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New Poll Finds Large % of Women Oppose "Hobby Lobby" Decision. What About Gillespie? Comstock?

by: lowkell

Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 16:58:12 PM EDT

A new poll by Hart Research finds:

*"More than seven in ten (71%) women voters object to the idea of for-profit corporations being allowed to exempt themselves from a law they feel goes against their religious beliefs; in fact, this sentiment is so overwhelming that it is shared by a majority of every demographic and attitudinal audience, including Democrats (82%), independents (73%), and Republicans (52%)."

*"Not only do a solid majority of women voters in this cohort oppose the Supreme Court's ruling on Hobby Lobby, but these women voters also say they are paying attention to news about the decision and say the issue is important to them personally."

*"Women voters identify an array of reasons for opposing the Hobby Lobby decision-including women's right to make these personal decisions for themselves without interference from their employers, as well as basic fairness concerns that certain forms of women's birth control would be singled out, while coverage for vasectomies and Viagra are not flagged for debate."

*"Finally, women voters overwhelmingly describe the current accommodation for religious organizations under the ACA (the basis for the Wheaton College v. Burwell case) as acceptable and
reasonable."

Clearly, Democrats like 10th CD candidate John Foust and U.S. Senator Mark Warner are in agreement with the vast majority of women on this issue. But what about Republicans like 10th CD GOP nominee Barbara Comstock and U.S. Senate candidate "Enron Ed" Gillespie? In the U.S. Senate debate on Saturday, Sen. Warner noted that Gillespie and he have very different views on "personhood," contraception, "Hobby Lobby," a women's right to choose, invasive ultrasound legislation, etc., and that Gillespie hasn't repudiated any of his party's anti-women views on those issues. Gillespie's bizarre response: Warner was supposedly making up Gillespie's views (oh yeah, so then what ARE your views on these issues?!?), and that Gillespie's religious views should not be at issue (which of course is exactly the point of separation of church and state, which right wingers like Gillespie don't appear to understand or respect). Uh huh. In fact, Gillespie was almost certainly just freaking out that he was badly losing the debate, certainly with women voters, and was flailing around for something - anything! - to say. Unfortunately for him, it made no sense whatsoever...

As for Comstock, good luck getting a straight answer out of the person who was called out by one of her Republican opponents this spring as a liar, and who has spent decades falsely smearing people.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Statements on Ruling in Bostic v. Rainey Case Striking Down Virginia Gay Marriage Ban

by: lowkell

Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 14:54:17 PM EDT


I'm posting this super late because the Soapblox network of progressive state blogs - of which Blue Virginia is a part - has been down most of the day, but great news for human equality today in Virginia (and in other states as well)! Del. "Sideshow Bob" Marshall (R-Homophobia),  author of the anti-gay-marriage amendment befouling our constitution, must be crying right now; such a shame, huh?  :) Also, of course, great work by Attorney General Mark Herring's office on this issue, yet again proving that elections have huge consequences -- can you imagine where we'd be if Mark "Criminalize Miscarriages" Obenshain, who said that Ken Cuccinelli was his model Attorney General, had won that election?!?

With that, here's Gov. McAuliffe's statement on the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in Bostic v. Rainey striking down Virginia's ban on gay marriage: 

"I am overjoyed by the news that, as a result of today's ruling, Virginia will become a state where two people who love each other can get married regardless of their sexual orientation. This is a historic ruling for our Commonwealth, and its effect will affirm once again that Virginia is a state that is open and welcoming to all.

"I want to thank Attorney General Mark Herring for his leadership in this case, and all of the men and women who fought for years to make this day a reality. Progress does not always come as quickly as we hope it will, but today is yet another example of how justice, equality and the people who fight for those values will always persevere in the end."

