Sunday, January 31, 2010

President Obama's Weekly Address

Let's sincerely hope this promise to cut the deficit is pure bullshit. Because if it's not, prepare for the Great Depression.

Full transcript here.

Real Debate

Casual Observer makes two excellent points about President Obama's record-breaking smack-down of the GOP on Friday:

It has been so long since Americans have seen an actual political debate that they may have gotten pretty excited, understandibly, about what they saw yesterday. MSNBC sure was. When Obama visited the GOP house caucus in Baltimore, we viewed something called a debate, or as close to it as we can manage these days.


It was a relatively honest back-and-forth between the president and his opponents. The GOP members asked prepared questions that were long, laden with talking-points, and loaded with pitfalls. The president showed nimble footwork and answered most issues frankly and without pretense. He looked good doing so.


There is talk that C-SPAN would like to run more coverage of this type, and I for one would love to see it. But rather than having such events pit the two parties against each other, I’d like to see them structured as interchange between branches of government–with the president entering honest exchange not just with GOP members, but Democrats as well. Particularly with the involvement of those well to the left of the president, in his own party.

But I also think it is absolutely critical to remember that C-SPAN covers, on a daily basis, political events that could be just as worthwhile and significant as the president’s debate yesterday. There is nothing to stop Congress from having it’s own honest debates each and every day on C-SPAN. There is nothing to stop House or Senate committee hearings from being structured in a way that allows for more than prepared statements, rushed questions, and inadequate answers.

The absolutely wrong lesson to take from Obama’s performance yesterday, imo, is that we need to see more of him lined up in cage matches against House or Senate opposition, like Daniel in the Lion’s Den. While such would be great theater for MSNBC (not so much for FOX), I’d suggest the real lesson is that the American people are nearly starved to death for lack of true debate on important issues. In that respect, any event that shows our American political leadership engaged in real debate would be highly beneficial, regardless of whether that be in the Senate, House, or elsewhere, and regardless of whether the sitting president is involved or not. In fact, debate is supposed to be much more important to the first branch of American government than the second.

To be sure, Obama and the WH staff deserve high praise for his performance yesterday, and they are rightfully getting it. I personally think it’s one of the best moves they’ve made. But let’s not respond to this event with the kind of undisguised and embarrassing hero-worship that was on display last night on MSNBC. Let’s not respond by ticking off the points that one party scored, or another. Instead, let’s use that event to realize that we could be seeing such things regularly from our government, were it functioning properly. All we need to do is insist on it.

I'd just add that one of the reasons we keep electing people who are criminally uneducated to positions for which they are pathetically unprepared is that we don't subject them to honest tests of ability.

Like standing up in a roomful of opponents and defending your positions with facts, accurate history, and honest proposals.

The Haters Who Hate State Troopers

Did you vote for Kentucky's 2004 constitutional amendment declaring marriage is restricted to one man and one woman?

If you did, why do you hate our heroic state troopers?

Dennis Engelhard was a trooper in the highway patrol who was killed in an accident, when a car lost control in the snow and hit him. That's tragedy enough, but what makes it worse is that the person he loved faces this sudden loss without any acknowledgment or support, not even a mention in the obituary. You can guess why: it's because Trooper Engelhard was gay.

If Engelhard had been married, his spouse would be entitled to lifetime survivor's benefits from the state pension system -- more than $28,000 a year.

But neither the state Highway Patrol pension system nor Missouri law recognizes domestic partners.

A fraternal organization that provides benefits to the families of troopers killed in the line of duty is also unsure if it will help Engelhard's partner.

Engelhard worked in Missouri, which has a constitutional amendment specifying that marriage is only between a man and a woman. I wonder how many other people are living lives of service and putting themselves at risk for people in a state that regards them as inferior and undeserving?

You really think there are no gay Kentucky state troopers? You really think if one of them died in the line of duty that the dead trooper's partner does not deserve to be compensated and recognized and comforted as the spouse he/she really is?

You do? Then you are unredeeemable scum.

From the St. Louis paper's article:

"The partner, plain and simple, is out of luck," said state Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis, one of a few openly gay Missouri state legislators. "I'm outraged that that's the situation, but it's the status of the law."

Engelhard, 49 when he died, was killed on a snowy Christmas morning after getting out of his patrol car to place flares near the scene of a minor accident on Interstate 44. A car traveling westbound lost control and hit Engelhard.

The 10-year veteran met his domestic partner, Kelly Glossip, 43, in 1995. The pair were introduced by a mutual friend whose girlfriend was also a gay trooper.

Glossip said his relationship with Engelhard was no secret at the Highway Patrol. Glossip was listed as Engelhard's emergency contact. They showed up together at a Fourth of July party attended by several other troopers. A room full of troopers mourned with Glossip at the hospital where Engelhard was pronounced dead.

"I'd take 100 Dennis Engelhards. He was an outstanding trooper," said Capt. Ronald Johnson, head of the Highway Patrol troop that covers St. Louis and surrounding counties. "His lifestyle had no bearing on his career."

Engelhard and Glossip lived together in a modest home in rural Robertsville in Franklin County that is in both of their names. Glossip's teenage son — from a previous marriage, before Glossip came out as gay — regarded Engelhard as a stepfather, Glossip said.


"I need closure and my son needs closure," Glossip said. "Something that's truthful, and not dishonest."


Glossip remains in the home he shared with Engelhard, about 16 miles from where Engelhard was killed. The house is filled with antiques the two bought together, and their dogs, a beagle and a Jack Russell terrier.

On the Christmas Eve before he died, they exchanged gifts — a robe for Glossip, and clothes for Engelhard that have since been returned to the store.

Glossip said that Engelhard never considered traveling to Iowa, which legalized gay marriage last year, for a wedding ceremony because he wanted to wait until it was allowed in Missouri.

"It just hurts so bad. I am his spouse — we loved each other," Glossip said. "If I was just one state north, this wouldn't be an issue. I wouldn't want anyone else to have to go through what I'm going through."

Read the whole thing.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

No, Ben: "Moderate" is not a synonym for "Corporate Cock-Sucking Cowardly Weasel"

Call yourself whatever ridiculous lying fantasy you want, Wire Hangar: it's not going to save you from the most humongous, humiliating, career-destroying, dick-vanishing defeat by an incumbent in the history of Kentucky politics.

U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler laid a foundation for his re-election campaign at a business luncheon Friday by billing himself as a congressional moderate — a dying breed that he said is being squeezed out by hard-line activists on both sides.

Wrong. The repug party consists entirely of bomb-waving nihilists, but not because moderates were "squeezed out." Repug moderates now call themselves "conservative Democrats." They, along with actual moderate Democrats, run the party and all three branches of the federal government. Hard-line activists on the left are far too busy trying to save lives in Haiti to give a flying fuck about your worthless ass.


He invoked the name of Henry Clay, the 19th-century U.S. senator from Lexington whose work during the debate over slavery earned him the nickname the "Great Compromiser."

"Today, he'd be called the 'Great Betrayer' because you don't get rewarded for compromising in this atmosphere," Chandler said.

Um, Henry Clay was a member of the Whig Party, the precursor to the Republican Party. His great compromises led directly to the Civil War. And he never mistook letting the opposition walk all over you for "compromise."

Earlier in his remarks, he said he had "a tremendous working relationship" with key Kentucky Republicans, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset, on issues such as the chemical disposal at the U.S. Army Depot and obtaining federal funding for Kentucky.

Of course he does - he's one of them.


"People are far more interested in representation from folks who they sense have an independent approach," he told the Herald-Leader.

People are far more interested in representation from someone who votes to help his actual constituents rather than his corporate campaign contributors.


Chandler, who said he hasn't met any of the Republican candidates, declined to respond to their early criticism "until they decide who their nominee is going to be."

"It's going to be exactly what I expect," Chandler said. "Ugly attacks from the other side."

Oooh, girls - check out the big, stwong, manly man! Big stwong manly man who knows exactly how to respond to ugly attacks from repugs: cower in the corner, crying and pleading for them not to hurt you.

Believe us, Wire Hanger: there is absolutely no attack from repugs, no matter how full of Caribou-Barbie-inspired lies, that will come remotely close to painful as the filthy, disgusting, inexcusable TRUTH that real Democrats are going to tell about you.

