Reflections on DVR’d Fancy Farm 2015

This was the first year that I haven’t watched Fancy Farm’s live broadcast, and I found watching the DVR’d version to be somewhat challenging.  On one hand, it was good to know that I *could* fast forward through parts I didn’t want to watch.  But on the other hand, I would have totally missed the following gems of awkwardness.

I REALLY wanted to fast forward (but didn’t) through the following moments:

  • Matt Bevin’s (R candidate for the Big G) misplaced attempt to rise above Fancy Farm. Matt, Dude, if you’re going to be part of Kentucky state politics, you’re going to have to get down in the mud at Fancy Farm.  Because that’s what we do in Kentucky politics. We do Fancy Farm, and there’s always mud at Fancy Farm. If you don’t do mud, you’re going to come off like an East Coast snob. Which is pretty much what happened.
  • Allison Ball’s (R candidate for Treasurer) assertion that she is “The Good Allison.”  In case you missed it, you’re running against a guy named Rick. Or was this a “good witch/bad witch” thing? I checked with some folks and they didn’t get it either.
  • Matt Bevin encouraging the crowd to recite The Pledge of Allegiance. I was uncomfortable watching it due to the total weirdness and sheer awkwardness.  I was truly thankful I wasn’t there in person.  Too freakin’ weird.
  • Steve Knipper’s (R candidate for Secretary of State) rambling about…….Because. Seriously, what WAS he trying to convey? Was it stream of consciousness GOP style? It just made me sad for him. And for Northern Kentucky.

However, it’s the speeches that sound like they were written by middle schoolers, and the unpolished speakers that can’t convey a coherent thought, that make Fancy Farm what it is. If you’re looking for substance and political punditry, this is not the event for you. I already can’t wait for next year!

How to Determine if Your Religious Liberty Is Being Threatened in Just 10 Quick Questions

This is a re-post from a response to an “Addicting Info” article.  Read the article and Facebook responses here.  A huge shout out to William.H.Lanteigne for his amazing post!

As a public service, I’ve come up with this little quiz. I call it “How to Determine if Your Religious Liberty Is Being Threatened in Just 10 Quick Questions.” Just pick “A” or “B” for each question.

1. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to go to a religious service of my own choosing.
B) Others are allowed to go to religious services of their own choosing.

2. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to marry the person I love legally, even though my religious community blesses my marriage.
B) Some states refuse to enforce my own particular religious beliefs on marriage on those two guys in line down at the courthouse.

3. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am being forced to use birth control.
B) I am unable to force others to not use birth control.

4. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to pray privately.
B) I am not allowed to force others to pray the prayers of my faith publicly.

5. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) Being a member of my faith means that I can be bullied without legal recourse.
B) I am no longer allowed to use my faith to bully gay kids with impunity.

6. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to purchase, read or possess religious books or material.
B) Others are allowed to have access to books, movies and websites that I do not like.

7. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) My religious group is not allowed equal protection under the establishment clause.
B) My religious group is not allowed to use public funds, buildings and resources as we would like, for whatever purposes we might like.

8. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) Another religious group has been declared the official faith of my country.
B) My own religious group is not given status as the official faith of my country.

9. My religious liberty is at risk because:
A) My religious community is not allowed to build a house of worship in my community.
B) A religious community I do not like wants to build a house of worship in my community.

10. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to teach my children the creation stories of our faith at home.
B) Public school science classes are teaching science.

Scoring key:

If you answered “A” to any question, then perhaps your religious liberty is indeed at stake. You and your faith group have every right to now advocate for equal protection under the law. But just remember this one little, constitutional, concept: this means you can fight for your equality — not your superiority.

If you answered “B” to any question, then not only is your religious liberty not at stake, but there is a strong chance that you are oppressing the religious liberties of others. This is the point where I would invite you to refer back to the tenets of your faith, especially the ones about your neighbors.

Religious liberty is never secured by a campaign of religious superiority. The only way to ensure your own religious liberty remains strong is by advocating for the religious liberty of all, including those with whom you may passionately disagree. Because they deserve the same rights as you. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Was Passing Boone County, KY Right to Work Ordinance a Criminal Act?