Next, here's Sen. Mark Warner's statement:
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Rest in Peace to Our Friend, Fellow Blogger and Progressive Warrior Teddy Goodson

by: lowkell

Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 15:15:20 PM EDT

I just wanted to pass along the news I received a little while ago from Del. David Bulova (D-Fairfax) that our friend Teddy Goodson passed away yesterday after a long illness (she had moved to Texas in September 2013, I believe for health reasons and to be closer to her family). According to Del. Bulova, there will be a service in late August. Here's some video of Teddy from March 6, 2011, as she accepts the Fred Silverthorne Community Service Award at the 11th Congressional District Awards Luncheon at Vespucci's in Fairfax City, Virginia. A well-deserved honor. As Teddy wrote at the time:
I didn't become a Democrat because I like stuffing envelopes or phone banking. In 2004 I left the Republicans and became a Democrat because of ideas and values---- I despised what the Republican Party was becoming, and felt the Democrats generally had better ideas and values.

As it happens, though, I also have found that elected Democrats do not always honor those ideas and values once they are in office and engaging in the give-and-take of politics, nor do they always listen to the ideas from their "base," (which tends to cling to those Democratic values and ideas). We, the so-called base, or grassroots, is too often taken for granted by our Establishment leaders...Time for that to change, folks.

For those of us who knew Teddy Goodson well (I first met her in 2005, during the Kaine-Kilgore race, when I was told - by Sam Penney, if I recall correctly - that someone named "Teddy Goodson" - a woman, not a  man, I'd soon find out - would be a great addition to the blog!), that's vintage Teddy Goodson right there. If you're interested in reading a lot more of what Teddy had to say, here's a link to her Blue Virginia diaries, and here's one to her comments. Also, click here for Teddy's posts on Raising Kaine/RK. The first time she posted it was On Limousine Liberals, Cadillac Conservatives, and Four-Letter Words, which began: "Oh joy.  As a former, long-time Republican, I have received yet another campaign letter from Jerry Kilgore, begging for my financial support in the race for Governor of Virginia. Of course, since I am no longer a Republican (by the way, the party left me, I didn't leave the party!), I'm not interested. But even if I were still a Republican, this letter would be a turnoff.  What a nonsensical mishmash!" Again, that's Teddy to a "T," who morphed from a Republican, hopefully of the progressive variety (yes, there used to be such a thing as a "Progressive Republican," including my hero - and Teddy's - President Teddy Roosevelt) to a progressive warrior. And no, you didn't want to get on the wrong side of that warrior, but you most certainly DID want to be on her side of any battle!

Another classic Teddy Goodson post was Ex-Republican at Democratic Boot Camp, about which she wrote: "I knew instantly I was NOT in a staid Republican gathering, as I did not see even one coiffed and manicured, mascara-tipped lady; even one self-important stuffed shirt of any kind, sucking up to more important stuffed shirts. In contrast, I saw a magnificent cross section of today's America -- all colors, all ages, all kinds of dress (except no buttoned-down shirts)."

Anyway, there's a lot more to say about Teddy Goodson, and I'm sure that many of us will say it, but for now, I mostly just wanted to pass on the sad, albeit not unexpected, news.

Discuss :: (11 Comments)

Glenn Beck as "The Music Man," Playing on the Fears of Parents

by: Andy Schmookler

Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 09:56:16 AM EDT

On Tuesday, July 22, Glenn Beck spoke from some 700 movie screens to Americans who paid admission to hear him attack the "Common Core." The "Common Core" consists of standards, offered to the states, defining the knowledge and skills that American school-children should learn at each stage of their education.

Beck's move here reminded me of "The Music Man," the con man in the musical of that name who comes to an Iowa town to fleece the good people there. What Beck and the con artist in "The Music Man" have in common is that to accomplish their own hidden aims they tap into the anxieties that parents have regarding their children.

What the Music Man was selling were fictitious musical instruments and band uniforms, and he did it by playing on parental fears of corrupting influences on their children (fears aroused by the arrival in town of a Pool Hall, which starts with 'P' which rhymes with 'T' which stands for 'trouble').

Beck's pitch against the Common Core is selling a different fear: that the federal government is seeking to take control of their children away from their parents for purposes of indoctrination.