Deficit, Schmeficit

On Wednesday, Down with Tyranny brought us some excellent news that strains credulity: the U.S. Senate did the correct, liberal thing on the deficit.

How often does one see the Senate's leading Fascist and only Socialist join together in a highly contentious and high profile vote? If you were watching yesterday, you did. The Senate rejected Obama's somewhat squirrelly hopes for a deficit reduction commission. Needing 60 votes to avoid a filibuster, the bill only drew 53. Liberals like Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley, Sherrod Brown, Daniel Akaka, Sheldon Whitehouse, Chris Dodd, Roland Burris, Tom Udall, Maria Cantwell, Frank Lautenberg, Ben Cardin and Jack Reed opposed it because they knew it was a way for conservatives to gut Social Security and Medicare without leaving their bloody fingerprints at the crime scene. Meanwhile, arch obstructionists like DeMint, Sam Brownback, Jeff Sessions, Chuck Grassley, the two lunatic fringe maniacs from Oklahoma, John McCain, Jon Kyl, John Ensign, Miss McConnell and Richard Burr were afraid it might lead to higher taxes on their wealthy backers.

In the end it was a coalition of 23 mostly progressive Democrats and 23 mostly extreme right Republicans voting to kill the proposal-- for opposite reasons-- while corporate shills from both parties backed it. Obama is determined to push ahead with an advisory panel within the Executive Branch tasked with coming up with the same crappy proposals the bipartisan anti-working family Establishment is demanding. Remember, it is accepted wisdom Inside the Beltway that Republicans are allowed to run up gargantuan deficits with tax cuts for the wealthy and unfunded wars which can then be left for Democrats to clean up and get blamed for, helping elect Republicans who will run up more deficits for all the wrong reasons.

The post is accompanied by the following chart, which Matt Yglesias designed and explained back in June 2009.


David Leonhardt has a nice article breaking down the sources of the growth in the budget deficit. Since Leonhardt works for The New York Times rather than USA Today, they didn’t see fit to illustrate his article with a pie chart, but I made one myself.

— “The first category — the business cycle — accounts for 37 percent of the $2 trillion swing.”

— Second, Bush-era legislation “like his tax cuts and the Medicare prescription drug benefit, [that] not only continue to cost the government but have also increased interest payments on the national debt.”

— Third, “Obama’s main contribution to the deficit is his extension of several Bush policies, like the Iraq war and tax cuts for households making less than $250,000 [...] 20 percent of the swing.”

— Fourth, “About 7 percent comes from the stimulus bill that Mr. Obama signed in February.”

— Fifth, “only 3 percent comes from Mr. Obama’s agenda on health care, education, energy and other areas.”

In other words, the very high deficits are not Obama’s fault according to any normal way of assessing political blame. That said, large deficits aren’t a moral failing that we need to hold someone accountable for. Rather, they’re a potential future practical problem that will have to be solved.

Potential future problem. You wanna know how to prevent deficits from becoming a future problem? Pass legislation that will expand the economy and create jobs: strong health care reform, massive infrastructure stimulus, massive subsidies for renewable energy, restoring Clinton-era tax rates, slashing the trillions in waste at the Pentagon.

Hey, look: all the things that will create jobs, revive the economy and eliminate the deficit are liberal policies!

No shit.

If It's So Above-Board Wonderful, Why Hide It for Months?

Simply the fact the leaks start at Newsweek is enough to make us suspicious. But delaying the report time after time after time over more than six months? Then oopsie! letting one part fall on the floor in front of a Village suckup like Isikoff? And surprise! it absolves criminals everybody knows are guilty?

Eric Holder, you lying, cheating motherfucker: Americans are not stupid. And when the repugs start impeachment proceedings against you, don't expect supportive defense from the people in whose face you just shat.

From bmaz at FireDogLake:

Mike Isikoff and Dan Klaidman put up a post about an hour ago letting the first blood for the Obama Administration’s intentional tanking of the OPR (Office of Professional Responsibility) Report. In light of Obama’s focused determination to sweep the acts of the Bush Administration, no matter how malevolent, under the rug and “move forward” the report is not unexpected. However, digesting the first leak in what would appear to be a staged rollout is painful:


The news broken in the Newsweek Declassified post is huge, assuming it is accurate, and the sense is that it is. In spite of the weight of the report, the report tucks the substantive content behind the deceptively benign title “Holder Under Fire”. The subject matter is far too significant though for it to have been casually thrown out.


Hard to figure how this finding and conclusion could be determined by David Margolis to warrant the “softening” of the original finding of direct misconduct. Margolis is nearly 70 years old and has a long career at DOJ and is fairly well though of. Margolis was tasked by Jim Comey to shepherd Pat Fitzgerald’s Libby investigation. In short, the man has some bona fides.

Margolis is, however, also tied to the DOJ and its culture for over forty years, not to mention his service in upper management as Associate Attorney General during the Bush Administration when the overt acts of torture and justification by Margolis’ contemporaries and friends were committed. For one such filter to redraw the findings and conclusions of such a critical investigation in order to exculpate his colleagues is unimaginable.

One thing is for sure, with a leak like this being floated out on a late Friday night, the release of the full OPR Report, at least that which the Obama Administration will deem fit for the common public to see, is at hand. Mike Isikoff and Dan Klaidman have made sure the torturers and their enablers can have a comfortable weekend though. So we got that going for us.

Anybody still think Obama and Rahm are secretly planning to wrap up all the Smirky-Darth criminals in a couple of years, after dems win health care and jobs and capntrade and DADT and the deficit and EFCA and everybody has a pony?

Anybody? Bueller?

Give Voters A Chance to Stick It to the Rich, and Guess What Happens?

Wrong! You all are sooooo cynical.

Steve M. explains:


Well, this gives me hope:

Oregon voters bucked decades of anti-tax and anti-Salem sentiment Tuesday, raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy to prevent further erosion of public schools and other state services.

The tax measures passed easily, with late returns showing a 54 percent to 46 percent ratio. Measure 66 raises taxes on households with taxable income above $250,000, and Measure 67 sets higher minimum taxes on corporations and increases the tax rate on upper-level profits....

Overall statewide turnout was expected to be around 60 percent of Oregon's 2 million voters.

Campaign ads by supporters highlighted banks and credit card companies and showed images of well-dressed people stepping off private jets. They also hammered on the $10 minimum tax that most corporations have paid since its inception in 1931....

According to an Oregon commenter in my (abortive) resignation thread, "There was a media saturation campaign by the opposition" -- and yet this thing passed handily. Turnout was high, too -- just like in, er, Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, there's this, in a story about an otherwise extremely bleak poll for Democrats, conducted for NPR by a Democratic polling firm and a Republican one:

There is one bright spot for the president in the poll's results: Obama's proposed bank tax.

"[The Wall Street bailout is] very much at the heart of problems plaguing incumbents and plaguing Democrats," [Democratic pollster Stan] Greenberg says, adding that more people think Democrats are responsible for the bailouts than helping the middle class.

"So the fee on the banks wins a lot of support," he says.

Most of President Obama's agenda has united the Republicans in opposition, but a bank tax is one of the few things with the potential to drive a wedge through the Republican ranks.

Are you listening, Democrats? And left blogosphere denizens?

Health care should not be the #1 priority. Doing something about an economy in which the tide is lifting yachts and sinking all other boats should be the #1 priority. At the very least, just respond to anger about the inequity.

Ah, but Obama will probably fixate on the deficit, while Left Blogistan will stick with "Health Care Reform or Death!"

By the way, this poll now shows generic Republicans with a 30-point advantage among white men going into 2010 -- and a 9-point advantage among white women. Um, that's not good.


UPDATE: Adam is right -- put the Oregon referendum on the ballot in states all over the country.

Now there's an idea for Kentucky's waste-of-oxygen legislators.

KY studies locations for new nuke plants

Oooh! Oooh! I know! I've got the perfect place to put Kentucky's first nuclear power plant.

It's an empty lot. Just 30 years ago it had 300-year-old trees that pre-dated Daniel Boone, but this trashy slut from Texas had them cut down. It's looked like shit ever since. A nice new nuke plant would look great there.

