Home / Politics / This week at progressive state blogs: VA could become offshore wind hub; Kavanaugh the zealot

This week at progressive state blogs: VA could become offshore wind hub; Kavanaugh the zealot


scharrison at BlueNC writes—Getting students back to school in Eastern NC a huge challenge:

Even when schools reopen, you still have to get them there:

Bounds said school officials are eager to get students back to give them a dry, safe haven and a hot meal. While a couple of Scotland County’s schools were without power or water this week, Bounds said the real limiting factor to restarting school is getting to students. Many roads in the area remain flooded or badly damaged.

Bounds said transportation will be the school’s biggest challenge, forcing the school district to devise new bus schedules and bus routes. She said she expects that schools from her county all the way east to the coast are facing that same dilemma of how to reach students.

Even roads that appear to be just fine might be ticking time-bombs. From time to time we’ve seen part of a road collapse due to sinkholes and washouts, it happens several times a year across the state even without a monster storm like Florence. But roads have been collapsing (or on the verge of) in every county affected by the storm, even up in the Piedmont. But maybe even more dangerous for children than collapsing roads is the likelihood of persistent mold growth after their school has been reopened […]

Bill Orr at Blue Jersey writes—Bergen County Aiding and Abetting Trump’s “Zero Tolerance” Immigration Schemes:

Old habits die hard at the Bergen County jail. During the AIDS epidemic I visited an inmate at its then fortress-like, depressing facility under investigation from federal officials. From the main entrance on the right was a room where I had to talk with the inmate through opaque dirty glass using a phone. His face showed bruises, he described having been beaten by officers, and was not receiving his medication. He died shortly thereafter.  


Matt Katz, who wrote the definitive account of Christie’s early years as governor, today says that even in its new facility […] it operates under outdated detention guidelines and forbids what are known as “contact” visits. In a WNYC article he explains that immigrants are allowed to meet with their attorneys face-to-face, but when spouses, children and friends come to visit they are separated by a glass partition and must speak through a telephone.

Katz quotes one immigrant with no criminal record who said he was able to hug his wife and two young children when he was jailed at Hudson County Correctional Facility but ICE transferred him to Bergen County Jail where the visits through the glass were too difficult for his 3-year-old son, who is autistic. “It’s hard for him to actually focus talking to me on the phone, much less bringing him here at the glass.” The man said he suffered from depression, and did not get to see his son before he was deported for overstaying his visa. 

Sheriff Michael Saudino, entrenched in office since 2011, says the ban on contact is in place to keep contraband, like weapons that could be used to hurt sheriff’s officers, from being smuggled into the facility. Nonetheless, other ICE funded sites do allow contact visits. 

Amy Adams at Appalachian Voices writes—North Carolina needs maximum protections from Duke Energy’s coal ash pollution:

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has drafted a new set of coal ash rules to govern the way coal ash is handled in the state, and is soliciting input. Residents of the state are invited to attend one of three upcoming hearings or submit comments online before October 15.

state blogs

There are many concerns with the new draft rules, which for example:

  • Weaken the trigger for corrective measures for groundwater pollution;
  • weaken the remediation requirement and adds exemptions that aren’t in the federal rule;
  • are unclear on when remediation has to be done; and
  • don’t cover common, serious coal ash contaminants such as boron, hexavalent chromium, and vanadium.

North Carolina’s communities and clean water will have the most protection if DEQ adopts strong rules for its state permitting program and does not interfere with the ability of citizens to directly enforce the federal CCR Rule. Any coal ash rules for North Carolina’s state program should make it clear that Duke Energy cannot leave its coal ash sitting in groundwater and in impoundments.

desmoinesdem at Bleeding Heartland of Iowa writes—IA-02: Dave Loebsack should spend less on tv, more to elect Iowa Democrats:

Six-term U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack will spend more than a million dollars over the next seven weeks running television commercials for a race not seen as competitive by any election forecaster or political advocacy group.

