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9 Ways the Fisette/Hynes Decision to Ditch the Streetcar Seriously Harmed Arlington

by: lowkell

Fri Nov 28, 2014 at 11:12:57 AM EST

1. First and most obviously, this decision was wildly wrong on policy grounds, with the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in future tax revenues to Arlington County that would have been spurred by billions of dollars worth of streetcar-generated economic development. Those revenues could have been spent on "core services" like education and other important infrastructure, while helping to keep property tax rates among the lowest in the entire region. Now, that's all gone, with nothing to replace it. Greeeeaaaat.

2. The decision essentially rewarded a campaign of lies and demagoguery waged by anti-streetcar forces. As this Greater Greater Washington commenter notes: "[Arlington County Board member and streetcar supporter Walter] Tejada's anger is well placed. And its even more telling when [Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette] constantly (and rightly) responded to streetcar criticisms from prominent groups as misinformation. To give in basically admits that a constant stream of BS works. Unfortunately the streetcar isn't the only example of this in our world but its one of the more blatant ones."

3. The decision has seriously harmed relations among Board members. For starters, "The decision by Chairman Jay Fisette (D) and Vice Chairman Mary Hynes (D) to abandon the streetcar infuriated their longtime ally and fellow Democrat, J. Walter Tejada." At the same time, "Three of the members" (that would be Tejada, Fisette and Hynes) "are accusing the two others" (John Vihstadt and Libby Garvey) "of spreading misinformation." And they are correct, of course. The question is, how can a working relationship, based on any level of trust whatsoever, be rebuilt out of the rubble of this debacle? Got me.

4. The decision to ditch the streetcar left Columbia Pike businesses and residents who had made investments and other plans based on a rock-solid promise from Arlington County that the streetcar was coming are now left high and dry. As the Post article reports, "Inta Malis, an Arlington planning commissioner, said retailers on Columbia Pike have been operating at a loss, banking on future revenue that would come with a revitalized, streetcar-anchored corridor." So now what happens? Does anyone have a plan, now that the methodical, painstaking 15-year planning process was just tossed to the curb by Jay Fisette and Mary Hynes? I strongly doubt it. And no, Vihstadt and Garvey were never serious about "BRT," since that's not possible on Columbia Pike.  

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Virginia News Headlines: Friday Morning

by: lowkell

Fri Nov 28, 2014 at 06:36:54 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Friday, November 28.

*Our giant welfare state ("When these are added to government's direct payments, rankings shift. France remains at the top, but the United States vaults into second position with roughly 30 percent of its GDP spent on social services, including health care. We have a hybrid welfare state, partly run by the government and partly outsourced to private markets.")
*Dehumanizing Ferguson ("By no means would I ever seek to excuse the arson, looting and senseless destruction that took place Monday night. But policing is something that should be done with a community, not to it. Officials were treating the people of Ferguson like a rabble long before the first police car was torched.")
*New U.S. plan: 'Leaner, meaner' Iraqi force
*OPEC inaction sends Brent to four-year low, hits stocks (I think they're trying, among other things, to damage Canadian tar sands, which require around $80-$85/barrel, and U.S. "tight oil," which requires around $60-$65 per barrel, to break even.)
*Walmart Is Seeing Its Biggest Black Friday Protests Ever Today
*R-MC's Trammell reflects on lessons of congressional campaign ("Start earlier. Raise more money. Be more aggressive" Well, since Trammell wasn't in the slightest bit aggressive against Brat, that shouldn't be hard.)
*Student action groups finding their voices at UVa
*Letter: Gas pipeline would sacrifice the needs of the many for the profit of the few
*Va. crime panel considers cigarette licensing
*Fairfax County police shot an unarmed man in his home and they won't say why (They need to be much more forthcoming; why haven't they been?!?)
*Ethics, baseball, taxes
*Dulles in trouble as traffic shifts to Reagan National (Silver Line to the rescue?)
*Arlington board tensions could hamper work after streetcar vote ("Fisette, Hynes and Tejada are openly frustrated with Garvey, whom they blame more than Vihstadt for spreading misinformation about the project." I tend to agree, although I blame both of them.)
*A brisk shopping day today; weekend will take a turn for the warmer

