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Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Last Waltz - One Last Update

UPDATE:  I will be taking this blog offline and making it private on Sunday night.  I will not delete it or abandon it because I do plan to eventually get back to blogging in about four years - or whenever I actually retire.  Until then, I've decided to simply keep it private.  But I won't actually be updating anything so nobody will be missing any new posting, I promise.  Once again, my readers have given me great joy for the past five years. See you all in the next permutation of life :)

Readers may have noticed that I've been posting less and my posts have not been as overtly political as usual.  I won't be coy about it.  I have been slowly disengaging from blogging because it's time to close up shop.

I did this once before because I was getting burned out and wanted to move on to try different forms of writing.  But once I had taken a much needed break, I realized how much I truly missed blogging and came back.  This time is different.

First of all, I'm not burnt out.  And I already know that I will miss it.  My reason for leaving is much simpler now than it was the first time I took a break.  I have a new job that would make blogging a conflict of interest.  I won't go into the details about the job, but please believe me that it would present a real conflict for me and my employer if I were to be running a blog and publicly sounding off about politics and other controversial issues.

I will still keep my Twitter and Facebook accounts as those are personal social networking sites.  But even there, my writing will be less about politics and more about personal sharing although, of course, I will still avidly be following politics.  I just won't be as expressive with my own opinions.

As much as I have enjoyed sharing those opinions through my blog, it is time for me to move on and to once again try something different and in this case, that something different pays very well.

I hope my readers are happy for me.  Please know I will miss all of you very much because I have had the best audience a political blogger could ever hope for.  You have been thoughtful, intelligent readers whose comments, even when disagreeing with me, have always challenged me and made me think about my own positions and why I held them.  I will miss that give and take.

And I am profoundly grateful to all my fellow bloggers whose support for my efforts have meant so much to me.  Across the aisle and across the political spectrum, I have truly found a group of people who have shared my passion for better government and for improving people's lives, even when we've disagreed about the best way to do so.

To be honest, I don't consider this leave taking permanent because in four years I will be thinking about retirement.  No matter how much I may love a job - and I very much expect to be loving the new one - I believe there is a time for everything under the sun and that includes moving on and discovering still other adventures.  One of those might be coming back to blogging.  Or by then, there may be even more innovative media and fresher opportunities.

For now, though, that new opportunity lies in a change in my day job that will present challenges and adventures which will engage my time and energy in fresh directions.  While I will miss what I leave behind, I am looking forward to what lies ahead.

So, till we meet again...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Christmas Warning: Do Not Try This At Home!

This was sent to me by a friend with a rather odd sense of humor.  One that matches my own.  Enjoy!


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Try Chrome - Update: Chrome Measures Up - and This is the Last Plug for It

UPDATE:  I have now been using Chrome for about a week and so far it has more than measured up to its initial promise.  I haven't had one freeze or crash and it is fast.  It loads Huffington Post and the Washington Post, both sites that have always given me the most problems with the screen freezing.  Again, I always thought it was the fault of the site but now I am rethinking that.  And every once in a while, I'll try loading both those sites on Internet Explorer, and guess what?  Same crap as before.  The difference is Chrome.  But this is the last "commercial" for it - promise!  It's just that it has turned my surfing and blogging experience back into pure joy, when I had gotten so frustrated with IE's performance that I was actually avoiding my computer.

Ok, I got a Google Wave invitation and when I went to retrieve it and install it I kept getting messages that I needed an additional plug in for it to work.  Now, that was helpful.  NOT!

What plug in?  Where do I find it?  There was no explanation.  So, I started Googling.  What else would you do?  I am convinced you can Google and get instructions for anything.  I learned how to thread a sewing machine needle, download YouTube videos, and perform a root canal by Googling.

Ok, I wouldn't actually try doing the root canal.  But I did find a description of what to expect at the dentist that went into pretty explicit detail of how it's done.  And I also have used Google to get instructions for how to do various things in Excel, Word, and Power Point since nothing comes with a user's manual anymore and Googling is the quickest way to find anything.

And when I Googled for instructions on using Google Wave I discovered that Internet Explorer doesn't support Wave.  Chrome does, so I downloaded it and sure enough Google Wave is now accessible.  And I discovered something else.

My whole computer Internet connection is better.  Everything from this blog to all the other blogs and sites I go to runs better than it did on IE.

I was forever having problems with stuff loading too slowly, the computer freezing up entirely, and crashing.  At first I thought it was caused by Verizon and I've been contemplating switching to cable.  Then after some research, I thought it was because Microsoft keeps running constant updates.  And that did have a lot to do with it.  I've disabled automatic update.  I still do the updating religiously, but at my discretion, not when Microsoft decides it should be done.

That way, I'm not losing work because my computer is going down and rebooting after I've written 10 pages. I just pick a time every few days and do my computer maintenance and it works out great.  But the biggest shock came when I installed Chrome.

For the first time ever my computer functions smoothly.  There were some sites that always gave me trouble and I just assumed that it was the fault of the site because it had so many videos, pictures, graphics, links that made loading slow.  Nope.  Not with Chrome.

Since the FTC now insists that, as a blogger, I disclose any financial arrangements I might have with Chrome, Google, or IE, let me assure you I have only one.  I'm a customer.  It's a free service.  And I make no money by telling anybody about my experience.  But if I can save some readers the same type of frustrations that I had been  dealing with by passing on some info, then I am happy to do it.

If you are having problems with your computer running slowly while you are on the Internet, don't assume the problem is your computer (unless, of course, you are also having difficulties in other programs).  Give Chrome a try.  You may be as pleased as I am with it.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Wafer Wars and Bare-Knuckled Politics

The Roman Catholic Church has recently inserted itself into a couple of public policy/political debates with a ferocity not seen in many years. Today, in a Washington Post op ed, Joseph Califano takes aim at the Church for its aggressive pursuit of its policy agenda and more specifically at its use of the Eucharist as a weapon with which to browbeat Roman Catholic politicians into following its dictates.

Citing Rhode Island’s bishop, Thomas J. Tobias, who denied communion to Representative Patrick Kennedy, here is what Califano said:

American bishops didn't used to do this. Even when they disagreed sharply with policies pursued by Catholic officeholders, they were willing to sit down and discuss alternatives. I know. I saw this when I served as chief domestic adviser for President Lyndon Johnson and as secretary of health, education and welfare for President Jimmy Carter. In the 1960s, LBJ became the first president to aggressively promote family planning abroad and at home. Abroad, he refused to send grain to India during a famine until Indira Gandhi committed to a family planning program. At home, he ordered federal agencies to make contraceptives available to the poor. I was the (Catholic) White House aide responsible for enforcing those policies.

Johnson's actions prompted a stinging attack from Catholic bishops, who charged that he was coercing the poor to practice birth control. The president told me to "work something out" with the bishops, who were our needed allies in battling poverty and racial discrimination. At meetings with Father Francis Hurley, the bishops' top Washington staffer, and Detroit Archbishop John Dearden, leader of the American bishops, I assured them that we were offering an option to the poor, not coercing acceptance. We ultimately agreed that if the president phrased his policy in terms of "population control" (which allowed for more food and the church-approved rhythm method of family planning as well as contraception), the bishops would cool their rhetoric. LBJ kept his word, and when he later signed a U.N. declaration supporting population control, the bishops were silent.

Carter and I opposed federal funding of abortion unless the life of the woman was at stake, a position Catholic bishops shared. Congress authorized funds for abortion in that circumstance and in cases of rape or incest "promptly reported." My options were to resign or to enforce the law by issuing regulations that defined "prompt" reporting. Back then, women generally did not report rape or incest unless they thought they were pregnant, so I set prompt reporting at within 60 days. The bishops were furious, and their attack vehement. Some said that I should have resigned rather than enforce the law. But none suggested that I be denied the Eucharist.
Califano argues that Catholics in public office must be free to exercise their conscience in the decision-making process. They also have an obligation to listen to many voices, including those of non-Catholics. As Califano points out, we live in a pluralistic society, where citizens may have legitimate religious, political, and ethical differences of opinion. While nobody should expect silent acquiescence on the part of the nation’s Catholic hierarchy, neither should they use raw political clout – and especially not the threat of denying the Church’s most important sacrament – to its members as a way to impose their views.

On the other hand, the Church, like any other religious institution, certainly has both a right and obligation to use its moral suasion to convince and persuade. Here are Califano’s final, eloquent words on this, as a Catholic caught up on the dilemma:

As Catholics and as citizens, we have a right and obligation to assert our convictions on public issues clearly and vigorously -- to hope and to work that they should prevail. To expect less from a public official would ask that he leave his conscience at home.

But to have convictions of conscience and be guided by them is not a license to impose such convictions indiscriminately on others by uncompromisingly translating them into policy. If public policy is to serve the common good of a fundamentally just and free, pluralistic society, it must brew in a cauldron of competing values such as freedom, order, equity, justice and mercy. Public officials who fail to weigh these competing values serve neither private conscience nor public morality. Indeed, they offend both.

