Thursday, August 6, 2020
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Elaine in Roanoke


McDonnell Abortion Policy Ignores Medical Reality

The General Assembly rejected Gov. Bob McDonnell's attempts to kill Big Bird and the rest of the gang on Sesame Street - by eventual elimination of funding for public broadcasting - and his proposal to switch Medicaid mental health services to a managed-care plan. However, the legislature did go along with his restriction of state funding for abortions to cases of rape or incest or when the life of the mother is at risk. Previously, the law also allowed Medicaid to pay for abortions if the health of the mother was at risk.

Perhaps the predominately male legislature doesn't know exactly what sorts of health problems the former policy addressed. We aren't talking here about women who believe that their pregnancy will make them "feel bad." There are actual, serious medical problems that no longer will be covered.

Del. Jennifer McClellan, (D-Richmond) who happens to be pregnant herself, explained how the new limits on abortion will have unintended consequences for the health of women in Virginia. "I've had time to talk through this with my own OB (obstetrician) and get real-life examples," she said.

Time for Strong New Wall Street Regulation

"I think the market is cleansing itself..." That remark was made recently on CNBC by an apologist for the shenanigans and illegal acts that brought us the financial debacle now unfolding - a spokesman for those who insist that the "free market" can "regulate itself.

The comment totally discounts the disruption in the lives of millions caused by the collapse of the economy, suffering brought about by the rampant greed and manipulation of markets in this latest financial collapse. I the market cleansing itself of flash trades...dark pools...unrelenting short selling...problems with derivatives? Can we trust firms like Goldman Sachs to pledge that, never again, will they peddle junk to the rest of us, while their insiders bet that very junk will fail? I don't think so.

It's actually in the best long-term interest of the stock market and Wall Street to be re-regulated. As it stands now, the majority of Americans are rightly convinced that the stock market is rigged, a place where insiders have gamed the system so that they alone are sure to win. Elimination of the practices that brought down the whole economy is vital. Without re-regulation, we are destined to repeat the debacle just endured. The very people who cause the problem are never the ones who pay for it. The rest of us are.

So, as the White House begins the arduous job of selling reform of Wall Street against the headwind of ever-present Republican obstructionism, it might pay for all of us to learn a bit about the insider's gaming of the stock market? Let's look behind the curtain and reveal some of the actions of the greedy Wall Street Wizards of Oz....

McDonnell’s Actions Opposite of Inaugural Promise

Pastors from 19 Black churches in Virginia have written a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell criticizing several of the positions he has taken since becoming governor.

It's not just his proclamation declaring April to be Confederate History Month and lauding only the confederate history portion of the Civil War the pastors object to. (I will give McDonnell credit for realizing that his proclamation was a mistake that set off a firestorm of criticism and, consequently, revising it.) They also criticized the governor's executive order barring employment discrimination which omitted sexual orientation as a protected class, budget cuts that hurt the most programs for the poorest Virginians, and the governor's plan to force nonviolent felons seeking restoration of their voting rights to write an essay.

The pastors' letter  also criticized the filing of "frivolous legal suits aimed at repealing the President's advances in healthcare and protection of the ecosystem" and "the appointment of the attorney representing Club Velvet to the head of the ABC board, upon whose property President Obama has been demeaned by a vulgar representation in Joker-face for months - an attorney who may have serious conflict of interest issues."  

Mine Disaster Result of Regulation Malpractice? Criminal Negligence?

Everyone who knows anything about underground coal mining in Appalachia knows that it is extremely dangerous. However, as mining operation have become ever more mechanized - thus requiring far fewer workers to extract the same amount of coal - mine accidents have become less frequent, much of that improvement due to federal and state mining regulations. Those regulations must be enforced in order to protect the workers in those mines.

The recent mine fatalities at Massey Energy Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia remind us that the danger is still very much there, especially when the mine company ignores safety violations and dangerous situations. Even though Massey is based in Richmond, it has just two  operations in Virginia - that is, until its March 2010 merger with Cumberland Resources, a nearly $1 billion deal that gives Massey another 17 Virginia mines.

Perhaps that explains the $441,463  Virginia politicians, mostly Republican, have gotten from Massey since 1997, including $40,000 donated to Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell's campaign last year.

With the bad record Massey has on safety, I'm sure its top management considers such political contributions its "insurance" against close regulation, sort of "protection money" to keep the cops away. It desperately needs it, considering its lousy safety record.

McDonnell Stirs Up Confederate Hornet’s Nest

Let me start with my Confederate heritage. Five of my great-great-grandfathers fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. Two of them never returned to their wives and young children and lie in unmarked graves on battlefields. Another was a prisoner of war for a time.

Having said all that, I think the way Bob McDonnell chose to sneakily - and without mentioning slavery - proclaim April as "Confederate History Month" was both ridiculous and cowardly. Evidently, he was fulfilling a old campaign promise he made to the Virginia chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. In the process, he blew a hole in his "Mr. Moderate" image so big that Gen. Lee could have marched Pickett's division through it.

The Washington Post reports:

We've known for quite some time we had a good opportunity {for the proclamation} should he ascend the governorship," Brandon Dorsey of the Sons of Confederate Veterans said. He noted that McDonnell had indicated that back when he was interviewed by them during his 2005 attorney general's race.
In that same article, Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta), responded to the growing Confederate proclamation controversy. "It would be totally inappropriate to do [a proclamation] that would just poke a stick to stir up old wounds...I think it's appropriate as long as it's not fiery."

