Saturday, November 16, 2013
The intrigue and dishonest scheming continues unabated among elements of the Republican Party of Virginia which remain incensed that it now appears that GOP Attorney General candidate Mark Obenshin - who ran a slick, if totally dishonest campaign - has lost the popular vote to Democrat Mark Herring. It seems all but certain that there will be a recount since today's GOP never loses gracefully. The bigger fear in some circles, however, is that the Virginia GOP may try to use bizarre aspects of Virginia law to declare Obenshain the winner even though he lost. In today's GOP - which has a level of morality akin the the Nazi Party in the 1930's - the end justifies any means necessary to win and impose extremism on all. A piece at MSNBC looks at what some fear could come to pass. Here are highlights:
Even if Democrat Mark Herring ends up with more votes than his Republican rival Mark Obenshain in the tightly contested Virginia attorney general’s race, he could still lose.Herring is currently ahead of Obenshain by a follicle–the current official count states that Herring has 164 more votes than Obenshain out of more than two million cast. A recount is all but guaranteed and litigation seems likely. But even if after the dust clears Herring remains in the lead, under Virginia law, Obenshain could contest the result in the Republican dominated Virginia legislature, which could declare Obenshain the winner or declare the office vacant and order a new election.“If they can find a hook to demonstrate some sort of irregularity, then there’s nothing to prevent them from saying our guy wins,” says Joshua Douglas, an election law expert and professor at the University of Kentucky College of Law. “There’s no rules here, besides outside political forces and public scrutiny.”Obenshain couldn’t simply contest the election out of the blue. He’d have to argue that some sort of irregularity affected the result. Still, Virginia law is relatively vague in explaining what would justify an election contest, and historical precedent suggests that co-partisans in the legislature are unlikely to reach a decision that hurts their candidate.On Sunday the state board of elections informed the Fairfax County board that they had to observe state rules barring legal representatives of voters who cast provisional ballots from appearing on their behalf unless the voter is there in person. Whether that was a rule change or a clarification of existing practice is disputed–but the Fairfax County board also allowed voters who cast provisional ballots more time to appear in person and argue their eligibility than other counties. The county ultimately approved 271 provisional ballots–160 for Herring and 103 for Obenshain.That discrepancy could be the basis for a court challenge, because legal experts believe the Supreme Court’s 2000 decision in Bush v. Gore requires jurisdictions within a state have to have uniform rules for counting votes. But if even if Obenshain loses in court, he could turn to the Virginia legislature with an election contest. The law states that Obenshain needn’t prove that Fairfax’s decision to allow more time for voters to argue their eligibility in order to go forward with an election contest, he need only “specific allegations which, if proven true, would have a probable impact on the outcome of the election.”Nevertheless there is a substantial political risks to this approach. Virginia Republicans could incur a severe political backlash if Virginians see them as thwarting the will of the electorate or subverting the results of an election simply because they didn’t like the outcome. Between a recount and potential litigation, we’re also still a long way away from a potential election contest.Yet a campaign to persuade voters that the close election was simply the result of Democratic shenanigans at the polls isn’t inconceivable, especially with a base convinced that in-person voter fraud, which is very rare, is a deciding factor in elections. If after all options have been exhausted, Obenshain decides he wants to take his case to the state legislature, the only thing stopping Republicans from ordering a new election or declaring him the winner would be fear of a political backlash or their own self-restraint.
I would not put much stock in GOP self-restraint. The Virginia GOP is now controlled by religious zealots, white supremacists and lunatics, not exactly folks likely to argue for self-restraint, assuming they even know what it is.
|Photograph © David Lees/Corbis; digital colorization by Lorna Clark.|
Over the years, this blog has looked at the filth and hypocrisy that permeates the Vatican. especially within the context of the world wide sex abuse scandal and the conspiracy orchestrated from the Vatican - largely at the direction of John Paul II and Benedict XVI - to cover up horrific abuse. But the other huge scandal is the Church's anti-gay jihad even as the Vatican is full of gays, some at high levels of the Church hierarchy. Vanity Fair has a lengthy piece on this secret world and the psychological depravity that exist in a world where the quest for power leads priest, bishops and cardinals to lead double lives or, at best a lie. Read the full piece. Here are some excerpts:
Naked but for the towel around his waist, a man of a certain age sat by himself, bent slightly forward as if praying, in a corner of the sauna at a gym in central Rome. I had not met this man before, but as I entered the sauna, I thought I recognized him from photographs. He looked like a priest with whom I’d corresponded after mutual friends put us in touch, a man I had wanted to consult about gay clerics in the Vatican Curia. My friends told me that this priest was gay, politically savvy, and well connected to the gay Church hierarchy in Rome.But this couldn’t be that priest. He had told me that he’d be away and couldn’t meet. Yet as I looked at the man more closely, I saw that it was definitely him. When we were alone, I spoke his name, telling him mine. “I thought you were out of the country,” I said. “How lucky for me: you’re here!” Startled, the priest talked fast. Yes, his plans had changed, he said, but he was leaving again the next day and would return only after I was gone.During the previous few days, I had heard a lot about this man. I had heard that he is a gossip, a social operator whose calendar is a blur of drinks and dinners with cardinals and archbishops, principessas and personal trainers. Supposedly, he loves to dish male colleagues with campy female nicknames. But I would never have the experience firsthand. The priest was embarrassed: to have been chanced upon at this place; to have had his small evasions revealed. The encounter was awkward. No, he did not wish to discuss the subject I was interested in. No, he did not think the subject worthwhile. These things he made clear.I could understand his discomfort. But in Rome these days the topic of gay priests in the upper reaches of the Holy See is hard to avoid. In February of this year, not long before the College of Cardinals gathered in the Sistine Chapel for the conclave to choose the 266th Pope, the largest Italian daily newspaper, La Repubblica, reported that a “gay lobby”—a more or less unified cabal of homosexual power brokers—might be operating inside the Vatican.