Sunday, May 31, 2009

Monsters Under the Bed

President Obama speaks to us as adults. Not just in vocabulary and tone, but in subject matter and viewpoint. After eight years of listening to a middle-aged arrested adolescent treat us like toddlers who have to be sent out of the room before the grown-ups talk about serious stuff, we can hold our heads up again.

But on terrorism, Obama is still pretending there are monsters under the bed.

Obama has tried to lead America out of the shadows of the Bush years. He has projected a calm optimism, a reasoned determination, that is a breath of fresh air after the puerile, bullying bravado of George W. Bush and the dark, croaking counsel of his evil courtier Cheney. And he has said inspiring things about the importance of defending our laws, rights and traditions, even in the face of terrorist threats.

But because Obama has failed to directly reject the irrational boogeymen his predecessors whipped up, and because he has continued many of their policies, he has not been able to spring us from their dank culture of fear.


His real problem was his failure to forthrightly say that while terrorism remains a threat, its danger has been greatly overblown. Obama needed to tell Americans the truth, which is that no open society can ever be absolutely free from terrorist attacks, and that a society that allows its irrational fear of such attacks to cause it to jettison its laws, freedoms and most cherished traditions has already lost to the terrorists. He needed to say that while we will never forget 9/11, always honor the memory of its victims, and never let our guard down, we cannot allow one attack, no matter how horrific and spectacular, to determine the nature and future of our country. He needed to draw a line in the sand, and tell Americans that while he will do everything in his power to protect them, only fools dream of eternal, perfect safety. In short, he needed to seize the terrorism shibboleth root and branch and pull it out of the ground.


Because terrorism in our national imagination is simultaneously villain and nemesis, human and inhuman, the "war" against terrorism slips into becoming a war not just against fanatical jihadis but against our own death, against the very idea of death. As we accept this, repression of reality and the infantile fantasy of perfect safety -- in other words, cowardice -- become the driving forces of our lives.

This craven position dishonors a country whose troops fought at Valley Forge and Shiloh and Belleau Wood and Guadalcanal and Hue and Fallujah. It is not worthy of the mighty nation whose diverse people came together 60 years ago to help defeat the most dangerous tyrant in the history of humankind.


In 1933, when the nation was in the depths of the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his first inaugural address. That towering president said, "This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

FDR's words gave heart to Americans facing a crisis and a threat far worse than any posed by terrorists today. The country has a new president, and it wants a new direction. It is waiting for him to sound his trumpet.

Read the whole thing.

People always meet expectations. FDR expected Americans - isolationist and still struggling economically - to mobilize overnight, take on the most powerful military in the world and save civilization. And we did it.

Smirky/Darth expected Americans - inspired by 9/11 to make huge sacrifices to save the nation - to cower in fear, crying for Big Daddy to take care of them, to kill those skeery terrists by shredding the Constitution. And we did it.

Stop promising to keep us safe, Mr. President. Start demanding that we grow the fuck up.

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

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Obama May Let Superstition Compromise Science at NIH

PZ Myers explains why the rumored appointment of Human Genome Project leader Francis Collins to head the National Institutes of Health would be a disaster.

I didn't see much "controversy in the scientific community" over that book (Collins' bestselling The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief); I think everyone agreed that he had a perfect right to express his religious views, and there was near-unanimity that they were the views of a gullible fruitbat…an opinion confirmed by his wacky Biologos website. I know he had a good reputation as an administrator of the human genome project, but do we really need to go back to the Bush years of god-walloping goofballs at the head of every major government agency?

OK, Shakespeare-worthy insults like "gullible fruitbat" and "god-walloping goofballs" make me ashamed of my propensity for obscene profanity, but I digress. Myers continues:

Collins is extremely well qualified for this job. If all we did was look at his CV to see if he's competent to administer the NIH, I'd say they'd be hard pressed to find a better guy.

I don't care if the director goes to church. If that's what he wants to do as a hobby on sunday mornings, no problem.

However, and I think this is a great big HOWEVER, Collins also has a tremendous amount of religious baggage. This is also a political position, and it is fair to look at all the other stuff he brings into the job, and I'm afraid Collins is more than just a guy who goes to church...he's a religious freak. I've read his book, and I've browsed his website, and he's waving a great big hairy ideological flag in addition to his perfectly commendable credentials.

Look at it this way. If we had someone who had an administrative record as good as Collins', but who was as overtly and proudly atheist as Richard Dawkins, everyone would be doubtful about Obama's judgment as I am right now -- they'd be rightly wondering if this hypothetical candidate would be a diplomatic dead duck...not to mention the right-wingers would be out for his head. Somehow, because Collins happens to be weirdly Christian, we're supposed to simply overlook the fact that he struts about with his underpants on his head?

Well, Collins is not going to have my confidence, that's for sure. His writings reveal a man with an extraordinarily poor grasp of scientific reasoning and a surprising lack of understanding of evolutionary biology (his argument that morals could not evolve, for instance, is stunning in its ignorance). I also suspect that he's going to use this position as a laurel to peddle religious nonsense. I'm assuming he'd have the decency not to do it while he's in office, but afterwards, it'll be a stock part of the credentials he will trot out to validate his bogus beliefs, never mind that a large number of the scientists he will be working for think his apologetics are utterly loony.

More dangerous even than President Obama's eagerness for republican cooperation is his apparent tolerance for believers in invisible sky wizards and other fairy tales.

While it's remotely possible that someone who suffers from superstition could be trusted to run, say, the White House motor pool, you really don't want him in charge of things that require an acceptance of facts.

And you especially don't want him in charge of things like scientific research if he has made a career of publicizing his belief in myths that contradict scientific facts.

Obama is rapidly solidifying a reputation as the Great Compromiser. Bad enough he's already compromised the economic stimulus into ineffectiveness and is likely to compromise health care reform into an HMO bailout. Appointing freakazoid Collins to run the NIH would be killing scientific integrity.

Between science and superstition there can be no common ground, no meeting halfway, no compromise.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Governor Cowardly Waste of Oxygen Does Something Right

Well, shit. For the next two years I have to temper every condemnation of Steve Beshear with the caveat: except for the time he made KSP stop discriminating against immigrants.

Gov. Steve Beshear today ordered the Kentucky State Police to reverse a decision to end the longstanding policy of offering the written driver’s license test in multiple languages.

The decision to change the policy had been made largely for budgetary concerns. However, Gov. Beshear said the "decision was wrong – plain and simple."

Kentucky already requires that an operator’s license shall not be granted to any person who is unable to understand highway warnings or directional signs in the English language.

"It did not reflect the values of this administration or the values that I think most Kentuckians share – as a state welcoming people to do business here."

Gov. Beshear cited the fact that Kentucky is an increasingly diverse state, with a growing population of people in the Commonwealth from other countries here as business executives, students and legal workers in industry and other places.

While the Governor acknowledged the significant budgetary challenges confronting all of state government, including the criminal justice system, he said there must be a balance between cutting costs and providing services.

"The job of governing will get even tougher as resources grow tighter," Gov. Beshear said. "The question, then, isn’t whether we will make mistakes. We will. The question is how we respond when we do."

To that end, Gov. Beshear said no one has a tougher job than state troopers and no one does their jobs better than police officers and workers in the criminal justice system. Its leadership team, he said, "has my full confidence. That has not changed.

But when we make a mistake, we must stand up, admit it, correct it and move on."

