Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jim Bunning Should Not Resign

Yeah, it would be fucking hysterical to watch Mitch McConnell's head explode if Senator Non Compos Mentis actually carried out his threat, but only for a couple of minutes.

Then we'd have a few decades to regret letting Governor and Cowardly Waste of Oxygen Steve Beshear appoint some repug-fellating DINO or hacktastic corporate shill in his place.

Or, FSM forbid, his own Lt. Governor.

And no, Beshear's nominally "Democratic" appointee would not be the 60th Democratic Caucus vote in the Senate: Joe Lieberman would be.

There are currently 57 U.S. Senators elected from the Democratic Party, including Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, elected as an Independent, almost always votes with the Democratic Caucus, bringing the majority to 58. The vote that the MSM lazily and inaccurately count as a Democratic one belongs to Democratic Traitor and John McCain BFF Joe Lieberman, the sole member of the Connecticut for Lieberman Party.

At the moment, Lieberman votes with the Democratic majority for two reasons: 1) his vote doesn't make or break a filibuster-ending supermajority of 60, so he's irrelevant, and 2) Lieberman's only hope of re-election in 2012 in Democratic Connecticut is to be President Obama's bitch.

However, if Beshear's pet DINO/hack replaces Bunning, suddenly Traitor Joe becomes the Senate swing vote. Everyone who believes Traitor Joe would stay loyal to the Democratic caucus once he has that kind of power, stand on your head.

Have patience. Next year, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway will slay a dozen primary opponents on his way to beating Bunning in a landslide. Conway's no liberal, but he has yet to show DINO tendencies. It's remotely possible Beshear would appoint Conway if Bunning retired, but as Kentucky Democrats have learned to our sorrow, you can't trust Beshear out of your sight.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....

Economic Quacking

Yesterday, Rook called for an end to the "recesssion" euphemism.

The same day, Steve Benen posted the latest economic numbers showing it's far worse than we thought.

FALLING OFF A CLIFF.... About a month ago, initial estimates showed that the U.S. economy shrank by 3.8% in the fourth quarter of 2008. One analyst, at the time, described it as an economic "train wreck."

If 3.8% was a train wreck, we're going to need a whole new list of adjectives to describe the new numbers.

The fourth-quarter estimate was revised this morning, and as it turns out, the economy shrank by 6.2%. This graph, by way of the Washington Post, helps drive the point home nicely.

It was the worst economic showing in a quarter-century.

If it quacks like a depression, it's a depression.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Naked Budget

Remember all the fun we had every March when George W. Bush would post his proposed budget online and we could scroll through the details, finding all the corporate giveaways and crony contracts and social welfare cuts to call to everyone's attention and get our congress critters to deal with?

No? Oh, yeah, that's right: Smirky/Darth's budgets were all kept secret from, you know, we the people.

No more. President Obama's proposed 2010 budget is online. Every detail. Naked. Uncut. In front of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and everybody.

In keeping with my commitment to make our government more open and transparent, this budget is an honest accounting of where we are and where we intend to go. For too long, our budget has not told the whole truth about how precious tax dollars are spent. Large sums have been left off the books, including the true cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that kind of dishonest accounting is not how you run your family budgets at home; it's not how your government should run its budgets, either. We need to be honest with ourselves about what costs are being racked up -- because that's how we'll come to grips with the hard choices that lie ahead.

Full remarks here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pot, Meet Kettle

Kentucky Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo is calling on Jim Bunning to not run for reelection, calling Senator Non Compos Mentis an embarrassment. (via Steve Benen)

In the immortal words of Media Czech:


Bunning may be senile, but it would be hard to find a Democratic politician in Kentucky who is more of an embarrassment right now than Dan Mongiardo.

Forget about Mongiardo gaining the undying enmity of tens of thousands of Kentucky liberals by sponsoring the gay hate amendment in 2004 and thereby losing to Bunning by 1 point instead of winning by 5 points as he should have.

Forget about this son of eastern Kentucky turning into a butt-boy for the coal industry to promote forest-ruining, water-polluting, community-destroying mountain-top removal coal mining.

Forget about the "marriage" just last year to a girl 25 years younger than him, which has made him a laughingstock among everyone who doesn't already hate him for his homophobia.

Just think about this:

Among KY Democrats, here are the % unfavorables for the following:

Jack Conway- 11%

Crit Luallen- 12%

Ben Chandler- 16%

Dan Mongiardo- 28%

Gee, seems like a lot of Kentucky democrats think homophobia and mountaintop removal aren't things to smile about, no?

In fact, what are Republican Trey Grayson's unfavorables among democrats? 24%

28-24. Now that's some comedy...

You read that right. "Democratic" Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo has a higher unfavorable rating among Kentucky Democrats than does the republican Secretary of State.

Now that's an embarrassment.

Don't miss the full coverage of the anti-Mongiardo campaign at Barefoot and Progressive.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....

2008 Election Still Open to Repug Theft

When Talking Points Memo, which broke the US Attorneys scandal, says a story is flying under the national and MSM radar, bloggers should need no further encouragement.

Did you know that the mere fact a republican incumbent lost a tight re-election is proof that the election was rigged and needs to be done over?

No? Then meet former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, the biggest sore-losing WATB north of Rush Limpballs.

In a nutshell, Norm Coleman has lost but refuses to concede and now wants to throw out the original election, the one he lost, and hold a new one.

Coleman was ahead after the initial tally on election night, but then found himself 225 votes behind Al Franken after the state-mandated recount. So Coleman sued to have the results of the election overturned by a court, primarily (though not exclusively) on the grounds that certain absentee ballots were counted that shouldn't have been and others weren't counted but should have been. That's most of what the twists and turns of the legal dispute have been about (a political junkies dream, really).

But five weeks into the election contest trial, the court has repeatedly issued rulings that narrow Coleman's chances of either collecting enough newly counted ballots or throwing out already counted ballots -- or some combination of the two. So in recent days, the Coleman legal team has become increasingly shrill in its attacks not just on the court but on the entire electoral process in Minnesota, getting closer every day to outright calling for the Nov. 4 election be declared null and void and a whole new election be held between Coleman and Franken. And now Coleman himself has suggested that a do-over election may be necessary.

In the background of course is the fact that the longer the legal dispute drags on, the longer Senate Democrats are denied an important 59th vote, in the person of Al Franken. But let's not allow that to distract from the fact that Coleman (and the GOP) still desperately wants to win, and has shown himself willing to do just about anything to get there.

Throwing your hands up and saying let's just call the election a tie and do it again is the desperate last act of a losing candidate. That this ploy requires attacking the entire electoral process and the people who conduct elections in the state is just a sign of his desperation. But apparently even the Coleman camp is starting to see that a do-over election is the only avenue still open to Coleman that might, albeit remotely, allow him to return to his seat.

For years, and certainly most loudly since the Florida debacle of 2000, Republicans have made ill-founded election hijinks charges against Democrats. But Norm Coleman, with the support of national Republicans (keep in mind that one of Coleman's lawyers is Ben Ginsberg, the Bush campaign's top lawyer in 2000) is now poised to try to pull off what would be perhaps a bigger election robbery than Bush v. Gore: toss out the nearly three million votes cast on one of the most-anticipated election days in this nation's history in favor of a much smaller special do-over election. It's breath-taking. Yet for some reason this story still seems to be flying below the national political radar.

Read the the whole reality-defying fiasco.

How Will Kentucky Spend $3 Billion in Stimulus Funds?

Governor Steve Beshear has released his plan to spend the $3 billion Kentucky will get in federal economic stimulus funds over the next two years.

No, there are no ponies. No immediate general fund dollars to help relieve the current half-billion-dollar shortfall the state has to make up between now and June 30. Ninety-six percent of the money is restricted to specific areas like education, health care, transportation and public safety.

There are three areas of likely waste and corruption, and no, it's not in Medicaid.

‘Kentucky At Work,’ the commonwealth’s plan to implement American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars signed into law last week by President Barack Obama, will provide a much-needed, one-time infusion of dollars for two primary purposes: to maintain jobs and quality of life through investments in education, health care and public safety; and to make strategic investments now to position Kentucky for the future.


