Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cutting Food Stamps and Welfare Causes Child Prostitution

Why aren't the "pro-lifers" and austerity fiends in prison for this? How much more proof do we need that conservative and religious fanaticism are the source and constant fuel of every human agony on the planet?
 
In a three-day crackdown on child prostitution, the FBI recovered 105 children and arrested 150 people involved in sex trafficking across 57 cities. Most of the exploited children are between 13 and 16 years old, and some started as young as 9 or 11. In a press conference Monday, FBI Acting Executive Assistant Director Kevin Perkins explained that prostitution rings target children who come from dire poverty.
“Many times the children that are taken in, in these types of criminal activities, are children that are disaffected, they are from broken homes, they may be on the street themselves — they are really looking for a meal, they are looking for shelter, they are looking for someone to take care of them, and that’s really the first approach that’s made,” said Perkins.

Law enforcement, researchers, and social workers agree that poverty makes teenagers — particularly girls — far more vulnerable to sex traffickers. Many victims also come from homes with drug addiction and abuse. Pimps lure these children with promises of security and sometimes love, and then hold them against their will for years. Perkins warned that the 105 victims will be “taxing” on social services and victim assistance programs going forward, and stressed that they will “need a great deal of help.” Without a strong social safety net, he said, many of these children will likely fall back into prostitution.

SNIP

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is one of the most effective programs to combat this systemic problem, keeping millions of families out of poverty each year. Yet Republican lawmakers are pushing for ever-harsher cuts and more stringent eligibility requirements to food stamps. Meanwhile, 22 million households brace for reduced benefits later this year.

One of the more popular “reforms” to food stamps has made poor families especially easy prey for sex traffickers. In 1996, Congress permanently banned anyone convicted of a drug felony from receiving aid, effectively pushing their families into permanent poverty. One study found that the ban, which disproportionately affects poor women, actually pushed young mothers into prostitution in order to feed their families. Their children, as a result, were likely exposed to the sex trade at a very young age — not to mention a heightened HIV risk.

Many of the children rescued by the FBI had run away from home and were living on the streets when they were lured into sex trafficking. Rather than help these people find shelter or rehab, many cities are actually criminalizing homelessness. Given the ways the system has been stacked against them, many at-risk children have little choice but to turn to the criminal world for help.

KDP Breaks Rules to Promote Grimes

A fundamental bylaw of the Kentucky Democratic Party prohibits party officials from taking sides in a primary.  If there is more than one Democratic candidate competing, the party is supposed to remain neutral.

For months, while two little-known but courageous Democrats dared to step forward to challenge Mitch McConnell, the KDP pretended they didn't exist, whining to everyone about the need for a Democratic challenger to McConnell while two were already campaigning.

Party officials even worked behind the scenes to sabotage Ashley Judd because she wasn't the candidate they wanted.

Now, while the repug-lite candidate they wanted campaigns as if she didn't have to run in a primary, one of her Democratic opponents is calling foul on the KDP.

Jack Brammer at The Herald:

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Ed Marksberry thinks his party is not playing fairly with his campaign.

Marksberry, an Owensboro contractor who lost a bid for Congress in 2010, filed a lawsuit Monday in Franklin Circuit Court against state Democratic Party chairman Daniel Logsdon, alleging the party is favoring the candidacy of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

"I love the Democratic Party, but if it keeps on doing what it has been doing, it looks like they're ignoring the working class in the party over the rich," Marksberry said Monday during a telephone interview.

Logsdon did not respond to an email and phone call seeking comment.

Marksberry said in the four-page lawsuit that he was surprised and shocked when the state Democratic Party released an email July 1 about Grimes' announcement of her candidacy and mentioned her fundraising efforts.

Marksberry said the party had declined his request to distribute various announcements about his campaign events through its electronic mailing network. He said he was told that sending such communications would violate the party's bylaws, which prohibit the party from using its assets to endorse or support one Democratic candidate over another Democratic candidate in a Democratic primary election.

The party's email about Grimes was "in violation of the clear and unambiguous language of its bylaws," the suit says. "Clearly, resources of Kentucky Democratic Party were utilized to promote Alison Lundergan Grimes' campaign and denied to supporting the candidacy of Edward Marksberry."
Grimes is going to be the nominee, but she's going to lose every working-class and liberal Democratic voter in the Commonwealth getting there.

Then she's going to lose to McConnell by double-digits, which is exactly what the Kentucky Democratic Party deserves.

Massie Directs Constituents to Anti-Obamacare Website o' Lies

So, one of Teabagger Tommy's constituents asked the Northern Kentucky repug congress critter for help signing up for Obamacare, and this is what he received:
I am writing in response to the email we received from you ... about the Affordable Care Act.

After doing a little research, I found this website and I think that it will be helpful in answering your questions.  Please see below.

"After doing a little research"? Really? Did they somehow miss the tons of information the administration has sent to congressional offices about healthcare.gov and how their constituents can find out everything there? Did they miss the publicity about kynect.gov, Kentucky's own portal for signing up for the ACA health exchange?
 
And how exactly did they do this "research?"  If they googled "Affordable Care Act," the first non-ad entry is Wikipedia, and the second entry is the Department of Health and Human Services.  "obamacarefacts.com" does not show up on the first page of results. Or the second page. Or the third page.

It is, however, the fifth entry on the first page of google results for "obamacare." Why do I suspect they did no googling at all, but had "obamacarefacts.com" sticky-noted to their computer to respond to all ACA inquiries?

Maybe because "obamacarefacts.com" is a fraud. It purports to "explain" "obamacare" without ever using the law's real name, without directing you to whitehouse.gov, where you will find referrals to http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform for general information and https://www.healthcare.gov for how to sign up.
 
When I emailed healthcare.gov to ask about "obamacarefacts.com," I got this response:
Websites that have ".com" extensions are commercial websites. They generally are not part of the government.
I don't know why you would have been referred to that resource by a congressman's office.
That's OK - I think I do.  "obamacarefacts.com" very cleverly twists the "facts" about the ACA to make it sound catastrophic without ever explicitly saying so. It goes into great detail about the costs of the ACA to the country and to anyone who signs up for it, but offers no actual assistance for doing so, and no referrals to the government websites that actually do help you sign up.

But the hilarious part is that you can't tell who is behind it.  As commenter sickandtired wrote on a different anti-obamacare site:
I looked at obamacarefacts.com and what I saw was a website run by “private citizens….have no funding or agenda”. But they neglect to say who they are. Most websites have a site map and a few things that talk “About Us” or “Who We Are”, etc. Nothing on this site. Can’t find a bit about who they are. Yet they have an email address looking for contributions. Cannot believe that people in their right minds would send money to anonymous “private citizens”. There is nothing on that website that costs $$$ – all public domain artwork. Something fishy. I have been trying to find who is the source of this website without much luck.
My guess is the Koch Brothers, who have carefully instructed their minions in Congress to direct all their constituents to a site that will thoroughly confuse and discourage them from even trying to sign up or find out anything else.

