Sunday, August 31, 2008

What to Remember During the Picnic Tomorrow

If you appreciate:

  • an 8-hour work day
  • a 40-hour work week
  • guarantees of a minimum wage
  • paid vacation
  • paid sick time
  • employer-provided health care
  • worker's compensation
  • workplace health and safety rules
  • retirement contributions

Thank a Union.

Because that's what Labor Day is is really all about.

The days when people who worked for an hourly or daily wage were legally treated as slaves, with no limits on how many hours an employer could make them work, or in what horrific conditions, or how little the employer could pay, is within living memory.

That 128 years after the first march for a day honoring workers, Labor Day is marked by picnics and polite parades instead of protest rallies is a tribute to just how much labor unions have accomplished.

But compared to the heyday of unions in the 1950s - which not coincidentally were also the last time one person's full-time salary supported a family in middle-class comfort - there is a great deal of work to be done.

This Labor Day marks yet another year in which the five-decade-old decline of organized labor as a representative of American employees continues almost unabated. The 73-year-old National Labor Relations Act, the principal legal framework for resolving disputes about the forming of unions, is in complete disarray.


... there is a better approach that might occupy bipartisan common ground—an approach for which Obama is well-known, though he hasn't championed it in this way yet.


These reforms would skirt an unnecessary and divisive debate about the secret-ballot election and marshal the support of Congress' center. Obama has pulled off such feats in his career as a community organizer and politician. If he can pull off this one, we might actually achieve the long unrealized objectives of the National Labor Relations Act more than 70 years after its enactment. Better late than never.

And don't forget the millions of people who have to work on Labor Day. When you see them at the grocery store and the gas station and the park, take a few seconds to smile and say thanks.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Kentucky's Fall Festivals

Looking for some weekend distraction from politics between now and the election? Kentucky's fall festivals offer a wide variety of opportunities.

Check out the schedule and description of events.

Music, food, antiques, art, crafts, trains, special cars, hot-air balloons, living history. From Mayfield in the far west to Morehead in the east, Covington in the north and Burkesville and Bowling Green in the south, your only problem is going to be making choices.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A John We Can Believe In

While the wingnut freakazoids flail around trying to figure out how to explain that Sarah Palin was meant to be John McCain's 72nd birthday present, not his VP pick, let's take a moment to reflect on the 376th birthday of a very different John.

John Locke (b. 1632, d. 1704) was a British philosopher, Oxford academic and medical researcher, whose association with Anthony Ashley Cooper (later the First Earl of Shaftesbury) led him to become successively a government official charged with collecting information about trade and colonies, economic writer, opposition political activist, and finally a revolutionary whose cause ultimately triumphed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

Much of Locke's work is characterized by opposition to authoritarianism. This opposition is both on the level of the individual person and on the level of institutions such as government and church.

For the individual, Locke wants each of us to use reason to search after truth rather than simply accept the opinion of authorities or be subject to superstition. He wants us to proportion assent to propositions to the evidence for them.

On the level of institutions it becomes important to distinguish the legitimate from the illegitimate functions of institutions and to make the corresponding distinction for the uses of force by these institutions.

The positive side of Locke's anti-authoritarianism is that he believes that using reason to try to grasp the truth, and determining the legitimate functions of institutions will optimize human flourishing for the individual and society both in respect to its material and spiritual welfare.

"... use reason to search after truth rather than simply accept the opinion of authorities or be subject to superstition."

What a concept. Too bad the other John, the authoritarian seeking the dictatorial powers of an unchecked American "president," never heard of it.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Repugs' Idea of a VP: Miss Alaska Runner-Up

I'm a 10th-generation Democrat. I'd rather be waterboarded than vote for a Republican. I've given significant sums to Barack Obama.

But now that Walnuts Depends has picked a beauty queen as his running mate, I'm just going to have to abandon the rock-solid political beliefs that have shaped my entire life and vote for jonny'n'sarie.

Gotta give ol' McShame credit, though. I would have sworn he couldn't find a potential VP who was guaranteed to lose him more votes than either Bobby Jindal or Joe Lieberman would, but he did it.

And what about the dozens - nay, hundreds - of Republican state office-holders with many more years of experience than Sarie, and many months busting ass on the stump for McBush? Some of whom are also, you know, girls.

How must they be feeling right now? How eager do you think they are to work for this ticket? Might the Palin pick make some of them give Obama a second look?

This is one for the record books, alright. In oh so many ways.

Media Czech is all over this. Keep on scrolling and reading, and don't miss the Vogue cover shot.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Stop Honoring McShame's Service

It's so sad when someone squanders a hard-won achievement.

Gambling away a fortune. Wasting an education. Besmirching a reputation. Dishonoring a family legacy.

Misusing past military service as an excuse for misbehavior.

There are 25 million veterans in this country. Ninety-nine percent of them will tell you that their service has earned their legal benefits, and deserves the thanks and gratitude of their fellow citizens, but entitles them to nothing else.

And then there's John McCain.

John McCain survived five-and-half-years as a sometimes-tortured captive of a foreign government.

Few of us can imagine his suffering, but it is not unique to McCain, or even to members of the military. Associated Press Beirut Bureau Chief Terry Anderson survived more than eight years as a sometimes-tortured prisoner of Middle-Eastern terrorists.

What is rare, if not unique, about McCain's POW experience is the way he is using it as an automatic excuse for everything he does wrong.

Among those 25 million U.S. military veterans are politicians and police officers, teachers and farmers, engineers and garbage collectors, home-makers and truck-drivers - genuine heroes all.

Also among those 25 million U.S. military veterans are shoplifters and drug addicts, con men and drunk drivers, robbers and rapists and child molesters and murderers.

It is to McCain's credit that he turned those years in an enemy prison into a quarter-century of political public service.

It is to McCain's eternal shame that his life since returning from Vietnam has been one long series of personal and professional misbehavior.

  • Committing adultery against the faithful wife who waited loyally for him to come home, then deserting her for a younger, slimmer, healthier and far far far wealthier mistress.
  • Accepting illegal contributions in the savings-and-loan scandal, despite his second wife's millions
  • Giving lip service to veterans while voting against expanding and improving veterans benefits
  • Sacrificing to pure political ambition his long-held positions against political theocracy, budget-busting tax cuts and ill-advised military adventurism.
  • Claiming the campaign high ground while approving the lowest form of filthy, lying attacks against his opponent.
Every time Barack Obama and other Democratic officials preface their criticism of McCain with "we honor his service," they undermine and negate those criticisms.

McCains's military service - his years as a POW, the torture and suffering and permanent disabilities - does not entitle him to a single fucking vote.

It does not give him a pass on lying, or trying to hide his wife's wealth, or forgetting, or not understanding the difference between Iraq and Iran.

There are dozens of legitimate avenues of attack on John McCain as a candidate for president.

But you can't take those avenues if you block the entrance to every one with "we honor his service."

Why honor his service? He doesn't honor it himself.

Stop honoring McShame's Service.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Command Sergeant Major Michele S. Jones endorses Obama

Steve Benen calls our attention to yet another unnoticed convention star, CSM Michelle Jones, the first female Command Sergeant Major of the U.S. Army Reserve.

I was proud to serve my country as a noncommissioned officer in the greatest army in the world. And for the last five of those years, I served as the Ninth Command Sergeant Major of the Army Reserve, representing all enlisted men and women in the Army Reserve and their families within the Department of the Army and Department of Defense, and before Congress and the media.

It is without hesitation, and with much conviction, that I endorse Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States of America. I am endorsing Senator Obama because I believe he is the best, most qualified and able candidate to serve as my commander-in-chief. He is the type of commander-in-chief that America’s soldiers need and deserve. Barack Obama will bring America the change we need.

Senator Obama’s record speaks for itself, supporting America’s soldiers and families in every stage of their service. And he’ll continue to make sure that the men and women risking their lives for us in Iraq, Afghanistan, around the world and here at home have the equipment, training and resources they need to accomplish their mission.

