Monday, February 28, 2011

Foxman on Charlie Sheen's comments

In response to Charlie Sheen's radio comments and other interviews over the past few days, ADL executive director Abraham Foxman released a statement:
“By invoking television producer Chuck Lorre’s Jewish name in the context of an angry tirade against him, Charlie Sheen left the impression that another reason for his dislike of Mr. Lorre is his Jewishness. This fact has no relevance to Mr. Sheen’s complaint or disagreement, and his words are at best bizarre, and at worst, borderline anti-Semitism."

Sinker is Twitter's MayorEmanuel

The Atlantic revealed today that Dan Sinker is the guy responsible for MayorEmanuel on Twitter.
The real Rahm Emanuel offered to donate $5,000 to the charity of the anonymous Tweeter's choice if the creator of the account would out himself (Update: even now, the offer still stands). The Chicago Tribune's editorial board begged the account not to stop, saying, "The fun is just beginning," and comparing the mystery of the account's author to the "intrigue surrounding the identity of "Anonymous," the author of the 1996 novel "Primary Colors," a devastating insider take on Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign.

If that seems like a lot of fuss over a Twitter account, you probably haven't been following @MayorEmanuel. The profane, brilliant stream of tweets not only may be the most entertaining feed ever created, but it pushed the boundaries of the medium, making Twitter feel less like a humble platform for updating your status and more like a place where literature could happen. Never deviating too far from the reality of the race itself, @MayorEmanuel wove deep, hilarious stories. It was next-level digital political satire and caricature, but over the months the account ran, it became much more. By the end, the stream resembled an epic, allusive ode to the city of Chicago itself, yearning and lyrical.

For weeks, journalists and insiders have urged the person behind @MayorEmanuel to reveal himself, but he (or she) demurred. Until now. After a protracted email negotiation, the author has outed himself to The Atlantic. He's receiving no compensation.

Genuis man. Sinker is a fucking genius.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The 83rd Annual Oscar Winners

As for my predictions for the 83rd Academy Awards Ceremony? I went 21 for 24. My only misses were in Cinematography, Animated Short, and Directing.

Best Picture: The King’s Speech, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
Best Actor in a Supporting Role : Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Actress in a Leading Role : Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Actress in a Supporting Role : Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Animated Feature Film: Toy Story 3, Lee Unkrich
Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland - Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara
Cinematography: Wally Pfister, Inception
Costume Design: Colleen Atwood, Alice in Wonderland
Directing: Tom Hooper, The King's Speech
Documentary (Feature): Inside Job, Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
Documentary (Short Subject): Strangers No More, Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
Film Editing: Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, The Social Netrwork
Foreign Language Film: In a Better World, Denmark
Makeup: Rick Baker and Dave Elsey, The Wolfman
Music (Original Score): Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network
Music (Original Song): “We Belong Together,” Toy Story 3; Music and Lyrics by Randy Newman
Short Film (Animated): The Lost Thing, Shaun Tran and Andrew Ruhemann
Short Film (Live Action): God of Love, Luth Matheny
Sound Editing: Richard King, Inception
Sound Mixing: Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo, and Ed Novick, Inception
Visual Effects: Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, and Peter Bebb, Inception
Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Writing (Original Screenplay): David Seidler, The King’s Speech

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Predictions for the 83rd Annual Oscar Awards

I studied the guild wins in making the prediction for best picture. Personally, there's nothing I want more than to see The Social Network beat The King's Speech. However, I had to look at the guild wins made by SAG, PGA, and the DGA. SAG has 100,000 voters to the Academy's 6,000 voting members. You can't ignore the run by The King's Speech when it came to being voted on by the industry peers as opposed to only the critics.

Best Picture: The King’s Speech, Iain Canning, Emile Sherman and Gareth Unwin, Producers
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
Best Actor in a Supporting Role : Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Actress in a Leading Role : Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Actress in a Supporting Role : Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Animated Feature Film: Toy Story 3, Lee Unkrich
Art Direction: Alice in Wonderland - Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara
Cinematography: Roger Deakins, True Grit
Costume Design: Colleen Atwood, Alice in Wonderland
Directing: David Fincher, The Social Network
Documentary (Feature): Inside Job, Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
Documentary (Short Subject): Strangers No More, Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
Film Editing: Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, The Social Netrwork
Foreign Language Film: In a Better World, Denmark
Makeup: Rick Baker and Dave Elsey, The Wolfman
Music (Original Score): Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network
Music (Original Song): “We Belong Together,” Toy Story 3; Music and Lyrics by Randy Newman
Short Film (Animated): The Gruffalo, Jakob Schuh and Max Lang
Short Film (Live Action): God of Love, Luth Matheny
Sound Editing: Richard King, Inception
Sound Mixing: Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo, and Ed Novick, Inception
Visual Effects: Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, and Peter Bebb, Inception
Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Writing (Original Screenplay): David Seidler, The King’s Speech

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jason Sudeikis spoke about juggling a film career and Saturday Night Live.
Q: You had to juggle "Hall Pass" and "SNL" simultaneously, and you just wrapped the movie "Horrible Bosses" with Jason Bateman. How do you carve out a film career while on TV.
A: "It's a matter of using your summers effectively. Our 'school year' as we call it on the show, is basically September to May and then we look for summer jobs. Instead of life guarding or mowing lawns, we try to do movies."

Q: How much longer will you be on the show?
A: I signed on for seven years. I'm in my sixth now. I've had the fortunate opportunity to do sketch comedy for 15 years. You can only have so many ideas. I'd like to extend my career a little bit into different genres. I'd love to do a drama."

Q: What are you favorite "SNL" characters?
A: "I love those ESPN guys that Will Forte and I did last year. It's fun watching them because I never get to see what Will is doing next to me when we perform them. Will and I also do (the characters) Jon Bovi who sing opposite lyrics to Bon Jovi songs. That's a movie idea we should explore. Or a television series. We'll see."

Statements on Glenn Beck's Apology

Jewish Funds for Justice:
Glenn Beck’s apology for comparing Reform Judaism to “Radicalized Islam” is welcome but incomplete. While we are heartened to hear him recognize his ignorance, he still has not acknowledged that the letter signed by 400 rabbis and organized by Jewish Funds for Justice represented a cross-section of denominations, including Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Renewal rabbis.

Glenn Beck's characterization of Reform Judaism is in keeping with his longstanding hostility toward people who see their faith linked to pursuing the common good. This was made clear in March of 2010, when Mr. Beck advised people to leave their churches if their clergy spoke about social justice.

Mr. Beck's demonization of his political opponents is a regular feature of his radio and television shows. This problem is systemic. His remarks about Reform Jews are only the most recent example of the attacks that occur daily on Beck’s show.

We reiterate our call for Rupert Murdoch to end Mr. Beck's tenure at Fox News and for Salem Communications to commit not to add his syndicated radio show to their New York stations. Anything short of this reflects an unwillingness to take seriously the harm Mr. Beck causes to many in our community and beyond.
Take a look at what Peter Wehner writes in Commentary Magazine:
It looks to me like it’s only a matter of time — and I suspect not much time — until he blows apart professionally. If and when that happens, one can only hope that conservatism as a movement will have created enough distance from Beck to mitigate the damage.
ADL's initial statement:
Glenn Beck's comparison of Reform Judaism to radical Islam demonstrates his bigoted ignorance. Despite his feeble attempt to suggest that he was not equating Reform Judaism with Islamic extremist terrorism, the simple fact that he would mention them in the same breath is highly offensive and outrageous.

The truth is that every religious body has political points of view, whether one agrees with them or not. To compare Reform Judaism, which supports democratic institutions, to Islamic extremism, which supports anti-democratic movements and the repression of basic rights – including, for example, the denial of women's rights – is beyond the pale.

Glenn Beck has no business discounting the faith of any people, and he should think twice before commenting on something he doesn't know much about. He owes the Reform movement an apology.
The ADL reports that Glenn Beck has written a letter to apologize. Abraham Foxman's comments:
Mr. Foxman welcomed the apology saying, "Glenn Beck has shown that he understands how his remarks were offensive and out of line. We welcome his words of apology and consider the matter closed."
Somehow, I don't think it's enough. Here's the letter from Glenn Beck:
Mr. Foxman,
I just wanted to write to you personally and thank you for bringing to my attention the inaccurate comments I made on Tuesday. I was admittedly misinformed on Reform Rabbis and made a horrible analogy that I immediately attempted to clarify--quite honestly, I blew it on this one. When I believe I'm right, I am always willing to defend my ground. But, when I make a mistake, I hope you understand that I am willing to say so. It is why I led my show today with an admission that I was wrong and an apology to everyone I offended--within Reform Judaism and throughout the Jewish community.

