Thursday, February 14, 2019

815. Mayday, mayday! It's a National Emergency!

Jeff Noble
 
I'm enjoying the glee with which my "conservative" friends are celebrating the president's declaration of a National Emergency to spend billions of dollars that he first promised Mexico would pay for and then couldn't get the Congress, including members of his own party, to buy into. So he's declaring a National Emergency to build his wall, something I told my friend Paul Schmidt I fully expected him to do when he didn't get his way with Mexico or the Congress. This will be the fourth National Emergency he's declared. We're presently living under 28 others besides his three, 12 of Obama's, 13 of W's, and some dating back as far as the Carter presidency. 

Under such an "Emergency," there are some 123 statutory powers the president can use to address the "Emergency." The one distinguishing difference between all 31 of the current "Emergencies" and this new one the president is proposing is none of them spend any money which hasn't already been appropriated by the Congress, something required by the United States Constitution - see Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 of America's Bible on that matter. The president's plan is to expand Executive powers and usurp the fiduciary authority of the Congress by spending money which hasn't been duly appropriated. Hell, we don't even have it.

Under the current "conservative" president, tax revenues are flat, spending is up 9.6%, the deficit has risen 41%, and the National Debt has grown by $2,000,000,000,000.00. That has to be a "conservative" record. So while my "conservative" friends are celebrating this "conservative" victory, the smart thing for the Democrats to do is back off and let him do it.

There will come a day that a National Emergency will arise over climate change or gun violence or our crumbling infrastructure or the opioid crisis, the latter two something the president has promised to address but hasn't, and as long as there is a Democrat in the White House it won't matter if Mitch is still the Majority Leader. We'll have President Trump's precedent of expanding Executive Powers and usurping the fiduciary authority of Congress as established by this current "National Emergency." We should let him do exactly what he wants to do which, to be honest, is one more brick in the wall of destroying both the United States Constitution and the Republic in general.

And the "conservatives" rejoice at this destruction.

Friday, January 4, 2019

814. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposes first conservative fiscal policy in decades to the Congress

By 1981, America had built an interstate system across most of America, we had created a GI bill that allowed a lot of men and later women to go to college and then buy their first homes, and we had sent several men to the Moon and returned them home safely, and we had done all of it while keeping the national debt under One Trillion Dollars, and a Debt-to-GNP at one of its lowest points since the Great Depression. We were the envy of the world and rightly so. When Ronald Reagan described us as the "city shining on the hill," he had every right to do so.
Unfortunately, by that time, he had already set in motion the downfall of America, the fiscal course we're still following. Reagan began, and every one of his successors in office have followed, a series of lowering taxes, Let me point out here that the largest the federal government has ever been ever was under President Reagan. Please, go look it up. A few presidents, including Reagan, also raised taxes. In fact, Reagan raised taxes more than any other president in my lifetime. Please, go look that up too. But overall, Reagan and all of the presidents who have followed him in office have lowered the federal taxes that Americans paid and the end result is we are no longer the "city shining on the hill." We have crumbling bridges and highways. Veterans can hardly get a room at the VA, much less a decent loan to go to college or buy a home. And the debt, which tripled under Reagan, doubled under W, doubled again under Obama, and had added over $2T since Trump took office seems out of reach of ever being paid off. Does that mean we should just say "It'll never be paid off so why worry about it?"
That seems to have been the attitude of almost everyone for a long time although if you know me, I am not among that group of people and never have been. I believe Americans owe it to America to pay off the debt which was created by the governments they voted into office which created it. We are a republican form of government so to say "the debt isn't mine" is to essentially say, "I'm a shirker and screw my creditors." That's what we've been doing as a Republic since Reagan first allowed the national debt to almost triple. One final note on when this all began, back in 1981. At the time, the highest tax bracket for someone "Married Filing Jointly" and making "$215,400.00" was 70% on everything over that amount. 70%. 70% on everything over $215,400.00. In today's dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that would be $595,007.01. (I can only think of maybe four or five of my readers that this might possibly apply to).
Today's news and a lot of Facebook posts have been filled with that 70% number. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents New York's 14th Congressional District, today proposed a 70% Tax Rate on the nation's wealthiest people to begin addressing the debt and paying for other programs. Imagine that, a member of Congress responsible enough to suggest we find a way to 1) get out of debt and 2) actually pay for what we spend with our own money. (I'll note here that she is a cum laude graduate of Boston University majoring in International Relations and minoring in Economics). But let me repeat my last line - "Imagine that, a member of Congress responsible enough to suggest we find a way to 1) get out of debt and 2) actually pay for what we spend with our own money." You would think that such a policy would have conservatives jumping for joy. Finally a level-headed fiscal policy coming out of the mouth of a Washington politician. Spending our own money instead of borrowing it from China. What a novel idea.
Instead, conservative, Republicans, old white men, and, frankly, a lot of Democrats are up in arms at "such a crazy idea." They're calling her a socialist. She claims to be a Democratic-Socialist which is something altogether different but most of these people don't care about the difference and are too educationally lazy to find out what it is. We finally have someone in Congress who wants to address the economic woes of the Republic, woes wholly created before she arrived (which was yesterday), and the world goes mad.
Here's a thought. She's 29. She'll be 30 in October of this year. Her generation and the one following will have to live and pay the debt created by the three generations of American politicians who preceded her. And who is yelling foul the most? Those same people. Those same exact people. Either they are for fiscal management or they aren't. Since we are $21,000,000,000,000.00 in debt under their watch, it is clear where they stand.
Good work, Congresswoman. Finally a voice of reason.