I don't know what Hanger thinks of as "fiery." Perhaps it has to be as bad as the diatribe former Gov. George Allen unleashed in his Confederate proclamation, which called the Civil War "a four-year struggle for [Southern] independence and sovereign rights" and made no mention of slavery.  McDonnell followed Allen in one sense. He also had no mention of slavery and simply called the Civil War "a four year war between the states for independence." (The entire text of McDonnell's proclamation in on his website.)

No, the Civil War was a war to preserve the institution of slavery in the South and to spread slavery to as many of the western territories as possible. The goals were to be achieved by seceding from the United States. The rationale used to justify the declaration of war by the Confederacy was states' rights and secession.

Will Massey Negligence Hit Virginia Next?

As news focuses on the mine tragedy in West Virginia, I wonder if Tazewell County is simply a tragedy waiting to happen. Last October, Massey's operation in Tazewell County (Knox Creek Coal Corp.) was one of ten that were cited by Federal safety regulators as the worst in the nation. The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration gave the company 90 days to take corrective action.

In December, the Mine Safety and Health Administration filed suit to force corrective action, charging that the company was not taking proper precautions to protect miners from roof falls, a "significant and substantial" violation.

Since Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli evidently doesn't believe in corporations like Massey having any regulation - note his fatuous "lawsuit" against EPA regulation of greenhouse gases like CO2  - I don't expect to see him bother to attempt state-level action to pressure Knox Creek to comply.

Meanwhile, news reports get worse and worse from the Massey mining disaster at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia. Some of the grieving relatives of the 25 miners confirmed killed in the mining disaster are angry because they found out their loved ones were among the dead from government officials or a company Web site, not from Massey Energy representatives.

One deceased miner's daughter said that the family didn't even know where her father's body was taken. Massey has not contacted them in any way.

Dick Armey: Tea Pot “Historian”

Former Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX) left Congress when he no longer could run things as majority leader in the House of Representatives. (That sexual harassment charge was before he went to Congress.) Then, he became a highly-paid lobbyist in Washington until he was asked to leave because his firm was lobbying for health care reform at the same time that Armey, through his right-wing group FreedomWorks, was helping organize last August's "spontaneous" yelling matches against reform at those so-called "town hall meetings."

Armey is always off the wall, but he is beyond absurd when he re-writes American history to fit his preconceived, right-wing notions. Recently, Armey contended that the people who settled Jamestown in 1607 were socialists and that their ideology almost doomed them.

"Jamestown colony, when it was first founded as a socialist venture, dang near failed with everybody dead and dying in the snow," he said in a speech on March 15 at the National Press Club.

No, the settlement of Jamestown was pure capitalism in action.

“Kookinelli” – Virginia’s Embarrassment

Here he goes again. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli vows once more to sue the federal government. Now, he is challenging  the Obama administration and Environmental Protection Agency's new fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks.

Cuccinelli has already filed suit against the EPA's determination that it can regulate greenhouse gases because they cause global warming and are harmful to human health. A Cuccinelli  spokesman said the EPA's announcement of fuel efficiency standards amounts to a "tacit denial" of Cooch's insistence that the EPA reconsider its greenhouse gases determination.

Well, duh...Of course it does.

Bolling: Latest Blip on Hypocrite Radar

We all have had chuckles - plus a large dose of disgust - watching all the Republicans who railed against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and voted en masse against it, proceed to tout the benefits in their own districts. Now, Bob McDonnell's hand-picked "jobs czar," Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, is joining their ranks.

Bolling spent last year attacking the federal "stimulus bill,"  saying that all the efforts to combat the Wall-Street-greed-driven Great Recession, were "massive federal spending bills that would result in the largest expansion of government in 40 years" and "will balloon the size of the federal government and increase the federal debt dramatically, little to stimulate economic growth."

Now, Bolling has gotten stimulus religion, Last week, according to the Washington Post, the lieutenant governor, speaking on behalf of his boss Bob McDonnell, praised almost 40 energy conservation projects proposed by local governments in Virginia. The cost - funds from the Recovery Act - totals $13.2 million.

"Jobs will be the first dividend from these innovative programs and projects, but they also have the potential to save tax dollars and reduce energy costs for Virginians for years to come,"  Bolling said.

I have just one comment: Welcome to the "GOP Hypocrisy Hall of Shame," Mr. Bolling.

Myths about the State Budget

Here we go again. Gov. Bob McDonnell wants to walk in the footsteps of George Allen and shrink the big, bad, state government. When Allen tried that, it was simply a smokescreen for his radical conservative agenda. He was more interested in  vouchers for private schools and privatizing mental health and child support services than in ending unnecessary state spending.

Conservatives in the GOP always throw around this budget figure: "State spending over the past decade has grown 73 percent in the past 10 years." NOT TRUE.

The figure bandied about by those who begrudge any state revenue going to anyone except themselves includes directed funds, such as money that gives tuition help to state colleges. According to the latest JLARC report, the actual increase in state spending for the General Fund  in the last 10 years is 46 percent.

If one is honest and corrects that figure for inflation and state population growth (10 percent), the state budget has grown only 8 percent over 10 years, or less than 1 percent per year. That is hardly profligate state spending.

However, here we go again...

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