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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 mn progress project, TwoPuttTommy writes—Why Sheila Kihne Lost, In A Nutshell:

MN Progressive Project
Last night was Primary Night in Minnesota, and far-right extremist Sheila Kihne lost her challenge to unseat an incumbent Republican State Representative. Ms. Kihne more than just derailed her Tea Party Express candidacy; she got trounced by 20 points. Yes, TWENTY POINTS.

In a last minute surprise for the B side of the Mn Senate District 48 Republican Convention, Kihne announced her challenge to incumbent State Rep Jenifer Loon on convention day last March. Kihne led in each and every round of endorsement balloting. After the fifth and final round, Kihne led 54% to 40% but did not reach the 60% threshold for endorsement.

That such a deeply flawed candidate could not only deny endorsement but almost win it herself at that Convention only shows how far right the Republican activists in Eden Prairie are. Much has been written on Kihne’s flaws. There’s no point in rehashing them here, or going into new ones that would have been brought up had won Kihne won. Sheila, as they say in the political world, is an opposition researcher’s dream come true.

At Miscellany Blue of New Hampshire, William Tucker writes—Former state Rep. Alciere: ‘Nominate libertarian extremists — or we sink the Republican Party’:
Republican House candidates report receiving a letter from former state Rep. Tom Alciere (R-Nashua) threatening to “sink the Republican Party” if the party fails to nominate “extreme libertarians.”

"Ron Paul Revolutionaries have proven that we can and will sink the Republican Party if our demand is not met," the letter read. "Nominate libertarian extremists, — or else!"

"To defeat the Democrats, the Republican Party must stand united, and Ron Paul Revolutionaries will never unite behind enemies of liberty," wrote Alciere. "You must unite behind libertarian extremists. Delay and denial will get you nowhere."

Alciere, you may remember, was forced to resign from the House in 2001 when his incendiary rhetoric advocating cop killings was made public. “There is nothing wrong with slaughtering a cop,” one of his messages read. “Just throw the carcass into the Dumpster with the rest of the garbage. Cops are nothing but vicious brutal thugs anyway.”

More excerpts from progressive state blogs can be found beneath the orange gerrymander.

At Mississippi Economic Policy Center, a member of the MEPC staff writes—Mississippi Uninsured Rate Continues to Remain High While Other States Fall:

Mississippi Economic Policy Center
A new survey is showing that the rate of Mississippians without insurance has declined slightly, while other states are seeing their rate fall by as much as half. The difference is to what level each state accepted the health care form law. The effects of the federal health care reform law are beginning to be measured. According to the survey by Gallup, Mississippi has the second highest rate of uninsured residents with 1 in 5 people lacking health insurance. However, other states like Arkansas, that fully embraced the federal health care reform law, have seen dramatic declines in the uninsured rate since the law took full effect this year. Dan Witters with Gallup says the ten states with the largest declines in the uninsured rate all choose to run their own insurance exchange and expand their Medicaid program…two options Mississippi rejected. “What you see is a rate that is less than half the decline that is seen national. So there are a lot of states that are seeing real movement in their uninsurance rate that Mississippi is not seeing thus far,” Witters said.
At Michigan Liberal, Grebner writes—Absentee Voting Data From the Primary:
I've put together a set of charts showing how quickly absentee ballots were returned, along with an examination of the characteristics of people who failed to return their ballot at all.

My goals:

1) Convincing everybody that people do not generally return their absentee ballots right away - the supposed rule of thumb that half the ballots are returned in the first week is completely bogus.  And

2) A very important and overlooked GOTV target should be voters who request a ballot but never actually return it.  Among some groups of voters, 15% or even 25% of their votes are lost, because campaigns fail to understand that the battle for votes isn't over when the ballot is requested, but only when it's filled out and returned.

Updated August 12, showing when ballots were returned according to when they were sent.

Chart #1 shows that people who fail to return their ballots tend to be political independents / ticket-splitters. The strong partisans are driven by their clear opinions to make sure their voices are heard.  The conflicted middle of the spectrum includes a larger number of ditherers. [...]

