Monday, July 16, 2018

The Punishment Does Not Fit The Crime - Unless You Want To Burn Papa John At The Stake

So, enough already!

He confessed to using the “N” word, pressured into it he says, and what has happened to him?
Lost his positions with the firm he founded (in a broom closet) and built into 4500 stores globally (and all the jobs that went with them); had his name taken off the stadium at the school he loves—UofL, resigned from their board, --- all this in his home town of Louisville, and had been the object of universal disgust (his fair name and reputation) everywhere.
Worse, he has seen UK pile on, taking his name off a major building there, ending its financial relation with him and his foundation.
Now Papa John is well off—financially; several times a millionaire, many homes, private chopper, etcetec—all of which he earned by his hard work (and better ingredients) now lost in the blink of an eye.  Money yes, but what of one’s lost forever?
This is more than “let he without sin cast the first stone,"  but it is that, and jealousy, and much much more..including entirely too many columns of calumny in the C-J and elsewhere....but...let’s move on folks (and my colleagues in journalism)...there are more important news items, and things to be learned here.
For one, how to get a commercial name off a public stadium.  I have made no secrecy of my distaste  for Kroger Field. Before the UofL board realizes it now could rename Cardinal Stadium Commonwealth Stadium, is there any sexual or racial dirt we can get on a top Kroger executive and retain that time honored name here?
And two, the really important racial news of the past week is that the feds have reopened Emmett Till’s murder case—at last. If you don’t know the details here, please Google. The feds have pretty well known for years who killed this young black boy (as they did in the church bombing in Birmingham that killed the 4 young black girls,) but proving it was another matter. The Justice Department says “new information” caused the reopening. Let’s hope this does lead to justice in this most unfortunate case, and one far more important than one where the “N” word slipped out in a semi-private  conversation.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, July 9, 2018

If I Were A Betting Man (I'm Not, But...)

1. A/G Beshear has ruled that blocking protesters entrance to our Capitol was illegal. This opinion does not have the force of law (as his opinions do in other areas) but they are guidance to state officials and agencies. KSP & the Governor’s office may have the final say here. Now that Beshear is officially running for governor (surprise!), I would hope Gov. Bevin would accept the A/G’s opinion, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
2. Even more so I wouldn’t bet the guv would accept the court’s opinion in another case. Franklin Circuit Judge Shepherd (the one he called a “hack”) has ruled the state must pay the Courier-Journal $33K in legal fees because it illegally withheld public records as to stockholders in a joint state-private firm, Braidy Industries. The court upheld A/G Beshear’s opinion that the state could not do this—because public money was involved. Now the guv has a right to appeal this decision. I hope he won’t—you & I have a right to know how OUR money is being invested—but I wouldn’t bet on it.
3. Because Kentucky (and many other states) allow nursing homes to report on their staffing problems voluntarily (that means UNverified by a public agency) we haven’t known if the homes followed state law requiring minimum levels of staffing. That’s important for the well-being and health of our loved ones. But  now we know. The NY Times citing data gathered under the Affordable Care act (Obamacare) shows many homes violated staffing laws, thus providing inadequate care.  I would hope state legislators would follow up next year and require such data to be made public here. But I wouldn’t bet on it. Instead, watch for the nursing home industry to lobby Congress to remove that provision of Obamacare so we won’t know of their less-than-adequate care of our family members.
4. Largely overlooked by the media when the Supreme Court upheld the latest version of the Trump discriminatory travel ban (thank you Judge Gorsuch and Mitch) was a footnote saying the 1944 decision UPHOLDING the wartime internment of US citizens of Japanese ancestry of that same Supreme Court was probably wrong. News reports conflict but PBS’s able court reporter said the court couldn’t bring itself to go all the way.  Downright shame. This modern Dred Scott decision has been law for much too long. I want to bet this one will eventually be overturned, but with the upcoming conservative court planned by Pres. Trump, that may not happen...either.
Elections have consequences.
Whatever your views, your failure to vote has even more.
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, July 2, 2018

