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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 The Left Hook of California, Sarah McDermott writes—Hyatt Workers March for Justice:

Silicon Valley is booming, and it is service workers like those at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara that are making this boom possible. While the region’s top tech firms made a record $103 billion in profits in 2013, one in three Silicon Valley households does not make enough money to meet their most basic needs. It is literally a “Tale of Two Cities.”

But workers at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara are not just sitting idly by and letting this happen. They are standing up and demanding justice and respect on the job! These workers are asking all people to honor the boycott of their own workplace and pledge NOT to EAT, SLEEP, MEET, or SPEND ANY MONEY at their hotel until they achieve a fair election process to organize without intimidation from management, a process that Hyatt has agreed to at other properties all over the country!

Hotel jobs like housekeeper, cook, bellman, dishwasher, and others often pay at the poverty level, while hotels like the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara rake in millions from tech related conferences and conventions. But where workers are organized, they have won fair wages, benefits, and job security. Their continued organizing ensures that hotel workers and all service workers share in the growing prosperity of Silicon Valley.

At 11 o’clock this morning, guests and clients of the Hyatt Santa Clara will be greeted by more than the registration desk today.  A demonstration out front will demand justice for Hyatt workers, and show Hyatt that the working people of Silicon Valley will not back down!

Check out more progressive state blog excerpts below the orange gerrymander.
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Reposted from Daily Kos Labor by Laura Clawson
Labor organizations oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership Trade deal in a rally outside of the Capitol in May 2014.
The Senate advanced fast-track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Thursday. It's still most definitely worth turning a critical eye to the deal, as the Economic Policy Institute's Josh Bivens does in a takedown of a recent New York Times article by Binyamin Appelbaum:
First, on the gains from trade policy (i.e., how much we should expect national income to rise if we sign trade agreements), Appelbaum refers to a piece from the Peterson Institute of International Economics claiming that trade liberalization added 7.3 percent of GDP to American incomes by 2005—about $9000-10,000 per American household. This is just not true. It’s a wildly inflated number that should not be in the policy debate (and if you need much smarter and better-credentialed people making the some point—here’s Dani Rodrik). This number is an effort to bully people into going along with today’s trade agreements by making them think the stakes are utterly enormous. In fact, even if it was correct (again, it’s not) this study would be irrelevant to today’s trade policy debates because the sum total of economic gains from all post-1982 trade agreements (this includes NAFTA, the completion of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the formation of the WTO, and the permanent normal trading relations with China) is estimated to be just $9 per household, meaning that  99.9 percent of the gains from trade estimated in the study happened before 1982. So even if trade liberalization really did spur mammoth gains at some point in the (distant) past, the effects were over by the early 1980s.

Second, on the distribution of gains and losses from trade, it is striking to me that so many economists who favor signing every trade agreement that comes down the pike can still feign surprise that expanded trade seems to be bad for most workers’ wages. Put simply, it is completely predicted in textbook trade economics that wages for most workers will fall and inequality will rise when the United States trades more with poorer trading partners. Yes, expanded trade is predicted to lead to higher overall national income, but it is also predicted to redistribute enough income within the United States that it can (and is likely to) make most workers worse-off. This should not be a surprise to anyone familiar with the topic.

Of course, there are things that shouldn't be a surprise and things that are actively covered up.

Continue reading below the fold for more of the week's labor and education news.

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It is imminent. The end of their world. Prepare the shelterboxes for Bryan Fischer and his fellow Christian warriors who are surely going to need 'em once they arrive at the Obama FEMA camps that have been specially built just for the occasion.

Notorious RBG recently presided over yet another "marriage" ceremony between two men while totally tipping the Supreme Court's hand on how they will rule on the upcoming marriage equality case they heard this past April. This has the American Family Association's go-to psychic Brian Fischer predicting a win for Satan declaring "the fix is in." He is now preemtively calling all Christians to be prepared for mass-arrests for refusing to bake our Nazi cakes and snap our sinful "wedding" photographs. The Pink Shirts are coming, the Pink Shirts are coming!