Chart #2 shows that failing to return their ballot is mainly a problem among people who don't have much experience with absentee voting, especially people who have NEVER previously voted absentee.  This ought to be especially noted by the MDP which is constantly trying to convert Michigan's "absentee voting" laws into "early voting", by soliciting people who aren't traditional absentee voters to apply.  Even if they succeed, they ought to keep the pressure on, or else much of their effort will prove to be in vain.

At Blue Mass Group, Wharwood writes—The "Dirty Denier" of the Day: Scott Brown:
Blue Mass Group
In 2012, Massachusetts voters decided they didn’t like Senator Scott Brown’s loyalty to Big Oil and they voted him out of the Senate. This year, he’s back, but in New Hampshire, where he is trying to unseat Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

In May 2011, Senator Brown voted to protect billions in taxpayer subsidies to oil companies even though they were enjoying record profits. It was later revealed through FEC records that just two weeks before the vote, he had accepted contributions from Exxon, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips. In March 2012, Senator Brown again voted against ending the subsidies. Over his career, he has accepted $454,000 from the Oil and Gas industry. To put that in perspective, in 2012, Senator Brown received more money from the Oil and Gas industry than all but five other members of Congress (and more than all but two other Senators).

Not only did Senator Brown vote in May 2011 to keep giving billions of dollars to oil companies instead of using that money to reduce the deficit or invest in renewable energy, he also voted to weaken the oversight standards of offshore drilling operations. This was after the tragic 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and would have weakened oversight even beyond what was in place during that catastrophe.

When Senator Brown tried to explain away these unpopular pro-oil votes, he claimed (incorrectly) that “oil companies don’t get subsidies.” Our friends at the League of Conservation Voters explained why that is completely false.

At Show Me Progress of Missouri, WillyK writes—A rose by any other name ... or maybe not:
Show Me Progress, state blog
I just read about a tiny town in France called "La Mort aux Juifs," which translates to "Death to Jews" (h/t DailyKos). And the mayor is firm that the name won't be changed despite demands by the Simon Wisenthal Center: "Why change a name that goes back to the Middle Ages or even further? We should respect these old names." He also claim that "no one has anything against the Jews," evidently missing the actual point?

Does this situation sound familiar? Remember the Washington Redskins? Responding to suggestions that they change the team's name, the team's owner poohpoohed the hurt feelings or embarrassment it might engender, appealing to tradition to explain why he will "never" change the teams name:

After 81 years, the team name 'Redskins' continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come [...]

I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name. But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans too,"...  

It's hard to fault such cluelessness. What, indeed, does the name mean, especially to those it designates? What, in the larger picture, does it say about where we as Americans come from? It might just be those very considerations that prompted calls for the name to be changed.

In Wildwood here in Missouri, the justification for retaining a disturbing street name, 'Old Slave Road,' was, you guessed it, history. In spite of proposals to rename the street after a former slave born on the plantation that had occupied the site of Old Slave Road, and who later, as a free man, fought in the Union Army's Colored Infantry during the Civil War, locals and "outsiders" were not satisfied, and felt that they would be sacrificing "historical significance."

All of this deference to history and tradition sounds nice, but begs the question about why these particular, rather nasty historical precedents and traditions need to be preserved in ways that suggest that they are now neutral. Nor does changing these names in any way whitewash the historical record; it would simply signal that there has actually been a change in human sensibilities and that it's possible for us to rectify past errors and behave with sensitivity and civility in the public sphere.

At Intelligent Discontent of Montana, Don Pogreba writes—The Democratic Dilemma in the Senate Race: An Overview of the Field:
Intelligent Discontent, state blogs
I’ve got some thoughts about who I’d be most inclined to support for the Democratic Senate nomination—and I’d love to hear some comments here or privately suggesting who I should support—but I think the person the Democratic Party selects may end up being less important than the manner in which she is chosen and the response of those who support candidates for the job. That being said, here’s a little (sort of) review of the field.

The Uninterested

Love him or not, Schweitzer was the candidate who gave the Democrats the best chance to pull this race off. I would have loved to see Denise Juneau run, as long as she kept her position at OPI while she did it, but I understand the reasons for not running. I think you’ll see this list grow as the reality of the demands of this race become more clear.

