A W A K E N

This week at progressive state blogs: Ohio GOP makes poor governor choice; ultra-partisan Kavanaugh

Tom von Alten at Fortboise of Idaho writes—What a tangled web we weave:

NBC News reports a wee problem with the Judiciary Committee’s practice. Last week, minority member Richard Blumenthal submitted the summary of relevant information from Kerry Berchem, a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh and Ramirez to the committee, and it was kept from the light of day:

state blogs. fortboise

George Hartmann, a spokesman for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said that “the texts from Ms. Berchem do not appear relevant or contradictory to Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony.”

“This appears to be another last-ditch effort to derail the nomination with baseless innuendo by Democrats who have already decided to vote no,” Hartmann said.

Text messages showing that “the judge and his team were communicating behind the scenes with friends to refute the claim” of Deborah Ramirez, before The New Yorker piece came around. Which was before Kavanaugh says he’d even heard about this thing that he claims never even happened. Berchem’s been in touch with Karen Yarasavage, another classmate:

In a series of texts before the publication of the New Yorker story, Yarasavage wrote that she had been in contact with “Brett’s guy,” and also with “Brett,” who wanted her to go on the record to refute Ramirez. According to Berchem, Yarasavage also told her friend that she turned over a copy of the wedding party photo to Kavanaugh, writing in a text: “I had to send it to Brett’s team too.”

Aaaand this:

“Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath that the first time he heard of Ramirez’s allegation was in the Sept. 23 article in The New Yorker.”

Alby at Delaware Liberal writes—That’s Justice Partisan Ratfucker to You:

Knowing what he knows now, Donald Trump probably would have nominated someone other than Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. We know that from the Washington Post, which laid out how Kavanaugh is Don McGahn’s last act in the White House, and reports that Trump is furious (when is he not?) with McGahn for dropping this wet turd in his lap.

Delaware Liberal

At this point there are myriad reasons to reject Kavanaugh’s candidacy, but the first and most salient has been there all along: Kavanaugh never tried a case in his life, and never worked in a courtroom before becoming a judge. He was, as Charles Pierce lays out for Esquire, a partisan ratfucker, employed to give legal advice to people doing borderline-illegal things. Lies are the least of his transgressions.

The Nazi comparisons won’t stop because the similarities between Republicans and Nazis are too obvious, but the most important point of agreement is the most chilling: for Trump lovers, the cruelty is the point. Adam Serwer drives the point home.

Lucian Truscott, a fourth-generation Army officer, has written before about toxic male privilege, from the viewpoint of one who was selected for grooming and rejected the “honor.” He sees that, for Republicans, the Kavanaugh-or-bust fanaticism represents the Privileged White Male’s Last Stand. They know damn well that their power is fast eroding, and they’re too mean and dumb to react any other way.

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scharrison at BlueNC writes—Hate mail sent to UNC Muslim Students Association:

Not all cartoons are harmless or funny:

The comics included angry imagery of camels and Muslims, as well as warnings about Islam’s invasion into Western countries. One cartoon read, “If you say anything bad about ‘Allah’ or his prophet, Muhammad…some of them will try to hurt you.” Another cartoon strip read, “Here’s how they invade today. First, they’re peaceful, until they gain power — then look out! England is losing control and is closer to accepting Sharia* (sic) law.”

“It’s definitely an eye-opener because we go about our lives as any other student on this campus,” MSA publicity chairperson Malak Harb said. “For us to receive things like that, it kind of makes us stop for a second and realize, you know what, there are people who see us as less than. They try to make it very clear to us that we are not like everyone else.”

Using cartoon imagery to promote hatred is definitely not new; it was standard fare for anti-Semitic movements dating back to a century ago. And one of the main reasons bigots use this is because they are free to craft the angriest and ugliest facial features they want, in order to frighten gullible white people. Jews and recently freed slaves were depicted in this fashion even by mainstream newspapers, and average white Southerners didn’t even bat an eye. And that’s why it’s more important then ever for us to avoid falling into the same old prejudicial trap:

Harb believes sentiments of Islamaphobia were present before President Donald Trump came into office, but are now more openly expressed. […]

Rosi Efthim at Blue Jersey writes—CD3: Andy Kim ad: “Booth”:

New York Times/Siena College Poll showed a whopping 10-point spread Andy Kim (49%) over Rep. MacArthur (39%) in this district’s most recent poll (jump to RCP). Hard not to imagine that survey (499 respondents) as a potential outlier, but we do know it’s close.  Monmouth University Poll, taken more than two months ago has Kim up by 1 point, but that was before – as Monmouth points out – most voters in the district were really thinking about November (that caution does not apply to my friends).