  • Medicaid: Kentucky’s Medicaid program will receive about $990 million over the next two years. The program currently faces a $232 million deficit this year, while demand for services is increasing by about 3,000 people a month due to the economy.
  • Health and welfare: Kentucky will receive about $272 million for areas like public housing, weatherization, child care, child support enforcement and homelessness prevention.
  • Education: Kentucky will receive about $924 million in stimulus money. Approximately $535 million will be used to preserve existing commitments to K-12 and higher education, as well as to continue efforts to hold down the cost of tuition. The remaining $389 million, administered through the Kentucky Department of Education, will go to Title 1, Head Start, technology and school lunch programs and other programs that help families in crisis.
  • General Fund: Kentucky will receive nearly $120 million to help address critical shortfalls in priority areas and mitigate against even deeper cuts over the next two fiscal years.
  • Job training and public safety: The commonwealth will receive $66 million in job training and workforce development dollars. In the area of public safety, Kentucky will receive about $30 million to combat violence against women and to support criminal justice efforts at both the state and local levels.
  • Roads and Bridges: Kentucky will receive $421 million for highways and bridges. Gov. Beshear and legislative leaders have been working together on a road plan that contains projects that meet the federal government’s requirement that 50 percent of those funds be obligated within 120 days. Projects must be shovel-ready.
  • Transit: About $50 million will be allocated for transit.
  • Water and Sewer lines: Kentucky will receive about $71 million for water and sewer infrastructure.
  • Community Development: The state will be allocated some $12 million for local community development block grants.
  • Energy Projects: About $63 million will be allocated to Kentucky for energy initiatives.

Yep, the three problem areas are "General Fund," "Community Development Block Grants" and "Energy Initiatives."

Any time over the next two years that the governor cuts an essential program or claims he can't fulfill his obligations because he doesn't have the money, everybody needs to yell, in unison: "What happened to that $112 million for the General Fund?"

There are at least 250 separate municipal entities who will compete for the $12 million in Community Development Block Grants. The likelihood that the actual best projects will get the funding they need is vanishingly small.

Giving Kentucky $63 million for unspecified "energy initiatives" is like giving a teenager the keys to the liquor cabinet and the car and telling him to have fun. Everybody who thinks a single dime of that money will be spent to conquer our addiction to coal, stand on your head.

One last thing: Remember that Kentucky's entire Republican Congressional delegation - Senators McConnell and Bunning, and Representatives Ed Whitfield, Brent Guthrie, Hal Rogers and Geoff Davis - voted against the stimulus. Republicans are on record as wanting the stimulus to fail, and the state and the nation to fall into economic catastrophe so they can win elections in 2010 and 2012.

Any suggestion any republican - Congressional or General Assembly - makes about how to spend Kentucky's share of the stimulus must be rejected automatically on the grounds that a) they didn't want the money in the first place and b) they only want to use it to make President Obama look bad.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How to Save $3 Trillion Painlessly

Elana Schor at TPMDC has a great piece on the potentially huge budget savings from reversing just two of the most egregious Smirky/Darth spending sprees.

At the request of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently examined the impact of three alternative "policy scenarios" on our current budget deficit, expected to hit $1.5 trillion for 2009. Their conclusions were fascinating -- or troubling, depending on your degree of fiscal hawkishness.


All these numbers can be a bit confusing, but here's the rub: a sensible policy of drawdown in Iraq and reverting to Clinton-era tax cuts to the wealthy saves $2.8 trillion over the next 10 years.

Focusing on the reversal of the Bush tax cuts alone, the CBO found a $124 billion price tag to keep them alive for all earners into 2011 but only a $65 billion cost if the tax cuts were reserved only for middle- and lower-income Americans.

So when Republicans talk about the "impact of the deficit on future generations," just remind them that $59 billion of that problem can be solved by making life a little harder for high earners.

Sound too good to be true? It's hard to remember now, but Bill Clinton left a $2 trillion surplus when he left office in 2001. Smirky's 2001 giveaway to the rich sucked up half of that, and the first year of the Iraq clusterfuck took the rest. It's been monster deficits ever since.

So get the fuck out of Iraq and stop subsidizing obscenely wealthy parasites, and suddenly we're back on rational budget ground.

Amazing how much you can accomplish just by applying a little common sense to a problem.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....

Reality: No Such Thing As Clean Coal

Finally! A coalition with some money behind an advertising campaign to debunk the myth of clean coal.

As a bonus, it's proof enviros do too have a sense of humor.

Via Talking Points Memo.

"The Greatest Force of Progress and Prosperity"

One of these days, Barack Obama is going to deliver a clunker, and we'll know it's coming because the sun will have risen in the west.

We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.

The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation. The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth. Those qualities that have made America the greatest force of progress and prosperity in human history we still possess in ample measure. What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.

Part One (Parts Two through Six below.)

Full transcript here.

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:

Part Five:

Part Six:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The End of Abstinence-Only Un-education

Many years ago, mine was one of the first sixth-grade classes in Kentucky to be taught sex education in public school.

It wasn't much - reproductive anatomy mostly, heavy on the infamous V of the uterus and giving the impression no drawings were available of an adult human penis. Menstruation but no wet dreams. Disembodied egg and sperm uniting, glossing over how they happened to find themselves in the same convenient fallopian tube. Growth stages of the fetus, from clump of cells through the fetal pig we had just finished dissecting (yes, sex ed was taught in science class), to birth. Ta-da!

Nothing about masturbation, intercourse, oral sex, contraception, abortion or homosexuality. Venereal disease mentioned as something to be avoided, but never really explained. Planned Parenthood never mentioned, although word got around: free birth control pills at the Health Department.

But no lies. No lectures about morality, purity or virginity. No forced promises to abstain. No ludicrous fantasies about pre-marital sex making you suicidal, ugly, poor and branded sub-human forever.

No lies. The freakazoids kept to their repressed, superstitious, Dark Ages, miserable selves and didn't meddle in public education.

But with Reagan, the New Inquisition arrived, and reached its Torquemada peak under Smirky/Darth. America went from a nation whose teenagers initiated sex with at least a semblance of knowledge and easily available contraceptives to a nation whose teenagers initiated sex in horrifically dangerous ignorance.

No more. The Democratic 2009 budget in Congress takes a long-overdue ax to abstinence-only un-education.

... the spending bill -- which increases spending levels between now and October by $20.5 billion -- includes a flurry of provisions reversing controversial Bush-era policies on abstinence-based sex education.

The Democratic spending plan cuts total funding for abstinence education by $14.2 million, compared with the previous year, and trims Bush's total abstinence-ed request by $42 million. General family-planning aid has been increased by $7.5 million. The spending bill also specifies that any competitive grants awarded to abstinence-ed programs "shall be scientifically accurate" and that "none of the funds made available in this Act may be used to disseminate scientific information that is deliberately false or misleading."


The Democratic spending plan also contains a provision ensuring that no future administration can gag its scientists from testifying truthfully before Congress (as the Bush team sought to do on climate change). The bill states that

scientific information, including such information provided in congressional testimony, requested by the Committees on Appropriations and prepared by government researchers and scientists shall be transmitted to the Committees on Appropriations, uncensored and without delay.

It's too late for Victims of Superstition and Repression like Bristol Palin, but at least now we can start to make sure that hers was the last generation to be taught that condoms cause AIDS.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....

Schumer to Repug Governors: All or Nothing, You Jerks

New York Senator Chuck Schumer is on Kentucky dems' permanent shit list for fucking up the Senate race so bad last year and ensuring Mitch McConnell's reelection.

Nevertheless, this gets him a "go get 'em, Chuck!" from me.

TPMDC's Eric Kleefield explains:

Chuck Schumer is calling for a crack-down on Republican governors who want to turn down part, but not all, of their state's stimulus funds -- for example, Bobby Jindal and Haley Barbour refusing increased unemployment benefits -- releasing a new letter to the White House arguing that the law doesn't allow this, and asking the Obama Administration to tell governors that it's all-or-nothing:

As you know, Section 1607(a) of the economic recovery legislation provides that the Governor of each state must certify a request for stimulus funds before any money can flow. No language in this provision, however, permits the governor to selectively adopt some components of the bill while rejecting others. To allow such picking and choosing would, in effect, empower the governors with a line-item veto authority that President Obama himself did not possess at the time he signed the legislation. It would also undermine the overall success of the bill, as the components most singled out for criticism by these governors are among the most productive measures in terms of stimulating the economy.

