Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, April 22. Also check out the fascinating interview with former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens about his book, "Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution."
Mark Herring has accomplished a great deal of good in his first 100 days in office. I'm proud to have played a (small) role in helping elect him, and look forward to a lot more great stuff in the next 100 days and beyond!
~ Takes action to protect rights of Virginians and modernize Office of the Attorney General ~
"Working together, we have hit the ground running to provide greater opportunity for all Virginians, promote equality, protect our shared assets, work in a bipartisan way on legislation to make Virginia more secure, and restore trust in the public sector," Attorney General Herring said. "I've heard directly from public safety and elected officials all across the Commonwealth about critical, emerging issues we can help address. I'm proud of the work we have done and look forward to tackling the challenges that lie ahead."
In addition to maintaining the core functions of the office, below are some of the more noteworthy initiatives undertaken in these first 100 days:
Virginia Delegate (and new Blue Virginia Costa Rica correspondent? LOL) Scott Surovell reports, "Found this on the beach in Playa Guiones, Costa Rica." Surovell adds, "Playa Guiones is a hotbed of healthcare policy." ;)
In all seriousness, though, here's some information on Costa Rica's health care system. You'll notice it's a gazillion times better than ours. Fortunately for Costa Rica, they apparently don't have ALEC or ALEC tools like Virginia House Speaker Bill "ALEC" Howell in their country.
Costa Rica provides universal health care to its citizens and permanent residents. Costa Rica offers some of the best health care in Latin America. Both the private and public health care systems are always being upgraded. New hospitals, new clinics, new machines, and improvement in staff and training...
...Statistics from the World Health Organization frequently place Costa Rica in the top country rankings in the world for long life expectancy...
...Costs tend to be much less than doctor, hospital, and prescription costs in the U.S...
...Costa Rica is a popular destination for medical tourism because of the beautiful surroundings, low costs, and medical reputation.
Anyway, maybe if Delegate Surovell can't persuade his obstinate Republican colleagues to expand Medicaid in Virginia, he could persuade them to all move to Costa Rica? On second thought, I wouldn't wish those guys on my worst enemy, let alone a beautiful, peaceful place like Costa Rica! LOL
Here are a few highlights from Gov. McAuliffe's interview on The Politics Hour yesterday (I'm focusing on the Medicaid expansion discussion, because to me this is priority #1 for Virginia right now).
*According to Gov. McAuliffe, House Speaker Howell did admit the other day on the radio that "yes indeed, this Marketplace Virginia IS germane to the budget, so their whole argument that they've been using the for the last several months the Speaker admitted is a wrong argument."
*"It is the House Republican leadership that has dug in on this issue, and I don't know whether they don't like the president...doesn't really matter to me, my job as governor is to protect the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia."
*"It is the General Assembly's job to pass a budget; they have failed to do their job."
*House Republicans "have put up one roadblock after another." The argument that healthcare expansion will cost Virginia is false.
*This is sheer politics, anti-ACA; "what else is there?" According to Gov. McAuliffe, "no matter where you may be on the healthcare bill, it's now the law of the land...[House Republicans] are off in their corner; it's time they started doing their job, representing the folks who sent them to Richmond." *What is the "exit strategy" with Medicaid expansion? According to McAuliffe, the House has "no arguments left." "We are going to get this done." "The House Republicans are offering nothing." Did anyone hear anything about an "exit strategy" or "Plan B" in Gov. McAuliffe's answer there? I most definitely didn't (unless he's got something up his sleeve - like unilateral executive action of some sort? - but, to mix metaphors, is playing it close to the vest?). Nor am I hearing that from others I talk to about this. Which means...what? Government shutdown? Gov. McAuliffe "caves" because he doesn't want a government shutdown? Because, frankly, I don't see House Republicans caving, certainly not before the 2014 elections, and probably not before the 2015 elections either. So...then what becomes of the McAuliffe governorship at that point? Got me.
*On restoring ex-felons' right to vote, McAuliffe said "people who have paid their debt to society...I want them back working, I want them part of society; part of that is being able to vote...Let's treat people with dignity and respect."
Richmond, VA - Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today improvements to Virginia's rights restoration process, including removing drug offenses from the list of crimes that are subject to a waiting period before an individual can apply to have their rights restored and reducing that waiting period from five years to three years. The administration will also provide a definitive list
of offenses that require a waiting period.
"We are very happy to see Governor McAuliffe expand upon the automatic rights restoration process that was put in place last year," stated Tram Nguyen, co-executive director of Virginia New Majority. "We believe that once an individual has served their time and fully paid their debt to society, they should have their civil rights restored without any additional burdens or punishments. The changes announced today are great steps forward to more efficiently re-enfranchise these individuals and sends a message that citizens who want a second chance are welcome as full members of our communities."