Are you uninsured? Paying too much for private health insurance? Hoping you can find affordable health care through the Affordable Care Act? Don't ask your repug congress critter. He wants you to fuck off and die in a fire.

Steve Benen:
When Reuters reported last week that Republicans and their allies "are mobilizing ... to dissuade uninsured Americans from obtaining health coverage," it caused a bit of a stir. After all, what kind of people would invest time and energy into convincing struggling families to turn down access to affordable health care?

Who would be so callous as to put partisan spite over the basic health care needs of their community?

Well, now we know. The Dayton Daily News has hidden the story behind a paywall, but the paper reported yesterday on groups like the "Citizens' Council for Health Freedom," which is rallying behind the "Refuse to Enroll" campaign.
With time running out, opponents of the Affordable Care Act have taken to the airwaves in Ohio and elsewhere with ad campaigns not only attacking the bill's merits but also actively encouraging uninsured Americans not to sign up for coverage under the health care law.

The Obama administration has acknowledged the success of the law, commonly referred to as Obamacare, depends in large part on broad-based participation in federal and state-run health exchanges that will begin selling government-subsidized health plans to the uninsured on Oct. 1.
The anti-enrollment campaigns reflect the resignation and desperation of many Obamacare opponents who have given up hope of a government repeal or court-ordered injunction to stop full implementation of the law beginning next year.
 Remember this next year when repug congressional candidates talk about "what Kentuckians need" and "what Kentuckians want" and "what's best for Kentuckians." They care only about what the Koch Brothers need and what corporate criminals want and what's best for themselves.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How to Get This President - and the Country - Back on Track

Yes, there is an alternative to just shrugging your shoulders and caving every time the repugs throw a temper tantrum. David Atkins at Hullabaloo:

The President could take a stand, forcing passage of what small improvements might be possible while cursing the GOP for not doing more. Nothing is getting done anyway.

If nothing is going to get done, why not use the intervening time to damage the House Republicans who stand in the way of progress? Why not demand message bill after message bill, sponsor them through the Senate and watch the GOP filibuster every one? Why not then call for reform of the filibuster? Spend every day listing the things the House Republicans will not do? Go to the media and ask why the Republicans refuse to give the President a bill to increase the minimum wage? Why do they refuse to send him an infrastructure bill to create jobs? Why do they refuse to send him a gun control bill?

If I were President, I would go on camera and say:

"You know, I want what the American people want. Like you, I want to increase the minimum wage. I want to boost jobs, increase incomes for middle class Americans, and fix our decaying infrastructure. I want to do something to stop the epidemic of gun deaths in this country. I want to invest in green jobs, move away from the old fuels that fund our enemies, slow down and stop climate change and make America the leader in the technologies of the 21st century. I want to invest in our children's education and stop students from taking on a lifetime of debt just to go to college.

Like you, I want to do all these things. But I'm not a king. I can't force Congress to put these bills on my desk. They have to bring them to me, and Republicans in Congress refuse to do so. I'm asking them directly: give me these bills. The American people want them. I got elected by a significant margin in order to get these things done that I talked about on the campaign trail.

I'm as aware as the American People that nothing is getting done in Washington. It's all bickering and no action. But that doesn't mean everyone is equally to blame. I'm trying to get these things done to bring relief to my fellow Americans. Most of my Democratic colleagues in the Senate are trying to do the same. But the House of Representatives is refusing to do its job. In fact, they're planning on taking America hostage--again!--refusing to pay the bills we've racked up unless we slash even more jobs and hurt our economy even worse than they hurt it already.

Enough is enough. I'm waiting for the House to act, and for Republicans in the Senate to stop filibustering every bill we put forward to help the American people. The Republican Senate Minority has already blocked twice as many bills during my Presidency than in any other Presidency. I've tried compromising, I've tried threatening, I've tried pleading. Nothing works. There's nothing to trade. The Republicans are so invested in trying to make my Presidency fail that they're will to let American go down with it.

They don't want to raise the minimum wage. They want to cut taxes for the rich. They don't want to invest in green jobs and infrastructure: they want to cut jobs and privatize our roads and bridges. They don't want to reduce the number of guns on our streets and in our schools; they want to increase them. They'd rather regulate women's bodies than regulate corporations that evade taxes and pollute our air and water. There's no compromise to be had there. Trust me, I've tried--though the press often pretends I haven't, I've tried as hard as anyone can. They just don't want the same things the American people do.

My message to the American People is this: you elected me to do a job and make your lives better. I'm doing all I can, but I can't do it alone. I need Congress--and Republicans in Congress especially--to do their jobs rather than cater to the interests of a few big corporations and the wealthiest Americans. Everything I can do alone, I'm doing. But I can't do the big things without some help. If you want change as much as I do, if you want to realize your and my hope for a better future, call up and email your members of Congress and tell them to do their jobs and send these bills to my desk."


Would that be a divisive speech? Of course it would. But it's not as if the government is functional now, or as if partisan sniping could get more acrimonious than it is now.

Such a speech might not accomplish too much. But it wouldn't be the speech of a Presidency adrift. It would be the speech of a Presidency on point. It would highlight precisely why the President was taking executive action to go around Congress when possible. It would highlight who was causing problems. It would be difficult for a fractured Republican caucus to effectively respond. And it might even mobilize Democratic and progressive activists to do the seemingly impossible and retake the House in 2014.

The current approach will accomplish no more legislatively, while failing badly politically. If the Presidency is adrift, it's time for the American people to learn why straight from the horse's mouth.

95-year-old Executed for Refusing to Obey Orders

Maybe if we take their military toys away they'll stop acting like special ops assholes treating innocent citizens like terrorists armed with nukes.

Diane Sweet at Crooks and Liars:

This report has left me stunned. A Taser and bean bag rounds shot at a 95-year-old man who -- for whatever reason -- refusing to get into an ambulance?!? WTF?

The 95-year-old resident of an Illinois nursing home died early Saturday, hours after being shocked with a Taser and bean bag rounds in a confrontation with police.

Via:

"Officers were called to the 100 block of Main Street in Park Forest at 8:42 p.m. when the man became combative with a private ambulance company attempting to involuntarily transport him for medical treatment, Park Forest police said. The facility is Victory Centre of Park Forest, a "supportive living" center for senior citizens, according to the company's website.

The man was threatening facility staff and paramedics with a metal cane and a two-foot metal shoehorn when officers arrived, police said.

He refused to drop the items when commanded and instead grabbed a 12-inch butcher knife, police said.

The officers attempted to Taser the man to no avail and then struck him with bean bag rounds, which finally caused the man to drop the knife, police said."

John Warna, 95, was conscious and talking when he arrived at the hospital, according to police.

However, he was pronounced dead by 2:30 a.m. according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.
Digby:

I'm sure they had no alternatives. These strapping police officers must have felt terribly frightened by a senile 95 year old man. They had to shoot him full of electricity and kill him. What else could they do?

And anyway, no harm no foul. If they hadn't tasered him to death they would have had to shoot him dead with their guns. Because everyone knows that tasers are only used in cases where officers would otherwise use their service revolvers. Amirite?

