Monday, March 20, 2017

Kentuckians Cried Out; Our Legislature Responded

The theory, in a representative democracy such as ours, is that the people elect representatives who will be concerned about their wishes and needs. (The theory also is if they don’t, they may be turned out of office...may be.)
So how has our first GOP-controlled legislature in a century done under our theory.
On some things, very well...at least if one assumes the majority did want, as it voted, the state GOP program (which is not necessarily the same as the Trump-program---whatever that is today---which may have driven more Kentuckians to vote Republican than the state GOP’s platform.)
On others, well let me offer some thoughts:
1—Many citizens, especially those in eastern Kentucky have complained for years about over-loaded coal truck on narrow roads, never designed for such loads..and the breakdown of those roads, increasing costs of maintenance (where maintained), and accidents, often fatal, caused.
What did our new legislature do?
Raise the load limit for some trucks hauling specific items by 50%. raised the fee on same, and setting up a study of same. I hope people in E. Ky. will watch this one carefully.
2—Lots of us, myself included, are tired of politics by the “Golden Rule”—he who has the gold makes the rules. We want the effect of money in politics to be more tightly controlled, with much more reporting of who gives how much to whom?
Our legislature doubled the amount people and corporations may now give. I don’t remember any of us rallying at the Capitol for this, but it remains to be seen how this will play out.
3—Kentucky has had a moratorium for years on building nuclear power plants, but our representatives in Frankfort ended that. (Obviously they didn’t have any testimony in committee about Chernobyl.) Their theory was we need more power options as coal declines. Maybe so, but I don’t remember any bills designed to help make coal “cleaner” as its advocates (and myself) contend it can be...which should also help coal regain markets.
I am aware KET aired a very interesting program recently on new ways to generate atomic power claimed to be safer, cleaner, and cheaper.
Maybe so; but for now color me both skeptical and wanting to keep UN-proven nuke power out of my home state.
4—It’s hard not to agree that mine inspections work to make coal mining safer. One way to keep coal keeping our lights on is by making that industry safer.  Yet our ladies and gentlemen in Frankfort cut the number of state required inspections in half. Maybe their theory is that The Donald, who says he wants to bring back coal and increase jobs, will do it for us. I have my doubts but a few more inspector jobs won’t help this basic Kentucky industry’s employment very much.
I’m sure our GOP legislative members can, and will cite legislation they consider beneficial to the Bluegrass state, but, on balance, let us not forget there is, arguably, another side.
I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Random News Thoughts

 
1---Based on the news stories I’ve seen from Frankfort, I am amazed at the quiet surrounding a bill proposing to allow any governor to take over, dismiss, and name members of all the public university and college boards of trustees. Even more the quiet from the present boards and presidents at this unprecedented power grab. If you think the Southern accreditation board was just threatening the University of Louisville with loss of accreditation because of Bevin’s shenanagins here...wait til you see its reaction if the bill passes.
 
Of course, it will be the students hurt most---and faculty.
 
Lots of silence from the legislature on this topic recently---as the session nears an end. That worries me, too.
 
2---Thank you Wikileaks—again!  Now we know the CIA  (and our government) have the capability to spy on us thru our smart phones, our smart tvs (!) even our baby crib monitors. Who’da thunk it? But tis, sadly, true..and while the CIA loftily reminds us, by law, it can only use these tools to spy outside the country...does anyone seriously doubt they would  (and have in a few cases, if memory serves) use these at home against American citizens.
 
All in the name of “national security”—protecting our freedoms. When does our freedom to be let alone, and to enjoy free speech in our homes become more important than some bureaucrats’ idea of “security?”
 
3---Hope you saw CBS’ 60 Minutes Sunday night. A very revealing report on one man from Africa arrested, sent to GITMO, tortured (very badly), and whose “confession” then kept him there 14 years...until his legal council (initiated by his own handwritten request for freedom) got him off and the US finally agreed he was not a terrorist, not a threat to our “security”  (there’s that misapplied idea again), and he was sent home.  He wrote a book. “Guantanamo Diary” on his GITMO experience we probably all should read.
 
