Monday, August 31, 2015

JEFF DAVIS: HIS PAST & FUTURE



I’ve  thought a lot about the issue of whether we should move his statue from the Capitol rotunda and have decided---leave it alone.

There are several reasons but my chief one is this: the prominent place it now has serves as a reminder of Kentucky’s past history of “race relations”---and it is not good. Move the statue and we have one less reason to remember our history here, and we need constant reminders of it.

It’s not just that “Kentucky waited til the Civil War was over before joining the loser,” which is true, as one of our historians wrote. If you want to learn about how badly we treated “our blacks” and this is an aberration,  Google “Caroline Turner + Lexington” and be horrified. I went to a lecture several years ago by UK History professor Mark Summers and was appalled by his recital of how Kentucky lynched and beat and denied rights to “our blacks” after the War and for many years thereafter.  (The last public hanging in the U-S---not lynching, but…was of a black man in Owensboro in the mid 1930s.) 

I don’t like the idea of one generation rewriting the history of a previous time...no matter how “good” the idea behind it is. It smacks of political correctness to the Nth degree.

Actually as the only state where BOTH presidents were born…Lincoln  and Jefferson Davis...Kentucky ought to capitalize on  that unique  heritage. We might sponsor an annual conference to improve race relations and hold it in Frankfort. (We could start by having the new pastor of Charleston’s Emanuel AME  church do the invocation and sermon.)

Hang Jeff Davis from a sour apple tree if you want, but I think we need to leave his statue alone.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, August 24, 2015

A HUGE MISTAKE



The Kentucky Republican Party executive committee voted over the weekend to approve a “caucus” instead of a primary election for one office—and one man.

That’s a huge mistake—for the party and even more for democracy in the commonwealth.

The vote to allow Sen. Rand Paul to run for president, evading state law that you cannot run for 2 federal offices at the same time, was done by less than half of the committee’s members...even though this was probably the most important vote of the decade. And of the fewer than half who voted, Paul got less than half of those voting..all he needed...but still NOT a real ringing endorsement.

Among the problems is this…while details are far from set, early reports are that many counties will have only one caucus site.  Larger counties, such as Fayette, may have 2 or 3. That’s in contrast to the approximately 285 precincts where Republicans will vote in the May primary for all the other offices. That’s more than an inconvenience; it means a very, very, very, very, very low turnout in an election that often sets records for low voter turnout.  It will give his party opponents a great talking point: "Even in his home state, only 0.3% vote to support Sen. Paul’s candidacy!” OK, maybe he gets 9%, but you see the point.

To me this is far more important than the cost, which Sen. Paul has agreed to bear...an unknown cost which has already gotten him into big problems with his party. We shall see if he finally pays for it. If not, the caucus will be cancelled. And good riddance.

Beyond this are some thoughts about organizing principles. Why would you warp party traditions, procedures, and history to support one man? Hardly a good idea. Parties are supposedly founded on principles, not on “the cult of personality.”  But with this precedent, what will happen next time? Caucuses versus primaries inevitably mean a lower turnout—not to mention in this case, two elections next spring with whatever confusion that causes.

And, dare I say it, it opens Paul to a charge of being a “professional politician”—truly an “establishment man," so much so he ran in not just one but two elections...opening the door a tad wider for a Democrat to defeat him in his run for the Senate next year.

What irony!

I'm just sayin'!...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

LESSONS LEARNED???

In last week’s observance of the 70th anniversary of the end of WW2, it  was easy to overlook the 50th anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War.

But in Washington ceremonies, Defense Sec. Ash Carter pointed out some hard lessons we had learned from ‘Nam, two in particular:

“First, we leave no one behind” he said.  His department  has over  650 people trying to find the missing from all our many wars...of which 1627 are still missing from Vietnam, as well as tens of thousands still unaccounted for from WW1,WW2, Korean and half a dozen other “police actions” and UN support actions across the world.                 

His second lesson is that we must “support our warriors, regardless of our feelings about the war.”

Amen to that, because the US did NOT welcome home the troops we sent to ‘Nam. In large part that was because America’s feelings supporting the war had changed, for many reasons. I’d like to think one of those reasons was because that war was illegal. Despite clear language in the Constitution, Congress never declared war---and hasn’t since WW2, oaths of office of members and the President to the contrary.

Maybe that’s why we view WW2 and ‘Nam so differently.

But Carter’s lessons are right, and in the DC ceremony he thanked the Vietnam veterans for their service, saying that today troops are welcomed home. (We may not give them the mental health aid they need for their trauma, or housing, or jobs as we promised, but Yes, we do welcome them home.)

A former defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, who is a Vietnam veteran, told the crowd that those who have experienced war know the truth—“There is no glory in war, only suffering.”

Bear these “lessons” in mind as we debate the wisdom of sending troops to Syria, or any one of a half dozen or more countries some in Washington are quick to call for troops when some event occurs that upsets us, violates our beliefs, or causes us great anguish. War is still war, and “war is hell.”

Let the lessons of ‘Nam be with us if we  debate another possible  war during the coming election.

I'm Just Sayin'...

Sunday, August 9, 2015

NOTES ON NEWS ITEMS:

1---If Mr. Webb has finally found a financing source he can tell us for CentrePointe, the guiding principle for the Mayor and city council should be “Show us the Money!”

2---All you who oppose “Obamacare” should read an article in the C-J last week. The headline: “Preventive care rises in patients”. This was one of the goals for that program, indeed for any public health program, and it seems to be working on this count. And that’s important for Kentucky which has several hundred thousand on Medicaid.

