Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A shot in the arm for death penalty foes
When Jeb Bush's Florida botched an execution in December, it proved not only that Florida executioners have bad aim and that capital punishment is rubber and the criminal justice system is glue and that the Bush family is destined to kill and torture, but also that if you're going to administer a lethal injection, it's probably a good idea to have a doctor present. The clumsy Floridians shot sodium thiopental into the inmate's flesh instead of his veins, resulting in a brutal, excruciating slow-death torture not seen in Florida since Katherine Harris puckered her rose-red lips and lustily mouthed the words "hanging chads." Now, three death-row inmates in Kentucky have seized the day by pointing out a legal conundrum: Federal law requires that a doctor administer sodium thiopental but Kentucky law forbids doctors from participating in executions. Public defenders of Thomas Clyde Bowling, Ralph Baze and Jeffrey Leonard are arguing in a federal lawsuit that the conflict effectively makes capital punishment illegal in Kentucky. Similar suits are underway in other states and the matter likely will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, potentially meaning a technicality could succeed where common sense, morality, social ethics, and lots and lots of money have failed.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Cruisin' for cancer
Last week, Norton Healthcare launched a $100-million program to fight cancer in Louisville, including plans to buy a $1 million cancer-screening vehicle that will cruise the city's neighborhoods targeting prostate, lung, breast and colon cancers. The timing could not be better, considering several CSX train cars full of methyl ethyl ketone, cyclohexane and butadiene burned for much of the week, scorching not only TV reporters' tongues but also the already battle-scarred lungs of local residents.

Besides the TumorMobile, the anti-cancer effort will include 100 new employees, a new radiation center, and new prevention centers in local cancer hot-spots like Smoketown, Rubbertown, Obesetown, Mercuryboro and Methyl Ethyl Ketoneville. Norton figures business will boom, considering Kentucky has the highest cancer rate in the nation and Louisville's rate is higher than even the Kentucky average.

Of course, Rubbertown was the destination of that CSX cargo of poison, where those chemicals are converted to rubber for tires. And guess what it would be impossible to have a TumorMobile without? That's right: tires. Life (and death) are funny that way.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Stop, hey, what's that sound?
With so many people dying in a fool's war that 70% of the nation opposes, you may be wondering where all the protestors are. While there have been plenty of local protests, their attendance has been disproportionate to the overall dissent in the community. That's no doubt due to what everybody from George Bush's handlers to Charles Rangel to the ghost of Richard Nixon all keenly understand: An all-volunteer army = a complacent populace. A military draft = thousands in the streets. It's a far more successful strategy to bait enlistees with college money while also making sure college is expensive.

As the war's futility and bloodletting grow, though, so do the protests. And, with two major marches on Washington looming, the Louisville Peace Action Community wants you to get off your complacent butt and join the action. (Actually, being the peace lovers they are, their words were "Want to go to Washington?") The first march is this Saturday, January 27. And there's a major march on the Pentagon on March 17 to mark the 4th anniversary of the Iraq invasion and the 40th anniversary of the historic 1967 march on the Pentagon. For info on the marches as well as upcoming local protests, visit

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Top Ten Rejected Mom Matters Stories

10. Colicky baby? Try Evenflo's New Pillow Snuffer (R)

9. He Hates You Because You're Fat

8. White Zin: It's Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

7. 40 Ways to Use Cornmeal … In BED!

6. Shut Them Up During Oprah with the New Nintendo Wii

5. 100 Days in the Same Sweat Pants: A Cautionary Tale

4. Tricking Him into Thinking He Has a Say

3. Top Off Your Next Spa Treatment with the "Happy Finish!"

2. Nuggets vs. Fingers: The Chicken Dilemma

1. Does My Newspaper Think I'm Stupid?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wage wars
Everybody knows that raising the minimum wage would help a relatively few American workers, most of them teenagers and part-time employees. It would result in job losses and discourage companies from creating new jobs, ultimately leading to higher unemployment. And it would hurt small businesses.