Where we cannot find unanimous answers, there is at least one point on which Catholic bishops and Catholic politicians can find common ground: insistence that those who search for the right answers are doing so with integrity and sincere conviction. That was what the church leaders I dealt with in the 1960s and '70s recognized, as their successors should today.
I can only add that coercion is an admission of defeat. All types of institutions resort to it when they know they are losing their influence on their followers. As the Catholic Church suffers a shortage of priests and religious vocations and its membership rolls among well-educated Americans remains flat, it is resorting to bare-knuckled bullying to substitute for real moral authority. And that is its biggest tragedy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm Still Here

Still in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and here is the palm tree I promised to send. It's a view from my father's catwalk


I will be back to cold, late fall reality by tomorrow afternoon. But for now, I'm enjoying one more 80 degree day visiting with my dad.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, November 28, 2009

All That Glitters

All that glitters not only isn't necessarily gold, it could be as bold and cheap as brass. Here is a perfect example

By now most people know who the Salahis are. But just in case you spent this past holiday weekend as a castaway on a desert island, they are the couple who crashed the President's first state dinner. In the process, they seriously compromised White House security.

This Washington Post story paints a pretty good picture of a couple who, though affluent, wanted desperately to play polo way out of their league. They lived larger than life, mingled with the elite, posed as a debonaire, fun loving couple, and assiduously sought the spotlight. Indeed, Michaela Salahi was aggressively seeking a spot on Bravo's new Housewives of Washington television series.

On the night of the state dinner, a witness saw the Salahis car turned away from the White House driveway. The same eyewitness later observed Michaela hop out of the car while a makeup artist, who was following the couple, jumped out of a second car to brush more makeup on Michaela. All the while, a cameraman was filming these antics.

Pictures of the Salahis mixing with Joe Biden, the Indian Prime Minister, and other high profile celebrities showed up the next day on the Salahis Facebook page. The White House later releases photos of President Obama and the First Lady greeting them on the receiving line.

But the Washington Post story delves into the darker side of the Salahi story. The law suits between Tareq and his father. The ruined family business, a well respected winery in Fauquier County. The trail of unpaid bills and creditors left holding the bag.

In some respects, though, there are aspects of this escapade and the whole Salahi story that could hold a romantic appeal for many of those reading about it. Could the book and movie deal be far behind?

The truth is America has a tradition of admiring its clever con artists and lovable scoundrels who stick it to society's muckety mucks. It's the stuff of countless Hollywood screwball comedies.

But make no mistake, the Salahis were no populist heroes pulling off a simple scam against the rich and famous. They wanted to be rich and famous themselves. And more often those scammed turned out to be small business men and women, florists, caterers, cleaning companies, and their condo association, whose dues they stiffed. These were careless people so intent on pursuing a self-aggrandizing fantasy that they didn't care whose business or life got wrecked in their wake.

But there is a larger issue at stake here. And that is the security breach at the White House.

As others have pointed out, something went very wrong that could have exposed the President and India's Prime Minister to great harm. Although Secret Service issued a statement that all guests passed through multiple layers of security, including a magnometer, that begs the question that some of the worst threats, like bioterrorism, still could have gone undetected.

The White House does a good job of vetting guests. But any enterprise is only as good as its weakest link. And here its weakest link broke down badly.

Serious questions remain about what was going through the mind of the guard who allowed these people who were not on the White House guest list, and were therefore completely unvetted, to enter a secure area.

Given that it is common knowledge that President Obama has endured a historically high number of personal threats since early in his candidacy, it's highly unlikely that this was a routine slip up

I doubt I'm the only person questioning whether money crossed palms. And if so, did the Salahis act alone in offering a bribe or was the reality TV company involved?

I'm not saying that I know for sure that anything like that happened. But it sure better be one of the avenues being investigated because as well trained as the Secret Service is, I would have a lot of problems attributing this to mere carelessness on their part.

Please tell me I'm not alone in this.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yes, this is the iconic Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving poster.  I grew up with it because it was used as an ad in my local supermarket in New York.  Every fall, as November's holiday season approached, this was the poster that graced our local grocery store's front window - the all American holiday family gatheing.

I also grew up with several of Norman Rockwell's grandchildren.  My home, Rockland County, was a suburb of New York City.  As such, lots of artsy folks lived there.  Besides the Rockwell offspring, the actor Burgess Meredith, the composer John Cage, and his domestic partner, dancer/choreographer Merce Cunningham, and actress Ellen Burstyn all lived in Rockland County.  And the first lady of stage, Helen Hayes called Rockland County home.  I didn't know all of them, of course.  But I did meet Meredith once and I also did pal around with the Rockwell grandchildren.

I won't tell you what a real "Norman Rockwell" Thanksgiving might have been like - but let's just say that one year it involved one of the grandchildren being carted off to Rockland State Hospital, a notorious state mental institution.  Such are the realities behind the myths we tell ourselves

All that said, those same myths are often what keep us sane in a world rapidly unraveling all around us.  So, in this holiday season, let's embrace the stories we tell ourselves about the comforts of family, brotherhood, and compassionate love.

In that spirit, I am off, as usual, to visit my dad in Fort Lauderdale.  That means that between now and the Christmas holidays, blogging will be light.   Unlike in years past, I do have my trusty iPhone.  That means I may post an occasional picture of a palm tree from New York's sixth borough

For all the iPhone blogging apps I've accumulated, let's be real.  In depth, well researched, link-heavy political posts with lots of blockquotes ain't gonna happen.  But, yes, an occasional photo or paragraph is a possibility.  And of course, there are always Twitter updates on my sidebar.

But most of all, I'll be otherwise occupied with family because the biggest myth is also the truest.  Cherish your families.  None of us are forever so enjoy the moment. That means I probably will play with my toys a lot less and pay attention to my father and my husband a lot more - so don't expect much posting.  And get away from that computer and enjoy your own friends and family live and in person.  There are just times when virtual reality doesn't cut it.  You need live reality!

So, on that note:  A happy, safe, and healthy holiday season to you and yours!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Advice President Obama Should Heed

Lowell Feld has an amazing post up on Blue Virginia, where he offers heart felt advice to President Obama.  Like a lot of us, Lowell is getting a disquieting feeling that the change we believed in is being replaced by the same old Washington dysfunctional politics we all worked so hard to replace. 

Like Lowell, I think President Obama is one of the most talented leaders to come along in our generation.  He could be a truly great leader because he has the personal charisma, elogquence and brilliance to move our country in a new direction, one that many of those who voted for him hunger for.

But there are two sides of him that are at war with one another.  There is the visionary who sees where he wants to take us versus the gentle, cool, brainy technocrat who truly wants us to get there by building bipartisan consensus.  Both sides are in a conflict because the reality is that Republicans do not want to build consensus.  They sense that in order to regain power, they must make President Obama fail.  But they are playing a dangerous zero sum game where we all go down with the president.

If the economy continues to tank, if we don't get health care reform, if we don't reverse climate change, if we don't build a fairer society where the middle class and working people can flourish, the nation and the world will be broken into so many pieces that even if the Republicans get back in power, they would be no more able to fix it than we are now.  Indeed, with any further deterioration of our current economic, environmental, and security conditions, it will be beyond repair. 

In a zero sum game, the winner takes all.  But even a winner can't multiply anything by the number zero and that's all that will be left.  It will be a phyrric victory at best.

For those reasons, I hope somebody who has an ear to this administration reads Lowell's incredible article and can get through to Obama that he must abandon his cool, detatched stance and show Americans that he cares passionately about fighting for his signature policies.  For now, he needs to abandon the quest for bipartisan compromise because it takes two sides to build a consensus and only one has been trying.  That quickly devolves into unilateral disarmanent, never a good plan for implementing policy.

Here's some additional advice to Obama, along the same lines as Lowell's counsel.

First, do the things that were promised.  Reverse the economy, build the middle class back up, bring prosperity and peace back to our land.  Fix the failed health care system so that every American has access to decent health care.  Do what you promised even if the Democrats have to go it alone to get it done.  When you succeed, the Republicans will compromise.  Because it will be far harder for them to argue with success than with timidity.

Connolly Wins Sally Ornsby Environmental Award. Also Announces Workshop for Open Season FEHB

I have a couple of announcements regarding Congressman Gerry Connolly.

The first is to congratulate him for winning the Sally Ormsby Environmental Award last Friday in Fairfax County.  For those of us who knew Sally Ormsby for years, this award is especially meaningful as she was a dedicated environmental activist who served as the Director of the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District.  I remember seeing her at many Democratic Party functions, talking with her, and listening to her and always admiring her breadth of knowledge and dedication to making Northern Virginia a better place for all of us. 

Connolly received this award for his own long work to improve the environment, including his early embrace of the Cool Counties initiative when he served as Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.  Besides that, he also championed smart growth and mixed use development clustered near metro stations to fight suburban sprawl.

Here is an excerpt from a press release I received from Connolly's office:
In accepting the award, Connolly said his efforts were aimed at “humanizing our community and leaving a wonderful legacy for future generations.” Connolly stressed the importance of parks in rapidly urbanizing and developing areas of the County. Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross, who presented the award to Connolly, said, “He is a man of accomplishment and vision. He is an environmentalist and a realist. He has demonstrated the ability to make positive environmental change and to lead others to understand why those changes are important.”

