Category Archives: Politics

And The Verdict Is…

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Over the past sixty or so hours since the Zimmerman verdict there have been volumes of observations, discussions, debates, pissing contests and virtual barroom brawls as folks come to terms with both the verdict and their own perceptions of it.

Those that know me know I engage in many of these debates, not because I love to wallow in the mud but because I have found that debating with those of opposing or differing opinion helps me learn…I learn to clarify my thoughts and opinions and I learn to be a better person. And becoming a better person should be our main goal in life. Most else falls from that.

The Zimmerman case has become somewhat of a Rorschach test…our own opinions and views helping to define the inkblot.  Sometimes the inkblot is easy to interpret and sometimes it is a reflection of our deep subconscious  and either way we see what our perceptions tell us.

What I have learned is that seldom does a jury like this one have a simple set of evidence that matches a simply defined crime. More likely they have a janitor’s key ring full of evidence that needs to match a series of generic, worn locks and just as likely the pins and tumblers don’t quite match up…and that has to do with perception.

What we end up with is an interpretation of the body of evidence, interpretation of the law, the subjective nuances of the oratory of the opposing attorneys and value judgments of those who have witnessed the crime or interpreted the evidence – all viewed through a lifetime of experience. Pretty simple, huh?

To the element of “interpreting the law” we can learn much. The “confrontation” is where the crime begins. As pointed out by a good lawyer type guy… the confrontation begins when the first punch was thrown.  In the Zimmerman case, we don’t know who threw the first punch, we only know who pulled the last trigger. As far as I can read in the transcripts we only know that, at some point Martin may have confronted Zimmerman and started the last minutes of his life.

If my interpretation [there is that damned word again] is like that of many folks, I tend to look at the totality of the incident, not a parsed single event in the middle of a running confrontation. We are offended because we see the “incident” beginning when Zimmerman made a subjective interpretation of the everyday milieux of life that was happening in front of him. His initial interpretation of an unfolding scene tipped the first domino.

Intertwined in this case were another couple of significant issues. On one side it became a litmus test for the right to protect ones’ self and “stand your ground” and on the other side it became yet another example of racial inequality in the justice system.

People are asking very hard questions of our society…would the Sanford Police have treated Zimmerman differently had he been black? Would the media have treated the case differently had it been “just another black on black crime”? Would a black man have gotten the same $1,000,000 defense? Would a jury of six black women and black judge have rendered the same verdict? Would the media have taken sides on the issues of race and stand your ground if the races have been different? Do we have a right to protect ourselves, no matter the surrounding circumstances?

If any good has come from this case, it will hopefully be that ALL people will look hard at these questions and do something besides rationalize preconceived notions about them.

What I believe…

If George Zimmerman had stayed in his truck and called 911 as the guidelines for the Neighborhood Watch program suggest, Trayvon Martin would be alive today.

If George Zimmerman had gone back to his truck and waited for the police as he was instructed by the 911 dispatcher, Trayvon Martin would be alive today.

If the roles were reversed, and every element of evidence was the same but George Zimmerman was black and Trayvon Martin was white, Asian, or Latino, the legal system, from the time the cops arrived; from the time the public defender presented his defense; until the time the verdict was rendered, he would have been treated differently by our legal system.

The prosecution overreached in asking for 2nd Degree Murder and that a verdict of not guilty was correct.  As correctly pointed out, we don’t know who started the confrontation, we don’t know the details that led from following to pulling the trigger, we only have evidence that a confrontation did in fact take place. And to that, there was an obligation to give the benefit of the doubt. George Zimmerman was on trial, not the system, not stand your ground, not racial inequalities.

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Yesterday I posted up a photograph of Atticus Finch and Tom Robinson [Gregory Peck and Brock Peters] . The intent was to observe that, 53 years after Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird about race and prejudice it sadly still exists.

It may have been interpreted differently.

We like to think of the law and justice as clean, unbiased, and honest. And sometimes it is. But, like life itself it is more likely somewhere in the 254 shades of gray in between black and white.
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And yet again we go to interpretation…And more often than not we wear tinted glasses.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Twitter and Facebook Spank Cable News Coverage Of Late Night Battle In Boston

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At 11:08 FARK broke news that shots were fired at MIT…a cop was down. At that time CNN, Fox and MSNBC were working the West, Texas explosion. In the past, most folks would turn to Cable News for the quickest updates. But not tonight. Twitter lit up with multiple feeds. The information was coming faster than could be read. Remote police scanners, online allowed second by second calls from the police. Facebook lit up with recasts of the tweets and scanner. Cable News was AWOL.

