Saturday, November 30, 2013

SOAR Summit to Put North Korean Propaganda to Shame

I'll tell you right now what's going to happen.  More than half of the "local resident" attendees will be pro-coal shills, fully paid for and carefully instructed by Big Coal to give the Golden Triangle media the entirely false impression that everybody east of Lexington just worships Big Coal and anybody who says otherwise is a commiehippieterristmuslinobamalover.

The results of this kabuki bullshit will be a list of resolutions closely resembling the following:

- git EPA out!
- Coal Is Our Future
- The Answer to All Our Problems is More Coal Jobs
- The Other Answer to All Our Problems Is Shutting Up Everyone Who Doesn't Agree That Coal Is Our Future.

But don't listen to me; watch it live yourself.

KET to broadcast and stream special, live coverage of SOAR Summit
Interviews with Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers featured in KET coverage

Every Kentuckian will be able to access next month’s “SOAR: Shaping Our Appalachian Region” Summit, as KET broadcasts and streams live coverage of the Pikeville event to audiences statewide and worldwide.

Live coverage of the SOAR Summit airs on KETKY and at, beginning in the morning on Monday, Dec. 9, continuing with speeches and discussions from the main auditorium throughout the day.

That evening, KET presents a one-hour program with highlights from the Summit. Shaping Our Appalachian Region: SOAR Summit airs Monday, Dec. 9 at 8/7 p.m. on KET and at The program, hosted by Renee Shaw and Bill Goodman, includes excerpts from the SOAR Summit and a discussion with Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers.

Kentuckians watching KET are encouraged to participate in SOAR by following the latest updates through social media: “Like” the official SOAR Facebook page at and follow SOAR on Twitter @SOAR_EKY, using the hashtags #SOAR and #SOARSummit.

In October, Gov. Beshear, U.S. Rep. Rogers, Senate President Robert Stivers, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, and other leaders announced plans for the Summit, which will be focused on discussing the future success of southern and eastern Kentucky.

The event, which is free to the public, is open to those willing to share new ideas and recommendations about how to move Kentucky’s Appalachian region forward. The Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI), a national policy institute dedicated fostering solutions to the challenges facing rural regions, will facilitate discussions at the event, and other national agencies supporting the SOAR effort include the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

“Eastern Kentucky is a brilliant, storied region that enriches the fabric of our Commonwealth,” said Gov. Beshear. “Yet for several decades, the region has seen a decline in growth and development, hampered by a lack of infrastructure and other resources that communities need to grow and thrive. We know that government alone cannot solve these issues, and that is why Congressman Rogers and I are launching this summit – we believe that to make real progress in Eastern Kentucky, we need the input, collaboration and involvement from the people who live and work hard there every day.”

“We want folks to know that every voice will be heard at this summit, whether by submitting an idea electronically or through face-to-face interactions,” said U.S. Rep. Rogers.

“The SOAR Summit will provide an important platform for discussing Kentucky’s Appalachian region, and by broadcasting portions of the event live and then following up with Gov. Beshear and Rep. Rogers for an in-depth discussion, everyone across the state and beyond will be able to join the conversation taking place,” said Shae Hopkins, KET executive director and CEO.

As of November 26, more than 1,300 Kentuckians have signed up to attend the event.

KET is Kentucky’s largest classroom, serving more than one million people each week via television, online and mobile. Learn more about Kentucky’s preeminent public media organization on Twitter @KET and and at

HIPPA, SchmIPPA: Homeland Security Has Your Personal Medical History

A: If mental instability is a disqualifying factor, how are AynRand Paul and Michele Bachmann allowed to fly?

B: Homeland Security must have a trillion-dollar "black budget" solely for lawsuit payouts.

Raw Story via Firedoglake:

A Canadian woman said she was denied entry into the U.S. by a Customs and Border Protection Agent who cited her hospitalization last year for clinical depression.

Ellen Richardson, of Weston, Ontario, said she intended to fly Monday to New York City on her way to a 10-day Caribbean cruise, but she said the agent working with the Department of Homeland Security told her she must first get medical clearance.

Richardson, who is paraplegic and set up her cruise through the March of Dimes with about a dozen other travelers, said the agent told her she must be examined by one of three Toronto physicians approved by DHS.

“I was so aghast. I was saying, ‘I don’t understand this. What is the problem?’” said Richardson, who paid about $6,000 for the trip. “I was so looking forward to getting away . . . I’d even brought a little string of Christmas lights I was going to string up in the cabin . . . It’s not like I can just book again right away.”

Richardson, who said she hadn’t discussed her private medical history or background with agents at the airport, said she was told that a call to her psychiatrist wasn’t sufficient.

She said the breakup of a personal relationship triggered her clinical depression in summer 2012 that led to her hospitalization, although she said no police had been involved in that case.

Richardson also said she’d attempted suicide in 2001 as a result of delusions, but she said that medication had generally stabilized her since then.

She said she’s been on three cruises since 2001, traveling each time through the U.S., and had never encountered trouble over her medical history before, and she said her suicide attempt had never been brought up – including by the agent who stopped her this week.

Richardson said the agent gave her a signed document that showed “system checks” had found the “mental illness episode” that required medical clearance before entering the U.S.

A customs spokesperson said the department was prohibited from discussing individual cases due to privacy laws.

Canadian lawmaker Mike Sullivan said the incident was “enormously troubling,” and he intended to contact the nation’s federal privacy commissioner to determine how U.S. agents got access to Richardson’s personal medical information.
A disabled female foreigner who is neither rich nor influential enough to threaten anyone: the perfect target for the bullying cowards at Homeland Security.

Gitmo Comes Home

Why reserve those tactics for innocent foreigners when they'll work just as well on innocent Americans?


Browder was a 16-year-old sophomore in high school walking home from a party in the Bronx when he was arrested on a tip that he robbed someone three weeks earlier. He was hauled off to Rikers Island, a prison known for punishing conditions and overuse of force, and was held because he couldn’t pay the $10,000 bail. Browder went to court on several occasions, but he was never scheduled for trial. After 33 months in jail, Browder said a judge offered freedom in exchange for a guilty plea, threatening that he could face 15 years in jail if convicted. He refused. Then one day, he was released with no explanation.

“They just dismissed the case and they think it’s all right. No apology, no nothing,” he told WABC-TV. Now at age 20 with his teen years behind him, Browder is first faced with finishing his GED and trying to make up for three years of his teen years lost.

Browder says he spent more than 400 days in solitary confinement, was deprived of meals, and was assaulted and beaten both by officers and fellow inmates. Browder attempted suicide at least six times. Last month he filed a lawsuit last month against the city and several agencies. The Bronx District Attorney’s office has declined to comment.
Huh? What is going on here? This young man has lived out a Kafkaesque nightmare right there in the middle of New York.
Browder’s story lays out a laundry list of some of the most prevalent problems with the criminal justice system. Browder was stopped in the Bronx, where the New York Police Department came under particular fire for its over-aggressive use of stops and unsubstantiated charges of “trespassing.” He was purportedly jailed based solely on one report to police, reinforcing race disparities in the criminal justice system. He was held in jail pursuant to bail policies that routinely punish the impoverished. And he was held in solitary confinement as a juvenile, even though the draconian punishment has particularly detrimental long-term effects on youths.
That's also known as torture.

It looks as though Gitmo has come home --- no trials, solitary confinement and physical abuse. It was always inevitable that it would happen. Once you say that universal principles of human rights as enshrined in our Constitution are only applicable to people the government believes are "worthy" of them, this is where you end up.
It's true that most of the victims of this kind of unconstitutional treatment are young black men without the money or connections to fight it.  But if they can successfully transfer Gitmo tactics from Cuba to the mainland, then they can certainly transfer them from minorities to the rest of us.