When will the US—especially Congress—realize GITMO is our Holocaust, and end it—totally and forever???
 
4---and now for something completely different...Just delighted to see Dom Hawkins named to SEC all-tourney team. Richly deserved for a guy who stuck it out for 4 years---while Coach Cal was touting his idea of “one and done.”   
 
Dickie V has the right idea when he talks about “senior leadership” and Dom is a great example of that.
 
Go Cats!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

As We All Know

“It is easier to campaign than to govern.”
 
“The devil is in the details.”
 
Listening to the President’s speech to Congress this week (will there be a later State of the Union address??) I was encouraged. I thought this was one of his best talks and was encouraged both by its tone and by some of the plans he outlined.
 
(I pray for each new president, whether I voted for him/her or not. I want each to succeed because that’s the best way for America to succeed.)
 
But a lot of the good vibes given off by his talk were dissipated later when he told a White House meeting “who knew health care was so complicated.”
 
Almost everyone, Mr. President, where have you been?
 
It bears out one of the points made last fall on Shields & Brooks on PBS. I think it was the conservative Brooks who said “Mr. Trump seems to be constitutionally UNcurious.”  This following some debate over Roe v Wade, which has been a public issue for decades..and yet, campaigner Trump seemed ignorant of the issues here, and their importance to many people.
 
And so now, it seems, with health care.
 
House Republicans in the past 4 years have tried over 50 votes to repeal Obamacare—and not once, when challenged by the “loyal opposition” did they come up with an alternative. It was just Repeal, Repeal, Repeal. Maybe they realized how very complex our national health care system is....and wanted no part of getting involved with that.
 
Whatever; the nation IS involved now..and the new administration. Repeal, replace, when, in what order, how---these are important questions for the new administration...and it is not unfair to say  that some citizens’ LIVES hang on the decisions made.
 
Good luck, Mr. T---and you, too Gov. B.
 
Only a little less than “the fate of the Republic”  (and your party) may be hanging on your answers.
 
I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Truth Is Out There

(somewhere..covered up by errors and mistakes)
The New York Times Sunday took a full page ad containing just 7 words:
“Truth. It’s more important now than ever.”
I agree...and to try to help area citizens understand better, our local SPJ (Society of Professional Journalists) chapter held a public meeting last week to point out differences between fake news and the real thing. The H-L did an advance story, but I saw none of the actual meeting, and only  1 tv station covered it so far as I know.
We in the media are often our own worse enemy..and that’s especially true when we report stories full of grammatical errors and, worse, factual errors. Neither helps our mission to seek the truth and present it to readers, viewers, and listeners.
For example, one day last week, between the hours of 5:30 and 7pm I caught the following:
Lexington tv station---a good report on a Special Olympian about to go “halfway around the world” to compete—in Austria. Austria is about 6 thousand miles from Kentucky; halfway around the world is over 12 thousand miles.
The NBC Nightly News, reporting on tax reform plans spelled it “Refeorm.”
CBS in a report on Trump’s approval rating used a poll with a FIVE percentage point margin of error. That means a possible ten percentage point swing, large enough to invalidate the findings.
ABC’s evening news promoted 3 upcoming stories, ALL listed as “next.”  Only one story can be “next.”
The PBS NewsHour had a sponsor telling us “it’s 2016!”
Earlier one of our local stations presented two field reporters who told us “ I seen...”
And on an ESPN halftime report, one of its commentators reported (Joe) “run the court” well.
You may think some of these errors are minor; I don’t. If reporters don’t have much concern to use correct English, why should we think they have any concern for correct facts????
Without correct facts, there is no Truth.
And Truth, as I hope we all agree "is more important now than ever.”
I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Water Water Everywhere - (And Not A Drop To Drink!)

Why is it not possible to mine coal and NOT pollute nearby streams???   
 
Trump has moved to end EPA rules forbidding this, which leaves me puzzled.
 
Coal is a major engineering process...and I refuse to believe it cannot be done without endangering the lives of those living nearby by dangerously polluting their water supplies.
 