By 11:45 twitter was reporting a stolen Mercedes SUV that belonged to the Mass State Police. Within another 15 minutes police spotted the fleeing SUV in Watertown, two miles west of Cambridge. Suspects, described as two Middle Eastern men began firing at police during the chase.

By Midnight, 238 years to the day after the Battle of Concord and Lexington a new battle was unfolding. The suspects began throwing grenades and firing automatic weapons at police. At some point in the rolling battle unexploded bombs were thrown from the vehicles. By about 12:30 the Boston Police had stopped the Mercedes SUV and a pitched battle ensued at a range of 75 yards. During this battle another officer was reported wounded as was one suspect who was taken to Beth Israel Hospital.

Besides grenades the two suspects lit and threw an unwieldy bomb which went off 50 yards from the police. While one suspect was down, the other got back into the Mercedes SUV and plowed through the police line heading west.

By 12:45, nearly two hours after the rolling battle began…Cable News broke their previous breaking news and began covering the story. CNN was first, Fox and MSNBC followed by 1:30 in the morning.

Hundreds of more updates can be found on this Twitter link.

The contrast between the responses of social media like Facebook and Twitter, using resources like radio reference’s Boston Police scanner link provided real time updates of official information, without the distillation of talking heads, without time lags. The contrast to the extremely lagging cable news coverage of what will be one of the most important stories of the year is striking. Members of social media were well informed nearly two hours before the cable news machines could respond. It resembles the sea change that occurred when cable news first distanced itself from newspapers and network news.

Welcome to the 21st Century. While we have seen newspapers try to redefine themselves for nearly 20 years in an effort to keep up with the 24/7 cable news…social media just upped the bet. 24/7 is now “so 20th Century”.

The story will continue to unfold and Addicting Info will follow it in detail. Or you could wait and watch it later this evening on Anderson Cooper.

I’ll leave you with this.

2:15am Cops doing house to house search in Watertown neighborhood. Cops advised single remaining suspect likely armed with long gun. At 2:25.

2:42 APB on While Male, 20s, gray hoody armed with an assault rifle. Suspect Two is in the wind.

2:48 Suspect outstanding is Suspect Two – the one with the white hat in FBI Photos.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Taped Meeting Reveals McConnell Sleaze and Use Of Senate Staff [and Mystery Presenter]

Mitch 1

It is 20 months before the 2014 Kentucky Senate race. Now is the time of the year where folks on either side should be getting their ducks in a row, determining if they have support and begin their fundraising. We shouldn’t be hearing a peep out of Mitch McConnell or any opponents regarding the election…it is just too early. But this is Kentucky, home of Henry Clay. And since Clay entered the national stage in 1806 as a US Senator at the tender age of 29, Kentucky has been just a bit different. Just one year later, while serving as Speaker of the House, he and another Congressman got into a “misunderstanding” which resulted in a duel being fought in January 1806 between Henry Clay and Humphrey Marshall. It was over requiring members to wear homespun suits rather than those made of imported British broadcloth.

On April 9th Mother Jones broke a story that followed the quickly developing news that someone had secretly recorded a campaign strategy session at Mitch McConnell’s Louisville headquarters back in February. At the time the Internet and media were abuzz about the possible candidacy of Ashley Judd to go after McConnell’s seat…one he has held since 1985.

The transcript of the meeting is here. It opens with the “presenter” laying out their opposition research on Ashley Judd.

“I refer to [Judd] as sort of the oppo research situation where there’s a haystack of needles, just because truly, there’s such a wealth of material.” [presenter of the meeting]

The main things to come out of this secret campaign meeting was that they fully intended to use past health issues of Judd in a smear campaign that also includes her personal views on children, mountaintop removal, supporter of gay marriage, her religion, and of course her “liberal Hollywood” image. But the focus was on crushing her, not comparing her to McConnell’s positions…so the target is her mental health…

“Ah, and again. She’s clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced. I mean it’s been documented. Jesse can go in chapter and verse from her autobiography about, you know, she’s suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the ’90s.” [presenter of the meeting]

Two questions arose regarding the meeting – did McConnell used Legislative Assistants, who are paid for by taxpayers during the campaign planning session and just who was the [Presenter] at the meeting presenting opposition research? Was it a member of McConnell’s Senate staff or, as some suggest that it was someone from Karl Rove’s American Crossroads superPAC, the group that put out the hit-piece on Ashley Judd – just FIVE DAYS LATER. Neither would be legal under Federal Law.

