The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, has called on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) to explain why a Muslim woman driver who wears an Islamic head covering (hijab) was prevented from operating her train with a group of political VIPs as passengers.
According to the Muslim woman operator, the first car of her Silver Line train was commandeered for a media event [on Friday, May 8] featuring VIPs such as Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.)...
Before leaving on her normal schedule, the Muslim operator was reportedly informed by a supervisor that she would not be driving the train and was told to sit in the commandeered compartment while being watched by security personnel. The Muslim driver ultimately burst into tears because of the stress and humiliation she felt.
What on earth caused THIS to take place? Rep. Comstock, any comment?
What Bob Schieffer's talking about here (see partial transcript below) is so, so true, certainly in Virginia state (and local) government. I mean, just think about the decline of the Virginia state capitol press corps(e) the past few years, the exodus of reporters with decades of experience from keeping an eye on the crooks shenanigans going on in the Virginia General Assembly. Quick multiple-choice question: without that sunshine, do you think things will get a) better; b) worse? Hmmmm. And yes, political blogs have filled the gap to a small extent, but they're not even close to having the resources necessary to cover the Virginia General Assembly on a day-to-day basis during session, let alone the rest of the year. So...next time you hear someone complain about how corrupt things are in government, remind them that there are fewer and fewer experienced eyes (or any eyes for that matter) shining any light on what's going on there.
P.S. h/t to Chris Cillizza on this interview. As Cillizza writes: "Not only are there fewer eyes watching politicians, legislation and the like but also the pols are all-too-well well aware of that fact. More things are tried -- in a bad way -- by politicians because they know there is a far smaller chance of them getting caught or even called on it." Not good at all.
...one of the things that worries me about current journalism practices is the deemphasis on beat reporters. You know, so many newspapers around the country now - and I'm really worried about the state of newspaper journalism right now - because unless some entity comes along and does what local newspapers have been doing all these years, we're going to have corruption at a level we've never experienced...So many papers now can't afford to have a beat reporter...many papers don't have a city hall reporter anymore...to cover city hall you have to be there every day, and you have to know the overall story...
See below for the top-rated comment on Ken Cuccinelli's Facebook post regarding the three-judge panel's ruling on President Obama's immigration executive actions. I've crossed out the commenter's name, as that's not really relevant; the point is that this comment, claiming that any "illegal immigrant families" who "come back" to the U.S. "deserve a bullet" has received 126 "likes" as of 9 am Wednesday morning, and has not been removed or rebutted in any way by Ken Cuccinelli. What's horrifying is that Cuccinelli is not an outlier in today's Republican Party; to the contrary, he was elected Atttorney General of Virginia and almost elected Governor of Virginia as the Republican nominee in 2013. How can someone so extreme, so crazy, so godawful even be taken seriously in the United States of America? And how many others in his party agree with the sentiments expressed by the "bullet" commenter? Clearly, a large number, based on the 126 "likes." It's extremely disturbing, even more so that the media won't call out this party for what it has become, but continues its dangerous and cowardly "false equivalency," false "balance" "reporting" instead of simply reporting the TRUTH.
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Wednesday, May 27. Also, courtesy of Catherine Read, check out the photo of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee's "endorsed Democratic school board candidates from each of Fairfax County's magisterial districts." That includes: School Board At-Large candidates (not included in this photo) Ryan McElveen, Ted Velkoff and Ilryong Moon; Megan McLaughlin (Braddock District), Patricia Hynes (Hunter Mill District), Janie Strauss (Dranesville District), Tamara Derenak Kaufax (Lee District), Sandy Evans (Mason District), Karen Corbett Sanders (Mt. Vernon District), Dalia Palchik (Providence District), Karen Keys-Gamarra (Sully District). Good luck to all of them!
This endorsement would be hilarious if it weren't so pathetic. Actually, come to think of it, it IS hilarious.
Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has said he wants to unseat powerful Republican state Sen. Frank Wagner of Virginia Beach as the Democrats seek to retake control of the chamber this year.
Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, also a Democrat, isn't on board with the plan.
Fraim will emcee a fundraising luncheon for Wagner on Wednesday at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott catering to the maritime community.
