Sunday, December 10, 2017

WILL THE REAL #RealDonaldTrump PLEASE STAND UP?

We know the President is a tweeter—his campaign tweets changed the course of US politics, and he continued tweeting as our Chief Executive; many of them at odds with what he tweeted during the campaign. Was that (1) inconsistency (2) change of mind (3) typical politician’s breaking promises, or (4) something else?
 
But thru all of this, Mr. Trump maintained the tweets were his own. Indeed his # (hashtag) “REALDonaldTrump" emphasized and reinforced this. Reporters questioning White House officials were assured all these bearing that hashtag were from the President, even though some appeared rather outlandish to many of us.
 
Now, we have been told otherwise.
 
Which raises more questions about our President.
 
It seems one such tweet was actually written by Mr. Trump’s lawyer instead; though it was put out as coming from #REALDonaldTrump.  It was an attempt to get the President off the hook in a probe Congress and the Special Prosecutor are conducting into possible Russian meddling in our elections.
 
While this admission didn’t get much media attention recently, I think it’s very significant, and so do some federal courts.  One hearing into his travel ban on majority Muslim countries has caused his administration big trouble. Trump maintains in court that his ban is not religiously oriented, but an attempt to ban people from “terrorist nations” from coming here and threatening our security. (Despite the fact that no terrorist plots in the US have come from people from most of these nations.)
 
But Mr. Trumps tweets say otherwise, and this has been cited in court. A majority of the 4th US Circuit court cited his tweets about Muslims as indicating the ban’s real motives were religiously based, and that would mean a possible violation of the First Amendment; and an end to the bans, unless the Supreme Court decided otherwise.
 
So his tweets have gotten the President in trouble, BUT suppose the offending tweets were NOT written by him (as he claims) but by someone else in the White house, as his lawyer has claimed already in another case???
 
Who can we poor citizens believe?: a President who has been a model of inconsistency, saying one thing on the campaign trail and the opposite in office?? OR his lawyer, or some other White house official, whose job it is to make the Boss look good???
 
More importantly, can we now take any tweet coming from #RealDonaldTrump ever again as coming from our President?
 
“Fake News” has been succeeded by “Fake Tweets.”
 
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, November 27, 2017

Washington & Frankfort: Some Thoughts

In Frankfort recently we have seen the sexual harassment tragedies bring down a good man, Republican House speaker Jeff Hoover, a stunning blow to many of us. But while the end result of this is still not known, there are some things we can comment on.  Whatever money was paid to settle his case, it did not come from public funds although we have only the assurances of state officials here. Since we do not know from where it came, we are taking this on faith.
 
In Washington, where  at least one previous House speaker, also a Republican, Dennis Hastert, was forced to resign in another sexual case, such settlements may well have been paid from public funds...that is money from you and me, and there is NO public accounting of this. (Which may well violate the Constitution, more later.)
 
Since 1997 Congress has paid out at least $15 million to settle similar cases, the latest being that of Mich. Democrat John Conyers, who at 88 is the longest serving member of the present House. All such settlements against what member and how much are kept secret and are paid by a special fund in the Treasury set up by Congress in 1995; and on the OK of just 2 members, the chair and ranking member (the top GOP and Democratic member) of the committee where the offending member has his chief committee seat.  So 2 people can spend taxpayer funds. (And you thought there had to be a vote by the full Congress!!)
 
Other than the secrecy involved Congress takes care of its own even before the nation, and certainly before us citizens...this probably violates a section of the Constitution which says the Treasury shall pay the Nation’s(??) debts, when approved by Congress (??) and “from time to time” shall make “a public accounting.”
 
Of course “from time to time” could mean 100 years from now; much as Senator McConnell argued the Senate did not have to take up President Obama’s nomination to the Supreme Court within any definite time, and indeed waited a year before Trump was elected so a more conservative choice would come before the Senate. (Most Constitutional scholars, as well as myself think Mitch was dead wrong.) One person should not have been able to effectively amend the Constitution, which he did.
If you think this was wrong, here is a burning issue: public money being paid, in secret, to settle the private violations of the law—then mark your calendars to raise it when Kentucky Congressmen, including local Rep. Andy Barr, and his Democratic challenger come before you next year.
 