I do not know enough to judge whether or not the Common Core would improve our national educational performance. (Despite being the son of teachers, and having myself taught at both college and high school levels, I do not claim to know what is required to greatly improve the education of America's children.) But I do know enough to feel sure that there is nothing nefarious about the proposed national standards. The Common Core seems to be a good-faith effort -- wise or not -- to address a genuine national problem of educational attainment that lags behind that of many other advanced democracies.

But I suspect Beck's campaign is not really about the Common Core, or about the education of our children, any more than the Music Man was offended by a pool table. I suspect there's another reason altogether why he's working on American parents with this particular paranoid pitch.

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Barbara Comstock, "Personhood" Supporter

by: kindler

Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 06:00:00 AM EDT

Cross-posted at Daily Kos

It's not enough to tell people that Barbara Comstock is too extreme to be the 10th District's next US Representative. Better to cite some examples -- of which few are as devastating as her support for giving fertilized eggs the legal status of people.

This past legislative session, Comstock voted for Delegate Bob Marshall's fetal personhood bill -- giving it crucial cover as one of only 5 Republican women in the House of Delegates. But this was not just another bill about which reasonable people might disagree -- more like the legislative version of a hand grenade.

Waldo Jaquith describes the potential impact of this bill better than anyone:

Of the 30,826 laws in the Code of Virginia, 11,482 of them-37%-contain the word "person." And there are 118 different things that "person" means in those 11,482 laws, because there are very specific things that they need to mean. Under Virginia law, a business cannot be guilty of murder[...]

It is through this lens that I was alarmed to read Del. Bob Marshall's HB 1: [...] "A bill to construe the word 'person' under Virginia law, including but not limited to § 8.01-50 of the Code of Virginia, to include unborn children."

Wow. All 118 definitions of the word "person" would suddenly be amended to include "fetus." This bill would serve as a wrecking ball against the Code of Virginia. Dozens and dozens of carefully constructed definitions would suddenly be rendered syntactically and legally ridiculous.

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Virginia News Headlines: Monday Morning

by: lowkell

Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 06:43:14 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, July 28. Also, see the video by Catherine S. Read of Dorothy and Terry McAuliffe speaking about the importance of women running for office in Virginia in 2015 and beyond...

*Global efforts to end Gaza conflict intensify ("In an emergency midnight meeting, the U.N. Security Council called for an immediate cease-fire to the devastating three-week-old Gaza war.")
*U.S.: Images show that Russia fired over border
*When animals vanish, bad things happen ("Figuring out how to create a sustainable and just human society that doesn't obliterate the rest of the natural world is the paramount challenge of the next century. Let's not wind up with a planet of weeds, as David Quammen once put it - a planet of white-tailed deer, cockroaches, rats and humans.")
*U.S. coal exports may be adding to global emissions
*Why 'Moral Mondays' Matter: Fulfulling the Jesse Jackson-Rainbow Coalition Legacy
*Uber, Lyft must follow state, local regulations
*Bob McDonnell corruption trial begins Monday: Facts and background
*Robert McDonnell trial to cast unflinching light on Virginia couple's friends, marriage
*In Politics, the 'Virginia Way' No Longer Reflects Its Genial Southern Roots ("The polarization of Richmond mirrors Washington, part of a nationalization of politics in state capitals with divided government across the country.")
*Jury selection to begin in ex-Va. governor corruption case ("Experts say process will be key to deciding fate of Robert McDonnell, wife.")
*Va.'s low-key lieutenant governor juggles politics and pediatrics (Despite being on the front page of the Washington Post's website since yesterday afternoon, this profile right now has zero - that's right ZERO - comments. Shows how much public interest there is in the Virginia Lt. Governor position at this point.)
*In Richmond, students seek to revive
a Confederate soldier as mascot

*With Silver Line, will people live in Tysons Corner?
*Silver Line's first real test: Rush hour
*Doug Fister gets 10th win, Rafael Soriano picks up 200th career save in 4-2 win over Reds
*Monday marks transition day in beautiful week ahead ("Much of the upcoming work week is something special weatherwise with day after day of beautiful sunshine and low humidity.")

