"The Greatest" Belongs in Kentucky's Capitol Rotunda

479px-Muhammad_Ali_NYWTS

Please sign the petition below to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis currently in Kentucky’s Capitol Rotunda, and replace it with a tribute to Muhammad Ali, “the Louisville Lip” and “the Greatest of All Time.”

(If you need some convincing, read this piece and this piece from Kentucky Sports Radio.)

"The Greatest" Belongs in the Kentucky Capitol Rotunda

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Latest Signatures
616Preston MacDougallMurfreesboro, TNJul 06, 2016
615Jennifer DiamondLouisville, KYJul 04, 2016
614Katherine BrevardAsheville, North CarolinaJun 17, 2016
613Mami HayashidaLexington, KYJun 13, 2016
612Pat B. WellonsLexington , KYJun 12, 2016
611Kennard WellonsLawrenceburg , KYJun 12, 2016
610Brad WellonsNew Orleans, LAJun 12, 2016
609karen claxonlouisville, KentuckyJun 10, 2016
608Sonya AnglinMount Vernon, KYJun 10, 2016
607Alix SharkeyLos Angeles, CAJun 10, 2016
606Joy McDonaldBerea, KentuckyJun 10, 2016
605Albert ZapataLexington , KYJun 10, 2016
604Rusty BarrettLexington , KYJun 10, 2016
603Raymont Clevelandlouisville, KentuckyJun 09, 2016
602Jeremy MidkiffLexington, KentuckyJun 09, 2016
601Hasan OzelBrooklyn, NYJun 09, 2016
600W. Patrick DaveyLexington , Kentucky Jun 09, 2016
599Cecelia BriggsLouisville, KY - KentuckyJun 09, 2016
598Hunter YearyVersailles, KentuckyJun 09, 2016
597Vickie WoodsLouisville, KentuckyJun 09, 2016
596Shondele HallLexington , Kentucky Jun 09, 2016
595Tyrona D. Nelson Lexington , KYJun 09, 2016
594Jeremy ZitnikFlorence, KYJun 09, 2016
593Slend McManusJun 09, 2016
592Julian SterlingLouisville, KYJun 09, 2016
591David WilkinsWinchester, KYJun 09, 2016
590Keith WoodHermitage , TennesseeJun 09, 2016
589Danny EverettLexington, KentuckyJun 09, 2016
588Bryan LeakeVersailles , KyJun 09, 2016
587John RogersGlasgow, KYJun 09, 2016
586Daniel ZimVienna, VirginiaJun 09, 2016
585Jae JeniferFrankfort , KyJun 09, 2016
584Draft dodging Muslim No thankJun 09, 2016
583Edd MacKeyLexington, KentuckyJun 09, 2016
582Forget That AlreadyWellington, KentuckyJun 09, 2016
581Hell NOWellington, KentuckyJun 09, 2016
580Davis MillerLouisville, KentuckyJun 09, 2016
579Bobby PuckettMurray, KentuckyJun 09, 2016
578you stupid fucks Ignorant fucksWrightsville, GeorgiaJun 08, 2016
577Erik CarlsonFormerly of Lexington, KyJun 08, 2016
576Douglas CurlVersailles, KYJun 08, 2016
575John Winn MillerLexington , KYJun 08, 2016
574gregory guenthnerlexington, kyJun 08, 2016
573Eric LynchLexington , KYJun 08, 2016
572Erik TuttleJun 08, 2016
571Robert MorrinLexington, KentuckyJun 08, 2016
570Kevin SmithKYJun 08, 2016
569Tim BivinsLexington, KentuckyJun 08, 2016
568David ReedSanta Teresa, New MexicoJun 08, 2016
567Justin SadleJun 08, 2016

UPDATE (Monday, December 1, 2014 at 12:01 PM)

I just heard from the Ali family: It is the Champ’s belief that Islam prohibits three-dimensional representations of living Muslims. Accordingly, I have adjusted the petition to call for a two-dimensional representation of Ali (a portrait, picture or mural) in lieu of a statue.

UPDATE (Tuesday, December 2, 2014)

In this interview with WHAS-TV’s Joe Arnold, Governor Steve Beshear endorses the idea of honoring Muhammad Ali in the State Capitol (although he disagrees with removing Davis).  Arnold explores the idea further on his weekly show, “The Powers that Be.”

Click here to check out WDRB-TV’s Lawrence Smith’s coverage of the story.

And here’s my op-ed in Ali’s hometown paper, the Louisville Courier-Journal.

UPDATE (Saturday, June 4, 2016)

In the wake of the 2015 Charlestown tragedy, in which a Confederate flag-waving murderer united the nation against racism, all of the most powerful Kentucky policymakers — U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, Governor Matt Bevin, Senate President Robert Stivers and House Speaker Greg Stumbo — called for the removal of the Davis statue from the Rotunda. Today, as we commemorate last night’s passing of Muhammad Ali, there is no better moment to replace the symbol of Kentucky’s worst era with a tribute to The Greatest of All Time.

UPDATE (Wednesday, June 8, 2016):

Great piece by Lawrence Smith of WDRB-TV in Louisville on the petition drive to replace Jefferson Davis’ statue in the Capitol Rotunda with a tribute to Muhammad Ali.

UPDATE (Thursday, June 9, 2016):

Excellent piece on the petition drive by Jack Brammer that was featured on the front page of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Highlight of the article:

Miller said he has received a few “angry comments” on his call to honor Ali.

“One of them encouraged me to kill myself,” he said. “You can quote me that I have decided not to take their advice.”

