Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

The Rising Anti-Science Party

Everything from advances in longevity to declines in infant mortality stem ultimately from increases in scientific knowledge.  Scientific advances have been a boon for mankind.  At the same time, however, science has been bursting more and more bubbles for the deeply religious fundamentalists who seek to desperately cling to stories authored numerous millennium ago by ignorant men motivated by fear and superstition or a need to feel superior over other surrounding cultures.  For fundamentalist Christians, perhaps the biggest blow has been the human genome project which has confirmed that the Adam and Eve of Genesis never existed as historical persons.  The result?  The entire Christian story line collapses.  Rather than have their simple minded beliefs undermined, these people are part of a growing tide of those engaged in a flat out denial of scientific truths.  Denial is the only thing that keeps their house of cards world view from collapsing.  And most of these people now make up the base of the Republican Party.  Here in Virginia, GOP gubernatorial candidate is an avid science denier. A piece in Huffington Post looks at the phenomenon and the efforts by some to counter it.  Here are excerpts:

New atheism refers to a set of ideas presented in a series of bestselling books that appeared between 2004 and 2007. Today it remains a strong but minority view among atheists. Basically, new atheists differ from the old atheists by being more willing to challenge religious beliefs that contradict science and reason, and engage in intellectual, moral, and political disputes with even moderate believers.

[N]ew atheists don't want to see creationism in the schools any more than the old atheists did. But they don't regard this as such an overarching problem that we should ignore the even greater damage that is done to society by the irrational, magical thinking associated with religion, which penetrates all areas of human life. Creationism is not the cause but the effect of such thinking.
Most working scientists and scientific organizations, notably the National Academy of Sciences, are accommodationist. They carefully avoid confronting religion for fear of losing public support for science. But let me tell you something. They're losing it anyway. Spurred on by the antiscience of the religious right, political support for science is lower now than at any time in memory. 

Once America was the foremost nation in science. Today the most important discoveries are being made elsewhere. Few fresh science PhDs in the U.S. have much hope of getting a post-doctoral appointment and virtually none of making a career in the academic world.

In the meantime, our schools are producing a generation of science illiterates. The US is 29th among developed nations on a list that ranks the science literacy of 15-year olds.

Where does all this hostility to science come in?  I think the answer is clear. The hostility is not directed toward the practical applications of science, as in medicine and technology, but with the challenges that basic science brings to the religious views held by the majority of Americans. Unfortunately most Americans do not seem to realize that basic scientific research is the foundation of the welcome applications.

Let's take a look at some of the conflicts between science and religion that have an important impact on society. Of course, evolution is the most familiar; so let me cover that first. In a survey of 33 countries in Europe plus Japan, only Muslim Turkey had a lower belief in evolution than the United States.

Evangelicals and fundamentalists see evolution as a threat to their belief in the inerrancy of scripture, which indeed it is. No compromise is possible here. However, the Catholic Church and moderate Protestant churches say they accept evolution.  But that is simply not true.

The second big combat zone is climate change. There can be no factual disputing that the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere is far above what is expected naturally and is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. And the simplest physics tells us that this will lead to global warming by the greenhouse effect. 

Yet we still hear people saying that the whole global warming thing is a hoax, cooked up (no pun intended) by unscrupulous scientists in order to get more government funding. What have scientists actually done to deserve such mistrust? Nothing but present facts that conflict with the "deeply held belief" of many Christians that God would never allow such a thing.

In 2009, John Shimkus, Republican of Illinois, and a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, argued that climate change is a myth because God told Noah he would never again destroy Earth by flood (Gen 8:21-22). He is seen on video as saying, "The earth will end only when God declares it's time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood. . . . I do believe God's word is infallible, unchanging, perfect."

Now, it's not a surprise that the fossil-fuel barons and the politicians they support financially are behind all this global warming denial propaganda. . . . .  Perhaps it is not surprising that oil and coal companies would resort to dishonest tactics to protect its investments--the cutthroat business world being what it is. What is surprising is how many ordinary people fall for their lies.

Here again, few scientists and accommodationist atheists are willing to publicly acknowledge the role of religion. But the facts speak for themselves. A recent poll showed that only 31 percent of evangelicals believe there is any global warming at all, while 58 percent of those unaffiliated with any church not only believe Earth is warming but agree it is the result of human activity. 

Faith would not be such a negative force in society if it were just about religion. However, the magical thinking that becomes deeply ingrained whenever blind faith rules over facts warps all areas of life. It produces a frame of mind in which concepts are formulated with deep passion but without the slightest attention paid to the evidence that bears on the concept.

From its very beginning in prehistory, religion has been a tool used by those in power to retain that power and keep the masses in line. This continues today as religious groups are manipulated to work against believers' own best interests in health and economic well being by casting doubt on well-established scientific findings. This would not be possible except for the diametrically opposed world-views of science and religion.

I have an urgent plea to scientists and all thinking people. . . . That goal is the replacement of foolish faith and its vanities with something more sublime--knowledge and understanding that is securely based on observable reality.

I agree with the author.  Religion - especially fundamentalist religion of all faiths - is an increasing blight on humanity.  It needs to be defeated and absolutely no deference given to religious based ignorance and denial.  House of cards faith systems need to be demolished along with the hate and bigotry that seem to be always tied to them.

The GOP’s Lose-Lose Proposition

It seems that Kathleen Parker has once again sworn of Christofascists/Tea Party Kool-Aid at least for long enough to once again see reality and slam the House GOP for it hell bent effort to force a government shut down and tank the U.S. economy yet again.  Parker recognizes that if the House GOP saboteurs prevail, it will be the GOP, not Obama and the Democrats who will ultimately lose.  Only time will tell how long Parker will eschew the mind altering Kool-Aid of the increasingly insane party base.  Would that more once rational Republicans - or at least those few who have not fled the GOP - would do likewise (yes Karen, I'm talking about you). Here are highlights from Parker's take down of the GOP extremists in the Washington Post:

Ask most people on Capitol Hill and they’ll say: 50-50. Those are the odds they give for a government shutdown.

An alternative to the shutdown would be a proposed delay of the individual mandate, the most painful part of Obamacare, which may seem like a Republican victory but on closer inspection would be a win for President Obama and Democrats.

Historians — or commentators, in the meantime — might view either of these possible outcomes as yet another “Putinesca” victory for the president: Saved by the enemy.

Just as Russian President Vladimir Putin emerged at the brink of the U.S. bombing of Syria to orchestrate an alternative solution, Republicans may have provided a rip cord for Obama.