The Pretender

There is no scenario under which the Democratic Party will select John Bohlinger, his late road to Missoula conversion notwithstanding. His incredibly negative campaign in the Senate primary and his demand for $10 million dollars and an army of volunteers are absurd on face, but especially for a candidate who was, four months ago, railing about the corrupting influence of money in politics to justify his inability to raise any money for his bid.

[Followed by: The Wonks; The Launchpad Candidates; The Idealists; The Dude; The Worst Case.]

At Nevada Progressive, atdnext writes—The Iraq Question:
At one point, it seemed like it was beginning to fade from our memory. It was becoming 'ancient history.' And with so much to worry about at home, why must we think about it again?

But now, Iraq is back in the news. Isis (or 'Islamic State') is on the move in Northern Iraq, and it may now have sights on Syria and Turkey as well. And now, fears are growing of a possible genocide in the region.

The US is moving back towards military engagement in Iraq. But before we debate what we should do there next, we must remember how we fell into this hot mess in the first place.

In October 2002, Congress voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq to combat the alleged stockpiling of "weapons of mass destruction" by then Iraqi Prime Minister Saddam Hussein. Before the vote, the Bush Administration made claims that Saddam Hussein was somehow involved in the September 11, 2001, (9/11) terrorist attack. There was never a formal declaration of war when the US led invasion began in March 2003. And after the invasion, it became painfully clear that there were no "weapons of mass destruction" prepared to be used against us ... And that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11.

After the invasion began, the Iraq War transformed from an allegedly "anti-terrorist operation" into some "armed humanitarian liberation of the Iraqi people". All of a sudden, our armed forces were in Iraq to initiate "regime change" and essentially force "democracy" at gunpoint.

At Ohio Daily, Derek K writes—Being locked out of the Statehouse ...:
I was one of thousands of Ohioans who was locked out of the Statehouse some three years ago. On a cold March day we came as citizens to urge our elected representatives to kill Senate Bill 5.

As I stood among police officers, fire fighters, teachers, other unions and supporters it was unbelievable to hear that the Statehouse doors were locked for security reasons. We were then told, by Republicans, that the doors were locked, because there were too many people in the Statehouse. None of this was true. The Republicans just didn't want to hear from the people.

Good Democrats opened side doors for many of the protesters. When I finally got a chance to go inside, it was unbelievable how empty the place was. We got to talk to a couple of representatives, but both of the people we talked to immediately shot us down. As the rally progressed we couldn't wait to turn our fire on John Kasich. And we couldn't wait to get to today, to have a fair debate on the issues, and hold John Kasich accountable for all of his lies and deceptions on SB5.

At Progress Illinois, Ellyn Fortino writes—Report: High Housing Costs Persist For Millions Of Americans, Renters Hit The Worst:
state blogs, Progress Illinois
The U.S. housing industry saw some progress in 2013 due in part to increased housing construction as well as rising home prices and sales, according to the annual State of the Nation’s Housing report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

Despite areas of improvement, however, the report found that homeownership rates are still trending downward, low-income households face persistent challenges finding affordable housing and millions of Americans continue to grapple with high housing costs.

More than a third of U.S. families and individuals, or 40.9 million households, were cost-burdened in 2012, meaning they payed more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Though the number of cost-burdened U.S. households in 2012 fell by 1.7 million from 2011, the figure is still up by more than 9 million since 2002, according to the report.

At Better Georgia, Bryan Long writes—Deal, Inc. Still Open for Business:
Better Georgia
“The Office of the Governor.”

Those are the words painted on the door to Gov. Deal’s office at the State Capitol.

But, the sign’s wrong.

It should read: “Nathan Deal, Inc.”

That’s right. From Congress, to the campaign trail, to the governor’s office, Nathan Deal has a shocking track record of using his public offices and positions for personal gain and for passing the cost along to taxpayers—a pattern that has repeatedly drawn the attention of state and federal investigators.