Schumer also takes a shot at the governors who are turning down parts of the package, accusing them of having political motives:

No one would dispute that these governors should be given the choice as to whether to accept the funds or not. But it should not be multiple choice. The composition of the package was rightly dictated by economic considerations; we should not let the implementation of the package be dictated by political considerations.

It should be noted that it would be politically untenable for a governor to turn down all of their state's haul. So if the White House were to adopt Schumer's interpretation, they would really be making these governors an offer they can't refuse.

Guess all it takes to make Senate Democrats start playing hardball is a global economic meltdown, 4,300 U.S. military dead for no good reason, the most pathetic repug party in generations and a once-in-a-century Democratic president with a monster mandate and apple-pie approval ratings.

Welcome to the game, chuckie - we've been waiting for you.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....

Filibuster or No Filibuster, Harry Reid is Still a Coward

Well, shit. It appears that forcing Senate repugs to "really" filibuster instead of just threatening it is not the solution many of us thought it would be.

Reid's office has studied the history of the filibuster and analyzed what options are available. The resulting memo was provided to the Huffington Post and it concludes that a filibustering Senator "can be forced to sit on the [Senate] floor to keep us from voting on that legislation for a finite period of time according to existing rules but he/she can't be forced to keep talking for an indefinite period of time."

Bob Dove, who worked as a Senate parliamentarian from 1966 until 2001, knows Senate rules as well as anyone on the planet. The Reid analysis, he says, is "exactly correct."

To get an idea of what the scene would look like on the Senate floor if Democrats tried to force Republicans to talk out a filibuster, turn on C-SPAN on any given Saturday. Hear the classical music? See the blue carpet behind the "Quorum Call" logo? That would be the resulting scene if Democrats forced a filibuster and the GOP chose not to play along.

As both Reid's memo and Dove explain, only one Republican would need to monitor the Senate floor. If the majority party tried to move to a vote, he could simply say, "I suggest the absence of a quorum."

The presiding officer would then be required to call the roll. When that finished, the Senator could again notice the absence of a quorum and start the process all over. At no point would the obstructing Republican be required to defend his position, read from the phone book or any of the other things people associate with the Hollywood version of a filibuster.

"You cannot force senators to talk during a filibuster," says Dove. "Delay in the Senate is not difficult and, frankly, the only way to end it is through cloture."

And cloture requires 60 votes. Democrats, short of Minnesota's Al Franken, have 58.

(Actually, there are only 56 U.S. Senators elected from the Democratic Party. Two non-Democratic Senators caucus with the Democrats: Bernie Sanders of Vermont, elected as an Independent, and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the sole member of the Connecticut for Lieberman Party. Socialist Sanders, as contemptuous as he is of Harry Reid and the other DINOs, is highly unlikely to vote with the repug minority. Lieberman, though a fucking Traitor and repug fellator who should be tarred and feathered and run out of the Senate on a rail, has to run for reelection in 2012 in a state where no republican can ever get elected and where he is barred for life from the Democratic Party. His only hope of reelection is to spend the next four years as Obama's bitch.)

Yes, Reid could propose changing the rules to reduce the cloture number to 55 or even 51. However, the cloture majority on a filibuster of the rule change would be not 60, but rather 2/3 of the Senators present - meaning as few as 34 repugs could stop the rule change.

Steve Benen asks "Now, can we talk about getting rid of the filibuster altogether?"

Fuck that. Now, can we talk about getting rid of the Senate altogether?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Why You Should Be Glad Your Neighbor Gets Mortgage Help and You Don't

First, fall on your knees and thank your lucky stars you have a good enough job and good enough health to be able to afford your mortgage.

Second, realize that if your neighbor qualifies for mortgage help under President Obama's new housing rescue plan, it's because your neighbor has suffered financial setbacks like losing a job or incurring major medical expenses of which you shouldn't be envious.

Third, observe your neighbor's house for a few minutes and consider how it would affect your own property value if that house were empty, neglected, trashed by squatters or taken over by drug dealers.

Hilzoy has a terrific simple explanation of how President Obama's housing rescue plan really works.

The second of these steps is the only one that could possibly be said to help people who took out loans they cannot afford at the expense of the rest of us. (The first and third are aimed at different problems entirely.) You don't have to be in default, or late making payments, in order to qualify for it. You do, however, have to be paying more than you can realistically afford.

Some people are paying more than they can afford because they knowingly took out mortgages that were too big -- perhaps counting on being able to refinance or sell their home once their teaser rates ended. Some are paying more than they can afford through no fault of their own: they lost their jobs, had unexpected health crises, etc. Some are probably in between these two camps: people who talked themselves into accepting loans that they probably couldn't afford, or could afford only if everything went right, and then things went wrong. And some were probably defrauded.

Under normal circumstances, I'd be opposed to the government stepping in to encourage banks to modify these loans, except in cases of fraud. But these are not normal circumstances. The economy is melting down, and foreclosures are a big part of the reason why. Foreclosures always impact people other than the people foreclosed on, for instance by driving down neighborhood property values. But now, of all times, they are having massive impacts on the rest of us. And the Obama plan, which does not just wave a magic wand and make people's excess debt disappear, seems to me like a good start on addressing them.

Read the whole thing.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....

Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Nuclear has failed to deliver"

One of the many ways in which the deeply imperfect economic stimulus bill could have been dangerously worse is if the House had not eliminated the senate's giveaway to the nuke industry.

Thankfully, the final bill excludes the Senate's $500 million allocation that would have provided up to $50 billion in loan guarantees for "low emission" electricity, predominately aimed at nuclear power. With a 50-percent default rate, these nuclear loans could have made taxpayers responsible for at least $25 billion in risky loans. This program would have created very few jobs because it takes a long time to finance and build a nuclear power plant.

As I wrote back in November, the nuclear power issue is no longer one of safety or pollution, though nukes are neither safe nor clean, but rather one of money. Lehman Brothers is a better investment.

The Washington Monthly has been all over it, and in the February issue Mariah Blake documents yet more financial reasons to rethink your rethinking of nuclear power.

In his climate plan, Obama makes the case for expanding nuclear energy, saying, "It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power as an option," though he also calls for nailing down secure storage for radioactive materials before new reactors are built. Steven Chu, Obama's secretary of energy, also advocates boosting America's atomic energy supply. Last August, he signed onto "A Sustainable Energy Future: The Essential Role of Nuclear Energy," a DOE manifesto, which argues that "nuclear energy must play a significant and growing role in our nation's—and the world's—energy portfolio" if we are to stave off catastrophic climate change. When asked by the San Jose Mercury News in June 2007 whether it was possible to tackle global warming without pursuing the nuclear option, Chu said, "If you start thinking like that, then you doom yourself."

This was not a slap at other carbon-free technologies. Unlike most Bush appointees, Chu is a champion of renewable energy. He simply believes we will have to deploy every weapon in our arsenal, including nuclear fission, in our urgent struggle against climate change—a position embraced by a growing majority of politicians and pundits.

This all-of-the-above approach is smart in theory, but in practice it has two glaring flaws. One is the long, uncertain construction schedule for building new reactors. To avoid the worst effects of global warming—rapidly rising sea levels, rampant famine, severe storms, and widespread drought—we will need to reverse the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2015, according to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The designs for most of the reactors on the drawing board in the United States won't be certified until 2011 or 2012. Only then can the NRC approve individual licenses—after which the plants still need to be built. Last time around, construction took an average of twelve years.

But today it's worse, not better. Exhibit A: Finland, which turned to "next generation" nuclear power as a way to meet both rising energy demands and its Kyoto Treaty obligations to reduce carbon emissions.