Following the release of the transcripts the story took on a life of its own, being reported throughout the blogosphere and through national media. It became a tale of “your dirty tricks caught our dirty tricks”, though by the time McConnell held his second or third press conference on the subject, he was heralding that his headquarters was professionally bugged, never once thinking that it might have been one of his staff that thought that the actions of the campaign crossed an ethical line.

And, like Kentucky weather, going from the mid 80s back to the 40s over the next few days, politics in Kentucky do not stand still. This afternoon the good folks at WFPL FM reported the source of the leak of information that was given to Mother Jones. Jacob Conway, on the executive committee of the Jefferson County [Louisville] Democratic Party told WFPL that Shawn Reilly and Curtis Morrison of Progress Kentucky bragged to him about recording the meeting, which was held Feb. 2 at a newly opened McConnell campaign office in Louisville, Ky.

“They [Reilly and Morrison of Progress Kentucky] were in the hallway after the, I guess after the celebration and hoopla ended, apparently these people broke for lunch and had a strategy meeting, which is, in every campaign I’ve been affiliated with, makes perfect sense,” says Conway. “One of them held the elevator, the other one did the recording and they left. That was what they told to me from them directly.” – Jacob Conway

Conway later told FoxNews that he outed the leak because he “didn’t want the actions by Reilly and Morrison to inflict damage on Democrats in Kentucky.”

In speaking with Jacob Conway this evening he reiterated to me “I meant no malice toward Progress Kentucky nor Reilly/Morrison that my intent was to speak to what the reporter already knew and to insure no damage was inflicted to the Kentucky Democratic Party by Progess Kentucky’s actions.

This is not the first instance of the democratic SuperPAC stepping to the edge [or over] the line. On February 14th, Progress Kentucky tweeted “This woman has the ear of (Sen. McConnell)—she’s his wife. May explain why your job moved to China!” The tweets and their implications were resoundingly rejected by Kentucky politicos and bloggers as over the line, a fuzzy oft times invisible line.

But not to leave well enough alone, today McConnell approached the FBI to complain that his office had been bugged and his campaign spokesman compared the recording to Nazi Germany “This is Gestapo kind of scare tactics and we’re not going to stand for it,” Jesse Benton told radio host Mike Huckabee on Wednesday.

Was it wrong? Sure. But to compare it to the actions of Nazi Germany is indicative of McConnell’s inability to understand equivalence or history…I would have gone with Nixonian rather than Gestapo. But that would have brought up Nixon, and McConnell, at the time of Watergate was well into National Republican politics. It might have been a touch too close.

Today the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has asked the FBI and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to investigate whether McConnell violated federal law and Senate rules by misusing Senate staff or resources to conduct opposition research on potential campaign opponents.

So, let’s summarize the last 48 or so hours.

  • Recording of McConnell campaign strategy meeting released by Mother Jones.
  • Recording indicates McConnell campaign [TeamMitch] plan on using old mental health issues and religion against Ashley Judd [who had not even declared that she would run for McConnell’s seat].
  • McConnell complains to the FBI that his office had been “bugged.”
  • McConnell aide compares bugging of conference room to actions of Gestapo in Nazi Germany.
  • Jefferson Democratic Party leader outs Progress Kentucky for the recording.
  • Recording was an iPhone drive-by from the hall, not a “bugging of the office”.
  • CREW files ethics violation complaint against McConnell

And it is still April…20 months before the General Election. Stay tuned.

Mountains tower proudest, thunder peals the loudest, The landscape is the grandest,

And Politics – the damnedest. In Kentucky — Judge James Mulligan, 1902

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.


Tucson Tea Party Forces Smaller Police Force, Whines that Crime Is Up.

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Dystopia is not a condition that appears overnight. Its groundwork is laid by people who make decisions and foster policies which, by their consequences sow the seeds of dystopia. This week Tucson began to enter that world when the Armed Citizen Project declared that they wanted to “Take back our city, and it needs to come back to the citizens and not the criminals.” That was the battle cry of Shawn McClusky, realtor, failed politician and Tea Party darling.

