Thursday, January 18, 2018
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lowkell

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Can We “Earmark” Idiocy?

The New York Times nails it on the ridiculous pseudo-"issue" known as "earmarks."
Millions of Americans are out of work. The government is running a $1.3 trillion deficit. We just had an election that sent at least one clear signal: cut that deficit. So what is Washington talking about? Earmarks, the $15.9 billion in projects designated by Congress in the last fiscal year for favorite projects. That's less than half of 1 percent of federal spending.

Blaming earmarks for the country's fiscal ills has been a favorite Tea Party talking point and a way to avoid a more serious discussion of the real mix of difficult spending cuts and tax increases that are the only way to dig the country out of this hole...

Again, let's make this absolutely clear: Earmarks. Are. Utterly. Irrelevant.  Let's all get a grip and focus on what really matters - ratifying the new START treaty, passing the DREAM Act, deciding what to do with the utterly unaffordable Bush tax cuts (particularly for the wealthiest Americans - there's absolutely ZERO rationale or excuse to extend those indefinitely), passing clean energy legislation (how about a mandatory, national Renewable Energy Standard? slashing subsidies for fossil fuels and putting that money into energy efficiency?), putting a price on carbon (as simple CO2 tax, with the money rebated directly to the American people, would do the trick for me), etc., etc?  But earmarks? We're discussing freakin' earmarks?  Ladies and gentlemen, we have now officially reached Michelle Bachmann/Glenn Beck levels of idiocy. That is all.

New PPP Poll: “Virginia’s 13 electoral votes still in Obama’s column”

Public Policy Polling gives us some encouraging news for a change!
...PPP's first look at [Virginia] almost two years from the election suggests otherwise. Just three weeks following the low point of his presidency, Obama leads all four current Republican frontrunners by healthy margins, and has a positive job approval rating in the Old Dominion.

PPP's final 2008 poll of the state which nailed the actual 53-46 result reflected an electorate in which Democrats outnumbered Republicans by five points. This electorate, at D +1, is more evenly split, but still gives the president a 50-45 job performance mark, better than PPP has measured him almost anywhere in 2010.

Obama posts his strongest leads against Sarah Palin (52-41) and Newt Gingrich (51-40), with smaller advantages over Mike Huckabee (49-44) and Mitt Romney (48-43). The president has at least 91% of his party's votes against any of the Republicans, with no more than 5% defecting...

Hey, it's 2 years out and only one poll (albeit by a highly accurate polling outfit), but I'll take it! By the way, Gallup's current Obama job approval numbers are 48%-45%. That's slightly higher, by the way, than both Clinton's and Reagan's job approval numbers at the same point in their presidencies.  

Lisa Murkowski Slams Sarah Palin, Says She Wants Obama to Succeed


Have we finally found ourselves a sane, "moderate" Republican to join Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins  (if they are, indeed, still in the "moderate" camp) in the Senate?  Watch this video and decide for yourself.  

Peter Rousselot: “Your Feedback, Our Party”

Peter Rousselot, who is running for Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) chair, just sent out a press release about the response he's been getting from Central Committee members and Local Party Chairs as he calls and meets with people around Virginia.  Here's a sampling of suggestions, all of which he pledges "to adopt if you elect me as the next DPVA Chair." Go Peter! (bolding added by me for emphasis)

"DPVA must set at least minimum expectations for local Chairs. If a Chair can't even hold local committee meetings, then DPVA needs to step up and do something to enable Democrats in that locality to realize their full potential."

"DPVA has got to help local committees recruit and field candidates in elections that are not targeted by the Senate and House caucus leadership."

"As a local Chair in Southside, I need help in recruiting younger Democrats to get involved with my local committee. DPVA should provide me with tips and suggestions to help me get that done."

"In order to inspire Democrats at the local level, DPVA has got to communicate a vision that it stands for something more than just electing more Democrats to office."

"I understand you speak Spanish fluently. We need someone like you as the next DPVA Chair to help our local committee recruit Democratic Latino activists and candidates from among our growing Latino population."

"Our new Chair needs to be someone who can inspire the people in the back room to believe that the Chair understands what they are facing."

"With the tremendous job of re-building that DPVA confronts, we need a Chair who can commit to devote full time to the job."

That last point is crucial. Whatever you think of Brian Moran's "day job" as a lobbyist for the for-profit "education" industry, the fact is that it's a full-time position which will leave very little time for Moran to work on DPVA issues. After crushing losses in 2009 and 2010, the last thing we need is a part-time chair. Instead, we need someone who will dedicate themselves 24/7/365 to the job so that we keep control of the state Senate in 2011 and then fight hard in 2012 for Jim Webb, Barack Obama, and our Congressional candidates. Without that effort, I fear that we'll just be "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." And you know what that's a definition for.

Redskins-Eagles: Anatomy of a Disaster


Also, see Thomas Boswell's superb column, which concludes, "No amount of money can convince the Redskins of what should be obvious: they aren't ready to go picking fights with the Eagles. That day may come sometime. But not yet. And not close."  You can say that again!

P.S. Since this is a progressive political blog, and also to help kick off a conversation, any thoughts on coach Mike Shanahan and the guys who picked him, Republicans Dan Snyder and Bruce "Felix Macacawitz's Brother" Allen?

Whipple Clips Dozen: Tuesday Morning

Thanks to Tom Whipple for the Tuesday "Clips."