Sincerely,
Glenn Beck
Glenn Beck needs to just resign.
It's not everyday that FOX News' own Shephard Smith finds himself in agreement with the likes of Rachel Maddow and others on MSNBC. Or on the left for that matter. On Studio B yesterday, Smith commented that it was "100 percent politics."

The Huffington Post reports:
On Wednesday's "Studio B," Shepard Smith said the battle over union rights in Wisconsin was all about busting unions and securing Republican political power, not about the state's budget deficit.[...]

Speaking to a mostly-in-agreement Juan Williams, Smith said the fight was "100 percent politics."

"There is no budget crisis in Wisconsin," he said, adding that the unions "[have] given concessions." The real point of the fight, Smith said, could be found in the list of the top ten donors to political campaigns. Seven out of the ten donated to Republicans; the other three were unions donating to Democrats.

"Bust the unions, and it's over," Smith said. He then brought up the Koch brothers, the billionaires who have bankrolled much of the anti-union pushback in Wisconsin. The fight, Smith said, "started" with the Kochs, who he said were trying to get a return on the money they donated to Walker's campaign.

"I'm not taking a side on this, I'm just telling you what's going on...to pretend this is about a fiscal crisis in the state of Wisconsin is malarkey," Smith said.
Here's video of the footage:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Scott Walker punked by reporter

This is way too funny. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has been punked by a reporter that pretended to be David Koch. Here's the sad part: how come elected officials can't get through to speak to the governor but the Koch brothers can?
Here's something for your "can this possibly be for real" file this morning. Over at the Buffalo Beast -- the former print alt-weekly turned online newspaper founded by onetime editor Matt Taibbi, typically best known for its annual list of "The 50 Most Loathsome Americans" -- there appear to be recordings of a phone call between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and current editor Ian Murphy. Now, why on earth would Scott Walker want to talk on the phone with the editor of an online site in Buffalo? Well, he wouldn't.

But what if said editor pretended to be David Koch of the famed Koch Brothers? Well, that's a different story altogether, apparently! And so Walker, believing himself to be on the phone with his patron, seems to have had a long conversation about busting Wisconsin's unions.

Buffalo Beast Publisher Paul Fallon told The Huffington Post that the audio is "absolutely legit." That the call took place as described by the Beast has been confirmed by Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie.

"Basically what happened was, yesterday morning [Murphy] was watching television about this Wisconsin stuff and he saw a report where he saw Walker say he wasn't going to talk to anybody," Fallon said. "And he said, 'I bet he would talk to somebody if he had enough oomph behind him.'"
The transcript can be found here.

Georgia lawmaker thinks miscarriages should be illegal

Umm, really, Georgia? Umm, isn't this like making a natural disaster illegal? The facts are that miscarriages are completely natural occurences. Are all Republicans assholes or are they just intellectually challenged?
Georgia State Rep. Bobby Franklin—who last year proposed making rape and domestic violence "victims" into "accusers"—has introduced a 10-page bill that would criminalize miscarriages and make abortion in Georgia completely illegal. Both miscarriages and abortions would be potentially punishable by death: any "prenatal murder" in the words of the bill, including "human involvement" in a miscarriage, would be a felony and carry a penalty of life in prison or death. Basically, it's everything an "pro-life" activist could want aside from making all women who've had abortions wear big red "A"s on their chests.[...]

Holding women criminally liable for a totally natural, common biological process is cruel and non-sensical. Even more ridiculous, the bill holds women responsible for protecting their fetuses from "the moment of conception," despite the fact that pregnancy tests aren't accurate until at least 3 weeks after conception. Unless Franklin (who is not a health professional) invents a revolutionary intrauterine conception alarm system, it's unclear how exactly the state of Georgia would enforce that rule other than holding all possibly-pregnant women under lock and key.
Seriously, what is wrong with this country?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

That's our Rand...

Welcome to Kentucky...where it never ceases to be a national laughingstock.

Biggest waste of taxpayer money ever:
At the urging of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul , the state Senate approved a measure Tuesday urging Congress to convene a constitutional convention that would consider a balanced budget amendment.

The vote after a short speech by Paul to the Senate was 22-16 along party lines except for Sen. Julie Denton, R-Louisville, who voted against the legislation.[...]

Asked if the House will approve the measure, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said, “When pigs fly.”

Stumbo called a national constitutional convention “an untested,untried and a very dangerous path to go down.”

Other critics of the legislation also expressed fear that a constitutional convention would lead to other unwanted changes and said the state legislature should not meddle in federal policy.

Senate Minority Leader R. J. Palmer II, D-Winchester, said in a statement on behalf of the Senate Democratic Caucus that it supports a balanced federal budget but opposes asking Congress to call a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution.

“The Constitution has never been amended by a convention and no one knows how that process would unfold,” Palmer said. “Calling a constitutional convention opens a Pandora’s Box of uncertainty that places all of our rights and liberties at risk.

“Congress has the ability to pass a balanced budget amendment without making the entire Constitution vulnerable to radical changes. We cannot support asking for a constitutional convention that would gamble with our Constitutional rights.”
THANK YOU to Senator Julie Denton.

On the Kentucky front...

It's bad enough that a lot of offices get politicized but the Kentucky Public Service Commission should not be politicized. Who would pay the most money to buy influence? SB151 needs to be defeated.

Help Planned Parenthood

Sign this open letter to tell Congress how you feel about the cuts to Planned Parenthood.

The letter states:
To the members of the House of Representatives who voted for the Pence Amendment to H.R. 1:

How could you?

How could you betray millions of women — and men, and teens — who rely on Planned Parenthood for basic health care?

How could you condemn countless women in this country to undiagnosed cancer, unintended pregnancies, and untreated illnesses?

Your vote was not only against those who seek care at Planned Parenthood health centers, but against every one of us who has ever sought care there, and against every one of us who knows that when we are healthy, when we are in charge of our lives, we thrive.

It was a vote against me.

To every senator who will soon consider this legislation:

I stand with Planned Parenthood to say to you: STOP THIS.

I stand with Planned Parenthood and the hundreds of thousands of people from every walk of life and every corner of this country who join me in signing this letter to tell you that we will fight this bill and we expect you to do the same.

I stand with and for the millions of women, men, and teens who rely on Planned Parenthood, and I expect you to do the same.

To every member of Congress, know that we stand together today against this outrageous assault, and together we will not lose.

Stand with Labor

You remember how Ernie Fletcher blocked all those blogs a few years ago in Kentucky government buildings? Wisconsin is doing the same thing for the websites that are protesting their Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Here's a link via the AFL-CIO blog:
CNN.com just confirmed that access to a pro-worker website, www.DefendWisconsin.org, was blocked inside the state Capitol today and yesterday.
The Dropkick Murphys have even joined the fight with releasing “Take ’Em Down” from their new album, Going Out in Style. You can stream it here. The band did release a statement:
Dropkick Murphys would like to take a moment to acknowledge the struggles of the working people of Wisconsin and to pledge our support and solidarity by releasing the song ,”Take ‘Em Down” from our upcoming album. We think it’s appropriate at the moment and hope you like it….We’ll see you in Wisconsin in a few days! The Dropkick Murphys Stand With Wisconsin!!!!!
Over in Columbus, Ohio, they blocked people from getting inside to protest.
Thousands of workers are braving the cold after authorities shut the doors on demonstrators trying to enter the Capitol building earlier today, claiming the limited access was a safety issue.
Safety issue? Yeah, right.

Indiana Democratic legislators have fled the state to prevent an anti-union bill from passing while Hoosier employees were expected to protest in Indianapolis.
Seats on one side of the Indiana House were nearly empty today as House Democrats departed the the state rather than vote on anti-union legislation.

A source tells The Indianapolis Star that Democrats are headed to Illinois, though it was possible some also might go to Kentucky. They need to go to a state with a Democratic governor to avoid being taken into police custody and returned to Indiana.[...]

With only 58 legislators present, there was no quorum present to do business. The House needs 67 of its members to be present.[...]

