Monday, June 27, 2011

What I did on my vacation

Visited two states, Maine & New Hampshire, where I had never been, at the invitation of old friends. In NH, I was able to hook up with Tom Griffith, who worked for me at Channel 27 News 30 years ago, as a good reporter and weekend anchor. Tom is now the prime anchor for WMUR-TV, literally the only TV station in NH.

His station, the local paper, and CNN sponsored the recent GOP presidential candidates debate, and he got me tickets for that event. I've covered 14 national party conventions, but had never sat in on this type of debate, which was just about heaven for a political junkie.

(I don't know who won but I sure can tell you who lost; Tim Pawlenty waffled on his previous charge that Romney's healthcare program was similar to Obama's, and Ron Paul lectured the audience on arcane fiscal policy, becoming the Ross Perot of the 2011 campaign.)

CNN's set was dazzlingly over-the-top, probably costing the annual budget of Tunisia, and Tom tells me will only be used one more time.

Tom's station is magnificent, not just in its physical plant (a converted Service Merchandise and discount shoe store) but in its owners' dedication to local news and public affairs. They run many more such programs than do the Lexington stations, and not just every four years.

This was heady stuff for me, and charged me up to come back and flay a little hide locally. Maybe I will, but in the meantime, I am totally saddened and puzzled by some major mistakes on the part of the national news media broadcast here recently:

CBS misidentified the state senator brother of James "Whitey" Bulger as the suspected Boston hit man; ABC told us twice that fires in Texas had burned over a billion (with a B) acres when it was actually a million acres involved...and one of my fave PBS Shows, History Detectives, twice mispronounced the last name of President FDR. The first syllable rhymes with the flower rose, not with "ruse." So much for their vaunted research staff and journalism fact checking in general.

I'm just sayin'....

Sunday, June 19, 2011


State police reported earlier this year that Kentucky had set a new record in 2010 for the most meth labs founded by police; 1080, up from 741 in 2009.

That's a huge jump, and no one believes this is more than a fraction of the illegal labs that abound. Technology is, unfortunately, on the side of the lawbreakers because making the illegal drug has gotten easier and easier.

Things I don't understand, but police do, support this. A one bottle lab to make meth (literally one of those 2 liter pop bottles will do)...meth labs have been found in backseats of cars, the cops have seen meth being made as the car rolls down the road, even while stopped at a traffic light. Recently, a gas station clerk became suspicious because people were in his restroom too long. On investigating he found they had stopped in to make meth, out of sight, during a short restroom break. It's apparently that simple.

Yet the legislature did not take the steps police urged upon them: to require prescriptions or some more record keeping of the simple ingredients need to make it. Store owners, some doctors, business groups opposed this "inconvenience."

Hey, I get colds and sniffles too. I occasionally need those ingredients. I am willing to put up with the proposed "inconveniences" if it will help law enforcement do a better job of shutting down the "cookers." Surely we can figure out some way to inconvenience the meth makers a lot, and those of us with stuffy noses the least; surely.

If not, wait til you see the KSP meth lab figures next year.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Now comes the studies, and great research.

Count on it. The Midwest and South's trials by horrendous weather so far this year will provide scientists with great and important research projects for years to come; hopefully leading to a better understanding of why, how, and when such destructive weather forms.

But some things we suspect already.

Severe weather warnings have gotten better and faster. We get more lead time to take cover, but are we doing so? Some people believe we have so many warnings, and so many voices warning us, that the net effect is to dull our senses and lead us to fatal indecision. I doubt this, but that too will be studied.

Already, as the Associated Press has reported, we know this: the people most at risk for injury or death are those who live in mobile homes, or houses without basements. Storm cellars work, but fewer are being built. I have always lived in a home with a basement and I feel even better about it now.

And yes, I saw a mobile home on the news that had been strapped down and was just kindling. What I don't know is whether the kindling would have been smaller with no straps; I suspect so,and I know, short of an EF4, which is rare, that straps can't hurt and may help. I continue to believe our state should require mobile homes to be sold with straps and a legal requirement they be installed.

Also, we already know that families who have a plan in place before bad weather strikes have a greater chance of living. As if such family plans haven't been drummed into our heads for years. They work, folks. They work. And

Compared to many other states, so far this year we in Kentucky have been fortunate. If it takes straps, and cellars, and advance plans to continue to keep us so fortunate, that seems a very little price to pay to make our families safe.

I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"Rat On" Senator Paul!

Our new Senator was correct, and our Senior Senator wrong last week on one of this session's most important votes, extending the so-called Patriot Act; a law passed with too little debate (and insufficient public hearings) in the emotional times after the 9/11 attack.

In late December, Congress passed a temporary extension, promising time for debate and amendments before considering the full four year extension. Didn't happen; no hearings, little debate, almost no amendments, even from such a senior senator as Judiciary Committee chair Patrick Leahy, who joined with Paul in an amendment to provide more oversight of this controversial law. It failed.

A top intelligent official said even a brief lapse would mean "the nation would be less secure." Errant nonsense, and quickly countered by another top official who admitted the nation would survive if the extension weren't approved by midnight on the appointed day. But taking no chances, when both chambers rushed through approval, the White House used an "auto pen" device to allow the President to sign it from his French conference.

Paul had complained, correctly, the law gives the government too much power; allowing the feds to rifle thru our library cards, Facebook postings, bank transactions, etc., and letting the FBI and others tap phones; not just of foreigners, but also native born citizens, sometimes without a court order. Sen. Paul was finally able to work out a deal, under midnight deadline pressure, to get a little debate and a few amendments. Too little debate and too few amendments.

In the aftermath of 9/11, security triumphed over freedom; many of our traditional civil liberties got trampled. (The government pressured major phone companies, illegally, to allow broad ranging wire taps in many cases, for example.) The Act's major provisions have not yet received a full court test. Our junior senator was "rat on" in his general approach that this important acts needs much more thorough study and debate.

I'm just sayin'...