Kentucky Senate Seat up for Grabs in 2014?

Kentucky has gotten a lot of attention recently because of Mitch McConnell’s freak out at the rumors of Ashley Judd running against him in 2014. Honestly, the entire debacle has been very amusing to me. Though, in the past couple of weeks, there has been a lot of backlash from Democrats inside and outside of the state. Their reaction can be summed up like this:

“Seriously, Kentucky? For the first time Mitch McConnell is worried about reelection, and you’ve chosen an actress to run against him? You’re making fools out of yourself–be serious!”

And that annoys me.

No, we haven’t chosen an actress to run against the heretofore impossible-to-beat incumbent. You’re taking it as seriously as Mitch McConnell, and you’re taking all the fun out of this situation.

Pay attention: McConnell has been the heretofore impossible-to-beat incumbent, and he’s freaking the fuck out right now. McConnell has been a pain in the country’s ass for years now–can you step back for a second and try to imagine how it might be to have this PITA as one of your Senators? Just imagine for a few seconds, I’ll wait.

Got it? Okay.

Now. Stay with me here. Basketball is a really big deal in Kentucky. The NCAA basketball tournament is like a month-long holiday in Kentucky. In Kentucky, you’re either a Cardinals fan, or a Wildcats fan. You’re either Blue, or Red. Ashley Judd is a Wildcats fan. That’s a big deal. A celebrity, or anyone who is a Big Deal jumps into the UK vs UL fandom becomes part of the family. They’ve become one of us. Judd regularly attends UK games. So, the UK half of Kentucky kind of loves Ashley Judd. She’s a Big Deal, and she Gets It. Validation and all that.

Now.

A member of the Kentucky collective, messing with the head of the likes of Mitch McConnell, a guy who holds a lot of power, but does nothing for Kentucky? Who has embarrassed us on the national and international stage? We love it. Think of it as a grown-up pranking that mean old guy in the neighborhood who’s constantly harassing all of the neighborhood kids, while all of the kids are there to see. It’s hilarious. Vindication. It kind of makes your year.

Will Ashley Judd actually run? Don’t know. We don’t really care at the moment. We’re too busy soaking up the glory that is McConnell realizing he could lose his job, his power, and his gravy train, that he’s been milking at Kentucky’s expense.

So, naysayers. Be quiet for a moment. We’ve been waiting a long time for this. Don’t ruin the moment.

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McConnell Needs to Go in 2014

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” –Senator Mitch McConnell, 23 October 2010

With this statement, Senator McConnell rewrote his own job description from that of a United States Senator representing the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, to a hard-nosed ideologue intent on a solitary goal of ending another man’s political career.

Two years and hundreds of filibusters later, the President wins his bid for reelection, by a landslide.

What does Senator “one-term” McConnell have to say about that?

“The American people did two things: they gave President Obama a second chance to fix the problems that even he admits he failed to solve during his first four years in office, and they preserved Republican control of the House of Representatives,” McConnell said in a statement. “The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the President’s first term, they have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together with a Congress that restored balance to Washington after two years of one-party control.” –Senator McConnell

You see what he did there? Senator McConnell is pretending that the record number of filibusters he and his party orchestrated, even on legislation that they agreed with, is a personal failure of President Barack Obama.

The lack of productivity in the Senate for the past four years is a failure of Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party, not President Barack Obama.

Take a look at this handy chart, that lays out exactly who has filibustered in the Senate the most, by number and by percentage. At the top of the chart? Republican after Republican, after Republican. If your Senators are on the top half of this list, you should be angry. Very angry.

Filibustering is refusing to debate. It is refusing to vote. It is refusing to allow anyone to debate or vote–per Senate rules, sixty Senators must vote to overrule a single, anonymous Senator who may filibuster a bill, then waltz out of the Chamber, off into the city. A filibuster, under current rules, does not require a Senator to hold the floor. It does not require that one, single Senator to even be in the building.

If one or both of your Senators are on the top half of this list, your hired representatives are refusing to do their jobs.

Just think a second: what would happen if you decided you left an anonymous note on your boss’ desk saying that you didn’t feel like working that day, then walked out? I’d be written up, docked points, and fired.

There hasn’t been balance in Congress since President Obama was elected in 2008, and that’s because the vast majority of the Republican Party has been refusing to do their jobs.

Mitch McConnell is the orchestrator of this collective tantrum, and as a resident of Kentucky, I am angry. Rand Paul, my other Senator, has refused to work over eighty percent of his short time in the Capital. I am very angry. My state has no voice in the Senate. None. Kentucky’s representatives in the Senate anonymously protest, then run off into the city to do whatever it is old white men do in Washington D.C.

Kentucky, we have two more years until Mitch McConnell is up for reelection. And you know what? I’m angry enough that I’d consider running against him myself–but I don’t meet the minimum age requirement, and I won’t meet it in two years, either. So to anyone considering running against Mitch in 2014? Consider this as my letter of interest.