Senator Obama understands veterans and our needs—all veterans, active and reserve—and knows the differences between the two. He’ll fully fund the VA, so all our returning heroes get the quality care they deserve. And when it comes to the national shame of too many homeless veterans, Barack Obama has one simple policy: Zero tolerance.

Senator Obama truly exemplifies what a commander-in-chief should be: a leader who understands the threats we face and who cares for every young man and woman under his command.

I first became impressed with Senator Obama when he took the time to call a young soldier who was unable to complete his initial training, not because he was injured but because he was terminally ill with brain cancer. Senator Obama did not do it for the publicity or a photo op.

He did it because I asked, and he did it because he cared.

America’s service men and women need a president and a commander-in-chief with the courage to serve, the gift to lead and the ability to get things done. That president is Barack Obama.

I can't find a usable embed code on the DNCC's video site, and I'm not sure this link will work, but no one's got her speech in a better format yet. If you find one, please leave the link in comments.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rednecks for Obama

No joke. It's a real organization, run by two real Missouri rednecks who really are for Obama, with a real website and T-shirts and everything.

The Nation found them at the Denver convention.

And then, just about thirty yards short of the first of many points at which DNCC passes are scowlingly scrutinized, setting apart The Invited from The Masses, I beheld a thing of great joy: Two older, white, baseball-cap-wearing, fellows, each holding one end of a red, white and blue banner that proclaimed: "Rednecks For Obama."

Les Spencer and his friend, Tony Veissman (apologies for a possible misspelling) came all the way out from Rolla, Missouri -- the very sweet spot of America, if you look at it from a certain angle. "The population of the United States is almost a bull's eye for Rolla," Spencer says. "Actually, the last time I heard it was a steel mill about nineteen or twenty miles Southeast of us."

What in the world brings a sixty-year-old retiree nearly halfway across America to hold a banner, when he can't even get into the convention? "We just wanted to show our support for Barack Obama," Spencer says. "We think he's the right man for the job."


I ask Spencer why he and his friend chose to embrace the "redneck" label. "The reason we chose this is, several years ago, Mel Carnahan of Rolla, Missouri, was running for governor. And they had a debate, and his opponent called him a redneck from Rolla. And Carnahan turned it around on him, said, 'I'm proud to be a redneck from Rolla, Missouri,' and the rednecks got mad about that and they elected him to two terms as governor and Senator before he was tragically killed, you know, in a plane crash.

"We just kind of thought if we had rednecks for Carnahan, well, we'd have rednecks for Obama."


Some folks have even ventured to challenge his redneck credentials--after all, how could it be? "I've had people step out here and ask me what entitles me to call myself a redneck," Spencer says. "Shoot, I'm from the country, I was raised without running water in the house till I was out of high school, I went to a one-room schoolhouse, I've raised hogs, I've raised cattle, I've raised chickens, I hunt, I fish, I own guns, I own a boat, a four-wheel drive, and I like NASCAR. If that don't qualify me to be a damn redneck, I don't know what the hell does."

Are these Bubbas for Barack trying to make the salient point that redneck doesn't equal racist? "Yeah, that's the message we're trying to send out: Don't be afraid to vote for Obama."

Why are people afraid of him?

"I don't know. Some people just don't like change. And we've never had a president that was the skin color he is. But that don't cut no ice with me. I don't care if you're black, green or yellow -- if you're qualified for the job, and he certainly is."


For the thousands of elite Democrats who've stared at the Rednecks for Obama banner in wonderment this week, the message might be a little different: that maybe it ain't so bad being a 60-year-old white man from Rolla, Missouri.

"We're the same," says Spencer. "We're the same. We're all the same." It sounded a little bit like a prayer.

Read the whole thing, and order your Rednecks for Obama swag today!

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Red Meat for Real Democrats

The best things come in small packages, and the Democratic Convention speech that did what party speeches are supposed to do was delivered by power-packed munchkin Dennis Kucinich.

As the Rude Pundit says, it should have been the keynote.

Cross-posted at Blue in the Bluegrass.

McCain Planning World War Three

So, McBush is trying to draw media coverage away from Obama during convention week?

Sure, Senator Walnuts Depends. How about this?

The foreign policy team exerting chief influence over John McCain is truly more extremist -- in a purer and more deranged form -- than the foreign policy team of the Bush administration. They're not only the most extremist faction in American political life, but also the most delusional. These aren't just the people who led the U.S. to war in Iraq -- though they are that -- but they're also the ones who actually believe that the Bush administration has been far too meek in its assertion of U.S. military force and too passive in its interference in the affairs of other countries. They want to accelerate -- massively intensify -- virtually every one of the polices that has brought the U.S. to such disgrace and near ruination over the past eight years. There is nothing "moderate" or "centrist" about any of them. John McCain is the Candidate of Bill Kristol and Joe Lieberman and John Bolton for good and clear reasons (including in Georgia): he's the best and most devoted instrument to advance their militaristic agenda.


John McCain himself, and especially those who whisper foreign policy wisdom in his ear, have long had a lengthy list of New Enemies We Must Confront in the World -- beyond those we're already fighting. They not only want to add China, but now especially Russia, to that list, without the slightest concern for the severe degradation they have already imposed on the U.S. military and America's economic security (but, Lieberman and Graham warn, Russia will go bankrupt if they have a 10-day border skirmish with a neighboring state). But infantile calls for Standing Tall in the Face of American Enemies and Not Blinking is still the definition of Seriousness in American political discourse, and the pure derangement and extremism that lies at the heart of this McCain foreign policy mentality will thus continue to go largely unexamined.

Chris Matthews was all over this story, but he got distracted by a republican wearing a Hillary mask on the back of her head.

Read the whole thing.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Republican Officials Who Love Obama and the Media Who Ignore Them

Steve Benen at Political Animal calls our attention to an early Monday convention speaker who should have been the lead story all last night, this morning and all day today.

Last night, DDay asked a very reasonable question: "If a 30-year Democrat spoke at the RNC, excoriated his former party, and endorsed the Presidential candidate of the opposite party, would the media cover it?"

DDay was referring, of course, to former Rep. Jim Leach of Iowa, a respected, long-time Republican lawmaker who not only endorsed Barack Obama, but appeared at the Democratic convention last night to urge others to follow his lead.

This development barely generated any attention at all. When Zell Miller appeared at the Republican convention, it was a key development. When Joe Lieberman, who isn't even a Democrat anymore, announced his own appearance at the GOP convention, this was a major story. Some former Democratic delegate in Wisconsin moved inexplicably from supporting Clinton to backing McCain, and her switch is treated as exceedingly important.

Leach, however, is getting the short shrift. He's a credible, serious guy, who was part of the House Republican caucus for decades, and this year, Leach concluded that Obama is the leader the nation needs.

"As a Republican, I stand before you with deep respect for the history and traditions of my political party. But it is clear to all Americans that something is out of kilter in our great republic.... Seldom has the case for an inspiring new political ethic been more compelling. And seldom has an emerging leader so matched the needs of the moment.... I stand before you proud of my party's contributions to American history but, as a citizen, proud as well of the good judgment of good people in this good party, in nominating a transcending candidate, an individual whom I am convinced will recapture the American dream and be a truly great president: the senator from Abraham Lincoln's state -- Barack Obama.... This is not a time for politics as usual.... Obama will recapture the American dream and be a truly great president."

Watch the video.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

David Boswell: Setting New Standards in Political Stupidity

Let's play a little game of Political IQ.

You're a state senator and conservative Democrat running as the Democratic nominee for a republican-held open Congressional seat.

You've got better name recognition and overall support than your republican challenger, but you're way behind in fundraising.

The Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives announces during a fundraiser for a different Kentucky candidate that your race could be a target for national Democrats, meaning that if you behave, you could get just the big bucks you need to win.

Do you:

A) Thank the Speaker profusely, praise her to the skies, say you're looking forward to serving under her fine leadership.


B) Insult the Speaker by saying publicly that if you won your race you wouldn't vote for her as Speaker, thus guaranteeing that not only will you never get a dime of national Democratic money, but that your few remaining potential Democratic donors in Kentucky will run as far away from you as they can get.

