Sunday, March 31, 2013

Defeating Useless Rich People

The truth is that very very few rich people actually earned  - and by that I mean working at a job that leaves you physically exhausted at the end of the day, the kind of job the 99 percent do - the money they have.  If they didn't inherit it, they got it as "rentiers" which is just a fancy word for sitting back and eating bon-bons while the interest and dividends from your investments roll in.
And by "investments" I mean exploiting working people, eliminating their jobs, stealing their homes.

From Firedoglake:
How does society rid itself of “useless rich people”, the Rentiers?  Raising “capital gains taxes on rentiers”  and extending “public ownership to today’s out-of-control, predatory rentiers in higher education, health care, and–most of all–finance.”
 People who don't work and are poor are a problem society needs to solve.  But people who don't work but are rich are an abomination society must eliminate.

Sex, Money and Moralists

From Divine Irony:

"Conservative moralists don’t want women to have control over their bodies or same-sex couples to marry, but they don’t give a hoot about billionaires taking over our democracy for personal gain or big bankers taking over our economy. Yet these violations of public morality are far more dangerous to our society because they undermine the public trust that’s essential to both our democracy and economy."

 - Robert Reich (via azspot) (via azspot)

The Actual War on Atheists

PZ Myers:

Atheist Shoes, a German company that makes atheist-branded shoes, did a simple experiment. They shipped duplicate packages to American destinations, with one difference: one package would be plain, the other had tape with the word “atheist” put on it.

Atheist-labeled packages were ten times more likely to be lost in transit.

Their interpretation: workers at the post office are taking offense at overt godlessness, and most unprofessionally, are ‘accidentally’ losing packages with labels they don’t like. They’re going to be more discreet in their packaging from now on.

Alternative explanation for godbots: the USPS is more dependent on divine assistance to get their job done than they want to let on.

McConnell's Sequester Diminishes Derby

That would be the same made-up, completely unnecessary sequester created to address a fake crisis about a deficit non-problem, the same sequester that could and should be cancelled with a simple congressional vote, but won't be because Mitch McConnell wants these unnecessary budget cuts to become permanent.

From the AP:

The Kentucky Derby Festival says military aircraft won't be a part of this year's air show at Thunder Over Louisville due to federal budget cuts.

Organizers of the event told The Courier-Journal ( on Friday that fighter jets, bombers and attack helicopters that have thrilled crowds in the past have been grounded from air shows due to spending cuts.

The show, however, will go on.

Read more here:


From Divine Irony:

Click for larger.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

WalMart: Not Just Greedy and Evil, Now Stupid and Self-Destructive

It appears there is a point at which even the most anti-worker corporate motherfuckers realize they need real employees, and WalMart has reached it.

From Bloomberg:

Wal-Mart is entangled in what Ton calls the “vicious cycle” of under-staffing. Too few workers leads to operational problems. Those problems lead to poor store sales, which lead to lower labor budgets.
“It requires a wake-up call at a higher level,” she said of the decision to hire more workers.

Falletta, the meat and dairy stocker in Erie, said his weekly hours are unpredictable. He would like to work a full 40 hours and sometimes gets only 25. Falletta and others interviewed for this story said management bonuses are based partly on minimizing store payroll.

According to Rochelle Jackson, who works at the jewelry counter at a store in Springfield, Missouri, a supervisor recently explained the number of hours available to schedule employees corresponds to sales performance: The worse the sales number, the fewer hours available.

“We’re not getting as many sales because there’s simply no one to help the customers throughout the stores,” said Jackson, 24, who has worked at two Wal-Mart stores since 2009. “I asked, ‘Why can’t we have enough hours to make the store work?’ They said, ‘It’s orders from Home Office,’” she said.

They're leaving for (evil) Target and (not evil) Costco, which are not stupid.

It's not just WalMart. Every extra minute you have to wait to be served or helped is caused by a greedy manager or owner refusing to hire enough staff to make the place work. In restaurants it's usually an attempt to avoid providing Obamacare, but elsewhere bosses consider workers to be expensive luxuries and customers sheep who will accept any level of inconvenience.

Show some wolf: next time you're inconvenienced by lack of staff, let the manager know you know what's going on and that you're taking your business someplace that shows it values customers enough to hire as many employees as it really needs.

"Cold Dead Hands"

scarce at Crooks and Liars:

Almost as soon as it went up yesterday the knives --or guns-- were out for Jim Carrey with this one.
va NBC
In a biting "Hee-Haw" themed Funny or Die spoof, the outspoken comedian takes aim at America's "heartless" gun enthusiasts -- including Charlton Heston, the late actor and former NRA president.
Carrey performed double duty in the video, as both Heston and the twangy lead singer of the band performing the catchy "Cold Dead Hand." (The title is an allusion to Heston's rifle-toting 2000 NRA address, in which he referenced the famous slogan "I'll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands."
"Charlton Heston movies are no longer in demand, and his immortal soul may lay forever in the sand. The angels wouldn't take him up to heaven like he planned, because they couldn't pry the gun from his cold dead hand," Carrey sings, with help from famous peace advocates Mahatma Gandhi, John Lennon and Abraham Lincoln -- all peace promoters assassinated by gunmen.
The lyrics also hit male gun owners below the belt, suggesting that they are overcompensating for an anatomical deficiency:
"You're a big, big man with a little bitty gland, so you need something bigger with a hairpin trigger."
Carrey seems unrepentant.
'Cold Dead Hand' is abt u heartless motherf%ckers unwilling 2 bend 4 the safety of our kids.Sorry if you're offended…
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) March 24, 2013

What Did You Do With Your $59?

The ways that the parasitic rich cheat, steal and generally make economic survival impossible for the 99 percent are infinite.

Under the Mountain Bunker:

Average income rose just $59 from 1966 to 2011 for the bottom 90 percent once those incomes were adjusted for inflation… the top 10 percent fared much better, according to a new study of tax data from David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winner: In 2011 the average AGI of the vast majority fell to $30,437 per taxpayer, its lowest level since 1966 when measured in 2011 dollars. The vast majority averaged a mere $59 more in 2011 than in 1966. For the top 10 percent, by the same measures, average income rose by $116,071 to $254,864, an increase of 84 percent over 1966.

[...] The biggest driver in that disparity, Cay Johnston wrote, was not that the rich were working harder, “but the shift of income from labor to capital and changes in federal income, gift, and estate tax rules.” Indeed, the estate tax has been eased over recent decades and federal income taxes have become more favorable to the wealthy thanks to breaks for investment income. A recent study, in fact, found that the capital gains tax cut, which benefits the wealthy but does virtually nothing for everyone else, was “by far” the biggest driver in the growth of American income inequality.

Other important facts: 
(via ThinkProgress)
David Atkins:
Conservative shills like to point out that the wealthy are paying a bigger share of the overall tax burden than ever. That is true. But the difference between their previous share of the burden, and their overall share of the wealth isn't even close to comparable. They're paying a slightly greater share of the burden--but that's to be expected when their share of the wealth has increased two-thousandfold compared to everyone else.

And these statistics only look at the top 10%. The top 1% is making exponentially more than the rest of the 9% under them. And the top tenth of a percent is doing exponentially better than the rest of the one percent.

The country isn't broke. It's just that a small portion of the country's people have basically looted all the wealth of the last 50 years.

