At Blue Oregon, Kari Chisholm writes—Rachel Maddow: There is not a state GOP anywhere "that is more bizarre" than Oregon's:
At Keystone Politics of Pennsylvania, Jon Geeting writes—#PAGov Shorter Corbett: Giving Me Fancy Presents Helps the Entire State: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.
There's more excerpts if you read below the orange gerrymander.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.
At Montana Cowgirl, Cowgirl writes—VanDyke's Day in Court: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 Bold Nebraska, Mark Hefflinger writes—July 19: Join the Great March for Climate Action in Nebraska: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 Cottonmouth of Mississippi, Ryan Brown writes—The Return of Phil Bryant's Nuclear Waste: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 MN Progressive Project, Eric Ferguson writes—Scott Newman to run for Attorney General: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 Capital & Main of California, Gary Cohn writes—Backroom Fix: How Eight Democrats Denied Health Plans to Hundreds of Thousands of Californians: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 Blue in the Bluegrass, Yellow Dog writes—Privatization Kills: Detainees Are Slave Labor in Private Prisons: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.
Erik Loomis asks: What 13th Amendment?At Show Me Progress of Missouri, Blue Girl writes—#YesAllWomen -- Because it Happens to Every Woman:
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:
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.
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.”
At Uppity Wisconsin, Jud Lounsbury writes—That Awkward Moment When Walker Put Sex Offenders on the Same Footing as Same Sex Couples: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 RI Future.org, Frymaster writes—Larry Summers: It’s not the rich, it’s the ROBOTS!: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.)
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.
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:
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.
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.