Monday, May 31, 2010

Hidden History of Civil War in Kentucky Subect of New Play

This sound like one not to be missed:

One of the more painful episodes of Kentucky's Civil War history is the subject of a new play.

Set in 1864, Blow Ye the Trumpet, Blow! tells the story of how 400 African-American women and children were ordered out of Camp Nelson, the Army camp in southern Jessamine County where their husbands and fathers were trained as Union soldiers.

The two-act play, to be performed June 5 and 6 at Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park, is the first dramatization of the expulsion. The story is told through the family of Pvt. Joseph Miller, a soldier who wrote a first-person account of how his family was driven out.

Lonnie Brown of Louisville, a teacher and ex-Marine, said it is a "humbling experience" to portray Miller, who is buried at Camp Nelson National Cemetery just south of the Civil War park.

Read the whole thing.

Blow Ye the Trumpet, Blow! will be performed at 7 p.m. June 5 and 6 at Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park.

The park is off U.S. 27 about 6 miles south of Nicholasville and just north of Camp Nelson National Cemetery.

Admission is $15 for show and dinner. The dinner will feature "a sampling" of food from the Civil War era, such as beef with carmelized onions, summer salad, vegetables of the season and bread pudding.

There will also be a cannon firing.

For tickets, go to or call the Bluegrass Arts Association at (859) 881-8247.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Why Blaming the Sluts Doesn't Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Adolescent sexuality has always been more complicated than the just-say-no-until-marriage crowd pretends. And now we have an explanation of why blaming the girls for pregnancy doesn't work.

From The Nation:

Two new studies have quantified what advocates for young women’s health have observed for years: the striking frequency with which it is in fact young men who try to force their partners to get pregnant. Their goal: not to settle down as family men but rather to exert what is perhaps the most intimate, and lasting, form of control. (“Control” may also include attempts to force both pregnancy and abortion, even in the same relationship.) Together with earlier small-scale studies and reports by those in the field, the new figures help fill out the picture of a long-known, but under-addressed, phenomenon now referred to as "reproductive coercion,” in which abusive partners subject young women already at risk of violence to the additional health risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The new data confirm that we must expand not only our assumptions about who’s forcing whom to get pregnant but also our understanding of the meaning and causes of “unwanted” pregnancy. “If we are serious about stopping unplanned pregnancy in this country, we simply must address the sexual violence and reproductive control that often cause it,” says Esta Soler, president of the Family Violence Prevention Fund, which has been a leading advocate on the issue.

A new study has found that among 71 women aged 18-49 with a history of intimate partner violence, 74 percent reported having experienced some form of reproductive control, including forced unprotected intercourse, failure to withdraw as promised or sabotaging of condoms. Women who became pregnant were coerced to proceed in accordance with the wishes of their partners, who in some cases threatened to kill them if they had an abortion. Study authors Ann Moore, Lori Frohwirth and Elizabeth Miller, MD, recommend that service providers in women’s health clinics ask questions designed to identify women who may be experiencing reproductive coercion, and should be aware that some women may need birth control (such as IUDs) that can be hidden from partners.

In the largest study of this phenomenon to date, “Pregnancy Coercion, Intimate Partner Violence and Unintended Pregnancy,” published in the January issue of the journal Contraception, lead researcher Elizabeth Miller and others surveyed nearly 1,300 16- to 29-year-old women who’d sought a variety of services at five different Northern California reproductive health clinics. Among those who had experienced intercourse, i.e. who could be at risk of unintended pregnancy, not only did 53 percent of respondents say they’d experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner, but one in five said they had experienced pregnancy coercion; 15 percent said they experienced birth control sabotage, including hiding or flushing birth control pills down the toilet, intentional breaking of condoms and removing contraceptive rings or patches. These figures were consistent from clinic to clinic.

Read the whole thing.

Denying Gravity

I call the reality-refuseniks "gravity-deniers" because their refusal to accept the facts of any given scientific truth - evolution, global warming, Barack Obama's birth certificate - is just as ridiculous as claiming gravity is "just a theory."

Now PZ Myers brings us an explanation of how anti-science denialism metastasizes:

John Timmer has written up a relevant paper on the tactics people use to avoid scientific conclusions. When science doesn't feed your biases, reject science.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology takes a look at one of these methods, which the authors term "scientific impotence"—the decision that science can't actually address the issue at hand properly. It finds evidence that not only supports the scientific impotence model, but suggests that it could be contagious. Once a subject has decided that a given topic is off limits to science, they tend to start applying the same logic to other issues.

Francisco Ayala, I'm looking at you. There are some people who are mighty quick to declare that a whole range of topics are excluded from the domain of science.

Timmer points out another common observation, that denialism seems to encompass an entire syndrome.

…it might explain why doubts about mainstream science seem to travel in packs. For example, the Discovery Institute, famed for hosting a petition that questions our understanding of evolution, has recently taken up climate change as an additional issue (they don't believe the scientific community on that topic, either). The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine is best known for hosting a petition that questions the scientific consensus on climate change, but the people who run it also promote creationism and question the link between HIV and AIDS.

The DI also has HIV deniers in its midst, too.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

From Hero to Un-Person

If you're looking for a role model to teach your children that good citizenship means protest and dissent rather than obedience; that one person can make a difference, and that you don't have to be born white, male or middle-class to become a genuine hero, you'd be hard put to find a better one than Dolores Huerta.

American history books used to hold her up to third graders as an example of good citizenship, but no more.

In 1988, when she was 58 years old and already a national treasure, she was demonstrating peacefully against the platform of George H.W. Bush when she attacked and severely beaten, nearly to death by out of control San Francisco policemen who gave the 58 year old women several broken ribs and a ruptured spleen. This week another kind of violence was perpetrated against Dolores. People For The American Way alerted their community about it:

The Texas State Board of Education voted to adopt new curriculum standards, which uses the state’s education system to push a conservative political agenda. Among the changes the board agreed to were resolutions adding the study of Right Wing movements to the curriculum, and pushing strongly conservative viewpoints on issues ranging from the United Nations to Social Security and Medicare benefits.

In a 6-9 vote, the Board rejected a proposal to restore labor and civil rights leader and People For the American Way board member Dolores Huerta to the elementary school curriculum. Huerta was previously taught as an example of good citizenship in third grade history classes, but was removed from the curriculum in January.

Michael B. Keegan, President of People For the American Way, issued the following statement:

“The Texas Board of Education’s decision to remove Dolores Huerta from the state’s curriculum standards, while adding divisive Right Wing figures such as Newt Gingrich and Phyllis Schlafly is an insult to the millions of Americans whose lives Huerta has improved, and detrimental to the education of children in Texas and throughout the United States.

“The state’s previous curriculum included Huerta because she has played an important role in our nation’s history. Erasing her from the curriculum not only denigrates her work; it belittles the invaluable contributions of generations of minority activists. That’s unacceptable and a disservice to Texas students.

“Dolores Huerta is a hero for all Americans who value a fair and just society and she shouldn’t be removed from our history. In her decades of work as a labor organizer and civil rights leader, she has helped millions of workers gain a voice at the bargaining table in order to earn fair wages; she has worked to ensure that people of all races and ethnicities are treated equally under the law; and she has been a role model for women in leadership.

“The removal of an important figure like Dolores Huerta from the Social Studies curriculum is emblematic of the School Board’s decision to force politics into the classroom.”

"Honor Them With Deeds"

"There are any number of reasons America emerged from its humble beginnings as a cluster of colonies to become the most prosperous, most powerful nation on earth ....

But from the very start, there was also something more. A steadfast commitment to serve, to fight, and if necessary, to die, to preserve America and advance the ideals we cherish. It’s a commitment witnessed at each defining moment along the journey of this country. It’s what led a rag-tag militia to face British soldiers at Lexington and Concord. It’s what led young men, in a country divided half slave and half free, to take up arms to save our union. It’s what led patriots in each generation to sacrifice their own lives to secure the life of our nation, from the trenches of World War I to the battles of World War II, from Inchon and Khe Sanh, from Mosul to Marjah.