Because you are not too stupid to live, of course you choose A. Regardless of how you personally feel about the Speaker, you need her support and the money she can generate for you. You know that you need national money way more than you need to prove to your conservative voters that you're man enough to slap a liberal woman around.

Guess which one Boswell chose.

Boswell, meanwhile, said Monday night he has tentatively scheduled a fund-raiser in Washington, D.C., for Sept. 18 that will be headlined by Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and former U.S. Sen. Wendell Ford, for whom Boswell once worked as a constituent services liaison while Ford was Kentucky's governor.

That is the first sign of help national Democrats have given to Boswell. However, Boswell told reporters that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Kentuckians at a fund-raiser this summer for U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth that the 2nd congressional race was a target for them. Boswell, who started the summer with $45,000 in his campaign account, acknowledged that he needed to pick up the fund-raising pace before the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee would make a significant investment in the race.

Despite receiving positive vibes from Pelosi, Boswell hesitated in committing his support to voting for her as speaker again if he's elected to Congress.

"I would support Nancy Pelosi on certain issues that are germane and relevant to the people of my district," he said. "I don't know what kind of opposition Nancy Pelosi might have. I think it would be presumptuous for me to walk in there and say 'Yeah, I'm going to give blanket support for Nancy Pelosi,' not knowing who might be running against her."

"Moron" does not even begin to describe.

In other news about Boswell and the other repug running in the Second District, during a candidate forum in Elizabethtown with the subject of agricultural issues, Boswell and his opponent found "nothing to disagree about."

How sweet. I'm sure the many small farmers of the rural Second District struggling to survive the eighth year of destructive repug anti-small-farm policies appreciate that.

Polwatchers has the video.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Bless You, Teddy

And Fuck You, all you DINOs and DLCers and Blue Dogs who think you're real Democrats.

THIS is a Real Democrat.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

September is Kentucky Bourbon Heritage Month

Just in time for the swift-boating olympics the repugs call a convention, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has declared September "Kentucky Bourbon Heritage Month."

In the immortal words of Dave Barry: I am not making this up.

“Kentucky bourbon has become not only an American icon, but a leading international symbol of our proud heritage and craftsmanship,” Beshear said. “It has benefitted generations of Kentuckians, and its increasing appeal will mean even larger rewards for the Commonwealth.

“We’re proud that Kentucky is the birthplace of bourbon. It’s an honor to declare September ‘Bourbon Heritage Month’ in recognition of bourbon’s significant economic, agricultural and tourism impact in Kentucky and beyond.”

For you liquor philistines out there, only bourbon distilled in Kentucky is genuine bourbon. Slapping a "bourbon" label on some rot-gut bottled in, say, Tennessee, is actually against federal law. Ask the ATF. So make sure you're drinking real Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

Kentucky is home to historic distillers and international companies that together produce and market more than 95 percent of the world’s bourbon: Brown-Forman, Buffalo Trace, Constellation Spirits, Diageo North America, Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve.

At the risk of offending some excellent bourbons, some of those labels are better with mixers than straight. My personal preference for a genuine sipping bourbon is Woodford Reserve, though Knob Creek is also quite fine. And the classic bourbon for Kentucky Derby Mint Juleps is Maker's Mark.

Bourbon production has more than doubled since 1999, the year the Kentucky Bourbon Trail was formed, said Eric Gregory, President of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. New production last year was 937,865 barrels, compared to 455,078 in 1999.

Distilled spirits have a tremendous impact on Kentucky’s economy, Gregory said, including:

  • More than $3 billion in gross state product
  • More than 3,000 high-paying jobs
  • Nearly $115 million in state and local taxes
  • In addition, the Kentucky Bourbon Trail has become one of the state’s most famous and fastest growing tourist attractions, Gregory said, with travelers from all 50 states and 25 countries visiting the landmark distilleries.

And the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, held the third week in September each year, has grown to more than 55,000 visitors from 40 states and 14 countries, said Milt Spalding, the festival’s executive director.

“Bourbon is America’s only native spirit, and it’s uniquely Kentucky,” Gregory said. “We appreciate the support of Gov. Beshear and his administration in promoting Kentucky’s signature bourbon industry and celebrating its rich history and spirited future.”

Dick Cheney is addressing the repug convention on Monday night, September 1. Be sure to stock up before Sunday.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Women's Equality Day

Eight-eight years ago tomorrow, on August 26, the United States ratified the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, becoming the 17th nation on the planet to grant women the right to vote. (Betcha don't know which was the first.)

Long ago as that was, it was 72 long, hard-fought, heart-breaking years late for women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who organized the first Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848.

As Stanton wrote in her draft of the Convention's Declaration of Sentiments:

  • Married women were legally dead in the eyes of the law
  • Women were not allowed to vote
  • Women had to submit to laws when they had no voice in their formation
  • Married women had no property rights
  • Husbands had legal power over and responsibility for their wives to the extent that they could imprison or beat them with impunity
  • Divorce and child custody laws favored men, giving no rights to women
  • Women had to pay property taxes although they had no representation in the levying of these taxes
  • Most occupations were closed to women and when women did work they were paid only a fraction of what men earned
  • Women were not allowed to enter professions such as medicine or law
  • Women had no means to gain an education since no college or university would accept women students
  • With only a few exceptions, women were not allowed to participate in the affairs of the church
  • Women were robbed of their self-confidence and self-respect, and were made totally dependent on men
Nor did the laws and customs that horrifically restricted women's lives always provide a paradise for men, whose wives were uneducated dependents more like servants or children than the self-sufficient partners today's wives can be.

Remember, too, that the final years before the 19th Amendment were marked by genuine suffering on the part of suffragists, who were imprisoned and tortured for daring to march and protest for women's right to vote.

While obtaining the vote did not, as some suffragists hoped and predicted, create a woman-friendly nation, much less a feminist paradise, it did establish the foundation for building true equality.

No, America is not there yet, but it's making progress in fits and starts (see Clinton, Senator Hillary). Meanwhile, let us all be grateful that the indefatigable Stanton is not here to hector us about it.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Oh, to be in Moneygall when the Convention starts

For your pre-Convention enjoyment, a video from last January, when a bunch of blue-collar ethnic types celebrated the Iowa caucuses in a pub 5,000 miles away.

Hard to remember now what a fluke Obama's Iowa victory seemed then, how everyone thought it was just his 15 minutes in the spotlight before the Hillary juggernaut buried him, how very naive these Moneygall partisans seemed with their "He proved his electability," and "Why can't he go all the way to the White House?" and "I'm sure he'll be the next president."

Tiny Moneygall had it right. Here's to you, Moneygall, and your emigrant son whose descendant we'll soon call Mr. President.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

McBush: The Greatest American Hypocrite

How is Teresa Heinz not like Cindy McCain? Well, I seriously doubt Teresa's husband ever got away with calling her a c**t in public. Or in private, for that matter.

But the only real difference between these two extremely wealthy women who inherited their money from family members and who married men who later became presidential candidates is that Cindy's husband is a republican.

Which probably explains why the wingnut haters who screamed themselves hoarse in 2004 about what a gigolo John Kerry was for marrying a wealthy widow are conspicuously silent about John McCain's whoring for Cindy's beer money.

Somehow, the deep stupidity of our political discourse actually manages to escalate during presidential campaigns, becoming even more vapid and idiotic than normal. But, as I argued continuously when I did my book tour in April and May for Great American Hypocrites, this is the kind of campaign the GOP runs every election and in which they specialize, and there are only two options for Democrats in response: (1) purport to "rise above it" and thus ensure that they get slaughtered in a one-sided, one-way War of Personality Demonization which renders issues irrelevant (hence: the all-American Everyman War Hero versus the rich, out-of-touch, effete elitist), or (2) attack the GOP candidate using the same lowly character themes in order to neutralize the attacks and prevent the election from being decided on these grounds. It's good to see the Obama campaign, finally, engaging these issues aggressively. As I wrote in my book:

The reason why this has worked is that there are almost never any attacks on these myths, no aggressive examination of the real lives of these leaders. Critics of Republicans shy away from these themes. There is a squeamishness to use their own weapons against them. . . . It needs to be shoved into the media's faces and into our public discourse how false and deceitful and artificial are these "Republican Values" and personality attributes that they concoct for themselves. To do that, the most prominent right-wing political leaders need to be put under a microscope -- their actual lives and beliefs -- to show how lacking they really are in the virtues they claim to exude and revere.