Purple Fingers And The Fourth of July

But First:

Item One:

Gov. Bevin isn’t doing too well in the courts. He has lost 3 major decisions so far, and this past week a big one in federal court, which held that he/Ky. could not require medicaid recipients to work in order to continue their benefits.
The guv has apparently learned, tho. He didn’t refer to that federal judge as a “hack” or “stupid” as he has certain state judges. Federal judges can be a little testy when called such names, and have been known to throw the authors into the pokey.
But, properly, the guv has asked a state judge to reconsider his ruling tossing out the legislature’s pension overhaul. This was needed because the judge, as courts often do, ruled on very narrow grounds...and the state needs clarity on provisions not covered in the ruling, especially whether the new law violates the state’s “inviolable contract” with state workers. Good call, guv, needed...please just don’t keep calling judges names when they rule against you.    
Item Two:
 You’ve probably been seeing a lot of public service announcement about not texting and driving, not using cell phones and driving, and so on...but now, “progress” folks; "streaming” (video, not just audio) is becoming more and more installed in cars. BUT, only 2 states ban video use while driving. One would think all those state PSAs on mere texting would have led them to (finally) get ahead of the tech curve, and have bans in place when video also came. But no. And for you Detroit, did we really need this???
Item Three:
America’s Independence Day comes this week.  As I reflect on our freedoms, and revere the First Amendment (“Je suis Capital Gazette”), there is one area where I depart. You can’t force (or shouldn’t) people to talk—free speech; or go to church; or force them to come to a meeting; and so can force them to vote (or pay a helluva penalty)..and this is where I diverge from the usual view of freedom. I think voting is so essential in a democracy it must be required of all citizens. Or face a major fine; or jail time with repeated offenses. Yup, I’re outta your mind Ken, that’s not freedom  Maybe so. Is a 10% turnout in an election in a democracy freedom? In many other countries, including some with poverty, little education, civil wars, people have waited days (yes days) to vote...not hours; they have slogged thru war zones to vote, and faced incredible hardships to exercise this most fundamental right, when so many of us ignore it. They got purple dye on their fingers to show they had voted in many of these countries—and in many of these countries, armed partisans of one side or the other lopped off those purple fingers in retaliation.
But these cruel acts are not limited to the Third World.  Mexico voted Sunday on a new president. Not that any of our local media has called your attention to it.  Or that 130 candidates or potential candidates for offices in Mexico  in that election were murdered; yes, killed because they ran for office, mainly local offices. Crime gangs killed many, thus deciding the outcome of that election by bullets not ballots.
We MUST do something to increase voter turnout here...our democracy is at stake. I think it should be required. You come up with a better that works....please let us all know!