Thank you, Boone County Fiscal Court, who purports to be all about “fiscal responsibility.”  You have now effectively set up my neighbors and me to foot the bill for inevitable litigation to repeal this misrepresented, dishonest and illegal ordinance. I shouldn’t have to voice my disgust over the fact that RTW states yield a significantly lower income middle class, thereby reducing our county’s tax base and the services provided by the county that WE PAY FOR.  I also shouldn’t need to tell you that a court case is pending in Hardin County that will tell you if this ordinance is a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.

I WILL tell you that the crux of your argument is fatally flawed. These ordinances are being proposed at the county level based on an interpretation that “territories”, as mentioned in the National Labor Relations Act, equates to “counties.”

WRONG!

There are three US territories:  Guam, the US Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

Unless you are legislating in a county located on GUAM, AMERICAN SAMOA, or THE US VIRGIN ISLANDS, YOU DO NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO IMPLEMENT LABOR LEGISLATION AT THE COUNTY LEVEL.  Sometimes I feel as if Kentucky is in a different century (like the 1800’s) but I have always been confident that we are still in the continental United States.

Therefore, Judge Moore and members of the Boone County Fiscal Court, you have knowingly and negligently (negligence at the VERY least) wasted taxpayer dollars by setting us up to pay the legal bills for an ordinance you knew was illegal.

Good job on that whole fiscal responsibility thing.

OUTRAGE

I suppose most of the postmortems on the 2014 general election are done by now and the pundits have all proclaimed the reasons why Democrats got their asses handed to them. Democrats ran away from Obama. Democrats didn’t embrace the successes of the ACA, as well as other successes of the current administration. Democrats didn’t define the issues – the GOP defined the issues. The Democrats were always responding on the defensive – never on the offense. While I agree with all of those observations I have my own theory on the root cause of the Horrible Democratic Ass Whipping of 2014. Democrats didn’t work hard enough to generate outrage. Not that there was no material to work with – we just flat out didn’t do anything with the material we had.

The GOP won on a campaign of outrage aimed at all the horrible things that Democrats (read: “Obama”) implemented over the last 2 years. Think about any FOX news report – just before they cut away to a commercial, the perfectly coiffed blonde woman in the red sleeveless dress, sitting on a couch, flanked by the lacquered red-tie-wearing guys, tells us: “Next up is a story about zucchini, and you’ll be completely outraged when you learn just what zucchini has been up to with your tax dollars.”

Democrats love facts and we don’t want to simply appeal to people’s emotions to win an argument. We want to win on the merits of the facts presented. (Deep down I think we want to be Vulcans.) Democrats want people to not only agree that something is right and just, we also want people to understand WHY we think something is right and just. So we break out the facts and statistics that support our view and typically succeed only in boring people to death. Never mind that the person we’re trying to convince tunes out within fifteen seconds of the commencement of our well formulated argument. We Democrats desperately want to believe that the only thing that matters is that WE HAVE FACTS AND THE GOP MAKES SHIT UP.

I believe that the ingredient we Democrats have totally missed is outrage. Forget facts – because nobody will remember statistics and percentages in the voting booth. They will, however, remember how the circumstances illustrated by statistics or facts made them feel. So Democrats need to let go of being professorial. We need to master the catch phrase and the bullet point – and then we need to wrap them in outrage with a hashtag on top.

From a Neighbor: “No More Political Stuff”

It’s two days after the primary election in Kentucky, and we had an abysmal, embarrassing, pathetic, wretched (you get the idea) voter turnout in Northern Kentucky – particularly in my home county, Boone.  As of 3 PM on Tuesday only 10% of eligible Boone County voters had showed up at their polling locations, and when the polls closed we had surged to a county-wide high of just over 16%. Beyond sad.  That morning, while monitoring a Facebook group for my neighborhood, I came across this post:  “Enough with the political stuff already!”

