Kentucky, WTH Are You Doing? A Case Study

Kentucky State Map

“Shooting yourself in the foot”; “Biting off your nose to spite your face”; “Oh no Boo Boo what is you doing?” Pick any one of these phrases and it would describe the voters in Kentucky. And I am not picking on Kentuckians just for the sake of it. I am picking on them because my fear is that this state has become a metaphor reflecting the state of American affairs for now and into the foreseeable future. A place where the majority of people are voting against their own best interests rather than face their own support of systemic racism and inner softcore prejudices.

In the last few years, people in Kentucky made a whooper of a bad choice by when they choose their Governor. And they made this choice for no other reason than they hate the “face” of the better choice. Let’s look at the footage, shall we?

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Medicaid

In 2014 Kentuckians voted out the incumbent Democratic Governor Beshears in favor of Republican Matt Bevins. In his last years before being outed Beshears supported the Affordable Care Act and expanded Medicaid.  This resulted in an estimated 420,000 Kentuckians, nearly 10 percent of the state’s population, were able to obtain coverage.

Matt Bevins was able to win the governorship on a platform of dismantling Medicaid, among other things. His 2016 proposal to cut Medicaid would have affected 1.3 million Kentuckians. The changes were specifically designed to affect those approximately 420,000 people who had just managed to get Medicaid, the working poor, or people who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Wanna hear what the changes were, okay here it go:

  • “small” monthly premiums (Medicaid doesn’t typically charge premiums because it is designed for those who can barely afford to eat and pay rent at the same time)
  • a temporary “lockout” of coverage for some who don’t pay
  • a work requirement for some “able-bodied” adults
  • eliminate dental and vision coverage now included in Medicaid, though individuals could use a “My Rewards” account to pay for such coverage by earning credit for activities such as taking a financial literacy course or a health assessment.

Needless to say the proposal didn’t go over well. But instead of re working the plan Bevins and his administration are stubbornly sticking to their guns. The newest proposals according to state estimates, would cause an additional 9,000 Kentuckians to lose Medicaid insurance. That’s in addition to the approximately 90,000 people that are predicted to lose coverage under Bevin’s original waiver.

That’s Why Yo Mama is On Welfare

Matt Bevins has publicly decried the rise of “the welfare state.” But as of May 2017, Kentucky was one of ten states that had more people receiving public benefits than were employed.

As of 2013, 17.4 % of Kentuckians were receiving food stamps, compare that to Oregon’s rate of 19.8% the highest and Wyoming’s 5.9% being the lowest. Pretty high Kentucky, looks like you need it and you use it.  Kentucky was ranked 48 out of 50 in terms of states who were food insecure at some point between 2012 and 2013.  That means that they were HELLA insecure, only two steps away from being THE MOST food insecure state in America.

Here are some more “fun” statistics about Kentucky.

In 2015, 19.1 % of adults were living at or below the federal poverty level

25.8 % of children were living below the poverty level. That is a quarter of all the children living in Kentucky living BELOW the poverty level!!!

But It Isn’t Obama So It Must Be Good

What is truly astounding is how disconnected Kentuckians are from reality. Rather than seeking an even basic understanding of the connected relationship between the expansion of Medicaid and so called Obamacare, they chose to just hate on anything with Obama’s name attached. However they fundamentally failed to realize that it was because of Obamacare that over 420,000 Kentuckians were able to get healthcare when they couldn’t before.  The Medicaid expansion in Kentucky was implemented as a program called KYnect. Voters simultaneously liked and supported Kynect while opposing Obamacare!!

So let’s do the “math”. What do you get if a program provides much needed benefits PLUS is generally liked and supported by the population under one name BUT that same population then votes for Governor whose platform is the dismantling of the beneficial program but is called by the balck man’s name? YOU GET RACISM PEOPLE…RACISM with a healthy dose of LATENT UNRECOGNIZED PREJUDICE!


Order of the Executive


Let’s start by looking at what an executive order is not. It is not the end of the conversation. It is not the way a president was meant to carry out his duties.  It is not a weapon to be wielded against the people and their wishes.  It is not a sledgehammer to be used to destroy opposition. For a good president, a good executive, it is merely another tool to be used. Really, an executive order should be used to implement the will of the people, or at least for the benefit of the people.

“A presidential policy directive that implements or interprets a federal statute, a constitutional provision, or a treaty.”

