Voting Rights? Who Needs Voting Rights! Shooo

More than 100 big-name Republicans have signed a new brief urging the Supreme Court to codify the right to gay marriage in one of the biggest shifts toward embracing gay marriage in the recent history of the GOP. But while significant, the shift is less than meets the eye. [WaPo]

Surely this isn’t the way it was supposed to work? Short or odd-year sessions of the Kentucky General Assembly were supposedly designed to clean up bills passed in regular even-year budget sessions or to address issues which arose since the last session. [Ronnie Ellis]

At 11 am, as Congress unveiled a statue honoring Rosa Parks, the civil rights leaders of today (Including Rep. John Lewis, who nearly died in Selma during “Bloody Sunday”) were gathered inside the Supreme Court, listening to a challenge to the centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act. The stark contrast illustrated the profound contradictions of American democracy when it comes to race and political power—the progress we’ve made has always been met by equally intense efforts to roll back that progress. [The Nation]

Advocates for protections against domestic violence hugged and even shed some tears Thursday morning after a Kentucky Senate committee passed a measure to extend protections to dating couples. It’s the first time that the proposal has made it out of committee. [H-L]

Karl Rove says the 2012 election was a pain in his rear end — but that Republican candidates, not GOP policies, were to blame. [Politico]

This Saturday will mark one year since a tornado outbreak killed 23 people and caused devastation across parts of Kentucky. [WKYT]

President Obama has directed the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence as part of his legislative package on gun control. The CDC hasn’t pursued this kind of research since 1996 when the National Rifle Association lobbied Congress to cut funding for it, arguing that the studies were politicized and being used to promote gun control. [ProPublica]

A bill inspired by the case of Savannah Dietrich, who was threatened with contempt for tweeting the names of the boys who sexually assaulted her, passed out of the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. [C-J/AKN]

A candidate for mayor of a small town in Mississippi was found dead by a river on Wednesday morning, the victim of an apparent homicide, police said. Marco McMillian, 34, was one of the first viable, openly gay candidates in Mississippi, according to the Victory Fund, a national organization that supports and endorses lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates and officials. [Reuters]

Federal officials said a round of surprise mine inspections in January led to the closing of an Eastern Kentucky underground mine because of dozens of safety violations. [H-L]

Infra-red holography could be more useful than the camera imagery currently used by firefighters searching for people trapped in burning buildings, researchers in Italy say. [BBC]

First Lady Releases Her Latest Reading List

First Lady Jane Beshear released her latest reading list yesterday! It’s for the Third Annual Statewide Literacy Celebration that takes place March 4 through March 8.

“Reading is a fundamental tool that we must encourage children to utilize at an early age,” said Mrs. Beshear. “Literacy and reading serve as the foundation for learning and achieving goals throughout life. This season, my selections for young readers include many classic and fantasy tales. These books inspire and engage imaginations in a way that will help our children want to keep reading.”

Here’s the list:

  • “Moo, Baa, La La La!” by Sandra Boynton (Infant) – “This board book features whimsical characters, nontraditional text and rhymes that are perfect for reading aloud and engaging young readers. With more than five million copies currently in print, it is listed as one of ‘Publishers Weekly’s Bestselling Children Books of All Time.’”
  • “Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew” by C.S. Lewis (Ages 8-11) – “This is the sixth of seven novels in the Chronicles of Narnia series. This fantasy-driven text describes how the lion Aslan created the magical world of Narnia and how it exists as one of many in a multi-universe of changing worlds.”
  • “The Secret Garden” by Frances Hodgson Burnett (Ages 8-11) – “This classic English novel follows the young, contrary Mary Lennox who moves in to her uncle’s manor and meets her sick, ill-tempered cousin Colin. The two children discover a hidden, abandoned garden filled with magic. The garden begins to flourish again as the children themselves grow to become better people.”
  • “The Georges and the Jewels” by Jane Smiley (Ages 10 and up) – “Set on a California ranch in the 1960’s, this young adult novel is centered around a teenage girl named Abby who finds refuge from her struggles at school and home with the horses on her family’s ranch. Abby is tasked with taming an unruly gelding horse named Onery George, and the lessons she learns training him are paralleled by the lessons she learns in dealing with her father and the girls who bully her at school.”
  • “Make Way for Ducklings” by Robert McClosky (Ages 6-8) – “This Caldecott Award-winning classic was described by the New York Times as ‘one of the merriest picture books ever.’ It tells the story of Mrs. Mallard and her baby birds as she leads them to safety through the busy streets of Boston. The ducklings soon grow up and are able to brave the crazy crowds and travel and swim safely on their own.”
  • “The Secret Soldier” by Ann McGovern (Ages 8-11) – “This historical fiction novel follows Deborah Sampson, who pretends to be a man to serve as soldier in the continental army during the Revolutionary War. Readers will stay engaged with this suspenseful, thrilling story as Deborah struggles to keep her identity a secret through exhausting marches and bloody battles against the English army.”
  • “Farming” by Gail Gibbons (Ages 5-8) – “Filled with vivid, bright colors, this how-to book depicts aspects of life on a farm. It shows how every season brings its own specific chores, crops and food and is both entertaining and educational for young readers.”
  • “Harold and the Purple Crayon” by Crockett Johnson (Ages 2-5) – “First published in 1955, this board book is certain to help spur young readers’ imaginations. It follows 4-year old Harold as he creates his own world, simply by drawing it with his purple crayon.”
  • “Helen Keller” by Margaret Davidson (Ages 7-11) – “This Scholastic biography depicts the life of one of the most inspiring figures in American history – Helen Keller. It describes how Helen overcomes being both deaf and blind to learn to talk, read, graduate from college with honors and teach others.”
  • “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” by Beatrix Potter (Ages 3 and up) – “This landmark book offers delightful illustrations and a memorable story that should be familiar to every child. The tale tells the story of Peter as he disobeys his mother and ventures in to Mr. McGregor’s garden, where he comes dangerously close to getting caught.”