"We are a people who are greater together than we are on our own."

And greater still when together in peace than when together in war, Mr. President.

Full transcript here.

Despite Obamacare Success, Kentucky Still Infested With Elected Conservatards in Possession of Twitter Accounts

Do they not realize that reporters can read their twits? Or are they genuinely proud of twatted crap like this?

Joe Sonka last week at Fat Lip:

We’re rapidly approaching the Thanksgiving holiday, and with that in mind, state Rep. Brian Linder, R-Dry Ridge, decided to share his thoughts on the season via Twitter:

linder 2
Wait… Did he really… No…
After a brief Twitter firestorm, Linder deleted the tweet, giving me this explanation:
linder 3
Uh huh. So it had nothing to do with Pilgrims defending themselves from — or genocidal elimination of — Native Americans, rather how “gun control” advocates want to ban turkey hunting? I’ve heard of legislation to make background checks stronger to prevent violent felons and people on terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns, and I’ve heard of legislation banning the sales of assault weapons and large capacity clips, but I’ve never actually heard of legislation to confiscate shotguns and outlaw turkey hunting, I must say.
LEO spoke with state Rep. Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville, who is of Native American ancestry, about Linder’s comments. Meeks says that he is “flabbergasted,” but hopes that it will provide a “teachable moment” about American history:
“Let’s take this as a teachable moment. The fact of the matter is, it wasn’t guns or weapons that ensured the survival of the Pilgrims. It was the fact that native people taught them how to hunt, taught them what to hunt, taught them how to plant, what to plant, when to harvest, what to harvest, how to build shelters. All of those survival skills they needed were taught to them by Native Americans. From the native standpoint – he said if they had gun control we wouldn’t have Thanksgiving – the fact of the matter is, if native people had better immigration policies, we wouldn’t have Thanksgiving…
So let’s take this as a teachable moment, and hopefully this representative, and others who share that ideology that guns and the use of guns will solve all problems, let’s hope they will take this as a moment to learn the facts and the truth. And that’s the only way we can take something as arrogant and misinformed as that statement and try to make it a teachable moment…
He’s just reflecting an attitude that exists in this country that believes pro-gun ideology is the solution to every problem. And as long as this country has that ideology, we will continue to come into conflict with ourselves and others on the outside of this country. And it’s just amazing that here we are in 2013, and those ideas are still pervasive.”

Friday, November 29, 2013

If Your Local Sheriff Doesn't Have an 18-Ton Tank, He Will Soon

Radley Balko nailed this first in his must-read Rise of the Warrior Cop, but Charles Pierce sums it up thus:

As the story in Stars and Stripes indicates, local police have been buying up military surplus heavy weaponry for years now. (I, for one, feel much safer in West Springfield knowing that the cops have not one, but two grenade-launchers. Keeps the Basketball Hall Of Fame safe.) It is all of a piece with the dangerously hair-trigger, highly militarized state of local law enforcement, almost all of which is a result of our idiotic "war" on drugs. (Check out how many local sheriffs say they need a tank to serve drug warrants.) This is the logical end of stop-and-frisk, pepper spray, "pain-compliance techniques," the promiscuous use of the Taser, and the occasional justified police shooting of a suspect who acted "in a furtive manner." More and more firepower. A more overwhelming response capability. If this were Afghanistan, we'd call this an "escalation."
Even if you are the innocent victim - nay, especially if you are the innocent victim -  the policeman is no longer your friend.

Thanksgiving Abuse at Pizza Hut

UPDATE: Pizza Hut caves.

Well, shit.  I avoid Domino's because of their freakazoid anti-abortion owner, and I avoid Papa John's because of their repug conservatard anti-Obamacare owner, so I have been depending on Pizza Hut for all my football game pizza/pasta/wings needs.
No more.
A Pizza Hut manager in Indiana says he was fired because he refused to open on Thanksgiving Day. Tony Rohr, an employee of more than 10 years, told his managers that Pizza Hut could “be company that stands up and says we care about our employees and they can have the day off.”
They instead asked him to write his resignation. Still defiant, he explained his decision in the letter:
I am not quitting. I do not resign, however I accept that the refusal to comply with this greedy, immoral request means the end of my tenure with this company [...] I hope you realize that it’s the people at the bottom of the totem pole that make your life possible.
For employees at Pizza Hut, Thanksgiving and Christmas were the only two days of the year they were guaranteed to have off. When Pizza Hut, retailers, and other restaurants choose to open on Thanksgiving, many American workers that already struggle to take holidays off have little choice but to comply. The U.S. is the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee paid vacation days.
This year, more stores than ever are opening during the Thanksgiving holiday to get a jump on Black Friday sales. But some have defied the pressure to open and will instead let workers enjoy time with their families. The stores that open, meanwhile, risk consumer backlash for leading the trend.
Some of the larger retailers pay employees extra for working the holiday, but there is no guarantee. A Ohio state lawmaker wants to change that with a bill that would have stores pay three times normal wages if they open Thanksgiving. Rhode Island, Maine, and Massachusetts already have laws that bar big retailers from opening on Thanksgiving Day.

Let's Have a Maximum Wage

There was a time, children, and not so long ago (the 1980s), that economists were wringing their hands over American corporate executives earning salaries more than 20 times that of their lowest-paid employees. Japanese CEOs, which were kicking U.S. corporate ass at the time, earned 10 times what their workers made. Obviously, American CEOs were grossly overpaid and that was a problem.

No, seriously.

Down with Tyranny:

Lately we've come to the conclusion that the whole concept of billionaires is illegitimate and an existential threat to democracy. But, short of a guillotine, how do you protect society by getting rid of them? Progressive taxation is the obvious choice, of course. And Switzerland is voting on an interesting way of guaranteeing better income equality today. Have you heard about the maximum wage ratio yet? It sure isn't something the billionaires who control the American corporate media want you to hear about.

The plan, widely labeled "radical," limits the monthly pay of top executives to 12 times that of their lowest paid employees' yearly salary. Here in the U.S., the average CEO earns 200 times the salary of their lowest paid employee.
Limiting compensation to 1:12 would be a historic change: Currently, a lot of Swiss firms have a ratio of more than 100:1. Roche, the Swiss drug giant, reportedly paid its top executive $13.9 million in 2012, and its lowest $59,000-- a ratio of 1:236.

…The idea was proposed through Switzerland's direct democracy system, and if more than 50% of voters and representatives of the Swiss federal states (cantons) agree to it, it must become law. Voters have had a month to vote via post, and on Sunday they can attend polling stations.
UPDATE: Swiss Weenie Out Of Reining In The Plutocrats

As expected, the vote failed. Just around a third of the voters approved, What's worse, "initiatives need a majority of both voters and cantons (states) to pass in a referendum; by Sunday afternoon, results from 20 of the 26 cantons were in and all had voted against."
Sunday's referendum came after voters in a March vote voiced anger at perceived corporate greed by deciding to boost shareholders' say on executive pay and ban one-off bonuses known as "golden hellos" and "goodbyes."

However, the new "1:12 initiative" from Switzerland's Young Socialists calling for a fixed legal cap on pay appeared to be a step too far for centrist and conservative voters.
But just imagine, for a moment, that members of the Walton family could earn no more than 12 times the minimum wage - $180,000 per year instead of hundreds of millions of dollars. Think they might support a minimum-wage increase then? In order to avoid having to shop at their own disgusting stores?

McConnell So Vulnerable, He's Being Primaried By a 90-Year-Old

Don't laugh. Gurley could attract the entire hate-Mitch-don't-trust-Bevin-still-have-a-sense-of-humor vote.