Today’s fight was triggered by Republicans pushing a bill that would bar unions and companies from negotiating a contract that requires non-union members to kick-in fees for representation. It’s become the latest in what is becoming a national fight over Republican attempts to eliminate or limit collective bargaining.

Gov. Mitch Daniels had warned his party late last year against pursuing so-called “right to work” legislation. While he agreed with it philosophically, he said it was a big issue that needed a state-wide debate and noted no Republican had run on this in the November election.
It’s not just union busting that the Republicans are trying to accomplish but it’s a complete attack on the middle class. If there has EVER been a way to unite the Democratic base following the disastrous results this past November, this past week’s events.

A USA Today poll shows that 61% oppose the law that is being proposed by the Wisconsin Republicans.
The public strongly opposes laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions as a way to ease state financial troubles, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.

The poll found that 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to one being considered in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law.
Scott Walker will get no love from a few of his Republican colleagues.

Florida Governor Rick Scott:
My belief is as long as people know what they’re doing, collective bargaining is fine.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbitt:
We’ll begin negotiations with the public-sector unions and anticipate we’ll conduct those in good faith.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels:
I’m not sending the state police after anybody. I’m not gonna divert a single trooper from their job of protection the Indiana public. I trust that people’s consciences will bring them back to work. … For reasons I’ve explained more than once I thought there was a better time and place to have this very important and legitimate issue raised. I’ll also say I think it would have the potential — just tactically — to possibly reduce or wreck the chances for education reform and local government reform and criminal justice reform and the things we have a wonderful chance to do.
Moreover, check out this tidbit:
The deep recession has had a profound effect on virtually every segment of the country's population. But if there is an epicenter of financial stress and frustration, it is among whites without college degrees.

By many measures, this politically sensitive group has emerged from the recession with a particularly dark view of the economy and the financial future. Whites without college degrees also are the most apt to blame Washington for the problems, and are exceedingly harsh in their judgment of the Obama administration and its economic policies.
The whole economic recession came about because of the Bush administration’s decision to deregulate. They were lax on regulations that were installed before Bush took office. Going to war in Iraq did not help matters.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Really, Steve Beshear?

I have to echo Joe on this one. This just shows how much the coal industry is lobbying and influencing Frankfort...and why it is becoming harder and harder each day to support Steve Beshear's re-election campaign no matter how many friends are involved.
The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet has appealed a judge's decision to allow four environmental advocacy groups to intervene in a settlement of water pollution violations by the state's two largest surface coal mine producers.

"The order by Judge (Phillip) Shepherd, if allowed to stand, will have a chilling effect across all areas of the Executive Branch of state government," Energy and Environment Secretary Len Peters said in a statement. "The ability to negotiate settlements with respect to violations of state environmental standards will be severely limited because there would be no certainty by the parties that the issues would be final and completed."

Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled Feb. 11 that the four environmental groups, which triggered the state's investigation of ICG of Hazard and Knott County by filing a notice of intent to sue under the federal Clean Water Act, have a right to be heard.

"The Cabinet, by its own admission, has ignored these now admitted violations for years," Shepherd wrote.
Jake actually has the full press release, which I have no problem copying in full:
The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) today filed a petition for a writ of prohibition and mandamus and a motion for intermediate relief with the Kentucky Court of Appeals asking the court to compel Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd to act within the constraints of the law with regards to the petitions filed to intervene by several environmental groups in two cases involving consent judgments between the Cabinet and ICG, Inc. and its four subsidiaries and Frasure Creek Mining, LLC. The agency and the companies had filed those cases with Franklin Circuit Court Dec. 2, 2010. The cases, filed in different divisions of the court, were consolidated by Judge Shepherd in his division.

The environmental groups filed to intervene in the consolidated cases and that request was granted by Judge Shepherd on Feb. 11, 2011. In that ruling, Judge Shepherd found that because the environmental groups had brought water sampling and reporting issues from the coal companies to the Cabinet’s attention, they have a legal right to intervene in the cases and challenge the agreements reached by the Cabinet and the companies.

In seeking the writ of mandamus, attorneys for EEC state that the court erred in allowing the request for intervention because the environmental groups do not have a right to have their claims heard in state court. The cabinet argues that the federal Clean Water Act, which allows the filing of Notices of Intent (NOI) to file suits against the companies or state agencies, limits jurisdiction on groups’ claims to federal court. Further, the cabinet contends that state law provides no right for the group to challenge the settlement agreements.

The Cabinet filed a separate request for intermediate relief on the grounds that the Cabinet will suffer immediate and irreparable injury before a hearing may be held on this Petition.

The Petition states that the Feb. 11 order by Judge Shepherd “imposes obligations on the Cabinet commencing as early as February 21. This Order is clearly erroneous and, given the deadlines under the Order, the Cabinet has no adequate remedy at law to prevent the immediate negative impact of Respondent’s Order on the Cabinet’s ability to timely and efficiently implement its long-standing, comprehensive program for the investigation, enforcement, and resolution of violations of Kentucky’s environmental laws.”

“The order by Judge Shepherd, if allowed to stand, will have a chilling effect across all areas of the Executive Branch of state government in that the ability to negotiate settlements with respect to violations of state environmental standards will be severely limited because there would be no certainty by the parties that the issues would be final and completed,” said EEC Secretary Len Peters.

More formal legal arguments would be heard at a later date should the Court of Appeals grant the petition for the writ.
I expect better from leaders in Kentucky. I don't like any of the candidates at this point. Let me know who to write in during May's election. Maybe I'll vote for Jonathan Miller or Jack Conway? Even better--Crit Luallen for a write-in campaign for Governor! It worked in Alaska, right?

This Land is Your Land

Tom Morello, Tim McIlrath, Wayne Kramer, Tom Cabel, and Mike McColgan et al. perform "This Land Is Your Land" in front of the Wisconsin State Capitol during the Rally for Wisconsin's Workers in Madison on February 21, 2011:

Afternoon update...

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich published an article related to the showdown against the middle class: Exposing the Republicans' 3-Part Strategy to Tear the Middle Class Apart -- Let's Stop Them in Wisconsin. It's a must read if you ask me.

Also, on the political front: Embarrassed Republicans Admit They've Been Thinking Of Eisenhower Whole Time They've Been Praising Reagan.

Contrary to what we were hearing a few weeks ago, Ted Kennedy, Jr. has opted against running for the senate seat being vacated by Senator Joe Lieberman.
Kennedy, a lawyer, once expressed an interest to USA TODAY about joining the family business. But he is passing on a race next year, when a Connecticut senator is retiring for the second election cycle in a row. The Democrat told WFSB-TV that he doesn't want to run for political office until his children are older.

But never say never, Kennedy says.

"I've been clear about my desire and hope to go into public service at some point in my life," he said in an interview after a dinner honoring the 50th anniversary of his uncle John F. Kennedy's presidential inauguration.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Statement

For many years, I've identified as a moderate. I can't do that any more with seeing the actions of moderates when it comes to the budget cuts. To be honest, the only reason why I called myself a moderate was because of the fringe portion, of what people call the far left, that tend to be so anti-Israel.

However, given the large number of Democrats in Frankfort that are acting like Republicans and letting money influence their vote, it's starting to piss me off. I mean, we have a governor that would rather let the coal industry influence his beliefs on the environment than to do the right thing--which is protecting the environment with clean air and water!

So, yeah, here it goes: I'M A LIBERAL!

Protect the National Weather Service

I was reading the WAVE 3 Weather blog late last night. Folks, this House Republican budget is very drastic and according to Brian in the comments, it takes the National Weather Service back to the 1990s. At this point, all I can say is email your senators and congressman. I trust that John Yarmuth will fight the cuts. Now, Ben Chandler, I'm not so sure given his record of late.First, Brian gives readers the mission statement of the NWS:
The National Weather Service (NWS) provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy. NWS data and products form a national information database and infrastructure which can be used by other governmental agencies, the private sector, the public, and the global community.
Now that you have that, read on:
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers proposed the Continuing Resolution HR 1this week that threatens funding for the National Weather Service (NWS), a service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association(NOAA), with a budget cut of 30 percent, if passed.[...]

Koch says that the NWS budget cuts, if enacted, would be "felt in every aspect of daily life," from emergency weather forecasting to the cost of shipping goods.