UPDATE (Friday, June 10, 2016)

The petition drives continues to show the Big Mo(hammed):  check out these stories from WKYU-FM public radio in Bowling Green and WKYT-TV, Channel 27 in Lexington:

UPDATE (Saturday, June 11, 2016):

Still not convinced?  Check out this excerpt from today’s New York Times:

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Berry Craig: “We’re Fighting the Last Battle of the Civil War”

berry-craig-mugshot-for-pam-plattHistory books say the Civil War effectively ended on April 9, 1865, when Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Va.

“We’re fighting the last battle of the Civil War,” Rob Reiner said the other night on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews.”

The director, producer, “All in the Family” immortal and liberal political activist was speaking metaphorically of Donald Trump’s election.

Trump detractors, and at least one defender, have compared the president-elect to George Wallace, Alabama’s segregationist governor who carried five former Confederate states when he ran for president in 1968.

Trump, too, sounds like Democrat Franklin Pierce, who was elected president in 1852. Anti-slavery Republicans slammed Pierce, a New Hampshire Democrat, as a craven “Doughface,” a Northerner who happily carried water for the pro-slavery, white supremacist South.

Anyway, more than a few Confederate battle flags fluttered above Trump yard signs and flapped at Trump rallies in Dixie and in border states like Kentucky, where I was born, reared and still live.

Trump pandered to bigotry harder than any presidential hopeful since Wallace, who won a quintet of  Kentucky counties 48 years ago: Bullitt, Christian, Fulton, Hickman and Todd. They went for Trump, as did all but two of the Bluegrass State’s 120 counties–Jefferson (Louisville) and Fayette (Lexington).

Trump “is a classic American scaremonger tapping into recurrent white American anxieties,” wrote Slate’s Jamelle Bouie. “And while Trump has borrowed his ‘silent majority’ rhetoric from Richard Nixon, the man he most resembles is that era’s id, a demagogue who fed on the fear and anxiety of the 1960s and ’70s—George Wallace.”

Bouie added that Wallace-like, Trump “is an eruption of the ugliest forces in American life, at turns authoritarian, like the Louisiana populist Huey Long, or outright fascistic, like the Second Ku Klux Klan. And like all of the above, he’s brought the background prejudice of American life to the forefront of our politics, and opened the door to even worse rhetoric and action.”

A Wallace ally and a Wallace daughter also detect parallels between Wallace and Trump.

“It’s just a replay,” Charlie Snider, one of Wallace’s most trusted political aides, said to NPR’s Debbie Elliott. “We’re looking at a modern-day George Wallace.”

Snider backed Trump. Before the election, NPR reported that Peggy Wallace Kennedy, who supported Trump’s opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, believed that Trump “is exploiting voters’ worst instincts, the way her late father once did. ‘They both were able to adopt the notion that fear and hate are the two greatest motivators of voters that feel alienated from government.'”

“It is very disturbing to think that the first African American president is followed by someone who is supported by the Ku Klux Klan,” Reiner said.

Pro-Trump “white nationalists” are “hanging on for dear life,” he added. They are “threatened by the idea that the country is moving away from them and is becoming more diverse.”

John Hennen, a retired Morehead, Ky., State University history professor, agrees with Reiner. So does David Nickell, a sociology and philosophy professor at West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah, where I taught history for two dozen years.

Hennen said the Fourth Estate, for whatever reason, largely downplayed racism as a significant factor in Trump’s appeal to whites. “The media mostly papered over it. ‘Oh, no, no,’ they said. ‘His supporters are misunderstood, they’re desperate—they’re not racists.’”

Not all Trump voters are racists, Hennen acknowledged. “But the people who were really serious about correcting what is structurally wrong with the economy supported Bernie Sanders,” who Clinton bested for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Nickell said the Trump movement mainly was fueled by “a backlash against changing demographics and cultural trends in society at large.”

That backlash was racially-tinged, according to Nickell. He said that the birther movement, which Trump eagerly embraced and promoted–plus claims that President Barack Obama is a secret Muslim–were “ways of saying he is an ‘other,’ and not one of us.”

Hennen agreed that the racist roots of the Trump campaign go “all the way back to when he helped lead the crusade to prove that Obama was a foreigner.”

Hennen, Nickell and Reiner recognize that many Americans believed—or wanted to believe—that Obama’s election meant white America had shed its racist roots, that the country was post-racial.

“If anything, [the Trump campaign] brought out what had been an undercurrent of racism all along,” Nickell said. “It brought it back to the surface.”

Trump denies he is a racist. “I’ve never met anybody who admitted he was a racist,” Nickell said. “I don’t really care if he is a racist personally, but racist groups embraced him,” Hennen said.

An official Ku Klux Klan newspaper backed Trump. Ex-Klan leader David Duke, who is still a pro-Nazi white supremacist, supported Trump’s candidacy. Duke called Trump’s election “one of the most exciting nights of my life.”

The white supremacists are still whooping it up –some giving Nazi-style salutes–over Trump’s win, though Trump has said he rejects them, the Klan, Duke and the whole hatemongering “alt-right.”

After the election, Trump told a group of New York Times editors and reporters, “I don’t want to energize the [alt-right], and I disavow the group,” wrote The Washington Post’s Olivia Nuzzi.

She added that “when Clinton delivered her speech about the alt-right in August, Trump responded not by disavowing the movement but by labeling her a bigot. And outside his post-election comments to the Times, Trump hasn’t specifically addressed the alt-right. He has never asked its members to stop photoshopping Jewish journalists into gas chambers in his honor.

“What’s more, he has often seemed to wink in their direction by deploying their rhetoric, with his talk of opposing ‘globalism,’ his repeated retweets of alt-right Twitter accounts and his use of imagery — such as a Star of David illustration — that originated on Nazi websites.”