To date, more than 2,200 "quality deficiencies" have been detected, according to the Finnish nuclear authority, STUK. Largely as a result, the project, which was supposed to be completed in 2009, is three years behind schedule and is expected to cost $6.2 billion, 50 percent more than the original estimate. And the numbers could keep climbing. "There are still some very challenging phases ahead," says Petteri Tiippana, STUK's assistant director for projects and operational safety. "Things will have to go extremely well if those responsible for building the project are to hit the new targets."

These complications have already erased the cost savings nuclear power was supposed to deliver compared to other energy sources, such as natural gas. What's more, the reactor won't be completed before 2012, when the Kyoto treaty expires. To meet its targets, between now and then Finland will have to buy hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of credits through the European Union's emissions trading scheme. In the meantime, because the country expected the reactor to deliver a bounty of energy and didn't pursue other options, it's facing a severe electricity shortage and will have to import even more from abroad, which will drive up power bills. Elfi, a consortium of Finnish heavy industries, has calculated that the project delays will create $4 billion in indirect costs for electricity users.


"We concentrated so much on nuclear that we lost sight of everything else," says Oras Tynkynnen, a climate policy adviser in the Finnish prime minister's office. "And nuclear has failed to deliver. It has turned out to be a costly gamble for Finland, and for the planet."

If you need still more proof that trying to solve our energy and global warming problems with nuclear power is the worst idea since attacking Iraq, consider this: Coal-worshipping Kentucky thinks nuclear power is just the bee's knees.

Senate Bill 13 would rescind a 1984 state law that placed a moratorium on the construction of nuclear power plants until the federal government determines how to safely dispose of high-level nuclear waste.


SB 13 passed the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee 7-1.

Hank List, deputy secretary of the Energy and Environment Cabinet, said Gov. Steve Beshear's administration favors the legislation because the state should consider nuclear power as a way to deal with future energy demands.

Even brain-dead global warming denier Jim Gooch thinks nuclear power is cool, which should send us all screaming for the exits.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"Quickest and Broadest Tax Cut Ever"

Looks like President Obama is confirming last week's speculation that he's going to use the near-unanimous rejection by Congressional Republicans of the largest tax cut in history as a bat to beat them to death with in the 2010 elections.

"Because of what we did, 95% of all working families will get a tax cut -- in keeping with a promise I made on the campaign. And I’m pleased to announce that this morning, the Treasury Department began directing employers to reduce the amount of taxes withheld from paychecks -- meaning that by April 1st, a typical family will begin taking home at least $65 more every month. Never before in our history has a tax cut taken effect faster or gone to so many hardworking Americans."

It's gonna be fucking hilarious watching the repugs try to explain "Yes, well, when we said tax cuts we didn't mean tax cuts for people who actually - yuck - work for a living."

Full transcript here.

American Values

Those who have a vested interest in perpetuating lies about what the majority of Americans want from their government will never change their tune, of course, but if you're stockpiling ammunition for debates about real American Values, here is the latest proof that Americans are a bunch of fucking commies.

Steve Benen finds the wheat germ in the repug talking points chaff:

* 88% said the federal government has a responsibility to help rebuild communities affected by natural disasters.

* 68% said the federal government has a responsibility to make sure all Americans have food.

* 66% said the federal government has a responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care.

* 52% said the federal government has a responsibility to provide housing to those who cannot afford it.

* 51% said the federal government has a responsibility to make sure all Americans who want a job have a job.

For a "center-right nation," most Americans seem to have a pretty ambitious vision for what the federal government has a "responsibility" to provide to its citizens.

Fox News polls spreading commie propaganda. What has this nation come to?

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Don't Like Taxes? Don't Pay 'Em. But Don't Come Back Crying About It

(Most of this first appeared as a comment on Jack Jodell's Saturday Afternoon Post.)

This point has been made before by others, but I thought it was worth reprising in the context of the economic stimulus: I just wish there were some way of making these anti-taxers' wish come true just for them.

You don't want to pay taxes? OK, fine. Ooops, sorry, no driving on public roads for you! Tax dollars, you know. Ditto for public transportation and walking on sidewalks, roadways, or in the utility easement of 30 feet from the road. No flying, either, even in a private plane or helicopter, because of the tax dollars that pay for air traffic control.

You'll have to do all your shopping on the Internet and eat all your meals at home, to avoid sales taxes. But since you can't drive, fly, or walk anywhere, that's just as well. And tell everyone who sends you mail to use UPS or FedEx, since the tax-subsidized U.S. Postal Service won't be delivering mail to you any more.

No public schools for your kids, and your whole family is barred from public parks, libraries, museums, historic sites, sports stadiums (public subsidies), recreation areas and all other public facilities.

You'll have to get along without electric, gas, phone, cable, water and sewer services, all of which even if privately run operate on tax-subsidized infrastructure.

Don't bother calling the fire department if your house catches on fire or the police department if you're robbed. You won't be allowed into the emergency room of any hospital, since even the "private" ones hire doctors who paid for medical school with government loans.

The government-regulated bank will be calling your mortgage, which you will have to pay off in cash, because the bank will also close all your checking, savings, money-market and credit card accounts. The state will be pulling any professional licenses you may have - doctor, lawyer, plumber, electrician, barber, beautician, vet, and so many more.

Oh, one last thing: Remember those voter ID laws you got passed? So clever, demanding a government-issued ID to be able to vote. Keep those nasty democratic-voting poor people out of our nice republican polling places! Only the thing about government-issued ID is that it's, um, government-issued. Paid for by taxes. So no ID for you!

But hey, losing your voting rights is a small price to pay for not having to pay taxes anymore! Right? Right?

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....

If Cars Ran on Well-Written Righteous Outrage, Terri Whitehouse Would Put Exxon Out of Business

The Shame-the-Sluts-Because-the-Bitches-Deserve-It Bill is back before the Kentucky General Assembly, requiring doctors to force a camera up a woman's vagina and make the whore view the results before she can have an abortion.

Terri at Barefoot and Progressive has a post on the subject that is a masterpiece of controlled fury harnessed in the cause of human rights.

People who hate women, who resent their ability to have sex without "consequences," see absolutely nothing wrong with the use of force. Women's bodies belong to their fetuses or to the government or to their parents or spouses/partners, to anyone except themselves.

What's the problem with unnecessarily putting medical instruments up sluts' vaginas? After all, they didn't have a problem with having a penises in there, which is how they got knocked up in the first place. It seems like such a small price to pay, doesn't it? We put dogs' noses in their poop to teach them to change their problem behavior, why not rub women's noses in decisions we don't agree with? Maybe we can train them to change their minds, or, at the very least, to not be so slutty in the future.

Because, really, I *know* that the fetus fetishists think women are stupid. But surely, they cannot believe we are so stupid as to not know that pregnancy and the presence of a fetus are pretty inextricably linked. Call and email these committee members and ask them if they think women are stupid. Tell them that requiring an unnecessary medical invasion into women's vaginas is the opposite of informed consent. It is coercion. Tell them that if they want to add additional barriers to Kentucky women's access to abortion, then they should have the courage to say as much. If they are anti-choice and anti-women, they should wear those badges proudly. Make them own up. Rub their noses in it.

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Up Against the Wall, Motherfuckers!

The indispensable Rude Pundit on punishing republicans:

They need to be punished. It's really about the only thing Americans as a whole understand. You try to fuck up someone's shit, you gotta pay.

The Obama administration is, to some extent, misreading the zeitgeist of the election. When many, many people voted for "hope" and "change," what they were voting for was to punish those fuckers who fucked it all up. Americans like to punish. For good or ill, it's one of those things we're particularly skilled at. Take the economic crisis. What David Axelrod understood and what Tim Geithner misread was that the vast majority of Americans don't want the president of Wells Fargo handed a shitload of cash and be told to keep it above the waist. No, they want him set on fire on the steps of the Federal Reserve.

This idea of punishment is not a simple thing. Remember: the election in November was not the revenge. It was a vote to set up the comeuppance. Truly, if it were a different era and we were a different people, the Bush administration would have been hanged in toto sometime in 2006 or 2007. We're not that far removed from that savagery. At the end of the day, there's gotta be consequences for people's actions or there's gonna be chaos.

Read the whole thing.

Stimulus Multiplier Magic

It's been a long time since Americans have seen what happens when the federal government spends big money specifically to rejuvenate an economy on life support.