Grimes’ Moves Support Her Political Ambition

If Alison Lundergan Grimes’ recent trip to Afghanistan wasn’t proof enough that she’s trying to broaden her appeal for a future political run didn’t cause you to raise an eyebrow? Some of her latest press releases certainly will.

Like this one focusing on military voting:

Today, the state Senate voted 37-0 to approve Senate Bill 1, which is based on Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ recommendations to protect military and overseas citizens’ voting rights.

The version of the bill passed by the Senate would allow military and overseas citizens to register to vote and update their registration online, ensure that military and overseas voters have sufficient time to vote in special elections and extend existing protections to state and local elections and National Guard members.

But the bill as passed does not address delays caused by the requirement that military and overseas voters return their ballots via mail. In the 2012 General Election, nearly 10 percent – more than 300 – of the military and overseas ballots that were returned could not be counted for various reasons, including that they were received after 6 p.m. on Election Day or lacked postmarks.

Kentucky law already permits military and overseas voters to apply for and receive absentee ballots by mail, email or fax. Provisions that were stricken from the original bill by amendment would have allowed military and overseas voters to also return executed ballots via electronic means and, under certain circumstances, for ballots received after the polls have closed to be counted.

“The problems that have silenced military and overseas voters could effectively be eliminated if SB1 was passed in its original form,” said Grimes. The current system, said Senator Kathy Stein (D-Lexington), “lets down military personnel.”

As Sen. Tom Buford (R-Nicholasville), said, the electronic return of military and overseas ballots via electronic means is not a new idea, “we’ve just failed to take action.” Senator Jerry Rhoads (D-Madisonville) told the body, “The time is now to give our military a fighting chance to return their ballots on time.” 24 states currently permit military and overseas voters to return ballots via email or the Internet, and 19 states allow ballots to be counted even if they are received after the close of the polls.

Senators Stan Humphries (R-Cadiz) and Whitney Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville) acknowledged Senate Bill 1, as passed, leaves work to be done. Many others expressed hope that a stronger bill, with the stricken provisions restored, will come back to the Senate from the House.

“I will continue to fight to fully protect Kentucky’s military and overseas citizens’ right to vote,” said Grimes. “I hope the House will join me in that fight and take measures to strengthen the bill. Our military stands up for us, and they deserve to have us stand up for them.”

If anyone thinks she’s not seriously considering a U.S. Senate bid, they’re crazy.

She’s also looking at being the next female governor. But that would likely be a dead end for her career.

Pension Legislation Is A Double-Edged Sword

Since KERS is so effed in the you-know-where, any sort of reform is going to be problematic.

All of Greg Stumbo’s proposals are going nowhere fast because KERS, at 27% funding, has been corrupted. Letting in all the non-government entities like KEMI, the Credit Union, all the mental health agencies and the regional universities was a mistake. All that makes up something like 30% of KERS.

We hear rumblings that mental health liabilities alone could be in the billions.

So what if Stumbo is able to come up with $100 million+ for the Commonwealth to use for the full ARC? Since everyone in KERS pays the same ratio, mental health agencies and universities are forced to double their payments.

While mental health groups were likely going to default anyway, it will likely cause some university defaults that weren’t expected.

