Friday, May 31, 2013

Comey's One Act of "Heroism" Does Not Erase His Crimes

Before mass swoons over James Comey paralyze the nation, let's remember that President Obama's likely nominee to head the currently-in-very-deep-shit FBI is about as far from a defender of Americans' civil rights as you can get this side of Rand Paul.

Brad Friedman:

Lest you get the idea, after all of this, that we're lauding Comey for anything more than the seemingly heroic behavior he describes on the night in question and concerning the matter discussed in his testimony, here is a cautious reminder about who Comey is, from the ACLU's Executive Director Anthony D. Romero, in response to reports of Comey's nomination to FBI Director:
As the second-highest ranked Justice Department official under John Ashcroft, Comey approved some of the worst abuses committed by the Bush administration. Specifically, the publicly available evidence indicates Comey signed off on enhanced interrogation techniques that constitute torture, including waterboarding. He also oversaw the indefinite detention without charge or trial of an American citizen picked up in the United States and then held for years in a military brig. Although Comey, despite tremendous pressure from the Bush White House, deserves credit for courageously stopping the reauthorization of a secret National Security Agency program, he reportedly approved programs that struck at the very core of who we all are as Americans.
Nor should we forget to ask - as many people did at the time -  just what kind of program could be horrible and unconstitutional enough to make the guy who thought nothing of OKing torture and indefinite detention of American citizens say "no, uh-unh, not that!"

Join the Black Skeptics and Me: Demand Abortion on Demand

Hey, look who agrees with me!

From PZ Myers:

The Black Skeptics have put out a call to sign a petition for Abortion on Demand and Without Apology. I signed it, so should you.

There will also be an abortion rights caravan that will be stopping in North Dakota on 1 August — I may have to make a short hop up the road to Fargo to participate in that.

Congressman Awesomely Fucking Wrong Yarmuth

Are fucking kidding me, John Yarmuth? A passel of Blue Dog, DINO, conservadem pieces of shit - and you?  Why? What possible excuse could you have for voting for the tar sands pipeline that will tip climate catastrophe into too-fucking-late-now-bend-over-and-kill-your-ass-goodbye?

Down with Tyranny:

"If he honestly believes," says Van Jones in the video clip above, "that this pipeline-- which will be a huge part of his legacy-- is a good thing, he should call it the Obama Tar Sands Pipeline." Yes, a huge part of his legacy. The House may have made it easy for him-- whichever decision he makes. Last week they passed H.R. 3, which removes Obama from the decision-making process, despite this being a deal that involves the U.S. border, over which he has constitutional authority. So... he can veto it on that basis alone-- if it passes the Senate (a distinct possibility, since the majority of the whores in that esteemed body have already come out in favor). Of course, if Obama really wants the pipeline to go through and just would rather avoid the stain on his legacy, he could let that go through and say "Congress did it, not me," although only idiots-- so, roughly, half the voters, could possibly buy into that lame excuse.
When the House voted not a single Republican voted NO, although Planet Justin (Amash-R-MI) voted "present." The real horror, though was that 19 Democrats scurried across the aisle to vote with the GOP, not just for the Keystone XL Pipeline, but to remove Obama from the process. And they weren't all just the Blue Dog reactionaries and racists. Here's the whole list:
• John Barrow (Blue Dog/New Dem-GA)

• Sanford Bishop (Blue Dog-GA)

• Cheri Bustos (IL)

• Jim Cooper (Blue Dog/New Dem-TN)

• Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)

• Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX)

• Bill Enyart (IL)

• Al Green (TX)

• Gene Green (TX)

• Ruben Hinojosa (TX)

• Sean Maloney (New Dem-NY)

• Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT)

• Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog/New Dem-NC)

• Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL)

• Bill Owens (New Dem-NY)

• Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)

• Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)

• Filemon Vela (New Dem-TX)

• John Yarmuth (KY)

Creating Jobs and Profit Off An Illegal Alien

It's not a solution for either Kentucky's high unemployment or the environmental catastrophe Asian carp are creating, but it's certainly making sushi out of invasive fish.

From the AP:

A new company is investing more than $2.5 million in a western Kentucky venture expected to create 50 jobs processing Asian carp for shipment to Southeast Asia.

The fish breed faster than some native species and eat up algae and zooplankton that other fish need. A commercial fishing competition was held in March at Barkley and Kentucky lakes, and fishermen removed nearly 83,000 pounds of the carp.


The state has approved tax incentives of up to $1 million for the project.
More wasteful tax incentives. The morons at Eco-Devo got conned again.

Read more here:

Summer at Kentucky State Parks

UPDATED: June 13, June 22, July 3, July 8, July 12, July 19, August 10, August 24

A nice wet spring left Kentucky's State Parks green, lush and beautiful for the high season. Don't miss them.

  • Kentucky Chatauqua Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park will host a Chautauqua presentation of “Colonel” Harland Sanders, the creator of Kentucky Fried Chicken, on Sept. 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the Lodge Meeting Room.
  • Survival Skills Weekend Join the park naturalist for a full weekend of prehistoric-based survival training at Big Bone Lick State Historic Site for our 2013 Lick the Wild: Survival Skills Weekend.
  • 2-for-1 Camping Enjoy some cooler temperatures with a special camping offer for September from Kentucky State Parks. The parks are offering two nights for the price of one for campers from Sept. 2-29.
  • Elk and Hunting Show Jenny Wiley State Resort Park will host the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Eastern Kentucky Elk and Hunting Show, Sept. 6-8.
  • Ghost Hunt If you have an interest in history and are curious about hunting for ghosts, then E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park wants to invite you to an event Friday, Sept. 13. Attend “Spirits of Sawyer” to explore the history of the park and go on a “ghost hunt” led by S.E.R.I.O.U.S. Paranormal from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
  • Elk Tours Two state parks in eastern Kentucky will offer guests a unique wildlife viewing opportunity this fall and winter – elk viewing tours. Visitors to Jenny Wiley and Buckhorn Lake State Resort Parks can choose a weekend, stay at a state park lodge or cottage and arise early to enjoy one of these unique tours.
  • Wickliffe Mounds September is Kentucky Archaeology Month, and the significance of Kentucky’s archaeological sites will be celebrated across the Commonwealth with special events, programs and presentations. Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site will feature special exhibits about archaeology and the importance of preserving sites as part of the Friends of Wickliffe Mounds Appreciation Day on Sept. 28.
  • Beach Blast he beach closes after Labor Day weekend, so Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park is inviting you to its “End the Summer Beach Blast” on Saturday, Aug. 31.
  • Fraley Mountain Music Carter Caves State Resort Park will host the annual Fraley Mountain Music Gatherin’ for the 43rd year, Sept. 4-7. The festival that began as a family reunion honors old-time music and eastern Kentucky traditions as well as the late master fiddler J.P. Fraley. Musicians will be jamming in parking lots and sharing music around the campfires of Carter Caves State Resort Park. Musical instruments such as dulcimer, fiddle and guitar are used to tell stories about life long ago in the eastern Kentucky foothills.
  • Healthier Options for Kids The 17 restaurants operated by the Kentucky State Parks are now offering healthier options on their kids' menus. The Kentucky State Parks have joined "Better Bites: Restaurant Edition," a project of the Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition in Lexington. The coalition focuses on making healthy eating and regular physical activity popular and accessible for children ages 9-13.
  • For Horse Lovers With the opening of the Dawkins Line Rail Trail, horseback riders have another 18 miles of trails to enjoy the beautiful Kentucky scenery. The Kentucky State Parks, which will manage the Dawkins Line that runs through Johnson and Magoffin counties, have several other equine opportunities available to guests. “The Kentucky State Parks have some excellent trails, campgrounds and riding opportunities throughout the state,” First Lady Jane Beshear said. “Even if you don’t own a horse, several state parks have horses available so all visitors have the chance to enjoy a trail ride on a safe and comfortable mount.”