Martin initially ran for Senate in 2010 in a GOP primary won by tea party darling Rand Paul. Martin received less than 1 percent of the vote in that race. He's faces the same long odds this time around against McConnell, who is seeking a sixth term, and Republican Matt Bevin, a Louisville businessman making his first run.
And Martin's the only repug Alison Lundergan Grimes has a chance in hell of beating.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Be Thankful for AgriCULTURE and Reject AgriBUSINESS

Jim Hightower at Nation of Change:

An arrogant, brusque, narrow-minded and dogmatic agricultural economist, Butz had risen to prominence in the small — but politically powerful — world of agriculture by devoting himself to the corporate takeover of the global food economy. He was dean of agriculture at Purdue University, but also a paid board member of Ralston Purina and other agribusiness giants. In these roles, he openly promoted the preeminence of middleman food manufacturers over family farmers, whom he disdained.
"Agriculture is no longer a way of life," he infamously barked at them. "It's a business." He callously instructed farmers to "get big or get out" — and he then proceeded to shove tens of thousands of them out by promoting an export-based, conglomerated, industrialized, globalized, and heavily subsidized corporate-run food economy. "Adapt," he warned farmers, "or die." The ruination of farms and rural communities, Butz added, "releases people to do something useful in our society."
The whirling horror of Butz, however, spun off a blessing, which is that innovative, freethinking, populist-minded and rebellious small farmers and food artisans practically threw up at the resulting Twinkieization of America's food.

They were sickened that nature's own rich contribution to human culture was being turned into just another plasticized product of corporate profiteers. "The central problem with modern industrial agriculture ... (is) not just that it produces unhealthy food, mishandles waste, and overuses antibiotics in ways that harm us all. More fundamentally, it has no soul," said Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times columnist and former farm boy from Yamhill, Ore. Rather than accept that, they threw themselves into creating and sustaining a viable, democratic alternative. The "good food" rebellion has since sprouted, spread and blossomed from coast to coast.

This transformative grass-roots movement rebuts old Earl's insistence that agriculture is nothing but a business. It most certainly is a business, but it's a good business — literally producing goodness — because it's "a way of life" for enterprising, very hardworking people who practice the art and science of cooperating with Mother Nature, rather than always trying to overwhelm her. These farmers don't want to be massive or make a killing; they want to farm and make delicious, healthy food products that help enrich the whole community.

This spirit was summed up in one simple word by a sustainable farmer in Ohio, who was asked what he'd be if he wasn't a farmer. He replied: "Disappointed." To farmers like these, food embodies our full "culture" — a word that is, after all, sculpted right into "agriculture" and is essential to its organic meaning.

Although agriculture has forestalled the total takeover of our food by crass agribusiness, the corporate powers and their political hirelings continue to press for the elimination of the food rebels and ultimately to impose the Butzian vision of complete corporatization. This is one of the most important populist struggles occurring in our society. It's literally a fight for control of our dinner, and it certainly deserves a major focus as you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner this year.

To find small-scale farmers, artisans, farmers markets and other resources in your area for everything from organic tomatoes to pastured turkey, visit

Hardin Whores Bend Over for the Bluegrass Pipeline

Taking money to let someone fuck you is prostitution. Taking money to let someone fuck someone else who is dependent on you (like your constituents) is pimping. Crimes for which the Hardin County Fiscal Court should be in jail.

From the News-Enterprise:

Hardin Fiscal Court agreed to give the Bluegrass Pipeline easement access to county property in southern Hardin County.

The court approved an easement agreement Tuesday afternoon granting right-of-way access to 151 feet of property at county-owned Taylor Bend Park, which is southwest of Glendale off New Glendale Road.
The county will receive payment of $8,070 from the company for rights to access the land, according to the agreement.
Eight grand for surrendering your county's agricultural, economic and environmental future.  That's the equivalent of accepting five cents for performing a thousand-dollar blowjob.

Well done, Hardin Whores.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Where Do All Those Turkey Feathers Go?

The answer to that and more from Mother Jones: Your Turkey Explained in 6 Charts.

Do me one favor: help reduce the massive amount of edible turkey we throw out every year by cooking the carcass and leftover meat into soup.  It's time-consuming but not difficult, and a decent-sized carcass will make a couple gallons of soup you can freeze in quart containers and eat all winter

Here's a good recipe.

Pigeons, Eels, Chestnuts, Cornmeal and Water

Traditional Thanksgiving food is whatever provides to you and your guests the feelings of celebration and gratitude the holiday represents.

But if your goal is to replicate the first Thanksgiving, the dishes are not going to look familiar.

Turkey was not the centerpiece of the meal, as it is today, explains Wall. Though it is possible the colonists and American Indians cooked wild turkey, she suspects that goose or duck was the wildfowl of choice. In her research, she has found that swan and passenger pigeons would have been available as well. “Passenger pigeons—extinct in the wild for over a century now—were so thick in the 1620s, they said you could hear them a quarter-hour before you saw them,” says Wall. “They say a man could shoot at the birds in flight and bring down 200.”
Small birds were often spit-roasted, while larger birds were boiled. “I also think some birds—in a lot of recipes you see this—were boiled first, then roasted to finish them off. Or things are roasted first and then boiled,” says Wall. “The early roasting gives them nicer flavor, sort of caramelizes them on the outside and makes the broth darker.”

It is possible that the birds were stuffed, though probably not with bread. (Bread, made from maize not wheat, was likely a part of the meal, but exactly how it was made is unknown.) The Pilgrims instead stuffed birds with chunks of onion and herbs. “There is a wonderful stuffing for goose in the 17th-century that is just shelled chestnuts,” says Wall. “I am thinking of that right now, and it is sounding very nice.” Since the first Thanksgiving was a three-day celebration, she adds, “I have no doubt whatsoever that birds that are roasted one day, the remains of them are all thrown in a pot and boiled up to make broth the next day. That broth thickened with grain to make a pottage.”

In addition to wildfowl and deer, the colonists and Wampanoag probably ate eels and shellfish, such as lobster, clams and mussels. “They were drying shellfish and smoking other sorts of fish,” says Wall.


The colonists did not have butter and wheat flour to make crusts for pies and tarts. (That’s right: No pumpkin pie!)


White potatoes, originating in South America, and sweet potatoes, from the Caribbean, had yet to infiltrate North America. Also, there would have been no cranberry sauce. It would be another 50 years before an Englishman wrote about boiling cranberries and sugar into a “Sauce to eat with. . . .Meat.” Says Wall: “If there was beer, there were only a couple of gallons for 150 people for three days.” She thinks that to wash it all down the English and Wampanoag drank water.

Have A Union Thanksgiving

 From Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns and Money:

A useful list of food products for your Thanksgiving made in union shops. If you have a choice, choose union-produced food.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How Corporate Capitalism is Killing Us Slowly

For decades, conservatives (and some self-proclaimed liberals, to their shame) made a living blaming everything wrong in America on communism. Anti-communist hysteria caused severe and permanent harm to the nation, not least by promoting the blind worship of capitalism and its resulting devastation.

Paul Buchheit at Nation of Change:

The process is gradual, insidious, lethal. It starts with financial stress in various forms, and then, according to growing evidence, leads to health problems and shorter lives.

Financial stress is brought upon us by the profit motive of capitalism, which offers little incentive to feed hungry children, to treat the sick, to secure us in retirement, to provide job opportunities for middle-class Americans. Some of the steps in the process are becoming more and more familiar to us.

