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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 be watching. Inclusion of a diary does not necessarily indicate my agreement or endorsement of its contents.

At Blue Oregon, Kari Chisholm writes—Rachel Maddow: There is not a state GOP anywhere "that is more bizarre" than Oregon's:

Blue Oregon
Oh boy, here we go. MSNBC's Rachel Maddow has discovered all the weird and crazy people that populate Republican politics in Oregon. As she put it, we've got an "unexpectedly high wackadoo factor".

Maddow's money quote: "I do not think it is appreciated broadly enough just how weird Oregon Republican politics have gotten." We know, Rachel, we know.

It starts, of course, with our very own rich crazy person, the Las Vegas sexual hypnotist Loren Parks. Among other things, Maddow has done us all the service of watching all of his crazy hypnosis videos and excerpting the best (worst) parts. Including the one where he sounds a buzzer on YouTube that will apparently help you lose weight. [...]

Maddow also takes note of Art Robinson's bizarre jihad against Peter DeFazio and his recent urine collection efforts. Which would make him sort of eccentric weirdo loner, except that the Oregon GOP elected him their chairman.

At Keystone Politics of Pennsylvania, Jon Geeting writes—#PAGov Shorter Corbett: Giving Me Fancy Presents Helps the Entire State:
Keystone politics
When a lobbyist gives a black lawmaker a Tiffany bracelet, PA Republicans are scandalized. But when Tom Corbett and his wife get a vacation aboard a businessman’s yacht in Rhode Island, or some sweet New Balance kicks and a dagger of unknown value, they have no problem with that.

And now that some mean ethics reformers want to ban gifts, Republicans are bristling. Their grift, you see, helps the whole state. [...]

If Tom Corbett thinks his junkets out of state are justifiable as economic development spending (which, lol) then they should be funded by the Executive Branch, not private businesses.

The travel expenses could potentially be justified, but how much of that $13,500 in “gifts and hospitality” from the Team PA Foundation was the plane ticket and hotel, and how much of it went to Corbett and friends boozing it up at fancy restaurants with local dignitaries? We don’t know.

There's more excerpts if you read below the orange gerrymander.

At Delaware Liberal, Delaware Dem writes in his —Wednesday Open Thread:

Delaware Liberal
Yesterday, I posted the Gallup poll showing that Americans now support marriage equality by 55 to 42%. Digging deeper into that poll, we find a massive generational gap. Basically, the old people are just plain bigoted towards gays. Once they die off, we are all going to wonder why this was ever an issue. We are going to laugh at those opposing marriage equality the same way we mock opponents of interracial marriage.

Indeed, 61% of younger Republicans support marriage equality, according to Gallup. So that means that soon, within the next 10 years, the GOP platform and all GOP candidates will be pro-marriage equality as well. If they aren’t, not a single Republican anywhere will win an election. Well, maybe in Utah …

So, the war is lost for the radical Christianists who seek to turn America into a theocracy. Or is it?

At Montana Cowgirl, Cowgirl writes—VanDyke's Day in Court:
Cowgirl of Montana logo
In the coming days, the Supreme Court will rule on whether Lawrence VanDyke, a lawyer who previously worked at the Montana Attorney General’s office, will be allowed to continue his candidacy for Supreme Court justice. VanDyke’s candidacy was voided by a lower court decision a couple of weeks ago.

VanDyke’s troubles arise from his decision, made a few years ago, to leave the state and suspend his status as a fully licensed attorney in Montana so that he could go to Texas for a few years to practice law there. The Montana constitution, alas, says anyone running for justice of the Supreme Court must have been admitted to the practice of law in Montana during the five years preceding the candidacy. VanDyke was sued by a group of Montana constitution convention delegates who say he is ineligible. If VanDyke prevails on appeal, he will face off against the incumbent justice Mike Wheat. Wheat is a democrat; VanDyke is a right wing nutjob of the first order. He believes, among other things, that creationism should be taught in public schools as a scientific theory and in Michelle Bachmann-esque “pray away the gay” conversion therapy.

