This week at progressive state blogs: Georgians pay for troubled nukes; Virginians give Dems hope

scharrison at BlueNC posts—Resisting in the streets and at the table

Mr. Owl at Blue Jersey writes—See What Happens When We Want to Win?

It’s probably safe to say that, on the issues, Governor-elect Phil Murphy ran the most progressive campaign New Jersey has ever seen.

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All of a sudden, the dialogue shifts to changing corporate welfare, to having the wealthiest residents pay their fair share of taxes, to gun control, to sanctuary cities, to climate change, to civil rights, to a state bank, to transportation, to public education, and to so much more.

Whether he delivers on those campaign issues is one thing, but it’s nevertheless amazing how far we’ve come since 2013 when state Democrats basically endorsed arguably the worst, most conservative governor New Jersey has ever seen.

It’s too bad we didn’t start having a discussion on these critical issues in 2013, when a possible Democratic governor, Barbara Buono, would have enjoyed a working relationship with a Democratic president, Barack Obama.

Now a Murphy administration has a MAJOR added burden of pushing back against a despotic Trump administration. That’s a righteous endeavor for sure, but it’s going to cost time, resources, and money.

It didn’t have to be this way if the Democratic Party were out in front. Actually, that’s too mild. It didn’t have to be this way if the state party apparatus didn’t provide a de facto endorsement of Chris Christie, abandoning every, single issue that is important to Democratic voters.

Dave Bradley at Blog for Iowa writes—Sunday Funday: The Resistance One Year Out:

Sad to have to remember that Wednesday is the first anniversary of the birth of something most of us could never imagine happening. On November 8th of last year, despite a drubbing in the popular vote, America was saddled with an incompetent buffoon for president. In response a resistance movement has grown from nowhere into a force in this country.

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So far changes to the ACA have been resisted. A major challenge will be to resist the tax “reform” bill that will hurt America and most Americans except the top 1%. Remember how Republicans lied last year claiming they would be real friends to the working person? Who could ever believe a Republican would help a worker.

Along with the resistance to Republican policies is to continue to support Democratic efforts to find out just how bad our election system is. Russian interference, voter suppression and the always interesting question on who is counting the vote.

There was at least one silver lining in the clouds gathered over this country. I think it can be summarized in this little satirical song by musical satirist Rocky Mountain Mike: (1 minute)

Brian Sewell at Appalachian Voices writes—Trump’s war on reality

Ending the “war on coal” over and over again works as a talking point and an applause line. But what happens when rules to safeguard clean air and water are undone, communities are left even more vulnerable to climate change and coal plants still close?

state blogs

The latest major announced retirements came from Perry’s home state. The Texas-based utility Luminant revealed plans in early October to shutter the ‘70s-era Monticello Power Plant, one of the largest coal plants in the nation’s most-carbon emitting state. Why would such a prolific fossil fuel consumer look beyond coal as President Trump is in the midst of saving it?

“It’s purely economic,” a spokesperson for Luminant’s parent company told The Dallas Morning News. “This is a coal plant operating in a market that’s flooded with cheap natural gas.”

It won’t be the last. A new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that, on top of the coal plants already slated for retirement, an additional 20 percent of nation’s coal fleet is uneconomic compared to other energy sources. The states with the greatest share of coal capacity at risk — West Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina — have all historically relied on coal mined from nearby mountains.

Shelby Steuart at Better Georgia writes—Stop making us pay for Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle failures:

The Georgia Public Service Commission is about to approve Georgia Power’s gigantic rate hike to cover their Plant Vogtle failures.

state blogs, Better Georgia

This isn’t surprising considering how little the PSC has done to protect consumers. In 2011, the PSC commissioners’ failure to mandate that Georgia Power share in the financial risk on Vogtle, a project they proposed, has left consumers to foot the bill. The PSC should’ve been suspicious of a company selling a “great idea” without committing at all financially.

Georgia Power has avoided pretty much all of the financial reckoning of the Vogtle projects. Instead, billions of dollars in overruns and years of delays have been and will continue to be absorbed by Georgia consumers. Georgia Power has even tricked schools into covering up to $9,000 a month for them. […]

If you’re wondering why the PSC continues to let Georgia Power go through with Vogtle, it probably has something to do with the lobbyists wining and dining the PSC. A few months ago, the five members of the PSC, and some of their staff, got treated to a $7,700 meal paid for by several lobbyists for power and communications companies, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Although consumer advocacy groups have continually warned against the high costs being offset onto customers, rates have increased about $100 per year for the average residential household to cover Southern Company’s financing costs, and the PSC continues to approve them. The PSC has approved billions in cost overruns, as recently as last December, and all of it gets passed on to ratepayers.

