Sunday, September 22, 2019
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Can Anyone Explain What Cooch Is Saying Here?

Watch as Ken Kook-inelli is asked simple, direct questions, which he then completely fails to answer in a coherent manner. Can anyone explain what the heck Cooch is saying here?  I can't, except that he's being extremely evasive about his McCarthyite, anti-science witch hunt.

Jim Webb Makes The Case for Financial Reform

Check out the Augusta Free Press to read Jim Webb's "case for financial reform."  Here's the intro:
In the early days of our republic, President Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American-style democracy - that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base. That focus has been lost, as many on Wall Street have accumulated vast wealth while the middle class falls steadily behind. When regions of Virginia are experiencing more than 21 percent unemployment and so many working Americans continue to struggle in this economy, it is only just that our leaders protect the interests of America's working people.

The reckless practices on Wall Street that led to the financial meltdown were unfair to the average worker and risked the United States' economic position in the world. The regulatory structure in place failed to protect both our financial system and the U.S. taxpayer. We must act to prevent another financial crisis and future bailouts. Americans need a reformed financial system that puts their homes and retirements before Wall Street bonuses.

The Senate is now considering a financial reform bill, which could be an important step forward in reining in some of the worst abuses of recent years and bringing enhanced oversight and transparency to our financial system. However, it could be improved in a number of areas.

Jim Webb, ever the Jacksonian economic populist. In fact, the first conversation I ever had with Webb was largely about Jacksonian Democracy. As a U.S. Senator, Webb doesn't appear to have changed his belief that "we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base" one iota. I'm glad to see that.

Two Superb Articles by Peter Galuszka at Bacon’s Rebellion

Over at Bacon's Rebellion, veteran reporter (BusinessWeek, Virginia Business, Virginian-Pilot, Richmond Times-Dispatch) Peter Galuszka is rapidly becoming one of my favorite Virginia bloggers.  For instance, check out his two latest columns, The "Cooch" and Academic Freedom and "Streamlining" State Government.  Both of these are superb, and I strongly recommend that everyone read them.  

The "Streamlining" article explains how Bob McDonnell "likes the idea of government streamlining because it fits his political philosophy of promoting limited government," but also how there isn't much room for efficiency gains in Virginia state government, as "previous Democratic Governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine did a pretty good job running the state."

Galuszka's other recent article, The "Cooch" and Academic Freedom, argues that Ken Cuccinelli's assault on academic freedom in Virginia "conjures up some very ugly moments in American history."  According to Galuszka, "[Cuccinelli's] move is reminiscent of the church putting Galileo under house arrest for saying the planets move around the sun instead of the earth." Given this situation, Galuszka asks, "Why would an honest researcher want to work with Virginia universities if his or her work is going to be challenged by the likes of Cuccinelli and he or she will have to pay all of those lawyers fees to fund the Grand Inquisitor's witch hunts through their emails?"  Good question, and great article, by Peter Galuszka!

Preview of Kerry-Lieberman Clean Energy/Climate Bill

Tomorrow will be the unveiling of the long-awaited, Kerry-Lieberman clean energy/climate change bill (the "American Power Act"). Based on what I'm hearing, my understanding is that the Act will...

*...refund 2/3 of revenues raised not dedicated to reducing the deficit right back to consumers. Eventually, that will rise to 100% of revenues not dedicated to reducing the deficit going back to consumers.

*...invest in all domestic energy sources - renewables, coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear - while rebuilding our nation's energy infrastructure.

*...aim to kick our foreign oil addiction.

*...use different approaches for different sectors (e.g., power plants, heavy industry, transportation).

*...set up a carbon market that is simple and secure, with no chance of being manipulated.

*...invest $2 billion per year for development of carbon capture and sequestration methods.

*...encourage the use of American natural gas.

*...exempt farmers from carbon pollution compliance provisions of the bill.

*...invest in clean energy R&D.

*...have industrial sources enter the program in 2016, at which point industries that are energy-intensive and trade-exposed will receive allowances to offset compliance costs.

*...improve transportation infrastructure and efficiency.

*...set a hard price collar to ensure price predictability.

*...lay out one set of national rules, as opposed to a patchwork of conflicting state and federal regulations.

*...forbid states from operating their own cap-and-trade programs.

*...allow states to opt out of drilling up to 75 miles from their coasts.

*...give states that pursue offshore oil drilling 37.5% of revenues, in part to help them protect their coastlines from environmental harm.

