Monday, November 29, 2010

Echoes and Omens of the Forgotten War

As the "Forgotten War" on the Korean Peninsula heats up, and Sarah Palin proved that point last week by referring several times to North Korea as "our ally" ..I was reminded of a recent Kentucky news item. In September, Sgt. Charles Whitler was buried in his hometown of Cloverport..after being missing in action for sixty years!

He died in the Korean war in 1950. His body was found during a brief lull in our relations with North Korea a few years ago, and DNA testing recently confirmed his identity.

Will there be new Kentuckians, new Sgt. Whitlers to buried in the months ahead? As I write this, it's too early to tell, but let us hope sanity will allow both sides to avoid continuing armed conflict.

If we don't, kiss any chance to reduce the deficit goodbye. War, that topic so studiously avoided in the recent election campaign, must be addressed by both parties if either, and especially Republicians, are to make good on reducing the deficit. Forget the medicare-medicaid problems, the alleged social security imbalance, the entitlements debate...all peanuts compared to the one trillion, with a "t", cost of Iraq and Afghanistan.

If Mitch and Ben want to trim the deficit, let them address the war.

They might start with a recent book,"Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War" by Andrew Bacevich--a West Pointer, retired colonel, and Vietnam vet. For all too many years, he argues, America has lived by the doctrine that only we can "lead, save, liberate and ultimately transform the world." His "Washington Rules" can be read as being the same "military-industrial complex" that Eisenhower warned against in his farewell address.

Col. Bacevich proposes America should always live the freedoms we espouse at home, but not try to promote it through military action abroad. Set the world an example here (and we have much work to do to perfect our own democracy) before we start nation building elsewhere based on our own flawed example.

We just might trim the deficit in the process. And stop a few more Kentucky families from not knowing the fate of their loved ones for another sixty years.

I'm just sayin'....

Monday, November 22, 2010

I am a tree hugger.

My house is surrounded by different varieties, and as those old pin oaks have declined over the years--one of which fell on my house in a storm, I have replaced them with new ones.

I support the PDR program..Purchase of Development Rights, which allows the LFUCG to pay land owners to set aside land so it can be maintained in its natural state. I suspect this program has worked well.


When the PDR was introduced it was, admittedly, a radical concept. It had not been done in Kentucky before, actually in very few states then. Kentucky has a conservative judiciary. I thought then, and I think now, we need a friendly suit to test the PDR program in our courts.

What worries me is that, down the road, some new heir to land his parents set aside 20 years earlier will sue ... knowing if he wins, that land can be sold to developers for mucho dinero. IF they win, what happens? How do we protect the rest? How many more suits will be filed? Are we taxpayers entitled to a rebate on our taxes spent for this now outlawed program? I see many questions raised, and serious ones.

Let's set these possibilities aside, so we may continue the PDR program. Our new city administration should institute a suit to, once and for all, settle this important issue..and I'm seldom in favor of friendly lawsuits..but trees (and preserving our blue grass landscape) are worth it.

I'm just sayin...

Monday, November 15, 2010

We're number, uh, three!

And that's no compliment, because Kentucky is third among all states in providing guns used in crimes in other states. Why? A report to a group of mayors says its because we have few laws controlling guns.

Now, before the NRA gets het up, there are all sorts of laws here, from very minor to very stringent. We don't have any of the ten possible laws examined in the report; not even a law that provides a penalty for someone who buys a gun for someone else who can't buy one legally; such as an underage person, a felon, or mentally impaired. (Have we forgotten the massacre at Virginia Tech?)

So while a 12 year old or a felon can't buy an AK47, there is nothing to stop someone else for doing it for them. That's a pretty obvious law we ought to have, if nothing else. But three members of the General Assembly think that's too much; they even want Kentucky exempt from all federal gun laws--which is undoubtedly unconstitutional and has been held so in the one case that has come to a court test so far. Yet that approach has been passed by eight states, including Tennessee. It hasn't gotten out of committee in Frankfort so far, but they plan to try again next year.

Why is it not possible to pass some minimal, sane laws (such as the one suggested above) without everyone hitting the panic button, shouting Second Amendment, or NRA Forever???