OK, I will conceded that it is a neighborhood page that was established for the primary purpose of sharing information about plumbers, electricians, hairdressers, pets and deck builders.  And the handful of posts from local candidates asking for votes certainly stuck out among the listings of lost/found dog pictures.  However, elections come around only once every two years and the responsibility of voting is, in my opinion, a close third in importance to Love God and Love Each Other.  I am fairly certain that if asked, Jesus would support “GOTV” efforts.  Voting is the single most important thing that we, as Americans, can do.

Our votes are our voice, unless you are one of those admirable few who write to their legislators or call them on a regular basis.  And how in the world can we give responsible voice to our concerns as citizens if we don’t take the time to educate ourselves on the “political stuff”?  Two friends of mine worked the polls on Tuesday and were amazed at the number of people who came in to vote and had no idea what party to which they belonged.  How exactly are they able to make an informed vote if they don’t even know their own party?  It’s not like it’s difficult to find out your registration status, unless of course you live where there is no internet access – which I know DOES exist – even in Boone County.  However I’d bet money that all or most of those people DID have internet access, given the precinct locations at which my friends served (hint:  NOT rural areas, NOT without electricity).

That “political stuff” is necessary.  Particularly because MOST (not all) people barely make an effort to be informed.  And by the way, watching the CNN or Fox News world-in-80-seconds evening report does not count as being informed. I will be the first to admit that by the middle of September, sometimes sooner, I am mentally tuning out all the political ads – I do the same thing with Christmas shopping commercials the last week before Christmas.  BUT until voters become self motivated to seek out information from independent, varied sources; and until those same people become active participants in our political process at the local, state and national level, that “political stuff” is the best window we have to what our elected officials are doing (or not doing) on our behalf.

So bring on the political stuff:  the good, the bad and the ugly.  Because it’s my job as a voter to dissect it and figure out what it means for me, my family and my community.

Emerging

Is there any woman that does not believe that she deserves a paycheck equivalent to that of her male counterpart?  Paycheck inequity is not a new issue, in fact even fifty years after the passage of the 1963 Equal Pay Act women continue to earn an average of 77.5 cents per dollar that a male with an equal skill set and qualifications earns.  Sadly, the gap is even wider for African American and Hispanic women, at 62 cents and 54 cents, respectively.[1]  Earlier this month the Senate Republicans blocked a vote to advance the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 2199) to the Senate floor.  The current White House administration has asserted they will continue to support and work for paycheck equity; nonetheless today’s make-up of the Senate doesn’t bode well for further action in the near future.  The current make-up of the Senate is comprised of only 20 women:  16 Democrats and 4 Republicans.   Since women tend to lean Democrat, it is a viable argument that if more women ran for office, they would likely be Democrats and would work to advance women’s issues, including paycheck fairness.

But how do we get more women into Congress so that they can vote for women’s issues?  How do we inspire women to run for local and state offices so that they can eventually seek higher, national offices?  We must ensure that potential women candidates are identified, educated, motivated, and most importantly, supported when they run for political office at all levels of government.  The Emerge America (www.emergeamerica.org) and Emerge Kentucky (www.emergeky.org) programs are the premier training ground to prepare women to run for and to seek higher political office, and I am honored to be a member of the 2014 Emerge Kentucky class.

During our most recent all-day training session in Northern Kentucky, Courtney Foley, Deputy National Director of the Sierra Club, focused on developing a ground operation for a campaign.  Each class participant calculated the true time commitment to effectively run a race at any level – local, county and state.  What an eye-opening experience to realize that to reach an undecided voter and hopefully “swing” them to our side, we need to complete seven “touches” through direct, personal contact!  As a career mom who travels frequently for work, it was quite a reality check to sit down and schedule time for door to door walking, fundraising calls, and attending various summer events like parades, festivals and fairs.  Running for office is a huge commitment for anyone, particularly for working moms.  However with the training I have received from the Emerge program since January, I feel more confident in preparing an engaging campaign message; I have an understanding of how to reach voters in my area efficiently and effectively; and most importantly, I have a network of amazing and inspiring Emerge women who are with me every step of the way.

