Category Archives: Politics

And The Verdict Is…

120603-dawson-hmed-8a.380;380;7;70

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.

to-kill-a-mockingbird
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.
grayscale
And yet again we go to interpretation…And more often than not we wear tinted glasses.

summertime___janis_joplin_by_yorkey_sa

___________________________________________________

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.

Advertisements

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

______________________________________________________________

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.


Ashley Judd Scratched from Senate Race

Ashley2

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.

alison-grimes2k

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

__________________________________________________

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.


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.

__________________________________

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
___________________________________________

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.

___________________________

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

//


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.

 

________________________________

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.

//


Boy Scouts Change Policies Against Gays

Early next week, 102 years after the beginning of the Boy Scouts of America, the National Council is expected to announce that it will allow gay Scouts and troop leaders. This is a 180 degree turn from their 30 years of active opposition to gays in scouting. “The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue,” BSA spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement to USA TODAY.

In 2010 the Boy Scouts of America reached its 100th Anniversary. It should have been a time of unified celebration. It should have been a time to look at all the good that the organization had achieved. But it was not. Politics and evangelical religion had come into the scouting movement over the past 30 years and the BSA had not learned that simple law of physics…for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

In 2010, at the National Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia, scouts openly booed the President as he gave his address to the scouts by video. Neither they nor their leaders were held responsible for this lack of leadership, this lack of common respect. Those on the political right defended the booing by saying that President Obama didn’t come to the Jamboree and speak to the scouts in person. I attended three Jamborees, the 1967 World Jamboree in Idaho, the 1969 National Jamboree in Idaho and the 1973 National Jamboree in Pennsylvania and we never once had a President speak. So I checked…Truman, Johnson, Bush1, Clinton and Bush2 attended Jamborees. Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Carter, or Reagan did not [Bush2 only attended one of the two during his term]. Only one president was booed…politics won.

At the same time, during scouting’s 100th Anniversary, the push from the National Council to prohibit gays from being members or being leaders, whether men in the Boy Scouts or women in the Cub Scouts reached national attention. It began in 1980, about the time the Reagan conservative movement came to national presence. Openly gay men were denied the right to be leaders. In 1991 they issued their first position statement on the subject. Over the years they fine-tuned their bias against gays in each policy statement on the subject. In 2001, Eagle Scout Steven Spielberg resigned as a board member rather than tacitly support their policies. “The last few years in scouting have deeply saddened me to see the Boy Scouts of America actively and publicly participating in discrimination. It’s a real shame,” Spielberg said from a prepared statement.

In 2009 the Boy Scouts of America were introduced to social media and Jennifer Tyrrell, an Ohio mom who was pack leader for her son’s Cub Scout pack. She was also openly gay. While the local council didn’t object, the National Council did. And scouting erupted with its first nation-wide protest against the BSA policy. 336,000 people signed her change.org petition and on social media she was supported by hundreds of thousands.

The Boy Scouts of America stood firm…at least in public. But behind the scenes at the BSA National Executive Board, members James Turley, CEO of Ernst & Young, and Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T who is “on track to become president of the Scout’s national board in 2014”, opposed the policy and stated their intention “to work from within the BSA Board to actively encourage dialogue and sustainable progress” in changing the policy.

During this same period of celebration, the 100th Anniversary of the Eagle Scout in 2012, thousands of Eagle Scouts, the pride of the Boy Scouts of America began to protest, began to get together and stand up to scouting bias and hate. Whether gay or straight, many Eagles returned their badges to the National Council clearing stating that the Boy Scouts were wrong in their policies, were wrong to hate, were wrong to be biased.

 

2010-2012 were supposed to be two of the best years in scouting. They turned out to be the worst. And they were because the Boy Scouts of America had turned its back on its mission. Yes, it is a private organization which is allowed to make any policies it wishes. But it also is a private organization that cannot be tone-deaf to society, it cannot, by its own Scout Laws and Oath be an organization of bigotry and hate. In that, it has had a catastrophic failure in leadership.

In another hit to the Boy Scouts, they were compelled, in 2012 to release over 20,000 files on leaders and incidents of sexual or inappropriate conduct with boys.

The fallout against the Boy Scouts of America has been long in coming but building yearly.  Membership is down 47% in the Cub Scouts and 20% in the Boy Scouts. Volunteers have raised questions that there are allegations that the National Council and some local councils have been fudging the numbers to trick donors. “Volunteers say paid Scout leaders have created fictitious “ghost units” for years to pump up membership numbers to trick donor groups and charities, including the United Way, into giving them more money.”