And it's spitting distance from the offices of the state legislators who thought replacing the lethal coal industry with the one and only energy source more deadly and destructive than coal was just the coolest idea evah.

Yes, let's put Kentucky's first nuke plant in the front yard of the Governor's Mansion.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Only A Year Late

So I'm surfing the liberal blogosphere a little gingerly, trying to find some good news amid the tearing of hair and ripping of clothes and heaping of ashes on heads, and I find Zandar, secular blessings be upon him forever.

Obama goes into the House Republican retreat, Republicans figure they've got him in the lion's den and they can televise him getting his ass kicked live with no TelePrompTer.

Only the complete opposite of that happened.


Obama walks in there and just pummels the crap out of them. Live. In color. This is the Obama we needed to see time and time again, the smashmouth Obama that kicked McCain's ass in the debates up and down, the one that called out the endless bullshit from the GOP. It was so bad for the Wingers that FOX News bailed on the event halfway through.

Welcome back, Obama I Voted For. I've missed you. Now get this stuff passed.

Read the whole thing.

Then watch:

The speech:

The Q&A, which is the real fun:

Thirty minutes to Keith and Rachel, which will be DO NOT MISS.

Missing the Point, Deliberately

I could respect Governor Beshear standing up and saying, "There are problems with private contractors providing public services, but for political reasons, we have to hand millions in tax dollars to campaign-contributing corporations, so the Kentucky citizens who suffer from the criminal consequences will just have to suck it up."

That, at least, would be honest. But this kind of obvious lie is just insulting.

The controversy over the state's investigation of last year's riot at the Northpoint Training Center intensified Thursday when Gov. Steve Beshear chided lawmakers for “their continuing fixation with the menus for convicted criminals.''

At issue is the House Judiciary Committee's inquiry into the Aug. 21 riot that nearly destroyed the prison and whether poor food from a private vendor was a major factor — one that lawmakers believe the Beshear administration has tried to downplay.

On Wednesday, the Corrections Department released new information — after lawmakers threatened to subpoena it — showing that complaints about food had contributed significantly to the disturbance.

But the governor's statement Thursday advised lawmakers to “focus on our real problems,” including a looming budget shortfall, instead of “criminals who wish they could go to Wendy's.”

That surprised — and irritated — some lawmakers.

“The truth is we had a riot over there that's going to cost the taxpayers of Kentucky probably upwards of $10 million, and we need to find out what the hell happened,” said House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg.

As I wrote last Thursday:

More than a year ago we started hearing complaints from Corrections employees about the horrible quality of the food provided by private contractor Aramark to the state's prisons.

The Aramark contract meant eliminating dozens of state jobs for cooks and other food service workers in the prisons, so we discounted the complaints as the usual state employee grousing.

Then the Northpoint prison erupted in riots and our sources were calling and saying "we told you so! just watch - they're going to hide the evidence."


But this is much bigger than one major riot that destroyed an entire prison complex. This is the opening wedge that exposes how in department after department after department, experienced and efficient state employees are dumped in favor of sweetheart contracts with private companies. These companies rake in the taxpayer dollars to toss worthless crumbs to the citizens state government is supposed to serve.

How many millions of tax dollars are wasted on contracts for uneducated, untrained minimum-wage workers making do on a shoestring while company execs luxuriate in profit?

When people complain about "lazy state workers," they're really talking about the abused, non-union serfs employed by criminal private contractors. How many burnt-out prisons is it going to take to wake us up to the real price of private contracts?

When the Governor says "Aramark," you should hear "Blackwater." That's the truth.

Antediluvian Values in the Kentucky Senate

JMeador at Leo's Fat Lip nails the clannishness - or should I say Klannishness - behind the Rape the Sluts bill.

Oh, to be white, male and a member of the Kentucky senate.

Few institutions outside of the Ku Klux Klan, FOX NEWS and the He-Man Women-Hater’s Club reward this demographic more handsomely than our own state legislature.

Although the form of these rewards vary wildly — from good ol’ boy coal funding and golf course kickbacks to crafting legislation upon a medieval philosophical viewpoint without the slightest of repercussions — none can be more sweeter, or more fulfilling, than the reward of biological volition: To be able to do with one’s body whatever one deems appropriate, so long as it’s (1) not gay or (2) is secretly gay.

Unfortunately, if you happen to be a female in this state, then your biological freedoms will be drastically reduced by men whom have overwhelmingly passed senate bill 38, which was “introduced” by GOP meatpuppet Sen. Elizabeth Tori, R-10.

Put simply, SB38 mandates that any woman seeking an abortion must receive an ultrasound because (as we all know) women obviously neglect thinking through such serious and heartbreaking dilemmas due to their collective lack of penis and testicles, which (we also know) is the source of good judeo-christian morality. Had women been bestowed these magical law-making parts, then perhaps they might possess the mental acumen required in matters of life, death and other things that happen inside a uterus before they get knocked up or raped.


Of all the myriad problems facing this sickly commonwealth (a zombie economy, urban/rural poverty, budgetary shortfalls-galore, rampant income inequality, unattainable education and health care, actual zombies, etc.) our lawmakers have rightly ascertained that the biggest threat to Kentucky’s very existence is the amount of money we’re losing by not milking extra cash from poor pregnant women – especially when it is so much easier to do than messy boring tax-reform.


Robbing from the poor to give to the rich isn’t anything new, especially in a state that tries to fix massive holes in its budget by taxing to hell alcohol, tobacco and lower-income workers. Perhaps with a Christian-side hug from Lady Luck, Kentucky will enjoy an expanded gambling provision that will siphon whatever money is leftover after booze, smokes and diapers have been purchased. But stealing candy from a baby before the baby is even born has to earn Sen. Tori & Co. a few words of commendation. So why don’t you call (502) 564-3188 and tell them what a bang-up job they’re doing fucking everything all to hell for everybody.

Just make sure you’re a man, because all phones in Frankfort short-circuit when they come within three feet of a vagina.

Read the whole brilliant thing.

Via Page One.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why Everyone Hates This Person

Excruciatingly painful lack-of-self-awareness quote of the year:

"I don't want to re-litigate this, but there is no doubt in my mind we could have won that race."

Can you guess who said this? Has to be Ice Queen Sarie, right? Nobody else is so blissfully ignorant of her own full responsibility for electoral catastrophe.

Except .... Yes, it's Rahm Emmanuel! Talking about the Massachusetts Senate race!

The race Rahm his very own self handed to a repug with no chance in hell of coming within 20 points of anyone the dems put up, even a zombie like Coakley.

The race that Rahm guaranteed to be a public relations disaster through one solid year of sabotaging real Democrats and liberal legislation every chance he got.

The very same Rahm Emmanuel who deliberately and with malice aforethought destroyed the Democrats' chances of passing any legislation that would actually help people survive this economic catastrophe.

Yes, Rahm, you own this defeat, one hundred and ten percent of it.

Via Steve Benen.

Let's Give the Result of Every Forced Pregnancy a Heisman

Attention Freakazoids and Other Assholes: When you insert yourself uninvited into the political discourse, you enter a free-fire zone. No holds barred. Thus:

We'll skip Caribou Barbie's incoherent droolings and move straight to the proposed Super Bowl commercial:

The ad will feature Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow and his mom, and they’ll speak to the sanctity of life and the beautiful potential within every innocent child as Mrs. Tebow acknowledges her choice to give Tim life, despite less than ideal circumstances.

Ah, yes, Tim Tebow. The 21-year-old Heisman-Trophy-winning, most famous college football player in the country, who claims to be a virgin. In South Florida.

Tim Tebow is either a world-class liar or a record-breaking freak.

Unless, of course, we're playing by none-for-thee-but-all-for-me Freakazoid Rules, in which case "virgin" translates to "oral, anal, even vaginal don't count as long as I'm thinking about baby jeebus all the time."

I don't make many predictions, but I'll make this one:

Tim Tebow is going to be the biggest first-round draft bust since Ryan Leaf. If he lasts more than one season, it'll only be because whatever team is dumb enough to take him - hard to tell this year with the Rams, Bills and Bucs all competing for stupidest of them all - is too embarrassed or pathetic to replace him.