Ideally, that looting would be illegal in its own right. But if we give conservatives the benefit of the doubt and say that it would be too economically restrictive to attempt to control how much these people are taking away from the rest of the economy, then the second-best alternative we have under the circumstances is to redistribute a greater portion of those ill-gotten gains to create better jobs and social services for people whose incomes have been artificially constrained.

What we should under no circumstances be doing is cutting the safety net while allowing these thieves to walk away with all their loot

"Powerful call to serve our brothers and sisters"

Freakazoids don't actually agree with you on that, Mr. President, so thank you for the reality-based reminder.

Full transcript here.

Friends of Coal Are Not Friends of Coal Miners

Beware of politicians conflating the best interests of Big Coal with the best interests of coal miners. Friends of the formers are almost always enemies of the latter.

Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Mioney:
Who are the real friends of coal miners? Like in the timber wars of the 1980s, an exploitative industry and its lackey politicians have claimed that the industry looks out for the miners against those evil environmentalists, while at the same time engaging in land management and labor policies that make workers’ lives worse.

Given a declining industry due to overexploitation of the resource and because of a lack of economic alternatives for scared workers, this political move has been very effective both in logging towns of the Northwest and Appalachian coal country.

But in both places, activists have pushed back against the false choices of industry versus environment. Here is an outstanding letter from retired UMWA organizer Carl Shoupe about the lies of the coal industry to the people of Kentucky.
Since I’ve been around coal all my life, I guess I should be pleased when our “leaders” say they are Friends of Coal. But lately, I’ve been wondering, which part of coal they’re friends with.
Peabody Energy and its new company, Patriot Coal, are trying to weasel out of paying health and pension benefits promised to thousands of retired UMWA miners. Have you heard any objection from these Friends of Coal in our marble palaces in Frankfort? Those miners earned their benefits with their sweat and their blood, but now Peabody wants to dump them like they’re just more overburden.
These politicians may be friends of coal, but they’re not friends of coal miners and their families. These miners and their families are being robbed of their retirement and benefits.
My friend Truman recently spent a week hooked up to a hospital ventilator. Like thousands of others, he suffers with black lung, caused by working in underground mines filled with coal dust. Today, the number of severe black lung cases is on the rise again, affecting workers on strip mines and below ground. And yet Congressman Hal Rogers has led efforts in Congress to block rules designed to protect miners from that awful disease.
Another friend of mine had to move with his daughter away from the homeplace where his family has lived for over 200 years. Toxic runoff from mountaintop removal was poisoning him and his family.
But his state representative, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, stood up at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing about water pollution and insisted that anyone who wants to save the mountains should just “go buy one.”
The speaker may be a friend of the coal companies, but he’s no friend of coalfield families threatened by mountaintop mining and poisoned water.
Coal companies and politicians of both parties who are beholden to coal money are not the friends of workers. At the very least, political progressives should be aware that environmentalists are not the enemies of coal miners. The enemy is the employer who has zero concern for the aftermath of coal mining and the long-term effects of coal dependency on Appalachia.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Is For Fucking

From Divine Irony:


The truth about Easter/Ishtar

Number 109

Kentucky's 109th sacrifice to the bottomless maw of Permanent War is 26-year-old Sgt. Michael C. Cable of Philpot, in Western Kentucky.

 Soldier Killed

From the Associated Press:

Cable died Wednesday from injuries sustained when his unit was attacked by enemy forces in Shinwar District, Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.

Cable was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell. He had joined the Army in 2007.

He had been a cross-country star at Daviess County High School in Owensboro a decade ago and attended Berea College, according to the Messenger-Inquirer newspaper of Owensboro (
It's been ten months and 15 days since Kentucky's last Iraq/Afghanistan casualty. That's the longest stretch between deaths since the first, in September 2003.

How many more?  

Read more here:

Read more here:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Forget Big Gubmint; It's Big Corporation That's Fucking You

Don't think this is unusual:

CVS stores  ordering all employees using “the company’s health care to report their weight, glucose levels, and body fat to their insurer, or pay a penalty of $600 dollars”.
 As Erik Loomis explains in the context of major league sports owners:

Corporations have made such inroads into our consciousness that this kind of formulation is common, even among people generally politically progressive like Neyer. Corporations are not some disembodied beast. They are made up of human beings with human values. We as a society allow these wealthy humans who make up a corporation to exercise power up to a given limit, depending on our own values. In times like today, or in the first Gilded Age, when corporations exercise relatively maximum power over society, to create philosophical justifications for their existence that free them of responsibility to larger society. Profit taking becomes naturalized, rather than a socio-economic-political choice. Whether this is the Social Darwinism or Gospel of Wealth of the late 19th century or the weird corporation-as-human creation of the modern Supreme Court, these ideas give corporations room to make very human choices without suffering consequences or even criticism.

It doesn’t matter what big companies are in the business of doing. They are controlled by people who are seeking to maximize wealth at the top of society. It matters to what extent we allow those rich people to do this. Today, we allow them to do about whatever we want, a consequence of a sixty-year pushback against the New Deal that has convinced lots of Americans that business knows all. This attitude allows Bill Gates to shape education policy for no other reason than he is rich. It allows for immoral fallbacks on “fiduciary responsibility” to shareholders to justify any policy, no matter how antisocial. It allows for a Supreme Court to declare that corporations can openly buy elections.

Corporate dumping of toxic chemicals into rivers is in fact evil and shameful. That’s because doing so is a decision made by human beings to maximize profit at the cost of hurting nature and people. The same goes for union-busting, for pension-slashing, and for race to the bottom politics. So long as we apologize away the behavior of corporate leaders by naturalizing their behavior, the things that upset us about corporate control over society will continue to occur. Only by pushing back against corporate ideology do we make society more equal. And that includes for the employees of Major League Baseball.
 Closer to home, this reminder from Planned Parenthood:
It just sounds crazy: your boss having the power to decide whether you have access to affordable birth control. But just because it's crazy doesn't mean it can't happen.

A group of CEOs has gone to court to demand that power — they want to be able to deny their employees coverage for birth control. And they've got politicians including Senators Mitch McConnell, Chuck Grassley, and Mike Crapo doing everything they can to help.
One of the reasons corporations now feel free to treat workers like serfs is the billions of tax dollars Congress takes from the working poor and middle class to lavish on corporations.  Want to stop corporate welfare? The Nation has some ideas.

McConnell Wraps Up 2014 Re-Election

I mean it. The instrument has yet to be invented that can measure the utter incompetence of the "Democratic" "candidates" remaining in the field with Judd now out.

Linda Blackford and Jack Brammer at the Herald:

Actress Ashley Judd will not run for U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell's seat in next year's election, she announced Wednesday.

Judd, a native Kentuckian who now lives in Tennessee, shows up frequently at University of Kentucky basketball games.

"Regretfully, I am currently unable to consider a campaign for the Senate," she wrote on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.

"I have spoken to so many Kentuckians over these last few months who expressed their desire for a fighter for the people & new leader.

"While that won't be me at this time, I will continue to work as hard as I can to ensure the needs of Kentucky families are met by returning this Senate seat to whom it rightfully belongs: the people & their needs, dreams, and great potential. Thanks for even considering me as that person & know how much I love our Commonwealth. Thank you!"
I trust Mitchie-poo is suitably grateful to the Kentucky conservadem establishment, the DINO Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, Bill Clinton and his buddy Jerry Lundergan (father of Alison) for sabotaging the only chance Kentucky had to get rid of him.

