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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 Left Hook of California, Louise Auerhahn writes—The Hourglass Economy is Real, Now What Do We Do About It?

Acknowledging the extremes of poverty and wealth in Silicon Valley may have been radical 15 years ago, but today even the business community issues reports highlighting the social and economic problems generated by the growing hourglass economy.
The question is no longer “Is the hourglass economy real?” We know that a third of households in the Valley do not earn enough to meet a basic self-sufficiency standard, and nearly a third of jobs in the Valley pay less than $16/hr. With homelessness spilling out from garages and car campers into riverbanks and public parks, the triple epidemics of underemployment, inadequate pay and soaring rents have become the Valley’s worst-kept secret.

The real question is: “What can we do about it?” At the community level, many of the reforms needed are out of our hands: establishing a national full employment policy, closing tax loopholes that favor outsourcing, reforming labor law, passing comprehensive immigration reform, transforming our trade policy into one that supports job creation rather than job destruction. Certainly we can advocate for our representatives to lead on these issues, but for most the real action is at the federal (or even global) level.

At Blue Hog Report of Arkansas, Matt Campbell writes—The Disgustingly Self-Serving Hypocrisy of Rep. Josh Miller:
Blue Hog Report
When I saw that the Arkansas House of Representatives voted yesterday, 76-24, to fund the Private Option for another fiscal year, I halfheartedly hoped that the extra “yes” vote might have been Rep. Josh Miller. After all, the filing period had ended, and Rep. Miller had neither a primary challenger nor a challenger in the general election.  Maybe, I thought, a lack of fear of losing his seat meant that Rep. Miller had finally come to his senses and had seen the hypocrisy in his “Medicaid for me, not for thee (at least if thee is poor)” position.

Instead, Miller remained a “no” in the final tally.

Now, just for all of the reasons detailed here, at the Arkansas Blog, and on MSNBC, Rep. Miller’s position would be troubling enough on its face. But I could think of some things that would look even worse. Say, for example, using your position as a legislator to make blatantly self-serving changes to the Medicaid law so that it’s easier for you to get the same coverage that you would deny to others.

Excerpts from more progressive state blogs can be found below the orange gerrymander.

At, Chet writes—Daunting Toxic Spills In Western North Dakota:

North Decoder
Check out this interactive map of all the oil and poison water spills that have happened and been disclosed in Western North Dakota over the past 13 years. You can zoom in and out on the map; I use the wheel-roller thingy on my mouse to zoom in and out. If you use your mouse to hover over the dots, you'll get a little information on each spill.  If you click on a dot, you'll get even more information.  Click on the link in the information box, and get even more information. [...]

Notice how close some of these spills are to Lake Sakakawea. Some are even IN the lake. Many are near tributaries to the lake and river.

If you live in Williston, Bismarck, Mandan or pretty much any other city along the lake or river, your drinking water likely comes from that water.

Kill some time poking around on the map while Wayne Stenehjem's oil company buddies kill the fish in our lakes. And us.

At Burnt Orange Report of Texas, Joseph Vogas writes—Extreme Social Conservatives Lead In All Races for Republican Nomination of Statewide Offices:
On Wednesday, The New York Times declared the Republican establishment beat the TEA Party because John Cornyn and Greg Abbott won their primaries. While Greg Abbott, John Cornyn, and George P. Bush cruised past minor league opponents to secure their own nominations, they were the exceptions to the overall trend across Texas. In truth, the most extreme social conservatives, often backed by Michael Quinn Sullivan and Empower Texans, lead in their races for statewide office.

Burnt Orange Report
The race for Lieutenant Governor had establishment favorite, incumbent David Dewhurst finish in a very distant second place to State Senator Dan Patrick. Sen. Patrick, a conservative talk radio host, has been a constant advocate against most progressive issues but has taken his strongest stances towards privatizing the education system and against immigration and gay rights. Despite pleas from his hometown Houston Chronicle to vote for anyone but Dan Patrick, Patrick lead the Republican field with 41.45% of the vote. Dewhurst finished in second with 28.31% of the vote. Also-rans Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples got 17.76% of the vote and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson got 12.47%.