70 years, in fact. So if you're too young to remember why Depression families ended the 1930s worshipping the ground FDR walked on, Ann Pettifor provides a quick refresher on how it works.

The fiscal stimulus will pay for itself. Here's how.

At times of high unemployment tax cuts may be saved and not spent into the economy. But when the government invests the bulk of $789 billion in real, productive economic activity - it always gets its money back - plus some.

It works like this. Government invests in labor-intensive programs e.g. $40 billion in energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, including $2.9 billion to weatherize modest-income homes. $27 billion for highway and bridge construction and repair and $11.5 billion for mass transit and rail projects; $4.6 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers; $5 billion for public housing improvements; $6.4 billion for clean and drinking water projects.

The energy efficiency/transportation/public housing programs hire American workers - some highly skilled, some not so skilled. These programs also purchase materials - from factories. Some foreign, but mostly American.

Next, something called 'the multiplier' kicks in. It's the ABC of economic science and works like this.

The workers get pay checks. They use the income to pay taxes - direct to the US government. So immediately the government can use these tax revenues to fix the budget. Then workers purchase goods and services - boosting the economy. Companies hire more workers to deal with demand for materials from stimulus-sponsored programs. More employed workers equals more taxpayers.

Ever-rising tax revenues drop into the Treasury's coffers.

Because government spending is financed by bank money or credit, income increases. Eventually savings are generated to match the original stimulus expenditure - so there is no 'crowding out' by government. But savings too can find a way back to the US Treasury, because savers could end up investing in US Treasury bonds.

If workers or factories spend money on goods made in China - then some will leak out to China. But experience shows that investment in public works tends to be local investment. By weatherizing the homes of the poor, strengthening flood defenses, growing forests to act as pollution 'sinks' and subsidizing organic farming - investment stays at home.

But investing in this kind of economic activity is not the only revenue source for the US government.

A massive improvement to the budget will be in savings made in unemployment payments.

I looked up the Congressional Budget Office's estimates for expenditure on unemployment compensation and food stamps for the years 2009 - 2015. Their estimates are optimistic. The Congressional Budget Office thinks unemployment is going to decline after 2009. Nevertheless, even under its conservative estimates expenditures on unemployment compensation and food stamps rise to a massive $818 billion between now and 2015.

If the numbers of unemployed people were cut, and if Americans had enough income not to rely on food stamps - Congress would make massive savings to the budget. If we add those savings to the tax revenue generated thanks to the 'multiplier effect' - the outlook is positively rosy for a surplus on the budget as the economy recovers.

So lets not have any more talk of the 'crippling effects' of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Click here for President Obama's prepared remarks for the stimulus bill signing this afternoon.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Meanwhile, Back in Frankfort ...

The General Assembly, having barely staved off budget disaster by approving higher taxes on booze and smokes, has another month of off-year session to make mischief. One good bill that needs your support and three Only Hetero Freakazoid White Guys Have Rights abominations that need to be stopped.

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, via Shankula, on how to leave voice messages telling legislators how to vote on any and all bills you care about:

Please take a moment to leave a message on the Legislative Message line to let your senators know you support House Bill 70 to restore voting rights to former felons who have served their debt to society.

It's so easy and just takes a moment!

1. Call 1-800-372-7181 (The Message Line is open 7am-11pm Monday through Thursday, 7am-6pm on Friday.)

2. Ask to leave a message for some legislators

3. The operator will take down your name and address.

4. They'll ask you who to leave a message for. I'd suggest Dan Kelly, David Williams, Robert Stivers, Damon Thayer and your own Senator (if you don't know who that is, they'll let you know).

5. Leave a message like "I support HB 70 to restore voting rights to former felons."

That's it! - You've just made a big impact on restoring voting rights for over 186,000 Kentuckians!

Call early and often for even greater impact.

For extra credit, please call back with the same message for "members of the Senate State and Local Government Committee"

For even more impact, call again and leave a message for all Senators from your area like "Louisville Senators" or even just a random set of up to ten senators. Here's a list of all of them -

Oh - and get your friends to call too!

Here's Jake on who to harangue, with email address, and work and home phone numbers, against Gary Tapp's Throw Orphans Into the Streets bill.

And support House Bill 72, which would include definitions for sexual orientation and gender identity relating to Kentucky's civil rights chapter. The legislation would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender.

Not to mention stopping this perennial The Bitches Deserve It piece of crap from the Xian Taliban.

Senate Bill 79, the "avert your eyes" abortion bill, will be heard tomorrow in committee in the Senate. It's likely to fly out of there and straight to the House.

Aren't you excited to see how the fraidy cat Democrats in the the House vote? You know, the ones who are complaining that they made that hard tax vote and just need to have a pro-life vote this session.

Terri at Barefoot and Progressive has the don't miss rant on that one.

Lastly, don't forget to register your objections to House Bills 24 and 25 to force Kentucky taxpayers to pay for license plates promoting Dark Ages superstition.

For more on the nice and nasty surprises hiding in the mountains of legislative paperwork, read Ralph Long.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Nobly Save the Last Best Hope of Earth"

You won't find many people, even among historians, who think there's anything new anyone can say about Abraham Lincoln. Or you wouldn't have found them before Thursday night.

Because once again President Barack Obama has defied expectations, raised the level of political discourse to a new high, and judo-ed the repugs by using the symbol of their own party to refute Reaganism and harness Lincoln in the cause of the New Keynesianism.

Part One:

Part Two:


"The legitimate object of government," (Lincoln) wrote, "is to do for the people what needs to be done, but which they can not, by individual effort, do at all, or do so well, by themselves."

To do for the people what needs to be done but which they cannot do on their own. It is a simple statement. But it answers a central question of Abraham Lincoln’s life. Why did he land on the side of union? What was it that made him so unrelenting in pursuit of victory that he was willing to test the Constitution he ultimately preserved? What was it that led this man to give his last full measure of devotion so that our nation might endure?


He recognized that while each of us must do our part, work as hard as we can, and be as responsible as we can – in the end, there are certain things we cannot do on our own. There are certain things we can only do together. There are certain things only a union can do.


It is only by coming together to do what people need done that we will, in Lincoln’s words, "lift artificial weights from all shoulders [and give] all an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life."

That is what is required of us – now and in the years ahead. We will be remembered for what we choose to make of this moment. And when posterity looks back on our time, as we are looking back on Lincoln’s, I do not want it said that we saw an economic crisis, but did not stem it. That we saw our schools decline and our bridges crumble, but did not rebuild them. That the world changed in the 21st century, but America did not lead it. That we were consumed with small things when we were called to do great things. Instead, let them say that this generation – our generation – of Americans rose to the moment and gave America a new birth of freedom and opportunity in our time.

These are trying days and they will grow tougher in the months to come. There will be moments when our doubts rise and our hopes recede. But let’s always remember that we, as a people, have been here before. There were times when our revolution itself seemed altogether improbable, when the union was all but lost, and fascism seemed set to prevail. And yet, what earlier generations discovered – what we must rediscover right now – is that it is precisely when we are in the deepest valley, precisely when the climb is steepest, that Americans relearn how to take the mountaintop. Together. As one nation. As one people. That is how we will beat back our present dangers. That is how we will surpass what trials may come. And that is how we will do what Lincoln called on us to do, and "nobly save…the last best hope of earth."

Full remarks here.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Modest Proposal *

Government-sponsored homophobia in this country has now officially jumped the shark.

SHE WASN'T ASKED AND DIDN'T TELL.... Amy Brian, as a Kansas Army National Guard lieutenant, served honorably in Iraq. She was part of a convoy that was hit by an IED; she worked 12-hour shifts at Camp Anaconda; and her superiors asked her to narrate award ceremonies.

By all appearances, Amy Brian is the type of proud, patriotic American we would all want to wear the uniform. Upon returning home after a tour of duty, Brian was given a job reorganizing the Kansas Army National Guard's government purchase card program. Except now she's been discharged -- because someone found out Brian is gay.


She joins nearly 12,500 other lesbian, gay and bisexual service members who have been discharged by the Pentagon from 1994 through 2007.