1. Giving Half of Your 401(k) to the Banks

2. Watching 24,000,000 Children Go Hungry to Avoid Inconveniencing 20 Rich Individuals

3. Listening to the "Job Creators" Mock the Truth


4. Feeling the Debilitating Stress


The facts show that we were a relatively healthy people until unregulated free-market capitalism began to disrupt our lives. Now, because of its winner-take-all profit motive, we're literally fighting for our lives.
Read the whole thing.

ArkPark Freakazoids Fleecing Kentucky City

Part of the reason Williamstown, Grant Count and the Commonwealth are getting conned on this fake project is how desperate communities are vulnerable to any con artist who promises jobs.

But the larger fraud is the unearned credibility awarded to any con artist who claims to be doing the will of an invisible sky wizard.

PZ Myers:

The child-raping and the beheadings get all the headlines, but meanwhile, the machinery of faith keeps clawing at the foundation of society in subtler ways as well — it’s a free-wheeling parasitic scam, an infection that our social immune system is conditioned to tolerate. Answers in Genesis is a beautiful example. They have millions of dollars that they funnel into lying to people and corrupting education, and ultimately, they really are just a grand scam for leaching money out of their environment. I mentioned that they’re selling junk bonds to expand their operations, and that their ridiculous Ark Park is a boondoggle retreating into the distance as they continually promise and fail. Americans United describes their other tactic: hoodwinking secular government into propping up their depradations.
The latest ploy comes courtesy of the city of Williamstown, which is not far from Cincinnati. The town already gave the overtly religious park a 75 percent property tax break, and Bloomberg News reported this week that the city plans to sell $62 million in municipal bonds in December for AiG affiliates. This means the city is actively taking on quite a bit of debt for the sole purpose of funding the Ark Park.
And by “the city”, of course, what they mean are the citizens and businesses of Williamstown, who are being robbed of massive sums of money to support that con man, Ken Ham.

The article also mentions that AiG has received $40 million plus in tax incentives from the state…for a proposal that has only managed to get somewhere around $4 million in donations. That’s a whole lot of huffing and puffing to inflate the lead balloon of the Ark Park. Further, they’re sinking $2 million into improving a road to nowhere, the proposed Ark Park site.

But let’s step back a bit. This isn’t just a sinkhole into which the state of Kentucky proposes to throw money — even if it were to “succeed” as a tourist attraction, the existence of a state-subsidized monument to anti-scientific idiocy ought to be an embarrassment and an impediment to the status of the region. The state of Kentucky and the city of Williamstown seem to be happily shooting themselves over this deal…all because it’s in the name of faith and piety and god.
 The ArkPark will never be built. The creation non-museum itself will go out of business within a decade. But the financial harm caused to the community of Williamstown and Grant County will linger for generations.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Illegal Gardening Won't Matter When the Food Supply's Gone

And no, I don't mean pot.

From Firedoglake:

Meet Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll, a South Florida couple who’ve been growing what they say is 80 percent of their food in a front-yard vegetable garden for the past 17 years. As it turns out, their self-sufficient lifestyle counts as illegal activity in Miami Shore — the couple was told to either rip out their garden, or pay $50 per day in fines.
This is the anti-garden, anti-nature prejudice infesting suburbs nationwide.  But it's not just a matter of hippie-bashing any more. The pesticide- and herbicide-drenched chemlawns are killing the insect cycle on which the global food supply depends.

Jim Robbins at the New York Times:
ON the first of November, when Mexicans celebrate a holiday called the Day of the Dead, some also celebrate the millions of monarch butterflies that, without fail, fly to the mountainous fir forests of central Mexico on that day. They are believed to be souls of the dead, returned.

This year, for or the first time in memory, the monarch butterflies didn’t come, at least not on the Day of the Dead. They began to straggle in a week later than usual, in record-low numbers. Last year’s low of 60 million now seems great compared with the fewer than three million that have shown up so far this year. Some experts fear that the spectacular migration could be near collapse.

“It does not look good,” said Lincoln P. Brower, a monarch expert at Sweet Briar College.

It is only the latest bad news about the dramatic decline of insect populations.

Another insect in serious trouble is the wild bee, which has thousands of species. Nicotine-based pesticides called neonicotinoids are implicated in their decline, but even if they were no longer used, experts say, bees, monarchs and many other species of insect would still be in serious trouble.

That’s because of another major factor that has not been widely recognized: the precipitous loss of native vegetation across the United States.

“There’s no question that the loss of habitat is huge,” said Douglas Tallamy, a professor of entomology at the University of Delaware, who has long warned of the perils of disappearing insects. “We notice the monarch and bees because they are iconic insects,” he said. “But what do you think is happening to everything else?”

A big part of it is the way the United States farms. As the price of corn has soared in recent years, driven by federal subsidies for biofuels, farmers have expanded their fields. That has meant plowing every scrap of earth that can grow a corn plant, including millions of acres of land once reserved in a federal program for conservation purposes.

Another major cause is farming with Roundup, a herbicide that kills virtually all plants except crops that are genetically modified to survive it.

As a result, millions of acres of native plants, especially milkweed, an important source of nectar for many species, and vital for monarch butterfly larvae, have been wiped out. One study showed that Iowa has lost almost 60 percent of its milkweed, and another found 90 percent was gone. “The agricultural landscape has been sterilized,” said Dr. Brower.

(Restoring it) means reversing the hegemony of chemically green lawns. “If you’ve got just lawn grass, you’ve got nothing,” said Mace Vaughan of the Xerces Society, a leading organization in insect conservation. “But as soon as you create a front yard wildflower meadow you go from an occasional honeybee to a lawn that might be full of 20 or 30 species of bees and butterflies and monarchs.”

First and foremost, said Dr. Tallamy, a home for bugs is a matter of food security. “If the bees were to truly disappear, we would lose 80 percent of the plants,” he said. “That is not an option. That’s a huge problem for mankind.”

Jim Robbins is a frequent contributor to The New York Times and the author of “The Man Who Planted Trees.”

How to Bargain With Capitalist Shitheads

You wanna leave? Fine. But your factory stays here.
Up in the state of Washington, the Boeing Corporation has decided to play monkey-mischief with its machinists. We will keep your jobs in Everett if you all give up your guaranteed pensions in favor of some 401K scam that will enable the people in the investment banks to steal their money at leisure between now and the next time the banks decide to blow up the world economy for their own profit. Phooey, so far, have said the machinists. Recently, of course, the city of Seattle has gone and elected an actual Socialist to its city council. She seems to be advocating a third option in the dispute.
On Monday night, she spoke to supporters of Boeing Machinists, six days after they rejected a contract guaranteeing jobs in Everett building the new 777X airliner for eight years, in exchange for new workers giving up their guaranteed company pensions. Now Boeing is threatening to take those jobs to other states. "That will be nothing short of economic terrorism because it's going to devastate the state's economy," she said. Sawant is calling for machinists to literally take-possession of the Everett airplane-building factory, if Boeing moves out. She calls that "democratic ownership." "The only response we can have if Boeing executives do not agree to keep the plant here is for the machinists to say the machines are here, the workers are here, we will do the job, we don't need the executives. The executives don't do the work, the machinists do," she said.
Ruh-roh, says the newspaper. Radical ideas!
But, seriously, what's left for these people to do? They worked their entire lives for these pensions, very likely taking lower wages in exchange for security in their retirement. Now, the company has been empowered -- nay, encouraged -- to renege by 30 years of bipartisan deregulated national economic policies. The 401K is a shuck. Everybody who has one knows that. (At the same time, of course, there is the ongoing sub rosa Grand Bargaineering on both sides regarding Social Security.) The media's in the tank. The government is largely sublet to people who don't care about them. The country's economy is profit-mad and abandoned any concept of civic responsibility two Bushes ago. What's left but to grab the plant? I'm wide-open here.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Another Reason to Despise the Rich: They're Destroying Society

Hating the rich is not envy; it's defending Democracy

So what if a very few people have such enormous sums? These expensive excesses of food, wine and art don’t really affect regular people like you and me. But it turns out that the distortions caused by the excesses of the ultra-wealthy affect all of us a lot.