And shame on Blackford and Brammer for that "Tennessee actress who goes to ball games" snide remark. Judd, as they know goddamn well, is a long-time activist for coal-mining communities and women's rights.

Which is way more than Alison Lundergan Grimes can say.

Read more here:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Guntard Logic Also Defends Drug Dealing

Now I understand why Kentucky lawmakers were stepping on each others' heads to accomplish two things at once:
 - remove even the tiniest restrictions on gun purchase, carry and use

 - make it next to impossible for anyone to obtain pain-relieving drugs with a legal prescription.

For the repugs, freakazoids and guntards, it's always about abdicating personal responsibility.
This is a weird story, but it totally makes sense that a doctor handing out illegal prescriptions would use this argument:


I mean, if gun makers and gun dealers have no responsibility for what people do with a gun, why should doctors have responsibility for what their customers do with drugs? Maybe the patients are making art out of the pills. Why not apply NRA logic about responsibility to the rest of society? Why punish bartenders if they serve obviously inebriated customers who then get behind the wheel? Why go after cigarette companies for marketing to children? It’s strictly the responsibility of the user!

To be clear, I certainly don’t agree with this doctor. He deserves punishment. But it’s also hardly surprising that other distributors of dangerous materials would abdicate responsibility based upon NRA arguments about gun use.

If We Can't Have Clean Elections, At Least Now We Can Get Hammered During Them

Of course, there was nothing stopping anyone from getting drunk on election day, as long as you bought your liquor ahead of time.  All the prohibition-era law did was prevent you from purchasing on election day the booze you choose to drown your political sorrows in.

Actually, the supposed purpose of the law was to crack down on vote buying.  Back in the day, enterprising voters would hang around on election day, waiting for political operatives to offer a drink for support of their candidate. Banning liquor sales on election day made such transactions a fraction less convenient, but didn't put a dent in the practice.

And now elections in Kentucky get a fraction less hypocritical.

From the Herald:

The Kentucky General Assembly gave final approval late Tuesday to a bill that would allow alcohol sales on Election Day.

Kentucky had been one of two states that did not allow Election Day alcohol sales. South Carolina is the other. In the past five years, similar bans have been lifted in Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Utah and West Virginia.

Alcohol sales in Kentucky had been prohibited while polls were open — from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. — on primary and general election days.
ead more here:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Arrogant Motherfuckers

Yes, of course I'm talking about that most arrogant subset of the rich: Wall Street banksters.


Thank you Bernie

.... for saying it:
Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein came to Capitol Hill this week to call for cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. As Congress and the White House are negotiating a year-end deficit deal, Blankfein sought to “lower people’s expectations” about their retirement and health care. He spoke with all the sympathy for someone struggling to get by on $14,000-a-year retirement that you’d expect from a Wall Street banker paid $16 million last year.

“Think about the arrogance of these guys on Wall Street who were bailed out by the middle class of this country when their greed and recklessness nearly destroyed the financial system and now they come to Capitol Hill to lecture Congress and the American people about the need to cut programs for working families,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said in a Senate floor speech.

One State With Its Head On Straight

Lucky citizens of Washington State: Olympic National Park, civilized Seattle, and a legislature of sentient, rational human beings.

Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress:
Across the country, about 21 states have restricted access to abortion by preventing insurance companies from covering the cost of the legal medical procedure. But lawmakers in Washington State are currently considering the opposite approach: legislation to mandate that insurance companies pay for abortion services as part of their plans’ maternity care. 
Washington has traditionally been a trailblazer when it comes to reproductive rights. In 1970, the state become the first to legalize abortion by a popular vote. Now, under the proposed Reproductive Parity Act, it may become the first to ensure that insurance companies aren’t permitted to segregate abortion care from the rest of the women’s health services covered under their plans:
The bill passed the state House earlier this month by a vote of 53-43, though it faces an uncertain future in the Senate. A similar bill in the New York state Assembly has been introduced each session for over a decade but has never received a public hearing.
“This is a core value for Washingtonians,” said Melanie Smith, a lobbyist for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. “We should protect it while we still have it and not leave access to basic health care up to an insurance company.” [...]
Supporters of Washington state’s proposed abortion insurance mandate are careful to stress that it wouldn’t lead to a dramatic uptick in abortions or require carriers with a religious bent to cover the procedure. They also note that a pair of federal plans that will be sold on all 50 state exchanges will be barred from covering elective abortions.
“It’s not expanding abortion coverage,” said Democratic Rep. Eileen Cody of West Seattle, the bill’s primary sponsor. “It’s ensuring the rights of women to get what they’re paying for now and to continue their freedom of choice.”
The bill has been hotly contested, particularly as conservatives have argued it represents an affront to the religious liberty of individuals who oppose abortion and don’t want to purchase plans that cover it. But Obamacare already requires at least some plans in the state-level insurance marketplaces to exclude abortion coverage. And, as Rep. Cody notes, the legislation wouldn’t actually significantly change the current landscape in Washington because all of the state’s major insurers already cover abortion.

But it would prevent new insurers entering Washington’s insurance marketplace from adopting the same kind of anti-abortion policies that have been sweeping the nation over the past two years, as states across the country have rushed to block access to abortion coverage. Elizabeth Nash, the state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, told the New York Times that the bill’s passage would be a “watershed event” regardless of its immediate impact on the insurance market. “It would be a model for other states to follow,” Nash explained.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, only about 12 percent of the abortions across the country are paid for by insurance providers. But in states that have enacted roadblocks to abortion coverage, women who seek abortions are often forced to pay large out-of-pocket costs in order to make their own medical decisions. The average cost of a first-trimester abortion is about $470, and an estimated 42 percent of the women who seek abortions have incomes that fall below the federal poverty line.

Welcome to the Talibangelical Republic of Kentuckystan - Surrender Your Rights at the Border

How perfectly appropriate that the cowardly dems went behind closed doors to vote to turn the Bluegrass into Saudi Arabia. Without a roll call vote, we're just going to have to assume that the same goatfucking morons who voted for Xian sharia the first time in public voted for it again last night.

Beth Musgrave at the Herald:

Kentucky House Democrats voted Monday night to override a gubernatorial veto of controversial legislation known as the "religious freedom" bill.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, declined to give a final tally for the vote to override Gov. Steve Beshear's veto of House Bill 279. The vote was taken behind closed doors in the House Democratic caucus late Monday. It was not clear if the full House was going to vote on the bill later Monday.

It takes 51 votes to override a gubernatorial veto. House Bill 279 passed the Democratic-controlled House 82-7 earlier this session. Monday was the 29th day of the 30-day session.

Stumbo said the discussion was heated.

Beshear vetoed the measure on Friday, saying that while he values religious freedom, the bill went too far.


Beshear said he vetoed the bill on Friday because it was too vague and could result in costly lawsuits for state and county governments.

More than 50 organizations had opposed the bill, arguing that it could lead to more discrimination and could overrule ordinances in Lexington, Louisville, Covington and Vicco that protect gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination.


The Republican-controlled Senate has already said that it has the votes to override the veto if the House Democrats opt to vote for an override.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Give "Fix the Debt" What-For

Yes, they do think you're stupid. Show them you're not.

Samuel Knight at Political Animal:

“Fix The Debt” - the astroturf, defense contractor-linked lobbying group seizing upon the manufactured debt crisis to ram through a corporate agenda at the expense of everyone else - is asking Americans to share stories about how the national debt is affecting them.

