Organizing for America, or BarackObama.com, keeps sending me emails about the election. "The inside scoop on our 2010 plans!"
Really? You mean besides handing Congress back to the repugs and blaming the liberals for it?
Let's stop rushing forward into disaster for just a sec and do what this administration is so terrified of doing: examine the past and learn from it.
Remember 2002? Smirky/Darth should have lost dozens of house and senate members that year: gave a monster surplus away to rich people, permitted the biggest terrorist attack on American soil, shit on the constitution, rejected our allies ...
Smirky/Darth even had to surrender on the biggest legislation of the year: formation of the Homeland Security Department, a Democratic idea.
How could Democrats not win?
By letting repugs shamelessly lie, of course. Because Democrats objected to setting new rules that treated DHS employees like serfs with no rights, repugs accused them of aiding and abettting terrorists. That's how draft-dodging douchebag Saxby Chambliss beat incumbent Senator Max Cleland, who lost three limbs fighting in Vietnam .
Democrats tried to explain that Homeland Security, protecting Americans from terrorists was really a Democratic idea, but the repugs kept screaming "bin Laden! Terrorists! Traitors!"
Now, after a year of crying non-stop that Health Care Reform is The Greatest Catastrophe in the History of Mankind, repugs are claiming that the "good parts" of health care reform are really repug ideas.
And just like the Democrats were in 2002, the repugs are actually right. Instead of just ramming an unlubricated, barbed dildo of Single Payer up the Blue Dogs' ass, this cowardly administration settled for the individual mandate real Democrats rejected in 1994.
I can see the DNC ads already:
Well, yes, actually, health care reform incorporates quite a few market ideas that republicans originally suggested, but that was almost 20 years ago and they weren't really serious then and if they thought it was so great, why did they vote against it this time and besides ..... zzzzzzzzzzz.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. The winning strategy has already been handed to you on a platter by Rep. Alan Grayson, Proud Liberal Elected By Red-State Orlando. Remember this?
"The republican health care reform is: Don't get sick. And if you do get sick, die faster."
Attack, attack, attack. Never, ever defend. Even when you're wrong - especially when you're wrong - attack harder, louder, more viciously.
"Republican Chickencare: If you can't afford to pay cash, you don't deserve health care."
"Republican Chickencare: Clucking Stupid."
At an absolute minimum, how about this:
Republicans want the Insurance Giants to cancel your policy if you get sick. Thanks to the Democratic Congress, they can't.
Republicans want the Insurance Giants to deny you coverage if you're ever been sick before in your life. Thanks to the Democratic Congress, they can't.
Republicans want the Insurance Giants to throw your young adult children off your policy to risk bankruptcy from being uninsured. Thanks to the Democratic Congress, they can't.
Republicans want the Insurance Giants to keep raising premiusm while denying services to your family. Thanks to the Democratic Congress, they can't.
Republicans care about enriching their friends in Big Insurance. They don't care about you. Democrats in Congress do.
Done right, with passion and determination and commitment, the Max Cleland Reverse will increase Democratic seats in both the House and the Senate.
Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....
Friday, April 30, 2010
Organizing for America, or BarackObama.com, keeps sending me emails about the election. "The inside scoop on our 2010 plans!"
It started out lucky, then it stumbled and had no chance. Then, out of the blue, a regional horse race in May, run with ordinary horses and staged a really long way from the big-money stables, suddenly became the most important horse race in America.
How do you explain that?
And while we're at it, how did that race become even bigger than a horse race? How did it get to be an event that is not just a horse race but a spring rite, an American holiday and a party excuse?
Was it money? Luck? Geography? Hype? A confluence of stupid choices by some men and smart ones by others? Was it destiny?
A heap of yesses and a maybe.
Mostly, though, it was a man with the improbably promising name of Winn, who rode in on a horse named Regret.
Read the whole thing.
Dean Baker attended the Pete Peterson Social Security Destruction summit earlier today and made this important observation at the revolting sight of Peterson and Robert Rubin patting each other on the backs and demanding that everyone buckle down and sacrifice for the greater good:Peter Peterson and Robert Rubin are both enormously wealthy men. (They joked about dividing their lunch tab based on their net worth.) They are lecturing the country on the need to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits for retirees who have a tiny fraction of their wealth. Many of the victims of the cuts that they would push are people who are already struggling.
This is so common among the ruling elite that people don't even recognize it anymore.
Here's my favorite example from Mrs Alan Greenspan way back in January of 2009:MSNBC commentator: ... The subtext of all of this [call to service] is "hey Americans, you're gonna have to do your part too. There may be some sacrifices involved for you too." Do you think he's going to use his political capital to make those arguments and will it go beyond rhetoric?
Andrea Mitchell: It does go beyond rhetoric. He needs to engage the American people in this joint venture. That's part of the call. That's part of what he needs to accomplish in his speech and in the days following the speech. He needs to make people feel that this is their venture as well and that people are going to need to be more patient and have to contribute and that there will have to be some sacrifice.
And certainly, if he is serious about what he told the Washington Post last week, that he wants to take on entitlement reform, there will be greater sacrifice required from a nation already suffering from economic crisis --- to ask people to take a look at their health care and their other entitlements and realize that for the long term health and vitality of the country we're going to have to give up something that we already enjoy.
As I noted at the time:Right. Old and sick people are going to have to give up something they "enjoy." That's assuming they "enjoy" being able to eat and go to a doctor. Of course, Andrea Mitchell won't have to give up what she "enjoys." She's a multi-millionaire.
And her husband, Uncle Alan Greenspan, works for John Paulson. That's right. That John Paulson.
This is the where the Village metaphor really hits home. Mrs Greenspan and the rest of the beltway insiders have all convinced themselves that their little village represents Real America. So when someone suggests that "entitlements" have to be cut for the common good, that seems like something that nobody should really squeal too much about since they don't know a single soul who will be even slightly inconvenienced by such a thing. SS is chump change to these people, not even really worth collecting (but just try to take it from them.)
Now, repealing their tax breaks --- that's the kind of sacrifice no self respecting Real American should ever stand for. Here's Baker again:...there are ways to get the long-term deficit down to size that don't involve nailing middle income and/or poor people. However, it would be hard to find two people who have benefited more from taxpayer handouts than these two individuals.
Peter Peterson has been the recipient of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars through the fund manager's tax break. This tax break, which is also known as the "carried interest tax deduction" allows managers of hedge and equity funds to pay tax on their earnings at the 15 percent capital gains tax rate, instead of having it taxed as normal income. As a result, Peterson paid a lower tax rate on much of his earnings than tens of millions of people working as school teachers, fire fighters, and other middle income jobs.
Peterson not only collected the money himself, he came to Washington in 2007 to lobby Congress when it debated ending the tax break. He apparently wanted to make sure that his friends would still be able to benefit from this tax break even after he had retired.
After setting the country on a course for the current crisis with the policies he pushed as Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin went to work as a top executive at Citigroup. In this capacity, he earned $110 million before leaving the company in the middle of its 2008 meltdown. As we know, Citigroup was one of the major actors in the housing boom. It produced hundreds of billions of dollars worth of mortgage backed securities.
We all know what happened with Citi.
These rich bastards are telling people who work hard their whole lives that they have to "sacrifice" their meager public pension to refill the treasury that these same rich bastards have looted --- and which they continue to refuse to help replenish, despite the fact they are still swallowing firehoses full of money. This, after the middle class in this country just suffered the biggest loss of wealth since the Great Depression as a result of these riverboat gamblers playing with the economy like it was their favorite Baccarat table in Monte Carlo. Chutzpah doesn't even begin to describe it. Sociopathy is more like it.
If they can't do the right thing, the least they could do is slither off in to the the darkness to count their winnings. Instead, these arrogant jerks are out there lecturing everyone about "sacrifice" while they buy off every government official in town to make sure they aren't among those who have to heed that call.
Speaking of sick, what does the supposedly liberal Senate Democratic leader Dick Durbin advise the liberal base do about this abomination?
"Sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up."
Thursday, April 29, 2010
If you've been passing up Exxon/Mobil gas stations the last few years in favor of self-proclaimed "green" corporation British Petroleum, last week's oil rig explosion proves that BP is no better than its "competitors."