Take the housing market. You may have noticed headlines like the following: Hedge funds crowd first-time buyers out of housing market or How Big Institutional Money Distorts Housing Prices. If you live in certain areas of the country, like the San Francisco Bay Area, rents are soaring and it is unimaginable that you might ever purchase a place to live. The ultra-wealthy are purchasing houses by the hundreds to be rented out
Then, of course, comes the usual next step when the ultra-wealthy are involved: they use their wealth and power to get things the rest of us can’t. One frequent example is demands for tax cuts.

This worship of the ultra-wealthy is manifested in policies that give privileges to the rich the rest of us don’t receive. The principle of one-person-one-vote gives way to power and our society eventually becomes ruled by the principle of one-dollar-one-vote.

Examples of our abandonment of the principles of democracy in favor of more-for-the-wealthier include the change from “high-occupancy lanes” where cars with two or three people can bypass traffic jams to toll lanes, where drivers who have more money can purchase the right to bypass traffic jams. We also experience this when we see first-class passengers allowed to bypass the long security lines at airports.

In a recent NY Times op-ed, The Extra Legroom Society, Frank Bruni writes about how people of greater wealth can purchase the right to board a plane earlier, even the right to bypass lines or make others wait while they go around again for rides at amusement parks. While these are examples of businesses, not our government, introducing tiers for the wealthier, they show how Americans have come to accept that people with more money should be allowed to bypass them.

Bruni writes, “But lately, the places and ways in which Americans are economically segregated and stratified have multiplied, with microclimates of exclusivity popping up everywhere. The plane mirrors the sports arena, the theater, the gym. Is it any wonder that class tensions simmer?”

These are a few examples of the excesses the super-wealthy indulge in, along with examples of ways their super-wealth harms the rest of us. There are far more examples in evidence these days. Our democracy—the ability of We the People to make our own decisions about how we should be governed—is what is really at stake as more and more wealth accumulates among fewer and fewer people.

"White Trash"

The new book by a Reichwing propagandist is getting a lot of attention for its condemnation of poor non-whites as "White Trash."
But the critics are missing the subtext: Racism. Not faux racism directed against whites, but real, old-fashioned, traditional racism aimed at African-Americans.
"White Trash" is nearly as racist as "ni**er." And I say that as someone who never used the latter word, but repeated the first phrase frequently most of my life.
"White Trash" is racist because it clearly distinguishes between un-specified "trash" and specifically white "trash." The implication being that non-whites are all automatically trash, but white people fall into separate categories of trash and non-trash.
Ever hear anybody say "black trash?" And you never will.  Because to a racist it is redundant.
When I was growing up in the south, "white trash" signified white people who were not just poor, but who specifically lived in a manner associated with the stereotype of black people: run-down and dirty homes, unemployment, drink and/or drugs, crime and promiscuity.
White Trash are despised not for their poverty or their particular personal failings, but for failing to uphold the tenets of White Superiority by living like the way whites like to think ni**ers live.
Every time I've tried to explain to a conservatard that there are more whites than blacks getting welfare, food stamps, public housing, etc., I get the same answer: "but those are white trash."
In other words, not real whites, but ni**ers.

"White Trash" is not an insult toward whites; it's just another put-down of blacks.

Fear and hatred of African-Americans is the fundamental characteristic of conservatives. Without that, they have no reason to exist.

Freakazoid Parenting

The insidious thing about religion is that it can be and is used to justify literally anything.

Divine Irony:

Two parents in Washington state have been found guilty of murder after following the abusive parenting techniques advocated in the parenting book “To Train Up a Child” by Michael and Debi Pearl.

Larry and Carri Williams received the maximum prison sentences allowable under the law after being found guilty of beating and starving their adopted daughter Hana to death. The methods they used to “discipline” their daughter were advocated in the controversial Christian book.

The New York Times reported:

Late one night in May this year, the adopted girl, Hana, was found face down, naked and emaciated in the backyard; her death was caused by hypothermia and malnutrition, officials determined. According to the sheriff’s report, the parents had deprived her of food for days at a time and had made her sleep in a cold barn or a closet and shower outside with a hose. And they often whipped her, leaving marks on her legs. The mother had praised the Pearls’ book and given a copy to a friend, the sheriff’s report said. Hana had been beaten the day of her death, the report said, with the 15-inch plastic tube recommended by Mr. Pearl.

Some of the discipline techniques the Pearls teach include:

-Using plastic tubing to beat children, since it hurts a lot but leaves fewer marks to alert authorities
-Wearing the plastic tubing around the parent’s neck as a constant reminder to obey
-“Swatting” babies as young as six months old with instruments such as “a 12-inch willowy branch,” thinner plastic tubing or a wooden spoon
-“Blanket training” babies by hitting them with an instrument if they try to crawl off a blanket on the floor
-Beating older children with rulers, paddles, belts and larger tree branches
-“Training” children with pain before they even disobey, in order to teach total obedience
-Giving cold water baths, putting children outside in cold weather and withholding meals as discipline
-Hosing off children who have potty training accidents
-Inflicting punishment until a child is “without breath to complain.”

Michael Pearl tells one mother on his website, “I could break his anger in two days. He would be too scared to get angry. On the third day he would draw into a quiet shell and obey.”

The Pearls and their ministry, No Greater Joy, make an estimated $1.7 million a year.

The couple is the third set of parents to be found guilty of killing their children by following the teachings of the book, which is commonly given out in churches and sent for free to military families. Many other parents have been found guilty of child abuse and torture for following the advice of the Pearls, and it is unknown how many other children’s deaths could be tied to the books.
This is not an aberrration; this is the logical and predictable consequence of permitting people to claim their delusions trump secular law and humanist morality.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Grimes Is Too Repug-Lite to Take Advantage of Mitch's Weakness

Watching her throw this race away has moved beyond frustrating, beyond infuriating and deep into disgusting.

Daniel Strauss

Kentucky Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has an unlikely but potentially potent weapon in her Senate campaign to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): Kentucky's successful online health insurance marketplace.

While the federal government's website has been plagued with problems providing ammo to Republicans, Kentucky's online health insurance website, called Kynect, has been hailed as the model for how state marketplaces should work. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) himself has said the marketplace's success has exceeded "far beyond our wildest dreams."

But Grimes has been hesitant to be as vocal as Beshear about Kynect or the broader health care reforms. So far, she has followed the playbook of most red state Democratic candidates.

"She has called for an extension of the grandfathering period to allow the people of called for an extension of the grandfathering period to allow the people of Kentucky to keep their current plans, as well as an extension of the enrollment period and mandate delay for all Americans until the federal website is fixed," Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton said in an email to TPM.
Keep that up, Alison, and you'll lose the general before the primary is even held..

Is there no one in Democratic campaigns who remembers that the way to win is to establish your differences with your opponent? Especially if your opponent is the incumbent? That if all you do is say the exactly opposite of what your opponent is saying you can't go wrong?

If the election were held today, Mitch would win by 20 points.

"Build a better bargain for the middle class"

You can start, Mr. President, by taking back the ill-gotten gains of the obscenely wealth people and corporations and giving it to the workers who will spend it and grow the economy.

And stop pretending that repugs are at all interested in governing, much less governing to benefit the middle class. It insults your supporters and confirms the delusion of your opponents that you're an idiot.

Full transcript here.