And in the New York Times, a Marine who served two tours in Iraq explains why he has changed his mind about DADT and now opposes it.

In addition, six years of war have clarified priorities. The battlefield has its own values, starting with courage. Sexual orientation falls somewhere below musical taste. What a person chooses to do back stateside, off-duty, in his own apartment is irrelevant in a fight. For months I lived with 12 other American advisers on an Iraqi outpost. There was a single pipe shower next to a hole that masqueraded as a sewer. But the reality of combat dominated personality quirks — nobody wondered about sexual orientation.

A 2006 poll of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans showed that 72 percent were personally comfortable interacting with gays. Bonnie Moradi, a University of Florida psychologist, and Laura Miller, a sociologist at the Rand Corporation, summarized the study this way: "The data indicated no associations between knowing a lesbian or gay unit member and ratings of perceived unit cohesion or readiness. Instead, findings pointed to the importance of leadership and instrumental quality in shaping perceptions of unit cohesion and readiness."

The other readiness argument concerns recruiting. To fill its swelling ranks, the military now grants one in five recruits waivers for disqualifications that run the gamut from attention-deficit disorder to obesity to armed robbery convictions. In a press conference last fall, Maj. Gen. Thomas Bostick, the head of Army recruiting, said the relevant question in considering such applicants was, "Does that person deserve an opportunity to serve their country?" That's exactly right. And to choose a felon over a combat-proven veteran on the basis of sexuality is defeatist. Ask any squad leader.

In the end, however, there is one factor that outweighs public opinion, troop morale and recruiting combined. The military is a dictatorship, not a republic. It is built to win in combat. Its strict codes of conduct ensure good order and discipline.

If "don't ask, don't tell" is rescinded, military leaders will ensure smooth compliance, as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, has said. Cohesion depends on leadership. Our troops will follow the lead of our combat-tested professionals who base their opinions on what a soldier brings to the fight, and little else.

So here's my proposal: reinstate the draft, expanding it to include both men and women, age 18 to 50, but restricting military service to homosexuals. Only homosexuals. No more heterosexuals in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard or Reserves. Bonus: no more inconvenient pregnancies in the all-gay Armed Forces!

Why stop at the military? Let's ban heterosexuals from the government benefits of marriage, too. Seriously, they've had it to themselves for 5,000 years and have completely fucked it up. Gay-only marriage can't possibly make it any worse, and might even improve it.

Gay-Only Adoption. No more subjecting orphans to the twisted values of so-called straights.

And I can't imagine someone barred from serving in the military, from state-sanctioned marriage, from adopting, passing an FBI background check for a federal job.

Think of the political campaigns! Spying on candidates, trying to get pictures of them embracing someone of the opposite sex, the interviews with tearful gay spouses, the denials of heterosexual perversions.

Certainly no more ridiculous than the self-defeating anti-gay idiocy we've got now.

* With apologies to Jonathan Swift.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

The New Anti-Americans

Just objecting to President Obama's plan for saving the economy and the world is not enough to be anti-American. Even publicly hoping, as Rush Limpballs does, that President Obama fails in everything he does is not enough to be anti-American.

No, to be one of the New Anti-Americans, you must combine strong dissent toward our new President with a long record of condemning as anti-American all those who dissented against War Criminal, Constitution-Shredder and Traitor George W. Bush.

For all of us who spent the last eight years enduring verbal and even physical attacks because we dared to express our anti-war, anti-torture, pro-Constitution, anti-bush patriotism, Blue Girl has a rant that will make your heart soar.

I remember being one of the people who opposed this war from the outset. I remember a squareheaded asshole with a buzz cut pushing his bumper up against mine and trying to push me into traffic a few days before the war started because I had bumper stickers on my truck that said "No War On Iraq" and "Get Afghanistan Right" - when he sped away I saw his..."This time, Anti-War is Anti-American."

I remember being told by the dispatcher at the police department that I might should take those bumper stickers off my truck because "this is a pretty patriotic town."

I remember the armchair patriots I worked with there being shocked that a military person was against a war, and how they viewed me with suspicion after learning that.

I remember having my patriotism questioned, even though I was the one with a record of service to point to.

And all of my opposing positions were prefaced with "I hope I'm wrong because if I'm right and this fails, America fails, and that is the last thing I want to see happen."

Yet I'm anti-American and these assholes are the patriots?

Bullshit. They are traitorous, treasonous cowards, and they do not deserve the rights afforded them by the people like my husband, and elmo, and Rook and, to a lesser extent, me and everyone else who stepped up and took that oath to the Constitution and did so enthusiastically because we knew what was said therein.

They don't deserve the civil liberties that men and women like bmaz and grolaw fight every day to defend in court. They don't deserve the the protections of the law that my friend RW works within every day to protect society in her role as a prosecutor.

Fuck Rush Limbaugh.

Read the whole thing.

Cross-posted at Watching Those We Chose.

Number 79

Kentucky's 79th casualty in the Iraq Clusterfuck is a 30-year-old Army sergeant from Scottsville, on the Tennessee border.

Joshua A. Ward was killed along with three other soldiers by a suicide car bomb in Mosul, Iraq, on Feb. 9.

Ward was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division of Fort Hood, Texas. The brigade deployed to Iraq in December and is on its third tour in Iraq.

The Associated Press reported that the explosion came as American vehicles were passing near an Iraqi police checkpoint. It was the deadliest single attack against American forces in Iraq in nine months.

According to various news reports, Ward is survived by his parents, Patti and John, sister Brandi Ward and brother Johnny Ward, all residents of Matagorda, Texas; and older brothers Ben and Eric of the Houston area.

He had two sons - 9-year-old Joshua Allen Ward Jr. and 7-year-old Zane Tyler Ward - with their mother, Misty Ward, in Scottsville. News accounts also mentioned a girlfriend of 11 months, Diana Gunderson, and another son expected in July.

Joshua Ward’s sister Brandi was quoted as saying he graduated from Needville (Texas) High School in 1997 and received a football scholarship to Texas A&M-Blinn College, but a car accident that shattered his elbow prevented him from going.

He enlisted in the Army shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and was due to be discharged in September.

According to the Fort Bend Herald, Ward and Gunderson were planning to move back to Kentucky after his discharge.

(His mother) Patti said she sensed Saturday that her son knew he was about to die. He routinely called home every three days, but he made three calls Saturday.

“I talk to him every day by e-mail. We meet on Yahoo every morning and we’d text each other throughout the day,” Patti said.

Joshua told his mother he was going on a mission and they’d talk Monday, when he returned.

“Monday morning when I got out of bed, something was wrong immediately. I went to the computer and his name wasn’t lit up,” Patti said, bursting into tears. “I texted him and said, ‘You really need to call me right away,’ and he never contacted me. It was 3 o’clock that afternoon when I got the call.”

“It was his third deployment and I just knew he wasn’t going to come home this time,” Patti said.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Other Great Emancipator

Four thousand miles away from a tiny log cabin in the Kentucky woods, another Great Emancipator was born 200 years ago today.

Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, corrected a 250-year-old injustice and set the nation on the path to the Inaguration of President Barack Obama.

But Charles Darwin freed human minds from the tyranny of religion, crowned two centuries of the Enlightenment, and ushered in the era of scientific reason.

So celebrate Darwin Day, and rejoice that our new President's vow to restore the primacy of science and facts honors both Great Emancipators.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Help Save the Next Dame Block

Wish there had been a way to save The Dame block in Lexington before Dudley Webb turned it into the Lexington Heritage Memorial Shithole?

Turn your regret into action. Help prevent the next Webb-tastrophe by adding your voice to the Kentucky State Historic Preservation Plan.

The Kentucky Heritage Council / State Historic Preservation Office has announced a series of meetings and an online survey to solicit public input in identifying goals and strategies for guiding Kentucky’s historic preservation efforts. The information will be used to compile the 2009-2014 Kentucky State Historic Preservation Plan, updated every five years as required by the National Park Service and provisions of the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act.