“Gay lobby” is really shorthand for something else. At the Vatican, a significant number of gay prelates and other gay clerics are in positions of great authority. They may not act as a collective but are aware of one another’s existence. And they inhabit a secretive netherworld, because homosexuality is officially condemned. Though the number of gay priests in general, and specifically among the Curia in Rome, is unknown, the proportion is much higher than in the general population. Between 20 and 60 percent of all Catholic priests are gay, according to one estimate cited by Donald B. Cozzens in his well-regarded The Changing Face of the Priesthood. For gay clerics at the Vatican, one fundamental condition of their power, and of their priesthood, is silence, at least in public, about who they really are.Clerics inhabit this silence in a variety of ways. A few keep their sexuality entirely private and adhere to the vow of celibacy. Many others quietly let themselves be known as gay to a limited degree, to some colleagues, or to some laypeople, or both; sometimes they remain celibate and sometimes they do not. A third way, perhaps the least common but certainly the most visible, involves living a double life. Occasionally such clerics are unmasked, usually by stories in the Italian press.There are at least a few gay cardinals, including one whose long-term partner is a well-known minister in a Protestant denomination. There is the notorious monsignor nicknamed “Jessica,” who likes to visit a pontifical university and pass out his business card to 25-year-old novices. (Among the monsignor’s pickup lines: “Do you want to see the bed of John XXIII?”) There’s the supposedly straight man who has a secret life as a gay prostitute in Rome and posts photographs online of the innermost corridors of the Vatican.To be gay in the Vatican is no guarantee of success, mark of belonging, or shortcut to erotic intrigue. Most basically it is a sentence of isolation. Gays in the Vatican are creatures of a cutthroat bureaucracy whose dogmatic worldview denies or denigrates their own existence. They live in a closet that has no door. Among recent Popes, Benedict made the most concerted effort to sharpen Church doctrine on homosexuality, which he once called “a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.”Tales of gays in the Vatican have been told for more than a thousand years. Pope John XII, who reigned from 955 to 964, was accused of having sex with men and boys and turning the papal palace “into a whorehouse.” While trying to persuade a cobbler’s apprentice to have sex with him, Pope Boniface VIII, who reigned from 1294 to 1303, was said to have assured the boy that two men having sex was “no more a sin than rubbing your hands together.” After Paul II, who reigned from 1464 to 1471, died of a heart attack—while in flagrante delicto with a page, according to one rumor—he was succeeded by Sixtus IV, who kept a nephew as his lover (and made the nephew a cardinal at age 17). Some such stories are better substantiated than others. Even while their reliability is questionable, they demonstrate that playing the gay card (even if you yourself are gay) is an ancient Curial tactic.The Catholic priesthood’s contemporary gay cultural memory begins in the middle of the last century. When Paul VI assumed the throne, in 1963, by one account he took his papal name not from any predecessor but from a former lover, a film actor. That at least was the contention of the provocative gay French writer Roger Peyrefitte . .Self-centeredness can breed a sense of entitlement. “A certain part of the clergy feels that no one will care what they do if they are discreet,” says Marco Politi, a prominent Italian journalist and longtime Vatican correspondent, and the author of several books about the papacy and the Church. In 2000, Politi published a book-length interview with an anonymous gay priest, entitled La Confessione, republished in 2006 as Io, Prete Gay (I, Gay Priest). “Rumors are O.K., but not scandal,” Politi observes. There has been plenty of scandal, though. In 2007, Monsignor Tommaso Stenico met a young man in an online chat room and invited him to his Vatican office, where their conversation—in which Stenico denied that gay sex was a sin, touched the man’s leg, and said, “You’re so hot”—was secretly videotaped and then broadcast on Italian television.Even Benedict has been dogged by rumors that he is gay. Though no solid evidence has ever emerged, it is treated as common knowledge by many in Rome, who cite stereotypes galore, including his fussy fashion sense (his ruby-red slippers, his “Valentino red” capes); his crusade to nail down why “homosexual actions” are “intrinsically disordered” (many closeted gay men, from Roy Cohn to Cardinal O’Brien, have made the most extraordinary efforts to condemn homosexuality); and his bromance with Archbishop Georg Gänswein, his longtime personal secretary. (Nicknamed Bel Giorgio, or “Gorgeous George,” the rugged Gänswein skis, plays tennis, and pilots airplanes.The culture of deception operates according to signals and conventions by which gay clerics navigate their lives. Camp is perhaps the most powerful and pervasive of these codes, though it can be difficult to define. Ironic, effeminate self-mockery—allowing priests to exercise some limited rebellion against their own isolation and invisibility—is one form of clerical camp. For fear of laughing out loud, priests sometimes try to avoid making eye contact with one another in church when hymns with titles like “Hail, Holy Queen” are sung.
- There's much more. In sum, it recounts a cesspool of hypocrisy. The Catholic Church continues to oppose any equal civil rights for gays even as snake-like queens in the hierarchy live the opulent life of princes. I remain baffled why anyone looks to these foul individuals for moral guidance. Unless and until those who participated in the sexual abuse cover up are rooted out of the hierarchy and the anti-gay jihad ceases, the Church deserves no moral authority. Its leadership - unless Pope Frances acts boldly - is morally bankrupt.
Friday, November 15, 2013
One of Ken Cuccinelli's most high profile misuse of taxpayer funds was his effort to persecute University of Virginia climate scientist Michael Mann. Mann's offense? Researching global warming and proving the lie of Cuccinelli's Christofascist backed crusade against science - and, I would argue, modernity as a whole. Anything that challenges the Bible thumpers' belief system needs to be crushed in Cuccinelli's view. A piece in Mother Jones looks at the saga of Cuccinelli's efforts against Mann which played a role in Cuccinelli's defeat on November 5, 2013. Here are some article excerpts:
Mann's situation traces back to the world famous "hockey stick" graph, originally published by Mann and his colleagues in a 1998 scientific paper, and then prominently displayed by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its 2001 Third Assessment Report. Because of its stark depiction of just how dramatically humans have altered the climate in a relatively short time period, the figure may well be the most controversial chart in history. Not scientifically controversial, mind you: politically controversial.
"This curve became an icon in the climate change debate because it told a simple story," says Mann of the hockey stick. "You didn't need to understand a lot of physics and math to see what that curve was telling you: That there were unprecedented changes taking place in our climate today, and by inference, they probably have something to do with us."
Multiple investigations have cleared Mann and the other scientists involved in Climate Gate. In 2010, however, Cuccinelli issued a "Civil Investigative Demand" to the University of Virginia, where Mann used to work, seeking Mann's emails and other documents related to a number of his research grants. The demand cited the "hide the decline" email as well as other leaked emails from Climate Gate. The University resisted and, in a case that drew dramatic media attention and widespread denunciations of Cuccinelli's "witch hunt," was ultimately victorious at the Virginia Supreme Court.
Emerging from this broad story, in retrospect, are at least two large ironies:
Granted, the climate issue, and the issue of Cuccinelli's pursuit of Mann's files, did not tip the Virginia gubernatorial race all on their own. Overall, the most powerful electoral strike against Cuccinelli seems to have been his association with the government shutdown brought on by House Republicans. Still, Mann says, "the issue of ideologically driven anti-science, which was symbolized by Ken Cuccinelli, I think that did fit into a larger narrative of a dangerous candidate who was driven by ideology over logic and science, and substance. And I think in the end, that was the difference."1) There are lots of hockey stick studies, not just Mann's. So even as the issue was personalized and made all about Mann's research and its validity, other scientists just kept on producing hockey sticks. Mann likes to joke that there is now a veritable "hockey team." For other hockey stick studies see here and here.