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Execution By Forced Childbirth

Here's a desperately needed and desperately dangerous rescue mission for all the special-ops wannabees out there:
Evacuate from El Salvador every single female human being and erect an electrified fence around the country to prevent the men from contaminating other countries or importing women from them.

Except that medieval chamber of horrors is exactly what the freakazoids and guntards and rape apologists want to establish right here.

Digby on "The Natural Way":

Maternal death:
After more than a month of delays, El Salvador’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday to deny a critically ill woman a lifesaving abortion. The 22-year-old woman, identified only as Beatriz, is 26 weeks pregnant with a nonviable, anencephalic fetus; her doctors have warned that, due to severe health complications related to Beatriz’s lupus, cardiovascular disease and kidney functioning, she may not survive the pregnancy.

Abortion is illegal under all circumstances in El Salvador, and the court’s ruling is final, according to her lawyers. “The only way now is to go to the international courts,” Victor Hugo Mata, one of Beatriz’s lawyers, told CBS News.

“[The Supreme Court is] saying Beatriz is not in danger and she must pursue the natural way of delivery and we must see what happens,” Mata told CBS. ”Everyday, the health of Beatriz is [getting] worse. If they wait another week or two weeks, she will be too feeble to endure the operation.”
This is absolutely barbaric. But it is consistent. If you believe that a fetus cannot be aborted under any circumstances because it is a person entitled to all the rights of any other person, including the woman in whose body it resides, then you logically cannot make the choice to save the mother even if the fetus will definitely die. Which it will:
Anencephaly is a cephalic disorder that results from a neural tube defect that occurs when the rostral (head) end of the neural tube fails to close, usually between the 23rd and 26th day of conception, resulting in the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp.[Strictly speaking, the translation of the Greek term to English is "no brain" (that is, totally lacking), but it is accepted that children with this disorder are born without a telencephalon, the largest part of the brain consisting mainly of the cerebral hemispheres, including the neocortex, which is responsible for cognition. The remaining brain tissue is often exposed, i.e. not covered by bone or skin.
The prognosis is death.

That they will put that anencephalic fetus, already tragically doomed to die, on the same plane as a 22 year old women who can be saved, is moral depravity. There's just no other term for it.
To call it "natural" is to say that women are "naturally" less worthy of living than a fetus with no brain.
 Is there not a single so-called doctor in that hell-hole willing to defy the misogynistic freakazoids in order to save one woman's life? Not a single pilot willing to fly her out of the country?

Not a single highly-respected, world-renowned American politician willing to threaten permanent status at the top of the U.S.'s shit list if El Salvador doesn't relent? (I'm looking at you, Hillary.)

Shame on us.

McConnell's Got 8.6 Million Reason$ Not to Be Worried About Grimes or Any Other Conservadem

Calm the fuck down, people.

First, for a conservadem like Alison Lundergan Grimes to be actually "tied" with McConnell at this point in the race, she'd have to be 20 points ahead.

Second, the only two things McConnell "fears" at this point are a primary challenge from a teabagger with a billionaire backer and a real Democratic candidate who can turn out the non-voters turned off by repug-lites.

 As Joe Sonka put it:
In all honesty, McConnell has no reason to fret yet, as it looks like his favorable rating would have to get all the way down to 20 percent in Kentucky before a viable Democratic candidate summoned the guts to get into the race against him.
And third, do not under any circumstance give a single fucking dime to the Kentucky Democratic Republican Party's mendacious anti-Mitch fundraising campaign. If a Democratic candidate beats McConnell next year - or even comes close - it will be despite the KDP, not thanks to it.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The First Memorial Day

I wonder why we didn't learn about this in school. 
No, I don't.
Erik Loomis:
As we close another Decoration Day, we have David Blight with typically excellent stories about Civil War memory:
But for the earliest and most remarkable Memorial Day, we must return to where the war began. By the spring of 1865, after a long siege and prolonged bombardment, the beautiful port city of Charleston, S.C., lay in ruin and occupied by Union troops. Among the first soldiers to enter and march up Meeting Street singing liberation songs was the 21st United States Colored Infantry; their commander accepted the city’s official surrender.
Whites had largely abandoned the city, but thousands of blacks, mostly former slaves, had remained, and they conducted a series of commemorations to declare their sense of the meaning of the war.
The largest of these events, forgotten until I had some extraordinary luck in an archive at Harvard, took place on May 1, 1865. During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the city’s Washington Race Course and Jockey Club into an outdoor prison. Union captives were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand.
After the Confederate evacuation of Charleston black workmen went to the site, reburied the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”
The symbolic power of this Low Country planter aristocracy’s bastion was not lost on the freedpeople, who then, in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers, staged a parade of 10,000 on the track. A New York Tribune correspondent witnessed the event, describing “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before.”
The procession was led by 3,000 black schoolchildren carrying armloads of roses and singing the Union marching song “John Brown’s Body.” Several hundred black women followed with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantrymen. Within the cemetery enclosure a black children’s choir sang “We’ll Rally Around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner” and spirituals before a series of black ministers read from the Bible.
After the dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches and watched soldiers drill. Among the full brigade of Union infantrymen participating were the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th United States Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite.
The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African-Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration. The war, they had boldly announced, had been about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders’ republic. They were themselves the true patriots.
The true patriots indeed, sadly forgotten about until recently because the nation decided to celebrate herrenvolk democracy in order to cover up the racial tensions that led to 750,000 dead Americans as a result of the South committing treason to defend slavery.

It's a Corporations-Run-Wild Treaty, Not a Trade Treaty

Bad enough that mulit-national corporations already have the U.S. government in their pocket and U.S. consumers at their mercy; how much worse will it get when corporate hegemony is codified in an international treaty?

Dave Johnson at Crooks and Liars:

The upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is using a process that is rigged from the start. It is not being negotiated by governments for the benefit of their people, it is being negotiated by executives (or future executives/lobbyists currently in government) largely for the benefit of the giant corporations they serve. The process has these giant corporations "in the loop" but groups citizens, working people, consumers, the environment, human rights groups and especially democracy are not part of the process. That can only go one way: if you don't have a seat at the table you are on the table -- the meal.

Chile's TPP Negotiator Quits, Warns Citizens

Rodrigo Contreras, Chile's lead TPP negotiator recently up and quit to warn people of the dangers this agreement poses to everyone except the giant multinational corporations. In The New Chessboard, (English translation) Contreras warns that the TPP is solidifying multinational corporate control over the Internet, copyrights, patents (especially drug patents), and in particular warns that the giant financial interests are solidifying their current control over the regulatory process. He writes that this will block countries that are trying to "restore the space for applying financial safeguards. In these circumstances it does not makes sense to further liberalize capital flows, depriving us of legitimate tools to safeguard financial stability."

In particular, Contreras warns that smaller countries face a threat from this agreement's solidifying of the control of the giant multinationals, concluding,
It is critical to reject the imposition of a model designed according to realities of high-income countries, which are very different from the other participating countries.
Otherwise, this agreement will become a threat for our countries: it will restrict our development options in health and education, in biological and cultural diversity, and in the design of public policies and the transformation of our economies. It will also generate pressures from increasingly active social movements, who are not willing to grant a pass to governments that accept an outcome of the TPPnegotiations that limits possibilities to increase the prosperity and well-being of our countries.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Massie Votes to Double Student Loan Rates

'Cause anybody who doesn't have a Texan teenaged teabagging billionaire sugar daddy should have to put themselves into debt slavery for life if they want a college education.