Monday, December 24, 2018

813. An Open Letter to My Fellow Democrats on Marijuana

2019 General Assembly - Hemp - Marijuana
:

Friends --

The voters of Kentucky made one thing clear in November.  The Pension Crisis wasn't enough to turn out Republican legislators at the ballot box.  While the entire nation had a good night for Democrats, we in Kentucky quite honestly only did so in very few places.  For that we should be thrilled as we are sending some excellent new folks to the General Assembly, new blood, new ideas, new perspectives.  But we're already behind after this foolish Special Session.  The main reason given by GOP members in the House for its failure was the differences in this bill from that of SB151 in the 2018 Regular Session.  Jerry Miller and his pals will be back with SB151 as soon as they are able in the upcoming session.  Do we have a plan or are we just opposed to theirs?  The governor has moved money into the pensions by cutting services elsewhere and raising taxes which mostly affect working class people. If we are going to counter that, we had better have a plan that isn't just opposition to theirs and provides some stream of revenue that can be directed to the pensions.

As all of you know, a generation ago, Gatewood Galbraith started a movement to legalize hemp and marijuana in Kentucky. I voted for Gatewood twice, in 1983 for Ag Commissioner against David Boswell and again in 1991 against Brereton Jones for governor.  He ran last in both primaries but I'm still proud of those votes.  Gatewood's movement has finally come to fruition all these years later.  The problem for us is the Republicans, for the moment, own the matter.  Senator Mitch McConnell got himself onto the committee writing the final farm bill for the sole purpose of inserting hemp language and then made sure it got passed in Washington. When the president signed the bill two days ago, before the close of business on that same day, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles submitted the necessary paperwork to the federal Department of Agriculture (USDA), which the bill requires, for Kentucky to begin its program.  He already had the program in place waiting for the president's signature, making Kentucky the first state in the Republic to apply for USDA approval of its hemp program.

My point?  The Democrats in the General Assembly and those running for governor, and any other leaders of the State Democratic Party, better get on board quickly, as in by the end of the year and certainly by the gaveling in of the new Session, on this issue and push the envelope much further, to full legalization.  We're not winning with the Pension issue.  But we can if we have a revenue stream.  We can if we have an issue.  Right now the GOP owns the hemp issue.  McConnell created it just as he did the Tobacco Buyout Program in 2004 cementing the votes and support of tobacco planters and sellers throughout the Commonwealth. We cannot wait or McConnell and Quarles will completely own this issue by January.  Hemp is here.  Recreational marijuana is not.  

A lawyer friend of mine originally from Shelbyville offered me this quote earlier today.  He said, "I can see this Fancy Farm line: "You're right Governor, marijuana is illegal today.  And you're also right that I wouldn't want my child to use it today.  But I'll tell you what.  I'd rather be high on an illegal substance than have a first term mired by illegal bills, low approval ratings, and no substance."  If we want to capture the imagination and votes of both younger Kentuckians for whom this is a no-brainer and older Kentuckians who may see this as an alternative to expensive medicine, push the envelope.  Hemp is here and Trump, McConnell, and Quarles own the issue.  Recreational marijuana, properly controlled and taxed, is out there on the horizon waiting for Kentucky Democrats to reach out and make it theirs.  Don't wait. 

Jeff Noble
Kentucky Democratic Party State Central Executive Committee 
At-Large member

Sunday, November 25, 2018

812. Posting to be posting and a bit about the Election with a promise of more to come.

I keep promising to get back to the blog - but I haven't.  But I feel I should post something just to say "This is mine, Jeff's blog," in much the same tone as Hamlet did in Act V when he proclaimed " This is I, Hamlet the Dane."  Of course, everyone died after that but that is immaterial.  I grow concerned that someone will jump in here and claim my work if I don't go back to it now and again.  Thus entry #812 is just that - going back to it every now and again.

I'll be back soon.  I want to discuss much more fully the work the Yarmuth for Congress Campaign did in certain parts of the Third Congressional District in this last election earlier this month.  I had handled a schematic to follow and from that schematic devised a field plan which I believe was very well executed.  However, we won't really know that until the voters who actually voted are recorded, or dumped as we say, into the Votebuilder system.

At that point we can see if the people we talked to in the 7th and 17th Metro Council Districts, the 29th, 32nd, 33rd, 37th, and 48th House Districts, and the 20th, 26th, and 36th Senate District, actually turned out to vote.  We know that some of the people running in districts where we walked won their districts and some won their district within the 3rd Congressional District but lost elsewhere. 

As I said, I want to discuss this more fully as I believe it was a well designed plan and credit is owed to a number of people.

Until then, Happy Belated Thanksgiving.