Laura Flanders in The Nation explains:
It's too bad for British Petroleum. Or is it? For days after its Transocean operated rig exploded and sank with eleven of its workers in the Gulf of Mexico, the company said it had the oil contained.
Not exactly. The rig's been gushing 1,000 barrels of oil a day since Saturday.
Costs for cleanup are likely to be huge. The U.S. Coast Guard's already batting about a figure of $100 million. You'd think that'd be the last we'd hear of the Obama administration's plan for for offshore drilling.
After all, compare and contrast; a sea of sludge, edging towards New Orleans vs. reaping power from Ocean Breezes -- the headline on a story about Cape Wind, the country's first offshore turbine -- also just approved by the White House.
You'd think there'd be no contest. But then there's this -- even as it belched, BP on Tuesday reported a more than doubling of its first-quarter profit: Profits rose from $2.56 billion to $6.08 billion while its alternative energy division saw losses.
A few hundred milllon out of $6.08 biliion. The price of all that Cajun coastline just may not be high enough to make a dent.
And that's why it's not a level playing field. We don't need even-steven energy policy. We need aggressive government affirmative action for alternatives.
The death throes of the fossil fuel industry are going to be cataclysmic unless we have a large, strong, profitable renewable energy industry in place to protect us.
It won't replace the smoke-belching coal-burner providing the electricity I'm using to write this post anytime soon, but it doesn't have to.
The die is cast, the bell is tolling, and the Magic Buggy Whip Industry just took a fatal blow.
After nine years of regulatory review, the federal government gave the green light Wednesday to the nation’s first offshore wind farm, a highly contested project off the coast of Cape Cod.
The approval of the 130-turbine farm gives a significant boost to the nascent offshore wind industry in the United States, which has lagged far behind Europe and China in harnessing the strong and steady power of ocean breezes to provide electricity to homes and businesses.
With Gov. Deval Patrick standing beside him, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced at a news conference at the Massachusetts Statehouse that the government had approved a permit for Cape Wind Associates, a private venture, to build the farm.
“I am approving the Cape Wind project,” Mr. Salazar said. “This will be the first of many projects up and down the Atlantic coast.”
The Cape Wind turbines would lie in Nantucket Sound, about five miles from the nearest shoreline, and cover 24 square miles, roughly the size of Manhattan. The tip of the highest blade of each turbine would reach 440 feet above the water.
But the project is hardly shovel ready. Several regulatory hurdles remain, and opponents of the wind farm have vowed to go to court, potentially stalling Cape Wind for several more years.
Read the whole thing.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Digby is keeping a sharp eye on the genuinely bipartisan effort to destroy social security and the social safety net in the name of jobs-killing debt reduction.
If any of you happen to find yourself or anyone you know infected by the propaganda at the Peterson Deficit Summit today, Campaign For America's Future's Virtual Summit is the antidote. There is a ton of useful information about deficits and rebuttals to the nonsense that's spewing forth from nearly every villager in the land.
Yesterday, they held a conference call, which is summed up here. (You can hear the audio at the link.):[Yesterday] morning, the White House debt commission convened and largely presented a skewed picture of America's finances, with much scapegoating of Social Security and Medicare. [Yesterday] afternoon, Campaign for America's Future convened top economic experts to offer journalists facts and views that the commission has yet to pursue.
Campaign for America's Future Roger Hickey expressed deep concern that Pete Peterson deficit hysteria propaganda is taking hold on the commission, noting that a new key staff member was hired from a Peterson-funded organization, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Hickey also pointed out while Social Security and Medicare were repeatedly flogged, there was little mention of the Bush-era tax cuts that actually vaporized the surplus.
The American Prospect's Robert Kuttner offered an entirely different approach to deficit reduction, one based on strong economic growth with "more social investment in the short-run." He mentioned you certainly can cut the deficit with an "austerity approach" but "if you put the cart before the horse, it's the more painful way to get to budget balance."
Institute for Women's Policy Research President Heidi Hartmann emphasizes the pain that will be inflicted on elderly women if Social Security is needlessly slashed, and the attacks on "greedy geeezers" have nothing to do "the typical retiree in America today." She raised an eyebrow at Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's comment that we should go after Social Security because "that's where the money is." As Dr. Hartmann recalled, the quote was originally about "bank robberies."
And Center for Economic and Policy Research Co-Director hammered the commission for pushing the false assertion that "everyone agrees" on the basic issue, saying that's "not an honest way to proceed." Baker rejected the commission's arbitrary goal of major budget cuts by 2015, which is before anyone expects unemployment to come down to a reasonable level.
There are many motives for flogging the deficit right now, not the least of which is political. Republicans use this as a weapon whenever Democrats get into office. Case in point:Clinton's experience shows what such pressure can do to a president's agenda. Promises of spending on education, public works and a middle-class tax cut fell by the wayside as advisers led by Robert Rubin, who later became Treasury secretary, convinced the new president the best thing he could do for the economy was to show investors his resolve on fiscal discipline. ``You mean to tell me that the success of the economic program and my re-election hinges on the Federal Reserve and a bunch of fucking bond traders?'' Clinton raged at aides, according to journalist Bob Woodward's book, ``The Agenda.''
Obama got health care, which is hardly an "entitlement" so I'm guessing the Grand Bargain is in full effect: agree to be deficit hawks going forward. Those are the terms set forth by the Big Money Boyz. (You didn't think they were going to allow the peons in congress to insult them to their faces and get nothing in return, do you?)
Here's a handy primer which explodes the myths about the Social Security. Everyone needs to bone up on this subject --- it's going to be with us for a while. Pete Peterson has a billion dollars devoted to this cause and he's going to use it.
And sadly, our president seems to have a burning desire to be the Democrat who "fixed" Social Security. I suppose he thinks it will make all those important people respect him in the end. But it won't. Bill Clinton left a surplus and Pete Peterson and instead of devoting it to social security, all his buddies took that money for themselves and ran. There is no margin in pandering to the millionaires. They think these presidents are chumps either way.
There's a tiny chance that Obama is using this "summit" to pacify the deficit scolds and has no real intention of making the same recovery-killing mistake FDR made in 1937.
But do you really want to bet your retirement on that chance? Call or write your members of Congress and tell them that a nice big job-creating public infrastructure bill will take care of the deficit and the debt with no cuts required.
Arizona's new "Papers, please" police state law isn't actually aimed at illegal immigrants. It's aimed at legal immigrants - American citizens. Why? To stop them from voting, of course.
See the video at Crooks and Liars.
Thom Hartmann talks to Greg Palast about what the real agenda behind the new Arizona "show me your papers" law might be.Behind the Arizona Immigration Law: GOP Game to Swipe the November Election: Our investigation in Arizona discovered the real intent of the show-me-your-papers law.
Don't be fooled. The way the media plays the story, it was a wave of racist, anti-immigrant hysteria that moved Arizona Republicans to pass a sick little law, signed last week, requiring every person in the state to carry papers proving they are US citizens.
I don't buy it. Anti-Hispanic hysteria has always been as much a part of Arizona as the Saguaro cactus and excessive air-conditioning.
What's new here is not the politicians' fear of a xenophobic "Teabag" uprising.
What moved GOP Governor Jan Brewer to sign the Soviet-style show-me-your-papers law is the exploding number of legal Hispanics, US citizens all, who are daring to vote -- and daring to vote Democratic by more than two-to-one. Unless this demographic locomotive is halted, Arizona Republicans know their party will soon be electoral toast. Or, if you like, tortillas.
In 2008, working for Rolling Stone with civil rights attorney Bobby Kennedy, our team flew to Arizona to investigate what smelled like an electoral pogrom against Chicano voters ... directed by one Jan Brewer.
Brewer, then Secretary of State, had organized a racially loaded purge of the voter rolls that would have made Katherine Harris blush. Beginning after the 2004 election, under Brewer's command, no less than 100,000 voters, overwhelmingly Hispanics, were blocked from registering to vote. In 2005, the first year of the Great Brown-Out, one in three Phoenix residents found their registration applications rejected.
That statistic caught my attention. Voting or registering to vote if you're not a citizen is a felony, a big-time jail-time crime. And arresting such criminal voters is easy: after all, they give their names and addresses.
So I asked Brewer's office, had she busted a single one of these thousands of allegedly illegal voters? Did she turn over even one name to the feds for prosecution?
No, not one.