From VoteNote:

Student Loan Interest Rate Reform – Final Passage - Vote Passed (221-198, 15 Not Voting)

In its last action before the recess, the House passed a bill to overhaul student loan interest rates. Interest rates are currently set to rise from 3.4 to 6.8 percent this summer. H.R. 1911 would set rates for Stafford loans at the level of the 10-year Treasury Note plus 2.5 percent (capped at 8.5 percent), while PLUS loans would be set at 10-year Treasuries plus 4.5 percent (capped at 10.5 percent). Though Republicans stated that the bill was modeled on reforms from President Obama’s FY 2014 budget, the president has threatened to veto the bill . It is not clear what the Senate intends to do about interest rates at this time.

Rep. Thomas Massie voted YES
Massie's Northern Kentucky Fourth District includes some of the poorest counties in the state - both urban and rural. There's not a variety of poverty that doesn't exist in the Fourth - and very few high school kids who can afford a doubling of the interest rate on student loans.

But Massie doesn't give a flying fuck about that - he cares only about pleasing his teenaged teabagging billionaire from Texas so he'll bankroll Massie's reelection campaign next year.

Even Ohio Admits "Voter Fraud" Is A Non-Issue

Attention, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes: in considering "improvements" to Kentucky's election system, don't try to pretend stricter voter ID requirements will do anything but disenfranchise minorities, the elderly and the poor.

Even vote-suppressing Ohio knows better.

Josh Marshall at TPM:

As (Ohio Secretary of State) Husted put it, “Voter fraud does exist, but it is not an epidemic. To put this into context, … that’s 135 referrals out of more than 5.6 million votes cast.”

The numbers speak for themselves. If anything I would say Husted still somewhat exaggerates the scale of the problem. But the guy deserves credit for putting this all out there.

Two points I’d make.

The first is that what really turns elections is organized vote fraud and organized voting fraud almost always requires the involvement of election administrators. This is why voter ID is itself such a fraud in my mind because it provides zero protection against the kinds of fraud that are real dangers to elections.

Second, there are clearly people who will vote in two states or try to vote absentee and then vote on election day. No sane person has ever denied this. But there are very, very, very few of them. The issue with election policy is always balancing the costs with the benefits. There’s no free lunch.

You can take your voting list and purge everyone on the list who you can’t verify is living at exactly the same address as listed or everyone who has the same name as someone who once committed a felony. And you may upend two or three people who were going to vote in the name of some dead person. But you’ll probably knock tens of thousands of legitimate voters off the rolls. This is a documented fact. And conveniently, the great majority of those people will be poorer and minority voters who just happen to be Democrats.

Back in the early aughts it was a big, big thing for Dems talking about hacking Diebold voter machines. And there were lots of scary stories about how easily this could be done. There was also no evidence that it actually had been done. To be clear, I’m not saying it wasn’t a good idea to make these machines more secure, only that evidence trumps paranoia. Always.

If we wanted to we could have a national voter ID system, with some equivalent of a Social Security number that would make it totally clear when you moved from one state to another, would reconcile when someone died and should be removed from the voting rolls, which could ensure that everyone was issued a free voter ID card, etc. But the truth is that there is zero will to spend either the money to make this possible or to federalize the process of voting. The whole idea of a national ID would kill the approach in its tracks.

All of which brings you back to one central point: if you care about the integrity of elections and people actually being able to vote, the supposed cures for vote fraud are vastly more destructive than the problem.

All evidence suggests that vote fraud is a minuscule, minuscule problem. Voter ID and most of the other nostrums are solutions looking for a problem. The people who support these policies are either ignorant of the facts or actually want to cull a certain subsection of the population from democratic participation. There are simply no two ways about it.
 If Grimes really wants to improve Kentucky elections, she'll recommend early voting including weekends and evenings, all-county voting (any precinct), election-day registration and relaxing ID requirements; support restoring voting rights to felons who have served their time, and copy Oregon's vote-by-mail system.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Roundup Found Poisonous: It's the Year to Go Organic

If you're still using pesticides and herbicides from chemical killers like Monsanto and Dow, doing business as Ortho, stop right now for the sake of your health and life.


A French court in Lyon “ruled that Monsanto’s Lasso weedkiller formula . . . caused [farmer] Paul Francois to develop lifelong neurological damage”.   Compensation to be established.
And from Nation of Change:

A new review of hundreds of scientific studies surrounding glyphosate—the major component of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide—sheds light on its effects within the human body. The paper describes how all of these effects could work together, and with other variables, trigger health problems in humans, including debilitating diseases like gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Glyphosate impairs the cytochrome P450 (CYP) gene pathway, which creates enzymes that help to form and also break down molecules in cells. There are myriad important CYP enzymes, including aromatase (the enzyme that converts androgen into estrogen) and 21-Hydroxylase, which creates cortisol (stress hormone) and aldosterone (regulates blood pressure). One function of these CYP enzymes is also to detoxify xenobiotics, which are foreign chemicals like drugs, carcinogens or pesticides. Glyphosate inhibits these CYP enzymes, which has rippling effects throughout our body.

Because the CYP pathway is essential for normal functioning of various systems in our bodies, any small change in its expression can lead to disruptions. For example, humans exposed to glyphosate have decreased levels of the amino acid tryptophan, which is necessary for active signaling of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Suppressed serotonin levels have been associated with weight gain, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. This paper does not claim to yield new scientific discoveries. Instead, it looks at older studies in a new light. Critics will say the links between glyphosate and health problems made in this paper are purely correlational, but this work is important because it brings all of the possible health effects of glyphosate together and discusses what could happen: something the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration have failed to do.

Just as Monsanto attempted to discredit scientist Gilles-Eric Seralini’s study on rats fed genetically engineered corn, the company called this peer-reviewed journal article “another bogus study” due to its “bad science.” In a classic pot-calling-the-kettle-black scenario, what Monsanto doesn’t mention is that the majority of research showing glyphosate’s safety has been done by Monsanto itself, which could be called bad science as well due to its limited and biased nature.

The authors of the new review call for more independent research to validate their findings, stating that “glyphosate is likely to be pervasive in our food supply, and contrary to being essentially nontoxic, it may in fact be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment.” If the body of independent research on GE foods and the herbicides used with them shows one thing, it is that there are unanswered questions begging for unbiased research. And while these questions remain unanswered, Americans have the right to know how their food was produced.
 Going organic takes more initial time and effort, but from the very beginning it's far cheaper than using synthetic chemicals.  And after the first establishing year, it takes even less time and effort than it does money. Find out how to get started here.

Kentucky Megachurch Tells Boy Scouts to Fuck Off and DIe

And the freakazoids are flat-out lying about the reason.

Mark Boxley at the Courier:

Southeast Christian Church will break ties with a Boy Scout troop because it believes the youth organization has become too polarizing, its executive pastor said.

The organization’s National Council voted last week to allow openly gay youth but maintained its ban on gay leaders.

Tim Hester, executive pastor of Southeast Christian, said the youth organization’s consideration of that issue started the discussion that eventually led to the church’s board of elders deciding against renewing the church’s charter with Troop 212, but it wasn’t the deciding issue.

The charter was going to be broken regardless of the Boy Scout vote, he said.

“Truly for us it’s a logical decision,” he said. “We cannot be distracted from the mission God has called us to.”

The Scouts have until the end of the year to relocate.
Southeast Christian is known as "Six Flags Over Jesus" because you can't hardly see the religion for the conference facilities and recreation center and club houses and support groups and every kind of social amenity for members and members only.

Sponsoring a Boy Scout troop was just one part of its mission to separate people from their secular community and secular government by supplying all their needs at church.

You'd think their frantic need to proselytize would see gay Scouts as a juicy new opportunity to brainwash the young, but their homophobic hatred trumped even their evangelism.