No, really:
Why is it so important that we Fix the Debt? Why does it matter to your family? To your business? To our country? to YOU?
Our leaders in Washington need to hear from each of us. We need them to know that inaction is NOT an option. We must Fix the Debt.
You couldn’t make it up.

It’s likely that the majority of responses they are receiving are either full of: A) false generalizations about a “spending problem”; B) speculation about the future of Medicare and Social Security under the assumption that rich tax-dodgers can’t do any more or that the government shouldn’t negotiate with drug companies ripping it off; or C) good old incoherent right wing rambling.

American families aren’t feeling that “We must Fix the Debt” through the only way that government borrowing would affect them - higher real interest rates.

So why not send “Fix the Debt” stories about how influential right wing oligarchs pressuring Congress into “Fixing the Debt” is affecting American families? Tell them stories about layoffs and the misery sequestration has wrought. Tell them how you’re worried that Congress’ refusal to raise taxes on those that can afford it is bankrupting American society. Feel free to bombard them with messages. Email me or post what you had to say to them in the comments section, and I’ll publish the best examples of how “Fixing the Debt” has affected you.

Here’s what I sent them:
Please stop your vapid campaign. Obviously your corporate donors can afford to pay more taxes if they can afford this astroturf nonsense. You want to know how the debt is affecting me? Through your selfish, greedy, parasitic efforts to “Fix” it. Just pay for a society that has allowed you to flourish. I know people in academia who have been told that federal grants for their rather important research has been cut off thanks to your right-wing subterfuge. That’s how it’s affecting me. People around me losing their funding so rent-seekers can continue to pay low rates on their unearned investment income. What you’re doing is essentially preventing us from investing in our future. Stop pretending like there’s a debt crisis to ram your libertarian agenda through Washington by threatening to primary Republican Congressman corrupt enough to push your snake oil. Enough.
Have fun.

Tell Your Legislators: Uphold the Veto of HB 279

From Kentuckians for the Commonwealth:

Responding to overwhelming public opposition, on Friday Gov. Steve Beshear vetoed House Bill 279.

The bill drew opposition from the state’s own Human Rights Commission, mayors of Covington, Louisville and Lexington, dozens of organizations including KFTC, and some religious leaders and faith communities.

Now we have to make sure the
House sustains the governor's veto.

: Starting at 7 a.m. on Monday, please call the Legislative Message Line and leave a message for your own representative and "House leaders."

: "Please uphold the governor's veto of House Bill 279."
The Legislative Message Line is open from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. However, it is not known how soon after the House convenes at 12 noon on Monday that it might vote on the veto override. So call early if you can.

If you would like to call and talk to your legislator directly, call 502-564-8100 and ask for them by name.

: Thank Gov. Beshear for vetoing HB 279. You can leave a message at his office at 502-564-2611 or use his online contact form at:
See the governor's veto message

Thanks for Taking Action!


HB 279 has the potential to “make it harder to pursue criminal prosecutions and civil remedies in everything from child abuse to housing discrimination,” according to a Lexington Herald-Leader editorial, and is “a slippery slope when the state authorizes people to disregard laws,” wrote The Courier-Journal editors.

In a press release, the governor cited the following reasons for his veto:
  • Weakening of local civil rights laws;
  • Impact on implementation of the new Common Core Standards in our schools;
  • Negative impact to economic development efforts;
  • Adverse impact on enforcement of drug laws;
  • Additional financial burdens on local governments; and
  • Possible withholding of needed medical care or use of religion as a justification for abuse.
  • Increased litigation costs fro state agencies;
  • Decreased federal funding; and
  • Threats to public health, including refusal to provide needed medication or services.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

What "Cutting Government Waste" Really Means

Thanks to the repug austerity hysterics/government haters who refuse to cancel the sequester, it's DIY air traffic control in Owensboro and Paducah.


Two western Kentucky airports will close their air traffic control facilities in April after the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday mandated the shutdowns because of budget cuts.
And it ain't ever coming back.

Brian Beutler at TPM:
In the same week Congress is expected to pass government funding legislation that effectively locks in sequestration until the end of September, an unexpected reality is dawning on Washington: as bad as sequestration is, and was intended to be, it’s not bad enough to do what it was designed to do.

That’s left Democrats resigned to malfunctioning and underfunded government in perpetuity, and Republicans confident they can weather the coming months and turn sequestration spending levels into a new normal.
 Wave bye-bye to all the government programs that make your life livable. This is only the beginning.

Read more here:

Exceptionally Backward

America has plenty of money. Not just for the things we can't live without, like a strong social safety net, modern infrastructure, public education, universal affordable health care, widespread renewable energy and generous public pensions, but also for the things we need in a civilized democratic society: full employment;  easily available substance abuse treatment and mental health care; eliminating poverty; public parks, libraries and art museums, and so much more.

The problem is not the lack of money. The problem is that we've accepted the Reichwing demand that we spend that money on counter-productive wars - on other countries as well as on drugs and women - and on making the rich richer.

We don't need to cut spending; we need to change it.


His point was that even talking about this sort of thing is silly since Republicans believe that there isn't even a small pot of money for liberal nice things so it's ridiculous to even contemplate it. But I think it's strange that Democrats buy into this idea at all. Even they frame these discussions as if the idea of ever raising taxes above the levels we had in the 90s is insane or that reallocating defense money is completely ridiculous. No, if the old people are able to live in dignity, it means that children must go uneducated and if sick people are taken care of it means that young adults are unable to get a college education.  It's up to us liberals to make these Solomon's Choices and live with the consequences because that's-just-how-it-is.

Dean Baker takes on this thesis today:

In a recent WaPo op-ed with the subtle title “Payments to Elders are Harming Our Future,” Harry Holzer and Isabel Sawhill claim that “our very expensive retirement programs already crowd out public spending on virtually all other priorities—including programs for the poor and those that strengthen the nation’s future—and will do so at even higher rates in the next decade and beyond unless we reform these large programs.” 
If this crowd-out thesis were true, we would expect to find that nations that spend more on the elderly spend less on children. But this isn’t the case. Although a bit dated, the chart below, produced by researchers Jonathan Bradshaw and Emese Mayhew, plots expenditures on family benefits and services (per capita child) by expenditures on benefits and services for the elderly (per capita elderly).

The chart shows that countries that spend more per capita on the elderly also spend more per capita on children. Moreover, contrary to Holzer/Sawhill’s claim that we have “very expensive retirement programs”, U.S. expenditures on the elderly are moderate in cross-national terms. Bradshaw and Mayhew conclude: "we have found that if there is generational inequity it does not stem from demography alone. Nations make choices about the level of resources they commit to children and the elderly, and the countries that are most generous to children also tend to be most generous to the elderly."
The US is the most powerful country in the world, blessed with vast wealth and immense capabilities. It's a matter of priorities, that's all, a reflection of values that inform how a just and compassionate society should operate. Other countries put a premium on the welfare of their vulnerable populations. We don't.

There's more data at the link to Baker's article. I'm always struck when I see these charts by what a backwards country we really are. There's a very high cost to running a global military empire filled with people hate their own government.

It's Not Just Money That Makes the Rich Dangerously Different

It's not just that they have the opposite opinions from the rest of us on what's important for the country, it's that they use their billions of dollars to buy a government that will do what they want and fuck the rest of us.


