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Why We Can't Just Shut Up and Eat Chocolate Chip Cookies

by: ivymain

Wed Sep 17, 2014 at 18:03:19 PM EDT

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. . .")

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 415 words in story)

Good Point, Bob Holsworth, I Accept Your Challenge

by: Mike Casey

Wed Sep 17, 2014 at 17:02:29 PM EDT

(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.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Dominion Continues to Frustrate and Obfuscate Nelsonians at Open House

by: pontoon

Wed Sep 17, 2014 at 08:18:07 AM EDT

( - promoted by lowkell)

 photo OutsidetheNelsonCountyDominionpresentation_e_zps7c8cd28d-1.jpgIt 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."

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 506 words in story)

Financing Responsive Government In Virginia

by: Dan Sullivan

Wed Sep 17, 2014 at 08:39:41 AM EDT

Dominion's Beneficence photo 140917VPAPDominion_zpsd270d10a.jpgCurious 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:
  • None

    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.  

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Wednesday Morning

by: lowkell

Wed Sep 17, 2014 at 06:20:00 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, September 17.

*World Leaders Have Failed to Seriously Confront Climate Change. Could That Change Next Week?
*Top Democrat Urges Radio Stations To Drop Rush Limbaugh After He Suggested 'No Means Yes' (That should have happened ages ago.)
*Lawmakers: We will pass Syria aid
*U.S. Senate up for grabs as Iowa race tightens (Gotta love these models, telling us what we've all known for months - the Senate's up for grabs.)
*Meet the One Numbers-Cruncher Who Foresees Democrats Holding the Senate (Princeton's Sam Wang "says he thinks the Democrats have a 70 percent chance of holding control of the Senate.")
*This Republican Tried To Stop North Carolina From Apologizing For A Racist Massacre. He'd Like Your Vote, Please.
*Preventing climate change and adapting to it are not morally equivalent (Every governor, Virginia's included, needs to read this.)
*DCCC hits Comstock on values issues in new ad
*Legislature to discuss Medicaid, but results aren't likely (Almost certainly, Bill Howell, Tommy Norment, and their merry band of terrified-of-the-Tea-Party Republicans will block bringing billions of our own tax dollars back to Virginia yet again. We need to vote every one of these Republicans out of office next year.)
*McAuliffe backs Rust's health care bill, Howell says special session's work is serious (The only way it will be "serious" is if Republicans vote for the Rust bill. If not, they're not serious, as this is more than a reasonable compromise.)
*House committee swiftly approves budget proposal (Democrats at least should have talked about how 100% cuts and 0% revenues is not an acceptable formula.)
*Virginia sues 13 big banks, claiming mortgage securities fraud (Go Mark Herring!)
*McAuliffe dismays foes of Mountain Valley Pipeline (Gov. McAuliffe is just wildly wrong on this issue. He SHOULD know better, not sure why he doesn't.)
*Trying to hit the marks ("Better oversight and more frequent projections could help Virginia avoid repeating this year's budget mess." Sure, and how about more revenues?!?)
*Abraham: McDonnell's and Cantor's divergent fates ("Until we can overturn the Supreme Court's ill-fated Citizens United decision, eliminate corporate personhood, put meaningful caps on political contributions and impose strong ethics laws, more situations like these will contaminate the political landscape.")
*More than 30% of Va. schools fail to win accreditation (What is the point of this ridiculous exercise?)
*Nats shut out Braves to win NL East (And my other favorite team, the Orioles, wins the AL East. Beltway World Series? That would be fun!)
*D.C. area forecast: Keeping the nice days coming

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Video: Teddy Roosevelt Believed GOP Should Offer Real Solutions to Real Problems

by: lowkell

Tue Sep 16, 2014 at 15:10:02 PM EDT

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...
Discuss :: (7 Comments)

"We're Rural, Not Stupid" Part 4

by: pontoon

Tue Sep 16, 2014 at 11:06:23 AM EDT

( - promoted by lowkell)

 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.