The clause in the Montana Constitution requiring five consecutive years of successive practice in the Montana legal system prior to running for Supreme Court Justice was put there for a reason: we must know that a person has practiced law in a legitimate arena.

At Bold Nebraska, Mark Hefflinger writes—July 19: Join the Great March for Climate Action in Nebraska:
Bold Nebraska
The Great March for Climate Action will be traveling through Nebraska this summer, and you can join them on Saturday, July 19.

From the organizers: “The goal of the Great March for Climate Action is to change the hearts and minds of the American people, our elected leaders and people across the world to act now to address the climate crisis.”

The marchers set out on March, 1, 2014 from Los Angeles, and will travel on foot 3,000 miles across the country to Washington, D.C.

The march organizers contacted Bold Nebraska to say they wanted their journey to include a visit to the renewable energy-powered barn we built on land directly in the path of Keystone XL, and we are excited to announce this collaboration.

The day will see landowners, tribes and citizens joining climate change advocates to highlight the science that tells us why President Obama must reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

At Cottonmouth of Mississippi, Ryan Brown writes—The Return of Phil Bryant's Nuclear Waste:
Cottonmouth of Mississippi
It's been a few months since we last heard a story about plans to store nuclear waste in Mississippi. After what seemed to be some unease about storage in the state, the nuclear storage mess is back. [...]

Let's connect the dots again.

Phil Bryant went to France and Brazil to visit with nuclear energy officials, Bryant then got it in his head that nuclear storage would be good for Mississippi, Haley Barbour also thinks nuclear waste storage in Mississippi is a good idea, GOP politico Andy Taggart said it was a bad idea, Bryant went ahead with the plans anyway.

Bryant needs federal legislation to help push his plans forward, yet we have not received any indication how Mississippi's very own Sen. Cochran feels about this issue. In fact, we have not heard how Cochran feels about much these days. Don't expect Haley and Phil to push Thad on the issue with only a week remaining in a very nasty GOP primary for the Senate seat. There really could be a meltdown.

At MN Progressive Project, Eric Ferguson writes—Scott Newman to run for Attorney General:
MN Progressive Project
Well, I suppose the MNGOP has to run someone for state Attorney General. If you’ve heard of State Sen. Scott Newman for anything, it’s likely for telling constituents to get lost if they didn’t support his election. You might know him for bringing us the photo ID amendment. Maybe, if your memory is really good, you recall that Newman was so enthusiastic about shutting down the state government in 2011 (yes, MNGOP, that was your doing, and DFL, don’t let the voters forget), that he sued to prevent even the most crucial functions from continuing, including emptying the prisons so we wouldn’t have to pay the guards. Perhaps, following up on the only real illegal voting found during the photo ID debate, where former felons voted or registered before they were eligible, you recall Newman blocked an effort to inform felons of their voting status. Apparently “election integrity” is so important to him, that he prefers people have to guess at their eligibility.

I know the Republicans have to run someone, but I hope this isn’t the best they’ve got. Are they really about to stick themselves with an AG candidate who thinks he serves only those who supported his election when as the state’s lawyer, he’s supposed to serve all of us; who wanted to shut down the government so badly that even public safety had to stop, in an unusual position for an AG; who wants to stop voting by those he disagrees with so badly, that he tried to put restrictions on voting rights in the state constitution, and then he blocked a simple way to clear up the only real illegal voting? The Republicans aren’t nominating an attorney general: they’re nominating a saboteur.

At Capital & Main of California, Gary Cohn writes—Backroom Fix: How Eight Democrats Denied Health Plans to Hundreds of Thousands of Californians:
state blogs. Capital & Main, a California blog
According to Anthony Wright, executive director for Health Access California, a statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, AB 880 was “first and foremost a way of getting people coverage. This was a commonsense policy—it expanded access to coverage, leveled the playing field for employers and increased funding to improve the health care system we all rely on.”

