Sunday, June 18, 2017

So Much News; So Little Time

Let’s look on the bright side of the shooting this week at GOP congressmen practicing for their annual charity baseball game:
 
So far only 1 serious injury, the House GOP Whip, (I pray for his recovery)...with the nut case shooter dead.
 
Other good news:  House members are re-examining their relations with each other “across the aisle” 
with the leaders saying this could lead to better, less vitriolic understandings in the future. It’s about time.
 
Also we learned much more about Congressional “security," even more important than “jobs” to elected officials, it seems. I didn’t know the whip has his own, private security detail (which you & I pay for!) or that the capital police force numbers 2200 people. It’s leader recently asked for $33 million more to hire 72 new officers. With this shooting, he’ll probably get it. (Again, you & I will pay for this.)
 
But if the major reaction of Congress is “security” and not an examination of how this mental case got his weapons (legally bought we are told,) Congress will have failed again...and the fact that, this time, someone shot at them...then the lessons of Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, etcetcetcetc will be lost again. There ARE common sense things that Congress can do without seeming to capitulate, as usual, to the NRA:  (1) better record keeping on mental health cases and passing of this information on to ALL who need it, (2) close the gun show loophole, which adversely affects mom and pop gun stores, (3) outlaw AK47s, which we DID once, and expanded magazines so that nut cases don’t out duel the cops. Remember one congressman said the capital police had handguns while “he had a rifle..not a fair fight.”
 
OK, Congress, make it “fairer!”
 
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Finally, the NCAA reported on the sex scandal at Louisville...and boy, did it drop the hammer (with much more yet to come, possibly.) UofL will appeal, which as one sports reporter said was silly...because they had already admitted to all the NCAA charged violations.  And while Rick keeps saying he knew nothing about all the shenanigans which went on over 3 years, the NCAA said he should have—and so should the university. It’s sad—but it could be worse. If the NCAA decides it is worse, and orders Louisville to vacate its national title...then the litigation will really boil over (which Kentuckians will pay for.)—all because one guy and one madam screwed a good school.
 
But then, maybe Rick’s charmed life will end...maybe
 
Meanwhile..yes I will say it again..WHEN will the NCAA rule on North Carolina; an even worse case of lack of “institutional control” that went on for much longer.
 
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Gov. Bevin has asked for suggestions and comments from Kentuckians...which is both right and practical...but, as the CJ reported Sunday, he has blocked, so far, as many as 600 people from using his social media to contact him. His office said it was for “obscene or off-topic comments.”  Somehow I doubt that. It may just be one more example of thin-skinned public officials, including The Donald, from not wanting to receive criticism.
 
The Knight First Amendment Institute says this “suppresses speech. Your Twitter account is a designated public forum”..(which you&I pay for) just as are open city council and school board meetings.
 
Governor, please support free speech and set a better example for all Kentuckians...and yes, this is a way you can reaffirm our traditions...which that nut in Alexandria tried to kill.
 
I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Jobs Is A Four Letter Word

Some thoughts on jobs from a news perspective:
 
It’s the most important word in our politics—at least in campaigning. And especially with Republicans, at home (Frankfort) and abroad (Washington).
 
Gov. Bevin keeps stressing it...and for the well being of most Americans I guess they should...although sometimes I wonder about the emphasis they place.
 
For example, our guv issued a news release on 15 jobs coming to E. Ky. with an aviation facility last week. I remember years ago a new fast food chain restaurant opening in Lexington with 65-120 jobs involved. I was surprised; maybe you are too.
 
It’s good to know the spirit of enterprise is alive and well in Frankfort. Kent Downey died this week...one of several who went to jail in the '90's during the BOPTROT scandal. He ran whores out of his state office for legislators and others. And we learned this week also of a new whistleblower case there...a woman who charged she was fired when she reported two state employees were selling adult toys out of their office in the state capital.  The more things change....
 
Speaking of BOPTROT, both parties in succeeding legislatures have systematically undone all the improvements made after that scandal...and the courts seem determined to undo even more. The recent decision allowing lobbyists free range to BUY, yes BUY legislators is exactly what BOPTROT changes were designed to end. If lawmakers truly want to operate ethically, they MUST move to meet these court decisions with new laws.
 
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Off the subject of jobs, but I cannot end this week without writing of my utter amazement that there is a guy named Alex Jones (“InfoWars” whatever that is) who believes the killing of 26 students and teachers at Sandy Hook is a hoax, that it never happened!
 
Talk about “false news” or “alternative facts!”
 
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Thoughts On Recent News Stories

1.Bevin calls for Prayer Patrols...So far the governor’s only action to end violence in Lou-ah-vul was to call a meeting in the troubled west end and urge these. (He tried to keep the news media from the meeting but found out he couldn’t in that building.)
 
I believe in the power of prayer. It can’t hurt, and it may help.
 