There needs to be a lot more focus of this sort on John McCain's "character," given that, from now until November, no matter what Obama does, the Rovian disciples managing John McCain's candidacy will ensure his campaign is about little other than these sorts of slimy, personality-based, Freak Show attacks on Obama. It's what the GOP does and it's what the media is capable of disseminating.

Yes, no one nails the essential hypocrisy of both modern republicans and the village idiot "reporters" who worship them better than Glenn Greenwald.

Read his whole post on the gigolo hypocrisy, read him daily in Salon, and read his new book for the full skinny on McCain's hypocrisy.

Oh, there is one more way in which Teresa Heinz is not like Cindy McCain: unlike Cindy, Teresa was not having an illicit affair with a man cheating on his disfigured wife.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

The Rude One on Biden

Yeah, we love us some Rude Pundit, and if he posted more than once a day we'd cite him even more than we do.

He hits the bullseye again on Biden. I especially love Point Number 2. (Rated PG)

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The POW Get-Out-of-Responsibility-Forever Card

Media Czech beat me to this.

How obscene is John McCain's constant use of his 35-year-old POW experience to get off the hook for literally everything?

The Rude Pundit, of course, has the answer.

John McCain: Using the POW Excuse Since At Least 1990:

In the dank realms of motherf**kery, from which spring forth the cretinous vermin who populate our current body politic, John McCain occupies a special place. For he is such a devious bag of douche that it's almost impossible to see how much of a motherf**ker he is through the oozy coating of righteousness that glazes him.


Oh, the shit that will come out in the next few months. For instance, Cindy McCain blamed her husband for her addiction to prescription painkillers back twenty years ago.


Of course, McCain's greatest bit of rank whorishness has been the way he and his staff use his time as a POW in 'Nam to brush aside any allegations of being less than impeccably honorable. Seriously, if you have to say about your candidate when he can't remember how many houses he owns, "This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison," as McCain spokestooge Brian Rogers did yesterday, then your candidate is f**king worthless.

McCain's been playing that Hanoi Hilton card any time he gets into trouble. Back in the bad old days of the Keating Five, the scandal that dare not be mentioned until the Obama campaign sees the whites of McCain's eyes, McCain and his friends tossed it out there like a pocket ace. According to the Washington Post on November 21, 1990, McCain told Keating he "had not spent 5 1/2 years in a [North Vietnamese] prisoner of war camp to have his courage or integrity questioned," although the logical connection there seems amiss.


McCain's own people see him as so horribly traumatized by his POW tenure that he can't be asked to bother with things like adhering to ethics guidelines or remembering the number of homes he owns. Since when is PTSD a qualification for president?

But don't listen to me or the Rude Pundit, as neither of us has ever been a POW. Listen to Phillip Butler, who spent years longer in the Hanoi Hilton, and suffered orders of magnitude more there, than did John McCain.

As some of you might know, John McCain is a long-time acquaintance of mine that goes way back to our time together at the U.S. Naval Academy and as Prisoners of War in Vietnam. He is a man I respect and admire in some ways. But there are a number of reasons why I will not vote for him for President of the United States.

Although Butler does not say so specifically, his analysis of McCain's behavior as a former POW throws into sharp relief just how despicable is McCain's abuse of that experience.

Read the whole thing.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Freakazoids Hoist With Their Own Petard

It took way too long and managed to destroy far too many lives in the process, but the "America is a christian nation" abominable lie is finally fading away.

For the first time in more than a decade, a narrow majority of Americans say churches should stay out of politics, according to a poll released (August 21) by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

The results suggest a potentially significant shift among conservative voters in particular. In 2004, 30% of conservatives said the church should stay out of politics while today 50% of conservatives today express that view.

As they used to teach in elementary school, the second-biggest danger the Founders determined to avoid in designing a new country - after the dictatorship of a monarchy - was the catastrophic religious wars that had ravaged Europe for centuries and that were caused by allowing religion to pollute the public sphere.

For the past 30 years, since egomaniacs like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson first saw wealth and fame in turning their loyal fundies into political freakazoids, the secular republic for which generations of patriots fought and died has been at risk.

As a few courageous atheists tried to warn eight years ago, George Bush's proclaimed preference for the fantastical whisperings of an invisible sky wizard over the "just a goddamned piece of paper" principles of the U.S. Constitution was more than enough to disqualify him from seeking public office as a dog catcher, much less the president of the United States.

And yes, Barack Obama's insistence on spending tax dollars to support religious establishments is just as much a screaming, flashing red light of approaching disaster.

Let's hope it's not too late for him to realize that not just a majority of his party, not just a majority of those likely to vote for him, but a majority of the nation disapprove of such anti-secular pandering.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

9 Key Rings

Via TPM.

Or order your own all-McCain's-houses keychain set today!

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Victory Through Country Music

The Rude Pundit on how Obama can wrap this one up by embracing Toby Keith. (rated PG)

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Poll: Congrats, McCaniacs!

Ordinarily I don't read general election polls before Labor Day, but I'll make an exception for this one:

Reuters/Zogby has McCain up five points nationally, and even beating Obama on the economy, Obama's strongest issue.

OK, repugs: we admit it. McCain's got this one sewn up. The American People have listened to your insistent, irrefutable proof that Obama is Britney Spears in blackface and ruled in your favor.

Ignore that squeaking in the corner about how Obama's still ahead in state polls that give him the Electoral College. Forget how much can change in a week, not to mention 10 weeks. Don't even imagine how Senator Depends will react when somebody actually gets in his face live on national television.

Throw away that neighborhood GOTV plan; delete your McBush email distribution list.

You can relax now. You've done it - given Smirky/Darth its third term. Congratulations. It's over.

Pay no attention to the voter behind the curtain.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Liberals in the South: Don't Write Us Off

Should the Democratic Party fight to regain the South or write it off?

Probably shouldn't ask a Kentuckian right now, given that we're still nursing hurt feelings over being the one and only state in the nation without a Barack Obama campaign headquarters.

But Thomas Schaller and Bob Moser are debating the proposition in Salon, and it's hard to find two more opposite views of Democratic politics in the South.

Schaller, of course, is the author of "Whistling Past Dixie: How Democrats Can Win Without The South", the book that advised the national Democratic Party to abandon southern red states to the wingnut freakazoids and concentrate on wooing the purple West.

Moser makes precisely the opposite case in his book, "Blue Dixie: Awakening the South's Democratic Majority", arguing that Democrats can't win national elections without the South.

Schaller is a patronising jerk, with his "that rarest of all birds, the white southern liberal!" condescension. Just among my limited acquaintance in my small rural county, there are at least a dozen white southern liberals - and half of them are middle-aged men. No, that wasn't enough to carry our county for Obama (though he did take several precincts), but we aren't museum specimens for northerners to gawk at, either.

As Molly Ivins often wrote, there's nothing in this world tougher than a Southern liberal. We've fought the bullies and their dead-wrong politics our entire lives, and can out-debate any Bible-Belt wingnut while simultaneously drinking a clutch of DLC pundits under the table.

But Moser isn't much better, implying that southerners have to be bribed into the Democratic column with economic goodies, rather than persuaded by force of argument. He also puts a little too much faith in demographic change and underestimates how vicious the freakazoid wingnuts are going to get as they see their power slipping away.

Here's the truth every Southern liberal knows, and the point that Schaller, Moser and every other hand-wringing Democratic pundit is missing: the politics that will win back the South is the same politics that will win and keep the East, North, West and Middle:

Democrats that stand tall on their hind legs and proud for real American values: the rule of law, equal opportunity, good jobs at good pay, public education, health and safety at home and at work, peace and prosperity.