Mitch McConnell Writes Letters: Act Two

Not long ago, I wrote to Mitch McConnell, one of my Senators, to voice my objections to the Blunt Amendment. The amendment, if you recall, would have allowed any employer to refuse health insurance coverage for birth control. Thankfully, the amendment failed. However, I’m only just now receiving a response my from esteemed representative.

This is not the first time I’ve written to McConnell. This is the first time, however, that he acknowledges my disagreement. In the past, his letters assume the recipient agrees with his views, and assures the reader that he will fight (fight!) to represent my interests in the Senate. I could only conclude that no one read my letter at all.

This time, his letter gives me background on the issue. (Uh, Mitch? I know. Why the fuck do you think I’m writing?) Then, he gives his version of events, presenting them as undoubtedly the objective truth:

“You don’t have to belong to any particular faith to see if that if government can violate the religious rights of one group, then surely it can violate those of others.”

He concludes with a condescending acknowledgement of our disagreement on the issue, before he thanks me for sharing my “opinions” with him anyway.

McConnell’s letter highlights his utterly incapability of distinguishing between religious freedom, employees rights, and the fact that institutions are not people.

McConnell fails to realize the employees of faith-based institutions do not subscribe to the institution’s religious affiliation merely because they’re on the payroll. I know it’s difficult for Mitch to believe, but some people work for companies they don’t believe in, that they don’t even like, because they need the paycheck.

McConnell is utterly incapable of recognizing the fundamental difference between believing in a religious system, and adhering to its moral codes in your own personal behavior, and attempting to force those under your control to adhere to them, too. That’s not religious freedom, that’s tyranny.

Newsflash: 98% of Catholic women have used birth control. Religions are not like the Republican Party. It’s not a “follow our orders to the minutiae or GTFO” deal. Spiritual beliefs are deeply personal, intimate, and individualistic. Ever notice how many denominations there are in Christianity alone, Mitch? No one person’s faith is going to look like another’s, even if they share the same label. That is our right in this country–to believe whatever we want.

How many times, and how many ways do I have to say that an employer, especially a faith-based one, has no right to impose and enforce its beliefs on their employees?

It is the height of arrogance, not to mention irony, to accuse the Obama administration of crossing “a dangerous line.”

Oh, and this?

“I was disappointed that Senator Blunt’s amendment failed to overcome the threat of a filibuster by a mostly partisan vote. Americans decided at our nation’s founding that the government cannot tell someone whether their religion is worth believing. For the protection of everyone who enjoys the freedom to worship as they wish, this mandate should be repealed.”

I was disappointed that Senator Blunt’s amendment failed.

I bet you were.

overcome the threat of a filibuster by a mostly partisan vote.

How’d you like a taste of your own medicine? I must say, that’s a pretty pathetic potshot, considering you and your GOP friends have been filibustering every possible piece of legislation, even if you agreed with it, just to make the President look bad. Check the mirror before you whine about partisanship, you hypocritical old fart.

Americans decided at our nation’s founding that the government cannot tell someone whether their religion is worth believing.

That’s not what happened here, and you know it. I object to your attempting to give my employer the right to dictate what my health insurance will or will not cover–forcing me to adhere to my employer’s religious beliefs. My employer can believe whatever the fuck he wants. He can’t impose that on me, and neither can you. The government’s job is to protect people like me from people like you.

For the protection of everyone who enjoys the freedom to worship as they wish,

Wait, are you actually acknowledging that not everyone has the freedom to worship as they wish? I know you’re not, and that’s a shame.

this mandate should be repealed.

No.

Postscript: Uh, Mitch? You know you sent that letter to me twice, right? And you know you referred to me as “Mr.” in the first letter? I know you don’t really read correspondence from constituents that disagree with you, but you should pay close enough attention to, at the very least, get my name and my gender correct.

Just saying. And I’ll be passing along your little boo-boo to other voters. I’m sure Kentuckians will be very interested to learn just how little attention you pay to your constituency.

I Believe in Marriage Equality

I believe in love. I believe in equality.

Those two simple facts mean that I must stand up, as an American, as a feminist, as a decent human being, and say this:

I believe in gay marriage equality.

Separate is not equal. Second-class is not freedom. It is a simple concept–and a lesson America learned a long time ago, yes? Well, apparently, we need a refresher course, so I’ll say it again:

Separate is not equal. Second-class is not freedom.

So long as gay marriage is available only in a smattering of states, and referendums on put on ballots across the country to actually vote for people’s right to be equal, America cannot call herself a free country. We are not the land of the free.

We are, however, the land of the brave. I see, every day, gay men and women standing up and openly existing–being who they are–in the face of hatred and violence. Here I am. I exist. I deserve equal rights. I am just like you. I love my partner. I want to be with them for the rest of my life. I, too, want the American dream.

Here I am. I exist. I am bullied. I am hated. I am harassed, assaulted, spat upon, and demonized. I am just like you.

Standing up in the face of such hatred, to put oneself in danger by openly being who they are–that is one of the bravest acts one can do, and I see it done every day.

