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Monday, August 20, 2018
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Michelle Obama Speaks to GWU Graduates: “Yes, you can.”

Michelle Obama's commencement address, delivered this morning at GWU, begins just after the 55-minute mark. The full transcript is here.  For now, a short excerpt which contains excellent advice:
You understand things that perhaps your parents and I even don't always have to consider when our world was still separated by walls of concrete and communication.

That we are no longer isolated from what happens on the other side of the world. That it's in our best interest to look beyond our immediate self-interest, and look out for one another globally. That so many of today's challenges are borderless, from the economy to terrorism to climate change, and that solving those problems demands cooperation with others. And more than any other generation, yours is fully convinced that you're uniquely equipped to solve those challenges. You believe that you can change your communities and change the world. And you know what, I think you're right. Yes, you can.

So today, graduates, I have one more request to make of you, one more challenge, and that is: Keep going. Keep giving. Keep engaging.

I'm asking you to take what you've learned here and embrace the full responsibilities that a degree from an institution like GW gives you. I'm asking your generation to be America's face to the world. It will make the world safer, it will make America stronger, and it will make you more competitive.

Good News On the Gulf of Mexico Oil Disaster, But…

It's good news (at least, we all hope!) that "BP succeeded on Sunday in its second attempt at inserting a new tube into its damaged oil pipe that has been gushing oil from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico for three and a half weeks."  Still, even if this latest "fix" actually works for more than a few minutes/hours/days, this situation remains a complete, unmitigated disaster for Gulf of Mexico, as well as for everyone who lives and works along the Gulf coast. In addition, it is important to point out that, even when BP manages to stop this oil gusher, the effects will linger, most likely for years to come.  For more on that, see "Oil spill imperils an unseen world at the bottom of the gulf", "Huge oil plumes found under Gulf as BP struggles", and "Natural Gas Leak 3000 Times Worse Than Oil".

I strongly recommend that Bob McDonnell and others in the "drill baby drill" crowd read this material with an open mind (if that's possible with these lunkheads) and reconsider their uncritical, reckless, whole-hog, mindless support for drilling off Virginia's coast. At the minimum, the Gulf of Mexico disaster should make McDonnell et al. think long and hard about the potential costs (huge) and benefits (minimal) of drilling a few miles from Virginia Beach, particularly in relation to other options like energy efficiency and offshore wind power.  It should make them think long and hard, but knowing these people, it probably won't, unfortunately.

Virginia Democrats Discover a Winning Game Plan for 2010?

It looks like Virginia Democrats may have found a winning political game plan for 2010.
Although Boucher didn't mention his opponents, a number of other state Democrats -- House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong of Henry County, and Virginia Sens. Creigh Deeds of Bath County, John Edwards of Roanoke and Roscoe Reynolds of Henry County -- took shots at Griffith, as well as at other state Republican leaders including Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

As much as Republicans have tried to pair Boucher with Obama, Armstrong and the three Democratic senators tied Griffith to McDonnell and Cuccinelli, who have drawn national attention -- much of it negative -- since taking office earlier this year.

The four also assaulted Griffith's record in the House of Delegates, painting him as the leader of a Republican majority that's cut education and resisted efforts to restrict electricity rates.

There, in a nutshell, is how Virginia Democrats may be able to stem the "Tea Party" tide and hang on in 2010. Just as we tied Jerry Kilgore, George Allen and John McCain to the unpopular George W. Bush, the strategy this year apparently is to tie Republican Congressional candidates to the GOP's dynamic duo of derangement, Bob "Pat Robertson's Manchuriacn Candidate" McDonnell and Ken Kook-inelli. The beauty of this strategy is that McDonnell and Kook-inelli are the gifts that keep on giving, with new insanity - covering Virtus' bosom, launching a medieval witch hunt against academic freedom at UVA, working to make it easier to discriminate against gays and lesbians, saying that slavery is not "significant" enough to be included in a "Confederate History Month" proclamation, dabbling in "birtherism," naming a guy who defrauded another states' pension funds to head a panel on "reforming" Virginia state government - almost every day.  Combined with an improving economy and better poll numbers for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party, maybe 2010 won't be such a bad year, politically speaking, after all?

P.S. Democrats also might want to tie Republicans to craziness like this.

UPDATE: On a related note, I strongly recommend that you read "Tamara Dietrich: Cuccinelli's sin against climate science". It concludes, "...here in Cuccinelli's new Unenlightenment, this Age of Unreason, a neo-witch hunt fits right in. Pour on the kerosene, and let the flames begin."

Darth McCain: Complete the Danged Death Star…Er, Fence

Still hard to believe this guy used to be a (seemingly) moderate, "maverick," possibly even Teddy Roosevelt-style Republican. Not since he teamed up with Wolf Killa from Wasilla!

Polls Looking Up For the Democrats

I'm taking this cautiously and skeptically; still, I like the looks of these polls!

1. According to Political Wire, "A new Associated Press-GfK poll shows Democrats now leading the generic congressional ballot, 45% to 40%, a reversal from last month when Republicans led by three points."

2. Gallup now has President Obama's approval rating at the highest in three months, at 52%-41% (+11 points). We'll see if it can hold at that level of increase further in coming weeks and months. I'm hoping Obama can reach 60% or so by the fall. If he does, Democrats will be in much better shape come November than they appear to be now.

