Kentucky Blog

Because Kentucky Is Not Called the "REDgrass State"

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Kentucky Democratic Party and the Web

Over at Swing State Project, they have been working on getting all the state Democratic parties to take on a web presence. Having reviewed the Kentucky Democratic Party's website it is obvious that Kentucky's chapter needs help. Setting up a blog on Blogspot is free and easy, just look at all the blogs dedicated to Britney Spears, so you would think that someone at headquarters would be johnny on the spot.

Well, no.

I sent an email several days ago suggesting a blog be placed on their site. I linked to this blog and offered to let them take it over if they wanted to. NOTICE TO KY DEMOCRATIC PARTY - the offer is rescinded. Not a word from them - not "that's nice and quaint", not "go to hell", not "uhhhh, how did you do that", nothing.

Instead we get headlines and a summary of an article about people losing Pell grant money. Yes, that is an important issue, but no it is not more important than a running commentary on what is happening in the state. The Kentucky Democratic Party needs to realize that they cannot expect to win races if they continue to run on the deficiencies of the Republican agenda. True, there are severe deficiencies which are discussed here and on other blogs by people far more intelligent than me. But the Republicans package their horrid policies in an eloquent sound bite, and the Democrats will never win by being "not as bad as the Republicans."

The Republicans were the first to utilize the internet as a propoganda tool, and it was not until Howard Dean and Joe Trippi came on the scene in 2003 that Dems took note. Even then the DC establishment didn't care for liberal bloggers - they upset the status quo, you know, the status quo that keeps people like Bob Shrum in a job despite never having won an election. Given the records of the current "leadership" in the DC Democratic establishment in terms of the undercard races (i.e., the ones in seats that are not "safe" Dem seats), it is apparent that the local parties need to think outside the box. Again, Republicans have mastered the local organization tactics, and it started 20 years ago. The Democrats are already playing catchup, and until they realize it they will only lag further behind. And in the process they will lose a lot more elections and allow incompetent politicians like Ron Lewis to become even further entrenched.

Bush Hinders the War on Terrorism

I don't really care for the notion that we are fighting a "war on terror" because I tend to subscribe to the George Carlin school of thought - terror is a tactic, much in the nature of "ambush." No one ever fought a "war on ambush" and in those terms the moniker is a bit silly. I am not yet ready to subscribe to the "war on extremism" because as the Republican Convention showed earlier this year, "extremism" will be used to define anyone that doesn't toe the Republican party leadership's line.

However, "war on terror" is the phrase of art so to speak, and thanks to the media we're stuck with it for now. So, to the extent we are fighting a "war on terrorism" (as opposed to the more poignant, but much less catchy, "war against extremist Islamic ideology"), and in relation to my previous post, Bush's response, or rather lack thereof, to the epic disaster in the Indian Ocean may have in fact hindered our fight against terror. This according to Juan Cole, a professor at Michigan and bona fide expert on the Middle East (via Dailykos):

As John F. Harris and Robin Wright of the Washington Post cannily note, US President George W. Bush has missed an important opportunity to reach out to the Muslims of Indonesia. The Bush administration at first pledged a paltry $15 million, a mysteriously chintzy response to what was obviously an enormous calamity. Bush himself remained on vacation, and now has reluctantly agreed to a meeting of the National Security Council by video conference. If Bush were a statesman, he would have flown to Jakarta and announced his solidarity with the Muslims of Indonesia (which has suffered at least 40,000 dead and rising).

Indeed, the worst-hit area of Indonesia is Aceh, the center of a Muslim separatist movement, and a gesture to Aceh from the US at this moment might have meant a lot in US-Muslim public relations. Bin Laden and Zawahiri sniffed around Aceh in hopes of recruiting operatives there, being experts in fishing in troubled waters. Doesn't the US want to outflank al-Qaeda? As it is, the president of the United States is invisible and on vacation (unlike several European heads of state), and could think of nothing better to do than announce a paltry pledge. As Harris and Wright rightly say, the rest of the world treated the US much better than this after September 11. (Emphasis Mine)

Contrast this with a report from the Pentagon (also via Dailykos) that says anti-American sentiments in the Muslim world are behind the Iraq quagmire. And this brings me to a larger point. On the one hand, facts, as inconvenient as they may seem to be with the current group in power, clearly shows that American policies fuel extreme Islamic fundamentalism and the desire they feel to kill us. On the other hand, to suggest that we examine our policies, or at the very least balance our unpopular policies (war in Iraq) with a popular policy (aiding victims, many of them innocent children, of this tragedy in a meaningful way), will generate vile accusations of being unpatriotic or suggesting appeasement of terrorists.