Connolly is recognized as the “father” of the recently-completed 41-mile Cross County Trail from the Potomac River to the Occoquan, which he cited at the ceremony as one of his proudest achievements. Working with the late Sally Ormsby, he developed the County’s first 20-year environmental plan. His proposal to create “dog parks” where dogs could run and play without leashes was met with skepticism at first, but over time they have become some of the most popular parks in the county.

More than 1,500 acres of parkland were added to the county during Connolly’s tenure as part of his plan to increase the total amount of the county’s parkland holdings to 10 percent of the land mass in Fairfax. Today, nearly 1 out of every 10 acres in Fairfax is open space. Similarly, Connolly started an aggressive program to halt the elimination of the tree canopy in the county with a goal of increasing it to 45 percent. Today the canopy has reached 41 percent.
Once again, congratulations to Representative Connolly for his dedication and hard work on environmental issues in Fairfax County.

In addition to this, Gerry Connolly's office is announcing an Open Season Workshop for Federal Employees on November 30 to help federal employees navigate their health benefits package and make any changes. 

Every year, the federal govenment holds an open season so that feds can switch health insurance plans, add coverage, and make any changes to beneficiaries who are covered under their plans.  As a service to any readers who work for the federal government, I will print the press release from Connolly's office in its entirety:
FAIRFAX – To help federal employees and retirees navigate through the many changes in the 2010 Federal Employees Health Benefits plans, dental and vision insurance programs, and flexible spending accounts, Congressman Gerry Connolly will hold an Open Season Workshop on November 30.

Connolly’s Open Season Workshop for Federal Employees and Retirees will take place at the Fairfax County Government Center on Monday, November 30, from 10 am to noon. The address is 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA.

“Most FEHB plans have benefit and rate changes for 2010 so it is important that federal employees and retirees know the details on how their current plans are changing and whether or not there is another option that better suits their needs,” Connolly said. “Some plans are changing their coverage options or service areas, while others are dropping out of the FEHB program so it is important that every federal employees and retiree reviews the status of their current coverage.”

Connolly urged every federal employee and retiree, as well as survivor and former spouse annuitants to make sure they review their FEHB plan coverage and other benefits before Open Season ends on December 14. “Federal employees, retirees, and annuitants who have questions or want to make sure that they have the coverage they need and want under the FEHB plans is welcome to attend my Open Season Workshop on November 30,” he said.

Congressman Connolly’s Open Season workshop will feature:

· Dean Schleicher, the Office of Personnel Management’s project leader for the FEHB program annual Open Season and an expert on health plan performance and quality

· Walt Francis, an economist and policy analyst who has authored CHECKBOOK’s Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees for three decades and worked for the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Health and Human Services.

· Representatives of various FEHB health plans who will be available to provide information and answer questions concerning plan offerings for 2010

Federal employees seeking further information about FEHB plans can visit OPM’s FEHB Open Season website at: http://www.opm.gov/insure/openseason/ .

Federal retirees, survivor annuitants, and former spouse annuitants can get additional information concerning their Open Season options at: https://retireefehb.opm.gov/index.asp .

Both of these OPM websites contain detailed information about FEHB plans, dental insurance, vision insurance, and flexible spending accounts for federal employees and dependents. The sites also provide links to frequently asked questions and other information that federal employees and retirees might need to help them make decisions about their current and future coverage.

Federal employees, retirees, or annuitants seeking more information about the Open Season workshop may call Connolly’s District Office at 703-256-3071.
Thank you to Congressman Connolly and to his staff for presenting this workshop for federal employees, who make up a large percentage of his constituents.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Further Testing

This is an old picture of Dan.


- I am testing to see if this works better for posting pics than Blog It or Blogger's mobile posting via email, neither of which worked very well.

If this little experiment works, it will be the last one. Promise!



Stupid Blog Tricks

In my continuing effort to find new and annoying apps for my iPhone, I just bought a new blogging app and now I want to test it.

Now the thing about these little experiments - my adventures in mobile blogging series - is that they have the distinction of 1) making my blog look like it was written by a two year old having a bad day; 2) it frequently embarrasses me; and 3) it probably irritates my readers because they then have to endure a badly written post and also my whining about the whole thing.

Nevetheless, because hope springs eternal that I will find the perfect app to justify my buying the iPhone in the first place and because I will be traveling quite a bit with no access to my desktop, here goes another stupid blog trick - or as I prefer to call it - "testing, testing."

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, November 09, 2009

Thank You Congressman Perriello - New Ad

Americans United for Change has just released this ad thanking Tom Perriello for his courageous vote in favor of health care reform. As many Virginians know, Perriello won an upset victory in the conservative 5th District. Throughout August there were countless teabagger protests at his district offices and protesters disrupted his town hall meetings. Perriello met with the protesters numerous times, earning a reputation for grace under pressure as he listened respectfully to their objections and engaged them in civil conversation.

In the end, he voted his conscience, kept his promises to his constituents, and voted for the best interests of his district and the country.

I will admit that I have a sharp disagreement with Mr. Perriello over the Stupak amendment, which would prevent women from purchasing coverage for abortions, even with their own money, from private insurance companies, which will be on the new exchange. But Perriello promised his constituents that he would never vote for funding of abortions. Again, I disagree with him on this, but I respect him and the fact that he is keeping his word in a district where that is the majority view. If we don't like it, let's try to change hearts and minds with civil and well reasoned arguments rather than blaming a congressman for doing his job and keeping his promise. Anyway, here is the video from Americans United for Change.



Thank you, indeed, Representative Perriello. Everybody knows you have had a target on your back from the national Republican Party from day one. Congratulations for your grace and courage.

And on another note, my own congressman, Gerry Connolly, is also under siege from teabaggers. I received a robocall tonight from Americans for Prosperity inviting me to attend a protest at Connolly's district offices in Woodbridge and Annandale tomorrow afternoon.

Let's not forget that most of those in Congress who voted for health care reform have spent months under siege from extremist groups who have exhibited rude and insulting behavior, comparing those with whom they differ to communists and Nazis (I believe you can either be a communist or Nazi but not both since they are diametrically opposite groups - one being extreme left and the other extreme right - but let's not apply logic here).

So, please show your support for those in Congress who stood up and supported us. Once again, in Virginia that includes Gerry Connolly, Jim Moran, Bobby Scott, and Tom Perriello. We need to remember and see that their courage is rewarded in the midterm elections.

In any case, all those who voted to make health care reform possible have my profound appreciation.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Thank You Connolly, Periello, Moran, and Scott

I spent most of last night watching the C-SPAN debate and the votes for the historic health care bill, which passed with the public option. Lowell, has up an excellent "Cheers and Jeers" post and I agree with his assessments.

Last night, some on Twitter expressed anger at Tom Perriello for voting yes on the Stupak Amendment, limiting access to funding for abortion (those in the health exchanges would not be able to use federal funds or subsidies to pay for insurance that covers abortions). But Perriello has taken fire in his district, including a bruising summer meeting with teabaggers and holding townhalls meetings throughout his district. I believe he actually has spent more time dealing with angry citizens than most of his counterparts. He's put himself in the line of fire. Here's what Lowell said.
Cheers
Tom Perriello (5th CD): It wasn't easy, but in the end he did the right thing on the overall bill, voting "yes." More than that, Tom Perriello proved himself a courageous leader when he faced dozens of angry "town hall" meetings in August, presented his views firmly but respectfully, listened to his constituents, read the bill, thought long and hard about it, and then voted the way he thought was right. That's extremely admirable, and I just wanted to thank Tom Perriello for being a thoughtful public servant who takes his job extremely seriously.
I heartily concur with that assessment. Personally, I strongly oppose the Stupak Amendement and will do all I can to encourage Congress to remove it in conference. If that fails, I will continue to work behind the scenes to help create more understanding of why this is bad law and needs to be changed. But we couldn't let a good bill be shot down by one bad amendment. The old cliche that you can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good applies here.

That said, a productive response is to move on, pass the bill, but know that our work is not over. There is nothing to prevent us from continuing to press for a change in law down the road.

Others who deserve our thanks include Gerry Connolly, my representative; Bobby Scott; and Jim Moran, all of whom voted for the health care bill and also voted no on the Stupak Amendment.

On the other hand, two Virginia Democrats voted against the health care reform bill, Glenn Nye and Rick Boucher. Again, I agree with Lowell, who writes:
Glenn Nye (2nd CD): Arguably, the biggest disappointment among any Democrat in the House of Representatives, Glenn Nye added a "no" vote on this historic legislation to his previous "no" vote on historic climate and clean energy legislation. Unfortunately for Glenn Nye, voting over and over against history could make him...well, "history" in 2010. Bad, bad mistake, both on substantive policy as well as political grounds by Nye. I'm already hearing serious rumblings of a potential primary challenge to Nye. Stay tuned... [Note: in fairness, I should mention that Nye voted "no" on the Stupak amendment, but that hardly makes up for his vote against the overall health reform bill]
And of Boucher
Rick Boucher (9th CD): For years, many of us progressive activists figured that Boucher was simply the best we could get from a tough district politically. And, indeed, Boucher votes about 98% of the time with his Democratic colleagues. Still, last night's vote by Boucher against health reform was not good. Not good at all. [Again, in fairness, Boucher voted no on the Stupak amendment.]
In cases like this, I would defer to the best judgment of local progressive grassroots and netroots activists on what they want to do about primarying local electeds based on votes. Based on last night, I've been hearing more anger at Nye, whom Lowell called "arguably the biggest disappointment..."

