Home / Politics / This week at progressive state blogs: Trump regime seems to think EPA is ISIS; file drawers of booze

This week at progressive state blogs: Trump regime seems to think EPA is ISIS; file drawers of booze

Democratic Diva

At Democratic Diva of Arizona, Donna writes—AZ Rep. David Stringer Thinks Teachers Have It Too Easy:

I saw a text message this afternoon by someone who was at the monthly Arizona Business and Education Coalition luncheon at the State Capitol. According to the attendee, Rep. David Stringer (R-Yavapai County) addressed the group (which includes many educators) and told them that it doesn’t take a certain skill set to be a teacher and that teaching itself is an easy part-time job with two months off per year. (That is from the text so obviously a paraphrase.)

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This is not an uncommon view among conservatives pursuing their quest to “reform” public education. Some have even attempted scientific justifications for underpaying teachers, claiming people (read:women) who choose the profession do so because they are less intelligent.

While it’s certain much of the right wing war on public education is driven by money and the desire to push their ideology on impressionable young minds, a large factor is still plain old sexism. They, and frankly too many people who are not so right wing, view teaching as care work done primarily by women on behalf of children, therefore work that women should just be doing free or for as close to it as possible.

At any rate, Rep. Stringer can be reached at (602) 926-4838 if you’d like some clarification on that remark.

At Montana Cowgirl, Montana Cowboy writes—20 Years of Failed GOP Leadership-The Career of Deregulation Architect Fred Thomas:

Today is the 20th anniversary of the most disastrous policy ever enacted by the Montana legislature.

That policy, Energy Deregulation, was engineered by current Republican Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas.

Cowgirl of Montana logo

Who is Fred Thomas? He was the architect of Energy Deregulation, a program that swiftly led to the bankruptcy of the Montana Power company and with it the savings, pensions and retirement accounts of tens of thousands of Montanans.

Thomas left Helena in disgrace afterwards, but has now slimily slunk back into town.

For those of you who do not know the history, the Montana Power company was the quasi-private, regulated power company for almost all of Montana, for close to a century. Montana Power owned all the dams and power plants and it was as blue chip a company as could be–stable and reliable.  The company and its workers were integral parts of every community in the state.

But one day the CEO of Montana Power, Bob Gannon, decided that he wanted more growth, more profits.   So he and his lobbyists persuaded the Governor, Marc Racicot, and the Republicans in the legislature (and a small number of democrats too) to “deregulate” the energy business in Montana.  Fred Thomas led the effort.  “Deregulation” meant that the company could sell off its energy generation equipment and go into other ventures, no matter how speculative.  The public, meanwhile, would be left to buy power wherever it could, on the open market.

The deregulation vote was taken in the closing hours of the 1997 session, almost in the dark of night, and was quickly signed by the Governor.

At Bluestem Prairie of Minnesota, Sally Jo Sorensen writes—MN House Ag Policy committee hears testimony on deleted pro-pollinator treated seed language

Monday, Bluestem posted about how the  MN House Ag Policy committee was likely to delete pollinator-friendly language from omnibus bill.

Bluestem Prairie blog

That came to pass–then the committee heard passionate testimony about the original language was a common sense first step for allowing the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to study and gather data about seeds treated with pesticides. The intent wasn’t to ban coated seeds; indeed, one University of Minnesota scientist discussed how engineers at John Deere are hoping for data about pesticide drift from coated seeds that would enable them to design better corn planters.

Such planters would help farmers lose less of the coatings while also helping beneficial insects like pollinators.

Here’s the video of the testimony from supporters of the treated seed program sought by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture:

At Washington Liberals, Jay Clough writes—What to say to people who voted for Trump

You might want to send this to anyone in your family, or anyone you know, who voted for Trump.

1. He called Hillary Clinton a crook.
You bought it.
Then he paid $25 million to settle a fraud lawsuit.

state blogs, washington liberals

2. He said he’d release his tax returns, eventually.
You bought it.
He hasn’t, and says he never will. […]

4. He said Clinton was in the pockets of Goldman Sachs, and would do whatever they said.
You bought it.
He then proceeded to put half a dozen Goldman Sachs executives in positions of power in his administration. […]

11. He called Barack Obama “the vacationer-in-Chief” and accused him of playing more rounds of golf than Tiger Woods. He promised to never be the kind of president who took cushy vacations on the taxpayer’s dime, not when there was so much important work to be done.
You bought it.
He took his first vacation after 11 days in office.
On the taxpayer’s dime.
And went golfing.

And that’s just the first month.