Our government has already concluded my point is fact-based and merits genuine pursuit. Unfortunately a small band of power mongers who cannot cede any semblence of what they perceive may be weakness have placed our country in a far less favorable light. Muslim charities that fund Hamas and al Qaeda will fill the void that we left, and those are political points we could have used. And the castigating nature of the Bush administration and its lackeys on the Hill at the first hint of disagreement with the administration's position (whether articulated as a "disagreement" or merely a "suggestion") is only successful because the public allows this politics of destruction to continue.

Charity is not a Red State or Blue State issue. It's a human issue. It's just a shame that our elected officials have to play politics with everything, including the death of 100,000 or more people. It's even more shameful that we let them.

Kentuckians Rise to the Occasion

The disaster in the Indian Ocean is beyond words, so the images and testimonials will have to speak for themselves. What is not beyond words was our federal government's initial offer of $15 million to aid in recovery from a disaster that is expected to claim over 100,000 lives. As this article from the Washington Post points out - the world has noticed that the world's leading industrial countries are often the least charitable. We spend $15 million every 3 hours winning the hearts and minds in Iraq by flattening cities, but our government won't come up with more than that?

My estimation is that if you want to show Muslims that we are a compassionate people, thus further alienating extremists, then you would cough up some real cabbage to help these people. Just a thought - call me crazy, but every war is not won at the point of a gun - just ask Teddy Roosevelt.

It's good to see Kentuckians step up to the plate. The Presbytarian Church (USA) is expected to raise $1 million on its own. If PCUSA, with 2.3 million members is expected to raise $1 million, the potential aid from private citizens is truly staggering and will reflect the true meaning of "American values." For one, I believe "American values" encompasses aiding those in need - regardless of religious affiliation or nationality - and has little or nothing to do with gay bashing and abortion. Granted, those may be "religious values", but America encompasses much more than that - and our values do too.

It's time this administration starts to act in conformity with our true American values. As the Post article points out, Bush's team says "action speaks louder than words" (in defending Bush's silence on the tragedy to that point).

They should understand that inaction speaks louder than both.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Back in the Saddle

Just in time for the holidays, and in the spirit of Christmas I'm passing along a little tidbit I came across which may not have hit the news:

Nearly two hundred National Guardsmen in north and central Kentucky are coming
home for Christmas, thanks to the help of some state and federal officials. U-S
Representative Ken Lucas and state Representative Mike Denham worked to get
travel restrictions loosened. Their efforts mean about 180 Guardsmen who are
training for deployment in Iraq will make it home for the holiday.

Generally no one points out the little things like this that remind us, regardless of party affiliation, that our elected officials do have the ability to be human. Drop Ken Lucas or Mike Denham a line and let them know you appreciate their efforts. Remind Mr. Lucas though that this won't get him off the hook if he votes to do away with social security.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Vacation Time

I'm off to the Aloha State for some R&R. Will be back online the week of Dec. 13 with a rundown of the current pre-filed bills for the upcoming legislative session. There are several worth watching and commenting on, and we'll be keeping an eye on whether our Frankfort critters will tackle the issues facing Kentuckians, or if they'll wait until a large contingent of the population threatens a strike or otherwise goes ballistic. A couple comparable bills have to do with pay for legislators called into special session.

I won't say which scenario I've got my money on because don't want to influence anyone's optimism.

Personally I think David Williams and Jody Richards ought to be dressed up in French Maids outfits and handcuffed together in high heels until they get a budget worked out.