Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, January 31. Also see the weekly address, in which President Obama talks about "the progress our economy has made, laying a foundation for a future that prioritizes middle-class economics." Oh, and ditching the idiotic "sequestration."
Many recent news reports have trumpeted the dismissal of a raft of gun violence prevention legislation as a "Victory for Gun Rights." Despite the fact that gun's don't actually have any rights, I would like to enumerate, for those not present at the General Assembly, a representative sample of exactly which "rights" were victorious as a result of these actions. Taking just the 12 bills that were dismissed last night, in House Militia, Police and Public Safety, as an example,
The following "rights" remain intact - with the demise of the bill attempting to repeal those "rights" listed, along with the Patron's name:
HB2085 (Murphy) - Addressed the "right" of convicted violent abusers to maintain access to the very firearms that they may have been using to terrorize or dominate their family members. This bill would have temporarily removed that right and subsequently allowed the abuser to restore their rights - even to remove the current lifetime prohibition imposed by Federal Law! (Another case of, Fire, Ready, Aim, by the gun lobby working against their own interests - however, that is their "right".) In a surprise move, the subcommittee failed to accept a proposed substitute bill from the patron, due to the lack of a second. This was the first time I had seen that delicate maneuver in 8 years of watching sausage made!
HB2232 (Surovell) - Attempted to restrict the "right" for people who are prohibited from purchasing firearms, due to serious mental illness (think Cho), to be able to purchase, transport and possess ammunition. Presumably for the firearms that they are prevented from purchasing, transporting or possessing. ("Bullets don't kill people, empty firearms kill people")
Richmond, VA -- Today, the House Democratic Caucus delivered “Dear Colleague” letters to every member of the House of Delegates containing new data from the Commonwealth Institute that breaks down how many Virginians in each House of Delegates District would benefit from the acceptance of over $1 billion of Medicaid expansion funds from the Federal Government. The letter also points each delegate to data from the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance showing the impact of the Commonwealth’s current Medicaid system in each district.
Last year, Medicaid spent approximately $6.7 billion to provide medical services to approximately 1.25 million Virginians
708,646 of Medicaid recipients in Virginia in 2014 are children
According to the Commonwealth Institute, it is estimated that 320,830 additional Virginians would have access to quality, affordable healthcare if Virginia were to accept federal monies to expand Medicaid pursuant to the Affordable Care Act.
According to the Commonwealth Institute, it is estimated that 194,120 additional Virginians in delegate seats currently occupied by Republican delegates would have access to quality, affordable healthcare if Virginia were to accept federal monies to expand Medicaid pursuant to the Affordable Care Act.
“Too many families in the Commonwealth do not have access to quality affordable healthcare -- something Virginians both deserve and desire,” said Democratic Leader David Toscano (D-57). “By closing the healthcare gap, we can continue to build a new Virginia economy that is home to healthy Virginians.”
“No one should ever be denied access to quality healthcare, based on their economic status alone. Yet, this is the problem so many families face in the Commonwealth today. We must fix this,” said Caucus Chair Scott Surovell (D-44). “We hope with this startling data showing just how many of their constituents would benefit from expanding access to healthcare, our House of Delegates colleagues on both sides of the aisle will come together to close the healthcare gap.”
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, January 29. As for the graphic, it's yet more evidence of the harm that Chuckie Todd and all the other corporate, right-wing "useful idiots" on Sunday morning's blatherfest do to America and the world.
Just a day after the Washington Post reported the Koch brothers' plan for billionaires to buy our democracy, this vote today in Virginia's State Senate - killing our state's utterly pathetic, measly incentives for small donations to political campaigns without replacing it with anything - is so opposite of the direction we need to be going, it's breathtaking. Now, clearly, the current tax credit for political donations is completely pathetic, inadequate, etc. But that doesn't mean we should KILL it, for god's sake; it means we should massively STRENGTHEN it. As this study on Matching Political Contributions explains, for instance:
The way forward requires an overhaul of public financing that spurs greater participation by the public at large.
Specifically, the answer lies in a system that gives a multiple match to donor contributions. Rather than continuing to give each candidate a flat grant of $100,000, for example, public financing systems should give six-to-one multiple matching funds on the first $200 of a contribution. This would make a $200 contribution worth $1400 to a candidate.