P. S.  If you are reading, please let me know by leaving a comment.  Thanks.  jtn

Monday, July 16, 2018

811. Betrayal.



July 16, 2018 will be recorded in the history books of future decades as the day an American president betrayed the 61,000,000 people who voted for him and the 74,000,000 who didn't, and every other American, by telling the president of Russia that he favors and believes him, a tyrant and dictator, over our own American intelligence and military agencies. It's an incredible day; the day the music died.

Friday, June 22, 2018

810. NPR and Soybean Futures

I listen to NPR News because I believe it has an intellectual bias I don't find elsewhere. Nonetheless I chuckled as I listened earlier to a report on the Chinese tariffs retaliation and the journalist trying to sound fully knowledgeable on "soybean futures." 

I do not remember "soybean futures" being mentioned on NPR in the past. It made me think of Barney Arnold and Jack Crowner and those early morning reports on the radio when I was a little kid.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

809. Summer Solstice, 2018

About ten hours from now, at 6:07 a.m. tomorrow morning, we will pass one of those cardinal points on our annual journey around our personal star, the Sun. The Summer Solstice marks the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. In Louisville the period between sunrise and sunset will be 14 hours, 49 minutes, and 48 seconds, the longest day of the year. We're scheduled for some thunderstorms in between those two markers. 


Happy Solstice. 

I think it calls for naked dancing or something.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

808. A little journey - figure it out.

So here was the path having left from my mother's house. South Park Road, Louisville to KY1450W to KY1526W to I-65S to KY245N to KY61S to KY733S to US62E to N. 5th Street, Bardstown to KY1430E to US31E N to KY245S to US150E to BG Parkway E to KY555S (a note on this later) to KY433S (where I piddled around a bit in Mackville - they have a really cool old bank building) - to KY152E to KY442S (the narrow highway full of cattle farms) to KY1920S to the park.

Leaving the park on KY1920S to US150E (where I piddled around a bit in Perryville - I had come across a house for sale online a few weeks ago that I remembered and found it at 216 S. Bragg Street) to US68E to US127N to US127BYP N to US127N (these last two changes require no turns) to I-64W to US42E to US42W to US60W to the Noble Abode in Butchertown.

Friday, February 9, 2018

807. If you think the GOP is conservative, you're not paying attention.

U. S. Senator Rand Paul has shut down the government, not over DACA, but over deficits.

He said, "If you were against President Obama's deficits, and now you're for the Republican deficits, isn't that the very definition of hypocrisy?" This is the same guy who just voted in December to give the rich and the corporate a huge tax break adding immediately to the deficit and long term to the debt. He represents the very meaning of hypocrisy as does the entire GOP crowd these days.

They claim the mantle of evangelicals yet support a president who paid off a whore shortly after the birth of his fifth child by his third wife. And they claim to be conservatives and libertarians yet the tax cut they passed in 2017 mostly helps the rich and the corporate and will add debts for future generations in the same manner that the wars and destruction of the American economy including the automobile and banking industries of George Bush, Jr. were paid for by the excessive borrowing of Barack Obama.

If you remain a conservative, and it is fine if you do, you need to go and form a new party because the Republicans in Washington are in no way conservative. They are big government spenders, big government borrowers, and huge, huge hypocrites. All of you know I am a big government tax-and-spend liberal in the form and image of LBJ and Richard Nixon.I am not a centrist such as Bill or Hillary Clinton or what Barack Obama proved to be, nor am I a borrow-and-spend Republican in the form and image of Ronald Reagan, both George Bush's, and Donald Trump.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

806. Once in a Super Blue Full Moon with a Lunar Eclipse.

Once in a Super Blue Full Moon with a Lunar Eclipse.

Yeah, tomorrow morning's sky has it all, the triple header.

A super moon, the one when the moon is really close if 224,000 miles can be considered "really close" along with the Full Moon, the Snow Moon, arriving at 8:27 a.m. in the Eastern Time Zone, and since this is the second full moon in a calendar month, this is the Blue Moon that comes along "once in a Blue Moon." The last Blue Moon was July 31, 2015. The next one, however, will be two months from tomorrow so maybe they aren't that special after all. But the next one after that doesn't show up until Hallowe'en of 2020. I'll be 60 for that. The last time we had a Blue Moon on Hallowe'en I was 14. I think I remember that, I really do.

But on top of all this there will be a Lunar Eclipse just as the Moon is setting about the time the chickens are rising. At 5:51 a.m. Eastern Time look up and watch as the Moon enters Earth's penumbra (the lighter, outer part of its shadow). The penumbra slightly darkens the Moon, though only a little. It will touch the umbra, the darker part of the shadow which creates an eclipse beginning at 6:48 a.m. However, we'll miss the entire event as the Moon sets at 7:04 a.m.

All this early in the morning to start your Wednesday, end your January, and begin the campaign season in earnest here in Kentucky.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

805. Call the House, Call the Senate, and Call the Governor

Governor Bevin has managed to pit 70 groups of program supporters against the 69 others, and many of the 70 seem to have lost sight of the pension crisis. Yes, there are some really good programs he has proposed to cut, in fact almost all of them and a few, maybe three, that maybe should be done away with. 
I'm partial to some eastern Kentucky educational programs, particularly the Robinson Scholars as well as several based in Lexington such as the University Press, this one mostly because my great-grandmother Alice Colston Hockensmith (Miss Alice to you Frankfort people) gave me many books from the press growing up and I've continued her gifts with gifts of my own.