But now the bill, which required two-thirds passage in the Assembly and Senate, was in deep trouble. What left Araby incredulous wasn’t the predictable Republican opposition. The Democrats, who were carrying AB 880, owned a supermajority in both houses of the legislature. And even though the bill had made the California Chamber of Commerce’s dreaded Job Killer list, this had seemed to be one battle the Chamber would lose.

Although failure to enact AB 880 would not result in workers who were already enrolled in Medi-Cal losing that coverage, its passage would have prodded large companies to provide medical care for those low-income workers and their families who were not on Medi-Cal. It would have also helped correct an inequity by requiring such companies – and not taxpayers – to shoulder the burden of their employees’ health care. Defeat of AB 880 would allow large companies to cut the hours—and thus, incomes—of their most vulnerable employees. [...]

The eight Democrats who helped defeat AB 880 included Fresno’s Henry Perea, the leader of a somewhat nebulous group known as the Assembly Moderate Caucus. Perea abstained on the final vote but worked behind the scenes to turn Democrats against the bill. His compatriots included four lawmakers who together had received more than $549,000 in contributions and independent expenditures from the California Chamber of Commerce’s political action committees. The money had rolled in just before their freshmen victories in the 2012 election. Three of the four—Tom Daly of Anaheim, Adam Gray of Merced and Cheryl Brown of San Bernardino—voted No on AB 880. Raul Bocanegra of Pacoima abstained—a passive gesture that would prove just as effective as a No vote. Three other Democrats also abstained—Rudy Salas of Bakersfield, Steve Fox of Lancaster and Al Muratsuchi of Torrance.

At Blue in the Bluegrass, Yellow Dog writes—Privatization Kills: Detainees Are Slave Labor in Private Prisons:
Erik Loomis asks: What 13th Amendment?

Outstanding Ian Urbina story on the exploitation of people held in immigrant detention centers. The immigration detention system serves as a nearly unpaid labor force thanks to the privatized prison companies controlling the prisons:

Blue in the Bluegrass
Last year at least 60,000 immigrants worked in the federal government’s nationwide patchwork of detention centers—more than worked for any other single employer in the country, according to data from United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE. The cheap labor, 13 cents an hour, saves the government and the private companies $40 million or more a year by allowing them to avoid paying outside contractors the $7.25 federal minimum wage. Some immigrants held at county jails work for free, or are paid with sodas or candy bars, while also providing services like meal preparation for other government institutions.

Unlike inmates convicted of crimes, who often participate in prison work programs and forfeit their rights to many wage protections, these immigrants are civil detainees placed in holding centers, most of them awaiting hearings to determine their legal status. Roughly half of the people who appear before immigration courts are ultimately permitted to stay in the United States — often because they were here legally, because they made a compelling humanitarian argument to a judge or because federal authorities decided not to pursue the case.

“I went from making $15 an hour as a chef to $1 a day in the kitchen in lockup,” said Pedro Guzmán, 34, who had worked for restaurants in California, Minnesota and North Carolina before he was picked up and held for about 19 months, mostly at Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. “And I was in the country legally.”

It's almost too easy to make the case that corporations - a form of business disdained by the Founders, who refused to countenance their existence in the Constitution - are the source of virtually all the evil in this country today, and the primary anti-democratic force undermining our republic.
At Show Me Progress of Missouri, Blue Girl writes—#YesAllWomen -- Because it Happens to Every Woman:
Show Me Progress, state blog
The first time I experienced sexual violence, I didn't tell anyone. The perpetrator was the uncle of one of my classmates and I was sixteen. I lived in a windswept farm town of less than 500 people, and I would have died of shame if anyone had known about the sex...the beating he gave me was secondary, I was less concerned about the bruises that I knew would heal than I was about the sex. I couldn't un-fuck him. I really thought I was going to die that night and I couldn't believe he let me out of the car to go pee. I didn't go back to the car - I ran home - through back alleys and hiding behind shrubbery...knowing that every time I saw headlights it was him and if he saw movement he would know it was me. I was sobbing as I slipped in the back door and down the hallway to my bathroom. I ran a bath and I soaked, running the water out and fresh, hot water in at least three times before I got out and I never told anyone. Ever. The bruises healed and faded, the memory did not, and I eventually confronted him and realized just how pathetic and small he was. Raping a cheerleader in 1979 was the peak of his power - and I went on to lap him so many times at life that it's hilarious to think about from the vantage point of 35 years out. The first thing I did when I got home was load the shotgun and keep it at arms length. I do know this all those years later - if he had come into my home that night or any other, I would have shot him dead. [...]