I wrote about this some time back, but it's worth repeating:

Josh Holland at Alternet notes:
One especially significant difference between the opinions of the wealthy and the population as a whole centers on deficit reduction. According to a study cited by Demos, “87 percent of affluent households believed budget deficits were a 'very important' problem, the highest percentage of all listed perceived problems.” Jobs and education, which rank at or near the top of most Americans' list of priorities, were “a distant second to budget deficits among the concerns of wealthy Americans.” 
According to an exit poll conducted after the 2012 election, 59 percent of the public rated the economy as the country's number one problem, while only 15 percent cited the federal budget deficit. But as the Demos report notes, “the affluent [not only] participate more in civic life; they also have greater influence over public policy.”
There you have it.

Government Spying Takes a Brush-Back Pitch

It's just one decision by one federal district judge, but it's the biggest push-back yet against warrantless spying on innocent American citizens.

Kevin Drum:

You remember National Security Letters, don't you? Those of us who are a first name basis just call them NSLs. They've been around for a while, but they only became famous after the PATRIOT Act vastly expanded their scope, with the FBI now issuing upwards of 25,000 NSLs a year. The key thing to know about NSLs is that (a) they don't require a judge to sign off on them, any old FBI supervisor will do; and (b) you are forbidden to tell anyone that you have received an NSL. In 2007, the Justice Department's inspector general found widespread abuse of the NSL process—hardly a surprise when there's no oversight—but the number of NSLs issued has continued its steady upward rise regardless.

(Last week), a judge finally put her foot down:
On Friday, a federal judge in San Francisco declared the letters unconstitutional, saying the secretive demands for customer data violate the First Amendment.
The government has failed to show that the letters and the blanket non-disclosure policy "serve the compelling need of national security," and the gag order creates "too large a danger that speech is being unnecessarily restricted," U.S. District Judge Susan Illston wrote.
She ordered the FBI to stop issuing the letters, but put that order on hold for 90 days so the U.S. Department of Justice can pursue an appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
This is almost certainly only temporary good news. DOJ will appeal, and I suspect it's unlikely that Illston's order will be allowed to stand. Still, it's nice to see a bit of common sense over these things, even if it's ultimately only symbolic.

Freakazoids Losing Ground to Reality-Based Community

Brace yourselves. The repugs' hysterical reaction to facing demographic death is going to seem like nothing compared to how the freakazoids respond to getting outnumbered by non-believers.

From Divine Irony:

Americans and religion increasingly parting ways, new survey shows

Religious affiliation in the United States is at its lowest point since it began to be tracked in the 1930s, according to analysis of newly released survey data by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and Duke University. Last year, one in five Americans claimed they had no religious preference, more than double the number reported in 1990.

An analysis of the results suggests the following:

-Liberals are far more likely to claim “no religion” (40 percent) than conservatives (9 percent)
-Men are more likely than women to claim “no religion” (24 percent of men versus 16 percent of women).
-More whites claimed “no religion” (21 percent) compared to African Americans (17 percent) and Mexican Americans (14 percent).
-More than one-third of 18-to-24-year-olds claimed “no religion” compared to just 7 percent of those 75 and older.
-Residents of the Midwestern and Southern states were least likely to claim “no religion” compared to respondents in the Western, Mountain and Northeastern states. But Midwesterners and Southerners are catching up.
-Educational differences among those claiming “no religion” are small compared to other demographic differences.
-About one-third of Americans identify with a conservative Protestant denomination, one-quarter are Catholics (although 35 percent were raised Catholic) and 1.5 percent are Jewish.

(Click through for the full article)
Americans and religion increasingly parting ways, new survey shows

Religious affiliation in the United States is at its lowest point since it began to be tracked in the 1930s, according to analysis of newly released survey data by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and Duke University. Last year, one in five Americans claimed they had no religious preference, more than double the number reported in 1990.

An analysis of the results suggests the following:

-Liberals are far more likely to claim “no religion” (40 percent) than conservatives (9 percent)

-Men are more likely than women to claim “no religion” (24 percent of men versus 16 percent of women).

-More whites claimed “no religion” (21 percent) compared to African Americans (17 percent) and Mexican Americans (14 percent).

-More than one-third of 18-to-24-year-olds claimed “no religion” compared to just 7 percent of those 75 and older.

-Residents of the Midwestern and Southern states were least likely to claim “no religion” compared to respondents in the Western, Mountain and Northeastern states. But Midwesterners and Southerners are catching up.

-Educational differences among those claiming “no religion” are small compared to other demographic differences.

-About one-third of Americans identify with a conservative Protestant denomination, one-quarter are Catholics (although 35 percent were raised Catholic) and 1.5 percent are Jewish.

(Click through for the full article)

Privacy, Spying and the Lost Cash Economy

I'm not yet eligible for Medicare, and yet I can remember when it was not just possible but common for people to live a middle-class life without a credit card, loan or even bank account.  They got paid in cash or checks they could cash at the grocer, and paid cash for everything, including rent and a used car. The utility companies had local offices at which you could pay your bills in cash. You could even travel by air using cash to buy your ticket at the airport. Hotels accepted cash without ID. Unless the store clerk knew you personally, there was no way for anybody to find out what you'd bought or how much you paid for it.
Sure, it was more trouble and time-consuming than clicking a mouse, but there was no paper trail - or rather pixel trail.
Now the cash economy is no more.  Unless you are willing to live on the very margins of the economy, you cannot survive without a bank account and credit cards.
Which means that soon Homeland Security will know everything about every penny you get and every penny you spend.

DS Wright at Firedoglake:
As the Obama Administration continues to expand the policies of the Bush Administration, the newest theater of the War on Terror is your checking account.
The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters.
Is the real war on privacy or on restraints of State power?
Financial institutions that operate in the United States are required by law to file reports of “suspicious customer activity,” such as large money transfers or unusually structured bank accounts, to Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).
The Federal Bureau of Investigation already has full access to the database. However, intelligence agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, currently have to make case-by-case requests for information to FinCEN.
The Treasury plan would give spy agencies the ability to analyze more raw financial data than they have ever had before, helping them look for patterns that could reveal attack plots or criminal schemes.
Now let’s talk about why this is hilarious and has nothing to do with stopping terrorism financing.
There is a company called HSBC that laundered money for Mexican Drug Cartels, Iran, and Al-Qaeda. They even helped launder money for the bank that helped fund the 9/11 attacks. So you would expect a government really concerned with terrorist’s financial activity would crackdown hard on a bank facilitating terrorist attacks on the United States right? Wrong.

HSBC paid a small fine representing a few weeks profit and went on about their business. No jail time for money laundering for terrorists and drug cartels and not even a hint that their charter to operate was in jeopardy. And that makes sense if the War on Terror is about preventing dissent in America, not stopping terrorist attacks. Now intelligence agencies will be able to track your every purchase and transaction to ensure you are a good citizen.
Emptywheel has more on “this batshit crazy plan”.

Kids Fighting For Real Religious Freedom

These kids understand most members of the Kentucky General Assembly don't:  that the only guarantee of real religious freedom is strong separation of church and state.

From Alternet:

It can take a lot of guts to stand up for separation of church and state in America. People who file lawsuits to stop the display of religious symbols on public property or the use of sectarian prayers before government meetings often find themselves the targets of harassment, threats, and even violence.

Adults can usually withstand the pressure. But imagine fighting a pitched church-state battle when you’re a teenager in high school.