Of the first 100 elected officials in Kentucky I would have guessed might be courageous enough to stand up against the forces of anti-government, xenophobic bigotry, Steve Beshear would not even make the list.

I mean, it's great and all, but your very first act of political courage had to wait 18 months from Inauguration? You couldn't muster a little testosterone on behalf of a once-in-a-century Democratic presidential candidate? Or a state economy suffering a slow death from coal-industry strangulation, wingnut freakazoid backwardness and a regressive, ridiculous tax system only a robber baron could love?

And now that you have begun to grow a spine, may I ask that you use it to tell senate president David Williams that all the tax and spending cuts in the world won't cover the $1 billion deficit Kentucky is facing next year?

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

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

As the Senators Turn

Both the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader have columns on the Jim Bunning-Mitch McConnell soap opera.

Jack Brammer at the Herald:

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell may be the ranking member in his state and national party, but he has scant power to nudge U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning out of the 2010 Senate race.

McConnell can’t make Bunning balk because the Hall of Fame pitcher knows he will be the Republican nominee if he just stays in the game, said Larry Forgy, a Lexington attorney who was narrowly defeated by Democrat Paul Patton in the 1995 race for governor.

Joe Gerth in the Courier:

Bunning's increasingly erratic behavior -- including a prediction that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would die of pancreatic cancer within nine months and his bitter criticism of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow Kentuckian, during weekly conference calls with reporters -- also has raised concerns.

"For some reason he insists on having these Tuesday morning conversations, and every Tuesday morning it seems to get a bit worse," (state senate president David) Williams said. "I don't think it's wise for him to do that."

The soap channel is missing a huge opportunity by making a bunch of pneumatic bubble-heads from Louisville the stars of the new Southern Belles reality show instead of focusing on Kentucky's favorite bickering couple.

Jimbo and Mitchie-poo are stabbing each other in the back but are going to end up killing the republican party. Great Kentucky Repug Hope Trey Grayson is in agony over his foolish pledge last year to not challenge Bunning in a primary, but Powerful Yet Hated Professional Obstructionist Williams will be happy to leap in where Trey fears to tread. Meanwhile, Libertarian Crown Prince Rand Paul is ready to fuck up all their shit.

And we heart-broken, pessimistic, cynical Kentucky liberals are taking bets on just how the Democratic Party is going to manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory this time.

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

That's JUDGE Sotomayor to you, Beauregard

Used to be, dense white guys exercised their sexism against uppity females with condescending epithets like "little lady." That was how they addressed little white ladies, of course. Minority females were lucky to get called something not obscene but merely demeaning, like "Mammy." Anita Hill didn't even rate that courtesy, getting labeled a cunt.

Federal Appeals Court Judge and Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor presents a unique challenge: a Hispanic woman born to the lowest of the low - Puerto Rican from the Bronx projects - who achieved one of the highest posts in the nation.

What the fuck to call this uppity-est of the uppity bitches?

Mike Huckabee hit on a brilliant ploy by calling her "Maria." No, he didn't just blurt out the only Hispanic female name he could think of; this was deliberate.

"Sonia" is the intelligent, educated, lovely-mannered European wife of your upper-class suburban neighbor.

"Maria" is your illegal maid. The fat one. Who whores around.

Backwoods Alabama pig-fucker and "Senator" Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions calls her "Ms. Sotomayor."

Every time he does that, Judge Sotomayor should say this: "Ms. Sotomayor is my mother, Mr. Sessions. You can call me Judge."

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

Friday, May 22, 2009

So Close, and Yet So Far

Thirty seconds left on the clock, you're four points behind and backed up against your own goal line, Pro Bowl quarterback about to put the game out of reach, he steps back, throws and ... your rookie cornerback snatches it out of the end zone and runs for daylight. Past the 50-yard-line, the 40, the 30, he's all alone, the 20 ... and trips and falls at the 10.

Yesterday, President Obama came this close to reversing the anti-Constitutional policies that nearly destroyed the nation, only to kill his case with preventive detention.

Hilzoy explains:

If we have to have preventive detention, it ought to be subject to the kind of oversight Obama is talking about. There should be rules. There should be checks and balances. I like that part.

But that's like saying: if we have to have censorship or prohibitions on particular religions, they ought to be subject to judicial oversight. Yay for judicial oversight. Hurrah for explicit legal frameworks. Whoopee. That said:

Preventive detention????????

No. Wrong answer.

If we don't have enough evidence to charge someone with a crime, we don't have enough evidence to hold them. Period.

The power to detain people without filing criminal charges against them is a dictatorial power. It is inherently arbitrary. What is it that they are supposed to have done? If it is not a crime, why on earth not make it one? If it is a crime, and we have evidence that this person committed it, but that evidence was extracted under torture, then perhaps we need to remind ourselves of the fact that torture is unreliable. If we just don't have enough evidence, that's a problem, but it's also a problem with detaining them in the first place.


The long game? If we have a need for preventive detention, which I do not accept, it's a short-term need produced by Messrs. Bush and Cheney. The long game is the preservation of our republic. It is not a game that we can win by forfeiting our freedom.

People seem to be operating under the assumption that there is something we can do that will bring us perfect safety. There is no such thing. We can try our best, and do all the things the previous administration failed to do -- secure Russian loose nukes, harden our critical infrastructure, not invade irrelevant countries, etc. -- but we will never be completely safe. Not even if we give up the freedom that is our most precious inheritance as Americans.

Freedom is not always easy, and it is not always safe. Neither is doing the right thing. Nonetheless, we ought to be willing to try. I wish I saw the slightest reason to believe that we are.

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Security and Values

The Real Thing, from the One in Charge, courtesy Firedoglake.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

TPM has the essential highlights.

Full transcript here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Boomers Didn't Invent Teh Gay

Oh, alright, fine, we didn't invent sex, either. Although we did vastly improve it.

Seriously, it's long past time we all acknowledged that as long as there have been cocks, mouths, cunts, fingers and assholes, human beings have found an infinite number of ways to combine them to create sexual pleasure.

Yet historians of early America continue to insist - in increasingly shrill tones - that our forefathers in long-term same-sex situations remained celibate. And Larry Kramer is fed up with it.

No, there was no right word for it that you wanted to use for it if you were doing it. Buggery and sodomy connoted anal penetration and thus were, in many places, punishable by death.

That does not mean that men did not know they were gay (to use today's word), know what to do with their cocks, know when they were smitten with other men, know where to go to find them, know what it meant to get violently rejected, or the reverse, find a friend, in other words, the whole gestalt, to use another of today's terms. A penis has never been something that you pick up and put down and put away idly without consideration.

When both US News and the New Yorker ran pieces on the 400th anniversary of Jamestown in 2007, they were both so annoyingly ignorant of the fact that almost all of its inhabitants were men that I submitted my thoughts to both magazines.

Read the whole thing.

It's long, but well worth your time. I have only a couple of complaints:

1) At times, Kramer veers dangerously close to arguing that everyone in history who is not categorically and undeniably heterosexual is ipso facto homosexual, a tendency that undermines his otherwise strong case, and

2) Kramer appears to be guilty of the same denial of which he accuses historians when he fails to even mention the likelihood of homosexual sex between women in pre-20th-century America. Gertrude Stein was a pioneer in many ways, but in physically loving another woman I imagine she was upholding a longstanding New World tradition.