Meanwhile, this retired reporter-turned-history prof is still hoping some TV talking head or newspaper scribe will yet ask Trump why he thinks so many racists–sexists, misogynists, anti-Semites and nativists, too–were attracted to his candidacy. If a journalist has popped that question, I missed it.

Berry Craig is the webmaster-editor for the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, and also services on the state AFL-CIO Executive Board and serves as recording secretary for the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council. He is a charter member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360.

Berry Craig: Some thoughts to warm Democrats as our winter of discontent approaches

berry-craig-mugshot-for-pam-plattKevin Wheatley of cn2 reported that Kentucky Democratic Party bigwigs did “a lot of soul-searching” at their election post-mortem in Frankfort Saturday.

Time will tell if the KDP Executive Committee and other party leaders find anything that might dull the Bluegrass State’s brighter-than-ever Republican Red hue.

Like most Kentuckians who belong to a union, I’m a Democrat. I’ve never missed an election since my first one in 1968, when I voted for Hubert H. Humphrey for president. I voted for every Democratic White House hopeful since, right through to Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I’ve never voted for a Republican at any level. Yep, I’m one of a vanishing breed in the Bluegrass State: a “yellow dog” Democrat.

I was born, reared and still live in Mayfield, about as far west as Kentucky goes. I belong to another endangered species: my politics lean decidedly left.

I am not a party insider; almost none of the party brass know me from Adam. I’m as far from KDP leadership as Mayfield is from Frankfort—261.4 miles, according to Google. But nobody is rooting harder for a Democratic comeback in Frankfort and Washington than I am.

Meanwhile, here’s a quote that might make KDP HQ a little less gloomy as the days shorten and the winter of our discontent approaches: “It is just at this point, when things look darkest for the Democrats, that you can count on the Republicans to do something that will save the day–that is, it will save the day for us.”

President Harry S. Truman said that in a speech in 1948, the year he was elected to his own term.

Anyway, I’m ready to wager that a lot of people who voted for Donald Trump will be sorry by the time the red buds bloom in Kentucky. I’m betting King Leer will prove to be the colossal fraud we tried to warn John and Jane Q Citizen that he is.

The country just might be awash in a tsunami of buyer’s remorse. Some of the flood might even inundate Kentucky, which he of the Tang-hued mane won “bigly.”

Besides smashing unions, Gov. Matt Bevin, Kentucky’s Trump, and his right-wing Republican legislature are all set to take a meat axe to public education and turn state government from a watchdog on behalf of workers, consumers and the environment, into a lapdog for polluters, sharpies and other well-heeled folks of “the public be damned” persuasion.

Kentuckians might not take kindly to any of that.

Anyway, HST also mused that “the Republicans think they have been so successful with their campaign of smears and character assassination that they have the Democrats on the run.”

Here’s where it really starts to get good: “We are getting a lot of suggestions to the effect that we ought to water down our platform and abandon parts of our program. These, my friends, are Trojan horse suggestions. I have been in politics for over 30 years, and I know what I am talking about, and I believe I know something about the business. One thing I am sure of: never, never throw away a winning program. This is so elementary that I suspect the people handing out this advice are not really well-wishers of the Democratic Party.”

Give ‘em Hell Harry was really on a roll: “Now, we can always rely on the Republicans to help us in an election year, but we can’t count on them to do the whole job for us. We have got to go out and do some of it ourselves, if we expect to win. The first rule in my book is that we have to stick by the liberal principles of the Democratic Party. We are not going to get anywhere by trimming or appeasing. And we don’t need to try it.”

He warned: “I’ve seen it happen time after time. When the Democratic candidate allows himself to be put on the defensive and starts apologizing for the New Deal and the Fair Deal, and says he really doesn’t believe in them, he is sure to lose. The people don’t want a phony Democrat. If it’s a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat, and I don’t want any phony Democratic candidates in this campaign. [Italics mine].

No doubt if Truman were alive, he would take Trump to task for shamefully pandering to prejudice: racism, sexism, misogyny, nativism and religious bigotry. “There is another thing we must stand firm on,” Truman said. “That is our pledge on the issue of civil rights. No citizen of this great country ought to be discriminated against because of his race, religion, or national origin. That is the essence of the American ideal and the American Constitution.”

So here’s this rank-and-filer’s plea to the KDP powers-that-be: It’s time to resurrect the party of FDR, HST and Lyndon B. Johnson–and Alben Barkley, Carl Perkins, Ned Breathitt and Wilson Wyatt.

Okay, charge me with living in the past. I am a retired community college history prof who writes books about Kentucky history.

But I’m ready for the KDP to return to its liberal–there, I said it–roots.

I’m ready for the leaders of my party to shout from the rooftops that nothing has done more for working stiffs and the least among us than activist social democratic government — as mirrored in FDR’s New Deal, HST’s Fair Deal and LBJ’s Great Society—in tandem with strong, free trade unions.

It’s time for Democrats to brag on Democratic successes like:

–Social Security and Medicare. GOP claims that they’re going broke are baloney and just an excuse to privatize or get rid of both programs, which most Republicans have fought tooth-and-nail all along.

— laws that guarantee workers the right to have a union, that establish a minimum wage and that provide unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation. The Republicans claimed all such was “creeping communism” and undermined the “free enterprise system”—meaning free of unions and of government stepping in to protect us from those FDR called “the malefactors of great wealth.”

— laws that mandate equal pay for equal work, protect the environment and protect worker safety and health on the job– more “radical” stuff, according to the GOP. (“What is right has always been called radical by those with a stake in what is wrong,” said an old McGovern for president poster of mine.)

— laws that prevent discrimination based on race, age, gender and sexual orientation. The Republicans long ago surrendered to the Democrats their historic role as the party of Lincoln, liberty and civil rights. The GOP is, especially in Kentucky and states farther south, what the Democrats in Dixie and the borderland used to be: mostly the white folks’ party.