In the meantime, there is a proposed 28th amendment to the Constitution going around. If passed it would prevent Congress from exempting itself from the same laws that govern the rest of us...and that, too, is an issue to lay before candidates for Congress, as well as state House & Senate members, who can—and should—petition Congress to pass it.
 
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, November 20, 2017

Surely You Have Also Noticed

How many more shootings there are...and in more neighborhoods; and with more shots fired, and with more innocent bystanders killed or wounded?
 
So, are you going to continue to say it won’t happen here, or to me...until the bullet labeled “To Whom It May Concern” arrives? 
 
Doesn’t  that tragic Texas church shooting freeze the blood in you?
 
Please, don’t give up for there are things that we can do. There is even a small, bi-partisan movement in the Senate to make some changes.
 
Without going into a 2nd Amendment debate, isn’t there some minimum steps we can agree on: such as:
 
Close the gun show loopholes, which isn’t fair to local gun store owners.
 
Mentally impaired people should not be allowed to buy such weapons. And the national registry for such people must be made fool proof. It wasn’t in the Texas case. Ditto convicted felons, those on the terrorist watch list, etc.
 
Statistics on shooting incidents must be collected; they aren’t now. So those on all sides of this argument can have facts, not opinions.
 
But, bottom line, get rid of the old argument which isn’t true that "guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” It takes both.
 
Then we can come up with practical, non- 2nd amendment views that put BOTH guns and people into our discussions and come up with common sense answers to stop this bloody, senseless, “job-killing” carnage.
 
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, November 13, 2017

Once More Into That Breach

More and more women come forth to charge men in authority or power with behaving like idiots, or bastards towards them. Even former President Bush, at 90, has been charged with “groping” and recently, too!
 
And why don’t men understand why they were so reluctant to make these charges public for years? (which not only works against these women, and fails to warn other women, but may let some truly slimy characters like Roy Moore in Alabama get off.)  If they had just had the courage to go public some years ago how much better it would have been?
 
But, can these women be believed, even now?
 
Some of them, absolutely.
 
A few of them, No Way!
 
Do I believe some of them are using this mass event to get publicity for faded careers, or spark a lawsuit (perhaps for money) or to call attention to themselves?  Yes, I do.
 
The problem is: how do you tell into which category any individual woman falls?
 
Thru the courts or some judicial process, that’s how...not by rushing to call a news conference to join the List.  Don’t get me wrong...little of this would have come out without the news media, which we in Kentucky know better than most in the startling case of ex-House Speaker Hoover.
 
One person may lie, others may repeat it, making the first charge their own against some prominent person.  It’s still a lie.  Truth is not subject to math.
 
The way to get to the bottom of this is to file charges, not just make them, and let the courts do their job. Women may have been unable to get justice 30 years ago, but that time hopefully is long gone. (And yes, some form of the judicial process should be at work in Mr. Hoover’s case so the citizens of Kentucky get the full facts and can make an informed judgment.)
 
Bless you Louie C.K. for your “coming out” and admission of wrongdoing. For the rest, the courts are probably the best, and only answer.
 
Until then, may I repeat:  Presumption of innocence is the absolute foundation of American Justice, and that Justice is ill-served if we jump to conclusions early on. Accusations are not justice. While these sad cases will probably continue for some time, please bear that in mind.
 
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, November 6, 2017

In Praise Of Print

Several of my newspaper colleagues, and some J- school teachers and historians I know, consider newspapers are past their prime, dinosaurs of the past in a digital age, and wonder why they haven’t gone that way, too.
 
Kentuckians had a good example of why over this past week.
 
The Speaker of the Kentucky House, after days of swearing “No Way!” resigned suddenly, just four days after the Courier-Journal published a story that he had engaged in sexual harassment of his staff. Long time statehouse reporters were stunned. This is the Kentucky equivalent of the Speaker of Congress (3rd in line for the Presidency) doing the same...which has also happened because the media had published stories neither party wanted published.
 
Who does hold public officials, and our political parties accountable?  The Press, and—let me say it as a long time broadcast journalist, mainly the print media.  (Is Watergate so far away in our recent memory?)
 
The same week the C-J did all of us a public service, I was about to write a blog praising Paul Prather and Tom Eblen, columnists for our Herald-Leader.
 