I own a gun; I believe in the people's right to bear arms, but there are limits. We haven't been able to buy or use machine guns for years. No one, not even the NRA seems to object to that, yet AK47s may well be the new Tommy Gun, and our laws need to be updated.

If we don't, then Kentucky has no kick-back when other states ship in weapons used to kill our citizens; just as we, unfortunately, are doing that to so many in other states right now.

As the report points out, many people believe that more guns lead to less crime, but actually, in Kentucky's case, the absence of some laws regulating guns leads to more trafficking in guns, and more crime; not less.

This is something I don't want my state to be number one in, or even number three.

I'm Just Sayin...


I am indebted to the Courier-Journal for bringing this recent report to my attention. If you want to read about these crime guns go to:

Monday, November 8, 2010


Our recent election has been characterized by many as against the establishment in Washington (and Frankfort). More than just "throw the rascals out" was "throw them all out."

I'd like to suggest another was also against the party establishment.

A few years ago, when the Dems in Frankfort couldn't find anyone to take on Jim Bunning, Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo stepped up, and, surprise!, darn near won. (Had it not been for some sleazy GOP statements implying he was gay, he probably would have won).

Fast forward and the Grand Master of the Grand Old Party, Sen. Mitch McConnell, forces Bunning out. (Thanks, Jim, for all your service. Oh, you already have a watch.) He picks Trey Grayson to run, as the Establishment anoints.

This laying on of hands didn't sit well with the ultra-right wing of the party, and Rand Paul decides to run. He wins --handily, as the voters decide to buck the Republican Establishment. Mitch swallows hard and backs the tea partier –albeit late in the campaign.

On the other side, Mongiardo runs again. He should have had the thanks and backing of the Democratic Establishment for his earlier valiant run, but no. They anoint Jack Conway. Thanks to establishment backing, Conway narrowly wins in the primary.

Now it's General Election time. Conway runs a bad campaign. Could Lt. Gov. Dan have done better? We'll never know for sure. But look at the Jefferson county vote, Conway's home county. He carries it narrowly. Mongiardo carried it big time when he ran against Bunning. These days, if you're a Democrat and you don't carry Jefferson and Fayette by big margins, you seldom win statewide.

So, one way to view the Kentucky returns this election year is as a repudiation of the party establishments--both of them.

Will they get the message?

Do woodchucks really chuck wood?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Statesmen are but dead politicians

Some wag said (that) years ago, but I don't agree. There have been many true statesmen in our history, including some still alive in our own times (A question I asked long time CBS Washington reporter Roger Mudd when he was at the Frankfort Book Fair last year. He had his own list, not the same as mine, but my point is they do exist, even today.)

But perhaps the most famous of all Kentucky statesmen, whose wisdom and experience we could most certainly use today is Lexington's own Henry Clay. Born in Virginia, he moved here as a young man, practiced law, and was elected first to the House and then the Senate in Washington.

His career there gave luster to his adopted state; and as "The Great Compromiser", staved off the Civil War for years. It happened after his death; leading to endless historic speculation whether America would have avoided that dreadful conflict had Clay lived.

That question I can not solve. I can resolve once again to read more about Clay, and there are some excellent books I can recommend to all of you as well.

The latest which the critics have been applauding is by a husband and wife team: David and Jeanne Heidler's "Henry Clay: The Essential American." A slightly older book which I always liked was Robert Remini's "Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union".

I have always admired, even more, one of Clay's contemporaries--Daniel Webster, probably because of S. V. Benet's short story and a fine movie of the same title "The Devil and Daniel Webster." If you want to cast a wider net, read "The Great Triumvirate: Webster, Clay and Calhoun" by M. D. Peterson.

Do not assume Clay is ancient history. You may now read his speeches to the House and Senate in a Kindle electronic edition, for a magnificent price of $1. Money well worth spending if you have a Kindle.

What we all do have in Lexington and Central Kentucky is Henry Clay's estate, Ashland, well worth a visit if you have not done so, and his legacy, which our current Kentucky and American office holders might well emulate if they wish to become not just politicians, but true statesmen.

I’m Just Sayin’…