Thursday, March 22, 2018
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Bacon’s Rebellion on “Tobacco Patch Corruption”

Bacon's Rebellion has an interesting discussion on corruption at the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.  It's yet another example of "good government," Republican style, this time the Jim "Drove Virginia Into a Ditch" Gilmore administration. Heckuva job!
John W. Forbes II, state secretary of finance under former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal wire fraud charges. It is by far the biggest scandal involving a state cabinet-level official in years.

The case also raises questions about a state entity that is supposed to use money obtained in a massive 1998 lawsuit settlement against four major tobacco companies for the public good.

Also, see Waldo Jaquith for commentary on this issue, including an important point: "That's our money that was stolen by our secretary of finance."

By the way, Del. Terry Kilgore (R-Scott) - 2005 Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore's brother - is now the commission's chairman. In addition, I'm told that Jerry Kilgore's wife was the head of the commission when it was first created. Maybe they should rename this the Kilgore/Gilmore Good Government Commission?  Heh.

Photo credit: Chris Starnes/LENOWISCO PDC

A Reality Check on Matt Yglesias’ “Reality Check”

Over at ThinkProgress, Matt Yglesias has a "Reality Check" for progressives who believe that Democrats are "'bad' at electoral politics." To the contrary, Yglesias argues, Democrats have won the popular vote for president 4 times since 1980 (the same as the Republicans), have "controlled the House for 18 out of those 30 years, and controlled the Senate for 14 out of 30 years."  According to Yglesias, "None of that sounds to me like a political party that's having trouble persuading people to vote for it."

In short, according to Matt Yglesias, Democrats are basically doing fine, the implication being that there's little (if any) need to fix their "problems" (since they don't really have any), to strengthen their messaging/narrative skills (which Yglesias seems to argue are perfectly adequate), etc. Well, sorry, but I don't buy it.  Instead, here's my own "reality check" on Matt Yglesias' "Reality Check."

First off, as one of Matt Yglesias' readers (correctly) points out:

Washington Post Columnists Score High on “Hack Thirty” List

Congratulations to the Washington Kaplan Post, whose "columnists" (using the word very loosely) score impressively high on Salon Magazine's "Hack Thirty" list.  Thus, out of the top 11 "worst columnists and cable news commentators America has to offer," the Washington Kaplan Post scores 4 "columnists" - Richard Cohen (#1), David Broder (#4), Marc Thiessen (#6) and George Will (#11).  Why do these three rank so high as "hacks," according to Salon?  Here's why.

*Richard Cohen: "Awful attempts at humor, clueless sexism, shameless use of lazy Op-Ed clichés, warmongering, generally being The Worst." I mean, who actually reads this guy? Anyone? Apparently, it's that huge audience of people out there who enjoy the musings of "a simplistic old hack who believes his common prejudices to be politically incorrect truths and his Beltway conventional wisdom to be bracing political insight." Sounds great, huh?  Well, maybe not so much...

*David Broder: "Radical centrism, repetition of conventional wisdom, pathological need to demonstrate that 'both sides do it,' hatred of partisanship/democracy." For Broder's latest piece of complete drivel, arguing that Lisa Murkowski's victory in Alaska proves that the last election was all about bipartisanship, centrism ("radical" or otherwise), blah blah blah.  click here. Or, think better of it and don't, you'll be better off for having not read David Broder's utter drivel.

*Marc Thiessen: "As a person with a functioning moral compass, I'm outraged to see Thiessen become a paid employee of one of the nation's most prominent newspapers. As a reader, I'm outraged that they couldn't find a torture enthusiast who can actually turn a phrase."

*George Will: "Dishonesty, feints toward 'reasonableness' while remaining doctrinaire Republican, repetition, hypocrisy." In addition, Will "lies about climate change, just because lying about it is what Republicans are supposed to do, and instead of removing Will from their stable of columnists -- or even correcting his columns -- the Washington Post just publishes other columns pointing out that Will lied, thus presenting the reader with 'both sides' of the issue."

So, 4 out of the top 11 top "hacks" in America reside at the Washington Kaplan Post - great stuff, huh? But hey, at least the Washington Kaplan Post does great investigative journalism on a regular basis. Oh wait, that function is being outsourced to non-profits? Well, at least it has superb coverage of Virginia and Maryland. Oh wait, it doesn't in the least bit? Well, at least it has a great Sunday magazine?  Oh wait, you mean it actually prints pathetically fawning cover stories on Ken Kookinelli in addition to the ever-fascinating "Date Lab"?  But, but, but...uh, the Post still has a great sports section, right? Actually, that's probably the paper's strongest section, although a few more losses like this one and that may no longer be the case.

In the meantime, though, congratulations once again to the Washington Kaplan Post for its superb showing in Salon Magazine's "Hack Thirty" ranking. And that's not even counting Charles "Sacrilege at Ground Zero" Krauthammer, who somehow managed to avoid Salon's list...