Multiple matching funds reflect a philosophical shift about the role of money in politics. Money is not an "evil," but should be embraced as a tool to make government accountable to more people. Public financing should not "level the playing field" among candidates, but should reward candidates who mobilize more supporters. Reformers need to spend less energy on "getting big money out of campaigns" and more on "getting the people back in" to those very same campaigns.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, January 28. By the way, that "climate test fail" applies to anyone else who supports drilling off our coast.
The following is the weekly Virginia Republican Address, this week delivered by our old extremist friend, Sen. Mark "Criminalize Miscarriages" Obenshain. According to Obenshain, who has basically spent his entire career trying to send Virginia reeling backwards decades, if not centuries, it's actually Republicans who are focused "on kitchen table issues like education." In addition, according to the Orwellian Obenshain, it's actually Virginia Republicans who are "hard at work on issues that matter to Virginians" and with a "forward-looking agenda" (e.g., like letting 4 year olds, stalkers & sexual batterers have guns!).
Meanwhile, in Obenshain's up-is-down, hot-is-col, black-is-white world, it's the Democrats who are "focused on a backward-looking, divisive, politically-driven agenda with one goal, getting the hard-left, liberal interest groups fired up for November." Oh, and those sneaky, wily Democrats are also hell-bent on expanding the evilevilevil "Obamacare." Can't have people getting good, affordable health care, while getting Virginia taxpayers' own money back and boosting our economy - god no!
In sum, Obenshain has always been a nutty, right-wing extremist, and he continues to be a nutty, right-wing extremist. Remember, this is the same guy who wanted to criminalize women's miscarriages, so it's not a big surprise or anything. Still, the fact that Virginia Republicans are happy to put him out there as the face of their party really says all you need to know - and nothing good - about that party...
Yep, so we can now add yet another Republican governor to the long list of Republican governors saying "yes" to Medicaid expansion. These Republicans can call their expansions whatever they want (e.g., "Healthy Indiana"); say they're really not "expanding" Medicaid buy "reforming it" (whatever); claim (falsely) that Medicaid expansion has no connection go the evilevilevil "Obamacare" (also known as the "Affordable Care Act," whose provisions are highly popular with the American public), blah blah blah.
But the bottom line is, more and more Republican governors are taking this shwwwwweeeeeeet deal for their states' budgets and their citizens, and not letting the hard-right Teahadists, etc. stop them.
And then there's Virginia, a "purple" state led by a Democratic governor and Democratic Party who badly want to expand Medicaid, where Republican House Speaker Bill "ALEC" Howell, hard-right-wing Republican Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, along with their Teapublican troops, are putting on a modern display of what used to be known in these parts as "massive resistance." In this case, it's about health care coverage for poor people, many of whom are these Teapublican lawmakers' own constituents. But whatever; Virginia Republicans are having none of the common sense and sanity we're seeing in an increasing number of Republican-led states around the country. Essentially, Virginia Republicans have no substantive argument, other than to essentially admit, "we're extremists, we're proud of it, we're not changing, and that's that." Oh, and "screw Virginia's budget, people who desperately need good healthcare coverage, hospitals which want/need this expansion, etc, etc.
The question is, why would anyone in Virginia vote for these cretins?
SENATE REPUBLICANS CHANGE VOTES FROM 'YES' TO 'NO' ON BILL TO KEEP GUNS AWAY FROM STALKERS AND SEXUAL BATTERERS
RICHMOND, VA -- In a shocking move earlier today, multiple Senate Republicans seemingly changed their votes on Senator Barbara Favola’s (D-Arlington) SB 943, a bill to keep guns out of the hands of convicted stalkers and sexual batterers. Committee Chair Tommy Norment ruled the bill reported in front of an audience of reporters, committee members, and dozens of others. The ruling was promptly reported by numerous media outlets. Nevertheless, later this afternoon, the Legislative Information Service posted a different result showing the bill as being defeated. Under the Rules of the Senate, votes changed after the fact are not allowed to change outcomes. Given that the bill was reported in committee, it must now be referred to Senate Finance despite the change.