It's the only thing that works. It's the only thing that ever has.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Monday, August 18, 2008

No More Prevent Defense: Going on the Offensive

I was going to post a diatribe on the execrable Corsi and his LiarsNation collection of paranoid fearmongering about Barack Obama, but fuck that.

Prevent defense is for losers. Winners play offense whenever they've got the ball, and when they don't have the ball, they take it away as soon as possible so they can play offense again.

In that spirit, it's way past time to start smacking McShame around.

Frank Rich at the NYT makes a good start, but your best source for all things truthful, horrifying and ignored by the MSM about McBush is The Real McCain.

Their latest is "McCain's Mansions: The Houses That Greed Built."

Forward it to everyone you know.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Will This Be the Ad That Wins the Election for Obama?

Josh Marshall calls this "the makings of a killer ad."

I don't know much about campaign ads, but it seems to me this one devastates McCain without saying anything a loyal bushie could reasonably object to. Not that they've ever reasonable, but you get my point.

This is exactly what Obama needs to be repeating constantly for the next 79 days.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Mitch on Tape: I'm Bush's Strongest Supporter

John McCain should thank his lucky stars every day that Jim Pence is too busy nailing Mitch McConnell to turn his full attention to Senator Depends.

h/t Barefoot and Progressive.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Don't Mess With the Redhead: Click for Heather Ryan to Get $5,000

Russ Feingold is having another contest to choose a Real Democrat running for Congress to get $5,000 from his Progressive Patriots Fund, and Kentucky's Own Heather Ryan, Mitch McConnell's Nemesis, is one of the finalists!

Heather Ryan is running a true shoe-string, grass-roots campaign, traveling non-stop in her huge district that stretches more than 250 miles from the Mississippi River to the Appalachians, and even more than she needs our help she has earned and deserves it.

Heather sets the room on fire everywhere she speaks, and stole the show at that political trial by fire we like to call the Fancy Farm picnic.

Vote for her today and every day, and if you've got a couple of spare bucks, send them her way.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Beshear's Failure and How to Fix It

Wondering how in the name of the seven gods of FUBAR Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear went from a 20-point landslide mandate to national laughingstock in the course of six months?

Media Czech has a superb analysis.

Folks, in order to move our state forward, we need to be honest about where we stand.

The first 7 months of the Beshear Administration have been damned close to a disaster. We entered January with a lot of momentum and potential to get things done. Sure, David Williams stood in our way in the Senate, but we had the opportunity to form a united front against him and take him on. It was a golden window of opportunity to knock him onto his heels and move our agenda through the session, leading up to the elections in the Fall where we could launch a real effort to take back the Senate.

In every way imaginable, the Beshear Administration failed at this task.

From the arrogance of the initial casino proposal, to the cigarette tax waffling, to the bitter budget infighting, to the insulting behavior toward Dems in the legislature, to the giant failure in the special election of the Senate 30th District, we’ve continually missed opportunities and shot ourselves in the foot.

I don't agree with everything in it, and I would place far more blame on Beshear's corporatism and tendency to appease repug bullies, but MC's piece is a great starting place for a desperately needed debate.

If you want to stop wandering around repeating "what the fuck happened" and start working on ways to get a real Democratic administration back on track, read the whole thing.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

If We're Not Doing Social Justice, We're Not the Democratic Party

Get the wooden stake, quick: the Democratic Leadership Council "Let's Be More Like Republicans!" ghoul is trying to rise from the dead.

A big reason that the Democrats won back Congress in 2006 and are likely to keep it in 2008 is nominating and electing socially conservative economic populists like Heath Shuler. More progress. But to create an updated version of the New Deal, the Democrats have to treat economically liberal social conservatives as equal partners, with their own spokesmen and leadership roles in the party, not just as a handful of swing voters brought on reluctantly at the last moment.

You know what a "socially conservative economic populist" is? It's a sex-hating Comstockian who makes you pay for the privilege of being black, female or gay in their white, straight male paradise. Heath Shuler? Make that "their white, straight, STUPID male paradise."

(More after the jump.)

Remember when Democrats were pure economic populists and didn't sully their majority popularity with messy social liberalism?

You know, the 1950s:

  • when coloreds knew their place in the back of the bus and were happy to have a seat at all
  • when women stayed barefoot and pregnant
  • when gays were beaten and murdered
  • when the only birth control was a coat hanger in a dirty alley
  • when nobody cared how much you beat your wife and fucked your kids as long as you kept it behind closed doors
The determined stand against that cramped, ugly world first taken by courageous Democrats in the 1960s may have lost them popularity, but it was a price they paid willingly.

"We've lost the South for a generation," LBJ said when he signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965. He knew what standing tall for Civil Rights and Doing The Right Thing would do to the Democratic Party, and he did it anyway.

As did Democratic politicians throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties, sacrificing themselves and their party's White House hopes in order to ensure that people could live where they want, love whom they please, reproduce willingly, worship - or not - unmolested, get equal opportunity at good schools and jobs, live free of fear for their personal safety.

Show me a Democrat who claims to value the economic safety net over civil rights, reproductive freedom and social justice, and I'll show you a Republican who's picking your pocket while reciting Bible verses.

You cannot BE a true economic populist if you don't value individual freedom. And you can't value individual freedom if you're a social conservative.

Hate is not a family value, and above all things social conservatives hate. They hate everyone and everything who is not exactly like them: their race, their religion, their economic niche, their educational level, their neighborhood, their sexual preference, their favorite TV shows.

Social conservatives are antithetical to all social, scientific, political and economic progress. Social conservatives, as William F. Buckley so perfectly described them: "stand athwart history and shout "Stop!"

Like that supposed "socially conservative economic populist" Mike Huckabee. Ever actually read Mike Huckabee's political philosophy? He doesn't want to go back to the 1950s; he wants to go back to the 950s, when the king's word was law, serfs knew their place, and disobedient children and wives were stoned to death. A place where John McCain would be right at home.

Article author Michael Lind, who has apparently spent the last 15 years in a cave, says:

Social conservatives, having lost the culture war, should be offered not only a truce but also an opportunity to join a broad economic campaign for a middle-class America, as many of them did between 1932 and 1968. When pro-choicers and pro-lifers unite in cheering the public investment and living wage planks at the convention of the neo-Roosevelt party, we will know that the political era that began in 1968 is truly and finally over.

Michael, wake up: the mid-century New Dealers that you are calling "social conservatives" are extinct. They had nothing in common with the social conservatives of today's rethuglican party. Comparing the two is like comparing the pro-slavery "Democrats" of the decade before the Civil War with the Democrats who chose Barack Obama to be the next president.

Today's social conservatives will never, never, NEVER "cheer public investment and the living wage." Any more than plantation owners in 1860 South Carolina would have voted for Abraham Lincoln.

And every minute, every dime, every electron wasted pretending otherwise is political suicide.

While social conservatives may have "lost the culture war" in New York City or wherever the hell Lind lives, they're basking in victory out here in the real world, where blacks are quietly redlined out of the best neighborhoods and schools, gays are fired without consequence, children are forced to join group prayers in school, pharmacists refuse to dispense birth control, and only burka-wearing virgins can be raped.

Salon commenter Buzz Lightyear nailed it:

What's the point of greater economic equality if it doesn't lead to a better and more just society?

That's what made the 1960s so special and why the Democratic party transformed from the party of Roosevelt to the party of McGovern.

Once people had enough money in their pockets, they started looking around to see how to they could make the world better. Ending a pointless war in Southeast Asia and ending the oppression of racial minorities were obvious ways of doing that.

Of course, the power structure couldn't have that, so the 40-year-long War on The Middle Class was enacted so that the common folk would be too busy worrying about their economic security to have the energy to sustain social change.

You want the nation that won World War II, brought 30 years of prosperity and established social justice back? Vote for Liberals.