But Kramer's larger point, that what we now call "being gay" has been an integral part of American society and culture for 400 years, and that denying the historicity of gay Americans feeds and supports fear, hatred and marginalization of gays, is solid and important.

It's just sex, people. As long as it happens between consenting adults, and avoids harm to other adults, children, animals and antique furniture, it's legal, Constitutional and historical.

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

RIP American Auto Industry, 1896-2009

While everybody's bitching about AIG's bonuses and Citigroup's executive payouts, the same Obama administration that's handing the U.S. treasury over to Wall Street pirates is gutting the last bastion of good union manufacturing jobs in the country.

The madness of the approach adopted by the Johnson and Nixon administrations to war in Vietnam was summed up by the American major who said after the destruction of the Vietnamese village of Ben Tre: "It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it."

The madness of the approach adopted by the Bush and Obama administrations to the renewal of the American auto industry has been summed up by the Treasury Department's latest statement on the "restructurings" of the Chrysler and General Motors automotive companies -- which are shaping up as plans for factory closings, mass layoffs and the shuttering of hundreds of car dealerships in communities across the country: "The Administration's commitment to this industry has given both companies a new lease on life."

It may be true that the tens of billions in federal tax dollars that are being pumped into Chrysler and General Motors will save the names of these companies. But the auto-industry "restructuring" is not saving auto plants that have been targeted for closing, tens of thousands of auto workers who face layoffs, auto dealers who are being "consolidated" out of business and perhaps 100,000 service and repair employees who are soon to be jobless.


Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette says he and other members of Congress were briefed by top administration officials prior to the president's national address about the future of Chrysler. "Members of Congress on the call were assured that there would be no permanent plant closings... We were also assured that no jobs would be lost," says LaTourette, a Republican.

Democrat Dennis Kucinich, another Ohio congressman who was briefed, told the Plain Dealer he "is struggling even to understand why the administration would tell him and others something that wasn't true." Says Kucinich: "To me, it really becomes a question of credibility."

The question of credibility remains unsettled.

An auto industry "bailout" that shutters productive factories and dealerships, lays off tens of thousands of auto workers and perhaps 100,000 dealer employees, is not change that we can believe in. The Obama administration is headed in the wrong direction on this one.

The president needs to change course.

Instead of spending billions to steer America toward fewer jobs, fewer factories and fewer dealerships, the Obama administration should stop spinning and start investing in the workers, the small businesses and the communities that have always been the heart and soul of America's auto industry.

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Get 'im, Jimbo! Kill Mitch!

The proof that Jim Bunning doesn't have a friend left in the world is that no one is stopping him from holding conference calls with reporters.

Bunning, 77, went on to call McConnell a “control freak” and said he’ll fare well in Kentucky without McConnell’s endorsement in the GOP primary election. “If Mitch McConnell doesn’t endorse me that may be the best thing that could happen to me in Kentucky,” he told reporters during a weekly conference call.

Bunning, R-Southgate, said it would be kind to call his relationship with McConnell strained. “I said no to him and he doesn’t like people who say no to him,” Bunning said.

Media Czech calls this Bunning's "grumpy old man schtick," but I think Bunning's missing a huge opportunity here.

Hey, Jimbo: You wanna really piss Mitch off? Vote with the dems! No, seriously, I mean it. Mitch has bet the republican farm on his ability to maintain the filibuster against everything Obama and Harry Reid want. He's one vote away from losing it all - votes on health care, EFCA, cap-and-trade, the Supreme Court, Guantanamo, maybe even prosecuting Bush and Cheney for war crimes. You can bring him down, Jimbo. You can make him pay for all those snubs and insults and back-stabbing and sabotaging, not to mention the snickering in the Senate cloakroom about your lack of smarts.

Do it, Jimbo. Make that smarmy nerd pay. Wipe that smirk off his face. You've got nothing to lose.

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

Think Very Loudly

PZ Myers gave the commencement address at the USC Keck School of Medicine, and somebody caught it on video.

Part One:

Part Two:

Full transcript here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Stop Obama's Cave; Demand Single-payer Now

Everybody who loves your private health insurance coverage, stand on your head.

That's what I thought. Everybody NOT standing on your head, click here right now to send emails to your congress critters demanding single-payer health insurance.

Because President Obama and the cowardly weasels in Congress who call themselves Democrats are just about to surrender any chance of genuine health care reform to the murdering bastards of the insurance industry.

Robert Reich explains:

"Don't make the perfect the enemy of the better" is a favorite slogan in Washington because compromise is necessary to get anything done. But the way things are going with health care, a better admonition would be: "Don't give away the store."

Many experts have long agreed that a so-called "single-payer" plan is the ideal, because competition among private insurers who pay health-care bills inevitably causes them to spend big bucks trying to find and market policies to healthy and younger people at relatively low risk of health problems while avoiding sicker and older people with higher risks (and rejecting those with pre-existing conditions altogether), and also contesting and litigating many claims. A single payer saves all this money and focuses on caring for sick people and preventing the healthy from becoming sick. The other advantage of a single payer is it can use its vast bargaining power to negotiate lower prices from pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and suppliers.

Not surprisingly, insurance and drug companies have been dead-set against a single payer for years. And they've so frightened the public into thinking that "single payer" means loss of choice of doctor (that's wrong -- many single payer plans in other nations allow choices of medical deliverers) that politicians no longer even mention it.

On the campaign trail, Barack Obama pushed a compromise -- a universal health plan that would include a "public insurance option" resembling Medicare, which individual members of the public and their families could choose if they wished. This Medicare-like option would at least be able to negotiate low rates and impose some discipline on private insurers.

But now the Medicare-like option is being taken off the table. Insurance and drug companies have thrown their weight around the Senate. And, sadly, the White House -- eager to get a bill enacted in 2009 rather than risk it during the mid-term election year of 2010 -- is signaling it's open to other approaches.


It's still possible that the House could come up with a real Medicare-like public option and that Senate Dems could pass it under a reconciliation bill needing just 51 votes. But it won't happen without a great deal of pressure from the White House and the public. Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and the rest of Big Med are pushing hard in the opposite direction. And Democrats are now giving away the store. As things are now going, we'll end up with a universal health-care bill this year that politicians, including our President, will claim as a big step forward when it's really a step sideways.

If you're just tuning in, "single-payer health insurance" already covers tens of millions of Americans. They are everyone 65 years and older (Medicare) and every military veteran (VA), and if you're lucky enough to be one of them, you currently suffer the horrific "socialized medicine" President Obama wants to offer the rest of us.

Stop the lies. Stop the corruption. Stop the insurance companies from profiting off third-world coverage.

Again, click here right now to send emails to your congress critters demanding single-payer health insurance. Just type in your zip code and one click gets you the phone number and email link for both senators and your representative.

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

President Obama at Notre Dame

Watch it and read it for yourself.

Part One:

Part Two:

Full transcript here.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Spread the Meme: GOP = Grand Old Poopyheads

Hilzoy pulls out the rhetorical nuclear weapons to meet the repugs on their own level.

WHEREAS the Urban Dictionary defines "Poopyhead" as "The single most offensive thing you can call someone. It's like the atom bomb of arguments. Men fear it's omnipotent and awesome power. It it literally unmatched and all humble themselves in the presence of it's divinity. Few have survived to tell of it..." [sic];

WHEREAS the Republican Party, in its present incarnation, is deserving of any number of schoolyard epithets;


RESOLVED: that I, the member of me, do call upon the Republican Party to be honest and truthful with the American people by acknowledging that they have devolved into a party of schoolchildren and should, therefore, agree to rename themselves the Grand Old Poopyheads.

