Monday, October 29, 2012


Of all the mean, negative, and utterly illogical campaign ads this season the current champion is the ad Judge Will Scott is running against Janet Stumbo.
Scott, the incumbent (and Republican in this NON-partisan race) and Stumbo (a Democrat in this NON-partisan race) have squared off before. Stumbo is seeking to regain her seat from the judicial district which encompasses Eastern counties.  She has the endorsement of the UMW, far from the political powerhouse it once was.
Both signed an agreement in early October to keep the race civil and in keeping with the high judicial office they seek. A great goal, with probably no sanctions whatsoever if either violate that agreement.
And Scott certainly has.
His ad implies..surprise..Stumbo is soft on crime. He cites several cases where Judge Stumbo's earlier decisions favored the criminal's position which was on appeal. Ergo, she MUST be "soft on crime."
Totally illogical.
Maybe the prosecution erred, maybe the defense wasn't properly presented, maybe the jury was tainted, maybe the judge made an error, maybe...maybe..all these things happen in lower court, which is why we have an appeals system to rectify mistakes and try to see that Justice is done.  I have no idea whether, judicially, Judge Stumbo was right or wrong in the decisions she issued..but to imply there was one and ONLY one reason for her decision..being "soft on crime" absurd.
This is the Kentucky version of the famous "Willie Horton" ad from the Bush-Dukakis presidential campaign  While Dukakis was governor of Massachusettes, Horton, a vicious murderer, serving a life term without parole, was given ten weekend furloughs under a hugely misguided program... signed into law by a previous Republican governor, and broadened by that state's supreme court. Dukakis supported the program, which included much more than murderers like Horton as a means of rehabilitation.
Horton didn't return from his last furlough, and committed a second vicious crime in another state, which convicted him and refused, properly, to send him back to Boston. When Dukakis won the Democratic nomination, Bush used the Horton case, alone in the ad, to smear Dukakis as "soft on crime"...overlooking the program's Republican sponsorship and a host of other factors.
It worked, and presumably Judge Scott hopes that approach will work here, again.
I have no dog in this hunt; I can't vote in this district. But I am appalled by this type of campaigning..which is hardly "judicial."
I'm just sayin'...

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Truly Simple Idea

"One person, one vote."

You and I should elect the President...but we don't-- due to that old Electoral College, a relic of the Constitution that even Jefferson  disparaged. Four times in our history the person who won the popular vote was NOT elected President, due to that "College";  the last time being our famous "hanging chad" year of 2000.

What to do?

Get rid of the college and insist that one Kentucky vote is worth one Ohio vote, no more, but no less.

Easier said than done. There's lots of rationale, mainly by lawyers, who say the use of the popular vote will produce multiple lawsuits---as if the present plan hasn't!  But if we truly believe in a representative democracy, we need to start the ball rolling to amend the Constitution...and Kentucky can play a role.

CBS Sunday Morning, the best news program on the air, reported on the "Maryland Plan", whereby states, by agreement, no amendment, would cast their electoral votes for the candidate who does get the most votes. The plan would go into effect when enough states sign up whose electoral votes equal 270, the number it takes to win. They are halfway there... and I would hope Kentucky's legislature would pass the enabling resolution needed in the next session. The latest poll shows 62% favor ending the College, including a majority in both parties.

Meanwhile, to learn more about our "Electoral Dysfunction" see the PBS program of that title, which KET, assisting the public's education, will air this Friday at 3am! (Thanks, KET.) Set your timers.

But do urge your local Kentucky representative to pass the Maryland plan. Only the future of the Republic rides on it.

For, as the Capitol Steps reminded us Sunday night (in a wonderful program brought to us  by WUKY-FM).."Don't blame us, you elected them!" 

If only we did.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, October 15, 2012


What?  You didn't know Kentucky voters face a constitutional amendment this year? You're not alone..and unlike past times when the legislature has allocated money to advertise this to the voters, I don't believe they did so this time.

Probably because they are ashamed.

This amendment is a solution in search of a problem.

It would guarantee the right of all citizens to hunt and fish. Yup, that's it. Even a sponsor of it says there isn't really any challenge to that right. So why are we voting on it?

NRA, that's why.

The National Rifle Association  thinks that maybe, possibly, sometime down the road, in the future, animal rights groups just might consider mounting a challenge to hunting and fishing. Forget that no state, no court I am aware of has ever upheld any legal basis for such a challenge..but then, you just don't understand the NRA.