Which raises the question: were these disenfranchised voters the criminal, non-citizens Brewer tagged them, or just not-quite-white voters given the José Crow treatment, entrapped in document-chase trickery?
The answer was provided by a federal prosecutor who was sent on a crazy hunt all over the Western mesas looking for these illegal voters. "We took over 100 complaints, we investigated for almost 2 years, I didn’t find one prosecutable voter fraud case."
This prosecutor, David Iglesias, is a prosecutor no more. When he refused to fabricate charges of illegal voting among immigrants, his firing was personally ordered by the President of the United States, George W. Bush, under orders from his boss, Karl Rove.
Iglesias' jurisdiction was next door, in New Mexico, but he told me that Rove and the Republican chieftains were working nationwide to whip up anti-immigrant hysteria with public busts of illegal voters, even though there were none.
Read the whole thing.
Then take a look around your state legislature; similar legislation is probably percolating in a corner somewhere, as it is in Kentucky.
Arizona's tough new law aimed at illegal immigrants is rekindling debate about the issue in Kentucky, but there's little legislative sentiment to follow the Grand Canyon State's lead.
Lawmakers who have supported previous attempts to crack down on illegal immigration at the state level say the Kentucky General Assembly isn't likely to approve a law that allows local police to detain people they suspect are in the country illegally.
But they say recent developments should cause Kentucky to consider more carefully other legislative proposals aimed at the illegal immigration issue. "I've filed a number of bills to try to alleviate (the illegal immigration) problem in Kentucky and we've never got much traction on it," said state Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington.
That could be because illegal immigration isn't so much a problem in Kentucky as it is the only thing saving the state's biggest industry: agriculture. Deport the illegal immigrants, and Kentucky's crops will rot in the fields, the horses will die of thirst and neglect.
Think the illegal immigrants doing all the dirty work in this country - often paying social security and medicare taxes for benefits they'll never get - actually cost this country more than they contribute? Get the facts here.
What have we liberals been screaming for three and a half years, Harry Reid?
The repug filibuster threat is a bluff. Call it, and the fuckers will fold.
And yea, verily, it came to pass.
Senate Republicans announced this afternoon that they will allow financial reform legislation onto the chamber floor for a debate after bipartisan talks hit an impasse.
Bullshit. They caved because the Senate Democrats ordered their caucus to spend the night on the Senate floor, taking closure vote after closure vote after closure vote until the repugs finally screamed uncle.
But I can't celebrate, because it takes every iota of control to avoid thinking about how different the world would be today if Harry Reid had starting doing this in January 2007.
How many dead bodies in a "better late than never," you cowardly waste of oxygen?
As for Mitch's new nickname, I stole it from Wonkette commenter snideinplainsight:
To me, it looks like Mitch McConnell has a scared turtle face. Does it to you?
Yes! It does! Scared Turtle Face he is, from now on.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Today's wingnut freakout is over the President of the United States daring to encourage the black people, brown people, red people, yellow people, female people and young people who helped elect him last year to stay involved and vote again this year.
Do you see it? Look closer. Yes, that's it: that Kenyan Usurper Hates White Men. Impeach him!
This is the most blatant manifestation to date of a phenomenon Digby has been documenting for months. From March:
Amanda Marcotte makes an important observation about all this, as it relates to my earlier post about the right's seeming inability to accept the idea of democracy. This is correct:Well, it’s simple, really. They assume, if they don’t state it outright, that large numbers of American voters shouldn’t have the right to vote. That’s the implicit argument when Sarah Palin praises white rural voters as “Real Americans”, when Birthers obsess over the idea that the first black President simply can’t be eligible for office, when tea baggers yell racist and homophobic slurs at politicians, and when they insist that you eliminate black voters from the count if you want to find out how popular a politician “really” is. When Bart Stupak laughed out loud at the very idea that nuns have opinions worth listening to---and listed a bunch of men whose opinions were the ones that counted---you had a similar sentiment being expressed. Universal suffrage seems like a fundamental part of democracy to liberals, but it appears that conservatives think it de-legitimizes the results of elections. And that if you do something without Republicans on board, you’re eliminating those who represent the only people who count.
These people believe they represent a majority and they do: of white people. Obama only has a 35% approval rating among whites, (which is down from the 42% of whites that helped elect him.) If you have white supremacist tendencies, you're going to believe that he isn't representing a majority of Real Americans.
Indeed, it explains why Democratic presidents in general can't ever be legitimate. They are, after all, always elected with the support of African Americans, Hispanics and feminist women. That wasn't what the founders intended, now was it?
Read Amanda's whole piece. She's answered this riddle.
That's why Dems are wasting our time trying to demonstrate to the repugs that nonwhite voters are properly registered and resident citizens who meet the voting requirements. The repugs don't care about documentation - the fact that those people are not white means they're not legitimate voters.
Idyllic Pacific island paradise sacrificed to the questionable needs of the U.S. Military is nothing new - ask the former residents of Bikini Atoll.
Department of Defense squandering tens of billions of dollars on a dubious project is also nothing new.
Even American citizens getting bulldozed by uncaring bureaucrats is, tragically, still not new.
But hitting all three in one giant boondoggle? Now that's a hat trick.
Koohan Paik in The Nation explains:
The centerpiece of the Guam Buildup is the transfer of about 8,600 marines from Okinawa. When you add their families and construction teams, including entire low-wage crews from the Philippines and Micronesia--there goes the "jobs bonanza" locals were promised--the expected influx will be 80,000 more people on Guam. The island, about half the size of Cape Cod, has a population of about 178,000. The people of Guam, whose largest ethnic group are Chamorro (37 percent of the population), followed by Filipino (25 percent) and then statesiders (10 percent), doubt their island has the carrying capacity to absorb a 50 percent population surge.
In November the Defense Department released a mandatory Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) assessing the buildup's effects. It elicited the most blistering responses ever to come from the Environmental Protection Agency, newly resuscitated after the Bush years. The EPA gave the DEIS its lowest possible ranking for proposing entirely ineffective mitigation actions. The agency further enumerated a litany of ecological catastrophes. Hundreds of acres of jungle and wetlands habitat will be covered with concrete and tract developments in order to house tens of thousands of newcomers. There will be massive raw-sewage spills and a shortage of drinking water. The Navy's plans include the destruction of seventy-one acres of an exquisitely healthy coral reef, home to at least 110 unique coral species, in order to build a berth for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which transports eighty-five fighter jets and 5,600 people.
Meanwhile, the Army wants to turn a pristine limestone forest that stretches from the hills to the sea--site of a prehistoric village that is listed with the National Registry of Historic Places--into a shooting range. In addition, it wants to build ammunition storage bunkers in wetlands areas. The Air Force hopes to build a missile defense shield, as well as hangars, airstrips and helicopter pads, turning Guam into the planet's premier parking lot for billion-dollar fighter jets, helicopters and drones.
The DEIS provided no adequate alternative actions to any of these problems. Nor did it mention that dredging the reef will dislodge radioactive sediment that accumulated during the 1960s and '70s when ships traveling from atomic test sites in the Marshall Islands came to Guam to be washed down at Apra Harbor.
Carmen Artero Kasperbauer, a Chamorro elder whose family's land is now part of an air base, told the military daily Stars and Stripes, "We hate being possessions to the federal government. That's why people are angry." But Kasperbauer, like most Chamorros, doesn't direct her anger at the troops. "I'm not talking about the uniformed military. We love the uniformed military. Our son...helped liberate the Kuwaitis. But he can't help liberate me."
Increasingly, Guam residents are discussing the urgency of political self-determination. "We're being moved back and forth across a chessboard by two countries: one that once occupied us [Japan] and one that currently does," pointed out university instructor Desiree Ventura, author of the popular blog The Drowning Mermaid. Clearly, the need for sovereignty is more dire than ever, exposing the real question at hand: is President Obama ready to release Guam's people from their colonized status?
Read the whole thing.
Then call or write your members of Congress and tell them to stop the destruction of Guam.
If you're not familiar with Cory Booker, trust us: he's one of the nation's best mayors, despite leading one of the most desperately poor and violent cities in the country. Now he wants our help.
My name is Cory Booker. I'm the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and a few weeks ago my city reached an amazing milestone. This March was the first month in 44 years without a single murder.1 It's an accomplishment for which we are incredibly proud, and one of the ways we got there was by being smart about guns.