The Chaffee Program in Louisville is an important program on its own but is nostalgically important to me because it is housed where I went to register for school for the first time, the old South Park Elementary School in Fairdale. That's probably not a good reason but it caught my attention. The Agriculture Public Service Program, another UK item, takes me back to my freshman year as an Ag-Econ student. Cuts to the State Tree programs and aid to the local County Conservation Districts show a lack of concern about the environment for the future. There is a conservation district in each county except Logan which has two.

And closing down the cafeteria in the Annex should be grounds for impeachment.

So these programs all have supporters and good reasons for that support. And as the governor points out, they all cost money. And he says he is proposing these cuts to help fund the pension crisis shortcoming which up until his address last night was all most anyone was talking about when it came to budget items in Frankfort.

Thanks to this "list of 70" the governor slyly and intelligently has everyone talking about all kinds of other things they want to spend dollars on and at some point, according to his critics, he is going to say "well if you want this, you can't have that" and "that" is pension reform. To the less cynical and more hopeful (and while it may pit me against my fellow Democrats, I should be counted in this group), he may say "if you want 'this' and 'that' then you've got to raise taxes."

Now I don't know if Matt quite has the gumption to say the word "taxes" or not but I firmly believe that he knows to do both, or to do any true pension reform, taxes must be raised. And, his Medicaid strategy debacle notwithstanding, I believe he wants to correct the pension crisis one way or another. But if he has 70 groups of supporters calling on the 138 to save their program with no coinciding and coordinating call for a raise of revenue, he'll understandably choose to do one or the other, or worse yet, allow the 138 to do one or the other and not both. If your concern is about pensions, make the calls to your legislators (800-372-7181, 502-564-8100) and tell them. If your concern is about saving one of the list of 70, make the calls to your legislators (800-372-7181, 502-564-8100) and tell them. If your concern is about both, make the calls to your legislators (800-372-7181, 502-564-8100) and tell them we need more revenues. And in this latter case, after you have called your House member and your Senate member, call Governor Bevin at 502-564-2611 and tell him he needs to lead the call for revenue to lead the Commonwealth forward.

This isn't about Democratic or Republican strategy - it is about taking care of the Commonwealth.

Friday, January 5, 2018

804. A Facebook exchange on Governor Bevin's posts about economic activity in the Commonwealth.

This was Governor Bevin's picture, along with the following comment, posted yesterday:
2017 was an INCREDIBLE year for economic development in Kentucky, with each district in the Commonwealth seeing significant business investment.


My response to the governor's post was: 
Then why the massive cuts in revenue to the state? Shouldn't there be increases? You've been in office since 2015. Unemployment in Kentucky is currently up? Explain.

A Mr. Donald Meagher responded to my comment earlier this evening with: 
Jeff Noble why does government have to take and spend more just because there is potential for increased revenue? A smart person would pay down debt or save for a rainy day not commit the potential revenue out to new real debt. An heck if government ends up with a real sizable surplus why not let taxpayers of KY keep more of their pay?

I replied to Mr. Meagher with this:
Mr. Meagher, good question - deserves an answer. And you've misinterpreted my post. Did I mention spending more? You've implied that I have. Tell me where. I said that with the governor touting these good economic tidings, one would expect increases in our revenues, not cuts in our budgets. Again, tell me exactly where I called for increased spending? I didn't. You made that up. But let's address what you said that is important and not fabricated. Yes, we should pay down our debt. Our credit rating has been imperiled since the Pension Crisis began in 2001, which is the same year that the Democrats lost control of the Senate and had to start compromising to pass a budget. I do not know if that is a coincidence or not. It would be nice to have a "real sizable surplus" someday and maybe someday we will. But we also have needs - not extravagant needs, but simple basic needs. Let's take infrastructure, something the president talks about a lot but has done nothing to address. The governor's own Transportation Cabinet has declared that 4000 miles of Kentucky roadway need repairs, that there are 1000 Kentucky projects on the books that need finishing. The Federal Department of Transportation last year ranked 1100 of our Kentucky bridges, bridges that carry you and me and grandmothers to the grocery and grandchildren on buses to schools as "structurally deficient. We pay one of the lowest gas taxes around, currently below 26 cents a gallon. Ohio, a Republican ran state pays 28 cents; Indiana, another Republican ran state pays almost 42 cents. We're woefully underfunding our futures and our safety, and this is just in the area of transportation. You can up and down the line see the need for both more revenue and more spending. The governor knows this although I'm not sure the legislature does. I hope someday we can do just what you say - save some money, have both a good rainy day fund and a surplus - get our credit rating up there with Virginia's - ran by Democrats I might add - their's is AAA, our's is A+. I am hopeful that all these projects the governor keeps telling us about at some point are reflected in the Kentucky budget as increases in our revenues. As of yet they haven't been and that's what my post was about. Here's a prediction for you. I sincerely believe the governor wants to solve the pension crisis. He knows it cannot honestly be done without a tax increase. He also knows that the legislature won't raise taxes on anything. I think once we get past the filing deadline (January 30), you'll see the governor come out swinging for both the framework for pension reform, and after this November's elections a strong push for tax increases to begin the long process of funding the pensions. Remember where you heard this. If you're close to the governor, ask him.