Specific concerns for him include suspended and terminated weather observation activities, such as the potential grounding of the Hurricane Hunter Jet, which helps determine a hurricane's path, to reduced weather balloon launches which may result in less accurate forecasts.
The question and answer in the main article was with the Little Rock office so a lot of the answers are related to Arkansas. Tornadoes are bad so here is this part:
Will there be a delay in receiving tornado warnings (or similar severe warnings) common to Arkansas?

"Under certain circumstances, yes, we are afraid that this could happen. During a tornado emergency, seconds save lives."

"Imagine a situation in which the Little Rock NWS office was on a 27-day shutdown," he begins, speaking to the resulting work furloughs and rolling closures across the country if the NWS budget cuts as proposed are enacted. "In this case, our sister office in Memphis would be covering our area of responsibility."

"If a county Sheriff in central Arkansas were to spot a tornado touchdown, their immediate response would be to call the NWS Office in Little Rock. What would happen?"

What happens if a call goes unanswered or is met with a recording advising the spotter to call, say, Memphis?

"Under those circumstances, that would create a delay of getting the information to our neighboring office."
How much of the budget does the NWS take up?
Reactions: What about the federal deficit?

Scientist Tim Coleman further discuses the proposed $126 million NWS budget cut at ABC 33/40 in light of the U.S. Federal Deficit. Coleman points out that "the National Weather Service "budget of $850 million is 0.03 percent of the budget."

Coleman opines further on the role of the government who -- after entitlement programs, interest on federal debt and national defense -- dedicates 17 percent of the budget to pay for "Interstates, FBI, education, energy, treasury, NOAA, NASA, EPA, Corps of Engineers, National Science Foundation (research)," [sic] and similar programs related to justice, defense and general welfare.

Koch was asked about any counter proposals offered that would reduce spending but minimize risk due to extreme budget cuts:

"I've been told that many different scenarios have been discussed by our senior staff at National Weather Service Headquarters, and these solutions were the ones that had the least impact on public safety. Our budget shortfall is expected to exceed $125 million, and all of the cost cutting measures that have been proposed only total up to $48 million. Where the rest of the cuts will come from is uncertain at this time," he said.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Earth to Congressman Ben Chandler...

Like so many people, I voted for Ben Chandler when he ran for governor in 2003. Twice--in the primary and again in the fall. But what is happening to him in Washington?

I'm glad that he voted against the Republicans' plan to defund Planned Parenthood.

But here's the thing that I don't get. Why would he vote against funding the health care reform bill that passed a year ago last March? Why did he cave to the GOP when he barely got re-elected last year? I don't get this.

I want to like Ben Chandler but gosh darn it, this is making it so hard. At this point, Ben Chandler is fuirther to the right than even Senator Joe Lieberman. It makes it harder to even fathom the idea of voting another time for Ben Chandler if he were to run statewide again in Kentucky. Granted, come 2016 when Rand is up for re-election, I'll probably be in Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles.

Unions...

Hat tip to Joe for this one. Powerful stuff.

Koch Brothers supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walke

The Koch Brothers are behind Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker per ThinkProgress.
Wisconsin’s newly elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker is facing a growing backlash over his attempt to cut pay and eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees in his state. Although Walker is claiming his power grab is an attempt to close a budget gap, the budget “crisis” was engineered by Walker as soon as he got into office. As Brian Beutler reported, half of the budget shortfall comes from Walker’s own tax cuts for businesses and other business giveaways enacted in January.
Giving tax cuts to your friends is never the answer. Just look at what happened to the United States' economy once President Bush and the Republicans stopped regulating Wall Street.
A number of the big business interests standing with Walker are beneficiaries of his administration’s tax giveaways. But the greatest ally to Walker is the dirty energy company Koch Industries. In response to the growing protests in Madison, Koch fronts are busing in Tea Party protesters to support Walker and his union-busting campaign.
What is happening with the unions in Wisconsin and Ohio is happening in Kentucky. Instead of unions, it's coal. The coal industry practically owns the state legislature. Instead of wanting clean air and water, the state would rather do every thing it can to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from doing it's job.

I have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That includes my fundamental basic right to breathe in clean air and drink clean water. If the governor decides that he would rather support the coal industry than basic rights, I have no problem writing in the name of someone else.

My state representative did what?!?

My state representative, Bob DeWeese, did the right thing in voting against the optometry bill. The whole bill just smells of financial lobbying by optometrists. I would hope that Governor Steve Beshear vetoes the bill--which did not get sent to the proper committee in the state house.

When it comes to someone performing surgery on my eye, I would trust an opthamologist before trusting an optometrist. This may be one of the rare areas where I actually agree with Rand Paul. Look at their medical training. An opthamologist actually goes to medical school--following which, they perform their respective residency.

Take a look at the requirements put forth by the American Board of Opthamology for one to be a certified opthamologist:
Medical School: All applicants must have graduated from an allopathic or osteopathic medical school. Applicants who are graduates of International Medical Schools are also required to have a certificate from the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).

One (1) year of internship: All applicants, both graduates of allopathic and osteopathic medical schools, entering ophthalmology training programs must complete a post-graduate clinical year (PGY-1) in a program in the United States accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education or a program in Canada approved by the appropriate accrediting body in Canada.

The PGY-1 must be comprised of training in which the resident is primarily responsible for patient care in fields such as internal medicine, neurology, pediatrics, surgery, family practice, or emergency medicine. As a minimum, six months of this year must consist of a broad experience in direct patient care.

Three to four years in a residency program: In addition to a PGY-1, all applicants must satisfactorily complete an entire formal graduated residency training program in ophthalmology of at least 36 months duration (PGY-4 or higher) in either the United States accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, or in Canada accredited by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
Let's compare that to optometrists. The American Optometric Association is one of two boards that certify optometrists in the United States. What do optometrists have to do to get their Doctor of Optometry?
Doctors of optometry are trained to examine, diagnose, treat and manage disorders that affect the eye or vision.

•After attending a university or college for their undergraduate education, optometry students concentrate specifically on the structure, function and disorders of the eye for 4 additional years during their graduate education to earn their doctoral degree.

•While concentrating on the eye and visual system, optometrists also study general health in courses such as human anatomy, biochemistry and physiology.

•In addition to their formal, doctoral-level training, all optometrists participate in ongoing continuing education courses to stay current on the latest standards of care and to maintain their licenses to practice. Optometry is one of the only doctoral-level health care professions to require continuing education in every state for license renewal.
After reading that, I'd say the Commonwealth of Kentucky royally screwed up.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I stand with Labor in Wisconsin

I stand in solidarity with our union friends in Wisconsin and Ohio. In an effort to block a vote in Wisconsin, Democratic legislators have left the state and are now in Illinois.
Wisconsin Democrats on Thursday fled the statehouse in an effort to prevent legislators from reaching a quorum and passing a bill put forth by Gov. Scott Walker (R), which would cripple the collective bargaining rights of public unions.[...]

One Democratic senator told the Associated Press that he and his fleeing colleagues are currently in Illinois.

Their flight further heightened the drama that has surrounded the Wisconsin statehouse this week. On Wednesday there were an estimated 30,000 peacefully rallying in front of the state capitol building, and on Thursday an estimated 25,000 turned out.

Madison public schools are closed for the second day running, as teachers call in sick and students walk out.

Wisconsin is a stronghold of the labor movement -- the birthplace of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, one of the nation's largest labor unions -- with a long history of successful battles for workers' rights. This is part of the reason the pushback to Walker's bill has been so strong. It's also why, if the bill does pass, the precedent it sets for other conservative governors looking to go after collective bargaining rights is so powerful.

"The attacks on public-sector public bargaining rights are extremely ferocious, and the outcome depends on the magnitude of the fight back," Cornell Professor of Labor Relations Rebecca Givan said. "Other governors are closely watching."

If the bill is passed, Givan said, wages will be frozen and benefits will be slashed. The one flexibility Walker's bill offers for collective bargaining, the ability to bargain over wages, is, in Givan's view, practically meaningless.

"They can bargain over wages but only up to the Consumer Price Index -- that's barely bargaining," she said. "That's just 'we're going to go for scraps.'"

The bill cannot be passed if there is not a single Democrat in the chamber. But even if one is rounded up, and the bill passes the senate, protesters won't stop fighting.
Former Congresman David Obey:
Former Rep. David Obey (D-WI), a 41-year veteran of the House, the former chairman of the Appropriations Committee and an icon in Wisconsin politics, assailed Gov. Scott Walker for engaging in "political thuggery" and accused him of channeling toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak before his fall.