Personally, I'm glad to see the Scouts escape the freakazoids. I hope a secular sponsor will step up soon.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Criminal CEOs Skate Because They Make $9 Million a Year

Aviva Shen at Think Progress:
The average CEO salary broke records in 2011 at $9.6 million — and now, that record high has been topped by 2012 salaries, which averaged out to $9.7 million. Health care and media CEOs enjoyed the highest pay, while utility CEOs had the lowest at $7.5 million. Sixty percent of CEOs got a raise last year. 
Though CEO pay dropped slightly after the financial crisis, it quickly rebounded to reach new heights in 2010, 2011, and now 2012. Simultaneously, the pay gap between CEOs and workers has also broken records, as the average CEO in 2012 earned 354 times more than the average worker.

During the recession, some companies changed their compensation formulas to incorporate more stock as a way to tie executives’ salaries to the company’s performance. As the stock market enjoys all-time highs, CEO pay has also soared. Yet the stock market’s rally has not been felt by most middle and low income families, as the housing market recovers in fits and starts. As a result, income inequality has been exacerbated in the first two years of the recovery.

Skyrocketing executive salaries since deregulation in the 1980s helped the top 1 percent of Americans expand their share of income, even as worker pay has stagnated.

Skewed executive compensation levels made some CEOs iconic villains after the financial crisis. Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit got a $6.7 million pay-out after driving the bank to near ruin, while a Duke Energy CEO received $44 million for one day of work.
If only Congress saw them as villains. Instead, these are the assholes to whom Congress listens and for whose benefit Congress passes laws.

Full-time minimum wage gets you $15,000 a year.  That's 1/600th of average CEO pay. I dare anyone to explain to me how anyone can do anything 600 times harder or better than, say, what an elementary school janitor does.

The fact is, they can't. The gap between the lowest-paid workers and the highest-paid "workers" - and I use the word "workers" lightly to refer to people who gobble up millions for shifting paper around - is the class war crime at the heart of what is wrong with our nation.

Keep Public Property Safe from Freakazoid Proselytizing

 They're so frantic about it, you have to wonder just how fragile their worldview is, that it requires constant evangelizing.


State park officials initially said they would remove the Bibles, but this caused a certain amount of butthurt among Christians because lack of evangelizing = Oppression. And then Georgia Gov. Nathan whoop said, hey, No Big Deal, because even though the only religious materials in the cabins are completely sectarian, it’s totes legal because the State didn’t pay for the bibles; the Gideons donated them. Besides, said Gov. Deal,
“I do not believe that a Bible in a bedside table drawer constitutes a state establishment of religion,” he said. “In fact, any group is free to donate literature.”
Oh? said some sharp kids at American Atheists. Did you say any group? Hey, guys, as it happens, we are a group, and we would just love to donate some literature to be placed in bedside table drawers in Georgia state parks! And so they will be sending the Georgia Department of Natural Resources “enough popular atheist books to place one in every state park cabin in the state.”
In a press release, the group acknowledged that it would really prefer that state-owned facilities be oppressively neutral on matters of religion, but if Georgia wants to play this way, sure!
“American Atheists does not believe the State of Georgia should be placing Bibles or atheist books in state park cabins; however, if the state is going to allow such distribution, we will happily provide our materials,” said President David Silverman.
The books will include Ibn Warraq’s Why I Am Not A Muslim, Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s Why I Am An Atheist, and Christopher Hitchens’ deliberately not-capitalized just to piss people off god is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
Sure, this is totally going to happen, and there will be no butthurt at all among Christians, because it’s not like the state would be forcing anyone to read those titles.
On the off chance that you can’t grab a copy from the bedside table of a cabin in a Georgia state park, we’ve included linkies to generate Big Kickback Bucks for Yr Wonkette.
Yeah, haha, cute. Made your point. And far be it from me to criticize American Atheists, who are usually far ahead of the ACLU in church-state separation cases.

But stunts that equate atheist literature with religious literature feed and promote the myth that atheism is a religion. Religion is the abomination atheism rejects.

State parks are public assets that must remain free of all material that promotes any non-secular worldview. Frantic freakazoid propaganda to the contrary, the U.S. Constitution establishes a secular state. Take your religion elsewhere.

Get Your Religion Off My Democracy

The conservatards and fellow-travelers on the supreme court are likely to use this case to declare 14th-century catholicism the official religion of the U.S., complete with Inquisitional torture for all dissenters. Bbut in a rational world, this would be the case that establishes once and for all that freedom OF religion is also freedom FROM religion.

Generic prayers are deeply, fundamentally offense to atheists and therefore unconstitutional.

Steve Benen at Maddowblog:

In many parts of the country, it's not at all unusual for locals to attend a meeting of their city council or county commission, and see local officials begin the meeting with an official prayer. What if the invocation doesn't reflect your religious beliefs? That's a shame, but you're out of luck -- you can sit silently or wait in the hall.
Is this permissible in a country that honors the separation of church and state? We'll apparently get an answer to that question fairly soon.
The Supreme Court (last week) agreed to decide whether a town board in upstate New York violated the First Amendment by starting its sessions with a prayer.
The case comes from Greece, a town near Rochester. For more than a decade starting in 1999, the town board began its public meetings with a prayer from a "chaplain of the month." Town officials said that members of all faiths and atheists were welcome to give the opening prayer.
In practice, the federal appeals court in New York said, almost all of the chaplains were Christian.
Indeed, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously against the official prayers, noting, among other things, that most of the invocations "contained uniquely Christian language," and there's nothing in the local policy that requires that the prayers be inclusive or non-sectarian.
"The town's prayer practice must be viewed as an endorsement of a particular religious viewpoint," the appeals court concluded.

Whether a Supreme Court majority will agree remains to be seen. The most recent case on the matter was in 1983, in a case called Marsh v. Chambers, in which the high court upheld daily invocations in the Nebraska legislature.

The case was brought by my friends at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which brought the litigation on behalf of two community residents, Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens. They objected to the Greece Town Board's practice of inviting clergy to open its meetings with sectarian prayers.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United (and full disclosure, a long-time friend of mine), said, "A town council meeting isn't a church service, and it shouldn't seem like one. Government can't serve everyone in the community when it endorses one faith over others. That sends the clear message that some are second-class citizens based on what they believe about religion."
 Lynn is wrong.  It's not that "government can't serve everyone in the community when it endorses one faith over others."  It's that government can't serve everyone in the community when it endorses any faith.

Atheism is not faith.  Atheism is not a religion. Atheism is a personal relationship with reality. Prayer in and of itself - regardless of content or intended supernatural recipient - is an abomination.

Teh Atheists Have Invaded the Freakazoid States

We. Are. Everywhere. Even Oklahoma and Arizona.

Divine Irony:

There was a moment of levity in Oklahoma Tuesday when CNN host Wolf Blitzer, concluding an interview with a woman named Rebecca and her 19-month-old son Anders who survived the devastating tornado, asked her if she thanked the Lord for a decision that saved her life. 
 “I’m actually an atheist,” she replied, laughing.

She added she wouldn’t blame other people for thanking the Lord, though.

Rebecca said she decided to leave her house with Anders, a fateful move as it was later destroyed by the tornado. She returned after it hit to see her husband Brian searching the remains of the home for her and their son, leading to a tearful reunion.
An atheist state legislator opened Tuesday afternoon’s session of the Arizona House of Representatives with an invocation * in which he asked his colleagues to not bow their heads, referred to his secular humanist beliefs, and quoted Carl Sagan. Miraculously, no one shouted “You lie!” or even walked out in response to the invocation by state Rep. Juan Mendez, a Tempe Democrat elected in 2012. For that matter, we have not yet been able to find any examples online of wingnuts citing Mendez’s invocation as proof that America is over, although we suspect this may change as the story hits the wire services.
Let your atheist flag fly.