Read the whole thing to everyone you meet.

Big Kentucky U.S. Senate Race Announcement Tonight!



Jake caught it.

Rand Paul’s Twitter account says an important announcement is coming tonight on the Rachel Maddow show. Tune in at 9:00 P.M. Eastern on MSNBC.

Yes, Rand is the son of infamous liberatarian republican Ron, and a opthamologist in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

If he enters next year's race to replace Jim Bunning in the republican primary, he could fuck it up enough to throw the nomination to Kentucky Senate President David Williams, who would lose huge to just about any Democratic nominee.

If Paul enters the race as an independent, he would draw enough repug votes away from any repug nominee to hand the general election to just about any Democratic nominee.

Jack Conway, you can start packing for D.C.

UPDATE, 8:59 p.m.: Meh. "I'm forming an exploratory committee." Yeah, so's everybody and their mother. Call me when you sign filing papers.

Losing Re-election is the Least of Norm Coleman's Problems

Steve Benen calls our attention to the widely ignored real scandal of the blatantly corrupt Norm Coleman.

Former Sen. Norm Coleman and his team of lawyers are still fighting hard to reverse the outcome of last year's Senate race in Minnesota, but it appears that the Republican may end up in another courtroom for an entirely different set of reasons.

The FBI is investigating allegations that former Senator Norm Coleman had clothing and other items purchased on his behalf by a longtime friend and businessman Nasser Kazeminy, according to a source in Minnesota who was interviewed recently by federal agents. [...]

The FBI has also been conducting interviews in Texas, according to media reports, in regards to different allegations that Kazeminy tried to steer $75,000 to Coleman through his wife's employer. Up to this point, there have not been reports of any FBI work taking place in Coleman's home state.


I can't help but wonder how the dragged-out process in Minnesota would be perceived if more people -- voters, politicians, political reporters -- realized that the candidate who keeps fighting is the same one who's under an ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI. Perhaps, if this generated even a little attention, the Republican establishment might be a little less enthusiastic about their support for Coleman, and he might be more inclined to quit one legal fight to focus his energies on the other.

Read the whole thing.

Steve's so sweet; he just can't let go of that last shred of doubt about the utter corruption of the Grand Old Poopyheads.

But I'll make a prediction: If the not-remotely-close-to-liberal-enough media actually picks up this story and runs with it, the gooper babies will scream and stomp their tiny feet demanding Norm be given the Senate seat in apology.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

When Your Electricity Bills Skyrocket This Winter, Thank Ben Chandler

Kentucky's Own DINO Extraordinaire Ben Chandler (D, KY-6) is an out-and-proud member of the Congressional Blue Dog Caucus, which just forced the House to gut the cap-and-trade bill to slow global climate change.

Matt Yglesias watches the sausage grinder at work on the Waxman-Markey climate bill and is especially outraged at so-called moderates who insist that a large fraction of carbon emission permits should be given away, rather than auctioned off:

The moderate bloc [...] has portrayed itself as concerned with the climate crisis but worried about the tradeoffs with short-term economic growth. But the concession they’ve forced here doesn’t do anything to boost short-term growth. Instead, whereas auctioning the permits would have made rich people bear most of the cost of reducing emissions, by giving the permits away you make poor people bear most of the cost.

The environmental impact of the two methods is similar, and the overall costs are similar. But the moderates acted swiftly and decisively to reallocate a portion of the costs onto the backs of the poor. And they’ve done so specifically under guise of looking out for the interests of the working class. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.

In a way, this is even worse than Matt makes it out to be.


If moderates were demanding free permits because they wanted to keep electric prices in their states low for a few years while they work on converting to new power sources, that would be one thing. We could argue about whether it's a good idea, but at least it's normal, understandable stuff. But that's not what they're doing.

Prices are going to go up regardless, and the free permits do nothing except provide windfall profits to operators of coal plants. The moderates pushing this "compromise" either don't understand basic economics, in which they case they need to learn some, or else they understand it perfectly well and like the idea of screwing their constituents in order to provide a bonanza for coal plant operators. In either case, yes, they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

Read the whole thing.

But earning millions in campaign cash from the coal industry while fucking over his constituents is standard operating procedure for Benny Boy. And until he's held accountable for how he has damaged Kentucky he'll keep on doing it.

Where is the Sixth District Real Democrat willing to stand up to this pathetic excuse for a representative? Only a strong primary opponent will make that weasel sit up and take notice.

Media Not Liberal; Just Cowardly

Once upon a time, the Inky was one of the best papers in the country. Under legendary editor Gene Roberts in the 1970s and '80s, the Philadelphia Inquirer could stand without shame against the LA Times, Washington Post and New York Times.

It's a shame Roberts lived to see this.

YOO CAN'T BE SERIOUS.... The Philadelphia Inquirer's defense for hiring John Yoo as a columnist was even worse yesterday than it was the day before.


"There was a conscious effort on our part to counter some of the criticism of The Inquirer as being a knee-jerk liberal publication," (editorial page editor Harold) Jackson said. "We made a conscious effort to add some conservative voices to our mix."

... hiring the author of torture memos to prove the paper isn't liberal is just crazy. The Inquirer, which publishes in one of the nation's most Democratic cities, is already paying Rick Santorum, for crying out loud. What some in the media fail to realize is that reflexive conservatives, who expect all news outlets to follow the standards of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal editorial page, won't be impressed. Republicans who think the paper is a "knee-jerk liberal publication" will continue to think that whether or not it pays John Yoo for poorly written columns.

Hiring Yoo is bad enough, but caving to accusations of liberalism?

There are three possible answers to accusations of liberalism, whether you're a politician, a pundit or a paper:

"You bet your ass."

"Tell all your friends."

"Fuck off and die."

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

Trey Grayson is NOT a Democrat

Media Czech brings to our attention a website that I think might be a head fake.

Turncoat Trey appears to be critical of Kentucky Secretary Trey Grayson for, among other things, having been a registered Democrat ten years ago.

Republican Grayson already has more than his share of support from registered Democrats in Kentucky - even ones who don't automatically vote for repugs.

I think this site is attempting to fool Democrats and Independents into thinking that republicans don't really like Grayson, and that therefore it's OK to vote for Grayson for Senate next year.

The only problem is this: I seriously doubt there are any repugs smart enough to play a game that subtle.

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

Two Decades Too Late for Compromise

They had their chance in 1993. The health insurers could have been part of the solution then, but they chose to sabotage reform and spend the next 16 years making the health care system in American far more expensive, far less available and far worse than the minimum expected in an industrialized nation.

Now, when the evidence is overwheliningly against them and the jury is voting to convict, they want a deal.

…representatives from the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, Advamed, the California Hospital Association, the Greater New York Hospital Association, and SEIU (presented) Barack Obama with a letter promising to aid his health care reform effort by cutting health care spending by 1.5 percentage points over the next 10 years. That sounds minimal. But it actually amounts to $2 trillion in savings.

The politics of this should surely cheer supporters of reform. In essence, this is the entire medical industry stepping forward and declaring themselves partners in Obama's effort. It leaves Republicans isolated. It allows the administration to credibly claim that they are working with the stakeholders to cut costs. It puts the industry on record saying that reform will bring new efficiencies rather than increased spending. And it's simple evidence of the momentum building behind the administration's effort. These groups wouldn't be jockeying for a seat at the table if they didn't think everyone was eventually going to sit down.

