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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Virginia Still Has Number One Pro-Business Environment

This year, Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, and Ken Cuccinelli are all running on a platform of being pro-business. And they and their supporters, including the GOP bloggers, are all attempting to paint the Democratic candidates, Creigh Deeds, Jody Wagner, and Steve Shannon as radical, anti-business, extreme leftists. Yet once again, Virginia has been designated the number one pro-business state, this time from Pollina Corporate Real Estate, Inc.

The truth is Virginia has consistently been named one of the top places to do business under the Warner and Kaine administrations. And, I might add, Jody Wagner has been a major contributor to that success in her position, first as state treasurer, and then as Secretary of Finance in both the Warner and Kaine administrations.

Anyway you look at it, the Warner and Kaine legacies have been pro-business in a way that has let all Virginians share in the prosperity and well being. The last Republican to hold the governor's office left a very different legacy, one that nearly bankrupted the state and put our AAA Bond rating in jeopardy.

Meanwhile, here is a press release I received from the Creigh Deeds campaign, proudly announcing the number one pro-business rating:

STATEMENT FROM CREIGH DEEDS ON VIRGINIA'S #1 PRO-BUSINESS RANKING


Democratic nominee for governor Sen. Creigh Deeds issued the following statement on today's announcement that Virginia has reclaimed the top spot in an annual nationwide survey of the best states for business. Pollina Corporate Real Estate Inc., a top U.S. corporate site relocation expert, evaluated states based on 33 factors, including taxes, human resources, energy costs, and economic development programs and incentives.

"Virginia's smart, businesslike approach to economic development must be a vital component of our overall efforts to create jobs and expand economic opportunity for Virginians. I have been proud to be a reliable partner with Governors Warner and Kaine in efforts to promote the Commonwealth's pro-business climate, including a focus on good schools, safe communities, an excellent quality of life, and reasonable tax and regulatory policies. That responsible, bipartisan approach is at the heart of my plan to boost Virginia's economy and put people back to work through smart, targeted investments and expanded economic opportunities."

Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States for 2009: Rebuilding Americans’ Economic Power is an annual study that examines job retention and creation by all 50 states and the federal government. Virginia also held the top spot in the Pollina study in 2003 and 2007. The Commonwealth ranked second from 2004 to 2006 and third in 2008.
Here's a thought. When Gilmore nearly brought Virginia to ruin, from 1998 to 2001, the rest of the country was enjoying prosperity. It was his stubborn insistence on repealing the car tax even as our revenue was going down that nearly bankrupted us. It takes real talent to destroy a state economy during a time of general national prosperity.

Meanwhile, while the economies of the our nation, most of Europe and the world have been brought to its knees by the U.S. banking crisis and the meltdown of the financial markets (a product of Bush's failed policies), Virginia is managing, albeit with difficulty, to maintain a fiscally responsible environment that business leaders like Pollina still have faith in. Now, that really does take talent, skill, and ability.

Delegation Introduces Measure to Authorize Dedicated Metro Funding

I just received this press release from Congressman Gerry Connolly's office:
Delegation Introduces Final Measure to Authorize Dedicated Metro Funding
Resolution is Last Step in Establishing Federal and Local Commitment Over Ten Years



WASHINGTON, DC – The Members of the Washington Metro Area’s Senate and House Delegation – Senators Benjamin L. Cardin, Barbara A. Mikulski, Jim Webb and Mark R. Warner, and Reps. Steny H. Hoyer, Frank R. Wolf, James P. Moran, Eleanor Holmes-Norton, Chris Van Hollen, Donna F. Edwards and Gerald E. Connolly - introduced a resolution today to ratify the amended interstate WMATA Regulation Compact in accordance with legislation enacted last year authorizing $1.5 billion in federal Metro funding over ten years.

The measure, which follows a formal request submitted last week by the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, is the final step required in the authorization process and will obligate the three jurisdictions to provide matching funds for federal appropriations.

“The Washington Metro Area Delegation has long recognized the need to provide Metro with a dedicated funding stream to ensure the safety and efficiency of a system that serves millions of residents and visitors. Given the fact that Metro is the primary public transit system serving our federal workforce, as well as the millions of visitors to our Nation’s Capital each year, we believe the federal government must be a partner in providing that investment.

“We succeeded last year in establishing that commitment with legislation authorizing $1.5 billion in federal funding over ten years to be matched by the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. That legislation required the local jurisdictions to amend the WMATA Regulation Compact to reflect the dedicated funding requirement, establish an Office of Inspector General, and provide for Federal representation on the WMATA Board. The three jurisdictions fulfilled this obligation and last week formally requested Congressional approval of the amended compact - the final step in the authorization process.

“In light of Monday’s tragic accident, we believe that this funding is even more critical to provide for the safety of our citizens. We look forward to quick consideration of our resolution in the House and Senate, and will continue to fight for approval of our request for $150 million in federal funds for Metro for Fiscal Year 2010.”

Together, the region’s delegation has requested $150 million in federal funding this year for capital and preventive maintenance projects for the maintenance and upkeep of Metro. In addition, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act approved by Congress and signed by President Obama in February included $200 million to meet Metro needs in operations systems, IT, maintenance and repair equipment, passenger and maintenance facilities, safety and security, and vehicle servicing.

The authorization for dedicated Metro funding was included in the Rail Safety Improvement Act (H.R. 2095), which was passed last fall and signed into law by President Bush.


As somebody who frequently rides the Metro, I recognized several years ago that Metro needed a dedicated funding stream. Metro carries millions of passengers, including federal employees, employees of private industry, and tourists. Usually it does so safely, efficiently, and relatively comfortably. When I first moved to DC 18 years ago, local residents pointed to the Metro system with pride. It was clean, quick, and safe transportation that was affordable.

The system is now aging. Repairs are needed. But it is still a system worth being proud of. But yesterday's terrible tragedy has shown us just how much we need this system to work properly and safely. Kudos to our Senate and House delegations for stepping up to the plate in a bipartisan effort to benefit our entire community and the tourists who visit us.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tom Davis Being Considered for a Position in the Obama Administration?