We learn early on that each branch of government has its own lane. Legislative branch is to make the laws, judicial branch is to interpret the laws and executive branch is to enforce those laws. Of course there is overlap at times; government as it has evolved in the United States is a complicated beast. However, each branch of government will generally stick to their jobs and keep it clean.

An executive order has the same weight of a congressional law. It is as if Congress had passed the law through its voting process. It is supposed to be for the purpose of FURTHER interpreting an already EXISTING law or statute. It is more like a “clearing up” action rather than the creation of something brand new. Have presidents of the past misused this power and actually created what could be seen as new law? Of course, the overreach is inevitable, especially when Congress is not falling in line with the president’s plans. But for the most part executive orders have at least been in view of their intended purpose


So the authority for a President to issue an executive is really, really really ,REALLY broad. Instead of stemming from a specific statute, executive orders draw their initial power from two places in the Constitution. The first line in Article II, Section 1 states that the “executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America,” while second clause that is referenced in regards to the Executive Power is Article II, Section 3, where it states that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

With such a vague definition, each president has absolutely taken it upon themselves to create their own interpretations for the boundaries of the executive order. Truman integrated the armed forces, Eisenhower desegregated schools, Kennedy and Johnson barred racial discrimination in federal housing. In some ways, the issuance of an executive order seems to be a president’s way to preserve their legacy. But to be crystal clear, executive orders follow some already instituted law or court decision. They very rarely go completely rogue. The executive branch is not designed to function that way nor was it ever intended to have that kind of power.

 Can they be overturned

These orders can absolutely be overturned!! Although created in an unorthodox way, the executive order can be undone in very traditional ways. The first way is if Congress creates a law that contradicts the order or further interprets some gray areas of a law that the order exposed. This takes time and a united Congress.

The second way is if the order is challenged in court and the court deems it unlawful. The judges render the order null and void and it just fades away because it cannot be enforced.

The third way is if a subsequent president drafts his own order counteracting the initial one. This happened when Reagan issued an executive order banning federal funds for abortions and Clinton reversed that order.

Bringing it home…

Trump’s immigration ban violates the spirit and intent of an executive order. It hides behind the claim that it is clarification of a previous immigration law (Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq; and section 301 of Title 3, United States Code) when in fact it is a wholly new and different law. This so called “executive order” is really a new law, and even further it is a new law that only works against the interests of the people of the United States. The U.S. isn’t safer, it is becoming more isolated than ever. Isolation is a dangerous place for a nation to find itself.



Define Politician for 100, Alex


What is a Politician?

Politics come from the Latinization of the greek “politikos” which means ‘of, for, or relating to citizens’.  Notice that the derivation does not translate to some citizens or a few citizens.  It is an inclusive phrase. Granted, the Greeks and the Romans did not consider everyone a citizen and so the whole of humanity was not included in their thought process but that is a discussion for another day. What I want to focus on is the intent of the word and the fact that it has become such a warped and monstrously negative term, especially in this modern age.

At its best, the definition of a politician can inspire.  Think about it, a politician is one who looks after the interests and affairs of all citizens. The politician is the voice of the many distilled into the words and deeds of one. The true politician should be champion of all but especially the ignored, the forgotten, the smallest in our society.  After all, even the smallest among us is a citizen of somewhere. Even the smallest of us has a home and place that they should belong.

Back Away from Your Rights


In today’s politics this essential factor has been forgotten.  We seem to have adopted the philosophy of “not my circus, not my monkey”.  It is a hands off mentality that only leads to destruction, because no single person can do any of this alone.  We aren’t meant to do this alone, as humans we are social group and we are meant to aid each other. If we attempt to move forward alone then we actually get what we seek and we will find ourselves actually ALONE.

Now this brings me to the dubiously labeled “new conservative” or “alt-right” movement. Honestly, if I were a conservative I would be soooooooo incredibly insulted! What is happening now and in our country especially is not truly conservativism, not at all.  It is true that conservatives advocate for a hands off philosophy for big government, but they are not for the complete abdication of the individual’s responsibility to care for another individual.  They just don’t think big government is the way to go. The current so called “conservative” movement is acting under the guise of dismantling big government and ‘draining the swamp” when in reality it is an elitist and exclusionary mind set that seeks to benefit the richest citizens.  It seeks to use big government to continue to benefit the richest and the most well protected citizens. That is not what a politician is supposed to do, and that is not what the conservative philosophy is all about.

And Here is Where I Sip My Tea


What is the purpose of a politician if not to protect and preserve the rights of ALL citizens.  The way it is set up now we should stop calling them politicians and start calling them elitist businessmen.  Oh wait, that would be calling them what they are…..

