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Friday News: “My party is going batshit crazy;” Desperate Rubio, Cruz Attack Trump; “Secret Police” Bill Shelved


by Lowell

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, February 26. Also, check out the full GOP debate, if you can stand it, and if for no other reason than to see how “batshit crazy” (as Sen. Lindsey Graham put it) these people truly are.

  • Video: Republican Louisiana Sheriff Newell Normand unleashes takedown of Republicans as party of cult leaders and idiots

  • Democratic County Board Candidate Erik Gutshall Deeply Concerned with New Gun Store Opening in Lyon Park

    Arlington, VA- Democratic County Board candidate Erik Gutshall expressed unease today about a new gun store opening in the Lyon Park neighborhood and called on neighborhood residents and businesses to come together to address shared concerns.

    “Residents, working with County staff, need to speak with NOVA Armory owners and gain strong assurance that the highest safety and security standards will be met every hour of every day. “While this is a legitimate business, it is vital to ensure that we keep our residents and children safe,” Gutshall said.

    Gutshall also spoke of the need for both business owners and County government to work closely together to guarantee guns do not fall into the wrong hands.

    “Gun violence traced to a firearm purchased in Arlington County is simply and completely unacceptable.” said Gutshall. “It is our responsibility to ensure Arlington County and the gun shop exceed all reasonable standards when it comes to gun sales.”

    Gutshall noted the lack of gun safety regulations in Virginia and the potential harm that could come from pro-gun laws and sales by the new establishment.

    “Virginia has a history of relaxed gun laws and few safeguards to protect children and responsible adults,” Gutshall said. “I laud Attorney General Mark Herring for his recent efforts to ensure all Virginians are safe and to prevent those who should not have guns from owning them. I urge the Virginia General Assembly and Senate can work together to enact a comprehensive gun safety law.”

    He made clear he recognizes NOVA Armory as a legitimate business and the right of an individual to own a gun, but he emphasizes the need for greater gun safety efforts.

    Gutshall is running in the Democratic Primary for County Board on June 14. To learn more about Erik, visit his website: http://www.erik4arlington.com.

  • I’m proud of AG Mark Herring for this — thank you!!!


    ~ In its first year, the Unit worked on more than 200 matters including trainings, investigations, and prosecutions ~

    RICHMOND (February 26, 2016)-Attorney General Mark R. Herring was honored by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) during its National Justice for Animals Week for the creation of the nation’s first Attorney General’s Animal Law Unit. In its first year, the Unit has worked on more than 200 matters across the state including groundbreaking trainings, complex investigations, and animal cruelty and fighting prosecutions.

    “We formalized our work to prevent animal fighting and animal cruelty because we wanted state agencies and local law enforcement to know where they could turn for these kinds of cases, and based on the response we’ve gotten this year it’s clear there was a real need,” said Attorney General Herring. “Laws related to animal welfare and animal fighting should be strictly enforced for the sake of animals themselves and for the strength and safety of our communities since animal fighting often reveals other associated crimes like illegal gambling, illegal drugs or alcohol, or even things like assaults, domestic abuse, or illegal weapons.”

    The ALDF’s National Justice for Animals Week is held annually to raise awareness about animal abuse, recognize outstanding work by law enforcement and public safety officials, and encourage continued work to protect animals and communities from abusers. This year’s Week will highlight many of the areas that Attorney General Herring’s Animal Law Unit has been working on, including animal fighting, hoarding, and the link between violence toward animals and violence toward humans.

    “Animal cruelty cases are very complex and resource-intensive and do not always get the time and attention they deserve,” said Stephen Wells, Animal Legal Defense Fund executive director. “We applaud Attorney General Mark Herring for taking the very important step of creating the nation’s first-ever attorney general’s animal law unit, led by esteemed veteran prosecutor Michelle Welch. We’re hopeful that this tremendous team will pave the way for future animal units in attorney general’s offices nationwide!”

    In January 2015, Attorney General Herring announced the designation of the nation’s first Attorney General’s “Animal Law Unit,” a small group of current staff attorneys led by Senior Assistant Attorney General Michelle Welch, herself a previous ALDF honoree, who spend a portion of their time serving as a resource for local law enforcement and state agencies on issues involving animal welfare and animal fighting or abuse. Because of the specialized and relatively infrequent nature of cases involving animal welfare, many prosecutors and law enforcement agencies seek assistance from the Unit in effectively investigating and prosecuting these cases. The power to initiate an investigation or prosecution remains with local agencies, but the Animal Law Unit provides assistance or handles cases by request from a commonwealth’s attorney or law enforcement agency.