For now, we have more to be happy about because this long fought for bill passed one of its biggest hurdles - making it out of the House. Next, the Senate takes it up and then it goes to conference. So, our work isn't finished by a long shot, but let's take a moment to savor one victory down. And to thank our local congressmen who helped make it happen.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Election Results and the Art of Local Spin

There are many good sites where you can find all the Wednesday morning quarterbacking and lots of bloggers all too happy to tell you what went wrong yesterday in Virginia. Most of what they say is true.

The campaign from the top down was not well managed. The lack of a coordinated campaign and the disorganization of the DPVA, the DGA's not coming through with money in the general election, our being seriously outspent, the campaign itself not having a coherent message or strategy - all true. Yes, they stayed on the thesis far too long and spent far too little time talking about who Creigh Deeds was and what he stood for. There was no positive message, no reason for voters to vote for Deeds. And the Deeds Country tour was ill-conceived . Deeds should have been campaigning in the urban crescent of Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Hampton Road. And on and on.

And, yes, they were going against a stiff head wind from history. For 24 years, the party that takes the White House loses the state house in Virginia. In addition to all the campaign missteps, a blow out this big also says that the Democratic base was dispirited and unhappy with the Democratic Party. And to deny that Obama had anything to do with it is pure self-serving spin.

Lowell is fond of quoting Jim Webb, "the fish rots from the head." Guess what? It does. And that head isn't in Virginia. Not when we also lost New Jersey and an important vote on same sex marriage in liberal Maine. It's all unconnected, all local - oh really?

Some want to claim that our loss in Virginia is all the fault of the state party and the campaign and is unconnected to what went on elsewhere.

Yeah, right!

It's as if they never read Huffington Post, which daily runs diaries by well known progressives about why they are discouraged with Obama's leadership. There is this from Arianna herself.
Indeed, reading the book, I often found myself wondering what Candidate Obama would think of President Obama. Would he look at what the White House is doing and say, "that's what I and my supporters worked so hard for?"

How did the candidate who got into the race because he'd decided that "the core leadership had turned rotten" and that "the people were getting hosed" become the president who has decided that the American people can only have as much change as Olympia Snowe will allow?

How did the candidate who told a stadium of supporters in Denver that "the greatest risk we can take is to try the same old politics with the same old players and expect a different result" become the president who has surrounded himself with the same old players trying the same old politics, expecting a different result?

How could a president whose North Star as a candidate was that he "would not forget the middle class" choose as his chief economic advisor a man who recently argued against extending unemployment benefits in the middle of the worst economic times since the Great Depression?
Huffington goes on to rightly castigate Obama's reliance on Larry Summers, Obama's chief economic adviser and former Clinton-era Treasury Secretary, who opposed extending unemployment benefits and favored bank bailouts but no aid to middle class homeowners facing foreclosure.

Following Huffington's blog post, is this one from Dave Zirin, sports correspondent to Nation Magazine.
But if last night's election results reveal nothing else, the time for swooning over photo-ops has long passed. This is not rocket science. Throughout the country, Republican turnout stayed the same as in 2008 while Democratic turnout cratered. That's what happens when you don't deliver the goods. For all the people who voted Democrat because they wanted to bring home the troops, stand for civil rights for all people, and see real job creation and union protections, the last year has been a thin gruel indeed.

It's not about accomplishing my personal laundry list of wishes. It's about forward progress -- or even effort -- from the Oval office. The White House didn't say one word about the Maine referendum to protect LBGT marriage equality. AG Holder even said last week that he didn't "know enough about it" to comment, which was both a lie and a slap in the face. Obama hasn't fought a lick for the pro-labor Employee Free Choice Act or the Employment Non-Discrimination Act known as ENDA. And please don't mention Afghanistan, Iraq or the Wall Street bailouts. Please don't mention an economic policy geared toward socializing debt and privatizing profit. There is no effort coming from the White House that moves the people toward the direction that people rallied, campaigned, and voted for in 2008 and that is an indictment of this administration. It also reveals something very bankrupt about the nature of our political system and the Democratic Party. The people spoke and it mattered little. Now we need to do more.
Indeed, there has been a steady drumbeat of disappointment with Obama's leadership and his choices over at Huffington Post, Firedoglake, Daily Kos, and other national progressive sites.

Don't get me wrong. None of these people dislike him. None of them want to take their vote back. But progressives nationally are growing disheartened as they watch health care reform, the public option, EFCA, cap and trade and a bunch of other Democratic legislation being pushed to the back burner by delay after delay. After all, this is the party that won 53 percent of the presidential vote, 59 seats in the Senate, and should be claiming a mandate, not kissing Queen Olympia's ring and begging for her approval.

To be sure, I think a large number of people really do want bipartisanship. And they want civility. They can see clearly that Obama is civil and has tried his level best to achieve that bipartisan cooperation. He's stood up to his own party's liberal to attempt compromise with Congressional conservatives . I think most voters get it that he's done his level best and that the other side has been intractable. Now, those voters who went to the polls last November really want the change they voted for.

While Virginia Democrats squabble that Deeds lost young people and blacks didn't show up, the reason that happened was both that Deeds didn't give them a reason to, and neither has Obama, Emanuel and Harry Reid. Voters wanted civility. But they didn't want real reform sacrificed to a false god of bipartisanship. And the public hungers for a leader, not a capitulator in chief. That's why a good deal of the base stayed home.

That is especially true in Northern Virginia. Look, lots of voters here are federal employees. Or they work for contractors. In either case, they are more plugged into Washington than Richmond. And they have a better grasp of beltway politics than they do of state politics. Perhaps more than in any other part of the state, what happens in Washington, DC actually is local for them.

Finally, Nate Silver, one of the best statisticians offered this comparison between Virginia and New Jersey, the other state that switched from blue to red, though with not nearly as devastating a result.
In New Jersey, you had an electorate that gave Barack Obama a 57 percent approval rating -- the identical fraction to the 57 percent that elected Obama last November. In Virginia, Obama's approval rating was 47 percent, a significant drop from the 53 percent of the vote that he earned.

In New Jersey, it was Jon Corzine who tried to nationalize the race, making sure that everyone knew that Chris Christie was a Republican. And insofar as this went, it worked: voters who said their main issue was health care went for Corzine 78-19 (!), according to exit polls, and he won voters focused on the economy and jobs 58-36. Christie won because he focused on two local issues that are very important to New Jerseyans -- corruption and property taxes, and won overwhelmingly among voters who keyed in on these issues. In Virginia, meanwhile, it was Bob McDonnell who won the economy voters -- 57-42, and the candidates split the vote among those most concerned about health care.
As much as I hate to go against the wind in the Virginia blogosphere, Democrats have to realize the truth, which is that all politics isn't local - that oft-quoted statement was made by a very wise man in the middle of the last century who didn't live long enough to experience the instant connection of today's Internet, blogs, and Facebook and Twitter feeds, which make the whole globe local.

Indeed, a bank that fails on Wall Street can bring down an economy in London, Germany, and Singapore. So much for our definition of local

All politics is local, national and global. It's all interconnected now. So Creigh Deeds' bad campaign, growing impatience with change that is getting harder to believe in, and Democrats running for cover from governing by hiding in Olympia Snowe's coat pocket all had a hand in the debacle. Because it wasn't local. We lost Virginia big. We lost New Jersey, and we lost an important vote on same sex marriage in Maine. That's lack of leadership and competence from the top down.

Anything else is just spin.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Brian Moran Rallies GOTV at NoVa CLC

Attempt 116 to post this update via the truly dreadful iPhone. There will be no editing and no proofreading because frankly Ive given up on this as a viable texting device amnd am only waiting for my contract with ATT toven and I'm so otta there

Anyway pictured in an earlier post was Brian eith CWA activist Delore Gerber. Brian wkas at the NoVa Central Labor Federation to rally everyone for Creigh Deeds Jody Wagner and Steve Shannon

while there I asked him about recent rumors that he was running for DPVA. He shot me am quizzical look and said he didn't know where the rumor started but thinks maybe Richmond. He didn't completely rule out a run but said emphatically that it had not been his original idea or plan

Brian Moran Rallies Troops at CLC GOTV Rally

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ignore WaPo: Kaye Kory is Superior Candidate in 38th District

I will be honest with you. Overall, I am pleased with the Washington Post's editorial endorsements in the Northern Virginia House of Delegates races and with their statewide picks. The only exception is in the 38th District, where they picked Danny Smith over Kaye Kory. But I understand it.

I think it makes the WaPo nervous to be seen as primarily Democratic. Despite the carping from the far right, the Post is not a liberal or even a Democratic newspaper. Nor is it a conservative paper. It views itself, accurately, as a centrist, pro business publication opposing either the extreme social agenda from the right or more progressive economic positions from the left. They are certainly anti-union. And they have allowed George Will to prattle on and on with his disinformation about climate change. The main thing that seems to get them to support Democrats is that they are pro choice. I am pretty sure that if they found an unabashed pro choice Republican, they would support and endorse that candidate to the hilt.

