This week at progressive state blogs: Fuel efficiency & Michigan auto jobs; Coffman triaged

Jasmine Kerrissey at Labor Notes of New York writes—Teacher Strike Wave: By the Numbers

Five percent of all U.S. workers in K-12 public education walked out on strike this spring. It’s by far the biggest spike in teacher strikes in a quarter-century.

It is obviously no exaggeration to say teacher strikes have spiked.

The strikers included educators from North Carolina (123,000), Arizona (81,000), Colorado (63,000), Oklahoma (45,000), West Virginia (35,000), Kentucky (26,000), and Jersey City (3,600). […]

stateblogs, state blogs, Labor Notes

The data for January to June of this year show that 376,800 K-12 public educators participated in big strikes. We didn’t include a higher-education strike by 53,000 AFSCME members at the University of California.

Total employment in public education is 7.6 million, including occupations such as food workers, janitors, health specialists, and bus drivers in addition to teachers.

We also looked back over the past quarter-century. Until this year, few educators were involved in large work stoppages. Some years the number was zero. The biggest years involved around 30,000 educators, like the Chicago Teachers Union strikes in 2012 and 2016. […]

A staffer at ColoradoPols writes—Rep. Mike Coffman: The Wrong Side of the Firewall:

In 2018, with majority Republicans looking at an increasingly desperate map and “safe” Republican incumbents in danger all over the country, the goal is to create a firewall of must-hold seats they’ll defend to the last. Because without those seats, the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is done for.

Colorado Pols

It’s a firewall that no longer includes Rep. Mike Coffman:

There are between 60 and 70 Republican-held districts that are being seriously contested, and Democrats, boosted by strong fund-raising, have been expanding their television advertising in conservative-leaning districts in an effort to stretch Republicans thin. National polls have shown most voters favor a Democratic-led House over a Republican one, though the Democrats’ lead has varied.

In a tactical retreat, Republican groups have already withdrawn some or all funding from a few embattled incumbents, mainly in suburbs where President Trump is unpopular, including Representatives Kevin Yoder of Kansas, Mike Coffman of Colorado and Mike Bishop of Michigan.

After the 2016 elections, Democratic victory over Coffman was considered out of reach, even a fool’s errand after so many defeats. The double-digit lead in polling for Democratic candidate Jason Crow this year is not an invitation to complacency on the part of Democrats, not after being so bitterly disappointed in this race so many times.

But in previous years, it was Coffman’s Democratic opponents who found themselves cut off from national support as part of the October triage process. This year Coffman is the one being cut off, and every analyst following the CD-6 race has flipped to favoring the Democrat to win. Republican odds of holding the U.S. House have been slim for months based on public polls, but the difference now is the GOP strategy to hold their majority no longer relies on Mike Coffman winning re-election.

For Democrats, it’s truly now or never.

John Peterson at Democurmudgeon writes—Tech Illiterate Scott Walker thinks “Flat Screen TV’s” all the rage, ignores Job Creating Alternative Energy:

It’s been frustrating watching our tech-illiterate governor Scott Walker run from tech-heavy bioscience at the UW, tech-heavy high-speed rail, tech-heavy health care systems, groundbreaking tech-heavy new medical treatments, and tech-heavy climate science.

state blogs

That’s why the Foxconn fiasco was so insane. Suddenly, a tech epiphany hit our clueless governor. That resulted in an overreaction and lots of taxpayer money to bring “tech” for the “first time” into Wisconsin. Who knew?

What, Plan for Modernized Power Grid, Alternative Energy? Imagine Scott Walker and top GOP Republicans working with the Public Service Commission (PSC) to modernize energy and our power grid in Wisconsin…I know, I’d laugh too if it wasn’t so sad […]

State Utilities Charge Past Walker: While Walker wants to support coal because it’s supposedly “less expensive,” our state utility companies are so over coal […]

Yet Walker still isn’t connecting tech to the wind and sun, you know, unlimited free fuel with no shipping costs via our roads or rail […]

Wisconsin lags other states in solar energy production: According to Peter Murphy of MREA, “Policy truly is the only thing—not technology and not financials—that stands in the way of solar deployment in Wisconsin,” he says. “Two easy policies that Wisconsin could enact, following the states of Minnesota and Illinois, are community solar and third-party financing.” […]

Don Pogreba at The Montana Post writes—Medicaid Expansion Has Saved Lives in Montana. Why Do Matt Rosendale and Greg Gianforte Want to End It?

stateblogs, state blog, The Montana Post

If Greg Gianforte and Matt Rosendale get their way, 96,656 Montanans will lose their health care coverage, coverage that has, in the past two years, helped avert thousands of cases of colon cancer, provide thousands treatment for diabetes, and given thousands of Montanans access to substance abuse treatment, along with creating jobs and keeping our rural hospitals vibrant.