You know, I suspect that cops used to have a few other tricks up their sleeves to deal with frail, demented geriatrics other than torturing them with electricity. I guess those are lost arts. Torture is the number one go-to when authorities want cooperation from anyone, regardless of the situation, no matter how much overkill it is. It saves time and teaches the public a lesson in bowing down to authority on command.

I'll bet that old man won't try that again any time soon.

Oh wait ...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Beshear Caves on Toxic Pipeline; Tells Those In Its Path to Fuck Off and Die

Not just the usual Cowardly Waste of Oxygen, but motherfucking liar, too.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear sent this letter to a concerned citizen asking him to add regulation of Natural Gas Liquids Pipelines to the agenda for the special session of the General Assembly next month.

  Thank you for your recent inquiry about the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline and your request to add this issue to the agenda for the upcoming special legislative session on redistricting of electoral districts.

        My administration is reviewing the issues surrounding the Bluegrass Pipeline and has staff monitoring this debate.  Because there are a number of issues to be resolved before any definitive action can be taken by the Bluegrass Pipeline owners, including whether the company can use "eminent domain" to acquire right-of-way, there appears to be no need to put this matter on the agenda for the August special session.  Such action would likely add several days to the special session, at a cost of more than $60,000 a day to Kentucky taxpayers.

        If we find that there is a need for state government to change its role in this process to increase protections for our landowners and for the protection of our environment, we will have adequate time to take any necessary action in the regular session that begins in January 2014.  I assure you that my administration will be closely monitoring this proposed project as it moves forward.

Sincerely,
                             
                  Steven L. Beshear
LIAR. Williams Co's. schedule has it starting construction in October. It has already speeded up surveying and coercing landowners into giving easements as some landowners refuse access to their property and makes Williams Co. more desperate.

By the time the regular legislative session begins in January, the pipeline will be half built and far, far, FAR too late to stop.

The August special session is barely in time to stop a toxic waste pipeline that will slice through the Heart of the Bluegrass and destroy all three of Kentucky's biggest and most important industries: horses, bourbon and tourism.

But all Beshear plans to do for the next five months is watch as the Bluegrass Pipeline breaks the last spindly legs of the Commonwealth's economy,

Keep calling the motherfucking liar. 502-564-2611.  Tell him just what you think of his corporate-cock-sucking cowardice.

Military Cops

If you're not a guntard who has to stockpile guns for his penis' sake, the only reason to acquire a non-hunting gun is because you don't feel safe.  Either you don't think the local cops can protect you - because of budget cuts or bigotry - or you're afraid of how a militarized SWAT team that thinks it's in Bagdad will react to a call about a prowler.

Chris Hayes on All In:


It's all part of what Charlie Pierce calls Vigilante Nation

We live now in a vigilante culture. Our police forces are militarized and increasingly prone to rogue operations in which innocent people get killed. (Radley Balko has written an extremely important book about this phenomenon, which shows no signs of slowing down. Why in hell does the Fargo P.D. need a fking tank, anyway? Are the prairie dogs getting bigger these days?) They are being encouraged to employ what can only be called vigilante tactics under the color of official authority. You want to push the definition of the word, and there's a helluva lot to our foreign policy that edges on vigilantism, too. The national legislature has broken down utterly because of the polite vigilantism of a political minority in the Senate -- The debt ceiling was "a hostage worth taking," said Mitch McConnell, and meant it -- and because of the legislative vigilantism of an obdurate House Of Representatives.

On the streets, we are being trained paradoxically to both submit to the authority of the police, and to take the law into our own hands, if necessary, because the police cannot possibly protect us from every danger. Stand Your Ground, though it played no role in the Zimmerman trial per se, is vigilantism hallowed by legislation. That's all it is. This does nothing but produce a national schizophrenia about crime and fear and weaponry that we inevitably act out. If there really were a national background check for mental stability before you could buy a gun, I'm not sure American Society could pass one.
Also this
He can drive around Sanford, Florida until he spots an asshole or a fucking punk and then he can get out of his SUV, his piece tucked into the back of his pants, and he can stalk the asshole or the fucking punk, the one who is in the wrong neighborhood, or who is dressed inappropriately, at least according to George Zimmerman, protector of peace. If the asshole, or the fucking punk, turns around and objects to being stalked -- or, worse, if the asshole, or the fucking punk, decides physically to confront the person stalking him -- then George Zimmerman can whip out the piece from the back of his pants and shoot the asshole, or the fucking punk, dead right there on the spot. This can happen tonight. That is now possible.
 Just a few weeks ago in south-central Kentucky, somebody set a trap on a highway to attract a local do-gooder.  When a Sheriff's Deputy going off duty stopped to clear the brush from the road, the trapper shot him dead.

Every cop in the Commonwealth is on hyper-alert these days.  I drive very carefully.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

His Crime is Exercising His First Amendment Right to Petition His Government for Redress of Grievances. A Right He Fought For in Korea.

And he's still fighting for us.

Bradblog:

So this is what it's come to, North Carolina? Really?...
[Hat-tips @utbrp and @enmarshall.]



How Austerity Allows Criminals to Escape Punishment

Every time you hear some repug or repug-lite dem claim we "must" gut public services through budget cuts, ask yourself who benefits from your community have fewer police officers and firefighters and social workers and librarians and parks/recreation staff and bus drivers and trash collectors.

Almost always, the beneficiary is some private company executive who has bribed elected officials to allow the executive to take over the formerly public service and make huge profits from performing it far worse for far more money.

But sometimes, the beneficiary is corporate criminals who want to make sure that the infrastructure of law enforcement and criminal justice is too starved for funds and devastated to prevent the corporation from defrauding the public or punish it after the fact.

From Firedoglake:

Facing major budget and staff cuts, federal officials are scaling back several high-profile health-care fraud and abuse investigations”.
 
How very convenient for the Big Hospital criminals.

Emergency Contraception Only for the Rich

This is the perfect example of how deeply ingrained in our society have become the repug/freakazoid fuck-poor-people-at-every-turn philosophy.
Why not make the cheap version available to younger and poorer women, and make rich women shell out for the expensive version?
Because that would hurt rich people and Big Pharma while helping poor people, and that's just not allowed any more.


Think Progress:
The FDA finally relented in June, when it officially brought Plan B out from behind the counter. But the agency still had to decide what to do about generic versions of the pill — and it ultimately chose to keep the one-pill generics out of young Americans’ reach for the next three years. The government is permitted to give exclusive marketing rights “to drug firms that fund and conduct clinical trials that are deemed essential to the drug’s approval,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

The decision won’t just affect younger women who are less likely to have disposable income to spend on expensive brand name drugs. Undocumented women who are over age 17 but lack a government-issued ID won’t be able to get the cheaper generic pills, either. Teva has promised not to hike Plan B’s costs despite its market exclusivity.
Everybody who thinks Teva won't hike prices, stand on your head.

Need Help With Obamacare? Don't Call Your Repug Congress Critter

Republican members of Congress are vowing to make it impossible for working people to get affordable health insurance, but you don't have to subject yourself to their lies and misdirection; you can get plain, honest directions from the Commonwealth at the click of a mouse.

