Thursday, August 6, 2020
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Elaine in Roanoke

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Fred Malek: Jew-counting “Enforcer” of the GOP

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In 2006, Colbert King wrote an extensive op-ed piece about the past career of Fred Malek, the man Bob McDonnell has placed at the head his recently named committee to "streamline" Virginia government. The occasion for the renewed interest in Malek in 2006 was a discussion surrounding the return of major league baseball to the nation's capital.

Several groups of investors wanted the opportunity to become the new owners of the franchise that was moved from Montreal to Washington. The ownership group put together by Malek lost out to a group led by Maryland real estate developer Theodore Lerner.

Many of us by now have heard how Malek, who was called the "enforcer" of the Nixon administration where he was the deputy undersecretary for management, obliged Richard Nixon with a count of the Jews at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nixon, surely our most paranoid president, thought "disloyal" Jews at BLS were undermining him by noting that a drop in the unemployment figure in 1971 might just be a statistical fluke. Since the comment was made by a man named Harold Goldstein, Nixon and his henchmen jumped to their anti-Semitic conclusion.

Enraged, Nixon demanded to know how many Jews worked at the agency. Fred Malek was tasked with the duty of uncovering the number of Jews at the agency and reporting back to Nixon.

Malek has stated many times that he regrets that action. I don't question that. I wonder, however, if he regrets other things in his past as a Republican operative acting at the edge of legality, things like being deep in the Watergate slime.

McDonnell’s Love Affair with Oil Continues

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There are times when a person can become unhealthily obsessed with a new "love," particularly one that promises to give you whatever you wish. Yes, sometimes it's hard to be objective and look at a possible union with anything other than rose-colored glasses. Perhaps that explains why the unfolding catastrophe that is the BP Gulf oil spill hasn't shaken Bob McDonnell's love affair with the offshore oil industry that wants to "unite" with the Atlantic coast of Virginia.

McDonnell has returned to Richmond after his trip to pal around with oil and gas industry executives in Houston. "[The trip] just impressed upon me even more how enormously large this industry is, how many jobs and how much money is generated by offshore energy development," McDonnell said, obviously enamored of his wealthy "suitor."

(It's pretty obvious that McDonnell wasn't taken by his oily friends on a guided tour of the massive spill now spewing into the Gulf of Mexico and endangering fishing, shrimping, and tourist industries, as well as vital wildlife refuges.)

The governor aside, the prevailing attitude by Virginia's politicians to the BP oil platform disaster and subsequent massive oil spill, for the most part, seems to be, "O.K., we need to pause and take stock of why this accident happened before we drill off Virginia's Atlantic coast." I would contend that there are other things we should be looking at as well, including whether the regulatory agency for such activities has been rehabilitated from its chronic corruption during the Bush oil-soaked presidency.

Sen Bill Nelson (D-FL) has called for an investigation of that agency, pointing out that it did not require BP to file a blowout plan when the company filed its exploration plan for the Deepwater Horizon rig last year.  

LU Power Play in Lynchburg Fails

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The recent municipal election in Lynchburg resulted in placing a far different group of city council members in power than Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., thought he could engineer.  The university, a far-right bastion of religious and political conservatism, had attempted to pressure the Lynchburg City Council to move the voting precinct for its students onto its campus, to the point of secretly recording a conversation between school officials and the mayor and city manager.

(How far-right is LU? Well, the speaker at their commencement this year is Glenn Beck, the crybaby clown who pretends to be a "commentator" on Faux News!)

For this election Liberty also conducted an on-campus voter registration drive, informed students that they were expected to vote, and provided buses to take them to their polling place. The expectation was that three Republicans could be elected and would then give Falwell enormous clout on city council since he has the student votes to control one city ward. Things didn't turn out that way.

These same actions were behind the narrow defeat of Del. Shannon Valentine last November, so I suppose Falwell thought he could pull off another coup...Not this time.

Dan Casey Has Cooch’s Number

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Dan Casey, the free-spirited columnist for the Roanoke Times, has a "spot on" column today about Virginia's strange new attorney general. Casey states,
This cornball prudery, on lapel pins handed out to Cuccinelli's staffers, produced news over the weekend that's worth a laugh or two at the expense of our apparent boob-fearing AG. But it shouldn't distract us from some very unfunny moves Cuccinelli is making.

Casey is referring to Cuccinelli's over-reaching demand to the University of Virginia for all the correspondence of former UVa climate researcher, Michael Mann. Cooch's 14-page subpoena demands not only copies of all of Mann's conversations with 38 other climate scientists but even wants all contacts with "all research assistants, secretaries or administrative staff" with whom he worked, plus all his research data.

All of us should keep in mind that this "fishing expedition" by Cuccinelli is in the hopes of finding a reason to file a civil case against a highly respected scientist. Just how respected is Dr. Mann?  

Warner: Senate Could Reinstate Glass-Steagall

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Sen. Mark Warner said today on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" that the Senate could approve an amendment to reinstate a main element of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. That law separated commercial banks and investment banks into separate entities.