That commitment – that willingness to lay down their lives so we might inherit the blessings of this nation – is what we honor today. But on this Memorial Day, as on every day, we are called to honor their ultimate sacrifice with more than words. We are called to honor them with deeds.

We are called to honor them by doing our part for the loved ones our fallen heroes have left behind and looking after our military families. By making sure the men and women serving this country around the world have the support they need to achieve their missions and come home safely. By making sure veterans have the care and assistance they need. In short, by serving all those who have ever worn the uniform of this country – and their families – as well as they have served us.

Full transcript here.

False Evidence Convicts Social Security

While our attention is riveted on the oil-smothering death of the Gulf Coast, preparations for the execution of Social Security proceed apace.

William Greider in The Nation explains:

Obama's initiative rests on two falsehoods spread by Peterson's propaganda—the notion that Social Security somehow contributes to the swollen federal deficits and that cutting benefits will address this problem. Obama and his advisers do not say this in so many words, but their rhetoric implies that Social Security is a big source of the deficit problem. Major media promote the same falsehoods.

Here is what the media don't tell you: Social Security has accumulated a massive surplus—$2.5 trillion now, rising to $4.3 trillion by 2023. This vast wealth was collected over many years from workers under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) to pay in advance for baby boom retirements. The money will cover all benefits until the 2040s—unless Congress double-crosses workers by changing the rules. This nest egg does not belong to the government; it belongs to the people who paid for it. FICA is not a tax but involuntary savings.

As a candidate, Obama assured voters that any shortfall was in the distant future and could be easily resolved with minor adjustments. As president, he has abandoned this accurate analysis and turned rightward without explaining why. He faces an awkward problem, however. Despite conservative propaganda, cutting Social Security will have no impact on the deficit problem that so stirs public anxiety. The White House knows this, and some advisers admit as much. So why is the president targeting Social Security?

Paul Volcker, former Federal Reserve chair and adviser to the president, declares, "In my view, we can deal with the Social Security problem fairly promptly." Cutting benefits, Volcker adds, "is not going to deal with the deficit problem in the short run, but it's confidence building." John Podesta of the Center for American Progress, another adviser, agrees but says, "Reforms could starkly demonstrate to skeptical debt markets that the United States is willing to take on a politically difficult fiscal issue."

In other words, targeting Social Security is a smokescreen designed to reassure foreign creditors and avoid confronting the true sources of US indebtedness. The politicians might instead address the cost of fighting two wars on borrowed money or the tax cuts for the rich and corporations or the deregulation that led to the recent financial catastrophe and destroyed vast wealth. But those and other sources of deficits involve very powerful interests. Instead of taking them on, the thinking in Washington goes, let's whack the old folks while they're not watching.

This issue is a seminal fight with the potential to scramble party politics. If Democrats can no longer be trusted to defend Social Security, who can be? The people from left to right overwhelmingly support the program (88 percent), and a majority (66 percent) believe benefits should be increased now to cope with the loss of jobs and savings in the Great Recession.

Citizens can win this fight if they mobilize smartly. We can do this by arousing public alarm right now, while members of Congress face a treacherous election and before Obama can work out his deal. Some liberal groups are discussing a "take the pledge" campaign that demands senators and representatives sign commitments to keep Hands Off Social Security Benefits. If politicians refuse to sign, put them on the target list for November. Barack Obama is standing on the third rail of politics—let's give him a warning jolt.

Call and email your members of Congress and tell them to reject the Social Security death panel.

Memorial Day: This is the Reason

The National Moment of Remembrance is at 3 p.m. on Monday. If you don't know what to think about, think about this:

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Gulf's Ruined Fishery Guarded by Wackenhut Butt-Cracks

Michael Whitney is at the oil spill catastrophe ground zero for Firedoglake, and you should be reading his dispatches every day. Here's today's:

I spent a heartbreaking three hours with Louisiana fishermen Jim and Angel. They work and live on a mid-size shrimping boat docked on Grand Isle, Louisiana. They’ve been through Hurricanes Katrina, Gustav, and Ike. They’ve been through more hardships than many of us can imagine. Each time, they’ve got through because they had the one thing on which they could always count: the water and its bounty. And now it’s gone.

Watch Jim and Angel describe how the oil disaster affects them. This is just four minutes of much more footage, including some time on their boat to come tomorrow. Their story is heartbreaking, and truly representative of the pain many feel here in Grand Isle and across Louisiana and the Gulf.

Where do they go from here? No one knows.

Click here to watch the video. Then support Michael's superb work with a donation.

As Scarecrow wrote:

Yes, there’s anger and frustration, but more than that, there’s a deep sadness. FDL’s Michael Whitney has been reporting from Louisiana, and he tells us the most common emotion he sees is that everyone is heartbroken. They know they’re losing an irreplaceable treasure, part of their American heritage, part of who they are. It’s being taken from them and no one seems able to stop it.

And in case President Obama's visit to Grand Isle today gave you hope, check out this report on the butt-crack idiots "guarding" BP's oil-soaked kingdom.

From the Nation:

"The whole Gulf Coast is a corporate oil state," she told me. "It's like BP broke it, so now they own the entire Gulf Coast." She added: "We might accept the premise that BP is best positionioned to know how to fix the blow up at 5,000 feet, but that also seems to mean they think they should control media access and the entire clean up of a massive national emergency. BP is in charge of everything. We were on the water in open seas the day before the Wackenhut incident and a boat pulls up next to us and asked if we worked for BP and we said, "No," and they said, 'You can't be here.'" It is completely sci-fi. It's a corporate state."

Read the whole thing.

The BP Oil Spill: It is to Cry, and Then to Laugh

Every single day between now and November Democratic candidates must constantly hammer the fact that the Gulf Oil Spill is completely and entirely the fault of the no-regulation, give-the-oil-industry-carte-blanche Smirky/Darth administration.

But at the same time, we must honestly face the larger political dynamic that allows the fossil fuel industry and oil in particular to get away with literal murder regardless of which party runs Washington.

Down with Tyranny has the Oil Spill must-read post of the holiday weekend. It's long and discouraging and absolutely vital.

Read it.

But you will need a pick-me-up after finishing it, so here is Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars, with a fun and helpful way to take out your BP frustrations.

Ah, social media! I love it that this guy is making money for a non-profit, all the while ridiculing the typical PR crisis-speak. Is this a great internet, or what?

As if the all-too-real BP oil spill weren't enough of a circus, a satirical Twitter account called @BPGlobalPR adds some dark humor to a sludgy situation.

The fake BP Twitter page was created a week ago and already has 42,000 followers -- dwarfing BP's real account, @BP_America, which has 5,700. The person pulling the strings of @BPGlobalPR, who refused to reveal himself or even break character in an interview with The Times, spills barrels of dark humor onto the international calamity.

@BPGlobalPR's fictional character, Terry, moves to stir up further controversy beyond the real-life disaster and so-far disastrous cleanup attempts that have sent BP's stock sliding 17.5 points since the April 20 Deepwater Horizon spill.Since then, we've seen a ludicrous parade of headlines, toxic name-calling, contributions from Kevin Costner and numerous TV appearances by Bill Nye the Science Guy, the children's show host who is apparently now an authority on the issue.

The @BPGlobalPR Twitter profile vilifies the company further. Some fan favorites from the Twitter page include:

Catastrophe is a strong word, let's all agree to call it a whoopsie daisy.

The good news: Mermaids are real. The bad news: They are now extinct.

#bpcares We just saw a shark fight an octopus inside the geyser. Almost made this whole thing worth it.

We tracked down the fictional Terry and had a chat via e-mail. Throughout the exchange, he refused to break character (or talk on the phone). He did, however, note that the project has netted more than $3,000 for the nonprofit Gulf Restoration Network through the sale of $25 "BP cares" T-shirts (in green and black, a nice mesh of the colors of money and oil).

"Companies screw up and then they hire folks like me to come in to make it look like they're doing something while they figure out how to make money again," the fake public relations representative wrote. "BP is doing everything we can to save our reputation and hopefully salvage some oil out of all this. We're making a ton of shirts and commercials about how we care, and I cleaned an ugly bird yesterday."