The high school years are a period when many young people just want to fit in with peers or keep a low profile. When separation of church and state is violated in a public school, students are the ones most affected. They’re the ones who have to stand up and make it right. It’s not always easy.
Here are five young people who made a difference.

1. Zack Kopplin: Zack Kopplin is a one-man war against the teaching of bad science in Louisiana. Zack was a high school student in Baton Rogue when he started to speak out against a measure legislators passed in 2008 to sneak creationist materials into schools through the backdoor.

Zack began lobbying for repeal of the so-called “Louisiana Science Act” (which is misnamed because it doesn’t actually promote science) and lined up 43 Nobel laureates to endorse a repeal of the law. He also worked with state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) to introduce legislation repealing the law.
The repeal hasn’t passed yet, but Kopplin, who is 19 and now a student at Rice University in Houston, continues to work on the issue. He has led rallies calling for repeal and lobbies national science organizations, urging them to avoid holding conferences in Louisiana until the law is overturned. (The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology has already done so, shifting its conference from New Orleans to Salt Lake City.) He also captured national headlines by blowing the whistle on the teaching of creationism in private school in Louisiana that receive taxpayer funding through a voucher program.

In addition, Kopplin successfully lobbied the New Orleans City Council to support repeal of the law. In May, the council voted unanimously in favor of supporting repeal. A group of religious leaders called the Clergy Letter Project has also endorsed the call.

Along the way, Kopplin has become an effective spokesperson for the cause of sound science instruction in public schools. He has delivered speeches and appeared on national news programs to discuss the issue. In early March, he was interviewed by Bill Moyers on PBS.

2. Jessica Ahlquist: In 2011, high school junior Jessica Ahlquist protested the posting of a banner listing an official school prayer in the auditorium of Cranston High School West in Rhode Island.

The banner had been hanging there since 1963 – ironically, the same year the U.S. Supreme Court struck down official programs of prayer and Bible reading in public schools in a famous case called Abington Township v. Schempp.

Officials at the school refused to remove the banner, so Ahlquist contacted the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU sued on her behalf, and she won. In the ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald R. Lagueux praised Ahlquist for having the courage to take on the case at the tender age of 16.

Unfortunately, many members of the community didn’t agree. Ahlquist was subjected to a torrent of abuse. A Twitter user said “this girl honestly needs to be punched in the face,” and an anonymous commenter posted Ahlquist’s home address on the Providence Journal's website. She received numerous death threats and was shadowed by police for a time at school. Ahlquist was even blasted by the 1970s rock star Meatloaf, who cited her as an example of why “the world’s gone to hell in a handbasket.”

Remarkably, Ahlquist was also attacked by a state politician. State Rep. Peter Polombo called her “an evil little thing,” a “clapping seal” and a “pawn star” on a talk radio show. Things got so out of hand that when the Freedom From Religion Foundation tried to send flowers to Ahlquist, it couldn’t find a local florist willing to deliver to her house.

The good news is that school officials decided not to appeal the ruling, and the banner was removed. Ahlquist is currently finishing up her senior year studying at home. This fall, when she goes to college, she’ll have fewer worries about money. An atheist blogger, Hemant Mehta, launched a scholarship fund for her. More than $44,000 was collected.

3. Krystal Myers: High school senior Krystal Myers knew something wasn’t right at Lenoir City High School in Tennessee. There was simply too much religion in the school.

Myers made note of a litany of abuses: sectarian prayers at graduation ceremonies, coercive prayer at football games, teachers wearing clothing with religious imagery, lunchtime visits by ministers, distribution of Christian material during the school day and prayers opening school board meetings.

As editor of her school newspaper, Panther Press, Myers believed she was in a position to highlight these abuses and bring about change. She penned a column explaining what it felt like to be an atheist in such an environment.

“I have realized that I feel that my rights as an atheist are severely limited when compared to other students who are Christians,” Myers wrote. “Why do Christians have special rights not allowed to nonbelievers?”
The column never made it into Panther Press. The school’s principal pulled it, asserting the piece might cause disruptions at the school. The Knoxville News-Sentinel had no such worries, however, and ran Myers’ article on Feb. 26, 2012.

Myers’ willingness to speak out sparked action from Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Attorneys at Americans United wrote to school officials and demanded that they stop the unconstitutional activities. The Lenoir City Board of Education subsequently announced that it would suspend prayer before meetings and would also end the practice of allowing public prayers before high school football games. (The other matters were referred to the school’s attorney.)

Some in the community lashed out against Myers. In an online forum for Lenoir City residents, a comment thread titled “Krystal Myers should be Excommunicated from the City and County” sprung up. One anonymous commenter asserted, “We need to rise up and Kick (sic) devil worshiping, drama loving, Krystal Myers out of town.”

Not long after that, hundreds of people gathered to pray on the Loudon County courthouse lawn, calling for school prayer. Some carried signs that read: “He stood for us. We stand for him,” and “It’s freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.”

Myers graduated and is now studying journalism at the University of Tennessee.

4. Corwyn Schulz: By the time he was a high school senior, Corwyn Schulz had had enough. Corwyn, who attended Medina Valley High School in Castroville, Texas, endured Christian invocations at school events, prayers led by coaches, religious posters on school walls and other school-sponsored forms of religion.
As Corwyn prepared to graduate, he decided to fight back. With legal firepower provided by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Corwyn and his family filed a lawsuit to block school-sponsored prayer during the commencement ceremony.

A flurry of legal activity resulted in an initial win for Corwyn, when a federal court blocked the prayer. An appeals court overturned that ruling, however. Corwyn and his family could sense strong hostility in the community and decided not to attend the commencement.

Although the Schulz family lost the skirmish over graduation prayer, they won the larger battle. The lawsuit continued, and after more than six months of litigation, school officials agreed to work on settling the case out of court.

Under the terms of the settlement, district officials, administrators, teachers, staff and other employees cannot initiate, solicit or direct prayers, nor can they join students in prayers, proselytize or invite others to engage in worship activities of this type.

In addition, the school district agreed to stop displaying crosses, religious images, religious quotations, Bibles or religious texts or other religious icons or artifacts on the walls, hallways and other common areas at the school. The district said it would no longer invite speakers who might proselytize during school events.
Finally, school officials altered the student handbook to add a section on students’ rights to religious freedom and offer special training on church-state separation to all district personnel who work with students.

There was an interesting postscript to the case: After the settlement was announced, Superintendent James Stansberry called the lawsuit a “witch hunt” and made untrue allegations about it. At the same time, Keith Riley, the band director, accused Corwyn of making “lies and false allegations.”

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery held that these comments were in violation of the settlement decree and ordered Stansberry and Riley to apologize to the Schulz family.

5. Mark Reyes: The small town of Poteet, Texas, had a tradition of including a lot of religion in its high school graduation ceremonies – often Christian. Students were expected to compose and deliver prayers during the event. In fact, they were told to submit their prayers in advance for review by the principal.
Mark Reyes, who was valedictorian in 2012, discovered that two of the students who were expected to deliver prayer weren’t comfortable doing so, and he decided to challenge the practice. There was no way Reyes could have done this anonymously – there were only about 100 kids in his graduating class.

Reyes began researching separation of church and state issues and contacted Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which wrote letters to school officials advising them that they could not compel students to write and deliver prayers. In response, the school officials told Reyes that if any students didn’t want to offer a prayer, the school would find someone else to do it. Americans United had to write to the school again and tell the officials that this only made things worse.