Wrong, wrong and wrong, according to Media Matters. The media watchdog examined those frequently reported "facts" and found that none are true. In fact, citing numerous state and federal studies, Media Matters showed that payrolls and job growth went up and unemployment went down in states that increased the minimum wage in recent years compared to states that didn't. Similarly, a study by the Economic Policy Institute showed that a majority of minimum-wage workers are full time. And a study by the Fiscal Policy Institute showed that the number of small businesses grew twice as quickly in states with higher minimum wages than in other states. A March 2006 Gallup poll showed that a majority of small business owners agree a hike in the minimum wage wouldn't hurt them.

All of which is probably why republican representatives Ed Whitfield, Geoff Davis and Harold Rogers joined democrats John Yarmuth and Ben Chandler and Hoosiers Brad Ellsworth and Baron Hill in voting last week to raise the federal minimum wage from its current rice-and-cardboard $5.15 an hour to a tasty rice-and-beans $7.25 an hour by 2009. Ron Lewis (R-Hellbound) was the only local representative who voted against the measure.

Despite overwhelming public support for the increase, it still faces considerable opposition in the Senate, that august body known for carefully deliberating a topic, ensuring that uneducated, sick, hungry (and/or obese – the new hungry) children dangle needlessly in misery. The White House, of course, opposes the measure, citing, "mmmpf," which is the sound of speech coming from a head that is perpetually up one's own ass.

So, why is the minimum-wage issue clouded by so much of what Princeton University philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt refers to in his book "On Bullshit" as "bullshit?" Maybe this is a clue: While remaining open to the idea of an increase, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell trotted out the truthiness that Media Matters debunked, and demanded tax and regulatory concessions to Big Business in exchange for the wage increase, adding "pfpfmmmfm," which is the sound of speech coming from a head that is perpetually up large corporations' asses.
Report a flasher
According to the experts, Americans are exposed to 4000 advertisements every day (so long as by "expert" you mean "some wanker's marketing blog we googled upon" and by "4000" you mean "some number she just made up"). At any rate, we all see so many ads that we often don't even consciously register them. [Read LEO! It keeps your hair shiny and your genitalia robust!]

And thanks to the recent trend of converting fossil fuels to flashing Internet- and road-side sales pitches, our world is beginning to resemble a post-Celine-Dion Vegas wasteland: new, improved, and 75% more annoying, two hotdogs for a dollar with fill-up, now with zero grams trans fat.

Because of the ubiquity of advertising, local business owners face a dilemma: It's nigh impossible to get their messages through all the messages. How is a driver at a busy intersection supposed to sort out "Printer Cartridges 2 for 1" from "Peep Shows Here" from "Jesus – Don't Leave Earth Without Him" from "Hey, asshole, green means go?"

And because flashing signs can distract motorists and cause accidents -- and because they're hideous and soul-crushing and cut you off from nature and make you want to pull over, fall to your knees, scratch out your eyeballs and weep inconsolably -- Metro Louisville requires sign owners to flash their messages no more frequently than every 20 seconds. Which, let's face it, is an eternity under capitalism.

Business owners say the 20-second delay is an unfair limitation, especially when trying to communicate with motorists who don't move their lips while reading. So business owners are asking the city to allow them to rotate their E-ads more frequently, which they believe will lead to a 10-piece box for only $8.99 and 40% off your next body wax. The owners also complain that the current law is unfairly enforced, relying on the public to report violations of the 20-second rule -- a rule you can help more fairly enforce by contacting the Office of Inspections, Permits and Licenses whenever you see a sign flashing its message faster than every 20 seconds.

The Metro Planning Commission promises to review the law to make sure it's fair. Since you're going to visit the Louisville Metro site anyway, you might as well drop by the council page and let them know you're appalled by the onslaught of advertising in our community. You know, not counting newspaper ads for phone sex, strip clubs, liquor, local bars and that cool WFPK list of albums.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

John Yarmuth wants to sell aerial rights to help fund two new bridges for Louisville…

Top Ten Aerial Building Opportunities for the New Louisville Bridges

10. Kentucky Fried Chicken Bucket Drive-Thru Dispenser
9. Churchill Downs Bets 'n' Butts
8. Southeast Christian Mega-satellite Church
7. Bridges Live! Dining & Entertainment Complex
6. Kentucky Unbridled Spiritorium
5. Trump Bridge, Beauty Pageant and Casino
4. Ford Motor Company Museum of Visionary Automobiles
3. Brown-Forman Bridge to Rehab
2. Bobby Petrino Repository of False Promises
1. Rust-Oleum Corporate HQ
Threat: Low
Apparently deciding that Denny's salad bar is probably not such a tempting target for al-Qaeda after all, the Department of Homeland Hilarity yanked Louisville from its list of cities receiving federal anti-terror bling. Last year, New York and other cities went dotty when Louisville snagged a 70% increase at the expense of other, more jihad-worthy metropolises. The mayor's office pledged the cut would not stop MetroSafe, the $70 million emergency communications system, not adding, "Plus, we feel confident we can protect the bridge we can't paint and the subways we don't have."