    In its first year, the Unit has worked on more than 200 matters, including criminal cases, trainings, and consultations. The Unit worked in state and federal court to prosecute the operators of the “Big Blue” cockfighting case involving hundreds of birds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in southwest Virginia and eastern Kentucky. Operators of the pit were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 6 to 18 months and forfeited cash and assets connected to the ring. For their work on the case, Herring and Welch were honored with the Humane Law Enforcement Award from the Humane Society of the United States.

    “This year has been really gratifying. We have helped so many local law enforcement and animal control officers as well as prosecutors throughout the Commonwealth. The sheer number of calls has really shown that the Unit is a cutting edge law enforcement tool,” said Animal Law Unit Chief Michelle Welch. “We made a real difference in alleviating the suffering of animals and built awareness about how to combat animal cruelty in all its forms. In combating animal cruelty, we have prevented further violence against humans. This next year, we hope to do even more good work providing aid to localities and trainings on the link between animal abuse and domestic violence, animal fighting and hoarding issues.”

    The Unit has also worked on multiple animal cruelty, animal fighting and animal hoarding cases and provided additional training on topics including police/animal encounters, the connection between animal abuse and domestic abuse, and even held the Attorney General’s first statewide conference on prosecuting animal fighting.

  • Southern Liberal

    After I finished watching American Idol last night, I tuned in to the GOP debate on CNN. It was a journalistic disgrace. Wolf Blitzer led the moderators and had absolutely no control. I was expecting a fist fight to break out at any moment.

    • Worse, Blitzer used right-wing talking points in asking “questions,” allowed Hugh Hewitt on stage with him, and just generally sucked as he always does.

    • Pragmatic Progressive

      I watched the whole thing. Reality show is how I would describe it. Not surprising. Our news media is now about entertainment and ratings. I would suggest tuning in to PBS for news that is more professional.

    • Rustbelt Democrat

      It’s embarrassing that we have a major political party in this country that spends their time on the world stage attacking each other instead of acting presidential.

  • I’m not a big fan of Roanoke College’s “polls,” but for the record, they’re out with a new one which finds:

    *Clinton 50%-Sanders 33% in Virginia
    *44% of Virginia Dems say they are “liberal,” with 33% saying “moderate” and 12% “conservative”
    *Only 13% of Dems are “angry” at the federal government, but only 5% are “entusiastic.”
    *77% of Dems want someone with experience as our nominee; just 13% want someone from “outside the establishment”
    *Dems overwhelmingly (74%) want a nominee who “represents my view” over “can win the presidency” (15%)
    *30% of Dems are African American, 9% “other/multi-racial” and 4% Latino

    *67% of Republicans say they are “conservative,” with just 22% saying they are “moderate.”
    *Trump leads among Republicans by a huge margin: Trump 38% – Cruz 15% – Rubio 13% – Carson 8% – Kasich 8%
    *42% of Republicans are “angry” at the federal government
    *44% feel “betrayed” by Republican politicians
    *Only 2% of Virginia Republican primary voters are African American, just 3% Latino, 4% “other/multi-racial,” which means that around 91% are white.

  • From the Virginia Senate Dems:


    Richmond, Va. — This morning, before a sparsely attended meeting of the Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services Committee, an undocketed bill that had been heard and passed by indefinitely at a previous meeting was revived and ultimately reported on a straight party line vote. Without warning, committee chairman Senator Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) reopened debate on Delegate Bob Marshall’s (R-Prince William) bill, HB481, requiring localities to detain indefinitely undocumented immigrants with a view to transferring custody to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

    Said Senator Barbara Favola (D-Arlington), “All this bill does is send a hostile message and tie localities’ hands. We all agreed last week, when we first voted on it, that this is a federal issue. These brochure bills, that do not solve a problem, hinder the ability of local government to serve constituents in the most cost effective manner possible.”

    Said Senator Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax), “This bill is just a cheap shot at Attorney General Herring who helped save our local governments from unnecessary expenses at the request of Virginia’s Sheriffs. We need to stop demagoguing immigrants and focus on measure that will truly improve public safety.”

    Said Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Donald McEachin (D-Henrico), “The lack of transparency surrounding this morning’s vote is astounding. For a closed bill to be brought back up again without warning is unacceptable. This is partisan shenanigans at its worst and I am disappointed that my Republican colleagues allowed this to happen.”

  • From the Virginia Senate Dems:


    HB 1371 would limit localities’ ability to set pay, benefit requirements in public contracts

    RICHMOND — This afternoon, the Senate passed Del. Jackson Miller’s (R – Manassas) HB 1371 in a party-line vote. The bill would revoke localities’ existing authority to require that contractors offer wages or benefits that exceed the minimum levels laid out in state and federal law.