*...reduce CO2 emissions by 17% in 2020 and 80% in 2050.

At first glance, this looks promising to me, but as the saying goes, "the devil's in the details" (and there are a LOT of details in this bill)!  Still, we badly need to get clean energy and climate change legislation, including a meaningful price (one way or the other) on CO2, for powerful economic, environmental, and national security (e.g., stop funding countries and non-state actors that want to hurt us) reasons. The main reason why, despite its flaws, I supported the Waxman-Markey bill in the House of Representatives, is because it enshrined the principle that there has to be a price signal for CO2. Currently, this is a huge "externality" and also a huge market failure.

By putting a price on CO2, we can harness the power of the marketplace to jumpstart a clean energy, low-carbon revolution in this country, one that will pay huge dividends for years to come. That's why I strongly urge the Congress to move forward on strong, serious clean energy and climate change legislation this year. We have no more time to waste.

UPDATE: The Washington Post now has a copy of the bill posted on its website.

Deepest Condolences to Dennis Findley

Before he withdrew from the race on February 26, 2010, Dennis Findley was a candidate for the Democratic nomination in Virginia's 10th Congressional District. I had a chance to meet Dennis and talk to him on several occasions, and there's no doubt that he is a class act all the way. Today, unfortunately, we received very sad news about Dennis' wife, Bonnie. I just wanted to convey my deepest condolences to Dennis and his family on this tragedy.
To Dear Friends of Bonnie Barit and Dennis Findley,

With great sadness we share with you that Bonnie Barit, wife of Dennis Findley, mother of Tillman and Stirling, and faithful Franciscan, died suddenly on Monday, May 10 at their home in McLean.

In accordance with ancient church tradition Bonnie's casket will be brought to the church on Sunday evening, where the family will receive visitors from 6 to 8 pm. On Monday May 17 at 11 am we will celebrate a choral Requiem Eucharist, to be followed by a reception in Millen Hall. Interment will take place later in the day, attended by family and close friends.

Further details about memorial donations will follow. Please keep Dennis, Tillman, Stirling, and Bonnie's mother Mickey in your prayers in this very difficult time.
If you can help with hospitality on Sunday evening or Monday please contact the parish office.

fc[Rest eternal grant unto her, O Lord, and let light light perpetual shine upon her.

Penny Bridges, Rector

St. Francis Episcopal Church
9220 Georgetown Pike
Great Falls, VA 22066

Senate Votes Unanimously For “One-Time Audit of Fed’s Bailout Role”

The New York Times reports that the U.S. Senate, earlier today, "voted unanimously to require a one-time audit of the Federal Reserve's emergency actions during and after the 2008 financial crisis as part of broad legislation overhauling the nation's financial regulatory system."  That vote was 96-0, with both Mark Warner and Jim Webb voting "yea."

The Senate also voted on a broader, more open-ended Fed audit amendment by David Vitter, but rejected it 37-62. Mark Warner voted "nay" on the Vitter amendment, while Jim Webb voted "yea."

Personally, I would have voted "yea" on the limited, one-time audit, but "nay" on the more open-ended one. I most certainly don't want anything done that would interfere with the Federal Reserve's independence, I don't want any fishing expeditions, and I absolutely do NOT want Congress micromanaging U.S. monetary policy. What a nightmare that would be; shudddddddddder.

“The idea that taxes are high right now is pretty much nuts”

Courtesy of USA Today:
Amid complaints about high taxes and calls for a smaller government, Americans paid their lowest level of taxes last year since Harry Truman's presidency, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data found.

Some conservative political movements such as the "Tea Party" have criticized federal spending as being out of control. While spending is up, taxes have fallen to exceptionally low levels.

Federal, state and local taxes - including income, property, sales and other taxes - consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That rate is far below the historic average of 12% for the last half-century. The overall tax burden hit bottom in December at 8.8.% of income before rising slightly in the first three months of 2010.

"The idea that taxes are high right now is pretty much nuts," says Michael Ettlinger, head of economic policy at the liberal Center for American Progress. The real problem is spending, counters Adam Brandon of FreedomWorks, which organizes Tea Party groups. "The money we borrow is going to be paid back through taxation in the future," he says.