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Kim’s campaign is aiming for a House seat only one other Democrat has won in 100 years. The late NJ State Senator John Adler rode the 2008 Obama wave and won his district with exactly the same 3.4% margin as Obama won the district (Obama won CD:3 in 2012 too, but Adler lost to Jon Runyon by 9 points and by 2016 Trump won by 6 points and MacArthur won by more than 20). This time around, the 3rd is much, much closer. So close, it’s getting ugly, with allegations from the GOP camp that Andy Kim padded his resume to appeal to Republicans (Washington Post gave Kim 2 Pinnochios for ‘exaggerating’ his role in the Bush administration, but also said MacArthur’s campaign was stretching to call Kim’s claim a “lie”).

Both RCP and Cook Political Report rate this district a “Toss-Up”. MacArthur was Donald Trump’s willing House errand boy in the Republican effort to dismantle the ACA. This ad never mentions Trump, but does pin the money ties between T-Mac and the drug and insurance interests that benefit from his service to them at cost to us. This is Andy Kim’s “Booth” –

Orange Juice Blog state blog

Donovan at The Orange Juice Blog of California writes—NAFTA 2.0: a Very Bad Deal for Orange County:

When Ross Perot likened NAFTA to a giant vacuum cleaner sucking jobs away from America to Mexico, California, as a separate country, would have comprised the 8th largest economy in the world.  Today, we’d come 5th.  We’ve grown a lot despite what Trump described as ‘the worst deal of the century.’

Trans-Pacific trade is the largest reason why we’ve grown, benefiting from vast trade networks linking North America with Asia: it is the ‘secret ingredient’ underpinning most California successes for decades.  ‘Silicon Valley’ may look like a creation of a host of immigrants and their children (Apple, Google, Tesla, Intel) – but California’s unique geographic position and climate makes it attractive for eyes throughout the greater Pacific. Housing? Many states restrict new homes – but ours are worth more than others because a billion+ people throughout the Pacific see great value in raising families in California.

NAFTA played a significant role in shaping modern California.  Linking two  of America’s three largest trading partners – Canada, $583 bn in total trade volume, and Mexico, $560 bn – set up a giant, semi-harmonized bloc that forced every trading partner across the Pacific to take note and respond.  Flows from Asia focus on reaching California first as the main gateway to America: most trade from China ($640 bn), Japan ($205 bn), and South Korea ($120 bn) relies heavily on California.

Yet while California benefits immensely from the world NAFTA helped create,  ordinary Californians often do not.  Large manufacturers have largely abandoned California for China (which has no free trade agreement with America); to a lesser extent, they’ve expanded in Mexico and other countries.  Sometimes new ‘specialty’ manufacturers replace them, offsetting the losses (e.g., if California produces fewer Fords and Toyotas, we can produce more manufacture Teslas); sometimes they do not.

Matt Campbell at Blue Hog Report of Arkansas does some digging into expenditures in an obscure public office and discovers, well, he tells you in Commissioner’s Island S1:E1, starring John Thurston:

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…

John Thurston, the current Commissioner of State Lands (COSL) and candidate for Secretary of State, likes to say that his tenure as Land Commissioner has been without “a hint of corruption or any controversy.” He’s even said it on video.

Of course, assuming that statement is true, it would be fair to ask whether it is true because there have been no improper actions or simply because most people don’t pay attention to the COSL’s doings. In an effort to answer that question, I started poking around and talking to people who might have some insight.

Blue Hog Report

It didn’t take much digging before a rumor surfaced that Thurston had purchased a fishing boat with state funds. Sure enough, a request for public records turned up the purchase of an 18.5-foot War Eagle model 860LDSV for $22,447.65, which included two Blackhawk Fishing Seats ($141 each) and an upgraded 115HP Yamaha outboard engine ($7,997).

The boat was ordered on October 2, 2014, but was not picked up in Monticello at the War Eagle factory until December 4, 2014. Despite that two-month lag between ordering and pickup, however, it appears that the folks at the COSL office could not wait to go on a shopping spree for other things that they needed along with the boat. Less than three weeks after ordering the boat, on October 20, one or more people from the COSL office went to Bass Pro, during business hours, and spent a mere $3,999.96 on a variety of things including (but definitely not limited to) a fish/depth finder ($2,299.99), two “Deluxe Fishing Vest” life vests ($59.99 each), two “Mustang Survival Bass Competition” inflatable PFDs ($249.99 each), two Under Armour balaclava-style masks ($34.99 each), a “Weekender Fishing Tackle Bag” ($19.99), three pair of shooting glasses, and two pair of camo pants.

