Monthly Archives: November 2010

Links We’re Reading – November 13-20, 2010

These links thought they could slink away, but we caught them.

The statistical results were striking. The things you prefer – tastes that you like to think of as personal, unique, justified only by sensibility – correspond tightly to defining measures of social class: your profession, your highest degree and your father’s profession.  

Taste is not stable and peaceful, but a means of strategy and competition. Those superior in wealth use it to pretend they are superior in spirit. Groups closer in social class who yet draw their status from different sources use taste and its attainments to disdain one another and get a leg up. These conflicts for social dominance through culture are exactly what drive the dynamics within communities whose members are regarded as hipsters. – The New York Times

You Voted For Them

I hope everyone is happy with putting more Republicans in the Senate. Yesterday gave an example of what we can expect from a more closely divided Senate.

Senate Republicans have succeeded in blocking a measure designed to reduce wage disparities between men and women.

The 58-41 vote to take up the Paycheck Fairness Act fell short of the 60 needed to overcome GOP opposition.

In essence, the Republicans backed big business over the rights of women to seek fair pay, saying that removing limits on compensatory damages would hurt business.

Here’s a hint – if employers would simply pay equally qualified women the same rate of pay as their male colleagues in a similar position, there would be no threat of lawsuits. By extension, then there would be no worry about damages negatively hurting business. It’s simple, if you think about it.

Get ready folks; this is the Republican mantra for the next two years – block everything and blame it on the President, even if it means treating other members of society differently than others.

Where do we go from here?

Our Pres, wants to end DADT but our VA Senators are against it. (surveys show that 75% of Americans are in favor of ending DADT. As a retired LTC myself I know that there are gays and lesbians serving in the military now as they have been for the 20 years I wore the uniform, so what is the issue?)

Our pres. wants to put Defense dollars where they will do the most good and wants to follow SEC Def’s suggestions but our two Dem Senators are against closing the no longer needed base in Norfolk VA. that the Sec Def wants to close.

This is part of the reason why I am frustrated.  I also want everyone to know that I do not consider what I am doing as “in-fighting”, I prefer to call it “soul searching and reflection”. For example, why did our base stay home in this past election????

Our house of Rep.. under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi has passed many good pieces of legislation that were stymied in the Senate so we need to get the rules changed so that veto-proof voters are not needed for EVERY piece of legislation and we need to get a true “Campaign finance” law in place . For example, Citizens United can now donate MILLIONS without disclosing where the money came from.  However, as was noted to day by Rep. Bill Pascell (D) NJ., we did not do enough to work on JOBS!

I agree with E.J. Dionne, jr. who wrote in the 15 November issue of the Washington Post that the “lame duck” “congress has an opportunity to “test whether Democrats have spines made of Playdough and whether President Obama has decided to pretend that capitulation is conciliation”

Sen. Macaca Strikes Again

How did we ever end up with this Einstein as both a Governor and a Senator?

Under a set of legislative priorities posted on his website, [George] Allen says: “The new Congress must repeal and cutoff any additional money borrowed and set aside for Obama, Reid and Pelosi’s $1.2 trillion stimulus spending bill.”

Wait, $1.2 trillion? Did I miss something? I distinctly remember the ARRA (the “stimulus”) at around $787 billion. gives us the truth:

The Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, for example, which represents $168 billion of the $1.2 trillion total was passed under President George W. Bush. So was the $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program.

Now, if we are to assume that Allen is referring in his claim to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also called the Stimulus, the total provided was $787.2 billion including tax relief and stimulus funds.

That’s a long way from $1.2 trillion. [/snip]

Allen is not only exaggerating the spending total by President Obama and the Democratic leaders of Congress, he is doing it by including billions of dollars passed under a Republican president. That’s just not false, it’s ridiculous. So we have to set the meter ablaze. Pants on Fire.

So, to be clear, Allen is clearly exaggerating the cost of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act…check that, he’s LYING about ARRA, which has only kept this country from falling into a second Great Depression. His good buddy Dubya was responsible for a third of the spending he purports to be abhorring, yet ex-Senator Macaca is throwing red meat out there in an attempt to curry favor with the low-information voters with short attention spans.

In case you’ve forgotten, here’s the “Macaca Moment”:

The bigoted dimwit seems to be looking to run again against Senator Jim Webb in 2012. Thank you to PolitiFact for pointing out that he will indeed stoop to any level to get elected.

As his buddy Dubya put it:

We won’t get fooled again.

An Activist Press

Keith Olbermann makes the case for a press corps that’s more than a group of stenographers, and uses the icons of American journalism to do it.

These were not glorified stenographers. These were not neutral men. These were men who did in their day what the best of journalists still try to do in this one. Evaluate, analyze, unscramble, assess – put together a coherent picture, or a challenging question – using only the facts as they can best be discerned, plus their own honesty and conscience.