"All I know is that last week, when people were asking where Mubarak was -- whether he had gone to Sharm el-Sheikh or Paris -- I was saying he was ensconced in the governor's mansion in Madison," Obey said in a telephone interview with TPM.
I stand with labor.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nominees for The Comedy Awards

The nominations were announced this week for The Comedy Awards, airing April 10, 2011 on Comedy Central, TV Land, and Spike.

Nominees were selected by the Comedy Awards' Board of Directors that includes James Burrows, Stephen Colbert, Billy Crystal, James Dixon, Whoopi Goldberg, Brad Grey, Caroline Hirsch, Martin Lesak, Seth MacFarlane, Adam McKay, Jimmy Miller, Conan O'Brien, Peter Principato, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Jay Roach, Chris Rock, Ray Romano, Rory Rosegarten, Phil Rosenthal, Michael Rotenberg, George Schlatter, Sharon Sheinwold Jackson, Mitzi Shore, Jon Stewart, Lily Tomlin and Sandy Wernick. The winners of each category will be chosen by an invitation-only voting body comprised of nearly 1000 members from the comedy community – including writers, producers, performers and directors.

COMEDY SERIES
“30 Rock”
“Eastbound & Down”
“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”
“Modern Family”
“The Office”

COMEDY ACTOR — TV
Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”
Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”
Steve Carell, “The Office”
Tracy Morgan, “30 Rock”
Danny McBride, “Eastbound & Down”

COMEDY ACTRESS — TV
Tina Fey, “30 Rock”
Jane Krakowski, “30 Rock”
Jane Lynch, “Glee”
Betty White, “Hot in Cleveland”
Kristen Wiig, “Saturday Night Live”

COMEDY ACTOR — FILM
Russell Brand, “Get Him to the Greek”
Will Ferrell, “The Other Guys”
Zach Galifianakis, “Dinner for Schmucks”
Paul Giamatti, “Barney’s Version”
Jonah Hill, “Cyrus"

COMEDY ACTRESS — FILM
Tina Fey, “Date Night”
Anne Hathaway, “Love & Other Drugs”
Helen Mirren, “Red”
ChloĆ« Moretz, “Kick-Ass”
Emma Stone, “Easy A”

LATE NIGHT COMEDY SERIES
“The Colbert Report”
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”
“Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”
“Late Show with David Letterman”

SKETCH COMEDY/ALTERNATIVE COMEDY SERIES
“Childrens Hospital”
“Funny or Die Presents”
“Saturday Night Live”
“Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”
“Tosh.0”

STAND-UP SPECIAL
“Aziz Ansari: Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening”
“Bill Maher…But I’m Not Wrong”
“Louis C.K.: Hilarious”
“Ricky Gervais: Out of England 2”
“Whitney Cummings: Money Shot”

COMEDY FILM
“Cyrus”
“Easy A”
“Get Him to the Greek”
“Kick-Ass”
“The Other Guys”

ANIMATED COMEDY FILM
“Despicable Me”
“Megamind”
“Shrek Forever After”
“Toy Story 3”

ANIMATED COMEDY SERIES
“American Dad!”
“Archer”
“Family Guy”
“The Simpsons”
“South Park”

COMEDY WRITING — TV
“30 Rock”
“Louie”
“Modern Family”
“The Office”
“The Simpsons”

COMEDY SCREENPLAY
“Cyrus”
“Easy A”
“Hot Tub Time Machine”
“Kick-Ass”
“Tiny Furniture”

COMEDY DIRECTING — TV
“30 Rock”
“Community”
“Modern Family”
“The Office”
“Saturday Night Live”

COMEDY DIRECTOR — FILM
Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass, “Cyrus”
Will Gluck, “Easy A”
Adam McKay, “The Other Guys”
Matthew Vaughn, “Kick-Ass”
Edgar Wright, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”

Firefly comes back to cable

Joss Whedon's cult sci-fi classic, Firefly, is coming back to cable in the form of syndicated reruns. To celebrate, EW spoke to Firefly star Nathan Fillion.
The Science Channel has acquired the rights to the cult-hit and will air the series in its short-lived entirety, plus some new extras. Science Channel will wrap each episode with interstitial segments starring renowned physicist Dr. Michio Kaku, who will discuss the theoretical science behind the show’s sci-fi concepts.

According to Firefly studio 20th Century Fox, this will mark the first time Firefly has aired on a fully distributed basic cable channel since 2008, when it ran on USA Network.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was the part about playing the character?
NATHAN FILLION: It was my favorite job ever. What wasn’t great about it? I got to wear a low-slung holster. I got to ride horses. I got to have a spaceship. I got to act mean and curmudgeonly. [Creator Joss Whedon] is really good at kicking characters in the nuts so the other characters would have laughs at my expense and that was great too.

If Castle had its series finale tomorrow and Fox said to you and Joss: “We screwed up, let’s try doing Firefly again.” Would you do it?
Yes. Yes. I would examine very closely Fox’s reasoning — I’m a little gun-shy. If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to Firefly, make it on my own, and distribute it on the Internet.

What’s the most common thing Firefly fans say to you?
No. 1, “Is there going to be more?” No. 2, “Why was it canceled?”

Why do you think the show has had such an enduring appeal?
It’s a great question. We’re the most story-literate society the world has ever seen. What Joss tends to do is twist story conventions into reality. Whereas the story goes like this, real life goes like this, and that’s what Joss has mastered.

Do you ever watch the show nowadays or is that just weird?
It’s not weird. I haven’t watched it in a long, long time and I would like to revisit it.
The Science Channel will start with the two hour pilot on March 6 at 8 PM. At 10, another episode will air. Following which, every Sunday will feature new episodes--in their original intended order and in HD.

March 6 at 8 p.m., with the two hour pilot, followed by the first episode at 10 p.m. Following that, Firefly episodes will air every Sunday at 10 PM — and, yes, in their original intended order and upgraded to high definition.

I'm with the EPA...Jim Gooch isn't

Jim, Jim, Jim. What the fuck are we supposed to do with you? It is a losing battle. Federal law trumps any thing you want to propose. You won't win. You're a fucking embarrassment, Jim Gooch--I'm so glad I don't live in your district.
"The EPA don’t understand mining,” House Natural Resources and Environment Chairman Jim Gooch, D-Providence, said at his committee’s hearing. “We’re trying to say to those folks, we don’t want them having ultimate say or control.”

Lawmakers acknowledged that it’s unclear what legal weight their measures would carry beyond “sending a message” to Washington. Federal law usually trumps state law, especially in regards to environmental protection and interstate commerce. But lawmakers said they’re trying to make a point for states’ rights.

“We hope it goes to the Supreme Court so we can go argue our case there,” said Rep. Keith Hall, D-Phelps, who is in the coal mining business. “As a member who owns 1,200 acres, when I have intrusion by the federal government that tells me what I can and cannot do with my own property … I call that a taking.”

Gooch’s committee unanimously approved his House Bill 421, which would exempt coal mining from the federal Clean Water Act and other EPA regulation if the coal is used inside Kentucky and does not cross state lines. The lone critic at the hearing, environmental lawyer Tom FitzGerald, told lawmakers that about 20 percent of the sediment produced by coal mining goes into rivers that flow outside Kentucky’s borders.

The Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee later unanimously approved Senate Joint Resolution 99, which declares that Kentucky should be a “sanctuary state” for the coal industry, free from “the overreaching regulatory power” of the EPA. The state Energy and Environment Cabinet would be authorized to regulate mining on their own.
I hope Democrats in the General Assembly start acting like Democrats once more. I like clean air. I like clean water. I expect that there will be a massive lawsuit agaist the state if this passes.

Inequality in the United States

The Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality provides us with 20 facts about inequality in the United States. It's a sad, sad picture.

Go take a look at it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On King Coal

Governor Beshear said in is recent State of the State address that he would take on the EPA I've got news for you, Governor Beshear. I like clean air and water. You want to take on the EPA? Guess what? I have every right to write in someone's name on the ballot in May and November. I like former Mayor Jerry Abramson, a long time friend of the family.

However, Governor, if you think defending coal is the answer, when it obviously is not, there is a problem. Coal is not a clean source of power. Mountaintops are being removed as this weekend's protests and rallies have shown.

What is wrong with the Commowealth of Kentucky? I'm getting upset with leadership from my own party.