Why Sessions is a”No”

By Deidre Keller  awesome guest blogger

On Tuesday, January 10, the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Chuck Grassley of Iowa, began to consider the nomination of Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III to the office of the Attorney General of the United States. The mission statement of the Attorney General’s Office reads: “To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.” What this means is that the Attorney General has broad oversight of much of the federal criminal justice policy and bureaucracy of the United States government. Moreover, within the purview of the Attorney General is the Department of Justice within which myriad agencies are represented including the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of Violence Against Women, and the Civil Rights Division. If you are not a white, cisgendered, American-born, wealthy man, the idea that Jeff Sessions should oversee these functions of the federal government ought to be concerning enough that you are willing to get on the phone to your Senators today.  Here is a handy tool for finding contact information for your Senators. According to this article by a former Congressional Aide, calls to district offices tend to be more effective than calls to Washington.


If you’d like to take a deep dive in order to consider for yourself whether Sessions ought to be the next Attorney General, take a look at this nearly two-hundred page report on Sessions’ record as a public servant. Much has already been said about his failed nomination to the federal bench in 1986 (here, here, and here). In this post, I want to focus on things Sessions has done or said in the last ten years that suggest he is not qualified to serve as our next Attorney General. I think it important to make clear that Jeff Sessions’ recent record is rife with evidence that he is simply not fit to serve as the nation’s highest ranking Civil Rights enforcer.


First, there are Sessions’ close ties to Breitbart News, lauded by its former Chairman as a “platform for the alt-right,” the 21st Century white nationalist movement. You can hear Sessions interviewing with Breitbart at CPAC on March 29, 2016, praising Breitbart in this recording, beginning at about the 1:40 mark. Sessions explains that he uses Breitbart provided resources in the Senate in policy debates on the topic of immigration.  


You can also hear Sessions, in his own words and voice here lauding Donald Trump’s law and order bona fides based on Trump’s infamous move taking out an ad recommending the death penalty for the Central Park Five. It is important to note that the Central Park Five were exonerated and won a settlement in the millions of dollars against New York City long before the Session made these comments. In light of that, it is difficult to see how demanding the death penalty for innocent people constitutes a commitment to law and order. Unless, of course, law and order means utilizing the criminal justice system to oppress people of color.


Along those same lines, in an interview last September, Sessions agreed with Trump’s assessment that stop and frisk, as practiced in New York City is constitutional. Of the New York City program ruled unconstitutional by a District Court judge, Sessions said, “This was a tremendous accomplishment….”


In an interview with Breitbart, responding to the removal of the Confederate Flag from state facilities after Dylan Roof killed nine people in Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015, Sessions referred to the removal of the flag as an attempt by the left to “delegitimize the fabulous accomplishments of our country….” While Sessions framed the removal as attempt to “erase history,” it is, of course, Sessions that is getting the history wrong here as the flag that he is defending was flown by rebels seeking to secede from the United States. In other words, that flag has never represented the accomplishments or anything else of the United States; it is a symbol of treason.


Sessions’ voting record fully illustrates his antagonism toward women (he has repeatedly voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women’s Act), immigrants (he voted against the DREAM Act), and LGBTQ Americans (he voted against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell).


I, for one, don’t trust Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to protect the Civil Rights of any of the vulnerable individuals who need the Federal Government to enforce those laws. If you don’t either, call your Senator!


Here are some additional resources on Sessions:


Sessions’ record on death penalty prosecutions while Alabama Attorney General


Protest of Sessions’ AG nomination by sexual assault survivors troubled by his response to the President-elect’s comments regarding grabbing women by their genitals


What Department of Justice Lawyers Think about Working for Sessions


An In-Depth Look at Sessions’ Claim to Civil Rights Bona Fides – that He Prosecuted Members of the KKK


An Examination of Sessions’ Time as Alabama AG


The ACLU’s Fact Sheet on Sessions


CNN Reporting on Allegations of Prosecutorial Misconduct


The Leadership Conference’s Open Letter to the Senate regarding Sessions’ Nomination


Deval Patrick’s Letter Opposing Sessions’ Nomination


Coretta Scott King’s Letter to Strom Thurmond on the occasion of Sessions’ 1986 confirmation hearing for appointment to the federal judiciary


Over 1400 Law Professors representing law schools in all 49 States (Alaska has no law school) signed an open letter opposing Sessions’ nomination


Sessions’ confirmation hearing continues on January 11. Also scheduled for the 11th are the confirmation hearings of Rex Tillerson, nominated for Secretary of State (Tillerson’s report) and Ben Carson, nominated to lead HUD (Carson’s report). Betsy Devos, nominated to head the Department of Education, will face her confirmation hearing on January 17 (Devos’ report).