"He is supporting Frank," said Wagner campaign manager Scott Weldon. "Mayor Fraim and Sen. Wagner go back years."
Fraim, Norfolk's mayor for 21 years, said Wagner asked for his support long before he knew there would be a Democratic challenger "and I committed to it."
How inspiring, huh? More like super lame. Why? First off, you've gotta love the Wagner campaign manager's pathetic "they go back years" reason for why Fraim is supporting his buddy Frank. Second, does Fraim really think we're all that stupid to believe he did this simply because Wagner asked for Fraim's support "before [Fraim] knew there would be a Democratic challenger 'and I committed to it.'" Uh huh...
As to the "corrupt slimeball" part of the title, I refer you to Exhibit A ("Norfolk, Suffolk mayors resign from TowneBank boards") on Fraim and Exhibit B on Frank "Fully Owned and Operated by Dominion Power" Wagner ("During the 2015 legislation session, Senator Wagner carried SB 1349, controversial legislation on behalf of Dominion Virginia Power that restricted the oversight authority of the State Corporation Commission to order refunds when the utility overcharges its customers. When it became public knowledge that Senator Wagner also owned stock in Dominion, he sold his shares during the legislative session.").
Bottom line: Wagner and Fraim are two slimy peas in a rotting pod, truly made for each other, and no surprise whatsoever that one would endorse the other. Politics at its "why so many people hate politicians" worst...
I feel like I've been having a similar discussion, over and over again, the past few months, about the Virginia 2015 elections, and specifically what it will take for Democrats to make gains in a low, low, LOW-turnout year. For instance, the other day I was "Gchatting" with one of the smartest Virginia Democratic political observers (SVDPO) I know, and we were discussing this very subject. Here's a rough transcript of the conversation, which started off with us ripping Dick Saslaw for being (as my smart Dem political friend put it), "both an embarrassment and very ineffective."
Me: Saslaw's utterly ineffective as a strategist and tactician...wasted $1 million trying to hold Phil Puckett's seat in a 2:1 Republican district. Poor judgment after poor judgment.
SVDPO: Yes, he is completely ineffective at strategy at this point. That's because he's still living in the past, when there was a "Virginia Way" and Democrats were powerful so Republicans were their friends. Once they took power, theyve been kicking Dems like him who used to be their allies to the curb. It's a whole new ball game in Richmond and he hasn't a clue.
Me: Like, they think (conservadem/Independent who wanted to impeach/convict Bill Clinton and mused publicly about not voting to reelect President Obama in 2012) Dan Gecker is the best choice for the John Watkins open seat. That's nuts. Also, they think that they need a white guy to run against Hal Parrish. They tried recruiting two other white guys (David Brickley, who joined the Gilmore administration and effectively threw the House of Delegates to Republican control in 1998, being one of them), finally got Jeremy McPike (apparently anyone but the black guy or brown guy). Just like they said Jaime Areizaga-Soto couldn't win a deep-blue Senate district, which of course was utterly absurd...Jeremy will get trounced by Parrish if he's the nominee. Gecker will lose to Sturtevant. Their "theory of the case" is totally wrong. This is a low-turnout election in which it's all about motivating/firing up the BASE to turn out. Gecker won't do that, nor will McPike. If those two are the nominees, I think it's quite possible we end this election with 16 or 17 Senate seats. John Edwards is in trouble, as is the Colgan seat potentially. We'll see about Lynwood Lewis, hopefully he's ok. Let's also hope Jill McCabe runs a strong campaign against Dick Black.
SVDPO: Hopefully, McCabe will run a strong enough campaign. As for the rest, you are right.
Me: So under Dick's leadership, we've lost the Senate, thrown the House Dems under the bus (because that was supposed to guarantee the Senate, which we lost anyway), and got the worst of all worlds.
This article in today's Forward ("the most influential nationwide Jewish media outlet today") sums up what many of us who strongly support Israel, but who think the right wing is leading it to disaster, have been thinking. A few highlights.