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

His Marbles; Their Rules Of Law, And My Little Red Hen

Well, if you don’t get your own way in politics, pick up your marbles and go home. Forget how important the issue is, and how many people it affects!
That was the easy read of Senate majority leader Damon Thayer’s C-J interview, after a court struck down the pension overhaul bill. He has NO interest in passing any new reforms and doubts other lawmakers do either. But without some reforms, even Thayer admitted those pensions systems will “collapse.”
Overlooked was the bill passed with several major violations of his senate’s rules—which was why the court overturned it. (The court didn’t cite some other glaring violations of Senate rules, which to my mind were even more important—and which Senate members deliberately overlooked to vote passage.)
I hope Sen. Thayer reconsiders, picks up his marbles and returns to the arena (as his fellow Republican Teddy Roosevelt would have done.) He, and members of both parties are needed to get us out of this mess, should the ruling be upheld on appeal. After all it has been 20 years of neglect by both governors and legislatures that has caused this crisis—and neither has been given enough credit for that!!!—so the responsibility is theirs to get us out of this morass.
Meanwhile, the Rule of Law is under attack by both our guv and our President.  Gov. Bevin, a businessman, simply doesn’t understand the Rule of Law. If you submit your case to the courts, which he did, you must abide by the outcome. What he has done so far is to criticize the judge for his ruling—twice. Guv, that will get you nowhere, and doesn’t move the civic debate along. We need solutions not epithets.
In the meantime, the H-L had a MOST interesting story that relates to the pension debacle. Seems some of the hedge funds we have invested millions in, want to be dropped from our retirement system pension plans. Why??  Oh boy, listen to this. Because the legislature passed a law calling for more scrutiny of them. And one of its provisions is that such funds must operate under professional codes of ethics. One code key provision is that such funds must put clients/customers (such as the Ky. pension system) first. These codes were largely written by investment professionals—not Ky. lawmakers. But hedge funds have always been on the edge of the investment industry’s dubious morality (and should be IMHO outlawed for years of scandals) and they are fighting any move that might threaten its excessive profits and commissions or hold them to a simply code of conduct.
(IMHO-2, the entire Ky. pension program should be investigated. I strongly suspect wrongdoing, influence peddling, fraud and curvature of the spine. Where is the A/G, KSP/LRC/any special legislative commission here?  Maybe journalists will have to do it, and these days with limited staff and budget that will be a problem.)
Pres. Trump takes the Guv. Bevin approach. He has been so burned on the totally wrong, and UNnecessary separation of families at the border, he wants them deported without trial or following our laws. (See Rule of Law comments above.) His administration was and is totally unprepared to handle the situation. Parents were held by one agency, kids in another and there not only is no Master List, but the computers of the 2 agencies can’t “talk” to each other. As the military said it had space to house the kids—hopefully not in cages—hundreds of them were bussed to NYC for confinement. This makes no sense.
Neither does the little Red Hen reaction. That’s the name of a very small Virginia restaurant where the owner refused to serve the White House press secretary and her friends recently. The owner said she acted at the request of her staff because of the cruel way the Trump administration was handling the family situation on our Southern border.
Such a refusal of service is wrong; and would never be upheld in court.
If a restaurant can refuse customers based on their politics, why not on their religion?  Or race?  Or sexual orientation? The owner said she consulted with her staff, many of whom are gay, and they all supported the refusal. If I were a LBGT(and sometimes Q) organization I would rally outside that restaurant to protest the denial, or have such groups forgotten what a short time ago it was that they were subject to the same discrimination.
I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Signs And Portents???

I am a sign follower. I believe in signs and I think most of us should follow what they say, especially when issued by some public authority.  (Even when fire trucks say “stay back 500 feet”) in letters that can’t be read beyond 15 feet, I follow that.)
But, when official signs aren’t correct, and no one in authority tries  to correct them, I demur...and I think this is especially bad because it leads other people to not follow them, and that breeds ignoring signs, which in turn could get us in trouble.
Case in point: construction signs (of which there are a great many these days around Lexington and Kentucky. It’s that season.) My kids drove me to Lou-ah-vul Saturday for Father’s Day. For 15 plus miles along I-64 near Shelbyville there were signs forcing drivers into one lane, there were two signs that said “Working when lights are flashing.” They were flashing. There was NO work for the entire stretch. A needless slowing down and unsafe funneling of heavy traffic into one lane.
Later that day when we came back, someone had realized the error, and had taken the simple act of turning off the flashing light signs and turning the rest over on their face.
This example happens all too often...needlessly. It’s so simple to turn signs over when the workday is done.
A major corruption trial was held in Lexington the last few days.  But neither the city’s leading tv station (WKYT) nor the city’s leading morning newspaper (!) covered it. The AP thought enough of it to send its state capital reporter to do so and when the verdict was in, the paper published the AP report; don’t know what 27 did.  Both were busy covering another major case, the murder of a local Marine. Can’t they cover 2 major trials at a time?  If the answer is “No”, readers and viewers are in for a bad time.
27 also didn’t cover the Poor People’s protest at the state Capitol the first time they were barred from entry; but has made up for this lapse in good coverage ever since. This story has legs (a journalism term meaning  a story of some substance and needs to be followed up.) The Guv apparently has realized this and held out an olive branch, but the group is, at last report, still being allowed in, just like the animals in the old nursery rhyme "two by two."  KSP says several of the group have messed up in the past and they were worried the entire group might do so. This is guilt by association, and has no place in our Commonwealth.
I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Comment: Foreign And Domestic

