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Cooch Assaults Free Speech at UVA, Leaps to Westboro Baptist Church’s Defense?

Even by Crazy Cooch standards, this is bizarre.
Never one to follow the crowd, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has decided against filing an amicus brief in a case before the Supreme Court involving the controversial Westboro Baptist Church (WBC).  Cuccinelli is one of only two State Attorneys General in the entire country who have declined the opportunity to support Albert Snyder.  Snyder sued WBC after the hate group protested at his son's funeral. Snyder's son was killed serving in Iraq.

Snyder won his first case, but the decision was turned back by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, based on the 1st amendment. In addition to the overturned decision, he was ordered to pay the court costs of the Phelps family, the leaders of  WBC.

Snyder has gained the support of many politicians, including 42 U.S. Senators and every State Attorney General (including the District of Columbia) except for Maine and Virginia. (Although, both Virginia Senators Mark Warner and Jim Webb did not sign on to the Senate version of the amicus brief)

So, let's get this straight; the same guy who is busy assaulting free speech (and free academic inquiry) at the University of Virginia is, suddenly, a committed defender of 1st Amendment free speech rights?  Even when it's inflammatory, vicious, hate speech against the family of a U.S. Marine who died defending our country?  

Yes, we need to protect speech. That may even include speech we find to be wildly offensive (e.g., Westboro's "thank god for dead soldiers" at a Marine's funeral), as per the 1st Amendment. For instance, take the famous Skokie case, in which the American Nazi Party chose to march in a town with numerous Holocaust survivors. The Supreme Court decided "that the use of the swastika is a symbolic form of free speech entitled to First Amendment protections and determined that the swastika itself did not constitute 'fighting words.'"

How is that situation different from this case?  Perhaps it isn't, and perhaps Ken Cuccinelli is merely being a principled defender of the 1st Amendment right to free speech. The only problem is, if that's the case, then why is Cooch - a notorious global warming denier - simultaneously pursuing a witch hunt against free speech against a former UVA climate scientist?  Does anyone else see a wild, logical inconsistency here?

P.S. I don't really buy Cooch's explanation that Virginia already has a law prohibiting the disruption of a funeral. The issue here is whether such a law is constitutional, and Cooch appears to be arguing that, based on 1st Amendment free speech grounds, it is not.

Arlington General Assembly Delegation (Past and Present) Opposes Change of Government Resolution

The following press release is from the Coalition for Arlington Good Government, a group that's fighting an effort to change Arlington's form of government from a County Manager to a County Board. The signatories include all of Arlington's current General Assembly members, as well as several past members. This follows a unanimous vote by the Arlington County Democratic Committee to oppose changing Arlington's form of government. Personally, as I've said previously, I am convinced that this is very bad public policy and would be a major mistake if Arlington were to move in this direction.  I'm glad to see our elected officials speaking out against it.
June 1, 2010


Signatures are being gathered to place on the ballot a referendum that would require Arlington County to adopt a new form of government structure. Based on our experience in the General Assembly, we oppose this effort. It could significantly impair our ability to advance Arlington's interests in Richmond.

Arlington is unique among Virginia counties and cities. We are the only jurisdiction to have adopted the "County Manager Plan" of government, and a separate section in the Code of Virginia sets out Arlington's powers and responsibilities.

Over the years, we and our predecessors in the General Assembly have succeeded in securing special powers for Arlington that reflect both the needs of an urban, diverse population, and our values as an inclusive, forward-looking community. For instance:

Barack Obama: “A Full and Vigorous Accounting of the BP Oil Spill”

This is good, now let's hear a clear, compelling, powerful moral narrative about the policies that led to this disaster, how this situation stemmed directly from our addiction to fossil fuels (and our failure to kick that addiction), how the power of corporations vis-a-vis government oversight and regulation is completely out of whack (in favor of the "robber barons"), and how we need to move forward to a completely different energy economy.

I'd also love to hear that, in addition to the moratorium on "new" offshore oil drilling, that current oil rigs will not be allowed to operate unless and until they can prove that they truly have "fail safe" methods to deal with any contingencies and to prevent a future catastrophe like this one. I'd give the oil companies 60 days to present their plans to the federal government. If acceptable, they can continue drilling. If not, they should be shut down until they prove they have satisfied the stringent requirements to drill in our waters. Period.

Unfortunately, to date, I haven't heard either the compelling moral narrative or the tough, new conditions for offshore oil drilling.  The question is, why not?