So, the Post must have been distressed to find there was not a single Republican candidate in Northern Virginia who was moderate enough for them to endorse. Except for Danny Smith. The problem is their endorsement was so vague and general that it was almost damning with faint praise.

Here is the Washington Post endorsement, which I am reprinting in full because it is so short (and is only a small section of a much larger round up of endorsements)
District 38: Danny R. Smith, the Republican candidate, is a bright, independent-minded civic leader who cares about promoting affordable housing. A Realtor and corporate executive, he would bring a refreshingly bipartisan sensibility to Richmond. He's a better choice than his opponent, L. Kaye Kory, a sincere but lackluster Fairfax school board member who beat incumbent Robert Hull in a Democratic primary.
The only thing lackluster here is the Post's embarrassingly short and exceedingly generalized writing.

As a matter of fact, if you read Lowell on this, you will find that Kaye is anything but lackluster. Instead, she has been an effective and independent leader who has accomplished a great deal as a school board member and a civic leader. Here are just a few of the points he enumerates.
Second, Kaye has an excellent record on the school board, including leading the fight to rebuild Glasgow Middle School as a "green" school, with solar panels for hot water; motion sensor, high efficiency fluorescent lighting; low flow fixtures for faucets, toilets, urinals and shower heads; etc....

...In addition, Kaye served as a VISTA volunteer, as a counselor for troubled youth at "Runaway House" in the District, and much more
That much more includes the fact that Kaye served on the Annandale Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, and the NAACP.

Furthermore, if you go her campaign website, Kaye does not simply list a catalogue of bullet point positions consisting of boiler plate generalities, as Danny Smith does on his website. She provides detailed explanations of her plans and positions so that voters can see exactly where she stands.

First, here is an example of Smith's inventory of positions:
0 Danny believes Northern Virginians should not send 40% of the revenue going to Richmond and get only 15% of it back.

0 Danny will work hard to make sure we get more of our tax dollars returned to address gridlock and traffic congestion

0 Danny supports the expansion of the Metrol rail system and improved mass transit measures.

0 Danny believes in utilizing the latest technologies for improving our infrastructure so our communities can reap the benefits for years to come

0 Danny believes we should minimize the tax burden on small businesses.

0 Danny supports a tax structure that will help create new jobs.

0 Danny will support measures that will help attract investment in Virginia.

0 Danny supports the elimination of the food tax.
Now those are all admirable goals. But this is like supporting mom and apple pie. Who exactly doesn't support minimizing tax burdens, getting our fair share of tax revenue back in Northern Virginia, or supporting the latest technology for everything? There's nothing refreshingly bold or innovative about any of this and the Washington Post should be embarrassed to spin it that way. It's straining at gnats.

Indeed Smith - if you look at his website - doesn't even seem to realize that he is running for an open seat. He says here:
For too many years, the representation of the 38th District has been ineffective. In the past, your votes have been taken for granted. And for far too long the same old politics have produced the same old ineffective results. At the end of the day, our entire community pays the price for that ineffectiveness.
That looks like it was originally written to challenge Bob Hull and nobody ever bothered to update it. Does Smith's campaign team not realize that Kaye won a primary and wasn't the ineffective one? Further, if you are really tired of ineffective leadership in the Virginia House of Delegates, then you should consider replacing the GOP leadership team there by voting for a Democrat so that the Democrats could be the majority party and replace that other obstructionist team. Or is Smith running against his own party? Not an effective website at best.

Kaye Kory's website, by contrast, provides a list of priorities too. But each one has a link so that voters can click on the ones that interest them and get detailed explanations of Kaye's thinking on any given topic, such as this:
As your delegate I will work to reverse a rule created during the 2009 legislative session that caps the pay for non-educational teaching staff. This rule cripples school boards’ abilities to hire guidance counselors, school medical staffs, custodial staffs, lunch room staffs, and more. We need to do all we can to make sure our schools run safely, securely, and effectively — academic achievement is a team effort.
Or this
The formula used to fund our schools is broken. It leaves out key factors such as the number of “English as a second language” students, and the number of special education students within the education system. I will work with my fellow Democrats to fix the funding formula and end this unintentional unfunded mandate so that all of the 38th District’s children get the education they need and deserve.
Or even this
Kaye supports the 2009 Northern Virginia Business Community Resolution drafted by the Northern Virginia Transportation Coalition. This coalition of sixteen major Northern Virginia private organizations wants state politicians to secure transportation revenues that will eliminate the transportation deficit. The coalition believes that solving the existing transportation problems is necessary to achieve economic prosperity. The resolution is available in entirety at http://www.nvta.org/index.asp.

VDOT Performance Audit

Virginia needs an independent, performance based, outcome driven approach to solving transportation problems. As your Delegate, I will call for a performance audit of the Virginia Department of Transportation as a foundation for future transportation planning and expenditures. This audit will give us a clear picture of the needed transportation improvements, while offering an increased level of transparency and accountability to the general public. The outcome of the audit will help Virginia set our transportation goals of the future.
Those were just pulled at random. But honestly, if you are a concerned voter who wants to really educate yourself before going to the polls on November 3, you owe to yourself to go to both websites, Danny Smith (here) and Kaye Kory (here) and take the time to compare which would be the superior candidate.

If you do this, two things will happen. First you will come away with a somewhat jaundiced view of the Washington Post endorsement in this district and a few questions about what went into their decision-making abilities. But more important, you will come away convinced that Kaye Kory is overwhelmingly the superior choice for the Virginia House of Delegates. She will be the far better representative for the 38th District and she will far better serve all of Virginia.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dan Duncan Honored By Tenants and Workers United

Tonight my husband was honored by this group as Labor Partner of the
Year at their 23rd Annual Celebration, at Cecilias in Arlington. Great
party with wonderful food, poetry, dance, and music.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Steve Shannon: No One is Above the Law!

Here is a new, hard hitting ad from Attorney General Candidate, Steve Shannon, criticizing his opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, for his crony politics. Shannon reminds us that "nobody is above the law." A contrast to Cuccinelli who has stated plainly that he won't uphold laws he doesn't agree with. The question is does that extend to choosing which lawbreakers to bring to justice?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Vote for Creigh Deeds on November 3!

On Sunday, the Washington Post gave Creigh Deeds their endorsement. In and of itself that was not surprising. Indeed, it's exactly what both sides have been expecting. But The Post came out swinging with these words:

A LEGACY of sound policies, coupled with the proximity of the federal government, has partially protected Virginia from the harsh retrenchments that the recession has forced on many states. Yet the commonwealth faces a daunting crisis in the form of a drastic shortfall in transportation funding, measured in the tens of billions of dollars, that threatens future prosperity. If the current campaign for governor has clarified anything, it is that state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, the Democratic nominee, has the good sense and political courage to maintain the forward-looking policies of the past while addressing the looming challenge of fixing the state's dangerously inadequate roads. The Republican candidate, former attorney general Robert F. McDonnell, offers something different: a blizzard of bogus, unworkable, chimerical proposals, repackaged as new ideas, that crumble on contact with reality. They would do little if anything to build a better transportation system.

There are plenty of reasons why Mr. Deeds is the better choice for governor in the Nov. 3 election. He has stood with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the incumbent, and his predecessor, now-Sen. Mark R. Warner, in support of the sane fiscal and budgetary choices that have made the state one of the best-governed and most business-friendly in the nation. Mr. McDonnell has generally spurned those policies, most notably by opposing Mr. Warner's landmark tax package in 2004, which attracted bipartisan support as it boosted public safety and education and protected the state's finances. Mr. Deeds has compiled a moderate record on divisive social issues that reflects Virginia's status as a centrist swing state. Mr. McDonnell has staked out the intolerant terrain on his party's right wing, fighting a culture war that seized his imagination as a law student in the Reagan era.
There are many on the right who think the editorial board's endorsement simply confirms the Washington Post's "left wing bias."

But ask a progressive and he will say nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, we see the Washington Post as solidly centrist, pro-business, often anti-union, and enthusiastic advocates of free trade and globalism policies. But despite the progressives' disagreements with the Washington Post, we have to acknowledge that they have little patience for culture wars that divide people and distract the population from solving the real problems that face us.

The Washington Post, however, acknowledged candidate Bob McDonnell's strong suit: his disciplined campaign, which managed to stay on message; his likable personality, which often displayed graciousness; and his quick wit, which served him well in debates.