Right now, there is a gap in our nation’s laws. It's called the Gun Show Loophole, and it enables criminals, the mentally ill, and other legally prohibited persons to purchase firearms without a background check. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, 30% of illegally trafficked guns are connected to gun shows.
Even though many gun shows are organized in more rural states, the impact of illegal guns obtained through the Gun Show Loophole is overwhelmingly felt in America’s cities and minority communities. That’s why I’m partnering with ColorOfChange to ask for your help in closing the Gun Show Loophole.
Please join me in telling Congress to step up and close the Gun Show Loophole. It will protect all of our communities, and it takes just a moment:
This week also marks the 11th anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School, where twelve students and a teacher were murdered.
The killers got their guns because of the Gun Show Loophole, and politicians immediately swore they would take action to close it.
But eleven years later, nothing has changed. The loophole is still open and more than 12,000 Americans are victims of gun murder every year. Minority communities often feel the brunt of this violence -- African-American men, for example, are 9 times more likely than white men to be murdered with guns.
I'm a proud member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns -- a coalition of more than 500 mayors who believe in common-sense gun laws. We are doing what we can to reduce the number of illegal guns on the streets of our communities.
Just as it's a priority for us, closing the Gun Show Loophole should be a top priority for our representatives in Congress, and they need to hear your voice.
Please add your name to the petition and help protect innocent people from gun violence:
To win this fight, you and I need to speak out and make a call for action that is long overdue.
Thank you for getting involved in this crucial issue for our community,
Mayor of Newark
Member, Mayors Against Illegal Guns
April 21, 2010
P.S. -- It’s going to take all of us standing together to close the Gun Show Loophole. Please forward this email to your friends, family, and colleagues and ask them to stand with you today by signing the petition at CloseTheLoophole.org.
Once again, the combination of impotence, fecklessness and incompetence on the part of cowardly waste of oxygen Governor Steve Beshear played right into the hands of obstructionist wingnut freakazoid Senate President David Williams to leave Kentucky without a budget and facing the shutdown of state government on July 1.
Even before Beshear announced he would call a special session to finish the budget, the likely deal was shaping up: Williams will let Stevie have his pathetic little budget in return for a concession that will put the final nail in the coffin of public education in Kentucky: charter schools.
In 2005, the Economic Policy Institute summed up decades of research on charter schools and concluded: "Do charter schools cut it? No."
Charter schools, as supporters promised, can give parents and students more options. But more doesn't automatically mean better, at least on average. Moreover, the research shows that charters will not solve the toughest problems facing public education.
Many leading charter school advocates argued that public education was failing because of stifling bureaucracy and restrictive teachers' union contracts. If specially chartered schools were created without these bureaucratic and union burdens, they said, student performance would markedly improve. In their vision, regular public schools would even get better, spurred by competition, and low-income and minority students would be the biggest beneficiaries.
We've now had enough experience with charters and enough research has been done to know that the hopes many people had for them haven't panned out. Charter school students, on average, don't do better than similar students in regular public schools. This is true for all types of students, whether they are minority urban students from low-income families or white suburban students.
This conclusion holds for the most sophisticated studies as well as simpler ones, despite public quibbling over the merit of various studies. No research finds a sizable advantage, on average, to sending children to charter schools. No doubt some do better there, but others do worse. Nor is there evidence of any substantial boost in public schools by competing with charters.
Does this mean we should not have charter schools? No. Rather, we need better oversight to eliminate those that don't perform well. Supporters say charters are held accountable for "results, not [following] rules." In fact, charters that don't produce "results" rarely close: They're not held any more accountable than other public schools.
Charters can provide more options and can, free from some regulation but with appropriate oversight, explore alternative practices that might bring better results. But we should understand that, freed from regulation, some charters will adopt practices that yield worse results.
The point should not be to expand charters as quickly as possible and make them as unaccountable as possible. That will cause as much harm as good. If we're serious about improving schools, charters can only be one part of the solution - and a small one at that.
But that ignores the big danger of charter schools: draining the public education budget to pay for private, undemocratic, anti-American indoctrination. Freed from the necessarily inclusive and secular requirements of public schools, charter schools get to use tax dollars to teach young-earth creationism, religious mythology as fact, false history, anti-science and other abominations.
Even if charter schools produced better results than public schools - which they don't - they are a wingnut freakazoid indulgence Kentucky can't afford.
Monday, April 26, 2010
The first clue I had that my new home in the country was not going to be like my previous home in the city was the first time I walked into the tiny local post office. Before I could even introduce myself, much less show ID, the postmistress, with a big smile, handed me that day's mail, which she had just finished sorting.
When the rural carrier delivers a package too big to fit into the mailbox at the end of my very long driveway, he doesn't leave a little note telling me to pick it up at the post office myself. He brings it up to the house and leaves it on the porch.
Now the brilliantly simple yet indispensable service Benjamin Franklin invented is on the verge of obliteration - far beyond the coming end of Saturday service.
John Nichols in The Nation:
Americans do not often talk about the Postal Service as a crucial underpinning of the democratic infrastructure, but we should. At a time when 35 percent of all Americans and 50 percent of rural residents have no broadband Internet access at home, the Postal Service is universal. Its 596,000 career employees travel more than 4 million miles to deliver more than a half-billion pieces of mail each day. It goes to extraordinary ends to assure that no citizen or community is neglected; it contracts commercial planes to move parcels across the country in a matter of hours, yet it still sends bush planes into Idaho's River of No Return Wilderness Area and organizes mule trains to deliver mail, food and supplies to the Havasupai Indians on the floor of the Grand Canyon.
The Postal Service maintains a network of more than 35,000 retail outlets--the largest in the world, with more locations than McDonald's, Starbucks and Wal-Mart combined--which are visited by more than 7 million Americans each day. The postal workers they encounter in these offices and on their doorsteps are reflective of their communities, as the service has historically been and remains one of the surest sources of employment for African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos, women and the poor. In short, the USPS forms a vital network of service, connection and community that provides the steadiest link between Americans and their government. As Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) chair Ruth Goldway puts it, the service is "part of the fabric of the nation."
Unfortunately, the Postal Service is not profitable. That's a problem because, under the absurd constraints placed on it by successive legislative "reforms," the service must be "run like a business." And the businesspeople who run the USPS these days, though they may want to save the service, are so fixated on the bottom line that they cannot see the public good. So they have proposed a process of downsizing that could lead to the dismemberment of what should be understood as a core civic institution.
If the wrecking crews are not stopped, they will tear a hole in the fabric of the nation, further isolating Americans from one another, deepening the decay of urban neighborhoods and remote villages, hiking unemployment in our hardest-pressed communities and accelerating the decline of newspapers and magazines, drying up content for the Internet and curtailing civic and political discourse. "We need the Postal Service," says Illinois Congressman Danny Davis, a member of the House subcommittee that oversees the nation's post offices. Of course the Postal Service is going to change, Davis acknowledges. But Americans should start with the understanding that the Postal Service is "indispensable"--not with a debate about how much will be cut.
Indeed, the post office is precisely where the federal government should be making smart infrastructure and job-creation investments, as part of a new approach that seeks to maintain a public asset and maximize its potential.
Such an approach might even renew one of the greatest of all postal services. From 1910 to 1967, the agency maintained a postal banking system that allowed citizens to open small savings accounts at local post offices. The system was so successful that after World War II, it had a balance of $3 billion--roughly $30 billion in today's dollars. Congress did away with postal banking in the late 1960s, but other countries--notably Japan--have maintained such systems. Today, Japan Post is, according to the Wall Street Journal, "the world's largest financial institution by assets, with $3.3 trillion on its balance sheet."
In the midst of the 2008 financial panic, Michael Lind, policy director of the Economic Growth Program of the New America Foundation, proposed that "a new postal savings system should be part of America's post-meltdown financial architecture." "When Congress created the postal savings system nearly a century ago, one of its goals was to encourage savings among the large number of low-income immigrants," Lind wrote. "A new system would help today's immigrants as well as the native poor. Banks are not interested in people with so little money, many of whom are preyed upon by payday lenders and credit card companies." The National League of Postmasters has started talking up the idea, and even Postmaster General Potter has hinted at openness to what Lind describes as a "simple" notion: "use the one government institution that can be found in most neighborhoods and rural areas--the post office--to encourage small savings and a habit of thrift." From that simple idea could, he suggests, come financial security for millions of Americans, an alternative to growing indebtedness of the country to foreign governments and financial institutions, and a vehicle to fund investment in public assets like sewer systems and bridges.