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Video: In Woodbridge, "Walking Mayor" Adam O'Neal (R-NC) Speaks Out on Need for Medicaid Expansion

by: lowkell

Sat Jul 26, 2014 at 22:08:56 PM EDT

Mayor Adam O'Neal of Bellhaven, NC, a Republican who has been walking to Washington, DC in support of Medicaid expansion and health care for rural residents, arrives at an event on health care and Medicaid expansion at the Greater Prince William Community Health Center in Woodbridge, Virginia on Saturday, July 26, 2014. Attendees at the event included State Senator George Barker, Delegate Michael Futrell, Virginia New Majority, civil rights legend Bob Zellner, filmmakers Eric Byler and Annabel Park, and numerous others. I'll post more video tomorrow, as well as more discussion about this event, but for now, here's the moment when Mayor O'Neal and Bob Zellner arrived at the Health Center in Woodbridge.

P.S. I checked Sunday morning and there was not a single article on this important event in Woodbridge yesterday, other than right here at Blue Virginia. That's right: for coverage of this, it's all "citizen journalists" like Eric Byler, Annabel Park, and yours truly - so much for the folks who are PAID to do this as their full-time "day jobs." I know, what else is new, but still...total #FAIL

Discuss :: (11 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Sunday Morning

by: lowkell

Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 07:12:44 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, July 27. Also see the video of State Senator George Barker welcoming Mayor Adam O'Neal, the "walking mayor," from North Carolina to Woodbridge, Virginia. Sen. Barker thanks Mayor O'Neal for his walk and for "inspiring us," says "we're with you" and that Virginia shares many of the same issues and problems (e.g., with rural hospitals under tremendous financial pressure, being forced to close in Lee County, etc.) as North Carolina. Sen. Barker notes that only 2 legislators in the entire General Assembly out of 140 who represent largely rural areas and who supported closing the coverage gap, and only 1 is a Republican. "They are hurting their own constituents." Sen. Barker notes that his isn't just happening in rural areas, but that people are dying because of lack of health care in urban/suburban areas as well. Bottom line: we need to expand Medicaid ASAP.

*Israel Resumes Gaza Offensive After Hamas Rocket Attacks (Note: AFTER Hamas rocket attacks.)
*Federal judge overturns D.C. ban on carrying handguns (Another conservative activist judge...)
*Charlie Crist: "I'm not a scientist either but I can use my brain and I can talk to one" (Great line. Apparently, many Republicans can't use their brain or talk to a scientist.)
*Repeal Prohibition, Again ("It is past time to end the ban on marijuana. The case for legalization: the first part in a series.")
*Rand Paul Is Also A Minority And Will Lead His Libertarian People Out of Bondage (Hahahahaha. Also, just a handful of people came to hear his ridiculous speech. #FAIL all around, as usual with this loser/wacko.)
*Getting Back Virginia's Good Name, Reputation ("What Virginians deserve is the absolute assurance their elected officials are as clean as Caesar's wife. That means, in our view, strict bans on all gifts - tangible or not. Period. No free or subsidized trips to seminars. No free meals on lobbyists' tabs. No little trips to that swanky golf course, paid for by corporations with business before the state. Nothing.")
*Schapiro: McDonnell legacy damaged before Giftgate ("Whether it was transportation, privatization, education or ethics - an issue he addressed literally days before his indictment - McDonnell took steps that, he believed, would change the course of government. Instead, McDonnell's program has been stepped on. Make that: trampled - and by supposed friends.")
*Expect drama at the McDonnells' corruption trial: 'It's going to be ugly' ("Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton could even get a mention in the trial of the ex-governor and his wife.")
*McDonnell trial tells Va. politicians that the feds are watching
*Trial comes down to Bob McDonnell's conduct ("Former Gov. Bob McDonnell will have to answer for his own conduct, not his wife's, when their trial on corruption charges begins Monday in federal court in Richmond.")
*Mark Warner on offense in Virginia Senate debate  