It's not about a future challenge; it's about throwing your political weight around now. The NRA says "Jump', and the Kentucky legislature dutifully asks.."How high?"

A constitution is, by definition, the fundamental law of the land. It is supposed to be limited to those major issues around which we organize our government..taxes, education, roads, courts, justice, elections,etc.

Hunting and fishing are traditions and we pass ordinary laws regulating them. We should not clutter up our Constitution with lesser issues.

So, not because I don't believe in hunting and fishing, but because  this amendment has no place in our Constitution, I plan to vote against it, and urge you to do the same.

What our legislature should have done is eliminate the "dueling" provisions, which every four years make Kentucky the laughing stock of the nation. Dueling? in 2012? Shirley you jest!

If we pass this amendment, our fellow Americans will just have a second issue to wonder if we are truly in the 21st Century.

I'm more than just sayin'...Vote "No."

Monday, October 8, 2012

Religion & Poltitics - Do We Have a Right To Even Ask?

In a weekly column on religion in the Courier-Journal, this question was posed: "Is it fair to interrogate a presidential candidate on his religious faith?"

The answer, according to a recent conference of "journalists and scholars" was yes, thought there was disagreement on which questions were fair.

As a semi-retired journalist and Christian I disagree.

Candidates will talk about their religion; that is their right under free speech. But if reporters (or ministers)  try to draw them out with questions about their religious beliefs, or lack of them, ..or what their faith might lead them to do in certain cases if my mind, that is a violation of Article 6 of the Constitution, which says.."no religious test shall ever be required" as a qualification for public office. Such questions unerringly become such a "test." For example, a retired New York Times executive thinks reporters should ask candidates whether they believe the Bible is literally true. For a follow up question how about "Have you stopped beating your wife?" 

Being practical politicians, I feel sure the Founding Fathers knew this section would be honored more in the breach than in the observance, by candidates themselves, but the Constitution still holds up to the rest of us a correct standard "to which the wise and honest may repair."

How far we have come from we readily accept Catholics, Blacks, even Mormons as viable candidates for President. How far we have failed our Constitution is best shown in JFK's famous talk to  the Houston ministers..."I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the President--should he be Catholic--how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote."

Now we have, not the Papacy to fear, but a slew of largely right-wing Christian ministers who feel it is perfectly correct--ignoring the Constitution prohibition on a "religious  test"-- to advise their members how to vote. I do not, and I strongly suspect the writers of the Constitution are on my side.

I'm just sayin'...

Monday, October 1, 2012


For years many political reporters told us "debates are not important."  How we have changed!  Good thing, too..for Centre College and America. I hope you will follow them before you cast your vote. (All that early voting before the debates is illegal, immoral, and fattening, IMHO).

Why reporters thought this after Kennedy-Nixon I am at a loss to explain. They do allow for important comparisons. It's now an obligation of the candidates--as it should be--and as it ought to be in the races for Congress. It is obvious Sixth District Democrat Congressman Ben Chandler is not going to debate his Republican challenger Andy Barr, and this is a black mark on his record. It may be "smart politics", but it is bad for democracy.

Reporters, for years, likewise told us.."the selection of a vice president doesn't matter." Wrong again, even if you don't want to go all the way to.."the finger on the atomic trigger" scenario.  It does matter..and I guess it started changing after the ill fated selection of Dan Quayle; most unqualified.  Maybe before, looking back on Spiro Agnew (Spiro who??)  And then there was Sarah Palin.  I rest my case.

Of all the debates I have seen, the best--in terms of civility and honest, extensive discussion of the issues, was the veep debate at Centre between Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman. May it be the model for all of this year's  events!

Another tradition I look forward to is the PBS Frontline two hour special on KET October 9th--a straight- forward video biography of Obama and Romney..their lives, their qualifications, and hopefully their positions. It has been an excellent review in the past and I commend it to your viewing. (Wish there were similar ones for the 3rd and 6th party candidates who will also be on the Kentucky ballot and who, once again, have been ignored by the media tho they are legally qualified to run and even be president).

One tradition I do not look forward to is the possibility this could be decided by the Electoral College, an out dated, undemocratic monstrosity, or even worse, the Supreme Court. We need to abolish the "College" and rely solely on  "one person, one vote", with reforms in how we cast and report this most important vote of all that we as citizens do.

I urge you to watch the debates, tell Ben Chandler he needs to do so, (and the coal industry it needs to get crackin' on actually doing something to make coal cleaner), and sign any online petition to abolish that other college.

I'm just sayin'...