*Rep. Mendez should not have referred to his statement as an invocation. This feeds into the myth that atheism is a religion. It is not. Religion itself is the abomination atheists reject. Any concession to religion is a mistake.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

"Mindless Glorification of Barbarism"

That phrase from Kevin Drum could describe the vast majority of repug legislation for the past 30-plus years, but it is particularly apropos for the latest abomination:

The Economist's Jon Fasman reports on the latest political pandering from a member of the Greatest Deliberative Body On Earth:
On Wednesday David Vitter (pictured), a Republican senator from Louisiana, proposed—and the Senate agriculture committee accepted—an amendment to the farm bill that would, in Mr Vitter's words, "prohibit convicted murderers, rapists and pedophiles from receiving food stamps." It's not hard to see why this amendment passed. All Mr Vitter needed to do was propose it []. Then the tacit question arises: Does anyone in this chamber want to stand up and say that taxpayers should feed murderers, rapists and pedophiles? No? Of course not.
This is revolting. It obviously has no fiscal impact worth mentioning, and just as clearly does nothing to reduce the future rate of murder, rape, or pedophilia. It's just pure political grandstanding from a guy who knows an amendment like this will play well with the rubes back home. It's a mindless glorification of barbarism for the sake of a few votes.

If you think the current sentencing standards for murder, rape, and pedophilia are too lenient, then lobby to change them. Until then, though, anyone who's released from prison is someone who's done their time and paid their debt. Their punishment at the hands of the justice system is sufficient. They don't deserve more at the hands of every showboating senator with his next election on his mind.
So, back in your teen years you punched a guy in a bar so that he fell and hit his head causing substantial enough damage that you were charged with a violent felony and sentenced to five years in state prison.

You regretted the punch immediately, pled guilty and accepted punishment.  You were a model prisoner for your entire stint, getting out a year early for good behavior.

But now you're a convicted felon with a GED you earned in prison. You're not qualified for any but the most menial jobs, and those you can't get because you have a record.

You get by doing odd jobs for cash, living with your parents to make it less expensive for all of you, and you walk the straight and narrow, declaring to the IRS and Social Security every fucking dime you earn.

The one thing that makes it possible to live without resorting to crime is food stamps. Now the United States Congress - for whom, in Kentucky, you cannot vote, because you are a convicted felon - has decided you don't deserve $1.40 per meal to keep your parents from starvation and yourself from crimes of desperation.

Mindless glorification of barbarism is putting it far too mildly.

Less Need for Nuclear Fuel = 1,100 Fewer Good Union Jobs in Kentucky

The sooner the nuclear power industry and the nuclear weapon industry fall onto the trash heap of history where they belong, the happier I'll be.

And you can't tell me there's not one single American entrepreneur out there in need of 1,100 highly-skilled, experienced workers living a stone's throw from the Mighty Mississippi.

James R. Carroll and Tom Loftus at the Courier:

The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Western Kentucky, which for six decades has enriched uranium for nuclear power plants, is shutting down at the end of the month — and taking with it up to 1,100 jobs, officials announced Friday.


Payroll tax revenues from the plant provide McCracken County with about $1 million, or about 4 percent of its budget, he said.“It’s very devastating to our plant, to our workers and to our community and region,” said Jim Key, vice president of United Steelworkers Local 550, which represents 580 workers at the facility.

“These are highly skilled, well-trained, safety-conscious workers. And there are virtually no jobs out there in this region for our workers to obtain now.”
Hey, here's a idea:  hire those 1,100 workers who know how to handle nuclear material to ... wait for it ... clean up the radioactive and toxic pollution from the plant's decades of operation.
The Paducah facility has been enriching uranium since 1952, first for use in nuclear weapons and later for nuclear power plants.

While the plant will stop enriching uranium, the site will remain the focus of extensive environmental cleanup for many years. The byproducts of enrichment over decades have produced widespread radiological and chemical contamination.

A Courier-Journal series in 2000 revealed that waterways, underground water, soil, plants and animals had been contaminated with some of the most dangerous chemicals known, including plutonium and dioxin.

“We will certainly work hard to keep the funding up” for the cleanup, (McCracken Judge-Executive Van) Newberry said.
 Did somebody say "infrastructure spending?"

Not the Hippies' Fault: Military Rape Was Part of the "Good War," Too

Looks like the tolerance of the U.S. military for sexual assault dates back quite a bit further than the Sixties sexual revolution the repugs blame for everything.
The greatest generation indeed:
The soldiers who landed in Normandy on D-Day were greeted as liberators, but by the time American G.I.’s were headed back home in late 1945, many French citizens viewed them in a very different light.
In the port city of Le Havre, the mayor was bombarded with letters from angry residents complaining about drunkenness, jeep accidents, sexual assault — “a regime of terror,” as one put it, “imposed by bandits in uniform.”
This isn’t the “greatest generation” as it has come to be depicted in popular histories. But in “What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American G.I. in World War II France,” the historian Mary Louise Roberts draws on French archives, American military records, wartime propaganda and other sources to advance a provocative argument: The liberation of France was “sold” to soldiers not as a battle for freedom but as an erotic adventure among oversexed Frenchwomen, stirring up a “tsunami of male lust” that a battered and mistrustful population often saw as a second assault on its sovereignty and dignity.

On the ground, however, the grateful kisses captured by photojournalists gave way to something less picturesque. In the National Archives in College Park, Md., Ms. Roberts found evidence — including one blurry, curling snapshot — supporting long-circulating colorful anecdotes about the Blue and Gray Corral, a brothel set up near the village of St. Renan in September 1944 by Maj. Gen. Charles H. Gerhardt, commander of the infantry division that landed at Omaha Beach, partly to counter a wave of rape accusations against G.I.’s. (It was shut down after a mere five hours.)
In France, Ms. Roberts also found a desperate letter from the mayor of Le Havre in August 1945 urging American commanders to set up brothels outside the city, to halt the “scenes contrary to decency” that overran the streets, day and night. They refused, partly, Ms. Roberts argues, out of concern that condoning prostitution would look bad to “American mothers and sweethearts,” as one soldier put it.
Keeping G.I. sex hidden from the home front, she writes, ensured that it would be on full public view in France: a “two-sided attitude,” she said, that is reflected in the current military sexual abuse crisis.

" To remember with gratitude the countless men and women who gave their lives so we could know peace and live in freedom."

Far too many of them gave their lives so that ExxonMobil and the Koch Brothers could swim in profits, but on this one day I'll forget that part, Mr. President.

Full transcript here.

How Will You Celebrate Hemp History Week?

No, not by doing that.

Seriously people: we'll never get industrial hemp - which can replace virtually every industrial use of petroleum and thus get us light-years closer to eliminating fossil fuels - if you keep confusing legalized hemp with legalized pot.

From the press release:

A new industrial hemp webpage tells how the plant got started in Kentucky, how Kentucky came to be the nation’s leading producer, and what’s being done to bring hemp back to the commonwealth.

Hemp Facts button
The Industrial Hemp Facts page is the most recent addition to the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s website, It provides users quick facts about industrial hemp and links to other hemp sites.
“We are closer to restoring industrial hemp production to Kentucky than we have been in generations, so it is appropriate for the department to provide a place where the people can get the facts about hemp,” Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said. “On the Industrial Hemp Facts page, you can read about just a few of the estimated 25,000 products that are made from hemp, find out about Senate Bill 50, and learn about Kentucky’s rich hemp heritage.”

Hemp History Week logo
The launch of the Industrial Hemp Facts page comes on the eve of the fourth annual Hemp History Week June 3-9. Hemp History Week, presented by the Hemp Industry Association and Vote Hemp, is a campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of industrial hemp and rally support for legalizing hemp production.