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Video: And Now for the Bad Dick Saslaw (D-ominion)

by: lowkell

Thu Nov 27, 2014 at 08:02:44 AM EST

Here's the thing with Virginia State Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw: when he opens his mouth and words come out, there's a high probability that at least some of those words will be (take your pick) stupid, wrong, offensive, bizarre, crazy, etc. In this instance, Saslaw spoke for several minutes at Monday's meeting of the Falls Church City Council, and he had a LOT to say. That includes his tirade against UVA, with which I largely agree (we'll call that one the "good Dick Saslaw"). It also includes the snippet I've included here, in which Falls Church City Council Member Dan Sze asks Saslaw about "net metering" ("allows residential and commercial customers who generate their own electricity from solar power to feed electricity they do not use back into the grid") As Sze correctly points out, "Virginia ranks near the bottom in the United States for mechanisms to allow renewable energy to work."

So what's Dick Saslaw planning to do about this unacceptable situation? Why, absolutely nothing of course. To put the answer to that question in context, really all you need to know is that Dominion Virginia Power is Dick Saslaw's top all-time donor, at $240,508, and that Dominion Virginia Power is one of the worst, most backward and reactionary utilities in the country when it comes to renewable energy. Also keep in mind that Dominion essentially owns the Virginia General Assembly, having donated over $9 MILLION over the years to Virginia Democrats and Republicans alike (yes, that's your power bill at work, helping a powerful, polluting corporation buy our "democracy").

Anyway, back to Dick "Dominion's Puppet" Saslaw and how he responded (or more accurately, failed to respond, other than pathetic whining about how life's so unfaiiiiiiir - waaaaaaah!!!) to the excellent question from Falls Church City Council member Dan Sze on net metering. First, the bought-and-paid-for "Bad Dick Saslaw," who I'd remind everyone is actually/unbelievably the Democratic leader in the Virginia State Senate, goes on a bizarre, Cuccinelli-style rant against the EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP), in which he basically whines and spews out fossil fuel industry talking points. In fact, as this superb op-ed explains, with the CPP, we would reap "a $1.1 billion benefit to the Virginia economy before accounting for the economic benefits from the improved environment and health." As an added bonus, the CPP "actually represents a significant business opportunity for Virginia to become a leading state in the areas of solar power, wind power, and energy efficiency." More good news: "estimates are that energy efficiency alone could save Virginia households at least $517 million by 2020, and a lot more thereafter...allowing us to shut down antiquated, polluting power plants." Last but not least, the CPP "will help protect our state against hundreds of billions of dollars - and untold lives - in potential climate devastation."

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Virginia News Headlines: Thanksgiving 2014

by: lowkell

Thu Nov 27, 2014 at 07:13:31 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Thanksgiving 2014.

*How to win Thanksgiving: Your guide to arguing with relatives ("It's going to be especially hard to avoid politics at Thanksgiving this year. Here's how you can defeat Uncle Dingo")
*Here Is Everything That's Wrong With Chuck Schumer's Obamacare Comments ("Schumer's notion that Obamacare only benefits those in the lower end of the economic spectrum is a flawed one. It is also in direct conflict with the Chuck Schumer of 2010, who campaigned incessantly for health care reform, and insisted that the policy 'really did deliver for the middle-class.'")
*GOP Mulls Not Inviting Obama to Give State of the Union (Yep, sounds like Republicans...petty and petulant as can be.)
*Darren Wilson And George Zimmerman Described Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin The Same Way (Hmmmmm...gee, wonder why that is.)
*Shadow Trial ("Prosecutors in Ferguson violated our right to an open criminal justice system.")
*The Race to Be Hillary's Karl Rove ("In a series of interviews with operatives inside and outside the Clinton orbit, most professional Democrats said the current favorite was Robby Mook, a well-traveled veteran at 35 who last served as the campaign manager for close Clinton friend Terry McAuliffe's successful bid to become governor of Virginia in 2013.")
*Warner, Kaine back DoD push to update protections in Military Lending Act
*For Rep. Dave Brat, a tricky balance (Yeah, he has to decide whether to focus on being crazy or extreme. Heh.)
*Va. Attorney General still paying off campaign debt ("Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is still paying off campaign debt related to last year's recount effort, while his political spending after nearly a year in office outpaces those of other possible 2017 gubernatorial candidates.")
*University of Virginia Students Speak Out in Wake of Rape Allegations, Fraternity Closings
*Saslaw bill would make colleges report sexual assaults to police (Thanks for giving Blue Virginia credit for breaking this story. Next time, maybe you could actually link?)
*University Of Virginia Apologizes To Student Who Says She Was Gang-Raped