And if the result is that this story over here is a Presidential chief of staff taking some pretty low-octane bribes and the scandal starts and ends there, you judge all the facts, and you say so. And if the result is that that other story over there is not just a third-rate burglary at a political office, but the tip of an iceberg meant to sink the two-party system in this country, you judge all the facts, and you scream so.

Insist long enough that the driving principle behind the great journalism of the television era was neutrality and objectivity and not subjective choices and often dangerous evaluations and even commentary and you will eventually leave the door open to pointless worship at the temple of a false god.

Go. Read.The video:

Three Things

There’s a helluva lot of soul-searching among Democrats right now. I figured it might be useful to mention the core of my Democratic beliefs, if only to start a conversation.

Social Security, equality, health care.

That’s it. Oh, there are a lot of other things embedded in there, things like the minimum wage, civil liberties and progressive taxation, but when I get right down to it, I’m a Democrat because Democrats fight for Social Security, equality and health care, and Republicans don’t.Social Security means a lot more than just transfer payments to retirees. It is a modicum of income for families who have their primary breadwinner disabled, or die. It is a balm to the persistent and eternal worry about what will happen when we get old. It is a great foundation of the American economic engine.

Like all forms of insurance, Social Security allows people to do things they otherwise couldn’t. If Americans had to worry that they might wind up in starvation-level poverty in their old age, they’d have to save more rather than spending on consumer goods, and they’d be more hesitant to take risks like changing jobs or careers. – The Economist

This point doesn’t get mentioned enough in the debates over Social Security. The fact that we have universal retirement income insurance means that people are more willing to take risks during their prime working years, and it is the willingness to take those risks that drives innovation and economic growth.

Equality throughout history has been a tough word to cope with. It’s the idealistic rocks on which so many good intentions founder. And when Mr. Jefferson encoded the equality of all men in our founding doctrine he set a bar that we can never reach, but one that we do better in trying to achieve than we would without it.

For Democrats, equality has been with us for good or bad since the beginning. In the eras of Jefferson and Jackson we fought for the equality of the poor man with the rich man at the ballot box. We fought for the equality of the immigrant with the native in the years before the Civil War. It is when we shy away from equality that we fail and lose. By failing to recognize the equality of black and white (and brown, and red, and every other color) we cursed ourselves with irrelevance in the management of the Nation for decades. And we deserved that irrelevance.

Democrats came back only when we began to find, once again, our dedication to equality of rich and poor, and then man and woman, and then, finally, belatedly, black and white. We are constantly challenged by equality, again today native and migrant. And gay and straight. Equality is hard, but it always, always prevails.

Being a Democrat, to me, means never saying “that’s enough equality, thanks.”

Health care is a helluva lot more than must-buy insurance. But it starts there, perhaps. Just as Social Security started small, so too does health care as a right start small. It started with our Veterans, believe it or not. The first group of people in our country to get national, universal health care. And here’s the funny thing, it worked. It’s not perfect, but it is way more consistent across boundaries of wealth and power than any other system in the country.

From there we provided care to the old, and poor. And in my short political lifetime, for kids. It is often forgotten that the second bill that President Obama signed was one making childrens health insurance the law of the land. The great health care battle of 2009 is not over. We are now in the winter of that war, with a grand strategy of exchanges and rules in place that will take years to come to fruition. But unlike the other side we have years. Universal civil rights took years. Universal retirement insurance took years. Heck, universal unemployment insurance took years. “The arc of the universe is long, but bends towards justice.”

And as with Social Security, universal health care will reduce the risks of taking risks like switching jobs, or starting your own company. It will provide a critical form of social insurance that reduces the worry and timidity of creative, innovative people. It will spur creativity, and economic growth.

And all three are things Democrats stand for, and Republicans stand against.

And that’s why I stand with the Democratic Party, today.

Ronis For Loudoun


As the Broad Run District Chair for the Loudoun County Democratic Committee, I am proud to announce that we now have a candidate for the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors seat being vacated by current Supervisor Lori Waters (R) at the end of her term in 2011.

Valdis Ronis, Lansdowne on the Potomac resident and current representative for Potomac District on the Loudoun County Planning Commission, will be making his official announcement this coming Sunday, November 14th.

Valdis is a Principal with MulvannyG2 Architecture out of McLean, and he’s also a neighbor of mine.

Why is Valdis running? Here are his main campaign points:

1) To bring responsible leadership to the Board of Supervisors.

2) To create a good business climate that encourages companies to locate in Loudoun County.

3) To support sustainable economic development so we can create jobs and hold the line on taxes.

4) To invest in transportation solutions that will reduce traffic c and improve our quality of life.

5) And to ensure quality schools by eliminating wasteful bureaucracy, and by focusing resources on classroom instruction.

Currently, Valdis only has a Facebook page, as his candidacy is in its virtual infancy. I will continue to post updates here when they warrant regarding websites, etc.

