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.

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.

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.

On the Healthy and Happy Kick Again

Yes, I’m back on my healthy and happy kick.  After a trip to Europe this summer and observing the following, it’s almost impossible to understand why there is opposition to Obamacare.

  1. Pretty much the only fat people were foreigners
  2. Portion sizes were way small
  3. There was lots of wine and beer.  Lots.  Like it was Wine-O-Clock everywhere, all the time.  None of this waiting until 11 AM malarkey.

I started out with researching who the healthiest countries are in the world.  While I am very interested in useful factoids such as where the most centenarians live, I was more interested to see how the data connected healthiest populations with whether or not there was government subsidized or universal healthcare, if those people were really happy, and what the corporate/personal tax rates were.  For those that are still with me at this point, and those that share my interest in factoids, please note that Sardinia and Okinawa have the highest percentage of centenarians.

What I want to know is:  Were these other governments providing healthcare but at enormous, burdensome cost in the form of astronomical income and corporate taxes such that nobody could afford to do anything but eat, sleep, work and take an occasional potty break?  Were all the healthy people healthy only because they were all peasant farmers plowing their fields with their healthy yet overworked oxen, while eating all organic foods and no pizza or KFC to be found for hundreds of miles?  In short, are they physically healthy but emotionally miserable?  Do they all live in Soviet style, grey, military-style apartments and are up to their eyeballs in debt and taxes as Faux News would have us believe?

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a pretty cool international outfit that promotes policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.  It’s been around for 50 years and is an international forum for countries to work together to understand how environmental, social, governmental, educational, and other issues affect ordinary people.  A rather difficult job if you compare and contrast the ordinary person in Albania, Arkansas, Afghanistan or Alberta.  That’s a lot of data, a lot of very different buckets of information, but visiting their website is an interesting trip:  http://www.oecd.org/

Nonetheless the OECD annually publishes a list of 36 participating countries and ranks them according to a Better Life Index.  And the 2013 #1 country is?  Drum roll, please?  Our friends down under, Australia.  I’m a little disappointed to share that. Not I don’t like Australia or anything, but because they didn’t appear on my Happy-Healthy-Healthcare-Tax Matrix, which we will get to shortly.  But first, I find it noteworthy that Australia has no WalMarts.  But as usual. I digress.

So here’s the aforementioned Happy-Healthy Matrix.

happy healthy

Hello, Iceland – come on down!  While I certainly expected them to be healthy – you must know that health and fjords go together like peas and carrots – the fact that they ranked in the Top Ten Happiest countries was a little surprising given that it’s rather wickedly cold there.  At least that’s what I’ve read.  Note the comparatively super-freaking-low corporate tax rate.  Hmm…..that must mean that the PERSONAL tax rate is painful.  Hmm…..seems to me that rate is ALSO lower than the US’s 40% personal tax rate.  So much for the over-taxed theory.

OK, I will admit that Finland’s personal tax rate seems high to me, as does Japan’s.  But did you know that if you belong to a church in Finland that you pay the church a tax of 1-2.2%?  Just sayin’.  And Japan’s doing a little bit of housecleaning right now.  That may speak to the lack of happy a bit as well.  But, if 3 of the 5 of the HEALTHIEST countries are happy, have relatively lower or somewhat in the ballpark tax rates as the US, AND they have universal or government subsidized healthcare, doesn’t that mean something?  To me that says it is possible and in fact good to do this thing called Obamacare, and we are being handed a model to follow.  Gift wrapped, with a bow on it.

I will readily admit that I absolutely cannot speak to the domestic societal issues in any of the above countries.  This is why I do this blog for free and in my spare time, while I’m partially doped up on Benadryl.  But, in closing, I fail to see how the ACA will be the downfall of the US, such as the lead in cups and pipes caused a downward, crazed spiral of the Roman civilization.   Look at the model of Finland. Sweden and Iceland.  Feel free to insert some palm trees, and let’s see what we can emulate.  For the record, I wonder if they have Faux News in Finland.  I kind of doubt it.