Video of this morning’s vote clearly shows Sen. Tommy Norment (R-James City) voting “aye” and announcing that the bill has reported; no one contradicts him. The votes of Sen. Jill Vogel (R - Fauquier) and Sen. Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover) cannot be determined for certain, but both appear to be in support. Mathematically, one or both must have changed their votes, as well. LIS now indicates that all three voted “no,” and incorrectly lists the bill as having been defeated.
Lori Haas, Director of Virginians for Responsible Gun Laws, said, “This is simply the worst of politics--as usual. Everyone in the hearing room understood SB943 to have passed. These kind of backroom shenanigans are what destroy Virginians' faith in their government.”
“SB 943 represents a common sense measure to protect vulnerable populations and restrict firearm access for violent offenders,” said SB 943 Chief Patron Senator Favola. “This decision to kill the bill champions the rights of violent criminals at the expense of victims.”
We expect to see SB 943 on the Senate Finance Committee docket in the coming days.
See below for the vote, which just took place. The debate was hilarious, with bat****-crazy Sen. Dick Black arguing that we don't need this because Virginia is the greatest state in the country, perfect in every way (or something like that - whatever). Even more hilarious was Sen. Chap Petersen talking about how Bacon's Rebellion (the actual rebellion, not the Virginia political blog run by a climate science denier - lol) in 1676 ended the 17-year goernorship of Sir William Berkeley, appointed by the British monarch. In response, Sen. Saslaw noted that we also used to have "leeches" and "evil spirits," that we've moved beyond those and can also move beyond a one-term governor. LOL Also, Sen. Ebbin sarcastically noted that "the crown is no longer ruling here." Hahahaha. I really need to get this video. :)
P.S. I'd suggest that any State Senator concerned with limiting terms in office to one should start with...their own! LOL
Yep, the same Dick Saslaw who doesn't believe Virginia needs any stinkin' ethics laws, who is well known to despise progressives and environmentalists (aka, his "base"; can you imagine Tommy Norment constantly dissing his right-wing base like this?!?), who recently called the Sierra Club "crazy," who has presided over Democrats losing control of the Virginia State Senate (and the pissing away of much of the money he raised), is at it again. This time?
That's right, Saslaw's latest cause is to ensure that "information relating to the identity of...compounding drugs for use in executions and all documents related to the execution process are confidential, exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, and not subject to discovery or introduction as evidence in a civil proceeding except for good cause shown."
Now why might Saslaw be doing something like this? Well, for starters, he's a supporter of the death penalty. Virginia also has a "problem," if you think not being able to execute people is a "problem," in that it has some lethal injection drugs, lacks anesthetic ("the department does not have in stock either thiopental sodium or pentobarbital - anesthetics used as the first in the three-drug lethal injection protocol developed by the Department of Corrections."). Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to rule on the constitutionality of an execution "drug cocktail," with death row opponents contending "that the drugs being used are untested, experimental drug combinations that can cause great suffering, in violation of the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment."
Now, if the public doesn't know what is IN Virginia's execution "drug cocktail," it will be kind of hard to challenge it in court. Of course, the public should have a right to know this information, as the state is arguing for the right to put people to death using our tax dollars. In short, Dick Saslaw is wrong both on the merits of the issue here as well as on the right of the public to know what's going on. So when is someone going to primary this faux "Democrat?"
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, January 25. As for that photo from yesterday's "clown car" event put on by raving bigot and extremist Steve King in Iowa, I had to post it simply because I thought it was hilarious, and also because it epitomizes the lunacy of the Teapublican Party these days.
Virginia conservatives are attempting an abortion ban more extreme than the bill conservatives in the US Congress were too afraid to try. Last night, on the very anniversary of Roe v. Wade, right-wing lawmakers put in HB2321 which unconstitutionally bans abortion after 20 weeks, with zero exception for survivors of rape.
Only the extremist lawmakers who tried to subject Virginia women to trans-vaginal ultrasounds and personhood would attempt to pass an abortion ban bill too extreme for the far right Congressmen in Washington, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. We can't stand for this.