Here’s the problem for Republicans, which will not be news to those with a view of the long game. The short game is to stall Obamacare, but to what end ultimately? Until Republicans can seize the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016, at which point they can repeal the whole thing?  Skinny chance, that.

More likely, whether the government shuts down or, should Tinker Bell suddenly materialize and persuade Obama to cave and postpone his personal dream act, Republicans will be viewed by a greater majority than previously as having no talent for leadership.

And if the debt ceiling isn’t raised and the United States defaults, threatening our full faith and credit around the world and sending countries looking favorably for other currencies, not to mention the financial fallout here, then blame will fall at the feet of the Republican Party. No surprise there.

Now consider the alternative scenario: Suppose Republicans succeed in getting the individual mandate delayed for a year — right up to the 2014 midterm elections. Bravo, right? Not necessarily. If voters don’t have to experience the uncertainty and discomfort of being forced to buy insurance in an unwieldy, dysfunctional system — all the while noticing that millions are still without coverage — who benefits?

Surely not the Republicans, who, on the one hand, can be blamed for depriving insurance coverage to those poor sick kittens and ducklings. On the other, they accrue no benefit from having prevented the pain of implementing Obamacare.

Alternatives to present circumstances do not abound. Republicans have drawn their line in the sand.   . . . . Republicans, who will have banished themselves to wander a while longer in the desert, may have drawn a line too far.
 Obviously, the reality denying and ignorance embracing GOP base will accuse Parker of being a "sell out."  But, sometimes being responsible is trying to tell the deranged that they need to rethink their demands and actions.  Even if one's efforts fall on deaf ears.

Billy Graham’s Grandson: Evangelicals "Worse than Catholics" On Sex Abuse

This blog is none too kind to the Roman Catholic Church and the Church hierarchy when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse of children and minors by priests and other clergy.  The hierarchy is little more than a foul cesspool which has engaged in a worldwide criminal conspiracy to cover up abuse and to protect sexual predators.  I continue to believe that much of the abuse stems from priestly celibacy and the stunted and warped psycho-sexual development of priests that arises from the seminary system.  Add to that the Church's obsession with sex and the fact that the Church provides good cover for those with sexual/developmental problems and it is a recipe for disaster.  But while the Catholic Church has the most centralized and extensive conspiracy to cover up sexual crimes by clergy, the problem extends far beyond the Catholic Church, probably because far too many who are struggling with sexual identities and addictions see joining the clergy as a means to control their sick inclinations.  Naturally, it doesn't work as planned and the fox is in the hen house with access and a system of deference that makes abuse all too easy and subject to cover up. Billy Graham's grandson (pictured above) has had the courage to call out other Christian denominations.  Here are details via Religion News Service:

AUSTIN, Texas (RNS) The Christian mission field is a “magnet” for sexual abusers, Boz Tchividjian, a Liberty University law professor who investigates abuse said Thursday (Sept. 26) to a room of journalists.

While comparing evangelicals to Catholics on abuse response, ”I think we are worse,” he said at the Religion Newswriters Association conference, saying too many evangelicals had “sacrificed the souls” of young victims.

“Protestants can be very arrogant when pointing to Catholics,”  said Tchividjian, a grandson of evangelist Billy Graham and executive director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), which has investigated sex abuse allegations.

Earlier this summer, GRACE spearheaded an online petition decrying the “silence” and “inattention” of evangelical leaders to sexual abuse in their churches.

Mission agencies, “where abuse is most prevalent,” often don’t report abuse because they fear being barred from working in foreign countries, he said. Abusers will get sent home and might join another agency. Of known data from abuse cases, 25 percent are repeat cases, he said.

Evangelicals often frown upon transparency and accountability, he said, as many Protestants rely on Scripture more than religious leaders, compared to Catholics.

Abusers discourage whistle-blowing by condemning gossip to try to keep people from reporting abuse, he said. Victims are also told to protect the reputation of Jesus.

Too many Protestant institutions have sacrificed souls in order to protect their institutions, he said. ”We’ve got the Gospels backwards,” he said.

Candidly, in my view, the more a denomination obsesses over all things sexual, the higher the likelihood that sexual abuse is rampant.  Not only is the forbidden fruit of sex made more attractive, but the more warped members of the clergy are likely to be themselves.  Unfortunately, Tchividjian stops short of making this connection.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Barilla Pasta Chief: We Don't Like Gays, They Can Buy Another Brand

In what will hopefully turn out to be a disaster for the company's bottom line, Guido Barilla, the CEO of Barilla, which has almost half the Italian pasta market and a quarter of that in the United States, made clear that he doesn't like gays and that, if gays don't like his views, then they can buy a different brand of pasta.  Personally, until now, the boyfriend and I have bought Barilla products.  But no more.  There are plenty of other options and Mr. Barilla can expect to not see another penny from us.  From remarks on the blogosphere, we will not be alone in this boycott.  The Independent looks at Barilla's statements:

Gay rights groups are calling for a boycott of the world’s biggest pasta maker Barilla after the company’s chairman said he would never use homosexual couples in his advertisements.

Guido Barilla, whose firm has almost half the Italian pasta market and a quarter of that in the US, told Italy’s La Zanzara radio show last night: “I would never do an advert with a homosexual family…if the gays don’t like it they can go an eat another brand. 

“For us the concept of the sacred family remains one of the fundamental values of the company.”
He added: “Everyone has the right to do what they want without disturbing those around them”. But then the pasta magnate upped the ante by attacking gay adoption. “I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose," he said.

Alessandro Zan, a gay rights campaigner and an MP in the left-wing Sel (Sinistra Ecologia Libertà) party, said:  “This is another example of Italian homophobia. I’m joining the boycott of Barilla and I hope other parliamentarians do the same.”  Campaigners have urged a boycott of all 20 brands owned by the Parma-based company, which include Voiello pasta and Filiz and Misko products.

By Thursday lunchtime, the company, which promotes its products using images of young, blond-haired children and their attractive parents, sought to underline its “respect" for gays in a statement attributed to its chairman.

“I’m sorry if my comments on La Zanzara have created misunderstanding or polemic, or if I’ve offended anyone. In the interview I only wanted to underline the central role of the woman in the family," he said.

But Ivan Scalfarotto, an MP in the centre-left Democratic Party, wasn’t convinced. “It’s depressing that a businessman used to working and travelling around the world should say what Guido Barilla had said. I certainly won’t be buying his products any more.”
Talk is cheap.  If Barilla wants to convince me of his contrition, he will have to have the company produce some ads with gay families.  Until, then, my money will be spent on other brands.

Restarining Order Issued Against E.W. Jackson For Alleged Murder Threat

"Bishop" Jackson - certifiable loon?