Hell, what is wrong with the state in general?

Look at State Rep. Brandon Smith's idea:
Kentucky should be a “sanctuary state” for the coal industry, free from “the overreaching regulatory power” of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to a measure expected to get a Senate committee vote Thursday.

Senate Natural Resources and Energy Chairman Brandon Smith, R-Hazard, said he got the idea for Senate Joint Resolution 99 after hearing about “sanctuary cities” declaring themselves exempt from federal immigration law.

If cities can ignore federal law to protect illegal immigrants, Smith said Wednesday, then why can’t Kentucky do it for coal companies?[...]

Smith and his wife were managers at Perry Oil Co. in Hazard in 2008, around the time the company entered a consent agreement with the EPA. The EPA blamed the company for 7,000 gallons of oil poured into an unnamed tributary of Lick Creek in Laurel County. The company agreed to pay a $14,595 fine.

Smith said he since has left the company and was unaware of the consent agreement. That isn’t what turned him against the EPA, the senator said. Rather, under President Barack Obama, the once-friendly EPA has become more adversarial, Smith said.[...]

Environmentalists say they’re unhappy that Gov. Steve Beshear and the General Assembly are attacking the EPA for enforcing environmental laws, some of which, they said, were neglected under previous presidents. Fourteen of them occupied Beshear’s outer office last weekend, and hundreds more rallied Monday on the Capitol steps.

The Beshear administration has joined the Kentucky Coal Association’s lawsuit against the EPA over water pollution enforcement. In this month’s State of the Commonwealth address, Beshear won thunderous applause from lawmakers by demanding that EPA regulators “get off our backs.”
That's because the Bush administration was lax in regulating companies in violation ofthe law.

Bar'chu! (I'm a Jew)

The Jew Man Group did a remix of Cee-Lo Green's "Forget You":


"Bar'chu!" (I'm A Jew)
by Jew Man Group

I've got my head face down in my Parasha and I'm like
"Bar'chu!" (I’m a Jew)
Bein' a mohel or a shochet won't be enough, so I'm like,
"Bar'chu!" and "Yis-m'-chu!"

It's my Bar Mitzvah, I'll celebrate with ya,
We're davenin' shacharis (davenin' shacharis!)
And though we ain’t facing West,
I'll still greet all my guests with a...
"Bar'chu!" (I’m a Jew)

Yeah, my party won't have calamari
And the caterer kashers the silverware
Whether in the city or on a safari
It don't matter 'cause you can pray anywhere.

Step into the shuuuuul and sit down in a pew
(Turn off your phone and twitter)
(Just pick up your own siddur)
Ooooooh, there's lots of Jews with you
Yeah, let's see if you stay awake 'till the end

(CHORUS)

Now I know it's on tomorrow
My Haftarah and D'var's complete.
Chant the Torah, dance the hora
'Cause payin' for all of this food ain't cheap.

Step into the shuuuuul and sit down in a pew
(Turn off your phone and twitter)
(Just pick up your own siddur)
Ooooooh, there's lots of Jews with you
Ooh! I'd really love to make Kiddush about now

(CHORUS)

Now zaidy, zaidy, zaidy,
Why ya, why ya, why ya lookin' so sad?
(So sad, so sad, so sad)
You were plotzin' with my bubbie,
Then she told me, "get the check book from dad"
(From dad, from dad, from dad)
Yes she did, and he's like

Oy! Chai? Oy! Chai?
Oy! Chai, zaidy!
Oy! I love Jews!
Oy! I still love Jews.
Oy!

So now I’m walkin’ 'round town with my yarmulke,
“I’m a Jew!” (I'm A Jew!)
The books of Moses and the prophets ain’t easy stuff,
Now I’m like, “I’m a Jew” and so are you!

Now, it says in the Mishnah, let’s go make a mitzvah
It all started at my bris (Started at my bris)

Now that you’ve all been impressed,
I’ll keep doin’ my best, now that,
“I’m a Jew!" (I’m a Jew!)

Iran blames Israel for Iranian protestors

Why is this surprising? Iranian officials are blaming Israel and America for the Iranians that are protesting the current Iranian regime. Maybe if one looks at who is in charge of Iran, one would understand why there are protests.
Iranian officials blamed Israel and the United States for protests that broke out in the Islamic Republic, leaving one dead and dozens injured.

"The parliament condemns the Zionist, American, anti-revolutionary and anti-national action of the misled seditionists," Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said Tuesday during an open session of parliament a day after the demonstrations in support of the peoples' revolution in Egypt that led to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak..

During the session, lawmakers called for the execution of opposition leaders and former presidential candidates Mehdi Karrubi and Mir Hossein Moussavi. They also chanted "Death to Israel" and "Death to America," according to reports.

"We have information ... that America, Britain and Israel guided the opposition leaders who called for the rally," deputy police chief Ahmadreza Radan said, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.

The demonstrations ended by Tuesday, according to reports.

Dozens of opposition protesters were arrested in the central Iranian city of Isfahan, and Iranian security forces fired tear gas at protesters marching in central Tehran toward Freedom Square on Monday, Reuters reported.

Iranian officials banned rallies in support of Egypt. Opposition leaders reportedly had planned such rallies after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in public remarks that the Egyptian reformists had taken a page from Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979 in toppling a monarchy supported by the West.

Also Monday, anti-government protesters demonstrated in the streets of Yemen and Bahrain.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton backed the Iranian protestors, telling reporters Monday in Washington that they "deserve to have the same rights that they saw being played out in Egypt and are part of their own birthright."

The European Jewish Congress called on European leaders to press unequivocally for democracy and freedom for the Iranian people and express concern about the situation in Iran.

Russ Feingold starts Progressive PAC

Former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold announced the formation of Progressives United. Here's the email that he sent out to supporters.
Friend,

For too long, we've witnessed the ever-increasing, corruptive power of corporations over our democracy.

As you know, I spent much of my career in the Senate fighting that corruptive power. I am no longer in the Senate tp represent Wisconsin, but I have no intention of giving up that fight -- or giving up on you and all the people who have fought it with me.

Today I am proud to announce that progressives -- demanding change and demanding action -- have come together to help me launch a new group: Progressives United.

Together we will empower Americans to fight back against corporate influence and corruption in Washington, D.C., and demand democratic reforms to our election system. We will support candidates who will work for the people, not the corporations. We will call out the media when they hide from the real story.

And we will do it all united.

Stand with me: Click here to watch my new video message introducing the new Progressives United -- and then pledge to keep up the fight with me.

After the Supreme Court’s egregious Citizens United decision last year, which opened the floodgates for corporations to influence our elections, we saw hundreds of millions of dollars from corporate special interests drown out the voices of average Americans and obstruct the democratic principles established by our nation’s Founders.

That flood of corporate money began to make an impact in last fall's elections. But our real fight is ahead, when special interests will try to buy their way to victory in 2012.

Progressives have long fought for clean elections and good government, because that's what makes our nation work best. Now we’re uniting to continue that fight.

Will you stand with me?

Join together with progressives across America to stop the corruptive corporate influence in politics: Watch my video now and pledge to keep up the fight!

Together, you and I have stuck to the progressive principles that will move our country forward -- while working to ensure that none of our fellow citizens get left behind.

That’s why I opposed corrupt trade agreements, like NAFTA, that passed under corporate influence. I supported health care reform, voted against the Patriot Act and the Iraq War, and reached across party lines to make our system of campaign financing more accountable.

But we still have a lot of work left to do.

United once again, we can ensure that Abraham Lincoln’s words that we are “government of the people, by the people, for the people” remain true.

Please join me!

Your friend,

Russ Feingold
Founder
Progressives United
You can like the facebook page here. The PAC page can be found here.

John Boehner is a sad, sad man

John Boehner's spending cuts could cost 1 million Americans to lose their jobs. Sure, the federal govenment is looking for ways to decrease spending but at a time when no one is really hiring, does anyone think that is a good idea? Here's the killer:
Milbank additionally notes that Boehner's spending plan includes some $450 million for the development of a second engine for the F-35 Joint Striker -- which is done in a GE plant in Boehner's district that employs 7,000 people. Lilly wrote Sunday that, despite Boehner's promises to end earmarks, the job-saving money for the engine's development looks a lot like an earmark.