UPS has joined Intel in dropping funding to the Boy Scouts as their policies conflict with the norms and mores of the corporate world and society. They join the thousands of former Boy Scouts, Eagle Scouts and volunteers who have walked away from supporting the organization as long as they maintained their policies of bias and hate. And it is these volunteers that are the backbone of the Boy Scouts. Without them and their support the Boy Scouts will continue to lose funding, lose volunteers, and most important lose membership.

I attained Eagle Scout in 1970; I attended National Jamborees in Idaho and Pennsylvania, a World Jamboree in Idaho and was prepared to be staff at the 1979 World Jamboree in Iran which was cancelled. I hiked thousands of miles with the Boy Scouts in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Idaho, California, Washington, Colorado and New Mexico at the Philmont Scout Reservation – where I was introduced to a rattlesnake and got my first helicopter ride to the emergency room. I sat beside my uncle who was Camp Director at a camp in Tennessee before I was old enough to join the scouts and I was taught by scout leaders in Southeast Kentucky who had fought in Anzio, Normandy and Korea. They taught me to be strong and to be a leader. They also taught me to do what was right and stand up against what was wrong.

 

Teaching what is right and what is honorable are what has been missing for the past couple of decades in scouting. It will be good to get them back. The kids of this country can use the help.

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. His grandfathers helped organize the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky and his father was a career long butcher and union representative.
You can read more of McAllister’s observations and opinions at Shoot From the Left Hip.

//


Trickle Down Economics…The Trickle Hits Home

We have, as a nation the discussion that surrounds economic principles.  The perception is that there are two sides…those who want to starve the nation with low taxes and small government at the expense of services and infrastructure AND, on the other side a group that wants to tax at will, providing services to everyone, no questions asked.

I have found, while digging through this conversation for a couple of decades that neither side really exists, except on the fringes of our political landscape.  It is easy to talk in hyperbola about those you oppose, the examples are usually just too good to resist.  But it doesn’t solve the problems.

When talking to those who want low taxes, small government I always ask one question…“What services and infrastructure are YOU willing to give up?”  The response is usually stone silence.  They are more than willing to make a detailed list of services that OTHERS should give up…but never any that they use.

So the conversation moved to “Trickle Down”.  It started as an economic philosophy in the early 1980s…cut taxes for those at the top and they will invest in the businesses of America which will create jobs, create wealth and create opportunities that would “trickle down” to everyone else.  History shows that, while looking good on paper the reality doesn’t reflect success of those goals.

But “trickle down” has another meaning that has manifested itself from years of low federal taxes…the trickle down to states and local governments…That for which they maintained responsibility is now being slowly [and sometimes not so slowly] choked to death because funds from the federal government are no longer easily available to those states and local governments.

The examples are nearly endless but let’s look at some close to home.  In my home county of Harlan, Kentucky the cuts in services are down to the very basics…they can’t buy police cruisers, they can’t bug spray their buildings, they can’t repair roads where slides have occurred, they can’t support their parks with the most basic of essentials…sanitary facilities and in at least one case they can’t even keep the phone for the Mayor’s office connected.

In districts throughout the country small volunteer fire departments are closing, cutting hours and working with broken equipment as they address one of the most fundamental obligations of a civilized government…fire protection.

But it is not just the small towns, the out of the way communities void of lush tax bases to help fund their infrastructure.  The problem is everywhere and it is growing.  Towns like Pontiac, Michigan have closed their police departments, relying on surrounding towns and the State Police to pick up the slack for basic police protection in that 60,000 population city. When you need 911…the waits can be nearly an hour.  Thank goodness 911 isn’t for emergencies.

In my own town of 300,000 and a very good economy [and a good stream of tax revenue] we are seeing the beginnings of reductions in service.  Fire coverage is affected by “brownouts”, the closing of some stations intermittently to save money.  Police do more with less…with police districts of 135,000 population patrolled by under 15 patrolmen.  It means fewer eyes to protect and serve.  They are further hampered by state laws which are intended to cutting prison and jail costs…the unintended consequence – if someone is caught stealing from cars, and the amount is under $500 value…they don’t get arrested, just a ticket.  The cities have little choice but to hope the thief learns his lesson with a fine – or as big businesses call fines…a cost of doing business.

Back to that question “what services and infrastructure are YOU willing to give up?”…the answer appears to be that we don’t have a choice, they are going to be cut, and we will have to give them up as if there was not an alternative.

But there is an alternative…but it will never be achieved as long as dogma replaces understanding of economic principles. It will never be achieved as long as folks don’t learn from history.

Let’s all just hope that when seconds count that volunteer fire department, or the large city fire department or ambulance is not minutes away.

//


The Year in Politics and Sports

2012 had the distinction of being, it seemed a year where the worlds of politics and sports collided. While both keep score, they are normally isolated from each other, unless Congress decides to get into steroid use or corruption of the integrity of some favorite pastime or some sports star decides that his sports skills translate well in the body politic.