I went on to college. I met my husband, I got married, had kids and had a career. And all along the way, I've been the object of unwanted sexual attention that has ranged from the unwanted, unwelcome comment that made me feel denigrated and devalued as a human being to the groping/pawing/pressing a whole body against/blocking the hallway between the ladies room and the bar where I left my friends. I actually look forward to the day it doesn't, but Nana says there are still letches in the nursing home, so maybe I'll be fending the bastards off forever.

At Uppity Wisconsin, Jud Lounsbury writes—That Awkward Moment When Walker Put Sex Offenders on the Same Footing as Same Sex Couples:
Uppity Wisconsin state blog
Everyone is aglow with the idea that Governor Scott Walker is changing his tune on same sex marriage—or at least willing to look the other way—because 100% of his attention is on jobs.  (Luckily gay people don't work or employ people.)

Child, please.

This is the same Scott Walker that promised to maintain state aide to public schools and negotiate with public sector unions and then made the biggest cut to education and killed public sector unions after he got elected.  

This is also the same Scott Walker that has been one of the most virulently anti-gay politicians in the country.  He's compared gay marriage to pedophilia and incest.  And in 2009, in a criticism of then-Governor Jim Doyle, he put those seeking to see their loved one in the hospital on the same footing as those on the state's sexual offender registry. [...]

I genuinely hope Walker changes his view and joins a majority of Wisconsinites in support of gay marriage, but until he actually does or says something of substance, he doesn't deserve any credit for changing his bigoted views.

At RI, Frymaster writes—Larry Summers: It’s not the rich, it’s the ROBOTS!:
The popularity of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century has conservatives and economic elites in a bit of lather. As they try to refute an economic reality that has become obvious to most everybody, they end up making some transparently deceptive arguments.

Take Larry Summers, who headed up the US Treasury Department at the end of the Clinton Administration and has served as a top economic advisor to Barack Obama. This PBS News Hour piece in which Piketty refutes the criticisms quotes Summers, saying:

Even where capital accumulation is concerned, I am not sure that Piketty’s theory emphasizes the right aspects. Looking to the future, my guess is that the main story connecting capital accumulation and inequality will not be Piketty’s tale of amassing fortunes. It will be the devastating consequences of robots, 3-D printing, artificial intelligence, and the like for those who perform routine tasks. Already there are more American men on disability insurance than doing production work in manufacturing. And the trends are all in the wrong direction, particularly for the less skilled, as the capacity of capital embodying artificial intelligence to replace white-collar as well as blue-collar work will increase rapidly in the years ahead.
This argument is specious in the extreme. It says, in essence, “It’s not that elites like me are accumulating all this wealth; it’s that the ROBOTS are making us accumulate all this wealth.” Summers would have us think that robots are marching in from Robotland and taking over factories in some evil plot to destroy the middle class.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Who does Larry think owns and builds the robots? (18+ / 0-)

    It sure as shit isn't the poor.

    No War but Class War

    by AoT on Sat May 31, 2014 at 08:11:34 AM PDT

  •  But Robots are the capital overhang in action (8+ / 0-)

    The rich have all this surplus cash.  It's not nearly as tax-efficient as it used to be to spend it on labor.  So, build a factory that runs on robots.  Simple.