In a brief editorial the Richmond Times Dispatch - one of the most conservative newspapers in Virginia - basically said that "Bishop" E.W. Jackson was a religious extremist and unfit for office.  And that was before Politico published its bombshell that in 2006 a court issued a restraining order after Jackson threatened to murder his daughter's roommate.  That's right, the bogus "bishop" threatened to kill someone.  Jackson is the quintessential dream candidate of The Family Foundation - which ought to speak volumes as to why (i) candidates should never be selected via a state convention rather than a primary, and (ii) the Christofascists need to be driven from the Republican Party.  Here are highlights from Politico:

E.W. Jackson, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia, was accused in 2006 of threatening the life of his daughter’s roommate, according to a Belmont, Mass., police report and a separate temporary restraining order filed in Middlesex County Court.

Those two documents, shared with POLITICO by a source opposed to Jackson’s election, detail the surprise GOP nominee’s involvement in an explosive personal feud involving his daughter and two other women. The roommate took out restraining orders against both E.W. Jackson and a third party . . .

The incident is the latest twist in a candidacy that’s been highly unorthodox from the start, and highlights the minimal scrutiny Jackson received before the state party’s stunning vote to nominate him last spring for lieutenant governor.

A candidate who had been taken more seriously during the primary would likely have had to address his past involvement in such a sensational legal episode prior to winning the nomination. Jackson, a fiery conservative preacher known for his incendiary rhetoric, electrified delegates at the state convention and snatched the nomination from several better-known candidates.

On April 10, four short-term restraining orders were issued by civil courts in Middlesex County and Malden, Mass. The Middlesex County Superior Court granted a temporary restraining order against Jackson and a third party to Jackson’s daughter’s roommate, to be adjudicated at a later date. The dueling restraining order requests mirror each other in some respects, featuring alleged threats of violence and invasions of privacy in multiple directions.
The issue of the restraining order isn't the only reason why Jackson is unfit for office.  Here's a quote from the Richmond Times Dispatch editorial:
E.W. Jackson, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, says humans who do not accept Jesus follow “some sort of false religion.” Many Christians probably agree with him. Many believers of other faiths apply a comparable standard to their religion, too.

Although Jackson spoke in a church, his words were inappropriate for a political candidate seeking a secular office. He is not running for bishop. Even if he were, his attitudes would attract opposition from co-religionists.
Of course, Jackson did not run for bishop.  He set up his own motley church and gave himself the title of "bishop."

Government Shutdown Could Devastate Northern Virginia - and Ken Cuccinelli

Besides the Hampton Roads area with its huge military presence and numerous defense contractor employers, the other part of Virginia that a government shutdown will devastate is Northern Virginia.  Both are regions that if the go heavily Democrat on November 5, 2013, will doom Ken Cuccinelli - and hopefully the other lunatics on the Virginia GOP ticket - to defeat.  If the federal government shuts down next week and pay checks and social security checks are not forthcoming, the GOP intransigence and effort to sabotage the American economy will be be all too fresh in voters' minds.   Two pieces in the Washington Post look at (i) the potential impact on Northern Virginia and (ii) the potential impact on Cuccinelli and the GOP ticket, all of whom are cut from the same extremists cloth as the House GOP members who want to wreak havoc and undo the 2012 election results.  Here are highlights from the first article:

A shutdown of the federal government next week could have a significant impact on the budgets of local governments across the Washington region, where officials are preparing to find alternative funds to pay for local services, officials say.

In Fairfax County, officials recently blamed a decision to deny pay raises for its workers on the federal spending cuts known as sequestration and the uncertainty brought on by the fight in Congress over whether to fund the Affordable Care Act.

Though not as directly affected as the District — where all local government activity depends on a federal appropriation — suburban communities nonetheless expect that a prolonged federal shutdown could mean more instability in a region that is recovering from the 2008 recession, officials said.

Fairfax is also home to about 4,100 federal contractors, who, in 2012, took in a combined $26.4 billion in federal contracts, according to the county’s economic development authority.

The [fairfax County] workers, who haven’t had a raise in five years, walked away furious.  “The minute the job market opens up, they’re leaving,” predicted Randy Creller, an IT specialist who serves on the county employee advisory council for about 12,000 employees.
What does this mean for the insane Christofascist/Tea Party fanatic Ken Cuccinelli?  Here are highlights from the second article:

Ken Cuccinelli II’s Republican friends on Capitol Hill could soon be frenemies if their threat of a federal shutdown continues.

As conservatives in the House and Senate face off with President Obama over his health-care law in a battle that threatens to shut down the federal government, Cuccinelli finds himself in a predicament in the Virginia governor’s race.

[T]he showdown also means that Cuccinelli could alienate more middle-of-the-road voters — the folks who might not like Obamacare but dislike government dysfunction even more. That’s especially true in the Northern Virginia suburbs.

“This is not tea party country, for the most part,” former congressman Tom Davis (R-Va.) said Thursday. “To the extent that the tea party is viewed as part of the problem up here, it’s not going to help the Republican candidate.”

For Cuccinelli, the timing of the showdown is particularly troublesome. McAuliffe already holds a solid lead in several polls, . . . . He’s also scheduled to host Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) on the campaign trail. Cruz, a ringleader of the showdown, . . . .

A shutdown would be felt particularly hard in Virginia, owing to its sizable population of government-dependent contractors and federal employees in Northern Virginia and its heavy military presence in Hampton Roads.

“The irony is he’s been trying to tie Terry McAuliffe to Washington politics,” Kidd Quentin Kidd, a professor of government at Christopher Newport University] [said. “But he would be the one tied to Washington.”

Cuccinelli personifies the problem with today's GOP.  He and his cohorts need to be defeated in a landslide loss that will send a message across the GOP nationwide.  Virginia readers need to get out and vote and get all of their friends and family members to do so as well.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

More Thursday Male Beauty

Fairfax Chamber of Commerce Backs Democrat Statewide Ticket

As the last post underscores, Ken Cuccinelli and his Christofacsist climate denying running mates are a threat to Hampton Roads' economy and long term future.  Today, the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce endorsed Democrats Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam and Mark Herring.  For non-Virginians, Fairfax County has the largest economy of any city or county in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Combined with the neighboring Arlington and Alexandria, it has nearly one third of Virginia's population and is a main economic powerhouse for the Virginia.  That the Fairfax Chamber endorsed the entire Democrat ticket speaks volumes about how the GOP slate will be bad for business and seek to drag Virginia backward in time to when racism and homophobia were state sanctioned policy and women were subordinate citizens.  Here are highlights from the Richmond Times Dispatch:

The political arm of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the Democratic ticket for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

The coveted endorsement of NOVABizPAC -- which backed Republican Bob McDonnell in 2009, is a key pickup for Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

Today's announcement follows a contentious, chamber-sponsored televised debate between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli Wednesday that saw each portray the other as unfit for the Executive Mansion.
A news release issued by NOVABizPAC said McAuliffe won the endorsement "based on his pro-business policy positions and proposals."