Aw Hell No Part 2 – Betsy DaVos, Public Education Deatheater


So I went into this job interview for an this education job but I ‘ont have no teaching experience, I have never been to public school, my kids don’t go to public school, and I’m famous for fighting to get more money for public schools biggest competitors, charter schools.  And do you know what Mr. Trump said to me?  He said, “You’re hired!!”  I’m guessing that the conversation between Betsy Davos and President Elect Frump didn’t quite go this way but it should have. Because essentially these are the underlying facts.  Ms. Davos is being nominated for the position of the highest public educator in the land and she has ABSOLUTELY NO FRIGGIN EXPERIENCE as an educator!!

When I first learned about this nomination I was still reeling with disbelief from the election results and I had a backlog of anxiety and disbelief (I call it the ‘urshittinme’ syndrome). So I didn’t really take a peek at her qualifications. But I made the assumption that she has at least some minimal experience as an actual educator. And wouldn’t you know it, I was wrong. Here is the short list of why she isn’t qualified, I mean her resume.

  • She never attended public school
  • She has no professional degree of any kind
  • Her children did not attend public schools
  • She is the major contributor and lobbyist for charter schools in Michigan (basically she throws money at organizations that don’t support or are the direct competitor of public schools)

 What do it do?

Wayment, wayment wait a damn minute!!! I had to go and check on the Department of Education’s website for what the Secretary of Education is supposed to do because I thought maybe I misunderstood the job.  So the mission of the Department of Education is to ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation.  Even more specifically, the duties of the Office of Secretary of Education include the direction, supervision and coordination of all activities of department and is the principle advisor to president on federal policies, programs and activities related to education in the US.

So it will be her job to direct, supervise and coordinate the activities of Department of Education to promote equal access and educational excellence. But SHE HAS NEVER HAD A POSITION THAT WOULD REMOTELY PREPARE HER FOR THIS RESPONSIBILITY!!! All the nopes to that!

What did them other folk do?

Then I thought I would look up the resumes of other Secretaries of Education, just to see, you know if this is a fluff kind of position. Let’s have a look shall we:

Current Acting Secretary of Education, Jon B. King was the principal senior advisor in the Department of Education for several years before he became Secretary. Before that he was the commissioner of education in New York and the chief executive officer for the State Education Department, and he was in charge of educating 3.1 million elementary and secondary education students, manager of Uncommon Schools, a non profit that manages highest performing charter schools in NY, NJ and MA.

Previous Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan is a Harvard trained educator who was CEO of Chicago Public Schools. Prior to that he ran nonprofit educational initiative that funded college education for inner city children under I Have Dream Initiative.

Previous to Previous Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings was the assistant to President for Domestic Policy and she was one of the creators of the policies of No Child Left Behind (yes it was terrible but at least the chick has experience in educational policy).  Before that she was the Senior Advisor to Governor George W. Bush on policy issues.

Previous to Previous Previous Secretary of Education, Rod Paige started his career as a teacher and a coach.  He has multiple degrees all the way to Doctorate.  He served for ten years as the damn Dean of the College of Education at Texas Southern University and established their Center for Excellence in Urban Education. He went on to become the Superintendent of Houston Independent School District.

Again, Ms. DaVos gets a BIG FAT NOPE when it comes to matching her qualifications to be Secretary of Education as compared to her predecessors.

Why You Care

So the bigger question is why should you care? Well, my friends, you should care because this is the person who will now be in charge of policies regarding student loans, federal educational grants, safe and drug free policies in schools, special education, pre-k programs, standards for educational achievement FOR A SYSTEM OF EDUCATION THAT SHE NEVER PARTICIPATED IN, not as a student, or a parent or as an educated professional.

Scared yet?