    Said Sen. Adam Ebbin (D – Alexandria), “At a time when Virginia seeks to create good jobs through economic incentives, we should not straitjacket localities by limiting their ability to ensure that local contracting jobs are fairly compensated. This partisan bill would hold them back.”

    Said Sen. Dave Marsden (D – Fairfax), “Localities have the right to require that contractors pay an appropriate wage. Appropriate wages mean quality work; quality work is what drives good public service, and to count on all contractors to do the right thing as opposed to lowballing contracts to provide the least cost possible is horrendous public policy.”

  • Video: If there was any doubt that Chris Christie was an unscrupulous scumbag, there’s none now.


  • From DPVA:

    Gillespie and Wittman: Strategic Silence Leading up to Super Tuesday

    With just four days to go until Super Tuesday, likely Gubernatorial candidates Ed Gillespie and Rep. Rob Wittman refuse to tell Virginians who they’ll support for President in fear that it will damage their prospects in 2017. Meanwhile, candidates Ken Cuccinelli and Corey Stewart proudly stump for Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, respectively.

    So what’s behind this strategic silence? Politics, of course, as noted by Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Jeff Schapiro:

    “Two of the party’s candidates for the 2017 gubernatorial nomination, Washington fixer Ed Gillespie and 1st District U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, are silent on their choices. Gillespie says public neutrality now means it’s easier later to work for the nominee. But Gillespie’s deep roots in the Establishments mean he’s likely still suspect among tea party and libertarian Republicans….”

    The kicker? “Washington fixer” Ed Gillespie has done several media appearances talking about the Republican candidates’ performances, yet he refuses to tell Virginians where he stands.

    “Being Governor of Virginia means being a leader, and that requires honesty about where you stand,” said Emily Bolton of the Democratic Party of Virginia. “Virginians deserve to know who Ed Gillespie and Rob Wittman support for President. Gillespie and Wittman are Washington elites who run in the same circle as these candidates, so why do they refuse to tell Virginians who they support?”


    Ken Cuccinelli: Endorsed Ted Cruz

    Corey Stewart: Endorsed Donald Trump

    Ed Gillespie: ?

    Rob Wittman: ?

  • Governor McAuliffe Creates Task Force to Address Zika Virus

    ~State and local officials will coordinate on mosquito surveillance and control programs~

    RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced the creation of a statewide task force to guide preparedness initiatives related to Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness. Led by the Virginia Department of Health, the group will be responsible for coordinating with Virginia localities on mosquito surveillance and control programs prior to the start of mosquito season on May 1.

    “Prevention and mitigation are our best strategies for keeping Virginians healthy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The Virginia Department of Health’s mission to prevent the spread of infectious diseases makes it well-suited to lead this multi-agency task force. The collaboration of agencies statewide will be invaluable as we prepare for the coming mosquito season.”

    Although Zika virus illness is usually mild, and severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises there is a possible association between Zika virus disease in pregnant women and subsequent birth defects.

    “While individuals should take their own precautions against mosquito-borne illnesses, it’s important that state agencies, health care facilities and others collaborate to make sure we understand exactly what impact Zika might have on the Commonwealth and how we can work together to minimize it,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel.

    Currently, travel to Zika-affected areas outside of the continental United States is the primary way Virginians are being exposed to Zika virus. CDC travelers’ health advisories are a valuable resource for reducing the risk of bringing Zika to Virginia.

    “At this time, the risk of Zika virus being spread by mosquitoes in Virginia is low, but during mosquito season, mosquitoes do carry other viruses, like West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis virus,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa J. Levine. “We should all get in the habit of taking proactive measures to prevent mosquito-breeding spots and mosquito bites.”

    In addition to the Department of Health and the Governor’s Office, the statewide Zika virus task force includes officials from the Department of Emergency Management, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services, Department of General Services, Department of Education, Department of Health Professions, Department of Conservation and Recreation, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Department of Forestry, Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as well as federal and local authorities, hospitals, blood supply services, and mosquito control organizations.

    For more information about Zika virus, visit http://www.vdh.virginia.gov.

  • Video: Rubio mocks Trump’s typo-ridden tweets, says “friends do not let friends vote for con artists.” (starting at 5 minutes in this video)


  • Video: Virginia Del. Laschrecse Aird Honors Black History Month (2/26/16)



    Richmond, VA – Today, Governor McAuliffe signed into law three pieces of legislation that make up his gun deal with the National Rifle Association and Republican lawmakers. These new laws include: (1) concealed carry reciprocity agreements with all 49 states, (2) a prohibition on possession of guns for the subjects of permanent protective orders, and (3) presence of Virginia State Police at all Virginia guns shows to perform voluntary background checks. This action stems from Attorney General Herring’s decision to revoke reciprocity agreements with 25 states that failed to meet standards of concealed carry laid out in Virginia code.