The first public meeting will be in Frankfort on Wednesday, February 25, from 2-3:30 p.m. at Paul Sawyier Public Library. (A complete list of meetings planned around the state follows.) The brief online survey is posted at the Heritage Council Web site,

An agency of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, the Kentucky Heritage Council maintains updated inventories of historic structures and archaeological sites, nominates sites to the National Register of Historic Places and works in partnership with other state and federal agencies, local communities and interested citizens in statewide preservation efforts. As in years past, the new plan will serve as a statement of public policy that guides statewide preservation initiatives including the work of the Heritage Council, addresses critical issues affecting historic and cultural resources and recommends solutions to minimize threats to resources and barriers to preservation planning.

“We want to encourage broad public participation because this plan is for all Kentuckians, and every person and every community has a stake in understanding and defining preservation goals locally as well as those that drive our agency,” said Mark Dennen, Acting Heritage Council Director and State Historic Preservation Officer. “Kentucky is blessed to have abundant historic resources, and preserving this heritage for the future depends on how good a job we do now planning for their survival. This means everything from rehabilitating a downtown building to finding new uses for historic farm and industrial buildings – being creative in putting them to work for Kentucky’s economy.”

Click here for the schedule of public preservation planning meetings around the state.

House Stimulus vs. Senate Stimulus At A Glance

Propublica has a fantastic side-by-side comparison of the original House stimulus bill and the abortion produced by the Senate "compromise."

Short version: to give big corporate welfare "tax cut" handouts to Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Pharma, Big Banks, Wall Street and all the other rich people who have been fucking over the middle class for the last thirty years, the Cowardly Democrats in the Senate agreed to make huge cuts in anything and everything that creates jobs by helping working families, including:

aid to states, health care, education grants, repairing and building schools, repairing and building roads, public transportation, renewable energy research, unemployment insurance, repairing the electric grid, improving water and sewer lines, affordable housing, mortgage relief, expanding broadband access, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum.

If you're not so rich that a global economic meltdown won't affect you, then you need to email or call your Congressional representatives right now and tell them to support restoring the House stimulus bill.

Click here for a quick way to send an email to your representatives, even if all you know is your zip code.

All that's at stake is your job, your house, your kids' future, and, you know, the world.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Fantasy Obama

The Rude Pundit on how Fantasy Obama would conduct tonight's press conference on the stimulus bill.

As always, it's brilliant, dead-on and X-rated.

UPDATE, 5:30 a.m. Blue Girl live-blogged the press conference, and has has the full transcript as a bonus.

New GOP Rules for Discussing the President

We're still trying to get used to the idea of Democratic nominee Barack Obama actually being President of the United States.

To help us get acclimated, the wingnut freakazoids have kindly provided criticism that follows the new GOP Rules for Discussing the President. Steve Benen explains.

DEPT. OF POTS AND KETTLES.... Either the president's conservative critics have very short memories, or they assume we do.


The irony is almost overwhelming. A loyal Bushie, who heard his boss spend years engaging in shameless demagoguery (see "clouds, mushroom" and "uranium, from Africa") based on nothing but neocon fantasies, believes presidents have to keep their rhetoric in check and never forget to be "truthful." Sure, Blakeman, tell us another one.

Keep in mind, Obama's dire warnings about the economy are well grounded in reality. It's not "insane" to fear an economic collapse given the situation we're in. The president has a choice -- pretend the news isn't scary, or give honest assessments while vowing to act. Bush preferred the prior approach; Obama prefers the latter.

What's more, have you noticed the bizarre double-standards we've seen emerge in recent weeks?

When Bush uses over-the-top language to convince Americans about perceived security threat, he's being "presidential." When Obama issues dire warnings about the economy, he's being "pessimistic."

When Bush ignores the congressional minority, he's being "principled." When Obama engages the congressional minority but declines to give them what they want, he's being "partisan."

When Bush trashes constitutional norms, it's evidence of "seriousness." When Obama is in the Oval Office without a jacket, he's being "disrespectful to the presidency."

When liberals criticize Bush during a crisis, they're traitors who are aiding and abetting the enemy. When conservatives criticize Obama during a crisis, they are doing their patriotic duty.

Good to know.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Stop Going Nuts over Nut Allergies

Perhaps the justifiable concern over the salmonella contamination in commercial peanut butter makes this a good time to address the wholly unjustified hysteria over faux allergies to peanuts, especially in children.

As someone who grew up on peanut butter and continues to consume it regularly, I am happy to bring you Salon's thorough debunking of the "peanuts will kill your children!" fear campaign.

In 2005, a 15-year old Canadian teenager named Christina Desforges kissed her boyfriend and died. Her death, reported around the world, was initially blamed on peanuts. Desforges was allergic to peanuts and her boyfriend had eaten peanut-butter toast hours before their deadly smooch.

Sudden death due to an allergic reaction to food is known as anaphylaxis. When you eat peanuts (or some offending food), you break out in hives, your face swells and your larynx constricts until you can no longer breathe, all in a matter of minutes.

Shocking. Tragic. Scary.

Desforges' story is the kind that has moved anxious parents, politicians and school board members to join a crusade against peanuts. Several states have passed laws mandating public schools be "peanut-free zones," and parents now hover over food labels with Draconian vigilance, checking and double-checking them for signs of peanuts. Could that knife that just cut the birthday cake have been in the vicinity of peanut butter?

Peanut-allergy panic has spread across the nation. In a recent essay, Harvard physician and sociologist Nicholas Christakis relates an incident in which a peanut was spotted on the floor of a school bus, "whereupon the bus was evacuated and cleaned (I am tempted to say decontaminated), even though it was full of 10 year olds who, unlike 2 year olds, could actually be told not to eat off the floor."


But on closer examination, food allergies are not the epidemic we've been led to believe. FAAN's advocacy may have helped to create rules and laws that are based less on sound science than on a significant misrepresentation of facts. Ironically, by accepting these facts, we may be increasing our risk of developing food allergies.


Facts ought to be stubborn. In the past, Munoz-Furlong has stated that one child dying from an allergic is too many. But Harvard doctor Christakis, again, puts things into perspective. "There are no doubt thousands of parents who rid their cupboards of peanut butter but not of guns," he writes, comparing the alleged 150 children and adults who died from peanut allergies to the 1,300 who die from gun accidents each year. He goes on to note that 2,000 kids drown each year. Indeed, the most common cause of death in kids is accidents. "More children assuredly die walking or being driven to school each year than die from nut allergies," Christakis writes.


And what about Christina Desforges, the young girl who received the kiss from the peanut-contaminated lips of her boyfriend? She suffered from asthma and died of a severe asthma attack, likely triggered by smoke. A coroner reported that on the night she collapsed she had smoked marijuana and spent hours at a party where people were smoking pot and tobacco.

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Judo the Anti-Choice Thugs: Pledge a Picket

Want an easy way to make freakazoid heads explode? Plus support an outrageously courageous woman providing unique health services to women in dangerous territory?

Then pledge a picket!

Dr. Susan Wicklund, whose 2008 book This Common Secret, detailed her life as an abortion provider, has just opened a clinic in Livingston, Montana. Even before it opened on February 2nd, the clinic was being picketed by opponents of abortion rights. In the mail below, Wicklund's co-author, Montana writer Alan Kesselheim, explains how you can turn their protests peacefully against them. (I've pledged $1 per picketer. That puts me in a slightly weird position: Do I hope lots show up so the clinic gets plenty of cash, or few show up so that I can save mine?)

If you want to pledge, e mail

Dear Friends of Dr. Susan Wicklund:

As most of you know, Susan Wicklund has been hard at work trying to open a women's reproductive health clinic in the Bozeman/Livingston area. It has not been easy. It has taken several years. Deals have fallen through because word leaked out and landowners were intimidated by violent threats. Other potential arrangements have collapsed due to financial difficulties, political controversy, or simple logistics.

Despite the setbacks, Sue has persevered. On Monday, February 2nd, precisely sixteen years after she opened her Bozeman clinic, back in 1993, Mountain Country Women's Clinic again opens its doors, this time in downtown Livingston. It is a moment of triumph and satisfaction, achieved with the support of many people. It is also a moment of tension. Not only has Susan incurred significant personal debt in a very uncertain economy, but the usual voices of dissent are echoing in letters to the editor and in anti-choice picketers appearing on Main Street in Livingston, protesting the existence of Sue's legal services. Even before the doors opened, protesters walked the sidewalks outside. Also, even before the doors opened, women were calling Sue to make appointments.