Meanwhile, his campaign has contributed just $125,000 to the Iowa Democratic Party’s coordinated effort to boost candidates running for all state and federal offices.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Bleeding Heartland

Our state’s only remaining Democrat in Congress survived a couple of close calls in the 2010 and 2014 Republican landslides, but his career is not realistically threatened by the GOP, Libertarian, or independent challengers on the ballot this year. The 24 countiesLoebsack represents in southeast Iowa contain about 23,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans, according to the latest official figures. […]

The Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Inside Elections with Nathan Gonzales/Roll Call, and FiveThirtyEight.com all rate IA-02 as safe or solid Democratic. FiveThirtyEight’s latest forecast gives Loebsack a 79 in 80 chance of winning.

Neither Democratic nor Republican political insiders consider IA-02 among the dozens of House seats in play. The National Republican Congressional Committee has left Loebsack alone since spending nearly $850,000 trying to take him out in 2012 and more than $1 million against him in 2014. The only reported outside spending in IA-02 during the last election cycle was $20 (yes, twenty dollars) by the Sierra Club’s PAC in support of Loebsack. That PAC has spent $10 on his behalf so far this year.

Nevertheless, the Loebsack campaign announced a million-dollar tv ad buy in a September 18 press release.

Dakota Free Press

Cory Allen Heidelberger at Dakota Free Press writes—Burke vs. Pierre: Sutton Scores with Anti-Corruption Ad:

Billie Sutton shoots and scores! His new video ad goes after corruption in Pierre and shows something his Republican opponent Kristi Noem: a voting record of actually doing something about the problem:

The law Sutton authored is his amendment to 2017 SB 54, which does exactly what he said: prevents candidates from converting campaign contributions to personal use. (Hey, Dennis Daugaard: have you spent that million dollars yet?) Kristi Noem has nothing like that in her quiver. Go ahead and try, Kristi-lovers: tell us one law she’s passed in response to corruption to reform campaign finance in South Dakota.

And watch that imagery: EB-5! GEAR UP! (Both scandals blew up with deaths by firearms in his district.) And smiling, friendly, honest South Dakotans “all working together” in good old Burke versus all those self-interested lobbyists haunting the grey, faceless Capitol. “This town”—Pierre—”needs to work like yours and mine.” Dang: that’s good writing!

Sally Jo Sorensen at Bluestem Prairie of Minnesota and South Dakota writes—MN19A: A look at questionable tweets Republican candidate Kim Spears deleted:

Visit the Twitter account of Kim Spears, the endorsed Republican candidate now making his third run for Minnesota House district 19A, and one of the first things keen observers will notice is while he’s been on Twitter since May 2014, he’s only tweeted 58 times.

Scroll to the bottom of his account, and a reader will see that the tweets begin on January 22.

state blogs, bluestem prairie

What’s up with that? District resident Seán Easton has been tweeting the deleted backstory and it ain’t pretty. Seems that Spears made some tweets disappear that might not meet the standards of the district that’s home to generally civil people in communities that are growing more diverse.

Who are we kidding? Material of this tone wouldn’t have met with public approval even during our editor’s years in the area as a person who attended St. Peter Public Schools in the 1970s.

Here’s a sampling of screengrabs of the deleted material Easton has sharing on twitter (via Twipu).[…]

The neo-Nazis-could-be-fine-people schtick:


[…] The climate-change-denier fake news:


Judith Lewis Mernit at Capital & Main of California writes—The Climate Summit’s Inconvenient Truth: People Need Jobs:

[…] Paul Getsos, national director of the People’s Climate Movement, has spent more than a decade thinking through what it means to bring the labor movement into the climate fight by way of a just transition for workers. He organized in disadvantaged communities around the Obama administration’s stimulus package. Later, he assessed green jobs for the Center for Community Change, and found that “the promise of ‘green jobs’ wasn’t fulfilled for a lot of communities. There’s a very narrow view of what a ‘green job’ is.” The solution to the worker-transition conundrum for a 100 percent clean energy economy is to expand that definition. “Manufacturing electric cars is a ‘green job,’ said Getsos. “Rebuilding infrastructure in North Carolina to keep people safe from coal ash — that’s a ‘green job.’”

stateblogs, Capital & Main, CapitalandMain

Retrofitting homes and business to use less energy is also a green job — and one of the best, according to Getsos: “[Energy efficiency] is one of the areas where there is access to new jobs that don’t require higher education.” It’s also ripe for job growth. In New York City, a mandate to retrofit the city’s buildings — which account for two-thirds of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions — will yield 17,000 jobs between now and 2030.

