Monday, March 24, 2014


There was a small dust-up in Louisville last week.

Senator McConnell gave a talk, and afterwards planned a news conference. There, he  tried to bar the editor of a weekly publication in Louisville, LEO, from the conference and threatened him with arrest if he persisted in trying to attend.

(LEO stands for the Louisville Eclectic Observer, a sort of Chevy Chaser on steroids.)

All the reasons given were spurious according to a Sunday column by Joe Gerth, the able political writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal. (The editor, one Joe Sonka, who I do not know, has been critical of the senator in the past---as Sonka also has been of the Democratic candidate Alison Grimes.)

Now, any campaign that gets into a hassle with the media is, almost assuredly, not going to win. We of the media  tend to close ranks, justified or not..and we generally believe “it’s not a good idea to get into a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.”  So Mitch’s campaign has received some black marks for its high handed tactics in trying to keep a possible critical reporter from the conference.

However, Joe Gerth in his column wrote "McConnell had every right to bar Sonka from the press conference, not a government event.”

I 99% disagree.

The senator may have called the conference in his capacity as a candidate, and he may have called it in his capacity as a public official, for his subject was: veterans affairs and a new hospital he is trying to get in Louisville.

But, the US Senate, by its own rules, is a continuing body, unlike the House. One can infer a Senator is always a Senator, that is, a federal official, and for a federal official to bar a reporter is, to me, an obvious violation of the First Amendment.

Also, a public official MAY be able to have a reporter arrested (another First Amendment violation), but I doubt that a candidate can—at least that poses other problems and questions.

In short, it’s not only unwise to take on the media by trying to bar one of us, it is, I think, illegal, unconstitutional, and fattening. In my political reporting I have faced being barred from an office holder’s (and candidate’s) news conference because I was a broadcaster (though I got my start at a weekly newspaper), through “separate but equal” news  conference just for print and just for broadcasters...another concept I rejected and fought…so it’s more than a little disconcerting to read from a colleague I respect that’s it’s still OK to bar some reporters, but not others.

It taint!

I'm just sayin'...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Oh my gosh..Kentucky is running out of drugs. No, not meth or oxy or Darvon—that often kill people unintentionally, but the “legal” drugs used to kill people intentionally.

Kentucky is one of 32 state that still use the death penalty, and as most states do, executes by an injection of drugs. But the courts have held, correctly,  that while you can kill someone for violating your laws, you must do so in a manner that is not “cruel and unusual.” For a prisoner to die, very painfully and take several hours to do so, which has happened, is against the law, courts have held.

Makers of drugs that do the job quickly have stopped making them, due to opposition to capital punishment, and possible lawsuits. Since a number of drugs might work, a black market and underground industry has grown up among “justice” agencies to find and use court approved drugs.  It’s becoming harder and harder.

Which is but another reason for Kentucky to get out of the death penalty business---all together. Studies have shown death penalty cases are about 60% correct. So 40% who are killed are innocent---and an unknown number who are guilty go free. Not good odds when you are taking someone’s my name and yours. I can get better odds at Keeneland.

What’s worse is that in many death cases our system of “justice” has failed..first year lawyers with public advocacy arguing cases, badly, where a life is at stake..or, even worse, cases where police and DAs  know the person is innocent, yet allow it to go to trial, and a death penalty without regard for either truth or justice. It has happened.

Kentucky could save money, stop this ridiculous search for black market lethal drugs that work, and avoid 40% or more of mistakes in these crucial cases. We need to join the growing list of states with a more humane approach to the “justice” we say we aspire to, and end the death penalty totally.

Thank you, Jesus.
I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Now that the regular season has reached its inglorious end, I will venture some opinions I have kept to myself all season long.

1. Cat fans (and their sports reporters)  need to take memory courses. How many remember early season stories of a “40-0” season?

2. If the choice is Cal’s “one and done” or Dick Vitale’s “senior leadership” I vote for Florida which just set an SEC record of an 18-0 conference season with a starting line-up of 4 seniors. Nuff said!

3.While, with all good Cats’ fans, I hope the tourneys upcoming will be better  (let’s have no  repeat  of Robert Morris---remember?) take a good look at the SEC brackets. The tourney is played over five nights and FOUR different broadcast entities take turns airing the games. Ridiculous!  But that’s the way the popular UK has been carved up by people where money doesn’t talk, it screams…and who have no regard for the fans.

4. That includes the SEC, on the verge of its own network. If you think our conference has any real interest in UK fans, just wait til you see what prices are put on getting this network on cable. I have already written my Lexington councilman, involved in the renewal of the Time Warner cable franchise, to make sure the SEC network is NOT carried on the premium tier.  Before it’s too late, the UK student government needs to get involved here. And don’t expect any help from the UK Athletics Department.

5. Some of our traditions need changing. I have never liked the idea of the eRUPPtion zone going wild trying to rattle the opposing player at the foul line. That is bad sportsmanship in the extreme.  (It doesn’t have to be this way. Saturday night, those equally supportive Cameron Crazies were silent—yes silent—when archrival  NC was shooting fouls, and the Tar Heel fans the same when Duke was shooting. We should emulate this, too.)

That’s my blueprint for a much better UK team in the future.

Remember, I am a UK  basketball expert.

But, aren’t we all???

I'm just sayin'...

Sunday, March 2, 2014


The continuing hassle in Arizona is discouraging. The legislature passed a law saying that store owners and service providers could discriminate (refuse service, etc.) against gays when it violated the religious beliefs of the store owner.

The governor vetoed the law. It remains to be seen what happens next but the courts will never uphold the law.

First, the law is not aimed at gays alone; that’s a cover. It’s aimed at blacks as well, and other minorities. Have we forgotten the sermons preached throughout the South on how the Bible ordained the white race as superior, and how the “best” things for blacks was to submit to being “civilized” by their white masters?

Check Dutch Reformed Church’s theology during the Boer War for additional affirmation..despite all of Christ’s teachings, and those of other prophets. If a man wants to discriminate he will find reasons, even in theology---but that doesn’t make it right, or Christian.

Even after the Civil War, many churches remain divided, with North and South wings---though they call them something else…divided for years over  race relations.  (In Lexington there is the  Presbyterian Church, US (South) and Presbyterian Church, USA (North) with still differing views here. “South”, for example, does not permit women to hold certain church positions. (And you thought that war was over!)

It’s not, and you are invited to show your solidarity with those who support equality by taking part in the anniversary of a great civil rights march on Frankfort outside the Capitol Wednesday morning at 10.

And now to a similar situation abroad.

In a reverse argument here, Mr. Putin sent the world to the brink (this is written Sunday before it was clear just how  the Crimea mess he has created would play out.)  In arguing that he sent troops into that area to “protect the rights” of Russians living there he cited the exact argument Hitler cited when he helped precipitate World War Two..when he occupied the “Sudetenland" section of Czechoslovakia claiming German settlers there were being abused and had asked Mother Germany to come to their aid.

The parallels with Crimea are exact..and frightening. For Putin to forget..more likely ignore..what started the “Great Patriotic War” (and let’s remember Russia suffered more horribly than any other nation, certainly more than the US, Britain, France, etc.) is to belie recent Russian history…and, hopefully, may spark some resistance from Russians still alive, or smart enough, to remember their history and the lessons it taught.

Doesn’t Putin remember?

Do we?

I'm just sayin'...