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Rep. Connolly Communications Director Calls Out Comstock Hypocrisy on Silver Line

by: lowkell

Sat Jul 26, 2014 at 15:43:22 PM EDT

The photo here shows several of our faves - Fairfax County Supervisor Pat "Hypocrisy" Herrity, Del. David Ramadan (Extreme "R"), and of course GOP "attack dog" Del. Barbara Comstock - preening and posing at the opening ceremonies for the Silver Line in Tysons. It's wildly hypocritical of them to do this, of course, as Rep. Gerry Connolly's Communications Director (and 11th CD Democratic Committee Chair) George Burke pointed out in a series of tweets a little while ago.

*George Burke: In response to Del. David Ramadan, notes that it's "ironic that @BarbaraComstock, who opposed transportation bill, & @PatHerrity, who sued to stop #SilverLine, were there."

*Del. Ramadan (BFF of Comstock's, apparently follows her everywhere and takes to social media to defend every indefensible thing she does - and there are a LOT of those!) responds defensively to Burke: "TaxIncreaseBill' aka 'TransportationBill' had nothing to do w MetroSilverLine. Using it to attack @BarbaraComstock is cheap shot!" (translation: ouch, that hurt! quick somebody call a waaaaambulance!)

*Del. Ramadan then gets even whinier if that's humanly possible, tweeting - and I'm not joking here - "why don't you concentrate your efforts on Congressional issues and leave VA  state taxes to VA legislators."

*Burke responds to Ramadan: "Great spin but you & @BarbaraComstock actually voted against much-needed road, bridge & transit improvements in #Virginia." True dat. Also "I've lived 3 decades in NoVA & like most, I want state to fix crumbling roads & bridges. You & @BarbaraComstock voted NO." Also factually true, look it up if you don't believe Burke.

*And one last, desperate, failed attempt at a defense by Ramadan: "not spin; FACT: @BarbaraComstock & I are against increasing taxes on NOVA residents vs your false statements in earlier tweets!!"

Now, just for the record, here's the final vote on HB 2313, the 2013 transportation bill co-patroned by Republican House Speaker Bill Howell, Republican Del. Tim Hugo, Republican Del. Kirkland Cox, Republican Del. Tag Greason, Republican Del. Terry Kilgore, and a bunch more Republican delegates (but not Comstock or Ramadan, of course) that provided $300 million for rail to Dulles. In short, Comstock has been a consistent enemy of funding for the Silver Line, unlike Rep. Frank Wolf (whatever else you want to say about that guy, he was strong on this issue; Comstock would combine the lunacy of Wolf without the pragmatism he demonstrated on local issues), and strongly against the interests of the 10th Congressional District and Northern Virginia more broadly. Yet she still shows up to pose for the cameras at the opening of the Silver Line. Chutzpah - yes. Integrity - nope. Good for Gerry Connolly's office for calling her out on this!

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Video: First Warner-Gillespie Debate, Saturday 11 am

by: lowkell

Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 20:02:27 PM EDT


From the Virginia Bar Association: "Candidates for one of Virginia's U.S. Senate seats will meet in the first debate of the election season. The free, public event will occur at The Greenbrier during the 124th Summer Meeting of The Virginia Bar Association. Thanks to The Virginia Bar Association/PBS NewsHour live stream broadcast we can more broadly share the event that features Sen. Mark Warner (D) and challenger Ed Gillespie (R) - and is moderated by PBS NewsHour's Judy Woodruff."

UPDATE 12:30 pm: Gillespie's closing statement...same old b.s. as in his intro. Claims Sen. Warner wouldn't recognize Gov. Warner. Funny, because he looks about the same to most Virginians - the most popular politician in Virginia. Nice try, Ed, but YOU LOSE. ;)  Warner says Gillespie offers a VERY different approach, both substantively and stylistically. Says he's proud of his record on debt, veterans, etc. Says Gillespie just keeps repeating false charges like a broken record, that if they were true he wouldn't be supported by John Warner and so many Republicans. Says Gillespie blames everything on the President, everything is hyper-partisan, that is the LAST thing Washington needs. If you want a problem solver, business-minded, work-across-party-lines, vote for Mark Warner.

