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Just as states with progressive lawmakers and activists have themselves initiated innovative programs over a wide range of issues, state-based progressive blogs have helped provide us with a point of view, inside information and often an edgy voice that we just don't get from the traditional media. This week in progressive state blogs is designed specifically to focus attention on the writing and analysis of people focused on their home turf. Let me know via comments or Kosmail if you have a favorite state- or city-based blog you think I should know about. Inclusion of a diary does not necessarily indicate my agreement or endorsement of its contents.

At The Orange Juice Blog, Daniel Lamb writes—Our Children: OC’s Immigrant Youth Live Under the Fear of Deportation:

Orange Juice Blog state blog
Immigration policy, like trade and foreign affairs, was deliberately assigned by our founding fathers to the federal government. The failure of Congress and the Obama Administration to deal with the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally, however, has put enormous pressure on local governments to fill the policy gap. In Orange County, that pressure has led to a policy whereby the local probation department refers children in its care to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. While pressure should be put on the Feds to tackle the immigration issue, the policy, in effect, has generated considerable concern in our Latino neighborhoods and within the legal community.

The UC Irvine School of Law recently issued a critical report on the county’s ICE referral policy. Based on its findings, the Orange County Board of Supervisors should place all juvenile referrals to ICE on hold while policy-makers review the matter and consider changes.

Orange County leads the state in referring children to ICE. In fact, the county is responsible for 43% of all ICE detention requests in California. The disproportionate size of this figure justifies placing the policy on hold while, at a minimum, an explanation can be formed. While it’s true that the youths in question violated the law and were placed under probation, ICE detention significantly and arbitrarily increases the severity of their punishment without reference to the severity of their misconduct.

At OhioDaily, Anastasia Pantsios writes—Another Lump of Coal from Santa Kasich & his Legislative Elves:
So, no sooner do we get the news that Ohio is first in job loss and near the bottom (46) in job creation — thanks a lot, "Jobs Governor," now officially known as the "No-Jobs Governor" — we get this honor bestowed on our beleaguered state:

"The 9 Worst States for Reproductive Rights in 2013"

And Ohio makes the list, right behind Texas and North Dakota. Yippeeeee!

While 2011 went down in history as the worst year for women's reproductive rights, 2013 has officially become the second worst, as Republican state lawmakers passed 70 new abortion restrictions into law across the United States.
How depressing and sad for this country. This is what happens when you put woman-hating right-wingers in charge. They love to flap their jaws about "freedom" and "liberty" and fling those words around copiously when naming their little Tea Party groups. But in fact, there's little they like less than freedom and liberty — when they apply equally to all, including women.
If you read below the orange gerrymander, you will find additional excerpts from progressive state blogs.

At Blue Oklahoma, DocHoc writes—Congress Members Call For Hearing On Earthquakes:

At least some national politicians seem worried about the link between earthquakes and oil and gas drilling activities here in Oklahoma. Too bad it's no one actually from our state itself.
Blue Oklahoma, state blogs
U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Henry Waxman of California this week called for a federal hearing on "the issue of induced seismicity from wastewater injection wells." Those wells, which are used in hydraulic fracturing or fracking and in traditional drilling, have been linked to earthquakes by scientists here and elsewhere.

Oklahoma has experienced a recent swarm of earthquakes. A 4.5 magnitude earthquake hit just north of Edmond recently, and a 5.7 magnitude earthquake near Prague in 2011 caused extensive damage. Many Oklahomans, according to various news reports in recent months, remain anxious that a major earthquake could soon hit.

DeFazio is the ranking Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee. Waxman is the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee. In a letter dated Dec. 18, they asked the chairs of the two committees to hold a joint hearing on the issue.

At BlueOregon, Carla Axtman writes—Spanning the State: Be good to each other, Edition:
Blue Oregon
Last week, the states of New Mexico and Utah got marriage equality. In Oregon, we're still working on it. But it'll quite likely be on our ballot in 2014. It's pretty embarrassing that we're so far behind, but I'm hopeful we'll get there.

That said, I agree with Tyler Smith, a youth pastor from Mississippi (I know...Mississippi. I had that reaction, too): What You Believe About Homosexuality Doesn't Matter.

To wit:

The fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter whether or not you think homosexuality is a sin. Let me say that again. It does not matter if you think homosexuality is a sin, or if you think it is simply another expression of human love. It doesn’t matter. Why doesn’t it matter? Because people are dying. Kids are literally killing themselves because they are so tired of being rejected and dehumanized that they feel their only option left is to end their life. As a Youth Pastor, this makes me physically ill. And as a human, it should make you feel the same way. So, I’m through with the debate.