Mary Meehan at the Herald:

An animated video produced by the state promotes signing up for health insurance under the new health care reform act as being "as easy as going online to book airline tickets or book a hotel."

That remains to be seen. But the video is part of an $11 million information campaign aimed at telling Kentuckians how to enroll for health care through what's being called an online "exchange" at Kynect.ky.gov.

The messages about the online service will become more frequently seen — on billboards, newspaper, radio
 and television ads and online — in the coming months.

The audience the state's campaign is trying to reach is vast. An estimated 640,000 Kentuckians, or nearly 15 percent of the state's population, are currently uninsured. That number includes 300,000 Kentuckians who don't have insurance and will for the first time be eligible for Medicaid.

Everyone, with very few exceptions, is required to have health insurance by March 31, 2014, or pay a penalty.

Enrollment begins Oct. 1, but recent interviews with local and state health officials, health care advocacy groups and representatives of Lexington's major hospitals indicate there are still many questions unanswered.
For example, a legion of health care "navigators," who will help people determine whether they are eligible for care and help them enroll, has not been identified. Gwenda Bond, a spokeswoman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said that bids for that contract are currently being reviewed.

It's also unclear what kind of medical help those signing up for insurance for the first time might need precisely because they haven't been in the health care system. Dr. Rice Leach, Lexington's commissioner of health, has been working to get Fayette County's medical community together to share information and to answer questions such as what kind of care might be needed. Leach, known for his often blunt assessment of any given situation, said the change is going to be difficult.

"It is likely going to be very confusing and very annoying and very distressing," he said.
 And repugs are doing everything they can to make it a thousand times worse.

Steve Benen at Maddowblog:

Reuters reports this (week), in a matter-of-fact sort of way, that when it comes to implementation of federal health care law, Republicans and their allies "are mobilizing ... to dissuade uninsured Americans from obtaining health coverage."

I hope folks will pause to let that sentence sink in for a moment. Unlike every other industrialized democracy on the planet, the United States -- easily the wealthiest nation on earth -- tolerates a significant chunk of its population to go without basic health care coverage. These Americans and their families can't afford to see a doctor and are one serious illness from financial ruin.

After nearly a century of politicians talking about the problem, President Obama actually signed the Affordable Care Act into law three years ago, giving working families a level of health-care security they've never had before, and throwing a life preserver to the uninsured. Now, Republicans aren't just actively trying to sabotage the law, they're telling struggling Americans it's better to drown than accept the life preserver.
Writing in National Journal overnight, Norm Ornstein accurately describes the GOP efforts as "contemptible" and "spinning out of control."
It is important to emphasize that this set of moves is simply unprecedented.... For three years, Republicans in the Senate refused to confirm anybody to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the post that McClellan had held in 2003-04 -- in order to damage the possibility of a smooth rollout of the health reform plan. Guerrilla efforts to cut off funding, dozens of votes to repeal, abusive comments by leaders, attempts to discourage states from participating in Medicaid expansion or crafting exchanges, threatening letters to associations that might publicize the availability of insurance on exchanges, and now a new set of threats -- to have a government shutdown, or to refuse to raise the debt ceiling, unless the president agrees to stop all funding for implementation of the plan. [...]
What is going on now to sabotage Obamacare is not treasonous -- just sharply beneath any reasonable standards of elected officials with the fiduciary responsibility of governing.
For the unhinged right, there's apparent confusion over these criticisms. "We hate the health-care reform law," they argue, "so it's hardly outrageous for us to try to stand in its way."
Useless as repugs members of Congress are in passing legislation to create jobs, repair infrastructure or otherwise promote the general welfare, you could count on them to at least help you when you call their office about navigating federal law and regulations. That's what we pay them for.

Not any more.
First, congressional Republicans are actively trying to undermine the federal health care system by refusing to help their own constituents navigate the system.
People regularly call their representatives for help with Medicare, Social Security and other government programs. Yet, Republicans believe healthcare reform spells doom for the federal budget, private businesses and the U.S. healthcare system. They're also enormously frustrated that the law has persevered through two elections and a Supreme Court challenge and believe a botched implementation could help build momentum for the repeal movement.
Some Republicans indicated to The Hill they will not assist constituents in navigating the law and obtaining benefits. Others said they would tell people to call the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
"We know how to forward a phone call," said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah). He added, "[A]ll we can do is pass them back to the Obama administration. The ball's in their court. They're responsible for it.
Constituent services are the most basic of tasks for congressional offices, but we now have some -- not all, but some -- congressional Republicans who simply don't want to help constituents who need a hand with information about federal health care benefits.
Got to Kynect.ky.gov. Get the facts and answers to your questions. And tell your obstructionist repug congress critter For Shame.

Just So

From Divine Irony:


A classic

A classic
(Source: humanistpost)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

No, the Rich Do Not Work for a Living

They lounge around collecting the profits off your work. Then they use that money to bribe Congress to given them even more of your earnings. That's why the taxes on their unearned income should be 90 percent.

Kevin Drum:

This won't come as any big surprise, but the chart below from the Tax Policy Center does a very nice job of showing how the rich are different from you and me. Most of us earn money from our jobs. Even up at the 90th percentile (about $150,000 or so), ordinary income makes up 77 percent of all cash earnings. Business and investment income make up only 9 percent. But in the top 0.1 percent, the domain of millionaires and billionaires, business and investment income make up 57 percent of cash earnings. As Jared Bernstein says, this explains a lot about economic policy preferences:
Think about these differences the next time you hear a politician explaining why we need to cut taxes on corporate income or capital gains....The framing is invariably “trickle-down”—such cuts will lift everybody’s fortunes—but the real motivation is what you see here. Once you get up to the very top of the income scale—the top 0.1% in the bar furthest to the right (as it were)—you’ve got two-thirds of their income coming from non-labor sources.
Low corporate and capital gains taxes, as well as cuts to top marginal rates, are always framed as crucial to economic growth. Conversely, high payroll taxes are always framed as crucial to keeping Medicare and Social Security fully funded. And maybe so. But it's quite a coincidence that all of these policies just happen to be precisely what benefits rich people the most, isn't it? Keep that in mind the next time you hear the latest self-serving bit of richsplaining from some Wall Street titan about taxes and the economy. You know the drill: job creators, incentive effects, globalization, capital formation, etc. etc. Just don't worry your pretty little head about the details, OK?
Parasites. Economic terrorists. Clear and present danger to the republic.

The Clinic Gauntlet

They won't stop at abortion or birth control or even sex.  This is how they plan to treat everyone who steps an inch off their Dominionist line.

Digby:

Sure you have a constitutional right, honey.  If you can exercise it. 