3. Research 2000 now has President Obama's favorable/unfavorable rating at 55%-40% (+15 points), with the "right track/wrong track" reading now at the highest level since July 9, 2009. Also, the voter intensity gap between Republicans and Democrats "narrowed noticeably this week," to just 7 points (71%-64%). Finally, 52% of Americans now say they'd be more likely to vote for a candidate "who supports and will work to improve the new health care reform law", while just 41% say they prefer "a candidate who will work to repeal it completely."

The bottom line is this: if the economy keeps improving, and specifically if it keeps adding jobs at the rate we saw last month, then people will feel better about the country's direction and more likely to keep incumbents in office. On the other hand, if the economy heads in the wrong direction between now and this fall, then I'd say we're looking at a bad November for Democrats.  Other than that, Democrats need to be out there telling voters what historians already know: "President Obama's legislative record during a crisis-ridden presidency already puts him in a league with such consequential presidents as Lyndon Johnson and Franklin Roosevelt." That seems like the type of news you'd want to share with everybody! :)

UVA Fights Back?

Let's hope so.
The University of Virginia has hired the big law firm Hogan Lovells to help the school evaluate its options in responding to a civil subpoena from the state attorney general seeking documents related to the work of a former professor. It's the strongest indication yet that the school is seriously considering fighting the subpoena in court, as various academic groups have urged.

"The University and its Board of Visitors believe it is important to respond to this [civil information demand]," said John O. Wynne, the Rector of the university, in his first statement on the issue. "Research universities must defend the privilege of academic freedom in the creation of new knowledge. Hogan Lovells will help us to explore the appropriate options for a response."

In short, it's crucial - for academic freedom at UVA, throughout Virginia and America - that UVA fight back against Ken Kookinelli's ideologically-driven witch hunt against Galileo Galilei climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann.  Message to UVA: if you need any financial help to do so, just let us know and we in the Virginia progressive blogosphere will do what we can to raise the money.  Thank you, and to paraphrase Jim Webb's favorite song, "don't back down!"

Repower America Gulf Coast Oil Spill Ad

The takeaway message from this excellent ad? "The only way to end catastrophic oil spills is to end our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels."

Obama: GOP “drove the car into the ditch…now they want the keys back!”

Nailed it.
After they drove the car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want the keys back. No! You can't drive! We don't want to have to go back into the ditch. We just got the car out.

UPDATE: National Journal reports that the economy under Barack Obama and the Democrats is on track to create "more jobs in 2010 alone than it did over the entire eight years of George W. Bush's presidency." And that's in spite of relentless Republican opposition to everything ("the party of no") and talking down of the U.S. economy.  G'Obama!

UPDATE #2: According to Gallup's latest, Barack Obama is now at +11 approval (52%-41%), his highest net approval in 3 months, according to Gallup. Combined with today's RK2000 poll (55%-41% approval), could things finally be starting to turn around for Dem's?

Great Article in RichmondBizSense on Northrop Grumman Move

This article is one of the first intelligent things I've read on Northrop Grumman's decision to move its corporate headquarters to northern Virginia. As usual, the "mainstream media" (aka, the "corporate media") has completely failed to explain what really happened here. Fortunately, Tom Bowden gets it.
... is the move to Virginia as monumental as the headlines lead us to believe?

Three hundred highly paid executives will move from California to northern Virginia. Some empty space will be rented, homes will be bought and the ripple effect of the spending by these new Virginia citizens will certainly be welcome. We win! Go team!

But just as the announcement of the move started to fade as the news cycle moved on, I read this: "Northrop Grumman to lay off 330 people" at Fort Eustis.

So what just happened? Did we gain 300 jobs only to lose 330? Is this Northrop's way of saying "thank you very much for the $14 million in tax breaks" that were, no doubt, a factor in their decision? Does this mean that 330 people, who yesterday were happily employed by the state's newest Fortune 100 citizen, are now or soon to be on the street?

Answer: none of the above. This is a "teachable moment" on the danger of reading too much into sound bites and headlines about job losses and gains. And it seems to me that the entire process by which economic development agencies lured the headquarters to Virginia was political theater playing out in newspapers eager for headlines.

Bowden then proceeds to explain the economic impact of Northrop Grumman's move(s) on the country (nil) and on Virginia specifically (minimal at best), as well as "the net effect of the tax giveaway" and the opportunity cost entailed by Virginia doling out this corporate welfare (key line: "If Northrop Grumman and other heavily recruited corporations paid the same taxes that our homegrown companies pay, Virginians - both corporate and individual - could enjoy lower tax rates or more services or both.").  

Essentially, to the extent this is a big deal at all (and Bowden argues strongly that it isn't), this entire should make the following people less than happy: libertarians; anyone who cares about good government; conservatives, and anyone else who believes in the free market; anyone who opposes corporate welfare and/or states getting into bidding wars over large corporations; small businesses, which generally aren't the object of these bidding wars; medium-sized businesses, which also aren't normally the object of these bidding wars; taxpayers; and people who rely on services provided by Virginia state government. Other than all those people, who probably constitute 99.99% of Virginia's population, the rest of us should be celebrating Virginia spending $14 million to gain 300 jobs lose a net of 30 jobs. Or, on second thought, not.

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