Just today, in fact, the New York Times is out with the results of a months-long investigation into the Benghazi consulate attack. What the Times found was, in sum, that almost none of what Wolf and other Republicans have been ranting about is true. To the contrary:
In the previous installment, I promised new thoughts on the mystery of President Obama's seeking and gaining the pinnacle of power only then to manifest an incapacity to use it against Republican enemies relentlessly seeking to thwart, delegitimize, disempower, and destroy him.
I recognize that some people reject the question, proposing variations either of "He's in cahoots with the Republicans, only pretending to want to achieve the things they defeat" (this one was popular on Daily Kos) or of "He's doing just fine given what he's up against." Those people will doubtless not be interested in my proposed answer to a question whose premise they reject.
To me, that premise --that President Obama has been extraordinarily unable or unwilling to confront his implacable Republican political foes-- is clearly true. In fact, I think it likely will be considered by future historians the salient truth about Mr. Obama's presidency (at least up to this point-- we can only hope the coming showdowns will show him to be readier for battle).
So I maintain that this question is the one to be asking. As for my proposed answer, I don't want to oversell it. As I said yesterday, it's speculative, and only partially developed. Consider it a "clinical intuition" (and yes, I do have a background in psychology). I do think I've come up with something.
The whole idea rests on a single observation: While President Obama seems astoundingly handicapped in wielding power against his enemies within the American political system, he shows no such incapacity for toughness against external enemies. He's attacked them with drones. He ordered the lethal attack against Osama bin Laden.
Against those outside the "We" of the community, he can seek and destroy. It's within the boundaries of the community that he shrinks from confrontation.
My clinical intuition tells me an inference can be made here.
According to newspaper accounts, the USDOJ is investigating Governor McDonnell for the following alleged quid pro quo: the Governor used his state power to help promote a Virginia company's products in exchange for monies tendered in the form of alleged loans and/or gifts. Assuming this quid-pro-quo is the sole basis of the investigation, then I ask: Why is this a matter of federal jurisdiction as opposed to solely 10th amendment state jurisdiction?
Governor McDonnell has no federal power. He is a state official, deriving power from the Virginia constitution. Whatever he allegedly gave sleazy business guy Jonnie Williams involved the trading of state power good only in Virginia. Based on newspaper accounts, these include Mansion events, access to state officials, and the like.
The federales are trying to make a Hobbs Act violation out of what seems to be state activity. The First Lady did travel to Florida to promote a Star Scientific produce, and Johnnie boy did take her on a New York City fashion spree. But unless there is some claim of a interstate conspiracy not reported in the press, these actions had nothing to do with McDonnell.
She is her own person. She isn't a state official, she has no power herself. Why should there be federal jurisdiction in this matter?
I know there is due to the Hobbs Act. But this begs the question: Should there be?
If the Governor of Virginia helps a local VA business get some special access/influence/whatever with state government, why is this a federal crime? Are we in Virginia so pathetic, so in need of help from DC, that we can not be trusted to handle this situation under state law?
Sure, the Congress doesn't much like, any more than we all do, the possibility of a Governor trading his public position for personal private. But why is it a federal crime?
In the midst of a covert trip to Afghanistan to visit American troops, Gov. Bob McDonnell says he will discuss undisclosed gifts from donor and benefactor Jonnie Williams later.
The governor is part of an official Department of Defense delegation visiting U.S. service members stationed in Kuwait and Afghanistan, including members of the Virginia National Guard.
Meanwhile, Jeff Schapiro points out that "[j]ust because McDonnell is apologizing doesn't mean the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, a federal grand jury in Richmond and the city's prosecutor will drop their investigations." Schapiro adds:
So...Rep. Frank Wolf is outraged - OUTRAGED I tell you! - about the Obama administration's (supposedly) horrible record on human rights. In this little "get off my lawn" tirade, Wolf rips Obama for people setting themselves on fire in Tibet, for the genocide in Darfur, and for persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt. More broadly, Wolf says the Obama administration has not advocated forcefully enough for the "oppressed, the marginalized and the vulnerable" (since when do Republicans care about any of those?!?).