But it's not just the administration that benefits from the optics. It's the medical industry. The fact that the White House is making a big deal of their support means it would be a big deal if they lost it. And so it's worth asking what, exactly, the health care industry has committed itself to.

And the answer is: Not much. As one senior administration official said to me, "this is a commitment, not a plan." The industry coalition has gestured towards various areas of potential savings -- among them billing reform, health information technology, and linking payment to outcomes. But they've not presented a detailed proposal for attaining them. They have not set down enforcement mechanisms. Put simply, they are, at this juncture, helping the White House with its messaging. But that doesn't mean they will help the White House with its legislation.

This is the kind of deal not even the most unrepentant street criminals would propose. They break into your house and steal all your stuff. The cops catch them. The thieves say to the judge: OK, if you let us go and let us keep all the stuff we stole, we promise that instead of robbing 1,000 houses in the next 10 year, we'll rob only 985.

Let's remember who we're talking about. These aren't car manufacturers who are stupid but still pay skilled laborers middle-class wages to create valuable goods that benefit the economy.

These aren't even grossly overpaid Wall Street con men whose none-too-bright schemes at least keep money flowing through the system

Private health insurers are criminals, period. They deliberately charge back-breaking premiums to the people most in need of health care, then cruelly deny them coverage for life-saving procedures or medication.

They make hundreds of billions of dollars in profit by cherry-picking the wealthy and healthy and murdering - yes, deliberately denying care is negligent homicide - the poor and sick.

Monster corporations like HCA and Humana that sell health insurance also run their own for-profit hospitals, which either refuse to treat the uninsured, or else charge the uninsured ten times the reimbursement rate for the same treatment given to insured patients.

Insurance companies are why you and your doctor NEVER make the final decision about what care you get - insurance company drones do. Insurance company drones who are paid bonuses according to how many requests for coverage they DENY.

And no, I do NOT buy the prissy line "well, at least this shows the insurers are on board with reform." Really? How you figure?

They are giving up NOTHING. They are offering NOTHING. They are promising NOTHING. They are guaranteeing NOTHING.

They have one goal and one goal only: Stop a public health care option at all costs. They will lie, cheat, steal and keep on murdering thousands of people every day to ensure they get to keep making billions of dollars in tax-free profits off of all those dead bodies they themselves murdered.

Letting the insurance companies set the terms of the debate - and make no mistake, this is precisely what Obama is doing - is the biggest mistake Obama can possibly make as president.

Worse than not prosecuting Smirky/Darth for war crimes.

Worse than watering down the stimulus package to ineffectiveness.

Worse than failing to slow global warming with cap-and-trade.

Worse than handing $5 trillion - so far - to Wall Street con artists as a reward for fucking the economy into the ground.

Bush's re-election was not quite enough of a catastrophe to make people move to Canada.

Health care "reform" on terms the health insurance companies want will be.

These fuckers are sixty years and several orders of magnitude behind what Americans want. They know goddamn well that they're stuck in a narrow tunnel with the Single Payer train roaring toward them. They've got nothing and they're trying to pull a massive bluff.

Here's the deal Obama should offer the health insurance industry: We're outlawing you. Kill yourselves now and we'll let your widows and children beg on the streets.

C'mon, Barack, you're a poker player. The health insurers are making one last, desperate ploy. That's flopsweat turning their cards into mush. Crush 'em. Crush 'em now.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ticking Bombs

Via Slate

This Is How It's Done, Bitches

I was horrified last night to see Keith Olbermann apparently buying into the idiot meme of the week that Wanda Sykes crossed the line at the White House Correspondents Dinner by calling Rush Limbaugh a traitor and wishing his kidneys would fail.

The outrage here is not that somebody in a prominent venue finally called Limbballs out for treason (by his own jingoistic definition), but that Democratic politicians are such cowardly weasels that comedians like Sykes have to say the things our political leaders should have been bellowing for years.

There are two parts to Freedom of Speech: First, defending to the death the right of someone to say freely and loudly everything with which you passionately disagree, and second, exercising your right to freely and loudly refute what they just said.

Silence gives assent. Thank you, Wanda, for refusing to assent.

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

Monday, May 11, 2009

Jimbo to Mitch: I'm staying in, you fucker

Jim Bunning could not be bumfuzzling the GOP more effectively if the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee had written his script.

Saturday night, at the annual Lincoln Dinner, hundreds of Kentucky repugs expecting to hear Bunning drop out of the 2010 Senate race heard this instead:

"I am nobody's puppet. I am my own man," Bunning said during his remarks. "I hope and pray I can count on your support in the coming months. The battle is going to be long, but I am prepared to fight for my values. I hope you are with me."

Read the whole thing.

Media Czech is stockpiling popcorn.

The stubborn old man is staying in. Stay tuned for Fletcher vs. Northup, Part II, with an added dash of Paul Libertarians.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Blind Men, Elephants and Faith in Invisible Wings

It's Pharyngula Day, because PZ Myers has written a wonderful fable about what happens when people prefer making up stories to doing the hard work of discovering facts.

Once upon a time, four blind men were walking in the forest, and they bumped into an elephant.

Moe was in front, and found himself holding the trunk. "It has a tentacle," he said. "I think we have found a giant squid!"

Larry bumped into the side of the elephant. "It's a wall," he said, "A big, bristly wall."

Curly, at the back, touched the tail. "It's nothing to worry about, nothing but a piece of rope dangling in the trail."

Eagletosh saw the interruption as an opportunity to sit in the shade beneath a tree and relax. "It is my considered opinion," he said, "that whatever it is has feathers. Beautiful iridescent feathers of many hues."


And there the battle stands, an ongoing argument between the blind who struggle to explore the world as it is around them, and the blind who prefer to conjure phantoms in the spaces within their skulls. I have to disappoint you, because I have no ending and no resolution, only a question.

Where do you find meaning and joy and richness and beauty, O Reader? In elephants, or elephants' wings?

Read the whole thing.

Why Arguing the Facts Doesn't Work

PZ Myers shares a table comparing the scientific method to the creationist method:

Scientific thinking

  • An observation: vertebrate embryos show striking resemblances to one another.
  • An explanation: the similarities are a consequence of shared ancestry.
  • Ongoing confirmation: Examine more embryos and look more deeply at the molecules involved.

Creationist thinking

  • A premise: all life was created by a designer.
  • An implication: vertebrate embryos do not share a common ancestor.
  • A conclusion: therefore, vertebrate embryos do not show striking resemblances to one another.

Wish I'd known about this back in high school; it would have saved me a shitload of time in biology class.

Of course, this circular logic applies to arguments well outside creationism. PZ's table works for politics, too.

Liberal thinking

  • An observation: In this economic recession, people and businesses do not spend money.
  • An explanation: The economy suffers from a lack of demand.
  • Ongoing confirmation: Stimulate demand through government spending and monitor the results.

Conservative thinking

  • A premise: Everything liberals, Democrats and non-conservatives want to do is wrong.
  • An implication: government spending that does not benefit only large corporations and religious organizations is always bad.
  • A conclusion: therefore, government spending that does not benefit only large corporations and religious organizations is always bad.

It's argument by false premise. Wingnut freakazoids don't have to be stupid or evil or insane to use this method, although I'm sure stupidity, evil and insanity helps.