*First, the headline: "What Israel's Chief of Staff Is Worried About - No, It's Not Iran." That's right, Iran isn't even on the list (!) "of the main strategic threats facing Israel in the foreseeable future and its plans to meet them," as seen by Israel's military General Staff and intelligence services.
*Instead, what the Israeli intelligence and military services believe is exactly what President Obama, and most pro-Israel progressives like myself, believe: "the likelihood that the emerging nuclear agreement between Iran and the major powers could minimize the Iranian threat for an extended period, allowing the military to redirect budgets and resources toward areas of more immediate concern."
*What most concerns the Israeli military? Hezbollah and Hamas, of course; also "the growing threat from global jihad movements, led by Al Qaeda and ISIS;" and the growing threat of cyber attacks."
*Now here's the best part for those of us who think that right wingnuts claiming to be pro-Israel are actually a serious menace to Israel's future:
Looming above all the border concerns is a clear but unstated nervousness within the military and the intelligence community over the yawning gap between their professional assessments of Israel's strategic posture and the agenda of the country's elected political leadership. It emerges in the nervous snickers of ranking IDF strategists in response congressional efforts, like the New York lawmakers' bunker-buster proposal, to bolster what the military command considers the fantasy of an Israeli attack on Iran. It emerges, too, in a growing curiosity tinged with alarm among current and retired military commanders over the influence in Washington of American Jewish conservatives who claim to be defending Israeli security but have little grasp of Israeli strategic thinking.
So yeah, I find myself in full agreement with the Israeli military and intelligence services (also with President Obama and most Democrats), and in full disagreement with the likes of Lindsey Graham, John McCain, John Bolton, and many other right wingers here and in Israel. Which would you believe?
A crowd of over 300 gathered at Staunton's Gypsy Hill Park today to honor our fallen, captured, or missing servicemen and servicewomen. The keynote address was delivered by the Commandant of Cadets, Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership, Brigadier General Terry Djuric who also paid tribute the families of the fallen.
"There are lots of reminders that memorial Day is about more than a day of barbeque. Congress officially set Memorial Day as the last day in May to mark the start of our summer season of fun with the day devoted to the memory of those who perished in the fight for our principles of freedom. On this day of remembrance, the members of VFWs across our nation lead the way in honoring those who gave the last full measure of service." - Brigadier General Djuric
General Djuric paid homage to the present families of the fallen, telling the crowd that to the spouses, sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers, every day is Memorial Day.
(These seem like serious and fair questions to me, so I'm promoting the diary... - promoted by lowkell)
On June 9th, Arlington Democrats will nominate two candidates for the County Board seats being vacated by Mary Hynes and Walter Tejada. Though there have been many debates and candidate forums, there still are some unanswered questions about the candidates that I have been hearing through the grapevine. With two weeks left in the campaign, it's important that the candidates have an opportunity to address some of the harder-hitting questions that many Arlington Democrats have been asking behind-the-scenes but that have not come up in debates or forums. Therefore, below I have posed questions to each candidate, and I invite them to respond in the comments section. Questions are posed to the candidates in alphabetical order.
Katie Cristol Many people have questions about your professional background. You work for Education First Consulting, which seems to advocate on behalf of, among other things, charter schools. For example, one of the clients listed is the SEED Foundation, which supports charter schools across the country. Furthermore, many of the high-ranking Education First staff listed on the firm's website come from charter school backgrounds and have either founded or lobbied for charter schools across the United States. What is your position on charter schools, and would you support them as a member of the County Board? Furthermore, over the weekend the Arlington Education Association's PAC endorsed Christian Dorsey and Peter Fallon. This seems odd given the fact that you work as an education consultant. How do you explain the AEA not supporting your candidacy?
Christian Dorsey At two different debates, candidates were asked if they would support Libby Garvey or John Vihstadt for Board Chair. Traditionally the chair rotates among board members, and so it is likely that Garvey, and possibly Vihstadt, will become chair during their tenure. However, a more important question is whether or not you will commit to not supporting John Vihstadt for County Board in 2018. One of your top supporters, Peter Rousselot, was instrumental in John Vihstadt's win last year, and your campaign manager was on Vihstadt's campaign staff. Assuming Libby Garvey wins re-election next year, she will likely again support Vihstadt's re-election. Given the close ties between your top supporters/staff and John Vihstadt's, will you commit now to supporting a Democrat for County Board in 2018?