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Video: Senate Minority Leader Saslaw Rips UVA's "Crap" on Sexual Assault

by: lowkell

Wed Nov 26, 2014 at 15:05:17 PM EST

As you might have noticed, I'm not a big fan of Virginia State Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw. However, in this case, I couldn't agree more regarding UVA's "crap." Here's a partial transcript of Saslaw's comments at the Falls Church City council meeting Monday evening.
...I read that whole [Rolling Stone story on the UVA gang rape], I read it twice...and I've got to tell you, I can't remember when I've been angrier as an adult reading that. It didn't surprise me...because this has been going on forever. And I've got to tell you, I've been hearing this crap - and that's what it is - from UVA over the last 40 years -- let us handle it, we know how to do it, don't...require us to report this, the women won't come in...the reason these kids don't come forward is they know the university's total dedication is to sweeping everything under the rug...One kid had raped two women. They never called the police; they suspended him for a year and let him back on campus.

I've got a bill that's currently being drafted. And what that's going to say is that if a university or higher education state employee is informed that a sexual assault has taken place, they're going to have 24 hours to report it to the local police, and if they don't they're going to face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Let me tell you, this has got to stop. The other thing is, those people at UVA have no business of adjudicating a felony for god's sake...Had that same kid been off campus and not a student at UVA, he'd be pulling 40 years in prison in Virginia, not walking across the stage with a diploma...

What parent in their right mind would send a daughter to UVA when she's got...a 20 percent chance, a 20 percent chance of being sexually assaulted? That's how bad it is...They've been doing it their way and it doesn't work...And they've essentially told every male, particularly those on fraternity row, it always has been and still is open season on females. They don't have any fear of being turned into the police, and that's going to stop...

The reason they don't come forward is because they know the university is going to try to talk them out of it. They're telling these kids, your parents worked hard to get you here, do you want to blow all of this up? So, yeah, we're going to do something, and we're not waiting for commissions, study groups, or anything like that.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

One Thing I Know about Ferguson

by: Andy Schmookler

Tue Nov 25, 2014 at 17:30:32 PM EST

I don't know enough about the facts of what happened that night in Ferguson to know with any certainty whether an indictment was called for or not. I've not explored the witness statements, and don't know who or what to believe about what happened between Darrell Wilson and Mike Brown.

But I do know that the authorities handled the legal process about it it quite wrongly.

Their priority should have been to conduct the process in such a way as to maximize the chance that everyone would have confidence in its integrity and fairness. They didn't even try.

That should have been their priority because taking care not to damage the larger society by exacerbating a major fault line is what has been most important all along.

Every effort should have been made to protect the society from further divisive wounding. The over-riding question for the county prosecutor, and for the Missouri governor, should have been: How can this be dealt with so that everyone feels assured that every good faith effort has been made to see that justice is done, whatever that may entail?

That would have meant bringing in a special prosecutor, of unquestioned integrity, in charge of the investigation and the grand jury process.

Even if the county prosecutor was indeed going to be fair, from the outset, he was not seen that way by the side most aggrieved. Leaving him in charge, pre-determined that, rightly or wrongly, a non-indictment would be seen as a failure of justice, and would unleash the pain and rage that we have seen.

Then this prosecutor -- with a personal history and set of allegiances that already seemed to stack the deck -- proceeded to conduct the grand jury process in a very unorthodox way, not seeking an indictment as prosecutors generally do, but leaving to the grand jury what prosecutors generally do. This alteration of the usual process clearly served the interest of the accused.

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Rolling Stone Names Dan Snyder THE Worst Owner in Sports

by: lowkell

Wed Nov 26, 2014 at 12:24:30 PM EST

A richly deserved "honor" by Rolling Stone for Dan Snyder and for "every contemptuous, miserly, greed-headed, soul-dead move Snyder has pulled in D.C," not to mention his "blithe unconcern with a shredded field and player health that already nearly Cuisinarted RG III's knee" and the "cluster**** of tire fires the R**kins have become under Snyder's tenure, all set ablaze by the flaming sack of dogs*** that is what passes for his conscience."