I blinked, was there a summit??? 
Well, we had been warned this one was unlike any other advance agreement on a closing statement, little prep time, two leaders who had never met each other, etc. (and $20M of Singapore’s cash for such short security.)  5 handshakes, one long lunch, much time lost in translation, 2 offers for a visit and more info in tweets than in the official document.
PBS’s summary: “lofty goals, with few details on how to reach them.”
That said, and I agree, it still was needed, for it gave the world new hope for peace (always remembering what a short time ago it was that the world was braced for missiles and war.)
Peace was the winner, and that is truly important. Human rights was the loser.  (North Korea’s record is one of the worst) and that is truly tragic.
(BTW, one Lexington TV station, six hours after the summit ended, was running headlines calling attention to the meeting about to be held, at the bottom of the screen during its newscast.)
Turning to domestic items:  American Democracy suffered setbacks.  The Supreme Court, 5-4, said Ohio, which has the strictest voter purging laws in the nation, could throw people off the rolls if they failed to vote for 6 years, and failed to respond to a letter.  “Not our place to set these laws for local races” the court indicated  in leaving this matter up to the states.
(I wonder how much Ohio has spent on purging voters, and bringing the case to the courts..and how much good might have been done trying to find ways to up voter turnout?)
Meanwhile, Indiana, also next door, took the opposite tack. A federal judge there blocked the state from purging voters because they might also be voting in another state!  (This makes no sense to me. Ohio’s might well be too strict, but voting twice is a crime—except of course in some parts of Kentucky and my home state of West Virginia.)
The Ohio decision may make the Indiana ruling "moot," but what we need to be doing, with great urgency, is to find ways to get many more people to vote, legally.
That serious challenge needs to be taken up by the next Kentucky General Assembly.
I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Pastor Paul & Senator Mitch (and other news notes)

Pastor Paul Prather in Sunday’s Herald Leader called the NFL’s ruling against players’ kneeling during the national anthem “unpatriotic.” And so it is. As Prather writes the players have said many times they are not disrespecting the flag or anthem, but rather calling attention to systemic racism in America and especially police violence against black people. (And so that is, too.)
I don’t know what Sen. Mitch McConnell thinks about all this, but have we forgotten when, many years ago, he upheld the burning of the flag as a legit means of dissent? Didn’t like it he said; he would never do was a legal form of protest.
Burning our flag seems a much worse matter, to me, than kneeling for our (largely unsingable) national anthem.
Some people never learn Dept:   “Israel plans 2500 new West Bank settler homes”  (accompanied by more protests, more deaths, more bad feelings between the 2 peoples who MUST end up sharing their land.) This headline could just as easily read “Hamas calls upon its followers to sacrifice themselves needlessly at nearest border.”
Some people never learn Dept. Part 2: The Catholic archdiocese of St (!) Paul in Minneapolis will pay $210 million to settle over 400 cases of sexual abuse by priests. Second largest US verdict in these disgraceful cases.
US involved in a new war, once again no declaration as Constitution requires:
This time it’s Yemen, where US troops have suddenly shown up...and prompting the GOP-controlled House to call for a probe of reports that US servicemen or intelligence officials have tortured Yemeni detainees. (Well that was fast...took many months during the Iraq war.)  Last time the House got exercised was when it finally learned (thru news reports) US service people were in Niger---and 4 of them had been killed while on a “safe” mission.
And to be fair:
President Trump has signed into law a bill allowing terminally ill people to apply for (and maybe even get quicker) experimental drugs that might, might just save their lives. Congress took its good sweet time in finally doing this, it  was long overdue, but at least this bi-partisan, non-partisan idea passed. For signing it, also a good idea, Thank You, Mr. President.
Have a good Memorial Day?
36 people in Chicago didn’t; they were shot over that “holy-day”, 7 dying.
I'm just sayin'...