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."

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

795. It's Been An Interesting Day on the GOP Side

It's been an interesting day on the GOP side. Mr. Trump gave a "foreign policy" speech mostly about Hillary Clinton. He also offered an olive branch of sorts to Muslims - he wants to be their friend now that he's going to be the nominee as opposed to banning them from Ellis Island and other points of entry to the Republic. And he didn't mention "The Wall" down there along the Mexican border he’s been proposing to build for most of the Primary season. Suddenly he is "presidential." He didn't say much else either other than "we're going to be great." No real specifics, just regular Donald stuff. Then Ted the Canadian chose Mrs. Carly Fiorina, HP and Compaq’s destroyer-in-chief, as his running mate, the sort of Hail Mary pass Ronald Reagan, the conservative icon, threw ahead of the 1976 GOP convention, naming liberal Pennsylvania senator Richard Schweiker as his running mate in the hopes of salvation at the 11th hour. It probably lost him the convention as conservatives, particularly from the South, then switched to the far more moderate incumbent Gerald Ford who up to that point had been struggling. Ford locked up the nomination but lost the election. Finally, did I mention Governor Matt Bevin, the alleged Tea Partier who lives in a nice mansion on Louisville’s east side, is on a taxpayer-funded junket to Europe? Life is otherwise okay.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

794. Where is Crittenden Drive?

Mt friend Michael and I took a drive out to South Louisville this afternoon to enjoy the traditional Green River Style fish dinner at the Suburban Lodge on the corner of S. Third Street and W. Collins Court.  Our after dinner drive turned into an impromptu tour of the neighborhoods and streets - old, new, and gone - of the area.

We progressed out of the Suburban parking lot, itself a new location prompted by the extension of Central Avenue east of 2nd Street up and over the L&N yards over to Crittenden Drive, thereby connecting Freedom Hall with Churchill Downs.

Our first neighborhood was that of Wilder Park.  We were in fact on what was at one time called Wilder Parkway but now goes by the more mundane S. 2nd Street. We followed through the area passing the Wilder Park Park, renamed for Huston Quin, a one term judge on the Kentucky Court of Appeals and later, from 1921-1925, a Republican mayor of the old City of Louisville.

Cutting over to the east a few blocks we ended up on the western edition of Louisville Avenue, the only one which is left.  There was also at one time an eastern edition of Louisville Avenue with the L&N Railroad running down the middle.  One point of the drive was to point out to Michael, who was born just over 27 years years ago, where Highland Park was, since it isn't there anymore.

I had mentioned Highland Park while we were eating as the only real competition Suburban has for its style of fish is served up at the Highland Park Lodge which at one time was on the eastern Louisville Avenue in what was at one time Highland Park.  The Highland Park Lodge has since relocated to the former Okolona Post Office building on a street called Pinecroft Drive but what originally known as Lambert Road.  But, I digress.

Tracking down the two Louisville Avenues led us to the multiple Crittenden Drives in the area.  I have complained now and then over the last twenty-five years about the name-identification problems in this area to the various Public Works directors and offered solutions but to no avail.  As all of this area was new to Michael, he clearly saw the problems.

At the intersection of Crittenden Drive and the cross-street just north of the Watterson, the sign to the west identifying the cross-street said Park Boulevard while the sign to the east said Phillips Lane.   I told him neither sign was correct.  It should or could read Seneca Avenue or maybe Ashton Avenue to the east.  It should not read Phillips Lane.  It is hard to say what it should read to the west.  Park Boulevard is and has been for a century about two blocks west of Crittenden Drive, back when Crittenden Drive was known as Ashbottom Road.  S. Floyd Street turns into Park Boulevard where the old Highland Park city limits used to begin just north of the Dakota Street right-of-way.

All of the east-west streets, like Dakota and Seneca, were named for the Native American tribes which once owned and occupied the North American continent before the illegal immigration of white Europeans.  Oh, wait.  This isn't a political post.  It is a geography post.

At the intersection of this newly built and misnamed east-west street which the city has labelled as Park Boulevard and the other Park Boulevard, there is a sign indicating the continuation of this new road to the west and south along the L&N is called Crittenden Drive, this despite the fact there is another Crittenden Drive, the original one, the one formerly called Ashbottom Road, two blocks to the east.  There is, in fact, a U. S. Post Office, at 4440 Crittenden Drive on that original roadway.  Oh well.

We followed the new roadway, the new Crittenden Drive, alongside the railroad, to its intersection with a somewhat reconfigured but still recognizable Woodlawn Overpass.  This is the overpass we long remember as starting out on (that old) Crittenden Drive as Nevada Avenue and ending up on the South Louisville side as Woodlawn Avenue.  We've always had fun with names changing like that.  Anyway, we followed this new Crittenden Drive which eventually rejoined the old one out past the FedEx plant where once stood International Harvester (1945-1985) and before that, the Curtiss-Wright Airplane shops (1942-1945).  But that Crittenden Drive comes to a dead end somewhere around the old city limits line of the old City of Highland Park which was also, later, the old city limits line of the old City of Louisville.  It was at one time Eagan Avenue but in the 1980s was changed to MacLean Avenue.

We circled back up to the Woodlawn Overpass in what I described to Michael would be a double-loop, crossing over to Allmond Avenue and the Iroquois Station Post Office, which houses the Zip Codes 40209, 40214, and 40215.  Allmond circles around and ends at Strawberry Lane, the southern appellation of the western edition of Louisville Avenue.  About two blocks south of where MacLean Avenue once crossed over the tracks, a new bridge has been built, largely at the urging and with the funding direction of long time Alderman and Councilman Dan Johnson.  This is the Crittenden Drive Connector which leads to a new street entirely, "South Crittenden Drive," a street which wasn't there when I was in high school.

I'll be honest - I cannot tell what was where back in the day.  It looks to be about where the old Kroger Distribution Center was next to the old GES Department Store, in the curve south of the airport, where the original "new" Crittenden Drive broke off from Ashbottom Road and made its way around the old "bottom" of Standiford Field, back before the great Airport Expansion Project which began in the 1980s.

This new road hugs the railroad and the spur lines which feed the Ford Motor Company and extend eastward to General Electric, although they are rarely used east of the Ford plant.  The new "South" Crittenden Drive joins Grade Lane about two blocks south of where the older "new" Crittenden Drive once did prior to 1985.

In our short drive, we were on three different "new" Crittenden Drives, plus the Crittenden Drive Connector.  While Highland Park is gone and Park Boulevard seems a little misguided, and Seneca Avenue and Ashton Avenue are out of place, Crittenden Drive is alive and well in several different and unconnected places.

The Archives at Milepost 606


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.