Energy efficiency isn’t a big field in some of the smaller towns where dirty fossil-fuel plants exist. In Centralia, Washington, where a coal plant employing 300 workers making $80,000 a year will begin shutting down in 2020, environmentalists and labor negotiated an agreement with the city and the plant operator, TransAlta, to invest $55 million in worker retraining and community development in exchange for an expedited permit to build a natural gas plant on the same site. (Natural gas isn’t perfect, but for the climate it’s better than coal.) […]

Charley on the MTA at Blue Mass Group writes—Kavanaugh: Even before the assault accusations, a zealot’s career:

The assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh are certainly disturbing. A 17-year-old is not an adult, but also certainly old enough to know better than to commit assault.

Blue Mass Group

But even before this, Kavanaugh was a historically unpopular nominee. Conservatives want us to squint really hard, and see a sentimental portrait of a monkish, “exemplary” career, a “brilliant jurist”, kindly mentor, and basketball-coach dad.  In fact, his career has featured stints as a hatchet man in the several of the most infamously partisan episodes of the 90’s and 2000’s, namely the Starr investigation, continuing to rehash the Vince Foster suicide, and the Manny Miranda thefts. He plainly lied about the latter in his 2004 confirmation vote. As Russ Feingold says, “Brett Kavanaugh has never appeared under oath before the U.S. Senate without lying.”

(He also has some super-sketchy finances: Who paid for his very expensive house? That’s not a small matter. Did he really go tens of thousands of dollars into debt for baseball tickets? Must we pretend there’s nothing here?)

Why is Kavanaugh here? It’s not in spite of his career advancing the most tendentious currents of right-wing zealotry; it’s because of it. He represents the interests of a tiny cadre of plutocrats; consistently ruling in their interests, warping the plain language of the Constitution and duly passed laws in the process. His is an ideology where the Fourth Amendment means not very much; the 14th Amendment (equal protection of the laws) so riddled with holes that it becomes worthless; a 2nd amendment so broadly and tortuously interpreted as to allow everything. […]

Tom van Alten at FortBoise of Idaho writes—But his emails:

WaPo’s fact-checker finds the “repeated pleas of ignorance warrant heavy skepticism.” That’s the suit-and-tie way of saying he’s a facile liar, a Three Pinocchio liar, which is the best kind, because the 11-10 majority of Republicans can scootch you through on the “hey, it wasn’t four Pinocchios!” basis. Perfect nominee for POTWEETOH.

state blogs. fortboise

Manuel Miranda, the Republican Senate staffer who oversaw the theft of most of five thousand documents over 18 months from 2001 to 2003, insists “I never told him that I got this from the Democrats.” “There was never anything like that.” Handed this trove of “richly detailed” inside information with “a ton of clues,” this extremely qualified future jurist was somehow utterly clueless about what was going on around him.

“I never suspected anything untoward,” he testified back in 2004 on his way to being confirmed to the Court of Appeals. “Nothing out of the ordinary.”

You can see why they’re so keen to get this guy on the Supreme Court, eh. Not just his ability to recognize strategic advantage and act on it, but his ability to pretend like it’s all above board. As counsel for Sen. Patrick Leahy, Lisa Graves put it:

“Kavanaugh was certainly a hardcore political operative. He would know exactly what this was, that this was secret research from the Democrats, from a Democratic lawyer, on the most important fight they were having, in the middle of that fight, on the most important issue that fight was about.”

Her headline for a piece in Slate earlier this month kind of wraps up the story in a nutshell: I Wrote Some of the Stolen Memos That Brett Kavanaugh Lied to the Senate About. And the subhead: “He should be impeached, not elevated.”

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