When faced with the choice between being theologically correct…as if this is even possible…and being morally responsible, I’ll go with morally responsible every time. [...]

Preach it, my brother.
At Scrutiny Hooligans of North Carolina, Tom Sullivan has some good news in his piece saying Moral Monday Movement Set To Spread Across South:
Scrutiny Hooligans
North Carolina educators angry at recent legislation that phases out tenure, cuts extra pay for advanced teaching degrees, cuts teacher assistant jobs, and cuts money for instructional supplies and more planned to send Gov. Pat McCrory a sack of coal for Christmas. In August, when women’s health advocates angry over new abortion restriction protested in front of the governor’s mansion, McCrory tried to placate them with a plate of cookies.

Despite recent attempts by the state of North Carolina to marginalize them, Moral Monday protests will continue into 2014. Over 930 people volunteered to be arrested in civil disobedience against extreme legislation passed by the GOP-led legislature in 2013. New voting restrictions have been described as the most restrictive in the nation.
The Nation‘s John Nichols declared the 10,000-strong Mountain Moral Monday protest in Asheville, NC on August 5 the Most Valuable Protest of 2013.

On Christmas, the Associated Press reported that Moral Monday protests will spread across the South in 2014.

At Miscellany Blue of New Hampshire, William Tucker writes—GOP U.S. Senate nominee Gomez: JR Hoell made me do it:
Gabriel Gomez, former Massachusetts Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, said last week’s protest by New Hampshire gun advocates against Scott Brown prompted his outburst that likened conservative activists to the Ku Klux Klan.

Today, Gomez apologized for his Facebook post that blasted Massachusetts conservative activists Chris Pinto and Rob Eno. “[T]he level of ignorance and intolerance exhibited by them and their small ‘Klan’ are an embarrassment to our civil Society,” he wrote on Sunday.

Gomez subsequently deleted the post but denied the “Klan” reference referred to the Ku Klux Klan.

At Show Me Progress of Missouri, WillyK blogs some More about relative taxation in Missouri and Kansas:
Show Me Progress
Remember how state Republicans tried to justify their give-to-the-rich tax bill, HB253, last session by claiming that if we didn't drastically cut our state income taxes for businesses, we'd lose out to Kansas where income taxes were going bye-bye? We'll undoubtedly hear more of the same nonsense when the GOP tries to defend the panoply of revenue-reducing bills that have already been filed for the upcoming 2014 legislaive session.

The fact that Kansas has had to revise budget projections for 2014 downward by more than 7% and that folks in the state are showing signs of buyer's remorse when it comes to Kansas Governor Brownback's tax policies will probably do little to diminish the Missouri GOP's desperate search for a rationnale for their revenue-reduction fever. In fact, Missoui's political über sugar-daddy, Rex Sinquefield, whose lavish financial donations help inflame that fever, has already published a counterfactual case in Forbes Magazine for revenue reductions in Missouri to equal those in Kansas.

When I've written about the effects of tax cuts in Kansas in the past, I've noted that the state has tried - unsuccessfully - to compensate for lost tax revenue with higher sales taxes - one of the revenue remedies proposed by past Sinquefield taax-cutting ballot initiative efforts in Missouri. Another effect, though, that has not received much attention is the effect on property taxes.

At Bleeding Heartland, desmoinesdem says it Looks like Brad Zaun's taking another shot at IA-03:
Bleeding Heartland
Republican State Senator Brad Zaun posted on Facebook and twitter today, "I hope each of you had a great Christmas! I will have some big news to announce after the first of the year and I look forward to sharing it with my supporters and friends first!" (Hat tip to Bleeding Heartland user rockm.)

The suspense would be greater if the message weren't coming from the "Zaun for Congress" Facebook page and Twitter account.

Longtime Iowa politics watchers will recall that Zaun emerged from a crowded Republican primary to be the GOP nominee in Iowa's third Congressional district in 2010. However, he fell short against Democratic incumbent Leonard Boswell. Zaun was just re-elected in 2012 to his third four-year term in the Iowa Senate, so he wouldn't have to give up his set in the legislature to run for Congress next year. But from where I'm sitting, he'll struggle to convince GOP primary voters to give him another chance to represent IA-03. He hasn't delivered much for the party. During his time as the Senate Republican minority whip, he didn't raise a lot of money for fellow Iowa Senate candidates, despite representing some of the wealthiest precincts in Iowa. Zaun gave up his Senate minority leadership position shortly after the 2012 election, when Republicans failed to win a majority in the upper chamber.

At Hillbilly Report, Berry Craig writes—Mitch McConnell is my muse:
Sen. Mitch McConnell emailed special Yuletide greetings to the faithful – his version of “’Twas the Night before Christmas.”