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

Saturday, May 9, 2009

KY Repug Confesses to Cannibalism

OK, not really. But a republican state rep did accuse state republican leaders of "eating their own."

“The big shots in the Kentucky GOP are starting to eat their own,” state Rep. Jamie Comer, R-Tompkinsville, said in a recent comment on his Facebook page. “This is getting like an old-fashioned Monroe County political knife fight.”

Comer, a beef cattle farmer who has been in the state House since 2001, said Friday that he was referring to comments this week by U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning about his colleague, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.


Comer said his Facebook comment about party infighting was “meant to be fun.”

But, he added, “I was disappointed in Sen. Bunning’s comments. He should have expressed them privately to McConnell instead of going to the press.”

Comer said he probably will not get involved in the GOP primary election for the U.S. Senate but thinks Sen. Williams would be “the strongest candidate.”

“He could raise the money, is the best debater and can articulate his views on issues,” Comer said.

If Williams does decide to run for the U.S. Senate, he would not be able to seek re-election to the state Senate. That would give Comer an opportunity to run for the state Senate.

I do love the smell of repug fratricide in the morning.

Tomorrow night is the annual Lincoln Day Dinner for the state republican party. Page One is reporting a rumor that Bunning will use the occasion to announce he is dropping out of the Senate race.

Such an announcement, which is by no means assured, of course means nothing coming from Senator Non Compos Mentis, but if it fools Williams into filing for the race, it could be a huge victory for Kentucky Democrats.

Williams can't beat Trey Grayson in the primary, but even if Grayson beats Jack Conway for Bunning's seat, we'll still have gotten rid of the single biggest obstacle to progressive legislation in the General Assembly.

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

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Blue Dogs Set on More Sabotage

It's spring in D.C., and you can't walk across the street without stepping in Blue Dog Shit.

These DINO obstructionists aren't legislating, they're not moderating, they're not doing anything centrist. They're posturing. Because 30 years after their caucus was created, they can't admit the problem they set out to solve doesn't exist any more.

Back in the '70s, there actually was a liberal Democratic majority in Congress that stymied a lot of Jimmy Carter's projects because he wouldn't go along with their demands for full employment, massive urban renewal and curbs on corporate excess.

But even if you think that barely-leftist agenda needed a moderate counterweight, today's Congressional Democrats are well to the right of the Carter-era republicans. What Congressional dems need today is something that pulls them far left - almost back to where the center was 30 years ago.

But the Blue Dogs just can't let go. They've got an overwhelmingly popular Democratic president who is a genuine moderate whose proposals form the most realistic, pragmatic, uselful and necessary program of any president since FDR, and they can't stand it.

They got elected and built their careers on the myth that they were the only thing standing between their constituents and democratic anarchy, so they've lost their whole excuse for existence. If they don't knee-jerk reject everything President Obama proposes, they can't do anything at all.

So they prance around bleating "moderate!" and sulking until they get changes that gut good bills and can crow to the TV cameras that they saved the republic.

Their latest sabotage is aimed at the cap-and-trade plan to slow global warming.

It's always been an intractable political issue, but the number of reports indicating that new cap-and-trade legislation is hitting a lot of snags is remarkable for a couple reasons. The first is that the bill in question--the American Clean Energy and Security Act--has been introduced in the House, where legislation can be fast tracked much more easily than it can in the Senate. The second is that it's lead sponsor, Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-CA), is an extremely talented legislator, who has put a tremendous number of professional resources into making sure the government addresses climate change.

Almost two weeks ago, worried that the bill would stall, Waxman had to delay its first markup hearing. Then, last week, a rift emerged between Waxman and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, over the viability of passing major energy legislation this year. Now, House Blue Dogs are trying to torpedo the bill, and Waxman has been put in the position of promising to provide manufacturers and energy producers with billions of dollars worth of free pollution permits under its terms.

And that's all before there's been a single vote on it. We'll keep tracking the bill's progress. Climate change legislation reportedly remains President Obama's and Speaker Pelosi's chief legislative priority. But these developments must come as unwelcome news both to them and to the environmentalists who came out quickly in praise of the bill when it was released earlier this spring.

A prominent member of the Blue Dogs, of course, is Kentucky's own DINO Extraordinaire Ben Chandler. Benny Boy hasn't exactly made his position on cap-and-trade public, but given that stopping cap-and-trade would make Kentucky's coal industry grateful to the tune of millions in campaign cash, I can't imagine he's a vote Waxman's counting on.

Clean Up D.C. - Cage the Blue Dogs!

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

Is Dirty Ernie Going to Jail?

Former Fletcher Administration Secretary of Transportation Bill Nightbert might be on the verge of dropping a dime on former Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher.

Federal prosecutors have Nighbert's balls in a vise, and Ernie's the only thing he's got to trade.

Federal prosecutors say former Kentucky Transportation Secretary Bill Nighbert made 33 phone calls to road contractor Leonard Lawson’s home while a bid-rigging investigation was being carried out.

Nighbert, Lawson and Brian Billings, an aide to the roadbuilder, are accused of steering state highway construction contracts to Lawson’s companies. All have entered not guilty pleas.

A motion by prosecutors filed Tuesday detailed the calls in early 2008.

Prosecutors said four of the calls came in January and the rest in March, after Nighbert and Lawson became concerned that another Transportation Cabinet official might decide to cooperate with the investigation.


Nighbert and Lawson faces conspiracy, bribery and obstruction of justice charges.

Read the whole thing.

The phone calls, some of which took place over state-supplied cell phones, appear to involve discussion of what bullshit story to tell investigators to cover up the crime.

Corruption in the Transportation Cabinet is endemic and to a large extent intractable. But Cabinet heads and governors with an ounce of sense take measures to insulate themselves. Nighbert didn't, now he's looking at a long prison stretch, and he doesn't impress me as a stand-up con.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

MA, CT, IA, VT, ME ....

What do these five states have in common? A MYODB tradition and ethic. Keep your nose out of my personal business and I'll keep mine out of yours and everybody will get along just fine. And an apparent immunity to the hateful insanity of what passes for the modern GOP.

Maine is now the fifth state to approve marriage equality. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Iowa did so through the courts, and Maine joins Vermont as the two states to approve gay marriage through the legislative process.

Four of New England's six states now allow gay marriage, which suggests to me that New Hampshire and Rhode Island really need to get on the ball.

As the right continues to lose these fights, the defeats in Vermont and Maine have to be especially difficult. Conservatives had argued that marriage equality lacked legal legitimacy because it was being "forced" through the courts. That argument disappears when state lawmakers choose to pass these laws, not because of an order from a judge, but because they realize it's the right thing to do.

The debate has shifted -- politically, legally, culturally, morally. The number of Americans who would deny the right to marry to consenting adults is shrinking -- quickly. Social norms relating to respect and equality for all are experiencing a sea change, and the old way simply isn't coming back.

It's a development Americans can be proud of. Kudos, Maine.

Talking Points Memo has a terrific slide show of the March Toward Marriage.

Remember back in 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell? And nations that had struggled under Soviet control for 40 years started breaking free, each one more quickly than the last. At the time, someone described the progression of independence this way: "It took Poland ten years, East Germany ten months, Chechoslovakia ten weeks, Hungary 10 days and Romania 10 hours."

