Monday, August 22, 2016

NOTES AND THOTS, LARGE & SMALL

1. Gov. Bevin has come up with $500,000 dollars and hired one of America’s most Republican law firms (though as all good firms do, they contribute to both parties) to probe possible law violations in Democratic Gov. Beshear’s administration. (The firm is Taft—yes That Taft from Ohio who ran for President--- Stettinius & Hollister.)

Where did this half million bucks come from..OK, from where did this money come? We were told Kentucky had a very, very tight state budget, and now, up pops all this money. Hope it wasn’t diverted from “widows and orphans.”

2. May I commend two articles in Sunday’s Herald-Leader to you. One is the history (very current history) of vote buying in Eastern Kentucky, by the Center for Investigative Reporting---practically “torn from the front pages" tho our local tv stations gave the latest (but not the last) federal trial very little coverage.

Second is Paul Prather’s religion column, headlined “Yes, it’s true: Evangelicals used to be Christianity’s liberals.” (Gasp.) And it is true. Much food for thought here, and in a second column to come later.

I have always believed Jesus was one of history’s great rebels. (A revolutionary for good.) And if you contrast his “platform” against that of the Roman “party”, he certainly was the Liberal of his time.

Do read them both.

3. A lot has been made in the media of the recent death of John McLaughlin, ex-Jesuit priest and founder/host of the “McLaughlin Group” on PBS. Other than the death of any person to his family and friends, I do not mourn his passing. His was the MOST UNCIVIL discussion program of public issues on the air, where discourtesy and impoliteness ruled..and trumped any discussion of merits or non merits. I once asked KET to take it off the air because it was contributing zero to public manners and understanding of issues. Not a chance was the reply; it’s our most popular program.  (Says a lot about Kentucky, doesn’t it?)

4. Finally, just as Kentucky says it may study reinstituting private prisons , the U.S. announces it will no longer use them. Why? They don’t work. (And that’s just one of several reasons I have in opposition, including that some private prison officials have been charged with bribery in order to get state contracts.)

The more things change,…..

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, August 14, 2016

TRUMP IS CORRECT, OUR ELECTION IS RIGGED

But not the way he means it.

It’s even worse.

Your vote in Kentucky does NOT count as much as one person’s vote in  MANY other states.

All because of a quirk in our constitution that MAY have been OK 200 years ago, but not today.

It’s that “college”; the Electoral College.

Basically states get votes in the college equal to their house and Senate members. The House is supposedly based on population, but even updated every ten years, the proportion between the total in Congress and the college votes become not only out-of-whack, but the disproportion grows among the states.

There is NO ratio that even a super computer can set up that will ever allow 1 vote in Kentucky to be equal to one vote in every other state.  Solution: end the Electoral College and elect the president by popular vote. Then 1 vote in Rhode Island equals 1 vote in Nevada, and in all the rest, no more, no less.

Either you believe in one person, one vote or you don’t. I do. ALL other attempts to modify the “College’ will NOT provide for one person, one vote. It’s far past time to bring our ideal of democracy into our actual practice.

I'm just sayin'...

(To hear other views, maybe even express your own, watch “Kentucky Tonight” Monday 8/15 at 8pm on KET)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

LONG DISTANCE THOTS ON FANCY FARM

“There is a mysterious cycle in Human Events.”  FDR  (Mitch belives that also, see his new book “The Long Game.”)

For years the GOP dominated our politics. Then, as FDR and Mitch know, the political pendulum swung to the Dems. Now, it may, or may not, swing back---tho the actions of the state Democratic party and leaderships are certainly giving the GOP every reason to believe it will happen.

Meanwhile, what needs to change is: Fancy Farm!

(GASP—you want to change a sacred Kentucky tradition?)

Dang right.

Have you listened to the UNcivil discourse from there?  (Watch KET Monday night at 8).

The catcalls, boos, even bull horns (til they were banned) try to drown out what the “other guy..or gal” is saying.  That is not the way America progresses. We need to hear all voices in order to decide on the best candidates and the best way to solve our most pressing issues.

I think Fancy Farm has woefully failed here…and will continue to do so.

It’s time for a new, non-partisan, civil Fancy Farm…and I nominate the Bluegrass as where it should be held. Whether centrally located, non partisan Lexington, or Centre College (which has considerable experience in these things,) or Father Jim and his experience in grabbing the big names (sorry he’s leaving but his Richmond church might easily outpace St Jerome’s, in time,) or area League of Women voters groups, or…various coalitions.

America needs something like this. Lord knows Kentucky needs something like a civil Fancy Farm. So let’s get an umbrella group formed, and maybe by the next Presidential election it will be cold craft beers and warm burgoo...and speeches people can hear…from here.

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, July 31, 2016

RANDOM THOTS AFTER A VERY NEWSY TWO WEEKS

1. PBS got its act together and did a better job of convention coverage, mainly because it solved its over-riding audio problems from RNC..but I’m still very unhappy the “mainstream” networks reduced their coverage to an hour at 10pm.

2. A leading pollster told a DC paper "Right now, the polls don’t mean a thing!” Much too much time til November..but I would point out the “Odds” not the polls with 2 major candidates are that  each has a 50/50 chance to win.  And that ought to give everyone, in either camp, the heebie-jeebies.

3. Gray lives matter.  Freddy Gray did NOT kill himself.   Baltimore should continue its probe, and maybe into its prosecutor’s office.

4. Any city with a local paper needs a columnist who chronicles its fables and foibles..as Joe Creason and hundreds of others have proven. For Lexington, Don Edwards was that person. He died recently, and his wit and wisdom will be missed.