President Elect – Day 1

This morning I told my youngest daughter about last night’s defeat. As she began to let out soft sobs of sadness, I felt the tears leaking from my own eyes and for once I didn’t hold them back. I rubbed her back and said nothing, just let her grieve. Because make no mistake, she was grieving. My news this morning was the equivalent of telling her that there was no Santa Claus, rainbows do not have a pot of gold at the end, and that magic doesn’t exist all at once. Last night’s election killed a part of her innocence that I would have preserved for as long as I could. An innocence tied to the belief that good does win in the end, that love and kindness matter, that the color of her skin and the gender that she was born into ultimately will not matter if she is strong, and determined and good. An innocence tied to her fundamental understanding that bullies cannot win if people come together collectively to defeat them. An innocence tied to the knowledge that America is her home and her birthright and that she is as much a part of the fabric of its making as any other person born here. An innocence that is now gone, not forever I hope but surely irrevocably changed.  Her innocence is now tinged, tainted, stained by some truths that I would have fought to keep from her as I fought to change them. But I no longer have that option. I can no longer work to keep her vision pure.

And as I drove into work I mourned the loss of light that this innocence brought to my life as well. I mourned for my own loss of safety and stability, my own belief that lived in the corner of my heart from the moment I had my first child. The belief that somehow the world would be a little different for her, a little kinder and a little better.  I mourned the loss of my own secret  innocence as well.

Primary on Primaries

Why it’s Important to Vote in Primaries
I wish I could just stop at “Presidential primaries are important.” Sadly, the American educational system has not prepared its citizens to know, understand or even care about the voting process. And that is just a damn shame because the primaries and voting is so important. So let’s start with the basics:
Who? Presidential primaries are one of two ways in which the major political parties select their frontrunners (of course there are only two major parties and this sucks…but that is just my opinion). This determines who is going to get the major money that goes into backing a candidate when the presidential race really starts going and the parties are preparing to do battle against each other. Essentially the primaries select who the contenders for president.
What? Each state and each party has its own way of conducting primaries. Okay, stay with me because this may get a little confusing. Primaries can be open or closed.
A closed primary is when a registered voter who has declared themselves to be Republican or Democratic may vote ONLY for their declared party’s potential candidates. This means that in a closed primary a declared democrat can only vote among the democratic candidates (e.g. currently that means a democrat can only vote for Hilary Clinton or Bernie Sanders).
An open primary is when a registered voter, regardless of which party they are affiliated with, can vote for any of the candidates.

Why? Voting in the primary is important because it determines how many delegates each state is going to give to the candidates. The candidate with the most delegates gets the party’s nomination and approval to run for president. (For the most part this is true but there are exceptions. Trump is starting to look like an exception because although the people are voting for him in the primaries, the party leadership is highly dissatisfied with him as a candidate.)

When? Each state holds their primaries at different times during an election year. Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada are the first states to hold their caucuses and primaries. Then the media uses the outcomes to predict who will win each party’s elections and campaign financers pay attention to who they should continue to receive their money.
Each state also has deadlines for when you must register to vote in order to even be eligible to vote in the primaries. For example, Georgia requires that you register by February 1st in order to vote in the primaries on March 1st.

However… there is a slight exception to these rules. Although the people, through their popular vote, may vote for a candidate that does not necessarily guarantee that the candidate will get the most delegates from that state. This is because certain people in the state are known as super delegates. And these super delegates get more weight put behind their vote. One super delegate’s vote can equal several regular people’s votes. Yeah, I think that sucks too. But one problem at a time.

Why It’s Important to Vote in Midterm Elections
Okay the answer to this question is much easier to understand. A president does not act alone. See the way the Constitution is set up, all three branches of government, the executive/presidential, Congress, and the Judicial/ Supreme Court on down, are supposed to act together to run this country. (“Ha” and double “ha” on that!) Congress has their elections during presidential election years and in between those years as well. This means that the American public gets several chances to elect Congressional officials that can either help the President or totally screw him over depending on whether they pass his proposed laws or get in the way. So when Americans don’t like the passing of a particular law, or feel displeased with the way the country is being run, the midterm elections are the way to correct the course, to make our voices heard.
Sadly, the midterm elections tend to have the lowest friggin’ turnout. Americans already suck at turning out to vote but they drop the standard even lower during midterm elections. And that is a shame because this is our opportunity to comment on the president, Congress while in the middle of president’s term. Theoretically, by voting in the midterm elections we can give a scorecard and potentially cause a shift in the direction of the legislature. And ever midterm election year most of us relinquish this authority and power by not voting.

Why Bother to Vote in Either

We aren’t just voting on a candidate, we are voting on an agenda, a direction that we want this country to go in. Our candidate may lose the primary but the agenda and the ideas and how we feel about these things as voters gets represented. It’s a chance to be heard. We can’t even begin to change the conversation if we don’t open our moth to speak.