Did anyone ever expect anything else from Virginia House and Senate Republicans? The bottom line is that they: a) control both chambers; b) are absolutely terrified of being primaried by a Tea Partier; and c) are for the wealthy and well-connected, not the types of people (working class, poor) who desperately need Medicaid expansion. The answer? Vote them out of office in November 2015.
House Democrats Statement on rejection of Rust proposal to expand Medicaid
Richmond, VA - Democratic Leader David J. Toscano released the following statement regarding the rejection of Delegate Tom Rust's proposal to expand Medicaid.
"The decision on this bill was made before we arrived in Richmond; the debate was mere window dressing. House Republicans have again shown that they have no plan to close the coverage gap," said Democratic Leader David J. Toscano. "The rejection of this legislation is further proof that this entire medicaid special session was a charade. Despite this setback, we will continue to fight to bring our taxpayer dollars back to Virginia to help our citizens and to find a way to close the coverage gap."
Here is the 5th in the series, "We're Rural, Not Stupid." The photo included in this post [below the fold] of the mudslides in Nelson was included in thisWashington Post article.The photo is part of a collection owned by Nelsonian, Dick Whitehead. Mr. Whitehead's father, Bill Whitehead, was the sheriff in Nelson County in 1969 when the flood occurred.
Tamra Marshall lives in Nellysford, Virginia. Her family has a long history in the hills of Nelson County. Her Grandpa Jack Marshall worked with the Citizen Conservation Corps building the [Blue Ridge] Parkway, as locals refer to it, and many of the local roads during lean times. Tamra has strong opinions about Dominion's proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline relating to the unmarked graves of those Nelsonian's who lost their lives and were never found in the aftermath of Hurricane Camille.
A friend of mine, who is liberal, told me recently, "Having grown up in the South in the 1950s, I know something about how it feels to be part of a group you're told is superior. It feels really good. It's a feeling that shouldn't be under-estimated."
That got me thinking about the anger of many white men, and why they've lent the force of that anger to the political right.
Imagine you're a white man, particularly in a region where racist ideology and patriarchy have been especially powerful. By virtue of being white instead of black, and male instead of female, you've got higher status than roughly three-quarters of the humanity around you. And if you're straight, not gay, you get to feel even better about yourself.
The feeling of self-worth is a big part of one's overall feeling of well-being.
The straight white man, in the old order, is the embodiment of "born on third base, and thinks he hit a triple."
What if a political force came to take all that away from you?
You are told that black people deserve the same rights and respect as white people. Laws are enacted to compel everyone to act as if that were true.
As if that weren't enough, this same political force -- American liberalism, through its political instrument, the Democratic Party -- declares that women are as good as men, and deserve the same treatment and opportunities.
At this point, the white man has been thrown out of the top quartile of his community and into the general pool.
As international leaders prepare for the United Nations Climate Summit next week in New York, a new study shows Virginia’s coal-fired power plants dump as much carbon pollution into the atmosphere as the entire nation of Croatia.
The Environment Virginia Research & Policy Center report, America’s Dirtiest Power Plants, comes as more than a hundred thousand activists, including over 700 Virginians, and world leaders converge in New York City seeking solutions to climate change, which scientists have clearly linked to extreme weather events and the rising seas seen in the Hampton Roads region.
“When power plants here in Virginia create as much pollution as an entire country, we know the climate’s in trouble,” said Sarah Bucci, Campaign Director for Environment Virginia. “It’s time to stop ignoring the nation’s largest global-warming polluter, and start investing in clean energy."
By comparing carbon emissions from U.S. power plants in 2012 to total carbon emissions of entire countries, the Environment Virginia analysis shows why limiting pollution from coal plants would make such a big impact. Key findings include:
Yesterday I discussed the few members of our General Assembly who haven't been directly touched by Dominion. One such fellow is Delegate Bloxom (R-Eastern Shore/Norfolk). However he has received funds from a PAC that Dominion has generously supported for years: Dominion Leadership Trust. Dominion is this PAC's second largest contributor.
Over the years, Dominion Leadership Trust, just one of many PACs Dominion Resources supports, has "invested" $10,973,016 influencing Virginia government. Though Dominion Resources' portion of that amount accounts for only about 4.4% of the total, that places the corporation second among those with clout in a PAC of like-minded members. And looking at the top donors, it is quite a gallery of influence. Dominion Resources leverages its direct donor influence by having a hand setting the agenda across the political spectrum in any number of PACs.