2) By attacking Mann in such a prominent way, climate skeptics have made him vastly more influential, politically and otherwise, than he might otherwise have been. For instance, Mann was just named one of the "50 Most Influential" people by Bloomberg Markets. Cuccinelli's demands of the University of Virginia gave Mann a new stature that, in turn, empowered Mann to directly campaign against him.
Mann counters, though, that he's no political operative: It's just that this particular race, and this particular candidate, affected him so directly that he got involved.
"I felt like I had to fight back not just for myself, but to make it clear to other scientists that we do need to defend our science, not just because it's the right thing to do scientifically, but because the implications are so profound in this case," he says. How profound? "We are engaged in an unprecedented and uncontrolled experiment with the one planet that we have," says Mann. Politicians who seek to undermine this reality now have something new to worry about: That scientists, inspired by Mann, may not simply sit by and watch it happen any longer.
One of the continuing lies that the GOP and Tea Party lunatics disseminate is that Americans will lose the best health care system in the world if the Affordable Health Care Act isn't repealed. America has the best health care in the world only if one is tremendously wealth or is currently employed by a company that provides a Rolls Royce health insurance plan. The rest of us? We are just one step away for no coverage if we lose our job or an insurance carrier decides to drop us because we might actually file significant claims under our existing plan. Medical bills remain one of the primary reasons individuals are forced into bankruptcy. When one of my children had a catastrophic illness over a decade ago, even with a top of the line health insurance plan ALL of our savings were wiped out and it took me another four years to pay off the balance of the bills. People truly do not understand how vulnerable they are under the system the GOP wants to maintain. They also do not understand that compared to other modern nations, we pay far more for health care yet are in worse health and die younger. NBC News looks at reports that reveal the lie of the GOP's claims. Here are excerpts:
House Speaker John Boehner trashed president Obama’s health care plan again Thursday, accusing him of wrecking the world’s best health care system. “This is going to destroy the best health care delivery system in the world,” Boehner said Thursday morning before President Obama announced a plan to fix the fallout over canceled health insurance policies. But is it really?
Two studies out this week — and studies going back 15 years or longer — show quite the opposite. Americans pay more per capita for health care than people in any other industrialized country. In return, we are sicker, die younger and are unhappier with the system.
The Commonwealth Fund, which does research on health care and health reform, has shown year after year in its regular surveys that Americans spend a lot more on health care than anyone else. Right now it’s $2.7 trillion a year — that’s $8,508 a head, compared to $5,669 per person in Norway and $5,643 in Switzerland, the next-highest-spending countries. New Zealanders spend just $3,182 per person.
And Americans aren't getting more or better care for that money. The U.S. has the eighth-lowest life expectancy in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which groups developed nations.
In the latest survey of more than 20,000 people from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Britain and the U.S., Commonwealth researchers found that 37 percent of Americans went without recommended care, did not see a doctor when sick, or failed to fill prescriptions because of costs, compared to as few as 4 percent to 6 percent in Britain and Sweden.
And 23 percent of U.S. adults either had serious problems paying medical bills or were unable to pay them, compared to fewer than 13 percent of adults in France and 6 percent or fewer in Britain, Sweden, and Norway, Commonwealth reported Wednesday in the journal Health Affairs.
“The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country, but what we get for these significant resources falls short in terms of access to care, affordability, and quality,” said Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund, Americans also wait longer to see primary care doctors; 76 percent in Germany said they could get a same or next-day appointment, and 63 percent in the Netherlands, compared to 48 percent in the U.S. Only Canada scored worse, with 41 percent saying they could.
And the U.S. has more patients than anywhere else using the emergency room.
Even the U.S. Institute of Medicine says U.S. health care is a mess, with tens of thousands of Americans dying from medical errors and drug overdoses, and with the system wasting $750 billion in 2009.
And on Tuesday, a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at improvements in the U.S. health care system. The upshot? They’re not really keeping up with the rest of the world.
This is the "best health care delivery system in the world"? I think not and its time John Boehner and others in the GOP stop blatantly lying to Americans.
Despite losing across the board in this year's elections, the Virginia GOP and its puppet masters at The Family Foundation are still committed to an agenda of punishing legally married same sex couples for their failure to adhere to Christofascist religious beliefs. The latest anti-gay salvo came in the form of new Virginia Department of Taxation rules that bar married gay couples from filing joint state returns. The rules would also disallow businesses from deducting employee benefits extended to same sex spouse of employees. In the final analysis, it all comes down to religious based discrimination written into Virginia's laws by those who want to make far right Christian religious beliefs the de facto established religion of the Commonwealth. Here are highlights from the Daily Press:
The ACLU of Virginia on Thursday slammed the state Department of Taxation for instructing gay and lesbian married couples living in the state that federal tax benefits they are newly eligible to receive won't be available for state income tax filings.
The agency issued a bulletin in response to a Supreme Court ruling that invalidated the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which had denied same-sex couples federal tax benefits available to married couples, Social Security survivor's benefits and several other advantages.
The state Department of Taxation indicated it would not treat those couples like straight married couples for tax purposes. The ACLU said the instructions are punitive not only to lesbian and gay couples but also to businesses that give fringe benefits to their employees' same-sex spouses.
"This bulletin reaffirms the Commonwealth's ongoing hostility toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Virginians, including legally married same-sex couples," said Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia.
K. Sean Packard, a tax specialist at the McLean-based wealth management firm OFS, reviewed the Department of Taxation bulletin at the Daily Press' request. He said the state's approach toward fringe benefits paid by businesses stood out to him.
"Adjustments for deductions in fringe benefits paid for same-sex spouses are never recouped by the business," Packard said. "They are gone forever." So, he said, "Virginia's position hurts businesses that employ and provide benefits to married same-sex spouses."
He said the bulletin also means that same-sex married couples don't have the same benefits provided to straight couples filing joint tax returns in Virginia.
Packard said such couples, when forced to file as individuals in Virginia, are also being forced to itemize their Virginia returns if they itemize their joint federal tax return. That could hurt such a couple if one of the individuals owns all of the real estate and generates all of their income. The wage earner's partner would not be allowed to take Virginia's standard deduction, which would result in a higher tax bill.
Finally, Packard said a married same-sex couple in Virginia would probably have to pay considerably more to have their taxes prepared.