Too Conservative is reporting that Tom Davis may be considering a job in the Obama administration. My initial reaction was skepticism but here's more from Time Online. According Time:
Tom Davis, a moderate Republican from Virginia, has emerged as a leading candidate for the Obama Administration's newly created position of cybersecurity czar. Sources familiar with the White House's deliberations on the subject say Obama officials feel a Washington power player would make a better candidate than a tech guru. "They want someone who understands technology issues, but more importantly, knows how to get things done in Washington," says a cybersecurity expert who has been consulted by the White House. "There are very few people who have that combination of skills, and Davis is at the top of that short list."
As Time pointed out, Tom Davis has deep connections to the DC IT private sector and is a government insider who knows his way around the halls of power. In fact, as retired Major General Dale Meyerrose, from consulting firm Harris Corp, and former chief information officer for the director the National Intelligence, pointed out, the job of cybersecurity czar would be more administrative than technical and would involve grappling with issues like what would be the role of government, what would be the role our allies should play, what role would other nations play, and other similar policy questions that require more than just IT technical skills.

Many of those most knowledgeable about the selection have urged President Obama not to pick a high tech guru, but to go with a generalist who is also familiar with Washington politics and can answer those broader policy questions. Meyerrose also said, "Most of the issues have nothing to do with technology and everything to do with getting things done in a bureaucracy and making things known to the public."

And others seem to back up that position:

Rod Beckstrom, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, points out that Obama's nominee will need political skills to deal with the many voices that will want to be heard on cybersecurity, including many government departments — the Pentagon, various intelligence agencies and the Department of Homeland Security, among others — and private-sector bodies. "There's a lot of rice in this particular rice bowl," Beckstrom says. He knows from personal experience how difficult that can be: earlier this year, he quit as Director of the National Cybersecurity Center in March, citing interdepartmental politics.
Of course, Davis is not the only candidate under consideration for this post.

Davis is not the only candidate with Washington cred. Another leading candidate is Melissa Hathaway, who led Obama's 60-day cybersecurity review and previously advised President George W. Bush on cybersecurity issues. Also in the running are Frank Kramer, who was assistant defense secretary for international security affairs under President Bill Clinton, and Howard Schmidt, another adviser to Bush on cyberspace security and protection of critical infrastructure. Schmidt also has extensive private-sector experience, including stints with eBay and Microsoft, where he was chief security officer.

Others in contention include Paul Kurtz, an Obama adviser who served in the National Security Council under both Bush and Clinton, and former FBI intel boss Maureen Baginski. Dark horses from the private sector include Sun Microsystems' Susan Landau and Scott Charney, currently head of Microsoft's cybersecurity division.
One thing I am struck by is that all of the candidates have genuine bi-partisan credentials, many having served both the Bush and Clinton administrations. And we all know that Barack Obama has not given up his quest to appoint the very best bi-partisan candidates he can find to his administration.

I have to admit that, personally, I have mixed feelings about Tom Davis being in the Obama administration. I spent so many years supporting good people who ran against him in the 11th CD. But compared to today's Republican Party he is a moderate. One who has not been treated all that well by his fellow party members of late. And he's been outspoken about his party's problems. While he's certainly not the only one being considered, he is an interesting choice.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

GOP Gotcha Induced Giddiness on Gitmo Vote?

That's such a great line, from Drew of Dem Bones, who further deconstructs the Republican bloggers lack of logic, which began with this post from Jim Hoeft. It crackled across the blogosphere with responses from Drew, Aznew, Lowell and me. Then my post spread the fire further with Shaun Kenney piling on, taking me to task for "faux outrage" and posting manufactured Democratic talking points. Here's how Drew describers it:
Although the debate over the closing of Guantanamo is necessary and important, to be sure, I want to refocus the conversation back to the actual amendment vote, hopefully exposing the disingenuous nature of the Republican faux outrage - or is it gotcha-induced giddiness? - against Perriello. Again to recap: Last Thursday, Perriello, joined by 212 mostly Democratic colleagues, voted against Rep. Jerry Lewis' (R-CA) H.Amdt 220 added to HR 2847....
But it actually seems like the shoe might be on the other foot, as Dem Bones points out here.
Basically, Republicans did not want to release funds to shut down Guantanamo Bay, to fund the President's executive order to close the base. The amendment was voted down, 212-213, mainly along party lines, and Republican's jumped on Perriello for being arm-twisted by Pelosi, for casting the deciding vote to bring detainees to Virginia.

Just two days prior, however, the house voted for a war supplemental bill (HR 2346), and it passed, 226-202, also along party lines; Democrats generally supported the supplemental, Republicans generally didn't. There, within the bill, are several important provisions disallowing the release of detainees on US soil. Click this text link, scroll down (about a fifth or a sixth of the way) to Title III: General Provisions, This Act and let's take a look:
Sec. 30004) Prohibits funds from this or any prior Act from being used to release an individual who is detained, as of April 30, 2009, at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, into the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, or the District of Columbia. Prohibits any such release for the purpose of detaining or prosecuting any such individual until two months after Congress receives from the President a comprehensive plan regarding the proposed disposition. Requires the plan to include: (1) the risk to national security posed by the transfer; (2) costs associated with not transferring an individual; (3) the legal rationale and associated court demands for transfer; (4) a certification by the President that any national security risk associated with a transfer has been mitigated; and (5) a certification by the President that the President has certified to the governor and state legislature of a state to which the President intends to transfer an individual that such individual does not pose a security threat to the United States.

Prohibits any funds from being used to transfer or release such an individual to the country of such individual's nationality or last residence, or to any country other than the United States, unless the President submits to Congress, at least 30 days prior to such release or transfer: (1) the name of the individual and the country involved; (2) an assessment of the risk to U.S. national security posed by the transfer or release; and (3) the terms of any agreement with another country for the acceptance of such individual, including any financial assistance related to the agreement.(emphasis mine)

...In a fever of political gamesmanship, however, Republicans - knowing that two days prior Perriello voted to close these possibilities - have tried to create trumped-up charges against Perriello. And, in light of the supplemental, Republicans are now equally accountable to the same charges levied against Perriello. If I wanted to be similarly dishonest, I could say that Republicans, in voting against the war supplemental, voted against prohibitions - thereby either allowing or in favor of - to release detainees onto US soil.
You see, here's the thing about the Republicans - even the very best of them - they really do manufacture faux outrage, attempt to distort the Democrats' actual record, and riff off the same GOP Central talking points. The funny thing is that when caught doing so, they attempt to turn the tables and accuse the progressives of doing those things.