This story is by a clinic escort at Mississippi's last abortion clinic.  It almost made me sick to my stomach to read it and watch this video and realize that a good number of pro-choice people have simply accepted this as normal in the United States of America in 2013:
I take my perch on the cold concrete and wait for the other escort on the shift to show up. After the first day, I learned why iPhone ear buds are a constant accessory of the escorts. It just helps to make it through the “Don’t Kill Your Baby!” when you are listening to BeyoncĂ©. When the antis are particularly vocal, or holding “Church,” Derenda—one of the other escorts—carries a boom box behind the patient to drown out the cries of the protesters. Some are so thankful they latch onto us for the 200 feet to the door and ask if these people are going to “hurt” them. We hold a lot of hands and try to make them laugh as much as possible. Sometimes the antis make this easier.

In the beginning of the day I’m a parking attendant. We have precious few spaces at the clinic and they all must be used exactly correctly or the antis will call in a report to the Health Department stating the clinic is breaking standards. So, I usher cars into spaces as tightly as I can—despite the fact that the women driving them are usually not in their best mental state. When the parking at the clinic gets full, we have no choice but to lead them to another public lot down the hill from the clinic. When this happens, usually one or two escorts run down the hill and walk the patient into the clinic. I affectionately call this “Running the Gauntlet,” because once we step off clinic property, we are fair game. The antis chase us to the woman’s car and try to get in between her and us. They will stand outside the car so she cannot open her door. And we cannot do a thing. We are taught to “not engage.” And we keep this rule regularly. But there are days when “not engaging” isn’t something I can do.

The video above is of this exact situation. Me and another escort, Sarah Roberts, were attempting to walk a woman from her car in the public lot, up the hill, and onto the safety of the clinic grounds. Once we get through Roy, we still have to get through the throng of protesters that stay at the clinic waiting to yell at this woman once we step through the gates. And the only point I need to make here is this: In what other place where a human being goes to access medical services are they subjected to this treatment? Because I’d like to remind people some of these women are just here to get birth control pills for a reduced price. And they have to put up with this:
This is also another example of smug, patronizing whites using African American history to advance their own agenda.  It is offensive on every level -- he's a sexist, racist religious thug.

Kentucky Married Couple Sues for Legal Recognition.

I'm so happy!  Instead of stumbling in nearly last, behind only Mississippi, Kentucky for once is ahead of the pack, becoming one of  the very first of the gay-bashing constitutional amendment states to get a post-DOMA lawsuit challenging our antediluvian hate laws.

Jessie Halladay at the Courier:

Two Louisville men who were married in Canada in 2004 filed a federal lawsuit Friday challenging the constitutionality of Kentucky laws that don’t recognize same-sex marriages from outside the state.

Following a U.S. Supreme Court decision last month giving full federal recognition of legally married gay couples, Gregory Bourke and Michael De Leon decided the time was right to ask a federal judge to require Kentucky to give same-sex couples married outside the state the same rights as heterosexual couples.

The lawsuit — filed against Gov. Steve Beshear, Attorney General Jack Conway and Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw — does not seek to legalize gay marriages within Kentucky, but seeks a permanent injunction requiring that same-sex marriages performed outside the state be recognized here.
Read that again.  This lawsuit is NOT trying to overturn Kentucky's hate-mongering anti-gay-marriage amendment; it's merely trying to force Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states.

Not that it will make any difference to the hysterically screaming freakazoids.
Spokeswomen for both Beshear and Conway declined to comment on the lawsuit saying they had not yet seen it and don’t comment on pending litigation.
Cowards. Doesn't matter.  It's ON, y'all.  It. Is. On.


"Make sure everyone who works hard has a chance to get ahead"

Instead of a "better bargain for the middle class," Mr. President, how about recompense? How about the filthy parasites of the one percent who have stolen the rightful earnings of the middle class for the past 40 years pay it back? How about repatriating the $35 trillion the rich have stashed in overseas hideaways and giving it to the poor and working class?

Because until that happens, the people who actually works hard in this country - that is, the poor and middle class - will never have a chance to get ahead.



Full transcript here.

Rx Crackdown in Kentucky Leads to 550% Increase in Heroin Overdoses

But people in genuine pain can no longer get relief because legitimate physicians are threatened with prison if they prescribe painkillers, so it's all good!

From the Kentucky Justice Cabinet:

For the first time in a decade, Kentucky overdose deaths declined in 2012, according to a report issued today by the Office of Drug Control Policy.  Even with the overall drop, autopsied overdose deaths attributed to the use of heroin increased 550 percent over the previous year, to 143 cases, up from 22 in 2011.
Might there possibly be a connection with the passage, in 2012, of a ludicrously draconian prescription drug law that forced people suffering chronic pain to turn to heroin when terrified physicians refused them legitimate pain killers?

Why ever would you think such a thing?  Maybe because it was predicted by many people at the time? 

Funny how the press release from the Governor's Office doesn't mention a word about heroin.
One year after landmark legislation aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse took effect, Governor Steve Beshear credited the bill with closing non-compliant pain management clinics and reducing the number of prescriptions for heavily-abused controlled substances.

Plus, for the first time in a decade, the number of deaths blamed on prescription overdoses has declined.

House Bill 1 (HB1), signed into law by Gov. Beshear last spring, included multiple elements to prevent the abuse and diversion of prescription drugs and to enhance law enforcement's tools to investigate illegal prescribing practices.
Tell that to Dylan Poindexter's mom, Governor.  Go on. You coward, you can't face her.

House Bill 1 has killed dozens of desperate Kentuckians in chronic pain using the only relief they can find  - heroin. And the Kentucky General Assembly, Governor Steve Beshear and every hypocritical motherfucker who supported this bill are accessories before the fact to cold-blooded, pre-meditated serial murder.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Send This Murdering Corporate Person to Prison

People who destroy evidence of a crime go to prison.  In fact, people who destroy evidence of a crime during the commission of which other people DIE, get convicted of felony homicide.  According to the Supreme Court, corporations have all the rights of people.  Why isn't Halliburton going to prison? 

TPM:
Halliburton Energy Services has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence in connection with the 2010 Gulf oil spill, the Department of Justice said Thursday.
Federal officials said in a news release that a criminal information charging Hallburton with one count of destruction of evidence was filed in federal court in Louisiana.

Halliburton has agreed to pay the maximum fine, be on probation for three years and continue to cooperate with the government’s criminal investigation, said the news release, which did not spell out the fine amount.

The Houston-based company has also made a $55 million voluntary contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. It was not a condition of the court agreement, the news release says.

Halliburton was BP’s cement contractor on the drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The blowout triggered an explosion that killed 11 workers and spilled millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf.
Tell ya what: I'll settle for Halliburton surrendering all its assets to the U.S. government, going completely out of business, and preventing all its executives from ever doing business with the U.S. government. No, make that ever doing business with any public or private entity in or of the United States.

Compared to prison, that's extremely lenient.

Alison Says Some Things

Well, well, well.  She does actually disagree with Mitch on some things.  Not the things that really matter, but more than I anticipated.