This Is How You Fight Austerity and Grow Your Economy

You give money to the people who will spend it.

From Firedoglake:

- “President Evo Morales decreed Wednesday that an extra month’s wages should be paid as a special Christmas bonus to all salaried workers in Bolivia, at state agencies, in the military and police and in the private sector.
Or as Ryan Cooper calls it, the Free Money Solution:
Adopting some kind of change to give our central bank more traction to fight unemployment will very likely be critical in the coming decades, as America’s economy continues to evolve.

My preference is this: enable the Federal Reserve to send newly printed money to every citizen. Sounds strange, I know.


Handing out money addresses all these problems by working in a much more mechanical fashion. If people have more money then they will spend it, or pay down debt, leaving them less credit-constrained. If people worry that the policy will create inflation, then they will move their money from cash and savings to durable goods purchases. All this coordinates in the same direction: more spending, fuller capacity utilization, and thus more jobs. There are also some salutary social justice effects. Gigantic asset purchases from the Fed probably increase the wealth of rich people, and little makes it down to the median worker. Handing out money to everyone makes sure everyone gets a piece of the stimulus.

But won’t just handing out money create skyrocketing inflation? Not so long as there is slack in the economy. In a full-employment economy, printing money increases prices (inflation) because everything is already being used, and people use new money to bid goods and services away from other people. But in a depressed economy like we have now, there are lots of idle resources (e.g., a huge pool of unemployed people), and new spending just moves those resources back into use. Therefore, we can hand out money (say, $1000 to every citizen, every month) until inflation starts to creep up past 4% or so. Then we’ll know we’re getting close to full employment, and we can back off slowly.

The major objection for this policy is that it will reduce people’s incentive to work, which might by addressed by tweaking the policy here and there. But you know what also reduces the incentive to work? A years-long spell of mass unemployment. The critical thing should be to end the unemployment crisis as soon as possible, then handwring about possible negative downstream effects afterwards.

Probably the biggest barrier to adopting this policy is that it sounds silly. Elite pundits tend to unconsciously shape their writings around what they deem politically probable, and the free money solution is highly unlikely in the short term. But how else is one to change the bounds of the possible? Some kind of change is badly needed, and at the very least, it’s time to start talking.
Giving money to the rich through tax cuts, subsidies and bailouts harms the economy by taking that money out of circulation. Taking money away from the rich and giving it to the non-rich is the only way to create jobs and grow the economy.

Friday, November 22, 2013

We Are Not Children To Be Shielded From the Truth

I have nothing to add to the mountain of anniversary remembrances and analyses, except that you must read this.

Cowardly Bullies Paul and McConnell Whine That Dems Fought Back

Nobody nails the GOP like the Rude Pundit:

In Brief: Oh, Shut the Fuck Up on the Filibuster, GOP:

Dear GOP,

You reap what you have sown, motherfuckers. And now you get at least a year of eating shit on judges and executive branch appointees. Why? Because you were such unbelievable dickheads for the last three years and the government can't function when a minority of one house of one branch can stall everything. Frankly, this should have been done all the way in January 2009, with no exception for bills and Supreme Court justices, and then we'd have real heath care reform, Gitmo closed, and more.

Just fucking stop with the outrage and the promise that you're gonna do even more evil cuntery if you ever get the majority and the presidency again. C'mon. You know and so does everyone else that, no matter if Reid went nuclear or not, you were gonna change the filibuster the first chance you got. And that's because you're dishonorable scumfuckers who won't stand to let the black man president have his way.


Let's just hope Obama tees up a shit-ton of liberal judges to correct the rightward tilt of the judiciary in this country. You know how it got so conservative, GOP? Because Democrats weren't complete and utter pricks. Like you. So even some fuckin' perverse animals got through to lifetime appointments on the bench.

You got what you deserved. Now, really, go out and try to sell America on how much majority rule sucks as you try to get the majority.

Kisses in Hell,

The Rude Pundit

They're Not Ignorant: They're Good LIttle Hateful Conservatards

To all the "forgivers" out there who think we misanthropes are just cynical old poops, this one's for you.

Christopher Butterfield at Think Progress:

The stigma and ignorance surrounding mental disabilities may have led the parents of teens who bullied a classmate with autism to blame the victim.

On Monday, WHO-TV reported that students at an Iowa high school had posted a video online mocking the involuntary movements of classmate Levi Null, a 13-year old with Asperger’s syndrome. “People tell me to run into things and I don’t really like it,” said Null, who also has ADHD. “And I tell them that I don’t want to and they just laugh at me, whenever I do it.”

On Thursday, it was revealed that the report had triggered an outpouring of support — for the accused bullies.

Some of those defending the teens who posted the video have turned to shaming the autistic victim. Levi Weatherly, a parent of one of the accused teens insisted his child was not wholly in the wrong. “Three-fourths of this stuff he brings on himself,” he said, “and probably a fourth of it is bullying that shouldn’t be going on.” One implied that he was asking for it: “This kid has done things to get people mad that I think he could probably control.”

But this sentiment betrays a basic ignorance of autism. According to advocacy group Autism Speaks, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are “characterized by social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors.” Like Levi Null’s Asperger’s syndrome, his repetitive movements and difficulties socializing are not voluntary, and he cannot turn them off at will.

What Are We Teaching Our New Cops?

This week, 62 Kentuckians graduated from the State Police Academy. I am not familiar with the curriculum, but I hope in light of the nationwide increase in police brutality over the last few years that they were taught at least one non-violent technique for dealing with the public.

From Firedoglake:

- Police brutality occurs in San Francisco as officers use their illegitimate power to beat a civilian on his bicycle for breaking the law

- A 14 year old teenager is brutalized by police after being arrested for shoplifting
 Here's the video of the teenager. "Brutalized" is quite the euphemism for "beaten and then tased in the face."

The alleged crime he committed that supposedly justified all this was shoplifting. This kid needs to learn that if you want to get away with stealing you need to be a white guy in a suit who steals millions. They never get tasered.
Kentucky State Police are revered in the Commonwealth. Mostly that's because in a state with 120 small-town county sheriffs, professional troopers have been the only thing standing between citizens and the corruption and violence of untrained deputies.

I would hate to see KSP degraded by arbitrary violence to the point that people can't trust them any more.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Now Here's Someone Who Deserves Life in Prison

Right after he bankrupts himself compensating his fellow citizens for destroying their property.
Much like Batkid, Hawaii has found its own superhero. Except that instead of protecting the powerless from harm, he roams the streets with a sledgehammer and looks for homeless people in order to literally smash their possessions.

Remarkably, this vigilante isn’t just some random Hawaiian, but five-term State Rep. Tom Brower (D).
Noting that he’s “disgusted” with homeless people, Brower told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser about his own personal brand of “justice”: “If I see shopping carts that I can’t identify, I will destroy them so they can’t be pushed on the streets.” Brower has waged this campaign for two weeks, estimating that he’s smashed about 30 shopping carts in the process.

“I want to do something practical that will really clean up the streets,” he explained to Hawaii News Now as he showed off his property destruction skills:

Uncontent to just destroy homeless people’s items, Brower is also on a mission to wake those he finds sleeping and tell them to sleep somewhere else. “If someone is sleeping at night on the bus stop, I don’t do anything, but if they are sleeping during the day, I’ll walk up and say, ‘Get your ass moving,’” he said.
No, of course he hasn't been arrested or even given a ticket for littering. Unlike the people whose belongings he so enjoys destroying.

It’s no stretch to assume that if Brower were found roaming middle-class neighborhoods and smashing items in people’s homes, he would find himself both out of office and behind bars. But segments of society view homeless people as less important and undeserving of the dignity of having their possessions kept safe.