It was a good night.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

803. Burrel Farnsley, 1946-2017

Burrel Farnsley's memorial service took place today at Christ Church Cathedral.

Burrel and I have been friends for decades. He has regaled me with many stories about his youth, his family ancestry, his father (and especially his time as mayor and his Friday afternoon Open Houses at City Hall), his ownership of the Schenck Mansion with Sandy Speer up in Vevay, unending theater talk, and lots of the history of the United States, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Episcopal Church. I was a natural pupil for his history lessons.

After his loss to John Yarmuth in the 2006 Democratic Primary, he came and volunteered at our campaign headquarters and somehow became my responsibility. He wanted to do a special Voter Registration Drive to prove a point on voter turnout. He chose two precincts in Smoketown, L111 and L112, and I created the voter lists for him. His goal was to knock on every door of those listed and if the person whose name appeared on the rolls was not the person who answered the door, then he would offer to register whoever answered. If no one answered he left them an already-stamped envelope with a voter registration card to be returned to our office so we could track the results.

I drove him over to the area around Shelby and Breckinridge streets most every day and dropped him off and picked him up later in the day. He'd have a handful of new registrants. We kept track of the all of new voters registered due to his efforts and sent them a letter ahead of the election encouraging them to vote. At the time both precincts voted at the old Presbyterian Community Center.

As it turned out, voter turnout was up, not significantly, but up, in both precincts. Once the voter rolls were updated, we could see that many of Burrel's new registrants were also new voters. His plan was a success.

Burrel and I continued our friendship through the years as his illnesses and demons began to take a toll on his body. He continued to call the office through October from various places, the last being a nursing home in Indiana. Unfortunately, I did not take the last of the calls he made to the office. I regret that now. 

May he rest in peace. O God, Grant to him eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon Burrel. May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Here is his obituary as posted in the Courier-Journal on January 2, 2018 by Legacy.com.

Burrel Charles Peaslee Farnsley, who was born on September 13, 1946, died on December 30, 2017. 

Burrel attended Atherton High School and he graduated from the Wooster School in Danbury, Connecticut. He also attended the University of Louisville. Burrel was a devoted Episcopalian and was a member of the Church of the Advent. He had also been a member of Calvary Episcopal Church. 

Burrel worked in the family's publishing business, the Lost Cause Press. A lifelong Democrat, he sought his party's nomination for mayor, Congress, and Senate. 

Burrel is survived by his brothers and sisters, Sally Bird of Arlington, VA, Ann of Vevay, IN, Alexander of San Diego, CA, and Douglass (Eliza), of Louisville, by his nieces and nephews, and by many friends. 

Burrel was predeceased by his parents, Charles and Nancy Farnsley. Charles Peaslee Farnsley was mayor of Louisville from 1948 to 1953. From 1965 to 1966, Mayor Farnsley was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Burrel was brilliant and will be missed by his family members and by his many friends. Burrel's family expresses their gratitude to the staff of Riverview Village for the outstanding care they provided during his final month. Visitation will be 4 - 7 PM Tuesday at Pearson's Funeral Home, 149 Breckenridge Lane. A Memorial Service will be 1 PM Wednesday at Christ Church Cathedral, 421 South Second Street.

Burrel's ashes will be buried in the Farnsley family lot at Cave Hill Cemetery. Pearson Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. In lieu, of flowers, memorials may be made to Calvary Episcopal Church or Christ Church Cathedral.

Monday, January 1, 2018

802. It's a new year and a full moon, and some other stuff. 2018 begins.

Fellow Moon Lovers, tonight's the night. The First Full Moon of 2018, a supermoon presently rising as a larger than usual orb in the eastern skies, occurs about three hours from now, at 9:24 p.m. E.S.T. It is known by some as the Wolf Moon for the sounds of wolves howling, communicating with each other on the cold lonesome nights of January. Find a fellow Moon Lover and do some howling! Tonight's the night!

I was prompted by a friend today to start posting more on the blog. Today's entry marks the eleventh anniversary of the blog so we are entering the twelfth year. At least for the next four and half months, it will be an interesting year due to politics. I'll explain in a subsequent post. 

For now, this is a start. Welcome back.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

801. The G20's Biggest Loser?

The G20 Summit is over. The biggest loser? America.

The speech in Poland, where supporters were bussed in to applaud our president's every word, was the highlight of his visit. As for the G20 Summit itself, the president has left the United States a weaker nation on the international front. We are now where we were prior to President McKinley's expansion of the American Empire. That began in 1896.

America First is only true in one nation. The president's followers, his sheep, may like that, may think this is good putting those smaller players in their places. But we cannot exist in isolation. The president has moved us backwards 121 years. We are the laughingstock of the world and no longer a world power.