Stan Musial recieves Presidential Medal of Freedom

Yesterday, Stan "The Man" Musial recieved the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Ironically, Jean Kennedy Smith, the brother of the late president John F. Kennedy, also recieved one. Catch up on the backstory to that here. Anyway, the following are remarks delivered by President Barack Obama in presenting the medal to one of the all-time St. Louis greats:
Stan Musial -- his brilliance could come in blinding bursts; hitting five home runs in a single day’s doubleheader; leading the league in singles, doubles, triples and RBIs over a single season; three World Series; first-ballot Hall of Famer; worthy of one of the greatest nicknames in sports -- “Stan the Man.” (Laughter.) My grandfather was Stan, by the way, so I used to call him “The Man” too, Stan. (Laughter.)

Stan Musial made that brilliance burn for two decades. Stan matched his hustle with humility. He retired with 17 records -- even as he missed a season in his prime to serve his country in the Navy. He was the first player to make -- get this -- $100,000. (Laughter.) Even more shocking, he asked for a pay cut when he didn’t perform up to his own expectations. You can imagine that happening today. (Laughter.) Stan remains, to this day, an icon, untarnished; a beloved pillar of the community; a gentleman you’d want your kids to emulate. “I hope I’ve given [baseball] nearly as much as I’ve gotten from it,” Stan wrote in his memoirs, knocking it out of the park one more time.
When the medal was presented:
Stanley F. Musial. Stanley F. Musial represents the best of American sports icons. His name is synonymous with the St. Louis Cardinals, the team on which he played for his entire 22-year career. A perennial all-star and three-time Most Valuable Player, he won accolades as a player and championships as a teammate. Nicknamed “Stan the Man” Musial, he played the game with unrivaled passion, and his humility and decency remain a model for all young Americans to this day.

(The medal is presented.) (Applause.)

Chuck Lorre's Recent Vanity Card

If you watch any of Chuck Lorre's programs, then you must be familiar with the vanity cards that are aired at the end of each show. The following is from the most recent episode of Two and a Half Men:
CHUCK LORRE PRODUCTIONS, #329
I exercise regularly. I eat moderate amounts of healthy food. I make sure to get plenty of rest. I see my doctor once a year and my dentist twice a year. I floss every night. I've had chest x–rays, cardio stress tests, EKG's and colonoscopies. I see a psychologist and have a variety of hobbies to reduce stress. I don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't do drugs. I don't have crazy, reckless sex with strangers.

If Charlie Sheen outlives me, I'm gonna be really pissed.
Too funny.

Monday, February 14, 2011

President Obama's Budget Proposal

In a time when state budgets are hurting and college tuitions are rising, we cannot afford further cuts to education funding.

The president released his budget proposals for the 2012 fiscal year.
Obama's new budget puts forward a plan to achieve $1.1 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade, according to an administration official who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity in advance of the formal release of the budget.

Those reductions -- averaging just over $100 billion each year -- are achieved mainly by squeezing social programs. A deal struck to extend the Bush tax cuts for just two years, meanwhile, increased the deficit by $858 billion dollars. More than $500 billion of that bargain constituted tax cuts, with billions more funding business tax breaks and a reduction in the estate tax. Roughly $56 billion went to reauthorize emergency unemployment benefits.
Here's this bit from CNN the other day:
CROWLEY: Here's the problem, I guess. If you are a graduate -- let's take one of your examples. You're a graduate student; you are, right now, getting loans. You don't have to pay those loans or any interest on them until you graduate. But now you have to pay -- or it accumulates, I'm assuming -- you have to pay interest beginning on day one of grad school, and that makes it so that you can't go to grad school.

LEW: Well, let's just be clear. Interest will build up, but students won't have to pay until they graduate. So it will increase the burden for paying back the loans, but it will not reduce access to education. That's, I think, part of how you can responsibly have a plan that deals with the challenge of solving our fiscal crisis, getting out of the situation where the deficit is growing and growing, but also investing in the future.
From that interview, HuffPost notes this:
Lew's assurance that students still won't have to start paying back their debt until after they graduate might not offer much comfort to people who emerge from graduate school and face, on average, more than $40,000 in debt, according to FinAid.org. Students pursuing a medical degree can face more than $100,000 in debt, notes HuffPost's Amanda Terkel.

Obama himself has acknowledged the burden of heavy student debt, saying in his 2010 State of the Union speech, "In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program around is a world-class education. No one should go broke because they chose to go to college."

Paul McCartney wins Grammy Award

Paul McCartney has taken home another Grammy:
Paul Wins Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance Grammy
Paul added yet another accolade to his unparalleled list of achievements, as he was awarded with the statue for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards last night. The Grammy went to the live version of "Helter Skelter" from the Good Evening New York City.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Quote of the Day

"The legislative agenda of Barack Obama is over."
--Mitch McConnell, Jefferson County Lincoln Day Dinner, February 12, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

On mountaintop removal

First and foremost, I'm going just come out and say it right now. This is a practice that needs to stop. Coal is not a clean source of power. Governor Beshear, stop attacking the EPA. These are regulations for a reason. I want to drink clean water and breathe clean air. Don't ruin that for us.

Here are a series of emails that I recieved over the weekend.

Email #1:
Press Release: Group of Kentuckians Demand End to Mountaintop Removal Mining in Governor’s Office Sit-In

11 February 2011

FRANKFORT – A group of twenty Kentuckians has gathered at the state Capitol in an attempt to meet with Gov. Steve Beshear to discuss the issue of mountaintop removal mining. They plan to remain in his office until the governor agrees to stop the poisoning of Kentucky’s land, water, and people by mountaintop removal; or until he chooses to have the citizens physically removed.

Among the group are Wendell Berry, 76, the acclaimed writer who has decried mining abuses for the past fifty years; Beverly May, 52, a nurse practitioner from Floyd County; Erik Reece, 43, who has written extensively about the coal industry; Patty Wallace, 80, a grandmother from Louisa; Mickey McCoy, 55, former educator and mayor of Inez; Teri Blanton, 54, a grassroots activist from Harlan County; Stanley Sturgill, 65, a former underground coal miner of Harlan County; Rick Handshoe, 50, a retired Kentucky State Police radio technician of Floyd County; John Hennen, 59, a history professor at Morehead State University; and Martin Mudd, 28, an environmental activist.

While these Kentuckians realize they are risking arrest by refusing to leave the governor’s office, they say they have repeatedly petitioned Gov. Beshear for help, yet their pleas have been ignored. This action is a last resort to seek protections for their health, land, and water.

In a letter to Gov. Beshear, the citizens expressed their desire to communicate “respectfully and effectively” with the governor about the urgent need to stop the destruction of mountaintop removal mining. Among their requests were the following:

* Accept a long-standing invitation to view the devastation in eastern Kentucky caused by mountaintop removal mining

* Foster a sincere, public discussion about the urgent need for a sustainable economic transition for coal workers and mountain communities

* Withdraw from the October 2010 lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, in which the Beshear administration partnered with the coal industry to oppose the EPA’s efforts to protect the health and water of coalfield residents

“The office of the governor must be held accountable,” they citizens explained in a joint statement. “We are once again asking Gov. Beshear for help.”
Email #2:
Press Release: Fourteen Kentuckians Will Remain in Governor’s Office Over the Weekend in Protest of Mountaintop Removal Mining
11 February 2011

FRANKFORT – At least fourteen Kentuckians have decided to remain in Gov. Steve Beshear’s office over the weekend at the invitation of the governor himself.

Among those remaining in the governor’s office include Wendell Berry, 76, the acclaimed writer who has decried mining abuses for the past fifty years; Beverly May, 52, a nurse practitioner from Floyd County; Mickey McCoy, 55, former educator and mayor of Inez; Teri Blanton, 54, a grassroots activist from Harlan County; Stanley Sturgill, 65, a former underground coal miner of Harlan County; Rick Handshoe, 50, a retired Kentucky State Police radio technician of Floyd County; John Hennen, 59, a history professor at Morehead State University; and Martin Mudd, 28, an environmental activist.

“We have resolved to stay while Gov. Beshear reconsiders his position on mountaintop removal mining,” the group said in a joint statement. “As we are just steps away from the Governor’s Mansion, we invite the governor to join us at the Capitol—the People’s House—for more conversations over the weekend.”

The group is staying in the governor’s office in anticipation of I Love Mountains Day on Monday, an annual rally held to draw attention to mountaintop removal and the Stream Saver Bill, which has languished for six years in the House Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Rep. Jim Gooch (D-Providence), a longtime supporter of the coal industry.