5. Don’t know what Don would think about his old paper being printed in Louisville, but I view it as an unmitigated news disaster. It may be fine for the bottom line, it will not be good for important evening news which will NOT be in next day’s paper. City council meetings, school board meetings, zoning hearings, etc. that last beyond 9pm (maybe 8pm) simply won’t appear the next day.

If only local broadcast media realized what a golden opportunity this is for them  (including one promoting “new” news at 11) to set up expanded city hall and school coverage; if only…

6. Lexington has become a city much  more friendly to bikes. Many cities, in the US and around the world, held Naked Bike Ride days recently.  Don would have loved that. Don’t think Lexington is quite ready for that..as in London ( England, that is) both sexes took to the streets naked. In that UK, it is NOT against the law for women to be naked in public, only men.

7, Many people thru out Lexington were horrified at the cold blooded murder of a priest in a small Normandy town last week..because so many of us have been there, thanks to the Sister City program. What bothers me is that there are thousands of such churches thru out France, and other countries, and if terrorists wage war on them, there isn’t a police force in the world that can protect them all. If this is their new tactic, God help us.

8. If you have some spare time this week, Google “Charles Whitman.” See if you think we have learned much in the past 50 years.

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, July 24, 2016

WHAT A BUNCH OF AMATEURS AT THE GOP CONVENTION!!!

No, not the people running the show, but my colleagues in the media covering it.

I’ve reported on 14 conventions and this was not good…starting with the mainstream decision not to do major coverage in prime time.

NBC trumpeted “unsurpassed coverage”---all squeezed into one hour at 10pm, as did CBS/ABC.  So on the first day, with the floor fight over rules change, there was no over the air coverage then. (It was, I am told on “streaming”===NOT the same.)  Nor did they summarize this fight in the UN-coverage at 10.

CBS’s sage, Bob Schieffer (24th convention) was promoted once, and NEVER got on. He was brought on too late 2 other times and his good remarks were cut short.

But the really bad coverage belonged to PBS (trying to co-operate with NPR and not succeeding.) My basic watching was C-SPAN, because they focus on the podium and speakers and PBS, because I like Shields and Brooks.

Judy and Gwen were totally lost first night  It has been four years since their last convention, but…these are supposed to be pros. This type of coverage is not their long suit.

Sitting next to each other they complained they couldn’t hear each other because the noise from the floor. This is NOT new. And might have been helped by the right audio mix, but it wasn’t...even a day or so later. And it took til the final night to get the right headsets on guests---but not on Gwen and Judy. Was that because of hair and make-up issues?

And one of the NPR experts mis-identified a major senator.

As to the 3 major cable networks, I have come up with a rule. The amount of wisdom and important information offered is in inverse proportion to the number of panelists.  CNN loves 6-8 panelists. Good info gets lost.

Good to see Brian Williams back on MSNBC, which had similar panelists problems.

Well, the practice and rehearsal is over. Let’s hope coverage of the Dems' convention goes better.

After all, as Editor Jason Robards once opined on the Watergate coverage..”Only the future of the Republic is at stake!”

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

BEFORE ESTILL COUNTY GLOWS IN THE DARK: (which isn’t going to happen!!!)

But, the decision by the Attorney-General not to pursue criminal charges should be a warning to us all. (The county has filed civil charges.)

Kentucky has a law against the dumping of the type of nuclear wastes which were dumped, many tons so,  still in Estill County...that much is not in dispute.

So, either (1) the attorney-general is wrong, (2) the law is too weak to be enforced or win in court, or (3) it has been badly administered…by the state (and almost surely ignored by the waste disposal industry.)

You know darn well that industry knew what it was bringing to Kentucky, and also should have know that stuff was prohibited. The history of this industry is replete with violations in many states, of many types of materials—as well as infiltrated by mob sources from Long Guyland and New Joisie  (sorry Gov. Cuomo and Mr. Soprano).  But that type of situation exists only because state laws are weak and badly enforced.

Kentucky has a rich and lousy history here.  (Google Maxey Flats and especially a Courier-Journal editorial of June 2, 2015.

Estill Countians have a right to be upset---but so should all of us. (BTW, which came first...the landfill or the nearby county high school??)

For it continues to show, after Maxey Flats, we just haven’t learned.

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, July 3, 2016

MY SUMMER READING LIST

West Virginia holds the distinction of being the only recent state to send two governors to prison...one Democrat, one Republican. (Corruption is bi-partisan there.)

Kentucky has been lucky…for now.

I say that because I have just finished a book on my summer reading list...all about politics and corruption in our neighbor---and how one investigative reporter helped uncover it.

The book is “Afflicting the Comfortable” by the late Tom Stafford.  Tom was a colleague and competitor when I worked in West Virginia.

What the book brings out is what happens when fraud and kickbacks and corruption are considered commonplace, and how they affect many parts of society. Also, what happens when elected officials, especially governors don’t enforce high ethical standards and when legislatures don’t supervise state agencies spending millions of our dollars. (West Virginia’s experience in investments mirrors some of the problems of Kentucky’s retirement systems…many years earlier. Couldn’t we have learned???)

Guess not, the ethical controls put in place in this state since the BOPTROT scandal of the '90s have, over the years been done away bit piece-by-piece as lawmakers chafed under being “ethical.”

But he also points out problems with the media, which didn’t pursue all the clues to scandal there as they might have…and why the media today (and that includes our Kentucky media) is less likely to pursue such investigations.

The book is not without its faults and errors. What he considers ethical for reporters to do is not always what I would have them do, and so instructed my staff. But his book is important and an eye-opener. It should be required reading in Journalism schools, in ethical discussions and for those who seek to be members of an important, but vanishing tribe, investigative journalists.

It would also be cautionary reading for citizens who should demand much more of their elected officials, and those  same officials if they are going to do their jobs properly.

I'm just sayin'...