As for Mr. McDonnell, he deserves credit for having run a disciplined, focused, policy-oriented campaign. As a candidate, a statewide official and a lawmaker, he has maintained a civil, personable manner. His intellectual agility, even temper and facility with the grit of policy have inspired the respect of colleagues, staffers and rivals. He is a dexterous politician.
Nevertheless, Virginia needs and deserves more than a "dexterous politician" who will remake his image at the drop of the hat and say anything to get elected. We need somebody with the political courage to tell us the truth about what we will need to do to fix our traffic mess, grow the economy, and bring jobs to our commonwealth. Here is the Washington Post's study in contrast on the two candidates. First, here is what they said about Bob McDonnell:

Our differences with him are on questions of policy. The clamor surrounding his graduate dissertation from 1989, in which he disparaged working women, homosexuals, "fornicators" and others of whom he disapproved, has tended to obscure rather than illuminate fair questions about the sort of governor he would make. Based on his 14-year record as a lawmaker -- a record dominated by his focus on incendiary wedge issues -- we worry that Mr. McDonnell's Virginia would be one where abortion rights would be curtailed; where homosexuals would be treated as second-class citizens; where information about birth control would be hidden; and where the line between church and state could get awfully porous. That is a prescription for yesterday's Virginia, not tomorrow's.
Here, meanwhile, is how they portray Deeds

Mr. Deeds has been broadly criticized, not least by stalwarts of his own party, for putting too heavy an emphasis on negative ads about Mr. McDonnell and failing to make an affirmative case for himself. If so, it reflects a failure of campaign strategy and tactics, not a lack of raw material. In fact Mr. Deeds -- a decent, unusually self-effacing man who calls himself "a nobody from nowhere" -- has a compelling life story and an admirable record of achievement as a legislator from rural Bath County.

As we noted in endorsing Mr. Deeds in June's Democratic primary, his record in the legislature ably blended the conservative interests of his constituents with an agenda reflecting the prosperous, politically moderate face of modern-day Virginia. He has been a longtime champion of a more enlightened, bipartisan system of drawing voting districts, a stance to which Mr. McDonnell only recently gravitated. He has played a constructive role in economic development by shaping the Governor's Economic Opportunity Fund, which provides incentives for investors in Virginia, and he has stood for responsible environmental policies, including green jobs and alternative energy research. Despite his rural roots, Mr. Deeds has been ideologically flexible enough to support abortion rights; press for background checks on firearms buyers at gun shows; oppose displaying the Confederate flag on state license plates; and warm to equal rights for homosexuals.
And finally, as the Washington Post reminds us

Mr. Deeds, lagging in the polls, lacks Mr. McDonnell's knack for crisp articulation. But if he has not always been the most adroit advocate for astute policies, that is preferable to Mr. McDonnell's silver-tongued embrace of ideas that would mire Virginia in a traffic-clogged, backward-looking past. Virginians should not confuse Mr. McDonnell's adept oratory for wisdom, nor Mr. Deeds's plain speech for indirection. In fact, it is Mr. Deeds whose ideas hold the promise of a prosperous future.
And that is exactly why you should vote for Creigh Deeds.

If you want to go back to the past and fight the same old culture wars and watch the same old Republican anti-regulatory policies fail again, then by all means vote for the GOP again. But if you want to move forward, grow a prosperous economy, and live in a state that promotes tolerance and moderation, then by all means vote for Creigh Deeds on November 3.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fimian Raises Money From Same Old Rightwing Sources

Well, the good news for Republicans is that their candidate for 2010 congressional race in the 11th district, Keith Fimian, has raised $2,333,832. In fact, as VA Social Conservative, reports, Fimian has outraised incumbent Gerry Connolly. The bad new, though, for Fimian is that most of the money comes from out of his district and a fair amount from out of state. And once again, it comes from the same Legatus and Ave Maria supporters who funded him last time, including Legatus and Ave Maria founder Thomas Monaghan and his wife Majorie, both of whom maxed out with $4800 each.

Folks, call me crazy but the Monaghans and all those people from Michigan and Ponte Vedra, Florida (both headquarters for Ave Maria) are not donating to Keith Fimian because they have an overwhelming interest in the welfare of the 11th CD. Do they really care that much about our traffic problems, our roadways, our local businesses? I think not. But I think they care passionately about advancing their theocratic social agenda in Virginia.

Steve Shannon on Why He is Right for Virginia Attorney General's Office

Here is Steve Shannon in his own words on why he wants to be Virginia's attorney general and why he thinks he is going to win. What it comes down to is that he does not see the attorney general's job as a stepping stone to promotion of any social agenda, liberal or conservative. He sees it as a job protecting Virginians from lawbreakers, including Internet predators, payday lenders, gangs, and sexual predators who prey on children.



BTW, one disclaimer, the ads that run on this video simply were imported with the clip from YouTube. I derive no income from them, so if you click on any of the ads running on the video, most likely the revenue would go to either YouTube or the creator of the clip.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gerry Connolly Defends Health Care Reform

There's a reason that Gerry Connolly was voted president of the freshman class in Congress. He faced the lions in the den at Fox New and ably disputed both their anchorwoman and Kansas Representative Lynn Jenkins, who was spinning misconceptions and outright falsehoods. Connolly stood his ground and defended healthcare reform and the public option despite the attempt of the Faux News "journalist" to cut him off in the middle of his rebuttal.

Watch.


Monday, October 12, 2009

2009 is About Living to Fight Another Day

Lowell paints a pretty grim picture for us Democrats in this analysis, but I think he's spot on.

He predicts that Deeds will lose by 7 to 8 points and it will bring down some of the close races. Overall, if Lowell's analysis holds, we will still keep some seats and maybe have a few pick ups. But there could be some upsets for Democratic incumbents in districts where Republicans are out spending them. Two districts in particular are worrisome, the 34th, where incumbent Margi Vanerhye faces a very well-funded rightwing extremist, Barbara Comestock. Here, Lowell predicts that Margi will pull it out, though narrowly. Another worrisome spot is the 42nd, where Dave Albo has the cash-on-hand advantage. But Albo also is the one delegate most associated with the hated abusive driver fees from 2007. And Greg Werkheiser lost to Albo by only 4 points in 2005. Still, Werkheiser took the 2007 cycle off and you can't count on anger from two years ago still being that strong. Fact is it has probably dissipated, so Lowell puts this as "slight lean for Albo." But he also says "hang on..."

On a brighter note, Lowell also predicts Mark Keam will beat Jim Hyland in the 35th. Keam has run a strong campaign and has a cash-on-hand advantage here. And he remains optimistic about Scott Surovell who has run a very strong campaign in the 44th. That's a Democratic stronghold and Lowell rates it "likely Democratic retention."

Here is Lowell's overall prediction for this year's election cycle:
To sum up: I see a likely Democratic pickup in the 52nd (Torian), a pretty good shot in the 93rd (Abbott), a possible shot in the 86th (Miller), and a longer shot in the 13th (John Bell). On the other hand, I see possible Democratic losses in the 83rd (Bouchard), possibly even the 34th (Vanderhye), the 51st (Nichols), and/or the 67th (Caputo). On balance, it's looking like a wash on election day, maybe +1 or +2 in either direction, but probably more likely +1 or +2 in the Republican direction if Deeds loses to McDonnell by more than a few points.
I pretty much agree with Lowell. Indeed, I would make an argument that Lowell is being optimistic about our chances.

I'd love it to be different. I know so would Lowell. And I'd love to disagree with him and keep spinning it differently. But at some point, even while continuing to push for progressive change and supporting Democratic candidates as much as I can, as a blogger, I have an obligation - as does Lowell, Ben and every other blogger, to tell our readers the truth and to give them our best, honest analysis of a situation, regardless of how much we dislike that reality.

Bloggers are a hybrid. We are part journalist and part political activists and sometimes those two sides come into conflict. But one thing we should always be is truth tellers. And the truth, sad as it is, is that this is probably not our year. But I've been wrong before.

The best I can honestly offer, however, is that if we don't still get out and work our tails off, it will be much worse. The blow out will be bigger and the losses in the HOD will be bigger. Sometimes you just do damage control and live to fight another day.

What Is Right For Virginia Meets AIAW

My goodness, I've been remiss. I just added a new blog, one that I've read for ages and meant to put on my blogroll. I have added What Is Right For Virginia to my sidebar both in the blogroll and as one of the blogs that I follow. You would think I actually would have done this a while ago just to make it easier for myself. Instant access is a good thing. But so is the time to actually work on one's own blog.

Anyway, I met Jim White last Sunday, and he did this great post, with a very funny title about it. We were at CLUW's Bread and Roses dinner. And I promised to put up pix. Of course, with my husband taking them, there should be no excuses, but Jim beat me to it with his picture of the two of us. I promise to have some of Dan's photos up soon.

Meanwhile, Jim has a great site that I heartily recommend. Go check it out.

Time to Ditch Both Insurance Companies and Baucus Bill

As this diary from Huffington Post shows, the insurance industry's greed knows no bounds. Not content to cherry pick customers, deny claims for the flimsiest of reasons, and boot people off their coverage when they get sick and need it the most, now they have taken to turning on their own Senate lackeys. Yup, they've stuck a shiv in their own waterboy, Max Baucus' back (see below) 

Now I will admit that I don't feel particularly bad for Baucus for getting bit by fleas. He laid down with these dogs. But this should be an object lesson to the rest of us.

The insurance industry and Big Pharma are not our friends. They cannot be trusted to do the right thing, ever 

It's time to fight for honest to God health care reform with a public option. And if the overpaid insurance company CEOs kill that, it will be time to fight for single payer insurance and eliminate them for good!

BTW, if this post seems somewhat strange (for example, I didn't use links the way I normally would and there are no blockqoutes) it's because I am posting from my iPhone. Another of my experiments 

Sunday, October 11, 2009

When Democrats Act Like Democrats, They Pass Good Bills and Deserve to Win

Yes, I actually do remember how to blog. Sort of.