In short, FDR, HST, LBJ, The Veep, Perkins, Breathitt and Wyatt were my kind of Democrats–Democrats who had faith in the notion that “The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves.” The quote is often attributed to FDR, but Abraham Lincoln–he and FDR are my two favorite presidents–said it first.

Go ahead. Argue that Democrats who think like I do are unelectable beyond “liberal Louisville” and maybe parts of Lexington. (Jefferson and Fayette were the only counties that Clinton won.) But in Kentucky, Nov. 8 was more proof, as if proof were needed, that trying to out-Republican the Republicans, notably on the social issues, doesn’t work.

In another ’48 speech, Truman said,  “Republicans approve of the American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke. They stand four-square for the American home — but not for housing. They are strong for labor — but they are stronger for restricting labor’s rights. They favor a minimum wage — the smaller the minimum wage the better.

“They endorse educational opportunity for all — but they won’t spend money for teachers or for schools. They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine — for people who can afford them.  They approve of Social Security benefits — so much so that they took them away from almost a million people….They consider electric power a great blessing — but only when the private power companies get their rake-off.

“They say TVA is wonderful — but we ought never to try it again….They think the American standard of living is a fine thing — so long as it doesn’t spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.

“Now, my friends, that is the Wall Street Republican way of life. But there is another way — there is another way — the Democratic way, the way of the Democratic Party.”

in 2018, I’d love to hear more Kentucky Democrats sound more like the Man from Missouri on the stump from Sassafras Ridge to the banks of the Big Sandy and from Covington to the Black Jack Jog. Think it won’t fly outside the Falls City and the capital of the Big Blue Nation? Why not give it a try anyway? After all, where has Republican Lite gotten the Democrats in our state?

Berry Craig is the webmaster-editor for the Kentucky State AFL-CIO, and also services on the state AFL-CIO Executive Board and serves as recording secretary for the Paducah-based Western Kentucky AFL-CIO Area Council. He is a charter member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360.

Greg Harris: Uniter in Chief?

Greg HarrisThe opportunity for Donald Trump to espouse a vision for a largely post-partisan right-of-center new politics is his to claim.  He is not ideological to his core, which can potentially be an asset. For Trump to truly succeed at unifying (most of) the nation, he must triangulate—i.e. prioritize an action agenda that seeks to solve our most pressing problems as a nation over a partisan agenda that takes sides and leads to ongoing policy stalemate.

Here are some ideas on how Trump can change business as usual in Washington and win the admiration of most Americans regardless of political affiliation:

Foreign Policy

As a primary candidate, Trump was actually the least hawkish of the GOP field (with the possible exception of Rand Paul). Trump’s critiques of the Iraq war, for example, were heartfelt as he espoused the most realistic albeit unorthodox (for Republicans) views on foreign policy, correctly faulting our military adventurism in Iraq as creating the conditions that gave rise to ISIS. Similarly, he challenged our targeting of dictators in Syria, Libya and Iraq as creating more human suffering and instability, not less.

A more humble policy where nation building is prioritized less, and aligning NATO-level with street-level intelligence is prioritized more, would create a more resourceful and targeted way to defeat not nations but, rather, nation-less terrorist cells.

 

Tax Reform

If Trump is sincere about cleansing Washington and serving the people over the powerful, there is no better place to start than tax reform. One key area is replacing the income tax with a national sales tax. Such reforms could be progressive by exempting the first $10,000 in worker earnings from payroll tax (as two-thirds of Americans pay more in payroll tax than income tax) and applying the VAT to financial transactions and capital gains (hence, not sparing the one percent who make most their income off stocks versus salary). It would also reduce waste by addressing the hundreds of billions in uncollected taxes in our current system, while drastically downsizing the scope of the IRS.

More exciting still, such tax reform would serve Trump’s stated priority of cleaning “the swamp” and cleansing democratic institutions hijacked by powerful interests and lobbyists that currently manipulate the tax code to the advantage of elites that pay for their services.

 

Infrastructure & Energy

Infrastructure is one area where Trump has signaled a willingness to go big, and there is no other area that spells more opportunity for our nation to remake our economy while making a middle class life a reality again for millions of “forgotten” Americans. His proposed $1 trillion would be sufficient to fund thousands of projects in queue to fix crumbling bridges and sewer systems, expand congested highways, bolster flood prevention, fix an antiquated energy grid, and so on.   In light of estimates that with “every billion dollars that you spend on infrastructure, you create 18,000 to 25,000 jobs,” millions of new jobs would be created.

If President Trump complemented investment in transportation with a goal of energy independence, he should look to make wind a primary energy supplier for the East and West coast states, plains states (from Kansas to Texas following the wind corridor) and regions along the Great Lakes; similarly, solar power could be a primary energy source for our Western and Southwestern states, perhaps combined with investment in desalination technology and distribution channels to make California and Southwestern states less vulnerable to drought.  These types of investments would be 21st century equivalents to Hoover Dam.

Furthermore, if Trump did like Eisenhower–who oversaw the construction of the modern highway system with the coming of the age of the automobile–and declared the coming of the age of advanced transit linking all of America by high speed rail and intra-linking communities by spokes that feed of that rail (street cars, etc.), we would surpass the high rail and transit networks of advanced European and Asian nations while opening up massive new economic opportunity for our nation (e.g. connecting the working poor to job centers).

These investments would help America largely run on its own energy sources.  And it would also shift geopolitical power away from oppressive regimes that feed on oil money, and end our days spending trillions on wars fought over foreign oil. In so doing, Trump could really create an America First energy policy and foreign policy.