Here's Cheryl's letter:

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 139 words in story)

Bob Goodlatte Working to Ensure a Major Tax Increase for Virginians on New Year's Day 2015

by: lowkell

Tue Sep 16, 2014 at 10:11:29 AM EDT

A Republican politico emailed me A sharp rise in the gasoline tax fuels Goodlatte's interests, not Virginians' and suggested I write about it. As this person summarized the current state of affairs:
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.

Clever, eh?  
There's More... :: (14 Comments, 254 words in story)

Virginia News Headlines: Tuesday Morning

by: lowkell

Tue Sep 16, 2014 at 06:39:50 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Tuesday, September 16.

*Fixing Climate Change May Add No Costs, Report Says ("A global commission is challenging the belief that efforts to reduce global warming would carry a steep price." Another pathetic excuse for inaction bites the dust.)
*Republicans Unanimously Block Equal Pay Bill (Nope, no "war on women" here, move right along...snark.)
*Senate Update: Democrats Draw Almost Even. Is It The Money? (Maybe it's that Republicans are, uh, waging a war on women? See previous item.)
*Obama will seek phaseout of common chemical coolant ("The White House will announce plans today to phase out a widely used coolant said to be spurring climate change." Good, let's also phase out all other greenhouse gases.)
*U.S. military will lead $750 million Ebola fight (We need to address the root causes of this problem, including deforestation.)
*Report: Adrian Peterson Was Investigated In A Second Child Abuse Case (Why is a repeat child abuser being allowed to play in the NFL, and why isn't he in jail?)
*Giving Up on Goodell ("How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.")
*Kaine: Obama Must Get Congress's Backing for the Fight Against ISIS (Wonderful, except for a few things: a) Congress doesn't WANT to vote on this; b) Congress hasn't declared war since June 4, 1942; and c) Congress is completely dysfunctional, couldn't pass a bill to tie their shoelaces in a timely fashion.)
*Attorney General Mark Herring bolsters re-entry effort for Virginia jails
*Virginians likely to pay more at the pump come January (If you don't like it, blame Bob Goodlatte, who has let the Marketplace Fairness Act rest "unmoved in the House Judiciary Committee" for months and months now.)
*Foust reminds voters of Comstock's vote for 'transvaginal ultrasounds' in new ad
*Ryan Nobles Joins CNN Newsource as National Correspondent (The mass exodus from the Virginia press corps(e) continues...)
*McAuliffe and GOP offer plan for $2.4 billion budget shortfall (A serious plan would also look at the revenues side, not 100% at the expenditures side as this does. Of course, this approach will make Bill "ALEC" Howell happy, but other than that...not so much.)
*Tweet by Arlington Young Dems fuels attacks on Warner (Slow news day apparently! LOL. Seriously, though, this is NOT something a Democratic leader should be putting on social media, especially when it's not even true.)
*U-Va. student from Fairfax missing in Charlottesville
*Most livable cities? Arlington is No. 3
*Mayor's office mum on Marshall departure
*A win away from clinching NL East
*Splendid weather for the rest of week

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

"We're Rural, Not Stupid" Part 3

by: pontoon

Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 11:00:37 AM EDT

( - promoted by Dan Sullivan)

This is the third in our series of letters from Nelsonians relating their concerns about Dominion's Atlantic Coast pipeline.

Marion Kanour is an involved and active member of the Nelson community.  She was born and raised in Norfolk, served in the US Marine Corps for 4 years as an Aviation Supply Officer and has been an ordained Episcopal Priest for 21 years.  Marion currently serves as the Priest of Grace Episcopal Church, Massie's Mill, Nelson, VA.  She has a knack for seeing needs in our community and setting about to fill those needs.  As well as supporting many community groups (i.e, the renovation of a local baseball field), she has played an integral role in the creation of Nelson's Domestic Violence Task Force, as well as being the organizer of one of Nelson's anti-pipeline groups, Free Nelson.  She and her wife, Barbara Heyl, live in the Greenfield area of Nelson County.