Cats Enact Liberal Bloggers vs. Obama

Via Rumproast.

Number 84

Lance Cpl. Timothy J. Poole Jr., 22, a 2007 graduate of Warren East High School in Bowling Green, Kentucky, died January 24 during combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Poole served with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force based in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. He grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., and moved with his family to Bowling Green in October 2005. After Poole enlisted, the family moved back to Jacksonville, where Poole will be laid to rest in Jacksonville National Cemetery.

He attended school in Bowling Green for just a short while, but he was remembered by many who knew him as a quiet, polite young man who wanted to be Marine.

Warren East agriculture teacher Dan Costellow taught Poole in two classes.

“I remember him as a nice kid who wanted to go into the military. I was happy for him and felt like it would help him figure out what he wanted to do with the rest of his life,” Costellow said. “Anytime you hear about a soldier being killed for us, it is sad, but this young man was my student. This is just terrible and upsets me a great deal.”

Poole was Kentucky's 14th Afghanistan casualty, and the second in two months. It figures that despite only a short time living in Kentucky he told the Department of Defense that his home of record was Bowling Green. Kentucky will do that to you. Natives may bitch about a lot of things - and there are a lot of things to bitch about - but transplants see what's great.

We prefer they stay to retire.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

KY Dems are Cowardly Sexist Perverts

So, we now have definitive proof that Kentucky "democrats" are worms too terrified of pathetic teabaggers to stand up for constitutional values, but women-hating perverts eager to rape them with cameras.

Jake starts us off:

What is it with wimpy Democrats in the State Senate?

They all voted “pass” on Senate Bill 3 .... which didn’t pass.

AN ACT proposing to create a new section of the Constitution of Kentucky, adopting a 21st Century Bill of Rights.

Propose to create a new section of the Constitution of Kentucky, adopting a 21st Century Bill of Rights; claim sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; establish that no law or rule shall compel certain persons to participate in health care systems, provide abortion services, surrender their firearms, or prevent the severing of coal, or the posting of the Ten Commandments, or actions motivated by a sincerely held religious belief; establish that governmental agencies should promote the use of Kentucky coal and make public information available on the Internet, and that the General Assembly provide a reasonable period of time for public review and comment on any appropriation or revenue measure.

Turns out this was something Repubs planned to use against the Dems in November. Strategy fail?


The Dems are still pussies for not voting against this mess.

But they're Kentucky Democrats, so cowering in terror from repugs is not enough. They had to recover their manhood with a Rape-the-Sluts Bill that humiliates and abuses women who dare to control their own sexuality.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Elizabeth Tori, republican of Hardin County and alleged female. You just know her colleagues in both parties were jerking off furiously as they voted "Aye! AY-YI-YI-YI-ahhhh...."

Always Concede on Principle

(Tom B. has an excellent rant on the inexcusable evil of a spending freeze. He's right, but I think there is one unlikely though possible alternative:)

In one pathetic defeat to the repugs after another, President Obama has certainly blown apart the myth of the Vulcan champion of 12-dimensional chess.

Nevertheless, I am hopeful that in his call for a "spending freeze" in tomorrow night's next week's state of the union speech, he may finally have learned that straightforward attempts at cooperation don't work.

I think President Obama may be playing "Always Concede on Principle." Back in 1988, a pre-Tweety Chris Matthews published the first edition of his book Hardball: How to succeed at politics, by one who knows the game. In the original version, a pre-broadcast-career Matthews sanely and modestly related the political lessons he had learned as a Congressional aide to such Democratic giants as Tip O'Neill.

One of those lessons was "Always Concede on Principle." I don't remember the details of the example Matthews used, but the upshot was this: by first admitting that your opponents are right on principle, you can persuade them to support you on the trivial details.

So on health care reform, Democratic tactics should have sounded something like this: "You Republicans are absolutely right that government-run health care is socialism, naziism, terrorism, and the worst abomination faced by American democracy since unions. Government-run health care is so bad, in fact, that we are going to dismantle Medicare and the VA. But first, we'd like your help on this one bill to stop companies from refusing insurance to people with pre-existing conditions. After all, it really makes the companies look bad. Once that's done, we'll come up with some kind of mandatory purchase plan to cover the cost."

Yes, I was one of the ones screaming from the beginning that we should just cover single payer with giant, poisoned barbs and shove it up the repugs' ass, but that was before we realized Barack Obama really was not the vicious, drug-dealing, baby-raping terrorist Caribou Barbie said he was.

If you've read some of the descriptions of this "freeze," or saw Rachel Maddow rip the concept to shreds last night, you might suspect that the spending freeze the administration is proposing is not exactly the kind of not-another-dime freeze the repugs have in mind.

As Steve Benen wrote:

Now, talk of spending freezes is not new. During the 2008 presidential campaign, it was one of the centerpieces of John McCain's campaign. A year later, it was the official Republican plan to deal with the financial crisis. Now, at least rhetorically, it's President Obama -- you know, the "radical socialist" -- who's waving the banner.

Though, in fairness, it's not quite the same thing. GOP freezes were across-the-board hatchet jobs, while administration officials are insisting the White House is eyeing a "surgical" freeze. Indeed, as part of the proposed freeze, the administration intends to increase some budgets while cutting others, which raises the question of whether this is really a "freeze" at all.

It's a cliche, but "the devil is in the details" certainly applies here. We've been told that the freeze would not only exclude defense and national security, but also economic recovery investment and health care reform (should it happen). The new jobs bill is still moving forward, too.

Indeed, while we wait for additional details -- an administration official said the cuts would target "duplicative," "ineffective," and "inefficient" spending -- I'm tempted to call the freeze idea symbolic, at best. In President Obama's first budget proposed cutting $11.5 billion in spending, and most of the cuts were approved by Congress. This next budget, including the freeze, is eyeing reductions between $10 billion to $15 billion.

Yep, sounds to me like classic conceding on principle while making sure you get what you want in the details.

Benen continues:

So, if the proposal isn't really going to change much, why is this disappointing? Because it fully embraces the conservative narrative, instead of using the power of the bully pulpit to explain why conservatives have it wrong.

It may be even worse as a policy matter -- we just don't have enough details to say -- but that's distressing enough.

Yes, we'd all be much happier if President Obama combined actual liberal policy accomplishment with full-throated, un-apologetic liberal rhetoric.

But since we can only have one of those two, I'm perfectly fine with letting the repugs cavort hysterically with their new nude-centerfold buddy Scott Brown in rhetorical victory while Democrats work behind the scenes to actually improve economic prospects for struggling Americans.

Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic.

Last Day to Get In On All the Fun

The Kentucky Secretary of State's Office closes at 4. You have until then to file to run in this year's elections. Every seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, one of our two U.S. Senate seats, every seat in the Kentucky House of Representatives and half of the seats in the Kentucky Senate are up for grabs. All you need is the filing fee - a maximum of $200.

This is going to be quite the election year, boys and girls: make sure you're a part of it.

Media Czech has the lists of candidates in every single house and senate race, with historical commentary.

State house races:

Deadline is today/tomorrow (Tuesday). As usual, lots of uncontested seats, at the moment. Republicans obviously did a good job contesting more seats than usual, which is smart considering the KY climate.

Here are those who have announced as of the close of Monday:

State senate races:

With the filing deadline at 4:00 in Frankfort tomorrow afternoon, here's a rundown of what the State Senate races look like as of now. While the Republicans are running a few races unopposed today, we’re at least running opponents in 4 races that were unopposed in 2006. Looky:

Kentucky's six seats in the U.S. House:

Is Mr. Faux-Pro-Choice anti-Wall St. regulation Ben Chandler actually not even going to get a Primary? Lawdy, that's pathetic.

In other news, at least there are Democrats running against all 4 Republican Congressman, even thought we'll get smoked. Here's how it looks as of today.

Check out what's available, and how to file:

Here’s the list of members of the Kentucky House of Representatives. All of them are up for re-election.

Here’s the list of members of the Kentucky Senate. The 19 who represent even-numbered Senate Districts are up for re-election.

Here is the list of candidates who have filed for 2010 races statewide.

Here is the list of candidates for state Senate seats.