Actually, the "real" problem - and this is most definitely NOT difficult to comprehend, unless you're trying not to comprehend - is our long-term, structural imbalance between expenditures (too high) and revenues (too low). On the expenditures side, it's almost all health care and other "entitlements" spending, plus the military and interest on the debt. Other than that, "non-defense discretionary spending" is tiny and not growing significantly, so even if we wanted to cut all our national parks, roads and bridges, agricultural subsidies, education spending, homeland security, etc., we'd still face the same structural problems (e.g., aging population, skyrocketing health care costs) we do now.

Which brings us to the revenues side of the equation, where we're at the lowest relative levels since 1950, despite fighting two wars (unpaid for), cranking up spending on "homeland security," and dealing with the aforementioned health care cost spiral. In short, as much as the "taxed enough already" crowd wants to complain, the fact - and it is a FACT - is that taxes are actually very low by historical standards. Not that this will get in the way of the right wingers' sob story; the facts rarely do with those people.

The bottom line is that, as much as conservatives think that all this is super complicated, a combination of rocket science and brain surgery, it's actually very simple. To solve our huge budget problem, we need to rein in rising health care costs, pay for the wars we fight and security we require, and stop implying that we can all have "something for nothing" while maintaining the lowest tax rates in 60 years.  Or, we can continue on our current path of borrowing from China and against future generations.  But that would be as "nuts" as "the idea that taxes are high right now."

Sen. McEachin Calls Out Fred Malek For His “recent unlawful activity”

Apparently, the DPVA has decided to abdicate its responsibility for responding to Republican craziness, defining a narrative, doing its job, etc. Fortunately, we've got Sen. Donald McEachin, one of the best and brightest in the General Assembly, on the case, calling out Bob McDonnell and Ken Kookinelli whenever they do something heinous. Sad to say, these people are so crazy, McEachin can hardly keep up. Still, he's doing what he can, with very little help (if any) from DPVA.
Fred Malek is "Wrong Man, Wrong Commission, Wrong Time," Senator McEachin Asserts

Richmond - Senator A. Donald McEachin today expressed his very strong reservations about Fred Malek chairing Governor McDonnell's Government Efficiency Commission. Senator McEachin stated, "While recognizing and sharing the concerns of my colleagues about Mr. Malek's troubling past regarding discrimination, I am more dismayed and disturbed by Mr. Malek's recent illegal behavior. In light of his recent unlawful activity, Mr. Malek is the wrong person, especially for this position which involves government monies and operations. Just a few short years ago, Mr. Malek was forced to pay a personal fine of $100,000 for violations of the Securities and Exchange Act while his company paid an additional $150,000.  In these turbulent times, in which people have legitimate concerns about government and government monies, Fred Malek is the wrong man, wrong commission, wrong time.

I call on Governor McDonnell to replace Mr. Malek to restore Virginians' faith in this important endeavor so they can be confident that it will be an honest, credible process, executed with integrity.  As long as Fred Malek is chair, with his questionable recent behaviors, everything this commission does will be clouded with doubts and concerns.

For more on Malek and the defrauding of Connecticut state pension funds of $75 million, see here.

P.S. If you like the great work Sen. McEachin is doing - not to mention his crucial support for Jim Webb in early 2006 - you can support his reelection here. Thanks.

Video: Bob McDonnell’s “Public Square” on Reforming State Government

This video is from the Richmond Times-Dispatch's "Public Square" forum last night with Bob McDonnell. The stated subject was "the push to reform state government," but as you can see from the video, the questions ranged all over the place, from cow manure to alcoholism to health care coverage to covenant marriage to illegal immigration. At least one blogger in attendance was not impressed, tweeting "Higher gene pool needs to attend next time though." and "The McDonnell supporters are a freak show. Wow."  Watch the video and decide for yourself.  Also, see Richmond Times-Dispatch reporter Jeff Schapiro's Twitter feed here.

Cooch is “the very model of a mad Attorney General”

Hilarious, great job by Bart Hinkle skewering Ken Kook-inelli!  

I am the very model of a mad Attorney General,
My politics are paleoconservative and visceral --
I'll sue the pants off Democrats and wreck their plans historical
With writs and briefs that I'll compose, tendentious and rhetorical . . . .
I'll stop environmentalists from regulating greenhouse gas
By proving carbon dioxide does not have an atomic mass --
That solar-radiative forcing's nothing but a liberal plot
And dendroclimatology is superstitious tommyrot.
I'll prove the EPA is overrun with Commie militants
Who haven't shown a single lick of scientific diligence --
In short, in matters legal, ecological, and federal
I am the very model of a mad Attorney General.

More lyrics here - sing along!

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