Zandar:

If you wanted proof that Alison Lundergan Grimes is A) her father's daughter, and B) in it to win it, scope this campaign introduction where she tears Mitch the Turtle a new one, and does it with a pleasant smile on her face.
“Now this part’s for you, Senator. Your campaign wants to play silly games about where I am and where I stand?  Well I’m right here in Kentucky, Senator, where I’ll be holding you accountable for voting to double Medicare premiums on Kentucky seniors, including our retired coal miners, for being against requiring the Department of Defense to buy equipment that’s made in America first, for failing to stand up for women when you voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and the Violence Against Women Act, and for opposing raising the minimum wage over and over again while you became a multimillionaire in public office.”
I think she just might have a chance, folks.
All due respect, Zandar, but really?

North Carolina just passed the most radically restrictive voter suppression laws in the nation and Alison - whose currently elected job is to oversee elections - has nothing to say about it.

No, she doesn't have a fucking chance in the world. Not unless she ups her game by several orders of magnitude and does it pretty damn quick.

For example:

If you're frustrated after wasting dog-knows-how-long trying to find her campaign website online, join the club.

It's not Grimesforsenate dot anything, or even Alisonforsenate dot anything. It's Alisonforkentucky.com, apparently because all the domain names remotely related to anything that people might type in a search for a, you know, Senate campaign, were snapped up by smart people none of whom work on her campaign.

Click on "Issues" and you get a great big picture of Bluegrass landscape, which is so fucking huge it covers up the first several lines of whatever she wanted to say, so that the page makes no fucking sense.

Honestly.  There are five-year-olds who could do a better job. I shudder to think what she's paying her criminally incompetent campaign staff.

Austerity Killing Kentucky

This is how austerity kills the economy:

Government spending grows the economy because it puts money in the pockets of middle-class workers and poor people who then spend that money on food, shelter and other necessities. Cut government spending, workers have less money to spend and the real economy starves.

Government tax cuts for the rich puts money in the overseas bank accounts of obscenely wealthy parasites, who sit on their cash and watch the American middle class turn into serfs.

Jack Brammer at the Herald:

The impact of the across-the-board federal spending cuts on Kentucky programs ranging from special education to social work is expected to be more devastating next year than this year, state education and human resources officials warned lawmakers Thursday.

They said the federal cuts, known as sequestration, will mean tough decisions for state legislators as they craft the state's next two-year budget in Kentucky's 2014 General Assembly that begins in January. The budget depends on state and federal tax dollars.

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday told members of the state legislature's budget committees that the federal cuts to education this state fiscal year that began July 1 will amount to about $26 million.
Meanwhile, Beth Jurek, budget chief for the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said the cuts to the cabinet amount to about $8.2 million in fiscal year 2013 and between $17.7 million and $18.4 million the following year.

Hiren Desai, the education department's associate commissioner for administration and support, said the impact of the cuts will be worse next year, particularly on school staffing, as school districts struggle with dwindling federal funds.

He predicted that "a perfect storm" will develop early next year when the public realizes the impact of the federal cuts and state lawmakers have to produce a balanced budget.
And I predict their solution will be to cut social services and education for the working class, and cut taxes for the rich and corporations. Not that that's any different than what they've always done.

Good On Franklin Fiscal Court, But Beshear Still Has to Put Pipeline on Special Session Call

Call Governor Beshear at 502-564-8611 and tell him:

Honor your commitment to represent the interests of the citizens of Kentucky by protecting them from corporate abuse of eminent domain. Add the following to the call in August, 2013 for the Special Session of the General Assembly:

1. Amend KRS 278.704 through 278.712 to include "natural gas liquids pipelines" in the requirements for advance scrutiny for public safety and environmental standards for review and approval of NGL pipelines.
2. Limit eminent domain powers to utility-owned pipelines.

It is a simple act that can make a profound difference in the quality of life for all Kentuckians and future generations. Please act on this without delay.
That's the language from the Stop the Bluegrass Pipeline petition.  Get more information here.

Then tell your local magistrates to stand up to out-of-state corporate interests like the Franklin County Fiscal Court just did.

Beth Musgrave at the Herald:
Citing public safety concerns, the Franklin County Fiscal Court passed a resolution Thursday opposing building a pipeline to transport flammable natural gas liquids through Franklin and other Central Kentucky counties.

The fiscal court is the first government body to formally oppose plans for the pipeline, which is drawing criticism from environmentalists and landowners in some Central Kentucky counties.

SNIP

"I don't want Franklin County and I don't want the state to be a dumping ground for other people who just want to make a fast buck," said magistrate Jill Robinson, whose district includes most of the 35 parcels of Franklin County land that could become part of the pipeline project.

Massie, Yarmuth Vote to Defund NSA Spying on Americans' Phone Calls

This is one of those rare grounds where liberals and (supposed) libertarians can meet.  But don't think Northern Kentucky's teabagger Massie's distaste for the NSA means he opposes equally intrusive spying by corporations, or government intrusion into your bedroom or your uterus.

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones:

Rep. Justin Amash's amendment to defund the NSA's bulk collection of domestic telephone records failed in the House this afternoon. That's probably not too surprising given the full court press coming from the president, the leadership of both parties, and the intelligence community. But take a look at the vote count. When was the last time we saw something so genuinely bipartisan? In the end, 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats voted in favor, and the leaders of both parties—John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Nancy Pelosi, and Steny Hoyer—all joined with President Obama to oppose the amendment and keep the NSA program in place. Despite disagreements at the margin, support for the fundamental structure of the modern national security state truly spans both parties.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Stay Away From White Folks - They Are Fucking Dangerous

And Domestic Terrorism. Especially the murder-doctors-who-help-women variety of Domestic Terrorism. White people. Every fucking time.

PZ Myers:

Tim Wise reposts an essay from 15 years ago; it’s remarkable for how nothing has changed since. It’s about this peculiar asymmetry in which, when a black person commits a crime, most people are quick to generalize the behavior to their race; when a when a white person commits a crime, blame falls on the individual. I thought it was enlightening to see the litany of crimes primarily committed by white people.
It’s amazing how many crazy whites there are, none of whom feel the wrath of the racial pathology police as a result of their depravity. Killing parents is among our specialties. So in 1994, a white guy in New York killed his mom for serving the wrong pizza; last year, a white kid in Alabama killed his parents with an axe and sledgehammer; and in 1996, Rod Ferrell, leader of a “vampire cult” in Murray, Kentucky, bludgeoned another member’s parents to death and along with the victims’ daughter, drank their blood so as to “cross over to the gates of hell.
Which brings me to rule number one for identifying the race of criminals. If the crime involved vampirism, Satan worship, or cannibalism, you can bet your ass the perp was white. Never fails. But you’ll never hear anyone ask what it is about white parents that makes their children want to cut off their heads and boil them in soup pots.
Ditto for infanticide. When Susan Smith drowned her boys in South Carolina, she had hundreds of people looking for a mythical Black male carjacker, because that’s what danger looks like in the white imagination. We should have known better, especially when you consider how many white folks off their kids: like Brian Peterson and Amy Grossberg, in Delaware, who dumped their newborn in the garbage; or the New Jersey girl at her prom who did the same in the school bathroom; or Brian Stewart, from St. Louis who injected his son with the AIDS virus to avoid paying child support; or the Pittsburgh father who bludgeoned his 5-year old twins to death when they couldn’t find their Power Ranger masks, and were late for day care; or the white babysitter outside Chicago who bound two kids with duct tape, before shooting them and turning the gun on himself. None of these folks’ race was offered as a possible factor in their crimes. No one is writing books about the genetic or white cultural causes of such behavior. In 1995, when a poor Latina killed her daughter in New York by smashing her head against a wall, every major news source in America covered the tragedy, and focused on her “underclass” status. But when a white Arizona man the same month decapitated his son because he was convinced the child was possessed by the devil, coverage was sparse, and mention of race or cultural background was nowhere to be found.
Or consider thrill killing, spree killing, and animal mutilation: three other white favorites that occur without racial identification of the persons involved. In October 1997, a white male teen obsessed with Jeffrey Dahmer killed a 13-year old to “see what it feels like.” In New Jersey, a 15-year old white male killed an 11-year old selling candy door-to-door, but only after sexually assaulting him. Late last year, a white couple in California was arrested for “hunting women,” and torturing and mutilating them in the back of their van. At Indiana University, a white male burned four cats alive in a lab, while in Martin, Tennessee, two white teens set a duck on fire at the city’s recreational complex, and in Missouri, two white teens killed 23 cats for fun, prompting their white neighbors to say, not that there’s something wrong with white kids today, but rather, “boys will be boys.”
So all that’s what my genes predispose me to do…good to know. If people are going to assign genetic causes to black people’s behavior, it’s equally legitimate to do the same to use white people, right?
His prescription for what we ought to do about it did make me cringe a bit, though.
And the next time you hear about some flesh-eating, Satan-worshiping teenager who just pickled his grandma, you’ll know his race before you even see his face on the nightly news, and you’ll know that if he’d just spent a little more time in church with the Black folks, none of this might ever have had to happen.

Will Teabagger Bevin Show Up at Fancy Farm?

Easy to announce your candidacy, Matt, but are you willing to put your mouth and body where your millions of dollars are going? Mitch and Alison will be braving the heat, crowds and abuse in far Western Kentucky April 3 - where will you be?

Joseph Gerth the Courier:

Louisville millionaire and tea party favorite Matthew Bevin jumped into Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race Wednesday, setting up a Republican primary race with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that is expected to be both heated and expensive.

Contending that McConnell isn’t a true conservative, Bevin vowed that, if elected, he would never vote to raise Senate pay, would oppose debt ceiling increases unless there was a plan in place to balance the budget within 10 years and would push for a permanent ban on earmarks.



“The fact of the matter is that big spending has been a bipartisan problem for years, and Mitch McConnell has been happy to keep spending money we don’t have no matter who the president has been,” Bevin, a 46-year-old investment manager, told about 100 supporters in the state Capitol building.
Neither Steve Beshear nor Jerry Abramson are going to Fancy Farm. Unless Bevin shows up, there won't be anybody there to challenge Mitch at all. Grimes hasn't whispered a word of criticism yet, and is unlikely to ever do so.



Kentucky Asks Supremes To Declare Students Unpersons

Kentucky would never dream of questioning a corporation before reading its rights, of course.  But the Supreme Court has already established that corporations are not just persons, but super-persons whose rights supercede those of mere humans.

Brett Barrouquere at the Herald:

The U.S. Supreme Court was asked Wednesday to step into the legal debate over whether students must be informed of their rights before being questioned during an on-campus investigation of school-related activities.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway filed a petition with the high court. It seeks to overturn a Kentucky Supreme Court ruling granting students the right to be Mirandized before questioning by school officials if a resource officer is present.

In throwing out a student's conviction for sharing prescription hydrocodone with a classmate at a Nelson County school, the state court concluded that the presence of a school resource officer and the prospect of criminal charges meant the student should have been informed of his rights. That step is commonly known as a Miranda warning.

"No reasonable student, even the vast majority of 17-year-olds, would have believed that he was at liberty to remain silent, or to leave, of that he was even admitting criminal responsibility under these circumstances," Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Mary Noble wrote in April. "If he had been an adult under these same circumstances, there is no question that the statements would not have been admissible under Miranda."
It is an affront to democracy that this is even a question. That there are states where 17-year-old human beings have fewer rights than soul-less, obscenely wealthy criminal corporations.

And it's being handed to the corporatist Roberts Court by a man who's probably running for Kentucky governor in two years. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Does Alison Lundergan Grimes Agree With Mitch on De-Funding Obamacare?

Does she think killing Obamacare is worth shutting down the federal government? Shit, even Mitch doesn't agree with himself on it.

TPM:

Running out of time and options, conservatives are exploring new ways to corner Congress into shutting down the government this fall unless Obamacare is defunded. But they aren’t likely to achieve much more than giving Republican leaders heartburn.

Conservatives and right-leaning Republican lawmakers have floated the tactic for years. But now, having lost the 2012 election, and with health care reform’s major provisions set to take effect, they’ve gotten more desperate, and see it as their last chance to stop the law.

In one example of an unusual move, the advocacy arm of the Heritage Foundation — Heritage Action — announced Tuesday it will grade lawmakers on the basis of whether they sign on as cosponsors of — not merely vote for — a bill by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to prohibit any funding of Obamacare in the annual budgeting process.

That legislation has won over more than just the usual suspects. Its 27 cosponsors — all Republicans — include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), both of whom are running for reelection in 2014 and are facing primary challengers from the right.

SNIP

Defunding the government over Obamacare is, of course, a pipe dream. Democrats would block any such bill, and President Obama would veto it. And a seasoned veteran like McConnell, who was a senator through the 1990s, is well-aware of the perils of shutting down the government to extract ideological concessions from the party in power.

In fact, when asked Tuesday about the upcoming annual spending bill, McConnell, who has not signed Lee’s letter, told reporters he wants to stick by the 2011 budget agreement, which includes funding for Obamacare.
“I think our main goal going into the year-end discussion is to not walk away from the bipartisan agreement that we made two years ago to reduce spending,” he said. “My view is that we should do what we promised two years ago, and that’ll be my goal going into the final discussions.”
 C'mon, Alison: there are at least six directions from which you can attack Mitch on this one. Give us one. Just one. Hello?  Anybody home?

Pipeline Promoters Getting Official Pushback

They didn't roll over completely like Franklin County's fiscal court, and they didn't state categorically "not in my county" like Anderson County's judge-executive, but Woodford County's magistrates weren't letting the Bluegrass Pipeline purveyers off the hook.

Karla Ward at the Herald:

The Woodford County Fiscal Court posed tough questions Tuesday night to the representative of a company that wants to build an underground pipeline to transport flammable natural gas liquids through Woodford and a number of other Kentucky counties.

SNIP

Each magistrate took a turn at questioning Hunt about safety, how the route is being determined, whether other methods of transporting the liquids are feasible and how the companies will go about acquiring the easements needed to build the pipeline.

Magistrate Ken Reed drew loud applause and cheers from the audience after telling Hunt that he is concerned about possible water pollution and injuries that could occur if the line ever ruptured.