Bottom line: we, as social conservatives, have a month to pray* and to decide how we are going to respond to this egregious and unconstitutional violation of the laws of nature and nature’s God. This must a non-negotiable red line for us.

We must categorically, unambiguously, and publicly declare that we will NEVER accept the normalization of homosexual marriage, and will NEVER capitulate to any Nazi-esque order from government at any level to violate either conscience or biblical principle on this matter.

And we must all hang together, or as Benjamin Franklin said, we most assuredly will hang separately. They can’t arrest us all, they can’t prosecute us all, they can’t lock us all up, they can’t shut down every Christian-run business, or every Christian school, or every Bible-believing church, or every Christian ministry. But our determination to resist moral tyranny must be resolute enough to prompt them to try.

Between now and the moment Ruth and her evil comrades on the bench hand down their apocalyptic verdict, Bryan wants all the good Christians down on their knees every waking moment, praying their asses to the bone with the American Family Association's pre-approved invocation, even as he admits the total futility of the effort.

Head below the fold for the blessing and a new take on it.

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exit sign for Welfare, Texas
Arizonans not welcome.
Today the Arizona legislature did what no other state in the nation has been mean-spirited enough to do: they cut lifetime welfare benefits to one year for everyone—adults and children, the physically and mentally disabled. Most states have a five-year limit, while thirteen others impose a two-year cutoff. Texas (of course) has a flexible limit that can be as short as one year, but even children are exempt in the Lone Star State. Not so for Arizona! We're Number 1!
As a result, the Arizona Department of Economic Security will drop at least 1,600 families — including more than 2,700 children — from the state's federally funded welfare program when the budget year begins in July.
No doubt you'll continue to hear from the Cato Institute, Rush Limbaugh and other goonballs that lazy moochers sit at home because welfare pays more than work, but Arizona's payments were never generous to begin with, a whopping $275 per month for a two-person household. Now even that will be gone in a couple months for thousands of people—and as many as 300,000 total if legislators follow through with all their planned cuts to welfare, Medicaid and ACA.

The far-right fundies, who absolutely control Arizona's legislature, made the usual unproven arguments before voting to cut vulnerable families off at the knees:

"I tell my kids all the time that the decisions we make have rewards or consequences, and if I don't ever let them face those consequences they can't get back on the path to rewards," Republican Sen. Kelli Ward of Lake Havasu City said during debate on the budget. "As a society we are encouraging people at times to make poor decisions and then we reward them."
"... make poor decisions and then we reward them." Oh, you mean like we did for Wall Street banksters?

Head below the fold for more.

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Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey speaking at an event hosted by The McCain Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.
'And furthermore ...'
Ah, the political roast. Those glorious annual events in which politicians and the press get together and say terrible but perfectly true things about each other for charity:
“We don’t give a s--- about this or any of you,” Christie, a 52-year-old Republican who is considering a run for president, said to laughter and applause from about 350 people at a Hamilton banquet hall. He told one journalist to “open your eyes” and “clean the s--- out of your ears.”

“This is a guy who says he doesn’t know what I’m doing every day,” Christie said of the New Jersey Legislative Correspondents Club president. “Then just get the f--- away from me then if you don’t know what I’m doing.”

We may have found Chris Christie's wheelhouse. He should do this for a living, once he gets the notion of being president out of his system.
Of a car accident involving a reporter on his way to the event, he said: “Why wasn’t the car bigger and why weren’t more of you in it?”
The best part about these things comes in the days afterward, as reporters try to decide what parts were all in fun and which parts (see: Stephen Colbert) were too "mean" for them to enjoy. This particular event is intended to be off-the-record and unrecorded, but some spoilsport recorded it anyway, possibly because they intended to make Chris Christie yelling swear words their new ringtone. No, it wasn't me.
See OceanDiver's post.

Many environmentally related posts appearing at Daily Kos each week don't attract the attention they deserve. To help get more eyeballs, Spotlight on Green News & Views (previously known as the Green Diary Rescue) normally appears twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The most recent Wednesday Spotlight can be seen here. More than 22,610 environmentally oriented diaries have been rescued for inclusion in this weekly collection since 2006. Inclusion of a diary in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.

