Dressing up and swift boating
Remember playing “pretend” and “dress-up” when we were kids. In my time we were Johnny Tremain and Davy Crockett and sported “flintlocks,” tricorns and coonskin hats. A prominent Republican politician, Estes Kefauver, wore a coonskin.
We all still “dress up,” do some pretending regarding who we are, or want to be like; some more than others. For example, conservatives, more than liberals, incline to emulate cowboys and soldiers, like Republican hero, John Wayne, who was neither (his unfortunate real non-cowboy name was Marion). Reagan presented his Western bonafides by wearing a cowboy hat and “splitting wood.”
George Bush liked to dress up like a hotshot fighter pilot god and “land” on carriers, even though he lost his pilot certification because he wouldn’t take a required physical. Before running for president he bought a ranch without cattle where he “cut brush,” wore a cowboy hat, and drove a (two wheel?) truck. None dared call him “all hat and no cattle.”
The Ferguson and other police forces sport surplus Army jungle camo. Barney Fife said it best, “It’s a jungle out there.”
Then, there’s corollary contempt for those who don’t pretend or play dress-up. Remember Kerry’s “swift boating”? Who volunteered for two combat tours in Vietnam? Remember how he wasn’t wounded badly enough to deserve Purple Hearts? Remember how he wasn’t brave enough to earn a Silver Star: all this when Dick Cheney “had other priorities” and Bush was hiding somewhere in Texas?
Remember Al Gore’s “earth tones” and how, even though he also served “in country,” he wasn’t in combat? So who will Republicans “dress up” for next election, and which Democrat will be swift boated (i.e. undressed)?
Hint: Her competence and brains become Benghazi and brain damage. And oh my gosh, her hair and cellulite!
Don’t make judgments without facts
“I have a crow to pick” with your cartoonist Ms. Boileau and one of your letter writers. I refer to the cartoon concerning the young man that was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., with the caption “What the police found on Michael Brown.” The picture was of a male with hands raised and a target on the front of his shirt. This was Aug. 15.
The letter in question was in the Aug. 24 edition. The writer states as fact that the young man was unarmed and had his hands over his head.
I find this very troubling, as he must be relying on the “eye witness” that saw what was going on and saw Michael Brown “shot in the back.” This is not helpful in cases such as this as it becomes reality to some folks and has been shown not to be the case. We do not know what happened in this case and should not be making these types of pre-judging. Did either see the reports about the police officer having a fractured eye socket, which may or may not be true?
The writer goes further and makes statements about the militarization of police due to the return of combat veterans. How on earth did we survive when the combat veterans returned from the Civil War, WWI and WWII? There were a whole lot more of them than what are returning now. The militarization of the police is so they can confront the situation such as that occurring in Ferguson, Mo.
Also, the militia mentioned in the Constitution would be every abled-bodied citizen not the ”state National Guard.” Had there been gun control at that time, there would be no USA today, and that is why it is in the Constitution.
Ditch biblical Mitch
In a recent article in the Lexington Herald-Leader titled, “Politics and government: In tight Senate race, McConnell talks religion,” we learned that Mitch McConnell, preaching to the choir, at a Baptist church, is opposed to abortion and gay marriage.
McConnell wants control of Kentuckians wombs and bedrooms. McConnell is an old man with old rules from a time past that is now, thankfully, in most of the nation’s rear view mirror. The question is, are Kentucky voters still stuck it the past with him or are we at last looking to move into the future with the majority of the country?
McConnell and most of the Republican religious right would have a Kentucky theocratic government if they had their wishes. Their opinions on how people should be governed are formed from the writings of ancient men that believed the earth was the center of the universe and an invisible deity controlled the weather and the seasons of the year.
It’s fine if you believe in God and heaven and hope to get there with him when you die. However, we live in the year 2014 and times have certainly changed for the better in the thousands of years since rules were written down that would eventually be bound together to form the Bible.
You can be a Christian and vote for a Democrat. In fact, if you open your bible and read about Jesus you will see he looks a lot more like a Democrat than a Republican.
Gift vs. inheritance
Here are a few of my thoughts on the whole inheritance from Elaine Chao’s mother thing Mitch McConnell’s camp is exploiting in political advertising as reason for their vast increase in wealth since 2008.
