Monday, March 27, 2017

While We Were Watching March Madness

The Madness that is War was going on in many parts of the world...with the danger of more US involvement growing.
In one of the worse cases, a “coalition” air strike on Mosul, Iraq’s 2nd largest city, reportedly killed as many as 100 civilians, not involved in taking the town back from ISIS. At first the US said this was a “coalition” event, but later confirmed it was made by US planes...and opened a probe into the civilian deaths and what happened. (Fortunately the original report did not call this a “surgical strike.”)
So, once again, as in Afghanistan, Iraq, (not to mention the ancient history in Vietnam), for all our best intentions to avoid “collateral damage” (read  “we killed innocents,”) these tragedies repeat.
They will likely repeat again as the Trump administration has indicated it will send more US troops to Iraq—and even Syria. Obama started this but said they would be support troops and not engage in combat. But one US serviceman has been killed already, because his support position apparently wasn’t far enough from the fighting. And military officials said that if our support people were fired on, they of course would, and should, fire back.
Meanwhile, the NY TImes reminded us that we are THREE YEARS into fighting ISIS and Congress has not followed the Constitution by “ passing legislation authorizing the anti-ISIS fight.”  Which, as a believer that only Congress may declare war—as the Constitution clearly indicates—makes our effort in Iraq & Syria illegal, as well as immoral.
And, by the way, Pres. Trump has indicated he will take such a hard line on North Korea that our new Sec. of State said “all options are on the table,” including a first strike by the US against them!
Please keep your eyes on these unfolding  events, and let our senators and representatives know your feelings.
And oh yes, during March Madness, that shyster lawyer Eric Conn pled guilty to fraud...but his hundreds of Kentucky clients still face financial ruin and personal tragedy until their disability benefits, which he screwed up, get straightened out. Our federal and state representatives and agencies have done all too little to help these unfortunate people.  You might let them know your views here, as well.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, March 20, 2017

Kentuckians Cried Out; Our Legislature Responded

The theory, in a representative democracy such as ours, is that the people elect representatives who will be concerned about their wishes and needs. (The theory also is if they don’t, they may be turned out of office...may be.)
So how has our first GOP-controlled legislature in a century done under our theory.
On some things, very least if one assumes the majority did want, as it voted, the state GOP program (which is not necessarily the same as the Trump-program---whatever that is today---which may have driven more Kentuckians to vote Republican than the state GOP’s platform.)
On others, well let me offer some thoughts:
1—Many citizens, especially those in eastern Kentucky have complained for years about over-loaded coal truck on narrow roads, never designed for such loads..and the breakdown of those roads, increasing costs of maintenance (where maintained), and accidents, often fatal, caused.
What did our new legislature do?
Raise the load limit for some trucks hauling specific items by 50%. raised the fee on same, and setting up a study of same. I hope people in E. Ky. will watch this one carefully.
2—Lots of us, myself included, are tired of politics by the “Golden Rule”—he who has the gold makes the rules. We want the effect of money in politics to be more tightly controlled, with much more reporting of who gives how much to whom?
Our legislature doubled the amount people and corporations may now give. I don’t remember any of us rallying at the Capitol for this, but it remains to be seen how this will play out.
3—Kentucky has had a moratorium for years on building nuclear power plants, but our representatives in Frankfort ended that. (Obviously they didn’t have any testimony in committee about Chernobyl.) Their theory was we need more power options as coal declines. Maybe so, but I don’t remember any bills designed to help make coal “cleaner” as its advocates (and myself) contend it can be...which should also help coal regain markets.
I am aware KET aired a very interesting program recently on new ways to generate atomic power claimed to be safer, cleaner, and cheaper.
Maybe so; but for now color me both skeptical and wanting to keep UN-proven nuke power out of my home state.
4—It’s hard not to agree that mine inspections work to make coal mining safer. One way to keep coal keeping our lights on is by making that industry safer.  Yet our ladies and gentlemen in Frankfort cut the number of state required inspections in half. Maybe their theory is that The Donald, who says he wants to bring back coal and increase jobs, will do it for us. I have my doubts but a few more inspector jobs won’t help this basic Kentucky industry’s employment very much.
I’m sure our GOP legislative members can, and will cite legislation they consider beneficial to the Bluegrass state, but, on balance, let us not forget there is, arguably, another side.
I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Random News Thoughts