In just five weeks, $2M climate denier lawsuit implodes—by Keith Pickering: "You may or may not have heard of Dr. Edward Wegman, a statistics professor at George Mason University, who got in very hot water a few years ago on well-founded charges of plagiarism. Wegman is most famously known for the "Wegman Report", which was commissioned in 2006 by Congressional Republicans to look into Michael Mann's famous "hockey stick" paleoclimate research. Wegman (and his report) concluded that Mann's work was flawed. But as it turned out, large parts of the Wegman Report were plagiarized, as was widely reported in USA Today and other sources. The evidence for plagiarism in the Wegman Report, and also in at least two peer-reviewed papers of Wegman and his colleague Yasmin Said, was uncovered in excruciating (and damning) detail by citizen journalist John Mashey, who currently writes for that invaluable environmental crusader, DeSmog Blog. On March 24, after an entire year of secret preparation, Wegman and Said sued John Mashey for $2 million, citing the damage his honest reportage had caused to their careers. (Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.) And who was their lawyer in this quest? Milt Johns, former law partner of uber-climate-denier (and uber-jerk) Ken Cuccinelli, the ex-Virginia Attorney General who spent his brief term in office more interested in suing climate scientists than in prosecuting criminals. But on April 30, just five weeks after filing the suit, Johns showed up in court to drop the suit, and the day after that, Johns was out of a job, having parted ways with his ex-partners in the firm of Day & Johns (which will now certainly have a new name)."

The true cost of a fossil based economy—by Mattias: "Climate science makes it clear: We need a green transformation of our way of living. This year countries are presenting their plans for how to reduce CO2 emissions, and how to turn into a low carbon development. However, we also hear complains, and arguments, stating that it is too costly to convert away from our fossil fuel dependency. Fossil fuels are cheap, renewable energy is expensive. The International Monetary Fund, IMF, has just dropped a bomb into this discussion. In a new report they estimate global energy subsidies by measuring the difference between consumer prices and the ‘true costs’ of fossil fuels, and the result is 'shocking'—to use their own words. According to their estimates, the global subsidies amount to a staggering US$5,3 trillion this year alone, which is US$168.000 per second. If you are not shocked—you should be. That is 6,5% of the world’s total GDP."

You can find more excerpts from green diaries below the orange spill.

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U.S. Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) (C) talks with reporters as he departs a meeting about debt ceiling legislation with fellow Republicans at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, July 28, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS BUSINES
Ever since the tea party started flexing its muscle in 2010, moderate Republicans have feared for their political lives, continually attracting primary challenges from the right.

There was Alaska's Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who lost her primary to the tea party's Joe Miller but ultimately prevailed as a write-in candidate in the general; South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis, who's primary defeat brought us Rep. Trey Gowdy; and Indiana's six-term senator, Dick Lugar, whose triumphant tea party challenger, Richard Mourdock, imploded in the general election. That's just to name a few tea party casualties.

But when was the last time you heard of a Republican getting primaried from the left? In recent years, there’s been maybe a few examples at best and they’ve all been losers.

In 2012, Florida Republican Robert Crowder challenged tea party poster child Rep. Allen West and lost big after West garnered almost 75 percent of the vote. Crowder charged that West was part of the GOP's "radical fringe" and went on to support Florida Democrat Patrick Murphy, who defeated West in the general election.

During the 2014 midterms, Kansas firebrand Rep. Tim Huelskamp survived a closer challenge from fellow Republican Alan LaPolice, who targeted Huelskamp’s sponsorship of a bill that would have cut federal subsidies for ethanol (it's about a $1.5 billion per year industry in Kansas).

So all of two notable "moderate" GOP primary challengers—both unsuccessful—spring to mind since 2010. But this week may have set up a third after news broke that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence would skip the GOP’s 2016 presidential cattle call and instead simply focus on saving his gubernatorial seat.

For more on a potential GOP primary from the left, head below the fold.