 

Healthcare

Unlike candidate Trump, President-elect Trump has signaled a willingness to maintain some key features of Obamacare—including allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance policies, and prohibiting discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. Trump might also consider a reform proposed from John Kerry’s 2004 campaign and allow federal subsidy for catastrophic care, and lower the age for Medicare eligibility (paid for my lifting the payroll tax cap). Such action would stabilize and even lower health insurance premium costs. Additional proposals like allowing insurance company completion across state lines (hence, curbing regional monopolies) would also help to keep premiums on par with inflation. In this way, a conservative alternative to Obamacare would also be compassionate, efficient and effective.

 

Immigration Reform

Contrary to his campaign rhetoric, President-elect Trump has signaled that he would pursue a more refined focus on illegals that have committed crimes, versus illegals in general. Trump should go further by rewarding good behavior and – consistent with his law and order views – reward with amnesty those illegals that have paid taxes, committed no crimes and demonstrated through their actions that they are very much an asset to America. Such an approach would be well received by most Americans, and win over in particular the support of many Latinos.

  

Rewarding Work

America is a generous country that pretty much guarantees a pathway to success for those who take advantage of the free education that is offered them, stay out of trouble, and work hard. But government cannot cure personal and moral issues. What government can do, in targeted ways, is reward positive behavior like hard work and continuing education.

For example, Ronald Reagan conceived of the earned income tax credit as a means to reward work by supplementing modest wages. Trump can build on such policies by expanding the EIC. He can also support small businesses (like mine) that are the leading employers in our nation. Small business owners are especially good at vetting and cultivating reliable workers, and could offer such worker more hours and more income if we were to get some relief in areas like payroll tax (perhaps by waving the employer match for the first $5000 in income), which deeply cut against our bottom lines.

 

Social Issues

Stay moderate. Young liberal and conservative minded folks alike increasingly could care less if a Gay couple gets married. But they do care about issues like crushing student debt, or spending trillions on foreign wars while we cannot afford to repair our nation’s antiquated infrastructure, or adequately care for our heroic veterans. Trump can be a leading voice for criminal justice reforms (now strongly advocated by many conservatives, including the Koch Brothers), including more cost effective policies to deal with the drug epidemic, including expanding addiction and mental health treatment that costs far less than prison.

Should Trump forge a new conservatism that applies serious and cost effective solutions to the pressing issues in out time – from quelling military adventurism to building a 21st century infrastructure and energy policy that would create millions of new – he would ironically evolve from a divisive candidacy to a unifying presidency. Here’s hoping the President-elect defeats ideologically driven Washington gridlock by ruling from a radical, activist center that shuns partisanship in favor of progress.

Greg Harris: RIGGED: Takeaways from the “Wikileaks” Scandal – The Good & Bad

Greg HarrisOne of the major reasons I consider myself a “recovering politician” and write for a web-zine of the same name has been laid bare by the recent wikileaks of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails. There is a corruption to modern politics that too often allows a campaign system disproportionately funded by elites to therefore disproportionately do the bidding of elites—powerful industries, individuals and special interests.   We see this when ketchup is declared a vegetable; when anyone can have access to any damn gun they want; when insurers can cherry pick who they insure; when banks can wreck an economy and then come out wealthier on the other side.

There is a small segment of society capable of funding expensive campaigns. And politicians (as I experienced as a City Council candidate) spend disproportionate amounts of time talking to the elites to in order to fund their campaigns, which can skew perspective and priorities. The consequences emerge from the local to the national. While there are no pure sinners or saints, here is my snapshot of the “good and bad” on how the wikileaks reflect on the major players in the 2016 presidential race:

Barack Obama – GOOD

President Obama built a campaign apparatus outside of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). His “Organize for America” (OFA) amounted to the most potent grassroots fundraising and organizing apparatus in political history. His instinct to go outside the Party establishment will look better and better over time. (Note: Howard Dean deserves major props for being first out the gate for “net-roots” fundraising that helped drive his 2004 presidential run.)

Hillary Clinton – BAD

The email scandal that has haunted Secretary Clinton is now given new credence. Indeed, it shows how vulnerable (hack-able) emails can be to outside interests. Clinton violated State Department (and Obama Administration policy) policy, plain and simple. And now we are reminded why such policies exist. When classified information is made vulnerable, America is made vulnerable.

Bernie Sanders – GOOD

Sen. Sanders was right to call out DNC bias. His concerns are now vindicated. Furthermore, his grassroots donor base (the famous $27 average contribution from everyday people) represented a good antidote to a two-party establishment system where big money too often correlates to big spoils for the very powerful, often at the expense of everyday people who struggle under today’s economic conditions.

Gary Johnson – GOOD

The Libertarian Party has its most exciting and proven presidential tickets in decades, led by former New Governor Gary Johnson and former Massachusetts Governor William Weld. In some ways, their candidacy is a preview of what next generation Republicanism might look like – fiscally conservative, socially liberal, and pro-science.

Donald Trump – GOOD & BAD

Donald Trump’s message, like it or not, will resonate all the more now. His message on trade deals that quash the little guy, his distance from Wall Street, among other themes, sets himself up to be the messenger for a system that is in need of an enema. Sadly, too many Trump supporters – spurred by Trump himself – have turned their scorn towards the little people who suffer under global arrangements and/or lawlessness. This especially holds true for third world populations that are today’s indentured servants, and immigrants or illegal immigrants fleeing deplorable economic conditions and or extreme drug violence that has overtaken many Central American communities. A message about a system stacked against the proverbial “little guy” is powerful; a message that in turn casts vulnerable people of color as the problem is contradictory and, well, simply cruel.