Of course, all of those are bad things, and there's not doubt the U.S. should stand up for human rights. But last I checked, Frank Wolf has been in Congress since Ronald Reagan's presidency, and I don't remember him ever giving a speech like this about the massive human rights abuses going on around the world while Reagan, George HW Bush, or George W. Bush were president. The list is basically endless, but as for Darfur, that horrible situation took place mostly during the 2000s, when George W. Bush was president. As for Coptic Christians in Egypt, sadly they've experienced persecution since the 1980s. Tibet, sadly, has had massive human rights problems for decades.
More broadly, I'm really not sure that Frank Wolf wants to start comparing the human rights record of President Obama to that of Reagan, Bush, Cheney, etc. But I'd love to hear him give a speech on the subject, that would certainly be enlightening! Heh.
P.S. As a friend of mine pointed out, Wolf "talks about human rights, yet opposes ENDA." He also "consponsors the marriage inequality amendment." He also voted to ban gay adoption in DC, etc., etc. In short, Frank Wolf is horrible on LGBT human rights in the United States, even while he's hypocritically bashing President Obama for stuff going on in Tibet, etc. Pathetic.
How are you spending your Fourth of July? In Senator Tim Kaine's case, he decided to traveled to Kabul, Afghanistan, in order to visit with Virginia troops serving our country there. Kaine's stop in Afghanistan is part of a weeklong visit to the region. Safe travels to Sen. Kaine (see photos below - click to "embiggen")!
(Given recent developments, I thought this story was worth pushing back up to the top. The question is, which governor was/is more corrupt? I'm leaning towards McDonnell, in part because he actually managed to get $$$ for his corruption. I'm not sure Blago actually pulled that one off. - promoted by lowkell)
True, in some ways (corruption, bribery) Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is becoming a lot like disgraced (and convicted) former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. But in terms of accomplishments while in office, McDonnell is actually much worse than Blagojevich. Here are a dozen examples of how Blagojevich kicks McDonnell's butt. Seriously, can you think of anything McDonnell's accomplished in any of the following areas that even comes close to what Gov. Blagojevich accomplished? I mean, heck, they are/were both totally corrupt, but at least Blagojevich improved things for a lot of people in his state. McDonnell? Well he did...uh...then he...and...uh....
1. "All Kids" Health Care (11/15/05): "Surrounded by elementary students and parents, lawmakers, health care providers and children's advocates at Nathan Hale School in Chicago, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed the landmark All Kids plan into law, making Illinois the only state in the nation to provide affordable, comprehensive health insurance for every child in the state."
2. Minimum Wage Increased (11/18/06): "Governor Blagojevich signs groundbreaking legislation to increase minimum wage in Illinois - Nearly 650,000 Illinois workers to benefit as minimum hourly wage increases to $7.50; Wage to reach $8.25 by 2010"
3. Preschool for All (7/25/06): "Gov. Blagojevich signs groundbreaking Preschool for All legislation - Illinois becomes the first state in nation to give all three- and four-year-olds the opportunity to attend preschool"
4. Illinois Warriors Assistance Program (1/29/08): "Governor Rod R. Blagojevich was joined today by Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs (IDVA) Tammy Duckworth, Director of the Illinois Healthcare and Family Services Barry Maram, representatives from the Illinois Psychiatric Society, the Brain Injury Association of Illinois, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and local veterans to launch the Illinois Warrior Assistance Program. The Illinois Warrior Assistance Program is a first in the nation program that will screen returning Illinois National Guard members for a traumatic brain injury (TBI) while offering TBI screening to all Illinois veterans, and a 24-hour toll-free psychological helpline for veterans suffering from symptoms associated with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)."
5. Global Warming (11/15/07): "Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and the governors of Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin today signed the Midwestern Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, strengthening his commitment to fight global warming in Illinois and throughout the Midwest. This historic agreement aims to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in Illinois and across the region. The Accord will help achieve the goal Gov. Blagojevich announced in February to reduce GHGs in Illinois to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050."