That's quite a payback for believing in the promise of the Postal Service. But, just as it did in Ben Franklin's day, the post office can still deliver for America in the twenty-first century.
Read the whole thing.
Headline: Debt Commission Leaders: Everything - even new health-care bill - on Table for Cuts.
Everything on the table? Like the billions handed to defense contractors who electrocute troops in the showers and murder civilians in cold blood?
Like the tens of billions in agricultural subsidies handed to obscenely wealthy corporations like ArcherDanielsMidland for replacing diverse food crops with monocultures on the verge of collapse?
Like the hundreds of billions in subsidies handed to international oil cartels as a reward for killing ocean food stocks with oil spills?
No, of course not! What's on the table is Social Security. And Medicare. And Public Education. And Food Stamps. And Renewable Energy. And Unemployment Insurance. And public intrastructure projects that employ millions of people.
In other words, ignoring all the fat, waste and corporate welfare in order to cut the heart out of every job-creating and poverty-alleviating program we've got.
As Rep. John Conyers wrote at FireDogLake last week
(On Tuesday morning,) the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform will hold its first meeting and begin to consider ways to dig our nation out from the irresponsible deficits created by the Bush Administration. This presidentially-created 18-member commission is tasked with addressing “the growth of entitlement spending and the gap between the projected revenues and expenditures of the Federal Government.”
While I and many of my fellow Members of Congress support efforts to balance the budget, it is critically important that this commission examine every part of the federal budget during this process. For example, the Commission should most certainly consider the $985 billion dollars spent on foreign wars since 2001.
In order to ensure that the American people are informed about the Commission’s work, I am asking my House colleagues to join me in sending a letter to the Commission’s co-chairmen asking them to make every one of their meetings (including any working group meetings) public, to rigorously analyze the impact of every potential benefit cut or tax hike, and issue draft recommendations before Election Day, so that voters can ask candidates how they feel about the Commission’s recommendations.
Even Minority Leader John Boehner gets it – he wrote a similar letter to the Commission last month. Although we don’t see eye-to-eye on most issues, one thing the Minority Leader and I can agree on is that the more open and transparent the Commission’s process is, the better the outcome for the American people.
We all know how Americans react to backroom deals cut behind closed doors, and that is why it is critical that we maintain our promises to the people on transparency and openness.
We need transparency to make sure that the members of the Commission don’t buy into the right-wing myths being put forward by CNN, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and others that want to convince the American people that creating jobs and fighting poverty will damage the economy, that Social Security is going broke, and that achieving fiscal stability means cutting Medicare benefits for our seniors.
The large majorities of Americans who oppose cuts to Social Security and Medicare haven’t bought into any of those distortions and neither should the members of the Commission. By opening up these meetings and shining sunlight into their deliberations, we can ensure that they won’t.
This has to be a joke, right? We've known since FDR made that mistake in 1937 that cutting spending in a recession is a recipe for catastrophe. So what the fuck is going on here? Digby explains:
It's important that we not let up on this. The deficit is going to be the shadow issue of the election and the president's deficit commission will submit its first report shortly after the votes are in. The commission is stacked with "entitlement" cutters, (only a few of them tax raisers well).
It's entirely possible that Obama is planning to go into 2012 with a "Barack Goes To China" campaign to cut the safety net and prove once and for all that Democrats are "responsible" with the taxpayers money. You'll recall that when Clinton did exactly that in order to change the way people think of the Democratic party, the Republicans impeached him, stole the election and then immediately gave the surplus to their rich friends. It didn't change a thing --- the teabaggers are screeching like harpies about socialism and communism as if that never happened. (Fool me twice ...)
It's important that the base makes it known in no uncertain terms that they will not be railroaded on this so that the Democrats can turn themselves into the party of Susan Collins and lose elections anyway. There's a fight that needs to be had, head on, over what kind of government we want. It's long past time the Democrats engaged it head on.
Read details about the kill-the-economy Deficit Scolds here.
Then call or email your members of Congress to let them know what you think about throwing a spending-cut anvil to a drowning economy.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
You don't need a billion-dollar urban renewal grant to restore a sense of community to your neighborhood; all you need is one person who remembers the exquisite taste of fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes.
And if they can do it in Louisville, you can do it anywhere.
Mary Ruth French saw a part of her childhood in the vacant lots that she and her husband own across the street from their strip mall in the Shawnee neighborhood.
One of the lots originally contained a home that had burned down; the other held two dilapidated homes, several trees and overgrown weeds.
But as French's husband, Anthony, tells it, an idea to put in a community garden struck her during one of the most barren times of the year — taking her back to her childhood growing up in Mays Lick, Ky.
“The garden was an idea she had in the snowstorm of 2008,” he said. “And it was a good one.”
Since then, the land has been cleared and turned into the Shawnee Garden of Principles, which is on Market Street near Amy Avenue. It now includes 15 plots.
A handful of people came out Saturday to weed and clean the garden space as part of Global Youth Service Day, an annual international event in which young people work to improve their communities.
“If you get the community involved with it, it's kind of neat,” said Marytha Johnson, a senior at Central High School who volunteered as a member of the Beta Club. “And if not, it's still a pretty plot to look at.”
Members of the Shawnee Neighborhood Association can adopt a plot, grow flowers and produce, and mingle with their neighbors at the garden, Mary Ruth French said.
Read the whole thing.
This article tells you everything you need to know about setting up a community garden in your neighborhood.
One depressing sign of how thoroughly corporatism has distorted our political discourse is that during a Wall-Street-caused economic crisis, the President of the United States addressed the corporate criminals and instead of having them all arrested, he asked for their help.
Even worse, the MSM praised this begging-on-bended-knee as "standing up" to the financial fuckers.
John Nichols at The Nation has a welcome corrective:
The problem with the conciliatory rhetoric the president was spouting Thursday is that it denies the reality that Wall Street celebrates when Main Street stumbles. If there has been one economic constant across the past two decades (since the victory of the free-trade absolutists who backed the North American Free Trade Agreement and the extension of permanent most-favored-nation trading status to China) is has been this: The stock price for a corporation does not rise when the CEO announced that he is hiring; it rises when he announced that the company is shutting U.S. factories and laying off U.S. workers.
Wall Street bets against Main Street.
Wall Street champions corporations that open factories in foreign lands, not along the Main Streets of American cities.
Wall Street rewards banks that refuse credit to Main Street businesses, homeowners and small farmers.
This is not some theory. It is the fundamental economic reality of our times.
Indeed, as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders explains: "We have got to make it crystal clear to Wall Street that the era of wild speculation and greed is over. We need a Wall Street which invests in the job creating productive economy, and not one that continues the unregulated gambling activities which have been so devastating to the middle class of our country."
To suggest that the interests of Wall Street and Main Street are complimentary is absurd.
Candidate Barack Obama was right. If Main Street is going to thrive, Wall Street is going to have to change -- fundamentally and permanently.
It's like Bernie Sanders says: "With rampant unemployment and when small- and medium-size businesses are unable to obtain affordable credit, it is insane that our largest financial institutions continue to trade trillions in esoteric financial instruments which makes Wall Street the largest gambling casino in the world."
The message Obama should have taken to Wall Street is the one that elected candidate Obama.
It is the message that Senator Sanders continues to deliver when he says, as Obama should have on Thursday, that: "Disgust at Wall Street is profound. The American people want us to change in a very profound way how Wall Street functions, and Congress must deliver."
Of the rich and powerful on Wall Street, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said "I welcome their hatred."
President Barack Obama welcomes their support.
As SteveM keeps warning, those hoping the supposed anti-tax corporatism of the teabaggers and the Dominionism of the freakazoids will force a permanent split in the Republican Party are delusional.
The latest proof is the Dominionist speech the Teabagger Princess gave to a bunch of freakazoid ladies in Louisville last Sunday, in which the Snowbilly invoked "Prayer Warriors."