Read it and laugh. Buy a T-shirt, toss a few bucks in the pot.

Then Call and email your members of Congress and tell them to confiscate every fucking dime of BP's assets, for cleaning up the Gulf and compensating the victims of this catastrophe.

Oil Spill and Katrina: Both Conservative Policy Disasters

The Gulf oil gusher catastrophe is both the twin and the opposite of the Katrina disaster, but not in the ways repugs want you to think:

Kevin Drum explains:

Katrina was an example of the type of disaster that the federal government is specifically tasked with handling. And for most of the 90s, it was very good at handling them. But when George Bush became president and Joe Allbaugh became director of FEMA, everything changed. Allbaugh neither knew nor cared about disaster preparedness. For ideological reasons, FEMA was downsized and much of its work outsourced. When Allbaugh left after less than two years on the job, he was replaced by the hapless Michael Brown and the agency was downgraded and broken up yet again. By the time Katrina hit, the upper levels of FEMA were populated largely with political appointees with no disaster preparedness experience and the agency was simply not up to the job of dealing with a huge storm anymore.

The Deepwater Horizon explosion is almost the exact opposite. There is no federal expertise in capping oil blowouts. There is no federal agency tasked specifically with repairing broken well pipes. There is no expectation that the federal government should be able to respond instantly to a disaster like this. There never has been. For better or worse, it's simply not something that's ever been considered the responsibility of the federal government.1

In the case of Katrina, you have the kind of disaster that, contra Levin, can be addressed by the federal government. In the case of the BP spill, we're faced with a technological challenge that can't be. They could hardly be more different.

But there is one way in which they're similar. As Levin says, Katrina would have been an immense disaster no matter what. But it was far worse than it had to be because a conservative administration, one that fundamentally disdained the mechanics of government for ideological reasons, decided that FEMA wasn't very important. Likewise, the BP blowout was made more likely because that same administration decided that government regulation of private industry wasn't very important and turned the relevant agency into a joke. If you believe that government is the problem, not the solution, and if you actually run the country that way for eight years, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But we shouldn't pretend it's inevitable.

1Just to be clear: I'm talking here only about capping the leak itself. As T.R. Donoghue points out, the feds do have an overall plan for responding to and cleaning up spills.

Clueless Brett Guthrie

By Wednesday afternoon, Congressional repugs' silly "Speak Out America" website was already the laughingstock of the Interwebs, liberals saboteurs having overloaded it with sarcastic suggestions to the point that it broke down.

Wonkette has the best takedown. Be sure to read the comments.

But on Thursday afternoon, 24 hours after it became just the latest exhibit in the terminal ridiculousness of Congressional repugs, Kentucky's Brett Guthrie (R-2nd) was promoting the site to his constituents.

If you cannot attend one of these events, I encourage you to visit, where you can suggest ideas of your own or weigh in on ideas offered by others. This website brings the halls of Congress into your home.

Brain-dead grafitti and all.

And from Steve Benen, the DCCC has already gotten in on the fun:

In its return volley, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has come up with a rival site that allows participants to vote for the worst Republicans ideas. is a campaign website that links to a new Facebook application that allows supporters to fill out a poll and share it with their Facebook friends. Republicans have said their new site is not campaign oriented.

"The DCCC launched this new initiative to enable our four million plus grassroots supporters to vote for the worst GOP priorities that benefited big corporate special interests under George W. Bush," DCCC Spokesman Ryan Rudominer told CNN in an e-mail. "The DCCC will continue on the cutting edge in allowing our grassroots supporters' voices to be heard."

As far as I can tell, the Dems' project is paid for with party money, not tax dollars.

Salon's Mike Madden, meanwhile, reports on another potential down-side to the Republicans' site: if it becomes more popular, it costs taxpayers more money. "[C]oncerned about keeping government expenses in check?" Madden asked. "Whatever you do, don't click on America Speaking Out."

But Mike, ridiculing the repugs on their own lame site is so much more fun!

What Lies Beneath

Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Whatever is Necessary"

In which President Obama refuses to throw a temper tantrum or get hysterical, thus reminding the press corp transcribers how much they miss Commander Codpiece.

Full transcript here.

"Relentless Efforts"

From the White House's Oil Spill Blog:

This morning the President met with members of his Cabinet to get another comprehensive update on the ongoing Administration-wide response to the disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf region. The President made clear his frustration with BP and the other parties involved in the spill, committed once again to ensuring they are held accountable for picking up the tab, and recapped the Administration’s efforts to tighten up the regulation of offshore drilling sites.

He began with the top priorities, however:

The potential devastation to the Gulf Coast, its economy, and its people require us to continue our relentless efforts to stop the leak and contain the damage. There’s already been a loss of life, damage to our coastline, to fish and wildlife, and to the livelihoods of everyone from fishermen to restaurant and hotel owners. I saw firsthand the anger and frustration felt by our neighbors in the Gulf. And let me tell you, it is an anger and frustration that I share as President. And I’m not going to rest or be satisfied until the leak is stopped at the source, the oil in the Gulf is contained and cleaned up, and the people of the Gulf are able to go back to their lives and their livelihoods.

Now, the most important order of business is to stop the leak. I know there have been varying reports over the last few days about how large the leak is, but since no one can get down there in person, we know there is a level of uncertainty. But as Admiral Thad Allen said today, our mobilization and response efforts have always been geared toward the possibility of a catastrophic event. And what really matters is this: There’s oil leaking and we need to stop it –- and we need to stop it as soon as possible. With that source being 5,000 feet under the ocean’s surface, this has been extremely difficult. But scientists and engineers are currently using the best, most advanced technology that exists to try to stop the flow of oil as quickly as possible.

Our second task has been to contain the spill and protect the Gulf Coast and the people who live there. We are using every available resource to stop the oil from coming ashore. Over one million feet of barrier boom have been deployed to hold the oil back. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of dispersant have helped to break up the oil, and about four million gallons of oily water have been recovered; 13,000 people have been mobilized to protect the shoreline and its wildlife, as has the National Guard.

The President also discussed the draft legislation sent to Congress this week to ensure that the government can respond as needed, and talked about accountability:

I know BP has committed to pay for the response effort, and we will hold them to their obligation. I have to say, though, I did not appreciate what I considered to be a ridiculous spectacle during the congressional hearings into this matter. You had executives of BP and Transocean and Halliburton falling over each other to point the finger of blame at somebody else. The American people could not have been impressed with that display, and I certainly wasn’t.

I understand that there are legal and financial issues involved, and a full investigation will tell us exactly what happened. But it is pretty clear that the system failed, and it failed badly. And for that, there is enough responsibility to go around. And all parties should be willing to accept it.

That includes, by the way, the federal government. For too long, for a decade or more, there has been a cozy relationship between the oil companies and the federal agency that permits them to drill. It seems as if permits were too often issued based on little more than assurances of safety from the oil companies. That cannot and will not happen anymore. To borrow an old phrase, we will trust but we will verify.

Now, from the day he took office as Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar has recognized these problems and he’s worked to solve them. Oftentimes he has been slammed by the industry, suggesting that somehow these necessary reforms would impede economic growth. Well, as I just told Ken, we are going to keep on going to do what needs to be done.

And so I’ve asked Secretary Salazar to conduct a top-to-bottom reform of the Minerals Management Service. This week, he announced that the part of the agency which permits oil and gas drilling and collects royalties will be separated from the part of the agency in charge of inspecting the safety of oil rigs and platforms and enforcing the law. That way, there’s no conflict of interest, real or perceived.

He closed on a note of concern for those most affected:

The people of the Gulf Coast need our help, and they deserve nothing less than for us to stand up and do whatever is necessary to stop this spill, prevent further damage, and compensate all those who’ve been harmed already. That’s our job.

It’s also our job to make sure this kind of mess doesn’t happen again. It’s a job we’ve been doing. It’s a job we will keep doing until the well is capped and the spill is cleaned up, and all claims are paid.

Full transcript here.