How can I, as an ally, do anything else but stand with my brothers and sisters?

I couldn’t call myself a friend to the many people I hold dear if I didn’t stand up for them.

Stop that. That’s not cool. That’s discrimination. That’s not right. Your hatred won’t be tolerated here. I am not an ally to your bigotry. You won’t find a safe space to spew such hateful vitriol in me. I believe in equality. I believe my friends should be able to live their lives and marry who they love.

I believe my friends should be able to marry who they love. I believe everyone should be able to marry who they love.

I say this to friends and family. I say this to the people of Kentucky. I say this to Mitch McConnell. I say this to President Obama. I say this to the Supreme Court. I say this to Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in gay marriage. And I won’t give up.

Pro-Choice in Kentucky

I am pro-choice. I am a resident of Kentucky.

Being pro-choice in a state that is widely regarded as a lost cause is not easy.

Kentucky isn’t a lost cause. Considering it one is losing half the battle.

Pro-choice Kentuckians are perpetually on the defensive–trying to stop restrictive legislation, stop funding from being cut, stop anti-choicers from harassing patients outside of clinics, stop the hatred and vitriol directed toward reproductive rights, and the people who believe in them.

Simply being openly pro-choice in Kentucky is activism. After all, anti-choicers have long held the pulpit here, painting caricatures of baby-hating, cold, anti-life, anti-woman  “pro-choicers.” I am none of those things–by being openly pro-choice, I am showing everyone around me that those caricatures are lies. I’m opening the door.

I talk about being pro-choice. People ask questions; I answer them. I give my friends, classmates, acquaintances, and neighbors a different perspective–describing reproductive rights by framing it in a way that’s relevant, in language that they will respond to. For instance, I often say that abortion is a form of self-defense–it is an action women may take in order to protect their bodies from the multitude of harms that may come from pregnancy. I say that only I can decide what happens to my body–nobody can use it without my permission, just like no one may break into my home even if they need shelter.

I write to my representatives–even the infamous Mitch McConnell. He doesn’t agree with me, and he won’t vote the way I want him to, but I still write. He needs to know that I exist, that I care, and that his ideology is abhorrent to me. I will oppose them. In other words, I’m watching. I’m voting. Think about that.

I write and reply to pro-choicers outside of Kentucky–I appeal, I plead, I rant, and I call for support. Stop dismissing Kentucky. Help us. Rally with us. Support pro-choice Kentuckians in our fight. It’s not hopeless. We help you–it’s time to help us. Don’t wait for some really abhorrent, anti-choice legislation to jump in. Let’s work together to keep it from ever getting to that point. Let’s change minds. Let’s change budgets. Let’s change laws.

I am a feminist. I am pro-choice. I am a Kentuckian.

A Wee Story From a Kentucky Worker

I’ve been very stressed lately.

Oh yes–worries lay heavily on my mind.

My job barely pays enough to cover my bills.

In fact, some weeks, my diet consists of ramen and Mountain Dew.

And I may not be able to work soon.

You see, some mule-headed pricks are playing chicken with my job. These guys are demanding more and more of me, and what do they offer in return? A raise, perhaps? Increased benefits? A bonus? Leave to work overtime whenever I want? Nope. None of that. They’re not even offering what I have now. They want me to work harder than ever, but for less. Less benefits, less pay, the works. Or, they threaten, it’s your job.

They’ll put me out of work.

Of course I could look for another job.

But the economy is still bad–I’ll have a hell of a time finding one.

And they know that.

They watch me squirm, sweating in the heat, forcing my fingers to go faster and faster, willing them to land always on the right spot, concentrating so heavily on the work before me that I don’t even see the notices being put up on the wall until the glue has dried and no one is in sight. I read them, shocked at the message, (“They’re doing what?“) and wondering what the hell just happened. And what the hell I’m supposed to do now.

Tsk, tsk! Better get back to work! they chide.

So I go back to my job, too busy to wonder what those pricks are going to do, too busy to do much of anything about it, until work comes to a standstill, and my coworkers and I flutter around trying to keep busy in order to avoid being sent home. Then I have time to think. Oh, do I seethe. How dare they! I should give them a piece of my mind! I should call someone to report them! They have no right to do this to us!

My adrenaline has surged. My heart is pumping. All I want is to let them have it, between drags of a cigarette (oh, that sounds so good right now). My heart rate increases to the point of bursting and then…my mother calls, asking if I can bring her some groceries. I remember I’m almost out of my medicine. A coworker admits she brought nothing for lunch, and has no money.

I let out a breath, a veritable gust of air that disturbs the draining heat of the office, and sit. I glance at the clock, and see that, in thirty minutes, I can at least have that cigarette. But I don’t have time to do anything but work, pay my bills, sleep, and snatch a few moments of quality time with friends and family to keep my sanity.

So I wait and worry.

Wait to see how far Republicans are willing to go to get their way, and worry what will happen to me and my family if they do get their way.

And resolve to sit on Mitch McConnell’s doorstep should I lose my livelihood because of his “family values.”