The other major statewide offices, Attorney General, Comptroller, Agriculture Commissioner, and Railroad Commissioner,  followed the precedent set by the Lieutenant Governor's race where the most extreme social conservative lead in Tuesday night's voting.

At Keystone Politics of Pennsyvlania, Jon Geeting writes—#PAGov: Can Tom Corbett Really Spend His Way Out of Trouble?
Keystone politics
So in our race for Governor, you sometimes hear people say “Yeah Tom Corbett looks weak now, but wait til he starts spending all that Gasland money.”

And yes, that’s going to bring a lot of fake “independent” Republican voters home, but look at the fundamentals and you’ll see that he’s facing major headwinds.

Private sector job growth has been stalling out under the Republican policy regime, and public sector job growth looks even worse. Corbett closed a bunch of schools and forced local school districts to make up for his education cuts with property tax increases, because of unfunded state mandates and such. Even the bloody natural gas jobs are in free fall, and Corbett’s been trying his very best to make those. It’s all bad, and he’s gonna lose even with the cleverest ads.

At SC Prog Blog, Rev. Pat Jobe writes—Why did I get arrested?
The young, Latino police chief, Ruben Santiago, could not have been more polite, more professional, more thorough. “I’m giving you one more chance to get out of the road and back on the sidewalk. You understand you are breaking the law and are about to be arrested?”
SC Prog Blog
I will not soon forget the anger and frustration on the faces of the Capitol police, the black Smokey The Bear hats whose job it is to protect and assure smooth operations to the members of the General Assembly as they photographed us and ignored me when I said, “Thank you for being here. Thank you for your service.”

Had we chosen to disrupt the immoral actions of the General Assembly on its property, on the jurisdiction of the men in the black hats, we would have faced a possible $5,000 fine and three years in prison. By blocking the driveway on a Columbia city street, we faced a traffic ticket, handcuffs, a ride in a police car and about an hour of processing in police headquarters. We also have a court date of March 28.

There are so many vignettes, so many questions, so many stories to tell but I think I’m out of bed at five in the morning because of the questions. Why did we do it? The refusal of the legislature and the governor to take billions in new Medicaid money is dooming tens of thousands of poor people to less than the best medical care available to their wealthier neighbors. We have medicine that saves lives. In many cases, an estimated 1,300 this year in South Carolina, the result will be death.

People are going to die.

At Plunderbund of Ohio, David DeWitt writes—What ALEC Has Planned For Ohio In 2014: Hurt School Districts And More Tax Cuts For The Wealthy:
Well it sure is nice of the radical right to provide a blueprint of at least part of their agenda this year. This way we know exactly what the crazy-and-dangerous soup du jour shall be in 2014.
Plunderbund blog logo
Koch Brother Industries’ pet model legislation agency, ALEC, over the last couple of years, has given us through our various state legislatures everything from attacks on collective bargaining (Senate Bill 5), to the Stand Your Ground laws, to “right-to-work,” to disenfranchisement bills, to moves to privatize schools andprisons, to anti-environmental protection legislation.

In fact, when one thinks of the attacks in recent years on teachers, minorities, science, homosexuals, unions, consumer rights, and those struggling with poverty, it becomes much harder to think of an initiative in our various states without ALEC’s fingerprints on it somewhere.

This year, however, ALEC’s State Policy Network was kind (or, at least, incompetent) enough to leave us a little list.

In Ohio, ALEC’s initiatives are typically a somewhat toned-down version of whatever horrible tripe they are pushing in other, more-amenable states like North Carolina, Arizona, or Kansas.

At Uppity Wisconsin, Man MKE writes—What the hell's wrong with Paul Ryan: Now dissing parents of poor kids who get free school lunches:
Forwarding an email from the Democratic Party's 2014 congressional campaign committee. Makes my tummy ache:

Paul Ryan At CPAC: Free School Lunches Mean Poor Parents Don’t Care About Kids
We see Republicans say dumb stuff all the time—but what Paul Ryan said this morning really ticked us off:

Uppity Wisconsin state blog
As you know, the national school lunch program provides meals to kids who might otherwise go hungry. But according to Paul Ryan, it’s proof that poor families don’t care enough about their children to feed them.