Comparing 2014 with 2013, breast cancer screenings were up 111 percent, preventive dental services up 116 percent, perhaps even more important general physical exams rose 187 percent. A report says the state cut its  health uninsured rate among the non elderly from 21percent to ten percent.

Problems, including  costs, remain, but this report, which ought to be a major issue in the fall campaign, is encouraging.

3---If you thought there were more mass public shootings these days, you were right. The Congressional Research Services says in the 1970s such shootings killed six people per year; from 2010 to 2013  there were 33 deaths per year on average. A dozen mass shootings have occurred since the 70s resulting in double digit deaths, and 7 of those have happened since 2007.

In half the cases a single firearm was used; in a quarter of the cases an assault weapon was used.

4---With the new school year comes a new report from a doctors’ group saying most teens start school too early, depriving them of sleep they need to learn and stay healthy. A report in USA Today says the doctors’ recommended starting middle and high schools no earlier than 8:30am. 83% of our schools start classes earlier.

5—Kentucky has long been regarded, with a lot of actual proof, as one of America’s more corrupt states..so far as public officials are concerned. The FBI recently put out a plea for our citizens to help root out corruption by passing tips to them for investigation. A toll free number  was given for such tips.

Since my fave Lexington morning paper didn’t publish this, and neither did our local tv stations so far as I know, here’s the hotline:   toll free (844) KYNOPCI  (or 586-6724 ). Rooting out corruption in the commonwealth is important, so keep those calls coming! 

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Notes on Fancy Farm 2015

This fall’s campaign may well turn on who  Kentucky voters like less: Barack Obama or Pinocchio!

I think the Democrats came out of the Farm with a “bounce,”having been better prepared and organized than Republicans. Democratic  candidates all down the line kept after Matt Bevin, citing the Mitch McConnell playbook—labeling him as “not from Kentucky," an “East Coast con man”, and most devastating, to me, of all, a ”liar”—all taken from Mitch’s  charges and TV ads of last year’s Senate campaign.

The most powerful image I saw at the Farm, and it was all over KET’s coverage, were large, color posters of Bevin with a long, stick nose as Pinocchio had when he told a lie.

It’s just one image now, from an event that may well fade as the campaign rolls on, smothered by new gaffes ahead, but for now it looms large in my perspective…and as Republicans taught us under Ronald Reagan, images often carry much more weight that comments on issues affecting the voter..an appeal to emotions rather than intellect.

We will see.

Matt Jones did good…..especially when he pointed out that after more than a century, the first “woman of color” was on the stage as a major party candidate…and led the audience, on both sides of the aisle, in a round of applause for Jenean Hampton, the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor. (He was also right in criticizing Rand Paul for not being there, and insisting “Come home, Rand, you’re going to lose!”)

She made a good talk, continuing Bevin’s theme that “Kentucky is better than this," better than the mudslinging, down and dirty comments at Fancy Farm that do not elevate out civic discourse.  Too bad neither major newspaper deigned to carry any coverage of her talk. 

After all these years (and the current issue of how our state should treat Civil War History) one has to wonder if we truly know that history and how we just might sanitize it by pending actions.  

Meanwhile, it's Obama versus Pinocchio!  

I'm Just Sayin'...







Sunday, July 26, 2015

WHAT STEPS WILL KENTUCKY TAKE???

To prevent the tragedy at Lafayette’s Grand Theater from happening here?

The governors of 2 states pointed out the suspected shooter should not have been able to buy the gun he used legally…after his involuntary mental health incarceration.

BUT, Kentucky is one of about six states, according to a CBS report, that also does  NOT require the reporting of mental health patients to any type of gun data base. He could have bought the deadly gun here.

This needs to change. Ask your legislative representatives where they stand on making a change, and let’s have the 3—yes 3, so far-- candidates for governor tell us their views here.

Also, Kentucky does NOT require gun show sales to be subject to background checks..mental health, felonies and otherwise. This is not only a huge loophole, but..because gun shows are almost always run by out of town people…a definite slap in the face to gun stores owned by local people…and that should change, too.

That the shooter was using his Second Amendment rights is cold comfort to the families of the two young ladies who died.

America---Kentucky, something MUST change here.

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Poverty-Do Kids Really Count? Really?



‘I see one third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill nourished”
                                      FDR, 2nd inaugural, 1937

Might as well be today.

The latest report on “Kids Count” from the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds more children living in low-income neighborhoods than during the Great Depression.

Some progress for a nation that prides itself on being “Number One.”

Even here in Fayette County, one of the more affluent counties in Kentucky, more than half of county school students are eligible for  free or reduced priced lunches---more than half!

Our state ranks 32nd in economic well being of our kids, 30th in education, 24th in health, and 38th in family and community according to the “Kids Count Report”…and despite our best efforts we don’t seem to me moving in the right direction in any of these categories, though health has improved slightly.

Basically one in four of Kentucky’s kids live in poverty..and the numbers nationally have increased from 2008 to 2013.

What’s to be done?

I have no grand solutions, but it does seem we should bite off each of the problems that contribute to poverty and go after them that way.

For example, our teen birth rate is too high and with one third of our kids living in single parent homes, we need to get it down. Better sex education in the schools would help—and well as programs that bring parents and kids together to discuss and work on this and other issues.

Programs that keep potential dropouts in school, such as the recently increased school leaving age should help.

And programs that help the economy (count me as a supporter of raising the minimum wage here) will do good also.

But, as we can see from FDR’s assessment  more than 75 years ago, it will take time. Even longer if we don’t work on poverty prevention.

Think about that, and ask the candidates for governor and congress how they would tackle poverty as we go thru our fall elections. They should not, can not ignore poverty any longer.

I'm just sayin'...