But when you don't make logical arguments, distort true positions, and manufacture fake outrage, you must think everybody else is doing the same thing. There are some terms for this. One is projection - that is projecting your own bad behavior or bad motives on to others.

The problem is that it's not working the way it used to. The genuine source of the real Republican outrage is that Obama won the election, the Democrats have won the last few election cycles here in Virginia, and the GOP no longer dominates the message. Rush and Newt simply don't have the whole stage and don't pack the punch they used to. And neither do the other Republican talking heads and bloggers.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Republican Blogger Lies Insult Law Enforcement Community

Back in the winter, I was at a New Year’s party with Ben Tribbett when he twittered that “Anonymous Is A Woman is outraged!” I was laughing at the time and hitting him on his knees with a noisemaker. It was funny because AIAW is seldom outraged. I may get testy, dyspeptic, but not truly outraged very often. Today, I am outraged. And here’s why.

Bearing Drift ran with this supposed breaking story, claiming that Democrats in Congress, including Virginia’s Gerry Connolly and Tom Perriello, voted to bring terrorists to Virginia. Quoting an unnamed Capitol Hill source (you can’t even source and link, guys?) here’s the money quote:
Rep. Perriello just voted with Speaker Pelosi on an amendment to allow for funds to close Guantanamo Bay facility and move those detainees to Virginia. Perriello voted against an amendment, offered by Rep. Lewis of California, that would have prohibited the closure - the amendment failed 212-213 with Mr. Perriello casting the deciding vote.
Now, Aznew, the Virginia Democrat, Lowell, from Blue Virginia, and Drew, from Dem Bones, have all already pointed out the various logical fallacies in this piece, not the least of which is that nowhere in this bill or the amendment does it mention anything about sending Gitmo detainees to Virginia. It simply approves money for the closing of Gitmo. According to Drew, here’s an explanation and the actual amendment that was voted down:
So, today Rep. Perriello voted against an amendment (H.Amdt 220 to HR 2847) that would have prohibited the use of funds to close down Guantanamo. Here is the actual amendment, introduced by Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA):
An amendment numbered 118 printed in the Congressional Record to prohibit the use of funds to implement Executive Order 13492, issued January 22, 2009, titled "Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities".
Good for Rep. Perriello and my representative, Gerry Connolly, for voting that amendment down!

America is built on the principle that we don’t hold people indefinitely without a trial. I have served on juries, and I can tell you that an absolute fundamental of American legal jurisprudence is that we are all “innocent until proven guilty.” Judges instruct jurors on that point all the time. Now, that doesn’t give a jury permission to acquit criminals and put them back on our streets. But it means that in America every man and woman is entitled to a fair trial. It’s who we are. We don’t keep people in prisons without their day in court. Communists, Nazis, and fascists do that. We don’t.

So, if Gerry Connolly, who I am proud to say is my congressman, and Tom Perriello, from the 5th CD, voted against an amendment that would have kept Gitmo opened, I applaud them for displaying true American values. And for having the moral courage to not buckle under to conservative political hacks who use fear to win elections.

But none of this is why I am outraged. Here’s why.

Let’s concede for a moment that because of their votes, some detainees would be brought to America, and even to Virginia. Do the BD bloggers and other conservatives really believe that America’s law enforcement community - its guards, its police - would fail to keep us safe?

Here’s where it gets personal and why I am outraged. My cousin’s husband is a prison guard in South Florida. As such, he has guarded some of the most dangerous criminals in the Miami-Dade and Broward region, including members of the infamous Columbian Medellin drug cartel. So, do you really think he’s not up to the job of guarding some of the detainees and that South Florida would be less safe if they were in his care? I don’t.

But I do believe that the fear mongering in that diary is an insult to him and to his fellow prison guards who work in maximum security penal facilities throughout the nation. These are brave men and women who have guarded some of our most dangerous criminals, including the Oklahoma bombers Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols; Ted Kaczynski; and criminals like Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, and members of the Crips, the Bloods, and MS-13.

However, BD and other conservative bloggers, taking their talking points, robot-like, from the Republican Party Central, have a shocking disdain for all civil servants. It is rooted in their anti-government ideology and rhetoric. But believe it or not, the government in a representative democracy is us. It is “we the people.” Sometimes your side or my side loses an election. But there’s always the next one. We are governed by those who win elections. To disdain them is to disdain America and its choices. To disdain our civil servants is to disdain our neighbors, friends, and relatives, many of whom work tirelessly to fight our fires, keep our streets safe, and guard our prisons. To insult them to score cheap political points is to put party before country. And that is unpatriotic.

The disdainful Republican bloggers owe America’s law enforcement community - especially its prison guards - an apology. They owe America an apology for their unpatriotic disdain and the cheap shot they just took.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gerry Connolly Bill, H.R. 2874 Protects Military and Their Families

I received the following press release from Gerry Connolly, announcing his bill to protect military men and women. Representative Connolly is rapidly becoming a leading light in Congress for his determined support for the military and federal workers. Many of these people, of course, are his constituents in the 11th CD. But his leadership on this benefits members of the military across the nation.

CONNOLLY BILL PROVIDES FINANCIAL PROTECTIONS FOR MILITARY PERSONNEL
H.R. 2874 Makes Financial Penalties for Cell, Rental Lease, and College Contracts Illegal


WASHINGTON – Congressman Gerry Connolly believes it is wrong that active-duty military personnel can be forced to pay financial penalties for terminating contracts for cell phone service, leases on their rented residences, or unfinished college courses when they are deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, or other duty stations around the globe.

That is why Connolly has introduced legislation to provide relief and make such early termination fees illegal for military personnel who get orders to deploy or change stations. On Monday, June 15, Connolly introduced H.R. 2874, the Helping Active Duty Deployed Act of 2009 (HADD Act).