Here is the list of candidates for state House seats.

Here are the procedures for filing your candidacy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Why You Can Never Give Freakazoids Any Power

Because in pursuit of their destructive superstition, they will break any law, commit any crime, ruin any life, undermine any constitutional democracy. Here's proof:

In a new ethics complaint that alleges large-scale abuse of office, the former attorney general of Kansas is accused of dispatching staff to record license plates of women entering George Tiller's abortion clinic, getting records from a motel where patients stayed, and obtaining state medical files under false pretenses, then retaining them after his term as AG was over and repeatedly lying about it in court.

All of this occurred during Attorney General Phill Kline's unsuccessful pursuit of Tiller, the doctor who ran Women's Health Care Services of Wichita and was shot to death, allegedly by an anti-abortion extremist, in 2009.


In 2005, Kline successfully requested a subpoena for motel records from the La Quinta Inn in Wichita, where many of Tiller's patients stayed. The motel was forced to produce records of those who received a medical discount for lodging, a "detailed record of all telephone calls" to or from the patients' rooms, as well as the names of any traveling companions.

To identify patients of Tiller, Kline's office then compared the motel records with abortion records from the state department of health. That effort produced 221 possible names, according to the complaint.

Apparently not satisfied, Kline's staff then allegedly staked out Tiller's clinic, recording license plate numbers of visitors and employees. They then attempted to run the numbers through state databases to identify who was going to the clinic. That effort went on for the better part of a year, according to the complaint:

[B]etween January 2005, and the Fall of 2005, the respondent 's subordinates engaged in an effort to identify visitors and employees of Dr. Tiller's clinic by staking out the clinic, following visitors and employees to their vehicles and recording automobile license plate numbers. Attempts were made to run the numbers through state agencies in order to identify the name of the driver.

Kline deputy Eric Rucker allegedly later lied to the state Supreme Court when he said the AG was "not pursuing the identity of any adult woman who had obtained services" from the abortion clinic.

It gets worse. Read the whole thing.

No, this is not insanity. No, this is not an isolated case. No, this is not a fanatic who got carried away.

Kline is what passes today for mainstream repug. This is the kind of plain criminal who believes himself above the law because a bunch of illiterate Bronze Age desert nomads figured out a mythological justification for their misogyny.

Kline is proof that anyone who claims anti-choice beliefs should be automatically barred from public office.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"If we're going to go down, let's go down fighting for something we believe in"

Alan Grayson, you now have competition: Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell on Wednesday:

As for the Howard Fineman proposal to which Rendell refers, here it is:

But I know that I have also discussed the possibility of taking pieces of it and passing them or trying to pass them and trying to force—as you call them—the conservadems and some Republicans to either vote for them or vote against them. If they try to filibuster them, hold them to account.

For example, pre-existing conditions, there‘s nobody—almost nobody in the Senate, I think, who would—on a straight up or down vote—would want to vote against the idea that insurance companies be required to cover people, even if they have pre-existing conditions. Similarly, the idea that you can‘t toss somebody out of coverage if they get sick.

Just those two things alone, straight up or down votes, I think the White House would be smart to try to dare people to vote against them, dare the Republicans to filibuster them.

As I wrote on Friday:

Now the illusion of 60 votes in the Senate is gone, but we still have the 51, maybe 52 reliable Democratic votes we always had, and 51 is still more than 49. Now we can force the Senate dems to stop playing filibuster games and start jamming legislation up the minority's ass - barbed with no lube.

Reconciliation, forcing real filibusters, changing the rules, bribes, threats, cheating - whatever it takes. From 2003 to 2007, Senate repugs had fewer than 55 votes, and won every single time. They rolled over the dem minority nonstop for four years because they did the arithmetic, knew they had the majority, and refused to let stupid shit like "comity" and "bipartisanship" and "cooperation" stop them from getting things done.

Fifty-one votes is a majority. Now the Democrats have to use it.


Compromise has failed. Cooperation has failed. Bipartisanship has failed. Moderation has failed. Appeasement has failed. Seeking a middle ground has failed. Splitting the difference has failed. Playing prevent defense has failed. Diluting strong policies and programs to attract oppponents' votes has failed. Acting "progressive" has failed.

Now let's try genuine liberalism. Let's try majority rule. Let's try take-no-prisoners, give-no-quarter, bare-knuckle, kick-'em-in-the-balls, kidney-punch, eye-gouging fighting.

Let's play to win.

Ken Ham's Creationist Masturbation Closet a National Embarassment

PZ Myers brings us yet another well-respected national magazine exposing Kentucky's public idiocy.

A good take-down is a thing of beauty. A.A. Gill visited the "museum" in Kentucky, and gets right to the heart of the matter: it's not a museum, it's a national embarrassment.

The Creation Museum isn't really a museum at all. It's an argument. It's not even an argument. It's the ammunition for an argument. It is the Word made into bullets. An armory of righteous revisionism. This whole building is devoted to the literal veracity of the first 11 chapters of Genesis: God created the world in six days, and the whole thing is no more than 6,000 years old. Everything came at once, so Tyrannosaurus rex and Noah shared a cabin. That's an awful lot of explaining to do. This place doesn't just take on evolution--it squares off with geology, anthropology, paleontology, history, chemistry, astronomy, zoology, biology, and good taste. It directly and boldly contradicts most -onomies and all -ologies, including most theology.

It's also ugly, cheesy, and stupid. People often try to excuse faith by claiming it inspired a lot of great art…but here is the evidence that god is dead. All his rotting corpse seems to inspire any more is cartoon kitsch. And Christian rock.

I spent a lot of time in the Eden picnic area, trying to wrest some sort of spiritual buzz, a sense of the majesty and the mystery, but it's conspicuously absent. Literally beaten to death. This is Ripley's Believe-It. It is irredeemably kitsch. In fact, it may be the biggest collection of kitsch in God's entire world. This is the profound represented by the banal, a divine irony. (The penchant for kitsch is something that gay men and born-again Christians share.) This tacky, risible, and rational tableau defies belief, beggars faith. Compare it to the creation story in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel, Masaccio's expulsion from Eden, or any of the thousands of flickering images, icons, and installations based on faith rather than literalist realism. It truly makes you wonder, Is all this righteous ire, all this money, all this Pentecostal flame-throwing the best they can come up with? This cheap county-fair sideshow--this is their best shot? It may be more replete with proof than a Soviet show trial, but this creation is bereft of any soul.

We've criticized Ham a lot for the inanities of his museum, but I wonder if the accusation that he's a cheap, tasteless rube will sting a little more than harping on the fact that he's ignorant and irrational (which he considers virtues). We'll have to see if a response appears on his blog.

By the way, Ken Ham reads Pharyngula, even if he never links to us or mentions us by name. He has a blog post that quotes me and commenters here, to show how evil we are. You should check it out to see if he found you worthy of damnation.

Ken Ham and people who believe his shit are allowed to drive, reproduce and vote. That's what's wrong with American democracy.

37 Years and Counting

37 years and still going - well, not strong. More like beaten to within an inch of its life and hanging by a thread, but still alive and still determined.

Shame on me for not recognizing the anniversary. After four decades we take this right for granted, which means that the women-hating anti-choicers get the turnout and the press coverage.

Thirty-seven years ago, reality and humanity won in court, and lost in politics. Wingnut and freakazoid repugs have been using abortion rights as a political wedge issue against Democrats ever since and usually winning.

Now, however, it's possible that the abortion setbacks in the piece-of-shit Senate health care DEform bill may actually turn abortion into a winning wedge issue for liberals.

Jamie at Crooks and Liars explains:

For years political insiders have said how abortion was a necessary evil for the Republicans, and overturning Roe v. Wade would actually cost them in the long run. The conventional thinking is that opposition to Roe is a vote getter for Republicans and once you take that away you end up with less turnout at the polls.

To keep the dream alive Republicans have always taken minor steps to help keep the dream of a Roe v. Wade-less America alive. Things like the partial birth abortion ban and reporting requirements, but they have stopped short of really pushing a full out ban on abortion.