The Two Party System – BAD

The Republican establishment was utterly rejected by its base voters during the primaries. Trump was not “their” choice. The Democratic establishment was narrowly undermined by Sanders, and it now appears the DNC did what they could to keep him down. I know from personal experience from local politics that the two-party system perpetuates itself through a system of spoils and picking winners and losers. And this is spoiling democracy.

This is in many ways a scary election. The “people” are fed up, but the vehicles to express that anger are compromised. We know in the abstract of a “system” that is rigged at many levels. But legitimate anger is being harkened by dog whistles from one campaign, and a compromised candidate from the other. Let’s pray that both major candidates – Hillary and Donald – recognize this historic moment and respond to it in ways that provide a somewhat shell shocked electorate with real options and a new direction.

Jonathan Miller at the 2016 Governor’s Prayer Breakfast

Greg Harris: Donald Trump — The Art of the Divide

Greg HarrisThis column isn’t about me, but if you’ll indulge me, I’m going to talk briefly about my own short-lived political career in order to make a broader point about today’s political dynamics as played out in the current presidential primaries.

I ran for Cincinnati City Council in 2007, and while unsuccessful, I did well enough to get appointed to fill Mayor John Cranley’s seat when he left City Council in early 2009. I didn’t enjoy much of a honeymoon, however, as the impact of the Great Recession hit locally, and Cincinnati suddenly faced a $50 million budget shortfall. And this is when I got a crash course in politics.

Councilmembers who I thought I knew well started holding press conferences that, in my view, played off ignorance: they claimed the deficit wasn’t real, and that lots of police officers were going to needlessly get laid off. From my own research (I came from a policy background and knew how to dissect budgets) however, I learned that while public safety consumed two-thirds of the city budget, not all dollars were being spent in ways that made us safer. For example, why were we spending millions in costly overtime for walking patrols when police visibility should have been prioritized and integrated into FOP contracts? I also concluded that if the FOP simply considered forgoing a raise for their members for the first time in five years, then they could largely achieve the cuts that were asked of their department without layoffs.

But such modest sacrifice was not considered. Furthermore, as the city’s newest Councilmember, I was depicted as the vital 5th vote (out of nine councilmember) that could save police jobs, or, be the guy who does them in. I confess, the temptation was great. I could’ve branded myself all the way to Election Day as the guy who saved police jobs and kept our city safe. But I knew the issue was a charade, and it had little policy integrity. If we spared the police department of any cuts in face of a large deficit, the balance would be taken from other programs like basic services. I didn’t bite, despite the temptation.
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My larger point? Locally and nationally, the politics of fear mongering and division can win elections. Apparently, no one knows this as well as Donald Trump. We are now seeing his encouragements of violence at rallies leading to actual violence. We are seeing him pit different groups of Americans against one another—e.g. preying on ignorance about our nation’s immigrant tradition and about Islam. Nothing comes cheap, easy and instantly gratifying than stoking anger. To the credit of Governor John Kasich, he has waged a unifying presidential campaign that is the antidote to Trump’s day to day, free association belching of discord.

Many Americans have legit reasons for being angry and scared. Middle class wages have been stagnant. The powerful seem to operate by their own rules. New enemies take shapes and forms we aren’t accustomed as nation-less terrorist cells. Some feel their faith and traditions are being undermined. A vulnerable America deserves empathy and action, and Democrats and Republicans have been complicit in systemically redistributing wealth and influence away from working people.

The proverbial “little guy” deserves an agenda that respond to his fears. What “he” is getting is a showman that is stoking his fears for political advantage.

The greatest political compliment I ever received was from my friend George who said I was one of the few politicians he knew “who cared more about doing his job than keeping his job.” In some ways I lived up to this compliment, and other ways I didn’t. But we deserve leaders who put their townships, their cities and their nation ahead of their own election or re-election. Trump’s pathological self-worship and lack of depth has led him to fan flames without concern for their consequences because in the end he serves mostly himself.

The politics of division and fear mongering are cheap and easy. Politicians can take it to an art form. Public servants, by contrast, take on the far more difficult task of seeking genuine ways to serve the people and appeal to their better angels.

John Y. Brown, IV at the Jefferson-Bullitt Conservative Social

Rebecca just edited and sent me this video from last May.
It was just after the gubernatorial primary and my son and I were invited by the wonderful Rachel Ford Jones to speak at the Jefferson-Bullitt Co Conservative Club, with my son giving the conservative viewpoint on the election and me giving the liberal viewpoint
It was an honor to be asked to speak and we had a lot of fun.. Hearing my son, who just turned 21, speak to an adult audience and be as poised and thoughtful as he was, made me awfully proud.
I love that Johnny has his own political views. We discuss and debate politics often. At times we disagree passionately but we always are respectful of one another. I have learned a lot from debating with Johnny (and believe –or hope anyway–that Johnny has learned a lot from me). Our political discussions have made us both more thoughtful about our individual viewpoints and more respectful of opinions that differ from our own.

Benham Sims: For the Love of a Teacher

TCarrhe person who has had the most profound impact on my life was a teacher. He is now battling stage four cancer and so many students who were touched by him are reaching out.

I was terribly shy in High School, my parents marriage was breaking up, it remains an ugly and profoundly sad period of my life. I was an at risk kid, but I had a special teacher who encouraged me.

This is what I wrote on his Facebook page:

As I was driving to work, I was thinking of the many lessons I learned in your class. I finally realized that the most important gift a teacher can provide is not knowledge or even wisdom, it is confidence. In reading the many posts of former students, I was struck by the love and shared belief that you profoundly changed the course of our lives because of the confidence you instilled in each of us.