1---Based on the news stories I’ve seen from Frankfort, I am amazed at the quiet surrounding a bill proposing to allow any governor to take over, dismiss, and name members of all the public university and college boards of trustees. Even more the quiet from the present boards and presidents at this unprecedented power grab. If you think the Southern accreditation board was just threatening the University of Louisville with loss of accreditation because of Bevin’s shenanagins here...wait til you see its reaction if the bill passes.
Of course, it will be the students hurt most---and faculty.
Lots of silence from the legislature on this topic recently---as the session nears an end. That worries me, too.
2---Thank you Wikileaks—again!  Now we know the CIA  (and our government) have the capability to spy on us thru our smart phones, our smart tvs (!) even our baby crib monitors. Who’da thunk it? But tis, sadly, true..and while the CIA loftily reminds us, by law, it can only use these tools to spy outside the country...does anyone seriously doubt they would  (and have in a few cases, if memory serves) use these at home against American citizens.
All in the name of “national security”—protecting our freedoms. When does our freedom to be let alone, and to enjoy free speech in our homes become more important than some bureaucrats’ idea of “security?”
3---Hope you saw CBS’ 60 Minutes Sunday night. A very revealing report on one man from Africa arrested, sent to GITMO, tortured (very badly), and whose “confession” then kept him there 14 years...until his legal council (initiated by his own handwritten request for freedom) got him off and the US finally agreed he was not a terrorist, not a threat to our “security”  (there’s that misapplied idea again), and he was sent home.  He wrote a book. “Guantanamo Diary” on his GITMO experience we probably all should read.
When will the US—especially Congress—realize GITMO is our Holocaust, and end it—totally and forever???
4---and now for something completely different...Just delighted to see Dom Hawkins named to SEC all-tourney team. Richly deserved for a guy who stuck it out for 4 years---while Coach Cal was touting his idea of “one and done.”   
Dickie V has the right idea when he talks about “senior leadership” and Dom is a great example of that.
Go Cats!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

As We All Know

“It is easier to campaign than to govern.”
“The devil is in the details.”
Listening to the President’s speech to Congress this week (will there be a later State of the Union address??) I was encouraged. I thought this was one of his best talks and was encouraged both by its tone and by some of the plans he outlined.
(I pray for each new president, whether I voted for him/her or not. I want each to succeed because that’s the best way for America to succeed.)
But a lot of the good vibes given off by his talk were dissipated later when he told a White House meeting “who knew health care was so complicated.”
Almost everyone, Mr. President, where have you been?
It bears out one of the points made last fall on Shields & Brooks on PBS. I think it was the conservative Brooks who said “Mr. Trump seems to be constitutionally UNcurious.”  This following some debate over Roe v Wade, which has been a public issue for decades..and yet, campaigner Trump seemed ignorant of the issues here, and their importance to many people.
And so now, it seems, with health care.
House Republicans in the past 4 years have tried over 50 votes to repeal Obamacare—and not once, when challenged by the “loyal opposition” did they come up with an alternative. It was just Repeal, Repeal, Repeal. Maybe they realized how very complex our national health care system is....and wanted no part of getting involved with that.
Whatever; the nation IS involved now..and the new administration. Repeal, replace, when, in what order, how---these are important questions for the new administration...and it is not unfair to say  that some citizens’ LIVES hang on the decisions made.
Good luck, Mr. T---and you, too Gov. B.
Only a little less than “the fate of the Republic”  (and your party) may be hanging on your answers.
I'm just sayin'...