In 2010, Nathan Deal resigned from Congress to avoid further investigation into his use of his Congressional office, including using senior taxpayer-funded staff, to keep a lucrative state contract for his Gainesville junkyard.

The Office of Congressional Ethics released a 159-page report that found “substantial reason to believe” that Deal may have “improperly used his office to pressure Georgia officials.” But the office couldn’t hold Congressman Deal accountable because he had already packed up and left town.

The ink wasn’t dry on Nathan Deal’s resignation from Congress when he launched his 2010 campaign for Governor of Georgia.

He soon faced five ethics complaints, including allegations that campaign funds were funelled to companies owned by Gov. Deal, his top aides and members of his family.

Georgia’s top ethics chief prepared subpoenas to find out if this activity was criminal but she was thrown out of office before the subpoenas were issued.

At Bleeding Heartland of Iowa, desmoinesdem writes—Terry Branstad's misguided view of fighting for Iowa agriculture:
Speaking to a small crowd at the Iowa State Fair yesterday, Governor Terry Branstad said he was "proud as governor to have stood up for and fought for the interests of agriculture." You can watch the video on the Des Moines Register's website and read highlights in O.Kay Henderson's report for Radio Iowa or Jason Noble's summary for the Register:
He described his defense of Beef Products Inc. and its lean finely textured beef against charges that it was unhealthy "pink slime"; his support for wind energy; his efforts to maintain the current renewable fuel standard for ethanol content in gasoline; and his opposition to California chicken cage standards that could harm Iowa egg producers.
Bleeding Heartland
Branstad certainly was a vocal advocate for "pink slime," even depicting the product as some kind of superior health food. He's eager to defend one company's use of methods many consumers find repulsive, but I doubt the Terrace Hill chef is serving him many meals containing lean finely-textured beef.

Renewable energy advocates in Iowa would not characterize Branstad as a champion for wind. I've never heard of him lifting a finger to support "distributed generation" policies, which would benefit a much broader group of farmers and landowners than the large wind farms now dotting rural Iowa.

True, the governor has argued strenuously for maintaining the Renewable Fuels Standard, contradicting his usual stance against "big government regulations" and federal mandates. However, it's debatable whether the RFS is as important to Iowa's economy as some interest groups claim.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Progressive blog recommendation (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Odysseus, LinSea, divineorder, Puddytat

  •  "La Mort aux Juifs" and empathy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Looking at the responses from France, and then seeing how close the defense of the name of the Washington NFL team and the defense of "Old Slave Road" is to the response from France, makes me wonder if empathy is necessarily tied to identity issues for SOME "white" Christians.

    I hope it's no more than resistance to change, but I suspect  there's an element of wishful thinking in that.

    All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 08:19:48 AM PDT

  •  About the name-change debate (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea, Odysseus, divineorder, lissablack

    As a historian, I notice that during and after the American War of Independence, names got changed all over the place. "King's County" RI became (and still is) "Washington County." I'm sure there are examples throughout the former colonies.

    Names have assumptions deeply embedded in them. Just look at Derry/Londonderry, northern Ireland, which one news station has taken to calling "Stroke City" ("stroke" is British-speak for the diagonal slash-line, so they would say "Derry stroke Londonderry"). Or whether you use the term "Palestine." Which name you use signals where you stand.

    So the claims that "we've used this so long, we can't possibly change" are disingenuous. These are choices, just like flying the Confederate flag -- or the British flag, or the Irish Republic flag, or the Puerto Rican flag, or the Quebec provincial flag instead of the maple leaf.

  •  Progressive blog recommendation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Making sense of politics and events so the media doesn't have to..."

    "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." ~ George Orwell

    by fromcascadia on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 08:31:52 AM PDT

  •  great diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder, Puddytat, Eric Nelson

    I enjoyed this.  One of the blogs covered an issue in my area very well.  I will assume that the ones from other areas are just as reliable.

    More of this please.

  •  Regarding Tom Alciere .... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... in his 2001 election, I recall reading that one reason he won was that - in a race that drew little attention - the candidate names were listed in alphabetical order, and that helped put him over-the-top.