UPDATE 12:24 pm: Question on whether Virginia should recognize same-sex marriage. Gillespie says he respects and loves people for who they are, believes marriage is between one man/one woman, not his role as a Senator to legislate on this, it's up to the states. #FAIL/#DODGE/#COWARD Warner says he supports marriage equality, it's the right thing to do, smart business thing to do. Warner says he and Gillespie have very large/different views on "personhood," contraception, Hobby Lobby, women's right to choose, invasive ultrasound legislation, he hasn't repudiated any of that. Gillespie says Warner is making up his views (HUH?!? he doesn't believe those things?!? if so, that's big news!). Gillespie says his religious views should not be at issue, that we should make it easier for women to get contraception over the counter. Warner: would you vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade, did you not also support a personhood amendment? Warner promises he will get the documentation to prove it, says there won't be a vote in the Senate on Roe vs. Wade. Gillespie squirming and wriggling here...love it.

UPDATE 12:20 pm: Question on sexual assault in the military, who should prosecute. Warner says we should not accept any culture of harassment in the military or on college campuses. Need protection for whistleblowers. Need to see progress, shouldn't take outside the chain of command. Gillespie agrees.

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Virginia News Headlines: Saturday Morning

by: lowkell

Sat Jul 26, 2014 at 06:32:34 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Saturday, July 26. Also see President Obama's weekly address, in which he "continued his call for our nation to rally around an economic patriotism that says rather than protecting wasteful tax loopholes for a few at the top, we should be investing in things like education and job training that grow the economy for everybody."

*Pause in Gaza fighting begins as promised
*Russia and Ukraine trade charges of border shelling
*Putin Isolated as EU Prepares Tougher Sanctions on Russia
*Why the Border Crisis Is a Myth ("...the myth of a 'crisis' is being used by politicians to justify ever-tighter restrictions on immigration, play to anti-immigrant voters in the fall elections and ignore the reasons so many children are coming here in the first place.")
*Paul Ryan's Anti-Poverty Plan Would Cost Billions to Implement. Will GOPers Go for That?
*Benny Johnson and Buzzfeed's Achilles heel ("In the eyes of many journalists, BuzzFeed is constantly walking a fine line between aggregation, or 'curation,' and theft.")
*Meet The Congressman Who Assumed Two Senior U.S. Officials Were Foreigners (Of course he's a Republican...what else?)
*Book review: "I Heard My Country Calling," by James Webb (Interesting, definitely not a positive review...)
*Sen. Kaine, Loudoun-based firms advocate for Ex-Im Bank (Funding the Ex-Im Bank is a no brainer. Which is probably why Teapublicans oppose it.)
*Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Wife Set for Corruption Trial ("Couple Is Accused of Accepting Gifts in Exchange for Promoting a Friend's Company")
*Saslaw says 40 percent of rural hospitals will close in states that don't expand Medicaid (Still: "40 percent of rural hospitals are running in the red and those located in states that don't broaden Medicaid eligibility may see their problems exacerbated.")
*Warner and Gillespie to face off in first debate ("The Democratic senator and his GOP rival will square off for 90 minutes at the Greenbrier resort on Saturday.")
*Virginia keeping drug used in botched executions
*McAuliffe says it's a blessing more didn't die in tornado
*McDonnell defense subpoenas
*Rigell seeks funds to promote girls' science education
*Loudoun will pay Delgaudio's legal fees in recall case
*'It's a great piece of American history' ("While restoring U-Va.'s iconic Rotunda, workers discovered remnants of its Jeffersonian past.")
*Roark earns 10th win, Span collects 4 hits as Nats rough up Reds, 4-1
*Isolated storm risk today; increased threat of severe weather Sunday

