Monday, October 14, 2019
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lowkell

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Webb vs. Bloomberg on Taxpayer Fairness Act

According to Senator Webb's office, NY City Mayor Bloomberg is urging the NY Congressional delegation to vote no on Webb's Taxpayer Fairness Act.  According to Bloomberg, this bill (which "puts a one-time windfall tax on 2009 bonuses above $400,000 paid to executives of financial institutions that received $5 billion or more in taxpayer support from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) or the or the Housing and Economic Recovery Act 2008") is "unfair...to New York" and would "badly... hurt at a time when we can least afford to lose jobs and tax revenue." Here's Webb's response:
This is a carefully drafted, one-shot amendment, directed only to a small group of firms that received more than five billion dollars of bailout money. Its purpose is to give American taxpayers an upside in the recovery of our economic system, which became possible only because their tax dollars saved it. Scholars from across the philosophical spectrum agree: as a matter of equity, the rewards should be shared with the taxpayers who made it possible.

It's ironic that the very people who caused this economic meltdown now believe they should receive billions in bonus payments that were made possible only because our taxpayers were required to save the economy from their errors in judgment. Some of these taxpayers don't even own stocks.

Nor is this an attack on New York City. In fact, two of the largest firms that would be affected -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are located in Washington, DC and Virginia.

When regions of Virginia are experiencing more than 21% unemployment and the struggling economy is hurting so many working Americans, it is only just that America's working people feel that they also are being looked after by our leaders.

Obama Administration Blocks Oil Drilling Off Virginia’s Coast

Great news from Environment Virginia. For more, see the New York Times article, which reports that "the Interior Department has indefinitely suspended plans for an oil and gas lease sale off the Virginia coastline." Sorry, Bob, there goes your "drill baby drill!" :)
Richmond - In a reversal of its recent announcement on offshore drilling off the coast of Virginia, the Obama administration today announced its decision to suspend Lease Sale 220 off the coast of Virginia citing the ongoing review of OCS safety issues. The announcement comes in light of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank in the past two weeks.

"The Obama administration has taken an important first step today by delaying lease sale 220," said Environment Virginia Policy Advocate J.R. Tolbert. "We are optimistic that the Department of Interior's review of this tragedy will convince them of what we know to be true, offshore drilling is a dirty and dangerous business."

Blistering FRONTLINE Story on For-Profit Education Industry Features Chief Lobbyist Harris Miller

Earlier this week, FRONTLINE explored the shady world of online, for-profit education. One of my favorite quotes relates to how this industry is milking the federal government as a "cash cow": "The taxpayers are essentially funding this industry; something like 75% of their revenue comes from federal grants and loans." According to FRONTLINE, "This is a subject of increasing concern to the Obama administration, which, last month, remade the federal student loan program, and is now proposing changes that may make it harder for the for-profit colleges to qualify."

So, who's at the center of all this?  That's right, none other than our old pal, Harris Miller, last seen in 2006 calling Jim Webb a racist, misogynist, and anti-Semite. Here's a transcript from Part 3 of the FRONTLINE story with Miller:

We talked to the chief Washington lobbyist for the for-profit schools, Harris Miller.

Frontline: "The industry has a black eye, has been struggling for credibility, why?

Harris Miller: "I don't think the industry has a black eye, I think [they] are doing very well, growing by 25% a year, 2.8 million students attending our schools. We have some challenges because there have been some allegations that everything is not perfect, I wish it were.

Frontline: "But what about the pressure of Wall Street to have them grow."

Harris Miller: "The pressure is to deliver a high education quality for their students. Our schools know that any time they step out of line, there's a huge risk and there's a large focus on compliance at all times, including on enrollment issues."

Yeah, right, I'm sure that's what Wall Street cares about regarding the for-profit education industry; not profit, but "education quality for their students." Uh huh.

Anyway, Frontline then goes on to discuss the tremendous pressure put on recruiters to meet quotas, and how this "challenges anyone's integrity." The message in the industry is to create a "sense of urgency" among potential students, "Dig deep, get to their pain, get to what's bothering them, so that that way you can convince them that a college degree is going to solve all their problems."

It gets worse, though.

[more after the "flip"]

Colbert Takes on “Rentboy” Scandal


Stephen Colbert takes on right-wing, anti-gay activist George Rekers (aka, "stereotype come to life"), who apparently looks for people to help him schlep his luggage around on Rentboy.com. Of course, where else would anyone think to look for a good bellhop? Heh.

Bob McDonnell Runs Screaming From Ken Cuccinelli?


Watch this video by NBC 12 and judge for yourself. Key quotes:

1. "I'd have to let you defer to the attorney general on that on that one, on what he is doing and why he is doing it. He is seperatley elected."

2. "What the Attorney General's theroies are, I only know what I read in the paper about it. I have not spoken to him about it."

Arlington Democrats Vote 74-0 Against Change of Government Resolution

I just got back from the Arlington County Democratic Committee (ACDC) meeting, at which the change of government resolution was discussed. I was going to say "debated," but the representative for those supporting the change of government resolution, Mike Staples of the Fire Fighters Union, decided earlier today that he would not be attending the debate.  