Yeah, I'd say that mostly covers it. This being a Virginia political blog, I'd just remind everyone that Snyder donated $50,000 to Bob McDonnell in 2009, and that he's undoubtedly figuring out a way to milk Virginian taxpayers out of a whole bunch more corporate welfare for his "professional football team" (using that phrase very loosely). Don't let him.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Wednesday Morning

by: lowkell

Wed Nov 26, 2014 at 06:30:58 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, November 26.

*'Better night' in Ferguson though dozens arrested
*Inconsistency only constant with case
*Officer Darren Wilson's story is unbelievable. Literally.
*Congress Poised To Eliminate Key Tax Breaks For Middle Class, Provide Permanent Tax Breaks For Corporations (Sounds like veto material to me.)
*Obama Threatens to Veto $440 Billion Tax Deal ("The president would veto the proposed deal because it would provide permanent tax breaks to help well-connected corporations while neglecting working families." Bingo. Also, so much for Republicans caring about the debt!)
*How sexual abusers hide in plain sight: What Rolling Stone's blockbuster UVA rape exposé really tells us ("...we clearly haven't learned enough to consider rape enough of a crime to, you know, matter, especially when the big business of media and higher education is at stake.")
*Jindal to keynote Va. GOP's Advance (How appropriate! LOL)
*Powhatan senator Watkins won't run again in 2015 ("His departure could create an opening in the 2015 legislative elections for Democrats, who in the past three statewide elections have carried his district, which includes parts of Chesterfield and Powhatan counties and the city of Richmond.")
*Fresh from narrow re-election win, Warner sets sights on U.S. debt
*Speculation builds ahead of McAuliffe's visit to N.H. ("The Virginia governor will address a state Democratic Party meeting and headline a fundraiser next month.")
*Attorney General Herring appoints counsel for UVa board on sexual assault policies
*Letter: College students support federal carbon reduction standard for Virginia
*Nov. 26 Letters: Sen. Kaine on Keystone XL Pipeline ("...we need to send the market signal that cleaner energy is the path forward. We need to be cleaner tomorrow than today.")
*U-Va.'s governing board votes for zero tolerance of sexual assault
*The UVA Gang Rape Allegations Are Awful, Horrifying, and Not Shocking at All
*Fairfax County facing budget shortfall, officials say
*Hampton Roads reacts to Ferguson unrest
*Editorial: Hanover Schools - Eeek ("Never let it be said that residents of Hanover are not vigilant. Some of them stand ready to clutch their pearls and swoon at the first sight of peril - real or imagined.")
*Poorly timed rain and snowfall complicates Thanksgiving travel

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Virginia State Senate Pickup Opportunity for Dems About to Open Up?

by: lowkell

Tue Nov 25, 2014 at 11:40:24 AM EST

According to Jim Nolan of the RTD, "Breaking: State Sen. John Watkins, R-Powhatan retiring at the end of his term in 2015. Senate power struggle likely to ensue." If true, that could open up a serious, major Democratic pickup opportunity for 2015. Keep in mind that Dems need to hold all their incumbent seats and to pick up a net of one seat to regain control of the Virginia State Senate, so this one could be crucial for Medicaid expansion and just about anything else you care about. As you can see from the graphic below (click to "embiggen"), Watkins holds a district that was won by Mark Herring in 2013, and is the "bluest" of all the Virginia State Senate districts currently held by Republicans. Democrats, start your! :)

P.S. It yet again demonstrates how far-far right the Virginia GOP has lurched, when someone as conservative as John Watkins feels like he would have lost a Republican primary, so better get out while the getting is good.

UPDATE: According to WTVR reporter Joe St. George, "Democratic sources told CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George $2 million could be spent on the 2015 election and that Jon Baliles,  a Richmond City Councilman, could be considering entering the race as well as Chesterfield County  Supervisor Dan Gecker."

Discuss :: (12 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Tuesday Morning

by: lowkell

Tue Nov 25, 2014 at 06:40:04 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, November 25.

