This week at progressive state blogs: Trump-proofing democracy; energy zombie apocalypse
Abe at The Plunderbund of Ohio writes—Flynn: The Mob Canary Among Others:
As videos remind us of Michael Flynn’s harsh demands against Hillary Clinton to “lock her up”, there is growing speculation that he will not be imprisoned for his disgraceful role in the Russia probe. The debate over Flynn’s fate as a mob canary will extend to both sides of special counsel Robert Mueller’s penetrating reach.
At this point, does it really matter? The disgraced general has already condemned himself ago to imprisonment in the pages of history books from which he can’t escape—now and forever.
That leads me to ask why people are so willing to give up their name, honor, and reputation in their ignoble quest for power and riches. History is full of such losers. Team Trump, led by the mega-con man that bears its name, will simply add a lot more criminals to it. (We can’t imagine what Michelangelo would have done with them in his hellish fresco in the Sistine Chapel.)
Of course, as he led the wicked chant about Hillary, he did assure us that if he had done a tenth of what Hillary had done, “I would be in jail.”
A staffer at The Left Hook of California writes—Council Takes a Step Towards Curbing Section 8 Discrimination, Charging Commercial Developers for Affordable Housing Impact:
The San Jose City Council voted to draft a source of income discrimination ordinance that would make it unlawful for landlords to discrimination against tenants solely because they use vouchers to help pay the rent. The ordinance, if passed, would not force landlords to accept tenants using vouchers, such as those issued by US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 8 program, but would prohibit them from using different criteria to evaluate tenants with vouchers versus those without. It would also prohibit landlords from advertising “No Section 8” on apartment listings. Research shows similar anti-discrimination policies in other cities have improved use of government voucher programs by as much as 11 percent. This is important since last year 2,000 federal housing vouchers went unused in Santa Clara County and hundreds of additional voucher-holders were only able to find housing in deed restricted affordable housing developments, as many tenants were unable to find private landlords willing to rent to them.
The ordinance, which is being drafted by city staff, is expected to come before the council for a vote in the spring of 2019.
Sue Prent at Green Mountain Daily of Vermont writes—Trump-proofing U.S. Democracy:
With the Southern District of New York essentially confirming that we have a felon for a president, the focus of pundits seems to be evolving rather quickly from can he or can’t he be indicted to what the hell happens AFTER Donald Trump.
I read an interesting, if depressing piece shared by Will Martin on Business Insider, predicting that U.S. capitalism and, more importantly, the institutions of its democracy, might be forever changed by the spreading corruption of Donald Trump.
Others are speculating that, despite Trump being exposed as the most dishonest and corrupt American president in modern history, Democrats might actually find it difficult to unseat him should his presidency survive to 2020 for a second go-round. Some say that the only way to defeat him is with a candidate that exceeds or at least duplicates his savage populist style.
I’ve gotta say that, if that is the case, maybe the U.S. no longer deserves democracy.
The shameless Republican Party, with one foot in the Third Reich, has somehow succeeded in redefining basic democratic aspirations like a living wage, universal healthcare and education as “far left” pipe dreams to which only a fool would give allegiance. Why do we let them do that?
Liz Iacobucci at NH Labor News writes—Keeping The “Public” In “Public Access” Programming:
While we are all focused on other things… the Federal Communications Commission is about to issue a new regulation that could mean the end of public access programming.
That’s what would be affected by this FCC rule change.
For decades, cable operators have negotiated with local governments regarding both
(a) the “franchise fee” the cable company pays to use public rights of way for its transmission infrastructure; and
(b) “public, educational and governmental access” (PEG) services. […]
Contracts are supposed to be binding, right? Contracts are supposed to represent the agreement of both parties, right?
But the FCC’s rules change would let the cable companies unilaterally change those contracts. The FCC would allow the cable companies to unilaterally decide how much to charge governments for PEG access—and then deduct that amount from the franchise fee.
Jason330 at Delaware Liberal writes—Coons’ Prayer Breakfast Confidant Plea Deal Disclosed:
Coons’ prayer breakfast confidant, Maria Butina, conspired with a Russian government official “and at least one other person” for Butina to act as an unregistered foreign agent.
ABC News obtained a copy of the plea agreement and published excerpts of it Monday. A court filing earlier Monday suggested a plea agreement was imminent. Federal investigators have reportedly told Erickson he may also face charges. Butina’s deal includes cooperating with authorities, ABC News reported.
Butina and Person 1, the agreement reads, “agreed and conspired, with a Russian government official (‘Russian Official’) and at least one other person, for Butina to act in the United States under the direction of Russian Official without prior notification to the Attorney General.”
Coons really needs to find a better class of traitors and enemies of the Republic to pray with. It makes you wonder what they were praying for… full Kremlin takeover of the US government? Not outside the realm of possibilities.
desmoinesdem at Bleeding Heartland of Iowa writes—Iowa political reaction to final passage of Farm Bill:
All four Iowans voted yes as the U.S. House sent a new five-year Farm Bill to President Donald Trump on December 12. A day after passing the U.S. Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, the conference committee agreement sailed through the lower chamber by 369 votes to 47 (roll call).
Farm Bills have typically received strong support from both parties, thanks to a grand bargain struck decades ago, putting food assistance and agriculture-related subsidies and programs in the same legislation. This year’s initial House bill was an exception, as Republicans tried to impose work requirements on Americans in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps. House and Senate negotiators wisely removed that language from the final version.