Click to vote and get free trees for Kentucky State Parks

This is too easy to miss.

The Odwalla brand of fruit juices has set aside $200,000 for a national competition that began Tuesday, May 25. Every consumer vote equals a dollar for planting trees in state parks. The campaign ends once the $200,000 is allotted.

Go to and cast a vote for Kentucky which results in trees planted at state parks.

Gerry van der Meer, commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Parks, urges everyone to go to the site and vote for Kentucky. “The Odwalla challenge is a simple way to help start replacing some of the trees we lost in last year’s ice storm,” he said. “Odwalla has created a fun way to compete among the 50 states and Kentucky State Parks could sure use the help,” he said. “With the challenges to our budget, every vote counts to generate some green,” he quipped. “Get to the site and vote for the home team!”

State parks located in western Kentucky in particular lost countless trees in 2009 as a result of the February ice storm. Votes for Kentucky in the Odwalla competition could help in planting replacements that will eventually off set the damage.

To track, there is a map on the web site that shows votes by state. This year is the first time the promotion has been on a national level. The trees will be provided over the summer of 2010.

For the past two years Odwalla has committed to state parks by donating money to help plant trees. They provide the trees, and voters on their web site decide how much support a state receives.

It’s simple to get involved and vote. Log on to and vote for Kentucky. So far the commonwealth has 11 votes—six fewer than Tennessee. Texas is leading with more than 2,000 votes. Votes can be tracked at the same site.

Pennsylvania has racked up more than $25,000 for trees from Odwalla since the promotion was initiated. “The more votes for Kentucky, the more trees we can replace of those taken by severe weather over the past 18 months,” van der Meer added. “I’m challenging the park friends groups, foundation and anyone who has ever enjoyed a Kentucky State Park to vote. Let’s grow, Kentucky.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Reality of Oil Dependence

Via P.Z.Myers, the ugly truth in pictures from the Boston Globe.

Here is number 38:

That's a white heron in an oil-filled Louisiana marsh. Dying.

The Great Three-Way Deficit Con

It's bad enough that President Obama and the Democratic Congress are even considering the economically suicidal idea of cutting spending in a recession.

It's even worse that they are letting the financial vultures use that deficit hysteria as an excuse to realize their 75-year-old dream of destroying Social Security.

But it's absolutely inexcusable that in doing so, this majority Democratic administration will give repugs the political advantage they need to take over Congress in November.

Digby explains how the Democrats are going to destroy the economy and put repugs back in power for a generation at the same time:

If you've ever wondered if the sad truth about our ruling elite is that they are so myopic and cramped that they are intellectually stuck in a groove like one of those figurines in a cuckoo clock? Think no more. They are:

Over the past week, top White House officials have been floating a trial balloon for their strategy on the economy. At its core is a decision to put deficit reduction ahead of job creation.

The premise is that the bond markets and allied deficit hawks are demanding action to cut the budget, that Obama lacks the votes in the Senate for a serious jobs initiative, and that polls show voters care more about deficit reduction than about jobs.

So the plan, modeled closely on the work of the Peter G. Peterson foundation and the anticipated report of the president's own fiscal commission, is a deal that includes cuts in Social Security plus a new Value Added Tax (VAT), in order to get deep cuts in the deficit. As a sweetener to get Republicans to back the VAT, White House officials would cut the corporate income tax.

It just doesn't get any better than that does it? So, why do I think they are repeated themselves in a trancelike fashion? Well, everything is going exactly as it was ordained before the election:


Kuttner continues:

The plan is dubious economics and worse politics. You could hardly hand the Republicans a better gift for the fall election. Imagine the GOP TV spots, Fox talking points, and Wall Street Journal editorial: Obama Administration Has Secret Plan to Raise Your Taxes and Cut Your Social Security.

White House officials are working closely with the president's new fiscal commission in the hope that the bipartisan commissions final report will provide Republican cover for the deal. The commission, due to report by December 1, needs fourteen out of its eighteen members to make an official recommendation. One hope of the deficit hawks is that a super-majority report could steamroll a lame duck session of Congress to act quickly, pending a more Republican Congress in January.

Of the eighteen members, thirteen are fiscal conservatives. Only four are liberals -- Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Xavier Becerra, Sen. Dick Durban, and Andy Stern of the SEIU. A swing vote is Sen. Max Baucus, who is something of a deficit hawk, but defends Social Security and doesn't like automatic fiscal formulas that weaken his jurisdiction as Senate Finance Committee Chair.

Stepping back from the fiscal wonkery, this astonishing White House course is root canal economics as well as political suicide. If the unemployment rate is still close to 10 percent in November, Democrats in the House and Senate face a bloodbath. Yet Larry Summers has ruled out any new large jobs initiative before the election, according to several well placed sources. And if the White House is planning to hit the middle class with a double whammy of increased taxes through a VAT plus Social Security cuts, that's like handing the Republicans a loaded gun.

The GOP, please recall, came within a whisker of killing health reform because of the diversion of Medicare money. If any program is more sacred to older voters, swing voters, and the Democratic base, it's Social Security.

What can the smartest guys in the room be thinking?

He goes on the explain that our faith based best and brightest are convinced that they don't have the votes for anything but advancing the Republican agenda. (That whole "majority" thing? It is inoperative.)

The good news is that we can probably rely on the Republicans to save us:

Finally, it is wildly improbable as a political proposition to think that Republicans, either on the fiscal commission or in the Congress, will vote for a VAT. This version of a grand bargain has been promoted for years by Pete Peterson and Robert Rubin, and has now been embraced by Rubin's protege, budget director Peter Orszag. The fiscal conservatives who dominate the 18-member presidential commission hope to co-opt the commission's four liberals.

In the end Republican opposition to a VAT is likely to save the Democrat budget hawks from themselves. But along the way, this politically bizarre fantasy will do real damage -- by preventing the White House from embracing a strong recovery program, by frightening both Democratic base and swing voters, and by giving Republicans even more ammunition to use in November.

Read the whole article. Every word is important and it spells out the alternatives that a liberal administration could undertake to reduce the deficits, the first and most logical being to increase revenue by reducing unemployment and then taxing billionaires and corporations instead of cutting their taxes in dubious "grand bargains." This is going to be an epic battle and one that if we lose will end up directly hurting tens of millions of people.

The plans they envision for cutting social security are harsh, they aren't tweaks. Raising the retirement age is the least of it. The only way they can really make the kind of dent in the deficit our "bond vigilante" overlords insist upon without raising taxes, is to cut back hard on people who will be living on 30,000 a year or less in retirement. That's a hell of a legacy for the party of Franklin Roosevelt.

Zandar has a shorter version:

Here's what you can look forward to with a GOP Congress again, folks.

Q: Senator Gregg, is there a point, you think, when the government has to sort of end these ever-continuing (unemployment) claims?

Gregg: Yeah, right now. This week, however, we’re going to extend it again. And this has become counterproductive. We’re basically undermining the cyclical event. Because you’re out of the recession, you’re starting to see growth and you’re clearly going to dampen the capacity of that growth if you basically keep an economy that encourages people to, rather than go out and look for work, to stay on unemployment. Yes, it’s important to do that up to a certain level, but at some point you’ve got to acknowledge that we’re not Europe.

This is what I mean by "austerity measures are coming to the United States." They will be a certainty if the GOP regains control of Congress. And the Teabaggers are leading the way in cutting the net out from under everyone. This makes sense after all, as they tend to be rabidly conservative older, wealthier white Americans. They got theirs. They're coming for yours.

Call or write your members of Congress and tell them the quickest way to pay off the debt is with a trillion-dollar jobs bill that will restore the economy.

KY: No $ for Public Education, But $100K for Freakazoids

From the Courier:

The House version of the state budget includes $100,000 for a Christian school in Breathitt County -- despite a Kentucky Supreme Court ruling last month that said public funding for religious education violates the state's constitution.


When asked how the appropriation can be made in light of the recent high court ruling, Rand said, "These are Kentucky citizens who would benefit -- kids going to school down there ..."

I wonder what the Breathitt County Board of Education could do with $100,000.