Local media reported that when word of Reyes’ protest became public, an uproar ensued. Reyes subsequently appeared on CNN and Fox News to explain his point of view. Despite the anger in the community, the graduation ceremony went off without coerced prayer. Reyes went on to Texas Tech University to study computer science.

These are just five examples. Lots of young people stand up against Christian fundamentalism intrusions into public schools and never make the national media. Activists who have been defending the separation of church and state for a long time sometimes wonder if a new generation will rise up to carry the torch. It seems there’s no need to worry. They are well on the way.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring at Kentucky State Parks

UPDATED May 5, May 9, May 24

It's spring at Kentucky State Parks and it's a crime to miss it.

  • Memorial Day Weekend With the Memorial Day weekend just a few days away, make plans to visit a Kentucky State Park for camping, hiking, golf, swimming, boating, fishing or enjoying a meal and overnight stay at one of the system’s 17 resort parks. All 17 state park resorts and selected recreational parks begin recreation and nature programming starting with the holiday weekend through Labor Day. Many resort parks have rooms and cottages available for the holiday weekend. Check for availability or call the park directly.
  • National Trails Day Columbus-Belmont State Park and the Friends of Columbus-Belmont will host a living history program in honor of National Trails Day on June 1. There will be guided history hikes, encampments with cooking lessons, weapon demonstrations, and a “school of the soldier.”
  • Kids Camps E. P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park in Louisville is offering a series of Kids Camps during the summer. Each camp is overseen by recreation staff. Camp sizes are limited to a staff-camper ratio of 6:1, so register early! The cost for each camp is $95 per week, per child. Camps run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.
  • Barbecue and Jam Session Barren River Lake State Resort Park invites you to the park Tuesday, June 4, 2013, for the continuation of its Barbecue and Jam Session nights.
  • Family Fun Archaeology Family-friendly, hands-on activities related to archaeology, prehistoric technology and park history will be presented at Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site during the annual Family Fun Day on Saturday, June 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Activities for kids to enjoy are Native American-style games and storytelling, making pottery and cornshuck dolls to take home.
  • Arts and Crafts Show Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park in Gilbertsville will hold its annual Spring Arts & Crafts Show on Memorial Day weekend, May 25-26.
  • Adventure Race Series Kentucky State Parks will host the 2013 Unbridled Adventure Race Series, three adventure races that will test participants’ physical and mental skills for beginners and veteran racers. Races being June 1. Details at link.
  • National Trails Day Kentucky State Parks will be taking part in National Trails Day on June 1 with events across the state to recognize the excellent hiking opportunities at state parks.
  • Family Adventure Quest The Kentucky State Parks is in its eighth year offering the Family Adventure Quest – a trivia and digital photo contest for families or friends in teams of two to six people.

Turning Workers Into Serfs

This is what happens when you starve unions and gut worker protections. It's happening everywhere; it's just more obvious at the once powerfully unionized auto industry.
In case anyone thinks that companies aren’t very excited about the evisceration of unions and labor regulations so that they can go back to pre-1935 ways of dealing with workers, let’s take a quick look at Chrysler. The recently bailed out auto company has instituted a 10-hour day that includes Saturday work and the switching of workers from day to evening shift and back. This cuts back on lunch breaks and eliminates overtime pay on Saturdays. This is a pretty awful way to work. UAW Local 869 has fought back. Alex Wassell has led the fight against this, including writing articles publicizing it and leading a picking line.

Chrysler has now fired Wassell, a man with a 20 year record of unblemished work. Why?
The company claimed Wassell had violated one of its “standards of conduct”: “engaging in, participating in, aiding or approving conduct constituting or appearing to constitute a conflict with the interests of the Company.”
In other words, we fire you because we can and who’s going to stop us?
It’s possible of course that the National Labor Relations Board could step in. But with the recess appointments declared unconstitutional by a conservative hack judge, who knows if the NLRB will remain functional long enough to decide this. Even if it does decide in Wassell’s favor, we are looking at months if not over a year. What is he to do during that time?

Chrysler is clearly intimidating its labor force.

Kentucky Democrats Already Self-Destructing Against McConnell

If you set out to destroy the Kentucky Democratic Party, you couldn't do it more effectively than the KDP is doing to itself.

Joe Sonka at Leo's Fat Lip:

LEO Weekly has learned from multiple Democratic sources that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is now applying the brakes to their once all-in support of Ashley Judd as the challenger of choice against Sen. Mitch McConnell in 2014. While not ready to abandon Judd, they are now taking a serious second look at recruiting Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
David Atkins at Hullabaloo on why that's the path to self-destruction:
The point is that from now until 2022, Democrats are going to have a difficult decision to make. The country is on their side on nearly every issue of importance and controversy. But to win the seventeen House seats it will take to wrench the gavel out of John Boehner's hands may require Democrats to water down their brand and take unpopular conservative positions out of step with the American people.

Democrats can choose to spend the next 9 years chasing Republicans to the right in the hope of knocking out a few Michele Bachmanns. Or Democrats can spend that time painting conservative Republicans farther and farther into a corner, potentially taking the House over the next four to six years, with a view to an overwhelming knockout blow after redistricting in 2020.

It's a difficult choice. Republican cheating via the gerrymandering process certainly makes the Rahm Emanuel decision more attractive. And the experience of the wrecking ball that is the GOP House just these past few months makes the prospect of nine more years of similar gamesmanship almost unthinkable.

But chasing the Republicans to the right is a fool's errand. Playing politics that are deeply unpopular and harmful public policy on a national level in order to win over a few abnormally conservative districts will weaken the brand and deflate the base such that victory will not be possible. On the other hand, as with the immigration debate and even possibly the gun debate, pushing the Republicans farther off the brink of unpopularity may force them into the moderating ground on a number of fronts, whether or not they continue to hold the House.

It will be difficult, but the right choice for America and for the Democratic Party lies in holding popular ground and not shifting rightward for the sake of a few outlier districts. Even if it means giving up already vain hope of retaking the House in 2014.

Allison Lundergan Grimes is a good little Blue Dog who will do everything the Wall Street Big Boyz tell her to do.  She won't upset the Kentucky conservadem apple cart.

Ashley Judd is a Proud Liberal who's not afraid to say what she thinks. The Boys in Frankfort, DC and Wall Street have no hold on her. If she does what none of them can do - beat McConnell - they'll be humiliated forever. They'd rather McConnell win than lose to Judd.

Enough With the Deficit Hysteria

Like I keep sayin', the only thing wrong with the deficit is that it's too small.  We're still in a recession, which requires large spending by government to boost demand and thus grow the economy.  That might be of slight concern if interest rates were high, but they're not; they're so low investors are actually paying us to take their money.

But the deficit hysterics never let facts and reality stand in the way of fear-mongering.

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones:

Republicans have been demanding action on the deficit practically from the minute Barack Obama was inaugurated. Over the past couple of years they've finally gotten it. Spending has been slashed, the federal deficit is declining steeply, and the 10-year deficit projection has been reduced by $4 trillion. So now, having gotten so much of what they wanted, does this mean Republicans are ready to soften up a bit on their deficit mania? You jest, of course. Jon Cohn rounds up the latest news:
Paul Ryan is about to unveil a new proposal for how the government should spend its money. According to multiple media accounts, it will look a lot like the budget plans he's produced before, the ones that famously called for radically downsizing the government. The main difference? The cuts in this proposal will be even bigger.
....With this new budget, Ryan doesn't appear to be offering new concessions. On the contrary, it looks like he's making new demands. And plenty of Republicans seem to think this is the right thing to do. That's perfectly within their rights: They believe it's best for the country. But it's a reminder that Republicans aren't sincerely interested in compromise for its own sake—or in taking more moderate positions on the issues. Yes, the voters delivered a pretty devastating verdict about this agenda just a few months ago. But if the number two guy on the ticket doesn't seem to care, why should the rest of them?
This comes as no surprise. When Ruth Marcus asked Ryan a few days ago if Republicans were planning to give us all a breather and avoid a showdown over the upcoming debt ceiling cliffhanger in April, he was unmoved: "Not this time," he said, "We're not leaving this session of Congress until we have a down payment on the problem."