McClusky’s cunning plan is to spend $12,000 giving shotguns away in neighborhoods with high violence, an effort to curb crime. That comes out to about 25-30 shotguns introduced into high crime neighborhoods. What could possibly go wrong?

On the surface McClusky’s plan appears to be just a knee-jerk reaction to crime. But it is not. For the past number of years, as Tucson has tried to raise taxes to fund their fire and police departments, McClusky has been front and center to shout the Tea Party mantra of anti-government, anti-spending, and anti-tax; apparently clueless that those economic demands have very serious consequences. And in Tucson, those consequences, since 2009 have included layoffs within the police department, cutting its strength from a recommended 1113 sworn officers in 2009 to 968 in 2013 while the population has increased from 517.000 in 2009 to approximately 600,000 in 2013. Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor states they are understaffed by 150 officers out of over 1000.
According to Tucson Police Public Affairs Sgt Marie Hawke, there are nearly 100 officers funded under COPS grants, a federal grant program funded through the Stimulus Package of 2009 and now closed to new grant application. This program was strongly opposed by the Tea Party.

With his high profile opposition to Proposition 200 in 2009 and Proposition 400 in 2010, Shawn McClusky has directly contributed to the higher crime problems which he now tries to solve by arming citizens to do police work. The irrational decisions to starve government while, at the same time complain that the police can’t do their jobs defies logic. Yet this is the path Shawn McClusky has chosen, and in helping to build that underfunded public service, he helped create the dystopia which causes irrational, fearful decisions.

More Guns More Crime Circle

This brings us to two things…just how bad is crime in Tucson and what are the consequences of these Tea Party/Armed Citizen Project decisions?

The Armed Citizen Project website says that “Tucson currently has a ranking of 5 out of 100 (100 being safest)” in terms of crime safety, though it fails to name the survey. Looking at the FBI Crime Statistics for 2011, Tucson ranks pretty much in the middle of the cities that have over 200,000 populations. With 652 violent crimes per 100,000 population, it is 35/72, with Detroit being 72/72 with a rate of 2,137 violent crimes per 100,000 population. Like most cities, crime in Tucson is concentrated in several neighborhoods. In most cities this is where the police channel their resources, unless of course they have been constrained from doing so by low-tax, small government zealots who block the revenue streams that fund police departments.

But instead of allowing a city to manage its crime problems in established, proven ways, McClusky wants to arm citizens, using the NRA mantra of “only way to stop a bad guy is a good guy with a gun” even though Arizona has one of the higher gun ownerships rates in the nation, a condition that should mean that there is less crime because of more guns…but apparently panic and fear driven thought are trying to suggest otherwise.

And it brings us to the goal, or perceived goal of an armed citizenry to fight crime in an area where the same folks have fought to defund and underfund the very agency that is tasked with fighting crime. Are we heading back to the Wild, Wild West? Back to a time where every man was armed to fight off marauding hordes of bad guys riding into town. Back to a time when the solution was the Gunfight at the OK Corral rather than a solution involving the rule of law.

ok-corral

In dystopia, and in the paranoia of many of today’s doomsday preppers, one of the most common scenarios is WROL…Without Rule of Law. And in Tucson, one group is beginning the slide to that future, both by defunding the public servants who enforce rule of law and by arming the citizens with shotguns and fear to tear at its very fabric.
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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Ashley Judd Scratched from Senate Race

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The tweets started just after 5:00 EDT. Within minutes I was receiving tweets and texts from the local newspaper, television stations and friends, and within the hour the major political blogs in Kentucky were beginning to light up with the news. Ashley Judd had made her decision…she is not starting a run against Mitch McConnell in 2014.

The decision leaves one group of Kentuckians and many liberals throughout the country disappointed while, at the same time it gives the rising stars of the Democratic Party of Kentucky a bit of a breather as they assess their own decisions.

Kentucky is a red state…extremely red and it is going to take a Kentuckian with experience working with often conflicting goals to make any run against Mitch McConnell successful. Addressing the issue of Mountain Top Removal, which to much of the country is environmental is also a big jobs question in Kentucky where thousands of miners in our Eastern Kentucky coal fields have seen their jobs taken away. Also, religion plays a big role in Kentucky politics, where just last night the Kentucky legislature overturned the Governor’s veto of the Religious Freedom bill in Kentucky. Add in the pervasive gun culture in a state where as many liberals own guns as conservatives and you have three nearly un-scalable walls for a “Hollywood Liberal” to conquer.