First, a look at the dead and wounded in the world of politics. We lost a mountain of political heavyweights this past year, from Watergate’s Charles Colson to political leaders George McGovern, Daniel Inouye, Warren Rudman, and Arlen Spector. Those who triggered political changes included Robert Bork – one of the first major Supreme Court nominee challenges, Rodney King who put a face on police violence and Philip Vannater who, at the OJ trail brought sloppy police procedures to the spotlight. The interactions of the political world were observed for us by titans Mike Wallace and Gore Vidal along with the often truth-free Andrew Breitbart. And of course, from America’s shadow government of the 2000s – President Bartlet’s secretary…Mrs. Landingham — Kathryn Joosten.

Wounded, by circumstances both external and self inflected…the Tea Party. From their cheers to the question “Let him die” during the Republican primary debates to the rejection of Tea Party candidates throughout the Republican race. Michelle Bachmann, Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Allen West. And with Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks only winning 24% of  their Tea Party backed candidates their $40Million investment failed. Doubling down on Armey was Karl Rove, whose American Crossroads PAC spent $390Million in the 2012 election…and the only thing to show for it was a live broadcast meltdown at his safe harbor, FoxNews on election night.

Even more telling, due to the realities of the 21st Century both tax Scrooge Grover Norquest and the leadership of the NRA are facing extreme political pushback from their core political supporters, unheard of even six months ago.

And of course the choice of the Republican Party…Mitt Romney whose tone-deft campaign, isolating and insulting nearly every constituency except affluent white voters came up with just 47%…ironically the same percentage number of Americans he insulted when he thought there were no cameras. That loss, made much more acute by fatally flawed echo chamber predictions that he would win, no matter what the rest of the political world was predicting.

It seemed this year that the national stage and its ever present political shadow overwhelmed much of the news. The Presidential election, and Barrack Obama’s second presidential victory may have been THE story of the year but violence in America, and more specifically in public places caused an endless staccato drumbeat of breaking news, each story fracturing the public psyche more than the last. Mass shootings in restaurants and cafes, at the workplace and home, in churches and temples, at malls and hospitals, theaters and finally the catalyst that brought the frustration of a nation to a boil…our schools. Oh, and over 500 have been killed by murder just in Chicago…and we only know the name Nathaniel T. Jackson because he was the ceremonial murder Number 500, killed two weeks after the shootings at Sandy Hook.

But the world is not just politics…sports had an outstanding run in 2012. Eli Manning and the New York Giants beat Bill Belichick’s hoodie and the NE Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI – where the Roman numerals make it important and we saw the bearded San Francisco Giants sweep the World Series. In tennis we watched the retirement of Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters, swimming saw Michael Phelps and his cache of medals on his last podium, Pat Summitt and Jim Calhoun retired from coaching, and seven-time Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher retired for the second time. But maybe what we remember most was Lance Armstrong having the titles taken away for his seven consecutive Tours de France and Bob Costas, just 12 days before Sandy Hook using his Sunday Night Football halftime slot addressing the murder/suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher and the culture of guns.

Also this year we watched Queen Elizabeth II and James Bond ‘chute into the extremely successful London Olympics, no matter the negative professional assessment of Mitt Romney. We watched the United States win 104 medals, we watched McKayla Maroney not be impressed and we watched most all of the London Olympics in time delay to make the broadcast for convenient for NBC’s ratings and so we could listen to the ever rambling Bob Costas fill time as they skipped through the parts not involving Americans.  Most of the American audience was with McKayla…we were not impressed with NBC.

In Kentucky sports and politics collided this year. Republican Lt. Governor candidate Richie Farmer, formally University of Kentucky Wildcat “Unforgettable” lost the election, his unemployment claim after his term as Agriculture Commissioner expired, his wife and his house. Only his mustache seems to have survived.  And in other news of the Big Blue Nation…UK won its eighth NCAA National Championship and put six members of the championship team in the NBA Draft, including Numbers 1 and 2. Also, UK superfan and sometimes actress and wife of three time Indianapolis 500 and four time Indycar champion Dario Franchitti Ashley Judd is being considered to run for the US Senate in 2014 against 30 year Senate veteran Mitch McConnell.

At the end of the year there is the Budget Bowl, in sudden death overtime with 4th and long and it looks like Congress and the President are executing their versions of a goal-line defense, each running often seen plays, the Xs and Os familiar to everyone who has watched either politics or Wile E. Coyote.  But I am not sure they realize the folks in the stands are not cheering…except for an occasional, but ever growing Bronx cheer.

2013 looks to be anything but boring. Tebow that it is better than 2012.

//