From Stonewall to Vermont's civil unions took 30 years. From Vermont to Massachusetts four years. From Massachusetts to Connecticut five years (California's one step forward two steps back in between.) From Connecticut to Iowa six months. From Iowa to Vermont full marriage equality four days. And from Vermont to Maine four weeks.

The bus is taking off, and the last states to get on board on going to reap the negative economic consequences for generations.

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

Loyal Bushie May Primary Bunning

Poor Trey Grayson. For years, he's been heir apparent to Senator Jim Bunning. How many times he must have heard "just wait until 2010, my boy, then the seat is yours."

But all of a sudden he's taken a series of political body blows that would send any tough-talking repug back to his corner whimpering. First a fucking black guy not just wins the presidency but sweeps big Congressional Democratic majorities with him.

Then Jimbo gets cagey about stepping down, telling Trey to go ahead and launch an exploratory committee, but telling the press that doesn't mean he's not going to run for re-election, because he can beat up Arlen Specter any time he wants.

Now a former Smirky/Darth ambassador to Latvia announces she's thinking about getting into the primary.

Cathy Bailey, the former U.S. ambassador to Latvia, is joining a growing list of Republicans flirting with entering the 2010 U.S. Senate race despite incumbent GOP Sen. Jim Bunning’s insistence that he’s seeking re-election.

Bailey, a Louisville-based philanthropist, fund-raiser and charity organizer, told the Herald-Leader she is considering making her first run for public office, even if Bunning remains in the race.

“I think the Republican Party is strong enough to undergo a conversation about which person is best to represent us on the ballot in 2010,” she said. “That’s the interest I have, whether it’s Jim Bunning or other people or whether it’s Cathy Bailey.”

Bailey served as chairman of Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s campaign in Kentucky and has spearheaded fund-raising efforts for former President George W. Bush and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Bailey achieved the fund-raising status of “ranger” for Bush’s 2000 campaign, meaning she raised more than $200,000 in the race. In 2005, Bush appointed her ambassador to Latvia, where she served until 2008.


An early test of potential candidates’ support will be collecting money, said Bailey, who just organized a Kentucky Derby-related fund-raising event for her charity Operation Open Arms, which helps care for children whose mothers are in prison.

Bailey said she hasn’t set a deadline for her decision. And even though Bailey — who is married to Irving Bailey, the former chairman and CEO of Providian Corp. — can afford to invest personal funds into a race, she said grass roots fund-raising is a crucial barometer for a candidate.

Bailey said a candidate’s exploratory committee should raise at least $500,000 in its first quarter of activity.

“Anybody interested would probably have to raise that,” she said. “Practically, I’m looking at the clock. You don’t have to file until January 2010, but the clock is ticking.”

Eight and a half months until the filing deadline. David Williams, the clock is ticking.

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

"A Feckless Attempt at Mass Justification"

It's fun and easy to just sit back and watch the republican party implode, to run an office pool on how many hours they can go before the next act of self-destruction.

But there are deeper meanings to the GOP's death throes, lessons to be learned from the manner of its passing, insights to be gained from observing this slow-motion suicide.

Leslie Savan in The Nation profiles the GOP in winter.

What sort of psychological bent would lead people to want to be part of a dead-end political party like the GOP?

Clearly, fear--stirring it as well as succumbing to it--is central to such a psyche, and Republicans are swinging that big spiked mace as wildly as if it were the night before a bitterly contested election.


The strange thing is that Repubs are still producing this kind of National Security theater, complete with cardiac arrest-soundtrack, even though it's failed time and again over the past two years in campaign ads for Tom Tancredo, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and just about every other doomed GOP hopeful.

At some point the vaunted Republican noise machine stopped being about winning elections and became instead a feckless attempt at mass justification, popping out one lame excuse after another for the party's failures. And it was a short leap from there to simply hitting rewind on the rightwing's longtime romance with a Lost Cause.


Why are these marble men so determined to resurrect dead, failed ideas? It isn't simply because they don't have new ones (which they don't). There's also a psychological payoff to committing yourself to a bankrupt idea--whether it's the odd notion that cutting taxes will save us from our economic crisis of liquidity, or the disproved theory that abstinence-only education will decrease teen pregnancies.

The sad fact is, fidelity to a Lost Cause valorizes you, it imitates honor.


The beauty part about a Lost Cause is that you don't have to struggle to find practical political solutions--that would require compromise and make you impure. Instead, you only have to make gestures and think magically.

Read the whole thing.

But don't get too comfortable; the wounded, rabid, cornered rat that is the GOP is still lethally dangerous, and will gladly spend its last breath stopping Barack Obama from rebuilding the nation Smirky/Darth trashed.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Help Your Person Person Stamp Out Hunger

There aren't that many cool, fun, easy things that help people, but setting out non-perishable food for your mail carrier to collect this Saturday is one of them.

On that day, letter carriers will collect non-perishable donations from homes as they deliver mail along their postal routes.

The 17th annual NALC (National Association of Letter Carriers) National Food Drive to “Stamp Out Hunger” is the largest one-day food drive in the nation. Carriers collected a record 73.1 million pounds of food in last year’s drive. The drive is held annually on the second Saturday in May in over 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Donations will be collected by more than 1,400 local branches of the 300,000-member postal union and delivered to food banks, pantries and shelters that serve the communities where they are collected. Assisting in the effort are rural letter carriers and other postal employees, as well as members of other unions and thousands of civic volunteers.

NALC President William H. Young emphasized that as successful as the food drive has been in the past, it simply must be even better this year.

“Millions and millions of families are suffering – struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table,” Young said. “More than ever food banks, pantries and shelters need our help this year. As families count on them for support, they’re counting on us and we must not back off on our commitment.”

Young also noted that donations are particularly critical at this time since most school lunch programs are suspended during the summer months and millions of children must find alternate sources of nutrition.

In New York City and Chicago, where transportation limitations preclude mailbox pickup, citizens are being asked to take donations to their local post offices between May 4 and 9.

Persons who have any questions about the drive at their location should ask their letter carrier or contact their local post office.

C'mon, you know you've got a couple emergency cans of soup you didn't eat this winter, and by the time it's cold again they'll be all rusty. Set 'em out by the mailbox Saturday morning, and you get to feel self-righteous all day.

Dearest Jimbo: Don't Ever Change

Two years from now, weeks after the new Senator from Kentucky is sworn in, Jim Bunning will still be sending mixed signals about whether he's running for re-election.

Senator Non Compos Mentis held another conference call with reporters today, and as usual made sure anything they wrote would directly contradict everything they wrote before.

Sen. Jim Bunning today renewed his attacks on his fellow Kentucky Republican, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, accusing him of selfishness and being responsible for lost GOP seats in the Senate.

“Good God, he wants to run everybody,” Bunning said of McConnell during a conference call with reporters.

Bunning contrasted his 2010 re-election bid with that of Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who last week bolted the Republican Party and joined the Democrats.

“It is the fact that Arlen Specter is probably as selfish as our leader is in trying to survive, that’s the only way he thought he would survive in the U.S. Senate,” Bunning said.

“Do you know Arlen Specter will be 80, has had four bouts with cancer and he still wants to run for the U.S. Senate?” Bunning continued. “And I’m being criticized at 77 and healthy for wanting to run for the U.S. Senate by certain leadership people in my party. Give me a break.”

Asked if the leadership he was referring to was McConnell, Bunning answered: “Obviously. Do you want me to spell it out for you?”