"Mr. McAuliffe was a major supporter of Governor McDonnell’s landmark transportation funding legislation and a consistent supporter of rail to Dulles," airport, Jim Corcoran, Fairfax chamber president and a trustee of NOVABizPAC, said in the release.


The organization also endorsed Sen. Ralph S. Northam, D-Norfolk, for lieutenant governor over GOP rival E.W. Jackson, and Sen. Mark Herring, D-Loudoun, for attorney general over Republican Sen. Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg.

In other endorsements, NOVABizPAC favored Northam based on his support for the Fairfax Chamber's legislative priorities and for his "record and experience in the Virginia Senate."

The group endorsed Herring for "serving the Northern Virginia business community well in the state Senate," and highlighted Herring's "commitment to Virginia's right to work laws, Governor McDonnell's landmark transportation funding plan and economic development initiatives."

Virginia does not need to return to the 1950's - or preferably the 1850's in the eyes of the many white supremacists now in the Virginia GOP base - and the Fairfax Chamber recognized this reality.


Cuccinelli Denies Climate Change While Norfolk Fights A Slow Motion Disaster

City of Norfolk Map - Areas of Severe  Repetitive Tidal Flooding
Virginia has extensive areas of Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay shoreline that are increasingly threatened by rising sea levels fueled in significant part by climate change and melting of polar ice.  Meanwhile, Ken Cuccinelli and his Republican cohorts deny that climate change is even taking place.  Indeed, the GOP controlled House of Delegates would only approve a study of climate impacts only if the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘sea level rise’ were removed from the enabling legislation.    While Cuccinelli and the rest of the GOP ticket are in denial of the obvious, the City of Norfolk (and to a lesser extent the City of Hampton) is struggling to face the reality of rising seas and growing areas of repetitive flooding, many of which include high value properties.  And the problem is not limited to Norfolk and Hampton.  Other Hampton Roads cities are facing a growing threat as well.  Surprisingly, Think Progress has done a piece on Norfolk's attempts to combat a slow-motion disaster hitting the city and the GOP's refusal to accept objective reality.  Here are highlights (read the whole piece):

“We are here to ask for your help,” said Paul Fraim, Mayor of Norfolk, Virginia. “It is a threat we can no longer ignore.”

Fraim was speaking to a group of elected officials and emergency planners earlier this month. The focus of their discussion: the state’s lack of action on climate change, particularly as it pertains to sea level rise.

Sea level rise is a slow-moving threat that presents a tremendous risk to some of the world’s most heavily-populated regions. For Fraim and his fellow residents of the Tidewater area, sea level rise isn’t a problem for the distant future — it’s impacting their everyday lives right now.

Because the ground beneath Norfolk is subsiding while the water around it rises, the city serves as a snapshot of what other coastal communities will face in the coming decades if nothing is done to address climate change. Today the Center for American Progress released a new video examining the risks and cost associated with sea level rise, with a particular focus on residents, scientists and community leaders in Norfolk. Watch it: 

According to a recent study from NOAA,
… climate-change related increases in sea level have nearly doubled today’s annual probability of a Sandy-level flood recurrence as compared to 1950. Ongoing natural and human-induced forcing of sea level ensures that Sandy-level inundation events will occur more frequently in the future from storms with less intensity and lower storm surge than Sandy.
If the several inches of sea-level rise that have been measured to date have nearly doubled the chances of a Sandy-like storm surge, then the several feet that may await many coastal cities could be catastrophic. No longer a distant threat, many of these impacts are already bearing out in coastal Virginia.

“The fact of the matter is, we’ve got rising waters,” said Virginia State Senator Jim Watkins (R-Midlothian).”We’ve got recurrent flooding. There are more 100-year storms in the last 15 years than we’ve ever seen. Somebody has got to deal with it.”

While the cost of helping coastal cities prepare for the impacts of sea-level rise is daunting — an initial set of projects identified by the city of Norfolk in partnership with the Dutch consulting firm Fugro Atlantic totaled $1 billion, more than the city’s annual operating budget — the cost of inaction is far higher.

As National Journal explains, “Hampton Roads is a major engine of the state’s economy, home to 1.6 million people, the world’s largest naval base, including the only U.S. shipyard that builds nuclear submarines, and the tourist mecca of Virginia Beach.” As sea level rise threatens the region’s infrastructure and assets, “the economic impact of these forces will be profound; some estimates run as high as $25 billion.”

82 percent of Virginia’s coastline is considered at high or very high risk to sea level rise, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. But action to address climate change and prepare coastal communities for the impacts of sea-level rise is often impeded by politics. In 2011, the state legislature approved a study examining the impacts climate change was having on the state, but only after Republican delegates forced the removal of the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘sea level rise.’

And this year’s high stakes governor’s race includes Republican Ken Cucinelli. Not only does Cucinelli question the science behind climate change, as Attorney General, he used taxpayer dollars to wage a widely criticized witch hunt against University of Virginia climatologist Michael Mann. Mann has since become active in Virginia politics, telling MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, “Virginians have a very stark choice before them … [Cuccinelli is] somebody who views science as something to attack if it doesn’t comport with his ideological views or the views of the special interests that fund his campaigns.”

The reasons to vote against the Ken Cuccinelli and the rest of the Virginia GOP slate this year are many, but for those who are concerned about the growing flood problems and the treats they pose to Hampton Roads' economy, Cuccinelli and company's denial that a real problem exists alone is reason enough to cast a straight Democrat ballot on November 5, 2013.

Disclosure:  The boy friend and I live in a home that has flooded 3 times in the last ten years (more than during the previous 45 years since the house was built) due to sea level rise and increased storm activity/intensity.  We pay hefty flood insurance premiums and after the 2009 Nor'Ida storm spent into six figures repairing and flood proofing our home.  Last year we spent the equivalent of a new car to install a whole house generator and 3 high capacity industrial sump pumps to be ready for future  flood threats.  Cuccinelli can live in his alternate universe if he wants, but sea level rise IS HAPPENING.  We do not need him in the Governor's mansion.

When Will the GOP Kick Out Ted Cruz and Similar Crazies?