All so that hate filled Christofascists can feel superior about themselves and look down on LGBT Virginians as less than full citizens. Hate and bigotry are the "Virginia way" under these foul people.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Since coming out I have become convinced that the actual number of gays is actually much larger than the official statistics on the LGBT population state. Why? Because so many men lie about their real sexual orientation. Go to any Craigslist M4M "personals" section and you will find countless "MWM - married white male - and DL - down low black guys looking for gay sex. Does anyone seriously believe these guys admit that they are gay on surveys? They are in denial and have countless excuses as to why they are looking for other guys, none of which include the fact that they are gay. I assume a similar phenomenon goes on in the W4W sections. A piece in Bloomberg seems to bear out my unscientific research conclusions. Here are excerpts:
Note the findings on responses from Christians.
Social theorists, above all Duke University’s Timur Kuran, have drawn attention to the phenomenon of “preference falsification.” The basic idea is that when people speak in public, they aren’t always truthful about their preferences. What they say is different from what they really think.Recent research uncovers strong evidence of preference falsification in the U.S. When people are assured of anonymity, it turns out, a lot more of them will acknowledge that they have had same-sex experiences and that they don’t entirely identify as heterosexual. But it also turns out that when people are assured of anonymity, they will show significantly higher rates of anti-gay sentiment.These results suggest that recent surveys have been understating, at least to some degree, two different things: the current level of same-sex activity and the current level of opposition to gay rights.The research, conducted by Ohio State University economist Katherine B. Coffman and her colleagues, involved 2,516 participants, all from the U.S. About half of the participants were randomly assigned to take a standard survey, employing the “best practices” in widespread use today.In this survey, people were asked to respond to several innocuous questions, not involving sensitive issues, and then to answer questions about sexual orientation, designed to elicit both their views and their reports about their own behavior. This approach gives apparently credible assurances of anonymity to those surveyed, but it remains possible, in practice, for the experimenters to link particular answers to particular questions.The other participants were assigned to what Coffman and her colleagues call a “veiled report” treatment. The details are a bit technical, but the basic point is to design the survey so that the experimenters can’t learn, and can’t even make inferences about, any individual’s answers to particular questions. They can calculate answers only at the aggregate level.The two approaches produced significantly different results. In the best practices survey, 17 percent of participants said they had had a sexual experience with someone of the same sex (12 percent of men, 24 percent of women). For the veiled report, the corresponding number was 27 percent (17 percent of men and 43 percent of women) -- an increase of 58 percent.The effect of assuring anonymity varied significantly across demographic groups. The veiled survey had no effect on the answers of young people to questions about their sexual orientation, apparently because social norms don’t much discourage young people from revealing the truth.[A]mong Christians and older people, the effect of the veiled approach was especially large, increasing their reports of non-heterosexuality and of same-sex experiences by more than 100 percent.Americans increasingly disapprove of discrimination against gay men and lesbians. That disapproval is likely to grow over time. But social norms continue to matter. We have good reason to believe that there is more same-sex activity, and also more homophobia, than current surveys suggest.
Pope Francis may be trying to possibly change the tone of the Catholic Church's message, but in one area he has failed to make needed changes and to remove high members of the hierarchy from office: the world wide sex abuse scandal. Active participants in the cover up remain "princes of the church" and continue to mouth disingenuous statements of feigned piety. In reality, the ought to be behind bars or at a minimum, thrown from office in disgrace. The Australian investigation into child sex abuse in that nation not surprisingly slams the Catholic Church and its failure to even remotely protect children and youths. Here are highlights from The Age on the investigation's findings:
The state government’s eagerly awaited report on clergy child sex abuse recommends sweeping changes to laws behind which the Catholic Church has sheltered, and accused its leaders of trivialising the problem as a ‘‘short-term embarrassment’’.
Launching the report in State Parliament, inquiry chairwoman Georgie Crozier spoke of ‘‘a betrayal beyond comprehension’’ and children suffering ‘‘unimaginable harm’’.
With unofficial results now showing Mark Herring to be the winner of the Virginia Attorney General race, there are fears that the Virginia GOP may yet try to steal the election in a desperate attempt to avoid an across the board loss by its extremist slate of candidates. First we saw failed gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli change the rules on provisional ballots in Fairfax County (knowing that the majority of such ballots would be Democrat - and as Cuccinelli is raising money for Obenshain) and now there are further rumblings of possible shenanigans by the GOP to push the anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-minority Obenshain over the top. No one lies or is more dishonest than today's Republican Party. The Washington Post has weighed in on the issue. Here are excerpts from its main editorial:
IT NOW appears, based on unofficial results, that Democrat Mark R. Herring slipped by Republican Mark D. Obenshain in their race for attorney general of Virginia by a gossamer margin, amounting to several thousandths of 1 percent of the 2.2 million votes cast.
There’s a chance it may change again. What’s critical is that the election be settled by voters, ballots and the state elections board, not by the legislature or courts.
That appears to be a risk, if Republican grumbling is to be believed. GOP lawyers are suggesting that they may challenge some provisional ballots that were painstakingly vetted by Fairfax County over the past few days, in many cases based on interviews with the voters themselves.
It was partly on the strength of those provisional ballots that Mr. Herring arrived at his current lead of 164 votes . Fairfax, by far the most populous and vote-rich jurisdiction in Virginia, gave voters until 1 p.m. Tuesday to appear in person if they wanted to argue that their provisional ballots should be counted.
That was four days more than other jurisdictions allowed; they cut off counting provisional ballots Friday. But the extension was authorized under Virginia law, and Fairfax sensibly argued that its size and the number of ballots warranted the extra time for review.
As it happened, Mr. Herring won most of the provisional ballots that were approved in Fairfax, just as Democrats won a majority of all votes cast in the county. Hence the Republican threats.
The main reason so many provisional ballots were cast this year in Fairfax (493) is that many federal employees who were deployed overseas, including diplomats and military personnel, automatically received absentee ballots for the 2012 presidential election. The absentee ballots were good for two years, meaning that if those voters moved back to Virginia this year without notifying election officials of their move, they would have been eligible to cast only provisional ballots if they showed up to vote at the polls. In many cases, those provisional ballots were ultimately counted.
The worst-case scenario is that the race will be settled neither by the current canvassing of votes nor by the official recount that is likely to take place at the end of this month. Under Virginia law, the losing candidate may contest the outcome by appealing to the General Assembly, where Republicans hold the advantage. The rules of such an appeal are sketchy. Ultimately, it’s even possible the dispute could end up in federal court.