Japan and the European Union brokered a deal while the president had Ivanka take his place at the trade table. I'm trying to imagine the outcry if Obama had sat Malia down there or if Clinton had put Chelsea in the same chair. Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Trudeau, and President Macron are now the leaders of the free world. We are a colonial nation, provincial in power, and no longer a player.

When the great powers of the world start placing tariffs on incoming goods and Americans start paying the price for the president's cowardice, what his sheep call bravado, on the international front, and our pocketbooks see our dollars go to support empires in other countries, he will no longer be president. He will be back home in Trump Tower and will have no worries about the 325M people he has left behind and his sheep, his followers, will wonder "What happened? Where is our shepherd to save us?"

Saturday, May 13, 2017

800. Wow. An appropriate number to think about where to go next.

Is anyone still reading?  I'm just curious.  The blog is now over ten years old and I rarely post anymore.  Please leave a comment.  Let me know who is out there, please.  -- Jeff

Thursday, January 19, 2017

799. Thank you, President Obama. Good Luck, Mr. Trump.

Eight years ago tomorrow on a very cold morning I stood in line with Jessie Phelps, Brandon Jewell, Chris Hartman, Christa Robinson, and over one million of our close friends as we waited for the new president to take the Oath of Office. I had voted for Barack Obama in both the Primary and the General of the previous year. I had met him at Slugger Field in 2006 when he made a campaign appearance for then-candidate John Yarmuth who was running his first (and successful) race for Congress, of which I had a part as an adviser, a role I still have in the Yarmuth for Congress campaign apparatus.
I was as excited as I have ever been at the onset of a new presidential administration. I was hopeful for all those people, those million-plus who spilled out into the National Mall on that cold morning, and for those people with whom I had waited in line to vote at the L-113 polling place on S. Shelby Street two months earlier, and especially hopeful for the minorities in the crowd and the young folks who had pushed Barack Obama’s popular vote to over 51%, the first of Obama’s two 51+% elections, the only president to have such a margin twice since Dwight Eisenhower. We were all very hopeful, very excited. It was a good time to be a liberal Christian Democrat, labels I still hold dear, labels I know President Obama also holds dear.
Looking ahead to his departure I wanted to reflect on the eight years which have had mixed results on many fronts. No one can doubt that many people have prospered. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has improved over 150% during his administration, outperforming all but three other presidencies, those of Clinton, FDR, and Coolidge. The job force has seen an increase for 75 straight months. Under President Obama, estimates are that about 15,000,000 new jobs have been created, making him the third best president in this regard in modern history, behind Clinton in first and Reagan in second. More than a few of those jobs came about building and rebuilding parts of America’s infrastructure as part of the “Stimulus Plan” known officially as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. You can see real literal concrete improvements in most any community in the Republic, whether rural, suburban, or urban. However, it must also be acknowledged that many of the jobs created since 2009 have lacked the buying power of the jobs they replaced. Automation and cheap labor overseas have taken a toll on American labor. Kentucky has seen its share of jobs gained in the automotive and related industries while we have also suffered with losses in the coal mines. Obama, and specifically the EPA, gets blamed for the coal losses but that’s simply a GOP selling point. Twice as many coal jobs were lost under Reagan as were lost under Obama. We’ve lost coal jobs under every president, Democrat or Republican, during the last 30 years with the single exception of George W. Bush’s terms of office. It should be said that even in Kentucky the job indices are looking good. The last jobs report dated November 2016 indicated unemployment was below 10% in every Kentucky county save one, Magoffin, for the first time since 2007.
The bright light shining on the Obama administration has been the Affordable Care Act, signed into law on March 23, 2010. Before any discussion of Obamacare, I would ask how many people were complaining about their healthcare costs before Obamacare? Most people would have to admit they were. To be sure, there are problems with Obamacare. The Congress has had almost seven years to resolve those problems but has chosen not to. Could it be that they weighed the good with the bad and determined the good outweighed the bad? I don’t know. For all the talk from everybody on the GOP side to repeal Obamacare on Day One “root and branch” that hasn’t happened and we are quickly getting to Month Two. Obamacare has its detractors, a small few of whom have legitimate complaints about it but many of whom dislike like it mostly because it is Obama’s plan. Personally I’ve always considered it the first step to a more socialized system of healthcare delivery, true healthcare, as opposed to an insurance system, but few people either in favor or opposed seem to understand that distinction. Like so many things, people are either for or against based on the idea that it belongs to Obama. As of tomorrow, it will belong to the new president.
There are other issues where Obama has, in my opinion, done the right thing. Approving federal dollars for stem-cell research might be at the top of that list. The long-term ramifications of this research are unknown but it may be helpful for many generations to come and anytime you can “pay it forward” on such a large scale should be considered a good thing, an honorable thing. Science played a large role in the Obama administration. His Science Fairs for middle-school students were, in a word, cool. I am hopeful that science finds as great or a greater role in the upcoming administration.
I have liked the steady calm delivery of the president. I have liked his passion and emotion. I have liked what I think is his honesty. I have liked his level-headedness and his willingness to speak to Americans across all social and economic boundaries. In listening to him I am convinced that while he is far more intelligent than most of us, he has taken great efforts at communicating with as many people as possible in a way they understand. He is an honest successor to President Reagan as a great communicator.
An honest assessment of the president must include those areas where I find fault with him. Those are mostly on the foreign policy front. Admittedly, I am not all that smart when it comes to foreign policy. A lot of foreign policy in my mind is intertwined with military policy where I believe in a small but strong military but also believe in as little war as possible. The Obama for whom I voted in 2008 seemed to be more aligned with my views on this front than the Obama who served eight years as Commander-In-Chief. Yes, Osama Bin Laden is gone but so are lots of innocent civilians. Yes, we are out of Iraq but we are deeper than ever in Afghanistan. I do not wholly approve of drone warfare although maybe I need to know more about it. I do not completely understand Syria, the Arab Spring, and our responses to that but I do not approve of what we have done or are doing. We misread the events involving Russia and Ukraine and I’m not sure we know where we stand with either country.
And that brings us to Russia.
Russia, the remnant country of the former USSR.
All my life we have been taught that Russia is the enemy. We waited to see who would blink. We crawled under our desks in grade school imperiled by the Cold War. We implored Mr. Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” We have been at odds with Russia for decades. Now suddenly we aren’t. Suddenly we’re okay with Russia. I don’t get that. I don’t get that military people I know suddenly have a newfound love for Russia. No one can quite explain it or maybe they just don’t want to.
In the very early morning hours of November 9th, a few short minutes after Hillary Clinton conceded the previous night’s election, I posted a congratulatory note on my Facebook page to President-Elect Trump. I had just gotten off the phone with my longtime friend Preston Bates who, while not supporting Mr. Trump, had precisely nailed the Electoral College down to the First Congressional District of Maine and its separate balloting from the rest of the state a few days earlier. While it is disconcerting to me that in a race where 74,074,037 voted against someone for whom 62,979,879 voted that the lesser-voted candidate won, that is our system. We are a federal Republic of states and our states vote for president, not our residents. I’ve never complained about the Electoral College to my recollection; this isn’t the time to start.
I am hopeful that the new president builds on the job gains made under President Obama. I am hopeful that the new president sees a 150% increase in the Dow Jones Average just as President Obama has. I am hopeful that the new president continues the $831 Billion commitment on infrastructure found in the Stimulus Plan of 2009. I am hopeful that the president continues to work with our science and technology community to find new treatments and medical procedures for those in need. I am hopeful for lot of things. And while I do not share the new president’s agenda in many regards, I do not want him to fail as I do not believe we have the resources to recover.
To “make America great again” is a noble goal. I believe we are a great nation but that there was a time when we were even greater. And in those days there was one major difference, something which has been taken from us and this is the resolve and the idea that the government can and should be a vehicle for the collective improvement of we, the people. To “make America great again” will require a lot of coming together as opposed to tearing apart. And it will require money. Lots of money, first to get out of debt and then a lot more to do the programs the new president wishes to implement.
America is in debt. We first went “deep in debt” under President Reagan when he borrowed-and-spent the Republic down so much as to tripling the National Debt while he was in office. Even Obama hasn’t done that. And beginning with Reagan, who enjoyed a federal tax rate on the wealthiest earners of 50% for most of his presidency, we’ve been lowering that rate and exempting more and more people from taxes. If we go back to the “great times” of Nixon, Ford, or Johnson, that rate is 70%. Lots of people look to Eisenhower as president during America’s golden era. The rate then was 91%. To make America great again will mean paying for it. We are getting the government we are willing to pay for. Simply changing presidents will not make America great again; changing our attitude toward the government will.
So, farewell and thank you, President Obama. Thank you so much. You brought us hope and it mostly worked. And thank you too to Mrs. Obama and Sasha and Malia for their class and graciousness. Finally, Good Luck, Mr. Trump. You’ve made a lot of promises. You will need a lot of luck and hard work to deliver on those promises. That starts tomorrow – or, as you have indicated, Monday.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