Nic Sweircek at Nebraska Appleseed writes—Edison Red Nest III: 2018 Roots of Justice Award

Nebraska Appleseed blog

On October 11, we will celebrate the outstanding contributions of Nebraskans who have stood up for justice and opportunity for all at the 2018 Good Apple Awards in Omaha. In the days leading up to the Good Apple Awards, we are proud to introduce you to the honorees we are recognizing this year.

Edison Red Nest III, founder of Native Futures and Native Dreams, Edison Red Nest III

The Roots of Justice Award recognizes grassroots advocates who have made outstanding contributions to justice and opportunity for all and have helped build a stronger community.

Edison Red Nest III, founder of Native Futures and Native Dreams, uses his organizing skills to bring people together, identify community needs, engage people in advocacy, and develop innovative solutions to improve the quality of life of Native Americans in the panhandle region.

With a presence in Alliance, Scottsbluff, Chadron, and Gordon, Edison and Native Futures/Dreams fills a critical niche in Nebraska, providing culturally competent and respectful services.

Edison is always asking, what are the barriers preventing people from thriving? To that end, Edison has developed a pedicab service to provide jobs and transportation, secured a food truck to launch a mobile food pantry, and is developing projects to create youth-run greenhouses and a housing development initiative.

Yet Edison’s deepest passion is giving back to Native youth: to help kids preserve their culture and language, provide outlets to recreational outlets like lacrosse and job training activities, and helping youth with foster care experience get the supports they need.

James Rowen at The Political Environment of Wisconsin writes—For WI waters, orange is the new brown. Or blue-green:

Well, Bucky, your DNR [Dept. of Natural Resources] has enabled brown water, and blue-green water, so add orange to your color-coded collection of water-borne contaminants.
In 10 million gallon increments10 million gallons of mine sludge turns Trempealeau River orange; officials investigating spill after dramatic rescue

Penalty freeWisconsin DNR: No fine for Trempealeau County mine spill

state blogs, The Political Environment

Despite the videoFrac sand mine mishap turns a river orangeWhich is how it all works in a state where the DNR is now intentionally-managed with a ‘chamber of commerce mentality,’ not according to its old-timey environmental mission. […] 

Current mining operations are primarily located in West Central Wisconsin, but there are also facilities in Burnett, Green Lake, Outagamie and Waupaca Counties. The following table and the interactive map contain information that is current as of May 23, 2016:

  •  Total Number of Industrial Sand Facilities (Mines, Processing & Rail Loading) 128.
  • Number of Active Facilities 92.
  • Number of Inactive Facilities 32.
  • Number of Facilities Reclaimed/In Process of Final Reclamation 4

WillyKay at Show Me Progress of Missouri writes—Josh Hawley smells blood in the water and attacks Dianne Feinstein:

GOP Attorney Josh Hawley got some bad news today when CNN’s latest polling numbers put him 3 percentage points behind Democrat Claire McCaskill whom he hopes to replace in the Senate. The poll shows McCaskill with 47 percent to Hawley’s 43 percent. The new poll reverses the last polling that put McCaskill 2 percentage points behind Hawley.

Show Me Progress, state blog

Senator McCaskill and Hawley are still within the poll’s margin of error, but those of us who have been thoroughly turned off by the bible-thumping GOP boy wonder are nevertheless cheered by McCaskill’s upwards trajectory. We were particularly pleased after reading about Hawley’s crude effort to prove that he’s not too prissy to be a good little team player:

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), who’s running against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), is calling for a special counsel to investigate Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and her staff over the handling of sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“It raises very troubling ethical question … and that’s why I’m calling today for a special counsel to investigate the conduct of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, her staff and all other relevant party for violating the confidentiality of Dr. Ford and obstructing the work of the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Hawley told reporters on a Monday conference call, referring to the first woman to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.

Nothing like jumping on a leaky boat in one’s haste to get in on the action and get a share of the booty. Hawley should probably think it over very carefully before he spews more of this sort of righteous rhetoric; the effort to deflect attention from an ethically very flawed SCOTUS candidate to Senator Feinstein’s hypothetical misbehavior has the stench of pure desperation – not to mention stupidity. Bogus investigations don’t impress anyone but the terminally dim-witted anymore.

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