“It is unjust that our military personnel, who make great sacrifices on our behalf, are required to pay onerous financial penalties when they are deployed and attempt to terminate contracts for the cell phone family plans they can no longer use, the rented housing they must vacate, and the college courses they cannot complete,” Connolly said.

“It is wrong, it is disrespectful, and I am outraged that we allow this to happen to our military men and women who put themselves in harm’s way to protect our nation’s interests,” Connolly said.

While current law prohibits charging penalties for deployed military personnel who terminate individual cell phone contracts and automobile leases, there are no such prohibitions against early termination penalties levied against deployed service members for family cell phone plans, residential property leases, or unused tuition and other college fees.

Connolly’s legislation has already received the endorsement of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. In a letter to Connolly supporting H.R. 2874, the organization’s chief counsel, Patrick Campbell, said Congress must “ensure that our men and women in uniform are focusing on their missions overseas and not bureaucratic morass back at home.”

# # #
Below is a fact sheet:
Fact Sheet – H.R. 2874 – Helping Active Duty Deployed Act of 2009


General Overview: To provide assistance to active duty, deployed military service members who currently face financial penalties for early terminations of certain contracts entered into prior to their deployment.

Section 2:
Family Plan Cellular Telephone Service: The 110th Congress amended the Service members Civil Relief Act to allow deployed service members to end a cellular telephone service contract prior to its scheduled expiration without incurring an early termination penalty. However, service members who have entered into family plan cellular telephone service cannot end those contracts without the normal penalty. The HADD Act would allow any cellular telephone service contract entered into “on behalf of” a service member, which courts have ruled to include family plans, to be ended by a deployed service member without penalty.

Section 3:
Rental Lease Early Termination Penalty: The Service member Civil Relief Act currently permits active duty deployed service members to terminate rental residential property leases and motor vehicle leases. As currently written, there is an explicit section stating that there can be no early termination penalties in the case of a motor vehicle lease. The HADD Act would amend current law to prohibit early termination penalties on real property leases ended early due to a service member’s deployment.

Section 4:
Higher Education Tuition Payments: The 110th Congress amended Title 20 of the U.S. Code to permit active duty service members who were deployed subsequent to enrollment in an institute of higher education to regain admittance following the cessation of their deployment. The HADD Act would amend the Code to permit deployed service members to obtain a refund of the tuition payments made to an institute of higher education for the portion of the educational program that the service member had not yet received academic credit prior to being deployed.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chaos and Violence on the Streets of Iran

The opposition leader is under house arrest. Demonstrators are being beaten, some possibly dead in the streets. Cell phone service, internet access, and Facebook are all down. This has all the makings of a coup d'etat. I am talking, of course, about the farce of an election in Iran, where Ahmadinejad was declared the winner by over 62 percent of the vote.

Iranians doubt the legitimacy the outcome, and their outrage is pouring out into street violence. Huffington Post's Nico Pitney has done a round up of reports from various sources on the chaos in Iran. From Reuters, comes this report:
"Canada is deeply, deeply concerned by reports about voting irregularities in the Iranian election. We're troubled by reports of intimidation of opposition candidates' offices by security forces," said Cannon.

He said Canadian embassy officials in Tehran were closely monitoring the situation and urged Iranian authorities to conduct a "fair and transparent" counting of ballots.
And Pitney, who is liveblogging this situation, also reports this:
4:15 PM ET -- A reader gets a message from his cousin in Tehran: "Please share this message on Facebook or share it in a way for us to be heard: Tehran-9:50pm: We don't have text message, cellphone network, Facebook, youTube, Twitter and lots of other websites. BBC PERSIA is gone also on HOTBIRD. 3 reformist newspapers are banned (I can't check the names I've just heard and everything is blocked on internet) If anyone can, help me share the news. They have cut us off from the world."
The situation is indeed dire. It's careening into violence. Here is some footage of the situation, with a warning, some of it is graphic.




And this:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Creigh Deed's Victory Speech

I know, you've probably seen it before, but it doesn't hurt to keep it running for maximum exposure, so here's Creigh Deed's victory speech.


Jody Wagner Challenges Bill Bolling to Monthly Debates


Jody Wagner's campaign released the following press release, challenging Bill Bolling to a series of monthly debates from now until November.
WAGNER CHALLENGES BOLLING TO MONTHLY DEBATES
ISSUES CALL FOR A FORUM IN EVERY VIRGINIA REGION


RICHMOND - Today, Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor Jody Wagner challenged Bill Bolling to a series of debates across the Commonwealth, to present voters with a clear choice in November. Wagner has called for one debate per month for the remainder of the campaign, each taking place in a different region of Virginia. The format and rules would be agreed upon by the two candidates and campaigns.
In a letter sent to Bolling, Wagner said: "I believe it's important that voters have a clear understanding of both candidates, including our records, priorities, and visions for the future. I believe voters throughout the Commonwealth deserve to hear from both of us, so they're able to make informed decisions in November about the direction they believe is best for Virginia. I look forward to engaging in a constructive dialog over the next five months, and hope you'll join me in these debates."
Sound interesting and it shows Jody Wagner's confidence in her message and her ideas. The question is, will Bill Bolling take her up on the challenge?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Reactions To Last Night's Election Primary

From around the progressive blogosphere, I am seeing remarkably little bitterness, as everybody clamors to publicly declare their support for the newly minted Democratic ticket. The losing candidates were gracious in concession, quickly climbing on board to endorse the winners. It looks like we are determined not to blow the election in November because of hurt feelings and disappointments. That, by the way, is true grace under fire. Thank you to those who didn’t quite make it this time. Your graciousness will be remembered when we win.

As to why Creigh and Jody won, I have some thoughts. The first is that voters, overwhelmingly, and from all regions of Virginia, soundly rejected an agenda that was “too liberal.” As somebody whose banner declares that I have been “proudly liberal since 2005,” that does not upset me. The reason is that I am also a great fan of incrementalism. I never expected to convince the majority of voters to agree with me one hundred percent. I am happy just to further the discussion and win a little bit more acceptance for liberal ideas each time and to slowly push the center back to its real center. For too long, the most hard right elements of the Republican Party have been defining that center and moving it ever rightward. There is now a true left, right, and center in Virginia.