David Niewart at Crooks and Liars explains:
Who are the "Prayer Warriors." Funny you should ask that: Bill Berkowitz explored that question for AlterNet:Imagine a religious movement that makes geographic maps of where demons reside and claims among its adherents the Republican Party's most recent vice presidential nominee and whose leaders have presided over prayer sessions (one aimed at putting the kibosh on health-care reform) with a host of leading GOP figures.
It's a movement whose followers played a significant role in the battle over Proposition 8, California's anti-same-sex marriage initiative, and Uganda's infamous proposed Anti-Homosexuality Law, more commonly associated with the Family, a religious network of elites drawn from the ranks of business and government throughout the world. But the movement we're imagining encompasses the humble and the elite alike, supporting a network of "prayer warriors” in all 50 states, within the ranks of the U.S. military, and at the far reaches of the globe -- all guided by an entire genre of books, texts, videos and other media.
Imagine that, and you've just dreamed up the New Apostolic Reformation, the largest religious movement you've never heard of.
NAR's videos, according to researcher Rachel Tabachnick, "demonstrate the taking control of communities and nations through large networks of 'prayer warriors' whose spiritual warfare is used to expel and destroy the demons that cause societal ills. Once the territorial demons, witches, and generational curses are removed, the 'born-again' Christians in the videos take control of society."
The movement's notion of "spiritual warfare" has spread from the California suburbs to an East-Coast inner city, and has impacted policy decisions in the developing world. Movement operatives are well-connected enough to have testified before Congress and to have received millions of dollars in government abstinence-only sex-education grants, and bizarre enough to maintain that in its prototype communities, the movement has healed AIDS, purified polluted streams and even grown huge vegetables. Leaders in the NAR movement refer to themselves as "apostles."
Berkowitz also reported on Palin's ties to them:Presidential campaign watchers got their first taste of the New Apostolic Reformation when it was revealed that Sarah Palin, while mayor of Wasilla, had been prayed over in a laying-on-of-hands by Rev. Thomas Muthee of Kenya, director of the NAR East Africa Spiritual Warfare Network, in a ceremony designed to protect Palin from witches and demons. Muthee, it turns out, is famous in his native land for driving out of town a woman he deemed a witch, a charge that had her neighbors calling for her stoning.
Palin, according to Alaskan Apostle Mary Glazier, became part of her prayer network at the age of 24.
Authoritarians to the core, the teabaggers will follow the orders of their masters in the republican party, as they and their predecessors have always done.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Unfortunately, not all of the 15 stalled nominees President Obama appointed during the Senate's easter recess were worthy of their new jobs. Fortunately, the appointment lasts only until the end of the year, unless the Senate approves it.
Tell the Senate to reject the Pesticide Pusher.
While many applauded President Obama's long-awaited recess appointments on March 27, agricultural activists slammed his decision to appoint "pesticide pusher" Islam Siddiqui as the chief agricultural negotiator in the office of the US trade representative. Siddiqui is currently vice president for science and regulatory affairs for CropLife America, a global agribusiness lobbying group representing Monsanto, DuPont, Dow and other pesticide corporations.
In March 2009 these companies urged first lady Michelle Obama to reconsider her decision banning the use of pesticides in her organic White House garden. In August 2005 they petitioned the EPA to use children in pesticide experiments--a move that prompted environmental groups to sue the EPA for failing to protect children. As an official at the USDA, Siddiqui oversaw the first proposed federal standards for organics. But when those rules allowed genetically modified organisms, irradiation and toxic sludge, the USDA received 300,000 public comments in protest, and only then tightened the standards.
Last year Siddiqui's appointment stalled when 90,000 people and more than eighty consumer advocacy groups objected to his appointment. This year at least 110 organizations, spearheaded by the Pesticide Action Network and the National Family Farm Coalition, have once again urged the Senate to reject his appointment, in the interest of "family farmers, farmworkers, consumers and the planet."
Personally, if DuPont, Monsanto, Dow and their murdering brethren endorsed fresh air, I'd start living in the basement.
On Sunday, people from all over the country will rally on the Mall in Washington for substantial carbon reductions to prevent catastrophic climate change.
But the cap-and-trade bills being considered in Congress are not just far too weak to accomplish what's needed, the primary Senate bill will actually make the situation worse.
Your first clue that the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman Senate bill is a make-it-worse mess - besides the names of two of the Senate's biggest douchebag liars in Graham and Lieberman - is that the corporate criminals most responsible for climate changes are racing to endorse the bill.
Kevin Drum applauds the development that should instead trigger widespread opposition:
The KGL team — that's senators Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman for those of you not up to speed with current Beltway lingo — anounced yesterday that they've gotten key business support for their climate bill:The Edison Electric Institute — whose members generate the bulk of the nation's electricity — and two of its influential CEOs, Exelon's John Rowe and Duke Energy's Jim Rogers, will declare their support Monday, sources said. While Kerry did not name the three oil companies, a source familiar with the negotiations said Shell, BP and ConocoPhillips would back the climate measure.
And why did these folks decide to support the bill? Here's the big payoff:The bill will preempt both the states' and EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, as long as emitters comply with the standards outlined in the measure. The EPA will monitor and enforce compliance with the law.
That's pretty much been the plan all along: use the threat of EPA action to gain support from Republicans and the business community.
AH-OOOOOOOGA! AH-OOOOOOGA! AH-OOOOOOGA!
There it is. If a massive forest fire is bearing down on your community, the last thing you want to do is take away the fire department's ability to fight fires.
Eliminating the EPA's power to regulate greenhouse gases now, when the time we have left to stave off catastrophe can be measured in months, not decades, is suicidal, as The Nation explains:
Congress urgently needs to pass a comprehensive climate bill, but the current Senate proposal, spearheaded by senators Kerry, Lieberman and Graham, threatens to do more harm than good. It is not only inadequate to the task of curbing climate change; it could curtail the power of the EPA and state governments to regulate greenhouse gases--the best avenues for action in the face of Congress's failures.
The outlook in the Senate is, if anything, worse. At this writing, its final details have not been released, but from early reports it appears that the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham bill would keep and extend the worst aspects of Waxman-Markey: inadequate emissions-reduction targets (only 3 percent below 1990 levels by 2020), too many free permits and too many allowances for carbon offsets, which are of dubious value in fighting climate change (see Heather Rogers, "Offset Buyers Beware," in this issue).
Kerry-Lieberman-Graham would by-pass an economywide cap-and-trade system, opting instead for a bundle of separate energy bills that would slowly phase in emissions reductions sector by sector. Some of these pieces of legislation may pass; others may fail; all are ripe for gaming by corporate lobbies. Kerry-Lieberman-Graham would also skew subsidies in the wrong direction, throwing billions at "clean coal" technologies, nuclear power plants and offshore drilling, a questionable gambit favored by the Obama administration to garner support from Republicans and representatives from oil-, gas- and coal-producing states.
Perhaps most troubling, Kerry-Lieberman-Graham would not only gut the EPA of its regulatory power but could also pre-empt regulations on greenhouse gases from states and municipalities. This would undo the considerable progress made by states like California--which have pioneered emissions reductions for automobiles, and regional cap-and-trade systems--and thwart the efforts of cities and towns to require developers and businesses to adopt clean energy technologies.
In the face of such maneuvers, some green groups, like Bill McKibben's 350.org, are pushing instead for the CLEAR Act, written by senators Maria Cantwell and Susan Collins. The CLEAR Act's cap-and-dividend system, which works by capping CO2-producing fossil fuels at the source or point of import, is an elegant idea; but its mandatory emissions targets are weaker than what's needed. It covers only CO2 (not all greenhouse gases), and one of its prime virtues--that it's just forty pages long!--means that it leaves a lot of vital details out of the picture. Still, it doesn't pre-empt the EPA or state regulations, and its leanness means that it's not laden with pork and industrial giveaways.
Read the whole thing.
Then call or email your members of Congress to demand they support real climate change, starting with the CLEAR Act.
Yes, children, there are actual liberals running for ol' Non Compos Mentis Bunning's Senate seat in Kentucky. Of the five declared candidates for the Democratic nomination on May 18th, Dan Mongiardo is a repug-cock-sucking Blue Dog, Jack Conway is a coward afraid of Big Coal and freakazoids, and James Buckminster is an actual anti-abortion freakazoid.
But Darlene Price and Maurice Sweeney are proud liberals who deserve your consideration.