Was she the best person for the job…most likely. She is extremely smart, passionate about Kentucky and its issues, a world famous Kentuckian and most obvious…just about as opposite of the leader of the Party of No, Mitch McConnell as could be. But that might not be enough in a state that has voted for obstructionist McConnell for a quarter of a century and Rand Paul, who rode onto the national stage on his daddy’s coattails.

There has, so far not been comment from Alison Lundergan Grimes or any other potential candidates.

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There will be more on this breaking story as it unfolds.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resides in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.


Kentucky Senate Run Will Be A Horse Race

Judd Grimes

Alison Lundergan Grimes and Ashley Judd

Kentucky politics are going to be really busy in the next 36 months. A Senate race in 2014 which has incumbent Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell facing a cadre of candidates wanting a piece of him. The “off” year of 2015 has the Kentucky Governor’s race and in 2016 freshman firebrand, and Tea Party darling Rand Paul is up for re-election.

And it all starts in just over a month. Each state has its own unofficial starting gate for the next election…Kentucky is no different and it has real starting gates intertwined into the process…The Kentucky Derby, first Saturday in May. And yes, the horse racing metaphor will be prevalent as we begin to look at the starters, their odds, their breeding and most important, their chances to be first across the line. Unlike horse racing, however there is only Winning, no Place or Show. In the next 36 months, however we will provide one electric Trifecta. See…don’t say I didn’t warn y’all.

The good news for Kentuckians, and by extension the rest of the nation…there are plenty of good people on the Democratic side of the aisle who are both interested and capable. It is helped further by a Republican Party which not only lost the previous Governor’s race in 2011 but the “future” of the party, Kentucky basketball star Richie Farmer has just been handed 42 ethics violations by the Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

The first out of the gate is Ashley Judd…well, that’s not exactly true, a paddock full of supporters have been, since the 2012 election trying to draft her to run against McConnell but, to date she has not announced anything publicly. Judd brings much to the table on a race that is going to be as hard, expensive and bare knuckled as the run to Ditch Mitch. She brings name recognition, no negatives [excepting the nude scenes she has done in movies], intelligence, and the potential for national money. She is also thirty years younger than the 71 year old leader of the Party of No, Mitch McConnell and importantly, she is not an angry, old, establishment white guy.

Bill Clinton weighed in with the recommendation that Alison Lundergan Grimes step up. She is currently the Secretary of State in Kentucky and the daughter of long time politico Jerry Lundergan, former chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party. Clinton met with Grimes earlier this year and discussed her options for Senate, Governor and the 6th District Congressional seat which Ben Chandler lost last fall. All opinions suggest she would make a very good, strong candidate.

Former State Auditor of Public Accounts Crit Luallen is also considered a potential candidate to face McConnell but publicly states that she has her eyes on the Governor’s race in 2015. Luallen was a very popular and was considered the front runner to face McConnell in 2008 but chose to remain Auditor.

There are other players in the state Democratic Party. Former Louisville Mayor and current Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson and current Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer are also considered “interested”, though many suggest they are more likely to step up in the 2015 Governor’s race.

Two men who have spent time in Washington, former Sixth District Congressman Ben Chandler and current Third District Congressman John Yarmuth are also in play in one of the three upcoming races.

The two potential candidates who are odds on favorites right now are Judd and Grimes. In the next six weeks those who are making the odds will have a better picture of who will enter the race and who has the most support. Right now Ashley Judd has social media on her side but the establishment Democratic Party is looking at a more experienced, connected Alison Grimes. This is the race to watch.

Mitch McConnell has problems. He is the least liked Senator in the Senate. His popularity in his home state of Kentucky is just 37%. 55% of Kentucky voters disapprove of him according to PPP. And all of the disapproval is not coming from Democrats. It looks like, for the first time in a quarter of a century McConnell will likely face a challenger in the Republican primary from the Tea Party. United Kentucky Tea Party spokesman John T. Kemper III of Lexington says “we are working on a battle plan with the ultimate goal to retire him next year.”

Texas SuperPAC Liberty for All, which spend $700,000 to influence the Fourth Congressional District race in 2012. “Should the right candidate emerge — be they Republican, Democrat, or Independent — Liberty For All will remain committed to electing those dedicated to more civil liberties, more economic freedom, and freeing America from corporate influence,” said spokesman Preston Bates. Liberty For All is funded by John Ramsey, a Texas college student with a large inheritance.