The state of Montana has created a website that shows just how much the Medicaid expansion Gianforte and Rosendale would end has benefited the people of Montana. Just over 9% of the state has acquired health care coverage through Medicaid expansion, with counties suffering from higher rates of poverty getting coverage for as many as 20% of their population.

The website is an incredibly useful tool, letting Montanans understand just how many lives have been improved because of coverage expansion. It’s one thing to demagogue against health care access, but it’s another thing entirely to tell the eight people in Choteau County who averted colon cancer that their lives don’t matter. It’s one thing to argue that Montanans don’t deserve access to health care in the abstract, but another thing entirely to tell the almost 800 women in Yellowstone County they didn’t deserve those breast cancer screenings.

And that’s just what Matt Rosendale and Greg Gianforte believe. When they rail against the Affordable Care Act, they’re railing against your neighbor getting the screening that could save her life and against the in-patient services for substance abuse that could prevent a lifetime of addiction, with all its attendant costs, for the kid who made a bad decision and would face insurmountable odds without just a little help.

Congressman Gianforte and State Auditor Rosendale are simply more interested in appeasing the corporate interests who fight tooth and nail against the idea that we should help our neighbors, save our rural hospitals, and save the lives of Montanans. […]

lowkell at Blue Virginia writes—Virginia Republicans Are Completely Unacceptable on the #1 Existential Threat – and the #1 Economic Opportunity – Facing Humanity

The #1 existential threat (and also economic opportunity via the massive, ongoing shift to clean energy!) facing humanity, man-made climate change, is now at the make-or-break point, according to a definitive, terrifying new report by the Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). The point of this report is that humanity still has a chance to stave off climate disaster, but only if we take urgent action starting NOW. That means, among other things, as rapid as possible a phaseout of fossil fuels and a transition to a 100% clean energy economy. Let’s just emphasize something important here: there is literally ZERO scientific doubt about any of this; the ONLY question is political will, which to date has been sorely lacking and/or inadequate.

Blue Virginia blog

Yet, believe it or not, there’s something even worse than lack of political will – outright DENIAL (or minimization) that we even have a problem at all. I know, it’s crazy, kind of like denying evolution, gravity, the earth revolving around the sun, and other fundamental scientific facts. Yet in this country – very much an outlier – we have a major, national political party that is actually dominated by climate science deniers. That party, of course, is the Republican Party, formerly the party of science, now the party of ignorance, of the fossil fuel industry, and ultimately of disaster and ruin for hopes of a habitable planet.

Where do Virginia Republican stack up on climate science? It’s not a pretty picture. Let’s look at the VA GOP’s Congressional candidates and see how bad things are: […]

VA09: Rep. Morgan Griffith (R) is 100% in the pocket of the coal industry, and his embarrassing, appalling comments on climate change bear that out. He badly, badly needs to go. In stark contrast, Democrat Anthony Flaccavento is strong on environmental protection, urging that we “[fight] climate change…while investing in economic transition for coal communities.” I realize that this is a deep-red, Trump district, but hopefully on November 6 VA-09 voters will really think about where we’re headed, maybe read the IPCC report, and then vote accordingly. […]

Cory Allen Heidelberger at Dakota Free Press writes—Haugaard Wants More Power for Legislature, Less Term Limits:

Representative and Speaker Pro-Tem Steven Haugaard (R-10/Sioux Falls) appeared on South Dakota Public Radio last week and said his “primary interest” is “strengthening the Legislative body” against “the Governor and the bureaucracy out there.”

Dakota Free Press

If Rep. Haugaard really views the Governor and bureaucracy eating into his body’s power (and he may have a case for that), it is interesting that his party is spending more time this election focusing on beating back the check on Legislative power imposed by the people through ballot measures. Amendment X, Amendment Z (both placed on the ballot by Haugaard’s Legislature), and Initiated Measure 24 (placed on the ballot by Speaker G. Mark Mickelson’s petitioning) all seek to weaken the power of citizens to put laws to a direct vote. I suspect there are plenty of citizens who feel the Legislature is already more than powerful enough and should give back some power to the people and local governments.

Incumbent Haugaard also claimed that term limits have weakened the Legislature:

It’s nice when you’re on the outside looking in and you’d like to get elected, but once you get there, you realize the eight years in each house is maybe not as much time as would be best [Rep. Steve Haugaard, interviewed by Lori Walsh, SDPB, 2018.10.02].