After being absent for far too long, due to family, work, and training commitments, it's time to pick up pen - or at least pixels, or something - again. I am going to start with this YouTube video, which many viewers have already seen. That's because repetition is vital to making any point stick.

Cynics have stated that if you repeat a lie loud enough and often enough, the public will believe it. If that's true, it's vital to repeat the truth even more often and even more loudly so that it overrides the lie, also sticks in the public's memory, and ultimately gets believed while the lie is drowned out. And freshmen Florida congressman Alan Grayson has told a vital truth that Democrats are in danger of forgetting. So we better repeat it loudly and often. That truth is a reminder of how we retook the House, the Senate, and the White House. First the video, and then I will have a few things to say about it.




Besides all the important things Congressman Grayson says about actual health care reform, the most important truth is that Democrats got elected by defining their core principles, and presenting themselves as the party of change. They promised new ideas. Then something terrible happened to them once they succeeded in winning. They got scared of being Democrats.


With Republicans vowing to obstruct them in Congress, tea baggers and assorted crazies showing up at their town halls, people who didn't even live in their districts outshouting those who did at those gatherings, and other shenanigans Democrats began scurrying for protective cover. Part of the problem is that one of President Obama's most attractive promises was to usher in a new era of bipartisanship and political civility. That was an irresistible promise, especially to the many Indpendents who had grown weary of the arrogance and swagger of the Newt Gingriches, Tom DeLays, and even George W. Bushes. The desire for a more inclusive and civil discourse appealed to moderates and progressives alike. And they really thought Obama could deliver on that promise.

Although sincere and well-meaning, they underestimated the depth of anger that the extreme right wing, which composes the base of the Republican Party, harbors for the new president. I think most of us were genuinely shocked to realize that these people actually wish for America to fail rather than risk seeing an Obama presidency succeed. In short, they are the sorest of sore losers. For them, politics comes before true patriotism and don't you ever forget it.

That's why it's time - actually long past the time - to move ahead and use the Democratic majority to bring about the change that the public voted for, even without one single Republican vote if necessary.

One reason senate Democrats aren't doing this, however, is because, despite having 60 votes, they are scared that if their legislation fails to do what it's supposed to do, they will have nobody to share the blame with. So, what they are doing is seeking the cover and protection that can only come from a bipartisan bill. It's not about politeness or civility. It's about cowardice. They want somebody in the other party who can deflect some of the blame from them should health care reform fail.

But guess what?

If the Baucus bill passes, as it now stands, it will be a boon to insurance companies, will raise premiums for those in the middle class who have good benefits, will force working class people to buy coverage they can't afford, and will anger everybody just as they fear. In other words, if the Democrats sacrifice true health care reform, with a public option, at the altar of faux bipartisanship, they will indeed be blamed and be swept out of office in the next election cycle. And Olympia Snowe will not be able to save their sorry butts.

On the other hand, if they do nothing, they face the same fate.

The only thing that will give them half a fighting chance to avoid that fate is to get health care reform right. To pass a bill that actually improves health coverage, provides affordable health care insurance, and improves our health care delivery system and that funds it with fair taxes, including a surtax on the wealthy. There is no reason for those making over a quarter million dollars a year not to pay their fair share as long as they reap the same benefits as everybody else.

This is not about soaking the rich or sticking it to them. It's about everybody contributing to the common good and benefiting from it equally.

And it's also about Democrats remembering why they joined the Democratic Party rather than the Republican Party. I would hope it's because we are the party that actually still believes in a common good that benefits everybody. That doesn't make us socialists. It doesn't make us enemies of capitalism. It just means we realize that markets, while very good at doing what they are designed to do - sell goods - doesn't have the answer to every problem. Neither does government.

It's important to figure out what the markets are best at doing and what the government is best at providing and not confuse the two. That's what Democrats used to know and understand. They should reacquaint themselves with that principle.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Important Endorsements for Steve Shannon in AG's Race

Congratulations to Steve Shannon on winning two important endorsements. First, the Democratic candidate for Attorney General of Virginia won the nod from 40 police and first responder groups including the Virginia Police Benevolent Association, the Fairfax Coalition of Police, the Fairfax Deputy Sheriffs Coalition, and the Virginia Professional Firefighters. Here's the press release from Shannon's campaign announcing these prestigious endorsements:
Fairfax - Steve Shannon, candidate for Attorney General, has announced the endorsements of 40 law enforcement and first response organizations and officials and across the state, including the Virginia Police Benevolent Association, the Fairfax Coalition of Police, the Fairfax Deputy Sheriffs Coalition, the Virginia Professional Firefighters, seventeen city and county sheriffs, six Commonwealth's Attorneys, and twelve other leaders in Virginia's law enforcement community.

"I've known and respected Steve for a long time, as I've followed his career as a tough prosecutor, a strong advocate for children, and a steadfast supporter of law enforcement officers," said Beth Arthur, Arlington County Sheriff. "As a prosecutor and a legislator, he has worked closely with the law enforcement community to crack down on the criminals who threaten Virginia's kids, and to keep our towns safe for families. Steve is experienced, committed, and focused, and I know that as Attorney General he will be a strong leader for Virginia's public safety community."

"I am humbled and honored to have the support of these brave men and women," Shannon said. "Our law enforcement officers and first responders put their lives at risk every day in order to keep our children and our communities safe. Virginia needs an Attorney General who will put public safety ahead of his own personal political agenda and work with our law enforcement to keep families safe by cracking down on gangs, drugs, and Internet predators who target our kids."

Shannon's career in public safety began when he and his wife Abby helped create Virginia's first AMBER Alert program, a public safety initiative that uses the broadcast media to help police recover an abducted child.

Following that experience Shannon went to work as a Fairfax County prosecutor where he prosecute hundreds of cases involving drugs, drunk driving, gang violence, and Internet crimes against children. In 2003 Shannon was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates where he helped passed numerous pieces of legislation making Virginia safer.

In this year's Attorney General's race Shannon is running against Senator Ken Cuccinelli, who has yet to unveil a single independent public safety policy proposal. During their time in the legislature each has had the opportunity to vote on numerous pieces of legislation aimed at making Virginia safer. Below is a comparison of some of their votes, and a list of the law enforcement leaders who have endorsed Steve Shannon.
Below is the list of police and firefighter groups who have endorsed Shannon, as well as individuals who support him:
Organizations

Virginia Police Benevolent Association
Fairfax Coalition of Police
Fairfax Deputy Sheriff's Coalition
Virginia Professional Fire Fighters

Individuals

Fred P. Newman, Sheriff, Washington County
Stan G. Barry, Sheriff, Fairfax City
H.S. Caudill, Sheriff, Tazewell County
Herald Holt, Sheriff, Roanoke County
Beth Arthur, Sheriff, Arlington County
J.T. Whitt, Sheriff, Montgomery County
Gabe A. Morgan, Sheriff, Newport News City
Bill Watson, Sheriff, Portsmouth City
Paul W. Higgs, Sheriff, Fredericksburg City
Stephen Bittle, Sheriff, Falls Church
Vernie W. Francis, Sheriff, Southhampton County
John Puckett, Sheriff, Scott County
Streve Draper, Sheriff, Martinsville
Robert J. McCabe, Sheriff, Norfolk City
W. Randolph Hamilton, Sheriff, Buena Vista City
Lenny Millholland, Sheriff, Winchester City
Vanessa Crawford, Sheriff, Petersburg City
Kevin Pittman, President, Fairfax Deputy Sheriff's Coalition
Bobby Mathieson, Delegate and Former Virginia Beach Police Officer
Marshall Thielan, President, Fairfax Coalition of Police
Mike Scanlon, Vice President, Fairfax Coalition of Police
Dan Kalbacher, Executive Board Member, Fairfax Deputy Sheriff's Coalition
Bob Horan, Former Commonwealth's Attorney, Fairfax County
Ray Morrogh, Commonwealth's Attorney, Fairfax County
Dennis Godfrey, Commonwealth's Attorney, Washington County
Michael Doucette, Commonwealth's Attorney, Lynchburg City
Joan Ziglar, Commonwealth's Attorney, Martinsville City
Gregory Underwood, Commonwealth's Attorney, Norfolk City
Paul B. Ebert, Commonwealth's Attorney, Prince William County
Mike Mohler, President, Virginia Professional Fire Fighters
Robert Bragg, Vice President, Virginia Professional Fire Fighters, District 2
Michael Staples, Vice President, Virginia Professional Fire Fighters, District 3 and President, VPFF Arlington Local
Andrew Water, Vice President, Virginia Professional Fire Fighters, District 4
Ken Pravetz, Vice President, Virginia Professional Fire Fighters, District 6
Hanh Deniston, Past Secretary, MWAA
Additionally, Shannon won the support of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce/NOVA Biz PAC. Here is their announcement:
Vienna, VA – NOVABizPAC, the political action committee of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, today announced it has endorsed the candidacy of local Fairfax Delegate Steve Shannon in his bid to become Virginia’s next Attorney General.

The PAC trustees made their decision following an exhaustive research and interview process, during which the records, positions and statements of the two candidates were closely examined.