Those scenarios would be a disaster. Elections are for voters to decide — not lawmakers or judges. For the good of the state, the candidates and the parties should refrain from endless partisan combat and agree to let things be settled by the official recount.
Personally, what I find most telling is that the decline in honesty and integrity in the GOP directly correlates to the rise of the "godly Christian" crowd within the party. If one is looking for honest, integrity - even plain decency towards others - the last place you will find it is among the conservative Christian crowd. They are not nice or decent people. They are self-centered and hold the rule of law and the Constitution in contempt.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
I've noted the full scale of the denial that is sweeping the Republican Party of Virginia in the wake of a cross the board losses in the 2013 statewide races, especially as it now appears that Mark Obenshain faces an impossible uphill battle to overturn Mark Herring's election as attorney general. A leading conservative/GOP blog here in Virginia is Bearing Drift. A perusal of the blog today demonstrates the lengths that Christofascists/Tea Partiers/Kool-Aid drinking Republicans are going to in an effort to face the reality that the majority of voters simply do not want their extremist candidates are peddling. Surprisingly, one post at Bearing Drift did not embrace all of the RVP apologists, although he did ultimately fail to recognize that nominating far right crazies is the root of the RVP's problems. Here are excerpts:
I’ve been reading various articles analyzing the Cuccinelli defeat and nearly every one of them missed the mark. Here’s my view of why Ken lost and my debunking of many myths about this election, which a lot of people aren’t going to like.KEN HAD NO MESSAGEMore than a year ago I spoke with Ken and was surprised that the rumors he was running for Governor were true. Based on his record and his strong beliefs, I fully expected him to run for reelection and then the Senate in 2014 as his focus had always been on national issues and not so much on state issues. I hung up the phone with no idea why he was running or what his message was (he mentioned something about Medicaid Fraud) and millions of dollars later, no one else seemed to know either until perhaps the final 72 hours.KEN SPENT THE WHOLE CAMPAIGN TRYING TO WIN THE VOTES HE WASN’T GOING TO GETRather than firing up the base in a low-turnout election, he took his core constituency for granted and spent the entire campaign trying to “soften his image” and “inoculate” against future attacks. None of this worked. McAuliffe’s hard-hitting ads punched Ken right in the gut while Ken focused on a non-ideological message of ethics – the identical campaign Barry Goldwater ran in the 1964 general and with similar results. Not once did Ken ever use the word “conservative” to describe himself nor the word “liberal” (or something similar) to describe McAuliffe. Ken became the “right-wing nut” but never made McAuliffe the “left-wing nut.”KEN TURNED HIS AG POSITION INTO A NEGATIVEWith three solid years as AG and a strong record of advocating for conservative causes and against the radical Obama Agenda, one would have thought this record would be a centerpiece of the Governor’s campaign, but instead he focused only on two things: freeing someone wrongfully imprisoned for rape and trying to defend the Virginia Sodomy Law. Then, after taking the hit for trying to uphold a law no one understood, he never used the planned attack, that McAuliffe was pro-pedophilia (a hard sell to begin with), and instead had to deal with charges he wanted to ban oral sex.
The post then goes on to debunk a number of the popular excuses circulating throughout the Virginia GOP. But then the author says this, which suggests he simply doesn't "get it either:"
Cuccinelli did adopt a "be who you are" approach - he's an anti-women extremist, a spittle flecked homophobe, and he wants to monitor what happens in the privacy of one's home and bedroom - and that's what ultimately killed him.BE WHO YOU ARECuccinelli’s positive ads made him sound like a liberal Democrat and didn’t attract any. It goes without saying that Ken did not cut into the McAuliffe vote with his ads. Ken Cuccinelli spent seven years in the State Senate and four years as Attorney General building and winning with a strong conservative message that no one saw in 2013 til the final week.MESSAGE FOR THE FUTUREBe bold. Stand up for what you believe. Don’t worry about what the left says. Never defend. Always attack. Keep control of the agenda. Save your money for the end.
This blog has noted before that the GOP/Tea Party effort to kill Medicaid expansion - which effort is added and abetted by the "godly Christian" Christofascists - flies directly in the face of the Gospel message which calls for aid to the poor, the sick and the hungry. A similar total disconnect exists between claimed reverence for the Gospel of Christ on the part of the Christofascists/Tea Party and their opposition to meaningful immigration reform. Thankfully, even though it opposes the Affordable Health Care Act because of contraception coverage, the Roman Catholic Church is not on the same page as the white supremacists in the Tea Party and its evangelical Christian allies. A piece in The Daily Beast looks at the hypocrisy of these anti-immigration reform forces. Here are excerpts:
Last week, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, made an urgent request to House Speaker John Boehner on behalf of the Catholic Conference of Bishops. He asked Boehner, a Catholic, to pass stalled immigration reform legislation, calling the current immigration system “a stain on the nation’s soul.”
But on Wednesday, Boehner told reporters immigration reform isn't going anywhere fast. "We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill," Boehner said, all but guaranteeing that reform will be pushed into 2014 and the chaotic politics of the mid-term elections.
Dolan and the bishops are just one piece of an unprecedented coalition of religious leaders—from Southern Baptists to conservative Catholics to religious progressives—who have combined their efforts this year to convince Congress to pass immigration reform.
Together and on their own, they have prayed for members of the House and Senate, held press conferences, staged fasts, and button-holed representatives, both in Washington and at home in their districts, all in an effort to press what they see as the Bible's critical teachings—the country's moral obligation to accept immigrants while also respecting the rule of law.
[T]hey have run into a buzz saw of resistance from Tea Party groups and talk radio hosts, all threatening to run primaries against Republicans who support reform, especially with a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants.
One motivation for Republicans might be self-preservation alone. After Sen. Marco Rubio led the way for the Senate's comprehensive reform bill that included a path to citizenship, Tea Party groups in his home state who were among his earliest supporters excoriated him for supporting "amnesty" and vowed to defeat him in his next primary election. Rubio now says a comprehensive bill, like the one he helped to write, is the wrong approach.
"It just goes to show the Tea Party tail is wagging the Republican dog. Everybody is for this. There are maybe five conservative journalists, Heritage Action, and one national Tea Party group that opposes it. Republicans can't stand up to those people?"
Among the Republican constituencies that do support reform, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the agriculture industry, the high-tech industry, and the Catholic Church, Sharry says evangelicals may be the most important. In 2012, 50 percent of GOP primary voters were white evangelicals
[F]or the future of his own party, and most especially his church, Land says immigration reform needs to pass, even if it has to wait for the next president, who Land believes will support immigration reform whether they're a Republican or a Democrat. "If Republicans nominate someone who is not pro-immigration reform, they won't win. It's just that simple," Land says.