Local boards of education are cancelling summer school for lack of money, but legislators are handing your tax dollars to freakazoids for teaching their children to hate everyone not just like them.

Conway Misses Opportunity to Slam Rand Paul

No, I don't get the convulsive swallowing either, and Jack really needs to take a cue from Chris Hayes and go with the mussed look, but otherwise not bad. With one huge caveat.

Did you catch the big miss? In response to a question about Rand Paul opposing government forcing private businesses to serve minorities, Conway said:

“There seems to be no area where Rand Paul thinks the government should intrude.”

Unless, of course, you are female or gay, because abortion and sodomy are property crimes.

If you'd added that, Jack, if you'd just once publicly confirmed your supposed positions in favor of reproductive choice and gay rights, you might this morning be reaping the monetary thanks of appreciative liberals.

Keep running as a repug lite, and you're going to lose the easiest Democratic win in the country.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More Martian Policy from Rand Paul


Jake at Page One is still beating the big boys to Rand Paul's real record.

Here he has videos of Rand Paul saying - on two separate occasions - that he opposed legislation that defines morality.

As Jake says:

To rehash, Rand Paul believes non-violent crime should not be criminalized. Things like: Enron, the crimes going down on Wall Street, campaign finance fraud, election fraud, discrimination on the basis of race/creed/religion/sexual orientation/disability, littering, pollution by corrupt mining companies, some faux repairman swindling your meemaw’s $140,000 retirement fund.

He’s on record, on video, and this cannot be spun.

And Media Czech has from alternet the latest evil fucker to endorse Rand Paul: assassination advocate Randall Terry.

The nutjob who said that Dr. George Tiller had his assassination coming to him has thrown his support behind Rand Paul's Senate campaign.

MC asks just how far from the pack have you strayed if even crazier-than-a-shithouse-rat Michelle Bachmann won't talk about you.

And calls out Jack Conway for failing to capitalize on the Paul campaign meltdown.

UPDATE, 9:00 p.m.: Now the Libertarian Party of Kentucky has disowned "Rand Paul 2.0."

"If You're Not For This Bill, You're Not For Jobs, Period."

There is one way and one way only to save the economy and incidentally maintain strong Democratic majorities in Congress this November: massive federal spending on jobs, jobs and more jobs.

David Dayen explains:

We have a $180 billion dollar jobs bill likely to get a vote this week. Very few people know about it. But labor has made it a litmus test.


So basically, everything that’s been discussed over the last few months got mixed together into this bill. And some Democrats wanted to at least partially pay for this, so they got some tax loopholes closed:

So, what about the closing tax loopholes part? This is good. Really good.

Significant parts of the bill would be paid for by eliminating the tax incentives that encourage companies to ship American jobs overseas. The bill would prevent corporations from using current U.S. foreign tax credit rules to subsidize their foreign activities, and close a host of corporate tax loopholes that allow companies to avoid paying U.S. taxes through a variety of foreign tax credit schemes.

But here’s the best part. You know how working folks are required to pay regular income and employment taxes? Even if you are unemployed you likely have to pay the regular income tax on your unemployment insurance payments. But wealthy investment fund managers don’t. No siree. The fees they “earn” are taxed as so-called “carried interest”, a tax loophole that allows their income to be taxed at only 15 percent, as if it were capital gains.

Super-rich hedge fund managers, private equity fund managers and other high-flying Wall Street traders pay a much lower tax rate than working people do — even if you’re on unemployment! And taxpayers are left holding the bag for an estimated $2 billion a year in lost revenues due to this one loophole.

Well, they helped bring down the economy while making out like bandits — and now it’s high time they paid their fair share. This jobs bill would close their “carried interest” tax loophole.

This only partially covers the $180 billion price tag, which has made some Blue Dogs and fly-by-night fiscal conservatives nervous. But the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities says that deficit concerns should not get in the way:

Concerns that the package is too large or that it should not be enacted unless it is fully paid for are misplaced. The bill includes three important but strictly temporary measures that will stimulate additional demand for goods and services and create jobs while the recovery is still struggling to gain traction; they are not permanent measures that add to the long-term budget deficit [...]

The impact of this jobs bill on the economy is strongly positive in the near term, while the impact on our long-term fiscal problem is insignificant.

Extending UI and COBRA, along with fiscal relief for the states, are targeted, temporary measures which increase demand in the short term, and offsetting the whole bill would essentially defeat the purpose. This is about as much of a “jobs bill” as we’ll get for the rest of the year, which is why labor has jumped aboard so strongly. Richard Trumka’s statement on this is nothing short of aggressive:

If you’re not for this bill, you’re not for jobs. Period.

And please, no more excuses about the budget deficit—unless and until you’re willing to make Wall Street pay its fair share to bring down the deficit. The people who are always saying “no” to jobs because of the deficit are often the same people who voted to squander our hard-earned budget surpluses so they could shower undeserved tax breaks on rich people during the Bush years. Apparently, spending money on rich people is perfectly okay, but investing in jobs for working class Americans sets off alarm bells.

Labor has basically made this bill central to their endorsement process for members of Congress.

In the midst of an unemployment crisis, measures like this are sorely needed, and we’ll see if Congress has enough sense to realize that this week.

Read the whole thing.

Then call or email your members of Congress here.

Tell them to stand up to the economy-killing deficit fearmongers, as Susie Madrak explains:

Every time the Republicans get deficit fever, our allegedly Democratic legislators fall back into the fetal position, muttering, "Please don't hurt me!" Oddly enough, this fever occurs only when there's a Democrat in the White House!


With the national debt at its highest level in nearly 60 years, the question of whether to cut spending -- and if so, how -- is pitting liberals against conservatives, and Congress against the president. The White House has proposed a three-year freeze in programs unrelated to national security and warned House leaders Friday that it may go farther, targeting the Defense Department for cuts. Meanwhile, House leaders unable to agree on a long-term budget blueprint are considering other ways to signal fiscal toughness, including a one-year budget plan that would cut 2011 spending even more deeply than Obama's freeze.

This is so stupid as to defy belief. Instead of reassuring voters that, you know, several Nobel Prize-winning economists say we need to increase spending that stimulates the economy, our Fearless Democrats are falling right in line with the Tea Party's economic disinformation.


Watch our brave Democrats run against the very things they've accomplished...

Read the whole thing.

Then call or email your members of Congress here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Uglier Than You Imagine

Via Kevin Drum,, Mother Jones has a great piece on BP's attempt to keep reporters away from the evidence, with pictures that explain why.

We continue on to Grand Isle beach, where toddlers splash in the surf. Only after I've stepped in a blob of crude do I realize that the sheen on the waves and the blackness covering a little blue heron from the neck down is oil.

Read the whole thing and see the nauseating photos here.

Can't Run Away from the Rand

Any day now, Kentucky repugs are going to start backing away from Rand Paul like their national counterparts are already doing.

But thanks to intrepid operatives at Page One and Barefoot and Progressive, their Rally-Round-the-Rand performances from the GOP Unity Rally on Saturday have been preserved for posterity.

Let's go to the videotape!

Trey Grayson and Mitch McConnell here.

Congressmen Guthrie, Rogers and Whitfield and state GOP chair Mike Duncan here.

Andy Barr, repug challenger of Blue Dog Ben Chandler, ducking questions here.

I have no reason to think the worse-than-useless Kentucky Democratic Party will deploy the evidence in any upcoming, you know, election campaign, but surely there is at least one Democratic challenger out there who grasps the concept?

The War Is Making You Poor

I can't say it any better, so I'll just paste this email from Alan Grayson.

(This) week, there is going to be a "debate" in Congress on yet another war funding bill. The bill is supposed to pass without debate, so no one will notice.

What George Orwell wrote about in "1984" has come true. What Eisenhower warned us about concerning the "military-industrial complex" has come true. War is a permanent feature of our societal landscape, so much so that no one notices it anymore.

But we're going to change this. Today, we're introducing a bill called 'The War Is Making You Poor Act'. The purpose of this bill is to connect the dots, and to show people in a real and concrete way the cost of these endless wars. We're working to get co-sponsors in Congress, but, we need citizen co-sponsors as well. Become a citizen cosponsor today at Act Now.