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Video: Atif Qarni Announces for State Senate in Strong Democratic District 29

by: lowkell

Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:55:28 AM EDT

Last night at the Prince William County Democratic Committee meeting, Atif Qarni announced his candidacy for the Virginia State Senate from District 29 (currently held by conservative Democrat Chuck Colgan, 87 years old, who plans to retire at the end of his current term). Since Colgan first won this seat in 1975, the district has changed enormously, becoming far more diverse. I don't have the exact demographic breakdown on the 29th per se, but Prince William County overall is now a "majority minority" county that went for Terry McAuliffe in 2013 (by a 52%-44% margin), and for Obama/Biden in 2012 (by a 57%-41% margin).

As you can see from the VPAP infographic below, the 29th State Senate district actually performed even better than the overall county for both McAuliffe and Obama, and for good reason: if you look at the map of the district, you'll see that it takes in some of the most diverse parts of the county, including Woodbridge (19% African American, 17% Latino, 10% Asian) and Manassas (31% Latino, 14% African American, 5% Asian). The bottom line is that this is a district that Democrats absolutely should hold in November 2015, unless we completely #FAIL in getting our voters out to the polls. Barring that, we should be able to concentrate on nominating the best candidate for the seat. And last night, a super-strong candidate (whip-smart, young, charismatic, U.S. Marine Corps/Iraq war veteran, teacher) named Atif Qarni. As you can tell, I'm very excited about his candidacy and look forward to strongly supporting him.

I had a chance to chat with Atif earlier this week, at which time we discussed his upcoming run for State Senate. I didn't break the story then, because I wanted to wait until he announced at the Prince William County Democratic Committee meeting last night (see video above - note that there's bad audio in that one, although you can certainly hear it if you crank up the volume; so, Atif re-recorded his speech later, after the event, just so people could hear it easily; see that one in the comments section). Now that he's done that (also see speech highlights in the comments section), here are the key themes Atif plans to focus on his campaign, as well as a few other key points.

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Who Benefits? Thoughts on the Civilian Death Toll in Gaza

by: Andy Schmookler

Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 12:25:09 PM EDT

I would like to make just one point about the Israeli-Hamas conflict. It is difficult, I recognize, to isolate a single point, because people have such strong feelings on one side or the other that they tend to color judgments on all the relevant issues. But it's worth a try.

The single point I want to address is this: are we to believe that the Israelis are making a strenuous effort, given their military objectives, to minimize civilian deaths in Gaza? The Israelis claim that they are. Some others have called that into question.

To me, the answer seems clear on the face of it once one asks the question: Who benefits? Who advances toward their goals as a result of the civilian casualties?

Clearly, it is not the Israelis. Before the ground assault began, discussions of the potential costs to Israel focused on the international opprobrium and isolation that would likely punish Israel for the civilian deaths resulting from military operations in the densely-populated Gaza Strip. The carnage of civilians does nothing to achieve any Israeli purpose, while it does much to increase the political price of the military operation.

On the other side, what is costly to Israel is correspondingly beneficial to Hamas. The greater the international pressure on and isolation of Israel - exacerbated by these civilian deaths - the stronger the position of Hamas vis-à-vis their Israeli foe. Hamas can hope for no military gains against the far mightier IDF, but it can hope for a stronger hand in negotiations now and in achieving its long-term goal of the elimination of Israel from the region.

All of which is reflected in Hamas' position in the cease-fire negotiations. Although Israel agreed to a proposed cease-fire, Hamas has rejected it. And it is Hamas, not Israel, that is insisting on political concessions as a condition of a cease-fire. The inference to be drawn, it seems, is that Hamas believes can gain something from the continuation of the current hostilities, with its mounting Palestinian death toll.

So, regardless of whether one believes that Israel has a right to exist, or that any of the parties are interested in achieving the long-sought "two-state solution," or that this military incursion is justified or wise, to this one question the answer seems clear. Israel has every reason - for purely self-interested motives, whether supplemented by compassionate humanitarian concerns or not - to minimize civilian casualties. And for Hamas, it is the civilian casualties, and the international response to them, that are the chief means by which it can gain from this latest episode in this long-running, sad story from the Middle East.