    Technology doesn't drive itself.  It needs customers.

  •  Larry Summers Jedi Mime Trick (9+ / 0-)

    We aren't the droids you're looking for

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Sat May 31, 2014 at 08:28:16 AM PDT

  •  Wackadoo factor? Yup. Take one named Truelove (5+ / 0-)

    who now sits in a Fairfax County jail.

    When a sign memorializing a 7-year-old victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was stolen in Connecticut, an outraged reporter in Los Angeles penned an open letter calling out the thief earlier this month.

    What Chez Pazienza said he never expected was that the thief would respond. In a phone call, Pazienza said Andrew Truelove explained his theory that the massacre never happened and he had stolen the sign and a second for another victim in New Jersey.

    Pazienza called the number and was soon talking with the man, who did not identify himself as Trulove. The man did talk about conspiratorial touchstones like The Illuminati and Bohemian Grove. Pazienza claimed the man said CNN — Pazienza’s former employer — was ushering in the The New World Order.
    They'er out there.

    The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

    by pelagicray on Sat May 31, 2014 at 08:30:35 AM PDT

  •  I just will not B cynical Bcuz GOP tries to... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat its fellow man.
    You know, dear reader, that a recent study showed that a significantly higher percentage of cynics put themselves at risk of developing Alzheimers than non cynics.

  •  MB - excellent collection this week - eom (5+ / 0-)
  •  What you have to understand about Summers (5+ / 0-)

    Is that his great pride is his gift of rhetoric - his personal idea of himself is as the brilliant silver tongued genius who is so much smarter than everybody else that he can talk them into (or out of) anything.

    You can not rely on anything he says.
    Is he smart? Very.
    Does he have any moral integrity? No.
    It's all about Larry all the time.
    Sure looks like a variation of narcissistic personality disorder.

  •  We've got a GOP nutcase in Hawai'i (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TKO333, JeffW, Eric Nelson, Puddytat

    David Crowley (he has given himself the name Kawika which is the Hawaiian translation of David) ran against Tulsi Gabbard on the platform of...wait for it.... allowing smoking in bars.

    That's his only issue.

    This sloppy, cigar-chomping, homeless guy got 18% of the vote!!!

    Which tells you the general IQ and political awareness of Hawaii's Republicans.

  •  Old person (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pelagicray, JeffW, Eric Nelson
    Basically, the old people are just plain bigoted towards gays.
    Change 'old people' to black, women, hispanic or gay and see how it plays.

    Yeah we all look the same.

    I support application of Common Core Standards to Congressmen.

    by Wood Gas on Sat May 31, 2014 at 09:44:30 AM PDT

  •  The difference between the crazy Oregon GOP (8+ / 0-)

    and the crazy GOP elsewhere: in Oregon, the crazy GOP is not in power, except in local districts.

    And dear Goddess help us keep it that way.

    And God said, "Let there be light"; and with a Big Bang, there was light. And God said "Ow! Ow My eyes!" and in a flash God separated light from darkness. "Whew! Now that's better. Now where was I. Oh yea . . ."

    by Pale Jenova on Sat May 31, 2014 at 09:56:03 AM PDT

    •  Other than Loren Parks (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Leftleaner, Puddytat, Pale Jenova

      who used to be a home grown crazy until he moved to Nevada because he didn't want to pay taxes, do you think these out of state overlords are trying to buy a state on the cheap?  Since Portlandia made hipster culture the next great thing owning an Oregon politician may deliver chachet to people  amoral enough to run hedge funds and vain enough to star in a video about his winery.

      All the more reason to work to reelect Merkley (as if keeping Republicans away from the levers of government isn't enough.)

  •  Actually, Robots can be Blamed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jeff Simpson, Puddytat

    Robots are capital goods. If robots can be programmed to build more robots, then robots can have a negative depreciation rate. This means that the wealthy who owns robots can really accumulate a lot of capital.