At Blue Jersey, Rosi Efthim writes—On David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel: Menendez is YES, Booker is NO:

This morning, in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, there were 12 votes supporting David Friedman as the United States’ next ambassador to Israel; eleven Republicans and Sen. Bob Menendez, the only Democrat to break party ranks and vote for David Friedman to serve as US ambassador to Israel. […]

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Friedman is, at best, a highly questionable representative of the United States, about whom there certainly is not agreement either in the U.S. Congress or in Israel. About Friedman:

The progressive Israeli newspaper Haaretz, covering this morning’s vote, made the point that Menendez’ vote provides Friedman minimal bipartisan cover coming out of committee. They’re not surprised by his vote, given Menendez breaking with his party against the 2015 Iran deal. And they note his closeness to AIPAC and the fact that New Jersey has a large Jewish population, including donors and supporters from the right-wing and Orthodox parts of the Jewish community.

At Plunderbund of Ohio, Thomas Givens writes—From Under The National Affairs Desk

In the room off my kitchen is a decade old computer desk once used for my antiquated Dell. I have since christened it the National Affairs Desk so I feel as if I’m holed up someplace important, cowering beneath in an attempt to make the voices stop while honing my elementary school duck-and-cover skills.

Plunderbund blog logo

Every time I try to put my thoughts down in print something else explodes. And I have a bad case of shiny key syndrome, so easily distracted. Just like the press.

Since November 8th I have gone through the five stages of grief so many times I simply gave up looking for closure. That is something I’ve come to view as some overused made-up TV term bandied about on “Law and Order:SVU”or “Criminal Minds” or “Doctor Phil”. […]

The question here’s whether the constant uproar is planned to distract from other reprehensible actions. It all depends if you feel this is an ego-driven President craving adulation or an actual clever, planned political move. Or does it depend on what time it is or who the last person was whispering in his ear?

At CenLamar of Louisiana, Lamar White, Jr. writes—An Open Letter To Phillip Terrell, Rapides Parish District Attorney

Dear Mr. Terrell,

I am writing to urge you to immediately cancel the upcoming seminar for local law enforcement officers titled Understanding and Investigating the Jihadi Movement. With all due respect, your office has been deceived into believing this seminar is objective, informative, important, and potentially life-saving training about the existential threats posed by radical jihadists, and I imagine this misunderstanding is why you stated that you were “surprised at the objections” leveled by the Southern Poverty Law Center and many others over the last few days.

CenLamar of Lousiana state blog

Unfortunately, you are not hosting a credible and respected anti-terrorism expert. You are spending $12,500 of the public’s money to pay a thoroughly debunked conspiracy theorist who has made a living by trafficking in bigotry and fear against a religious faith shared by 1.6 billion people (23% of the world’s population) and hundreds of decent, hard-working members of our community here in Rapides Parish. They are our neighbors, our classmates, our colleagues, our doctors, our lawyers, our teachers, and our friends, and they deserve to be treated with the same respect and the same protections under the law as anyone else.

I am also alarmed and disappointed that your office did not reach out to a single member of the local Islamic faith community prior to scheduling this seminar. If the intention was to educate law enforcement about the threats posed by people who espouse a radicalized and perverted form of Islam, you should first seek to understand and constructively collaborate with local faith leaders. Bring them to the table.

I know you are a good man. When I was a high school student, competing in mock trial, you volunteered to judge several of our competitions, and you were always encouraging and incredibly kind to me. You gave me confidence in my voice, and I will always be grateful for that. As you may recall, one of the stars of my high school mock trial team was a young Muslim woman, who was vastly more talented and intelligent than I ever was. Today, she is an accomplished lawyer and a new mother of her own little girl. I wouldn’t presume to speak for her, but I wonder whether she would have been able to accomplish so much if she had grown up in a community in which the District Attorney and the local law enforcement agencies had been trained to believe in the things espoused by John Guandolo and his colleagues at Understanding the Threat. […]

At The Mudflats of Alaska, Shannyn Moore writes—EPA, Pebble and The West Wing:

I’m sorry to report that watching box sets of “The West Wing” isn’t enough distraction from our real politics. I am tired.

I can confirm a fresh batch of baby sea otters, riding on their mama’s bellies, blown in by the latest storm can provide some relief. Their cuteness is enough to make anyone ovulate – I don’t care who you are. Their squeaks and mewing are impossible to ignore.

The Mudflats of Alaska

I learned about something called “embryonic diapause.” It’s really fascinating and a little science-y. See, lady sea otters can get pregnant and put a pause on implanting the embryos for up to six months – then BAM! Baby time! Who knew? I guess they aren’t the kind of creatures who need to establish paternity.

See how that works? I know, you have a ton of questions now, and trust me, the rabbit hole goes deep on what’s with the curious sea otters.

Now, back to the business of what fresh hell we absolutely have to pay attention to this week.

Finally, that millstone wrapped around the neck of industry in Alaska is being cut loose to float to the bottom of the deep, and for the time being, blue sea. For so many years our leaders have waged an active war in the media and courts against the Environmental Protection Agency.