But as a former Notre Dame football coach wisely said “Prayers work better when the players are bigger.” And this is,  as Nancy Reagan’s anti-drug program “Just Say No” was, truly a band aid.
 
Especially since it’s the governor’s party (here and in Washington) that allows so many guns on the street...with few background checks, bad rules against the mentally ill getting guns, the gun show exemption, larger magazines, etcetcetc.  Let’s pray our legislators realize their responsibility to end gun violence.
 
(And if you doubt that, as the Texas legislature ended a rancorous session, one GOP lawmaker  told a Democratic opponent he would “shoot him in self defense.”  Austin, as Frankfort, allows lawmakers to carry guns into sessions.)
 
2. America’s “longest war” (Afghanistan) took a horrible turn when insurgent bombs killed 90 in the capital, not far from the Presidential Palace. (Our White House.) Just one of such blasts recently. This while our president considers sending more American troops there...while corruption remains strong, tribal rivalries grow, local militia run many areas, etcetc.
 
(BTW, the US under Trump continues our policy of being one of, if not the largest seller of arms around the world. He inked a $350 Billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia on his trip there...just what the war torn Middle East needs. He argued this was a jobs creator back here. Maybe so, but it is sure to create jobs there...morticians, casketmakers, grave diggers, white helmets, etc.)
 
3. As we observed Memorial Day—if we observed it, instead of seeing it as another 3 day weekend...it was pointed out that there are still EIGHTY thousand US service members missing in action from WW2 on. That does not include the missing from WW1...and, perhaps, that “police action," officially, known as the Korean War. A thought to remember when next Congress or the President sends us into war...as has already been threatened in the first hundred days of this new administration and Congress.
 
4. Coal continued to slip...in terms of annual production---and JOBS---in the latest official figures. (SUR-prize.)
 
5. Jim Bunning died...a staunch conservative (and better baseball player) who represented Kentucky for many years in Washington. In KET’s tribute to him on “Comment on Kentucky” our fine public broadcast service couldn’t find a way to use a picture of him on its air.
 
I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Events Past And Future Past: This Memorial Day

PAST: This Memorial Day weekend is the 40th anniversary of the worst fire in Kentucky history, maybe our worst such tragedy ever...the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire which took 165 lives.  That’s 165 people dying in one fire.
 
A book issued 2-3 years ago by a northern Kentucky researcher makes, IMHO, a compelling case that the N. Ky-Cincy Mafia torched the place, causing these deaths...which is not the accepted cause. (A now disbarred lawyer convinced several courts it was faulty electrical wiring, and won multi-million dollar verdicts.)
 
Before all the witnesses and officials involved in this (including former Gov. Julian Carroll) die, we should have a major, new probe into this tragedy. Why the major Kentucky-Cincy media haven’t done this is beyond me. Maybe the Louisville center for news investigation, and KET, and others can get this started. It needs to be done...for all those who died needlessly, and for the possibility it was, in fact, one helluva coverup by state and local officials.
 
FUTURE: Sunday’s H-L had a fine story on progress to reopen the old Fayette County courthouse...hopefully by the end of this year. Many of the new approaches, new tenants and their plans are excellent—and are based on tourism and our heritage, such as race horses.
 
But I think we are missing a sure bet...as we have for several years now...in not trying to recapture our place in bourbon: its history and tourism, a place we have surrendered, needlessly, to Louisville.  (Why should the Bourbon Trail start there? After all, Bourbon County is here.) And the bourbon business is good, growing greatly in the last few years. And so have Kentucky wineries, many located within the greater Lexington area.
 
Years ago I visited a major wine growing area in California. A much smaller town than Lexington there had a fine, downtown wine center...which maps, info, and tastings of nearby wineries. Why can’t we do that here? For wine and bourbon?  That would tie into local restaurants and so many other things.
 
BTW, one major problem I didn’t see addressed in the HL story---parking. Our renovated courthouse and its shops and tenants will bring many more visitors (cars). Are we ready for that? Where are we going to put them?
 
One final thought, which I will elaborate on in time: TBHA!
 
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, May 22, 2017

It's Not Easy Being Gwen Ifill, Or Thoughts On The Media - Local and National

A recent NY Times article on Judy Woodward, and how she is handling the PBS NewsHour after the death of her longtime  co-host Gwen Ifill, reminded me of just how good Gwen was, and how well those two worked together.
 
PBS has launched the obligatory “nationwide search” for her replacement, who might even be (horrors!) a man, but no answers so far...and so Judy soldiers on.
 
Several men on the staff have received expanded roles; some have done well, some haven’t.
 
This past week, with Judy off and MAJOR news breaking, John Yang struggled in the anchor role and didn’t do well—possibly the failure of his producer. 2 examples: shortly after the latest (but not the last) Trump catastrophe broke, Yang asked an obscure senator what he thought...but the senator hadn’t heard the news and wisely said he couldn’t comment. (Mark that man down as a comer!) Later Yang mispronounced the name of a guest, a Washington Post reporter (what would public tv’s top newsprogram do without newspaper reporters???) Granted, the guy had a 4 syllable name, but that’s hardly an excuse.
 