Now it appears that health care is poised to become the same sort of issue for Democrats. While the current health care bill does a lot to expand coverage and reign in some costs, it stops short of something progressives have fought for for years – a federal plan designed to give care, not profits. That leaves Democrats with the core belief in health care reform as a key campaign issue in coming years, while still touting the success of the new legislation.

The Politico is reporting on an internal memo that pretty much backs up this belief:

A new polling memo offers encouraging news to Democratic senators as they embark on a high-stakes effort to sell health reform to voters following this week’s historic votes.

In a strategy memo to be provided to Democratic senators on Tuesday, Mark Mellman, CEO of The Mellman Group, reports that public polls are giving a distorted picture of the level of opposition to health-care reform. That’s because in many of these polls, “opponents” include people who think the current proposals do not go far enough.

The thinking here is that Democratic senators will be able to turn the defeat of the public option into votes. The hardest thing to do in a mid-term election is get the voters to show up, and by rolling out the public option in campaign speeches and commercials, they can try and fire up the base and turn that energy into votes.

I am going purely on speculation, but it could have been the thinking of some Democratic leaders to leave the public option out and use that down the road as a tool for re-election. If it seems rather dirty, well it is, but it is a practice not at all uncommon to politics. Given the lack of a real push for the public option, including numerous Senators saying there was no real push, the increased “fix it later” push and President Obama’s highly dishonest statement yesterday that he “never campaigned for the public option”, my speculation is sadly becoming more of a reality.

The big question remains though – will it actually work?

The reason that a brainless nude model and repug birther took Ted Kennedy's Senate seat is because Obama voters sat home. The reason Obama voters sat home is because Democrats refused to light a fire under their asses and get them to the polls.

November 2010 is going to be about turnout. Turnout, turnout, turnout. If abortion in the health care bill turns out Democratic voters, fine. But something better, or we're completely fucked.

Magic Radioactive Buggy Whips

A good political rule of thumb: if the Kentucky General Assembly thinks something is a good idea, do the oppposite.

But in D.C., Scott Brown's mental retardation appears to be contagious:

The Obama administration soon may guarantee as much as $18.5 billion in loans to build new nuclear reactors to generate electricity, and Congress is considering whether to add billions more to support an expansion of nuclear power.

Fortunately, it won't result in any actual nuclear plants. Unfortunately, it will flush zillions of tax dollars down the toilet.

If you listen to the rhetoric, nuclear power is back. Smashing atoms will replace burning carbon-based coal, gas and oil. In the face of a disaster movie-like future of runaway climate change--bringing drought, floods, famine and social breakdown--carbon-free nukes are cast as the deus ex machina to save us at the last minute.


Even a few greens support nuclear power--most famously James Lovelock, father of the Gaia theory. In the popular press, discussion of nuclear energy is dominated by its boosters, thanks in part to sophisticated industry PR. This much seems clear: a handful of firms might soak up huge federal subsidies and build one or two overpriced plants. While a new administration might tighten regulations, public safety will continue to be menaced by problems at new as well as older plants. But there will be no massive nuclear renaissance. Talk of such a renaissance, however, helps keep people distracted, their minds off the real project of developing wind, solar, geothermal and tidal kinetics to build a green power grid.

Read the whole thing.

On the bright side, every dime wasted on the myth of nuclear power is a dime not wasted on the myth of Wall Street.

Taxes: "The difference between politics and leadership."

Tom Eblen has a must-read in the Herald about the Lexington Public Library.

Since then, the Lexington Public Library system has become a model instead of an embarrassment. Its modern buildings, resources and services have made Lexington a more literate community whose citizens are better able to compete in a knowledge economy.

Since the final Court of Appeals decision 25 years ago, the percentage of Lexington residents with library cards has risen from 30 percent to 46 percent. Last fiscal year, nearly 2.75 million items were checked out from public libraries — an average of 10 per Fayette County resident, up from four per resident in 1984. Computer literacy is now essential for people to keep up and get ahead, and Lexington’s libraries last year provided computer-skills classes for 4,192 people. Libraries contain 237 public-access Internet computers that were used 482,710 times last year.

Sure, the former library director wasted taxpayer money on travel and fancy meals. Taxpayers are cheated by wasteful government spending, just as stockholders are cheated by wasteful corporate spending. The way to solve those problems is through better management, oversight, transparency and accountability.

Nobody likes paying higher taxes — or any taxes at all. It doesn’t matter whether the economy is good or bad. Appealing to personal selfishness has always been good politics. But that’s the difference between politics and leadership.

At a recent symposium in Frankfort, several economists pointed out that Kentucky taxes property less than most states do. They also noted that Kentucky law gives cities and counties few ways to raise revenue to meet their special needs and make long-term investments in their communities.

Rather than seeking state permission to turn an excellent public library system into a mediocre one, Urban County Council members and Mayor Jim Newberry should take another approach.

They should keep pushing for better management, more transparency and greater accountability of taxpayer-supported agencies to make sure money is being spent wisely.

They also should lobby the General Assembly for more local taxing authority — and not be afraid to use it to fund important public services and investments that will make Lexington a more just, prosperous and pleasant place to live.

Read the whole thing.

U.S. Supreme Cort Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes nailed it a century ago: "Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Truth About the Nightmare of Government-Run Health Care

Our good friend Blue Girl has the low-down:

My husband and I have single-payer healthcare and it is funded on your dime.

Now, granted, we made a bargain early in our lives that make us eligible for this wonderful benefit, but we made that bargain because we give a good god-damn about the people of this country.

Still, I want to set the record straight on government healthcare.

It is most certainly not a "nightmare" of wait times and inconsistency.

It fucking rocks, and it is a model of efficiency.

I have told you before that the primary selling point for me is the fact that all care is coordinated by my primary care physician, and every doctor I see has access to the same chart. Whether I see my orthopedist or my oncologist/breast specialist or my gynecologist or my primary care physician, or a nurse-practitioner in urgent care, the provider sees one chart. That right there can save your life by avoiding a severe, perhaps fatal, drug interaction. They also make a big deal out of keeping us healthy instead of waiting until we get sick and managing chronic conditions. That is because our doctors are salaried instead of chasing fees for every fucking service they can think of to order and bill for.

Now - a tale of two visits:

A little over a month ago, I woke up with the beginnings of a minor problem that could have easily resulted in a two or three day hospital stay if it had gone untreated. I called my doctor's office at 9:30, got a call back at 9:45 telling me that they had worked me in at 1:45 that afternoon. I arrived on time, was taken directly to an exam room, waited less than ten minutes for the nurse practitioner, walked out of the exam room ten minutes later and went down to imaging studies where I was promptly worked in for a sonogram. By four p.m. the NP had the report and by five I had started my prescription. Three weeks later, I was seen for a follow-up in a specialty clinic, where the sonogram was repeated. Total out-of-pocket expenses for two visits, two sonograms and a prescription: $16.89. For a non-routine visit and a follow up.

Today, my husband had a routine check-up.

We were about five minutes late, so he went to registration and I went down the hall to the clinic and told the receptionist that he was there. He came in about five minutes later, was called back within another five and in five more, I had to go find him. I thought he was just getting his vitals and would be back to the waiting room, but he was taken right to a room, and his doctor was already in the room, and his appointment was well underway.

No copay. Total cost: Twelve bucks for two prescriptions.

Yeah. "Socialized medicine" sucks. I'm sure your Kaiser/UHC/WellPoint just puts our deal to shame.

Seriously. When I hear the republicans rail about how we have the "best healthcare in the world!" my husband and I just look at one another. Yeah. We do. We do.

How dare the fucking republicans and blue dogs disparage the care we get as substandard and compromised! It absolutely, positively is not. It is high quality healthcare, instead of high-dollar sickcare.

Like I have said before and I will say again...


And this one.

"We don't need to give any more voice to the powerful interests"

In his weekly address, President Obama discusses this week's Supreme Court decision authorizing corporations to outright buy elections, but fails to offer anything remotely resembling the obvious solution.

Read the full transcript here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Now THIS Is an Opportunity Crisis

At the risk of being accused of criminal pollyanna-ism, let me say this:

Two monster political setbacks this week have put liberals - not progressives, but genuine dirty-fucking-hippie liberals - in the strongest position we've held in decades.