Here's Marion's poignant letter:

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 319 words in story)

The Republican Party's Extraordinary Pattern of Destructiveness

by: Andy Schmookler

Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 11:54:45 AM EDT

The following is the second in a series whose purpose is to show what's gone wrong in our nation's political arena, and to help start the process of setting things right. The series is addressed to all those who are disturbed by what the Republican Party has become, and frustrated by the failure of the Democratic Party to combat it effectively.

Summary: In the conduct of today's Republican Party, we can see a pattern of destructiveness. It displays an insatiable lust for power and wealth, an impulse to prey upon the vulnerable, a preference for conflict over cooperation, a persistent dishonesty, and a willingness to sacrifice the greater good for selfish advantage. Putting the pieces together, we see that our national crisis is not just at the political level, but goes deeper to the moral and spiritual levels.

I have a message and a plan to help turn back this force. To succeed, it will need the help of many.
*******

The Republican Party, I have said here, has been taken over by a destructive force. Time now to flesh out more of the picture showing the relentlessly destructive nature of what now animates the Republican Party:

It's a force that's insatiable in its lust for power and wealth.

    Even though we have the greatest income inequality that we've had in living memory, this force works continually to widen that gap still further. All their budgetary proposals would take from average Americans to give more to those who already have the most. As they protect those who have tripled their share of our national income, they cut food stamps to the most vulnerable Americans -- even at a time when jobs are scarce and even the middle class is struggling. In the realm of political power, this force has given us a Supreme Court that handed down that disgraceful decision in Citizens United, making it still easier for the nation's widening inequalities of wealth to be translated into inequalities of political power. With our government put up for auction, "All men are created equal" gets swamped by the Almighty Dollar. The Republicans have been working to turn our government from one "by the people" into one controlled by those giant so-called "persons" that make up the corporate world.
There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1382 words in story)

Countdown to #MedicaidCharade: Still No Plan from House Leadership

by: lowkell

Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 10:27:11 AM EDT

From the Democratic Party of Virginia:

With special session only days away, Virginians are still waiting for Speaker Howell and the rest of House Republican leadership to show that they're even willing to consider a plan to expand Medicaid and close the coverage gap. Republican leaders have yet to put forward legislation to ensure that 400,000 Virginians have access to the healthcare they deserve – but they have wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars on political posturing.

Even as conservative Republican governors in Arizona, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Wyoming have embraced expansion, Virginia House Republicans are willing to squander taxpayer dollars while hundreds of thousands of their constituents go without care. Bringing back lawmakers to Richmond without taking action is an expensive political charade, and Virginians just aren’t buying it.

And as House Republicans stay silent on a plan, editorial boards across the state are calling on them to change their tune.  

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 432 words in story)

"Conservatives" Want a Piece of Your Healthcare Money

by: Dan Sullivan

Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 10:06:48 AM EDT

RAM Dental Clinic Assembly photo DentalClinicAssembly_2_zpsb2bfb5d1.jpgThere's always a story behind the story and sometimes one belies the other. Remote Area Medical (RAM) is a godsend; make no mistake about it. But like any private sector organization, the transparency or accountability we demand from government is not always evident. Today's "conservatives" would never acknowledge that.

Watching and taking part in the transformation of a rural air terminal into expeditionary specialty clinics, dental and vision, is not an immersion in military precision. It almost can't be when much of the labor is borrowed. The effort resulting when organization is flattened results in stove-piping. The raw volunteers care about pitching in and recognize the limits of their ability to contribute to technical assembly of the equipment. There are enough seasoned volunteers that as long as the boxes and bags are lined up at their assigned places, they can readily and efficiently assemble and order materials; in their areas. The lack of organization and efficiency among the unguided volunteers is more than compensated for by their numbers and camaraderie. From pitching tents (probably the most organized effort), to setting up tables and chairs, to moving crates and boxes, the unbridled activity ends in mission accomplishment.