For all the bloviating, you would think “EPA” was a misspelling of ISIS. It looks like that war is all but won for people who object to protecting the environment. I’m encouraged by NASA’s recent announcement of finding seven new planets only 40,000 light years away. We may need them.

At FortBoise of Idaho, Tom von Alten writes—Creatures of the swamp:

Are you ready for some really exciting and novel ideas for how to finance our deteriorating infrastructure? Public-private partnerships sound really exciting. Where’s the money coming from? Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said

“I’m not saying foreign.”

Ah, but she started to say foreign, before she stopped herself. And then she talked about money “coming into the United States,” which sounds kind of foreign.

“…corrupt government leaders often use their children or their siblings to distance themselves from illicit projects.”

To fund… “a bridge, or a road, or…” she seemed to have exhausted the list in her mind “…any kind of infrastructure…” which, she then interrupted herself to point out “will include, probably, energy, water, broadband, so it’s not just roads and bridges.”

“But it’s to build the whole infrastructure that will make our country more competitive, going forward.”

state blogs. fortboise

Sean Hannity’s a smart guy, and he could see that she was struggling to channel her breathless enthusiasm into coherent sentences. Can I mansplain that for you in a question?

“If I’m hearing it properly, what you’re saying is, for example, if a company were to rebuild a road, they might get their investment back by having a toll on that road and that’s where the taxpayers don’t pay a penny, they make a profit, it’s a win-win? Something like that?”

“Yes,” she exhaled with a grateful laugh, “thank you for putting it that way.”

We built the Interstate Highway System. We put MEN ON THE MOON. And now we have Donald Trump and Elaine Chao and Sean Hannity planning to make us “more competitive” with toll roads.

Or perhaps something in a stubby, turgid, half-finished luxury hotel on the wrong end of the capital of Azerbaijan? Is that like infrastructure? And just because the whole enterprise stinks to high heaven, does our home-grown Midas family get to shield its eyes (and tax returns) and claim innocence in ignorance?

At Blue Oklahoma, DocHoc writes—School Vouchers Never A Good Idea For Oklahoma:

The fact that a legislative bill that would have created education savings accounts in Oklahoma has been pulled from consideration is a victory for public education and overall a positive development this session. […]

Blue Oklahoma, state blogs

One always knows something good has happened on a legislative matter when it prompts a wildly misleading editorial in The Oklahoman, the ultra-conservative newspaper, which lamented the bill’s demise because, get this, everyone, it would have helped children from low-income families.

Since when has The Oklahoman cared about impoverished people or overall poverty in this state or even basic children issues? Since never, and it still doesn’t. The newspaper is a stalwart entity of right-wing extremism that not only supports further enriching the extremely wealthy people in the state through income tax cuts but also sells daily its toxic brew of income disparity initiatives and trickle-down economics as modern miracles of bold, enlightened thought.

What the editorial leaves out is what’s important here. It’s the wealthy, not the impoverished who ultimately benefit the most from education savings accounts in which families are given taxpayers dollars, or per-pupil dollars, to use to pay for private schools. Let’s be clear that poor and even middle class people usually don’t have enough money to come up with the tuition of most private schools, such as Oklahoma City’s Casady and Heritage Hall, even with partial financial help from the government. But the extremely wealthy, whose kids are already in private schools, could always use the extra money, right? That’s how vouchers work. It’s a transfer of money to the extremely wealthy.

At Capital & Main of California, Seth Sandronsky writes—The GOP’s Radical Health Care Surgery

Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid under the ACA. Nationally, the ACA and the Medicaid expansion have provided health-care coverage to 31 million Americans.

state blogs. Capital & Main, a California blog

According to Park, the GOP’s pending ACA repeal would cut recipients’ eligibility and raise their costs. (It also bars Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood.) These outcomes would unfold mainly as a result of reducing ACA tax revenues. Currently, ACA taxes provide subsidies (based on earned income and health plan costs, now to be replaced with age-based subsidies) for purchasing health-care insurance.

Who benefits from cutting ACA taxes? In short, those who earn over $200,000 annually would, with the top 400 highest-income Americans who earn over $300 million a year expected to receive an average savings of $7 million annually, said Park. Currently, ACA taxes provide subsidies for purchasing health-care insurance.

Removing ACA taxes removes funding for the subsidies it provides, he added.

Park reviewed the potential effects of the GOP’s bid to reformulate Medicaid via federal block grants and per-capita (person) caps for states. Both policy options deliver fixed pots of money now.

Therein lies the problem with both proposed reforms: They lack funding for future cost increases due to medical inflation. Medicaid block grants and per-capita caps in effect limit federal spending for Medicaid, which matches state expenditures from 50 percent to 90 percent, according to Park. California, with a $100 billion Medicaid program, receives $66 billion for it from the federal government. […]


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