This week at progressive state blogs: Sessions harshes marijuana mellow; Merkley pushes for green

Juanita Jean Herownself of Juanita Jean’s of Texas writes—Honey, He Wouldn’t Be Stable Even If You Mounted Him On A Tripod:

Donald Trump certainly pushes the boundaries of the collective hunch called reality.

state blogs, Juanita Jean's

So nobody is surprised that …

Lawmakers concerned about President Donald Trump’s mental state summoned Yale University psychiatry professor Dr. Bandy X. Lee to Capitol Hill last month for two days of briefings about his recent behavior.

In private meetings with more than a dozen members of Congress held on Dec. 5 and 6, Lee briefed lawmakers — all Democrats except for one Republican senator, whom Lee declined to identify. Her professional warning to Capitol Hill: “He’s going to unravel, and we are seeing the signs.”

Honey, his hair alone is a pretty good sign that his elevator doesn’t go all the way to the penthouse.

I think it’s great that Dr. Lee talked for two days but, actually, how many ways can you say “something ain’t right with that boy.”

Montana Hat at Montana Cowgirl writes—5 signs your United States Senator has been co-opted by the Communist Party of China:

Some mornings you wake up, bicker with your Amazon Echo on a weather update, and hustle out the door.  Other times you roll out of bed, scan the day’s news, and find yourself crying out, “damn my toast is burnt again and holy crap my US Senator is a Communist Party operative.”

State blogs

Well Montana, it is happening to you.  We probably overlooked some early warning signs like Senator Daines’ six years in Hong Kong and mainland China moving American jobs overseas or his repetitive tax-payer funded trips to the Far East. While the picture is becoming increasingly clear for us Montanans, I suspect Senator Daines might still be clueless on how increasingly tied his actions are to supporting Communist China’s interests.

The Washington Post recently exposed Senator Daines’ cozy relationship with China in an opinion piece titled: How China got a U.S. senator to do its political bidding

I may not be a seasoned spy, but I did watch a few seasons of Homeland. The best intelligence assets have no idea they are even assets right? Well Senator Daines, I hope you read this because it’s time to wake up. Time to acknowledge some misplaced priorities and spineless ignorance.

Brian Leubitz at Calitics writes—Reacting to the GOP Tax Scam:

Well, now that the dust has settled a little bit on the mess that is the GOP tax plan, some are looking to find ways to react to the changes. Of course, given that this is California, and we have state taxes that will no longer be deductible in 2018, that has been one of the bigger targets. Some have suggested reclassifying taxes as charitable contributions (seems a little iffy legally), and urging state residents to prepay property taxes (temporary, but on solid legal footing.) But the biggest question would be the state income taxes that Californians will no longer be able to deduct, and apparently there is a plan for that:

But perhaps the most promising option, teased by a large group of tax law experts and vocally championed by prominent liberal economist Dean Baker, is for states to repeal their income taxes and replace them with employer-side payroll taxes. This might appear like a minor technical change. But it would not only totally offset the new limit on deducting state taxes — it would amount to a sizable tax cut for many middle-class families and would vastly simplify tax preparation by freeing people up from filing their own state taxes. (Vox) […]

This is still a very preliminary idea, with a whole lot of details to be considered. This could be a win-win for Californians, and a nice little middle finger to the Republicans in DC. Also, with all of the measures that have been passed dealing with income taxes, this will almost certainly need to go to the ballot even if we get 2/3 in the both chambers of the Legislature. And this could be the opportunity to fix Prop 13 along with the rest of our tax system.

Michael Bersin at Show Me Progress of Missouri writes—Good riddance to 2017. Don’t think 2018 is going to be any better

All the badness of 2017 started in 2016. And way before then.

Show Me Progress, state blog

Then Secretary of State Jason Kander (D) had a thing or two to say to the republican majority in the Missouri House on the first day of the 2017 legislative session. They got upset.

Secretary of State Jason Kander (D): [….] I know I’m not who you came to hear and I know that none of this was what you wanted to hear. But I am your Secretary of State for a bit little longer, and as a result I feel a responsibility to tell you that even though you have the power to take away the right to vote from the citizens of Missouri, you that shouldn’t.

And that if you choose to follow the example of Wisconsin or North Carolina, well then, I guess we’ll see you in court. [….] 

The belief in and hope for “bipartisanship” and “compromise” with people in control in our current political environment who neither believe in nor hope for bipartisanship is as useful in modern American politics as signing a petition.