Ryan’s despicable comments about poor families are a perfect example of Republicans’ backwards philosophy. It’s that kind of disregard for the poor and middle class that gets us radical Paul Ryan budgets that sell out seniors, the middle class, and the poor for more millionaire tax breaks.

But if you don't believe the Democratic Party, read the independent dispatch from Raw Story at the URL below. UPDATE: And now it turns out that the specific little-kid-with-a-lunch-bag story Ryan told to make this point at the CPAC session wasn't even true. See new, additional link below.

So, Congressman Grinch, tell us this: When you were receiving Social Security benefits as a teenager after the death of your father (god rest his soul), did that mean your mother didn't care about you? I'm serious. There's a logic thread in there, somewhere -- if you're serious, that is.

At ColoradoPols, Colorado Pols writes—Ain’t No Party Like a Tea Party Party: Gardner Really Needs Hill to Drop Out:
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week has some useful information on the Tea Party that may play a significant role in Colorado's GOP Senate primary.

Sean Sullivan at the Washington Post breaks down the relevant numbers. Yes, you've see this movie before, but it's worth noting that the Tea Party continues to be a problem for Republicans:

Colorado Pols state blog
By nearly 2-1, Republicans say a candidate's tea party affiliation makes it more likely they will vote for them, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. But by about the same margin, the broader pool of Americans is less likely to vote for that candidate.In short, it's generally a good idea for GOP candidates to embrace the tea party in a primary. But in swing districts and states, it's typically a bad one to do it—or at least to do it too much—in the general election.
This data is particularly relevant in the U.S. Senate primary between Rep. Cory Gardner and state Sen. Owen Hill. Prior to Gardner's entry into the GOP field last week, Hill had been racking up some pretty strong Tea Party endorsements. Of course, Gardner has been a darling of the Tea Party as well since his 2010 campaign for Congress in CD-4, and he has enthusiastically voted with Tea Party positions during his time in Congress. [...]

All of this leads to a fairly obvious conclusion: Gardner really needs Hill to drop out of the U.S. Senate race. Sure, Gardner would be favored to beat Hill in a GOP Primary, but at what cost?

At Delaware Liberal, Delaware Dem writes—Chris Coons is a coward.:
In one week, he has expressed an opinion about the Ukrainian crisis that should have come straight out of the mouth of Dick Cheney. [...]

Chris McCain:

On Ukraine: “I frankly think this is partly a result of our perceived weakness, because of our actions in Syria.”
Delaware Liberal
Yeah, you can go fuck yourself, Senator Coons. And that is my opinion before we even get to this:
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who is facing reelection this year and whose state sits within the Philadelphia media market, said he thought Adegbile was well-qualified for the position, but was concerned that he would face “visceral opposition from law enforcement on his first day on the job,” citing the opposition to his nomination by several law enforcement organizations.
You, Chris Coons, are a coward. You face no opposition in your race for reelection. None. Literally. No one is stepping up to challenge you. And even if they did, and attacked you over this vote to approve this nominee, all you had to do is say that Adegbile is well qualified for the position and that his representation of Mumia was on constitutional issues after he was already convicted. And even still, are you not principled enough to stand up for the AMERICAN and CONSTITUTIONAL notion that every citizen, no matter what they are charged with, no matter their alleged crime, deserves a day in court and deserves representation by legal counsel? Are you that chickenshit to deny this basic right?

I am ashamed to have voted for you.

At Cottonmouth of Mississippi, Matt Eichelberger writes—Mississippi Baptists working legislators to pass "Turn the Gays Away" bill:
Dr. Jimmy Porter, director of the Mississippi Baptist Convention-affiliated Christian Action Commission, wrote legislators this weekend asking them to pass SB2681, the Mississippi copycat of Arizona's "turn gays away" legislation.
Cottonmouth of Mississippi
The email, reproduced below, was accompanied by a letter endorsing the bill from a few law school professors to Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton). The letter stands for the highly conservative position that since the state constitution already provides the protections established by SB2681, passing another new law couldn't hurt. (If there was a sarcasm font, I'd have used it in the preceding sentence.) By the way, the letter was written on the letterhead of University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, who has done everything from defend the right of religious leaders to sacrifice small animals during ceremonies to advocate for same-sex marriage. I wonder if Dr. Porter knew all of that before he shared the letter?