    The new reciprocity law will allow individuals with concealed carry permits from all 49 states to carry guns in Virginia. Unfortunately, many of these other states allow people who are ineligible under Virginia law to obtain a permit, including stalkers and domestic abusers. The law would also allow Virginians who are not eligible for a permit to circumvent the law by obtaining a permit from another state and carry in the Commonwealth. In addition to the public safety concerns, this new approach sends a terrible message that Virginia is unwilling to enforce its own laws.

    The new domestic violence law is a step in the right direction but leaves many issues to be worked out by courts and law enforcement. These issues include to whom the subject of a restraining order can lawfully transfer a firearm and how will courts take notice that the transfer has occurred.

    We believe that the recently published report, “Firearm Removal/Retrieval in Cases of Domestic Violence” published by the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy and Prosecutors Against Gun Violence can serve as a guide to ensure smooth implementation of the law. Additionally, we look forward to working with our friends in the Virginia General Assembly to extend the firearm prohibition to the other nine types of protective orders that can be issued in Virginia.

    “We obviously were disappointed with the governor because we thought he could have made a much better deal,” said Executive Director Josh Horwitz. “But now that the deal is finalized, we intend to take lemons and make lemonade by working with all stakeholders to ensure that the domestic violence law is vigorously implemented and form the basis for future policy change in the Commonwealth.”


    Governor Signs Legislative Package that Tarnishes His Gun Safety Legacy over Objections from Gun Violence Survivors, Gun Safety Advocates

    Legislation Would Require Recognition of Concealed Carry Permits from Every State; Domestic Violence Bill Lacks Explicit Language Requiring Domestic Abusers to Surrender their Guns

    NEW YORK – As Governor Terry McAuliffe today signed into law a dangerous legislative package he negotiated with the NRA, thus sullying his legacy as a gun safety champion, Everytown for Gun Safety and the Everytown Survivor Network today responded to the legislation’s enactment.

    Senate Bill 610 and House Bill 1163 opens Virginia’s doors to people with concealed carry permits from every state that offers them. Most other states have weaker standards for concealed carry permits than Virginia does – and this bill allows dangerous criminals and people with no safety training to carry hidden, loaded weapons in public in the Commonwealth. Additionally, the measure also makes it easier for Virginians to end-run Commonwealth gun safety laws by getting permits from states with virtually non-existent standards. A fact sheet on SB 610/HB 1163 is available here.

    What’s more, Senate Bill 49 and House Bill 1391, while aiming to keep victims of domestic abuse safe, leave a dangerous loophole intact by omitting language that would explicitly require domestic abusers to actually surrender their firearms and setting forth a process for surrender. A fact sheet on SB 49 and HB 1391 is available here.

    Since Governor McAuliffe announced his deal in January, the Everytown Survivor Network and the Virginia chapter of Moms Demand Action, along with partners CREDO and CeaseFirePA, collected the more than 3,000 signatures from Virginians that piggybacked on an open letter that 20 Virginia gun violence survivors sent to McAuliffe (available here) stating that “this deal is a dangerous rollback that puts public safety at risk” and asking him to “reconsider and continue to be a leader in Virginia on this important issue.” Additionally, the governor received more than 1,000 calls and postcards signed by nearly 29,000 people in opposition to the deal. The groups also ran social media and print ads urging the governor to reconsider the deal.


    “Governor McAuliffe cut a backroom deal with the NRA. It betrays both gun violence survivors and gun safety advocates and endangers the safety of Virginians. We expected more from Governor McAuliffe – and we will continue pressing him to stand up for the 91 Americans a day killed by gun violence and hundreds more who are injured.”


    “I am beyond disappointed that Governor McAuliffe, whom I consider a friend, has abandoned his standing as a gun-safety champion to strike a political deal with the gun lobby – and that he is signing this legislation on the six-month anniversary of my daughter Alison’s death. I understand that politics is about compromise. But it is baffling that someone like Governor McAuliffe, who has a reputation as a great deal maker, accepted a deal that so many have described as a giveaway to the gun lobby. Virginians will be less safe if we open our doors to concealed carry permit-holders from states with weak laws. Gun violence prevention is a marathon, not a sprint, and I will continue fighting for stronger gun laws.”