For the past two years, we liberals have been good Democratic soldiers. We busted our asses and broke the bank through 2008 to elect as president a compromising, corporate-owned centrist because of his power as a symbol and potential as an agent of change.

We bit our tongues as one moderate goal after another failed for lack of a strong liberal negotiating position: the stimulus, cap-and-trade, jobs, DADT, EFCA, health care.

We grinned and bore it while Democrats wasted a majority wooing repugs, Blue Dogs and traitors who knifed us in the back.

Now the illusion of 60 votes in the Senate is gone, but we still have the 51, maybe 52 reliable Democratic votes we always had, and 51 is still more than 49. Now we can force the Senate dems to stop playing filibuster games and start jamming legislation up the minority's ass - barbed with no lube.

Reconciliation, forcing real filibusters, changing the rules, bribes, threats, cheating - whatever it takes. From 2003 to 2007, Senate repugs had fewer than 55 votes, and won every single time. They rolled over the dem minority nonstop for four years because they did the arithmetic, knew they had the majority, and refused to let stupid shit like "comity" and "bipartisanship" and "cooperation" stop them from getting things done.

Fifty-one votes is a majority. Now the Democrats have to use it.

As for the new United States of Exxon-Mobil, opening the floodgates to corporate purchase of elections is exactly what we need to force real corporate finance reform.

Compromise has failed. Cooperation has failed. Bipartisanship has failed. Moderation has failed. Appeasement has failed. Seeking a middle ground has failed. Splitting the difference has failed. Playing prevent defense has failed. Diluting strong policies and programs to attract oppponents' votes has failed. Acting "progressive" has failed.

Now let's try genuine liberalism. Let's try majority rule. Let's try take-no-prisoners, give-no-quarter, bare-knuckle, kick-'em-in-the-balls, kidney-punch, eye-gouging fighting.

Let's play to win.

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

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tip of the Bad Contract Iceberg

More than a year ago we started hearing complaints from Corrections employees about the horrible quality of the food provided by private contractor Aramark to the state's prisons.

The Aramark contract meant eliminating dozens of state jobs for cooks and other food service workers in the prisons, so we discounted the complaints as the usual state employee grousing.

Then the Northpoint prison erupted in riots and our sources were calling and saying "we told you so! just watch - they're going to hide the evidence."

And of course, they were right.

The state agreed on Wednesday to turn over its original report on the August riot at Northpoint Training Center after nearly two weeks of denying requests for the document by lawmakers.

The Department of Corrections released an investigative report of the fiery mêlée on Nov. 20, but not before it was edited to allegedly address security concerns. At the time, officials did not disclose that they had altered the investigative report.

Legislators are hoping the original report will help them determine if food provided by a private contractor was partly to blame for the Aug. 21 riot that destroyed several buildings at the prison outside of Danville.

Read the whole thing.

But this is much bigger than one major riot that destroyed an entire prison complex. This is the opening wedge that exposes how in department after department after department, experienced and efficient state employees are dumped in favor of sweetheart contracts with private companies. These companies rake in the taxpayer dollars to toss worthless crumbs to the citizens state government is supposed to serve.

How many millions of tax dollars are wasted on contracts for uneducated, untrained minimum-wage workers making do on a shoestring while company execs luxuriate in profit?

When people complain about "lazy state workers," they're really talking about the abused, non-union serfs employed by criminal private contractors. How many burnt-out prisons is it going to take to wake us up to the real price of private contracts?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fucked-Up Budget of the Millenium

It's one thing to play around with your pet projects when the budget is sound and the economy's humming along, but years of plunging revenue that have the state facing a major budget catastrophe is no time to fly your favorite fiscal fantasies.

Like the magical gambling machines that will make us all millionaires.

Tonight Governor Steve Beshear will do as we all predicted by calling for gambling a third time.

Here are two choice phrases from his budget that are causing dry heaves all across the land (thanks to all who sent it to me):

* “Proposal uses limited gaming, a recurring revenue, to balance”
* “Conservative, responsible approach”

Meanwhile, horse industry insiders tell me that the governor is still impossible to work with and that he refuses to do any heavy lifting. Organizations like KEEP have gone silent over the last few weeks. Democratic legislators left and right are backing away in fear. So this failure should be extra easy.

Grab your ankles and get ready. The deets are coming at 7ish tonight.

Update - By doing this, the governor effectively positions the legislature as the bad guy. Cause they’re now the folks responsible for stripping gambling from the budget. How will the House react? Individual legislators are calling me in the midst of foaming at the mouth.

Only one question remains: Who is the next Republican governor? Crit isn’t running and Greg probably won’t risk it.

BIG UPDATE: Okay, here we go.

Here’s how Beshear is going to try scare people into gambling:

The budget proposal assumes approximately $780 million in revenue from video lottery terminals over the next two years. Without gaming revenue, the cuts to the impacted agencies increase significantly – over 12 percent in the first year of the biennium, and 34 percent in the second year. This comes on top 20 percent to 25 percent cuts many of these agencies have already faced.

“Cuts of this magnitude would undoubtedly lead to mass layoffs and would inflict devastating damage on literally hundreds of critical services to communities and individuals around the Commonwealth, such as prenatal care, water permits, air quality inspections, social workers and fire inspections of public facilities like day-care centers and schools,” Gov. Beshear said.


Quote of the night:

“We are not in this financial crisis because of our tax structure. And changing our tax structure isn’t going to get us out of this financial crisis.”

Read the whole thing.

Then bend over and kiss your ass good-bye. Face it Kentucky: Governor Steve Beshear is not a member of the reality-based community.

I agree with Jake that Crit Luallen will not run for Governor in 2011, but I disagree with him that Greg Stumbo won't either. I think Stumbo will beat Beshear (or Abramson if Stevie has reached the feces-flinging stage by then) in the primary to face Ritchie Farmer in the general. And if Stumbo loses to Farmer, we're all going to be pining for the halcyon days of the Beshear administration.

Now It's a Fight to the Death

Near the top of my list of people who should be shot on sight are those who respond to catastrophe with a cheery "Let's look on the bright side!"

However, I actually think that Martha Coakley's well-earned loss in the Massachusetts Senate special election presents yet another huge opportunity for President Obama and Congressional Democrats.

Yes, they have ignored and wasted one such huge opportunity after another this past year, but this time their backs are against the wall and the knife is at their throats.

Either the House swallows hard and passes the piece-of-shit Senate health care deform bill this morning and President Obama signs it before lunch, or he might as well resign and hand the country over to Caribou Barbie and Glennsanity right now.

I've been saying it since October 2008: A Franken victory and Specter's party switch gave the dems 59 votes, NOT 60. Traitor Joe is, always has been and always will be out for himself and out to ass-rape the liberals at every opportunity.

Even if Coakley had won - especially if Coakley had won - Traitor Joe would have sabotaged the health care reform bill at the last minute. He probably would have been joined by Big Insurance Employee Ben Nelson, and cowards Bayh and Lincoln.

The simple fact is that Massachusetts has always been irrelevant; there was no way pathetic little Harry Reid could get 60 votes again, even if the House hardly changed the bill at all.

All the options are gone; President Obama and the House have no place to go. The one and only one way to salvage health care reform is for the House to accept and the President sign the Senate bill.

Yes, it's beyond horrible. But once it's law it'll be next to impossible to repeal and easier than anybody thinks to improve.

But here's the real value of doing that: it throws the gauntlet in repug faces: You think 41 votes puts you in charge of the world? FUCK YOU! We'll take a page right out of 2003 and just shove everything through on reconciliation with our 51 reliable votes. Repugs will be irrelevant.

Repeal Smirky's tax cuts for billionaires, cancel Blackwater's contracts with the Taliban, tell Archer-Daniels Midland it's on its fucking own, smash Big Coal and Big Oil to smithereens.

Congratulations, repugs: you've ensured that Obama and the dems have nothing left to lose.

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Freakazoids Praise Return of "Secular" Documents

Yeah, this pretty much takes the Sixth Circuit Court's decision that the ten commandments are an appropriate part of a "historical display" and blows it to smithereens.

LEITCHFIELD — Amid anthems, hymns, and plenty of "amens," a copy of the Ten Commandments was placed back on the wall at the Grayson County courthouse Monday, almost a decade after it was removed.