*No indictment in Ferguson ("Buildings burn as protests boil over")
*In Brown's home town, a pause to listen, then outrage (That prosecutor's statement was godawful in just about every way.)
*This Is The Dystopian World We Are Leaving For Today's Teenagers
*White House seeks a stronger hand in the next defense secretary ("Hagel worked behind the scenes but seemed too deferential to generals in strategy meetings, officials say.
*Ted Cruz's dad rails against 'pro-murder' progressives: Christians need to take America back! (On E.W. Jackson's weekly call, no less. LOL)
*Ferguson Cop Darren Wilson Is Just the Latest to Go Unprosecuted for a Fatal Shooting ("Since 2004, St. Louis County police officers have killed people in at least 14 cases. Few faced grand juries, and none was charged.")
*Media Lessons From The Benghazi Charade ("Benghazi conspiracies represent a vile chapter in American politics, built upon hypocrisy and cynical Fox News ethics.")
*Terry McAuliffe is unhappy - with Democrats ("Why come out and vote for the Democratic Party? There was no message to say: Here's what we've done. I wish the party or whoever had done a national media campaign and say, here's what you get when you elect Democrats.")
*Special election to fill Dance's House seat set for Jan. 6
*Legislators promise action on campus sexual assaults; UVa board meets today
*Almost 800 cast provisional ballots because of voter ID law
*Virginia budget hole puts tax break for cars "on the table" (I'd say there's zero chance the Teapublican-controlled House of Delegates would agree to that.)
*Senators propose gift ban for Va. officials (Sorry, but $100 is not a "ban." Why not make it ZERO?)
*McAuliffe: 'Huge headwinds' for Virginia economy ("Gov. Terry McAuliffe emerged from a long morning meeting with state industry leaders concerned about 'head winds' facing Virginia's economy, but mum on how his administration will react when it releases a new state budget draft next month.")
*U-Va. response to reports of sexual assault is too little, far too late (I agree with the Post, "pathetic" is the word.)
*U-Va. student leaders hoping to foster culture change ("After allegations of a gang rape at a fraternity, students advocate for major changes regarding sexual assault.")
*Our view: Political orinthology (Yes, they actually misspelled "ornithology" in their headline. Ever hear of copy editors?)
*Fairfax County hires former Mark McGwire lawyer in John Geer police shooting case
*Washington area seeks to break free from federal spending ("Mandated program cuts leaving gaping holes in revenue projections from Annapolis to Richmond.")
*Curtain rises on Virginia Beach arena
*Calm before Wednesday's winter storm: Rain, highs in the 50s ("The area's transition from rain to wet snow won't happen until Wednesday.")

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

9 Democrats Who'd Be Better than Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense

by: lowkell

Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 12:39:11 PM EST

(I never wanted Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense in the first place. Here are the suggestions I made right before he was selected for alternatives... - promoted by lowkell)

Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense? Seriously? First of all, why this obsessive need of Democrats to nominate Republicans for Secretary of Defense? Is there some kind of self loathing going on here or what? Second, looking at Project Votes Smart's ratings of Hagel, the guy's abysmal on a wide range of issues - many of which relate to the military - such as ZERO ratings from NARAL and Planned Parenthood, ZERO from Environment America,  and 100% from the far-right-wingnut Family Research Council (labeled a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center). He's also on the board of Chevron and otherwise leaves a lot to be desired on energy issues. He also has a poor record on LGBT issues. Bottom line, though: why on earth are we talking about appointing a Republican, let alone a right-wing one, to one of the top positions in the Cabinet, when there are plenty of other qualified candidates? Here are 10 possibilities, off the top of my head, who would be better picks than Chuck Hagel.

1. Michele Flournoy: Seems to me like this brilliant ("degrees from Harvard and Oxford, a stint at the Kennedy School and the Army War College"), serious ("very serious person, incredibly buttoned down, very careful in all that she does, not at all headstrong."), and experienced (former third-ranking civilian at the Pentagon) would be a great choice. She would also be the first female Secretary of Defense, which would be a great "glass ceiling" barrier to smash through. What am I missing here?
2. Wesley Clark: Retired four-star general, brilliant, tremendous experience, etc. A former Republican turned Democrat. Another one who should certainly be on the short list.
3. Eric Shinseki: He's "a retired United States Army four-star general who is currently serving as the 7th United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs. His final U.S. Army post was as the 34th Chief of Staff of the Army (1999-2003). He is a veteran of combat in Vietnam, where he sustained a foot injury." He also "clashed with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during the planning of the war in Iraq over how many troops the U.S. would need to keep in Iraq for the postwar occupation of that country." Sounds like a winner to me! [Note: I'm told that Shinseki is not quite at the 10-year retirement requirement to be Defense Secretary.]