There is another gent on yesterday's list who has received funds from Dominion Leadership Trust: that would be Delegate Farrell (R-56th). Comparing the amounts the two received is a lesson in influence. Bloxom received $66,874 and Farrell $2,500. While Dominion Resources can only be attributed 4.4% of those amounts ($2980 and $111 respectively) when they respond (even if they did the math) to Dominion Leadership Trust, Dominion Resources's objectives get the attention corresponding to the greater amount.
The single contribution to Farrell did not occur until after he was elected to the House of Delegates and after his first two full sessions. Of the contributions to Bloxom, on the other hand, about $60,000 was reported during his campaign for a seat formerly held by Democrat Lynnwood Lewis and the remainder in the month after Bloxom's election. Dominion Leadership Trust accounted for over 43% of the funds "raised" by Bloxom. To whom is Delegate Bloxom beholden? It isn't the grassroots.
I grew up with brothers, so I knew from an early age that the easiest way to make friends with guys was to feed them chocolate chip cookies. I took this strategy with me to college, commandeering the tiny kitchen in our coed dorm. The aroma wafting down the hallways reliably drew a crowd.
One fan was so enthusiastic that he wanted to learn to make cookies himself. So the next time, he showed up at the start of the process. He watched me combine sugar and butter, eggs and white flour.
Instead of being enthusiastic, he was appalled. It had never occurred to him that anything as terrific as a cookie could be made of stuff so unhealthy. It's not that he thought they were created from sunshine and elf magic; he just hadn't thought about it at all. He left before the cookies even came out of the oven.
I felt so bad about it, I ate the whole batch.
But I can empathize with that guy when I'm told that as an environmentalist, I should love natural gas. Natural gas is the chocolate chip cookie of fossil fuels. At the point of consumption, everybody loves it. It's cheap, there's gobs of it, and it burns cleaner than coal, with only half the carbon dioxide emissions. Disillusionment sets in only when you look at the recipe. ("First, frack one well. . .")
(Note: Mike Casey is the founder and president of Tigercomm, a leading cleantech Public Relations firm based in Arlington. He is a veteran of Virginia politics - including the successful effort to turn the Virginia Senate in 2009, as well as designing and running the 2013 communications effort for Tom Steyer's NextGen Climate Action in the Virginia governor's race. The views expressed here are his own. Also, full disclosure: I am a consultant to Tigercomm. - promoted by lowkell)
Former VCU political science professor Bob Holsworth was recently quoted in the Washington Post regarding "the increasingly narrow line Democrats in Virginia must walk to satisfy environmentalists and campaign donors without alienating business interests."
According to Holsworth, Gov. McAuliffe "has just made a calculation on this...[that it] isn't a political liability until we see that these environmental groups are able to develop grass-roots traction to be able to successfully oppose this."
Good point, Bob Holsworth. I accept your challenge.
It was a frustrating evening for the hundreds of Nelsonians who attended an "Open House" hosted by Dominion to lay out its planned route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Lined up outside the entry door, residents came prepared with questions, most of which went unanswered. The same old rehearsed lines were stated over and over again. "This is in the preliminary stages, we just don't know yet." "We haven't done the engineering yet, we can't answer that now." "That depends on the category you are in, and we're not sure yet." "We'll abide by all DEQ and FERC regulations."
In a divide and conquer tactic, Dominion had stations set up, which allowed them to frequently tell Nelsonians looking for answers they would have to move to another station, stand in another line, to ask a different "expert" the question they wanted answered. Attendees heard frequently, "You'll have to ask so and so that question, I don't know."
Anti-pipeline group, Free Nelson, attended the event and its members learned several of Dominion's representatives weren't from Virginia. When speaking to one rep about the devastation caused in Nelson by Hurricane Camille, particularly the Davis Creek area, Free Nelson was surprised the representative looked so confused. When asked, "Are you from Virginia?" "Well, no," she replied, "but most of the Dominion representatives here are." Free Nelson explained about the 12 mudslides in the Davis Creek area during Camille which took the lives of 52 people, 20 of whom were never found. When Free Nelson pointed out the Atlantic Coast Pipeline is routed through the Davis Creek area, the Dominion rep replied, "Well, we have a procedure to follow should we find human remains."
Curious about who's benefited from Dominion's concern for Virginia's political process, I thought I'd survey the contributions to candidates reported on The Virginia Public Access Project. Intending to provide a roster of recipients, it became clear that it is easier to list General Assembly members who have missed the beneficence.