My second reason for not being upset is that I believe that sometimes - ok, lots of times - voters are smarter than bloggers. That doesn’t mean I always agree with the majority because I don’t. But lots of times, the wisdom of the masses does turn out to be more intelligent than that of the ideologues. This is one of those times.

While watching TV this morning, I was struck by some of the exit interviews, where people in Northern Virginia were saying that they were looking for the candidate who would run well across all of Virginia. Democratic voters were making pragmatic decisions in these races. Time and again, they went with the centrist.

The Republicans lost no time, in their reaction, in trying to paint Deeds and Wagner as radical leftists. It won’t stick to them precisely because the real progressives were out there and people already got to evaluate their positions. The primary did exactly its job; it strengthened the winners’ positions.

The Republicans did not trust real voters to choose their candidates because they also know that most Virginians are no more hard right than they are hard left. Virginia voters have shown time and again that they are pragmatic centrists. But the ideologues of their party couldn’t risk losing control or having to compromise their precious conservative principles. And that speaks volumes.

They have been a roadblock in the General Assembly for precisely that reason. They can’t even get along with their own moderates, let alone with any Democrat. For them, it’s impossible to reach across an aisle, even to fellow Republicans, let alone to Democrats in the General Assembly. Their ideas are radical and out of step. And every time they criticize moderates like Creigh Deeds or Jody Wagner, they will make more people more aware of that inconvenient fact.

How will the Democrats run against “sunny” Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, and Ken Cuccinelli and win in November? By staying positive, and responding to false charges and negative attacks calmly and with the facts. The fact is Virginia has consistently been named one of the best places to do business. Compared to our neighboring states, our economy has been resilient in very tough economic times - an economic meltdown caused by Republican policies at the national level. This is still Bush’s recession because Obama has only been in office for five months and everybody except the most hard right ideologues realizes he inherited this mess from his predecessor. In fact, even the current budget is Bush’s because it was enacted in October 2008, long before the election. Even the bailouts began under Bush’s watch, orchestrated by Henry Paulson.

Furthermore, the Democrats are not socialists, and the Republican penchant for toxic and inaccurate labeling will hurt them because that too will make them look like extremists. The current economic situation is dire. It can be compared to a person having a sudden and severe heart attack and his doctor stepping in to perform emergency open-heart surgery on him.

Of course, if the patient hadn’t been a hundred pounds overweight; eaten a constant diet of junk food; and persisted in smoking and drinking, he wouldn’t have needed such extreme measures. In fact, the doctor tried to get him to change his habits, lose some weight, and adapt a healthier lifestyle. But the patient persisted until a sudden, severe heart attack landed him in the ER. So, the doctor had to perform radical surgery to save his life.

That’s the situation with our economy. Nobody really believes the government should step in and interfere with businesses, bail out failed banks or auto companies, etc. But we are in a dire situation, where not one or two businesses, but an entire economy, was having a major heart attack and needed radical intervention. We are all scared about the eventual outcome, but doing nothing was simply not an option.

Meanwhile, in a situation where our economic meltdown has taken down half the major international economies, not to mention wrecked other state economies, Virginia remains in decent shape, relatively speaking, due to the hard work of Mark Kaine, Tim Kaine, and Jody Wagner, who had a major share of responsibility for our financial health. And we know Creigh Deeds will govern in that tradition. What does Bob McDonnell have as a legacy? The failed Republican policies of Jim Gilmore, the last GOP governor, who nearly destroyed the commonwealth’s AAA bond rating. In fact, it could be argued that Gilmore’s extreme anti-tax ideology, which nearly wrecked Virginia’s economy, was a harbinger of the GOP economic failure on a national level. Republican ideas have been tried time and again and have failed every time.

Those are the facts that Democrats will run on in November. And the Democrats will win because facts are stubborn things. As stubborn as a rock. In fact, many a Republican ship has foundered on the rock of solid evidence. And those facts will carry us through to victory in November!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Congratulations Creigh and Jody!

UPDATE: MORE WINNERS: The upset of the night was Kaye Kory, who beat long time incumbent Bob Hull by 50.65 to 49.34. Additonally, Mark Keam, whom I endorsed, won by 55 percent of the vote. Unfortunately, Miles Grant did not win his race, but congratulations to Patrick Hope.

I heard the election results on my way home from my Lions Club meeting. I know, I know, I'm a political junkie, so why aren't I hanging out somewhere tabulating returns or celebrating at an election night party? Well, because I am president of my Lions Club (for at least two more meetings), and charity work to find a cure for diseases like diabetes, which lead to blindness, and provide services for the sight impaired (like the famous leader dogs that you sometimes see assisting folks) just takes precedence even over politics.

But on the ride home, Dan and I had on WTOP and listened as the election results rolled in, so I knew before booting up my computer that Creigh Deeds and Jody Wagner had won convincing victories.

My sincerest congratulations to them both. No, they weren't my first choice, but they are decent people who ran campaigns that they should be proud of. All of our candidates did. Now that the voters have chosen, I certainly pledge my support, energy, and resources to helping them win. As a Democrat, I am proud of our ticket.

My condolences to all those who didn't win. The underside of politics is that lots of really good people put their hearts and souls into winning for their candidate. They sacrifice hours canvassing in the blazing sun or freezing rain, they talk to strangers, have phones hung up in their ears, and give countless hours to the cause. To come up some votes short after that is heartbreaking. And it is a heartbreaker for the candidates too. To all of them, you have my deepest sympathy because I am there with you tonight. Take a day or two to mourn the loss. To heal the wounds.

But then gird up for an even greater battle. November will come sooner than we think and we have great candidates to battle for.

I will write much more about this in a day or two. But for now I am tired. A bit disappointed, but also very pumped.

One special kudos has to go out to Terry McAuliffe. I received an email from him and as part of his concesssion, he turned around and asked for money for Creigh Deeds campaign, complete with a link to where you can donate. Creigh is going to need the funds. And McAuliffe is a class act for going out that way. Thanks Terry, you turned out to be a class act indeed!