I appreciate Haugaard’s agreement with me that term limits are a bad idea. However, his elitist incumbent attitude (signaled by his use in this interview of republic-not-a-democracy rhetoric that is really code for, the legislator’s Club is smarter than you rabble) smells terribly self-serving for a guy salivating at the prospect of wrapping his hands around the gavel.

Juanita Jean Herownself at Juanita Jean’s of Texas writes—Get a Grip, Melania

Get this, Melania Trump says that she is the most bullied person in the world.  She later changed it to “one of the most” because she knew she’d get in trouble for saying she was more bullied than her husband.

state blogs, Juanita Jean's

First of all, I am getting sick of rich white “victims.” Bless your rich white heart, you poor little underprivileged snots.

And second, what kind of irony deficiency does it take to wear a colonial pith helmet in Africa while you’re complaining about being bullied?

Speaking of which, you gotta wonder who is dressing her when she shows up dressed exactly like Belloq, the Nazi collaborator from the Indiana Jones film Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I think her wardrobe for Africa was picked by some really pissed off proud gay man.  And I think he did great.

Lamar White, Jr. of The Bayou Brief of Louisiana writes—Mark McKinnon helped launch the Roemer Revolution. He has some solid advice for Beto O’Rourke:

On the night of Oct. 7th, a Sunday, in a normally vacant, small city park in the center of downtown Dallas, directly across from the old city municipal building, more than 5,000 people attended a sold-out campaign rally for Beto O’Rourke disguised as a music festival.

state blogs, The Bayou Brief

The Polyphonic Spree, the nation’s most well-known choral pop rock band donned white choir robes and played a full-set of their psychedelic secular gospel music, complete with a dazzling display of pyrotechnics. In the back, they sold t-shirts reading,”The Polyphonic Spree supports Beto O’Rourke.” Someone else, outside, sold shirts featuring the personage of Willie Nelson and the caption, “Turn Out Texas for Beto for Senate.” Those shirts, which were designed by a couple of friends originally from Missouri, were a sensation.          

Earlier in the night, I met up with Beto backstage. “You’ve managed to catch lightning in a bottle,” I told him, while also explaining to him that some of my friends in New Orleans were actually phone-banking for him.

“That’s incredible,” he said. “This is how we’re going to win. All of us working together.” […]

There was a palpable- albeit nervous- energy among the thousands gathered that Sunday night in Dallas, and for many Democrats, myself included, the only apt comparison was the experience of witnessing Barack Obama’s nearly-perfect campaign for the presidency in 2008. […]

Republicans may call him a radical leftist, but even among die-hard conservatives and evangelicals, the only thing radical about O’Rourke is his willingness to speak commonsense truths about a dysfunctional government led by predominately white, older, conservative men who have been fighting the same culture wars for the past thirty years. Texas, perhaps more than any other state, champions its independence. […]

Pandora at Blue Delaware writes—On The Road To Gilead:

In the Handmaid’s Tale there are the handmaids, the wives and the white men. If you’ve never read the book (or watched the series) you really need to. I read the book years ago and am watching the series now. I am halfway through season 2 and had to take a break. It felt too real.

The Handmaid’s Tale is about a theocratic society where white men control everything, especially women, but are free to break their laws because ‘variety to men’s sex lives is necessary.’ Sound familiar? The handmaid’s are raped every month by these men in a ceremony with their wives present. Most are raped by these men outside the ceremony. ‘Cause, you know, variety.

Screen_Shot_2017-01-13_at_9.51.08_PM.png

But it’s the wives that fascinate me in this story. Whereas the handmaids’ lives aren’t reality (yet) and the men’s lives are mostly fantasy (cause, ya know, this does exist now in certain religious circles and domestic abuse situations) readily found in many spaces on the internet, talk radio, and Republican speeches, it’s the wives story that’s most closely based in current reality. During the revolution in the story, the wives fought alongside their husbands, wrote best selling books in defense of the patriarchy, appeared on talk shows, were successful, etc. only to find life very different once their vision was realized. It’s all fun and games until what you preach becomes what you live.

White women always consider ourselves the exception. We are conditioned to believe we are some sort of prize, that what happens to us matters (see: any missing blonde, white girl), that white men have our back. And yet, we were surprised when the WSJ made a rape joke about Susan Collins’ vote for Kavanaugh. White women better wake up and acknowledge our privilege only exists at the hands of white men; that it can be pulled at any minute. Kinda like the way a madonna morphs into a slut when a man decides it so.

I look at my Republican women friends and it amazes me how what they say when their husbands aren’t around is so different than what they say when they are. […]

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