There are some people who will never vote for any Democratic party candidate. Ever. Accept that. Act accordingly. Don’t waste your time or energy.

AZ BlueMeanie of Blog for Arizona writes—The threat of nuclear war should not rest in the hands of Donald Trump:

Our always insecure man-child Twitter-troll-in-chief really outdid himself over the New Year’s weekend, but he saved his most insane tweets for Tuesday when he was supposedly back at work (he was actually watching Fox & Friends). Fact-checking President Trump’s post-New Year’s tweets.

state blogs, blog for Arizona

This is why for foreign leaders and diplomats around the world taking the measure of our man-child Twitter-troll-in-chief, “The word they all used was: ‘This guy is insane.’” Donald Trump’s Year of Living Dangerously.

The tweet that put the world on edge on Tuesday was President Trump’s threat of nuclear war with North Korea using the taunt of a man insecure in his own manhood. Trump Says His ‘Nuclear Button’ Is ‘Much Bigger’ Than North Korea’s […]

Yeah, For Starters, There’s No Button. More importantly, a nuclear war may hinge on our always insecure man-child Twitter-troll-in-chief’s freudian insistence that “my missile is bigger than yours.”

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Brian Ess at Blue Delaware writes—The Party of Small* Government and States’ Rights** Strikes AgainAttorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding a policy that allowed legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country without federal intervention:

If you have found it difficult to understand what States have rights to do or not do with this current administration, you aren’t alone.  AG Jefferson Beauregard Sessions has decided that since pot = heroin,

Sessions’ policy will let U.S. attorneys across the country decide what kinds of federal resources to devote to marijuana enforcement based on what they see as priorities in their districts, the people familiar with the decision said.

Ah yes. People accountable to only the Federal DOJ, rather than a State’s DOJ, get to determine what’s in a State’s “best interest” regarding marijuana laws that disproportionately affect minorities even if said State’s voters and/or legislators have legalized medical and/or recreational pot.

“There is no more safe haven with regard to the federal government and marijuana, but it’s also the beginning of the story and not the end,” said Kevin Sabet, president and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, who was among several anti-marijuana advocates who met with Sessions last month. “This is a victory. It’s going to dry up a lot of the institutional investment that has gone toward marijuana in the last five years.”

First of all. An organization that calls itself “Smart Approaches” to anything loses all credibility the moment it advocates outdated, regressive, and racist modalities as a means to make something better. Secondly, this “institutional investment” he refers to drying up has been funding schools, educational programs, *law enforcement*, and public works to name a few things. Lastly, such investment won’t “dry up” at all. It will shift it back over to the black market which is exactly where it was before 8 states and DC legalized pot.

desmoinesdem at Bleeding Heartland of Iowa writes—Iowa AG has joined 36 legal actions challenging Trump policies:

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller signed on to three dozen multi-state actions challenging Trump administration policies last year, covering a wide range of immigration, environmental, civil rights, consumer protection and labor issues. Miller also joined fellow attorneys general in nine amicus curiae briefs related to state-level or local policies on reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, gun control, voting rights, and gerrymandering.

Bleeding Heartland

Although federal lawsuits aren’t the main focus of Miller’s work, Iowans can be proud our attorney general repeatedly stood for fundamental rights and core progressive values.

The fourteen divisions of the Iowa Attorney General’s office primarily handle legal matters within our state. But I wondered how often Miller had lent support to federal lawsuits stemming from executive branch actions since President Donald Trump took office. The country’s longest-serving state attorney general will run for a tenth term this November. In 2010, both Miller’s opponent and an outside group ran television commercials attacking his stance on the Affordable Care Act.

[A list of cases follows.]

Otto Solberg at Appalachian Voices writes—Upgrade your home without breaking the bank:

When Christian Lannie purchased his home in Laurel Springs, N.C., nearly four years ago, it had been sitting empty for years. With single-pane windows, wooden walls riddled with holes, baseboard heat and barely any insulation, Lannie had his work cut out for him just to keep his home bearable.

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As an artist and carpenter, he was able to do a lot of those repairs on his own, but running his baseboard heating for just two weeks in the winter cost him $120, so he turned it off and ran a wood stove to stay warm. In order to afford the high upfront cost of an efficient heating system, he took his friend Matt Wasson’s recommendation and participated in the Energy SAVER loan program offered by Blue Ridge Energy, Lannie’s electric cooperative.