Ben Tribbett Calls it for Deeds

Of course, there are still just over 2 hours to get to the polls, but Ben Tribbett is calling this for Creigh Deeds as of 4;45 pm. The money quote:
I think @CreighDeeds has just about locked this down- impressive votes coming out of NoVA for him. Still time to get to the polls though
Ben, as you know, endorsed Terry McAuliffe. Ah, hope springs enternal :)

A Strange Election Predictor Indeed!

I am somewhat reluctant to assign too much significance to this, but I checked my Sitemeter statistics and made a startling discovery. That is, besides the fact that I am getting the highest number of visitors I've ever had, mostly due to interest in the primary. Usually, my readers come from links from other blogs, people who just wander by, and occasionally from readers researching a specific topic on Google, Yahoo, or one of the other search engines.

Today, almost all of my visitors - I would say easily 4 or 5 to 1 - are coming from Google. And they appear to be people researching Creigh Deeds. They are looking for information on Deeds and guns, Deeds and choice, Deeds and religion, etc. I am not seeing as much interest in the other candidates from readers - none of them have been Googling McAuliffe or Moran. At least, not the ones being captured by Sitemeter on my Referral page. There have been a few for Signer and for the Lt Governor's race. But the overwhelming majority that I am getting are look ups for Creigh Deeds.

I suspect that these are undecideds and last minute voters who are breaking his way. They are the ones who haven't been focused on the races before, whose attention has been caught by his momentum over the last few days. Now, they are suddenly tuning in and want to know more before heading off to the polls today.

I have not broken down the geography of where they are all coming from, except that my number of Virginia hits is unusually high too. It's usually the majority of the readers I get, anyway, but not in these numbers.

I am not sure if this actually predicts anything for Creigh Deeds, but it's the first time since I've been doing this (I started after the 2005 election, so I've been blogging actual elections since 2006) that I've ever seen this type of pattern with my visitor statistics.

Get Out The Vote

Well, all the words have been written, the literature mailed or hung on door posts, the phone calls made, the polling done, and the canvassers knocking on doors. All the many hours of dedication and hard work have now come down to the wire. Today is election day for those participating in the Virginia Primary. We had a spirited campaign, sometimes nasty, but mostly civil.

To reiterate my endorsements very briefly:

For Governor: Brian Moran

For Lt. Governor: Mike Signer

For House of Delegates for 35th District: Mark Keam

For House of Delegates for 47th District: Miles Grant

However, whoever wins, I know that after the primary we will be united. We will go, as Democrats, into the general election proudly supporting our candidates for election

Now, go vote. Tonight, win or lose, go party, relax after the hardwork many of you have done for your candidate, and know that in the next few days wounds will heal and we all will work together to continue turning Virginia blue!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

WJLA-TV Bio of Brian Moran

H/t to Vivian Paige for this excellent video biography of Brian Moran from WJLA-TV.



Remember, vote next Tuesday, June 9!

AIAW Endorses Miles Grant for HOD in the 47th CD

This is my last, but certainly not least, endorsement. I am very proud to endorse Miles Grant for the House of Delegates, from the 47th District. I first encountered Miles on the Net, through his blog The Green Miles, and his contributions to Raising Kaine, where he was part of the editorial team. He also is a frequent contributor to Daily Kos, Gristmill, and What's Up, Arlington.

Miles is probably the most unique candidate this year. He presents some of the most thought provoking and challenging ideas in Virginia. He is an uncompromising environmentalist, who insists that Virginians could cut costs and dependence on coal and foreign oil by greater efficiency. And he strongly believes Richmond should provide the leadership.

According to Miles, we can cut energy use by 20 percent by 2025. That's more than 6,000 megawatts of power or, as he likes to point out, the output of the equivalent of 10 Wise County coals plants. Miles also believes we could get 20 percent of all electricity from renewable sources, like solar and wind power, which would cut carbon emissions. We need to begin cutting carbon emissions by 2 percent each year and by 80 percent by 2050 in order to avoid the most harmful effects of global warming.

To accomplish these goals, Miles is also a strong supporter of public transportation and would like to see a permanent dedicated funding stream for Metro from DC, Maryland, and Virginia. He also supports full funding for the Metro Silver Line and building a trolley line from Columbia Pike to the Pentagon. On the other hand, he opposes any expansion of Route 66 or I-395. Indeed, his goal is to take cars off the road and encourage greater use of public transportation by improving service and quality. Additionally, he supports encouraging employers to offer more telecommuting opportunities to workers.

Although Miles is best known, through his blog and his work at the National Wildlife Federation, as an ardent environmentalist, he is far from a one issue candidate.

He cares deeply about civil liberties issues and promises to fight to prohibit discrimination of any kind.

Perhaps the brunt of discrimination in the Northern Virginia region has been borne by immigrants. Miles would like to see the Virginia Commission on Immigration's recommendations fully implemented. He has also called for a comprehensive study of the impact of illegal immigration on the local economy and tax revenue to determine whether the effects of illegal immigration have truly been detrimental, as some claim.

Miles also supports a woman's right to reproductive freedom and would require all pharmacists to fill all legal, valid prescriptions, including birth control pills. Furthermore, his support for full equality for the LGBT community has earned him the endorsement of the Virginia Partisans (he also has endorsements from the Sierra Club and former Lt. Governor candidate Jon Bowerbank, among many others).

On the economic crisis, Miles points out that the same energy efficiencies he proposes for saving the environment would also save the commonwealth and its citizen money. Additionally, he supports the creation of green jobs in a new environmental-friendly economy.

On an issue that is all important to Virginians, education, Miles supports universal Pre-K, raising teachers' salaries to be competitive with other states, and focusing beyond test scores. He believes a well rounded education is essential to students and he would encourage inclusion of elective classes and community service. Finally, he would encourage greater parental involvement in their children's education. He says that parents' buy-in is crucial.