    I'm writing a paper that I hope to submit to an economic journal currently entitled: Economic Science: From the Ideal Gas Law Economy to Piketty and Beyond.

    Economists don't like science analogies to economics, so I'll be surprised to find a journal willing to publish it. But I find that not only is r>g a factor in diverging wealth distributions, but minimum expenditure requirements and consumption satiation drive wealth inequality. The poor must spend almost of their wealth on just surviving, so they can't afford to invest in robots. Once the rich are satiated with consumption, they pour their resources into buying capital goods such as masterpiece paintings, antique cars,  real estate, hedge funds, businesses and robots.

    I conclude that an 80% tax on high incomes and redistribibuting to the pour may (and in my mind does) increase economic growth.

  •  Yeah, Rachel Maddow also cornered Art Robinson.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, Puddytat, Sonnet

    ..on another insane idea; (Robinson got pretty pissed of being challenged) ..that we should sprinkle nuclear waste into the oceans to get rid of it. But he didn't stop there. Robinson actually claimed, and tried to convince that a little dose of nuclear waste was good for you to build up resistance to it, or some such nonsense.

    I don't always agree with Rep. DeFazio (against coal but will tolerate "clean coal") but as a ranking  Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources he has many of the concerns that matter - imo

    But his work to stop the TPP makes is very good for this country.
    DeFazio Speaks Out Against Proposed Free Trade Agreement - Jan. 21, 2014 1:31 p.m.


    Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a proposed trade agreement being crafted by 12 Pacific Rim nations including the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Peru, and Chile.

    The TPP has com under fire in recent months. Based on documents made publicby WikiLeaks, critics have charged that the TPP would give broad, new powers to corporations; stifle freedom of expression on the internet by tightening copyright restrictions; and create barriers to the enforcement of environmental regulations.

    Thx MB

    And for the exposure of this from Blue in the Bluegrass:

    Last year, at least 60,000 immigrants worked in the federal government’s nationwide patchwork of detention centers — more than worked for any other single employer in the country, according to data from United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE. The cheap labor, 13 cents an hour, saves the government and the private companies $40 million or more a year by allowing them to avoid paying outside contractors the $7.25 federal minimum wage.
    It's almost too easy to make the case that corporations - a form of business disdained by the Founders, who refused to countenance their existence in the Constitution - are the source of virtually all the evil in this country today, and the primary anti-democratic force undermining our republic.

     - emphasis added

    cheap labor for corporations and demographics; the "conservative" party will never get honest on immigration reform - imo - they are too powned. We have to beat them

  •  Meh re: Summers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Puddytat, Edward Song
    Even where capital accumulation is concerned, I am not sure that Piketty’s theory emphasizes the right aspects. Looking to the future, my guess is that the main story connecting capital accumulation and inequality will not be Piketty’s tale of amassing fortunes. It will be the devastating consequences of robots, 3-D printing, artificial intelligence, and the like for those who perform routine tasks.
    It seems to me that Summers is fully acknowledging the problem here, and merely offering a more fine-grained diagnosis.  Agree or disagree with him (and, FFS, lefty analysts have been sounding the alarm on automation's deleterious effects on labor for decades), I don't see how this is an example of Summers standing up for the rich.
  •  Thanks for the weekly roundup (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sonnet, Edward Song, Eric Nelson

    Keep attention on the states.

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

    by Puddytat on Sat May 31, 2014 at 01:34:00 PM PDT

  •  Love Kari Chisholm at Blue Oregon (0+ / 0-)

    She has a lot of material to work with!

    The GOP--not even our own--"gets" Oregon or they could not try to unseat DeFazio with the same extreme Weirdo Art Robinson much less electing him to lead them. And to try to unseat Merkley who is the best senator in Washington is just a waste of their money. Particularly with this egotistic stalker Wehby.


    We have it within our power to make the world over again ~ Thomas Paine

    by occupystephanie on Sat May 31, 2014 at 05:07:29 PM PDT

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