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Video: This Interview of UVA Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo is Deeply Disturbing

by: lowkell

Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 11:17:34 AM EST

There's something seriously wrong, even disturbing, about this interview, and more importantly what it says about the culture regarding sexual assault at UVA.
In an interview taped weeks before the sexual assault scandal that rocked the University of Virginia campus was exposed in Rolling Stone, a school official repeatedly defended a system in which students found guilty -- including students who have admitted guilt -- have been suspended rather than expelled.

Associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo, who is also head of the university's Sexual Misconduct Board, told a reporter from student-run WUVA Online that she spoke to 38 sexual assault survivors last year. Of those, five filed informal complaints while four filed formal complaints.

Eramo said some accused students have admitted to sexual assault during the informal proceedings, but that those students were not expelled.

Eramo said that in most cases, suspensions run 1-2 years, with the longest being 2 years. She said that while expulsion is a a possible punishment, it has not been used in a sexual assault case during her time at the university.

I mean, frankly, I'm almost speechless here; this is wrong on so many levels I don't even know where to start. Instead, let me just quote a few of the many scathing, articulate comments on the WUVA Media Vimeo page, where you can also watch the full interview.

*"... why do we place Deans like this, who fail to take the path less traveled and fight for what's right, in positions of power and do nothing when their failures are presented to the student body and the world?"

*"The most shocking answer to me was the response that 'Lots of victims don't want their assailant to get in trouble' or 'Lots of victims don't want to lodge a complaint'. Anyone who has worked with domestic violence knows that this is exactly the pattern that many victims of abuse exhibit w.r.t their abusers. So to hear this coming from someone who has apparently worked with battered women is downright jaw-dropping."

*"I kept waiting for Eramo to say 'Rape is Wrong' or 'Rapists have no place in our community' or 'Rapists should be prosecuted.' There was no moral standard in her thinking - she has been programmed to run a tightly controlled and manipulated process that, above all, protects UVAs reputation.
This video is clear evidence that UVA - and probably all Universities - should not be managing their own rape and sexual assault cases. Perhaps it's just me - but even the term 'sexual misconduct' minimizes the whole issue. Perhaps they need a committee on "life ending circumstances" to handle murders?"

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Virginia News Headlines: Monday Morning

by: lowkell

Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 06:33:46 AM EST

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, November 24.

*Charles M. Blow: Bigger Than Immigration ("For conservatives, this debate is really about the fear of seeing traditional power slip away.")
*With immigration action, Obama calls his opponents' bluff
*High court tests free speech limits on Facebook
*Uncertainty Upends Lives as Ferguson Waits for Grand Jury
*Giuliani: 'White Police Officers Won't Be There' If Blacks 'Weren't Killing Each Other' (Uh huh.)
*Op-Ed: Good News on Energy
*Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels (Attention Dominion Power!)
*Iran Nuke Deal: A Matter of War or Peace
*4 Things You Should Know About The Democrat Who Has Just Kicked Off The 2016 Elections ("1. Webb is not a dove.")
*Our view: Democrats should listen to Webb (On economic fairness issues, absolutely.)
*Roper: Fracking will not make us free
*Hundreds protest at UVa; student says memorial to victims vandalized
*Mark Warner barely won his election, but he has a spring in his step
*Virginia's gas tax headed up over Internet impasse (" Virginia's gas tax will almost certainly increase Jan. 1, ratcheting up about 45 percent because of last year's landmark transportation funding deal and a congressional unwillingness to crack down on Internet sales tax collections.")
*UVa protest against sexual violence swells on Rugby Road
*Are there really two Arlingtons? And will only the richer one survive?
*East Coast storm likely ahead of Thanksgiving travel
*Near-record warmth for D.C. today, but snow could arrive Wednesday

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Yep, the Warner Campaign's 8-10 Point Claim WAS Utter Bull****

by: lowkell

Sun Nov 23, 2014 at 19:37:08 PM EST

A week after Election Day 2014, GMU held its usual "After Virginia Votes" event, at which top representatives from the Republican and Democratic U.S. Senate campaigns analyze what happened. In this case, the Mark Warner campaign was represented by senior advisor David Hallock, while the Ed Gillespie campaign was represented by Paul Logan. In general, I found the event to be a snoozefest, almost totally uninformative and lacking in insight. There was, however, an audacious comment by Warner's rep David Hallock, that had us scratching our heads and wondering if it could possibly be true.
You look at the kind of Republican areas, the rural areas, Senator Warner ran 8-10 points ahead of a traditional Democrat -- ahead of Senator Kaine, ahead of Governor McAuliffe in those areas -- which is more than the margin of victory at the end of the day.
Of course, this comment is consistent with the Warner campaign's whole schtick, that he's a different, speeeecial kind of Democrat, the kind who does much better than a "traditional" kind of Democrat (whatever that means) in rural, "red" areas of Virginia. In the past, specifically 2008, that appears to have been true (although 2008 was a huge Democratic year and Warner was running against a pathetically weak Republican candidate, Jim Gilmore, so take that one with a grain of salt). The question is whether it was STILL true in 2014 for the "radical centrist."