Which is why so many schools are driving 10,000MPH issuing bonds and such. Once their pension liabilities have to be disclosed, bond ratings are going to crash like a kid eating a birthday cake.

Mitch Gains Campaign $ From Super PAC Mess

We told you last evening about Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign capitalizing on the racist remarks from Progress Kentucky.

Here’s the email blast:

Dear Friend,

You’ve probably seen the attack ads already targeting Senator McConnell – still nearly 2 years away from the election!

As he stands in the breach for freedom and against President Obama’s agenda, we knew this would come.

But even I was shocked when a left-wing activist group launched a racist, bigoted attack on Senator McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao.


We need to fight back. Will you help us by making a contribution right now?

We can disagree on public policy but it appears the professional left will stop at nothing to smear.

Secretary Chao is a shining example of the American Dream: a salt-of-the-earth person who escaped oppression, came here with nothing, joined our great melting pot, worked exceptionally hard and dedicated so much of her life to giving back.

It is unconscionable that anyone would use blatant race baiting for political gain. I hope all Americans can agree that these disgusting tactics have no place in our politics as we try to bring people together to solve difficult problems.

I’m sure you’re as outraged as I am about this. But we can’t rely on the media to call a smear, a smear.

Although national publications were appalled about these attacks, the Courier-Journal and Herald-Leader didn’t even report on it.

So we need your help to fight these smears.

Please consider chipping in $25, $50, or even $100 right now. We need to push back and let the left-wingers know that bigotry will not stand.

In Liberty,

Jesse Benton

Shortly after the email blast went out, State Senator Morgan McGarvey asked Progress Kentucky to remove his name from a fundraising invitation.

The two aren’t directly related (beyond involving PK) but are indicative of what’s going on. McConnell is gaining campaign cash early on from this incident and a Super PAC has fizzled out.

Meanwhile, Alison Lundergan Grimes Quietly Makes Her U.S. Senate Moves Behind The Scenes?

Basically, we all need to start up a few fancy pyramid schemes posthaste. The top two executives at Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing made nearly $40 million in recent years, even as 98 percent of the Lexington-based company’s independent representatives made less than $1,000 in annual commissions, according to a court-ordered report. [H-L]

Democratic Senators Carl Levin and Claire McCaskill ripped Progress Kentucky over its racist tweet. [WaPo]

When potential celebrity Senate candidates call Greg Stumbo to leave a voicemail, they should probably not ask to speak with Rocky Adkins. [Kenny Coleslaw]

Cell phone searches are a common law enforcement tool, but up until now, the public has largely been in the dark regarding how much sensitive information the government can get with this invasive surveillance technique. A document submitted to court in connection with a drug investigation, which we recently discovered, provides a rare inventory of the types of data that federal agents are able to obtain from a seized iPhone using advanced forensic analysis tools. [ACLU]

The House unanimously approved a pair of bills aimed at cleaning up “unintended consequences.” One deals with the Medicaid managed care system that has left many hospitals, doctors, dentists and other providers complaining about getting paid on time by the managed care firms when they provide health care to Medicaid enrollees. [Ryan Alessi]

As state legislatures begin their 2013 sessions, a flurry of new “ag gag” bills to protect factory farms from potential undercover whistleblowers have been introduced in 5 states. [Think Progress]

Looky there, Joe Gerth woke up and realized a story was happening on the internets. A liberal group that has mercilessly attacked U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell ahead of his re-election campaign is itself under fire after sending out racially tinged Twitter messages about McConnell’s wife. Interesting that Dan Logsdon claims Mitch McConnell has used racist and homophobic language to campaign. Joni Jenkins also knows better and as a legislator needs to act like it. And who was the “volunteer” manning the Twitter account? We were under the impression Reilly and Morrison collaborated on tweets. [C-J/AKN]

Hey, kids, looks like another candidate has tossed his asshat into the ring for our Legislative Shitmuffin of the Year contest! [Wonkette]

Here’s a video of Greg Stumbo hollering about how mean Bob Stivers is. Unfortunately, neither of them are solving the pension crisis or the rank corruption at Kentucky Retirement Systems. They’re not even trying. [H-L]

Mitch McConnell’s campaign on Tuesday forcefully condemned tweets from a liberal Kentucky group that highlighted the ethnicity of the Senate minority leader’s wife. [Politico]

Actress and activist Ashley Judd may be getting closer to a decision on whether to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. [Ronnie Ellis]

Turns out Bob Woodward is a whiny ass titty baby. We can’t count the number of times electeds and government officials have told us we’d regret stories. [HuffPo]

Actress Ashley Judd is continuing to reach out to Kentucky Democrats as she weighs a run for U.S. Senate in Kentucky. [WKYT]