How important water is to all of us was re-emphasized this week by boil water advisories in Richmond and Nicholasville—temporary ones. But people in Eastern Kentucky have lived for years with bad tasting, foul smelling, discolored water as their norm. In many cases this is due to coal mines polluting their streams.
 
What profit a man to have a job if it causes his family to become ill?
 
I’m sure there are overreaching EPA regulations...as an interesting column in my fave morning Lexington paper pointed out.  BUT, surely there is a common sense way to allow mining without endangering that most precious commodity of water...and reasonable people mought to be able to find it.
 
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, February 13, 2017

Not Ideology, Just Common Sense

You can support the 2nd amendment (as I do, tho I disagree with the top court’s interpretation) and still not want to see any more school shootings such as Columbine Virginia Tech, Newtown...and how many others?
 
So current moves to take back mental health checks (involved in many shootings, remember Virginia Tech,) or drop the requirement for background checks, or training programs in gun use and safety (especially handguns) are not just wrong...they run contrary to common sense.
 
You don’t have to get involved in AK-47 issues, or ammo sizes or muzzle lengths to know that the issues listed above CAN—and should—be in our laws WITHOUT any dangers to the 2nd amendment.
 
Get real, gun lovers—or prepare for more stupid, unnecessary school shootings and more children dying.
 
And as for Wall Street, some years ago I interviewed  CBS News’s economics reporter, asking him what made Wall Street run. “Fear and Greed,” he shot back immediately.
 
Have we forgotten the Savings and Loan scandal, the mortgage frauds, the banks' involvement in our last recession (only 8 years ago) and several others...all foisted on Main Street by the Fear & Greed---mainly Greed on the part of those Big Banks, and some not so big?
 
Attempts to cut back on consumer protections, to allow banks free range in areas they really shouldn’t be in, more freedom for hedge funds and derivatives (these are but legalized gambling on a national scale) and the “fiduciary issue...which requires people who sell you retirement plans to put you first, not their commissions...these are now under attack.   (Did you see the cartoon in my fave Lexington morning paper recently?  The salesman says to his customer,"this last paragraph simply provides that I can’t lose any money, and you can lose lots and lots of money.”  That’s the fiduciary issue at work...and it will be foisted on us if the Trump administration and the GOP-controlled Congress has its way.
 
I'm just sayin'...
 
These run, IMHO, contrary to common sense....and good politics!.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Rat On, Governor!

When the British army, then the most powerful in the world, surrendered to a “rag-tag group of rebels” at Yorktown (with considerable assistance from France,) Cornwallis’ army band played “The World Turned Upside Down.”
 
That was my reaction to a major pronouncement by Gov. Bevin in his “State of the Commonwealth” speech this week.
 
In calling for special sessions to deal with pension reform---and tax reform—he said:
”Bring the sacred cows out of the barn. Some will be returned to the barn, some will become hamburger.”
 
When asked that meant on KET, long time political reporter Al Cross said “It means taxes are going up.”
 
This from a conservative, Tea Party governor!   And he swept away 20 years of  tax reform studies by Democrats, all of whom proclaimed they must be “revenue neutral”  (some taxes up, some down but no hike in taxes overall)—and all of which went nowhere.
 
He’s right...and, unfortunately, got a cautious reaction by House and Senate GOP leaders. This may be our best chance to update an old, very complex tax system; where we exempt more than we take in...not a good basis for a modern state.
 
Gov. Bevin also called for an overhaul of our foster care system, by some measures the worst in the nation, and long needed. (If done, this will be a major contribution to our state by the Courier-Journal, and C-J reporter Deborah Yetter whose series have chronicled major problems which have resulted in child deaths (yes, deaths) needlessly.
 
There have been calls for these before, but this just may give Kentucky its best hope for arriving in the 20th century---if not the 21st.
 
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 
Tho the governor’s speech ended a few minutes after 8pm, my C-J arrived with nary a line about it, no story at all, not a nary. What gives here? Betcha if it had been a UofL basketball game, over at 8, we would have seen a story.
 
I'm just sayin'...