 

[1] National Women’s Law Center, “Women of Color Fact Sheet”, April 2012.

Fearless Kentucky Women of 2014

This is my year to be FEARLESS.  By fearless I don’t mean throwing caution to the wind, but instead overcoming reticence to voice what is right in the face of what is wrong and unjust.  For women, and arguably those who have been raised with at least a hint of Southern influence, it is a conscious decision to not be silent and to roar, Katy Perry style (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CevxZvSJLk8), so that the vulnerable and less influential members of our community can be heard.  Passionate advocates for positive community outcomes must be fearless, as change invariably brings hostility from those who wish to conserve the status quo.  In the last year I’ve been encouraged, influenced and have come to intensely admire the following women who I believe exemplify fearlessness in the world of Kentucky politics.  These are Fearless Kentucky Women to Watch in 2014.

Number one on everyone’s list is Alison Lundergan Grimes.  Did you know that Kentucky has NEVER been represented by a woman in the US Senate?  Sadly unsurprising, this is a streak that a fearless Kentucky woman like Ms. Grimes can and will break.  Currently Kentucky’s Secretary of State, Grimes has taken on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for US Senator.  With 30+ years as a Hill insider and wielder of unconscionable levels of influence in the US Senate, Mitch McConnell had better get ready because it’s clear that a younger, more nimble candidate is going to give him a hard run for his money.  Grimes is also projected to ultimately unseat him in the November 2014 Kentucky general election (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/12/30/obamacare-impeachment-iran-and-more-political-predictions-for-2014.html).  Anyone who has met Ms. Grimes and heard her speak recognizes that she has the intellectual capacity, the passion and the fearlessness to go head-to-head with an entrenched member of the Dark Side and the Conservative Old Boy Washington DC club.  By the way, she has the enthusiastic backing of the Clintons (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mwy5wGl9RGY) – and the Clintons are ALL ABOUT FEARLESS.

Elizabeth Jensen is another fearless Kentucky woman that I love – not only because she is an Emerge Kentucky grad, and I am a member of the 2014 Emerge class, but also because she is a tireless promoter of education in a state that struggles to adequately fund public education.  Ms. Jensen is the Democratic candidate for Kentucky’s 6th district and is running against Republican incumbent Andy Barr.  Besides being a successful business owner, she is also head of The Race for Education, a non-profit to promote academic development and financial literacy.  It will take a fearless opponent to take on Mr. Barr, who despite only having been in office a short time, has deep ties to the “Party of No”.  As an “educational entrepreneur” and advocate for special needs children, Ms. Jensen has already demonstrated her fearless agility (http://emilyslist.org/what/candidates/elisabeth-jensen) by delivering over $5 million in scholarships and educational programs to young Kentuckians.  As the complete antithesis to Mr. Barr’s Tea Party obstructionism, anti-woman positions and general nuttery, Ms. Jensen is the fearless candidate to win Kentucky’s 6th district for US Representative.  She will bring common sense and cooperative action to our helplessly paralyzed US Congress.

Elected to chair the Boone County Democratic Party in July 2013, Carole Register fearlessly took over the reins of a party who has been in the shadows for the last 20 years.  Mrs. Register is a retired healthcare executive and passionate community development volunteer.  She is a rock-solid strategist who is committed to re-energizing the almost 30,000 registered democrats, and 11,000 independents in Boone County – 55% of whom are women.  Register is spearheading several events and projects with the county party to emphasize the importance and interconnectedness of business, education and healthcare in Northern Kentucky.  Stay tuned for more details on the first annual Dialogue for Democracy, scheduled for April 3, 2014.  Event information will be posted on the Boone County Democratic party website:  http://boonecountydemocrats.org/.

These are just three fearless Kentucky women whom I believe will change the course of Kentucky and our nation in 2014.  I truly believe that all women in Kentucky have a fearless streak and want to roar in their own way.  As fearless Kentucky women, let us all raise our voices and not be silent on education, reproductive health, and income equality.  These are just a few of the issues that affect us, our children, our seniors, our veterans and the future of Kentucky.