Winter Holidays in Kentucky

Do something different for the holidays this year: explore the events going on all over the Commonwealth.

Kentucky's unique holiday events:

From an underwater appearance by Santa Claus at the Newport Aquarium to massive lighted figures handcrafted in China at Louisville’s Galt House Hotel, attractions unique to Kentucky will enliven the holiday season.

Take a candlelight tour of My Old Kentucky Home in Bardstown, known throughout the world as the symbol of Stephen Foster’s most famous song. Or visit a live Nativity scene at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, where the Christmas Town attraction will also feature a live drama about the Magi.

At Newport Aquarium, Scuba Santa’s Winter Waterland is celebrating its 10th anniversary and will be open to the public Nov. 29 to Jan. 1. Scuba Santa’s underwater dive show has been called one of the most unusual holiday experiences in the country. Find more information at

Christmas at the Galt House Hotel, which includes the unique inner-lighted KaLightoscope figures from China, has been named a Top 100 Event by the American Bus Association for the third year.  The hotel’s transformation into a holiday wonderland of diversions is sure to delight the kids. The attraction is open through Jan. 1, and you can find more information at

On Friday and Saturday following Thanksgiving and the first two Fridays and Saturdays in December, My Old Kentucky Home in Bardstown will be aglow in candlelight and decorated throughout with holly, pine and fruit garlands. Enjoy period music and refreshments as elegantly dressed guides escort you back in time during the annual Christmas Candlelight Tours. Call 502-348-3502 for more information.

Christmas Town at the Creation Museum will be open Friday and Saturday evenings throughout December. Besides viewing the live Nativity and Magi drama, you can also learn about the legendary “star in the east” at the planetarium and take in the garden of lights. Visit for more information.

Venture out of your ordinary routine to experience these and other unique Kentucky attractions and you’re sure to get a rewarding dose of holiday spirit. Check out other unique holiday events at

And that doesn't even include the state parks:
The Kentucky State Parks will be ready for the winter holidays this year with special meals, decorations, candlelight tours, entertainment and other special events planned.

State parks are a great place for Christmas and holiday gatherings in November and December. All 17 resort parks have restaurants, meeting areas and gift shops that offer unique gift ideas. That includes Kentucky Unbridled Spirit gift cards, which are valid at Kentucky State Parks, the Kentucky Horse Park, the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.
Many state resort parks will also hold New Year’s Eve parties and dinners Dec. 31. For more information about these and other events, call your favorite park or visit
 Find the detailed list here.

Quote of the Day

Congratulations, all you DINO "strategists" who think outlawing abortion would help Democratic candidates win elections, never mind the millions of women who will die from illegal abortions: the Supreme Court is about to give you what you want.


Basically, what they've done is validate the anti-abortion zealots' strategy of closing down clinics with any spurious reasoning they can come up with regardless of whether it makes sense.

*Oh, and by the way, there will always be abortions no matter how much birth control is widely available and how much health care and support women get. Always have been always will be. The only question for any decent society is if they will be safe and available.
Abortion. On. Demand. Free of charge, no questions asked, available everywhere. Anything less is a violation of human rights.

What Happens When You Have a Functioning Labor Relations Boards

For years, the NLRB could do nothing about employers blatantly breaking laws protecting workers from exploitation and abuse. That's because repugs in Congress refused to allow President Obama to fill vacant position on the board. Finally this summer they grudgingly allowed the appointments, and this is the first significant result.

Bryce Covert at Think Progress:
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency that protects workers’ rights to organize and demand better conditions, will announce a decision today to prosecute Walmart for violating workers’ rights by firing, disciplining, and threatening workers who went on strike or attempted to unionize, according to OUR Walmart, the group that has been helping to organize the strikes.

The group says the NLRB will prosecute the company for illegally firing and disciplining more than 117 workers, including some who went on strike last June. It also includes threats by managers and spokespeople meant to discourage workers from striking. Workers could potentially see back pay, reinstatement to their former positions, and the reversal of disciplinary actions.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Blame Government Incompetence on the Contractors

There is quite simply no advantage to hiring private contractors to do the work of government: nothing but higher costs, worse outcomes and massive corruption. Cancel all the contracts and hire employees directly. That restores full accountability.


Henry Farrell had an interesting post last month over at Crooked Timber about the new book by Colin Crouch called Making Capitalism Fit For Society that's well worth reading.

Otherwise put, it’s a good example of Crouch’s critique of neo-liberal efforts to ‘shrink’ government – that in practice it is less about free markets than the handing over of government functions to well connected businesses.

Outsourcing is … justified on the grounds that private firms bring new expertise, but an examination of the expertise base of the main private contractors shows that the same firms keep appearing in different sectors … The expertise of these corporations, their core business, lies in knowing how to win government contracts, not in the substantive knowledge of the services they provide. … This explains how and why they extend across such a sprawl of activities, the only link among which is the government contract-winning process. Typically, these firms will have former politicians and senior civil servants on their boards of directors, and will often be generous funders of political parties. This, too is part of their core business. It is very difficult to see how ultimate service users gain anything from this kind of managed competition.
This is true of our vaunted, high tech surveillance sector as well.

Farrell observes the parallels between this system and feudalism and what he calls "Old Corruption" and it's worth reading the remainder of his post for that discussion.

To me, it seems obvious that the "contractor state" cannot be defended on democratic or capitalistic grounds. It certainly shows that simply outsourcing various necessary functions inevitably leads to corruption --- as any 7th grader should be able to predict. That this concept of "reinventing government" was pushed by certain New Democrats on the basis of gibberish makes it even more astonishing that it's taken so long to be exposed for what it is: patronage for rich (mostly) white guys who all know each other. How sad that health care reform had to be the ultimate guinea pig.

The good news is that we didn't let these incompetent middle men take over Social Security and Medicare. Yet.

Secretary Hagel: Cancel All DoD Funding to Oklahoma Now

And make them pay back every fucking federal taxpayer dime they've ever gotten.

Zack Ford at Think Progress:

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) announced earlier this month that state-owned National Guard facilities will no longer allow any married couples to apply for spousal benefits, regardless of whether they are same-sex or opposite-sex. The Supreme Court’s decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act means that servicemembers with same-sex spouses are now eligible for federal benefits. Fallin’s unusual tactic is designed to avoid having to recognize those couples, which she asserts would violate Oklahoma’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman:

FALLIN: Oklahoma law is clear. The state of Oklahoma does not recognize same-sex marriages, nor does it confer marriage benefits to same-sex couples. The decision reached today allows the National Guard to obey Oklahoma law without violating federal rules or policies. It protects the integrity of our state constitution and sends a message to the federal government that they cannot simply ignore our laws or the will of the people.
This decision directly contradicts an order from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordering states to provide same-sex couples with the federal benefits they deserve under the law. All married couples will now have to travel to one of the five federal facilities in Oklahoma to apply for benefits. Incidentally, the state’s facilities were built almost entirely with federal funds and 90 percent of the Oklahoma Military Department — which includes the National Guard — is funded by the federal government.

If This Be Socialism, Make the Most of It

Hmmm. $15 minimum wage, workers' rights, affordable housing ... sounds like a platform that could get someone elected in Kentucky.

Faux-trage Over Grimes ObamaGirl Tweet Convenient Distraction for Both Sides

Really, morons?  This is such a perfect vehicle for Alison Lundergan Grimes' campaign to reject President Obama under cover of defending Kentucky womanhood that I half suspect them of putting the repugs up to it.

Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes moved quickly Tuesday to label Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as unfriendly to women after Republican operatives publicized a photo of Grimes' face on the body of a woman in a tight-fitting shirt with her midriff exposed.