I find it somewhat scary when conservative/GOP columnist Jennifer Rubin starts to sound like me.  But she is onto something when it comes to the need for the Republican Party at both the national level and certainly here in Virginia to kick the crazy elements – principally Christofascists and racist,  Until this happens, I believe that the GOP is in a long term death spiral.  The irrationality and refusal to accept objective reality of these folks makes it impossible to reason with them or to appeal to a majority of voters when GOP nomination contests have become a contest as to who can be the most certifiably insane in order to win the nomination.  Here are excerpts from Rubin’s column in the Washington Post:
ignorance embracing Tea Party lunatics – from the Party.

When the John Birchers had to be kicked out of the Republican Party, William F. Buckley Jr. effectively excommunicated them from the GOP. When the “smoking gun” Watergate tape came out, it was the late Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) who urged Richard Nixon to resign. And when Pat Buchannan’s views could no longer be called anything but anti-Semitic, it was Buckley who called him out.

If the GOP has one big problem now it is that there is no Goldwater, no Buckley to tell Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and his ilk that enough is enough. The Republicans interested in governance are now participants in the political scrum. The biggest of the conservative magazines, whose editors should know better, are too timid. They poke and prod here and there, but really stand up to the destructive right wing? No. They fear a full throttle debunking would put at risk their place in the conservative cosmos. They mistakenly believe that their role is to rebuke only liberals.

The Wall Street Journal editorial page or a conservative eminence like George Will or Charles Krauthammer can call the tune of charlatans, but the Cruz crowd dismisses even them as pawns in the Great GOP Sell-out.

There is no single governor, no party senior statesman to say,It is intolerable to impugn the motives of those who fought long and hard against the liberal welfare state. Mr. Cruz, you are not helping; you are hurting. Please sit down and learn for a few years.”

The politics of the right becomes akin to university politics — bitter and small-minded with small spoils at stake. And the architecture that encompasses Cruz, talk radio, Heritage Action and the rest can sustain itself –in fact does better — when the party loses. It is not obvious how or even if the GOP gets back on track.

The saying goes that we get the government we deserve. The same is true of political parties. Republicans collectively have to decide what they want to be and what role they want to play in the next few decades. They can be participants in a majority party — eager and capable of governing, optimistic and inclusive – or they can be the party run by Heritage Action/Ted Cruz. But they can’t be both.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Former President George H.W. Bush Witnesses Same-Sex Wedding

The freepers and Christofascists will be shrieking and unleashing sheets of flying spittle as they learn that former President George H.W. Bush acted as a witnesses at a same-sex wedding in Maine recently.  Maggie Gallagher, Bryan Fischer, Matt Barber, Tony Perkins and similar hate merchants will be literally beside themselves.  We'll give updates of the spittle flecked reactions as they go online.  The Washington Post looks at the senior Bush's attendance at the wedding.  Here are excerpts:

Another prominent Republican has come out in support of same-sex marriage — or at least, in support of one particular same-sex marriage.

Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara served as an official witnesses Saturday at the Maine wedding of Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, co-owners of a Kennebunk general store. Thorgalsen posted a photo on Facebook of the 41st commander-in-chief signing a set of documents for them at an outdoor celebration: “Getting our marriage license witnessed!”

No big statement from the ex-prez’s office. His rep Jim McGrath confirmed his and wife Barbara’s presence at the Kennebunkport wedding: “They were private citizens attending a private ceremony for two friends.”

In an e-mail from their honeymoon in London, Clement told us they’ve known the former first couple for years and were thrilled they accepted the wedding invitation. Thinking about “how monumental this time is in our lives” and “how blessed we are to be in their lives,” they decided to ask them “to really personalize it for us” as witnesses.

“This is such a wonderful time for change in our legal system,” she added. “Who would be best to help us acknowledge the importance of our wedding as our friends and as the former leader of the free world. When they agreed to do so we just felt that it was the next acknowledgment of being ‘real and normal.’” Clement, 60, said she and Thorgalsen, 55, have been together for 12 years, during which she helped raise her new wife’s now-adult daughters.

Kudos to George and Barbara Bush.

Virginian Pilot Begins Charging for Digital Access - A Step Toward Suicide

Virginian Pilot publisher David Mele
Writing a blog and being contacted by would be advertisers I know one thing:  to get paid for advertising online, the number of page views a blog or publication receives determines advertising rates and ultimately long term viability if making money is the main motivation.  The folks at the Virginian Pilot don't seem to get this reality and/or suffer from the delusion that they are in the same league as the New York Times (10 free articles a month) or Washington Post (20 free article a month).  Hence, going forward, Pilot online readers will get only 10 free articles a month.  

The Daily Press was even more draconian and allowed no free articles.  The result?  I don't even bother to look at the Daily Press and don't link to it at all anymore.  The Daily Press was always an inferior paper, and since sifting to charging for online access there has been a parallel further decline in its content.  Hence, the boyfriend and I dropped our 3 day a week print subscription.  The Daily Press frankly seems headed toward extinction.  The Virginian Pilot seems headed for a similar fate in my view.  Readers should expect a marked drop in this blog's references to and links to the Virginian Pilot.  I hope that helps decrease its page views.  Here's the Pilot's bullshit reasoning:

Our next change begins today, as we implement a new membership model which will require subscriptions for unlimited access to our journalism and content online.

Current subscribers to The Virginian-Pilot will receive membership and full access to our digital content as part of their existing subscriptions, at no additional charge.

For nonsubscribers, we will allow some sampling of our content on a monthly basis, with a system that will require membership to gain access to our digital content after 10 articles are read. Some sections of our websites will remain freely available, including home pages, obituaries, and online marketplaces for jobs, autos, and real estate.

There are plenty of free news outlets where one can find better quality coverage.  Truth be told, the Pilot only cares about selling advertising.  Quality journalism has always been a secondary concern.  Online traffic will seek these out and one can hope that the Virginian Pilot meets the end it deserves as readership declines further and advertisers balk at paying for inferior coverage.

National Journal: Virginia Isn't the Place Ken Cuccinelli Thinks It Is

Ken Cuccinelli lives in a fantasy world dominated by religious extremists like his masters at The Family Foundation and knuckle dragging Tea Party cretins (many of whom likewise fall into the Christianist camp).  Being surrounded by Kool-Aid drinkers and speaking to crowds of spittle flecked far right racists and bigots - which is what the GOP base has become - Cuccinelli does not grasp that Virginia has changed over the last decade or two.  Yes, areas in Southwest Virginia remains a fetid swamp locked in the past where racism, gay bashing and anti-minority bigotry are still socially acceptable.  But other parts of the state - the parts with the larger population base - have changed.  Even Hampton Roads has become more modern in its outlook, at least in relative terms.  A column in the National Journal takes Cuccinelli to task for failing to see this new Virginia.  Here are highlights:

Can a hardline conservative still win a governor's race in Virginia? Demographics suggest those days are gone.