And tell Michael Lind, the DLC and their "social conservative" friends to stay the fuck away from Real Democrats.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Why Forgiving the Crimes at Just-Us is Not Just Wrong, but Dangerous

When it comes to nailing the essential obscenity of the Smirky/Darth maldministration, no one does it better than the Rude Pundit. On the leniency given to criminals at the Department of Justice, he doesn't disappoint. (Warning: content at link is X-rated.)

Michael Mukasey Doesn't Care About the Security of Americans:
Here's what Mukasey said yesterday: not only is he not going to pursue charges against Monica Goodling et al for giving a political litmus test to candidates for ostensibly non-political jobs, but he thinks they've been punished enough ...


See, as Mukasey explained, they didn't violate criminal laws, but civil service law, and he's right that that doesn't end up in criminal prosecution. But you know what is actionable in criminal law? Ordering people to violate civil service law. Conspiracy and all that shit.


Yep, a systemic failure, one where others might be implicated, would seem to warrant action. But, see, that might require further investigation. And that might lead directly to Alberto Gonzales. And if people start to roll over, well, that way madness lies.

Even more (c**t)ish was what was left out of Mukasey's remarks. He did say that those who were hired won't be fired because "it would be harmful to the Department and to the country." You remember back in the day when everything was related to security? When to support the extension of civil service benefits to workers at the Department of Homeland Security meant that you wanted Osama bin Laden to force America's sons to fellate his goats? When if a Democrat happened to mention that some action of the administration was a violation of civil rights, it meant that the Democrats were ready to hand the keys to the White House to Islamonazis or whatever the word was? Wait, wasn't that like last week or so? Anyway...

In that bullshit, overwrought context, what Mukasey left out was that the actions of Monica Goodling et al in Alberto Gonzales's Justice Department placed all of us in greater danger. If you're more concerned with whether or not Johnny or Jenny Civil Servant would take a bullet for aborted fetuses than if they have the skills to do the goddamn jobs at the goddamn Department of goddamn Justice, then you are saying that you don't give a happy monkey fuck about the security of the country.


Mukasey's right that to fire people because the interview process was fucked is unfair, especially since the Rude Pundit would like to think that more than one of them stared for a moment when, in an interview for a job dealing with immigration, Goodling might ask them what they think about the homosexuals and their desire for marriage before answering in a lie that'd get them the job. (If the Rude Pundit had been asked, as Goodling did, "What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?" he'd have answered, "He smells like lime and coca leaves.")


No, Mr. Former Judge Attorney General Mukasey, as you say, "Two wrongs don't make a right." But you lead the fuckin' Justice Department. You know that to right a wrong means you might have to actually pursue justice. Or don't you give a damn about the safety of the United States?

George Bush, Dick Cheney, all their loyal minions, and wingnut freakazoid repugs in general: Always wrong, always harming the country, all the time.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beshear's "Help" for Foreclosure Victims Falls Far Short

It's really sweet when the watchdog who sat by and let the house invaders break in and terrorize your family turns up later to lick your face and comfort you.

We're so grateful that Kentucky state government, which failed to enact laws and regulations to prevent predatory lenders from stealing people's homes, is licking our faces with a program of free credit counseling to people on the verge of foreclosure.

Every homeowner who contacts the Protection Center through the Web site at or through the toll-free number at (866) 830-7868 will be referred to a counseling agency serving their area that will assist those homeowners in default or in danger of defaulting on their mortgage loan.

“The Kentucky Homeownership Protection Center provides a central location for all information pertaining to affordable housing in Kentucky,” said Governor Beshear. “While the nation faces a crisis in the housing industry, my administration is working tirelessly to help Kentucky homeowners who are affected by these tough economic times remain in their homes.”

Translation: My administration is working tirelessly to throw sand in voters' eyes and prevent them from seeing how eagerly and thoroughly I kiss lobbyist ass.

This "program" is akin to providing free counseling for victims of rape and child abuse while allowing rapists and child abusers to roam free and attack new victims.

As The Nation explained in its superb cover story, the culprit in the vast majority of foreclosures nationwide is the greedy, unregulated lenders who lied and tricked homeowners into booby-trap loans that later exploded into disaster.

The Nation also uncovered the story of how strong state legislation in Georgia that prevented criminal lenders from operating was repealed under enormous pressure from predators like Ameriquest.

State Senator Vincent Fort pads around the Georgia Capitol with the wan look of a man who knows where the bodies are buried. Fort, who represents the tract of Atlanta that's been hardest hit by foreclosures, saw the crisis coming. He wrote and managed to pass a law that would have averted the whole mess--if financial industry lobbyists hadn't flooded Georgia and got it repealed a year later. Now he's relegated to the role of gadfly, resubmitting the prescient bill each session and getting nowhere. Sitting in his office after the close of this winter's session, he rocks back and laughs at it all: "It's like getting pickpocketed at eighty miles an hour."

That's what Governor Beshear should be doing now: demanding legislation that stops predatory lending.

But as he made his millions in private practice by doing the exact opposite - defending and protecting predatory lenders - we won't hold our breath.

Cross-posted a BlueGrassRoots.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Messaging While the Campaign Burns

OK, who put Democratic Common Sense Powder on Ben Chandler's oatmeal?

Buried at the bottom of a thumb-sucker column by Ryan Alessi claiming that Kentucky Democratic candidates can't win in a Democratic landslide year unless they find some kind of unspecified "message," we find this:

Chandler said the message for all Democrats running for Congress should be as simple as ”Time for a change“ — just like Lunsford has started to say, and just like the line Republican Ernie Fletcher used in 2003 to defeat Chandler in the governor's race.

”It's so basic,“ Chandler said. ”That's what the Democrats did in the 2006 election — they just talked about change and a new direction and they didn't really say much about anything else.“

What Ben Chandler forgot during that losing 2003 race for Governor, but has learned recently, is that Democratic candidates who stand up proudly for Democratic values (John Yarmuth) win elections, and those who follow republicans, chirping "me, too!" (Harold Ford) lose.

Unfortunately, we still have political writers like Alessi and the NYT's Matt Bai nattering on about how Democrats, in a year when people would rather chew off their own arms than vote for a republican, can't win unless they "develop a message and stick to it."

There's a good chance that all the Democratic Congressional challengers in Kentucky will lose this year, given that they are all down double-digits in the polls and out-financed by a factor of 10 - but if they do lose, it won't be because they don't have a "message."

The only message Democratic candidates - in Kentucky or anywhere - need this year is this one:

"I'm not the republican."

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Great Dissenter: Happy 175th, Robert Ingersoll

Nothing is greater than to break the chains from the bodies of men -- nothing nobler than to destroy the phantom of the soul.

-- Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899)
American politician and lecturer known for his adamant support of scientific and humanistic rationalism.

Between the Civil War and end of the 19th century, the biggest celebrity in America was someone virtually unknown today. The most in-demand speaker of the day, who consistently drew audiences of thousands everywhere he spoke, throughout the nation, was not Mark Twain, but Robert G. Ingersoll.

Colonel Robert Green Ingersoll (August 11, 1833 – July 21, 1899) was a Civil War veteran, American political leader, and orator during the Golden Age of Freethought, noted for his broad range of culture and his defense of agnosticism.


Ingersoll was most noted as an orator, the most popular of the age, when oratory was public entertainment. He spoke on every subject, from Shakespeare to Reconstruction, but his most popular subjects were agnosticism and the sanctity and refuge of the family. He committed his speeches to memory although they were sometimes more than three hours long. His audiences were said never to be restless.

His radical views on religion, slavery, woman's suffrage, and other issues of the day effectively prevented him from ever pursuing or holding political offices higher than that of state attorney general. Illinois Republicans tried to pressure him into running for governor on the condition that Ingersoll conceal his agnosticism during the campaign, which he refused on the basis that concealing information from the public was immoral.

Many of Ingersoll's speeches advocated freethought and humanism, and often poked fun at religious belief. For this the press often attacked him, but neither his views nor the negative press could stop his rising popularity. At the height of Ingersoll's fame, audiences would pay $1 or more to hear him speak, a giant sum for his day.