The need for a compassionate, professional, and thorough women's clinic is as great as ever. Unfortunately, the strident voices against choice rise up as expected. The difference between 1993 and 2009 is that Sue Wicklund has friends. All of you on this mailing list, and many more friends and neighbors, support her cause. Many have volunteered in the past. Some have written letters of support. Others wish they knew how to help.

I propose to begin a Pledge-A-Picketer Campaign in support of Mountain Country Women's Clinic. The concept is simple, and it mirrors the grassroots style of the Obama campaign, during which many small contributions created a huge impact. Each of us signs on to donate, say, $1/picketer to Susan's clinic. If, over the period of a week, 17 picketers parade on Main Street, we each send a check for $17. It isn't much, but if $17 gets multiplied by 50 people, it comes to $850. If 100 people send in checks, we raise $1,700.


Many of us wish to help Mountain Country Women's Clinic. We wish we could confront the picketers face to face. Unfortunately, that sort of public disturbance is precisely what the anti-choice forces would love to foster. However, by turning their efforts against them we can help Mountain Country Women's Clinic serve patients, and deflate the energy of the protesters.

Susan Wicklund has agreed to keep track of picketers during her first week of operation. At that point we will contact all of you again with the numbers, and an address to send the check to. Even if you can only pledge .25/picketer, the cumulative impact of our efforts will still be significant. Also, I urge you to forward this message to any of your friends who might help support Sue's new clinic. If they would like to participate, they should contact and ask to be added to the list.

With Sincere Thanks, and In Solidarity,

Alan Kesselheim Co-Author of This Common Secret

I LOVE THIS! Go ahead, assholes: every day you picket that legal and necessary abortion clinic puts more money in the pockets of abortionists. Keep protesting. Bring all your friends and family, drag in strangers.

Make. My. Day.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

The Monuments of American Socialism

Even if the "Socialism" that so terrifies the wingnut freakazoids had no record of accomplishment in the U.S., my guess is that most Americans, staring into the gaping maw of economic catastrophe, are willing to try anything, no matter what it's called.

But we don't have to wonder what Socialism might bring: the proof is still standing.

Socialism is apparently what is created when a president you do not like spends money on things of which you do not approve.


Rather than publish another essay, though there have been some fine ones lately, about just what really happened during America's last episode of so-called socialism, we've opted to go to the visual record. As Marshall Auerback noted, in the process of modernizing the rural South and upgrading the infrastructure of America's largest cities, President Roosevelt's New Deal left behind a durable, physical and very visible legacy of schools and hospitals -- even aircraft carriers. (We'll leave discussion of Social Security and unemployment insurance for another time.) The following slide show gives a small sampling of the bricks-and-mortar achievements of red, white and blue "socialism."

Clck here to see the slide show.

Friday, February 6, 2009

One Click to Reach Your Elected Officials

Want to demand your House representative or Senators take action, but don't know how to get an email address for them quickly? Rejoice! The Nation brings you the one-click Congress.

Just fill in your zip code, and the site immediately reveals your President, Senators and House Representative, with links to each one's email. You can click on one of The Nation's suggested email topics, like Hold War Criminals Responsible, or compose your own.

Use it tonight to tell Congress to pass the stimulus bill President Obama needs to save the country and the world.

"It's Not A Game!"

As Josh says, this is "Exactly the case he needs to be making on TV and in some events around the country."

Here's the full speech.

Here's the transcript.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Tale of Three Prayer Breakfasts

Three years ago, in 2006, Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher's "Prayer Breakfast" was an orgy of sectarian bigotry, a greasy "fuck you" to everyone who didn't share the speakers' narrow conservative Southern Baptism, an object lesson in why combining religion and government is history's worst idea.

This year, on the same day that invitations to Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear's "Prayer Breakfast" landed in state employees' email inboxes, The Economist brings us the latest lesson from President Obama, this one on how to do a "Prayer Breakfast" right, if you must do one at all.

I think the final proof that Barack Obama plans once and for all to elevate respect for Americans who don't practice a religion came at this morning's National Prayer Breakfast:

There is no doubt that the very nature of faith means that some of our beliefs will never be the same. We read from different texts. We follow different edicts. We subscribe to different accounts of how we came to be here and where we’re going next – and some subscribe to no faith at all...

We know too that whatever our differences, there is one law that binds all great religions together. Jesus told us to "love thy neighbor as thyself." The Torah commands, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow." In Islam, there is a hadith that reads "None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." And the same is true for Buddhists and Hindus; for followers of Confucius and for humanists. It is, of course, the Golden Rule - the call to love one another; to understand one another; to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.

A notable repetition—not just once, rote, but twice, to let you know he means it.

As for that second passage, did Mr Obama just endorse a name for the group struggling to name itself? Some don't like "atheist" or "nonbeliever" because they are definitionally negative. The coinage of "Brights" has failed to catch on for the obvious reasons. But "humanist" has a nice, positive feeling, and a history.

Mr Obama went on to announce a White House of Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships. A Bushian thing to do? No, he continued:

The goal of this office will not be to favor one religious group over another - or even religious groups over secular groups. It will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line that our founders wisely drew between church and state.

Interesting. I'm not sure if Mr Obama isn't trying a little too hard to please everyone here, but the fact that he is trying to please everyone—and remember that a major presidential candidate said not long ago that "freedom requires religion"—is striking.

Now that he is not doing backflips for Rick Warren, citing his favourite Bible verse in a "faith debate" or dodging conspiracies that he is a Muslim, Mr Obama is also free to say things like

I was not raised in a particularly religious household. I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, grandparents who were non-practicing Methodists and Baptists, and a mother who was skeptical of organized religion, even as she was the kindest, most spiritual person I've ever known. She was the one who taught me as a child to love, and to understand, and to do unto others as I would want done.

A few years ago, Daniel Dennett, an atheist philosopher, wrote
Politicians don't think they even have to pay us lip service, and leaders who wouldn't be caught dead making religious or ethnic slurs don't hesitate to disparage the "godless" among us. From the White House down, bright-bashing is seen as a low-risk vote-getter.

Not this White House.

Cross-posted at BlueGrassRoots.

"Are These Folks Serious?"

From the Huffington Post, "President Barack Obama says the time for talk on an economic recovery package is over and "the time for action is now." "

Speaking at the Energy Department, Obama made a fresh plea for the stimulus plan that the Senate is debating. He cited the latest bad economic news of jobless claims as another reason for quick action.

He said: "The time for talk is over, the time for action is now."

He also launched a shot at critics while talking about energy, questioning, "are these folks serious?"

Now, I read the other day that critics of this plan ridiculed our notion that we should use part of the money to modernize the entire fleet of federal vehicles to take advantage of state of the art fuel efficiency. This is what they call pork. You know the truth. It will not only save the government significant money over time, it will not only create manufacturing jobs for folks who are making these cars, it will set a standard for private industry to match. And so when you hear these attacks deriding something of such obvious importance as this, you have to ask yourself -- are these folks serious? Is it any wonder that we haven't had a real energy policy in this country?

For the last few years, I've talked about these issues with Americans from one end of this country to another. And Washington may not be ready to get serious about energy independence, but I am. And so are you. And so are the American people.

During his speech Obama also issued a strong critique of the GOP's economic policies, even though he didn't utter the party's name. He told the audience that:

In the last few days, we've seen proposals arise from some in Congress that you may not have read but you'd be very familiar with because you've been hearing them for the last 10 years, maybe longer. They're rooted in the idea that tax cuts alone can solve all our problems; that government doesn't have a role to play; that half-measures and tinkering are somehow enough; that we can afford to ignore our most fundamental economic challenges -- the crushing cost of health care, the inadequate state of so many of our schools, our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.

So let me be clear: Those ideas have been tested, and they have failed. They've taken us from surpluses to an annual deficit of over a trillion dollars, and they've brought our economy to a halt. And that's precisely what the election we just had was all about. The American people have rendered their judgment. And now is the time to move forward, not back. Now is the time for action.