798. Trump's one solid rock - Putin.

Next weekend President-Elect Trump becomes President Trump. It will be interesting to see what else he flip-flops on between now and then. Since the campaign there have been a number of things. He's flipped on prosecuting Hillary. "Lock her up" was just for show. He's flipped on Obama going from "he's the most ignorant president in history" to "I have great respect and will seek his counsel." He's flipped on gay marriage changing his mind as to appointing justices who might flip the current law. He's flipped on illegal immigrants from throwing out all 11 million to working on the 3 to 4 million who are proven criminals, something I agree with him on. He flipped on his feelings for the Electoral College calling it "a disaster" before the election and, well, afterwards understandably calling it "genius." He flipped on settling the Trump University case, saying in March "I won't settle" but settling nonetheless for $25M in September. He's even flipped on Obamacare, going from "It has to go on Day One" to agreeing with Sen. Rand Paul that it should not be repealed until there is something to replace it with. Incidentally, Day One was last week. And the big one, the Wall. Mexico was going to pay for the Wall - not just a fence, but a Wall, a big Wall. Now Americans are going to pay for it at a cost of about $10.7M a mile and we're going to beg Mexico to reimburse us. Oh brother. But there is one thing the President-Elect has never wavered on - his undying support and alliance with Vladimir Putin and the Russian state. He continues to defend Russia even against our our intelligence and military officials. As Andy Rooney would say, "Why is that?"