He said: “Do you realize that under our dynamic leadership of our leader, we have gone from 55 and probably to 40 (Senate seats) in two election cycles, and if the tea leaves that I read are correct, we will wind up with about 36 after this election cycle.

So if leadership means anything, it means you don’t lose … approximately 19 seats in three election cycles with good leadership.”

Those comments pretty much guarantee that Jimbo's not going to raise enough money to run for Villa Hills dog-catcher, but it's not clear that he understands that.

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY), who has accused his party leadership of sabotaging his fundraising and trying to force him into retirement, is now raising a possible scenario under which he might just retire -- if he can't get enough money.

"We're working like the devil to make those goals," Bunning told reporters. And if he doesn't meet his goals: "we're going to take another look at the race. I'm not going to walk into 2010 with less than $1 million when I know it's going to cost $7 million minimally, probably $10 (million), somewhere in that area, to run against the winner of the Democratic primary."

And because the Kentucky Senate race isn't confusing and entertaining enough yet, Ron Paul's son Rand, who happens to be a doctor in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is threatening to jump into the repug primary.

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

We Need a New Darrow

Eighty-four years ago today, Dayton, Tennessee police arrested high school teacher John Scopes for the crime of teaching evolution.

Scopes was guilty. Guilty of premeditated teaching evolution, for the express purpose of getting arrested and thus testing Tennessee's absurd law in court.

And that Dayton jury correctly found him guilty of breaking the ridiculous law he had, in fact, broken.

Yet today we remember the Scopes trial as a victory for evolution, science and reality because Scopes attorney Clarence Darrow humiliated legendary fundamentalist orator William Jennings Bryan on the stand.

An area of questioning involved the book of Genesis and if Eve was actually created from Adam's rib, where Cain got his wife, and how many people lived in Ancient Egypt. Darrow used these examples to show that the stories of the Bible could not be scientific and should not be used in teaching science with Darrow telling Bryan, "You insult every man of science and learning in the world because he does not believe in your fool religion."[20] Bryan's declaration in response was "The reason I am answering is not for the benefit of the superior court. It is to keep these gentlemen from saying I was afraid to meet them and let them question me, and I want the Christian world to know that any atheist, agnostic, unbeliever, can question me anytime as to my belief in God, and I will answer him."[21]

Stewart objected, demanding to know the legal purpose of Darrow's questioning. Bryan, gauging the effect the session was having, snapped that its purpose was "to cast ridicule on everybody who believes in the Bible." Darrow, with equal vehemence, retorted, "We have the purpose of preventing bigots and ignoramuses from controlling the education of the United States." (299)

A few more questions followed in the charged open-air courtroom. Darrow asked where Cain got his wife; Bryan answered that he would "leave the agnostics to hunt for her" (302–03). When Darrow addressed the issue of the temptation of Eve by the serpent, Bryan insisted that the Bible be quoted verbatim rather than allowing Darrow to paraphrase it in his own terms. However, after another angry exchange, Judge Raulston banged his gavel, adjourning court and bringing the drama to a sudden close (303–04).

After that, the fundies slunk back to their caves for 50 years.

Converging events and personalities in the '60s and '70s brought them pouring out to poison the public sphere and accumulate power undreamed-of by Bryan.

We need a 21st-century Darrow, a champion of science and reality and the Constitution to challenge the freakazoids on their own ground and slap them back to the fourth century where they belong.

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

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Trey Grayson: Jimbo told me to do it

Oh, for pity's sake, Trey, man the fuck up.

Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson’s decision to explore a possible run for U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning’s seat on Thursday came after a multi-week series of conversations between the state’s junior senator and his protégé.

“Jim Bunning suggested I form an exploratory committee several weeks ago,” Grayson said Friday. “I met with him on Wednesday and told him I was ready to move forward and he still supported the idea.”

With Bunning’s apparent blessing in hand, Grayson said he moved forward and told several key Republicans, including potential donors and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, that he would explore a run.

However, when Grayson publicly announced his exploratory committee on Thursday, Bunning’s spokesman continued to say that the Hall of Fame pitcher “has every intention of running.” On Friday, Bunning did not respond to requests for comment.

Either Trey, who is reportedly close to Bunning, does not realize just how senile Jimbo is, or else this clusterfuck is yet another example of what passes for political gamesmanship in the disintegrating Whig Party.

Federal Judge Rules Telling the Truth Unconstitutional

The Smirky-Darth maladministration is far from over. Its anti-democratic, un-American, Talibantastic legacy will continue as long as the hundreds of freakazoid judges it appointed remain in place to hand down despicable rulings like this.

SANTA ANA – A Mission Viejo high school history teacher violated the First Amendment by disparaging Christians during a classroom lecture, a federal judge ruled today.

James Corbett, a 20-year teacher at Capistrano Valley High School, was found guilty of referring to Creationism as “religious, superstitious nonsense” during a 2007 classroom lecture, denigrating his former Advanced Placement European history student, Chad Farnan.

I'm not holding my breath until this Orange County, CA judge issues subpoenas for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the thousands of other republican "leaders" across the country who have spent the last seven-plus years denigrating American Muslims by calling their religion "Islamo-Fascism."

As they used to teach in journalism school, the First Amendment is a leaky rowboat in the middle of the ocean; to save ourselves at one end of the boat, we have to save the idiots at the other end. For journalists, the idiots at the other end were rags like the National Enquirer. But it applies to everyone who uses the First Amendment to express points of view we despise. Take away someone else's right to free speech, press, religion, assembly or petition, and you take away your own.

So let's not hear anything disrespectful about atheism, socialism or environmentalism, unless you want to lose a lawsuit for denigrating me.

PZ Myers explains the factual ludicrousness of the decision.

I am astounded that Corbett was found guilty of anything.

First of all, he told the truth: creationism is religious, it is a product of superstition, and it is nonsense — it doesn't fit any of the evidence we have about the history fo the world or life on it. We have to have the right to tell students not only that something is wrong, but that it is stupidly wrong.

Secondly, we are being told over and over again that Christianity is not equivalent to creationism. This teacher has specifically said that creationism is nonsense, and this judge has equated a dismissal of a weird anti-scientific belief with making a rude remark about Christianity. So…where are all the Christians rising in outrage at the slander of their faith?

Thirdly, and this must be said, Chad Farnan is a self-righteously moronic creationist wanker who deserves to have his stupidity pointed out publicly, in the classroom and out of it, far and wide. Spread the word.

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

Friday, May 1, 2009

The GOP in a dirty wife-beater

Two weeks ago on Olbermann, Janeane Garofalo explained the incoherence of the teabaggers as a combination of sublimated racism and frontal-lobe damage from swollen reptile brain stems.

Bill Maher takes the metaphor a step further.

If conservatives don't want to be seen as bitter people who cling to their guns and religion and anti-immigrant sentiments, they should stop being bitter and clinging to their guns, religion and anti-immigrant sentiments.


Look, I get it, "real America." After an eight-year run of controlling the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court, this latest election has you feeling like a rejected husband. You've come home to find your things out on the front lawn -- or at least more things than you usually keep out on the front lawn. You're not ready to let go, but the country you love is moving on. And now you want to call it a whore and key its car.

That's what you are, the bitter divorced guy whose country has left him -- obsessing over it, haranguing it, blubbering one minute about how much you love it and vowing the next that if you cannot have it, nobody will.

But it's been almost 100 days, and your country is not coming back to you. She's found somebody new. And it's a black guy.

Read the whole thing.