    "We should pay attention to that man behind the curtain."

    by Ed Tracey on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 08:51:29 AM PDT

  •  I hate to admit ti (0+ / 0-)

    ..but I'm leaning toward the "you broke it you own it" school of thought. (Thanks so terribly much, Dick Cheney.)

    We have an overabundance of overpriced ordinance and overly delusional dipshits who behead and crucify people for their God would probably appreciate being blown to smithereens and offal and a smattering of gray-matter for their promised 72 virgins.

    We'd be doing them a favor.

    Dear future generations: Please accept our apologies, We were roaring drunk on petroleum -Kurt Vonnegut

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 09:20:20 AM PDT

  •  Also regarding Tom Alciere in New Hampshire (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder, Eric Nelson, BeninSC

    Attached is an important blog post that speaks about Mr. Alciere in the larger context of libertarian politics in New Hampshire these days.    Daily Kos  needs to cover this larger context !   Among other reasons, it's the backdrop for the NH Primary in two short years.  The regular NH media, including public TV and radio, are not telling this story anywhere near adequately,  for a number of obvious reasons.  So it's crucial that good bloggers within and outside of the State help to get the word out.

  •  'All Hat no Cheetoz' (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, Puddytat, Eric Nelson

    Great checking in and finding M.B still making an awesome contribution ! After three months camping in our own tent mainly in southern Africa feels bizarre to be in a basement studio in Dosoduro (Veneto) enjoying Jakkalbessie 's cooking -salmon with sfogliagrezza papparde-, cheap Italian wine, and watching pedestrians cross up over the bridge and pause, looking at the old buildings and the gondola/water taxi traffic as we watch both from our AirBnB water level basement studio.  Was wondering about Iraq so checked in and enjoyed Nevada discussion of US in Iraq history.  As always very thankful for your important work.  All the best....                    Will try to paste link from United for Peace email read today
    Talking Points mention of Dumb War....

    Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

    by divineorder on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 09:42:45 AM PDT

  •  Almost identical tactics used by Rick Perry.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ..who is now being indicted

    Get rid of any oversight - ethics dept. (or similar office - public integrity division) - put in a replacement republican to cover up the corruption and continue with ripping off constituents.

    With taxpayers paying for it.

    Bryan Long @ Better Georgia: covers it and names it for what it is:
    [fill in the name of a republican governor] Inc.


    A jury found the state’s ethics chief was unfairly forced from her job as retribution for investigating Gov. Deal’s campaign. His hand-picked replacement recently stepped forward with evidence that the governor’s top taxpayer-funded staff threatened and intimidated her in an effort to end the ethics investigation. The subpoenas were never issued and the ethics commission never reviewed the full records.

    The result? So far, Georgia taxpayers are stuck with a $3 million bill for damages and settlements while Nathan Deal got off with a $3,350 fine.

    Yet these GOP thugs are so dirty dealing that even Nathan Deals handpicked choice wouldn't go along with his grifting. So at least these crooks aren't getting away with it without some repercussion.

    And I hope this reporting from desmoinesdem @ Bleeding Heartland continues to expose people like governor Branstad and the likes of Rand Paul.  
    Both these fakers tout what they know is good policy and sounds good, but their actions (voting records and actual policies) make liars of them. And they are not alone in this. When Reince Priebus boasted that it was the republican governors that were the renewed strength of the GOP after 2010, it is now becoming clear that the GOP governors were given a playbook of corruption and how to lie about it. Say the poplulist thing but do the opposite

    Every single issue that gov. Branstad speaks out on to make himself look good he is actively working against.

    And Kasich - governor asshole locking people out of the statehouse during his SB5 union busting agenda. He's got real talent at double talk. I hope he Ed Fitzgerald (D) knocks that coward out of office.

    I don't know what to call it or what's worse this strange mixture of extremism and violent hubris, but it seems to me and I am no shrink or anything, but the republicans don't seem to be able to control even the most basic rotten human impulses anymore; the ones most of us learn as children are wrong

    Thx MB

  •  Thanks again for the overview n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson, Dr Arcadia

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

    by Puddytat on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 11:57:46 AM PDT

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