Mr. Prather’s weekly column on religion should be must reading for any of us who consider ourselves “religious," and not just “Christians.” He has reminded me of lessons from my early Sunday School, and put them in today’s context in a marvelous way, illuminating and down-to-earth. You do NOT have to agree to come away from reading him with a sense of reaffirmation of the good that most of us aspire to, whether we achieve it in our daily lives or not.
 
Tom’s recent column made more sense, for me, of the “supply side” economics arguments, which is at the heart of many a current issue in Washington that affects our daily lives...and that also includes burning issues here; the pension argument, proposals for overhauling Kentucky’s antiquated tax code  (as well as the nation’s,) and more. Economics may be “the dismal science” but it pervades many issues in DC and Frankfort, and his column was a real service to any of us who want to be good citizens and take part in our civic life.
 
I hear much talk that to save our newspapers they must come up with a new, modern “business plan.” No, they must find a way to continue their traditional role of “afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.”  This the C-J and H-L have just done, and we are all the better for it.
 
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, October 30, 2017

Friendship Abides

A delegation from France was in Lexington over the weekend, not to buy race horses, or try to sell us something from there, but just out of friendship for America and Lexington.
 
These were students, businessmen and women, teachers, reporters, civil servants, retirees---similar to Lexington delegations which have gone to France, too---for the past SIXTY years.
 
All part of the Sister Cities program, founded by President Eisenhower.  Lexington was the 2nd city to join that program, and we had the good luck to be “twined” with Deauville---a seaside resort in France’s horse country. It worked so well that we became “twined” (which is what the Europeans call the program) with other cities in horse areas around the world—in Ireland, England, and Japan.  (Studies are under way for new sister cities in Spain and South America as the program grows.) The city staffs and funds an office to manage this program (which also includes sending high school and college exchange students to study abroad in our sister cities.)
 
Adults, such as my late wife and I, paid our own way in the city organized, economical group trips there...and local Sister City committees showed off those areas, had us stay in their homes, and get to know them much better and more personally than many commercial tours.
 
That may be at the heart of the program. We met a fine couple in Deauville and ended up touring “their France” for several weeks. They stayed with us when here. Fine, close, and lasting friendships followed...and exist to this day. I had not seen some of my French friends for ten years, but when invited to lunch with them by my longtime councilmember, Bill Farmer who now heads the council committee overseeing this program, it was as if we had only parted the week before.
 
If such a program interests you, or your children  (I really regret that mine have never taken part in this endeavor) get in touch with the Sister City office at city  hall.
 
In this world of so many conflicts, bringing people of different cultures and history together is important...for once you get to know them, as 60 years of Lexington’s relations with Deauville, France proves...
 
Friendship Abides!
 
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, October 23, 2017

We Are All "Downstream"

As I write this only 10% of Puerto Rico has had power restored...and this a month after the island was hit by a strong hurricane. While some of Puerto Rico’s problems restoring power are unique to its geography and economy, the absolute need to get power back on quickly after a natural emergency is well known. Almost all other relief efforts to save lives depend on power. It is a given in our modern society.

And so the drive to get the lights back on means getting poles back upright, downed lines restrung, generators working again, etc.etc.etc..and quickly.  Which overlooks any problems that area had with power lines before the disaster struck---the overwhelming need is to get power restored quickly.

Had the lines been underground far less damage would have been done; far less power would have been lost, and restoration would have been done faster.
But we forget all this in the immediate pressure to restore power.

What is needed is to resurvey what might have occurred had the lines been buried...and IF, as I strongly suspect, things would have been MUCH better with most lines buried, we need to invest in doing that before the next disaster hits.

This is NOT just a problem for Puerto Rico. I can think of at least 3 cases in Lexington---in recent years-- where similar natural events occurred, costing us power, where restoration, at considerable expense, was NOT followed by burying the lines...and that cost all of us power outrages again, and again.  Yes, burying lines is more expensive than restoring the traditional above ground poles—for the utility. But what about the overall costs to homeowners and business and government that future outages entailed, when lines aren’t buried after the first disaster? Those costs never seem to be factored in.

I am  willing to bet that the total costs of restoring power traditionally in those 3 recent events exceeds the costs of burying lines...but no one seems interested in figuring our whether my “bet” is right or not.
Well, someone should.

We are all “downstream” when power goes out...and we need to be interested in the fastest, best way to get the lights back on, not just quickly but for the long run.
I'm just sayin'...