So, in the end, the ACDC only heard from former Arlington County Manager Ron Carlee, former, who spoke strongly against changing Arlington County's form of government from the County Manager Plan form to the County Board form. In the end, Ron Carlee's side prevailed, with ACDC voting unanimously, 74-0, on a resolution opposing the referendum, and instructing the ACDC to work to persuade Arlington voters not to support it.

P.S. The discussion tonight, particularly Ron Carlee's powerful opening remarks, convinced me to strongly oppose the change of government resolution. I am now convinced that this is very bad public policy, and would be a major mistake if Arlington were to move in this direction.  

Eric Cantor: Americans are “better than anyone else”


OK, so it's not just that Americans are good people, even great people, but that we are "better than any[one] else because of the exceptional nature of who we are." What is it, something genetic? Something in the water?  And here I could have sworn that Americans were also members of the species, homo sapiens.  I also could have sworn that this was a nation of immigrants, with people from all over the world - Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, the Americas. Yet according to Eric Cantor, those same people, by the very act of coming here, turned from foreigners (bad) into people who are "better than any[one] else."

In general, does Eric Cantor really believe that this kind of hyper-nationalistic, bloviating b.s. is going to win us any friends anywhere in the world? Does he even care? What an imbecile.

P.S. See Media Matters for a deconstruction/demolition of Eric Cantor's speech at the Heritage Foundation yesterday.  As Media Matters says, "Rather than offering any clear policy positions, Cantor relied on Republican talking points and false attacks to argue that President Obama is jeopardizing our national security."  Also, "despite his tough talk (both in his prepared remarks and the Q&A that followed), Cantor's own record shows that he has no idea how to keep America safe."  Of course, for those of us who follow Cantor closely, all we can say is, "what else is new?"

Tell Bob McDonnell: “Wind Not Oil!”

If you care about the environment and don't want to see Virginia's coastline trashed by oil companies, lease sign the "Wind Not Oil" petition by Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN).  As CCAN writes, offshore oil drilling "can never be made entirely safe, and the consequences - as we now know - can be catastrophic." Also, it's important to point out that "Virginia could easily get 10 percent of its electricity from offshore windmills, creating 10,000 jobs."  Finally, of course, there's no such thing as a "wind spill." :)

For all of those reasons, we need to tell Bob McDonnell that offshore wind power, not offshore oil drilling, is  "the right direction for Virginia and the nation."  Thanks.

Virginia Democrats tell Cuccinelli “Hands off our universities”

The Democratic Party of Virginia slams Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for his "latest misuse of power," this time conducting a witch hunt against a former University of Virginia climate scientist. Sen. Mark Herring (D-33) adds, "This is Virginia, since when do we investigate professors when we disagree with them?" Apparently, that's the way it is in the Cooch's Virginia.
Since taking office, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has continually abused his office to meddle in the affairs of Virginia's public colleges and universities in pursuit of his own personal, political agenda.  Last week's civil subpoena of the University of Virginia for research by climate change science professor Dr. Michael Mann is the latest misuse of power by Attorney General Cuccinelli.

As Attorney General, Cuccinelli has issued a letter to university presidents stating that university policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation were illegal under Virginia law.  Ken Cuccinelli also issued a statement of full support for the questionably legal raid on JMU's student newspaper "The Breeze" by the Rockingham County Commonwealth's Attorney.    

"Virginia is home to some of the finest universities in the country.  Parents send their children to our schools because they will receive a high quality education, not to be subject to Ken Cuccinelli's ideological influence," said C. Richard Cranwell, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia. "This is just the latest 'big government' abuse by a self-proclaimed conservative. In Cuccinelli's world, government overreach is something other people do."

Yesterday, University of Virginia alumnus Senator Mark Herring (D-Loudoun and Fairfax) raised serious concerns about the actions of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.  

"On its face this seems to be a serious abuse of the power of the Attorney General," Herring said. "This is Virginia, since when do we investigate professors when we disagree with them?"  

Herring continued, "This action will jeopardize Virginia's ability to attract scientists and researchers to our prestigious universities for fear that they will be investigated when the Attorney General disagrees with their findings, not to mention our ability to promote advanced technology industry locating in the Commonwealth."

UPDATE: NLS has more on the mentality of Ken Cuccinelli. It's not pretty.

UPDATE #2: Is Bob McDonnell starting to distance himself from the Cooch? Interesting.

UPDATE #3: The UVA Faculty weighs in, saying that Kookinelli's actions "directly threaten academic freedom."

Waldo Makes a Good Point on Homophobes

Good point by Waldo:
Family Research Council co-founder (along with James Dobson) George Rekers hired a 20-year-old male prostitute for a ten-day trip to Europe. Rekers, a prominent leader of the anti-gay movement...

The prominent anti-gay guy who turns out to be a closet case has become a cliché at this point. Can we just start assuming that the most stridently anti-gay people are gay? Is that a safe bet now?

Sure seems like it.  At the minimum, I think it's safe to assume that right-wing homophobes have "issues."
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