Next year's budget allocates $159,000,000,000 to perpetuate the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. That's enough money to eliminate federal income taxes for the first $35,000 of every American's income. Beyond that, leaves over $15 billion to cut the deficit.

And that's what this bill does. It eliminates separate funding for the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and eliminates federal income taxes for everyone's first $35,000 of income ($70,000 for couples). Plus it pays down the national debt. Does that sound good to you? Then please sign our petition in support of this bill, and help us build a movement to end our permanent state of war.

The costs of the war have been rendered invisible. There's no draft. Instead, we take the most vulnerable elements of our population, and give them a choice between unemployment and missile fodder. Government deficits conceal the need to pay in cash for the war.

We put the cost of both guns and butter on our Chinese credit card. In fact, we don't even put these wars on budget; they are still passed using 'emergency supplemental'. A nine-year 'emergency'.

Let's show Congress the cost of these wars is too much for us.

Tell Congress that you like 'The War Is Making You Poor Act'. No, tell Congress you love it.

All we are saying is "give peace a chance." We will end these wars.


Alan Grayson

Sign the petition here.

Then call or email your members of Congress and tell them to stop wasting your money on the Afghanistan clusterfuck.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

We'll Never Get Them To Join Us, So Here's How to Beat Them

Tristero has a great post slapping down yet another "progressives can win over the teabaggers if only we ...." plea for appeasement.

Berlet, like many people who make the argument that we should find ways to bring tea partiers to our cause,** never quite says how we are supposed to address issues like gay marriage, abortion, etc etc etc. when we try to tell them we are on their side.


For a long, long time, I tried not to antagonize rightwingers and I tried to persuade them by seeking common cause. I got nowhere.


Berlet objects, rightly, to the trivialization and dismissal of the rightwing but I honestly don't know a single progressive who trivializes or dismisses them as a political force. Their ideas and their values, that's a very different story. The fact of the matter is that if you really have problems accepting that Barack Obama, a black man, is president of the United States, and your problem is that he is black, then I have very little in common with you. But please don't mistake my contempt for your ideas, my refusal to "engage" you in "serious" debate about whether a black man deserves to be president, my mockery of your positions, or my open disgust at your moral values for trivialization or dismissal. I am quite aware of how powerful and dangerous you are. But I know that I can't reach you. I can only defeat you.

How to do that? Well, I've just demonstrated one way. Progressives must continue to refuse to grant the screwy ideas and values of the rightwing the status worthy of serious discussion. For example, the notion of invading Iraq, a country that had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11, was a batshit insane idea. I believe that the willingness by so many people, including people who were more or less progressive, to engage in serious discussions about it added further imprimatur, helped to mute mainstream criticism, and helped propel the catastrophe forward.*** Not only must progressives become more prominent in the mainstream discourse in denouncing the right's bad ideas, they must also become better at it. Much better.


I certainly understand that the tea party organizing, which Berlet describes as being ominously already quite advanced, is very dangerous to American democracy, not just progressives. But let's never pretend that their really bad ideas deserve respect - or that they do, if they insist on asserting they are worthy of serious attention. Nor ever pretend that the casual remarks tea partiers make after a few beers with their pals which, even if I agreed with Berlet that they are relatively benign (which I don't) have any legitimate part in the wider discourse today. America is rapidly becoming/has become a country where being white and male is no longer the norm for the politically active citizenry. It's way past time for anyone who loves this country to accept that.

In fact, it's cause for celebration.

Read the whole thing.

Local Rand Paul Coverage Day One: Media Lap Dogs Give Repugs a Pass

Okay, y'all, when I said "up your game," I didn't mean "get your panting lap dog on."

Both the Lexington Herald and the Courier-Journal let Kentucky repugs get away with refusing to answer questions from the press.

Really, Jack Brammer and Stephanie Steitzer? How hard did you try? Or were you under editorial orders to lay off the teabagger's almighty god?

Both Brammer and Steitzer are seasoned political reporters. They know how to do this correctly: merciless, relentless badgering, resulting in story ledes like this:

Senator Mitch McConnell, Rep. Hal Rogers and other Kentucky republican elected officials refused multiple times yesterday to address GOP Senate nominee Rand Paul's opposition to the Civil Rights Act, Fair Housing Law, Mine Safety laws and forcing BP to clean up its massive oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico.

At least eight separate times, this reporter specifically demanded that McConnell, Rogers and the others state whether they agreed with Paul's public positions.

Instead, we get kumbaya headlines like this: "Rand Paul feels the love from GOP at Unity Rally" and "Rand Paul steers clear of controversy at Unity Rally."

Rand Paul's antediluvian positions are no longer the story; how Kentucky's repug officials can support him without explicitly agreeing with those positions is the story.

The fact is that Kentucky repugs and conservadems are going to vote for Paul in November even if he advocated outlawing the horse industry. And bourbon distilleries. They always - always - vote for the republican, no matter what.

The question is whether Paul will get enough overt support from McConnell and the others to overcome legitimate fears about his Bircherism.

Right now, the Kentucky MSM is not making Kentucky's GOP officials pay any price for that support. They have to pin every single republican candidate in the state up against the wall and force them to say yeah or nay on every single racist, misogynist, anti-disabled, anti-veteran, unconstitutional, anti-american word out of Aynrandpaul's mouth, then plaster the answers in 48-point, banner headlines.

Anything less is journalistic malpractice.

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

Attacking the Disease, Not the Symptoms

Every time yet another christianist apologist comes up with a new reason why atheists and other members of the reality-based community should just let the freakazoids continue to poison civilization with their lethal superstitions, PZ Myers is there to knock it down.

This week, the subject was the interconnectedness of religion and Intelligent Design:

I would argue that one reason that astrology (and religion) haven't gone away is that people like the answers they provide, even if they're wrong, and that celebration of wishful thinking is an epidemic in the populace. And one reason it persists is that we have a significant number of our citizens dutifully trotting into churches every Sunday, where they are told by solemn authorities that the universe loves them personally, and look, here's an old book reassuring us that it is so. Religion is a cultural parasite that weakens our intellectual immune system, and opens the door to lots of other opportunistic infections. Jesus cults and astrology and scientology and snake oil and the Secret and quantum woo are the Kaposi's sarcoma of a deeper disease—faith.

We're just now beginning the process of rooting out the causal agents of that disease, and what we need to do is promote more intellectual hygiene, like skepticism, which is the rational equivalent of washing your hands. The wishy-washy, ridiculous theism that Giberson promotes echoes the medieval scholars who tried to argue that bathing was a nasty habit.

Giberson doesn't want that. We're supposed to endorse one version of humbuggery, religion, while deploring another, ID, all in the name of keeping everyone comfortable in their prejudices, no matter how erroneous.

If the scientific community wants to dislodge ID, they need to start by admitting that their efforts have been an abysmal failure so far. And then they need to turn their considerable analytical skills on the problem of explaining that failure. If they do this, they might discover that enthusiastic pronouncements like "ID is dead" or "science has proven God does not exist" or "religion is stupid" or "creationists are insane" are not effective. They might discover that affirming that the universe is wonderful, despite our bad backs and the nonsense in our genomes, makes it easier for people to accept the bad design in nature.

And above all, they need to decide that it is OK for people to believe in God. For millions of Americans belief in ID is tied to belief in God. Unless people can find a way to separate them -- and not be told by agnostic bloggers this is impossible -- ID's coffin will remain empty.

Yes, we godless scientists are often affirming the wonderful qualities of the universe. But, and this is an important distinction, we do so by discussing what is real, not the awesomeness of some imaginary phantasm that the theists want us to worship. We are not going to succeed at getting people to embrace reality if some dufus in a clerical collar keeps trying to insert some ridiculous proxy he calls a god into our understanding, and further, insists that we can really only appreciate physics and chemistry and biology if we deeply adore a particular dead prophet.