Sen. Warner is a member of the Senate Banking Committee and has been closely involved in negotiations to get a Wall Street reform bill to the floor. Warner said that he personally opposed such a measure, but there is a bipartisan group of senators who have pushed for the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall,  which would force banks to separate their commercial and investment activities.  

The reason Warner gave for opposing reinstatement was that he thinks that it would put U.S. banks at a competitive disadvantage compared to the banks of other nations. (Perhaps this is where the G-8 could do something about that situation, instead of simply gathering from time to time for photo ops.)

The First 3 1/2 Months of Kookinelli Madness

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It's time to recap the brief "career" so far of AG Ken Cuccinelli, who all by himself seems determined to make the office of Virginia's attorney general the continual butt of television comedians' jokes.

On February 16, just one month after taking office, Cuccinelli filed a request with the Environmental Protection Agency asking it to reopen its proceedings regarding the finding that greenhouse gases endanger public health.

Of course, at the same time he also asked for judicial review of the EPA's finding in federal court. As a result, Virginia has joined Alabama and Texas as the only states seeking to overturn any EPA action to control greenhouse gases. According to Cooch, the EPA is just a bunch of "bureaucrats with political agendas" who have falsified data in order to drive American business into the ground. He doesn't say how he know that scientific data is "falsified."

February was just Act One of the Cuccinelli absurdist theater acted out in the office of the attorney general. We had much more waiting for us...

We’ve Lost a Leader for Justice

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A daughter of Virginia, Dorothy Height, was laid to rest today. Born in 1912 in Richmond, Dr. Height, after moving with her family to Pennsylvania, was admitted to Barnard College after winning a four-year Elks scholarship in an oratory contest. She was denied the right to register for classes because the college had a policy of admitting only two black students each year. She didn't give up. Instead, she went to New York University with her Barnard letter of acceptance.

Height ended up attending New York University, earning both a bachelor's and a master's degree. Dr. Height first worked as a caseworker for the welfare department in New York City. Later, she became active in the YWCA. In 1957, she was named president of the National Council of Negro Women, a position she held for forty years.

Height was at the side of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the March on Washington in 1963. During the 1960's, Height organized "Wednesdays in Mississippi," meetings that brought together black and white women to work for peaceful change.

At her funeral mass, held today at the National Cathedral in Washington, President Obama said, "The lesson she would want us to leave with today - a lesson she lived out each and every day - is that we can all be first in service We can all be drum majors for a righteous cause. So let us live out that lesson."  

This Is Why I Worked To Elect This Man!

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I received this information in an email from Sen. Jim Webb's office: Sen. Webb plans to reintroduce his Taxpayer Fairness Act as an amendment to the financial reform bill, S. 3217, when it comes up for debate.

"During this debate on financial regulation, nothing seems more fair or appropriate than to make the American taxpayers whole after they infused our financial markets with capital in 2008 and saw them to recovery," said Webb.

Sen. Webb and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)  first introduced their idea of a one-time tax on bonuses as an amendment to the bill passed in March which extended certain tax provisions. The amendment stated that there should be a one-time windfall tax on bonuses paid in 2010 to executives of financial institutions that received $5 billion or more from the TARP program.

The Coal Industry/Government Revolving Door

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The Pittsburgh Post Gazette recently reported on what it called the coal company waltz. "More than 200 former congressional staff members, federal regulators and retired lawmakers are employed by the mining industry as lobbyists, consultants or senior executives, including dozens who work for coal companies with the worst safety records in the nation."

The "waltz" simply isn't the dance of former legislators onto K Street or into corporate suites. In the last decade, industry officials have also gotten jobs on staffs in Congress and at the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), which is supposed to enforce safety standards.

An argument can be made that persons with expertise in a field of endeavor are necessary in order to understand how to regulate an industry. However, the danger of serious conflicts of interest are obvious, and it appears that the situation at MSHA was an example of a conflict of interest gone terribly wrong.

It was a 30-year veteran executive of the coal industry, Richard Stickler, that George W. Bush nominated to head the MSHA in 2006. That was not a good appointment if you are a miner, nor was Bush's earlier appointment of David Lauriski.

Memo to Cooch: Check the Voting Rights Act

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The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has written a letter to Ken Cuccinelli explaining that the Voting Rights Act requires Virginia to notify the federal government and get clearance before any changes in the method of reinstating a felon's right to vote.

It appears that the McDonnell administration didn't bother to research that basic fact when it announced that it would make felons who have paid their debt to society write an essay and submit it to the governor's office before they could be considered for restoration of that right. As we all know, the uproar that came so closely on the heels of McDonnell's Confederate Month declaration caused an immediate backpedal.

McDonnell's office rescinded the first announcement and said no decision on the matter had been made, even though the first announcement had said that some people had already been informed that they would have to write an essay. Now, the Washington-based lawyers committee is telling the governor what his attorney general should have pointed out before any such announcement was made; i.e., it would be illegal to change the policy without prior federal notification.

Perhaps if Ken Cuccinelli would put his attention where it belongs - being the objective lawyer for the state - he could have avoided the governor looking yet again as if he were acting out of prejudice. Instead, he evidently has himself and his office tied up with his misguided suits against the federal government.

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