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Reposted from Daily Kos Labor by Laura Clawson
Map showing how many hours per week you'd need to work at minimum wage to afford a one-bedroom apartment, paying no more than 30% of income for housing costs.
Click map to enlarge
Minimum wage increases passed by cities and states around the country are great news for low-wage workers—but the news isn't good enough. As a new report (PDF) from the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows, even those higher minimum wages are mostly not high enough for a worker to afford an average two-bedroom apartment on 40 hours a week of work without spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs. Nationally:
The 2015 Housing Wage is $19.35 for a two-bedroom unit, and $15.50 for a one-bedroom unit. The Housing Wage for a two-bedroom unit is more than 2.5 times the federal minimum wage, and $4 more than the estimated average wage of $15.16 earned by renters nationwide.
While housing costs and the minimum wage both vary by state, the news doesn't get much better if you drill down:
In no state can an individual working a typical 40-hour workweek at the federal minimum wage afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment for his or her family. In fact, with the exception of a handful of counties in Washington and Oregon (where the state minimum wage is $9.47 and $9.25, respectively), there is no county in the U.S. where even a one-bedroom unit at the FMR is affordable to someone working fulltime at the minimum wage.
Rents, unlike the minimum wage, "have risen nationally for 23 straight quarters. As of the third quarter of 2014, rents were 15.2% higher than at the tail end of the Recession in 2009." While high rents are a problem most visible in urban areas like New York and San Francisco, rural renters face challenges, too.
Reposted from Daily Kos Labor by Laura Clawson
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (R) takes part in a roundtable of young Nevadans discussing immigration as she campaigns for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination at Rancho High School in Las Vegas, Nevada May 5, 2015.   REUTERS/Mike
Some enterprising reporters have moved on, as New Hampshire's Dean Barker observes, from asking why Hillary Clinton isn't talking to political reporters to asking why she isn't talking to "regular people." The Boston Globe's Annie Linskey, for instance, quotes a liberal radio host, the chairman of a county Democratic Party, and a political science professor to make the point that Clinton hasn't yet held a campaign event open to all comers in New Hampshire. In short, so far this cycle she hasn't participated in the theater of the town hall meeting, of which the Globe's James Pindell wrote:
... for the most part, from now until when voters pay attention this fall, these events are dominated by special interest groups that want to be part of the presidential primary show.

These days, it’s not uncommon for people to get paid to follow candidates around the state, repeating the same questions at each stop — sometimes accounting for as many as half of the inquiries.

Linskey's take is that Clinton isn't making herself available to hear from voters ... but already in this campaign, Clinton has decided to focus on heroin addiction after voters in New Hampshire and Iowa told her it was a problem needing more attention. She's had a serious, fruitful discussion of immigration with activists. All the signs are that she's listening and responding—yes, often to people chosen for their interest in specific areas, but is talking to people with personal experience and longtime focus on specific, important topics necessarily less valuable than answering any and every question that comes her way now, first, right away? Even if the person asking it is being paid to do so at five political events a day?

Why is that more real and valuable than, say, the childcare workers Clinton met with at a roundtable this week? That gave her the opportunity to hear stories like that of Patricia Bailey, a Washington state daycare provider and SEIU member who makes less than her state's minimum wage by the time she's done covering expenses and offering discounts to families that can't afford to pay for child care; you can see video of Bailey below the fold.

Women working long hours for low wages are unlikely to be able to attend however many big-audience events it would take to be called on to ask a candidate a question, and those who don't live in early primary states don't even have the chance. But these women's stories are important for a candidate to hear—especially a candidate focused, as Clinton has promised to be, on things like paid family leave—and we shouldn't dismiss them because it's their union that got them into an event where Clinton would have time to listen and talk to them. Creating worker strength through numbers is what unions are for, and if that's what it takes to make a presidential candidate listen, it's not less real or important than the concerns of people who live in New Hampshire and Iowa and have the leisure time to attend open-to-the-general-public events held during working hours.