The picture, which combined Grimes with the "Obama girl" who gained momentary fame during President Barack Obama's first presidential campaign, was described by the Grimes campaign as a "sexualized attack" that shows McConnell does not stand up for women.

An unnamed staffer at the National Republican Senatorial Committee posted a link on Twitter to the altered photo and asked whether "Grimes Is The New 'Obama Girl'?" The link went to, the blog of Kentucky Republican Marcus Carey.

Iris Wilbur, McConnell's political director, also retweeted the NRSC post on her personal Twitter account.
Meanwhile, federal budget cuts are costing Kentucky farmers $12 million this year. And almost 1 million Kentuckians are going hungry because of cuts to already-inadequate food stamps.

What do McConnell and Grimes have to say about the destructive stupidity of austerity?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Quote of the Day

Steve M:

Anger is a perfectly appropriate emotion to express at a right wing that won't accept the legitimacy of Democratic and liberal politicians and that describes liberals and Democrats as inhuman monsters bent on America's destruction.

Here's How Dems Take Over the House in 2014

Brilliant political advice from the Rude Pundit:

If the Rude Pundit were the Democrats' Karl Rove, he'd hit GOP members of Congress with this fact. And then he'd push it further. He'd point out, as Joe Conason does, that insurance companies were canceling over 40,000 health policies a week pre-ACA, and Republicans (and most of the media) didn't give a happy monkey fuck about it. And those millions who had policies canceled or were facing cancellation couldn't just go and buy another policy, perhaps even a better one with lower costs for care (as the people who have had policies canceled under Obamacare can). No, they would have pre-existing conditions, perhaps even terminal illness, and no insurer would touch them or would charge them an arm, a leg, their firstborn, and a prostate massage a week.

But the Rude Pundit would go even further. He'd figure out how many people in the district of Congressperson Doucheface had gotten health insurance under the ACA, including the young people who got on their parents' insurance. Then he'd say that Doucheface wants to take it away from them. And he'd state a certainty: If Doucheface gets his way and repeals Obamacare, people will die. Your neighbors will die. Doucheface will be responsible, as will everyone who votes Doucheface into office.

That picture from the GOP website says it all, man. They don't do a goddamn thing but pretend like they are leading. You wanna say, "Job Destroying"? Go ahead. We'll cry, "Murder."
Call out the motherfucking liars for lying about fucking their mothers. It works.

Anybody Notice When the Public Interest Died?

Actually, it was 1996, when Bill CLinton signed the death warrant of American democracy, also known as the Telecommunications Act, which buried the Fairness Doctrine.

This week's conservative motherfuckers have supposedly changed their mind, but that will last only until they think no one's looking so they can quietly get rid of progressive radio for good.

Brad Friedman

Well, whaddaya know? Clear Channel, the largest radio station owner in America, a company owned by Mitt Romney's Bain Capital LLC, and the parent company of the largest syndication company in the U.S., Premier Networks, has now cleared our public airwaves of pretty much every single non-Rightwing voice. Cleansing complete, according to Politico. And, happily for all corporate interests, just in time for the 2014 elections!...

Premiere Networks on Wednesday announced it is dropping liberal talker Randi Rhodes' radio show at the end of the year, the syndicator confirmed to POLITICO.

Rhodes, whose nationally syndicated show airs Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m., had suggested to her listeners since October that her days on radio were "totally numbered." Premiere said today it will no longer carry her show after the year ends.

"Premiere Networks will no longer produce and distribute The Randi Rhodes Show after Tuesday, December 31, 2013," Premiere's public relations director Rachel Nelson told POLITICO in an email. ...


Clear Channel owns some 850 AM and FM stations across the country. They are allowed to operate them via free public licenses to broadcast over our public airwaves, as granted to them by the FCC in exchange only for "operating in the public interest". You're welcome.

They also control what will be played over those stations via their syndication arm Premiere, in what appears to me at least, as I have argued over the years, to be a violation of United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., the 1948 Supreme Court antitrust ruling that ended monopolies by movie studios which controlled both theater ownership and the products which were displayed in them.

Though they are axing the Randi Rhodes program, I suspect they will continue syndicating and broadcasting their other shows across the nation's public airwaves in 2014, as hosted in the public's interest by folks like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. Tens of millions will continue to listen to each of them --- for free, over our public airwaves --- on their way to and from work each day. Finding non-Rightwing voices, for free, over our public airwaves will become even more difficult than it already is and completely impossible for the vast majority of Americans.

"The Only Way Out is Through"

For all his regular indulgence of lying repugs on All In, Chris Hayes is the one television host who most frequently and effectively cuts through the bullshit to the what-really-matters core. Friday night's piece on Obamacare was brilliant.

 Not even Rachel Maddow does it this well. 

Kentucky Still Hooked on That Sweet, Deadly Coal

This decision will actually kill real, live Kentuckians who have to drink selenium-poisoned water.  Will it even get mentioned at the Eastern Kentucky "summit" being promoted by Governor Beshear and Rep. Hal Rogers?

This is not an acceptable decision from the EPA during a Democratic administration:
Today, the Environmental Protection Agency allowed the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection to change how toxic selenium pollution from mountaintop removal mines is measured for the purposes of determining compliance with the Clean Water Act. Selenium, which causes significant biological damage to fish native to the waters of Appalachia, is a toxic pollutant discharged from valley fills into rivers and streams below mountaintop removal sites. The EPA-backed changes to how Kentucky measures selenium pollution allow the state to rely on an impractical and complicated test of tissue samples from fish rather than the current practice of directly sampling the water discharged below mountaintop removal mines and other selenium sources. EPA’s capitulation gives a free pass to industry and will allow unacceptably high levels of selenium pollution to continue flow into Kentucky’s waterways.
If anything, Obama’s EPA should be cracking down on coal mining and making it harder for the mountaintop removal industry to destroy the mountains and ecology of Appalachia. There is no good reason not to directly sample the water. None. Except that the coal industry doesn’t like it. Because ultimately this isn’t about the poisoning of fish. It’s about the poisoning of people. If the fish are poisoned, the people probably are at higher risk as well. Of course, one expects nothing else from the coal industry; it’s spent the last 125 years treating the people of Appalachia like feudal serfs. But for the Obama EPA to actually weaken testing rules, that I don’t get.
Here’s some background on why this all matters:
Current selenium limits in states like West Virginia have helped the Sierra Club and other nonprofits force coal companies to hand over millions of dollars in fines and cleanup costs, but those standards are based on older EPA water criteria and guidance that hasn’t been revised in nearly a decade. New data has suggested less stringent requirements would be adequate and the EPA has said it is updating the acute and chronic freshwater ambient water quality standards for selenium, though the agency has yet to act.
Kentucky is now trying to move ahead while the agency drags its feet, having developed its own criteria with help from the EPA and submitted it for federal approval. The proposal would require that high selenium levels be present in fish tissue before triggering a violation, and it would likely be emulated by neighboring states if it gets the green light from the EPA.
In taking the initiative, Kentucky is hoping to put more regulatory control in its own hands on an issue that has been litigated frequently in other states like West Virginia, according to Crowell & Moring LLP partner Kirsten L. Nathanson.
“The environmental groups have been driving enforcement through lawsuits,” Nathanson said. “Kentucky is trying to find an instructive solution to these issues and avoid some of these ad-hoc enforcement actions by taking affirmative control of its regulatory program for selenium.”
Industry has always preferred state-led regulatory programs because the states are far easier for industry to control than the feds. Politicians come cheaper and they tend to be much friendlier to local industry.
A very disappointing decision.
 And it is all on the head of Affordable Care Act  hero Steve "Coal Dust is Delicious and Nutritious" Beshear.