While it is encouraging that some evangelical Christians support immigration reform, it speaks volumes that the Tea Party opposes any form of meaningful immigrations reform because 85% of the Tea Party is composed of, you guessed it, far right Christians. Just this evening I commented to the boyfriend that I really did not want to identify as "Christian" because the term has become such a negative: hate, bigotry, racism, and hypocrisy are now the hallmarks of being a Christian. As for the "good Christians," they remain far too silent just like the "good Germans in the early 1930's. Inaction ultimately makes one an accomplice in evil.
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As some readers will recall, in order to secure any GOP support for a study of how the Commonwealth of Virginia should address increasing problems with rising sea levels and climate change, the legislation had to delete the terms "rising sea levels" and all references to "climate change" and "global warming." The only term that was acceptable to the GOP crazy folk in the General Assembly was "repetitive flooding." Now a new poll reveals just how out of step today's Virginia GOP is on climate change: 81% of respondents said climate change is happening. And these folks wonder why they lost across the board in the recent statewide elections? The charts above reflect the poll findings. Here are some highlights:
The data shows that a majority of people in Virginia recognize the reality of climate change and the need to take urgent action - 81% of Virginians believe that climate change is occurring, and 76% believe it will pose a serious problem for the United States.In addition:
- 59% believe that the federal government should do more to address the warming climate;
- 63% believe that the United States should take action to address climate change regardless of whether other countries do;
- 81% support action to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants; and
- 79% favor a national cap-and-trade program to limit carbon pollution.
Seriously, to be a Republican nowadays, one truly does need to be either clinically insane or have had a lobotomy.
In yet another loss for the anti-gay theocrats who seek to keep gays in an inferior status of citizenship because we do not adhere to their fear and hate based religious beliefs that cling to the writings of Bronze Age goat herders, the Governor of Hawaii (pictured at left) will sign a marriage equality bill to day that has been approved by both houses of that state's legislature. The Christofascists will likely try to challenge the action as part of their rear guard action against modernity and equality. Here are excerpts from Towleroad:
Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie plans to sign the Hawaii marriage equality bill this morning at 10 am HST/3 pm ET. You can watch it live HERE. A large crowd is expected.
Hawaii will be the 15th state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage and the law is expected to take effect on December 2.
In the past three weeks, two other states have also become marriage equality states, New Jersey and Illinois, the 14th and 16th, respectively, if order is determined by when the laws take effect.
However, expect challenges before then. We've already reported on wingnut lawmaker Bob McDermott and the lawsuit he has filed which claims that in 1998 when Hawaii passed a constitutional amendment voters thought they were voting for one man/one woman marriage rather than allowing the legislature to decide on what constitutes a marriage.
But the state Attorney General says the 1998 constitutional amendment gave the legislature authority to change the law and so the same-sex marriage will be upheld.
Year in and year out, one of the largest individual political donors to the Republican Party of Virginia is Pat Robertson. Robertson, who is becoming a growing embarrassment for the Hampton Roads area, is proving that he's nothing short of batshit crazy (not to mention a complete bigot), sadly is representative of what passes for reasonable thought within the RVP. Right Wing Watch catches Robertson's latest anti-gay extremism evidenced by his statements to the mother of a gay son that the son's coach must have molested him to "recruit" him into being gay:
Televangelist Pat Robertson today told a parent who asked him how to talk to her gay son “to be understanding,” but also to ask her son if he was molested by his coach. “Is there a biological thing going on or has he been influenced, has a coach molested him?” Robertson asked, a comment based on the anti-gay myth that children are “recruited” into homosexuality. “They don’t know what they’re doing, they’re teenagers,” Robertson said of gay youth.
Yet the RVP wonders why the Democrats just won a clean sweep in Virginia. Unbelievable. Don't expect anyone in the RVP to cease taking Robertson's money.
As noted in the last post, with the apparent confirmation that the Virginia GOP's entire slate of crazies went down to defeat in the 2013 Virginia elections, the question becomes - along lines parallel to the issue facing the national GOP - whether or not anything will be learned from the fiasco/ My vote is a resounding "No" because the base of the Virginia GOP has become so utterly insane, racist and deep into religious extremism that anyone and everyone will be blamed for the rout rather than face the reality that the Christofascists and white supremacists need to be thrown from control of the Republican Party of Virginia ("RVP") if a way forward is to be found. Winning elections requires being in touch with objective reality, something the RVP has lost completely. A post in Bacon's Rebellion provides a dead on analysis of where the RVP finds itself now. Here it is in its entirety:
Spin cycle. The election is less than a week past, the Democratic Party seems to be on the verge of winning all three state-wide races and the Tea Party faithful are in full denial. Here’s a smattering of the rampant excuse making going on in some RPV circles:
We beat the spread. Some Republicans are throwing their shoulders out of joint trying to pat themselves on the back for only losing by two and a half percentage points rather than the 8 – 12% that some polls predicted. Wow. The RPV ran a multi-term state senator, sitting Attorney General and darling of the national Tea Party. The Democratic Party ran a candidate who lost his party’s primary badly in 2009, has never held elected office and seems to be perpetually mired in some scandal or another. And many Republicans are celebrating the “closer than expected” election. Let me get that little “L” hand signal up to my forehead.
Poor, poor pitiful me. Many RPV types are decrying the lack of financial support from the national Republican Party. The RNC, in turn, says it didn’t see a lot of fundraising success from the RPV. Since when did the Republicans become the impoverished party? The wealthiest congressional district in America is Virginia’s 10th district. That district has re-elected Republican Frank Wolf every two years since 1980. Since 1984 Wolf has averaged 67% of the vote in his 15 consecutive victories. The RPV lacks competence, not potential donors.
McAuliffe’s gain is Warner’s loss. I am not making this up – there is a vein of RPV diehards who claim that Cuccinelli’s loss to McAuliffe last week sets him up to defeat Mark Warner for US Senate in 2014. If Obamacare spontaneously turns into fissile material, reaches critical mass and explodes in a national nuclear explosion – Warner would still win. RPV reality check – if you can’t beat McAuliffe, you can’t beat Warner.
butlerLt Governor did it. Under this theory Cuccinelli would have won if only the guy he screwed in the primary / convention fiasco went out and campaigned for him. Maybe the RPV can hire Richie Incognito as its director of political strategy.
Back to reality. The Republican Party of Virginia got its ass kicked because it is a broken down disaster of a political party. Here’s some reality:
Wrong candidates. The RPV decided to reenact the Cantina Scene from the original Star Wars rather than hold a primary. By the time the critical last ballots were cast two thirds of the delegates had gone home. What a different election it would have been if Bill Bolling and Pete Snyder had been at the top of the RPV ticket.