In addition to his political involvement and his work on various blogs to spread his message, Miles Grant has earned an impressive array of accomplishments that speak well of his dedication to community service, including the following:
  • Outstanding Volunteer Award, Arlington County, 2008


  • Arlington Young Democrats, Community Service Director, 2008


  • James B. Hunter Community Hero Award, Arlington County, 2007


  • Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment: Board Chair, 2005-2007;


  • Board Member, 2003-2008


  • Arlington Community Volunteer Network (formerly CRM): Chair, 2006-2009;


  • Leadership Team member, 2004-present


  • Under Miles' chairmanship in 2008, the National Association of Counties recognized CVN with an Acts of Caring Award


  • Northern Virginia SPCA: Volunteer, 2002-2004
  • It is for these reasons, his community involvement, his dedication to environmental action, his concern for civil rights for all, education, and jobs creation, and his innovative solutions that I proudly endorse and support Miles Grant for the House of Delegates.

    Netroots Surrogate Debate This Sunday Night

    This Sunday night at 7:30, three of Virginia's most distinguished progressive bloggers will participate in a surrogate's debate for the gubernatorial candidates. Common Sense Virginia is staging the debate at their website. Please go over there and leave questions for the candidates' surrogates in the comment section.

    Lowell Feld will speak for the Terry McAuliffe campaign. Carla Ward, aka Catzmaw, will represent Brian Moran, and Waldo Jacquith, Virginia's blogfather, will speak on behalf of Creigh Deed's campaign.

    This should be a spirited debate with some of the best informed representatives of the Virginia blogosphere.

    Wednesday, June 03, 2009

    AIAW Endorses Brian Moran for Governor

    I said yesterday that choosing which candidate to endorse for lieutenant governor was one of the hardest decisions I had to make. And that was certainly true. But choosing who to endorse for governor has proven equally hard.

    The truth is we have three very fine candidates, each of whom would make an excellent governor. None of them could be called “lesser of the evils” running against Bob McDonnell. All three are intelligent, capable, and dedicated leaders who have served the Democratic Party well over the years. However, since we can only choose one of these fine men, my choice is Brian Moran and I endorse him proudly. Here is why.

    I have known Brian personally for many more years than I can count. I can vouch for his decency and dedication. He has spent a lifetime exhibiting a sense of responsibility and concern for his family and his community. That started for him at a young age.

    Brian grew up in a solid, middle class family that knew hard times, including his father’s being laid off from a job. People have joked about his statement that he still hates the taste of powdered milk. Many of those who laugh loudest have never had to drink it themselves.
    Brian started working when he was 14, and he held a job bagging groceries. Later, he worked in construction and as a bartender while he was in college.

    Just as his future was beginning, when he went away to school, he was abruptly called home to help care for his father, who had taken seriously ill. Subsequently, he graduated with a law degree from Catholic University. Unlike many of his classmates who went on to practice corporate law, Brian passed up a lucrative career for one in public service.

    In 1989, he joined the prosecutor’s office, working his way up to become Senior Assistant Commonwealth Attorney. Then, in 1996, he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, where he quickly rose to a leadership role, being elected by his fellow Democrats as House Chairman in 2001. In that role, he traveled across the commonwealth to every small town and village to build the Democratic Party and to turn Virginia blue.

    In addition to his political activism, Brian immersed himself in service to his community in many other ways. He is an active member of the United Way, has served as Chairman of the Budget and Fiscal Affairs Advisory Council for Alexandria, and is a member of the board of Stop Child Abuse Now.

    He was honored as the Jaycees Man of the Year, was twice awarded the Victims and Witnesses of Crime legislative award, and the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Legislator of the Year Award. The Chamber of Commerce presented him with their Friend of Business Award. The League of Conservation Voters gave him their Legislative Award, and he received the Tech Ten Award from the Northern Virginia Technology Council. The Virginia PTA named him the Child Advocate of the Year.

    In the House of Delegates, his accomplishments include the following: he cracked down on drunk drivers, improved the small business climate, improved preventive health services, and expanded access to childhood vaccinations. He fought to raise teachers’ salaries.

    Not content to rest on his laurels, Brian now wants to be governor so he can continue to bring his progressive vision to the commonwealth and improve the lives of Virginia citizens. Here is a sample of some of the things he would like to accomplish for Virginia.

    Brian would protect homeowners from predatory lenders and deceptive mortgage lending practices. He would fight to ensure safe products. He is dedicated to investing in Pre-K education and strengthening K-12 education. In addition, he wants a greater focus on expanding community colleges, improving higher education and an increased investment in higher education research. Brian knows that more research is absolutely essential to creating the new green jobs of the future.

    He also would invest in renewable energy, increase production of wind and solar energy, and he supports a Mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standard. Brian is opposed to offshore drilling and the new coal powered plant in Surry. Instead, he favors reducing dependence on foreign oil through renewable energy alternatives, energy efficiency, and plug in and hybrid cars.

    Brian supports a woman’s right to choose. At the same time, while in the House of Delegates, he expanded health care access for pregnant woman. That’s because the right to choose also includes the right to choose to carry a healthy baby to term and to have adequate health coverage to do so.

    Finally, Brian is committed to fixing the nursing shortage and expanding access to dental care to rural Virginia, where the lack of dental care has produced a severe crisis among the poor. Brian also supports healthcare insurance pools for small businesses so they can provide coverage for their employees.

    For all these reasons, Brian’s commitment to helping the middle class, his dedication to the environment and the creation of well paying green jobs, and his long time involvement in his community, I proudly endorse Brian Moran and urge you to vote for him June 9th.

    Tuesday, June 02, 2009

    AIAW Endorses Mike Signer for Lt. Governor

    In the Lieutenant Governor’s race, I am proud to endorse Mike Signer. Before going into the reasons and Mike’s many fine attributes, I want to admit that this was one of the toughest decisions I had to make.

    His opponent, Jody Wagner, is a highly capable candidate. For starters, I would normally be naturally disposed to strongly support a competent, intelligent woman for office, if for no other reason, because our daughters need them as role models. You can say to a young girl that she can aspire to any career she wants until you turn blue. But if there aren’t models out there, it’s not believable. Additionally, Ms. Wagner is extremely talented and accomplished. She served in the Warner and Kaine administrations as state treasurer and as the first woman secretary of finance. If we Democrats love to brag that under Warner and Kaine, Virginia has maintained its AAA bond rating and been rated “best managed state to do business in the nation,” Wagner shares the credit for these successes. She was, after all, the person in charge of Virginia’s finances.