Riding the poverty cycle
In the classic 1999 film "Austin Powers, The Spy Who Shagged Me," obese archvillain Fat Bastard moans, "I eat because I'm unhappy and I'm unhappy because I eat. It's a vicious cycle." Applied to Kentucky, it's more like, "We're stupid because we're poor and we're poor because we're stupid." That seems to be the conclusion of the journal Education Week, which ranked the Commonwealth 41st in the nation in its "Quality Counts" study. Indiana came in 30th. The annual study tries to measure each state's success at raising its children from birth to career. The study concluded that living in poverty and having parents who are a few tortilla chips shy of a Nachos Bellgrande can be an impediment to someday assistant-managing your own Taco Bell.

The study examined 13 factors that impact a child's chances to succeed in adulthood, including family income, the parents' education attainment, and the parents' employment status. Kentucky ranked low in all categories, underscoring what every teacher knows: when a child comes to school hungry, ungrammatical and superstitious, the job of teaching is a whole lot tougher. So it's actually impressive – almost heroic – that Kentucky ranked 31st (Indiana 34th) in student achievement, a dramatic improvement over the past decade, showing that education reform is paying off.

Trying to make a dent on the college level, U of L announced the "Cardinal Covenant" program, which will take money from the university's budget to help 150 of its poorest students cover tuition, which costs a whopping 40% more than it did three years ago. The move angered some middle-income students, who believe they're getting pinched because they're neither rich nor poor: the most pinchable segment of American society.

So, does Mr. Bastard's fate instruct our attempt at breaking the cycle of poverty and ignorance? In the movie, Felicity Shagwell kicks him in the testicles, provoking a monstrous expulsion of flatulence. So probably not. But if there's a nut-kicking Shagwell in Kentucky, it's the Governor and the General Assembly, who always manage to keep Kentucky education broke. And consequently, Kentucky.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ride to Safety
Now here's a damned good idea: TARC is offering anyone fleeing an abusive partner a free ride to the Center for Women and Families. Called "Ride to Safety," TARC's new program allows people trying to escape abuse to board any bus at any stop at any time, without paying a fare. Tragically, abuse victims often have no easy escape route when an abusive partner hides the car keys or slashes the car's tires. "Ride to Safety" aims to help solve that problem by giving victims free rides. When a victim boards a bus, the bus driver will contact TARC HQ, which will dispatch someone to meet the bus and take the victim and any children to the nearest shelter. The driver will continue to make all the normal stops and will not offer counseling to the victim (also a damned good idea). To spread the word, TARC will outfit its busses with "Ride to Safety" decals. The Center for Women and Families serves victims of domestic abuse, rape, and economic hardship from campuses all over the metro area. Visit for more information. Or just board a TARC and say "Help."
Hoosier profitization
With one out of every six Hoosiers receiving public assistance, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels made a bold decision: He cut a private contractor in on the action! In a $1.16 billion privatization deal dramatic enough to give any neocon a slight woody, Daniels signed a contract with IBM – the same people who brought the world DOS, the "sincere necktie" and that weird red nipple pointer thing that was supposed to replace the mouse – to administer the state's food-stamp, Medicaid and other welfare programs for the poor. Big Blue will modernize the current system by bringing applications online and establishing an efficient call center, which should be really sweet for poor people with, um, 'net-enabled computers and phones. Daniels, a republican, signed the contract despite vehement objections from democrats, social caseworkers, unions, and advocates for the needy, including Indiana House speaker Patrick Bauer, who charged that the scheme allows contractors to "profit from the poor." Daniels, however, claims the contract will save taxpayers money, streamline the application process for recipients and create 1000 new jobs for Indiana. Gee, if only Indiana had more poor people, the Hoosier state could turn a really sweet profit then!