This week at progressive state blogs: Oregon’s bizarre GOP, Larry Summers says it’s the robots

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2014-05-2008

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megaphone

Just as states with progressive lawmakers and activists have themselves initiated innovative programs over a wide range of issues, state-based progressive blogs have helped provide us with a point of view, inside information and often an edgy voice that we just don’t get from the traditional media. This week in progressive state blogs is designed specifically to focus attention on the writing and analysis of people focused on their home turf. Let me know via comments or Kosmail if you have a favorite state- or city-based blog you think I should be watching. Inclusion of a diary does not necessarily indicate my agreement or endorsement of its contents.

At Blue Oregon, Kari Chisholm writes—Rachel Maddow: There is not a state GOP anywhere “that is more bizarre” than Oregon’s:

Blue Oregon

Oh boy, here we go. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has discovered all the weird and crazy people that populate Republican politics in Oregon. As she put it, we’ve got an “unexpectedly high wackadoo factor”.

Maddow’s money quote: “I do not think it is appreciated broadly enough just how weird Oregon Republican politics have gotten.” We know, Rachel, we know.

It starts, of course, with our very own rich crazy person, the Las Vegas sexual hypnotist Loren Parks. Among other things, Maddow has done us all the service of watching all of his crazy hypnosis videos and excerpting the best (worst) parts. Including the one where he sounds a buzzer on YouTube that will apparently help you lose weight. […]

Maddow also takes note of Art Robinson’s bizarre jihad against Peter DeFazio and his recent urine collection efforts. Which would make him sort of eccentric weirdo loner, except that the Oregon GOP elected him their chairman.

At Keystone Politics of Pennsylvania, Jon Geeting writes—#PAGov Shorter Corbett: Giving Me Fancy Presents Helps the Entire State:

Keystone politics

When a lobbyist gives a black lawmaker a Tiffany bracelet, PA Republicans are scandalized. But when Tom Corbett and his wife get a vacation aboard a businessman’s yacht in Rhode Island, or some sweet New Balance kicks and a dagger of unknown value, they have no problem with that.

And now that some mean ethics reformers want to ban gifts, Republicans are bristling. Their grift, you see, helps the whole state. […]

If Tom Corbett thinks his junkets out of state are justifiable as economic development spending (which, lol) then they should be funded by the Executive Branch, not private businesses.

The travel expenses could potentially be justified, but how much of that $13,500 in “gifts and hospitality” from the Team PA Foundation was the plane ticket and hotel, and how much of it went to Corbett and friends boozing it up at fancy restaurants with local dignitaries? We don’t know.

There’s more excerpts if you read below the orange gerrymander.

After visiting kids with asthma, President Obama emphasizes need to cut carbon pollution

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2014-05-2008

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In America, we don’t have to choose between the health of our economy and the health of our children.  The old rules may say we can’t protect our environment and promote economic growth at the same time, but in America, we’ve always used new technology to break the old rules.

President Obama delivered his weekly address after meeting with children with asthma and other breathing problems at the Children’s National Medical Center, and he focused on the need to address carbon pollution for kids’ health now and the health of the planet and the economy in the future. “Earlier this month, hundreds of scientists declared that climate change is no longer a distant threat,” Obama warned, and we must take action.

Though the president sounded a serious warning, he also expressed confidence in America’s ability to meet these challenges:

… every time America has set clear rules and better standards for our air, our water, and our children’s health – the warnings of the cynics have been wrong.  They warned that doing something about the smog choking our cities, and acid rain poisoning our lakes, would kill business.  It didn’t.  Our air got cleaner, acid rain was cut dramatically, and our economy kept growing.

To read the transcript in full, check below the fold or visit the White House website.

Snowden on: Your Phone’s Vulnerability

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2014-05-2008

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An excerpt from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s exclusive interview with Brian Williams.



Snowden on: NSA Rank & File

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2014-05-2008

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An excerpt from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s exclusive interview with Brian Williams.



This week in science: look mom, no parachutes!

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2014-05-2008

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SpaceX revealed their new Dragon II capsule complete with emergency rocket landing mechanism this week. The company also received approval to launch from a new facility many of my colleagues in NewSpace have been working for:

The spaceport would be constructed at Boca Chica Beach (TX), an area used mostly for recreation and surrounded by over 50 acres of undeveloped sand dunes and wetlands. Texas state officials have been making efforts to sway SpaceX toward the location in order to create new jobs and attract tourism. The Texas legislature has proposed tax breaks and passed a law allowing for nearby beaches to be closed off for safety during launches.

This region is at the southern tip of the Lone Star State. Because it’s closer to the equator than Kennedy Space Center, it provides even more “free” velocity for orbit-bound spacecraft and still has a big, mostly empty ocean region to the east to handle lower stage or early abort recovery.

