Monday, April 25, 2011


Even after 150 years, many Americans don't have a handle on the "defining moment" in our history--The Civil War.

I've been asked why Kentucky joined the secession? It didn't, though as one of our astute historians observed.."Kentucky waited til the war was over to join the losers!"

But starting this year we are observing the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States, and that's an unparalleled opportunity for most of us to learn what truly happened. Many agencies will help us: NPR & Kentucky Public Radio, PBS & KET, the Kentucky Historical Society (with many exhibits) libraries, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and local re-enactment groups.

Here in Central Kentucky we have major Civil War sites..Perryville, Richmond, White Hall, Nancy, even Henry Clay's Ashland, site of a "skirmish" well as Lexington and Frankfort which changed hands many times.

I hope you will take time during the next four years to learn about the War, about the role of our state in it...Lincoln said "I must have Kentucky" (as a Union state)..for such a grand opportunity will not happen again in the lifetime of most of us.

So, to kick the discussion off.."let me make one thing perfectly clear", as another president said..the war was caused by...slavery. The states' rights argument was but a rationale to let those states who wanted to keep slavery, that "peculiar institution", do so.

It was slavery, neither pure nor simple...and we should never forget that.

So..commemorate, observe, memorialize, or whatever you want..but let's take this great opportunity to learn about the most important...and certainly the darkest our fascinating history.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, April 18, 2011

This time, we were spared.

This time, we were spared.

But this spring's burst of tornadoes has to remind many Kentuckians of the tragic spring of '74 when it was our turn... as part of what still is, I think, the worst one or two day concentration of tornadoes ever..throughout the Midwest, with the greatest loss of life and heaviest property damage.

I reflect on that because, unlike some other states, Kentucky does not require mobile homes to be strapped down. All homes can suffer when high winds come through; mobile homes suffer the worst. Why not strap them down, using heavy metal straps into the ground? It can not hurt and it may do some good. Yet year after year, even when introduced, such bills go nowhere in the legislature. I have to believe it's because they are opposed by the "manufactured housing" industry, which apparently feels the extra expense would hurt sales..and of course, the "down economy" is just the latest excuse.

Bottom line: it's still profit over safety.

The other thing which bothers me is watching all that corrugated metal, roof sections, siding et al, flying thru the air. If someone hasn't been beheaded, it is just a matter of time.

We need stronger rules to "nail" down roofs and other such metal sections from injuring people. Yes, if the wind gets strong enough, nothing will hold them down. But again, it can't hurt and in many storms it would help.

California requires new buildings to meet earthquake standards. Old buildings are given a period, ten years I think, to retrofit and upgrade. If its laws can require this, so can Kentucky's.

After all, we were lucky...this April. But it is only a matter of time until those deadly winds visit us again.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, April 11, 2011

For shame!

Did you see the story from that Kentucky airport in Hebron..(sometimes erroneously referred to as the Cincinnati airport)?

It seems that the board of trustees search committee interviewing candidates for UK president shielded them with a large black cloth as they got to the finals. The same kind of cloth coroner's use to give the dead deserved privacy.

(Boy, what analogies I could draw here, but...)

The shielding, from reporters of course, also meant they were being shielded from the public, from the very Kentuckians who pay for the search expenses, and the salary, etc. of the next UK president.

As I have written earlier, I am sorry to see Dr. Todd go. I am sorry board members feel they need a national seach firm to find suitable candidates...I think knowing such candidates is part of Dr. Todd's job; and the board's. I am also sorry they hired (at our expense, of course, one way or the other) a salary consultant who said the next prez must be paid more...much more. Maybe, but isn't that in comparison with some overpaid CEOs we know (whether CEO of colleges or business firms)? All are paid more than the President of the United States. Something is wrong here, no matter who the President is.

But I am the sorriest, as a journalist and a Kentuckian, that the search committee feels the need to shield us from the finalists. Yes, I know the candidates' rationale: protect our IDs or we won't be candidates for your job. (If they are so stable in their current job maybe, just maybe, they aren't the one for us.)

To mark this revolting development properly, I have a we will always remember how much faith the trustees have in us: when the time comes for the official portrait of the person selected, let it be a lovely frame, bordering nothing but a piece of black cloth.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The First Cassius Clay

The First Cassius Clay:

Was a least his newspaper office was here, though his farm was in Madison County across the Kentucky River.

I am reminded of this by a number of events:

1--KET has begun rebroadcasting "The Civil War", most of this week at 8, and I urge you to see it, or re-see it.

2--The 150th anniversary of the start of that war is next week, Tuesday the 12th, and there will be many events observing it in the next few years. Time for all of us to immerse ourselves in our own history, especially that "defining moment" which was the Civil War.

3--The Society of Professional Journalists will dedicate Clay's home, White Hall, as a national historic journalism site that day. Clay's anti-slavery paper "The True American" so incensed the dominant pro-slave sentiments of this area that his press was seized in an attempt to shut him down. Didn't work. For more, Google him.

4--Slavery lives among us. ABC reported over the weekend of charges placed after a raid on a quiet Georgia neighborhood where many women were being held in slavery. (Sexual in this case, but there have been a number of national reports recently of people being held in economic slavery as well). Kentucky was listed as among a dozen states by the ABC report where similar cases have been charged.

"All men are created equal" we would like to think is our contribution to the world. It is, but so was our contribution to that "peculiar institution", slavery, which still is a blot upon the world...and America.