Anyway, here's the email.  WWJD, y'all?

[...]In fact, the Bible states "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" and that "God is not one to show partiality" (Gal 3:28, Acts 10:34). Furthermore, the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title II, clearly prevents any discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations. Anyone who says this bill is about discrimination is not being honest, even deceptive, or they do not fully understand the intent of this bill. The days of denying the legality of a person's civil rights is over and should have never have happened in the first place.[...]
At Progress Illinois, Ellyn Fortino writes—New Report Finds Gaps In Educational Supports For Illinois Homeless Students:
state blogs, Progress Illinois
The number of homeless students in Illinois has ballooned over recent years with many of these children and youth unable to access vital educational supports, according to a new survey and report from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

Given the recent findings, housing advocates say it is crucial that the state restore funding for the education of students with unstable homes.

"We’ve got this exploding population, but yet districts don’t have sufficient resources to adequately serve them," said Patricia Nix-Hodes, associate director of the law project at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

Updated figures from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) show that public schools across the state identified 54,892 homeless students during the 2012-2013 school year. That is up 109 percent since 2009, according to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless' report, “Gaps in Educational Supports for Illinois Homeless Students.”

Nix-Hodes said the uptick is likely tied to the sluggish economy and the high rate of foreclosures in the area.

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Comment Preferences

  •  tea party (9+ / 0-)

    In high school I was taught the word jingoism-- basically, flag over truth.  The Tea Party is running with that--and our population is pretty dumb--about half the citizens don't believe in evolution and think Ronald Reagan a saint.  Using facts and science won't convince these people.  Economics is the best path to their loyalties.  Minimum wage is good--but bringing up the past--George W Bush--his wars and his economy--is the best tonic.  I want every Dem candidate --for anything--to bring up the fear of another W attack.

    Actions speak louder than petitions.

    by melvynny on Sat Mar 08, 2014 at 08:10:45 AM PST

    •  People aren't dumb, they're propagandized (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson, LinSea

      Corporate media has been feeding the masses disinformation for far too long.  It's straight from the playbook:  the bigger the lie, the more often you repeat it, the more people believe it.

      When oil company funded "scientists" are allowed to create doubt using the same strategy employed by the tobacco companies with cigarettes "don't cause cancer" because "we can't be certain" and that's what's fed to busy people, it's what they believe.  Ditto evolution, trickle down economics, public schools are bad and public workers are lazy moochers, the need for austerity, military spending is vital, rich people are "job creators", corporate taxes are too high, and every other BS idea that corporations want to sell us.

      The truth must not be reported by the TM because it's dangerous to corporations and the 1%.

      There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

      by Puddytat on Sat Mar 08, 2014 at 11:59:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Discrimination (6+ / 0-)

    So the Mississippi Baptists are using a letter that references the Civil Rights act of 1964 to try to prove their bill isn't about discrimination, because

    Furthermore, the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title II, clearly prevents any discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin in hotels, motels, restaurants, theaters, and all other public accommodations.
    Why? One of my favorite SCOTUS decisions is Happersett v Minor (1875) because it said the 15th amendment only forbids discrimination by race, not on ANY other grounds (this time, it was about gender). In discrimination cases, if it's not there, the courts won't  find any penumbras to get it there.


  •  Great series - thank you for doing this (4+ / 0-)

    Reading the Why Did I Get Arrested article... makes me stop for another moment to thank our lucky stars that our own Gov Jan Brewer not only agreed to take the medicaid expansion money for Arizona -- she actually forced the republican legislature, who wanted to reject it, to pass the law necessary for Arizona to accept it. I was so surprised and happy she did that... I still almost can't believe it. Who knew she had it in her?

    What I just cannot understand is the thinking of the republicans who want to refuse it, and let people go without medical care. It's just unfathomable and I hope the voters in those states are able to do something about it. Believe me I know how hard that can be in some places. Good thoughts to the people fighting everywhere for what is right.