And speaking of SuperPACs, rightwing favorite Karl Rove and his American Crossroads has already spent money in the Kentucky race, 18 months before a single voter gets to the booth…targeting an ad against Ashley Judd…who isn’t even announced yet.

So, watch as the candidates cinch up their girth, get a firm hold on the whip and tighten up on the reigns…this is going to be one exciting horse race.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


Rand Paul Floats to the Top at 2013 CPAP Straw Poll

Senate Republicans Present Alternative 2013 Budget Proposal

With 25% of the vote, Rand Paul won the 23 person field straw poll predicting the 2016 presidential race at Conservative conclave CPAC today. It is 36 months until the 2016 primary season begins.

Paul beat out other 2016 contenders Marco Rubino who received 23%…two percent below Paul. The favor dropped off considerably the further down the list, with Santorum receiving 8%, the uninvited Chris Christie receiving 7% and Paul Ryan fifth with 6% of the vote as they rounded out the top five.

The CPAC ballot consisted of the usual suspects of conservative thought. Reviewing the list from a liberal eye one could not help noting that only two or three of the 23 candidates stray from hard right conservatism, shut down in the 2012 election cycle.

The runners

NH Senator Kelly Ayotte
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback
Neurosurgeon Ben Carson
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz
Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
Ohio Governor John Kasich
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin
Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul
Indiana Governor Mike Pence
Texas Governor Rick Perry
Ohio Senator Rob Portman
Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott
South Dakota U.S. Senator John Thune
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker

Sarah Palin came in 10th, with 3% of the vote with the remaining 13 contenders getting a combined 14% of the vote.

The five women in the field brought in a cumulative 7% percent of the total vote.

Let’s look at 2010, the same 36 months before the 2012 election and Ron Paul was the winner. George Allen won in 2006 and Steve Forbes 36 months before the 2000 election in 1998. Other conservative winners in the past 20 years have been Jack Kemp, Phil Gramm and Gary Bauer, proving that who is in the lead 36 months before primary season historically stands no chance of staying strong in the front stretch run at the nomination.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.

 

 


Rand Paul Drone Drone Misses Point

Senate Republicans Present Alternative 2013 Budget Proposal

The Rand Paul filibuster about drones boiled down to a simple question…whether the White House believed it had the authority to kill Americans on U.S. soil using an unmanned drone.

Drones are a hot topic for Libertarians, as well as for conservatives whose goal is to make Obama look bad, no matter the cost. To that end Rand Paul spent 12 hours pandering to that libertarian itch. The paranoia that, if we are using armed drones against targets in Pakistan against terrorists, we must certainly be thinking about using them on US soil against terrorists…or maybe Jane Fonda. Logic leaping should be an Olympic sport.

But let’s look at what the subject really is in its most simple form…drone attacks on US soil [Paul’s phrase]. Since the “targets” of such an attack are somewhat nebulous…are they terrorists, protesters, militia, Jane Fonda…let’s look at the hypothetical by looking at the process and see where Rand Paul’s question fails simple critical thinking.

Just how would this attack happen? Bad guy identified, located and target acquired. From this point a policy would trigger an attack by the unmanned, armed drone and – done. That’s pretty simple on the surface but let’s look deeper.

First, the drone weapons’ system is not “unmanned”, though the drone itself is. The personnel flying the drone are certainly alive…and the decision making is certainly human. BUT…why would anyone chose a drone to task against bad guys in the United States? We use drones in places where we don’t want to put boots on the ground, where we don’t want to overfly. We use drones because we don’t want to risk our troops or other personnel. Those conditions do not exist on the soil of the United States. We have civilian law enforcement, we have due process, we have scores of ways to ARREST bad guys here in the US…there is no logic to stand-off attack with a military weapon.

Today I looked up while going to lunch to see a pair of Apache helicopters flying from Bluegrass Airport to Lexington Bluegrass Army Depot for electronics and toy installation. Hmmm… armed Apaches, with 30mm depleted uranium chain guns and pods for multiple air-to-surface missiles such as the AGM-114 Hellfire missile.

Then I thought about the thousands of F14, F15, F16, F18, A10, F22, B2 and B52 that fly over US skies each and every day, for the last sixty years…and most are fully armed as they have to be ready to go to hot conditions at any moment. We have platforms, on both aircraft and ships that can launch a tomahawk cruise missile from up to 1300 miles away.