The loan program allows homeowners to borrow up to $7,500 for energy efficiency upgrades, and pay it back through a new charge on the member-owner’s monthly energy bills. In many cases, the bills will be lower despite the loan repayment.

“The whole process was so easy from beginning to end. It was super seamless. People at the co-op organized everything and got me in touch with different vendors,” says Lannie. “We did the energy audit first. That really got the ball rolling.”

Blue Ridge Energy arranges a professional energy audit, where a local contractor examines the home to find out where the structure is losing energy. This is important for finding which upgrades will best improve comfort and lower energy consumption, and helps homeowners understand where their home is inefficient. After assessing Lannie’s needs, the co-op provided several quotes for different heating and air conditioning systems from several local contractors. The audit cost $50 since Lannie went through with one of the upgrade options.

Eric Hansen at Blue Oregon writes—Merkley Sticks His Neck Out Against Pipeline, For Clean Energy Jobs:

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley stuck his neck out this month by opposing the Jordan Cove fracked gas pipeline and export project and arguing instead for investment in clean energy jobs and infrastructure.

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Merkley gave a number of reasons for opposing the project that has been proposed by a Canadian multinational corporation that is eager to pipe fracked gas for 229 miles across southern Oregon and then export it to Asia from a massive new terminal at Coos Bay on our coast. […]

He pointed out that “the terminal would become the largest carbon polluter in Oregon, with emissions equivalent to putting half a million gas-powered cars on the road.” […]

We have to “shift from building large-scale fossil fuel infrastructure, including Jordan Cove, and instead invest massively in building the enormous backlog of infrastructure projects that will improve our state and nation, not damage it,” Merkley added. “We can energize our construction economy by building desperately needed drinking and wastewater systems; improved bridges, roads, docks, jetties and rail; electric lines; and rural broadband.” […]

It will be interesting to see whether the 2018 state legislature finally passes the Clean Energy Jobs Act that would raise money from the very largest polluters to speed our transition to cleaner energy sources and greater energy efficiency.

deciminyan at Blue Jersey writes—NJ-3’s Inconvenient Truth:

Some of the discussion here has ignored an inconvenient truth. In this District, one of the most difficult hurdles to winning a congressional election is the ability to raise money. This is true regardless of party, ideology, or a candidate’s charisma.

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We are in two of the most expensive media markets without a ubiquitous indigenous media outlet to speak of. So campaign ads require paying New York City and Philadelphia rates.

Use of social media alone will not determine the winner.

Having been involved in campaigns here for the past several cycles, I think that it would require an incumbent to raise at least $2 million and a challenger twice that much. We have a diverse electorate and messaging must be well-crafted, well-targeted, and timely. Professional messaging is not cheap but is needed.

When Tom MacArthur beat Aimee Belgard in 2014, he had it easy. All he had to do was write his campaign a $5 million check and he inundated the airwaves and our mailboxes with his half-truths. Aimee raised almost $2 million, but that was not enough. Some argue that she was a flawed candidate, but having to spend 8 to 10 hours every day on the phone groveling for donations can take a toll.

So, my message here is that you not only need to support a candidate whose views resonate with you, but also you need to consider whether your candidate has the ability to raise the amount of money required. […]

Charlie on the MTA at Blue Mass Group writes—Predictions for 2018 for #mapoli

No time like the present to try to divine the future; with every new Trump blowup, it’s easy to neglect that we’ve actually got two major races this November — Governor and Senator — and that even our Commonwealth — with seemingly stable politics — will be absolutely inundated with campaign spending: Governor Baker has amassed $7 million+ — not to mention his cozy relationship with the RGA and sketchy deep-pocketed funders. Meanwhile, outside dark money funders — the Mercers, you know, the Breitbart funders — have made it clear that they intend to try to soften up Elizabeth Warren, anticipating a 2020 Presidential run, which is seeming quite plausible.

Blue Mass Group

One thing I know: Elizabeth Warren will wipe the floor with whomever the GOP runs against her. She will blow up the Trumpist Geoff Diehl, and the rest of the pack is just not that interesting. But we’re going to get a lot of scary-voiced TV ads funded by kooky billionaire misanthropes (the Mercers, they’re called – perhaps you’ve heard of them. Remember that name.).

One thing I suspect: Despite polls and money, the Governor’s race will be pretty close. Charlie Baker has a nice polling halo as a bureaucratic place-holder, but voters will be hard-pressed to think of three major accomplishments. Why is this guy here? 

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