Horrible campaigns. Candidates need to raise money. The Republicans failed. Cuccinelli’s sole strategy of painting McAuliffe as corrupt disintegrated as each and every new Star Scientific and CONSOL misdeed came to light. Yet the Cuccinelli campaign never changed course. Cuccinelli stood up and called McAuliffe a crony capitalist while Star Scientific money figuratively dropped out of his pockets. EW Jackson never had a clue what he needed to do.
Civil war. The Republicans in Virginia never stopped fighting each other. They showed their true colors – petty, angry, adolescents who were only too happy to throw each under the bus. Another reality check for the RPV – do you really think the Democratic Party of Virginia was fully and squarely behind Terry McAuliffe’s candidacy? The RPV civil war started with Cucinelli trying to throw McDonnell under the bus for the transportation funding and never let up. I see no reason to expect a change in behavior from the Republican politicians or activists in Virginia.
Maryland, my Maryland. Virginia will look a lot like Maryland (politically speaking) within 10 years. The Republicans have no cohesion, no leadership and no bench. They have no chance of unseating Mark Warner and they may well lose Wolf’s seat when he retires (he’s 74). The RPV will continue to lose a few HOD seats here and a few state senate seats there until Richmond becomes Annapolis South.
Final note: As an independent voter I have no interest in seeing Virginia become a “one party” state like Maryland. However, the gross incompetence and culpable negligence of the Republican Party of Virginia is well on the way to making Virginia a Democratic Party stronghold for years to come.
While the Virginia State Board of Elections has not yet updated its website, Mark Herring has declared victory in Virginia's attorney general contest, apparently having won despite the Virginia GOP's voter suppression efforts and Ken Cuccinelli's 11th hour change in how provisional ballots would be counted in Fairfax County. Once official, Herring's victory will confirm a complete blow out across the board with all three of the Extremist candidates nominated by The Family Foundation and its Tea Party allies going down to total defeat. The result is a good one for Virginia and those who value sanity and our constitutional form of government. Here are excerpts from the Washington Post and the Virginian Pilot, beginning with the Post:
State Sen. Mark R. Herring padded his still-narrow lead over state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain on Tuesday night in the race for Virginia attorney general, giving the Democrat an apparent 163-vote advantage before the results of the contest are certified.
The Fairfax County Electoral Board finished reviewing provisional ballots – mostly cast by people who did not have ID or went to the wrong polling place – and added 160 votes to Herring’s (Loudoun) total and 103 votes to the Republican’s. Herring already led on the State Board of Elections Web site by 106 votes.
The additional 57-vote margin from Fairfax was expected to give Herring a statewide lead of 163 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast – barring any last-minute changes from other localities, which had until 11:59 pm Tuesday to submit their numbers to the state election board.
A recount appears all but certain after the statewide results are certified Nov. 25, and the Obenshain campaign made clear that it considers the race far from over.
Democrat Mark Herring declared victory in the attorney general’s race Tuesday night after a canvass of Fairfax County provisional ballots left him with an unofficial 163-vote lead over Republican Mark Obenshain out of 2.2 million cast last week.
“Over the course of the past week, a thorough and extensive process has ensured that every vote has been tallied and accounted for,” said Herring, a Loudoun County state senator. “The margin was close, but it is clear that Virginians have chosen me to serve as the next attorney general.”
Late Tuesday, he [Obenshain] stopped short of calling for a recount allowed by law in a race as close as this one, saying only that further announcements would come “in the days ahead.”
Defeated candidates have 10 days from when a vote is certified – Nov. 25 this year – to request a court-supervised recount they pay for unless the vote difference is less than 0.5 percent of the total votes cast. The public pays the tab in that case. Herring was ahead of Obenshain by a one-hundredth of a percentage point as of midday Tuesday.
A Herring victory this year would give Democrats, who won the races for governor and lieutenant governor last week, a sweep of statewide offices. That hasn’t occurred since 1989.
We can expect lots of wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Christofascists and their political prostitutes in the Virginia GOP who simply cannot comprehend that the majority of Virginia voters do not want the poisonous agenda that The Family Foundation controlled Virginia GOP seek to inflict on all citizens. Even an across the board loss will not jolt these people out of the alternate reality in which they live.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
I am criticized frequently for being too hard on Christians and here the constant refrain that not all Christians are horrible people. Yes, it is true that not all Christians are what I call Christofascists, but sadly, most seem to be sitting on their hands and doing nothing to counter the hate and extremism that are the hallmarks of their religious brethren who readily buy into Christofascism. What do I mean by Christofascism? Wikipedia has some good definitions/descriptions of what this means:
1. the embracing of authoritarian theology by the Christian church.. . . . it is an arrogant, totalitarian, imperialistic attitude, characteristic of the church in Germany under Nazism
2. the churches' teaching about Christ has turned into something that is dictatorial in its heart and is preparing society for an American fascism". Christofascism allows Christians, or disposes them, to impose themselves upon other religions, upon other cultures, and upon political parties which do not march under the banner of the final, normative, victorious Christ.
There are other related definitions, none of which are positive. Those who march to the Christofascist banner are a dangerous element and need to be regarded as such.
If the Virginia GOP ends up 0-3 in this year's election, it will be but the latest example of the damage being done to the GOP brand by the Tea Party and the Christofascists which I see as pretty much as one and the same, especially since polls show that 85% of the Tea Party consist of far right Christians. Indeed, at times I believe that the Tea Party label was dreamed up as a way to disguise the Christofascists who are not viewed in a good light by a majority of Americans. A column in The Daily Beast looks at the apocalyptic extremism of the Tea Party/Christofascists and the damage they are doing to the GOP. What's frightening if one is a sane Republican - admittedly, a vanishing species - is that the extremists do not seem to care. It's all about their way or the highway. Here are column excerpts:
Want to know why the Tea Party so eager to grievously wound the Republican Party? The answer is as simple as it is counterintuitive: its leaders view themselves as modern prophets of the apocalypse.
Consider the results of last week’s elections, which offer clues to the internecine GOP battles that lie ahead. Although it’s much too early to draw hard conclusions, Chris Christie proved that a moderate, common-sense Republican could win in deep blue New Jersey, while in purple Virginia the wild-eyed social reactionary Ken Cuccinelli failed to gain traction outside his uber-conservative Christian-right base.