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Memorial Day 2015. Also, later this morning, President Obama will deliver remarks at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day 2015.
No, I'm still not a fan of Lee Hockstader's, but he certainly got this one right!
State Senate District 29: Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. The Democratic incumbent, Charles J. Colgan, who has held the seat since 1976, is the longest serving state senator in Virginia's history. His retirement after 10 terms touched off a primary race featuring three plausible candidates, each of whom ran for the House of Delegates two years ago.
The strongest of them is Atif M.Qarni, who served eight years in the U.S. Marines, including a tour in Iraq, before becoming a school teacher in Prince William County.
Mr. Qarni, widely admired for his energy, determination and commitment to service, would be the only active teacher in the Senate. He'd also be an effective advocate for schools who could speak to the real-world impact of legislation and policy from the perspective of someone working in one of the most diverse school districts anywhere.
Nailed it; this shouldn't even be a close call.
Also of interest, the Post endorsed Paul Krizek in the 44th House of Delegates district, correctly calling him "abundantly qualified to serve in Richmond, having been heavily involved in local civic groups for more than two decades." Also nailed it.
Finally, Craig Fifer continues his endorsement momentum, picking up the Washington Post, which says his "background, combining policy savvy and on-the-ground experience, is excellent preparation for a legislator."
Now, we'll see how the candidates take advantage of the "Washington Post endorsed" label, and how much clout said endorsement carries.
In light of the news that Josh Duggar - member of the Duggars' dangerous cult of purity (not to mention the bizarre, warped "Quiverfull" movement) - "repeatedly molested young girls when he was 14," I've seen numerous blog posts and news stories connecting Josh Duggar to various Republican politicans (e.g., see What do Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Jeb Bush Have In Common? Josh Duggar). However, I haven't seen any noting that the Duggars - including Josh Duggar - actively campaigned for the 2013 Virginia Republican "extreme team" ticket of Ken Cuccinelli, E.W. Jackson, and Mark "Criminalize Miscarriages" Obesnhain. Here's Josh Duggar speaking at a rally for the Extreme Team in October 2013: "FRC Action, our goal is to encourage faith, family and freedom, and these men - Ken Cuccinelli, E.W. Jackson, and Mark Obenshain - really are exemplary of our values." Any further questions about the Republican Party of Virginia? (note: that same party is now headed by a guy who likes to make anti-Semitic "jokes"; also includes extremists like "Sidehow Bob" Marshall, Dick Black, Steve Martin and many others)
P.S. This remains relevant because all three members of the "Extreme Team" are active public figures and potential future candidates for office (e.g., it is certainly possible that Mark Obenshain will run for Virginia Attorney General in 2017).
Here are a few national and Virginia news headlines, political and otherwise, for Sunday, May 24. Also, check out that story in which "police body camera videos show a Fredericksburg police officer use his Taser and pepper spray on a motionless, silent driver who was having a medical emergency." Would this have ever happened to a white person? Doubtful. Should this happen to ANYONE? No!
Good for Janet Oleszek, standing up to John Cook's continued attacks on her. This time, as you can see on the "flip," Cook is actually implying that Janet Oleszek doesn't care - as Oleszek points out on Twitter - "sex trafficking, sexual assault awareness or domestic violence." Of course, the exact opposite is true: Oleszek cares DEEPLY about all those things, and would be a strong advocate in all those areas on the Fairfax County Board. So why would John Cook say such obnoxious things? Because, obviously, he's trying to raise money from his right-wingnut base, and this is the type of red-meat, moronic rhetoric they love to hear about evileviltaxandspendblahblahblahliberals™ So here's Cook's "reasoning" in a nutshell: if someone doens't attend HIS meetings and events on whatever topics, that means they don't care about those topics. Logic 101 #FAIL Or, as Janet Oleszek puts it: "The 99.99% of Braddock residents (including me) who did not attend your meetings doesn't indicate a lack of interest in topic. It actually just indicates a lack of interest in listening to you." ZING!!! ;)
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