Leslie Byrne on 11th CD GOP Primary: 30,000 Voters or Bust

With the 11th Congressional District Republican primary between Pat Herrity and Keith Fimian just 1 week away, it's hard to say who has the edge. Not surprisingly, given how tight this race seems to be, the two candidates are pounding each other, with Fimian claiming Herrity voted to raise taxes (aka, "evil" in the right wingnut worldview) and Herrity calling Fimian a "tax cheat" (why that's bad in the government-and-taxes-are-evil crowd is hard to say, but whatever).  Meanwhile, Rep. Gerry Connolly hangs  back and, presumably, enjoys watching the spectacle.

So, what to look for on June 8? According to Leslie Byrne, who used to represent the 11th district in Congress, the key is turnout.

Leslie Byrne, a Democrat who held the seat during the mid-1990s, said the turnout number to watch is 30,000. If voter turnout is less than 30,000, "I'm going to say that the Republican doesn't have a chance" in the general election, she said.
Is 30,000 the number we should be looking at?  I went back and checked previous June primaries in that district, and what I found.

2008 Democratic primary turnout (Leslie Byrne vs. Gerry Connolly): 24,680
2006 Democratic primary turnout (Ken Longmyer vs. Andy Hurst): 19,649

Also, just for comparison purposes:

2009 Democratic gubernatorial primary turnout (Terry McAuliffe, Brian Moran, Creigh Deeds): 37,539
2005 Republican gubernatorial primary turnout (George Fitch vs. Jerry Kilgore): 21,068
2005 Democratic gubernatorial primary turnout (Leslie Byrne, Chap Petersen, Phil Puckett, Viola Baskerville): 12,855

Looking at these numbers, it would appear that Leslie Byrne's turnout target of 30,000 is somewhat high, as only one primary election in recent years hit that number in the 11th CD. Also, I'm not sure how much stock to put in June primary turnout as a leading indicator for November, given what happened in 2009 (relatively high turnout for Democrats in June, Democrats got crushed in November) and 2005 (low June turnout, Kaine won in November).  What are you looking for next Tuesday? Please feel free to use this as a threat do discuss the upcoming elections.

Ken Cuccinelli for Governor?

Does this video make you want to vote for Cooch or what? :)

P.S. In all seriousness, though, everything I hear is that Cooch will be running for governor in 2013 and that he will easily defeat Bill Bolling for the Republican nomination. A scary, scary thought.

Susan Mariner: “Why I Am Running for DPVA 1st Vice Chair of Organization”

On June 12, 2010, the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) will select a new 1st Vice Chair. The following statement is from former Webb "ragtag army" superstar Susan Mariner, who I am strongly supporting for this position.  Also supporting Susan so far are people like Sen. Chap Petersen, Del. Scott Surovell, Roanoke County Clerk of Circuit Court Steve McGraw, Prince William County Democratic chair Pete Frisbie, 10th CD Democratic Committee member Charlie Jackson, Isaac Sarver, Joe Montano, Joseph Puckett, 316 Facebook fans, and more. I hope you'll support Susan too. Thanks!

I'm Susan Mariner, and I'm asking for your vote on June 12th

First and foremost, the job of the DPVA 1st Vice Chair of Organization is to elect Democrats.  I am running for this seat at this particular time because I believe I am uniquely qualified to accomplish that goal.   Here's why--

*I have the proven ability to grow, strengthen, and diversify the Party:  In 6 months as Chair of the Virginia Beach Democratic Committee, I have increased our committee membership from 80 to 175, brought in a critical infusion of energetic young people, and vastly increased participation of minorities.  If you want a 1st Vice Chair of Organization who has the skills to grow, strengthen, and diversify the Democratic Party across the Commonwealth, I ask for your vote.

*I will leave no committee behind:  Over the years, my work with urban, rural, and suburban Democratic committees has made me acutely aware that the challenges faced by committees throughout the state are not the same and cannot be met with a "one size fits all" solution.  If elected, I will personally and actively support all committees across this great state.  If you want an energetic and knowledgeable 1st Vice Chair of Organization, one who will spend time helping any committee that seeks my assistance in creatively energizing, professionalizing or expanding their organization, I ask for your vote.

GOP “far out of step,” “not being very intelligent” on DADT

Unfortunately, in addition to people like John BONEr and Eric Can'tor "not being very intelligent" on the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, I'd add that the GOP is also motivated by: 1) homophobia; and 2) the desire to defeat Obama and the Democrats on everything they want. Neither are good reasons to be against repealing this stupid, ineffective, obsolete, self-defeating, harmful, discriminatory, wildly unpopular policy.  Enough talk about this, we know the answer. Just ditch it. Now.
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