  • Ants vs Google: Ants win.
  • Bacon!
  • Neil dygrasse Tyson was on All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC this week, good stuff if you can catch a clip. The teaser was, he’d be talking about climate change denialists and creationist with Hayes this next Monday evening.
  • Speaking of interviews, the Snowden spot with Bryan Williams is just incredible. Quality trad med journalism imo. And while I, like many, feel conflicted, his demeanor appears earnest, his concerns are well stated, and some of his conclusions sound highly plausible, at least to to me. See, it’s not just that everything you do is being recorded …

Andrew Cuomo and Working Families Party close to deal (maybe)

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2014-05-2008

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Andrew Cuomo delivers the State of the State address, January 6, 2012

If that surrender is really on the table, take it!

If the Working Families Party gets this, I would definitely take that for putting Andrew Cuomo on the WFP ballot line:

As for the contours of the deal, they would appear to include a shift by the governor that would include declaring a new progressive agenda, expressing a newfound devotion to key planks of the party’s platform such as public financing of elections, a DREAM Act and a minimum wage increase. To overcome the problem of much of the party not trusting the governor’s word, the agenda would be unveiled at a big public event with WFP allies, perhaps as soon as this weekend, in which the governor would stand with key players of the state’s institutional left (including de Blasio) — and declare his support for it […]

First, the united groups — including unions like 1199 and the Hotel Trades Council, which backed a Republican state Senate in recent years — would declare the need for a Democratic state Senate. For WFP members to be interested, they’d like to see the governor say he will help fund primary challenges to the Independent Democratic Caucus — a band of breakaway Democrats now caucusing with Republicans — with millions of dollars if they don’t rejoin the party in earnest.

This is all “insider” sources and all, so take with appropriate grain of salt. But the report says that the deal would include:

– Cuomo having to kiss Bill de Blasio’s butt in public, along that of the WFP. That base humiliation alone might be worth the price of admission.

– Cuomo pledges support for state DREAM Act and minimum wage increase, both of which would dramatically improve the lives of people in the state.

– But how does he get that through the Senate? Well, he gives up his tacit support for the turncoat Democrats who have given control of the chamber to minority Republicans. He either tells them “rejoin the Democrats, or I’ll back the primaries against you.” Of course, we still back those primary challenges, but regardless the outcome, the GOP is left in the cold. Advantage the good guys, again.

– Public financing of elections is a big deal. The governor promised it, then he decided to only apply it to one of his political Democratic enemies, and only this election. A recommitment to real public financing would be fantastic.

All in all, this would be a stunning surrender by the governor, and a stunning victory by the Working Families Party. If these reports are true and that’s what’s on the table, take the deal.

Obama’s counterterrorism doctrine: Let locals lead the fight

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2014-05-2008

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U.S. President Barack Obama pauses before he speaks about the My Brother's Keeper Task Force while in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in WashingtonBy David Rhode NEW YORK (Reuters) – In a foreign policy address this week, U.S. President Barack Obama gave his clearest outline yet of his counterterrorism strategy. Al Qaeda splinter groups remain the largest threat to the United States, he said, but Washington must respond to it in a new way: by training local security forces, not deploying American ground troops. “We have to develop a strategy that matches this diffuse threat – one that expands our reach without sending forces that stretch our military too thin, or stir up local resentments,” Obama said. “We need partners to fight terrorists alongside us.” But critics say America's past efforts to train local security forces have had mixed results. Washington has a poor track record of applying the long-term resources, funding and attention needed to carry out such efforts successfully.

Dressing the VA’s wounds: What Obama faces now

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-05-2014-05-2008

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United States Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki addresses The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans conference in WashingtonBy Julia Edwards and Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When U.S. President Barack Obama accepted the resignation on Friday of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, he said his priority now was fixing the troubled agency whose officials are accused of covering up delays in providing healthcare for U.S. veterans. As Obama himself said, the sprawling Veterans Affairs department "has had problems for a very long time," including management problems. Obama noted on Friday that the VA enrolled 2 million new veterans in healthcare under Shinseki's watch.  Obama and many Democratic lawmakers say that the increase calls for more doctors and nurses to prevent veterans from having to endure long wait times for care. In February, Senate Republicans blocked a bill by Bernard Sanders, an Independent who caucuses with Democrats and chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, to expand veterans' benefits.

Key Chapter of Hillary Clinton’s Book Leaked to Press

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-05-2014-05-2008

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Clinton writes there will never be “perfect clarity” regarding the most criticized event in her tenure as Secretary of State, the Benghazi attack.



VA Shakeup Brings Veterans Mix of Relief, Worry

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 30-05-2014-05-2008

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The VA is struggling to meet a greater demand than ever before, with nearly 9 million veterans enrolled.