Both of Chao’s parents were American citizens. Therefore, the American law of succession bound them both, including laws regarding communal property. Therefore, Chao’s living father inherited the estate of her mother, not Chao. So the money Chao supposedly got as an inheritance from her mother was, in actuality, a gift from her father in memory of her mother, not an actual inheritance, as was verified by Don Stewart, a McConnell spokesman to Politico on June 12, 2009. Quoting the article, “That was a gift from Secretary Chao’s father in April 2008 to the Senator and the Secretary, in memory of her mother, who passed away in August 2007,” said Stewart.
There is a big difference between getting a gift and getting an inheritance.
The fact that the McConnell’s reported it as a gift and not an inheritance on their tax statements gives credibility to this claim as well. The tax statements list the gift at between $5 million and $25 million. According to a 2012 wealth estimate from OpenSecrets.org Center for Responsive Politics, McConnell’s estimated net worth went from approximately $7 million in 2007, to approximately $17 million in 2008. So it is probable that the gift from Chao’s father was between $5 million and $10 million.
While McConnell’s net worth is hard to pin down, current estimates range from $27 million to $38 million, or an approximate $10 million to $21 million rise in estimated worth over and above the gift from Chao’s father in 2008, or $1.66 million to $3.5 million increase in net worth per year over the 6 years from 2008-2014. Based on Chao’s $340,000 salaries from her corporate director posts and McConnell’s salary of $193,400 their combined pay is $533,400 per year. That leaves a net worth increase of $6,799,600 to $17,799,600 over 6 years above salary after the gift from Chao’s father.
Keep in mind, these gains occurred at a time when most investment portfolios either lost significant money or remained flat for the vast majority of investors.
Clearly, something would certainly appear to be amiss in McConnell’s statements in his political advertising attempting to lead the viewers to believe that his vast increase in wealth was due solely to an “inheritance” from Chao’s dead mother, which none of the available relevant information seems to support.
Calling out McConnell’s record on food safety
I’ve never spoken to Mitch McConnell, but if I were ever to meet the senator, I would ask him why he has spent a career on Capitol Hill opposing measures to make our food safer.
Salmonella, listeria, campylobacter — you have heard of these disease agents that sicken 48 million Americans and kill 5,000 people annually. Tainted food costs the industry billions of dollars in lost sales, recalls and lawsuits.
This past spring we have seen 1.8 million pounds of ground beef contaminated with deadly E-coli bacteria from Wolverine Packing Co. in Detroit recalled after it hit store shelves in nine states including Kentucky. In April, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture recalled approximately 350 pounds of hickory smoked, pit cooked barbecue pork product due to misbranding and an undeclared allergen, from a west Kentucky establishment.
In November 2010, when the Senate, by a vote of 73 to 25, passed the Food Safety Modernization Act, which for the first time gives FDA the authority to test for dangerous pathogens and to recall contaminated food, McConnell voted no.
Why did our senator vote against a bill that protects Americans from unsafe food produced overseas by making imported foods subject to the same standards as those made in the U.S.?
In July 1995, when McConnell voted against an amendment to allow the USDA to require science-based hazard analysis and critical point control (HACCP) systems for meat and poultry inspections.
Again, why did McConnell
vote to weaken the pathogen standards on the meat and poultry we eat?
The pattern is clear. Mitch McConnell’s record on food safety makes me sick. I believe the correct antidote is to vote McConnell out of office come November.
War profiteering and waste
One can only shake their head at the billions of our tax dollars that have been wasted on wartime contracting over the past decade.
In 2011, in its final report to Congress, the Commission on Wartime Contracting said as much as $60 billion in U.S. funds was lost to fraud and waste in Iraq and Afghanistan because of lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and corruption.
It is fair to ask what was Sen. Mitch McConnell’s role in all of this?
Four times in 2005 and 2006, McConnell voted against establishing a special committee to investigate Afghanistan and Iraq war contracts. And in June 2006, when the Senate debated the defense authorization bill, McConnell helped kill an amendment to improve federal contracting and procurement by eliminating fraud and abuse and improving competition in contracting and procurement and by enhancing administration of federal contracting personnel.
McConnell is a poor student of history because the Truman Committee formally known as the Senate Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program, was created in March 1941 to find and correct problems in U.S. war production —problems with waste, inefficiency and war profiteering — saved an estimated $10-15 billion in military spending.
McConnell says he is tight with the taxpayer’s buck but his refusal to back systems to audit and monitor this wasteful war spending did little to defeat the Taliban, but helped the defense contractors line their pockets. And the defense industry has been very generous to McConnell during his campaigns. Over his career, McConnell has received more than $680,000 in donations from defense PACs and lobbyists according to the website OpenSecrets.org
This year, I believe it is time to show Mr. McConnell the door.