CBS had a top reporter in Iran for its important Presidential elections. As I heard it, she said the contest would come down to between “a populist and the incumbent.”  No; the incumbent was the populist and was staving off a hardline conservative....and thankfully, he won
 
When news breaks on weekends...and it often does...I have said before the major networks' weekend anchors are often NOT up to the job. If this is where they break-in future weekday anchors, we are in trouble.
 
Turning locally, and some good news...on Wednesdays the Fox 10pm news highlights  “Spirit of the BlueGrass.” These feature reports by Marvin Bartlett have been excellent...and should remind all the other Lexington stations, especially Channel 27, why each needs their own “local Charles Kuralt”
 
And then there was the 11pm sports segment last Saturday, which after giving us a detailed report on the Transy women's softball game—as the 3rd story, went to a break, and returned with the story of an upset horse race victory, some small race called The Preakness, which merely ended, for another year, all hopes for a Triple Crown winner.
 
Ah so, judgments, judgments.
 
I'm just sayin'..

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Thoughts On Some Recent News Stories

Someone in Washington is lying.
 
Please. OK, cynics (I am not one) believe someone is always lying in Washington...but..the recent “news” out of the White house on the Comey firing triggered, over several days, from the Pres, V-P, press secretary, deputy press secretary, and assorted etc...the most extensive series of lies I’ve ever heard (and I was around covering Watergate, the 5 O’clock Follies during the ‘Nam war, and others.)
 
Who can the American people believe?
 
And if not outright lies, then mistakes of gigantic proportions—which amount to the same thing.
 
Now we know what “fake news” really is.
 
And that’s sad, because we should be able to trust our elected leaders most of the time, and the FBI Director is a major official of our government.
 
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Did you see the sports story from Colorado where a Colorado State football player was arrested and charged with stealing from a teammate?  What he stole were diamond bracelets and Rolex watches.
 
And just how did the teammate get such items?  Are we missing a bigger story here?
 
And when will the NCAA issue its report on the UofL scandal...years since it began..and the North Carolina report, even years longer since the NCAA began that important investigation?
 
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Then there’s the latest (but far from the last) case of international hacking...where major firms are being held for ransom because of a flaw in the Windows software—that the firm fixed in mid March.
 
Right, the hackers used a flaw that was fixed 6 weeks ago...after Windows keeps telling its customer to install antivirus software, always keep your fixes up to date and back up your files.
 
All of this should NOT have happened...to Disney, Nissan, Renault, Britain’s National health System, and firms large and small...if they had just followed both common sense and good business practice and what computers firms have urged them to do for years.
 
Major banks, department stores, etc. have been guilty of this—and suffered (No, we the customers have suffered) the consequences for years.
 
When is someone going to file a major, global class action suit against these firms for such gross negligence?
 
Where are you Morgan and Morgan when we need you?
 
Talk about a case “for the people!”
 
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, May 8, 2017

Once Upon A Time In Lexington

Long, long go. Times were bad. In fact it was the Great Depression of the 30s. Every section of Society felt it. Universities such as UK, were no exception.
 
Faculty were let go. Classes were cancelled. Maintenance was put off. Fees were raised.
 
It was a truly difficult time and some feared the Commonwealth’s Flagship School just might go under...others had in other states.
 
Ways were sought out of UK’s financial problems...appeals to alumni (suffering similarly); appeals to donors (ditto); sales of what could be sold (few buyers); and especially requests for aid from local businesses who had profited over the years from UK’s being in Lexington...but none came forward. No one knew when the Great Depression might end and so were unable or unwilling to help.
 
Athletic Director Barney Mitchell canvassed his friends and supporters over the years especially. The football program had a promising new coach; the basketball team was on the verge of greatness with an experienced winner—both and the nascent SEC were facing a bleak future.
 
When all seemed darkest, help arrived. A well known and long established local business secretly went to Mitchell with an offer. It was one of the few in Lexington that seemed Depression-proof. Mitchell hesitated, even though he knew UK students had long been customers of the business; even faculty and staff used its services. Some UK students even worked there. But...but should the University cross into new territory and the controversy it was certain to arouse?? No one else in the SEC had ever done this before. It was sure to cause a great outcry.
 
But, as things seemed to grow worse, the AD hesitated no longer. He talked with the President and they debated the wisdom of the move for hours. Finally both could see no other way out of the school’s financial problems. The President  directed the AD to announce this radical move.
 
Before a small gathering, 2 radio stations and both local papers, Mitchell stood before a lectern making his announcement:
 
“Stoll Field”, he said, “is to be renamed...in return for a generous contribution which we direly need...for our students, for faculty and staff, and our future.”
 
“Hereafter, it will be known”...he paused, and slowly said "as Belle Brezing Field.”
 
(I'm just sayin' ...)