The circus is in town again, so it's time for my annual blog post about the "State of the Gunonwealth." It's time to see what came tumbling out to the clown car again this year, at least regarding firearms legislation. As in previous years, there's plenty of crazy to go around. So here is a brief roundup of some of the high, or should I say low points, of the firearms bills:
This year we have two bills to allow concealed carry in the "unsecured" parts of our air terminals. Seems we can't rely solely on the increasing number of highly trained and competent individuals that show up at TSA checkpoints, with loaded guns that they "forgot they had," to keep us safe. After all, should a rampaging hoard of AQAP members come spilling out of one of the many Yemeni Airways flights to Richmond international or an ISIL pickup truck take a wrong turn outside Mosul and find itself in the airport parking lot in Roanoke, we need to be able to rely on Gary and his Glock to protect all the passengers from being mowed down in the baggage claim area.
Either that, or see him shooting off a significant part of his manhood during a "wardrobe malfunction" in front of the urinals.
Not satisfied with turning our airports into a scene from a Rambo movie, there are several bills that would "enhance the security" of our school kids, despite the fact that most of them are already safer in school than they are in their homes. A brilliant idea to decriminalize the carry of knives of all sizes, Ninja throwing stars, blackjacks and even ballistic knives for anyone in, or on the bus to or from, Private and Religious schools would certainly spice up the Kindergarten classes. This "Baptist Babies with Blackjacks" bill might not make you feel like immediately transferring your kid from Public to a Private school, but if you do want to, make sure they are packing a tazer on the first day of class, or at least a set of suitably sized brass knuckles.
C&BP Executive Director Scott Peterson "pointed out that last year, Dominion was the largest donor to state-level politicians with over $1.3 million in campaign contributions.* 'No wonder Dominion Virginia gets its way when it comes to energy in Virginia.'"
*Peterson writes: "I had Senator Saslaw's attention now. In fact, he appeared to be glaring at me."
Saslaw doubled down on what he said in March 2014 ("Video: In Crude Language, Sen. Dick Saslaw Argues that Ethics Laws are Irrelevant, Unnecessary"), regarding how you "can't legislate ethics," because "either you're dishonest or you're not." Ugh.
Saslaw refused to let Peterson respond, then "before I could sit down...bounded up the aisle toward me...walked up and leaned in within inches of my face...told me that he had been interviewed by the FBI who told him that the way he handled campaign contributions was not corrupt."
As for the following exchange, it needs to be quoted in full to believe:
He seemed not to understand, so I repeated the word "apologist." He then explained how he had gotten Virginia Dominion President Robert Blue and a solar chieftain together to try and work out their differences. I countered with the fact that the Sierra Club's climate and energy scorecard had given Senator Saslaw an overall grade of D, while three Republican delegates received B's.
"Well," Senator Saslaw huffed. "Everyone knows they're crazy!" He invited me to visit him in Richmond, then walked off.
Of course, when Saslaw talks about how "everyone knows," he's talking about the people corporate interests he hangs out with (lobbyists from Dominion, the Virginia Bankers Association, Verizon, the Beer Wholesalers, the Auto Dealers, the Trial Lawyers, the Wine Wholesalers, the Realtors, the coal companies, etc, etc.).
Bottom line: Dick Saslaw continues to represent the antithesis of where Virginia should be going on ethics legislation. He also should be an embarrassment to any Virginia Democrat with a moral compass. Sad to say - at least as far as I can determine - he remains as Majority Leader in large part due to his ability to raise s***-tons of money from Dominion Power and many other wealthy, powerful corporations. The problem, other than the massive ethics #FAIL of doing the bidding of companies who contribute huge sums of money to you, is that Saslaw's utterly incompetent in what he DOES with the money, such as blowing hundreds of thousands of dollars on an unwinnable special election for Phil Puckett's Senate seat in a 2:1 Cuccinelli district, or losing control of the State Senate in district lines drawn/approved by him. And that's not even counting the fact that Saslaw completely missed the embezzlement of $600,000 of his own money by trusted advisors. But, again, as Saslaw himself says, you can't legislate that kind of thing. So, by that fascinating "reasoning," I guess Saslaw won't be pressing charges against the people who stole his money? Talk about "crazy."
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