(Mark Warner richly deserves this not just because of his egregious votes yesterday, but for his constant bashing of progressives, for his support of mountaintop removal coal mining and the Keystone XL pipeline, etc. Also note, I added the photo, courtesy of DonkeyHotey's Flickr stream. - promoted by lowkell)
Mark Warner voted against the assault weapons ban. Mark Warner voted against limiting the size of magazines. Mark Warner is the most popular political figure in Virginia, and could have voted for both measures without in any way jeopardizing his reelection in 2014
Mark Warner is from a state that saw the slaughter at Virginia Tech. Cho used both ten and fifteen round magazines for his two handguns. Think how much damage he did. Think how much more he might have been able to do had he had 30 round magazines and had to change less frequently.
I have been involved in Democratic politics in Virginia including at a statewide level. Mark Warner is considered the 800 pound gorilla of Virginia Democratic politics. In a sense my taking this stand may make me toxic in Virginia politics.
I don't care.
It does not matter that neither of these amendments were going to pass. I rely on the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.:
There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.
It matters not to me whether Mark Warner believes the baloney of the gun lobby or merely lacks the guts to stand up for what is right. What is right is to stop the slaughter.
If you are unwilling to step up to that, I am unwilling to offer you my support, my money or my vote.
Don't forget, this frothing-at-the-mouth bigot, Pat Robertson, has donated $715,500 over the years to Virginia Republicans, including around $100,000 to the guy he calls his "dear friend" "Bobby" - our fine governor, currently enmeshed in the "hear comes the BRIBE" scandal. What a combo, huh?
"April is the cruelest month" begins "The Waste Land," a famed poem by T.S. Elliot. So it got me to ask this morning: Aren't you a bit curious as to why, once the Washington Post, the Virginian Pilot, and the Roanoke Times editorial boards got their tax increases, had pushed and praised Bob McDonnell to break his tax pledge to conservatives, suddenly "Stargate" explodes across the front pages?
So let me get this straight: The Post didn't know anything about it UNTIL A FEW DAYS after the governor signed the transportation tax plan the paper had been pushing for 27 years? Just an amazing coincidence you are telling me? They just happened to find out about what is their biggest "scandal" story in years at the Virginia gubernatorial level basically the moment AFTER they don't need Bobby Boy anymore. So: You are telling me they didn't hold the story for fear it might upset the tax package. It just happened to come down that way?
Thus, I write this morning. This being national poetry month, there seems only one fitting poem for this situation at least as regards His Excellency Bob McDonnell: The Waste Land. Let me confess: I don't claim to have any real understanding of the work, even though I pretended otherwise in English class. Yeah, I actually read most of it, although not every line, I kinda speed read actually, kinda skipped a page or two...maybe more. Okay, let's say I tried to read most of it...I read the first line for sure!
I support the bipartisan compromise on background checks announced by Senators Manchin and Toomey today. It will strengthen our background check system, close the gun show loophole and prohibit the commercial sale of guns to those who are mentally ill or have a criminal record. The bill also contains appropriate exemptions for responsible gun owners, allowing for direct transfers between family and friends.
The Manchin-Toomey compromise on background checks, combined with measures to prevent gun trafficking and our own proposal to improve school and campus safety, represents a reasonable approach and I support these measures.
Now, as Virginians for Responsible Gun Laws says, "NRA A-Rated Senator Mark Warner is on board with universal background checks and anti-trafficking laws. NOW WE NEED A YES ON ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN: (202) 224-2023. IF the DC mailbox is full, call his other offices: (276) 628-8158, 757-441-3079, 804-775-2314, 703-442-0670, 540-857-2676. Make your voice heard."
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine launched his official Senate office Twitter and Facebook accounts today. The accounts will provide constituents with updates on Kaine’s daily activities in the Senate, travels across Virginia, information on agency assistance, and constituent service updates. “I’m excited to reach out to Virginians through Facebook and Twitter to show them what I’m working on in Washington and across the Commonwealth,” said Kaine. “I hope they don’t hesitate to communicate with my office through social media to share their opinions on issues, seek assistance with federal agencies, and give any advice they have for me in the Senate.”
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