Republican Ken Cuccinelli has acted on his passions and convictions throughout his political career, and that's now creating challenges for him in a state that's gone through profound changes for more than a decade. In a dyspeptic campaign between two flawed candidates, former national Democratic chairman Terry McAuliffe's positions are more in tune with the state's diverse, swelling population centers – and that could make the difference.

When Cuccinelli won a special election to the state Senate in 2002, Northern Virginia was at the start of an explosive decade of growth that transformed its people and politics. The four-county, suburban Washington region accounted for more than half of the state's growth from 2000 to 2010, as professionals and minorities flooded in. One third of the state now lives in Northern Virginia, and most of the rest live in the Richmond and Norfolk areas.

Diversity, meanwhile, has skyrocketed. The state Hispanic population nearly doubled over the period, and there was a 63 percent increase in mixed-race residents. The politics have evolved as you would expect, culminating in President Obama's landmark 2008 and 2012 victories in Virginia, powered by the Northern Virginia counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William.

It was always hard to see how Cuccinelli would hold his own among the suburban liberals and moderates in the region, particularly women, given his lawsuits against the Affordable Care Act and a climate scientist at the University of Virginia; his attempts to make divorce more difficult; and his opposition to gay rights, abortion rights, immigration reform, the new health law's Medicaid expansion, and a bipartisan plan to ease the terrible traffic that threatens to cramp growth in Northern Virginia.

McAuliffe's pollster, Geoffrey Garin, says Cuccinelli is "losing white moderates overwhelmingly" because he has "deliberately vacated any claim to the center." The campaign is pressing that point in TV ads on abortion and divorce that ask why Cuccinelli wants to interfere in people's lives. The tactic is working, judging by McAuliffe's double-digit leads over Cuccinelli among women in polls this month. 

Cuccinelli also has watched a number of prominent Republican figures endorse his opponent. "These are the cards that he dealt himself;. . . .

New fodder for base-revving arrived recently in the form of proposed new federal regulations on coal plants. Cuccinelli and his allies immediately greeted them as a revival of the "war on coal" they say is being waged by Obama, McAuliffe, and Democrats. A Cuccinelli TV ad says it's also " a war on the working poor, our livelihood." But Virginia's coal mines are located in three southwest counties with a total population of about 82,000 compared with more than 2 million who live in Northern Virginia – so not that many people are affected. In fact, says McDonald, "those coal regions actually lost population over the last decade, they didn't gain it." Nor is McAuliffe leaving the coalfields to Cuccinelli. He is trying to cut into the Republican's support there with an ad highlighting a probe into whether Cuccinelli's office improperly helped energy companies in a fight against local landowners, and another featuring one of the landowners.

"The big question is whether Virginia has reached a tipping point," says Dustin Cable, a demographics researcher at the University of Virginia. If a candidate with as many problems as McAuliffe can win, the answer will be emphatically yes.

Cuccinelli - and for that matter "Bishop" Jackson and Mark Obenshain as well - are the dream candidates of the theocrats and extremists at The Family Foundation.  All three need to be decisively defeated to send the message that The Family Foundation and its message of religious extremism, hate and bigotry are now radioactive with voters.  Victoria Cobb and similar hate merchants need to be booted out of the GOP permanently.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Catholic Chaplains Barred From Service to Gay Couples

Andrew Sullivan and others had a case of the vapors recently based on Pope Francis' statements in a recent interview criticizing the Roman Catholic Church's "obsession with gays, abortion, and contraception."  Such individuals hoped - or wanted to believe - that such statements might indicate a moderation of the Church's extremism on such issues.  Their hopes it seems were a mere self-indulgent fantasy.  As the Washington Post reports, rather than moderating the Church has ordered Catholic military chaplains to more or less adopt the agenda of the Southern Baptist Convention and boycott anything that might remotely treat same sex military couples decently and humanely.  Here are excepts from the Post story:

Catholic military chaplains cannot be forced to witness or bless a same-sex marriage, nor are they allowed to take part in any marriage counseling retreats that are open to gay couples under new rules issued by the Archdiocese for the Military Services.

The rules, sent to chaplains on Sept. 18 by Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, head of the AMS, also bar chaplains from taking part in a funeral for a Catholic if that participation “would give the impression that the church approves of same sex ‘marital’ relationships.”

Broglio cited an interpretation from the National Catholic Bioethics Center explaining that Catholic commanders can morally facilitate benefits for gay couples in their command if there was no other way to avoid it without jeopardizing their career.

“This is also contingent on the commander making known his/her objection to being required to . participate, as well as on attempting through legal channels to continue to accomplish changes in policy consistent with the historic understanding of marriage and family as based on natural moral law,” said the statement from the bioethics center.

In his statement, Broglio said the new federal policy on gay marriage and gay rights for military personnel “makes it necessary to reiterate with clarity the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding homosexuality.”

The new rules also reiterate that “anyone who is known to be in a sinful relationship is excluded from ministries” such as serving as a lector, catechist, altar server or from giving out Communion.

My advice to gay Catholics continues to be to leave Catholicism - the Episcopal and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America parishes offer a good alternative - and to encourage all of their friends and family members to do so as well.  Andrew Sullivan and others are entitled to their opinions, but they need to pull their heads out of the sand.

Will the Norfolk Gay Marriage Case Affect the Governor's Race?

In tonight's televised debate between GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli - a radical Christofascist of the first order - and Democrat candidate Terry McAuliffe, McAuliffe made a point to hit on Cuccinelli's extreme positions on social issues, including gay rights and a "personhood" initiative which would outlaw all abortions and many current forms of contraception.    Among other things, McAulliffe stated that Cuccinelli had called gays "soulless and self-destructive human beings."  In typical Christofascist form - meaning that he blatantly lied since, apparently "godly Christians" are exempt from the Commandment against lying - Cuccinelli claimed that McAuliffe's statement was false.  Here's a highlight from the Virginian Pilot that basically substantiates McAuliffe's position:

Cuccinelli denounced the quote about gays that McAuliffe had attributed to him as "offensively false." But at a 2008 Family Foundation event, Cuccinelli, then a state senator, was quoted as saying, "When you look at the homosexual agenda, I cannot support something that I believe brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul."
The debate aside, perhaps more pressing for Cuccinelli is the reality that he will soon have to file briefs in the case of Bostic, et al, pending in the Norfolk Division of the U.S. Eastern  District of Virginia.  As the blog Northen Virginia Lawyer notes, the schedule is as follows:

Initial summary judgment motions from all parties are due September 30, 2013.
Response briefs are due October 24, 2013.
Final reply briefs are due October 31, 2013.
The election is November 5, 2013
AG Cuccinelli's office, on behalf of the Commonwealth will have to file major briefs 36 days, 12 days, and 5 days before the gubernatorial election.  October is the most critical time of the election season.  Cuccinelli will be held accountable for every word in these briefs.
Cuccinelli's masters at The Family Foundation, a hate group in all but formal designation, will no doubt expect and demand that Cuccinelli file a brief that thoroughly condemns both gays and the "homosexual agenda."   That said, one would think that Cuccinelli ought to realize that McAuliffe and the news media will jump all over whatever statements and arguments Cuccinelli puts forth to justify the stigmatization of gays and their relegation to an inferior form of citizenship in Virginia.  I for one will be logging on to my Pacer account to pull copies of Cuccinelli's filing just as soon as they are available.  Northern Virginia Lawyer sums up the situation well:

Whether Cuccinelli wants to, or not, he will be the face of the opposition to gay marriage.  . . . . Any attempt by Cuccinelli to avoid discussion of social issues will be easily brought back to the issue du jour in Virginia, which will be gay marriage. 
Terry McAuliffe does not need to focus on the issue of gay marriage.  He simply needs to state his support (which he has) and allow debate moderators, and or the media to force Cuccinelli to repeatedly discuss his dogged defense of the Marshall-Newman amendment.  
Make no mistake, Ken Cuccinelli is not afraid to stand up for what he believes in, but winning statewide office in Virginia requires him to focus on something more than a divisive social issue. 
The nature and timing of this lawsuit may very well be the reason McAuliffe wins in November.
Once the media is a buzz about Cuccinelli's anti-gay extremism, it is an easy step to his similarly extreme views on abortion, contraception and "personhood."  Cuccinelli has tried to claim that McAuliffe has made this issues a high priority in this election cycle, but once Cuccinelli files his briefs against gay equality, the media will fan the flames with no assistance from McAuliffe.  I for one hope that Cuccinelli twists on his own rope.  The Family Foundation made Cuccinelli the GOP nominee and The Family Foundation may end up being the cause of his defeat in the general election in November.  

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty

Will a Government Shutdown Help Dems Hold Senate and Retake the House?

GOP extremism, of course is not limited to the Virginia GOP.  The same foul element of Christofascists and Tea Party loons that has swept the Virginia GOP like the bubonic plague swept through Europe during the Middle Ages has also overtaken the GOP nationally.  And now Democrats see the possible GOP forced government shut down as an opening to not only hold the U.S. Senate but to also regain the House of Representatives.  An article in the Washington Post looks at this analysis.  Here are highlights:

Democrats are working hard to exploit massive unrest in the Republican Party over the looming government shutdown, which many see as one of their best chances of holding the Senate or even gaining the House in next year’s midterm elections.

White House officials and other Democrats have been content to watch in recent days as Republicans have torn into each other over strategic disputes and are in no rush to launch negotiations on how to avoid a shutdown.

Instead, they have attacked Republicans as reckless, pressuring them to decide whether to keep the government open with no strings attached — as Democrats favor — or shut it down.

The key to the Democratic strategy is a belief that a showdown is likely to play out similarly to the government shutdowns of 1995 and 1996, which turned public opinion sharply against the Republican majority.

“It wouldn’t be the worst thing for Democrats if [Republicans] tried to shut the government down,” Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former secretary of state and a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said in New York on Tuesday.   “We’ve seen that movie before, and it didn’t work out so well for those so-called obstructionists,” she added.

The Cruz demonstration — which was opposed by many leading Senate Republicans and was set to end by Wednesday morning — plays into a Democratic strategy to try to ensure that the GOP is blamed for a shutdown if it occurs.

Congress must act by Monday night to avoid most agencies closing on Tuesday. The showdown is likely to serve as a launching point for a similarly contentious debate next month over raising the federal debt ceiling.

Looking ahead to the challenging midterm elections, Democrats see a potential political boon in the ongoing fights. Democratic candidates in some competitive races have begun to attack incumbent Republicans over the GOP effort to defund Obamacare, airing advertisements and targeting their offices with constituent calls.

“We’re going to make the case that 2014 is going to be a referendum between extremist Republicans and crisis and leaders with reasonable solutions,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.),

Polls show that Americans agree with the Democratic view that Obamacare should remain law. Voters also strongly oppose a debt default or a government shutdown as part of a ploy to strip funding for the health-insurance expansion.

Another challenge for Democrats is that many Republicans are less vulnerable than they were in the 1990s because gerrymandering has narrowed the number of competitive seats in the House, with only about two dozen GOP seats in play.

“I’m not going to say the Democrats are going to pick up 20 seats because the 2010 redistricting redrew the districts in such a remarkable way,” said Democratic strategist Paul Begala.


The Family Foundation/Tea Party Legacy: Worst VA GOP Defeat Ever?

Polls are seemingly trending in the right direction and one of my personal goals is to see the title of this post become a reality.  Horrific defeat may be the only thing that can save the Republican Party of Virginia from the foul and toxic elements of Family Foundation Christofascists and Tea Party Neanderthals who currently hold sway over the party.  They certainly are the group that hijacked the nominating process this year and handed Virginia the most extreme - and I would argue, insane - statewide ticket in history. These folks need to be driven into the political wilderness forever.  A column in Blue Virginia looks at the possible coming Virginia GOP defeat.  Here are excerpts:

The Virginia GOP is one Tea'ed-up Party, but they ain't seen nothing yet: that will come if current trends hold, and the Virginia GOP goes down to their worst defeat ever in the two-party era.

Since the spring, I have been predicting that after Inauguration Day next year, there will NO Republicans in statewide office for the first time since Holton's swearing-in [in 1969].

Fast forward to late September 2013, when all the polls indicate the possibility of an historic Democratic sweep in a few weeks, the first 0-5 for the GOP since the 1966 election of two Democratic Senators to add to the party's three statewide office holders.

First of all, Cuccinelli is going to get the lowest cross-over Democratic vote EVER for a Republican candidate for Governor. I mean EVER. The Democratic anti-Cuccinelli fervor is simply amazing. This is why I believe the 2009 turnout, featuring 4 percentage points more Republicans than Democrats, can't be duplicated by Cuccinelli this year. Yes, he has the more "loyal" followers. But that's because he has the smallest base of voters! 

