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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 with—or endorsement of—its contents.

At The Mudflats of Alaska, Jeanne Devon writes—Good Tidings & Great Pain – The End!:

I finished Sarah Palin’s Christmas book. I started it on November 19. It took me 49 days to read a 6″x8″ book with 209 pages of text, not including recipes. I admit, I’m not the fastest reader in the world, but bear in mind that I wanted to finish this book. I committed to reading the whole thing, and so completing it was the only way to make it stop. And now I have, and I can confidently say that Good Tidings and Great Joy is the most powerful misnomer for a book title I’ve ever encountered. It’s also the most bewilderingly long and most painful 4.3 pages a day I could ever have imagined. But I finished it on the 12th day of Christmas. Keep your drummers drumming. Finishing this project was the best Christmas present EVER. [...]

My solace came from believing that the people who bought this book far outnumber those who actually read it. Stilted unbelievable dialog, the gratuitous use of inane adverbs, and contradictions in logic often occurring in the same sentence made huge parts of the book both enraging and giggle-worthy – not unlike the author herself. I call her the “author” because even though the acknowledgments seem to indicate she had help, the book reads like Palin was put in a room with a laptop and left to her own devices. And that pretty much tells you all you need to know.

state blogs: the mudflats
At The Prairie Blog of North Dakota, Jim Fuglie writes—Oil Makes Things Possible:
state blogs
Lloyd Omdahl, our former Lieutenant Governor, who still writes one of the best weekly columns in the state, and who is celebrating his 82nd birthday today (Happy Birthday, Lloyd), began his column this week with this:

“Economists at North Dakota State University have calculated the annual economic impact of the Bakken Field development and came up with $13 billion for 2009 – and a lot of growth has occurred since then. For a people used to dealing in thousands, and sometimes millions, talk about billions is impressive.”[...]

Beyond that, though, we need to use this year, as both Mike and Clay argue, to figure out a way to deal not just with the new-found wealth, but with the problems associated with this boom. Clay again: “The best way to celebrate our birthday would be to create a new North Dakota social contract, a twenty-first century mission statement, so that we can direct the economic miracle that has come to North Dakota rather than be, in the end, merely overwhelmed and damaged by it.”

At The Blue Hog Report, Matt Campbell writes—Fisking Mark Darr:
Blue Hog Report
One of my New Year’s resolutions was not to write about Lt. Gov. Mark Darr in 2014.  When I made that resolution, however, I assumed that he would resign.  Which is to say, I assumed that he would not release a beautifully absurd statement, riddled with logical inconsistencies and outright lies, explaining why he should not have to resign.  Once that happened, all resolutions went out the window.
You can read more excerpts from progressive state blogs below the gerrymandered squiggle.

At Blog for Arizona, Pamela Powers Hannley writes—Fruity or Oaky? Rambling Thoughts on White People Problems:

My coffee table book is too large for my coffee table.

My Internet connection is too slow.

My dishwasher doesn’t really get the dishes clean.

iPads should have a USB connection.

I can’t remember all of my passwords. [...]

I have so many device chargers that it’s hard to keep them straight.

Mini-dorms and maxi-dorms are decreasing my property values. [...]

I support mass transportation. I took the bus twice last year.

A wine refrigerator would be nice.

At Eclectablog, Eclectablog writes—The Michigan Department of Treasury is costing taxpayers a fortune:
Eclectablog logo
Back in November, the Snyder administration gave selected members of its staff in the Department of Treasury astonishingly large raises. It was needed, they said, to attract the best and the brightest to the positions (despite the fact that these people were already in these positions.) One guy, the state’s chief investment officer Jon Braeutigam, got a 90% pay raise to $333,000 a year from $175,000. Wow!

All told, the raises, along with $380,000 in incentive bonuses for other staffers, cost Michigan taxpayers an additional $748,000 a year.

Now you can add another $175,000 a year to that. Why? Because former state Treasurer Andy Dillon who left his position last November is still collecting his full salary as a consultant.

At Blue Virginia, Eric Steigleder writes—Could Cantor's Tea Party Challenger be Good News for Democrats?:
For Democratic Virginians, the current House Majority Leader and repugnant Republican Eric Cantor is our most sought-after Great White Whale. He's feared, ferocious, and widely considered almost impossible to defeat.

And we would know better than anyone. After all, we've lost a lot of well-meaning and politically-courageous Ahabs to Cantor's gaping maw. His fundraising ability, name recognition, leadership position and popularity among mainstream conservative Republicans, combined with a long list of challengers with very little name recognition paint a portrait of a politician who plans to laugh his way back to the Congress, again and again, cycle after cycle.

But the tide may be turning.

According to an article published this week in the National Review, Cantor is about to be hit by a ton of Tea Party bricks in the form of Dave Brat, a member of the Governor's Board of Economists since 2006, and the chair of the economics and business department at Randolph-Macon. On January 9, Mr. Brat officially declared his candidacy for the House of Representatives.

This isn't just another far-right challenge on par with Floyd Bayne, either. In fact, according to Amanda Chase, Cantor's former political director, Brat may represent "the first time that Eric has had a credible opponent with a comparable education and background."