1. MCDONNELL SPENDS THE WEEK IN CALIFORNIA, COLORADO
2. CUCCINELLI AGREES DMV CAN REFUSE FEDERAL PERMIT
7. REPUBLICANS WILL SELECT NOMINEES FOR LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS NOV. 23
8. FIFTH GOP CANDIDATE VIES FOR STATE SENATE SEAT
10. MCDONNELL CALLS SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS FOR JAN. 11
13. VA. CRIME PANEL WEIGHS BROADER USE OF DNA TESTS
18. STATE SENATOR AMONG LAWMAKERS SEEKING CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION
19. MCEACHIN INTERFAITH LEGISLATOR OF THE YEAR
22. NORTHROP GRUMMAN SHIPYARD LAYS OFF 378 WORKERS AT NEWPORT NEWS SHIPBUILDING
35. TRANSIT PLAN ENVISIONS A MIX OF FERRIES, RAIL, BUSES
37. MEGABUS TO MAKE D.C. ITS 5TH HUB, WITH 10 NEW ROUTES
40. HUNDREDS RALLY AGAINST WESTBORO AT WOODBRIDGE HIGH SCHOOL

NOTE: Just an FYI -- I have not and will not include any items from (or link to) "Virginia Statehouse News" (VSN) in the "Clips," as VSN is not a legitimate news outlet in any way, shape or form. For more on this right-wing "astroturf" sham, see here.

The long and short of it is that the Virginia Statehouse News website is pretty transparently a partisan website with a conservative agenda, and it should be read that way--if it is read at all. People--journalists and bloggers--who cite the Virginia Statehouse News as if it were really a non-partisan news organization are really being fooled into repeating Republican and Tea Party agitprop material. Democrats need to treat this site as what it is: an opposition site that is seeking to provoke mistakes and misquotes it can exploit to benefit the conservative movement and the Republican Party.
By the way, the fact that the Washington Kaplan Post does link to VNS really says it all about that "newspaper" as well.

“The Climate War” and Why Rick Boucher Lost His Election

I'm reading a fascinating book by Eric Pooley, "The Climate War", described in the book's blurb as a "behind-the-scenes" look at "an American civil war in which trillions of dollars and the fate of the planet are at stake." I'll give you my theory regarding one of the main reasons why Boucher lost his reelection, as well as reaction to that theory by Eric Pooley and several "plugged-in" 9th CD residents, at the end of this  (very long) article. But first, here are some excerpts from the book that help explain Boucher's role in crafting "cap and trade," aka, Waxman-Markey, aka, H.R. 2454: American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

For starters, here's a passage that explains where Boucher was coming from on this issue.

Boucher had concerns of his own. Coal was the biggest industry in his district and produced 80 percent of its power.  People in his district had voted for McCain, and not because they believed in global warming. They tended to think it was a hoax, but Boucher had studied the issue and disagreed. He believed that if coal was going to have a future, it had to find a way to capture and store CO2. By making that happen, legislation could usher in a new golden age for coal. He had to make sure Waxman-Markey became that bill, then persuade the coal and power industries to back it. If he did that, his district would come along. It had reelected him twelve times.
So, right there in a nutshell is Boucher's thinking on this bill, and it certainly wasn't one that would make an environmentalist like myself particularly happy. But, as Pooley writes, Boucher "had done painstaking work on how to structure a cap-and-trade program so it wouldn't punish industry or consumers." In the end, and from my view this is morally reprehensible, "If it came to choosing between the future of the planet and the future of coal, he would choose coal."

Which is exactly what Boucher did on this legislation, working closely with coal and coal-fired power industry titans like Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers. Among other things, what Boucher worked on was ensuring that "existing coal-fired power plants - and plants that were under construction - would be 'grandfathered' in and not subject to the new carbon standards (though they would be bound by the new economy-wide cap)." Boucher got that agreement "early", then proceeded to work on other aspects of the legislation so that the coal and coal-fired power industry folks would be happy.  

Become a Citizen Sponsor of Senator McEachin’s Fairness and Justice Act

Great idea by Donald McEachin.
If you believe that all Virginians should have equal opportunity, fairness and justice, please become a citizen-sponsor of Senator Donald McEachin's non-discrimination bill for the upcoming General Assembly Session in January.

Let's show the Members of the General Assembly how many people believe discrimination is wrong and should be outlawed in Virginia.

I just signed up, how about you?

CNN Poll: Only 38% Disapprove of Obama Because He’s “Too Liberal”

Fascinating poll results from CNN. In particular, I enjoyed the question about whether or not you approve of President Obama's job performance, and if you disapprove, whether it's because he's "too liberal" or "not liberal enough."

The results: 48% approve of Obama, 38% disapprove of Obama because he's "too liberal," 9% disapprove of Obama because he's "not liberal enough", and 3% disapprove but aren't sure whether it's because he's "too liberal" or "not liberal enough." The bottom line here is that only 38% of Americans disapprove of Obama because he's "too liberal." There's also the 3% who aren't sure why they disapprove of Obama. On the other side are 48% who approve of Obama and 9% who disapprove because he's "not liberal enough." That adds up to a potential 57% approval rating if Obama would push harder for things like the public option, clean energy and climate legislation, the end of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," card check, immigration reform, etc.

So, given these poll results - not to mention what constitutes good public policy - which direction should Obama move at this point, left or right? Based on these poll numbers, it doesn't appear that moving right will help him much in the polls, while moving left could pick up some support and put him nicely over 50%. Which makes it all the more puzzling to see Obama apparently tilting towards the right, as opposed to fighting the Republicans and standing up for Democratic, "liberal," and/or "progressive" ideals. Weird.

P.S. Another interesting finding of this poll is that the Republican Party continues to be slightly less popular than the Democratic Party (46%-48% for Democrats, 43%-48% for Republicans). Also, only 17% of Americans believe the recent elections were a "mandate for Republicans." So, again, what do Democrats lose by sticking to their guns on health care, clean energy and environment, etc?

UPDATE: Jed Lewison at Daily Kos sees it the same way.

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