  •  Ashamed to have voted for Coons? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, Eric Nelson, LinSea

    I'd be ashamed of his vote re the DoJ nominee, and I hope voters give him a lot of stick for that.... for years.

    However, ashamed to have vote for him? Do people wish they had O'Donnell in place instead? Surely not.  Give him hell and make him behave better.

  •  very interesting to learn (6+ / 0-)

    about Chris Coons. Great interactivemap of the ND oil spills. All the rest of the headlines are too depressive to me to read right now. But I get the importance of this series. Great job, MB.

  •  Thanks again for the weekly dose (5+ / 0-)

    of good for us state news.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Sat Mar 08, 2014 at 12:02:22 PM PST

  •  The Delaware Liberal got to the heart of it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northerntier, LinSea

    Not this..

    All Republicans and a handful of Democrats voted to sink Debo Adegbile’s nomination to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The overriding reason for their opposition was that he once represented Mumia Abu-Jamal, a death row inmate convicted 30 years ago of killing a Philadelphia police officer.
    It's not really about defending Abu-Jamal. That was the spin put out by the RWNJ's. It is about The VRA, and the fact that Debo Adegbile was the head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education.

    ..But this:

    And Section 2 is still a viable workaround to the gutted Section 5 provision that I'd bet Adegbile would make good use of to force pre-clearance on the states that have earned that scrutiny, a history of segregation and discrimination in fact.  
    It's the ongoing on GOP's national campaign of voter suppression

    Plus Debo Adegbile has twice come up before the SCOTUS in defense of civil rights cases

    ..and was the only African American to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court last term. But the same qualities that make Adegbile extraordinarily qualified is what could make Senate confirmation treacherous. He fought for civil rights.
     Among the items on Adegbile’s resume are his two-time defense of the Voting Rights Act before the U.S. Supreme Court. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has pledged to defend what’s left of that act vigorously, and the person who leads the Civil Rights Division would lead the fight to make that happen.
    For any Dem to chicken out, and buy use the fake Syria "weakness" story or the "cop killer" crap almost guarantees future loss after loss on important issues.

     And what could be more important than re-defeating Jim Crow?

    P.S. I notice that Coons has changed to Syria as the excuse instead of the complete BS excuse of "defending a cop killer" story -  deplorable

    Thx MB


    •  The "Hour Glass Economy" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades, LinSea
      Hourglass Economy is an economy that produces more upper and lower classes, causing a decline in the middle class.
      by the Left Hook description is good and so is cap & trade (pdf) advocacy but unions (pdf) should top the list - imo

      With a platform of protecting pollution industries, privatizing/commoditizing public education to siphon off $$$ for profit, and creating a two tiered educational system which will hurt not just inner city kids but rural communities as well who aren't rich, Dems have lots of issues to work with here.

       A lot of republican voters could be moved to choose between the discrimination promoted in the GOP agenda or be made to take another look at whether they themselves may just be the next to be homeless and in need if they continue to support a party that clearly & demonstrably (if Dems fight hard on what Dems have to offer by comparison - that is) has zero interest in a strong well paid middle class - of any skin color

      good round up MB

       - kind of a downer though watching the resurgence on so many issues that all somehow tie to segregation @ the core - a GOP fabricated dividing line at the middle class level between workers - which needs to be redrawn in peoples minds to where that line actually exists in the reality of the policies pushed by the republican party; people/workers/labor vs rentiér class/ownership/ the corpo-pseudo-suppliers of the cash we workers earned for them  

  •  Thanks for highlighting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    northerntier, LinSea

    that BOR post regarding the outcome of the Texas GOP Primary Election.

    Ted Cruz beat David Dewhurst in the 2012 primary runoff, and we all know how that turned out.

    Dan Patrick is every bit as bad as Cruz, if not worse, and it is quite possible that he will defeat Dewhurst in this runoff.

    But the media has preferred to focus on Wendy Davis' not getting record turnout in the primary, even though everyone with any sense knows that that race was not contested statewide. Most of the voters I spoke with here didn't even know that she had an opponent.

    "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

    by nomandates on Sat Mar 08, 2014 at 03:03:44 PM PST

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