Monday, October 26, 2020
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Kaine Explains “Elections still are choices”


In short, it's a "tough political environment" and people are frustrated, but they definitely don't like the Republicans and they certainly don't want the BP apologists, Karl Rove, et al. to take us backwards. All I can say is, I hope Kaine's right. I also hope his strategy of trying to get Obama 2008 voters to turn out in the 2010 mid-terms actually works. I like the idea in theory, but I'm not confident it's going to pan out in practice. We'll see...

Weekly Address: Help for Vets with PTSD


"President Obama announces that the Department of Veterans Affairs, led by Secretary Shinseki, will begin making it easier for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to receive the benefits and treatment they need."



Hi, I'm Edward James Olmos. They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I guess that's what makes Americans "locos." We keep yelling "drill baby drill" and expecting things to turn out ok. But the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is nothing new. The oil industry has been poisoning our oceans and wilderness for decades. It's time to regain our sanity. America doesn't want more oil disasters. We need safe, clean and renewable energy now. Think about it.
This ad is being run by my employer, the NRDC Action Fund, in several states including Virginia. With the Senate considering whether to proceed on comprehensive, clean energy and climate legislation (or some other option, or nothing at all), it's time for us to call them and tell them to stop making us all "locos!"

P.S. Olmos is an environmentalist and actor, who has played numerous roles, including "Commander/Admiral William Adama in the Battlestar Galactica re-imagined series, Lt. Martin Castillo in Miami Vice, teacher Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver, patriarch Abraham Quintanilla in the film Selena, Detective Gaff in Blade Runner, and narrator El Pachuco in both the stage and film versions of Zoot Suit."

Michael Gerson on Republicans’ Dangerous Embrace of the Tea Party

There's a must-read column in today's Washington Post by conservative columnist Michael Gerson.  The main point is that the Republican Party is making a huge mistake in embracing and/or tolerating the "tea party."  Gerson sites craziness like Sharron Angle, who "identified the United States Congress with tyranny and contemplated the recourse to political violence." According to Gerson, that's "disqualifying for public office." Gerson also blasts Rand Paul-style libertarianism for having "a rigorous ideological coldness at its core." But the main point of Gerson's column is to warn his Republican Party that trying to ride this tiger, or stay quiet and hope it goes away without eating them, is a huge mistake. Instead, Gerson believes:
...Significant portions of the Republican coalition believe that it is a desirable strategy to talk of armed revolution, embrace libertarian purity and alienate Hispanic voters. With a major Republican victory in November, those who hold these views may well be elevated in profile and influence. And this could create durable, destructive perceptions of the Republican Party that would take decades to change. A party that is intimidated and silent in the face of its extremes is eventually defined by them.

This is the challenge of a political wave. It requires leaders who will turn its energy into a responsible, governing agenda. So far -- in Congress, among conservative leaders, among prospective presidential candidates -- that leadership has been lacking.

And so the Republican Party rides a massive wave toward a rocky shore.

Well said. Unfortunately for Republicans, there's no sign that "leaders" like Eric Cantor and John Boehner actually disagree with the Angles and Pauls of the world. Even if they do, there's no evidence that Cantor, Boehner, McConnell et al. grasp the problem they're facing, know what to do about it, or have the ability to do so even if they want to. Thus, the "rocky shore" looms.

Chuck Robb: Put “Military Option” vs. Iran on the Table

Former Senator Chuck Robb (D-VA) explains his views on stopping Iran's nuclear weapons' program.
With sanctions unlikely to be sufficient, a nuclear Iran strategically untenable and an Israeli strike extremely risky, we support a triple-track strategy that involves the simultaneous pursuit of diplomacy; sanctions; and visible, credible military readiness activity. This strategy is consistent with President Obama's 2009 pledge at Camp Lejeune, N.C., "to use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon."

We cannot afford to wait indefinitely to determine the effectiveness of diplomacy and sanctions. Sanctions can be effective only if coupled with open preparation for the military option as a last resort. Indeed, publicly playing down potential military options has weakened our leverage with Tehran, making a peaceful resolution less likely.

Instead, the administration needs to expand its approach and make clear to the Iranian regime and the American people: If diplomatic and economic pressures do not compel Iran to terminate its nuclear program, the U.S. military has the capability and is prepared to launch an effective, targeted strike on Tehran's nuclear and supporting military facilities.

I tend to agree with Senator Robb on this one, not just vis-a-vis Iran but also in general regarding international relations.  Paradoxically, the chances of a non-military (whether by us or by the Israelis) solution to problems like Iran's nuclear program is higher if there's a serious threat of military force looming on the horizon to focus everyone's minds.  Without that, what's to stop Ahmedinejad, Khamenei and Company from stringing us along until they achieve nuclear weapons capacity, at which point we won't be able to do much of anything about the situation (including a dangerous, nuclear arms race in the Middle East), except for wishing that we had taken effective action a lot sooner?

Chap’s Take on The Homestead

I've already given my reasons why I think NLS' "The Homestead" story matters. Now, one of the people I respect the most in Virginia politics, Sen. Chap Petersen (D-34th), has weighed in with his thoughts as well. Chap's main points are:

*He doesn't believe The Homestead is "a precise fit (to put it mildly) with the Democratic brand which is giving a voice to working people."

*He "largely agree[s] with the criticisms" made "on the liberal blogs" (note: do we ever see criticism of Republican schmoozefests with corporate lobbyists on the Republican blogs?  Hmmmm.)

*Overall, activities at The Homestead were "pretty mundane" - cocktail parties, skeet shooting, wild orgies. OK, that last one is a joke, which is pretty much Chap's entire point, that this thing isn't really as nefarious as it sounds on the surface. That's fine, but I'm still not sure why we all shouldn't be uncomfortable about our elected officials hobnobbing for several days at a swanky resort with corporate lobbyists, in the absence of any media "sunshine" on the whole thing.

*Finally, Chap repeats his call to reform Virginia's lax campaign finance "laws that permit unlimited donations, both personal and corporate." Unfortunately, Chap points out, as long as the system remains intact, he has little choice but to operate within it. Which is exactly why we need reform, such as a system of public financing, for our electoral process. In short, we need to separate our elected officials from the powerful and the wealthy, so that they respond proportionally more to the "regular people" rather than those who can afford to buy access.  Even if there are many good politicians, like Chap Petersen and Donald McEachin out there, who are ethical despite the system, that doesn't mean everyone else is like Chap and Donald.  Regardless, we should change the system so that we get rid of even the appearance of impropriety.  We should do this, but I'm not holding my breath that we will, at least anytime soon, in Virginia. Sigh.

Students Ask Warner and Webb to Act on Climate and Clean Energy Legislation


Here are a couple of pictures from the press conference - sponsored by Repower America and the Alliance for Climate Protection - earlier today in Richmond, where Virginia students and local leaders asked Senators Warner and Webb to stand up for comprehensive, clean energy and climate legislation - not for Big Oil interests.

UPDATE: Here's some video as well.

Scott Rigell Continues Ignoring GI Bill Question


Sadly, this is becoming a pattern for 2nd CD Republican nominee Scott Rigell. See here for more, and make sure to ask Rigell next time you see him, "why won't you answer a simple question about the GI Bill for our veterans?" Thanks.

P.S. Is Scott Rigell another Thelma Drake on this issue? It's starting to look like it. Ugh.

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