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Paul Begala: Barbara Comstock has "almost sick...stalker-like obsession with President Clinton"

by: lowkell

Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 18:34:21 PM EDT

You probably already saw Thursday morning's Politico story, "Ex-GOP sleuth eyes House seat, Benghazi," that I highlighted in this morning's news clips and which has been getting some buzz today on the "intertubes." If not, though, there are definitely some choice quotes about Comstock worth repeating. First and foremost was Paul Begala - "chief strategist for the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign," author of five books, former co-host of Crossfire, Professor of Public Policy at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy, etc. - who unleashed on Comstock for her role in the persecution/prosecution of the Clintons in the late 1990s. The quote that's got the far-right wingnuts frothing at the mouth is the following.
"If she wins, she will no doubt practice the same politics of personal destruction she and her ilk practiced in the Clinton days," said Paul Begala, a former political adviser to Bill Clinton who has assumed the role of Comstock attack dog. The Republican, he said, has a "really almost sick, sort of stalker-like obsession with President Clinton."
Of course, there's no doubt whatsoever to anyone who has followed Comstock's infamous career or knows the first thing about her that she "will no doubt practice the same politics of personal destruction she and her ilk practiced in the Clinton days." Is that even a serious question? The fact is, it's just in her nature (reminds me of the dark joke about the Middle East, in which the scorpion stings the camel to death as it hitches a ride on the camels' back across the Jordan River, condemning both of them to death. When the camel asks why the scorpion did it, the scorpion responds - depending on the version of the joke I've heard - either "it's my nature" or "what did you expect, it's the Middle East!").  
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Virginia News Headlines: Friday Morning

by: lowkell

Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 06:46:43 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, July 25. Also see the video of Sen. Tim Kaine making the case to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank ("let's create American jobs, let's help American businesses find customers abroad, and let's do it at no cost to the American taxpayer")

*John McCain: Arizona execution 'torture' (For once I agree with McCain.)
*Central American leaders want Washington's help with immigration crisis (And they absolutely should get it, given that we're largely responsible for the problem due to our illegal drug consumption in this country that's fueling the Central American drug wars.)
*A no-show in Ukraine ("Where is the European Union's Russia strategy?" As with America, unfortunately there are very few good options when it comes to dealing with Russia...)
*The Progressive Proposal Buried In Paul Ryan's Poverty Plan ("On criminal justice, Ryan quietly shifted his position to endorse bipartisan, progressive reform including moves to reform draconian drug sentences, and policies that ease re-entry from prison.")
*Will an Ethics Scandal-and Jimmy Carter's Grandson-Bring Georgia's GOP Governor Down? (Don't look now, Teapublicans, but Georgia's turning blue!)
*Sadly, politics as usual ("Is McDonnell guilty? Twelve of our fellow citizens will hear the evidence and tell us. But we know this much already: This will not be pretty.")
*Senate Race: Warner, Gillespie Set for First Debate This Weekend
*An Instant Classic War on Women Whiff ("There's no sexism whatsoever in attributing 'stalker-like' behavior to Comstock.")
*U.S. wants judge to compel Williams' former assistant to testify
*
*Regulators seek funds from four Justice coal mines ("Virginia regulators are moving against the Roanoke-based coal mining enterprises of Jim Justice to restore mined land at company expense because, they say, Justice isn't doing it.")
*Silver Line opening will be a boon for Northern Virginia ("Expected to bring in 100,000 new jobs")
*Metro's Silver Line 'is ready for its close-up'
*Va. 'sexting' case reignites debate over whether law is too harsh on teens ("Some push for a misdemeanor alternative to treating the practice under child pornography laws.")
*Fairfax County low-income housing plan likely to be tabled
*2 killed in campground after tornado strikes Virginia's Eastern Shore
*Survivors recount tornado that killed two on Eastern Shore
*Sunny and pleasant today; heat, humidity return this weekend

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