Author: Cornish, Rick

Controversial Supreme Court Decision Rocks the Nation

Welcome and good morning from Whiskey Creek, where the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are suspended for four to five hours every Saturday while my wife cleans the house. Eddy, Rudy, Willie and I each have our own special hiding places. No, these human rights (and dog rights) blackouts aren’t fun, but they beat living in a dirty house.

As the title of today’s column implies, I’m going to use this fifth Saturday of the month Welcome to address an item in the news that has taken this great nation of ours by storm. The five-four split of the U.S. Supreme Court announced this past week has the potential of forever changing the political landscape of these United States. I know, for twelve years now we have held fast to an unwritten but oft referred to agreement to steer clear of politics and religion. That agreement has served our bluegrass community well: the widely diverse political precepts of our twenty-six hundred-plus members have, as the expression goes, been left at the door. But, my friends, this past week’s action by our judiciary is simply too important, too critical, to ignore. I must speak out.

I’m speaking, of course, of Thursday’s split Supreme Court vote that overturned the Third U.S. Appellate Court’s ruling on Shaw vs. the American Kennel Club, a case that has drug on for over four years and has pitted breeder against breeder and Labrador against Labrador. With what can only be described as a dog-with-a-bone tenacity, Mountville, Indiana, dog breeder Denise ‘Snookems’ Shaw took her AKC application for creating a new breed, the Fox Red Labrador, through all the proper channels then into the judicial system and eventually making her case to the nine-member Supreme Court. Outside the courtroom, the Kennel Club’s star expert witness, Dr. Carmen Battaglia struggled with Chief Roberts prevailing brief. “Over the past half century”, he said “there have been many attempts to create exotic or designer breeds. Most have failed because the breeders did not take the time to understand what is required to produce a new gene pool or what the American Kennel Club (AKC) requires of a new breed seeking to be recognized. Clearly this was the case with Ms. Shaw. I am thoroughly disenchanted with our nation’s high court. In fact, my wife and I are thinking of moving to Canada.” Interviewed Friday morning, Shaw sang a much different tune. “It was a long struggle,” said ‘Snookems’ to a CNN correspondent, “but it was worth every minute of it. I mean, I had to do something. What was I supposed to do with all those red puppies?”

So, let me say as an individual and in no way representing the California Bluegrass Association or its board members, congratulations Ms. Denise ‘Snookems’ Shaw for a job well done. You fought the good fight, you believed in the system and thanks to you, the yellows, blacks and chocolates are now officially joined by the fox-reds.

So, now that I have your attention…and quickly, before I lose it, let me once again urge you to consider making the supreme commitment to bluegrass and old-time music by running for our board of directors. Why, you ask, would I want to do that? Here are ten reasons.

Reason Ten
You can say you did. For the remainder of your life, no one can ever, ever complain that you don’t get involved, that you’re apathetic. Your neighbor asks you to sign a petition for a new stop sign on your block, you refuse, he starts in on you and you pull out the 2008 list of candidates. He’s stopped in his tracks.

Reason Nine
Running for office, any office, is certain to teach you humility. First, during your work to get 15 CBA members to sign your petition, you’ll have plenty of people refuse. (‘Ah, er, I, ah, just really don’t feel comfortable signing. But don’t get me wrong, it’s nothing against you.’) Then, once you’re on the ballot, you’re sure to read some pretty defamatory stuff about you on the Message Board, stuff you never even realized about yourself before. Finally, you either lose the election and feel like a complete loser, or worse, you win and are faced with 12 full months of being second guessed, criticized and defamed. Either way, you’re in for quite an education.

Reason Eight
You’ll get your picture in the Bluegrass Breakdown and on the CBA web site. No, it’s not as good as being on American Idol, but then you don’t have to sing or dance or even try out. You just have to get fifteen people, CBA members, to say you’re not a serial killer. Imagine, the Breakdown has a distribution of 7,000 and we have anywhere’s from 8,500 to 15,000 hits on the web site everyday. You’ll become instantly famous among a tiny, tiny sector of the American demographic who’s distinguished itself by its devotion to a musical genre that the vast majority of the nation avoids if at all possible.

Reason Seven
Like so many before you, you can attempt to leverage your position on a non-profit organization’s board of directors as a stepping-stone to higher office. (You know, first the school board, then the water district board, the city council, state legislature, U.S. Congress, etc.) True, no one in the entire thirty-three year history of the California Bluegrass Association has succeeded in pulling this off, but I understand Larry Kuhn came within a single vote being elected to the planning committee for Pasadena High School’s fiftieth reunion. Stranger things have happened.

Reason Six
People who’ve never given you the time of day will buddy up to you and act like they’re your friend from the moment you announce, right up until the election results are announced on Saturday night at the Annual Fall Campout and Membership Meeting. And if you win, they’ll continue treating you like a pal until you: 1) hire a band they don’t like; 2) lose your seat in a future election; or 3) retire from the board. (Important Note: Reason 6 is only a compelling incentive for running if, like me, you haven’t many friends to begin with.

Reason Five
Okay now, you’ve got to work with me a little on this one. Say you’re one of those people who know what real bluegrass is. No, you’re one of those people who REALLY, REALLY KNOWS WHAT REAL BLUEGRASS IS. Problem is, not everyone will agree. Whaddahya do? Run for the board of directors of the world’s largest bluegrass association, get elected, gradually take over the board, become chairman, then take over the association little by little, bit by bit, and then announce to the entire world what bluegrass IS and IS NOT. Case closed.

Reason Four
Reason four depends on the same premise as reason five—you’ve got to win for it to be a good reason. (Okay, so I admit it, I’m making up the rules as I go along. But you try coming up with 10 reasons to run for the board. I started stumbling after three.) Anyway, you run for the board, you win, you hunker down and listen mostly at board meetings the first year, start moving in year two, take over the chairmanship in year three and get a golf cart at the Fathers Day Festival in year four. Those who signed my petition ten years ago will remember and readily confirm that that was my campaign platform. Not the chairmanship, the golf cart.)

Reason Three
You’ll never have to volunteer for another CBA job as long as you live. The way I figure it, just taking the chance that you’ll get elected and have to sign your life away to the Association for an indeterminate duration is way, way beyond riding around delivering ice for the next fifteen years. I mean, the ice cart job is one weekend per year….one out of fifty-two.

Reason Two
You’ll feel good about yourself. I know I did. Not in the beginning, when my main motive was having a golf cart, but later, after I started getting assignments and actually started getting them done right. And assignments came very, very quickly. I remember so well… my first board meeting as a member, it was explained to me that new, rookie board members had certain jobs their first year. Mine was to supervise the delivery and pick up of all CBA equipment, tools, containers, stage curtains, etc., etc., etc., which are kept in a storage facility up near Grass Valley—talk about trying to herd ants with a steel rake. Oh, and I was automatically the Gate Crew Coordinator. George Martin, the other new board member, was given the job of Publicity Coordinator…..never occurred to me to ask why he wasn’t entitled to delivery and pick up.

Reason One
Okay, drum roll. Reason Number One—Run for the board of directors of the California Bluegrass Association and, whether you win or lose, you have the chance to say publicly, with actual people actually listening, what’s good and what’s not good about the CBA….what’s working and what needs changing. And by saying your piece, win or lose, you have the extreme privilege of helping guide our Association into the future. An extreme previlege to be sure.
Posted:  6/30/2012

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