Mr Carr, I was a shy, insecure, teenager when I met you. Now at 54, I can attest that my life has been full. I graduated college and law school including winning the scholarship for outstanding oral advocate;), tried cases, saved lives, won awards, written laws, presided over, prosecuted, and defended thousands of cases, served as a Special Justice on the Kentucky Supreme Court, and attended two National Democratic Conventions. I am married to a special woman, and the father of two wonderful young men. I have great friends who I love beyond words and have work that gives my life meaning.

I may not have achieved all my dreams but if anyone would have told me when I started Riverview-this was my future-I would have laughed and then cowered in fear. From a terrified teen whose shaking hands caused the papers to rustle so loud that other kids looked away in embarrassment with my first speech to a lawyer who values inappropriate ties, cufflinks, loud socks, humor and kindness over all other human attributes.

Your teaching showed us what we could be…..if we but tried. The love flowing to you now is only surpassed by the realization of how many lives you forever altered. Ron we love you, for the most basic of reasons, you showed your love and faith in us first.

My most prized possession are his words in my yearbook….can you even imagine what kind of teacher-what kind of person he must be to write something this kind to a strYearbookuggling young man. It has been 35 years and it still chokes me up. To my beloved friend and teacher:
Ron Carr

John Y. Brown, III: How to Survive a Winter Storm

jyb_musingsHow to survive a major storm –and (maybe) find your inner hero

As we hunker down tonight for Kentucky’s Blizzard-Palooza, I am reminded of an even bigger storm I endured over 20 years ago and, as awful as it was, I actually remember in a weirdly endearing way.

I was a newlywed and recent law school grad and had just moved to Tamarac, Florida, to start a new job in Ft Lauderdale. I chose Tamarac because I was able to get a great deal on a condo rental and had rented it sight unseen.

As we drove into Tamarac we noticed it wasn’t the young hip town we had hoped it would be but was a retirement community. The first restaurants we saw were all buffet restaurants and each block was dotted with prosthetic stores. I admitted to Rebecca
I probably should have researched Tamarac better (this was pre-Internet days; there was such a time) but encouraged her to look on the bright side: it was a great deal, we wouldn’t have rowdy neighbors, and hey, it was Florida.

We found our pink pastel retirement condo, unpacked, picked up some toiletries, rented some movies at Blockbuster and got dressed-up and headed out for our first big date night in Florida.

We got home late and as we got ready for bed, Rebecca flipped on the television and yelled for me to come quickly.

“What is it?” I asked.

Rebecca pointed to the TV, “Look! They are warning that a major hurricane is coming tomorrow and saying we should evacuate”

“Nah.” I muttered reassuringly. “It’s Florida. They have hurricanes all the time. We’ll be fine.”

We turned off the TV went to bed and didn’t wake up until noon the next day.

We leisurely headed to grocery to stock our new home but noticed the grocery was busy–crazily busy– and much of the shelves had been cleared.

We bought a few items and headed home to find out more about this hurricane. It was called Hurricane Andrew.

I still wasn’t overly concerned. I’d been through hurricanes before. But Rebecca hadn’t and was getting worried.

I decided to snap into action as the strong protective husband I sensed my wife and our small shih-tzu dog, Julep, were yearning for me to be. Since the grocery stores had limited choices, I went to Miami Subs and bought half dozen sub sandwiches. I proudly
showed Rebecca how I’d outsmarted our bleak circumstances and made sure we wouldn’t be without food.

But instead of being relieved, Rebecca looked more nervous than before and told me she thought we should evacuate like everyone else. She had been watching the news and miles of streaming cars were south Florida in a mass exodus.

“Look,” I implored. “How many times will we get to say we lived through one of the worst storms in modern history —and survived it?” I paused. “Think about it.” I paused again. “This is an historic opportunity.”

It was my way of coping. I was trying to appear brave and considered Mother Nature throwing down the gauntlet to us. The movie Forrest Gump hadn’t been released yet but I was already channeling Lt Dan defiantly trying to take on a vicious storm on a sinking
shrimp boat. Of course, in my version, I wouldn’t be outside on a sinking ship but inside a air-conditioned pink condo eating a gourmet sub sandwich. But it’s the same basic idea.

As I jabbered on, I noticed fearful tears welling up in Rebecca’s eyes.

“What about Julep?” She asked. “What if we all die?”

I felt a lump welling in my throat and despite my brilliant sub sandwich maneuver, I was beginning to second guess the wisdom of my plan to stare down Hurricane Andrew.

We looked again at the TV and now it was eerily quite outside—the chilling calm before the storm.

Reporters were telling us the roads were now clear; that the city had been evacuated and those who stayed behind were hunkering down to brave the storm.

“Get the dog.” I said resignedly. “We’re leaving.”

Rebecca hugged and thanked me, got Julep and a change of clothes, and we hopped in the car and were off.

We had a clear shot —hardly any traffic –all the way to north Florida as we outran Hurricane Andrew. It was a bizarre consolation prize for our (my) foolhardy delay.

We were nearing the Georgia border and now were exhausted and ready to find a hotel room for the night. But tens of thousands of others had the exact same thought and started hours before us. Hotel after hotel told us they were full. About 5am we were
nearing Valdosta, GA and found a La Quinta Inn. There was a single room available someone had reserved but they hadn’t shown and the manager graciously gave it to us. We didn’t dare tell the manager about Julep in case they had a “no pet” policy. I tucked
Julep under my arm and smuggled her by the manager and she thankfully didn’t yelp.

The next day we took it easy and reflected on how grateful we were that we fled and were safe and dry in a nice hotel with electricity. We stayed a second night and the next morning I called UK law school to see if final grades had been posted. I called
from the phone in the hotel room (we didn’t have a cell phone; there was such a time) and gave the administrator my social security number while still on my knees, where I had just prayed fervently for good grades allowing me to graduate.

“Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!” I yelled into a pillow to muffle the sound of my ecstatic scream when I received the merciful news I had graduated from law school.

As an aside, I have always had an affection for LaQuinta Inns ever since.

We decided it was time to head home to survey the damage and face the consequences. We pulled in just before nightfall and to our amazement our condo building hadn’t been hit at all. We even had electricity. We had remarkably been spared.

Other towns nearby, like Kendall and Homestead were nearly decimated. 25,000 homes were destroyed and 100,000 more damaged. Over a million homes were without electricity –many for weeks. 26 people died and property damage totaled over $26 billion. Hurricane
Andrew was the most destructive hurricane in American history.

We went inside and threw away the four extra sub sandwiches, unpacked and turned on the TV just as if nothing had happened since we turned it off two days earlier.

It’s truly amazing how quickly we can return to our petty normalcy even after just being spared major devastation.

A few days later I returned the movies we had rented from Blockbuster and was charged a late fee. I argued that Blockbuster should waive the late fee because the hurricane was an “Act of God” that caused me to flee the city for several days and return
the movies late. I tried explaining in a lawyerly fashion that these clauses were in all contracts and called a force majeure clause. The teenaged clerk looked at me like I was a babbling ass, which I was. But that didn’t stop me.

“Look, I’m a lawyer.” I explained. “Trust me. This is not something you want to fight me on.” I didn’t threaten to sue Blockbuster over the $2 late charge but tried to insinuate that was a distinct possibility.

The clerk told me he’d have to talk to his manager the next day but had to charge me the late fee for now. I shrugged and paid the late fee and strutted out of Blockbuster as dauntingly as I could in a T-shirt.

I probably hadn’t impressed my teen accuser, but told myself I had grown a lot the week of the storm. I was now a law grad and just had my first legal run-in over a movie rental late charge and, despite losing, had made some forceful legal points.

And, of course, I now was a fearless survivor of a major storm.

I got into my car and headed back to my pink pastel condo where I was sure my wife and shih tzu were waiting eagerly for their hero to return home.

Maybe tonight in Kentucky there are some young insecure newly married young men awaiting the avalanche of snow and fearful they won’t know how to handle it. Fear not. This may be the night you find your hero’s voice. Or maybe it won’t be and you’ll end
up like me with only a silly story about how you survived Kentucky’s winter storm in 2016. Either is fine as long as you are lucky enough to come out unscathed.

My advice? Do what they say on the news and don’t get hung up on ideas involving sub sandwiches. And most importantly, realize your wife really knows best and if you trust her instincts, you’ll both be fine — and she’ll still love you and pretend you’re
her hero.

And, finally, if you decide to pick a fight with a teenage clerk, don’t. Just pay and walk away. Trust me on this. I’m a lawyer, you know.

Good luck!

Josh Bowen: Movement is Medicine

joshIt is December. It is holiday time. The amount of stress increases exponentially. More people get sick with the cold or flu and their time decreases because of the demand of parties and social events. Instead of taking to over the counter pills or doctor prescriptions, what if you just moved? How can movement help in making you feel better?

Over the last 30 years, as Americans, we have been obsessed with medicine. From antibiotics to steroids and everything in between, we medicate our selves and quite honestly and quite simply we OVER medicate ourselves. We don’t move as much as our ancestors did, we get sicker more often, we carry more body fat and our stress levels seem like nuclear time bombs just waiting to go off. True, we live longer but in my opinion we don’t live as quality of lives as generations before us. We live on prescription and over the counter medications. And they are killing us.

I am not a doctor, I am not what you would call a “health professional.” I am person who specializes in fitness and movement and have watched first hand how movement can better people in the following areas; physically, emotionally, psychologically, and even sexually (get your mind out of the gutter, I have not witnessed that first hand but people have told me and I take their word for it, dammit.)

Lets define movement for a second. Movement defined as “the act of moving your body or a part of your body.” Now I will had a phrase to the end, “in a fashion that increases blood flow to the body’s tissues, decreases harmful inflammation and increases feel good hormones the body.” That is how we will define movement, anything where you move. Like weight training, walking, going up stairs, running (oh god), sport activities, playing with your kids etc. You get the point…MOVE!

So, can I ask you a question? Has anyone ever been to a doctor for something and instead of prescribing medication that doctor told you to “start moving?” That is not a shot at the medical professionals but I would dare to say that movement (as defined above) could treat and prevent many of the diseases that kill us. From diabetes to heart disease to certain cancers, movement has scientifically shown to decrease the death rate and improve a person’s well being.

You people who are reading this are smart. You are educated. You know what is important overall but what about during bouts of constant stress and anxiety or when you have a cold or infection. How does movement work then?

Activities to Consider When Sick

Walking
Swimming
Biking
Light weight training
Yoga
Light jog

Activities to Avoid

Heavy weight training
CrossFit style workouts or High Intensity Interval Training
Sprinting or running long distances
Exercise in extreme temperatures

How Exercise Affects Your Immune System
(One time exercise)

Brief Vigorous Exercise- no immune suppressing effect
Moderate Intensity Exercise 45-60 minutes- can boost your immune system
Prolonged Vigorous Exercise over 120 minutes- can decrease immune function causing you to get sicker

Long term moderate intensity resistance Training– stimulates innate immunity (natural immunity; white blood cells, mucous, stomach acid)
Chronic moderate exercise– strengthens adaptive immunity (acquired immunity; acquired white blood cells, vaccinations if any).

Textbook Guidelines to Exercises While Sick
(From Precision Nutrition)

To close this out here are a few tips

To Keep From Getting Sick

Eat organic food
Eat green vegetables
Drink a ton of water
Don’t eat crap
Lift weights
Move

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