This is at the tactical delivery end. Strategically there is always another view that is masked by the appearance if not the reality of good intentions. My father had no time for the American Red Cross. After raging battles on isolated Pacific islands during World War II, the Red Cross sold donuts to the Marines and sailors ashore; the Salvation Army was there handing out goods gratis. Guess which organization he favored. My wife cannot turn down a request for a donation from Saint Jude's in Memphis despite having no clue who Danny Thomas was; it's those children. On the other hand, when I see anyone collecting donations to benefit our military service members or veterans, I challenge their credentials on the spot. I wasn't as discerning with RAM until I saw the DC-47 (a WWII DC-3 configuration) touch down in Lee County. After all, RAM had been endorsed via association by both of Virginia's United States Senators, our current Governor, and General Assembly members from both sides of the aisle.  

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 641 words in story)

Video: New John Foust Ad Rips Barbara Comstock for Supporting "Transvaginal Ultrasound" Legislation

by: lowkell

Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 08:42:27 AM EDT

Good ad, hopefully the first of many to call out Barbara Comstock for her extreme record on women's health and reproductive freedom, as well as a whole host of other issues.

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Virginia News Headlines: Monday Morning

by: lowkell

Mon Sep 15, 2014 at 06:12:03 AM EDT

Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Monday, September 15. Also, I've finally gotten around to reading Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the 21st Century," am finding it fascinating (and highly relevant to political battles in this country over income inequality, fiscal policy, etc.), and thought I'd post this interview with the author a few months ago. Also note that the Roosevelts, who are the subject of a documentary by Ken Burns currently running on PBS, would almost certainly appreciate the data and conclusions of Piketty's book. Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? Not so much!

*This Is What's Truly At Stake In The Battle For Senate Control ("It's judicial and administrative nominations: who gets to be a lifetime-tenured federal judge, and who gets to run powerful government agencies.")
*Arab states offer air power against Islamic State
*Iraqi Leader Asks World Powers to Pursue ISIS in Syria
*The roughed-up American ("The Great Recession hurled incomes all the way back to the late 1980s and early 1990s. Median family income in 2013 was almost the same as in 1989.")
*Paul Krugman: How to Get It Wrong ("The great majority of policy-oriented economists believe that increasing government spending in a depressed economy creates jobs, and that slashing it destroys jobs - but European leaders and U.S. Republicans decided to believe the handful of economists asserting the opposite.")
*An absurd demand by the Air Force ("The Air Force's unwavering demand that a re-enlisting airman swear an oath "so help me God" is so comically unconstitutional that it should make Americans wonder whether the branch's brass is familiar with the document it's promised to protect.")
*Hillary Clinton goes back to the state that haunts
*In Weddings, Pope Francis Looks Past Tradition
*McAuliffe to release details on budget cut agreement (You know this won't be good.)
*Virginia income tax dependence cited in report ("The S&P report released Monday says Virginia is among the 10 states most reliant on income tax revenues." How about tax carbon -- and of course inherited wealth - and reduce income taxes?)
*Candidate Brat figuring out stance, message
*Was the sale of 815 acres by Fairfax City a fair deal or a raw deal?
*Portsmouth leaders running out of patience with auditor's delays
*Nationals beat New York Mets; magic number down to 4
*Possibly the best weather week of the year

Discuss :: (4 Comments)
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The purpose of Blue Virginia is to cover Virginia politics from a progressive and Democratic perspective. This is a group blog and a community blog. We invite everyone to comment here, but please be aware that profanity, personal attacks, bigotry, insults, rudeness, frequent unsupported or off-point statements, "trolling" (NOTE: that includes outright lies, whether about climate science, or what other people said, or whatever), and "troll ratings abuse" (e.g., "troll" rating someone simply because you disagree with their argument) are not permitted and, if continued, will lead to banning. For more on trolling, see the Daily Kos FAQs. Also note that diaries may be deleted if they do not contain at least 2 solid paragraphs of original text; if not, please use the comments section of a relevant diary. For more on writing diaries, click here. Thanks, and enjoy!

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