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Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell turns to Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX after speaking to reporters after the Republican party policy luncheon in the Capitol in Washington September 16, 2014.  At left is Sen. John Barasso, R-WY. The U.S. House of Represe
The Senate provided a scene of remarkable drama in the early hours of Saturday morning, as Mitch McConnell's ploy to force his colleagues into a panic-inspired and last minute vote to extend the Patriot Act without modification failed. Spectacularly. With Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the provision that the government has used to justify dragnet surveillance on Americans, set to expire on May 31st and Congress planning to recess until June 1, McConnell was attempting to force the Senate into extending the programs using the threat of "national security" by waiting until the last minute to hold the vote. His bullying backfired.
In a tense vote after midnight, the Senate failed to move forward on the House-passed USA Freedom Act, legislation that would end the National Security Agency's bulk collection of call data. The vote was 57-42, just short of the 60-vote threshold needed after stiff opposition and last-minute whipping Friday night into Saturday from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP defense hawks. Senators then easily rejected a motion to move ahead on a McConnell backed two-month extension of the Patriot Act's spying authorities.

If the two high-stakes votes at 1 a.m. weren't enough, the dramatic scene that followed showed how tense things are in the Senate. […]

McConnell proposed an even shorter-term extension of the surveillance authorities—from their current June 1 expiration date through June 8, giving the Senate time to take its Memorial Day recess before returning to take up the issue once again. Sen. Rand Paul objected on grounds he wanted up-or-down votes on his amendments to the Freedom Act, and what followed was an unusual exchange between McConnell and pro-reform senators that resulted, where much of the night did, in no solution.

McConnell suggested putting off the debate until June 5, earning objection from Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. Then McConnell tried for June 3, to the objection of Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico. Finally the majority leader asked for an extension through June 2. Paul objected again, and the Senate took another short break.

Flustered, defeated, McConnell huddled with senators and eventually determined that the Senate would return on Sunday, May 31st to give the Senate "one more opportunity to act responsibly" before the the bulk collection program officially expires. Senate Minority Leader pointed out that it was McConnell's own intransigence in trying to manipulate the Senate that led to this outcome. "'That's what happens when you try to jam everything in just a short period of time,' Reid said. When asked if anything would change next Sunday, Reid said, 'I don't know, you'll have to ask Rand Paul [and] the Republicans.'"

McConnell forcefully whipped against the House-passed USA Freedom Act, and according to one Republican aide, told senators "that a vote for USA Freedom was a vote to cancel recess." But the close initial vote on USA Freedom—a bipartisan majority of 57—suggests that without the pressure from leadership, the House reform bill could pass. The question now is whether McConnell will allow the vote, and if he'll allow the amendments Paul is insisting upon. Proponents of real reform have an actual opportunity now to come back to structure a strong reform bill. It's largely up to McConnell, who should have gotten the idea by now that he's not going to get his way.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) at CPAC 2015
Gay adoption is legal in most states and it has typically polled better than same-sex marriage, which is why many Republican candidates have been dodging the topic and some wonder if it may become a bigger sticking point for the GOP in 2016 than gay marriage.

Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, in particular, have avoided commenting on it even as Florida's Republican lawmakers have been debating ways to reinstate the state's gay adoption ban, which was struck down in 2010 by a state appeals court.

It's a sharp contrast from about a decade ago. Here's Rubio, the candidate of tomorrow, in 2006:

“Some of these kids are the most disadvantaged in the state,” Rubio is quoted saying for a 2006 article in the Tallahassee Democrat. “They shouldn’t be forced to be part of a social experiment.”
Bush also stood firmly against it in the early aughts. Here's what he had to say in a 2002 debate:
"If you're going to have permanency, it should be with a loving couple that is a man and a wife. That is the law of this land, it's in the courts, but I also believe that personally," Bush said.
For more on the GOP's gay adoption conundrum, head below the fold.
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President Obama devoted his weekly address to those who have given their lives in service to the country.
This weekend also reminds us that, around the world, our men and women in uniform continue to serve and risk their lives. In Afghanistan, our troops now have a new mission—training and advising Afghan forces. John Dawson was one of them. From Massachusetts, he loved the Bruins and the Pats. In April, he gave his life as an Army combat medic—the first American to give his life in this new mission. This Memorial Day, we’ll honor Corporal Dawson as well.

Like generations of heroes before them, these Americans gave everything they had—not for glory, not even for gratitude, but for something greater than themselves. We cannot bring them back. Nor can we ease the pain of their families and friends who live with their loss.

To read the transcript in full, check below the fold or visit the White House website.
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