ID and a belief in gods are all tangled together, and they are inseparable. Killing one requires killing the other, and it seems to me that only the atheists are recommending the practical approach of tossing out the whole religious package with its attendant absurdities, and rebuilding an ethical, rational vision of the world that does not require any supernatural bullshit at all.

Read the whole thing.

Tell Your Congress Critter to Join the Out of Afghanistan Caucus

Not a day goes by without yet more bad news out of Afghanistan: American deaths now over 1,000, massive corruption among our putative "allies," Pakistan using our own money to pay Taliban terrorists who kill U.S. military, suicide bombs and attacks on NATO headquarters ....

Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon seem to think all that is just hunky-dorry, but at least some members of Congress are trying to put a stop to the clusterfuck, as Down with Tyranny explains:

The most common caucuses consist of members united as an interest group. These are often bipartisan (comprising both Democrats and Republicans) and bicameral (comprising both Representatives and Senators)." And as of this week, there's a new one: The Out Of Afghanistan Caucus. This is how Tom Hayden explained it:

Representative John Conyers, frustrated by Congress's inaction towards the Afghanistan War, is forming a new Out of Afghanistan Caucus to focus Congressional opposition to the continuing conflict. The action came as the death toll for American soldiers crept over the one thousand mark and conservative estimates place the cost of Afghanistan-Iraq at more than $1 trillion.

According to a House source, the new caucus “creates a channel for members who are united against the war,” after months in which the Congressional Progressive Caucus has not taken an oppositional stance. “There is a lot more conflict among Democratic members who don’t want to oppose the Obama administration or who still believe this can be a humane war,” the source added.

There are seven members so far: John Conyers (D-MI), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Jim Moran (D-VA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Pete Stark (D-CA) and Alan Grayson (D-FL). And there's plenty of room for support-- first from among the nearly three dozen Democrats who stood up to Obama on June 16 last year when he continued Bush's shameful and financially devastating policy of dishonestly funding wars with supplemental budgets (i.e.- borrowing against our grandchildren's futures). Then there are the 88 co-sponsors of HR 5015, Representative Jim McGovern’s bill that would "require a plan for the safe, orderly, and expeditious redeployment of United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan." That group even includes a small handful of conservative Republicans: John Duncan (TN), Timothy Johnson (IL), Walter Jones (NC), and Ron Paul (TX). Three new members signed on this week, Ann Eshoo (D-CA), John Tierney (D-MA) and Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH).

Click here to email or call your members of Congress.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

How Fear of the Future Destroys the Present

Yes, it really is all the liberals' fault. Not because we didn't see it all coming and run around with our hair on fire screaming warnings, but because even that wasn't enough to overcome what defeats us.

The Rude Pundit explains:

Notes Regarding the Feasibility of a Minor Revolution, Part 3: The Stagnant Soul Must Learn to Rise Again:

Goddamn, this fight gets weary, no? Year after year, through flush times and failed times, we on the left have said that if you fail to take care of the shit that matters to people on a daily basis, there is going to be a disaster. Oh, sure, we've been predicting the mass destruction of our environment through greed and fossil fuel dependency. We knew that the end result of deregulation would be disaster wherever it touched, starting with the airlines, ending with the banking industry. We knew, we goddamn knew that ignoring the infrastructure of the nation, the needs of the working class, the exploitation of the poor, the dismantling of even the smallest of safety nets would result in economic disparity that moved from unfair to savagely cruel. We have stood here and screamed and yelled and tried, but we also knew that unless money was taken out of the political process, our voices would barely register, like a feather tossed in a metal bucket. And you know that this list of sighs is barely scratching the surface.

But there's one thing we didn't see coming: that people would just become so fucking apathetic, to the point where, almost always, they are contemptuous of those who offer genuinely transformative ideas, not the fake revolution offered by the Tea Party, our mutant model of protest now. Sorry, but if your goal is to offer aid and comfort to the rich and powerful, you're not protesting jack shit; you're merely signing your own death warrant. The purpose of the Tea Party movement is individualism gone mad, which means "If you fuck off and leave us alone, government, with our god, our guns, our high fructose corn syrup, our Facebook, our shitty jobs and wages, you can go about your business." The Tea Party's "success" is just a clever exploitation of our American nihilism, a march into oblivion, or wheeled into it unawares as we gaze at our Blackberrys assuring us that every little fart of a thought is important. The election of Barack Obama is beginning to seem less like an urgent call to change than the huffing effort of a fat guy forced to call 911 because his kitchen's ablaze because of an exploded microwave burrito. "Oh, the fire's out? Can I get that burnt burrito? Because The Biggest Loser's about to come on."

Progress is unbelievably frightening. But progress is all there is. You don't move backwards in this life. That's what the right wing wants now. The entire "I Want My Country Back" meme is such a lie because that crazy woman with that sign never had her country. And it ain't going back because what she wants to go back to never existed. That unstoppable urge forward is meeting this fear of the future, and the result is a stalling out, where progress inches, rather than leaps, ahead. It's caused our politicians to become stymied, with few actual leaders out there, with baby steps, like the financial reform bill, actually seeming like man-on-the-moon moments. We have lowered the bar on progress.

Read the whole thing.

June Events and More at Kentucky State Parks

For unique natural scenery and special activities at little to no expense, in a way that supports and promotes the best Kentucky has to offer, you can't beat Kentucky's Best-of-the-Nation State Parks.

Kentucky will be taking part in National Trails Day on June 5 with events across the state to recognize the miles of excellent trails in the state.

National Trails Day was launched by the American Hiking Society in 1993 to help promote exercise, trail development and the outdoors. It has grown to more than 1,100 events around the country.

“Kentucky’s trail system is an incredible asset to our state that deserves to be recognized,” said First Lady Jane Beshear. “Kentuckians should take advantage of the many wonderful hikes at our state parks to get active and enjoy our state’s beautiful landscapes.”

The Kentucky State Parks have nearly 300 miles of hiking trails and sponsor the Trail Shape program – a challenge to hike 16 trails in one year. For more information, visit

Kentucky has more than 2,500 miles of hiking trails. To find a trail in your area, visit

Here is a listing of the events planned at Kentucky State Parks and other related events for National Trails Day. All state park events are on June 5.

If you’re looking for an excuse to get away and enjoy some fishing, consider the weekend of June 5-6 in Kentucky. That’s Free Fishing Weekend, when no license is required on Kentucky waters.

Several Kentucky State parks will be holding events for children. It’s also a great chance to invite your out-of-state friends to visit for a weekend of fishing. Visit a state park and spend the night at a lodge, cottage or campground and enjoy one of the park system’s restaurants.

Many parks have marinas where you can rent a boat and head out on your fishing adventure. For more information about Kentucky State Parks, visit

Children under 16 years old do not require a fishing license in Kentucky. All other fishing regulations remain in effect in Kentucky.

Here are the state park events planned for the weekend (Note-Due to recent flooding, some parks have cancelled or postponed fishing events. Please check in advance.)

Tune up the bagpipes and fasten the kilt pin, the annual Glasgow Highland Games open with high steppin’ fun when Barren River Lake State Resort Park hosts the 2010 and 25th anniversary event on June 3 – 6 near Glasgow, Kentucky.

New this year is the addition of the North American Team Scottish Games Athletics (NASGA) championship competitions between Team USA and Team Canada. The American team is lead by Kentuckian Kerry Overfelt who is the 2009 North American Scottish Athletics Champion and the current All-American Champion. Hammer toss, stone throw (for distance and weight), caber (telephone pole) toss, and Braemar stone throw are just a few of the mega feats that are among the contests.

Click here for more information.

No matter which Kentucky State Park or historic site you visit, each has a distinct character and air about it. Like snowflakes, no two are alike in setting, the story they tell or the experiences that happen along with making new memories for guests. There’s no such thing as, “If you’ve seen one, you seen ‘em all,” for any of Kentucky’s 53 state parks.