Then I look a bit back in history, during the cold war. We had nuclear armed B52, B58, B1 flying at each and every moment, ready to air-fuel and go to the Soviet Union or China or where ever the threat was. We even have permanently deposited nuclear bombs on the soil of America thanks to accidents in the 1960s involving B52s and B58s and their nuclear payloads.

The point…there is absolutely zero difference in POLICY in use of a drone than use of any one of the other, many military assets from the past 100 years. The reason it is not done is because it is against the Constitution, against every military doctrine in US military history, and against the many laws in place that keep military assets from civilian use.

Each and every president has had a “theoretical opportunity” to use military assets against civilians. And Paul should know that. But he doesn’t…or just wants to expose his paranoia to the world that drones are somehow different, or that he doesn’t trust the system of government which he spent $8,000,000 joining.

The assertions made by Paul that we would suddenly use drones against US citizens is based on the partisan premise that somehow THIS president is different than all other presidents who have had the same set of powers, the same options. Yet nothing Obama has done has even remotely proven that premise.

Put simply…Rand Paul tried to raise an argument for which there is not a reality. The concepts about which he worries have been present for decades, just not the shiny bauble of a drone that is currently so upsetting to many of his followers.

So the question was asked and the question was answered…all without the fundamental reality that the policies of drones, or any other military asset, and killing of US citizens on US soil have been around for years…decades. It is really simple but it does require critical thinking skills. Pandering to your base – not so much.
rand militia 1Rand Paul at 2010 Kentucky Gun Rights Rally with the Ohio Valley Freedom Fighters Militia
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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst.

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.


The Hunt for Ex-LAPD Cop…Release the Drones

UN-US-Drone Killings

The manhunt for fired LAPD cop and LL Cool J doppelganger Christopher Dorner has taken several hard turns in just one week. After seeing two civilians killed and policemen ambushed with one killed, tensions were tight as the LAPD ruthlessly attacked two women delivering newspapers while driving a blue Toyota Tocoma pickup truck that “matched” the description of Dorner in his gray Nissan Titan. At about the same time, a few miles away they also attacked another civilian [Caucasian this time] who was fired upon and his truck rammed.

Dorner’s truck was found burned in Big Bear, eighty miles east of LA which moved the manhunt to the mountainous area. Then it snowed…a pile. The risk to officers tracking Dorner in the mountains, in the snow would be arduous at best…and with a person trained in survival and weapons being tracked…the danger escalates.

“We are using all the tools at our disposal.” was the first clue that drones would be used when Riverside Police Chief Sergio Diaz pointed to his available resources. The US Customs and Border patrol had been listed as part of the task force put in motion to catch Dorner. And the Customs and Border Patrol use drones. Often.

This case is not the first time drones will have been used in police work. In June 2011, in North Dakota a county sheriff was hunting three men, possibly armed, in connection with missing cows. With so much land to cover he called in a favor at Grand Forks Air Force Base and “borrowed” one of their drones. It was the first time a Predator had been involved in the arrest of U.S. citizens and the use of the drone has been ruled admissible. Also, Mesa County Colorado has been using them to map crime scenes, to forward observe police raids and to hunt for lost hikers.

Drones have over the past few years received a bad reputation…in war zones they have been used in the place of manned aircraft to scout, observe and to take out targets including many top level Al Qaeda operatives. The controversy went to 11 with a Department of Justice white paper that, if you only read the blogsphere headlines would suggest that President Obama OKed drone attacks on US citizens…ANY US citizen. That was just political spin…the reality was much more specific and narrow. The white paper set forth the legal framework for lethal operations directed against a US citizen who is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or an associated force. In other words…if a US citizen went rogue and joined Al Qaeda on foreign soil to harm America…THEN he would be a potential target. “Bob” in Cincinnati, who spends his time railing against America on the internet doesn’t have anything to worry about.

And back to drones. We think of drones as the most visible of the unmanned aerial vehicles [UAV] – the Predator or Reaper drones, laden with a pair of Hellfire air to ground missiles which have 20 pounds of explosives. But drones are much more than that. They are everything from handheld remote control airplanes with camera on them to the 130 ft wingspan Global Hawk…a research craft that can fly, by itself from Edwards Air Force Base in California to Australia with no refueling, no pilot inputs.