The day of "After Virginia Votes," FreeDem addressed that very question here at Blue Virginia. In short, FreeDem found David Hallock's claim about Warner supposedly running "8-10 points ahead of a traditional Democrat -- ahead of Senator Kaine, ahead of Governor McAuliffe in those [rural] areas" to be false. As FreeDem wrote in his analysis, in Southwest Virginia, Warner was "at most running 4.5 percentage points ahead in one county; for the most part Warner was right around the same range as Kaine." As for Southside Virginia, "Warner didn't just fail to run eight to ten points ahead of Democrats in Southside Virginia, you can't even see a trend of him doing better at all than Barack Obama and Tim Kaine." Bottom line: "once the dust settles, the Warner campaign's claims of running significantly ahead of Democrats in rural Virginia will come under question and be found lacking in support."

Which is exactly what happened -- nice job by FreeDem! Now, almost two weeks later PolitiFact Virginia has decided to weigh in as well (what took you guys so long?). According to PolitiFact, Hallock - and the Warner camp more broadly - is "flat out wrong" in its 8-10 point claim. To the contrary:

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Sierra Club Rankings: Virginia House and Senate Dems, From "A" to "F"

by: lowkell

Sat Nov 22, 2014 at 13:39:06 PM EST

The Virginia Sierra Club's 2014 Generaly Assembly Climate & Energy Scorecard is out, and there's a lot of interesting information in there regarding who's great, who's good, and who's not so good when it comes to protecting Virginia's environment and promoting clean energy. There were some definite surprises in the rankings, but one thing was sadly NOT a surprise: Republicans were almost uniformly horrible (e.g., all "F"s "D"s and "C"s in the Senate; mostly bad grades in the House, with a few exceptions like Robert Bloxom's "A+;" Chris Stolle's "A;" Gordon Helsel's "B," Randy Minchew's "B," Bobby Orrock's "B," Riley Ingram's "B," Chris Jones' "B," Keith Hodges' "B," Michael Webert's "B," and Tony Wilt's "B"). What about the Democrats, all of whom you'd hope would get "A"s on the environment? Here's a ranking of Virginia Democratic legislators from best to worst.

"A+" grades: Delegates Rosalyn Dance, Alfonso Lopez, Monty Mason, Sam Rasoul and David Toscano.  Thank you to everyone who got a perfect, 100%, "A+" grade from the Sierra Club. You guys rock! :)

"A" grades: Senators Creigh Deeds, Adam Ebbin, Barbara Favola, Janet Howell, Mamie Locke, Louise Lucas, Dave Marsden, Donald McEachin, Chap Petersen, Phil Puckett (!!!) and Toddy Puller; Delegates David Bulova, Betsy Carr, Matthew James, Mark Keam, Kaye Kory, Rob Krupicka, Jennifer McClellan, Scott Surovell, Roslyn Tyler and Jeion Ward. Nice job by all these folks too, except for the vote in favor of  SB 459 - which the Sierra Club correctly calls "Dominion's Accounting Sleight of Hand." General rule of thumb: if Dominion's for it, vote against it unless there's some overriding reason not to. Finally, I'm pleasantly amazed that "coal country "Sen. Phil Puckett got an "A."

"B" grades: Senators John Edwards and John Miller; Delegates Mamye Bacote, Eileen Filler-Corn, Michael Futrell, Charniele Herring, Patrick Hope, Algie Howell, Delores McQuinn, Ken Plum, Mark Sickles, Marcus Simon and Luke Torian. Pretty good, but they did vote for SB 459 ("Dominion's Accounting Sleight of Hand"), plus in the cases of Edwards and Miller for SB 25 (establishes a "woefully inadequate to address impacts of [an offshore oil] spill or other accident").  

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