Take a few moments Monday to celebrate Ingersoll's birthday by committing to memory Ingersoll's Creed:

Happiness is the only good.
The time to be happy is now.
The place to be happy is here.
The way to be happy is to make others so.

Read the best collection of Ingersoll's philosophy in "What's God Got to Do With It: Robert Ingersoll on Free Speech, Honest Talk and the Separation of Church and State."

Read about the enormous positive role of Freethought in American History in Susan Jacoby's essential book.

Read Ingersoll's complete works online.

Read the most complete collection of Ingersoll's quotes.

Find out more, and support the dedicated but underfunded Council on Secular Humanism here.

Get cool Freethinker and Secular Humanism swag here. How can you resist a website named "Evolvefish?"

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Progressive Steps Forward in Kentucky

Two small but positive signs of political and social progress here in the still-red Bluegrass State:

DINO Rep. Ben Chandler, D-KY6, has bolstered his pre-primary endorsement of Barack Obama with a post-Iraq-trip endorsement of withdrawing troops.

After making his first whirlwind trip through Iraq over the weekend, Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler said the United States should begin to withdraw troops now and force the Iraqi government to stand on its own.

”As long as we continue to fund this thing and as long as we continue to provide security, there is less incentive for the Iraqi government to do the things they need to do to control the country,“ Chandler told the Herald-Leader. ”I think we need to leave them with as stable a situation as we can but we need to lift off from the country as soon as possible."

What, didn't Chandler rate the everything's-hunky-dory tour treatment that McBush gets?

As Media Czech says:

I feel it is the responsibility of all grassroots activists and KY bloggers to criticize our own when we let us down, and praise our own when they stand up for us. To do otherwise is not only dishonest, it greatly hurts our own cause. (ahem!)

PS- I'm personally taking time out of my day to call Ben's office and thank him for these words on Iraq and the way he's conducted himself this year. I strongly encourage you to do the same.

D.C.- Phone: (202)-225-4706
Lex- Phone: (859) 219-1366

The same day as Ben's epiphany, repug tool Governor Steve Beshear appointed Progressive Icon Ernesto Scorsone to a Circuit Judgeship.

Scorsone said he was honored by the appointment.

"Lexington has a strong tradition of an excellent bench and I hope to continue that," he said.

Scorsone, a Lexington attorney, will serve until the Nov. 4 general election to replace Sheila Isaac, who stepped down to enter the senior judge program.

Scorsone, 56, is the only person thus far to file papers to run in November for the circuit court seat. The deadline to file is Aug. 12.

It'll be interesting to see if the repugs put anyone up to run against Ernesto. They failed to challenge him for reelection either this year or in 2004, even though he was the most liberal member of the General Assembly. His freedom from opposition could be because his Lexington senate district is heavily Democratic and liberal and its voters revere Scorsone.

But the Circuit Court District in Lexington encompasses all of Fayette County, including the republican southern suburbs. If the repugs let Judge Scorsone run unchallenged, it'll be the strongest sign yet that republicans are as endangered in Kentucky as they are nationally.

The Herald neglects to mention that Ernesto Scorsone was the only openly gay member of the Kentucky General Assembly, and is apparently the only openly gay Circuit Judge in Kentucky.

I hope the reason the Herald chose not to mention this significant facet of Sen. Scorsone's biography is because it is irrelevant to his qualifications for Circuit Judge.

It is, however, highly relevant to the state of civil liberties and tolerance in the Commonwealth.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bringing Down the Tower

State government has received a formal recommendation to do something that's far-sighted, fiscally smart, environmentally sound, and good for both state employees and the Frankfort community.

That pretty much guarantees it's never going to happen.

But let's take a look, if only to have one more thing at which we can look back in 20 years and say, "if only Beshear had ...."

The 26-story Capital Plaza Office tower that dominates the skyline of Kentucky's capital city might come down.

A Lexington architectural firm is recommending demolition of the office tower and construction of a new five-story building nearby.


Frankfort Mayor William I. May Jr. said he thinks the plan would be ”a definite improvement“ for downtown Frankfort and will open up future development for the area.


To renovate the existing facilities would cost $134.7 million. The price tag would be $156 million to demolish the office tower with its garage and plaza, build a new 270,000-square-foot building, demolish Fountain Shops and construct a new ”green“ plaza with a building site and add 520 parking spaces to a garage and 140 spaces to the YMCA garage addition and renovation.

The extra cost would provide a life cycle of 50 years for the complex, Sherman said. To do nothing, he added, would cost the state millions of dollars in upkeep for the deteriorating facilities.

Jim Abbott, facilities and services commissioner for the state Finance and Administration Cabinet, said the state will seek public comment on the report and submit a funding request to Kentucky's 2010 General Assembly.

Set aside for the moment that unless Goveror Beshear proposes and forces the legislature to pass comprehensive tax reform including a large increase in the cigarette tax, the state is not going to be able to buy paper clips, much less construct new office buildings.

Remember that more than a decade ago, a similar study recommended that the state make a long-term investment in constructing several new office buildings on state land along the Connector, with the goal of moving all state offices out of rental property.

The up-front cost was in the billions, but it would have saved the saved even more billions in rent.

Initial investment for long-term savings vs. wasting billions by doing nothing.

Guess which one the state chose.

Read the whole thing.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It's 11 p.m. Do You Know Where Your Obama Cutout Is?

At TPM Cafe, articleman has The Top 10 Signs You're Too Into Obama.

2. You have a lifesize cardboard Obama cutout up in your dining room.

1. Obama staffer asks you derisively if you hug the cardboard Obama before you go to bed.

Be sure to scroll down below the ad to read the comments.

Warning: may cause Rolling on the Floor Laughing Your Ass Off.

Are YOU too into Obama? What are the signs?

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Barack's Bittersweet Black Leadership

Coming in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Matt Bai on how Barack Obama represents a bittersweet transfer of leadership among black politicians from the generation that bled at Selma to the generation that graduated from white schools.

For black Americans born in the 20th century, the chasms of experience that separate one generation from the next— those who came of age before the movement, those who lived it, those who came along after — have always been hard to traverse. Elijah Cummings, the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and an early Obama supporter, told me a story about watching his father, a South Carolina sharecropper with a fourth-grade education, weep uncontrollably when Cummings was sworn in as a representative in 1996. Afterward, Cummings asked his dad if he had been crying tears of joy. “Oh, you know, I’m happy,” his father replied. “But now I realize, had I been given the opportunity, what I could have been. And I’m about to die.” In any community shadowed by oppression, pride and bitterness can be hard to untangle.

Read the whole thing.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

MIT Scientists Burn Dr. Dan

I don’t actually care whether Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo’s defense of mountain-top removal mining is proof of corruption, sociopathic lying, early-onset dementia or deeply deluded political calculation.

I only care that he be immediately, publicly and thoroughly proven dead wrong.

One of Dr. Destruction’s defenses, made to a constituent at a public event, was that we need coal to replace oil. To the dirty fucking hippie challenging him, Mongiardo smirked and said condescendingly:

"You can’t run cars on wind power, you know."

You can’t run them on coal, either, asshole.

But you CAN run them on solar power, and it’s about to get easier, cheaper and far more efficient to do so.

Solar-power skeptic Blue Girl explores a grid-killing discovery at MIT.

The problem with solar power has always been that it only works when the sun is shining, so the time it isn't generating power, cloudy days and sunset to sunrise means that for more than half the time it doesn't work.

I have been one of those wet blankets that has been saying for ages that we have gone about as far as we can with solar and wind until storage gets better because storing extra solar energy for later use is prohibitively expensive and grossly inefficient.

Well, it just got better! Researchers at MIT, using plant photosynthesis as their model, have hit upon a simple, inexpensive, highly efficient process for storing solar energy.

Requiring nothing but abundant, non-toxic natural materials, this discovery could unlock the most potent, carbon-free energy source of all: the sun.

"This is the nirvana of what we've been talking about for years," said MIT's Daniel Nocera, the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy at MIT and senior author of a paper describing the work in the July 31 issue of Science. "Solar power has always been a limited, far-off solution. Now we can seriously think about solar power as unlimited and soon."