While today's announcement represents continued progress forward, Virginia still needs a more permanent solution. "We look forward to continuing to work with Governor McAuliffe and members of the General Assembly to achieve legislative action to automatically restore the civil rights for all citizens who have served their time," added Nguyen.
The shad are running and Virginia politicians will swim with them today. Last year Democratic candidates gave the Wakefield Ruritan event a cold shoulder. The event's organizers made an insincere attempt to dampen the tea party spirit, discouraging stars and bars. This is a charity event, they cried, after all.
This year Virginia's senior Senator Mark Warner will deliver the keynote and his almost certain Republican opponent will make one of his rare public appearances. It will be informative seeing if Team Warner laid the groundwork for a more civil and less homogeneous atmosphere than this annual carnival for reactionaries nourishes. Earlier this year, they stumbled out of the block when, despite refusing to commit to Democratic events closer in than 60 days, they accepted the Shad Planking appearance well in advance. Maybe, tied to an old playbook, they failed to notice that last year's Democratic statewide success demonstrated the irrelevance of the event. One would hope that the acceptance came with some assurance that the event would be more civil, sane, and inclusive.
The impact of the "traditional" sign war has diminished considerably since the Kaine and Webb surprises during the past decade. When this became a war of paid "volunteers" it was no longer a genuine indicator of anything more than a campaign bankroll. And if the intent is to make this event relevant, where is the outreach from the Ruritan Club or encouragement from more progressive constituents to draw in displays and support from the Democratic Party, the NAACP, or the LGBT community?
So what will today provide? Boney fish, cold beer, and the themes that Senator Warner will employ to shore up and broaden his own constituency, an impressive coalition of common interests. This could also provide the national bellwether for the Democratic strategy that will be used to counter this year's onslaught by Republican reactionaries against the Affordable Care Act. There couldn't be a more promising petri dish.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, April 16. Also check out Krystal Ball as she rips violent extremist Cliven Bundy, his gang of thugs, and the right wingnuts who back him as a so-called "patriot" (which he is absolutely NOT!).
What issue is your issue? What drives your passion for politics?
I’m a relatively new transplant to the Northern Virginia community, but I understood from the start how fortunate this place is to be filled with such strongly progressive voices. Battling climate change, expanding access to affordable health care, pushing for compassionate immigration reform – the residents of Virginia’s 8th congressional district are guided by staunchly progressive values.
But as Professor Lawrence Lessig of Harvard often says – while each of these issues is deeply important, they cannot be the first issue. The first issue is tackling the systemic corruption that has engulfed the American political system. Special interests and the power of money in our political system have rewritten the rules.
I have been following the race to succeed Jim Moran with interest. This is a field of remarkably qualified candidates, each ready to profess their progressive credentials. But from the very start, I have been shocked at how rarely political reform issues have been raised.
Virginia needs to be ground zero of this debate. The values instilled in the 8th district bleed into the perspective of the greater Washington community. On a state-wide level, the desire for real ethics and campaign reform are on the rise. In many respects, this state will come to represent the challenges in framing these issues across the nation leading up to the midterm elections this year.
Let’s stand up and make these reform issues our issues. Let’s actively shape the debate.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, April 14. The photo is of Barack Obama and Drew Kleibrink, who passed away suddenly late last week. Drew was a great photographer, environmentalist, progressive, and Democrat. As Del. Mark Keam writes, "Drew (and his camera) was ubiquitous throughout both 2008 and 2012 campaigns, and he did everything you can ask a campaign volunteer to do. Drew worked hard, and his advice was always sound. He was principled in speaking his mind, and as an intellectual, he could engage in a deep conversation with anyone about any issue. Above all, he was a man with incredible empathy and love for fellow human beings." Drew will be greatly missed by everyone who know him, including me.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, April 13. Also check out the "lightning round" question on which committees the 8th CD Democratic candidates would want to serve on if they're elected to Congress. See here for a lot more video and my notes from yesterday's 8th CD Democratic "forum" at Mt. Vernon High School.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, April 12. Also see President Obama's weekly address, in which he "highlights the steps his Administration has taken to expand opportunity and narrow the pay gap that exists between men and women."
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thursday, April 10. The photo is of Del. Mark Keam as he joins grassroots activists, "Fast for Families Across America: A Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship," as they traveled through Virginia on their way to Capitol Hill. Here, they "rallied in front of Congressman Frank Wolf's office in Fairfax County, urging him and all other members of Congress who are blocking the House from taking up comprehensive immigration reform legislation."
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