Imagine If Virginia Had an Attorney General Like Kamala Harris?

Yesterday, in California, the election for Attorney General was finally settled, with Democrat Kamala Harris defeating pragmatic/moderate Republican (what a concept!) Steve Cooley by about 51,500 votes. That completes a Democratic sweep of statewide offices in California, countering the pro-Teapublican trend we saw nationwide, and of course here in Virginia, this past election day.

I was curious about Kamala Harris, so I checked out her website's issues page. As a Virginia-focused blogger, what struck me the most was the stark contrast between what Harris plans to do as Attorney General of her state, and what our pathetic excuse for an Attorney General -- divisive, extremist, homophobic, anti-environment wackjob Ken Kookinelli -- is doing here in Virginia.  I mean, just imagine if our state's Attorney General stood for stuff like this:

*"Kamala Harris has been an early and ardent supporter of marriage equality."
*"Kamala Harris is commited to protecting a woman's right to make determinations about health decisions."
*"As Attorney General, Kamala Harris will use the powers of the office to protect our environment", including "pioneering state efforts to both mitigate and adapt to the myriad environmental threats posed by climate change."
*" She has created new prosecution units focused on child assault, public integrity and environmental crimes, and has taken on perpetrators of financial crimes, mortgage fraud, identity theft and elder abuse."

Now, that is what a real Attorney General (other examples are Richard Blumenthal in Connecticut and Douglas Gansler in Maryland) can do, unlike the national laughingstock - and rightly so - who holds the office in Virginia right now. Just imagine...

P.S. Although even cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs Cooch was able to figure out that Corey Stewart's "Rule of Law" resolution is a poorly-written, redundant, unconstitutional (in parts at least) joke.

President Obama: “Giving Thanks for Those Who Serve”

"The President expresses gratitude to America's military men and women and their families, and discusses the steps his administration is taking to help create jobs so that next Thanksgiving, Americans can give thanks for a stronger economy."

Darn, I Should Have Gotten a “Mom’s Apple Pie!”

As Homer Simpson might say, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmPIE. Happy Thanksgiving, and enjoy the pie! :)

Tom DeLay Convicted by Texas Jury, Thank You Ronnie Earle

The following, cross-posted from The Agonist, is from my friend and co-author Nate Wilcox, who wrote extensively about Tom DeLay, Ronnie Earle, Richard Morrison, and Kelly Fero in our book Netroots Rising. "Sweet vindication" is right! Now, I just hope DeLay actually goes to prison and spends a long time there for all the nasty, horrible s*** he did. How do you spell evil? T-O-M-D-E-L-A-Y.
Six years ago Tom DeLay was publicly crowing about the Republican "permanent majority". Seven years ago he told a man who asked him to put out a cigar, "I AM the federal government."

Today a jury of his peers has convicted him of felony money laundering.

The Department of Justice, despite having convicted criminal-lobbyist turned informer Jack Abramoff set up with a desk of his own at the DoJ, dropped the investigation of DeLay's many many crimes three years ago.

But one Texas prosecutor with a naive sense of justice pressed charges against DeLay in a much tougher case and today a tiny bit of justice was done. Here's to you Ronnie Earle! Well done and at great personal cost.

Stunner: Cooch’s Office Rips Corey Stewart’s “Rule of Law” Resolution to Shreds

Earlier today, I was forwarded a copy of an analysis by the Virginia Attorney General's Office on Prince William County's anti-"illegal immigrant," so-called "Rule of Law" resolution. What I expected to see was a bunch of "absolutely correct" and "brilliant legal reasoning!" from our right-wing nutjob Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli. Instead, what Cooch's office issued was the exact opposite - a blistering critique that essentially rips PW County chair Corey Stewart and Company's "Rule of Law" resolution to shreds.

See here for a side-by-side matrix that quotes on the left from Corey Stewart's "Rule of Law" resolution, and states on the right what Cooch's office thinks of it. I asked a smart Virginia Democratic attorney friend of mine what he thought, and here's what he wrote:

Basically, the OAG analysis systematically and methodically tears to shreds what Stewart is proposing--for different kinds of reasons. Sometimes, the OAG tears it to shreds because the powers it is trying to grant already exist under Virginia or Federal law. (As a substantive policy matter, the fact that the powers already exist may not be a good thing, but OAG is pointing out that Stewart is so dumb he didn't realize these powers already exist.)

Sometimes, the OAG tears it because the powers it is trying to grant risk being struck down as violations of the U.S. Constitution. (Again, making Stewart look dumb for sponsoring something that raises such problems.)

So, my take is that Cooch views Stewart as a political rival whom he doesn't want to see grow any more in stature, and so Cooch is using his OAG office to kneecap Stewart.

I agree 100% with that brilliant analysis, so I'll just add a few choice quotes (on the "flip") from Cooch's opinion, and leave it at that. Enjoy the shredding! (also, see Cooch's letter to Del. Lingamfelter and Lingamfelter's letter to Corey Stewart.)
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