"We all love Jesus Christ and anything that comes with it," exclaimed Steve Mahurin, a minister who works for the road department, one of several hundred residents who showed up for the ceremony. "This represents our savior, and it's the law we have to go by."

The ceremony was sparked by the Jan. 14 decision by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down a lower court order. According to the 2-1 decision, posting the Ten Commandments did not violate the U.S. Constitution because it was part of a display of historical documents, including the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact and the U.S. Bill of Rights.

The ways this is unconstitutional, anti-historical, anti-American, ignorant, totalitarian, fascist, and just plain stupid are nearly infinite.

But I'll just leave you with a tiny hint of the galactic-sized pile of proof that far from founding the Unites State of American on bronze-age myths, the Founding Fathers went far out of their way to guarantee that religion - especially the judeo-christian flavor - stayed at arms' length from American Government.

In 1787 when the framers excluded all mention of God from the Constitution, they were widely denounced as immoral and the document was denounced as godless, which is precisely what it is.


Martin’s report shows that a “Christian nation” faction had its say during the convention, and that its views were consciously rejected.

The United States Constitution is a completely secular political document. It begins “We the people,” and contains no mention of “God,” “Jesus,” or “Christianity.” Its only references to religion are exclusionary, such as the “no religious test” clause (Article VI), and “Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” (First Amendment)

The presidential oath of office, the only oath detailed in the Constitution, does not contain the phrase “so help me God” or any requirement to swear on a Bible (Article II, Section 1). The words “under God” did not appear in the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954, when Congress, under McCarthyism, inserted them.

Similarly, “In God we Trust” was absent from paper currency before 1956, though it did appear on some coins since 1864. The original U.S. motto, written by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, is “E Pluribus Unum” (“Of Many, One”) celebrating plurality and diversity.

In 1797, America made a treaty with Tripoli, declaring that “the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” This reassurance to Islam was written under Washington’s presidency and approved by the Senate under John Adams.

We are not governed by the Declaration of Independence. Its purpose was to “dissolve the political bonds,” not to set up a religious nation. Its authority was based upon the idea that “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” which is contrary to the biblical concept of rule by divine authority.

The Declaration deals with laws, taxation, representation, war, immigration, etc., and doesn’t discuss religion at all. The references to “Nature’s God,” “Creator,” and “Divine Providence” in the Declaration do not endorse Christianity. Its author, Thomas Jefferson, was a Deist, opposed to Christianity and the supernatural.

It was Thomas Jefferson who established the separation of church and state. Jefferson helped create the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786, incurring the wrath of Christians by his fervent defense of toleration of atheists:

“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts as are only injurious to others. But it does no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

In his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists, Jefferson wrote:
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

Later in his life, James Madison similarly came out against state-paid chaplains, writing, “The establishment of the chaplainship to Congress is a palpable violation of equal rights, as well as of Constitutional principles.” He also concluded that his calling for days of prayer and fasting during his presidency had been unconstitutional.

In an 1819 letter to Robert Walsh, Madison wrote, “the number, the industry and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the state.”

In an undated essay called the “Detached Memoranda,” written in the early 1800s, Madison wrote, “Strongly the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States.”

In 1833 Madison responded to a letter sent to him by Jasper Adams. Adams had written a pamphlet titled “The Relations of Christianity to Civil Government in the United States,” which tried to prove that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Madison wrote back:

“In the papal system, government and religion are in a manner consolidated, and that is found to be the worst of government.”

In the early part of the 19th century, a general understanding existed that the government should not promote religion, or favor one religion over another:

“It is not the legitimate province of the Legislature to determine what religion is true, or what is false,” stated a government official.

“Among all the religious persecutions with which almost every page of modern history is stained, no victim ever suffered but for violation of what Government denominated the law of God. To prevent a similar train of evils in this country, the Constitution has wisely withheld from our Government the power of defining the divine law.”

People who claim the United State of America is a religious country founded by christians on the basic of judeo-christian "values" are - make no mistake about this - lying mother-fuckers who need to be called out every single day for lying about fucking their mothers.

And the every member of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that signed on to this decision needs to be impeached and imprisoned for treason immediately.

Dammit, Jack, Stop Doing Things to Make Me Like You

Just when I was getting into a hate-Jack-Conway groove, he starts manning up.

Media Czech has it.

Dan Mongiardo doesn't want Barack Obama to enter the state of Kentucky, because Obama has energy policies that are identical to the ones that he had when Dan Mongiardo heartily endorsed him.

I asked the Conway campaign earlier today:

"Would Jack Conway have a problem with Barack Obama coming to KY?"

Their response:

"Jack would always welcome the President of the United States to Kentucky. It would be an opportunity to show him first-hand Kentuckians are hurting in this economy. Families in every region of the state need good jobs, improved access to quality health care and education, and accountability from their leaders in Washington."

It certainly would. However, he'd have to look out for Mongiardo's pitchfork mob.

In regards to those pitchforks, Obama should especially watch out for his back. According to Governor Beshear (whore/SOB/worst Gov. ever), that's where Lt. Dan likes to stick it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Giving Secularly

The earthquake in Haiti is not an act of an invisible sky wizard; it's the result of tectonic plates colliding.

The rescue of survivors buried for more than three days is not a miracle; it's the result of human effort and determination meeting human resilience.

The human and economic disaster in Haiti is not supernatural punishment; it's the logical and predictable consequence of two centuries of destructive leadership in both Haiti and the United States.

This is an entirely secular catastrophe, and it will be alleviated only by an entirely secular response.

Now, you can make sure that your contributions to the Haiti rescue/relief/rebuilding effort goes to organizations founded on reason and science rather than pointless prayers.

PZ Myers explains:

If you haven't already donated to disaster relief in Haiti, here's your chance: a new umbrella organization to coordinate charitable giving for the godless has been set up. In the first two hours that this was created, over $11,000 has been donated. Get on the bandwagon!

Spurred by the horrific suffering in Haiti, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science (RDFRS) has set up a dedicated bank account and PayPal facility to collect donations to non-religious relief organizations. This new account is in the new name of Non-Believers Giving Aid, with all of the money donated being distributed to disaster relief.

Clearly the immediate need is for the suffering people of Haiti, and all the money raised by this current appeal will go that cause, but the new account will remain available for future emergencies too. There are, of course, many ways for you to donate to relief organizations already, but doing it through Non-Believers Giving Aid offers a number of advantages:

100% of your donation will be go to these charities: not even the PayPal fees will be deducted from your donation, since Richard will personally donate a sum to cover the cost of these (Capped at $10,000). This means that more of your money will reach the people in need.

When donating via Non-Believers Giving Aid, you are helping to counter the scandalous myth that only the religious care about their fellow-humans.

It goes without saying that your donations will only be passed on to aid organizations that do not have religious affiliations. In the case of Haiti, the two organizations we have chosen are:

Doctors Without Borders (Médecins sans Frontières)

International Red Cross

You may stipulate using a dropdown menu which of these two organizations you want your donation to go to; otherwise, it will be divided equally between them.

Preachers and televangelists, mullahs and imams, often seem almost to gloat over natural disasters - presenting them as payback for human transgressions, or for 'making a pact with the devil'. Earthquakes and tsunamis are caused not by 'sin' but by tectonic plate movements, and tectonic plates, like everything else in the physical world, are supremely indifferent to human affairs and sadly indifferent to human suffering. Those of us who understand this reality are sometimes accused of being indifferent to that suffering ourselves. Of course the very opposite is the truth: we do not hide behind the notion that earthly suffering will be rewarded in a heavenly paradise, nor do we expect a heavenly reward for our generosity: the understanding that this is the only life any of us have makes the need to alleviate suffering even more urgent.

The myth that it is only the religious who truly care is sustained largely by the fact that they tend to donate not as individuals, but through their churches. Non-believers, by contrast, give as individuals: we have no church through which to give collectively, no church to rack up statistics of competitive generosity. Non-Believers Giving Aid is not a church (that's putting it mildly) but it does provide an easy conduit for the non-religious to help those in desperate need, whilst simultaneously giving the lie to the canard that you need God to be good.

Please help us to help the suffering people of Haiti.

Read the whole thing.