The decision came with great difficulty as both candidates have strong backgrounds of supporting the northern Virginia business community. However, Delegate Shannon’s consistent support of Chamber specific legislative policies edged him ahead of his opponent for the endorsement.

“The Trustees voted to endorse Delegate Steve Shannon in recognition of his hard work promoting and protecting the interests of the Fairfax Chamber and our members. I commend he trustees for examining the records and positions of these candidates, and for their commitment to making a decision that best supports the policies of this organization and the businesses it represents,” said NOVABizPAC Chair Fran Fisher.

“I also want to thank both Shannon and Cuccinelli for the time and effort they put into meeting with the PAC trustees and for their cooperation in helping us reach this decision. We look forward to continuing to work closely with both individuals following the election.” Fisher concluded.
It should be noted that it is highly unusual for the Chamber of Commerce to endorse a Democrat in most states. Virginia is one of the exceptions for a couple of reasons. The first is that the Democrats are moderate, business friendly centrists. Probably too centrist for my more populist taste, but nevertheless, they reflect the mainstream of where Virginia is at. It is a pro-business, centrist state. But not one with much patience for cultural warriors who want to inject their personal religious beliefs into the public square or turn the commonwealth into a theocracy.

What most Virginians want is a well run, efficient state government that attracts business and grows jobs. Under the Democrats the commonwealth has done this, maintaining a AAA Bond rate and being voted by Forbes as the best state to do business for four consecutive years.

Besides this, Shannon brings to the table his experience as a prosecutor and his role, with his wife, in creating the first Amber Alert in Northern Virginia to keep our children safe.

It's a winning combination for our commonwealth - a strong, pro-business candidate who has dedicated his career to keeping Virginians both safe and prosperous.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Doug Wilder's Non Endorsement of Deeds Says More About Wilder, Less About Deeds

I have to admit that I have been both puzzled and irritated by Doug Wilder's non-endorsement of Creigh Deeds. For a long time, Wilder has played the spoiler in Virginia politics, but Terry Rea sums it up well here. This quote says it all:
In his statement, the former governor of Virginia and mayor of Richmond gave some clues as to why Creigh Deeds couldn't win his endorsement. In doing so Wilder mentioned Deeds three times by name. Bob McDonnell got one such mention. That while Wilder wrote "I" 13 times.

So, for the most part, Wilder used the space to remind his readers of what he sees as pertinent highlights of his own record. He made no mention of the many feuds he has (had) with various Democrats along the way.
Meanwhile, Lowell gives a brilliant point by point refutation that skewers the faulty logic that Wilder brought to his statement. Here are some highlights:
1. Wilder asks, "Who is best suited by temperament and training to govern in hard times?" I mean, seriously, is there really a question here? I mean, does Governor Wilder really believe that person would be Bob McDonnell, who opposed Mark Warner's bipartisan (and courageous) actions to save Virginia's AAA bond rating from the ravages of Jim Gilmore's governorship? Does he really believe that person would be Bob McDonnell, who thinks that Bush economics is the a great model for America? And does he really believe that person would be Bob McDonnell, who has focused his entire career on pushing an extreme, divisive social agenda? Finally, does he really not believe that person would be Creigh Deeds, a pragmatic/moderate Democrat who will govern in the Mark Warner mold? Whatever.

2. Wilder asks, "Who has presented to the people realistic plans for Education, Transportation, Health Care, Public Safety and Social Services, etc.?" Puh-leeze, this isn't even a close call! As the Washington Post (correctly) has said, Bob McDonnell's transportation "plan" is all "smoke-and-mirrors, wing-and-a-prayer" stuff that "relies mainly on raiding other areas of the budget such as education and public safety to pay for new roads." Wonderful. Or, as Dan Casey put it in the Roanoke Times, McDonnell's transportation plan is "a patchwork that's overloaded with complexity, chock full of wishful thinking and seriously flawed overall" (Casey nicknames it, "Booze, borrowing, tolls and BS"). Or, as Republican State Senator Marty Williams said about McDonnell's transportation non-plan, "It's a disaster." Meanwhile, Mark Warner says that Creigh Deeds' approach to is "exactly the right approach Virginia commuters and businesses need to solve our transportation challenges." Again, tough choice!

3. Wilder asks, "Who has the vision that can inspire confidence and assure people that Virginia can still move forward, even while confronting difficult choices?" Well, Bob McDonnell certainly has a vision. The only problem is, that vision is batshit crazy. What's amazing is that McDonnell's been so open about it, whether in his infamous theocratic thesis at CBN University, or when he urged "the General Assembly to exploit the gap in state road funding as a rationale for reducing state spending on education, public safety, health care and conservation." As the Daily Press wrote about this extreme, Grover Norquist view of government, "That such an ideological purpose lies behind the Republican transportation proposal has been implied all along. McDonnell made it explicit." And that is certainly NOT the "vision" we need for Virginia the next four years.

4. Wilder claims that the Creigh Deeds' position on the one-gun-a-month issue "is puzzling and inexplicable." But what's actually "puzzling and inexplicable" is how Doug Wilder can possibly think that Bob McDonnell - who promised god knows what to gain the NRA endorsement - will be any better on this issue than Creigh Deeds. Also, if Doug Wilder really believes that the gun issue is on the top of most peoples' minds right now, he must not be talking to many ordinary Virginians (you know, the ones struggling to make ends meet, get or keep a job, provide health care coverage to their families, etc.).

5. Wilder states that "it is the time to put our fiscal house in order," completely ignoring the fact that Virginia maintains a AAA bond rating, a sure sign that the Commonwealth does have its fiscal house in order. What does Wilder want, a AAAAAAAAAAAA bond rating? What the hell? And in what conceivable way does Wilder believe that Bob McDonnell will do a better job than Creigh Deeds in maintaining Virginia's long string of AAA bond ratings, "best managed states in the country" awards, etc? That this is even a question is utterly nonsensical.

6. Finally, and to be brutally frank about it, Doug Wilder sounds like a Grover Norquist/"Club for Growth" Republican with his blather about funding "'necessities' rather than 'niceties'". What next, does Wilder want to shrink government - as Norquist famously said - to a size where he can "drown it in the bathtub?" I mean, with all due respect, Governor Wilder, when you refer to "niceties," what in god's name are you talking about? Are you perhaps talking about education, whether pre-K, K-12, or colleges and universities? Are you talking about transportation? Public safety? Environmental protection? Health care? What? And please, Governor Wilder, enlighten us all as to where the "fat" is in a state budget that has now been slashed by billions of dollars the past year as the Republican Recession devastates state revenues (and increases state expenditures for unemployment insurance, etc.) across the nation?

The bottom line is this: on the merits, and with all due respect to Doug Wilder's past accomplishments (as well as his deserved place in Virginia and U.S. history), today he is completely, wildly, bizarrely, laughably off base. On "one handgun a month," Bob McDonnell will certainly not be any more "liberal" than Creigh Deeds would be. And on keeping Virginia the "best managed state in the country," we've seen the results of the ideological Republican approach vs. the pragmatic Democratic approach the past 8 years. That there can be any question in Doug Wilder's mind as to which approach is completely inexplicable and nonsensical. Given that Doug Wilder is a very smart man, and employing Occam's Razor, that leads to one simple conclusion: Doug Wilder simply doesn't get along with Creigh Deeds personally (maybe Creigh hasn't kissed Wilder's you-know-what sufficiently over the years?) and is taking it out on him - but more importantly, on the people of Virginia - yet again. That's just pitiful.
It is indeed sad that personal vendettas and pettiness have clouded the judgment of the man who was the first African American to be elected the governor of any state in the U.S. His accomplishments and his service to Virginia are admirable and nobody can take away his proud legacy or his role in history. That makes it even more poignant that he has chosen to let ego override logic.

But Lowell has a strong point. If it's Creigh's position on guns that Governor Wilder objects to - McDonnell's is no better and is most likely worse - at least, from Wilder's perspective. After all, it's McDonnell who has won the NRA endorsement. So, if Wilder objects to Deeds' votes, helping McDonnell puts Virginia no closer to gun control. For that, Wilder should go out and win the hearts and minds of Virginians, not ruin political careers.

If it's Deeds' position on raising revenue to fund fixing our transportation mess, that is hardly a "nicety" for the millions of Northern Virginians stuck every day in two hour traffic jams. Likewise for those who struggle in Richmond and the Hampton Roads area, or any urban center, with traffic problems. Indeed, if we don't fix our transportation problems by investing in infrastructure and public transit, we will lose out in the race to attract new business to Virginia since business companies do look at quality of life issues and are concerned with how their workers will commute to work. Additionally, these issues impact the environment and pollution control.

Meanwhile, Virginia was just named the best state to do business for the fourth consecutive year by Forbes magazine. All that has been under Democratic governors. Deeds has already pledged to follow in the tradition of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine when it comes to fiscal responsibility and maintaining a strong business environment.

So, whatever Doug Wilder's beef with Creigh Deeds, it's not for any of the issues that really impact Virginia or its citizens well being. More likely, it's all about Doug Wilder, an increasingly petulant old man who has been rapidly winding his way into irrelevance.