Yet the Tea Party is willing to defy overwhelming negative public opinion, wreck the government, risk plunging the world economy into chaos and invite political defeat. The driving force behind this destructive strategy is that Tea Party zealots answer to a “higher calling.”They believe America teeters on the brink of destruction, and hold as an article of faith that liberals, gays, Democrats, atheists and the United Nations are to blame. This “end-times” world-view is a foundational precept of the evangelical movement, from which many of the so-called Tea Party favorites spring. Scholars call it apocalypticism
[T]he Tea Party is not just composed of members of the Christian right. Many are genuine libertarians. Some nurse an unreconstructed Confederate grudge, while others harbor a thinly disguised racism. However, the real energy, the animating force for the movement comes from evangelicals, of whom Ted Cruz, Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin are the most strident. These are the modern-day ”apocalyptic prophets.”
Although the issues are secular, the prophets’ anti-Obamacare rhetoric rings with religious, end-times cadences. So to understand why they invoke chaos, we need to know where their ideas about an “apocalypse” came from. . . . . Apocalypse literally translates as “the revealing” of God’s will.
Lest this sound far-fetched to modern ears, listen to our modern Tea Party prophets in their own words:
“You know we can’t keep going down this road much longer. We’re nearing the edge of the cliff . . . We have only a couple of years to turn this country around or we go off the cliff to oblivion!” - Ted Cruz at the Values Voters Summit, Oct. 11
I’m a believer in Jesus Christ, as I look at the End Times scripture . . . . what we see up is down and right is called wrong, when this is happening, we were told this, that these days would be as the days of Noah. We are seeing that in our time.” - Michelle Bachmann, Oct. 5, 2013
“The fight for religious freedom starts here at home because we are one nation under God.” - House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Values Voters Summit
For these apocalyptic prophets, the issues aren’t even political anymore; they’re existential, with Obamacare serving as the avatar for all evil. In this construct, any compromise whatsoever leads to damnation, and therefore the righteous ends justify any means.
Their dogma springs from Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, through James Dobson’s Family Research Council, to the eerily omnipresent Fellowship and its C Street house.
Ted Cruz’s father, Raphael was seen in recently uncovered videos calling for America to be ruled by “kings” who will take money from anyone who is not an evangelical Christian and deliver it into the hands of fundamentalist preachers and their acolytes. This is a movement is called “Christian Dominionism,” and it has many adherents the evangelical right. It is also obviously and dangerously anti-democratic.
Like the Jewish zealots at Masada, it’s better to commit glorious suicide than make peace with the devil. There can be no truce with the Tea Party because its apocalyptic zealots can never take “yes” for an answer.
Since the apocalyptists cannot compromise, they must be beaten. President Obama and congressional Democrats seem to have finally grasped this fact, and are learning how to deal with them. By refusing to knuckle under to extortion in the government shutdown drama, Obama exposed their reckless radicalism and won resoundingly.But Democrats can’t solve this problem alone. To bring any semblance of order back to the American political system and restore a functioning two-party system, the GOP has to find its own equilibrium.
The Christofascist, including those masquerading under the Tea Party label are a clear and present danger to America's constitutional form of government and to democracy. They are insane zealots and need to be treated accordingly. The media needs to do far more to expose just how dangerous they are to the rule of law and principles set forth in the nation's founding documents.
Virginia continues to make the national media coverage with the closely contested Attorney General Race still unresolved. Between Ken Cuccinelli clearly trying to suppress votes through his last minute rule change directive to the State Board of Elections and third world like incompetency in some precincts, Virginia is hardly putting its best face forward to the rest of the nation and the world. I continue to hope for a Mark Herring victory because we do not need another lying extremist as Attorney General of Virginia. Four years of Ken Cuccinelli is far too much as it is. A piece in The Daily Beast reflects the attention the still unresolved race is receiving. Here are highlights:
Now this is very interesting indeed: It suddenly looks as if the Democrat may win the attorney general election in Virginia. It seems they found a missing ballot box from Richmond on Monday afternoon, and Mark Herring vaulted to a 115-vote lead over Mark Obenshain, out of 2.2 million cast. The counting of the provisional ballots is supposed to end Tuesday, and then there will be a recount, if the tally is within 1 percent (it is) and if the loser requests it. But as of Monday afternoon, those following the proceedings closely said it seems highly unlikely that Obenshain can make up the difference, narrow as it is.Is this a big deal? You bet it is. If Herring wins, the Democrats will have the run of Virginia. The governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and both senators will be Democrats. In Virginia! That hasn’t happened since 1969, which was a completely different political universe. One of those senators, Harry F. Byrd Jr., was a thoroughgoing segregationist. So that’s good news for the Democratic side.
And likewise it’s terrible news for the Tea Party. The Virginia GOP went ultra-hard right this year—instead of primaries, it held a nominating convention over-attended by ideologues who chose the medieval Ken Cuccinelli, about whom we know; the Bronze Age lieutenant governor candidate E.W. Jackson, who made a series of outlandish and reactionary comments and got mopped up by double digits; and Obenshain. He of course underwent far less national observation and scrutiny than Cuccinelli did, and he drew far fewer cameras than the bombastic Jackson, but his views are essentially indistinguishable from the gubernatorial candidate’s—transvaginal probes, criminalization of any failure by a woman to report a miscarriage to the police, hating on gay people, the whole ball of fetid, intolerant wax.
It’s not for want of trying. As recently as Friday, the Virginia State Board of Elections, controlled by Republicans, voted to change a rule in the law that covers how provisional ballots are scrutinized. This business is a little technical and confusing, but basically the question revolved around whether a voter had to be present if he or she wanted the government body going through the provisional ballots to count his or her vote. Heavily Democratic Fairfax County and the state disagreed about both the rule and past practice, and the state overruled the county, which appeared to give Obenshain the advantage because the ruling would have the effect of making it harder for Fairfax voters, who are more Democratic than not, to have their ballots counted. That ruling is still in effect and still would help Obenshain, but it now seems mooted by the late developments from Richmond.
If the Virginia GOP ends up going 0-for-3 here, that’s a watershed moment, I think. I know; we’re just talking about a few hundred votes shifting around. But winning is winning and losing is losing. Bill Buckner only missed that ball by 2 inches. If the Republican Party of Virginia has no statewide officeholder for the next four years—and of course if the Democrats from McAuliffe on down do their jobs adequately—it would, speaking of climate change, alter the political temperature of the state considerably between now and 2016.[I]f the results as of Monday evening hold, 2013 will stand as the most embarrassing election in Virginia for Republicans in years. Maybe in recent history. So maybe Virginia is for lovers. Of sanity.
Those Virginians who value reason and sanity need to hope that Herring maintains his lead. The thought of Obenshain as Attorney General is nothing short of frightening.