“Hemp was once a paramount crop in American agriculture as a hardy and renewable resource for various industrial applications, including cordage, paper, and textiles,” said Eric Steenstra, president of Vote Hemp. “Today, hemp is being used in an even greater variety of products. Hemp History Week 2013 will focus on how industrial hemp can build a future in which economic growth and sustainable agricultural and manufacturing practices go hand in hand.”

To find out more about Hemp History Week, go to

To visit the Industrial Hemp Facts page, go to
 Oh, yeah, Comer's running for governor in two years, all right. And at this rate, he's gonna take it in a walk.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Your Grammar Nazi

I may be the last holdout on this one, but I don't care: "comprised of" is illiterate nonsense.

10% of Jordan’s population is now comprised of Syrian refugees.
No. Wrong.

"Syrian refugees now comprise 10 percent of Jordan's population."

The parts comprise the whole.  The whole is never "comprised of" its parts.

Rand Paul Is a Lying Moron

First, government debt and deficit is only a problem when we have inflation. Remember inflation? Way back in 1980? Hello?  Bueller?

Second, thanks to the sequestration austerity that is literally taking food out of the mouths of starving children and denying chemotherapy to cancer patients, the deficit is falling faster than it has in two decades.

Third, the Tribble-Toupeed One doesn't give a flying fuck about facts or truth or the deficit; all he cares about is spreading bullshit that will make the paultards faint from ecstasy.

Steve Benen at Maddowblog:

Alas, some folks stick to their old talking points, even when they're now wrong.

Now, this is ordinarily the point at which I note that China owns only a small portion of U.S. debt; large deficits are wise under the economic circumstances; and if Sen. Paul is really eager to reduce the deficit, he should endorse some tax increases.

But putting all of this aside, Rand Paul is using out-of-date math. "We are borrowing $4 billion a day"? Let's see -- there are 365 days in a year ... multiplied by 4 billion ... carry the one ... that means we'll have annual federal budget deficit of over $1.4 trillion.

Except, we won't. The latest CBO estimate says this year's deficit will be $642 billion, down $400 billion from last year, and nearly $800 billion from when President Obama took office. Paul's argument, in other words, isn't even close to being accurate -- we're not borrowing $4 billion a day; we're borrowing less than $2 billion a day.

If the right wants to argue that's still too much, fine. I disagree, but we can at least have a debate. But to use talking points from 2009, as if we have haven't already seen the fastest deficit reduction in modern U.S. history, is absurd. What Rand Paul is telling his followers is simply and demonstrably wrong.

Updating talking points may be annoying, but when the facts change, politicians' rhetoric needs to change with them.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Secretly Fracking the Daniel Boone National Forest

Yes, the motherfuckers can so too do it, and not tell anyone what toxic chemicals they're pouring into the watershed that provides the drinking water for about half the state, thanks to the fossil-fuel-cock-sucking Obama administration.

Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars:

Somehow, I'm not all that surprised that we went from this hopeful news on Ed's show in February to this crashing disappointment in May. We can say that in this case, the bad guys clearly won -- assuming, of course, that you believe sick people have the right to know what they're ingesting:

On May 16, the Obama Interior Department announced its long-awaited rules governing hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") on federal lands.

As part of its 171-page document of rules, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), part of the U.S. Dept. of Interior (DOI), revealed it will adopt theAmerican Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model bill written by ExxonMobil for fracking chemical fluid disclosure on U.S. public lands.
Trust the fossil-fuel industry to come up with something worse than mountaintop removal mining.

Saving Lives in Tornadoes Won't Save the Taxpayers BIllions in Damages

But restricting development in tornado zones and eliminating fossil fuel use will save lives AND property.

Steve Benen at Maddowblog:

Oklahoma state Representative Joe Dorman grew up sitting in hallways, too, and hoping for the best. Now he is proposing that Oklahoma spend $500 million building safe rooms for schools and other public facilities. As part of the Democratic minority, Dorman will need bipartisan support if he's to get anywhere with a bill. He tells us:

"There is that Big Brother mentality that says, 'You can't tell me what to do. We will never get a mandate that says you have to have a safe room in your home. . . . [I]f we are going to mandate that our kids must be in school, then we need to mandate that they have somewhere safe to go when there's a tornado."

As it happens, the mayor of devastated Moore now says he'll push for an ordinance requiring safe rooms in new homes. Even as Oklahoma has offered funding for schools to build safe rooms, the state has also resisted having the government regulation needed to require them and the expense of building them.
Yeah, you conservatard voters in red states so thrilled with your no-tax-dollars-for-anybody-except-us congressional asswipes, the rest of us are sick and fucking tired of handing you billions of dollars in disaster aid every other year because you keep building in the same fucking place.

Sure, all the sweet federal gubmint bucks you can suck down for safe rooms in schools and libraries and courthouses - IF you build those houses and schools and libraries in high-density downtowns instead of spread the fuck out all over hell's half acre of tornado-attracting cornfields.

And IF you start promoting clean energy as a way to SAVE FUCKING LIVES.

And IF you demand that the government agencies that save your worthless asses year after year after year after year get all the tax-dollar funding they could ever imagine wanting.
Bryce Covert at Think Progress:

The tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma on Tuesday left incredible devastation and loss in its wake. But the damage may have been even worse if it weren’t for a warning from the National Weather Service (NWS) 16 minutes before it touched down, allowing some to seek out safety. As George Zornick reported at The Nation, the tornado emergency it sent out “no doubt saved hundreds of lives in Moore.”

But the NWS has been struggling with budget cuts in recent years and is facing down even more cuts thanks to sequestration. Zornick reports that the agency in which the NWS is housed, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has been on the budget cutting radar for some time:
You're fucking addicts, red states: addicted to the tax dollars of liberals and Democratic voters in blue states whom you so despise.

And yes, Kentucky is one of you.

Kentucky Needs 3,800 More Doctors Right Now - and Thousands More Next Year

It's one cause of both high health care costs and poor health outcomes in Kentucky that you rarely hear about: the severe shortage of doctors.

More doctors - thousands more doctors in Kentuckys - would ensure that everyone can get in to see a doctor when he or she needs to see a doctor, without having to wait weeks or drive hours.

More doctors - thousands more doctors in Kentucky - would mean competition for patients, which lowers costs.

Laura Unger at the Courier:

Kentucky needs 3,790 more doctors, including 183 additional primary care physicians, to meet current demand for care — and those numbers will grow when more Kentuckians get coverage through a Medicaid expansion and health benefit exchange under health reform.

Those are some of the findings in a workforce capacity study report by Deloitte Consulting that was the subject of a briefing Wednesday held by the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The report is scheduled to be made available on the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange website next week.

The report looked at the state’s longstanding shortages of health care providers, particularly in rural areas, and made recommendations to increase the state’s health workforce.

They include two controversial proposals — supporting the idea of allowing nurse practitioners to prescribe non-scheduled drugs without having a written agreement with a doctor, and evaluating the possibility of changing statutes related to medical malpractice caps.
 It's hard to attract doctors to a state that throws them in jail for relieving a patient's pain.

Not to mention a state that values corporate tax breaks and worshipping Big Coal above education, economic growth and environmental protection.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thomas Massie Thinks It's OK to Steal Military Valor

And his vote makes perfect sense; in eight months on the job, he has yet to cast a single vote that reflects the needs of his actual constituents in Kentucky's Fourth District.

But then, the residents of Northern Kentucky aren't his real constituents: the teenaged Texas teabagger billionaire who bought him the election is Massie's only real constituent.