Take Ft. Boonesborough State Park located between Lexington and Richmond just off I-75 as a perfect example. Among the standard recreational opportunities—camping, hiking, fishing and taking a dip in the pool—is the recreation of Kentucky’s second settlement established in 1775 by Daniel Boone and his men on the Kentucky River. During the 2010 summer season, new experts who “reside” at the fort are on hand to share and colorfully explain what life was like on what was once the nation’s western frontier. Enter the fort stockades and wander back to a time before Kentucky became a state. Historic interpretations about the lives of slaves and free blacks as the country expanded westward; the story of children captured, adopted and raised to adulthood by Native American tribes; and other new programs that explain what area life was like in the 18th Century, go on all summer long.

Click here for more information.

And find out everything about Kentucky State Parks at

Accountability on BP Spill

We still think it's past time to blow the well and execute management at BP, Transocean, Halliburton and MMS, but this is better than nothing, we guess.

Full transcript here.

For a terrific analysis of how President Obama is turning BP's crime into an administrative failure, check out this post from KeninNY.

Time to Raise Your Game, Kentucky Media

So Kentucky repugs think Rand Paul can escape opproprium by avoiding the national media?

Then it's up to you, Kentucky media: Sic him!

Senate candidate Rand Paul's Republican colleagues have tried to put into context his controversial comments about anti-discrimination laws and the Obama administration's handling of the Gulf Coast oil spill, but they bemoan the political newcomer's gaffes.

He should focus less on the national media spotlight and more on Kentucky and the economy, Republican insiders said Friday.

"He needs to understand that for Republican officials who want to be unified and get behind him, it's going to be hard to do that if he keeps having cringe-worthy moments," said Scott Jennings, a Kentucky Republican political strategist and former George W. Bush administration official.

In an indication that he was heeding advice to limit his national exposure, Betsy Fischer, the executive producer of NBC's Meet the Press, tweeted late Friday afternoon that Paul said he was having "a tough week" and was trying to cancel his scheduled appearance on the show this Sunday. According to Fischer, only Louis Farrakhan and Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia have ever nixed planned appearances.

The Paul campaign did not return phone calls from the Herald-Leader, but it told others that Paul was tired of talking about his views on the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The Herald's playing catch-up to the Courier, which first exposed Paul's Bircher tendencies back in April. The Herald also has to make up for endorsing Paul in the republican primary, when the Courier called a pox on all repug houses.

Paul could be the acid test for Ryan Alessi's new cn\2politics, and as a veteran of small-town reporting I want to believe that someone at the Bowling Green Daily News is muckraking in hopes of making her career.

If Kentucky MSM fail, Media Czech and Jake will never let up.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bureaucratic Win of the Year

Don't ever let anyone tell you bureaucrats are stupid, lazy or humorless. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has just raised the bar on timely, witty, devastating take-downs.

From Wonkette:

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power general manager Austin Beutner just delivered a very quick, very brutal public response to some Arizona energy commissioner’s jackass threat to cut the electricity flowing from that racist state to LA. It is terse and kickass, and you must read it, in its entirety.


General Manager’s Statement Regarding LADWP Power Generation Assets in Arizona

“I want to make clear that we support the City position regarding the recent law enacted in Arizona and the resolution adopted by the Los Angeles City Council.
On any given day, we receive 20 – 25% of our power from two power plants located in Arizona: Navajo, a coal-fired plant, and Palo Verde, a nuclear plant.

We are part owner of both power plants, which are generating assets of the Department. As such, nothing in the City’s resolution is inconsistent with our continuing to receive power from those LADWP-owned assets.

I might add that, as the City’s Job Czar, I certainly would welcome any conventions or meetings that were going to be held in Arizona to come to Los Angeles. We have fantastic facilities and incomparable weather and we’d welcome them to the City of Angels.”

- Austin Beutner, General Manager, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

Racist Arizona Asshole Threat FAIL

Let's Lock Up ALL Those Who are "Sexually Dangerous"

So, the federal government now has the right to keep people it deems "sexually dangerous" locked up forever, even after they have served their criminal sentences.

That's an unconsitutional, anti-American abomination, but from this Supreme Court, what else is new?

So in the spirit of overweening Big Government Power, let me add my suggestions to the list of the kind of people who should be locked up forever for being "sexually dangerous:"

  • School officials who authorize strip searches of students who carry legal OTC and prescription drugs.
  • School officials and cops who conduct strip searches of students who carry legal OTC and prescription drugs.
  • Judges and state education officials who find nothing wrong with school officials and cops who authorize and conduct strip searches of students who carry legal OTC and prescription drugs.
  • Catholic prelates who protect and cover up for priests who rape children.
  • Catholic prelates and other freakazoids who condemn millions to death by AIDS or famine by denying them access to condoms.
  • Freakazoids who condemn teenagers to STDs and unwanted pregnancies by denying them the facts about sex and contraception.
  • Catholic prelates and other freakazoids who condemn poor women to slow, horrifying death by sepsis from back-alley abortions by ensuring only the wealthy have access to abortion.
  • Catholic prelates and other freakazoids who undermine social cohesion by denying the civil and human right of marriage to homosexuals.
  • Military officials and bigots who insult the professionalism of soldiers, sailors and airmen by claiming they cannot perform their jobs in the company of homosexuals.
Start locking these sexual predators up first, then we'll discuss who are the more likely recidivists.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sign This Dear Democrats Letter

If, like me, you have friends who still can't bring their partners to company picnics because such "flaunting" their gayness in front of coworkers is stepping over the line, maybe signing this letter will help you vent your frustration.

From Adam Bink at

Ever feel like the relationship you once thought you had just isn't working out?

Yeah, I feel that way too.

About the Democratic Party.

In fact, I talked to some friends of mine at AMERICABlog, the Courage Campaign and CREDO Action, and found out that when it comes to the Democrats fighting for LGBT equality, they feel the exact same way. We all felt so strongly about it, we thought it was time to write a letter about it.

Click here to read our open letter. If it says just what you're feeling, sign your name onto it. We will deliver it to Democratic leadership.

Dear Democrats,

We need to talk.

This may be a hard letter to read, but I need to figure out if this relationship is still healthy for me.

For the longest time, I thought we had something special. Remember how much fun we used to have back when we were young, and control of the Congress and the presidency was just a crazy dream? You always used to ask me for help, and you knew I'd never turn you down.

You were so adorable when we were courting. Sure, you never really understood me, but I liked that you seemed to try. The White House cocktail parties were totally fun, and that Easter Egg Roll is something I'll always cherish. Or remember the time you let me march in the Inaugural parade! Other than that whole Rick Warren thing, I really thought we had a connection.

I know you kept telling me that you weren't ready for marriage, but I was willing to wait since you had promised so much else in the meantime.

But now, I've kind of had it. I'm just not getting what I need out of this relationship. You rarely call me anymore, and when you do it's to ask for money. We talked about joining the military together -- but now it seems like you are flaking on that commitment. You promised to protect me from the homophobes at work, but you don't seem to be in a hurry to actually do it. And that Department of Justice brief thing was just cruel. I'll never understand why you did that.

It almost seems like you're embarrassed by me in public. I know not everyone in your family approves of us, but before you got your new job, it seemed like you didn't care what they thought and were always ready to fight for me. Now, it's like you're a different person.

Please don't take this the wrong way. I still think we have a future. I want us to have a future. But I need this relationship to be healthy for both of us. And I just can't get excited anymore by your empty promises and half-gestures.

I need you to take a real step. You know what I'm talking about -- the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell.

I still worry every day that I can be fired in 29 states just because I'm gay. And my friend who is transgender can be fired in 38 states. I know you can do it. You've helped protect people from employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, disability and many other characteristics. Each time my friend and I have been left behind. It's our turn. ENDA's time has come.

It's our turn to be welcomed into the military as well. I want to serve my country openly and proudly. I was so excited when you promised you would repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell this year after 17 long years of putting up with it.

Now, I can't even get you to talk about DADT.

You promised to change. I know that you can. But why should I stand by your side when you can't keep your promises to me?

I get that you're scared. But I'm scared too -- scared of losing you. You need to prove to me that you really care. You need to finally give me the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, like you promised.

I have enough disappointments in my life. I need you to not be one of them.


The Gays
(and all those who love and care about them)

Sign the letter here.