What the drones possess that is relevant to the Christopher Dorner manhunt is the sensor package…the eyes aboard the drones. The Gorgon Stare sensor package is one such tool. It can surveil an area 2½ miles across from 12 angles at once; its field of view swallows entire cities. ARGUS is another sensor platform that can pick out an object 6 in. long from 20,000 ft.

Specifically to the Dorner manhunt…drones, likely the Predator drones WITHOUT weapons will fly the area where Dorner is thought to be. It can quickly narrow down which vacation homes have warm bodies in them with its heat sensing IR sensors, it can sweep vast areas and look for anomalies, no different than looking for lost boy scouts…seeing people where they aren’t expected. And, unlike helicopters that normally do this, the drones can see through clouds, at night, loitering up to 40 hours without having to land.

Drones will become more and more of a common feature of law enforcement. They will do the jobs that pilots in helicopters do now, that pilots in fixed wing aircraft do now. Loiter and observe…but with one difference. Drones can carry sophisticated equipment that does things people can’t, see in spectra that people can’t. And everything they do is controlled by humans…so the fear that “machines” are taking over is flawed…they enhance human intelligence gathering. No more or less.

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst

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Ditch Mitch 2014 – Buckle Up, Buttercup, Kentucky Goes All Out

Song birds are the sweetest – In Kentucky;
The thoroughbreds the fleetest – In Kentucky;
Mountains tower proudest,
Thunder peals the loudest,
The landscape is the grandest – and
Politics – the damnedest
    In Kentucky.

United we stand

It’s the first week in February…sixteen months until the 2014 Kentucky primary election where 70 year old Mitch McConnell will face his most formidable field since he first won back in 1984 with this ad which skewered incumbent Dee Huddleston’s many absences and paid speaking fees.

From the left is coming a potential game changing candidate…proud Progressive, native daughter Ashley Judd. With her comes the ability to raise mountains of money that will be necessary to counter McConnell’s war chest. She also would give a very clear differential from McConnell, something many of the Blue Dog Democrats in this state are not able to do.

Ashley2

And sixteen months before the primaries…out of state PACs, led by Karl “Meltdown” Rove’s American Crossroads PAC. He thinks this advertisement is a slander to Judd…nope, it helps differentiate her from hardened, obfuscating politicians, she is willing to speak her mind.

But before Mitch can look toward the general election, for the first time in nearly 30 years he faces challenges from his own party…well, from Tea Party activists, a party that is afraid to come out from behind of the GOP coat-tails. And they might have help…some funding from Democrats who want to soften up McConnell in the primaries. It is a risky strategy as it was Tea Party support that put Rand Paul in the Senate two years ago.

mitch mcconnell

It is going to be a long, yet entertaining sixteen months.

But it is not over…the Ditch Mitch campaign is just half the story.  From the other side…way far on the fringe [no…further] we have Rand Paul, himself a creature who rode into politics on his father’s coat-tails. But he did win with Tea Party support and awkwardly has become one of the voices of the fringe right, of Tea Party obstructionism. His impassioned speeches in the Senate, lamenting the lack of choice in light bulbs or real man flushing toilets are legend. I guess he had not heard of the American Standard Champion 4 – able to flush a bucket of golf balls.

And now, it seems he wants to be President…bearer of the Tea Party banner for small government, well except his previous Medicare and Medicaid billings and his in-laws’ use of federal subsidies on their farm.

Senate Republicans Present Alternative 2013 Budget Proposal
Without heels I am this tall

Today, at a Heritage Foundation speech, planned to de-stigmatize his many views he took that ever important first step in Republican politics…he compared himself to Ronald Reagan. Yes, that Ronald Reagan who raised taxes after lowering them, who ran up trillions of dollars in deficits, who built a 600 ship Navy…who was the antithesis  of small government. So the journey begins, the pre-pre-pre-exploratory committee announcement with Bill O’Reilly.

So buckle up, Buttercup…the next four years are going to be All Kentucky, All the Time.

The dove’s notes are the saddest – In Kentucky;
The streams dance on the gladdest – In Kentucky;
Hip pockets are the thickest,
Pistol hands the slickest,
The cylinder turns quickest
  In Kentucky.

 

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McAllister is a life long liberal, environmentalist, Eagle Scout, and even gun owner – born in Harlan, Kentucky and has lived in Southern California, New York City and now resided in Lexington, Kentucky as a Systems Analyst

You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.

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