Senator Chuck Grassley was the only member of Iowa’s Congressional delegation to oppose the Farm Bill, citing the failure to cap subsidy payments to large farming operations.
Jeff Stein of the Washington Post wrote a good summary of the legislation’s key provisions. Of particular interest to some Iowa farmers: cultivation of industrial hemp will now be legal nationwide. That crop is well-suited to our climate. Fifth-generation Madison County farmer Ryan Marquardt wrote here about the potential for hemp in Iowa.
Chris Savage at Eclectablog of Michigan writes—Consultant: Snyder administration officials responsible for poisoned Flint drinking water:
Testimony during a preliminary exam of several people indicted on charges related to the poisoning of Flint, Michigan’s drinking water with the powerful neurotoxin lead this week revealed that officials in the Snyder administration called the shots on how the water treatment plant would be run. The plant was taken out of mothballs in order to treat Flint River water in order to save money and the decisions they made resulted in what has become Gov. Rick Snyder’s most enduring legacy: the Flint Water Crisis:
Two state officials on trial for crimes related to the Flint water crisis gave directives for restarting the city’s water treatment plant – the same facility they were charged with regulating — before it was put into service, a former consultant says.
Warren Green, vice president and chief technical officer for Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, told Genesee District Court Judge Jennifer Manley on Monday, Dec. 10, that Stephen Busch, a district supervisor for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Michael Prysby, a district engineer in that agency, provided his company with calculations and design directives for the plant. […]
The consultants described the heavy-handed oversight by the MDEQ as “highly unusual” which went against their advice. The results — sadly, tragically, lethally — speak for themselves.
Rick Snyder has some hard choices to make in the waning weeks of his governership. He can go down as “the Governor who poisoned a city and robbed Michigan voters of their voice in democracy” or he can be remembered as “the Governor who atoned for his sins by denying sore loser Republicans their ability to rob Michigan voters of their voice in democracy by vetoing most of the legislation they sent him during the lame duck session.”
What’s it going to be, Governor Snyder? The choice is a binary and the choice is YOURS.
glenbesa at Blue Virginia writes—The Dominion Energy Zombie Apocalypse: Is Your Elected Representative Infected?
WARNING: Unchecked, a Dominion Energy Zombie Apocalypse is a world with an average global temperature in excess of 2 degrees Centigrade, where droughts, famine, floods and severe weather events break down social structures, resulting in chaos and authoritarian rule in the form of corporatocracies in place of democracy.
Are your elected representatives infected with the Dominion Energy Zombie virus? Otherwise normal human beings that we elect to represent us have been infected at an alarming rate. Some of our legislators, like Senators Dick Saslaw and Tommy Norment and Delegate Terry Kilgore, are actual carriers of the virus, spreading it to other members of their respective caucuses. Worse yet, our Governor appears to be infected as well. This insidious virus attacks our very democracy, overwhelming T-cells (voters) with vast sums of cash, peer pressure, a disdain for climate science and consumers’ wellbeing.
Here in Virginia, Dominion Energy money and overexposure to Dominion lobbyists like Bill Murray and Katharine Bond are a primary source of infection. Patient Zero for this pandemic is Dominion Energy CEO Tom Farrell, followed closely by political operatives/executives like Bob Blue, who attends Democratic candidates fundraisers to spread around infected cash. When the virus begins to lose its potency among Democrats, Dominion Energy brings Eva Teig Hardy out of retirement to reinvigorate it. I’m certain there are similar vectors active among Republicans as well.
What are the telltale signs that your legislator may be a Dominion Energy Zombie? Accepting cash from Dominion Energy is a warning sign of infection. Losing all sense of reason, mindlessly reciting Dominion talking points and reflexively voting for Dominion Energy legislation are indicators that your legislator is a Dominion Energy Zombie. Among Republicans, the infection manifests itself as climate denialism. In Democrats, the virus has evolved to prompt elected officials to claim they believe in climate change so as to confuse democracy’s Tcells, voters like you.
Is there a cure? Hard to say.
Matt Campbell at Blue Hog Report of Arkansas writes—Secretary-Elect John Thurston Violates State Law In Record Time:
You have to hand it to current Land Commissioner, Pirate Captain, and Secretary of State-elect John Thurston. Usually, a person has to actually be in the office they were elected to before it is possible to violate laws related to personnel hiring, firing, and leave.
Thurston, however, is an overachiever.
On November 30, on some snazzy new Secretary-Elect letterhead, Thurston sent the following letter to ten current Secretary of State employees:
I regret to inform you that your employment with the Secretary of State’s office will end on January 14, 2019.
Thank you for your service to the Secretary of State’s office, and I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Please contact Vicki Slay in the Human Resources division by Monday, December 3 with any questions and to complete your exit paperwork.
According to affected staff, and as reported elsewhere, while the employees’ service was going to end on January 14, those employees were told to go ahead and clean out their offices, as they would be on administrative leave with pay from December 3 through January 14.
That is to say, John Thurston was telling current Secretary of State staff that they were no longer needed for work, but that they would still get paid. Why Thurston, who is not yet the Secretary of State, would have the authority to tell people not to work or to determine who was paid and in what capacity prior to his swearing in was unclear.
What was clear, however, to everyone but Thurston and (apparently) current office-holder Mark Martin, was that this arrangement was not legal.
More at http://www.dailykos.com/stories/1818997