“We invite our fellow Kentuckians to join us in solidarity on the steps of the Capitol on Monday,” said the group. A march to the Capitol from the Kentucky River Bridge will commence at 11:30 a.m. The rally at the Capitol will begin at 12:15 p.m.

They expressed disappointment in today’s meeting with Gov. Beshear. “There are times when our elected officials must choose between being a leader and being a politician. This is one of those times. We call upon Gov. Beshear to lead by ending mountaintop removal, by beginning a sincere public dialogue about creating sustainable jobs for our hard-working miners, by putting the vital interests of ordinary Kentuckians above the special interests of an abusive industry.”
Email #3:
FRANKFORT – Fourteen protestors remain in the office of the Kentucky state governor this weekend in an unprecedented and historic effort to bring attention to mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining. Gov. Steve Beshear invited the protesters to stay after they said they would not leave his office until they were either physically removed or until he reconsidered his position on MTR.

The group are now extending an invitation to the Governor and the First Lady to join them and continue the conversation.

All of the protesters are from Kentucky. Those remaining in the governor’s office include Wendell Berry, 76, the acclaimed writer who has been a leader in environmental issues for the past fifty years; Beverly May, 52, a nurse practitioner who was the subject of Deep Down, a documentary about MTR that was shown on PBS; Mickey McCoy, 55, former educator and mayor from Martin County, where more than 300 million gallons of toxic sludge were released into the water supply in 2001; and Stanley Sturgill, 65, a former underground coal miner and former MSHA inspector.

Also in the office are Lisa Abbott, 40, a community organizer and mother of two; Chad Berry, 47, a writer and historian; Teri Blanton, 54, a grandmother of three; Doug Doerrfeld, 60, Kevin Pentz, 38, a community organizer; Herb E. Smith, 58, a documentary filmmaker; Rick Handshoe, 50, a retired Kentucky State Police employee; John Hennen, 59, a history professor at Morehead State University; and Martin Mudd, 28, a grad student at the University of Kentucky, and Tanya Turner, 24, a community organizer.

Two of the protesters, writers Silas House and Jason Howard, who had been acting as media liaisons, left the capitol late last night when it became too difficult to communicate with media from within the office.

“We call upon Gov. Beshear to lead by ending mountaintop removal, by beginning a sincere public dialogue about creating sustainable jobs for our hard-working miners, by putting the vital interests of ordinary Kentuckians above the special interests of an abusive industry,” the group said in a joint statement.

All of those remaining spent the night sleeping on the floor. A donation of pillows managed to get into the Capitol before the doors were locked at 4:30 on Friday afternoon.

This is the first sit-in of its kind in the state’s history.

People across the nation have been sending support to the group via the Internet. A couple from Florida sent the group six pizzas, which the Kentucky State Police guarding the capitol allowed to be delivered. Gifts—including artwork and coffee—have also begun to arrive at the capitol. The group shared their pizza with Kentucky State Police officers and the late-night custodial staff.

MTR is a controversial form of coal mining that has gained more attention over the last several years. The EPA has recently started to crack down on permits for MTR, which led Kentucky Gov. Beshear to recently tell the EPA to “get off our backs” in his State of the Commonwealth address earlier this month. Beshear has filed a lawsuit against the EPA.

The group has been incorrectly identified as being “anti-coal” but say they are there to protest MTR. The group is an independent coalition of citizens—most of them from the coalfields—and do not represent any particular organization.

An unrelated MTR protest that had already been planned is being staged on the capitol steps on Monday at noon. The annual event, I Love Mountains Day, will include a mile-long march and a rally featuring Congressman John Yarmuth (KY-D). Previous speakers at the event include actress Ashley Judd and country music singer Kathy Mattea.

Gov. Beshear met with the group for about twenty minutes and declared that he would continue his lawsuit against the EPA and made no commitments to do anything about MTR. The governor did, however, agree to visit Eastern Kentucky at an undetermined time. The protestors remain committed to holding him to this promise and are extending an invitation to the governor and the first lady to join them in the office.
Email 4:
Statement from Wendell Berry, February 12, 2011, 10:58 a.m.
It is now Feb. 12. By now we expected to be either in jail or bailed out. Instead, by Gov. Beshear’s invitation, we are staying in his reception room in the Capitol. We have had a good night’s sleep and are feeling fine. The governor and his staff, the custodians and security staff of this building, all have treated us with hospitality and perfect kindness. We have spoken much of this and of our gratitude.

A little to our surprise, the Governor spoke with us at some length yesterday, and listened evidently with care as our people bore witness to the abuses they live with every day. He conceded graciously to two of our requests: that he would visit the home places of some of our people to see for himself what they are telling him about. The conversation otherwise was a standoff. We are far from agreement on most of our agenda of grievances. But we feel that the conversation was useful because it made our differences utterly clear. The Governor conceded our right to our opinions, but he believes that our accusations against the coal industry and its allies in state government are matters merely of opinion and personal feeling, without standing in fact, in law, or in principle. He believes, moreover, that surface mining can be, and apparently that it is, carried on without damage to the land, the people, and the water supply.

We, of course, respectfully disagree. We are relieved this morning by an accumulation of evidence that the first goal of our protest has been achieved. State government’s official silence on the grave issues of surface mining has been broken. Those issues have now entered the public conversation as they never have before. Obviously, we are determined to stop the abuses of the coal industry, and to that end we are determined also to keep this conversation going. We look forward to continuing our discussion with the Governor, and with anybody else who may want to talk with us.

We wish to say further—and this is extremely important to us—that our protest is against methods of mining that are abusive. We do not oppose mining per se. Our purpose is to protect our land and water. And we most certainly bear no ill will against those who work in mines.

Quote of the Day

"I say to our Iranian friends, let your people march, let your people speak, release your people from jail, let them have a voice."
--Vice President Joe Biden, McConnell Center Spring Lecture Series, February 11, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lawrence in talks for Oliver Stone project

Oscar-nominated actress Jennifer Lawrence is in talks for an Oliver Stone project.
Oscar-nominated Winter's Bone star Jennifer Lawrence is in talks to star in Savages, the Oliver Stone-directed adaptation of the bestselling novel by Don Winslow. Shooting will begin in June.

The book is a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid-style love triangle between two best friend pot growers and O, the wild child girlfriend they share. O will be played by Lawrence, who has become widely courted for roles since studios saw her performance as the teenager desperate to save her family home in Winter's Bone.
It could be an interesting movie.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Friday, February 04, 2011

Why is Glenn Beck crazy?

Washington Post Op-Ed columnist Dana Milibank wants to know how much longer the world will have to deal with conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck. Seriously, what is wrong with Glenn Beck?
After MSNBC let go Keith Olbermann last week, Glenn Beck couldn't resist celebrating. "Keith Olbermann is the biggest pain in the ass in the world," he judged.

But Olbermann's departure really should give Beck pause: With political speech coming under new scrutiny, how much longer can Beck's brutal routine continue at Fox News?

The latest omen of Beck's end times came on Thursday - Holocaust Remembrance Day - when 400 rabbis representing all four branches of American Judaism took out an ad demanding that Beck be sanctioned for "monstrous" and "beyond repugnant" use of "anti-Semitic imagery" in going after Holocaust survivor George Soros.

A Fox News spokesman brushed off the complaint in the usual fashion, attributing it to a "Soros-backed left-wing political organization." But that's not going to fly: The statement's signatories included the chief executive of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and his predecessor, the dean of the conservative Jewish Theological Seminary rabbinical school and a number of orthodox rabbis
You should read it all but keep in mind that some of the rhetoric used is not all that friendly or kind.

Here is the part about the letter that I do not get: Abraham Foxman of the ADL wants noting to do with it.
"I want to make it clear, for the record, that I do not support this misguided campaign against Fox News, even though my name was used," Foxman said in a letter published Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal.

"At a time when Holocaust denial is rampant in much of the Arab world, where anti-Semitism remains a serious concern, and where the Iranian leader has openly declared his desire to 'wipe Israel off the map,' surely there are greater enemies and threats to the Jewish people than the pro-Israel stalwarts Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes and Glenn Beck," Foxman's letter concluded.
Shame, Mr. Foxman.

John Kerry's future

Is Massachusetts Senior Senator John Kerry aiming for the Secretary of State post? Seems like it.