The Herald, which gave each front-runner a profile of his own, offers a three-candidate mash-up of the options:
They might barely register in the polls. They don't get big campaign donations — except from themselves — and their TV time is mainly courtesy of YouTube.
They don't care.
The three lesser-known Democratic candidates — James Buckmaster, Darlene Price and Maurice Sweeney — in the U.S. Senate primary all show boundless optimism.
It's not a question of whether they get through the May 18 primary. It's a question of how they run their campaign leading up to November after they score a surprise knockout of Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo and Attorney General Jack Conway, who have statewide name recognition and huge war chests.
"Once we get past May, we will at that point have the attention of the nation," says Sweeney. "... When I go across the state, there's a lot of indecision about whom people are going to support."
If Sweeney, Price or Buckmaster are to catch fire at the polls, they'll need to do it soon.
Read the whole thing.
Via TPM, here's a way to find out just how the repugs' ChickenCare health plan really works.
From check-ups to chemo, this site tells you just how many chickens it will cost.
As a bonus, it offers poultry-care advice to physicians overwhelmed by patient "payments."
Scroll down for egg-based medical savings accounts and cow-based catastrophic illness insurance.
Friday, April 23, 2010
The textbook wars aren't over; there is still hope for stopping the wingnut freakazoid anti-history Texas is determined to foist on the country.
You can support two members of the reality-based world running for the Texas school board, as explained in the following letters to The Nation magazine:
Complaining about the backwardness of the state that gave America Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins and LBJ is tempting, but it's more useful to participate in the electoral process. In 2008 most of the board's worst incumbents had no opponents. The extremists control the board because they always run, always get out the vote and always fund their candidates.
Fixing the Texas Board of Education just requires some effort and money. If Rebecca Bell-Metereau (voterebecca.com) and Judy Jennings (votejudyjennings.com) win election, the anti-education faction will be in a minority on the board. The districts are huge and gerrymandered, but they are winnable.
San Marcos, Tex.
I am running for the Texas State Board of Education, in District 5. All of us must view our public education system as a treasure we must guard and nurture carefully, whether or not we have children in public school. My husband and I sent our two daughters to public school, and we volunteered our time to help improve the quality of education for our daughters and for other people's children as well.
I teach at a public university, and I have witnessed the recent deterioration of my students' preparedness for higher education. They have suffered under a relentless regime of preparing for tests, meanwhile failing to develop critical or creative thinking skills. The Texas Board of Education can turn this trend around if we elect reasonable people in Districts 3, 5 and 10. Texas textbooks' influence is huge. The curriculum and books in Texas must provide the best education we can offer in the twenty-first century.
When your children and grandchildren are studying American history that profiles Harriet Tubman instead of Phyllis Schafly and identifies Joseph McCarthy as the un-American bigot he was, you can congratulate yourself that you made it possible because you supported candidates like Judy Jennings and Rebecca Bell-Metereau.
The brutal assault on women’s rights continues in states where you’d expect there to be a brutal assault on women’s rights. This week’s yahoos are the members of the Oklahoma legislature who voted by a veto-proof majority to require pregnant women who want an abortion to get a vaginal-probe ultrasound in order to show them the fetus. There is no exception for victims of rape or incest.
In other words, if you are a woman who wants a perfectly legal medical procedure in Oklahoma, you must submit to the forced insertion of an implement into you, even though that act carries medical risks (you know, perforation, infection, that kind of stuff) and serves no actual medical purpose. It's just to be total dicks about abortion.
In otherer words, the Oklahoma legislature wants to sodomize pregnant women.
At this point, anti-choicers have actually become cartoon villains, twirling their mustaches and licking their lips at the possibility of degrading women more. Don't believe it? Then howzabout some House Bill 2656, which says that if some bag of fuck prevents a woman carrying a fetus with severe disabilities from having an abortion, that woman cannot sue said bag of fuck. The legislature declared this an "emergency" situation. Or howzabout the bill that says clinics must post a sign that says no forced abortions? That doesn't seem unreasonable, if the legislature hadn't just passed that other bill that, you know, forces a medical procedure on women.
We get it. Oklahoma conservatives hate them some abortion. So much so that it wants to publicly shame women by forcing them to provide "their marital status, education level, method of abortion, reason for abortion, means of payment and previous experiences with abortion or miscarriage" to an online database anyone can access. But don't worry. You don't need to give your name.
Call Senator David "Vaginas Scare Me!" Boswell, (Woman-Hater, Owensboro) at 1-800-372-7181 or email him at email@example.com and let him know he's a disgrace to the Democratic Party, a disgrace to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, a disgrace to the male sex and a disgrace to the entire human race.
How are the geniuses in Frankfort supposed to know where they need to expand broadband internet in Kentucky if you don't tell them?
They are actually asking, so take 30 seconds and send in this survey.
In February, 2010 Gov. Steve Beshear announced that Kentucky had been awarded a $2.1 million grant funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to map broadband availability to help plan for the expansion of Internet services in areas of the state that are currently unserved or underserved.
To meet the timelines and requirements of the grant program, the Finance and Administration Cabinet’s Commonwealth Office of Technology (COT), in association with Michael Baker Corporation, a nationally recognized engineering firm specializing in geographic information systems (GIS) mapping, has commissioned an online survey to collect data on home broadband accessibility.
“Creating the most accurate map of broadband availability is a vital step in bringing high-speed Internet access to all regions, citizens and businesses of the Commonwealth,” said Jonathan Miller, Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary. “Broadband services are a critical tool in expanding economic development, public safety resources, our living standards and educational and healthcare opportunities.”
Homeowners and businesses are encouraged to take the survey which typically requires five minutes to complete. The data collected from the survey will enable the state to assess the impact of existing and future broadband investments and to ensure that households, businesses and organizations have the services and support that they need to be competitive and keep pace with technology.
The survey is strictly voluntary. The data collected will be used to supplement and validate broadband data collected from service providers, internet surveys and field surveys to determine locations across the state where broadband is unavailable or available only at low speeds.
Households may access the Broadband Availability Survey online at www.ky-bb.com/public. The link for businesses to participate in the survey is www.ky-bb.com/biz.
Individuals who do not have broadband in their homes may complete the survey online at a remote location to indicate where they live and report why they do not have broadband access where they live.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
It appears the Kentucky Supreme Court is far more liberal than the big Supremes in D.C.: Kentucky's court just denied state funding to a school that uses religion as an excuse to discriminate.
The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a Baptist university can't keep $11 million awarded by state lawmakers some four years ago to open a pharmacy school.
Justice Lisabeth Abramson, writing for the majority, said the appropriations violated two sections of the state constitution.
"If Kentucky needs to expand the opportunities for pharmacy school education within the commonwealth, the Kentucky General Assembly may most certainly address that pressing public need, but not by appropriating public funds to an educational institution that is religiously affiliated," Abramson wrote.
Abramson also said the scholarship program "is precisely the type of special privilege and favoritism" that the constitution condemns.
The gay-rights group Kentucky Fairness Alliance filed the lawsuit in 2006 after the University of the Cumberlands expelled a gay student for posting comments about his sexual orientation and dating life on the Internet. Attorneys for the organization tried using the expulsion to bolster their arguments in the lawsuit that the school shouldn't receive funding from Kentucky taxpayers.
Read the whole thing, but don't celebrate too much.
Media Czech brings us a timely a reminder that the Xian Taliban is alive and well in Kentucky and attacking liberal lawmakers.
If you've never seen Eastern Kentucky in the spring, you're missing one of Kentucky's great natural treasures. And this weekend is the perfect time to experience it, whether it's your first time or your 101st time, because it's Wildflower Weekend at Natural Bridge State Resort Park.
The Kentucky Native Plant Society’s Wildflower Weekend, April 23-25, 2010, is a chance for botanists, gardeners and nature lovers to enjoy the hundreds of species of native plants at Natural Bridge State Resort Park.
Field trips and walks will be offered Friday at 8:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.; on Saturday at 8:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2 p.m.; and at 9 a.m. on Sunday. All field trips leave from the lobby of Hemlock Lodge.
Special guest speakers will offer their expertise on wildflowers and related topics on Friday and Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. in the Activities Center. The featured Friday night speaker is Dr. Ross Clark, retired professor of biological sciences at Eastern Kentucky University. Dr. Clark’s presentation is titled “Kentucky’s Woody Plants.” Jerry and Carol Baskin, professors of biology at the University of Kentucky, will be the featured speakers Saturday night. Their presentation is titled “Cedar glades and xeric limestone prairies of the eastern United States.”