Down with Tyranny:

Yesterday the House voted 390-3 on a Stolen Valor bill sponsored by Nevada Republican Joe Heck. The 3 oddballs who voted NO were Justin Amash (R-MI), Paul Broun (R-GA) and Tom Massie (R-KY). The actual Stolen Valor Act was written by then-Congressman John Salazar (D-CO) and passed in 2006 and signed by George W. Bush. It passed both Houses of Congress unanimously. Salazar's bill made it illegal for unauthorized persons to wear, buy, sell, barter, trade, or manufacture "any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces of the United States, or any of the service medals or badges awarded to the members of such forces." The right-wing Supreme Court struck the bill down as a violation of the First Amendment, claiming, essentially, that lying about military honors is a right to free expression.
Heck tries getting around that by outlawing lies about military honors with the "intent to obtain money, property or other tangible benefit."

I Give Up. Kentucky Democrats Are Too Fucking Stupid for Words

I don't have any to do justice to this ... this .... aaaarrrrrrgggghhhhhh!


With Big Hollywood Feminazi Out Of Kentucky Senate Race, Dems Eye Former Miss America Married To Total Felon

Kentucky Democrats, you are awesomesauce. You are respresented by Mitch McConnell, who was the least popular senator in the country until Arizona Senator Jeff Flake stepped on his “friend” Gabby Gifford’s shattered skull to vote against background checks at gun shows, whoops. And yet, when faced with what could possibly be a winnable race, you a) get super ching-chong-chinaman-racist on Mitch McConnell’s Taiwan-born wife, b) do some bullshit eavesdropping that bites you in your fat Kentucky ass, and c) when the Big Hollywood Gaia-worshipper who’s always jawing on about the Patriarchy decides not to run you go courting … a former Miss America with no political experience except being married to a guy who was in politics until he was convicted like 50 times of 50 different things, including defrauding Medicaid like he was Rick Scott or something. Also, she killed someone.
We are waiting for Heather French Henry to announce she is not interested in running, at which time Kentucky Dems should approach:
  • Kai the hatchet wielding awesome guy who was so awesome until he beat a man to death.
  • A lesbian.
  • A black lady who deals drugs on welfare.
  • A black lady who doesn’t deal drugs, and isn’t on welfare, and in fact is a respected and high-achieving member of her profession, but is still black.
  • Christine O’Donnell.
Kentucky Dems, whatever would we do without you?

Because AnyRandy Was Conceived in Texas ...

I'm letting Juanita Jean handle this one.

Rand Paul, a man so crazy that he could only have been sired in Texas, went on the Sunday morning teevee shows and said that the IRS had a “written policy” that said agency officials were ”targeting people who were opposed to the president.”

Oh really?
When CNN anchor Candy Crowley pressed Paul for details, the junior Kentucky senator revealed that he had only heard about the memo.
Rand kept insisting that the memo exists because he heard about it and – to add credibility to the existence of such a memo – he stated that it has “bullet points.”

Oh dear God.  Bullet points.  We are so screwed.  You cannot make up bullet points.  Or worse yet, what if it’s a PowerPoint?  You can’t lie about imaginary PowerPoints.  Something bad will happen if you do.  Like maybe your hair will fall out and you have to train a squirrel to be still on your head.
Then he says —
“I haven’t seen a policy statement, but I think we need to see that.”
Okay, I am not suggesting that you haven’t seen it because it doesn’t exist.  I would never say that and ruin your chance at winning a Pulitzer Prize for fiction.  That would just be mean of me.

Next Up:  There was a written memo and the Democrats destroyed it.  Coming next week to a Sunday morning talk show near you.
What I'd really love to see is a Senate election that pitted Mitchie-poo and the Tribble-Toupeed One against each other. It just might kill the Kentucky Republican Party once and for all.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tortured With Electrocution For Daring to Question Our Plutocratic Masters

Down, serfs!  I SAID DOWN!


There is nothing new about protesters gathering at government buildings. And it has never been a problem for the police to arrest protesters in an orderly fashion, even when the protesters are not cooperating by sitting down and refusing to move. This is the way civil disobedience has worked for many a moon.

Shooting protesters full of electricity in order to get them to fall to the ground in excruciating pain, dazed and compliant, however, is new. And it's completely unnecessary, not to mention contrary to our long tradition of peaceful protest. I thought this sort of thing went out with the use of firehoses and police dogs.

It happened again today, this time well captured on video:

Note the casual sadism. The young woman is surrounded by three men as she links arms with another protester. She does not appear to be in any way violent or threatening. The big man behind her holds her around the neck and whispers in her ear (who knows what he told her, but if it's the usual, he says "cooperate right now or you're going to be tased.") As a peaceful protester engaged in civil disobedience she naturally refuses. At this point, they would normally pick her up bodily and carry her to the paddy wagon. Instead, they hit her with 50,000 volts of electricity, she crumbles to the ground as her whole body is overwhelmed by pain.

And then they blithely walk away, leaving her writhing on the ground. Let's just say they were lucky she wasn't one of the thousands of people who've died from tasers. I guess they would have noticed at some point when she stopped screaming.

This makes me sick to my stomach. And that it happened on the steps of the United States Department of Justice makes me ashamed to be an American.

The woman who was tasered is named Carmen Pittman. Here's her story. I guess she just hasn't been punished enough.

Paul to Minorities: Vote for GOP, Then Get Back to the Fields, Ni**ers

He really doesn't hear his own words, does he?  It's always "We need diversity!" But never "This is how we need to change our policy proposals to give minorities a reason to vote for us."

James R. Carroll at the Courier:

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on Monday completed his tour of three early primary states, urging his fellow Republicans to broaden their party if they want to win back the White House.
“We need to be like the rest of America,” Paul told a sold-out New Hampshire Republican Party unity dinner attended by nearly 500.

“We're going to win when we look like America,” he told he an enthusiastic, almost entirely white crowd. “We need to be white, we need to be brown, we need to be black, we need to be with tattoos, without tattoos, with pony tails, without pony tails, with beards, without."

Paul added that the party needed to convey its belief in limited government in a positive way. “We need to be a party that proclaims our message like the man coming over the hill singing ... then we'll be a great party again,” he said.
But of course he's not speaking to minorities. He's speaking to repug whites who are slightly embarrassed by the GOP's blatant racism, and want to be reassured that all they have to do is talk about how much they want diversity, and people will stop calling them nasty names.

It would be pure political suicide, if not for the voter suppression that will prevent all those minorities from voting for Democratic candidates.

Watch KFTC's Voting Rights Work Tonight on PBS

From KFTC:

(This) evening, May 21st KFTC's voting rights work will be broadcast nationally on PBS as part of the Constitution USA series.


CONSTITUTION USA, a production of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning team of National Productions and Insignia Films, is hosted by Peter Sagal, the smart, sharp-witted star of NPR’s popular Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!. Over the course of the four-hour series, Sagal hits the road, travelling cross country on a customized red, white and blue Harley-Davidson, to find out where the Constitution lives, how it works, and how it unites us as a nation. From New York to San Francisco, from Missoula, Montana to Tyler, Texas, Sagal visits dozens of cities and small towns across America introducing viewers to some of today’s major constitutional debates—free speech in the digital age, same-sex marriage, voting rights, separation of church and state, presidential power in the post-9/11 world, to name just a few—and the fascinating stories of the people they affect every day.
(Tonight's) episode, entitled "Created Equal", will include a segment on voting rights for former felons and will include footage from one our Singing For Democracy Gospel Festivals and interviews with KFTC leader Tayna Fogle and others. The episode will air at 9 p.m. on KET, and it will be available for viewing after the broadcast on the Constitution USA website.

We're excited to see our work and our stories reaching a national audience.
We've not yet gotten to see any footage of the episode, but we encourage you all to tune in tomorrow evening to watch it with us!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Quote of the Day

From Steve Benen at maddowblog: 
It's possible electing a self-accredited ophthalmologist to the U.S. Senate wasn't the smartest thing Kentucky ever did.
If not for the decision to become the only state to join the confederacy after the civil war, electing the Tribble-Toupeed One would be the stupidest.