So apparently conservatives are right: appeasing fanatics doesn't work. It just makes them determined to demand even more. Perhaps it's time to listen to them and adopt a new strategy.

Jared Bernstein has posted some very important information that one can only hope both the White House and the Democrats are aware of and prepared to change direction because of.  It shows that our runaway medical costs are actually slowing down and he posits that there's good reason to believe that it's permanent rather than transitory:

My colleague Paul Van de Water recently noted that CBO’s 10-year forecasts for the growth of Medicare and Medicaid have come down by $500 billion relative to those from a few years ago. We don’t yet know whether any of this will last—whether we’re looking at another “whoops” moment. But because the initiatives ticked off above are targeted at changing highly inefficient incentives embedded in the delivery system, using technology to improve productivity (which typically lowers costs), and providing better oversight, they certainly have the potential to be lasting. And remember, while the recession is surely playing some role in recent cost savings, that role is surely less pronounced in Medicare and hospital readmissions.

So my guess is there’s something lasting going on here, and that means the doctor has just prescribed a very large chill pill for those who want to whack away at Medicare and Medicaid and CHIP because “they’re going bankrupt…bankrupt I tell you!” They’re not, and our energies would be much better spent on careful research on the factors behind these recent cost trends and how we can build on them. The goal is not to diminish these extremely valuable programs. It’s to ehhance their efficiency so as to ensure that they remain a solid part of American social policy.
Read the whole thing for the details. But the upshot is that we have just enacted a bunch of reforms to the system that are having an impact. Who knows if it will work over the long term, but the idea that we need to slash the hell out of our "entitlements" before all the data is in, is just daft. In fact, this whole discussion has been daft from the beginning. From the idea that austerity was a good idea in a downturn to the idea that we would make major changes to our health care system and then fail to see how they work before deciding that costs are too high, this rush to deficit cutting has been a disaster.

As Bernstein says, our leaders need to take a chill pill. We need to take a break from all the unnecessary Grand Bargaining and all the politicians need get out of this rut of thinking the world will end if they don't cut spending. Obama's legacy is going to be Obamacare. He doesn't need the grand bargain, it was always stupid. And if Obamacare succeeds in reducing the deficit as Bernstein's chart indicates may be happening, he can take credit for that too. That's a lot. It's enough.
 As Charlie Pierce always writes:  Fuck the Deficit. People Got No Jobs.  People Got No Money.

Life - Or Rather Death - Under the Freakazoids

Peter Smith at the Courier claims the Talibanization of the Commonwealth will be no big deal because similar laws have had minor effect in other states.

But as Governor Beshear made clear in his veto statement, the Kentucky bill is not similar to those other laws.  It is terrifyingly broad, allowing anyone to say "nunh-unh because jeebus" and get away with literal murder.

Want a little taste of life under freakazoid control? Try a catlick hospital. Or rather don't, if you value your life. And if you can find one that's not catlick.

PZ Myers:

Imagine if you lived in a town where the only hospital was owned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and you were in a car accident — you’ve got a ruptured spleen, you’re bleeding internally, and your life is at risk. The surgeon is going to go in and stitch up and cauterize everything, but you’re warned that they don’t keep any kind of blood supply in the hospital, and they refuse to do blood transfusions — they have an in-house professional ethicist (who is a Jehovah’s Witness, of course) who rejects the morality of exchanging sacred blood, and the administrators have signed an agreement with the church to never, under any circumstances, carry out blood transfusions.

If you need a blood transfusion, they say, don’t worry, the ambulance will take you to a different hospital…50 miles away. You, unfortunately, are in shock, you’ve got a gusher pouring blood into your body cavity, and this is not an option. You get to die.

We would not tolerate this situation. That hospital would have a change of ownership as fast as the public could drive it, and if anyone did die because of that kind of criminal neglect and refusal to follow standard medical procedure, a malpractice suit would be the least of their worries. Someone would be going to jail.
So why are Catholics allowed to buy up and impose Catholic dogma on hospitals? Is it because their ignorant dogma does the greatest harm to women (especially those slutty ones who have sex) and bizarre rules about reproduction don’t directly harm men?

But Catholics are buying up hospitals all over the country. They’ve got declining attendance, they’re closing churches, they’re having trouble recruiting priests, but they’ve still got buckets of money, and they’re using that money to impose control in another way — by taking over your health care.

It’s a chilling story. Catholics can’t get their way in popular opinion, so they’ve followed another path, buying up and limiting health care options so that you have no choice but to follow their ancient biblical rules. The linked article is an examination of the growing move to limit your medicine to Catholic medicine in the Pacific Northwest, but it applies everywhere. They interviewed doctors who reported on their constraints.
These religious directives are nightmarish. They aren’t always followed — these really are rules laid down by religious fanatics who have no experience or connection to the actual practice of medicine, and conscientious doctors try to find workarounds — but what limits them now is competition. If Catholics get a monopoly on health care in an area, then the trouble really begins.
Then there’s this: “Abortion… is never permitted.”
Not even when the egg attaches outside the uterus and puts a mother’s life in danger: “In case of extrauterine pregnancy, no intervention is morally licit which constitutes a direct abortion.”
The short-sighted and selfish male readers out there (and we know we have no shortage of those assholes in the atheist community) aren’t possibly quite as outraged as they should be. These rules affect women, right? I got mine, let them worry over it, it’s not my fight.

Unfortunately, Catholics also have some weird ideas about LGBT relationships. Another set of people who are going to be hurt by this Catholic takeover are those who are in any kind of relationship that doesn’t fit their narrow definition of one man, one woman…and give them the power to flex their ideological muscle, and you might find yourself snubbed if you’re divorced.

So maybe you aren’t gay and your sexual relationships are conservative and conventional. The other big problem is death, which all of us will do someday. Washington state passed a death with dignity law a few years ago, allowing physician-assisted suicide in terminal cases. Guess which hospitals ignore the law and will prolong your suffering indefinitely?

Don’t let Catholics control your hospitals. Keep the church out of your health care decisions. Make Catholic Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) illegal — individuals may follow them at their personal discretion, but no health care facility gets to impose them on their patients, especially when they defy the law.
It almost happened to University Hospital in Louisville, until somebody blew the whistle on the fact that the catlicks would refuse to provide basic reproductive health care to women after they gave birth.

That's what the religious "freedom" coercion bill would do: force everyone to suffer medieval "health care" and other primitive policies from Bronze Age mythology.

It's exactly what the founders designed the constitution to avoid. But the freakazoids don't care about America or democracy; they care about establishing Dominionism.

Call or email your Kentucky legislators and tell them to uphold Governor Beshear's veto of this unconstitutional, un-democratic, un-American path to the Talibangelical Republic of Kentucky.