Sunday, December 16, 2018
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lowkell

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Sen. McEachin and Del. Pollard Press Conference on Environmental Legislation

Thanks to The Richmonder for this video, and to people like Sen. McEachin and Del. Pollard for fighting to protect Virginia's environment! The press release is on the "flip."

Rep. Jim Moran Responds to Jennifer Rubin, Other Critics on “Civil War” Comments

Rep. Jim Moran is being harshly criticized by the right wing for comments he made stating that "a lot of people in the United States don't want to be governed by an African-American, particularly one who is liberal, who wants to spend money and who wants to reach out to include everyone in our society." Moran also said that the Republican victories in mid-term elections "happened for the same reason the Civil War happened in the United States...the Southern states, the slaveholding states, didn't want to see a president who was opposed to slavery."

I emailed Rep. Moran's office for comment, and here's their response:

With nearly 1,000 identified hate groups in the U.S. and recent studies showing a majority of Americans believe racism is still widespread against African-Americans, it is no secret that our country has and continues to struggle with racial equality. The Congressman was expressing his frustration with this problem and the role it played in the last election. Rather than ignore this issue or pretend it isn't there, the Congressman believes we are better off discussing it in order to overcome it.

Rep. Moran believes that despite these pervasive problems, President Obama has the ability to make this a more unified, diverse, and stronger country.

Now, my personal belief is that the midterm election results overwhelmingly were the result of a bad economy and the natural tendency for the party in the White House to lose seats halfway through their 4-year term. What else is new? As to the question of how much the results had to do with hostility to Barack Obama because of his race, his religion (he's Christian, but a significant percentage of Republicans believe he's a Muslim), his ideology (he's clearly a mainstream Democrat, but many Republicans and Tea Party members are convinced he's a commiesocialistpinko), I don't know the answer. Of course, Obama was elected by a wide margin in 2008, and last I checked, his race didn't change since then. :) However, the 2008 electorate's composition was also quite different (many more young people, African Americans and Latinos) than the 2010 electorate (older, whiter, much more conservative).

Having said all that, for Jennifer Rubin to imply that there's no racism in this country is simply naive. Of course there's racism - there always has been and probably always will be -  although I definitely believe it's declining, especially in the younger generations. Unfortunately, Jennifer Rubin's response to Jim Moran's comments basically consisted of calling him an anti-Semite (note: I'm Jewish, and I do not in the least bit believe that Jim Moran's anti-Semitic). What purpose that serves is beyond me, although the rule of the thumb in debate is that the more you have to go ad hominem, the more you've basically acknowledged you don't have a strong argument.

Republicans Shocked – Shocked! – that Huge Tax Cuts Increase the Deficit

This pretty much sums it up regarding Republican "shock" that extending the unpaid-for, enormous Bush tax cuts would increase the deficit. Uh guys? It's called "math," ever heard of it?
More Jethro Bodineism from the Republican Party. It kind of comes down to basic math here. If you cut the revenue of the nation, and you don't cut the spending at the same time, you get a higher deficit, capisce? There is nothing radical about that, you collect less money, you have less money to spend. Kind of basic, right?

Which is why it just puts a giant spot light on the fact that as a group Republicans have as much fiscal credibility as my late Springer Spaniel. Roll Call is quoting Sen. Mark Kirk as saying:

"I think everyone is in a collective state of shock right now over the CBO numbers."

Duhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Take Action to “Protect Virginia’s mountains today”

From one of my favorite organizations, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, I encourage everyone to take action on this and to "protect Virginia's mountains today!"
In response to the EPA's crackdown on the worst impacts of mountaintop removal, the coal industry is promoting a Virginia bill designed to prevent effective enforcement of the law. Your state senator sits on the committee reviewing this bill at 9:00 am on Monday. Please take the time to ask them to oppose SB 1025. They need to hear from you today!

This bill would actually restrict state officials' authority to even consider testing or water quality monitoring to determine whether pollution from a mountaintop removal mine was causing water quality violations. And if those charged with enforcing the law aren't testing for pollution, chances are they won't find it.

As if this weren't enough, this bill would repeal the Water Control Board's authority over water pollution discharge permitting and enforcement, taking this responsibility away from the citizens on this board and giving unchecked authority to the director of the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.

More than 60 Virginia mountains and at least 150 miles of Virginia streams have been destroyed by mountaintop removal. Please click here to contact your state senator now to let them know you oppose this bill designed to let the destruction continue.

Thank you for your support,

Chelsea Harnish

Virginia Policy Coordinator, Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Sign the Petition: “End Kaplan University’s Deceptive Practices”

Courtesy of Change.org, I encourage everyone to sign this petition. Also, I'd presume that all Virginia Democrats would support this effort against the for-profit "education" industry. Even these guys. Right? :)
I'm writing you today to tell you that I stand with the group of former Kaplan University students who are urging Washington Post Chairman Donald Graham to shut down Kaplan University until he enacts meaningful changes to the way students' grievances are resolved.

More and more former Kaplan students are coming forward with horror stories about the bogus classes, surprise fees and deceptive policies they encountered as they struggled to achieve the American dream.

This massive nationwide controversy is a black mark on the name of the Washington Post. To date, the Washington Post's leadership has denied these stories and discounted their truth. As you've seen, this has only led to lawsuits, media stories and a more negative reputation for the Post, for Kaplan and the entire for-profit college industry.

To resolve the myriad complaints from students in the spirit in which they are made, Kaplan and the Washington Post must commit to creating an independent third-party office to moderate and resolve the many issues held by current students and former students.

I stand with the group of former Kaplan University Students, led by Shannon Croteau, who are demanding that admissions to Kaplan University be shut down until you end your deceptive practices.