How Obamacare Will Lower Health Insurance Premiums

To the teeth-gnashing and wailing of conservatards, Kentucky is now fully invested in Obamacare, with exapnded Medicaid and our own health-benefit exchange.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear announced the launch of a public-awareness campaign Wednesday for the state’s new health-benefit exchange.

The exchange, called kynect: Kentucky’s Healthcare Connection, creates an online marketplace for individuals and small businesses to compare coverage, provider networks and costs when shopping for insurance plans.
And we already have proof from Oregon that such exchanges actually do force price competition among insurers.

Kevin Drum:
Bad news about the implementation of Obamacare seems to pop up relentlessly. So here's some good news to balance it out. Once the exchanges get up and running, insurance companies for the first time will be offering similar products with very public prices, and in Oregon those prices vary from $169 a month to $422 a month for the same standard plan. Here's what happened last week when those prices went online:
On Thursday, a comparison of proposed 2014 health premiums became public online, causing two insurers to request do-overs to lower their rates even before the state determines whether they're justified.
The unusual development was sparked by a comparison that used to be impossible because plan benefits varied so widely. But under the federal reforms that take effect Jan. 1, health insurance is mandated and every insurer must offer certain standard plans.
....Providence Health Plan on Wednesday asked to lower its requested rates by 15 percent. Gary Walker, a Providence spokesman, says the "primary driver" was a realization that the plan's cost projections
were incorrect. But he conceded a desire to be competitive was part of it.
A Family Care Health Plans official on Thursday said the insurer will ask the state for even greater decrease in requested rates. CEO Jeff Heatherington says the company realized its analysts were too pessimistic after seeing online that its proposed premiums were the highest.
The news isn't all good. Overall, rates in the individual market are likely to go up because insurance companies have to cover those with preexisting conditions and are required to offer a minimum set of benefits. But transparency is also likely to drive prices of some policies down. That's competition, baby.

This is how capitalism and a free market are supposed to work, but usually only do when the government forces them to.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Worker-Owned Factory Open for Business: Buy New Era Windows!

There is a practical alternative to Dickensian workplaces that treat employees like serfs, and there are more of them succeeding every day.

Diane Sweet at Crooks and Liars:

After a lot of labor and learning, the workers who famously occupied the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago in '08 are opening a new cooperative business: New Era Windows. Laura Flanders discusses the journey with Brendan Martin of The Working World and three of the worker-owners.

You can watch the full show here.

Learn more about worker cooperatives here.

Kentucky's Tax Reform Just Waiting for Right Moment to Hand More BIllions Over to Rich Corporations

Told ya so.  Just as in the federal "Grand Bargain" that would destroy Social Security and Medicare in return for pocket change from thieving billionaires, Kentucky's "tax reform" would fuck over working people and leave the rich untouched.

No, it's not been forgotten; it's being hidden under the table until people forget about it and its Soak the Working Class provisions can be quietly incorporated into next year's budget. 

Tom Loftus at the Courier:

They worked for nearly a year, meeting with residents and experts across Kentucky, eventually releasing a 450-page book that made 54 recommendations for changing the state tax code — and for boosting revenue by a projected $659 million.

But the recommendations from Gov. Steve Beshear’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform have been gathering dust — largely ignored by the legislature and shelved by Beshear’s administration until the 2014 General Assembly.

Many tax commission members fear their report is in danger of taking its place with Kentucky’s previous tax studies — filed and forgotten.

You can't "reform" taxes or budgets until you force the rich parasites to cough up the trillions they've stolen from the middle class over the last 30 years.  Then we can talk about "balance" and "shared sacrifice."

Throw Texas Out of the Union. Do It Now.

Big Bend, wildflowers, Riverwalk, Austin Music - fuck it all, we don't need it.  These motherfuckers need to be gone.

Ian Milhiser at Think Progress:

Carolyn Compton is in a three year-old relationship with a woman. According to Compton’s partner Page Price, Compton’s ex-husband rarely sees their two children and was also once charged with stalking Compton, a felony, although he eventually plead to a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing.
And yet, thanks to a Texas judge, Compton could lose custody of her children because she has the audacity to live with the woman she loves.

According to Price, Judge John Roach, a Republican who presides over a state trial court in McKinney, Texas, placed a so-called “morality clause” in Compton’s divorce papers. This clause forbids Compton having a person that she is not related to “by blood or marriage” at her home past 9pm when her children are present. Since Texas will not allow Compton to marry her partner, this means that she effectively cannot live with her partner so long as she retains custody over her children. Invoking the “morality clause,” Judge Roach gave Price 30 days to move out of Compton’s home.

Compton can appeal Price’s decision, but her appeal will be heard by the notoriously conservative Texas court system. Ultimately, the question of whether Compton’s relationship with Price is entitled to the same dignity accorded to any other loving couple could rest with the United States Supreme Court.
 This is not just raging homophobia; this is blatant misogyny.  I guarantee you that if the custodial parent were the father living with his male lover, the same complaint filed by the mother would be dismissed out of hand.

Training Public School Teachers How to Abuse Children

Intellectually abuse them, that is, and unconstitutionally to boot. This is why I keep saying that evangelicals must be barred from all positions of public trust: they simply cannot resist forcibly proselytizing everyone.

Funny how they always pick on vulnerable people over whom they have control.

Joe Sonka at Leo Weekly:

A new group of Christian educators in Louisville conducted a unique training session for Jefferson County Public Schools teachers last Thursday inside the auditorium of The Gheens Academy for Curricular Excellence and Instructional Leadership. The group’s ultimate goal: spreading their faith to public school students.

The Louisville Area Christian Educator Support (LACES) organization is lead by current and former JCPS administrators and teachers who claim they must break through the godless, secular barriers of public schools to witness for Jesus Christ and evangelize to lost souls.

Last week’s kickoff meeting for LACES served as a strategy session for the 150 attendees, with organizers sharing ways to spread the good word at work without breaking the rules laid down by separation of church and state — and Kentucky law.

While the event wasn’t sanctioned by JCPS — LACES rented out the space — speakers included Kirk Lattimore, assistant superintendent for academic achievement, and Bryce Hibbard, Southern High School principal.
The Kentucky law that LACES suggests allows the teaching of biblical creationism is KRS 158.177, passed in 1990. While the statute allows the instruction of “the theory of creation as presented in the Bible,” it also states that no teacher “may stress any particular denominational religious belief,” and “This section is not to be construed as being adverse to any decision which has been rendered by any court of competent jurisdiction.”

According to JCPS officials, this statute does not allow such material to be taught in the school district.
“JCPS educators are instructed to adhere to the Kentucky Core Academic Standards in order to ensure our students graduate college and are career ready,” says JCPS spokesman Ben Jackey. “Creationism/intelligent design are not a part of the core standards.”

In an email to JCPS principals the day after the LACES meeting, Superintendent Donna Hargens noted that “Creationism and Intelligent Design are not part of the state science curriculum standards and are not taught.”
Amber Duke, spokeswoman for the ACLU of Kentucky, says that while social conservatives are becoming more aggressive in their attempts to spread creationism in science classes, this is a transparent attempt to break down the separation of church and state, and to promote Christianity as junk science.

“We refer to creation science as ‘creation science’ in quotes, because it and intelligent design are just religious doctrine,” Duke says. “Children’s religious education should be directed primarily by their parents, their family, and religious communities, and not by the public schools, and not teachers.”
Everyone who thinks secular laws are going to stop the freakazoids for a second, stand on your head.

Read the whole detailed, disgusting thing.