Thursday, December 22, 2016

797. McConnell, Trump, and coal. Nixon goes to China.

Senator McConnell, recent Kentucky history, and a prediction on President Trump and the coal voters. 

Earlier today my high school friend, a conservative voter but one who'll vote a Third Party when pressed, explained to another high school friend, like me a Liberal Democrat, that one problem with Kentucky is we have a number of uninformed, ignorant, and one issue voters - her words, not mine. I couldn't agree more although we may disagree on which voters are which. But is this news? Is it news that we're finally showing up as a Red State? Neither is news. It must be said that Kentucky is a Red State and has been for some time even though we've just gotten around to electing a Republican governor last year and turned out our Democratic House this year. The truth is we've been Red since the 1990s. (Being Red appears to be popular right now in more ways than one.) The growth in voter identity (as opposed to registration) between 1996 and 2016 has almost entirely been in the GOP column.

If you look at the presidential numbers starting with Bill Clinton in 1992 and whoever the Republican has been, the Democrats have gotten about the same number of votes for 24 years, around the 700K mark, while the GOP candidates have increased up to about 1M. So that isn't an anti-Hillary or anti-Obama vote but is rather a change in values, or is it? The Democrats' last bit of strength in our state, outside of Louisville, Lexington, and sometimes Frankfort, was in coal country in Prestonsburg and Pikeville in the east and Owensboro and Henderson in the west. Only Henderson remains nominally Democratic, but it is both a natural gas town and a coal town. President Obama and Hillary Clinton's EPA policies, policies started by President Nixon I'll note, finally took their toll. But the voters believe coal is alive. It isn't. It is dying or dead, especially the type mined in eastern Kentucky.

The GOP has flat out lied about coal for about 15 years. I believe one of the good things which may come out of Mr. Trump's presidency is the truth about coal. The new president has surrounded himself with oil and gas proponents, not coal guys. I believe at some point President Trump will double-cross his eastern and western Kentucky coal voters by telling them the truth. It will be a "Nixon-goes-to-China" thing. It will take a Republican to tell them for them to believe it. Which gets us back to Senator McConnell and why he has been re-elected with relative ease since 1984.

He had his own "Nixon-goes-to-China" moment with tobacco in the mid-1980s, back when he still could tell the truth on matters. Democrats in Kentucky allowed him to own the issue of the tobacco buy-out program both in the '80s and the follow up provisions in 2004, which came to an end with the final payments of a $100B program paid in late 2014. He politically converted all the flat tobacco-growing land from D to R - the 1st, 2nd, and 6th congressional districts, with the tobacco buy-out. He has been rewarded and, perhaps, rightly so, giving tobacco farmers a way out with real money. They're now producing more corn and soybeans and even shrimp and catfish. Kentucky State University added an aquaculture program to train farmers to farm something else. But he hasn't done it with coal, that last remnant of Democratic voters.

Why? Because other than eco-tourism, there is little you can do with empty and topless mountains. So, they've continued to lie and promise a light at the end of the tunnel. To be sure, many Kentucky Democrats have joined in the charade. But it is only a false light and President Trump's gas and oil men, the original GOP in the GOP (gas, oil, and petrol) will, I believe, put an end to it. They'll make sure no more money is wasted on a product in competition with their own. It is possible then, when the GOP lie about coal is revealed and admitted to, that some of those former Democratic-voting Kentuckians may become Democrats once again in the voting booths and then, perhaps, we'll have a more balanced state politically. But it will take 20 years to get back to a good place and we'll all be older and ready to leave the future to someone else at that point, if not sooner.

Nil Desperandum.

Monday, October 17, 2016

796. On Assange

I'm glad he's been cut off. I remember once when I was six or seven (so this was fifty years ago) laying in the backyard by my grandfather's workshop staring up at the sky. I noticed something very small fly over. In time it flew over again, maybe an hour later, in the same pattern. Curious, I spoke to my grandfather about it. He told me it was the government and if I had done nothing wrong I had nothing to worry about. I still remember that conversation.

I've always known the government was up to something ever since that day fifty years ago. The military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned against was already in place on that day five years later and was probably in place when Ike gave his warning. I also learned that day not to fear my government if I have done nothing wrong. So far, that belief has worked. You may call it naivete; I call reality. The government does things I'll never know about for reasons I'll never understand. It doesn't matter which party is in power. So I choose my politics on which party I believe does the best for the most and I accept that whichever choice I make will never be the best choice which can be made. And I accepted a long time ago that given we have many people making these choices, all with our own perception of what is good and evil and right and wrong - this year about 110,000,000 will be doing so all with their own personal agendas.

None of us are completely right or wrong. Nor will we ever be. I'm content with that.

Here's the closing paragraph of a poem I learned when I was 8 years old by James Whitcomb Riley:

"My doctern is to lay aside
Contensions, and be satisfied:
Jest do your best, and praise er blame
That follers that, counts jest the same.
I've allus noticed grate success
Is mixed with troubles, more er less,
And it's the man who does the best
That gits more kicks than all the rest."

The Archives at Milepost 606

Personal

Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.