Ed Heinzelman at Blogging Blue of Wisconsin writes—One Quick Take Away From the Virginia Gubernatorial Contest:

I was relieved to see that Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam will be the next governor of Virginia. Ed Gillespie, his Republican opponent seemed to be gaining momentum over the past month. There are a lot of articles out there dissecting what happened…why Northam carried the day…why this was a Trump referendum…why the Dems are getting their shit together…etc, etc, etc. [DNC: don’t spike the ball yet]

Blogging Blue

This victory and the numbers/margins that go with it give me pause about what we saw a year ago. And it strengthens my position that Hillary Clinton needs to go away. Something that I have been discussing on social media with other pundits and activists today.

This is an off year election. But not only off year, an odd year election. Elections that are notorious for low voter turnout and low Democratic voter turn out. Apparently Democrats only like to vote for president. But not only did Mr. Northam win, he beat Hillary Clinton in several metrics.

So my take away? No matter how much affection the party might have for Hillary Clinton it can’t look back and continue to use the Clinton name or Clinton style to run campaigns. The numbers in Virginia seem to indicate that she is exactly the divisive candidate many pundits said she was. Northam out ran her record in an off year election. She failed to bring out the vote and inspire voters to cast their ballots period…much less cast their ballots for her. And Mr. Northam couldn’t be more moderately moderate for even a Democrat.

And the party has to stay unified ala Mr Perriello post primary if we want to win the generals.

And I am going to ignore all the it’s an anti-Trump tidal wave…we can’t run against anymore…Clinton did that…we have to stand for something.

Jamie Eldridge at Blue Mass Group writes—Lessons Learned from the Senate Debate on Criminal Justice Reform:

Late last Thursday night, the Massachusetts State Senate passed comprehensive criminal justice reform legislation, that marks the biggest reform to our criminal justice system in a generation. The bill, S.2185, reverses 50-years of mass incarceration policies that have destroyed communities, ruined families, contributed to racial and income inequality, cost billions of taxpayer dollars, and eroded civil liberties in the Cradle of Liberty. Tremendous gratitude goes out to Senator Will Brownsberger, Senate chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary and primary drafter of S.2185, Senator Cynthia Creem for being such a strong partner on the bill, and to Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka for further strengthening S.2185.

Blue Mass Group

As the Senate chair of the Harm Reduction and Drug Law Reform Caucus (HRDLR), it was extremely moving to see every one of the HRDLR Caucus legislative priorities included in S.2185, many of which have been filed as legislation for many years. More importantly, it’s critical to remember that community groups, social justice organizations, civil liberties groups, and concerned residents from across the Commonwealth have been organizing and fighting for criminal justice reform for literally decades. Let’s never forget that the first advocates for criminal justice reform were from communities and leaders of color, many of whom have suffered the most from mass incarceration, the War on Drugs, and over-prosecution, and that their organizing will serve to benefit all of the people of Massachusetts.

A few reflections on what happened leading up to, and during, the debate on S.2185:

  • Common-sense reforms based on facts, research, and popular will can be challenged by emotion, fear, and loud conservative voices. […]
  • Social justice advocates and activists cannot take anything for granted, even in the “liberal” Senate. […]
  • Organization among elected officials matter. […]

Jane Kleeb at Bold Nebraska writes—Nov. 4: Harvest of the Sacred Ponca Corn:

Join us on Saturday, Nov. 4 in Neligh at the farm of Art and Helen Tanderup for the fourth annual harvest of Sacred Ponca Corn “Seeds of Resistance” that the Cowboy & Indian Alliance planted on land that lies in the path of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, that also crosses the historic Ponca Trail of Tears.

Bold Nebraska

This year’s harvest will take place around the 4th anniversary of the Ponca Trail of Tears Spiritual Camp that was held on the Tanderup farm Nov. 8-11, 2013. Organized by Ponca Tribal families, Brave Heart Society, Oceti Sakowin Tribes, the Cowboy & Indian Alliance and Bold Nebraska, the camp was among the first to draw the line against the Keystone XL pipeline’s potential destruction and disrespect to the sacred sites along the Trail of Tears of the Ponca Nation. (Read more about the camp here.)

The first “Seeds of Resistance” were planted in 2014 by the Cowboy & Indian Alliance, when sacred Ponca corn was returned to the tribe’s ancestral homeland in Nebraska for the first time in 137 years — since the tribe was forcibly removed from Nebraska.

The corn was planted on land that lies both in the path of the Keystone XL pipeline, and on the historic Ponca Trail of Tears.

