Nice Time

Democrats Deliver Some HOLY SH*T Minnesota Nice Times For Ya!

And they didn't pass a single bill targeting people they don't like.

Minnesota lawmakers, once stymied by gridlock, just ended one of the most consequential legislative sessions in the country since perhaps the New Deal, and this time Black people can participate!

First, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party majority sent a $2.6 billion infrastructure package to Democratic Gov. Tim Walz, who'll happily sign it with one of those fancy ceremonial pens.

"The investment that we're making here — whether that's in local communities here in the metro area or in greater Minnesota — we are making a significant impact into everybody's lives," said infrastructure bill sponsor Rep. Fue Lee. "Whether that's the road that we drive on, the drinking water that we have, or the community centers and the cultural centers that we have around the state."

During the final hours of the legislative session, the DFL majority also approved a $6.2 billion two-year health and human services budget. This will increase funding for mental health services; create a new state department for children, youth, and families; and expand the state’s publicly subsidized insurance, known as MinnesotaCare, to include the estimated 40,000 undocumented people who live in Minnesota and meet the program's requirements.

The Senate on Monday afternoon passed the bill by a 34-32 vote, and the House passed it 69-64.

Sen. Melissa Wiklund from Bloomington said in statement, "This bill is a game changer for Minnesota families thanks to the investments we are making to improve their daily lives and remove many of the unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles they face. This truly will deliver transformational change for all Minnesotans.”

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climate change

Wonkette Book Club Part 1: A (Climate) Change Is Gonna Come

Kim Stanley Robinson's The Ministry For The Future, Week 1.

We're starting off our summer 2023 edition of the Book Club with a book that's about as timely as you could hope for: Kim Stanley Robinson's 2020 novel The Ministry for the Future, which imagines a very near future of catastrophic climate change and a decades-long process of humanity's attempts to bring the climate crisis ... well, not under control, but to at least to remake politics and economics in a direction that's better suited to survival of the Earth's inhabitants.

For this week, I asked you to read the first chapter, which is fairly short, and and tends to stay with you after you read it. If you just got here and want to catch up, the publisher, Orbit Books, conveniently posted Chapter 1 in full right on the interwebs for free! The discussion from here will involve spoilers for the first chapter, so take a few minutes to go read it ... or maybe the discussion here will make you want to go read it.

Last summer, novelist Monica Byrne tweeted for a lot of us who have read the book:

I feel like my circles have divided between those who’ve read the opening chapter of The Ministry for the Future and those who haven’t.

If you haven’t….you should. Because I basically can’t think about my future without it now.
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Louisiana Wingnut Rep. Clay Higgins Bulldozes Protester. WHAR ASSAULT CHARGES?

Looks like somebody has anger issues.

Rightwing Republican congressman Clay Higgins of Louisiana — known around these parts as the 'WHAR BOXES?' guy, or simply WHAR BOXES — took it upon himself to play bouncer Wednesday when a young protester got a little too mouthy during a press conference being held by prominent House Wingnut Caucus members including Higgins, Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado), Paul Gosar DDS (R-Arizona) and others. (Higgins later tweeted that the presser was about the very real threat to US sovereignty posed by the World Health Organization, which is part of the UN One-World Communist Plot, which seems like indispensable context.)

The protester, law student and organizer/troublemaker Jake Burdett, 25, told the Daily Beast he'd actually been in DC for a Medicare for All rally led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), but when that was over, he saw the Freedom Caulkers setting up and decided to be a free speech pest, which is his right as an American citizen.

Spotting Gosar and Boebert, he decided to stick around. “I figured I’d ask them some tough questions,” he said. “Bird-dog them, whatever you want to call it.”

And indeed, as Burdett's videos show, he was definitely heckling the rightwing dipshits, which may happen when politicians hold a "press conference" in public.

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Parents, Authors, Publisher Make Florida Book Censorship A Federal Case​

What we need now is a drag queen named 'Sue Florida.'

Americans are getting pretty sick and tired of rightwing scolds trying to turn the country into a year-round Jesus Camp. Now the resistance to the last couple years of moral panics is spreading beyond the awesome kids forming banned book clubs and the civil rights groups suing to throw out unconstitutional laws. In Florida, Big Bidniss is throwing its money into the fight, too, as Judd Legum writes in his Popular Information newsletter.

In response to the Escambia County School Board's removals and restrictions on school library books, the board is being sued in federal court by some very big guns: publisher Penguin (heh) Random House, five authors, two parents of children in the school district, and the freedom to read nonprofit PEN America, alleging that the school board is violating the First Amendment rights of all the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit alleges that the school board banned and restricted books "based on their disagreement with the ideas expressed in those books." In so doing, the school board has "prescribed an orthodoxy of opinion that violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments."

“In Escambia County, state censors are spiriting books off shelves in a deliberate attempt to suppress diverse voices. In a nation built on free speech, this cannot stand,” Suzanne Nossel, the CEO of PEN America, said. “The law demands that the Escambia County School District put removed or restricted books back on library shelves where they belong.”

If "Escambia County" and "censorship" ring a bell, that would be because Escambia County is home to Moms for Liberty And Censorship activist Vicki Baggett, a high school English teacher and self-appointed Fahrenheit 451 fire crew who has filed over 150 book challenges.

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