    In this campaign, Wagner has staked out her position as a solid, pro-business moderate in the tradition of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

    There is, however, another tradition within Democratic politics, and that is the progressive and populist tradition of Jim Webb. And that is the wing of the party where you will find Mike Signer, which is why he is my choice.

    But this is not a hard left ideological position without regard to the candidate's other qualifications. Far from it. Mike also is enormously gifted and intelligent. And he too served in the Warner administration as Warner's former deputy counselor.

    Further, Mike has worked as a national security consultant to the Center for American Progress, foreign policy adviser for the John Edwards presidential campaign and, in 2008, on Barack Obama’s Veterans Policy Development Team. He also was a senior strategist for Tom Perriello’s breathtaking upset victory over Virgil Goode.

    Mike has staked out some truly progressive stances on the issue, some of which take great political and personal courage. Like his model, Jim Webb, he will work for the restoration of voting rights for felons upon their release from prison. This is an issue that is deeply important to me, as are all social justice issues.

    Another issue for which I have great passion is economic fairness. Indeed, this blog has staked its own reputation on its advocacy of economic populism. The very first candidate that AIAW supported, as a blog, was Jim Webb. And it was for this very reason. Mike Signer is unabashed in his support for unions. He has said, “My grandparents were in unions. My parents were in unions. Unions helped build this country. I don’t think there is any question about that.”

    It was that type of straight talk and support for labor that won Signer the endorsement of Leslie Byrne and the endorsements of the following unions:
    Fairfax Deputy Sheriff’s Union
    Washington, D.C. Building Trades
    Asbestos Workers Local #24
    Boilermakers Local #193
    Bricklayers & Allied Crafts Local # 1
    Electrical Workers Local #26
    Elevator Constructors Local #10
    Iron Workers Local #5
    Operating Engineers Local #77
    Operative Plasterers & Cement Masons #891
    Painters District Council #51
    Plumbers Local #5
    Reinforced Rodmen Local #201
    Roofers & Waterproofers Local #30
    Sheet Metal Workers Local #100
    Sprinkler Fitters Local #669
    Steamfitters Local #602
    United Transportation Union of Virginia
    Signer, as Lieutenant Governor, would focus on the economy and jobs creation, our single biggest challenge in this current economy. Some of his ideas include creating jobs in health IT, smart grid, weatherization to make homes and offices more energy efficient, and rural jobs. He would use the federal stimulus funds to create jobs in the tourism industry, which already supports 210,000 jobs and generates $1.2 billion worth of state and local taxes.

    To encourage young people to return to Virginia after college, he would work for the “Come Home Act,” which would reduce student loan repayment for those who return to their communities after graduation.

    Signer has many innovative ideas to create jobs and improve the lives of Virginians. But of all the candidates, he is the one who also seems to realize that we need not only more jobs, but also good, well paying jobs and safe working environments.

    As a progressive – indeed, as a proud liberal (which is what my banner proclaims me to be), I proudly endorse Mike Signer and urge you to vote for him on June 9.

    AIAW Endorses Mark Keam for 35th District HOD

    In the 35th District House of Delegates race, I strongly support Mark Keam, and I proudly endorse his candidacy.

    Mark has a compelling personal narrative. He was born in Seoul, Korea, where his father served as an Army chaplain deployed to Vietnam. Mark’s mother struggled to raise the family alone back in Korea. Then, during a temporary ceasefire, Mark’s father brought the family to Vietnam, where he established the only Korean Christian Church.

    One April morning, in 1975, as Mark Keam himself described it, his childhood “abruptly came to a halt,” when he, along with his mother and his siblings, caught the first airplane they could out of Vietnam as the South Vietnamese regime was falling to the communists. His father remained behind to care for his flock and to ensure that as many of them as possible were able to escape the war torn country. As a man of the cloth, he was quickly imprisoned by the newly established communist regime. After months of negotiation, he was finally freed to join his family. Before coming to the U.S., Mark and his family also lived in Australia. So, he thoroughly understands the immigrant experience and has grown up in a multicultural and international environment.

    Mark learned the lessons of sacrifice, responsibility, and caring for both his family and community from these early life experiences. After graduating law school, he immersed himself in public service for most of his young career.

    He came to Northern Virginia and settled in Vienna, where he went to work at the Federal Communications Commission as a lawyer. He went on to serve as policy council to the Small Business Administration during the Clinton administration. Once the administration ended, he went to work for Illinois Senator Richard Durbin and served as chief counsel on the Judiciary Committee, where he fought the Bush administration’s rightwing agenda.

    In 2007, Keam joined Verizon as a vice president and counsel to the Public Affairs, Policy, and Communications Department.

    In addition, Mark Keam has been active in Democratic politics for most of his life. His love of politics began in 1988, when he served an internship for the Democratic National Committee and worked at that year’s Democratic Convention in Atlanta. In Virginia, Mark was one of the organizers of Fairfax for Obama and played a key role as a grassroots activist, who helped deliver Virginia for the first time in 44 years to the Democratic ticket.

    As a delegate, Mark would concentrate on economic issues. With his background in the Small Business Administration, he would bring a wealth of understanding to the unique problems of small business owners and a commitment to solutions. Mark understands that two thirds of all new jobs are created by small businesses. They are the true economic engine that runs this country and if they do not succeed, then our economy will not recover.

    Additionally, in an area where roads are jammed and commuting is a nightmare, Keam would use his telecommunications background to push for more telecommuting opportunities and flexible work schedules to ease rush hour congestion. He also will fight for Northern Virginia to receive more of its fair share of transportation and education funding from Richmond. He supports K-12 educational investment and is committed to excellence in our public schools. Furthermore, he favors use of alternate energy standards, creation of green jobs, and bringing state government buildings into compliance with LEEDS standards.

    For all these reasons: His extraordinary personal story and background, his history of public service, his experience as a grassroots activist, and his vision of how to improve the lives of ordinary Virginians, I urge you to vote on June 9th for Mark Keam for the House of Delegates from the 35th District.