Members of the Virginia Senate who are not beholden to Dominion:
Members of the Virginia House of Delegates who are not beholden to Dominion:
Sullivan, Richard C. (Rip), Jr. (D-48th)
Rasoul, Sam (D-11th)
Lindsey, Joseph C. (D-90th)
Farrell, Peter F. (R-56th)
Bloxom, Robert S., Jr. (R-100th)
Berg, Mark J. (R-29th)
Adams, Leslie R. (R-16th)
The range of contribution amounts ranges wildly from a quarter thousand to a quarter million dollars and seems directly proportionate to some combination of seniority and influence. The fact that the highest percentage of contributions (but not by far: 54 to 43) goes to Republicans follows that logic but I have not looked at trends over time. The "honor rolls" for both chambers will be presented separately.
From the superb Ken Burns series, The Roosevelts, I loved the following passage about Teddy Roosevelt as Governor of New York. Yes, TR was a Republican, but as the following passage makes clear, he was absolutely NOTHING like the Republicans of today. Regardless, TR was right then and he's right today: Republicans, and more importantly the country, would be far better off if they adopted TR's attitude towards government, business, the environment, etc., than the bizarre, warped, extreme positions they hold today.
P.S. I started off as a progressive Republican myself as a teenager, in the same line of thought as Teddy Roosevelt and many others (e.g., Bob LaFollette, Dwight Eisenhower, John Chaffee, Lowell Weicker, Jacob Javits, Nelson Rockefeller), but got the heck out of that party when I saw it taken over by supply siders (aka "Voodoo Economics"), racists and theocrats back in 1980. Sad to say, Republicans have only gotten (much) worse since then. I'm 100% confident that Teddy Roosevelt would not be a member of the Republican Party today (nor would Abraham Lincoln, of course, or Javits, LaFollette, probably George Romney, etc, etc.).
Boss Platt feared the new governor harbored what he called "altruistic ideas," and was a little loose on questions affecting the right of a man to run his own business in his own way. He was right. Roosevelt promised to consult Platt as he went along, but he had concluded that it was neither wise nor safe for Republicans to take refuge in what he called "mere negation." New circumstances demanded a new kind of reform - progressive reform. The Republican Party, he felt, should actually offer real solutions to real problems...the old natural laws of the marketplace were no longer adequate. Government, [Roosevelt] believed, needed to step in to tame the market's excesses and maintain necessary order. Wrongs now had to be righted through legislation as well as persuasion. Roosevelt intended to strike a balance between what he called "mob rule" and improper corporate influence...In less than 6 months, he secured passage of bills that taxed corporations, limited working hours for women and children, improved sweatshop conditions, created or protected forest preserves...
This is the fourth letter in our series, "We're Rural, Not Stupid." Dominion held its first open house for residents last night in neighboring Augusta County, VA. One attendee said, "At yet another table someone was asking about gas export. We pressed the brown shirt [the Dominion representative] who finally said Dominion just builds the pipeline." Tonight it's Nelson's turn to listen to the "experts" tell us how wrong we are.
Cheryl Borgman is a life-long Democrat who stands strongly against Dominion's Atlantic Coast Pipeline. She has worked with Nelson Democrats consistently in the past in campaigns for local, state and federal candidates. Cheryl has canvassed, phone banked and done a lot of data entry. She's one of the folks the local committee can count on...one of the ones with the asterisk by their name, because they always say yes when asked to help. This year, she feels differently. She has sent her letter to the local Democratic Committee and to Democratic candidates seeking office in 2014.
Basically, by virtue of holding Marketplace Fairness up, Goodlatte is guaranteeing a big, fat, regressive tax increase. He is also very possibly guaranteeing taxes on Internet access, which isn't something many people are fans of. All to keep online retailers from collecting and remitting sales taxes that are already due.
Why would Goodlatte do such a (crazy, stupid, ridiculous) thing? According to the Virginian Pilot's Roger Chesley, just follow the money. Specifically, "Goodlatte's sizable donations from Internet and computer companies," which combined with his actions (or perhaps one should say inaction) "suggest he's looking out for their interests - not Virginians'."
The commonwealth's 2013 transportation package, the first major overhaul of road funding in decades, shored up a crumbling system that needed more money. The state had repeatedly siphoned dollars from construction budgets just to keep up with maintenance.
But the package relies heavily on the collection of Internet sales taxes. Without that money, the state's gas tax will rise by 45 percent starting Jan. 1.
That's how Goodlatte & Co. can pretend to keep taxes low; they simply shift them from one person to another. In this case, they shift the tax burden from people who buy stuff on the Internet to folks who buy gasoline.
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