Onsite registration fee is $10 per adult, $3 (ages 13-17) and free for ages 12 and under. Registration is open 30 minutes before all fieldtrips and presentations. A detailed agenda will be available upon registration. For more information about Wildflower Weekend, contact Brian Gasdorf at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-325-1710. For more information about the Kentucky Native Plant Society visit www.knps.org.
Natural Bridge State Resort Park is home to one of the larger natural arches in the state and is surrounded by the Daniel Boone National Forest. Natural Bridge offers lodging, a restaurant, cottages and campground accommodations. Hiking trails and other recreational opportunities are available. For more information call 1-800-325-1710 or visit www.parks.ky.gov/findparks/resortparks/nb.
Natural Bridge State Resort Park is 52 miles southeast of Lexington and two miles off the Mountain Parkway at Slade, exit 33.
Yeah, yeah, the weather idiots are predicting rain all weekend. A: You believe them? B: A little rain won't kill you.
For the fifth time, the Jefferson County attorney's office will publish a list of people delinquent in child-support payments in Sunday's Courier-Journal.
In addition to the $25,000 advertisement including 560 parents who have not made a payment in at least six months, the office will run another 693 names online – for a total of 1,253 people – owing more than $45 million.
The names online include people who individually owe more than $45,000.
County Attorney Mike O'Connell said on Wednesday that more than $4.4 million has been collected through the effort in the previous four years, from men and women.
“The phones in our office start ringing the following Monday,” he said of the ad. “It’s been successful for a lot of custodial parents.”
Child support deadbeats aggravate child poverty and all of its related consequences. Child support deadbeats make every non-custodial parent an object of derision and scorn. Child support deadbeats cost taxpayers millions in enforcement and welfare to custodial families.
Yes, some deadbeats miss payments because they're unemployed. All the more reason to publicize their situation and magnify the call for unemployment benefits and massive federal jobs programs.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Friend of mine went out to the yard a few weeks ago to enjoy some early spring warmth and sunshine. Unfortunately, the lawn company had just sprayed the place with the poisons used to create an unnatural perfection. My friend ended up seriously ill for almost a month. It's unprovable, but there's no doubt it was a reaction to the chemicals poured on the yard.
Honor Earth Day tomorrow by firing your lawn company (yes, even the ones that claim to be "green." If they're spraying anything other than compost tea on your lawn, it's poison. All chemical fertilizers, weed-killer and pest-killers are also made from petroleum sold by mooslin terists.)
Organic lawn care is easier, healthier and far, far, FAR cheaper.
Or make it really easy, healthy and cheap by turning that unproductive grass into delicious, fresh organic vegetables or gorgeous flowers.
If you plant heirloom flowers and vegetables, you need to buy seed only once - save the seeds and plant them again next year. The best source is Seed Savers Exchange.
You don't even need an actual yard. Try container gardening on your porch, balcony or roof.
As I wrote two years ago:
This year, try thinking beyond the usual annual borders and weeded-and-feeded grass carpets.
How about maintenance-free groundcovers that never need to be mowed? Some have tiny flowers or a pleasant scent.
Instead of annuals you have to drive to the garden center to buy and replant every years, flowering perennials are more expensive up front, but once established keep blooming for years. Check the UK Horticulture Department, or your local Cooperative Extension Office, for ideas.
Or try native wildflowers and wildlife habitat gardens through the Salato Wildlife Center's Native Plant Program, or global-warming-fighting native shrubs and trees. Outside Kentucky, your local Cooperative Extension Office can help.
For great alternatives to lawns, plant lists, step-by-step instructions and fabulous photos, try the most popular gardening magazine in the country.
The key, and the first step, is to stop thinking of your yard as something that has to be maintained, and start thinking of it as a place to be enjoyed.
Not to mention saving the planet.
Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....
A Kentucky Army National Guard Soldier has died while serving in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Sgt. Randolph A. Sigley, Jr, 28, of Richmond, was found dead in his quarters Sunday at Bagram Airbase where he was serving with the Kentucky Army National Guard's 2123rd Transportation Company. The cause of death has not been determined and is under investigation.
"The death of Sgt. Sigley is a tremendous loss to us all," said Capt. John Moore, commanding officer of Sigley's unit. "His professionalism, selfless service, and devotion was contagious to all who served with him. Randy was not only a great soldier but a fantastic human being who cared deeply for his fellow brothers and sisters in arms. He was a true patriot who loved his country, state, and unit."
"Sgt. Sigley's family is in our thoughts and prayers as we grieve his loss," said Moore. "He was a fine Soldier and a Kentuckian in the true pioneer spirit."
A member of the Kentucky Army National Guard since 2006, Sigley served from 2000-2004 with the United States Marine Corps. He served a tour of duty in Afghanistan with the Marines.
"The entire Kentucky National Guard is saddened by the news of Sgt. Sigley's death," said Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, adjutant general for Kentucky. "We want recognize in particular Randy's family as they grieve for the loss of this wonderful son and brother. They are part of our Kentucky National Guard family and so we extend to them all of the assistance and support in our power."
Sigley is survived by his mother, Mrs. Rhonda L. Hardin, his stepfather, Alton A. Hardin and his sister, Kristin Mattingly.
More than 12,000 Kentucky Guard Soldiers and Airmen have deployed since September 11, 2001. Sigley is the eighteenth Kentucky National Guard Soldier to die while deployed in support of the Global War on Terror. He is the fourth to die in Afghanistan.
From TPM: Suddenly, repugs jump on financial reform bandwagon.
From Zandar: And Blue Dog Senator Tom Carper defects.
Doesn't anyone remember how Tom DeLay and Trent Lott used to play this game? They deliberately wrote bills to be so insanely wingnut freakazoid that no dem - not even the repug-est Blue Dog - could vote for them. Even moderate repugs - and there were a few back then - couldn't vote for them. The bills would pass by a single vote, accomplishing two things: Passage of extremely partisan bills that reached wingnut goals previously considered impossible, and cutting Democrats completely out of the legislative process.
It Worked. It worked like a charm for a decade. And it got us to this Reality-Denying Backwards World of Wingnut Freakazoid, UnConstitutional, Anti-Democratic Clusterfuck Destruction.
If the repugs really have decided they need to vote for Wall Street reform to save their electoral asses, I say Don't Let Them. Re-write the bill to make dealing in derivatives - an activity that adds literally nothing to economic or human well-being - a capital crime, punishable by death. Restore Glass-Steagall with regulatory control squared. Or cubed. Add a new income tax category for hedge-fund managers of 99.5 percent. Take away the voting rights of any financial planner/advisor who has ever knowingly steered a client to an investment that lost money.
Whatever it takes to ensure no repug votes for the bill.
Then round up every dem who has a problem with this, lock them in a teeny-tiny room with no water, no food, no toilet and no air, and don't let them out until they swear on their campaign accounts to vote for the bill.
That's how you win. And win not just the vote, not just the next 50 votes, not just the propaganda war, not just the next 10 elections, but the Battle for the Soul and the Future of the Nation and the Planet.
Stop diddle-fucking around.
Cross-posted at They Gave Us A Republic ....
One sings at unexpected times. One promises to be out of the U.S. Senate before his 103rd birthday. And another says he's been waterboarded.
This off-beat trio of Republican U.S. Senate candidates, who haven't had luck raising millions of dollars for their campaigns, struggled until a forum earlier this month in Knox County to even get on the same stage with the front-runners.
Gurley L. Martin, an 86-year-old World War II veteran, made such a fuss at being excluded from participating in a February candidates' forum in Paducah that he was escorted out by a sheriff's deputy.
John Stephenson still complains about the Louisville Tea Party and Bluegrass Institute forum on March 13. After Rand Paul, the Bowling Green eye surgeon, spent nearly an hour fielding questions from a panel, Stephenson was given three minutes to speak before organizers cut him off and took the microphone.
"All fixed — the whole thing was," Stephenson said during the April 5 GOP forum in Barbourville.
The other candidate, Jon J. Scribner, also has been left off several debate invitation lists.
Read the whole thing.
And if you can't get enough of Gurley Martin, Media Czech has him on video. Priceless.