Read the whole thing, complete with illustrations of how the new process could run your whole house.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Remember the Real Villains of the Mortgage Crisis

Think only stupid, greedy people are losing their homes in the mortgage mess? Guess what: You're Next.

Housing Lenders Fear Bigger Wave of Loan Defaults

The first wave of Americans to default on their home mortgages appears to be cresting, but a second, far larger one is quickly building.

Homeowners with good credit are falling behind on their payments in growing numbers, even as the problems with mortgages made to people with weak, or subprime, credit are showing their first, tentative signs of leveling off after two years of spiraling defaults.

The percentage of mortgages in arrears in the category of loans one rung above subprime, so-called alternative-A mortgages, quadrupled to 12 percent in April from a year earlier. Delinquencies among prime loans, which account for most of the $12 trillion market, doubled to 2.7 percent in that time.

The mortgage troubles have been exacerbated by an economy that is still struggling. Reports last week showed another drop in home prices, slower-than-expected economic growth and a huge loss at General Motors. On Friday, the Labor Department reported that the unemployment rate in July climbed to a four-year high.

While it is difficult to draw precise parallels among various segments of the mortgage market, the arc of the crisis in subprime loans suggests that the problems in the broader market may not peak for another year or two, analysts said.

Defaults are likely to accelerate because many homeowners’ monthly payments are rising rapidly. The higher bills come as home prices continue to decline and banks tighten their lending standards, making it harder for people to refinance loans or sell their homes.

Wonder how it happened? How millions of intelligent, educated, middle-class Americans got sucked into mortgages that blew up in their faces and destroyed their lives? The Nation explains, through the story of George Wright, who owned his modest home in Atlanta for almost 40 years. Until the mortgage crooks got him.

The vast majority of homes facing foreclosure are owner-occupied. Aggregate data on those homeowners is spotty at best, but consumer advocates insist they look a lot like George Mitchell--people shoved into large, needless loans so that lenders could profit from the fast-growing securities market.

Much has been written about the role of the byzantine derivatives trade in the housing market's balloon and bust. Investment banks have been bundling pools of mortgages and selling them as securities since the mid-'80s. But when the housing market exploded in the early 2000s, those pools became immensely profitable. Banks started gobbling up mortgages from lenders, who in turn frantically cranked up their lending volume to cash in on the new demand. Brokers raked in money as banks offered incentives for them to close larger and larger loans. Investors worldwide poured cash into the profitable mortgage pools that formed.

If the securities market was the bonfire, borrowers were the kindling. Had lenders not sought out and made loans to people without regard to their ability to pay, the fire would have burned itself out long ago. Instead, when the supply of reliable borrowers was depleted, the subprime lending products that Reagan-era deregulation helped usher in kept the flames lapping. Undocumented loan applications, interest-only payment plans and teaser interest rates are all just the tools lenders used to forage for new borrowers. "The purpose of those products was to convince these people that they could get in," says Legal Aid attorney Bill Brennan.

Read the whole thing.

The Associated Press offers a Q&A on what the new Hope for Homeowners Act of 2008 actually offers.

And Paul Krugman explains why it won't help much.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

McCain: My Wife, the C**t, is also a Stripper


We're trying to find out a bit more about the Bikini Beauty Pageant at the Buffalo Chip, where John McCain showed up and offered up wife Cindy as a contestant. ESPN says the event is topless and "occasionally bottomless". Actually their description is worth quoting in full ...

Buffalo Chip has a reputation for that sort of thing. It holds a Miss Buffalo Chip contest every night, which is essentially a topless beauty pageant. And occasionally bottomless, too. During a drenching rain Wednesday night, the contest broke up into smaller groups and one woman wound up dancing naked on a bar top. Her boyfriend/husband saw her and angrily dragged her away as she struggled to put her pants back on and muttered something about how, "It's only this one week a year."

Talking Points Memo has the video of McCain offering up Cindy.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Why Heather Ryan Should Be Running Against Mitch McConnell

Fancy Farm quick hits:

Mitch McConnell provided by far the best performance art, but only because he pays for it. Even the most rabid Lunsford volunteers couldn't compete.

Mitch brought a posse of baby Nazis from his D.C. office. Some carried triple-decker campaign signs on 20-foot-high staffs. They almost impaled several elderly people wearing republican stickers, and reminded me of those giant standards displayed by Roman emperors.

Other Gestapo-in-training wore long fake black beards and Arab-looking robes and burnooses, wearing signboards that blamed Lunsford, Obama and the Democrats for high gas prices. I sure hope he paid those kids well, because those costumes must have been brutal in the heat. Note to burnoose-wearers: the signboard is not very effective if the words are covered by your trailing headpiece in back and your fake beard in front.

If Heather Ryan doesn't beat Ed Whitfield in November, she should run against Steve Beshear in 2011. Mitch's baby Nazis hung arond long enough to try to scream her down, too, and she let 'em have it. She told the story of how her 12-year-old daughter asking McConnell about Iraq scared little Mitchie so much he got Heather fired.

"So thank you for being such a thin-skinned coward, Mitch," Ryan called out. "Because if you weren't, I wouldn't be here!"

At the Graves County Democratic Party breakfast before Fancy Farm, Ryan's speech was by far the best, beating even Lunsford for red-meat-throwing and drawing a standing, stamping, whistling ovation second only to the one for Lunsford.

Bruce Lunsford, dammit, gave the second-best speech of the day (after Heather.) Despite having to talk over non-stop screaming from Mitch's baby Nazis and their sitters ("Six More Years!"), he gave far better than he got and sounded - much as I hate to admit it - far more Senatorial than Mitch ever has.

McConnell and Kentucky's other Senator, Jim Bunning, read their speeches, barely lifting their heads or changing their tone, while Ryan, Lunsford, Beshear and Mongiardo spoke heads up and eyes forward (no teleprompters at Fancy Farm.)

The republicans don't seem to know who they're running against. The cardboard fan passed out to republicans had a list of republican talking points on one side and a list of republican candidates on the other side. Kentucky dems aren't always well-organized, but we can spot one of our own candidates at a good 10 feet.

McConnell and Bunning both seemed confused about who their opponents are. Neither one of them mentioned Lunsford, Ryan, Beshear, Mongiardo, or any other Kentuckian.

Mitch is running against some guy named Obama who bears no resemblance to the presumptive Democratic nominee but apparently has been going around Kentucky personally raising gas prices.

Bunning is running against long-married grandmother Nancy Pelosi, whose heterosexal, monogamous, child-rearing values scare Jimmy to death.

Ed Whitfield, who never mentioned his actual opponent Heather Ryan, seems to think he's running against Bruce Lunsford. That may be because this supposed representative of Kentucky's First Congressional District doesn't actually live here; his actual residence is - and has been for several years - in Florida. That's 500 miles and at least three states away from Western Kentucky, Ed.

Ed also doesn't know - or doesn't care - that it's illegal to remove another candidate's signs. His supporters couldn't stand that the home-made-in-her-front-yard Heather Ryan signs outnumbered Whitfield's expensively printed signs along U.S. 80 approaching Fancy Farm, so they pulled them up. Cowards. Criminals. Losers.

The Ditch Mitch crowd had some cute signage on U.S. 80: a series of large boards listing Mitch's crimes and corporate cop-outs over the last 24 years. If only the anti-McConnell movement had a candidate worth fighting for.

Climate conditions were 92 degrees and 45 percent humidity - practically sweater-weather for experienced Fancy Farmers used to 100 degrees with matching humidity. The new covered pavilion is not an improvement: the bleachers block the view of the speakers from everyone in the grass outside the pavilion, and the increased body heat from people crammed inside cancels out the cooling effect of shade.

Herald's coverage here, and here, Courier's here. Page One watched KET's coverage and comments here. KET webcast the whole thing.

And Kilowat has great pix here, here, here, here and here.

And of course Jim Pence was there taking video all day long.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.