"I don't know how any of us in good conscience could agree that bringing this pipeline through Woodford County is a good idea," Reed said. "It scares me to death."

SNIP
 Magistrate Duncan Gardiner asked Hunt what would happen if no one in Woodford County wanted the pipeline.

"My concerns are property owners' rights," Gardiner said. "If a vast majority of property owners were not in favor of this, I'd be very concerned."

Hunt said that Williams Co. works with property owners to come to an agreement about easements, but if that is not possible, it would seek as a "last resort" to acquire the land via eminent domain.

"I'm skeptical of that," said Woodford County Attorney Alan George. "I do not believe as I sit here today that you have that power. To me, that is critical."

George asked Hunt to ask Williams Co.'s legal council to provide him with rationale for asserting that the company has the right to exercise eminent domain in Kentucky.

George said he expects that local county attorneys in the counties affected will discuss that topic at an association meeting next month.

About 75 people attended the fiscal court meeting. There was no opportunity for questions or comments from the public.
 
A public meeting where that opportunity will be available has been scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Woodford County Courthouse.

Williams Co. has scheduled a series of "open house" events for Aug. 6 at the Williamstown Senior Center in Grant County; Aug. 7 at the Paul Sawyier Public Library in Frankfort; and Aug. 8 at the Pritchard Community Center in Elizabethtown. All three events are from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

After Tuesday night's meeting, about 20 citizens gathered on the steps of the courthouse to discuss the pipeline and how they plan to oppose it.

Corlia Logsdon said she has started a website, Stopbluegrasspipeline.us, "to get some alternative viewpoints out there."

She said she was "pleasantly surprised" by the magistrates' comments.

"They're asking the right questions," she said.
If you think because you don't live in the counties along the pipeline route, think again.  Pipeline leaks - like a recent catastrophic one owned by Williams Co. in Colorado - can go undetected for weeks. In Kentucky's limestone bedrock, contamination can spread dozens of miles in a day.

Go to stopbluegrasspipeline.us - which has dozens of factual reports on NGL pipelines and Williams Co.'s record of leaks and explosions - and sign the petition to Governor Beshear to add NGL pipeline regulation to the agenda for the August 16 special session of the legislature. Read the Herald's excellent editorial here.

Attend the public meetings.  Demand your county magistrates hold a public meeting. Talk to your neighbors. Call your legislators. Write to your local paper. Call the governor at 502-564-9203.

Stop the Bluegrass Pipeline.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Quote of the Day


David Atkins at Hullabaloo:

Conservative policies are quite literally killing the American Dream.

Cashing In On Kids

Because if you can't make a profit off the little buggers, why bother "educating" them at all?

Think Progress:

School privatization laws crafted by corporate interests have been introduced in nearly every state in the first half of 2013, according to the Center for Media and Democracy. 43 states and the District of Columbia are considering school legislation developed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the umbrella organization that pushes state laws catered to business interests on a myriad of topics.
CMD’s report, “Cashing In On Kids,” details 139 separate ALEC-designed bills promoting for-profit education in the states and D.C. this year alone. Three states have considered school voucher programs, and 10 have taken up another ALEC measure that funnels public dollars to private schools via tax credits. Three states have considered the “Virtual Schools Act,” which spends taxpayer money on an online education model “few educators think is appropriate for young children.” So-called “Parent Trigger” laws designed by ALEC and the conservative Heartland Institute have come up in 12 states.

School vouchers do not generally raise student achievement, according to a Center on Education Policy review of years of research. CEP noted that even though most of that research has been funded by the for-profit education industry, it fails to make a convincing case for the superiority of privatized education. If kids are not benefiting, who is?

“Cashing In On Kids” notes that Wisconsin taxpayers have sent nearly two billion dollars to for-profit, religious, and online schools since Milwaukee became the nation’s first school vouchers city in 1990. School voucher programs in Florida, Georgia, and Oklahoma have sent taxpayer money to schools that teach creationism. In Louisiana, almost none of the private schools receiving voucher funds have maintained the separate accounts for public dollars which the law requires, making it impossible to audit their use of the funds. Just two schools have been properly audited, and one of them relies on uncertified teachers and “plopping students in front of televisions to watch lessons on DVDs.”

For-profit school companies exercise substantial political influence, not only at the state level through ALEC but via federal campaign contributions. The Center for Responsive Politics reported on Monday that the Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Rep. John Kline (R-MN), got $116,000 from the for-profit education industry in the second quarter of 2013 alone. CRP data show the industry spent over $1.7 million in the 2012 elections, and over $7 million since 1989, on direct campaign contributions in congressional races. The industry spent more than $40 million lobbying Congress since the early 2000s. Restore Our Future, the super PAC dedicated to electing Mitt Romney during last year’s presidential election, collected hundreds of thousands of dollars from for-profit higher education companies.
 Four ALEC Kids-Are-Cash bills are ready to be introduced into the Kentucky General Assembly:

KY Environmental Literacy Improvement Act HB 269
KY The Great Schools Tax Credit (Scholarship Tax Credit) Act HB 66
KY The Next Generation Charter Schools Act HB 76
KY The Special Needs Scholarship Program Act HB 155

Ignore the lying titles: these are bills to destroy public education, privatize all schools and turn poor kids into ATMs for the Koch brothers.

But even ALEC's depredations are enough for some repugs.  From Wonkette:

http://wonkette.com/523024/lets-not-educate-our-kids-anymore-suggests-genius-utah-senator
As we are sure you know, those laboratories of democracy have been very busy lately forcing women to have children against their will. But one Republican state senator from Utah is quite a multi-tasker! Because he has also found time to call for an end to mandatory education, looking to the Victorian era of Dickensian workhouses as a model for the state to pattern itself after:
A Republican state senator in Utah is calling for the end of mandatory education in the state.
State Sen. Aaron Osmond (R-South Jordan) wrote on the state Senate blog Friday that mandatory education in the state has forced teachers and schools to take on parenting responsibilities. Prior to the mandate taking effect in 1890, he wrote, education was “an opportunity” and parents were more engaged.
Definitely, we should look to pre-1890, when the country was in the throes of a largely unregulated Industrial Revolution, when setting political, legal, and social standards for children today. So in addition to scrapping the mandatory education requirement of the 1890s, we should also get rid of the child labor laws that are a product of the 1890s, because why let children go to school when they could be learning the dignity of work instead?
Anyway, the solution to our current woes, says Osmond, is to move all decision-making to local communities. (Unless the local communities make a decision that the state doesn’t like, in which case, the governor can veto it, because “the state” is still a meaningful construct when it is useful to those in power.)
Osmond called on parents to decide whether or not their children should go to school, and asked for exploration into how much time children should be in school. He wrote that the state should not mandate 990 hours a year of education, and instead should let local school districts make the decision.
No way anything could go wrong there!
Last word to Wonkette commenter AngryBlakGuy:
...and in other news the state of Utah has closed all of its hospitals and instead will open FAITH HEALING clinics! As a side note: as a compromise with democrats, women will be able to "pray away" their pregnancies as an alternative to abortions!