The 3.5 acres of sacred Ponca corn planted in Neligh was certified by the USDA, and with the land now protected from Keystone XL, the corn planting and harvests continue to help propagate more Seeds of Resistance.

Since their first planting in Nebraska as a strategy of blocking the Keystone XL pipeline and building a Cowboy and Indian Alliance, Seeds of Resistance have since spread across the world, to to Ecuador, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and other communities standing up to Big Corporations.

Charles Davis at Capital & Main of California writes—Paroling the Mind: A College Program Opens New Doors for Former Convicts

Founded by a formerly incarcerated man in 1967, Project Rebound has grown from one school, San Francisco State University, to eight other Cal State campuses.

As fires blazed across California last month, killing 43 people, scorching more than 210,000 acres and causing $3.3 billion in damage, about 250 female inmates were sent to the front lines to battle the flames.

stateblogs, Capital & Main, CapitalandMain

“Who doesn’t want to get out of a prison?” asks Romarilyn Ralston, program coordinator for Project Rebound at California State University, Fullerton, an effort aimed at helping former inmates gain access to higher education. Fighting fires while incarcerated is a coerced choice, she adds, with wages capped at a couple of dollars a day.

“You go through a couple weeks of training and then you’re sent off to fire camp to go protect other people’s lives and property at the expense of your own. And you do that because you want to prove to yourself and your family that you’re not the worst thing that you have ever done in your life — that your life is redeemable.”

Ralston’s life became a dramatic example of that redemption after being convicted of murder when she was 24. “I was involved with drugs,” she says, seated at her desk in a cozy two-person office on campus. “I shot a woman, and she died.” Now in her 50s, her long dark hair pulled back to reveal gold hoop earrings, she says she does not define herself by her crime. She spent 23 years in prison before she was paroled in 2011 and has earned a bachelor’s degree from Pitzer College in Claremont and a master’s from Washington University in St. Louis.

Ralston is now program coordinator for Project Rebound at Cal State Fullerton, helping other former inmates get the education she believes saved her life. That can mean helping people behind bars apply to take part in the program that advertises in the San Quentin News. Once they are released, the program gives them access to financial aid, money for books and food, counseling, health care, academic and career advice, tutoring, legal assistance and a community of formerly incarcerated people who have made it out of the same traumatic experience.

Delaware Liberal state blog

At Delaware Liberal, Jason330 writes—Breaking – Trump told the truth for once:

This is Trump at his most truthful.

“Right now, unfortunately, it is a very one-sided and unfair one, but, but I don’t blame China. After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit.”

Thats more honest than his angry at China campaign rhetoric about them “raping” us. Trump honestly thinks the strong should take advantage of the weak, and that the poor should be abused by the rich. It is a bloodthirsty worldview fitting for someone who was given everything and told that he earned it.

He is never very guarded about it, but this is his philosophy in a nutshell. That’s what I don’t get about all of his “christian” devotees. Trump is about as far away from the teachings of Christ as a person could possibly get.

Jon Easter at Indy Democrat Blog writes—Say It Ain’t So, Joe!

Joe Donnelly, you’ve done it again.

I’ve tried to defend you to my friends. I’ve tried to compare you to a statesman, and I’ve even tried to give you credit when you have done things right.

Indy Democrat Blog

Last week, you made my voluntary job very difficult. If you weren’t running against crazy in 2018, I’d gladly let you take up the mantle on your own and live with the consequences. That said, you’ve put me in the position of going to the polls and holding my nose to vote for you.

That’s right. You have my vote, and that’s probably why you feel comfortable voting for two virulently anti-gay judicial candidates put up by the Trump Administration for confirmation. You feel like you can take my vote for granted.

You see, I like you, Joe. I think you’re truly a good man who has public service in his heart, but I wonder if you like me. I wonder how you can look your constituents who are LGBTQIA+ in the face after you vote the way you did on those nominees. It’s hard to, on one hand, court my vote and ask for my money while you vote against my interests.

No, I’m not a one-issue voter. That said, if someone consistently tells you that they want your money and your vote because they need it to go to Washington to serve you and then does the opposite, what would you do?

I remember standing in the hallway of the Indiana Democratic Party’s state convention and having a long conversation with then-Congressman Brad Ellsworth. At the time, Ellsworth was wrong on many LGBTQIA+ issues, but he said something that will always stick with me.  He said to me that, on the issue of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell that he was willing to risk his political career to vote the right way on that bill. He did. He voted to overturn the policy, and it was used against him in the 2010 Senate race.

Are you willing to do the right thing and put your career as a Senator on the line to do the right thing for Hoosiers? It’s not like these nominees were going to fail, Joe. Without your vote, they still would have been confirmed. You did not need to be one of the eight.

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