“‘Twas the night before Christmas, four years ago. Liberals wanted Obamacare, but Kentucky said no,” the Senator recited.

More versifying followed, including: “Obama wondered: Who's my Kentucky candidate for these times? And guess who it goes to? Alison Lundergan Grimes.”

The captain of Team Mitch fudged the facts.

Liberals—admittedly an endangered species in the Bluegrass State—preferred a single-payer health care plan to what McConnell and the Republicans slam as “Obamacare.”

At R.I. Future, Steve Ahlquist writes a letter for the blog's staff RI Future invites Tobin to Mandela movie, on us:
R.I. Future.org
Dear Bishop [Thomas] Tobin [of Providence],

220px-Mandela_-_Long_Walk_to_Freedom_posterThe new movie, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is now playing at the Providence Place Mall Cinema, starting today and lasting until at least next Thursday. In this movie, Idris Elba, a fantastic actor, plays Nelson Mandela over the course of his astonishing life as lawyer, radical, prisoner and ultimately, the President of South Africa, leading his people to freedom.

Appropriately, the film opened nationwide on Christmas.

Given your recent comments about Mandela, we here at RI Future felt it appropriate to give you the chance to see this movie for yourself, that you might take away a deeper understanding of Mandela’s life and legacy, and not simply view his accomplishments through the narrow lens of the abortion issue.

Enclosed please find a voucher redeemable for one ticket to the movie of your choice at the Providence Place Mall Cinema. If you choose to not see Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, feel free to use the ticket to see any movie you please. For instance, Russell Crowe has an eponymously titled movie about the biblical character Noah coming out in March.

Sincerely,

The RI Future staff

At Blue Virginia, lowkell writes—Former RPV Chair Enraged by RNC Happy Kwanzaa Tweet:
Ah, Jeff Frederick, remember him? Yep, this guy was  a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 2004 to 2010. Frederick also was chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, until he was ousted in 2009 for reasons that are still not totally clear (although it certainly seems that this had elements of "Tea Party" vs. "establishment" to it).

Anyway, Frederick is baaack, this time livid that the Republican National Committee (RNC) had the audacity to wish people "Happy Kwanzaa." Admittedly, I find it surprising the RNC would do that, since they're usually all about "War on Christmas" faux outrage, including their principled stance of NOT recognizing others who celebrate non-Christmas holidays this time of year. So it's hilarious to see former RPV chair (and former RNC member) Jeff Frederick going off on the RNC for celebrating a "made up holiday" (after first mocking the RNC, then being accused of racism by a Democrat, who Frederick claims is being a "tool of the hysterical left" - lol). Of course, the fact is that ALL holidays are "made up" by humans, pretty much by definition (e.g., we're humans, we're the ones who come up with culture, religion, custom, whatever).

As for Kwanzaa, it was created in 1966 "as the first specifically African-American holiday, with the name deriving "from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning 'first fruits of the harvest.'" What on earth is wrong with that is beyond me, but apparently it set off the former chair of the Virginia Republican Party. From the responses on Twitter, it looks like it set off a bunch of other right-wingnuts as well (e.g., one wrote, "@GOP Kwanza. R U kidding? It was started by a communist convicted felon who beat and tortured women."). Yikes.

At MN Progressive Project, Dog Gone writes—Bigotry is Bad for Business, Bad for the Nation – but the radical right embraces it anyway:
MN Progressive Project
Some seem to be ambivalent about what hate is and is not; they flip flop rather than having actual core values. The twist and blow with the wind.

Some seem to be ambivalent about what offensive is, which includes conservatives like Jindal, Palin, and of course the heartless and mindless right wing bubble. They pander to the haters.

A lot of conservatives seem badly confused and misinformed about what the first amendment is and is not.

There seems to be no doubt that when a PR exec makes a racist statement, on her own time on her own twitter account, that it reflects badly on the brand that she represents, and that it could carry over to adversely affect the company’s clients.

That is pure capitalism. Conservatives apparently approve of employees getting treated harshly when it is pure capitalism, when money is involved.  No screams of protest there about the 1st Amendment then, hell no.

ABC’s coverage of the exec firing, below, is significant, as ABC is one of the owners of A&E, the cable network that is making a lot of money from the Quack Dynasty programming.

While the offending tweet referenced AIDS and race, it could just as easily have referenced AIDS and homosexuality, as has happened so often in the past in hateful conservative comments – like this one:

AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.  —Jerry Falwell
Jerry Falwell’s ignorance in relating AIDS to homosexuality is on a par with correlating the Black Plague where Christians blamed the epidemic on Jews, Gypsies, and ‘foreigners’.  There was of course, no such actual correlation, much less a causational one.

Bigotry is not just hateful, it is consistently wrong because it is factually inaccurate.

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