Commonwealth Institute: Despite McDonnell’s and Bolling’s Claims, “No Progress on Jobs” in Virginia

From the Commonwealth Institute comes this new report. The bottom line? Despite Bob McDonnell's and Bill Bolling's ridiculous, exaggerated, cherry-picked claims to the contrary (also, note that the figures cited are always gross, not net, jobs), Virginia has made "no progress on jobs" over the past year since the McDonnell Administration took office. According to the report:
When we look at the average monthly job growth of the McDonnell Administration between
February and December 2010, the Commonwealth saw just 5,036 net jobs added per month. At this rate, it will take Virginia well into 2022 to dig itself out of the hole created by the Great Recession.
That's right, it will be 11 more years at this rate until Virginia gets back to where we were before the Republican Great Recession, which as we know was caused by "widespread failures in government regulation, corporate mismanagement and heedless risk-taking by Wall Street." Which raises the question: what is the McDonnell/Bolling/Cooch administration doing to strengthen government regulation and crack down on corporate mismanagement/"heedless risk-taking?" Short answer: nothing. Long answer: nothing. Instead, as we know, these guys are far too busy posturing, pursuing witch hunts, pushing 1800's-style "nullification", chatting with Steven Spielberg, and politically posturing up on Capitol Hill to spend any time on addressing the roots causes of the economic situation we find ourselves in.

With that, check out the Commonwealth Institute's press release on the "flip."

P.S. And of course, without the massive "stimulus" passed by Democrats and opposed by almost all Republicans, Virginia would be in far, far worse shape than it currently is. Same thing if we didn't have federal and "contractor" employment, which provides a stable base of prosperity for much of Virginia. On both counts, the ideologically-driven policy preferences of McDonnell/Cooch/Bolling would have severely harmed Virginia if they had had their way. Thank goodness, they didn't -- for the most part, anyway.

It’s Getting Snowy Out There


It's getting snowy in Arlington, how about in your neck of Virginia? (photo courtesy of Dennis Coyle's Facebook feed)

As far as the forecast is concerned, it looks like mostly rain south and east of Fredericksburg; anywhere from a "mix" to 6 inches of snow in a band including Fredericksburg, much of Prince William County and Fairfax County, Arlington and Alexandria; and 4-8 inches of snow to the west and north (Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Warrenton, Loudoun County, etc.). Be careful out there, and enjoy if you're a snow lover! :)

Chap Petersen: Virginia House of Delegates Considers “Secession”

Strong words from Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City).
Meanwhile, the House took a trip back in time to the 19th century yesterday with its passage of the "repeal" amendment which sets up a procedure by which states can "nullify" (my word) Federal laws, i.e. by having 2/3 of the state legislatures vote to repeal the Federal law.

The fact that this process of states' nullifying Federal laws was tested in 1831 and then re-tested in 1861 seems lost on my good friends in the House.

(To ask an obvious question -- if 2/3 of state legislatures disagree with a Federal law, why not use that clout to elect new members of Congress or a new President?)

Incidentally, and not coincidentally, the 19th century Presidents who defeated the "nullifiers" -- Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln -- are celebrated in history as two of our greatest Presidents and the fathers of the modern-day Democratic and Republican parties.

Fortunately, the shelf life of this bad idea in Senate will be about 150 minutes.

Craaaaaazy. Thanks to Chap for calling this out for what it really is - and attempt to repeat the "process of states' nullifying Federal laws [that] was tested in 1831 and then re-tested in 1861."

P.S. Chap's Ox Road South article is entitled, "Senate Promotes Exercise, House Considers Secession."

Where Did President Obama Get His 40% “Clean Energy” Number From?

In hist State of the Union speech last night, President Obama said: "by 2035, 80% of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources." The White House's detailed fact sheet on this point adds that, "Currently, 40 percent of our electricity comes from clean energy sources," and that President Obama is calling for that figure to double by 2035.

Sounds great, but where did President Obama get the 40% "clean energy" figure for current U.S. electricity production?  I mean, heck, I worked at the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) for 17 years crunching numbers, and even I'm completely confused. Let's review.

For electricity generation, EIA's stats for 2009 are here.

Coal: 1,764,486 million KWh (44.6% of total U.S. electricity generation)
Natural Gas: 930,378 million KWh (23.5%)
Nuclear: 798,745 million KWh (20.2%)
Hydro: 272,131 million KWh (6.9%)
Wind: 70,761 million KWh (1.8%)
Petroleum: 38,827 million KWh (1.0%)
Wood: 36,243 million KWh (0.9%)
Waste: 18,093 million KWh (0.5%)
Geothermal: 15,210 million KWh (0.4%)
"Other gases": 10,698 million KWh (0.3%)
Solar/PV: 808 million KWh (0.02%)
TOTAL: 3,953,111 million KWh

So...how do we get to 40% "clean energy" from these numbers?  Hydro, wind, wood, waste, geothermal and solar/photovoltaics add up to about 10.5%. Add in nuclear - highly debatable whether it counts as "clean energy" - and we get to about 31%. We're still not to 40%. So, adding in natural gas (23.5%) gets us to about 55% -- way over 40%. But of course, natural gas is a non-renewable fossil fuel, certainly not "clean energy" by almost anyone's standards. But even if you count natural gas, you still don't get the 40% figure President Obama cited; instead, you get 55%. So, what's going on here?  Got me, I'm baffled. Any ideas?

P.S. And no, "clean coal" doesn't count as "clean energy" either. If that's the case, then everything counts as "clean energy" and the term loses all meaning.

UPDATE: The only thing I can guess here is that the White House is counting "clean coal and efficient natural gas" as part of their "clean energy" 40% number. The only problem is, there isn't any "clean coal" right now, and does anyone have a clue what "efficient natural gas" means exactly?  

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