Meaning: If you assume Cuccinelli has the lowest cross-over Dem vote ever, and you further postulate that anti-Cuccinelli fervor among Dems is high, then Cuccinelli has to do three things in October: 1) motivate lukewarm, normally GOP voters; 2) gin-up his own base to 2009 levels; and 3) win independents at 55% or more. Why? Because all the polls show that Cuccinelli has a certain "bleed" among Republicans. Even if he stops this voter bleed-out, he needs to win indies to triumph. 

Right now, as I have written locally and nationally, Cuccinelli doesn't have either the issue, the strategy, or the brain trust to make that happen. . . . . Terry is more likely to play smart politics while Cuccinelli is the one facing two new threats. 

First, E. W. Jackson, the LG nominee for the GOP, is simply not qualified for even a job that doesn't require any qualifications. His latest attack on those who have different religious views than himself is contrary to the very teachings of his religion. Either Cuccinelli and Obenshain ultimately repudiate him - the smart move - or they stay silent, the dumb move. But either way, Jackson will cost them more votes as October plays out.

Second, you have the candidacy of Libertarian guv guy Robert Sarvis.

NO, IT ISN'T OVER. But every week, there is a new "political fire" for Cuccinelli to put out. Right now, he is in danger of running the worst campaign for Governor since Wyatt Durrette in 1985. That was the last watershed year up and down the ballot.  

Not to be a broken record, but turn out is critical.  Gays, women, minorities and those who believe in religious freedom for all - not to mention those who believe in science - need to turn out to drive a wooden stake through the heart of The Family Foundation/Tea Party contagion that has overtaken the Virginia GOP like a plague.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Ted Cruz’s Fake Filibuster

There are a lot of despicable politicians at both the state and national level.  But few at the national level disgust me more than Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz and not just because he is all too reminiscent of Joseph McCarthy who lead the anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950's.  Rather, it is Cruz's hypocrisy and, in my view, his outright dishonesty.  Naturally, he claims to honor Christian tenants even as his votes are diametrically opposed to the principles of the Gospel message.  Ezra Klein takes Cruz's dishonesty apart in a column in the Washington Post:

"Americans feel like they don't have a voice," Cruz said. "I hope to play a small part in providing that voice for them."

[T]his is a bizarre argument for Cruz to be making. After all, Cruz himself is firmly on the wrong side of public opinion:

Cruz opposes raising taxes on the wealthy. The public supports it. Cruz opposes gun control. The public supports it. Cruz supports sharply cutting spending on Medicare and Social Security. The public opposes it. If Cruz actually believed his job was directly representing the will of the people, his voting record would be extremely different than it is.

Which is why it's so odd Cruz has chosen this argument. He could just be up there arguing against Obamacare. Instead he's arguing that we need to #MakeDCListen. He's making a broad, quasi-philosophical argument that senators should more fully reflect public opinion. But even he doesn't believe it. Cruz's filibuster is self-refuting.
Cruz epitomizes what's wrong with today's GOP.  Pompous, arrogant, disdainful of average Americans and their hopes and needs, and utterly opposed to the Christian values he claims to venerate.

McAuliffe Widens Lead Over Cuccinelli Ahead of Debate

UPDATED: In follow up to the first version of this post, a new Washington Post/Abt-SRBI poll puts Terry McAuliffe's lead over Ken Cuccinelli even larger that reported in the NBC4/NBC News/Marist poll.  Here are highlights from the Richmond Times Dispatch:

Democrat Terry McAuliffe has vaulted into the lead over Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in a Virginia governor’s race that has left many voters sour on both candidates, according to a new Washington Post/Abt-SRBI poll.

McAuliffe leads 47 percent to 39 percent among likely voters, with Libertarian Robert Sarvis’ 10 percent suggesting an unrest among voters not satisfied with either major-party contender.

The shift in the race has come almost exclusively from women voters, who prefer McAuliffe by a 24-point margin over Cuccinelli. The candidates were effectively tied among women in Washington Post poll in May.

McAuliffe’s strength among women is likely due in part to an intense campaign to portray Cuccinelli as a threat to women and the issues they might care about most deeply. A new McAuliffe ad, for instance, features a Norfolk OB-GYN speaking directly to the camera about how she is “offended” by Cuccinelli’s position on abortion rights.

The challenge for Cuccinelli is stark: Nearly half of all voters view him unfavorably, and they trust his opponent as much as or more than him on every major issue, according to the poll.

While the poll trends are encouraging, Cuccinelli not only needs to be defeated, but defeated in a landslide.  All efforts to motivate and turn out likely Democrat voters need to remain in high gear.

Like most Virginians, I am exhausted from this year's mud slinging gubernatorial race pitting the GOP's closeted and insane Ken Cuccinelli against Democrat Terry McAuliffe.  As my latest column in the September issue of VEER Magazine stated, McAuliffe may not be my dream candidate, but compared to sodomy law and personhood bill supporting Ken Cuccinelli, McAuliffe is the better choice for numerous reasons.  Apparently, other Virginians are beginning to draw a similar conclusion.  A new NBC4/NBC News/Marist poll shows McAuliffe with a five point lead over Cuccinelli.  Ten percent of voters polled are "undecided," so it is critical that efforts not let up in turning out voters to vote for a straight Democrat ticket on November 5, 2013.  Here are highlights from NBC Channel 4 in Washington on the poll findings:

Fueled by support with women and better likability ratings, Democrat Terry McAuliffe leads Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli 43-38 percent, with Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis at 8 percent among likely voters in the Virginia governor's race, a new NBC4/NBC News/Marist poll out Monday finds.

The poll of 546 likely voters and 1,069 registered voters, conducted from Sept. 17 to 19, comes two days before a debate between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli sponsored by NBC4 Washington and the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and moderated by NBC News Chief White House Correspondent and Political Director Chuck Todd.

After a summer of mudslinging and negative campaign ads, neither candidate is well liked, but Cuccinelli has taken a bigger hit. Just 34 percent of registered voters view Cuccinelli favorably, while 47 percent say they have an unfavorable impression of him. Back in May, it was the reverse – 42 favorable, 27 percent unfavorable.

McAuliffe, on the other hand, is on the positive side – 41 favorable, 34 percent negative – though those unfavorable numbers are up 10 points as more people have gotten to know the former Democratic National Committee chairman under Bill Clinton and party fundraiser.

Sarvis may be something of an outlet for disaffected Republican voters who are calling themselves independents. With the national GOP brand suffering, there has been a trend nationally and in Virginia that more Republicans are identifying as independents. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for president in 2012, after all, won independents, but lost the election.
Between now and election day, I hope more voters learn about Cuccinelli's improper assistance to energy companies against Virginia landowners, his support for a personhood amendment that would criminalize all abortions and many forms of contraception, his desire to change divorce laws to favor fathers against women, and his extremism on other social issues, including employment protections for gay employees.