At Uppity Wisconsin, Man MKE writes—WALKER HAS A SAD: The nation's unemployed simply aren't looking hard enough, or praying often enough, for work:
Over at CNN.com, you can read a full transcript (URL below) of Scott Walker's meandering, pandering appearance on the cable network's weekend "State of the Union" political talk show. In that appearance, the Wisconsin governor essentially blamed America's vast pool of unemployed for their own misery. Then he prescribed the best thing politicians could do to get the jobless and the underemployed the work they need: "Fix Obamacare." Because, you see, that would reduce economic uncertainty and happy job creators would simply go ballistic and it would be morning in America, again! Or something.
Uppity Wisconsin state blog
As for Wisconsin's significantly higher than average unemployment rate and nationally topmost ranking in new jobless claims? It didn't come up, no thanks to host Candy Crowley. But no matter because, as Walker would have it, those conditiions have nothing—nothing!—to do with his supposedly wonderful economic policies. Rather, Mr. and Ms. Unemployed: joblessness is all your fault! You're just not trying hard enough!

Asked by CNN's Crowley if federal unemployment benefits should be extended a few more months, Walker implied otherwise, but mostly by-passed the question, instead laying more cold compassion on the biggest victims of the Great Recession.

At RI Future.org, Bob Plain writes—Paiva Weed: Senate will focus on poverty this year:
R.I. Future.org
Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed said her chamber will focus on addressing poverty as a bottom-up strategy to fixing what ails Rhode Island’s economy this year.

“The Senate’s focus this session on the economy will be inextricably intertwined with the causes of poverty,” she said at a State House vigil yesterday to call attention to poverty in Rhode Island.  “We can’t move the economy forward without addressing the very issues that underline poverty.”

She said the vigil and a screening later in the day of Inequality For All “will set a tone for the year and the message will be carried with us as we work to meet the significant challenges ahead.”

At Left in Alabama, Smedley writes—Legislative Anti-resolutions: Issues To Avoid In 2014:
I would recommend a set of anti-resolutions: things I would like the legislature NOT to do during this year. 2014 legislative session
Left in Alabama logo
Do NOT introduce any bills having to do with abortion. We have previously-passed legislation that is being challenged in the courts. Leave the issue alone.

Do NOT introduce any bills having to do with prayer. Without exception, such bills are attempts to merge religious and government functions. They are lawsuits waiting to happen.

Do NOT introduce bills that promote proselytizing in public schools, whether it be by teaching creationism, by taking precious school hours away to allow churches to give religious instruction during the school day, by holding religious assemblies in the schools, or by other means. Students whose families care about such things have churches that can perform these functions outside of school. These kinds of bills are also lawsuits waiting to happen.

Do NOT attempt to balance the budget on the backs of state workers and schoolteachers. These workers are not the enemy. It becomes less and less attractive to attempt to get a job working for the government. Many people who voluntarily gave up the possibility of a lucrative private-sector job years ago in return for reasonable benefits, a decent pension, and job security working for the government, are now finding those things they depended on being taken away. This does not escape the notice of potential government employees.

Do NOT continue the trend toward privatizing education at government expense. Vouchers and other forms of funneling government funds to private (and in most cases religious) schools do absolutely nothing to improve the quality of education in the state; rather, they fritter away funds the state can scarcely afford to give up.

At My Left Nutmeg of Connecticut, Larkspur writes—Can Sen. Blumenthal please explain why he wants war with Iran?:
A majority of senators now back new sanctions on Iran, complicating the Obama administration's efforts to avoid a vote on legislation it claims could derail nuclear talks. [...]

The bill calls for new sanctions if Iran reneges on its commitments under an interim deal reached last year or fails to agree to a final bill that would ban it from enriching uranium. The White House has threatened to veto the measure.

This bill is completely unneccessary and shows to the third world that the USA can not be trusted.  The current sanctions got Iran to the negotiating table.  That was their purpose, now please let President Obama and Sec. of State Kerry do the tough job of diplomacy.  If talks fail, then the Admin will recommend to Congress what is best to do.

I'm very disappointed that Sen. Blumenthal has decided to be a puppet of AIPAC and the neo-cons of the Israeli government.  Both want war with Iran, but the American people don't.  

At Cowgirl Blog of Montana, Cowgirl writes—Things Fall Apart—A Case Study in TEA Party Incompetence:
Cowgirl of Montana logo
TEA party excels at manipulating the republican party, but are incompetent boobs when it comes to actually governing.  This shouldn’t be a surprise.  After all, the TEA Party mantra is that government can’t do the job.  So now that they are the government, they are in a bind. Even if they had the intellectual capacity to run things, to do so would actually undermine everything they claim to believe.

Case in point, Ravalli County. The Bitterroot is TEA Party ground zero these days.  The 100% GOP county commission has provided us with a striking case study of TEA Party fiscal management in action.

County documents uncovered in a public records request  by the Bitterroot Star “paint a picture of systematic failures on the part of the treasurer’s office” since county commissioners appointed a new treasurer four months ago.  The Star found a somewhat dizzying array of examples of late or unmade payments and bills, uncollected taxes, backlogs, oddities, tens of thousands of checks stuffed in drawers, and unanswered verification requests from cities, schools, and fire departments.

At Plunderbund of Ohio, Abe writes—Where Does The GOP Go When It Has Stripped The Poor Of All Benefits?:
As gung-ho Republicans persist in turning America into a Hooverville for the poor – and quite likely, eventually the middle class – the party that unabashedly claims Lincoln, Cruz, Limbaugh and Jesus as its lode stars is now facing a serious threat to its own existence.
Plunderbund blog logo
Where does it go, Dear Reader, when it has stripped the last social benefit from the desperately impoverished family that will leave nothing more for the party to take away?

No more food stamps. No more unemployment benefits. No health insurance. No heating allotments. All of these folks picked clean as a holiday turkey. [...]

When the end comes and the poor are no longer useful to them, what new plan can the conservative partisans on Capitol Hill concoct to advance their ghoulish electoral ambitions?

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