But now we can say that we now have a candidate ready, willing, and able to work with the rest of the Democratic majority to continue the fine work of the past 3 years.

Leadership, not Politics!

What’s $4Million Between Friends

The Secretary of Finance under Gov. Jim “Bankrupted the State” Gilmore has been indicted.

John W. Forbes II, who served as Virginia’s secretary of finance under former governor Jim Gilmore (R), has pleaded guilty to charges connected to defrauding the [Tobacco] commission of $4 million.

Forbes entered a guilty plea in August and will be sentenced Monday. According to court documents, Forbes convinced the commission to award a $5 million grant to the Literary Foundation of Virginia, a charitable group that he founded.

Authorities allege that the foundation was not a real group. Instead, Forbes diverted the tobacco commission money to salaries for himself and his then-wife and created a series of shell businesses that he used to divert the funds to his own use. – The Washington Post

Recall that the money from the Tobacco Settlement, which the commission manages, is supposed to go to help rural Virginia. It is supposed to help create jobs and improve things. This Republican criminal literally took money from the poorest, neediest Virginians, the ones most hurt by the economic transition away from tobacco farming, and used it to line his own pockets.

Meanwhile, a failed gubernatorial candidate (who happens to be a Democrat) went down to rural Virginia and worked to create jobs there. And he did it without stealing money!

Who is fighting for rural Virginia again? Who is bringing jobs to the state?

And who is stealing?

Dear Tea Party…

And in yet another awesome commentary, Mark Morford of The San Francisco Chronicle has some news for the gullible who vote against their own self-interest:

To all of you who either flip-flopped your wishy-washy ideals and switched your vote from bluish to reddish this past election because Obama and the lukewarm Dems failed to solve all world problems in 700 days, or because you got yourself so emotionally riled up/mentally watered down by the sexy caveman grunts of the Tea Party that you actually bought the BS line about being “mad as hell” about nothing even remotely coherent.

Here is your grand message: You are hereby wonderfully, thoroughly screwed.

Oh, it gets better:

You don’t have to believe me. Just wait until nothing at all is done to service the Tea Party non-agenda, because it’s ridiculous and impossible to service. Just wait until you note how there is no actual shrinking of government, no restoring some bogus sepia-toned idealism that never existed, no saving of your job. There is, of course, but one GOP agenda: furthering their personal stranglehold on all things powermad and avaricious.

That’s not to say they won’t try to tackle some issues. Boehner & Co care very much about nailing down enormous tax cuts for wealthy people, preventing education reform, gridlocking Congress at every turn, denying the fact that seven billion rapacious humans have an effect on climate change, and blocking as much newly available health care for 30 million Americans as possible. And so on.

But truly, the issues themselves don’t matter. For what Boehner & Co value most is not so much making any sort of significant change in American culture, but rather, in keeping the anger, the dread, the paranoia alive.

I really want to just copy & paste the whole commentary, but just one more for you:

Let’s be perfectly clear: The modern Republican party has one masterful, godlike skill unmatched by any other org in this century: Its leaders are geniuses at deceit, at leading throngs of blind believers into rabbit holes of war and fear and factual inaccuracy, often using an aggressively dumbed-down form of Christianity as a trump card. Sexual dread, mistrust of youth, of women, of gays, foreigners, of the ever-changing cultural landscape? It’s in the DNA. And the Tea Party chugged it like Coors-flavored heroin.

It’s gonna be fun watching these fools spontaneously combust when their “saviors” kick their tea-flavored agenda to the curb in, oh, about 2 months. Heh heh.

Fight!! (Please…)

As usual, Eugene Robinson’s Op-Ed in today’s Washington Post is right on the mark:

Making the tax cuts permanent for the wealthy would increase the deficit by $700 billion over the next decade. Which party claims to be urgently, desperately concerned about the deficit? The Republicans, of course. So which party is prepared to bust the budget, if that’s what it takes, to serve the interests of the rich? The GOP. And which party, to get its way, refuses to approve desperately needed tax relief for the bruised and battered middle class? Once again, the Republicans.

And yet, the gullible public voted, en masse, against their own self interest, last week.More Robinson wisdom:

But I’ve been meeting an awful lot of progressives around the country who share that delusion, if that’s what it is. They despair that their neighbors don’t know that it was George W. Bush who proposed the TARP bailout, not Obama – or that it worked, or that taxpayers are getting their money back. They wonder how health-care reform came to be defined not as a moral issue or a way to slow rising costs, which it is, but as a “big government takeover,” complete with “death panels.” Which it isn’t.

What I’m hearing is frustration, and it’s getting louder. I’m hearing the view that the Obama administration, which has done much good, can do better – by speaking clearly, standing its ground – and, when pushed by bullies, shoving back.

There’s really nothing more to add.